A sneak peek of FALL IN LOVE IN A SMALL TOWN

Enjoy a little taste of Fall in Love in a Small Town, coming September 28th!

Liberty

Sexy underwear on a freshly washed and shaved body? Check.

Dress that’s just the right mix of flirty and fun? Check.

Sassy new hairstyle that makes me look sophisticated–at least I hope so? Check.

Taking a deep, cleansing yoga breath, I gave myself one more encouraging grin in the mirror before I turned away. I’d set up the files I’d brought home from the society’s document library on my kitchen table, and there was a bottle of my favorite shiraz breathing on the counter next to two brand-new wine glasses. I’d been going for serious-business-evening alongside the suggestion of let’s-have-some-fun. I hoped that I’d struck the right note.

The knock on the door made me jump, even though I’d been waiting for it. I shook my head to dispel some nerves and yanked open the door.

Jacob stood on the other side, one hand resting on the wall of my small porch. The light jacket he wore was faded and almost threadbare; I recognized it from our high school days. Back then, seeing him wear it had made me sigh and wish. But right now? The way it clung to arms that had gotten a lot more bulked up since we were teenagers? Total droolfest.

He was wearing old jeans, too, and I knew the way they fit him was going to tempt me to stare at his very fine ass all evening. That wasn’t going to be a hardship.

“Hey, Lib.” His eyes swept over me from head to toe, and was I imagining it, or did I see a flare of heat in his expression? If so, it was too fleeting to be sure. And when he bent to kiss my cheek in greeting, it felt like he was keeping things brotherly, not suggestive.

Damn it.

“C’mon in, Jake,” I invited, stepping back as I eyed the backpack he had over one sculpted shoulder. “What do you have there?”

“Notebooks, binders, my laptop, and a portable scanner,” he answered, dropping the bag in a kitchen chair and unzipping it. “Tools of my trade.”

“Of course.” I smiled, nodding at him. “You come well-prepared.”

He stared at me for a moment and then muttered something under his breath. I wasn’t sure what he said, but it sounded like Not really. Whatever that was supposed to mean.

“Can I pour you some wine? I’m going to have a glass.” I moved toward the counter to give myself a little room before I did something crazy. Something like wrapping myself around him and climbing his body like a tree.

“Um . . .” Jacob looked almost mystified by the question. “Uh, sure. Yeah, wine sounds good.” He sat down and pulled out his laptop. “Sometimes I forget that you’re not still an underage kid, Lib. I was about to ask you how you managed to get ahold of wine.”

I rolled my eyes, irritated. “Jesus, Jacob. I’m twenty-five years old. Just two years younger than you. Newsflash . . . I do all kinds of grown-up things now. I buy alcohol, own a car, rent a house, go on dates . . .” Inspiration struck along with a kind of reckless courage I hadn’t known I possessed. Circling the small table, I stood next to him, closer than I had to, and leaned over to place the wine glass on the other side of his computer. I angled my body just enough to give him an eagle-eye view down the scooped neckline of my dress.

Lowering my voice, I completed my sentence, staring him in the eye.

“I even have sex. Believe it or not.”

Jake’s throat worked, and his mouth dropped open a little. Without looking away from me–almost as though he was powerless to do so–he reached for his wine and took a long drink. When he spoke again, his voice was raspy.

“Oh, I believe it, Liberty. I totally believe it.”

Coming September 28th

LEARN MORE HERE!!

A New Look for the Crystal Cove Books!

The Posse was my game-changer book.

I was a baby author, and I’d released four young adult paranormal romances. I was thinking of what came next–it was meant to be Rafe and Nell’s books. And then one day, I’d gone to the beach with the kids, and as I drove home, suddenly a story fell into my lap. Or my head, as it were . . . and unlike most of my other stories, this one was definitely adult, not supernatural at all, and I knew the entire thing, beginning to end, from the moment it was conceived.

Before I reached home that day, I knew the names, the characters . . . and the setting. Crystal Cove is based loosely on the Florida beach town of New Smyrna Beach, although I take lots of liberties–Crystal Cove is its own entity by now.

I have a special place in my heart for The Posse (and for The Plan and The Path and The Problem which followed), so I was especially thrilled when the talented Stacey Blake created these gorgeous new covers.

To celebrate, The Posse will be discounted through July.

Jude

I’ve always believed in second chances. But I never thought I’d need one.

And then my husband Daniel, my childhood sweetheart, father of my two almost-grown kids, died and left me alone with my memories, our family beach restaurant . . . and his life-long friends, the Posse.

