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Year in Love Blog Hop

Crimson Romance: A Year In Love Blog Hop June 4-25
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UPDATE!! ALL CONTESTS HAVE CLOSED & ALL WINNERS HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED. But that doesn't mean you can't read the fabulous variety of excepts posted for the hop, and you can also still read the free short story written by several Crimson Romance authors.*winks*
 
Come join ‘we happy few, we band of sisters’ in celebrating our first year as published authors under the Crimson Romance banner. What sets us apart from other romance writers? The diversity of story, the quality of writing and the amazingly original concepts of our writers are unlike any found in usual formula romance. We are unique, as people, as storytellers, as women. So Blog Hop with us, share a comment, sign up to win free book giveaways and prizes (INCLUDING 2 X $50 GIFT CARDS!!), follow the original round-robin story from chapter to chapter, and read excerpts from books that capture the imagination, scratch your itch for a really good love story, and take you on journeys of the heart and soul. We’ll have a Blog Hopping Blast together!
 
Welcome to my contribution for the CR Sister's A Year in Love Blog Hop!  Lots of fun stuff for you to read, plus several opportunities to win some fabulous prizes - and it all starts here!

First, let me tell you about the two main prizes that we have on offer. We have two $50 gift cards to give away - one for Amazon and one for Barnes & Noble! To be in with a chance to win one of these gift cards, just go to the Rafflecopter at the end of this post and follow the instructions. You can enter on any of the blogs participating in the Blog Hop, and you can find all of the blogs participating by clicking on the Blog Hop badge at the top of this post. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!

Second, I am holding my own giveaway - a chance to win an ecopy of my debut  novel If the Shoe Fits. This one will be super-easy for you - all you need to do is leave a comment below and mention the hero and heroine's name from If the Shoe Fits, and seeing as I'm posting the blurb right below this paragraph, that shouldn't be too hard a question. *winks* I'll pop everyone's name into a virtual hat, and pick a winner at the end of the hop. If you aren't reachable by clicking on your blogger name, please leave an email address or Twitter handle so that I can notify you if you've won!



The Blurb


Life isn’t a fairy tale… except when it is.
There’s nothing wrong with Ella Gibson’s life— it just isn’t very exciting, despite being surrounded by lingerie. Working for Cardiff’s top modelling agency should have been glamorous, but most of the time Ella is running around with memos and cups of coffee. It’s a far cry from living the dream, but skirting the edge of her fantasy life is enough.
Then comes the day when her cat starts to talk, claiming to be Ella’s fairy godmother. As if that weren’t crazy enough, the pesky puss becomes a fashion advisor and behavioral expert, too. Add an evil ex-stepmother, a hunk called Max Charming, plus a looming party-cum-ball, and you have all the elements of a classical fairy tale. There’s even a couple of ugly sisters—the fact that they are two gorgeous gay men being neither here nor there.
Ella’s not your typical fairy-tale princess though, and it will take more than a discarded glass slipper to get her man. It’s quite possible she may have to curb her enthusiasm for cursing a wee bit, not to mention her love of vodka. And can Muse, her surprisingly straight-laced feline friend, overcome her prudishness long enough for Ella to sneak a kiss or three with her intended beau?
Round Robin Exclusive
Lastly - and this was the most fun thing I did for the hop - myself and six other CR Sisters co-wrote an exclusive short story just for the fun of it! I had the dubious honour of opening the story, which I will post below in just a moment. But first I need to tell you about the fabulous prize we have on offer. Yes, that's right - another prize!! All seven co-authors of the Round Robin story are offering an ecopy of their book as a prize for naming the story. That's a whopping seven book bundle for the person who can come up with a fabulous title for our genre-hopping, multi-authored story. All you need to do to be in with a chance to win is read through the entire story, and leave your title suggestion in the comments section of the very last story chapter. All chapters are linked for ease of reading, so this will be a clickety-click, a hop, and a skip for you! Again, when you leave your title suggestion, be sure that we can contact you if you are the lucky winner! A clickable blogger name, Twitter handle, or good old-fashioned email address is all you need!

Before you start reading, I just need to give you a heads up - as the story progresses, it hots up a wee bit, so be prepared for a little steam!

That's the end of my rambling - here's the first part of the story. Enjoy!!

CHAPTER ONE

“Damn it.”

Storm thrust her foot down on the brake and her beaten-up truck shuddered to a halt in a cloud of Texas dust. Closing her eyes, she counted slowly to five in her head, and mentally crossed her fingers that she hadn’t killed anything, though the sickening bump she had felt prior to slamming on the brakes hadn’t sounded good.

