Book Blitz & Excerpt: Secret Valentine + Giveaway

secret valentine

 

Secret Valentine
Secret Series Book #2
by Cherry Christensen

Contemporary Romance

Date Published: January 27, 2020

Professor Hannah Wagganer spends her days teaching history, and her nights dating Glen Arbor’s new mail carrier, Jasper Morgan. Not only does he spark Hannah’s heart, but he has become best friends with her cat, Jingles.

As Hannah happily prepares for the church Valentine’s Day potluck and makes cards for local veterans, a snowstorm sends her plans, and her relationship with Jasper, on an unexpected detour. She seeks refuge from the storm at Jasper’s cottage, and finds him to be a warm and gracious host. But, at the same time, the spark is gone—when it comes to romance, he’s turned as cold as the February wind. Doubt creeps in, leaving Hannah worried that she’ll end up spending another holiday alone.

Then, once again, unexpected blessings abound in town, when an anonymous donor pays to have the church pipes repaired, and other locals suddenly find solutions to their problems. Is it coincidental, or the work of a secret valentine?

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Excerpt

Sorry I snapped at you. I don’t want people getting the wrong idea about Jasper and me.”

What’s the right idea?”

Hannah’s lips twisted to the side. “I don’t know. I’m crazy about him, and the way he loves Jingles, but…”

But what?”

What if he grows tired of small-town living? I’m not sure I could handle him leaving. I guess I want him to be my valentine forever, not just one predetermined day out of the year.”

Bree exhaled and shifted her weight from one foot to the other. “I’ve never seen you this serious about a guy before, especially one you’ve only known for a short time.” She lifted her gaze. “Are you positive he’s the one?”

My heart thinks so.”

Bree squealed and hugged her friend. “I call dibs on being maid of honor.”

 

About The Author

Cherry resides in the Mitten State with her husband of 19 years and a tabby cat named Caden. A true Michigander, she points at the palm of her right hand when telling people where she lives, drinks Vernors ginger ale when she’s under the weather, wears shorts and a sweatshirt at the same time, and measures distance in minutes, not miles. She also cheers for her favorite football team, the Michigan Wolverines. Go Blue!

A confirmed night owl, Cherry wholeheartedly agrees with whoever said, “I could be a morning person, if morning happened around noon.” It’s no surprise then she prefers to write in the evening. She’s a bit of a pantser writer, meaning she dreams up stories without using an outline, so every day is an exciting adventure as she waits to see where the characters lead her next!

A lifelong avid reader, Cherry turned to writing as a creative outlet. Drawing partly from her own experiences, and partly from her wild imagination, she weaves romantic tales with a smidgen of religion and a hint of mystery. Cherry’s first novel, The Fearful Heart, debuted in 2014, and she has never looked back. She continues to grow as an author, learning more about the writing craft with each book.

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Book Blitz & Excerpt: The Rose Man + Giveaway

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The Rose Man
Cheryl Dragon

Word Count: 35,798
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 148
Genres: CRIME AND MYSTERY, EROTIC ROMANCE, GAY, GLBTQI, THRILLERS AND SUSPENSE, VALENTINES

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Book Description

 

The Rose Man knows where his targets live, work and play…

One dead body.

Two missing men.

Three red roses…

So far…

Deputy Ben Grover is the only gay man in the sheriff’s department and gay men seem to be the target of a stalker who leaves a rose on their windshield. With missing persons involved, the sheriff welcomes the help of the FBI, but Ben isn’t so thrilled to be working with Agent Ross Burns, his high school ex.

Ross had aspirations that took him far from the small town while Ben had obligations that kept him back. But they won’t let their scorching past or the feelings that blaze into passion now get in the way of catching a killer.

Both are convinced there are more rose recipients out there—The Rose Man seems to be counting down to Valentine’s Day and roses tend to come by the dozen…

Excerpt

Rural Kentucky had its share of crime, but Deputy Ben Grover never got excited, even when something sounded like a good case. Normally it ended up being something simple, like a family dispute or misunderstanding. Family didn’t snitch and almost everyone was related in some distant way or through marriage.