I’m a little surprised–and suspicious–when a few of those friends begin to wine and dine me a year after Daniel’s death. I know they promised to look after me, but this is above and beyond. What’s really shaking me up, though, is that one of them tempts me to believe that maybe I’m not quite finished with love yet.

Logan

For most of my life, I silently watched my best friend love the only woman I ever wanted.

When Daniel died, I lost a guy who was like a brother to me. Along with the rest of our friends, I promised to look after his wife, Jude. Only . . . maybe I want to be more than just her pal.

It’s not going to be easy to convince her that we can be together without betraying our past. But I’ve loved Jude too long to give up on the future we could share. 

Buy it here!

 

Emmy

I’ve always believed in second chances. But I never thought I’d get one.

I’m a hard-working, no-nonsense woman, hell-bent on supporting my family and growing my pie business. Working weekend nights at The Riptide is just something I do to help pay the bills. When it comes to men–or love–I’m not interested. Since the day my surfer-boy husband walked out the door to find bigger waves, I knew I’d never give another man power over my heart.

But one night with Cooper might change that.

Cooper

I’ve been married–and divorced–twice, and I’ve got no desire to make it a trifecta. Being a single dad to my teen-aged daughter keeps me busy, and my carpentry business offers the only passion I need. The Posse, my best friends since boyhood, tease me about finding the right woman. But I know she doesn’t exist.

When I share a casual hook-up late one night with Emmy, it isn’t a big deal. It’s just a one-time thing. Until it isn’t. And although neither of us will admit to ourselves or each other that we want more, each encounter only brings us closer to the happily-ever-after we never planned to have.

Buy it here!

Abby

I’ve always believed in second chances. But I never thought I’d want one. 

I came to the small beach community of Crystal Cove to start over. After a painful affair broke my heart and derailed my burgeoning career, taking over management for the just-opened bed-and-breakfast was the safe choice. In this sleepy town, I figure I can bury my memories and forget the pain.

When I’m offered the chance to oversee the refurbishment of an old hotel in the Cove, I can’t resist the temptation. Bringing the Riverside Inn back to life offers me a second chance I never expected. It would be perfect if the man doing the work wasn’t both irritating and intriguing. Yes, his passion for the hotel is irresistible. But I see another spark in his eyes . . . one that threatens to ignite part of me I thought was dormant.

Ryland

Landing the job of restoring the Riverside Inn is a dream come true. The only problem is the woman in charge of the project. Abby Donavan is a prissy perfectionist, too worried about rules to appreciate my vision.

Still, I suspect that underneath that cool exterior beats a heart that burns with wild flames. If I can only convince her to trust me, I know we could build more than just an exquisite hotel. But second chances are risky when the past is painful. 

Buy it here!

Tawdra Kandle writes romance, in just about all its forms. She loves unlikely pairings, strong women, sexy guys, hot love scenes, and just enough conflict to make it interesting. Her books include new adult and adult contemporary romance; under the pen name Tamara Kendall, she writes paranormal romance, and under the pen name Tessa Kent, she writes erotic romance. Tawdra lives in central Florida with her husband, a sweet pup, and too many cats. Assorted grown children and a perfect granddaughter live nearby. And yeah, she rocks purple hair.

You can follow Tawdra on Amazon to receive updates on her releases. You can also visit her website for more information, and subscribe to her newsletter for sales announcements, special exclusive content, and promotions.

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The last time

Never pass a chance to say “I love you” | Sayings, Quotes, Say i love you

We rarely recognize last times when they come.

I’m the mother of four (mostly) grown children, and I couldn’t tell you that I recall the last diaper I changed as a mama, the last time I nursed my youngest, the last time I cuddled a little one who woke up in the middle of the night with a bad dream.

During the course of COVID lockdowns, we were unable to be with so many of our beloved church people, those living in senior centers, and over those months, we lost several to death or to relocating after a spouse’s passing. As I’ve come back to Sunday worship, those losses are all the more poignant because I didn’t know when I saw them last that it was . . . the last. 

Fourteen years ago tonight, I was going through lasts with my mother.

The last time her eyes opened and she knew me.

The last time she spoke to me.

The last instruction she gave me.

The last time she squeezed my hand.

The last decision she made.

We sat in that hospital room at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and we kept watch. We waited. We were mostly women: my mother’s sisters, her niece, her granddaughters, and her daughters, my sister and me. My cousin and my son were our token guys.

