Thursday, January 29, 2015

Top Five Beta Heroes (in Movies) - #Countdown to Odd Wolf #UnderAWolfMoon

Odd Wolf, my story in the Under A Wolf Moon box set (RELEASING TOMORROW!! *throws confetti*) has a beta hero. When I asked folks on facebook during a recent party if they liked beta heroes, the answer was almost a unanimous NO. Folks wanted the Alpha guys. Me? I've always had a soft spot for the Dan Connors of this world. I like beta heroes...but then again, I like the alpha women.

Beta Heroes are defined as, "...romances (with) kinder, gentler heroes, the kind of men who will change your flat tire, open doors for you, help your kid with his homework, and bring you soup when you are sick. They are the antithesis of the testosterone-filled chest beaters found in the earlier bodice-ripper romances. These are the guys we all want to find in real life." - All About Romance Novels

Beta Heroes are in a TON of movies, but here are some of my top five all-all time favorite movie star beta men. (I have a longer list than this...apparently I really have a thing for these guys.)

Top Five Movie Beta Heroes

5. Hugh Grant as William Thacker in Notting Hill (1999)

In this movie, Julia Roberts plays a character very close to her reality--a super star, famous in tabloids and for her work as an actress, but lonely because who dares catch the tail of a star? She bumps repeatedly into the quiet Brit, William Thacker played by Hugh Grant, who is a bit nerdy, awkward, bookish and otherwise completely wrong for her world. Through a series of misadventures, they share a moment in a garden on a bench dedicated to a long dead woman who loved the garden...and the man who liked to sit with her. Grant plays a wonderful beta, never trying to dominate Roberts, but somehow becoming the one man who really gets her. Although an older movie, this one has a classic theme which will likely prove timeless and the cast of secondary characters ALMOST distracts from the clever love story...almost.


4. Scott Cohan as Wolf in The 10th Kingdom (2000)

Maybe I love this movie because the heroine is named Virginia, maybe I love it because I've always love a fairytale that twists in the real world...maybe I love it because Wolf is irresistible. Cohan plays a wolf far more canine than most modern writers depict wolves, but it works. It so works. He falls in love with his Virginia and literally travels through worlds to stay with her. Mirror magic, a starstudded cast including as Snow White, and a love story to top it all off--The Tenth Kingdom is one of my all-time favorites across the board. But Wolf? You don't get a lot more beta than Wolf.


3. James Frain as Forney Hill in Where the Heart Is (2000)

Forney jumps through a plate glass window to deliver the baby in this over-the-top romance. This story twists tragic and then spirals back to funny, but through it all...Forney remains bookish, awkward, quiet and yet I fell in love with him. I could ramble all day about how fantastic Frain was in this role, but if you haven't seen it, you aren't going to get it...and if you have seen it, you already know. Highly recommend Forney as he's the guy we'd all like to stumble across in a library.


2. Matthew Goode as Declan in Leap Year (2010)

I've rewatched this movie so many times that my children have lines from it memorized. Goode plays Declan, as Irish as the name sounds, and he's brilliant. When she first meets him, he's snarly, cranky and not interested in the snooty and arrogant Adams character. As they end up on a road trip from hell together, each finds the other has charms not immediately recognized--this is far from a love or lust at first sight romance. But Declan is beta...which is just what the strong woman played by Adams finds she wants in her life. And I do, too. *sigh*

1. Ryan Reynolds as Andrew Paxton in The Proposal (2009)

Sandra Bullock is a powerful woman--editor, boss, shark. She's also a Canadian about to get the boot out of NY if her assistant, played by the snarky and sexy Reynolds, doesn't agree to pretend to be her fiance. They end up flying away to Alaska to meet his family (with Bette White as the Grandma...and she is a HOOT.) to further their illusion and she learns there is a lot about him that she never knew...although he seems to know her almost eerily well. The two bumble and fumble through their faked engagement, but Reynolds remains beautifully beta right until the end. Even his counter-proposal is brilliantly beta. Not to mention he's naked in one scene...just saying.