Sheriff Larry, as he was known to everyone, liked things nice and quiet. His reelection signs were all over town with a picture of Larry in case anyone didn’t know who he was. A portly guy in his late fifties with a big smile, everyone liked Sheriff Larry, and Larry liked the calm and boring county.

The country life was good. Ben enjoyed knowing the people and being able to drive around his county blindfolded if he had to. Still, Ben longed for a bit more excitement, but his life was here. The radio in his squad car demanded his attention.

He grabbed the handset and pressed the button. “Grover here.”

“Respond to a report of a dead body behind the Good Ole Boy Inn. All yours,” said dispatch.

“Responding,” Ben replied. He flipped on the lights for a bit of fun. The sheriff didn’t respond unless it was high profile and the Good Ole Boy Inn was a gay dive bar just inside their jurisdiction. It drew men on the downlow from Lexington to Frankfurt and all the surrounding areas.

Three gay men had been reported missing in the last week. Of course, the families wouldn’t admit to them being gay, but interviews with coworkers and neighbors had confirmed it. But there was no sign of foul play, no blood, no signs of a struggle and no calls for ransom. Sheriff Larry was convinced they’d all gone on some gay camping trip and forgot to call off work…

The only real link between them so far was the red roses. Each had commented, before they went missing, to a friend or coworker about a red rose being left on their windshield at work, at home, or both…. Not much of a clue. If it was just one guy, it’d be weird, but not a major problem. Just a potential stalker they needed to identify and have a little chat with. Three guys with the rose man stalking them, however, was a big signal to Ben that someone out there was targeting gay men.

Some of the men didn’t live within the jurisdiction, so Larry was talking to other law enforcement, which complicated matters. Ben knew it wasn’t a big priority—gay men missing triggered Deliverance jokes or brought up John Wayne Gacy analogies.

The reality was that men going missing wasn’t the big news story or priority that kids or women were. Men wanted to believe they were all tough and that only weak and vulnerable people needed that sort of help. Plus, with no body, there was no proof of any crime. No blood at any scene and no witness to a struggle left them with nothing—it could just be a case of guys going out of town at the same time. Vacation, family emergency or whatever… To make it more challenging, some of the men worked and some didn’t.

Ben turned off down the dirt path that wasn’t well marked as any sort of driveway or street—he’d been to that gay dive bar plenty in his life. People had to know their way around the backwoods to find it. He’d been coming here since he was fourteen.

Ben parked his car along the side of the bar. The surroundings were was all dirt and sparse grass until he hit the woods behind the place. The bar itself was a dingy one-floor glorified shack with a wraparound porch. Underage teens were kept to the porch unless they had a decent fake ID. Luckily it was only noon and the bar wasn’t officially open yet.

The owner, Charlie Mullins, sat on the back porch in a rocking chair. He was pushing sixty and the eternal hippie. Rumor had it plenty of weed was grown in the woods around the bar. He had to support the business somehow. Inside, the drinks were cheap but the décor was often updated. Huge flatscreens hung around the bar, pool tables and dart boards were along the side and there were dark corners, as well as a disco ball over the smallish dance floor.

Ben had to be careful how much he shared with Charlie. He wasn’t just an older gay guy and friend now—Charlie was part of a case, and Ben had to keep his professional boundaries clear for the sake of the victims. To him, Charlie wasn’t a suspect, but what he knew might crack the case. Every gay guy who walked in here trusted Charlie with his life.

“Ben, thank God it’s you.” Charlie waved and walked down from the porch. “Drove up for a delivery and saw this rolled-up tarp. I got close enough to check if it was garbage and I saw enough of a body to call Sheriff Larry.”

“Garbage?” Ben asked.

