Saturday, August 30, 2014

Box Sets Galore, and Two New Portland Storm Titles in the Works

In the coming weeks, I have books in three different box sets that will be releasing. Eek!

Each of these box sets are only $0.99, and only available for a limited time. They're a steal at this price, so be sure to grab them up while you can if you are interested in them.

First off is Beginnings, a collection of first book in series new adult romances.

It has books from Marquita Valentine, Tammy Falkner, Brenna Aubrey, Sarra Cannon, Beverley Kendall, Elyssa Patrick, and of :)

Pre-order it now at iBooks, Kobo, Amazon, and Google Play.

It releases on September 8. Don't wait to pounce on this one!

Next up is for my historical romance readers!

From the Ballroom and Beyond is a box set of nine Regency-set romance novels, all for only $0.99.

It features books from Rose Gordon, Claudia Dain, Deb Marlowe, Ava Stone, Jerrica Knight-Catania, Jane Charles, Julie Johnstone, Christi Caldwell, and me.

It releases on September 15, and you can preorder it at Amazon, iBooks, and Barnes and Noble.

Finally, if you're a sports romance lover, the next box set is for you!

Playing for Passion features books by 12 sports romance authors including Carly Phillips, Toni Aleo, Chelle Bliss, V.K. Sykes, Pamela Aares, Allie K. Adams, Jami Davenport, Mindy Klasky, Roz Lee, Dakota Madison, Bianca Sommerland, and me.

The books involved feature sports including baseball, hockey, soccer, MMA, and football. We have books that are sensual to hot to smoking. There's a little something for every sports romance reader out there, at a price that can't be beat.

Playing for Passion releases on September 16. You can place a preorder for it now at Amazon, iBooks, and Kobo.

Whew! I'm exhausted just looking at all of that.

But that's not all, because I have two more new books coming up in my Portland Storm series, and I want to tell you about them. :)

First up, we have Comeback, which will be Nicky Ericsson's story. If you've been following along with the series, you know he's had a rough go of it lately, and he's definitely got some things he needs to deal with.

He'll get that chance in Comeback, which releases on February 19, 2015. Preorder it at iBooks and add it to your Goodreads shelf. More preorder links will be available closer to release date.

And last, but certainly not least, we have Dropping Gloves.

This is the one that so many of you have been waiting for--Babs and Katie's full novel. :)

Dropping Gloves releases on April 23, 2015. You can preorder it at iBooks now and add it to your Goodreads bookshelf. As with Comeback, more preorder links will be available when we get closer to the release date.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Double Major - Sneak Peek #2

While you're waiting for Double Major to release, how about another look inside? By the way, you can preorder it now at Amazon, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo, and you can add it to your Goodreads bookshelf now. This is the second scene of the book. The first can be found here.


