Sway: Keeping Score Book 6

Gideon Maynard is football royalty. Generations of his family have played the game, owned the teams, run the leagues . . . and so it’s no surprise that Gideon is the starting quarterback and star player for the Richmond Rebels. But underneath his aloof yet drool-worthy exterior, he’s nursing a bruised and skittish heart.

Sarah Jenkins swore off dating athletes years ago. She’s completely committed to her career in politics and public relations and to life as a single woman, and that’s the way she likes it, thank you very much.

When the two meet through friends, the attraction is instant and undeniable, but both Gideon and Sarah are smart enough to know that a relationship isn’t in the cards for them. Slowly, though, they find a way to friendship . . . and eventually, to something even deeper.

But just as playing football takes more than talent and hard work, a lasting love requires more than steamy nights and passionate kisses. Forever means believing in scary ideas like trust and forgiveness.

Is a happily-ever-after possible for two hurting, broken souls who are willing to risk it all for a love that won’t end?

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A sneak peek!

“Gideon.” I stopped in front of him, the side of my leg brushing against the skirt of the chair upon which he was leaning. “I’m so glad to see you here tonight. I wanted to talk to you.”

His eyes met mine, that vivid blue slicing through me, traveling down the length of my body and then returning to my face.

“Hey, Sarah.”

His voice was a rumble, low and intimate, and I nearly lost my nerve. But . . . in for a penny, in for a pound.

“I needed to see you tonight . . . to tell you that I’m carrying your child.” I pressed the hand not holding my beer to my flat abdomen. “You’re going to be a daddy in a few months.”

It had been a gamble, using this preposterous lie to shock Gideon into relaxing a little and chatting with me, and for a terrifying moment, I was afraid I’d overplayed my hand. His face went as white as his dress shirt, and his eyes were blank with shock. Those full, sensuous lips that had brought me so much pleasure parted as he gaped at me.

I couldn’t torture him any longer. Doubling over, I snorted in laughter before I raised my beer bottle to my lips and took a long swig.

“Breathe, QB.” I lowered the bottle and wiped my mouth with the back of my hand. “Oh, my sweet Jesus, you should’ve seen your face.”

Color was returning to his cheeks, and along with it, a flare of anger in his eyes. “That wasn’t funny, Sarah. Not one damn bit.”

“Oh, it was just a little funny.” I held up my finger and my thumb about half an inch apart. “If you had stopped to think one minute before you reacted, you would have realized that, for one, we practiced safe sex, and two, here I am, drinking a beer. Not exactly expectant mommy behavior.” I poked his ribs. “Besides which, what kind of woman would do that? I would hope you’d think better of me than that, Gideon, even if we’ve only known each other a little while.”

“You have no idea.” Gideon tilted back his head and drained his glass. “That kind of thing . . . it’s the subject of too many cautionary tales to make it a joke. From the time I was in high school, my parents have been warning me about safe sex and not putting myself into a position where a woman could claim I was the father of her child. That’s why hookups and one-night stands are so dangerous. No wonder they were so happy when I was with—” He broke off abruptly. “Anyway, safe sex or not, accidents happen. So no, that wasn’t at all a funny joke, Sarah.”

I rolled my eyes. “Point taken, but honestly, you deserved it.”

“Oh?” He quirked one eyebrow in that way that made him look like the lord of the manner. “How so, exactly? What have I done to you to earn that kind of treatment?”

I set one hand on my hip and tilted my head, giving him my best scolding stare. “You totally ignored me from the minute you got here today. You cut me dead earlier, before the ceremony. You didn’t even bother to stop by my table and say hello during the cocktail hour. Which, okay, well, that’s your prerogative, if you’re going to insist on being anti-social. But I finally walk right up to you, and all you can say is, ‘Hey, Sarah’? Seriously?”

Gideon flushed and rubbed one hand over his jaw. “What did you want from me? Was I supposed to sweep you into a kiss or some shit like that?” He shook his head. “This is why women make me crazy. You say one thing, but really, you have a completely different agenda in mind. A whole other set of expectations.”

“Oh, pul-ease.” I pretended to gag. “That’s utter bullshit—and you’re spouting it off because you know I’m right. If I was a guy who you spent the night with four months ago—”

“Never would’ve happened, princess. I don’t swing that way.”

I ignored his snarky interruption. “—a guy you hung out with at a party and then had a drink with at a bar after, then you would’ve waved the first time you saw me today, and you would’ve made sure to say hello at some point this evening. We would’ve tossed back some beers and caught up.”

A tick in his cheek twitched. “Maybe. You could be right. But we’ll never know, because you’re not a guy, and we did a hell of a lot more than hang out.” He shifted, and I sensed how uneasy he seemed, how uncomfortable he was—and that wasn’t just because of me.

Of course—he hated parties, and here he was, stuck at this one, forced to give the appearance of socializing . . . and too far from home to sneak away to his own space. I caught my bottom lip between my teeth, considering my options here.