“Sometimes we get the skinheads setting a fire or dumping scrap parts after they butchered something. Sometimes it’s trash, but they usually set it on fire. I never expected a dead body.”

“We’ll get the CSI group out here.” Ben took initial pics with his cell phone and sent the text for backup. A piece of paper was taped to the plastic trash bag.

“I didn’t touch nothing,” Charlie said.

“Good call. Ya’ll might need to close down for a night or two,” Ben warned.

“Come on, you know that’d cause a panic,” Charlie said.

“Let’s just see. We’ll try to keep things quiet, but not much happens around here. People start asking questions whenever they hear a siren or see flashing lights.” Ben took a few more pics with his cell phone, put on gloves and gently peeled the tape off so he could see the piece of paper. It was neon pink, hard to miss once the outer layer of plastic was pulled back.

“It’s a flyer for the Valentine’s dance at the community center.” Ben shook his head at the name. Cupid’s Ball.

Charlie nodded. “Something scribbled on the back.”

Ben flipped it over.

What comes by the dozen and sells out fast on Valentine’s Day? I promise not to take out more than a dozen men…we might not be welcome at the ball but you should come and see if there are any of them left…

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About the Author

Cheryl Dragon

A lover of unusual things, Cheryl Dragon enjoys writing unique stories with sinfully hot erotic romance. She loves cats, coffee and book signings where she can meet her fans. Cheryl lives in the Chicagoland area.

For more about Cheryl, follow her on Facebook, Twitter or visit her website.

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CHERYL DRAGON IS GIVING AWAY A $20.00 AMAZON GIFT CARD TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN AND GRAB YOUR FREE CHERYL DRAGON ROMANCE BOOK! Notice: This competition ends on 23rd February 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

Book Blitz & Excerpt: Venetian Valentine + Giveaway

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Venetian Valentine
Kristian Parker

Word Count: 30,154
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 125
Genres: ACTION AND ADVENTURE, CONTEMPORARY, EROTIC ROMANCE, GAY, GLBTQI, VALENTINES

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Book Description

Venice at Valentine’s? Andrew didn’t bargain on outrunning the Mafia, fighting for his life…or meeting Sergio.

Post break-up Andrew, in Venice for Valentine’s Day, isn’t alone and pining for very long before handsome local Sergio sweeps him off his feet—and into his gondola.

What should have been the most romantic evening of Andrew’s life turns into the deadliest when a dying policewoman they rush to help slips them a vital piece of evidence…and they’re accused of shooting her.

With both the Mafia and corrupt cops in hot pursuit, Andrew and Sergio must deliver the evidence to the only man who can clear their name. The only problem is he lives at the other end of Italy, which sends them on the most action-packed Valentine’s date ever.

It’s going to take some serious Valentine’s magic for the shy Englishman and the sexy gondolier to have a second date, never mind a chance at a relationship…

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of mild peril, injury, and a gun battle.

Excerpt

Pronto, vuoi un passaggio?

Not even in Venice yet and already asked if I wanted a ride.

I nodded and stepped onto the water taxi. Yes, there were cheaper options, but this being my first trip to the famous island, I wanted to arrive in style.

The crisp February air hit me as we got out onto the water. Even so, I had no intention of sheltering inside the wooden boat. I hadn’t paid a ridiculous amount of money to miss everything below deck.

Then I saw it. Venice.

It took my breath away. Beautiful pastel-coloured buildings lined the coastline with the iconic St Mark’s Campanile dominating the skyline behind. Butterflies filled my stomach as we sped towards our destination. So much history calling to me to discover it.

Whatever the driver hollered to me, I couldn’t hear above the wind in my ears. I wouldn’t have taken it in anyway, not when the island looming larger in front of me had all my attention.

Soon it stretched out and filled my eyeline. Details became clearer. The shoreline was busy with traders and visitors and all manner of people. A market selling the usual rubbish was an irresistible call to the tourists. Huge boats tugged gently against their moorings outside big houses. What a life to live in one of those. In this world of water, I couldn’t have been further away from the crowded London streets I was used to.