“Happy” by Pharrell Williams started blaring from behind us while we were in the middle of the wedding rehearsal, causing everyone to jump. Me, especially, because that was what my boyfriend, Liam, had set as the ringtone on my phone—he said it suited me—which meant I’d neglected to turn my cell off like I’d intended to before we got started with all of this.
“So sorry,” I said, rushing away from the stage to the front row of seats where I’d stashed my purse. The song continued playing loudly the whole time I dug through the depths to reach it. Before I could find the silly thing and answer it, Rachel’s son, Tuck, broke into a song-and-dance routine as the music played, and everyone started laughing. He’d been getting as antsy to be done as I had, so at least this gave him a diversion, however small.
I finally fished the phone out of the bottom of my bag, but only in time to see that I’d missed the call. It had been Chris, my brother. He and our other brother, Ethan, were back in Portland right now, trying to get all of our belongings moved from Babs’s apartment into the house Liam and I had just bought.
We weren’t supposed to be moving right now. We should have already been done with the move, honestly, but there had been problems with the closing, and it had been pushed back and pushed back, and we’d just finally sorted it all out two days ago—right before Liam and I had to fly to Providence for the wedding. We’d barely been handed the keys and been able to see the place while knowing it was ours before we’d had to leave.
If I hadn’t agreed to be one of Dana and Rachel’s bridesmaids, I would have tried to convince Liam we should just skip the wedding. I couldn’t exactly back out of it that late, though, so Chris and Ethan had stepped up and insisted they could handle the move.
Let’s let them do it, Liam had said to me when I’d voiced my concerns. They’re grown men. I’m sure they’re perfectly capable of handling this on their own.
I wouldn’t have been so worried about it if not for the fact that we were flying straight to Sweden when we left here. We wouldn’t be going back to Portland for weeks, and I’d had to leave my puppy, Puck, behind in my brothers’ care until we returned. If anything went wrong, if they ran into problems… Maybe I was too used to being the oldest sibling and taking all of the adult responsibilities onto my own shoulders. The idea of sharing the load hadn’t been easy to adjust to. I was having a hard time letting go.
That was why, once I saw who’d called, I rushed out of the little chapel and into the hallway to return Chris’s call. “What’s wrong?” I said as soon as he picked up the line.
“Why do you automatically assume something’s wrong?”
Probably because the combined stress of buying a home, being a bridesmaid, leaving my puppy behind, and preparing to meet Liam’s family in Sweden had all ganged up on me and stolen my sanity. But I didn’t want to tell him that. He’d just tell me to relax, which I was trying to do. I just wasn’t managing it very well. It was weird; I didn’t usually let things get to me. Normally, stress just rolled off my back. But not this time.
I could only attribute that to the fact that meeting Liam’s family meant a lot to me—because it meant a lot to him—and I didn’t want anything to go wrong. At the moment, it felt like everything was set to go wrong.
“I’m just…” I searched my brain for something I could use to put him off. “There’s just a lot going on here right now with the rehearsal and the dinner tonight.”
“And the bachelorette party later,” he added. “Don’t try to pretend you’re not going to have fun while you’re there. This is supposed to be a vacation for you, Noelle.”
“It is. And I’m having fun. I promise.”
“Good. You should.”
“Nothing’s wrong with Puck?”
My puppy barked in the background, as though he’d heard me say his name. At least that let me know he was alive.
Chris sighed. “Puck is fine. Stop being a worrywart. I was just calling to ask if you wanted the downstairs bedroom set up as a bedroom or if you wanted it to be more like an office.”
Oh. Yeah, so that meant it wasn’t a “something’s wrong” sort of call. It was a “my brothers are growing up before I’m ready for them to do anything remotely like that” sort of call. Before I could wrap my head around what he’d asked, Liam came up behind me and put one arm around my waist, taking the phone with the other.
“Noelle’s supposed to be in the rehearsal right now, so I can answer any questions you have,” he said smoothly into the phone. He kissed the back of my head and spun me around, nudging me back into the chapel with a swat to my backside.
I scowled at him because I was sure I was as red-faced as I’d ever been, but I hurried back down the aisle and got into my original position. At least none of them were staring at me when I returned, and Rachel’s daughter, Maddie, gave me a big grin when I slid back into my spot. The wedding coordinator was still trying to put all members of the wedding party where she wanted us, but at the moment she was working with the groomsmen, so I was in the clear for now. She had her hands on both Babs’s arms and was bodily shifting him into position, and he was blushing as profusely as I’d come to expect from him more often than not.
Katie leaned over so she could whisper in my ear. “Kally seemed really jealous when this chick paired you up with Burnzie for all the wedding stuff.” Kally was what everyone involved with the team called Liam. They all had nicknames for each other. It could be a little confusing at times, but it didn’t take too long to sort it out usually…especially since I knew most of them by their nicknames and not by their real names, anyhow.
Had he really seemed jealous? Liam knew there was no need for anything like that. I didn’t want to be with anyone but him, and the wedding events would only last for a weekend. Besides, it wasn’t as though I was going to be doing much at all with Keith Burns. He was going to escort me out, and we’d stand next to each other at a few points, and I was pretty sure she’d said that we would have to dance together for one dance. That was all. But out of all the members of the wedding party, Burnzie and I were the only two who weren’t already part of a couple that had both halves involved in the wedding. It only made sense to pair us up together.
I tried to brush Katie’s comment away, but it kept niggling at the back of my mind while we went through the rehearsal, which proved to be a whole lot of standing around and waiting for instructions.
A few minutes later, Liam returned to the chapel and took a seat in the back row, next to the Storm’s goaltender Nicklas Ericsson. My focus landed squarely on Liam instead of all the things the wedding coordinator was telling us. Sure enough, when we ran through the way we would be exiting, with me holding onto Burnzie’s arm as we walked down the aisle, I felt Liam’s eyes boring into the pair of us. Katie had been right, even if I didn’t understand why any of this would make Liam jealous.
Not long after that, we finished up with the rehearsal, and we all went to a nearby steak-and-seafood restaurant for the rehearsal dinner. Liam handed my phone back to me as we walked out to our rental car. I dropped it into my purse before reaching for his hand.
“Katie thinks you’re jealous of Burnzie.”
He flashed me an earth-stopping, heart-shattering sort of smile. “Katie’s very perceptive.”
We arrived at the car, and he opened the door for me.
“You know there’s no reason for that.”
He waited for me to sit, then closed my door and went around to the driver’s side. Once he was in his seat, he said, “It’s just that he’s getting all your attention for a couple of days.”
“I wouldn’t say he’s getting all my attention.”
“More of it than I want him to get.” He put the car in reverse and draped his arm over the back of my seat, looking over his shoulder to back out.
“But you’re the only one getting my kisses.”
Liam gave me a heated look and kissed the tip of my nose before shifting into drive.
“What did you tell Chris about the downstairs bedroom?”
“That,” he said silkily, “is a surprise.”
“A surprise, as in they burned the house down and we have to start this whole process all over again? Or a surprise, as in they made it into a shrine to Puck?”
Liam burst out laughing, which brought a smile to my lips, too. “Is that what you want it to be?” he asked. “A room for your dog?”
“Not necessarily.” But now that I thought about it, it wasn’t a horrible idea. Puck was getting bigger every day, quickly outgrowing all the dog beds and other things we’d gotten for him. I was starting to think he might outgrow the backyard of this new house sooner rather than later, and then I didn’t know what we’d do. I might have to take him to the park a lot more than I’d initially expected to. Of course, then maybe I could plan doggie dates with Sara and Jonny’s dog, Buster. That would be nice. “Just tell me. Please,” I begged.
Liam pulled into the restaurant lot and found a spot to park. “If you insist on ruining my surprise, I was thinking it could be more like a room to honor your parents. A place we could fill with as many memories of them as we could. Your brothers still have some pictures and a few other things that came from your parents. And Ethan said he had a phone number for a cousin—someone who might have some pictures from your parents’ wedding and other stuff like that. They’re going to make some calls and see what they can scare up.”
My heart and lungs had apparently decided to reposition themselves somewhere in the vicinity of my throat. I couldn’t swallow past the huge lumps there. My parents had been killed in a convenience store robbery several years before, and in the time since, the house had been repossessed and then the car I’d been living out of—that housed all of my memorabilia from my parents—had gone up in flames.
The thoughtfulness behind Liam’s idea was stunning. I clutched his hand, drawing it up to my lips so I could kiss his knuckles. “Really?” I finally squeezed out despite my tears.
“Unless you don’t want it.”
“I do. I want it more than I could ever say.” I couldn’t imagine anything more perfect. Except… “Just my family, though? Couldn’t it be about your family, too?”
“And mine, too, if you want it to be.”
“I do.” I threaded my fingers with his, tugging his hand closer to my body. “Do you still have any of Liv’s wind chimes?” Liv had been Liam’s wife, but she’d died in a car accident a couple of years ago. She needed to have a place in this room, too. She would always be part of Liam, and I wanted to honor that. I wanted to honor her as much as he was trying to honor my parents.
“I still have some,” he said cautiously.
“Some that we could bring to Portland? She should be represented.”
He swallowed hard, his Adam’s apple bobbing in his throat, and a rush of peace washed through me.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Double Major - Sneak Peek

Wanna little peek at the first scene from DOUBLE MAJOR? I suppose I can give you one.

It's releasing in less than a month, on September 18, 2014. Here's what it's about.

This is a novella of second epilogues to books 1-4 in the Portland Storm series. It is approximately 35,000 words long. 