Do you have any favorite beta heroes? Lemme know in the comment section below!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Top Five Hot #Werewolves - #Countdown to Odd Wolf

We're getting so close! Okay, a whole box set of wolf-variety stories? YES. I know, I got pretty excited when I heard about it myself. So, in honor of all the wolfy goodness, here's a countdown of werewolves I thought were hot in Virg-particular order:

Top Five Hot Werewolves

5. Wolf from the Tenth Kingdom

Okay, he's not alpha. And he's rather silly for a good chunk of the movie, even if he does have primal and insatiable animal hungers...but Wolf was hot. There was something about his canine devotion to his Virginia, his wolfish glare and the adorable way he'd scratch his ear that just did it for me. I know, I'm weird. But this is my list and I thought he was kinda hot.

4. Teen Wolf as played by Michael J. Fox

 Okay, for sure this was a campy kind of movie and I get that...but I had a serious long-running crush on the Fox. I mean, he's the dude from Back to the Future! Not to mention his money-clever character from his long running television show. That said, I didn't even mind him getting hairy. Still hot.

3. The Werewolf as played by Michael Jackson

I'm going to be honest...I never had a thing for MJ. My sister and mother had the biggest crush on him and now my daughter does, but I loved and love Thriller. I do, I admit it. Sure, I probably have more of a thing for Vincent Price than MJ as a wolf, but whatever...that laugh from Price is worthy of making the list, even if he wasn't the wolf.

2. The Underworld Wolves

They had me at the sex in the back of that truck thing? Yeah, that was hot. Nuff said.

1. Blood and Chocolate the book Wolves

I don't know if you've read the book, but the movie disappointed me because of my love of the book. The way he came in the window...yeah, I liked that book. That was a sexy wolf.

Which wolves flipped your pancakes?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Top Five Powerful Women in HIstory - #Countdown to Odd Wolf

Dara in Odd Wolf is an Alpha of a pack of wolves. She's a bitch in more way than one and is rather proud of that. Her strength, however, doesn't always come from just her muscles or the powers granted to her via the pack bonds--she's smart, brave and has a big heart, too. A big enough heart to keep interacting with a rogue wolf with a lost look in his mysterious eyes...

But that is a story for three days from now. For now, let's talk about powerful women in movies, shall we? These are not, by a long shot, THE most powerful women in history, just some of my personal favorites. (Note: These are my recollections of these women, so google them if you want more accuracy or are writing a book report as this is in no way a relevant document.)

Top Five Powerful Women in History
According to Virg

It isn't about luck.

5. Anne Sullivan (April 14, 1866 – October 20, 1936)

To escape the potato famine, Anne's parents came to America. She got an infection in her eyes, her mom died, and her dad abandoned her. All of this happened before she was ten years old. Then her brother dies and she is pretty much as down on your luck and alone as anyone can get. What does she do with her time? Oh, she goes to this place where they have this kid who can't see, hear or talk. With the deck stacked against her, she manages to give the child a voice, one that resounded throughout history and changed, if not the whole world, certainly her own. Pretty badass for a woman who was born to nothing and given no advantages whatsoever from the fates...

Ain't I a Woman?
4. Sojourner Truth (1797 – November 26, 1883)

Every single one of my kids listened to the Ain't I a Woman speech and it still brings me to tears to this day.  Sojourner was born into slavery but took her baby and escaped to freedom--walking because she didn't think it was right to run away from problems. She then took a white man to court to get custody of her son back and became the first black woman to win that kind of battle. She fought, throughout her life, using her voice to rise up against everything from gender inequality to capital punishment and only death managed to stop her. Even silenced by the great equalizer, her words have rung out across the ages to decry unfairness and insist on equality for all.

3. Christa McAuliffe (September 2, 1948 – January 28, 1986) 

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut. I remember my Weekly Reader's all telling me how a teacher was going to give lessons from outer space and how we could listen to Christa right in our classrooms--a big deal in the eighties. When the Challenger launched, we didn't have school. I remember that because I was home, sitting at the table and coloring when the news came that it exploded. I had nightmares for weeks if not longer about exploding in a shuttle, something that put a bit of a damper on my dreams of becoming an astronaut...but I still wanted it bad enough to chase that particular star for a while. She might not have changed the world, but she changed mine, so she makes my list.
Sorry for stepping on your foot, dude.