We pulled up to a jetty and excitement built inside me.

“Come ti piace Venice?” asked the driver, spreading his arms wide like an orchestra conductor.

“Bella.” Yes, I thought Venice beautiful, all right.

Safe on terra firma and more than ready to dive into this city, I paused at the edge of a group of people congregating on a bridge having their picture taken. They dispersed to reveal the Bridge of Sighs.

I gawked. This had been high on Matt’s sightseeing list when we’d planned the trip. But he only had himself—and his wandering hands—to blame for missing out.

I snapped out of it. The bridge before me had seen worse heartbreak than mine—they’d named it the Bridge of Sighs as convicts would get their last view of Venice before succumbing to their gruesome fate in the dungeons down below, and they would sigh.

I stood staring, absolutely transfixed. I’d only been here for five minutes, but I could understand why those sighs would be filled with such loss.

Things got even better when I got my first glimpse of a gondolier, expertly steering his craft through the city and under the bridge. I’d been dismissive of the gondolas and their high prices, but now I saw one drifting through the canals, it tempted me. Would I feel like a bit of a loser taking one on my own?

This city could be full of possibilities for me and I refused to dwell on being alone for this trip. Lots of people travelled solo and now I’d joined their ranks.

I took a selfie with the bridge in the background and sent it to my friend, Jodie.

Here safe and sound. Speak soon x.

Almost immediately I got a reply.

Go get ’em, tiger.

My phone told me my hotel lay on the other side of St Mark’s Square. All my life, I had yearned to stroll across one of the most famous squares in the world. Taking a deep breath and channelling my inner chic Italian, I set off to discover what Venice had in store for me.

Just my luck, the biggest rain shower I’ve ever encountered ruined my picture-postcard arrival. Huge dollops of rain bounced off those iconic cobbles as I dragged my case across them, making it spin out of control. In the end, I just picked it up and made a run for it. Being a lanky six foot two, it was hard for me to run stylishly, and so I ran full pelt. My painstakingly styled blond spikes were flopping with all the water, the hair gel running into my eyes and making them sting.

I must have looked like a drowned rat by the time I burst through the unassuming doors of the Hotel Buon Sonno, which caused much amusement for the achingly handsome receptionist who greeted me. I ignored his smirk as I dripped on the marble floor, although I did feel like the least glamourous person in Venice.

He seemed to take an age to check me in and the elevator had to be as old as the city itself as it slowly dragged me to my floor. Finally, I made it to my room and what a treat lay before me. It had a big bed and chaise-longue to the side, causing my inner chic Italian to perk up again. I could imagine myself lazing on there after a hard day’s shopping.

I unpacked, stashing my money and important stuff in the safe. Jodie had told me about the pickpockets of Venice to the point of paranoia. After that I had a long scrub in the huge walk-in shower to wash the journey away. The monsoon jets soon brought me back to life.

I lay on the bed in my bathrobe, flicking through the guidebook, when my stomach growled as though a bear had woken up in there. Would anywhere be doing meals this early? Well, time to hit the streets of Venice to find out. Go get ’em, tiger.

I threw on some clothes and headed out to see what this place had to offer. This time I took my umbrella.

Hopefully looking a little more presentable, I smiled at the receptionist as I passed him. I might not have been on the romantic getaway I’d hoped for, but why should that stop me having a little—or a lot—of fun? He didn’t return the smile. I supposed with him having seen me at my worst, my best wasn’t likely to impress him.

Opposite the hotel sat a kind of gondola park. The boats jostled together, awaiting their turn. So did the gondoliers, who laughed and joked to pass the time until their next customer appeared. It might have been February, but that meant Carnival week as well as the romantic epicentre of the year. Plenty of people queued up to pay their extortionate prices. Still tempted to take a ride, I watched a few set off, bearing smiling passengers. My hunger won out this time—my ride could wait for another day.

