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THE KEEPING SCORE BOX SET 99 cents

https://books2read.com/KeepingScoreBoxSet

SWAY releases on October 29th! Preorder here:

https://books2read.com/KSSway/

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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Happy 5th Birthday to THE LAST ONE–and some news!

Five years ago, I spent the summer writing a book that was different from anything I’d released before. Meghan and Sam’s story was by far the sexiest story I’d told so far . . . but it also included laughter and tears, all set against the backdrop of a small town in Georgia.

THE LAST ONE was actually the first one in what would become my longest contemporary romance series. This set now includes twelve books, and it’s far from over.

But even a five year old series can use a little sprucing up now and then. When I finished writing the first four books in Love in a Small Town, I realized I had more stories here–so I launched the next set of books, also set in Burton–and I titled them the Always books (Always For You, Always My Own, Always Our Love) and then the next set were the Girl books (The Love Song Girl, The Meant To Be Girl and two more upcoming releases).

The only problem was that these title changes within the series sometimes confused readers who didn’t realize these books were all part of one small town. So in celebration of five sizzling, romantic years in Burton, Georgia, we re-titled and re-covered five of the books. They are now:

The Always One

The Hard One

The Forever One

The Love Song One

The Meant To Be One

If you haven’t read this series yet–now is the time! THE LAST ONE is free on all vendors right now.

Find the entire series here!

 

Why I Stayed

When author Eva Pohler invited me to be part of Book Lovers Unite for World Suicide Prevention Day, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. My regular readers and friends know that suicide prevention is a cause close to my heart. I support organizations like To Write Love on Her Arms that help people choose not to end their lives.

But there are some intensely personal reasons for me to believe in this cause. At three different points in my life, I have seriously considered checking out early. Once was during my high school years, when I was struggling with an eating disorder. The second time was when I was in my early thirties and was facing an incredibly painful personal crisis. And the third time was in the past few years.

I want to say upfront that I am a woman of faith, and that faith has sustained me more than once. I credit my relationship with God and El’s grace with having saved me. But I’m all too aware that the church has not always been understanding and compassionate about mental and emotional struggles. Too often, women and men who needed the most help have been stigmatized as weak, shunned or ridiculed. The very place and people to whom we should want to turn have betrayed us.

It wasn’t the church that made me turn away from the dark. It wasn’t a doctor, although I believe strongly in therapy and counseling. It wasn’t my friends or my family, although they all loved me and hurt for me.

For each of us, where we find the small thread to which we cling is different. Where the light shines through can be varied. For me, the why was different each time. But ultimately, somehow, at the crucial point, hope broke through, and it was bright enough, even if it was only for a moment, to keep me on this side. And when hope came, it spoke to me through a book–a different one every time.

Suicide wasn’t unheard of in my family. I lost an uncle, a cousin and several other extended family to the dark. I remember my father often saying that suicide was a permanent solution to temporary problems, but for those of us who struggle, the problems don’t feel temporary. They feel huge and permanent and insurmountable. It doesn’t feel as though there’s life on the other side.

I remember reading something that changed my life and the way I looked at things. The gist of it was that we can’t always trust how we feel. While I know I should listen to my emotions and tune into them, consider what they might mean, I can’t make decisions based solely on how I feel, because those feelings aren’t reliable. They can be influenced by things like hormones and misunderstandings and whether or not I’ve eaten today.

That realization was a game-changer for me. I don’t mean it should be for everyone, but for me–it made a difference.

A few years ago, I wrote a quartet of books within my series Love in a Small Town. Although each book stands alone, there was an overarching storyline in these four books: the story of Jenna Sutton, who’d attempted suicide in the aftermath of a devastating rebuff. Jenna’s tale was very personal, especially as her story was seen through the eyes of her family, friends and others in her small town. I hope that these books help others, too, who might need to know they are not alone.

Please join us at the event on Tuesday (I’ll be doing a Facebook LIVE there at 6 PM CDT/7 PM EDT) and also check out my video on my YouTube channel (it’ll go up before September 9th).

If you are on the precipice of making a choice right now . . . if you are choosing whether or not to stay . . . please hold onto these truths:

You are important.

Your story isn’t over.

Hope is real.

You are not alone.

You are not alone.

You are not alone.

If you need someone to talk to and you don’t want to call a suicide hotline (which is a wonderful resource, by the way), please know that you can message me on Facebook or email me, and I will be there for you.

That’s a promise, and it’s not just for you. Knowing there are people who are counting on me helps me, too, when I’m making one of those decisions.

I’ll stay . . . if you do.

Much love, now and always . . .

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