It’s the NHL’s draft day, but the whole Portland Storm team is back together for an entirely different event. Complete with a double wedding, an unanticipated guest, overdue apologies, unexpected goodbyes, and fresh starts, this big day has the potential to get them all called for a Double Major.

You can pre-order it now at Amazon, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.

Here's your sneak peek! I'll probably give you another taste or two in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.


I’d arrived early. It was an old habit, but one I doubted I’d break anytime soon. One of my first coaches had always told us that to be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, and to be late… Well, you’d just better not be. Now, a decade or more later, I couldn’t seem to make myself show up anywhere merely on time. Hardly anyone else was there yet for the rehearsal—no one I knew, anyway—so I plopped down on one of the seats up near the front, right by the altar, and pulled out my cell to scan the half a million texts I’d gotten in the last hour from Levi.
Levi was my younger brother, the oldest after me. We had five more brothers younger than him, too. There were kind of a lot of us. And he’d been texting me like crazy all day because tomorrow was the National Hockey League’s Entry Draft, and he was expected to be picked in the top five. No matter what, he should definitely be the first defenseman taken in this year’s draft. Two years ago, I was in a similar spot. I was selected seventh overall by the Portland Storm, and I somehow made the team right out of training camp as an eighteen-year-old rookie.
Because I had been in that same position and could coach him on what to expect, right now I felt like the shittiest brother in the world. Levi and the rest of our family—even our uncle and cousins—had all been with me when I’d been drafted. And they were all in New York with Levi right now, helping to keep him calm as he went through his meetings and media interviews and physical tests, and all of the other insanity that goes with being a top prospect.
But where was I when I ought to be with him? I wasn’t in New York; I was in Providence, Rhode Island. Two of my teammates were getting married tomorrow. That made me a good teammate, I supposed, but not a very good brother.
Team captain Eric Zellinger—Zee to the guys—and his childhood best friend, Brenden “Soupy” Campbell, were both tying the knot, and for some reason they’d asked me to be one of their groomsmen. I wasn’t sure why they’d chosen me and not one of the guys who had been around the team longer, like Ny or maybe Monty. I mean, yeah, I’d lived with both of them, but that didn’t make me groomsman material, did it? Either way, they hadn’t asked those guys; they’d asked me.
I looked around the mostly empty chapel. At least being here early gave me time to respond to Levi’s texts. I spent a few minutes poring over them. He’d had a good meeting with Jim Sutter and the rest of the Storm’s executives at the draft, but Jim had already warned me countless times not to get my hopes up. He wasn’t slated to make a pick until number eighteen this year, and Levi would be long gone by that point. The only way Levi would be drafted by the Storm was if Jim somehow worked out a trade with another general manager and was able to move up. But he had told me again and again that it just wasn’t likely to happen. Which wasn’t news to me. Trading up would mean losing prospects, and they were a commodity he was trying to stock up on, not trade away.
Since Levi knew he wasn’t likely to be chosen by the Storm, he had his sights set on the Toronto Maple Leafs. They were the team we’d always been fans of, my brothers and I, growing up in Ontario. They had the fifth pick this year, but Levi said his meeting with them hadn’t gone well at all so he didn’t have a good feeling about it.
It went much better with the Montreal Canadiens, but they weren’t picking until number twelve. He felt pretty confident about his interviews with the Buffalo Sabres and the New York Islanders, too—both were slated to pick within the top five—so in all likelihood he’d be playing for one of those two teams.
His best interview of the day, though—at least so far—was with the Winnipeg Jets. There was a small part of me that hoped the Jets would choose him. They were a Western Conference team, like Portland, and so Levi and I would get to play each other more often than if he were with some team in the Eastern Conference. They were slated to pick sixth, and everyone was saying that they were looking for defensemen in this draft, so there was a definite possibility there.
Levi still had meetings scheduled with five other teams for later on in the day, so it was anyone’s guess where he would end up.
I was just about to respond to his slew of messages when the door opened and about a dozen people came in—Zee and Soupy, their fiancées Dana and Rachel, and most of the others in the wedding party like Liam “Kally” Kallen and his girlfriend, Noelle Payne. I only had eyes for one of them, though—Katie Weber, the oldest daughter of my former teammate, David Weber.
I’d had a thing for Katie for two solid years, ever since I first joined the Storm. These days, it was much more than that. I was half in love with her.
I hadn’t seen her since I left Portland almost six weeks ago, and it took me by surprise to discover that she had some hair now. A few months back, she’d been diagnosed with leukemia. She’d had to go through radiation and chemotherapy and all that, so she’d lost her hair and wore scarves to cover her baldness most of the time. Or at least she did the last time I saw her.
I knew she’d finished her chemo before we’d been knocked out of the playoffs, but I guess I hadn’t thought about the fact that her hair would be growing back already. It was short, like a pixie cut, and it looked soft to the touch. Thinking that only made me want to touch it, though, and that probably wasn’t the best idea with her dad standing right beside her.
Webs caught my eye and inclined his head in my direction, but I still couldn’t ever determine what the looks he gave me meant. Hi? Come on over? Take one step in this direction and I’ll rip your balls off and stuff them down your throat? I couldn’t be sure. If his wife, Laura, had been paying attention, I might have been able to get a read on him from her, but she was caught up talking to Sara Thomas, our former head coach’s daughter. So Laura was no help to me right now.
Webs had just retired as a player, and this season he was going to be one of the Storm’s assistant coaches. That should work out just great…as long I didn’t misinterpret any of the looks he gave me.
The Storm made it all the way to Game Seven in the second round of the playoffs last season, but the LA Kings had gotten the best of us in the end. We couldn’t really hang our heads over that. Our team hadn’t been to the post-season at all in the previous five years, so getting to the second round was a lot further than anyone had expected us to go. Plus, the Kings went on to win the Stanley Cup, and we’d nearly taken them out in the second round. That was definitely nothing to be ashamed of. We were all hoping to take what we’d done last season and improve on it this coming year—and that meant making the most of the time off we had this summer.
I’d gone home to my family pretty much as soon as I’d finished clearing out my stall. I think I slept for about a week straight once I got there, but then I’d gone back to life as usual. All my brothers played hockey, too, so we were all training together—some of us more seriously than others. But then again, Jack—the youngest—was only eight, and most of the boys really didn’t need to work out like Levi and I had to. It was still fun, us all being together like that. Especially since Levi and I had started using the youngest boys as our weights, bench pressing them, that sort of thing.
Katie and her family had remained in Portland after the season ended because she and her younger brother and sister had to finish out the school year. Now she’d graduated, though, and she’d finished all of her cancer treatments. Webs had let us all know a few weeks ago that her latest tests showed she was cancer free.
That meant she could move forward with her life. I just wasn’t certain if I was part of it.
I’d taken her to her prom, and we’d spent some time together since then…but she had been sick and still in high school, and I had been in the middle of the playoffs for the first time in my career, so we hadn’t really been able to date. Not like I wanted to, at least.
That hadn’t stopped me from sneaking her away from her dad to steal a few kisses every now and then. I hoped to be able to do more of that this weekend—and to find out what she had decided to do next year. Each time we’d talked about it before, she’d been too caught up in trying to get healthy to worry about whether she was going to go to LA to meet with an entertainment agent she’d talked to once about some ideas he had for getting her a career in Hollywood, or if she was going to stick around Portland and her family and maybe go to college, or something else.
The selfish part of me wanted her to stay in Portland.
The part that was already half in love with her wanted her to do whatever would make her happy, even if that meant her leaving.
No matter which of those two voices decided to talk the loudest, I just wanted to know what she’d chosen. I slipped my phone back into my pocket and got up, and she immediately turned her head in my direction. Her whole face lit up when our gazes met. I could make out the sparkle in her eyes even across the distance, and Katie’s smile reeled me in like a fishing line; my feet started moving in her direction before my head could catch up.
“Hey,” she said when I was almost to her.
My tongue got thick, and she’d hardly said a word. I was a fucking wreck over this girl. I shoved my hands in my pockets so I wouldn’t do anything stupid, since Webs was still giving me that look, and I cleared my throat. “Hey. Your hair… It looks nice like that.”
She blushed and ran her fingers through it, just the way I’d been imagining doing myself. It was still that dark brown she’d always had, and her eyebrows were, too. It looked as soft as a kitten’s fur and was just long enough to spike up or play with like that. “Thanks. There’s not a lot I can do with it yet, but it’s coming back in.”
“It looks nice,” I repeated, feeling like an idiot.
Her parents were in the middle of a conversation with Zee and Dana, so that meant Webs wasn’t giving me the evil eye anymore. I had just taken Katie’s hand and was about to pull her off to a corner somewhere so we could talk when Soupy’s dad whistled loudly.
“I think we’re all here now, so why don’t we get started?” he said once all eyes turned to him.
Katie’s hand fell away from mine almost instantly, and she shrugged her shoulders with an apologetic downturn of her lips. “Later,” she whispered. “We’ll find time to talk.”
Before I could respond, she went over to her mother’s side, looking back at me over her shoulder and giving me a wink.
I trudged over to join Keith Burns, Cam Johnson, and Webs—the other groomsmen—up near the altar so we could get things underway.
“Babs,” Webs said when I got there, and I shot my eyes up to look at him. He scowled. “She’s gotta do what’s right for her. Whether it’s what we want or not.”
That didn’t sound good at all. I definitely noticed he’d said we, though. Like we were in this together.
The wedding coordinator started talking, telling us what each of us were supposed to do and how things were going to go down, not that I was paying any attention to him at all. Had Katie made up her mind to leave? Just then, my phone started buzzing in my pocket. It had to be more text messages from Levi. And they kept coming and coming.
I wasn’t just a bad brother; I was the shittiest brother ever, hands down.
Especially because I was more worried about what the cryptic warning Webs had given me meant than I was about the half million text messages from my brother.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Delay of Game - Out Now! Plus More Pre-Order Links