“Please, please, please...” she said under her breath, as she unbuckled her seat belt and climbed out. She grabbed her bag from the passenger seat, glad that she had it with her, but praying she wouldn’t have to use it. As she stepped into the sun, she wobbled on her feet, blinking to clear her vision. Muttering to herself, she reached back into the truck for her sunglasses. The glare from the sun was bad enough, but with dust still filling the air, it was practically impossible to see more than a few inches in front of her.

“What did I hit?” she asked the empty desert, not really expecting an answer, but needing the reassurance of a human voice. Taking careful steps, she walked around the perimeter of her truck, looking for some sort of sign. There were no tracks that she could make out, but she supposed her truck skidding to a swift stop would have covered them anyway. She was at least glad to note that there was no blood, though as there was no sign of a body either, she wasn’t wholly convinced that was a good thing.

The dust was settling now, and she was able to scan the immediate area. Shading her eyes, she turned in a full circle, but was still unable to see what – if anything – she had hit. If she was lucky, it might have just been a tire blowing.

She was starting to feel relieved when she heard a low whine. Her shoulders slumped as she realized that the noise was coming from beneath her truck. Throwing her bag to the floor, she instinctively made soft crooning noises as she crouched down, placing her head at an awkward angle so that she could look under the truck. She was immediately thankful that it was still the middle of the afternoon. She had a decent flashlight in her vet’s bag, but the battery had died during her last consultation.

“Who have we got here, then?” she said softly, and was rewarded with another soft whine. It was a dog, of that she was certain. Only a canine made that noise; a cross between a whimper and a howl.
“Right then, sweetie, let me see how I can help you, there’s a good thing...”

Storm scooted as far under the truck as she could, and came face to face with a pair of beautiful brown eyes, though they were currently dulled with shock. The brown eyes were surrounded by a mass of white fluff, and Storm could just about make out the edges of a bright pink collar.

“Come on, girl, you’ll be fine. What’s a sweet little poodle like you doing out in the desert, anyway?”

The dog whined again, and Storm carefully held her hand in front of the dog’s face. The poodle licked her fingers, which Storm took as a good omen. Continuing to croon softly, she gently ran her hands over the dog’s body, trying to discern any obvious injuries. There weren’t any signs of blood, but that didn’t mean that the dog wasn’t bleeding internally. She couldn’t feel any broken bones, either.

“I need to get you out, sweetie, so bear with me.”

There was no telling what damage had been caused, but in order to find out, there was no other choice but to pull the dog out from under the truck. Storm checked along the collar, and discovered a leash; following the length, she discovered the other end trapped under a wheel.

“Well I guess we know how you ended up under the truck,” she sighed. “Hang on, doll, I’ll be right back.”

The poodle whined in protest, but Storm was only away long enough to grab a scalpel from her bag. Thirty seconds later, she had cut through the leash and was gently dragging the dog out into the open air. Once it was free, the dog showed signs of distress, whimpering and pawing at the ground. Storm held her down with one hand while she used the other to give a more thorough examination of the dog’s limbs.

“Well, everything on the outside looks good, honey, but you’re going to need to come back to the surgery for an x-ray.”

Scooping the poodle into her arms, Storm went to stand up, but was overcome by a prickling sensation at the back of her neck. At the same time she registered the unpleasant sensation, she saw the shadow of someone looming over her.

“You ran over my dog.”

The poodle barked and scrambled to get out of Storm’s arms, but she managed to keep hold of it. She was instantly on the alert. She was in the middle of the desert – well, it seemed like the desert – and she was alone. The voice had been deep, obviously a man. And she had run over his dog, so he wasn’t likely to be happy. Taking a steadying breath, she stood up and turned, prepared to greet the dog’s owner.

First she stared at the tanned, bare toes. Then her gaze went up. And up. Past the equally tanned calves, and beyond the muscular thighs, encased in a pair of cut-off denims. She’d barely appreciated the legs when her vision was assaulted by the vast amount of torso on show, sparsely haired, and toned, she suspected, on a regular basis. 

She had difficulty keeping her jaw from dropping.

She lost the battle when she reached his face. Strong chiseled features complemented the deep, green eyes of the stranger, and his dark hair flopped haphazardly across his wide brow. And as if he didn’t already have every other physical perfection, there was also a dimple in the cleft of his chin that simply begged for attention.

“Hot,” she muttered.

“Excuse me?”

“I’m hot,” she said, recovering herself quickly. She fanned herself for a moment before offering him her hand. “Storm.”

“Excuse me?” he said again.

“My name,” she said patiently. “I’m Storm Halliwell.”

The stranger took her hand and clasped it firmly, shaking it for a few seconds. Storm had a devil of a job from fanning herself again.

“Well, Storm, you ran over my dog. Is she OK?”