It was my oldest daughter’s prom night. When we knew what was coming–because after months of fighting leukemia and rejection following a stem cell transplant, in the end, it was very sudden–we brought over my four children who ranged from six to eighteen. My husband had been living in Florida for nearly a year ahead of our family’s move there. I hated that the night was ruined for her, but being together, all of us, at the end was important.

When I look back now, fourteen years later, I remember some things very clearly. My daughter, still in her prom gown, had been given a scrub top by a kind nurse who knew that the beading on the strapless dress was chafing her arms. When she went wandering in search of coffee that night, I’m pretty sure patients thought they were having hallucinations. I remember that even in the midst of anticipatory grief, I had to worry about things that had to do with my parents’ estate–my father had died 51 weeks earlier. And I remember the love and care poured out on us by everyone at the hospital and by family and friends all over the world.

When we left the hospital late on the morning of June 2nd, I knew it was the last time. And although I’d hated the circumstances that brought us there for a solid eighteen months–for first one parent and then the other–leaving was hard.

It was an ending.

It was a last.

 

 

The Most Delicious Red Gravy by Francesco DiMartino (Just Desserts/I Choose You/Just Roll With It)

Francesco DiMartino is the matriarch of the DiMartino family. She helps her husband run their family restaurant, she raised two daughters, two sons, and a granddaughter, none of her kids can get anything past her . . . and she’s a fabulous cook.

This is the red gravy she makes every Sunday. It’s also served at Cucino Felice. Enjoy.

1.5 pounds beef cubes

3 tbs olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 24 oz can crushed tomatoes

1 10 oz can tomato paste

2 tsp basil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 small can tomato sauce

To a large stockpot over medium heat add the oil and the garlic. Saute for a few minutes being careful not to burn. Add the beef cubes and cook until brown. Add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste, and then fill the empty tomato paste can with water and add it to the pot as well. Add the spices. Cook over low heat for at least an hour (the longer, the better!). Add the tomato sauce and continue to cook for several hours (making it the day before is even better!). 

Serve with your favorite pasta (Francesca always recommends rigatoni), freshly grated parmesan cheese, and a salad (butter lettuce, tomatoes from the garden, and oil and balsamic vinegar). Oh, and crusty Italian bread is a definite bonus!

A tasty tidbit of ILLEGAL TOUCHING

 

Grey’s Anatomy meets Monday Night Football. 

Heat and heart clash in this rollercoaster of a love story.

Noah

Finding out I’m going to be a dad knocks me off my self-destructive path and makes me determined to do the right thing.

I know I’m going to be there for my child, no matter what.

But will the mother of my baby ever trust me enough to give me a second chance with her heart?

Alison

After weeks of rollercoaster uncertainty, suddenly I’m not by myself anymore on this journey to parenthood.

When Noah tells me he wants to be an involved dad, I don’t realize just how hands-on he plans to be.

I’m determined to protect my heart from his seductive smolder, but damn, he’s not making it easy to keep things all business.

Sometimes, I forget why I need to fight this feeling . . .

The second trilogy in the best-selling Diagnosis: Love world is made up of two SHAMELESS CLIFFIES before the finale. You’ve been warned. The books release a week apart, so your angst doesn’t have to last long–and the happily ever after in book three is worth the journey.


“What time is it, anyway? Feels like it’s late, but I’m so woozy, I can’t really tell.” I yawned.

“Just after nine.” Noah settled into a chair that didn’t look very comfortable. 

I sighed. “Okay. Well, you should probably head home now.” I paused. “Do you need to call for a car?” 

“Nope, I’m back among the driving population, thanks very much. And I’m not going home. I’m staying here with you tonight.”

“Oh, no, you’re not,” I objected. “Don’t be ridiculous, Noah. I’m fine. You heard Maggie. I’m here with all the doctors and nurses . . . all I plan to do for the next twelve or thirteen hours is get as much sleep as I can. There’s nothing for you to do.” 

“Doesn’t matter. I’m staying.” He patted the arm of the chair and then leaned back until it reclined and a footrest popped out. “I told them I wasn’t going home, so the nurse arranged for a sleeping chair for me. She’s bringing an extra pillow and blanket in a minute.” 

I wanted to argue with him some more, but I was too tired, and my headache was returning. “Okay. Do whatever you want.” 

A nurse came in a few minutes later with Noah’s blanket and pillow. She fussed over him, telling us both how sweet it was to see such a devoted man. He smirked and looked satisfied, and I would’ve rolled my eyes if I wasn’t feeling so shitty.

She gave me another dose of acetaminophen, hung another bag of fluids, and dimmed the lights on her way out. The room wasn’t completely dark—that was almost unheard of in a hospital—but it was as restful as it was going to get. I closed my eyes. 