That's right! DELAY OF GAME is available now!

With her father’s health in question, Sara Thomas is focused on reducing his anxiety. That’s no small feat considering his high-stress job, not to mention her own distractions. Everyone knows Sara’s single; no one knows she’s pregnant. There’s never a good time to unexpectedly get knocked up, but now is definitely not it. Regardless, she doesn’t want anyone to know—especially not her father—until she has a game plan in place. But when Jonny, one of her father’s players, seeks vigilante justice on the ice, everything gets tossed out the window.

Cam Johnson’s role as a fourth-line winger with the NHL’s Portland Storm entails more than scoring goals. He has to ensure other teams don’t take liberties with the Storm’s star players. The way Cam sees it, that’s the most important aspect of his job. His teammates call him Jonny; opposing fans call him a goon; the media calls him an enforcer. The title’s unimportant. Cam will always fight for his team—even if he has to break the rules. He’s used to taking penalties, but he never meant for anyone else to suffer from his choices.

When Cam’s actions cause Sara’s worst fears to be realized, he blames himself. He’s screwed everything up; now he has to set things right. Mutual attraction leads to lust, and suddenly Cam is taking penalties at every turn…at least where Sara is concerned. He’s got to think on his feet or he’ll end up with a Delay of Game.

You can buy DELAY OF GAME now at Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, All Romance eBooks, and Smashwords.
At Amazon only, and through tomorrow only, you can purchase it for $0.99 since it was not available as a $0.99 pre-order there.

You might have noticed that Barnes and Noble is missing from this list. And you might have placed a pre-order for DELAY OF GAME through Barnes and Noble, and be wondering where it is. Well, pre-orders at Barnes and Noble have to go through Smashwords, and there was a hang-up between when Smashwords processed the complete file, and when they sent it to Barnes and Noble for processing. That hang-up has caused it to be delayed. I am SO SORRY for this. It's a situation that is out of my hands, but that doesn't make it stink any less for any of you who are affected.

If you placed a pre-order through Barnes and Noble and don't want to wait for them to finish processing it (I can't guess how long it will be!), please forward your email confirmation of the pre-order to me at, and I will send you the ebook.

TAKING A SHOT, the novella initially included in the SEDUCED BY THE GAME anthology, is releasing separately on September 4, 2014.

You can pre-order it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, and Kobo. (There shouldn't be any problems with any of these pre-orders, as this title is complete and fully edited, so there will not be any late changes.)