“I need to check her for internal injuries, but so far she seems fine. I don’t think I actually ran over her. I think her leash got caught on my wheel, and she hit the front of the truck. I wasn’t going very fast, but I felt the thump when she hit.”

Damn, she was rambling.

The man took a step towards her, and held his arms out. Flustered, Storm took a step back, but relinquished her hold on the dog. His fingers brushed briefly against her ribcage and she had to stop herself from flinching at the light touch. She spoke to cover her embarrassment.

“I have to admit, I wouldn’t put you down as a poodle owner. What’s her name?”

“Ariadne; Ari for short,” he replied softly. “Is your truck roadworthy?”

“Yes,” she replied, a little taken aback. “I already told you, I wasn’t going fast. This wasn’t a major accident.”

“I know that,” he said, walking over to her truck. “But your truck is sort of...” He shrugged, then smiled apologetically. Storm followed his gaze and saw her truck from his perspective. It was true; it did look like it was destined to rust in the desert.
“It’s old, but it does the job,” she said ruefully. “Er.., you’re going to come back with me, are you?”

“Well, I could carry her to town, but if she needs a vet, then I’d prefer it if it was sooner rather than later.”

“She’s already seen a vet.”

The stranger raised his eyebrows.

“I’m the vet in Marfa. I was out on a consult, and ran over... Ari... on my way home.”

The man looked surprised, but didn’t say anything. He climbed into the passenger seat of the truck and settled the dog in his lap. Shaking herself slightly, Storm grabbed her bag from the floor and jumped behind the steering wheel, trying not to get distracted by the large naked thigh practically touching her leg. She wasn’t in the habit of picking up strange men, never mind offering them a lift, but what else could she do? She started the engine and stole a quick glance to her right. The man was petting the dog with long, smooth strokes, and was murmuring softly to it. The poodle was visibly relaxed; in fact, if she didn’t know any better, she’d say it was purring. How did a poodle purr, anyway?

“Seriously, a poodle?” she said aloud.

“Why not?”

“Oh, well, it’s just that a poodle is such a girly dog, and you’re not...”

“Girly?” He flashed another smile.

“A girl,” she clarified, scowling a little. “You’re a man.”

“Glad you spotted that. I’d be worried if you thought otherwise. Especially as you’re going to be looking after my girl, here.”

She should have laughed. Normally she would have laughed. But she had a man in her truck. A jaw-dropping Adonis brought to life, with a smile to die for, and a dimple. She had a thing for dimples.

She drove for twenty minutes, at a speed that was far from break-neck, but fast enough to get her home in as little time as possible. The man continued to talk softly to Ari, all the while stroking the dog with long, fluid movements. She wished he would say something to her. She wished she could say something to him. She had never felt so awkward in her life. And she kept wondering what it would be like if he used those long-fingered hands to stroke her.

“Who are you, anyway?” she blurted, exasperated by her inner rambling.

“My name?”

“Well, that would be a start,” she huffed. She spared a quick glance at the poodle, which was still doing a pretty good impression of a contented cat. She’d still need to do an x-ray, but she wasn’t too worried. If the dog was purring – or whatever the hell it was – then there was a pretty strong chance that she was going to be fine.

“She’s fine,” he said calmly, startling her. “Don’t worry about her. I’ll be happy when I get it confirmed, but she’s going to be fine. She was more scared than anything.”

“Excuse me?” she spluttered, echoing his earlier words. “How can you know that? She could be bleeding internally! She could have any number of injuries! Aren’t you worried in the slightest?”

“She’s fine,” he repeated, giving her another shrug. “I know she is. It’s Blake, by the way.”

“Huh? I mean, what? I mean... I don’t know what I mean.”

The man patted her hand, then returned his attention to the dog. Storm had to will herself to concentrate on the road. Thankfully, her house was in sight.

“Don’t worry, Storm. Ari is fine; trust me. I don’t have anything to worry about, and neither do you.”

“You’re very free with the use of my name, considering you only just met me. And considering I almost killed your dog.” 

She parked the truck in front of her house, which was where her vet’s office was also located. They both got out, and Storm walked around to take Ari into her arms. Adonis held his head to the side, and looked at her.

“A name is a name. Doesn’t matter if it’s a first name, last name, or a title. It’s just a name."  Another shrug, followed by him reaching back for his dog.

“And your name is... Blake?” 

“Yeah.”

“No other name? Just Blake?” she half teased, trying, and failing, to take the dog back.

“Just Blake,” he repeated, piercing her with an intense gaze.

“Fine,” she said, holding her hands up. “You take her, just Blake, and follow me.”
Read Chapter 2 ->
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1 comment:

  1. It sounds very interesting!
    i like the post very much keep it up
    Yah this blog is making a dfference. I love it.
    Buy AC online

    ReplyDelete