2. Marie Antoinette (2 November 1755 – 16 October 1793)

Back in school, I got to choose which French figure I wanted to be for some thing or another and I picked Madame Du Barry.  Only much later in life did I realize there was more to Marie than what I learned in school. She was born to a mostly disinterested mother, given away in marriage to a place far from home as little more than a child herself and married to a boy. Their rule was fast, tumultuous, and eventually disastrous. However, she faced all of it with grace and dignity, even charges against her which insulted her, and didn't cry or beg at her own beheading. Her last words were a brief apology to her executioner for stepping on his foot.

You can be anything. Look at what Theo managed.
1. Theodora (500 – 28 June 548)

Okay, this one is straight from memory, so excuse any bending of history for this, as it is how I remember it. Theodora was born to an actress (read:prostitute) and a bear trainer for the Coliseum. Her fate, it would seem, wasn't to be illustrious. As a single mother, however, she did the dance of the veils for Justinian and won his heart. He went to his uncle, passed a law to say he could marry former actresses, and married her before becoming emperor of Rome. Together, they rebuilt roads, aquaducts and more, but that cost a lot of dough. So, the people rose up and rioted, circling their house and demanding Justinian back down. Justinian's advisers advised he back down. Theodora? She was like, "Nah. Dude, you're the damned emperor of Rome. Put on your man-panties and deal with this shit." (Obviously paraphrased.) So he did--he called in the leaders of the two teams against him, told one he was always a fan and here, "Have these casks of gold." They were cool with that and bounced. The other folks, though, they were still pissed and they told him so. Justinian shrugged, admitted he foresaw that response and had his guards kill them. End of Rise of the Nika, BAM. In her time in 'office' so to speak, Theodora worked hard for women's rights and changed a lot of really lame laws, not to mention contributing to lots of really cool projects. When she died, her husband, the emperor of Rome, openly wept at the funeral. She was born a daughter of no one from the absolute wrong side of the tracks and yet when she died, the most powerful man in the world mourned her publicly. That's pretty damn badass, if you ask me.

Who are your favorite historical Alpha women?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Top Five Odd Series Facts - #Countdown to #OddWolf



Odd Stuff was my very first book back in 2010, published initially by Sapphire Blue Publishing. I wrote the book backwards, literally. I knew how it ended, wrote that scene, and worked my way back to the beginning. I've never written another book this way and that's a fact I'm terribly happy about since it wasn't a terribly comfortable way to tell a story. This world is and will always be one of my favorites and it has some awesome dedicated fans (*waves at Odd Series fans*)

Odd Wolf is written in a way to be accessible to those
who read the first two books and those who haven't yet joined the party. That said, here's a few Odd Series facts for those new to the world: 

 Top Five Odd Series Facts
5. The Odd Series is set in Ashtabula, Ohio, a small town that used to be big.  



Long ago, when shipping was pretty important to everyone, Ashtabula was a major port city. Things were shipped in from the Atlantic Ocean, brought inland via the Great Lakes until the ships reached the Ashtabula Harbor. So, the harbor had everything a sailor just off the water might need--whore houses, fancy hotels, great dining, a lovely lift bridge and what remained became what is now known as the historic Harbor District. History left behind an area with a faded grandeur, an almost scenic history and seemed the perfect setting for a paranormal world to hide. On cobbled alleyways, under gargoyle laden eaves, my monsters roam through snowstorms and sunshiney beach days...just like everyone else here.