I had only just set off in the direction where I thought I’d seen a few restaurants from my window when, suddenly, a gondolier jumped in front of me. He looked so handsome in his standard striped T-shirt and straw hat set at a jaunty angle. He took his hat off and bowed in a ridiculously dramatic fashion. As someone who is easily flustered, I could feel my face going bright red.

“Well, hello there, stranger. My name is Sergio, the best gondolier in this whole city.”

All the other gondoliers were laughing and nudging one another…which didn’t help my out-of-control blushes.

“H-hello,” I stammered.

“Ah, he is English! I knew it. I said to my friends, here comes a member of the English aristocracy.”

I might have been named after Prince Andrew, but the similarities ended there. An auntie had traced our family tree once upon a time and found nothing but mill workers and servants. But in Venice, I could be whoever I wanted to be.

“And you were right,” I said in my poshest voice. “My grandmother, the Queen of England, told me Venice is the only place to be on Valentine’s Day.”

He threw his head back and laughed. I had never seen someone so jaw-droppingly perfect, from his shiny eyes to his perfectly groomed stubble to his strong arms which held the railing as he leaned backward. I didn’t dare look any lower.

“Then surely you wish to experience everything Venice has to offer?”

“Of course I do. But I’ve only just arrived. I want to sample some food first.”

He winked. “Sergio will help. There is a beautiful pasta place just around the corner. Tell them I sent you.”

“Oh yes? Will I get a discount?”

“No, but I will next time I am in.”

With that, he laughed his infectious laugh and went back to join his fellow boatmen. I watched him go. God bless the gondoliers in their tight black trousers. What a view.

I decided to take his recommendation. I didn’t fancy spending the evening going from restaurant to restaurant, trying to decide where to eat.

It paid off. The pasta tasted amazing. The sauce, a local delicacy made with three types of tomato, went perfectly with the white wine they brought me. My table overlooked the Grand Canal, the feature of so many paintings. As evening fell, the restaurants lining the banks turned on strings of bulbs entwined around their awnings, giving it a magical feel. They reflected in the water and cast a dappling light on the grand Rialto Bridge.

I had truly arrived in Venice. I caught myself checking every gondola for Sergio, which bugged me. The first man to pay me a bit of attention, and I fall hook, line and sinker. Thankfully, he didn’t make an appearance. I wanted my first night in Venice to be for me and not side-tracked by some man…no matter what lay beneath those tight trousers.

On the way back to the hotel, I had a couple of drinks in a bar. As I curled up in a black wingback chair and sipped my smooth red wine, I looked at my fellow patrons. Carnival fever dominated the bar, with many people in masks and outrageous outfits. A couple in front of me were intertwined, her hanging off his every word and laughing. Tiredness overcame me. It had been stressful travelling on my own for the first time. Draining my glass, I decided an early night could be excused.

The heavens opened again as I wandered back to my hotel. The gondolas had called it a night when I got there and there was no sign of Sergio. It would have been nice to share the big bed with someone, instead of missing Matt. I fell asleep reciting the reasons why I had split up with him.

It made for a scarily long list.

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About the Author

Kristian Parker

I have written for as long as I could write. In fact, before, when I would dictate to my auntie. I love to read, and I love to create worlds and characters.

I live in the English countryside. When I’m not writing, I like to get out there and think through the next scenario I’m going to throw my characters into.

Inspiration can be found anywhere, on a train, in a restaurant or in an office. I am always in search of the next character to find love in one of my stories. In a world of apps and online dating, it is important to remember love can be found when you least expect it.

Follow Kristian on Facebook.

Giveaway

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Kristian Parker’s Venetian Valentine Giveaway

KRISTIAN PARKER IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LOVELY GIFT PACKAGE AND GRAB YOUR FIRST FOR ROMANCE GIFT CARD! Notice: This competition ends on 23rd February 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.