Katie Weber has lost her health due to leukemia, and now her chemotherapy treatments have taken her hair. She’s not about to show up to her senior prom bald and let her classmates steal her dignity, too. Prom is no place for a girl who looks more like an alien than a high school student, especially when her so-called friends all dropped her like she had the plague at the first mention of the word cancer. Katie could never get up the courage to ask Jamie—her crush for almost two years, ever since he joined her dad’s pro hockey team—to take her. Not with the way she looks now. Besides, her dad would absolutely murder him.

Jamie Babcock knows its bad news to fall for his Portland Storm teammate’s daughter, but he’s had a thing for Katie since the first time he met her when he was just a wide-eyed, eighteen-year-old rookie. Now cancer might take her away before he ever grows the balls to do anything about it, though. Her father won’t be happy about it, but Jamie has to take a shot and ask to take her to her prom. It seems like Katie has just about given up, and he can’t let her go without giving her some good memories…something to hold on to. She’s still got her whole life ahead of her—she just has to keep living it. If he can convince her of that, nothing her father might do to him will matter.

DOUBLE MAJOR will release on September 18, 2014.

You can pre-order it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, and Kobo.
This is a novella of second epilogues to books 1-4 in the Portland Storm series. It is approximately 35,000 words long.

It’s the NHL’s draft day, but the whole Portland Storm team is back together for an entirely different event. Complete with a double wedding, an unanticipated guest, overdue apologies, unexpected goodbyes, and fresh starts, this big day has the potential to get them all called for a Double Major.

You can pre-order it at iBooks and Barnes and Noble. Pre-orders for Kobo and Amazon will be available sometime in September or October.

IN THE ZONE, the fifth full novel in the Portland Storm series, will release on November 20, 2014

**Please note, this is not the final blurb. Just something meant to give you a taste of what the book will involve.

It was supposed to be one night of fake names, half-truths, and anonymous sex. Neither of them was prepared for it to turn into so much more. Keith Burns, star defenseman for the NHL’s Portland Storm, was just looking for a way to pass the time and ease the loneliness of his lavish lifestyle. Brianna Hayden wanted to find herself again after health issues changed everything. That one night turns out to be so much more than either Keith or Brie expects, but anonymity is the name of their game, and the rules were laid down at the outset. Pushing for the truth might land Keith a permanent spot in Brie’s penalty box, but it’s a chance he’s willing to take. Once he gets In the Zone, he’ll be on the forecheck—but Brie’s heart is the goal he’s seeking.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Delay of Game - Sneak Peek - Chapter One

I've given you glimpses into the early chapters of every book in this series, so why change that now? It's time to do that again with DELAY OF GAME.

First off, here's what the book is about:

With her father’s health in question, Sara Thomas is focused on reducing his anxiety. That’s no small feat considering his high-stress job, not to mention her own distractions. Everyone knows Sara’s single; no one knows she’s pregnant. There’s never a good time to unexpectedly get knocked up, but now is definitely not it. Regardless, she doesn’t want anyone to know—especially not her father—until she has a game plan in place. But when Jonny, one of her father’s players, seeks vigilante justice on the ice, everything gets tossed out the window.

Cam Johnson’s role as a fourth-line winger with the NHL’s Portland Storm entails more than scoring goals. He has to ensure other teams don’t take liberties with the Storm’s star players. The way Cam sees it, that’s the most important aspect of his job. His teammates call him Jonny; opposing fans call him a goon; the media calls him an enforcer. The title’s unimportant. Cam will always fight for his team—even if he has to break the rules. He’s used to taking penalties, but he never meant for anyone else to suffer from his choices.

When Cam’s actions cause Sara’s worst fears to be realized, he blames himself. He’s screwed everything up; now he has to set things right. Mutual attraction leads to lust, and suddenly Cam is taking penalties at every turn…at least where Sara is concerned. He’s got to think on his feet or he’ll end up with a Delay of Game.

DELAY OF GAME releases on August 21, 2014, and you can pre-order it now at iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo for only $0.99. (For Amazon Kindle readers, you'll be able to get it for the first TWO days of release at that price. Then it will go up to its regular price of $3.99.)

Okay...without further ado, here's chapter one of DELAY OF GAME. Enjoy!