4. Odd Stuff is the name of a store selling metaphysical and mystical goodies.
Run by a local witch, Mia, Odd Stuff is more than a store. It is a way of life. Mia has many friends in various other circles of the magical world--from wolves, to sirens, to creatures that no one can even name, she is like a bridge uniting all things the humans don't know exist. Janie is her best friend from high school, recently divorced, who moved in with Mia for a while with her daughter, Vickie. I'm not even going to get into all the adventures they've already had (since it took me two couple hundred page long books to begin telling them in the first place) however I will say that Janie has a penchant for getting into mischief and has a hard time in the love department. Dara also knew Mia from back in school, although she was a year ahead of Janie and Mia so she wasn't besties or anything. They help out where they can, tossing virtual duct tape on lots of mystical leaks, so it didn't surprise me when Dara headed over to Odd Stuff for help in Odd Wolf. (PS. Yes, this means that fans of Janie and crew will get to see everyone, if briefly, in the new book. Chance is...cranky, to say the least, and I got a kick out of seeing the gang through someone else's eyes for this story.)

3. Fairies aren't nice.

In this particular series, most of the fairies we've met are dicks. Like, they aren't nice at ALL. I'm sure some are, but we haven't really met any. You won't hear a peep from them in Dara's story since none of the fae have a burning desire to get mixed up in wolf business, but they're out there. Being dicks.

2. Vampires can be a little arrogant.

But, hey, wouldn't you be if you were super hot, had a really long lifespan and could move way faster than most anyone? Vance, leader of the local blood-sucking residents, also isn't a big fan of wolves, so we don't see much of the vamps in this book. But again...they're out there. Being arrogant. We don't hold it against them most days, but hey, the wolves aren't getting I heart Vamps t-shirts anytime soon.

1. The Witches are pretty badass, actually.

Like one of them is the maiden of the circle of the dawn and she's going to school to become an architect. She's also a stripper and has outstanding boobs, but everyone has to make a living, right? In this series, we've seen witches use simple table sugar to cast spells that stopped baddies in their tracks. We've seen witches cure the nearly dead, witches sneezing spells...
The witches have a lot going on. Lucky for Dara, she's on the witches' good side. Which explains how she could just bip over to Odd Stuff and ask for Mia to do her a solid. No matter how badass anyone is in this world, however, there's always someone with just a hair more power...
Don't even get me started on Chance. *sigh*

Well, that was your quickie intro to the world. For those of you who've been hanging out with me in this magic-filled playground for a few books now, welcome back! Shit is about to hit the fan. For those of you new to the Harbor, welcome. Pull up a chair. Maybe grab a raincoat, cuz stuff is about to get a little Odd...

Exclusive Excerpt from Odd Wolf:
The man, however, long ago conquered the beast, so Lynwood simply looked at her again. With a blink, her wolf peered out at him and he hit his knees before he realized he planned to move. The impact of knees on brick jarred him and seemed to give him a tiny measure of his mind back.
Enough so, he recognized the alpha in the alley wasn’t the man by the dumpster. As he gazed up at her, he saw her lips curl into a feral smile. “That’s better, don’t you think?”
Her voice shivered over him, rich and ripe with her power, and he trembled before dropping his chin to his chest. “Unexpected is the word I’d use.” With her power still gliding over him with an invisible weight, he caved and his palms hit the cold grit of wet bricks. His arms trembled as the wolf longed to drop and show belly, an outward recognition of her utter dominance.
“Your name,” she demanded.
More of her strength rippled over him until he did collapse, looking at her shoes in frustration. “Lynwood Pierce. Look, about trespassing on your pack property…”
He didn’t get to finish. The man’s boot rammed between his ribs. The kick alone wasn’t enough to silence him, but combined with her power, the blow left him blinking back tears and grinding his teeth together.
“I think we’ll go someplace more private to talk, if that is okay with you, Lynwood.”
Although she’d phrased it as a question, he understood the lady alpha issued a command.
What disturbed him most, however, wasn’t her decision. It was the fact his wolf didn’t mind following any orders she might give—something he’d sworn never to do again.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

It is my 5 Year Anniversary!! #Author

My First Book Cover
Five years ago today, I stared at Amazon and had no clue what to expect. Sapphire Blue Publishing contracted my book and just making it that far boggled my mind. To think, people might that day be reading my words? Meeting Janie and Chance? It was more than I'd ever really dared to dream.