I heard Noah making himself comfortable, grunting as he adjusted the pillow and the chair. When he’d stopped moving around, he sighed softly. 

“Noah,” I murmured. “Thank you.” 

He cleared his throat. “For what?” 

“For coming to the hospital today. For staying with me tonight. For making sure I wasn’t alone.” Somehow, it was easier to say these things in the quiet dark. 

“You don’t have to thank me for that, sweetheart. I was glad I could be here.” His voice was a little muffled by the pillow, but I heard him anyway. 

“I was scared,” I admitted, my hand fisting under the sheet. 

“I know. I was, too.” He shifted, and the chair squeaked, complaining. I had a hunch that such recliners were not designed for guys as big as Noah. “Which reminds me. I’d like you to change your emergency contact to me when you get back to work. If Emma hadn’t been on your file today, I wouldn’t have known what was happening.”

I was too tired to argue, and besides, Noah had a point. “All right. I’ll update it as soon as I can.”

“Thank you.”

We were both quiet for a few moments before Noah spoke again. “Remember when we were here together right after I’d been hurt? When I was in the ER, and no one was doing anything, and I was in so much pain?” 

“Of course, I remember that. I felt so terrible for you.” 

“I was scared that day, and you sat with me and made me feel better. You kept my mind off all the nightmare scenarios that were dancing around my head. So consider this payback in part.” 

I smiled in the dark. The meds were doing their job, and the headache was beginning to ebb. “All right. If you say so.” 

I heard the steady, comforting rhythm of Noah’s breathing. I held on tight to that sound, foolishly glad that he was here, that he’d insisted on staying with me. 

“You know, I was thinking before, when you were asleep, that you know pretty much everything that I’ve been doing since the last time we saw each other—I mean, since before my surgery,” he amended quickly. “You know I’ve been screwing things up left and right. But other than trying to get in touch with me, I have no idea what’s gone on in your life.” The chair squealed again. “What new projects have you done in your house? How’s everything in your office?” 

I took a deep breath, thinking. “I finished the master bathroom.”

“How did it turn out?” 

“It’s beautiful. I love it. The tub is old-fashioned, but it’s huge and deep . . . so comfortable. The colors are exactly what I wanted. It might be my favorite room in the house now.” 

“Mmmmm. Can’t wait to see it.” Noah yawned. “What else has been new?” 

I thought about the crazy, tumultuous ride the last few months had been. “Oh, I flew to California to see Daneen. Remember I told you about my last foster mothers, Daneen and Lana?” 

“Yeah, I remember. Lana passed away a little while back, and Daneen’s in a home, right? Dementia?” 

I was gratified and oddly touched that he’d remember. “Yeah, that’s it. She has congestive heart failure, and her doctor thought I should come to visit sooner than later.” 

“How was she?” 

I hesitated. “Good. Not as bad as I’d feared, but she didn’t know me . . .” I thought back to the few days I’d spent with her. “The first day, she talked about me. I mean, she talked about Alison, not recognizing that I am Alison, you know? And she said something about Lana doing some digging into who my parents were. If what she told me really happened, Lana found out that my mother had planned to keep me until the last minute. My biological father might have been a dangerous man—or he was in trouble with someone—whatever the reason, my birth mother thought it was safer to leave me than to take me home.” 

“That’s wild.” Noah sounded genuinely intrigued. “Are you going to follow up on that? See if you can figure out who your parents were?” 

I shook my head, even though I was pretty sure he couldn’t see me. “I don’t think so. Not now . . . maybe not ever. If it’s true and my mother really did leave me at the hospital because she thought I’d be safer, I could be stirring up something that’s better left alone. If it isn’t true . . .” I trailed off. “I’d rather not know. I’ve thought about what Daneen said, and it’s just so in character with who Lana was—and who Daneen was, too. Daneen always said it didn’t matter where we came from, it was where we were going. I think she would’ve been a little pissed that Lana went ahead and looked into it when Daneen didn’t think it made any difference. So maybe it’s true. It makes me feel a little more at peace when I think of my birth mother. Maybe she really did do the most noble thing she could.” 

“Hmmmm.” Noah grunted. “Well, if you ever decide you want to take it further, find out more, I’d be happy to help however I could.” 

“Thank you.” 

I closed my eyes again and listened to Noah’s breath growing slower and more even. I smiled, picturing his body contorted into some semi-comfortable position on the recliner. It was such a peaceful feeling, knowing he was near me. 

Before long, I was sleeping, too.

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