No matter how many of those stupid sticks I peed on, they all said the same thing in the end.
Which meant two things. One, I was royally fucked. (Oh, the irony.) And two, Daddy was going to absolutely murder me.
Granted, he would only kill me if he found out. Since I’d only learned just now that I was pregnant, I definitely didn’t have a game plan yet. I didn’t know what I would do, so I supposed that meant there was a third thing it meant, too—that I was scared out of my freaking skull and didn’t know what to focus on first. But whatever I decided on, I had at least a little bit of time. Daddy wasn’t the most observant person in the world, at least when it came to anything that wasn’t hockey related. I didn’t have to make any sort of rash decision that I might later regret, beyond the one I’d already made and couldn’t take back.
Anyway, with this, I could take the time to figure out what was best. If there was such a thing. I wasn’t convinced there was.
There wasn’t time right now to worry about it, though. My father was Scotty Thomas, a legendary coach in the National Hockey League who was currently finishing up his second season coaching the Portland Storm. Legendary because he’d started coaching when he was only twenty-six, after being forced to retire as a player early, after a slew of injuries. He’d coached his first NHL team to the Stanley Cup Finals. They’d lost in seven games, but in the twenty-eight years since then, he’d won the Cup four times as a head coach. That put him in some pretty rare company, and the Storm organization hoped he could lead them to the same end. It might not happen this year, but they were closer than they had been in a while…and a lot of that was because of him.
Today was the final game of the regular season, and since I was Daddy’s personal assistant—he’d officially hired me when I’d turned eighteen so he could justify paying me a salary—I had to get him out the door in time so we wouldn’t get stuck in traffic on our way to the Moda Center. Personal assistant was really just a glorified title meaning I made sure I got him where he was supposed to be when he was supposed to be there, but the pay was pretty damn good for an insanely easy job that I had already been doing for years, anyway.
With trembling hands, I shoved the pee sticks and their boxes and plastic wrappings and instruction booklets into a brown paper bag and crushed it all, then buried it in the trash can in my bathroom. For good measure, I took that trash bag out, put a fresh one in, and took the evidence down to the main trash can in the kitchen. No reason to leave that stuff lying around where our housekeeper might find it and tell Daddy. I doubted Rose would do something like that, but you just never know about people. Better to take precautionary measures than have to sort out the consequences later.
Oh. Haha. Yeah, that was kind of what was going on. Except I had taken precautionary measures. I’d been on the pill since I was sixteen, and I never did the deed without a condom. But there was that one night a little over a month ago, with Brad, when the condom broke. And the pill isn’t fail-safe.
It had been a bad date. It hadn’t even been good sex. Definitely not worth ending up a freaking out, shaking, preggers mess over.
I still don’t know why I’d slept with him. I mean, he was hot, sure. And he wasn’t a hockey player, so that was a huge bonus in his favor, at least with me. I’d spent my entire life around hockey players, almost constantly. I didn’t want to have a relationship with one of them beyond working for my father. I didn’t even want to have a one-night stand with any of them. So when a guy who didn’t play hockey asked me out, I tended to jump on it whether I was really attracted and interested or not.
That was what had happened with Brad. He’d hit on me at the gym. But this guy, the hot-but-boring non-hockey-playing biomechanical engineer who couldn’t find my clitoris with a detailed map, step-by-step instructions, and a compass? There was no chance in hell I was ever going to go out with him again after that night. I’d known it from the moment he’d pulled the car up in front of the Red Robin at Cascade Station.
Who takes someone to a cheesy chain restaurant like that for a first date? They weren’t even cheesetastic. They were the bad kind of cheesy, like those plain-Jane slices of processed crap they called American cheese.
But it had been so long since I’d had sex—real sex with a hot guy who took care of himself and his body, not a late-night date with my vibrator—that I’d gone along with him when he’d suggested we take things back to his place.
And the condom had broken.
And now I was pregnant.
Crap. I didn’t even have his phone number anymore. I’d deleted it from my cell almost the moment I’d gotten home. Not that I had a clue what I’d say to him even if I did have his number. Hey, Brad. Long time no talk. So, I know I brushed you off and all that, but guess what? You’re my baby daddy! Congratulations!
I tried to shake all that out of my head. Now wasn’t the time to freak. I had work to do.
“Daddy?” I called up the stairs.
No answer.
He was probably holed up in his office watching film of the Canucks, despite the fact that his cardiologist had told him he had to reduce his stress and get some rest when he could. This would have been a perfect time for the whole rest-and-relaxation thing—an afternoon off before a game. All of his players were resting right now, taking their pre-game naps. But not Daddy.
I headed down the hall and knocked on the open door, trying not to let myself get upset about it. That wouldn’t do either of us any good.
He looked up. “Time already?”
“Yeah. You’d better get your suit on so we aren’t late.”
Daddy paused the video he was watching and got up from his desk, grabbing the cup of coffee sitting beside him.
“Have you checked your blood pressure today?” I asked. I didn’t like to nag, but someone had to or he’d never do some of the things he needed to do. If it wasn’t directly related to coaching hockey, he was generally oblivious. I’d taken over looking after him when my mother abandoned us to run off with one of the players on Daddy’s team years ago. I’d only been ten, but I had done a better job of looking after him in all the intervening years than she’d ever done. By now, thirteen years later, it was second nature to me.
“I’ll do it once we get to the arena,” he promised.
“Your doctor says you need to check it two or three times a day, Daddy. And you’re supposed to reduce your stress and get more rest. And drink more water and less coffee.” I took the mug away from him and headed back to the kitchen so I could dump its contents down the drain.
He followed along behind me, grumbling half-heartedly the whole way. “The playoffs start in three days. How do you suppose I’m going to be able to do any of those things right now?”
I arched a brow at him from the other side of the kitchen island. “Drink less coffee and replace it with water. Then you’ll sleep more. That’ll kill a few birds.”
“And I’ll have more stress because I won’t be as prepared as I need to be for the first round because I was too busy sleeping.”
I sighed. “I don’t want to argue with you about this right now, Daddy.”
“I know, Sara.” He sounded defeated. He came around and kissed my forehead. “I’m trying to do better.”