In an excerpt of the blog I wrote the day before that release, I said the following deep and meaningful stuff. *clears throat*

"Tomorrow is the big day and Odd Stuff will be out for your reading pleasure. Finally you can all join Janie on her great first adventure...*evil grin* *happy dance* In other, non-literary news... things with the kids are on the upswing. The chaotic events of last week (which could not possibly have had a worse drop date timeline wise) have ironed themselves out (okay, I ironed them out with a bus and a shovel and other heavy work... but we can make it sound easy on paper!) and hopefully we will see things getting better for the shortest member of the family. If not, he will be grounded until graduation. One or the other. Either will work.

Some man just swam through a wheat field on a Subway commercial on TV. One would think that would chafe. Just sayin.

We had the biweekly meeting of the writers group on Saturday Night. I think our name is M.U.S.E. but I don't remember what the acronym stood for. I was kind of punch drunk tired at that point and they were plying me with wine. Okay, I can't blame it on the wine, but it was worth a shot. I liked the wine. I had no sleep going into that meeting and I was doing the galley on Odd that night as well as the meeting so bits are blurry. Like what our name means. But I remember I liked it.
"
Back then, I wrote on Bluey. And she is STILL HERE.

As you can see, my reputation for thought-provoking writing is...still a lot like when I started.

Since then, I've published a plethora of stories with a variety of publishers, but in a few short days...I'm celebrating the release of another Odd Story and Jeanie and Chance will ride again. Life is funny. If you told me five years ago that everything would be okay, that there would be more books, that one day I'd look back on that one and be amused at myself?

I wouldn't have believed it. Thanks so much for being on this bumpy and crazy journey with me. Thanks to those of you who have been there since that first book, thanks to those just joining me at this point in the ride. And here's to another fabulous five years to come!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

#Rafflecopter - Spotlight on #KaliArgent Timeless Coming January 28th!

Travel with me to the Planet Nekron in the year 2984 to the mountain compound of Pandora, where the most dangerous artifacts from around the universe are kept under constant guard. Some, you may not recognize. Some, you will, but each relic holds a different power, a different mystery, and a new chance for love.

TIMELESS

Coming January 28th! Pre-Order your copy of Timeless from:
Deep within the fortress of Pandora, Lieutenant Vane Schiva has spent millennium guarding precious artifacts and ancient secrets from around the universe. As the son of a decorated commander, he has always been a soldier first, putting the needs of his people before his own desires. So when the compound is breached and he’s sent across the galaxies to track down the thief, he never imagined the assignment would lead him to the only thing he’s ever wanted for himself.
Growing up in New Orleans, Charlotte Rousseau has seen her share of the strange and unexplainable, but everything she thought she knew about the world is about to be tested. What started as any other day, quickly spirals into a nightmarish reality, leaving her no choice but to place her trust—and her life—in a stranger’s hands. Safety comes at a price, though, and Charlotte soon realizes her only chance at survival means leaving behind her fears and following Vane into the fire.
Faced with the threat of war, new alliances are formed and old loyalties are tested in the midst of chaos and uncertainty. While emotions run high and sexual tensions simmer, Vane still guards a dangerous secret, one that could cost him everything in the end. He’ll do whatever it takes to protect Charlotte, though, even if that means turning his back on his own people.
War is easy. Love takes courage.