“Hey.” I reached down and picked up his hand, holding it loosely in mine. It was just a friendly gesture, nothing seductive or romantic, but Gideon stared at our touching fingers as though we held a ticking bomb between us.

Still, I didn’t let go or move away. I couldn’t articulate, even to myself, why this mattered to me—but it did. Gideon Maynard, football legacy, sizzling hot and gifted quarterback with a bright and shiny future ahead of him, was the most alone man I’d ever met. It wasn’t my job to care, but I found myself in that place anyway.

“Hey,” I repeated. “It’s warm in here, isn’t it? I was thinking that I’d like to get out of the tent and maybe walk on the beach a little.” I pointed to the opening that led into the velvety darkness. “But I probably shouldn’t go by myself. The boogeyman might snatch me.”

Gideon’s lip curled. “I have a feeling he wouldn’t keep you long.”

Pretending I didn’t hear him, I tugged his hand. “C’mon. Keep me safe. I promise that I won’t compromise you out there.”

Still he hesitated, until I blew out a long breath of exasperation. “Gideon. Listen to me. I don’t have designs on you. I don’t want a reprise of our night in Richmond. But you promised to be my friend of convenience at stuff like this, and I’m holding you to that. Friends of convenience go for walks on the beach when the other friend needs it.”

“And you really need to go on a walk, out there in the sand?” Gideon wore an expression of long-suffering tolerance.

“No, QB, you need to go for a walk out there in the sand.” I pulled him again. “Come on. Trust me.”

 

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Climate Change, Controversy and the Anti-Cinderella Chronicles

When I began writing The Anti-Cinderella Chronicles, I didn’t know much about the characters. I knew a bit about their history together, about what their future would hold, but as far as interests, careers . . . that was still hazy.

However, I knew from Fifty Frogs that Kyra’s roommate was Vivian’s sister Shelby, and  Shelby was a graduate student at a college in Maine. So that meant Kyra was in Maine, too . . . and it just so happened that my youngest daughter had recently transferred to a college in Maine.

Unity is a young school, established in 1965. It is known as America’s Environmental College, and since my daughter was majoring in sustainable agriculture, it was her dream school. Winning the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship allowed her to realize that dream.

None of us had visited Unity the weekend that we dropped off Cate. But it made enough of an impression on me that I realized something important: both Kyra and Nicky were involved in sustainability in various ways, whether that was food sourcing, agriculture or the over-arching need to redeem our environment.

So that’s how two of my lead characters became activists.

From the beginning, a few readers mentioned this sub-story. For me, it’s important that my characters are well-rounded, with rich histories and deep passions not only for each other but for their talents, their careers or their hobbies. It made perfect sense that if Kyra was pursuing her graduate degree in sustainable ag, she’d have a lot to say on the subject (I might have first-hand knowledge on that!).

All of my books include details and some research into whatever career the characters have chosen. Thus I was a tad surprised that readers seemed to react strongly one way or the other to Kyra and Nicky’s work. And with the release of the latest book, those reactions seemed to ramp up a little more.

So let’s talk about this.

First, we’ll acknowledge the elephant in the room. Yes, I personally  believe that climate change is real, that our planet is hurting and that humans are systematically and definitely destroying our one and only world. That’s something I’ve always acknowledged as truth, even back in the days when I was more conservative politically. I’m a product of the 1970’s, after all, when we were all trying to be more environmentally conscious.

But please keep reading, even if you don’t agree with me.

In addition to my sustainability and environmental beliefs, I also am convinced that climate change and ecological responsibility are not a political topic. Politicians of every stripe have attempted to make them political for their own advantages.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. My daughter and I were talking the other day. She said, “It just doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t take much to make some small changes, and even if you’re skeptical about whether or not climate change is real, it doesn’t hurt anyone to make those changes. Worst case, you’ve left the earth a little bit cleaner.”

Hey, I’m not naive. I understand that some of the changes needed aren’t little ones, and I know that they could impact the bottom line of big companies. If you don’t buy that the science is legit, you’d be loathe to make changes that would cost you some bucks.

And while I find recent studies very credible (and damn scary!), I also don’t believe that all science is right on target. After all, we’ve seen that things are changing all the time. But in this case, all the evidence points to the need for all of us, all over the world, to pull together and do whatever we can to help.

I think it’s important to note something, too. I write romance. Fiction. The books in question don’t claim to be treatises on this topic. They’re entertaining stories about people who came from my imagination. So while you may not agree with the inclusion of touchy subjects, please remember that this is all supposed to be fun.

I promise you, the book contains more couple time than controversy.

One reader asked me whether all of my books from now on would include some element of this ‘controversial’ topic. No. That would be silly and limiting, because not all of my characters are involved in this line of work. Kyra and Nicky are . . . and yes, there may be some of the same in the next book in this world, A Dozen Dreams. But I have 71 other books NOT in the Anti-Cinderella World that don’t even mention climate change or sustainability. Try those!