If I’d been anyone else, he would have been yelling at me right now. I knew that. It was just one more thing I was trying to help him stop doing, because it was all going to add up and kill him. He might drive me crazy sometimes, but I wasn’t ready to lose him. He was my only family. He’d given me the only job I’d ever had. And now I was pregnant and single and scared shitless.
I couldn’t lose him now.
I nodded and washed his coffee cup, then grabbed a towel from the bar under the sink to dry it. “I know you are. Go get dressed.”
While he did that, I put together a snack for him—peanut butter on a toasted multigrain bagel, a banana, and low-fat yogurt with a serving of chia seeds stirred in.
When he took it from me, he scowled at the little black seeds in his yogurt. “What are you trying to kill me with now?”
“Doc suggested them for your cholesterol. They’re chia seeds. Full of omegas and fiber and protein—all the good stuff you’re supposed to be eating every day.”
Doc wasn’t my father’s heart doctor. He was Dr. Larry Mitchell, the head doctor of the Portland Storm. Doc’s focus was mainly on keeping the players in peak physical condition, and his background was more in sports injuries than the heart, but I figured all doctors had to know a thing or two about heart health after all those years in medical school. He was the only person involved with the team I’d talked to about it. Daddy still wasn’t happy that I’d gone to Doc at all, but I needed to know everything I could about how to help keep my father alive, and it couldn’t hurt to have someone else aware of the situation—someone who would be around him when I wasn’t.
Daddy lifted a brow.
“You can’t taste them, so don’t give me a hard time about this. I already tried them to see.” I grinned so he would know I was teasing him. “Just eat it, and let’s get out of here.”
“You spend too much time worrying about me. Who worries about you?”
“You do,” I answered, quickly brushing off yet another not-so-subtle hint that he wanted me to be dating someone. Ever since the issues with his heart had cropped up, he’d been trying to convince me to get involved with some guy or another. It felt like he was trying to be sure I wouldn’t be alone once he was gone. My focus was on making sure he wasn’t gone anytime soon, though. “And I get paid to worry about you, in case you forgot,” I added.
“Can’t forget that since I sign the checks.” He finally did what I asked without any more complaints, and then we made our way to the arena. When we arrived, I went with him to his office for a minute. His assistant coaches, Mattias Bergstrom and Daniel Hamm, were already there doing whatever it was Daddy expected them to do before games.
I kissed my dad on the cheek and said, “Remember to check your blood pressure,” and then I left him to do his thing. I don’t think he or anyone else would ever say boo to me if I stayed down in the coaches’ offices or headed into the locker room for a bit to say hi to the guys, but it was habit for me to go straight up to the owner’s box and hang out with the players’ wives and girlfriends during the games. I’d been doing that since I was a baby, so I didn’t see any reason to change my routine now.
On my way out the door, though, I bumped into Cam Johnson, one of my father’s players. He reached out and caught my arms, gently steadying me. “Sorry, Sara. I didn’t hurt you, did I?”
Jonny was a big guy, a fighter. He was six foot four and towered over my five foot seven frame, but his height wasn’t the truly intimidating thing about him. The guy was 240 pounds or more of solid muscle. The suit he was wearing only emphasized his broad shoulders and beefy arms, and the buzz cut he always had made it easier to see the muscle even coming down his neck. Who the hell had a muscled neck? How did he even build muscle there?
The really pathetic thing was, I was crazy attracted to him. Had been for a while. I didn’t want to be because he was a hockey player, of all things, and I didn’t want to be with a hockey player. And he was one of Daddy’s players. And that meant he was completely and totally off limits. But every time I was around him, I got these little tingles of awareness.
I hated those tingles. I wanted to throw them into the pit of Mount Doom like they were the One Ring. Mainly because I only felt them when I was around Jonny, never when I was around anyone else. I’d hoped I might feel them with that guy Brad. Same hair. Close to the same height. Fit, but nowhere close to as built as Jonny—but who was?—but it was no good. No tingles. Bad sex.
And now a baby on the way.
Fuck me.
The tingles were going into overdrive right now, since Jonny was so close to me. He had his hands on my upper arms and I could smell his amazing cologne, and I didn’t want to move a muscle other than to maybe lean in a little closer so I could sniff his collar, which would be totally weird and not even remotely all right.
Jonny gave me a concerned look. “Are you okay? Did I hurt you?”
Oh yeah. He’d asked me a question. I totally spaced on that, thinking about neck muscles and those damn tingles. “No, I’m fine. Sorry. I was off in another world somewhere.”
“Okay.” He dropped his grip on my arms, and I wanted to sob. Then he took a step back from me and grinned—at least it was as close to a grin as this guy ever showed. “You look nice tonight. Did you do something different? A new top or something?”
“I…” What? In all the encounters I’d ever had with Cam Johnson, that might be the most he’d ever spoken to me, and he wanted to know if I’d worn a new shirt tonight? Where the hell had that come from? The only thing different about me was that I had learned I was an incubator for a tiny human. “No, nothing’s different,” I hedged. I wasn’t ready to tell anyone about that, and definitely not this guy.
He just nodded and backed away some more, letting his gaze travel all the way down my body and cause a shit-ton more tingles. “Well, you look nice. Maybe it’s your shoes. Those are really nice shoes. I’ve got to go talk to your dad now. See ya later.”
I nodded and spun on my Manolo Blahniks, desperate to get away from him so I could make the tingles stop. Come to think of it, I’d only worn these shoes a few times. Weird that he’d notice something like that. I shook it off and hurried up to the owner’s box as I’d intended to do when I’d first left Daddy’s office.
Dana Campbell—team captain Eric Zellinger’s fiancée and his best friend Brenden Campbell’s kid sister—was the only other person up there when I arrived, which was utterly perfect.
Dana was one of the best friends I’d made since Daddy had come to Portland to coach, and she was the primary reason I’d spent as much time around Jonny lately as I had. He had taught her some self-defense techniques. They still worked out together sometimes, and she liked having him around, so she always invited him along if we were doing something that wasn’t just the girls. Anyway, talking to her would help me get my mind off all the Jonny-tingles and baby daddy crap going through my head.
I plopped down in the seat right next to hers. “Let’s talk wedding details. I need something to make me smile.”
“How about this?” Dana tucked a curl of her long, blond hair behind her ear and leaned closer to me. “Brenden and Rachel agreed to do a double wedding. We’re going to have it in Providence this summer so Eric’s mom doesn’t have to fly.”
Yep, a double wedding was just what the doctor ordered. I pulled both my legs up so I was sitting cross-legged on my seat and settled in to dish.