STORY EXCERPT
Charli twisted to the left, casting a sideways glance toward the shops beyond the Square. “So, I think I’m—Jesus Christ!”
Standing only inches away with the streetlamps at his back, Don towered above her like a giant shadow. The skin on his face and neck rippled—clearly a trick of the dim light—and she could practically feel the annoyance flowing off him.
 “Stop talking and follow me,” he demanded, a low snarl distorting the last word.
“How did you do that? You were there.” She pointed to the cathedral doorway. “Now, you’re here.” Her heart pounded up into her throat, and her hands shook as she stumbled away from him.
With a growl that sounded more animal than man, Don grabbed her elbow and jerked her against his broad chest. “Remember the part where I didn’t want to hurt you?”
Swallowing hard enough to make her throat burn, Charli pressed her lips together and nodded. No matter what she did now, this wouldn’t end well for her.
Done stared into her eyes with the same intensity he’d displayed back in her store. “Now, stop talking and let’s go.”
Charli’s mind slid into darkness, completely void of all thought, and quiet static hummed in her ears. “Okay,” she mumbled.
“Not going to happen, Morph. Let the girl go.”
The static vanished, and Charli jerked her head toward the sound of the voice. Reality came crashing back, flooding her with panic, and she nearly sobbed in relief at the sight of the newcomer. Just as big and just as imposing as her psycho date, he stood beyond the entrance of the church, his eyes fixated on Don.
Acting on instinct, she slammed her heel down on Don’s toes, distracting him long enough to wrench her arm out of his grasp. Without looking back, she printed up the stairs, taking them too at a time, and ducked behind her rescuer.
“I don’t know who you are or where you came from, but just consider me your biggest fan.”
The guy responded only with a low grunt, but he did pull her closer to his muscled back, positioning himself between her and Don. “Give it up, Morph. The jewel is worthless without the girl and you know it. Just hand it over.”
“Girl? What girl? Me girl?” I’m never dating again. If I make it home alive, I’m going to adopt six cats and learn to knit. “What jewel? What do I have to do with this?”
“Not now,” the new guy answered with a quick shake of his head. “I’m a little busy saving your life, if you hadn’t noticed.”
“Oh, right, sorry.” Charli gripped the fabric of his jacket in her fists and nodded. “Proceed.”
She couldn’t be sure, but she thought the corner of his lips twitch into a fleeting smile before he addressed Don again. “What’s it going to be, Morph? We can do this the easy way or the hard way, but both end with that jewel in my hand.”
“Oh,” Charli praised, “that was good.”

There it was again, no mistaking it this time, a subtle, blink-and-miss-it, twitch of his lips. Pushing up on her tip toes, she peered over his shoulder to see Don’s reaction. She didn’t know what she’d expected, but seeing her date turn into a plume of smoke and then vanish certainly hadn’t topped the list.
Her savior just sighed as he threaded his fingers through his long, golden hair. Charli, however, was in the midst of a panic attack.
“Did you see that? What was that? Holy smokes, and I guess I mean that literally since we’re in front of a church, and he just, well, you saw him. Did that really happen?” Her pulse pounded frantically in her throat, making her voice shake. “This can’t happen.”
Prying her hands from his thick, leather jacket, the guy turned and took her by the shoulders. “Charlotte, I need you to take a deep breath and relax.”
“I’m relaxed. Why? Do I not seemed relaxed? I guess I’m just not used to people turning into freaking clouds of smoke in the middle of the French Quarter.” Extracting herself from his grasp, she shook her head and stumbled back. Charli dropped her purse and bent at the waist, resting her hands on her knees as she sucked in deep breaths of cool air. “It’s a character flaw. I’ll work on it.”
The guy, whoever he was, actually laughed as he held her shoulders again and pulled her upright. “You are very unusual, even for a human.”
“What’s that supposed to mean? For a human?” Great, only with her luck would the hero turn out to be just as insane as the villain. “Wait, how do you know my name?”
His gaze traveled along the curve of her neck, over her jawline, and finally up to her eyes. “I know a lot about you, Charlotte Rousseau.” Capturing a flyaway strand of hair, he tucked it behind her ear with a peculiar twist of his lips. “I am Lieutenant Vane Schiva, and I was sent here to protect you.”

Coming January 28th! Pre-Order your copy of Timeless from:

ABOUT KALI
Born with a silver tongue and a pen in her hand, Kali spends her days sleeping (she’s part vampire) and her nights crafting scandalous romances with larger-than-life heroes.
Self-proclaimed patron goddess of reclusiveness, Kali currently resides in the Midwest with her oddly supportive family and tragically misunderstood cat. 
Seriously, though, the cat is evil. 
She loves hearing from readers and can be reached at argent.kali@gmail.com. Or follow her on social media for updates, announcements, giveaways, and more!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, January 23, 2015