Will I go back and change things in the existing Anti-Cinderella world to avoid controversy? HELL, no. These are my books. These are characters created in my mind, people who are real to me and whose opinions, actions and emotions sprang from genuine inspiration. They remind me of the real-life people whose work I admire, of my daughter and her passion for growing food in a more sustainable manner, of those who sacrifice much in order to make this world a better place.

Today is World Environment Day. If you are offended by the idea of protecting our earth, if you are not alarmed by the dwindling ability of our planet to support its population, if you are not heartbroken by the growing numbers of extinct or endangered species . . . then maybe today doesn’t matter to you.

But it matters to me. It matters to my children, and it will matter to my sweet grandbaby. And if doesn’t matter to more of us, and soon, the consequences will force our hands.

Happy World Environment Day, y’all. Go hug a tree, plant a flower, turn off lights you don’t need, walk instead of drive, kiss a farmer . . . and hey, read the latest Anti-Cinderella book. Even if you don’t agree with climate change, it’s a dang good love story, and we all need more of those.

 

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Celebrating!

Once upon a time, I wrote a book . . . and then I wrote a bunch more. I published my very first book (FEARLESS) on December 6, 2011, about seven and a half years ago.
I remember the feelings I had, the trepidation, the anxiety–and then the inevitable let-down, because honestly, not much changed. I didn’t hit top lists or even sell more than a couple of copies. {Side note: there was good reason for that. I had no idea what I was doing, the cover sucked and I didn’t know from promotion and PR in those days!}
For subsequent releases, I had more realistic expectations. I didn’t wait for accolades and confetti; I did everything I could and hoped for the best, and that’s still been my philosophy.
But I have a confession: from the beginning, from that first book, I wanted the celebration. I wanted my family and friends to be excited for me. This was huge in my world! I wanted to go out to dinner, I wanted to talk with people who’d read the book, I wanted flowers and wine and  . . . well, recognition.
In the years between that debut and now, today, when my 75th book went live, I’ve gotten used to low-key releases. The positive part is that I don’t stress. I don’t worry. I know authors who need Valium to get through each new release day, and I’m glad I don’t. That being said . . .
I still want the celebration.
And that’s why today, this very morning, I had an epiphany. If I want the celebration, by gum, I’m going to make it myself. Today I’m not doing housework or hunkering down to hit my word count. Today, I’m going to treat myself to a leisurely bath. I’m going to read for pleasure. I’m going to eat something delicious for lunch, and when my family comes home, we’re going to have a celebratory dinner (they don’t know this yet).
What’s more, I’m not containing my celebration to only one day. No, sirree! Tomorrow, we’re having a family dinner to recognize that 75 releases is a damn good thing to appreciate. Thursday, I might go get a pedicure. On Friday, I’m taking the whole entire day completely off. And Saturday, I’m going to the beach.
I think that’s one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my fifties. We have to ask for what we need–and if no one else is going to supply that need, we have to be willing to do it ourselves.
Meanwhile, I want to recognize that YOU my amazing readers always make me feel special, loved, appreciated and yes, celebrated. My Temptresses especially post on release days, share the memes and pictures and tell their friends that they LOVE my books. All of you truly are my joy, and I thank you for that.
So celebrate with me this week. You deserve it, too! Watch on Instagram as I chronicle the celebrations . . . and tell me your favorite ways to mark special occasions. <3

The royal wedding was only the beginning of my happy ending . . .

I’m now a full-fledged member of the royal family. That means all my problems are over, doesn’t it?

Apparently not.

Even though I’m now a princess-by-marriage and a duchess-by-title, I’m still the same Kyra who’s prone to putting her sneaker-clad foot into her mouth.

It’s a good thing Nicky loves me. Our work is thriving and our marriage is strong. Together, we can tackle any challenge. But it’s not until our peaceful existence is threatened that I realize how precious it is.

And they lived happily ever after . . . right?

Live Now!

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Two new Career Soldier Books! Are you ready?

I have a super-fun surprise for everyone who loved the sexy six soldiers and their strong and sassy women in the first Career Soldier books.

The next two books are about to be released. Evergreen: A Career Soldier Christmas and Army Blue: A Career Soldier Wedding, will both go live on Tuesday, September 25th.

You can preorder the books on iBooks, Amazon, Nook, Kobo and Google . . . OR you can buy them now right here on my website.

But wait, there’s more! If you buy Army Blue on my web store, you’ll get a special bonus chapter won’t be available anywhere else. Ever.

Three more Career Soldiers will release in 2019, too. You’ll meet some of those characters in Army Blue.

So grab your copies now or place your preorders.

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BUY THE BOOK Web Store  iBooks  Amazon  Nook  Kobo  Google  D2D