Ultimately, the result of tonight’s game wouldn’t matter.
This was game eighty-two of the NHL’s eighty-two game season. My team, the Storm, was playing the Vancouver Canucks. No matter which team won this game, and no matter what happened in any of the other thirteen games going on around the league on this final day of the regular season, we already knew our fate and the Canucks already knew theirs.
The Storm would finish in third place in the Pacific Division. We were going to the playoffs, our first postseason appearance in five long years. I’d been here for four of them after spending a few years playing for the Baby Storm—what I’d always called the Seattle Storm, Portland’s minor league affiliate. I knew better than most how long overdue a trip to the dance was around here.
Also regardless of tonight’s outcome, the Canucks would finish in second place in the division. They had gotten into the postseason more often than not in recent years, but they had never won it all.
Those positions meant we would face each other in the first round.
So in a few days’ time, the two teams playing each other tonight would play again—and it would be all-out war for about a week or two. Best of seven. Winner moves on in the toughest tournament in all professional sports to compete for the Stanley Cup. Loser gets to call it a summer early and go home to work on the perfect golf swing.
The only things that mattered now were setting expectations and establishing a tone. We may not have gotten into the playoffs in the last five years, but we had no intention of going down easy, and they planned to make us pay for every inch of ice we wanted to take. For both teams, tonight was all about sending a message about what was to come in the first round.
The matchup would be interesting from a sports network perspective—the perennial playoff contender who had never won the big prize against the team made up of young players hungry to prove themselves and a few aging vets hoping for another shot at the Cup before they retired. It should make for an intriguing series from those storylines alone, but there was a lot more at play than just that.
The season series between our two teams had grown more and more contentious with every game. We didn’t like them; they didn’t like us. That went back pretty much twenty years or so, well before any of the players on the ice were in the league yet. Sometimes it seemed like we’d loathed each other since even before the Storm came into existence. It was a mutual, decades-old hate fest, and things had gotten progressively nastier each time we’d faced them over the course of the current season. The fact that we would have to play an entire seven-game series against them in just a few days had only served to intensify that hatred, if that were even possible.
It was still a scoreless game in the third period, and it had been filled with more than just a few hard—not to mention dirty—hits. On both sides. There was no pretending our play hadn’t skirted the line of legality just as much as theirs had. Anyone who tried to argue otherwise was full of shit.
But what was happening right before my eyes went beyond merely hitting.
I didn’t see what started it—something in the corner behind our net, where several guys from both teams had converged, it seemed—but I heard a bunch of angry shouting, and a scrum broke out in the blink of an eye. Each of our five guys paired off with a Canuck. Everyone in the building got on their feet—both benches, all the fans. No one could sit with that kind of tension on the verge of seriously boiling over. Our goaltender, Nicklas Ericsson, skated away from his crease and off to the corner so he couldn’t get dragged into the fray.
That made me breathe a little easier. Nicky had already missed quite a bit of action this season with a concussion. And really, the last guy you ever want fighting in hockey is your goaltender. The more distance he put between himself and all the shit going down on the ice, the better. That was the way I looked at it, at least.
Every guy on our bench was yelling and tapping his stick on the boards. The coaches paced behind us, screaming at the refs to get the melee under control and cheering our boys on just like the rest of us were.
But then the shit hit the fan.
One of the guys in visitors’ white took Andrew Jensen down hard. Jens was our number one defenseman and my road roommate this year. He wasn’t a fighter, but he had answered the call out there just like any of our boys would do in a pinch. Now he was flat out on the ice and not moving a muscle.
All the guys on the bench went berserk when we saw Jens on his back like that. The linesmen were trying to deal with a couple of the fights that were heading out toward center ice. One of the refs was down on the ice with Jens, and the other was trying to help Eddie Masters, our head trainer, get to Jens since it looked like he was in some serious trouble. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the stretcher come out for him, and that was something you never wanted to see. It almost always meant extremely bad news.
With all that going on, though, no one was doing a goddamned thing about the asswipe in white who’d just taken out our best fucking defenseman.
“Stay on the fucking bench,” Scotty Thomas yelled from close behind me. “No one leaves this bench or you’ll never see another fucking minute of ice time as long as I’m the coach here.”
The assistant coaches were shouting similar shit at us. They just wanted to be sure we all followed the rules. Back in the day, the NHL had experienced issues with bench-clearing brawls, so harsher punishments were instituted now for anyone who left the team’s bench in a situation like this. Automatic suspensions and fines for the player. Fines and possible suspensions for the coaches. Even heftier fines for the teams.
We all knew the rules.
I knew the fucking rules.
But I also knew it was my job to protect my teammates. I could score a goal here and there. I was a serviceable fourth-liner and penalty killer and I could move up the lineup when they needed me to, but I wasn’t going to kid myself. One of the main reasons the Storm kept me on the payroll year after year was because I didn’t let fuckers like that take out the star players on my team. Sometimes doing what was right was more important than following the fucking rules. I knew it. The coaches knew it. The league knew it. Everyone in the whole damn building fucking knew it.
Center Antoine Gagnon was holding his own with a guy who had a reputation as a fighter, much like I did. Good on the kid. Gags was a second-year guy, really young, who was still trying to establish himself as a regular. I’d never thought of him as a fighter before, though.
Keith Burns, our other defenseman on the ice for this shift, had his guy pinned against the glass, and they were both trying to catch their breath after a heavy bout. I wouldn’t be surprised if they went another round before the linesmen got to them to break things up. I hoped for Burnzie’s sake they didn’t. We needed him able to play, especially if Jens was going to be out for a chunk of time.
David Weber was in a big tilt with his guy—another heavyweight fighter for the Canucks—but Webs was a wily veteran who’d been in more fights in his career than just about anyone else on the team other than me. I didn’t need to worry about him.
Henrik Markusson had never even been in more than a shoving match before, though, at least not to my knowledge. Hank wasn’t holding up well. The guy he’d paired off with was pummeling him with one right hook on top of another. I could only hope Hank wouldn’t get hurt like Jens had. We couldn’t afford to lose either one of them right now with the playoffs being right around the corner. Someday soon I needed to take Hank aside and give him a few fighting pointers just in case he got stuck in a situation like this again. When a line-brawl starts, you don’t always get to pick which players are out on the ice for it.
But fighting tips would have to wait. This was happening in the here and now. I made notes in my mind, taking down numbers of the guys in white who would need to be dealt with when I finally got the chance—and I would get my fucking chance, since we were going to have a whole playoff series against each other starting in a few days.
But then I saw it: a streak of white, out of the corner of my eye, heading straight in Nicky’s direction. The same fucker who’d laid Jens out was going for my goddamn goaltender.
Nicky didn’t have to fight him, at least not according to the rules in place. He could refuse. But if this asswipe started throwing blows, what the hell was Nicky supposed to do? He would have to protect himself, and then he’d be fighting, and that was not something I could let happen.
“Stay the fuck where you are. No one leaves this fucking bench.”
I heard Scotty’s shout, and I knew he meant for me—for all of us, really—to stay put and be good little soldiers.
“That means you, Jonny,” Bergy bellowed from right by my ear. “Keep your ass on the bench. Don’t you fucking put a skate over the boards.”
Yeah, that one was definitely directed straight at me and no one else. Bergy knew me well since he’d still been playing when I came into the league. I actually fought him once, so he knew exactly what I was. Hockey player. Fighter. Some people called me a goon. I wasn’t a goon, but I couldn’t sit back and let certain things happen.
Things like this fucker making a beeline for my goaltender.
I felt Bergy’s hands on the back of my jersey, trying to physically restrain me and keep me on the bench.
I didn’t give a shit.
All that mattered at that moment in time was that it was my job to protect my teammates.
So that’s exactly what I did.