Spotlight on Blaire Edens - Wild About Rachel #excerpt



Book Title: Wild About Rachel
Author: Blaire Edens
Release Date: September 22, 2014
Publisher:  Entangled Select
Genre: Contemporary Romance (Select)


Blurb
Former debutante Rachel Hansworth longs for the days when “alligator” was followed by “pumps” or “handbag.” Broke, Rachel takes the only job she can find: removing nuisance animals from Florida homes. Unfortunately, fighting the attraction to her boss proves more difficult than wrestling a gator. Army veteran Mark Winters needs help with his business, but he wants Rachel more. He must honor a promise to his dying mother and find a fiancée. A real girlfriend isn’t part of the plan—he’s been there, done that. There’s only one problem: He can’t stop kissing Rachel.
She refuses to be duped by love again, and he won’t let a few hot make-out sessions tear down the walls he’s erected. But she’s all about the big bonus she’ll receive if she helps Mark. They’ll lower their defenses enough to trust each other when a wild animal is involved, but can they pull off the fake fiancée ruse and not be bitten by love?

Excerpt
“Good thing I brought a change of clothes. I’m going to have to go into the water.”
“What if he bites you?”
He shrugged. “There’s no way around it.”
He showed no fear. Just another day on the job. He was nothing like any man she’d ever known. They all tended toward button-down Ralph Lauren oxfords and penny loafers. Fraternities and beach houses.
She’d always liked the preppie type. They were well-groomed, educated. Boring as hell, but they were familiar and comfortable and easy to introduce to her parents. She seriously doubted any of them would climb into a murky pool inhabited by a snapping turtle.
Although after the last few months, she doubted her parents would be interested in meeting anyone she was dating. To say the relationship was strained was a huge understatement. She barely talked to them these days and when she did, she came away from the conversation feeling like the worst person in the world. Even though Pete had been in the wrong, they blamed her for bringing shame to their family.
 The men she’d known would simply pick up the phone and call Mark. He made them all look like overgrown boys. Flabby and vain and weak.
Interesting observation.
Mark shucked off his shirt, revealing a well-defined six-pack. For the first time in her life, she nearly swooned. None of the men she’d ever seen naked looked like that bare-chested. Matchbox cars compared to a Ferrari. His stuff was magazine quality.
Whoa, Nelly.
His arms were bronzed and toned, a beautiful tattoo of a German Shepherd taking up part of his right bicep. She wanted to ask about it, run her fingers along the raised edges, but then he tugged his belt loose and tossed it onto the ground. “Don’t want to ruin another belt.”
Snapping turtle. Focus.
His shorts, looser now, hugged his hips at just the right spot. His abs melted into his obliques in a perfect line. She fought the urge to run her index finger along that line, slowly, just to see how he would react. A shiver ran along her spine and her body shuddered.
“Cold?” He asked. “I’ve got an extra sweatshirt in the truck.”
Rachel shook her head. “Just a shiver.”
Cold wasn’t the problem. Quite the opposite.
“What’s making you shiver?”
“Just a chill. I don’t know.”
“You sure about that?”
Focusing wasn’t any easier the second time.
Mark unlaced his boots, took off his socks, and stuffed them inside. “Here I go.” He walked to the edge of the pool, where it sloped downward. “If he’s in the shallow end, I might be able to feel around and find him with my feet. I have no idea how I’ll find him in the deep end without diving equipment. It’s too murky.”
“What if you used the end of the pole of the net to feel around the bottom?”
“Way to use your head.”
She shivered again. Trying to get her mind back on track wasn’t an easy thing to do while she was looking at Mark, half-naked and tanned.
“You must have gotten some sun in the past three minutes. Your face is a little red,” he answered.
 

Author Bio:
Blaire Edens lives in mountains of North Carolina on a farm that’s been in her family since 1790. When she’s not plotting, she’s busy knitting, running, or listening to the Blues. Blaire loves iced tea with mint, hand-stitched quilts, and yarn stores. She refuses to eat anything that mixes chocolate and peanut butter or apple and cinnamon. She’s generally nice to her mother, tries to remember not to smack her bubble gum, and only speeds when no one’s looking.