Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Charity Blog Stop: Ask Me Again & Run Away Charlotte by H.M. Shander

Run Away Charlotte & Ask Me Again
The Courting of Charlotte Cooper 1 & 2
By: H.M. Shander

**For the first two weeks of November, all PROFITS from the sales of ASK ME AGAIN are being donated to SAIF - Stop Abuse in Families - Society. (  This not-for-profit organization provides services and counselling to its clients (and families) who are experiencing abuse. They also have support groups, and have partnered with schools and community groups to provide education and prevention. Locally run and operated, they are an organization near and dear to H.M.'s heart.

Run Away Charlotte: The Courting of Charlotte Cooper #1
December 10, 2014
Trusting and depending on others has never suited nineteen-year-old Charlotte Cooper, who believes she’s unworthy of a happily ever after. She’s fiercely loyal to one - her BFF Joe. Afterall, Joe’s the only one who knows everything about Charlotte and he’s sworn to protect her heart, and her deep dark secrets.
Until Andrew Wagner walks into her life.
Despite his attempts to court Charlotte, she pushes him away, believing he can’t handle her past shadows. After a horrible accident, she slowly learns to trust and depend on him. As she shares her darkest secrets, he falls in love with her. Several incidents thrust the young lovers together, and Charlotte falls hard, giving her whole being to Andrew. While trying to be everything he can for Charlotte, he struggles to find the balance between family, school, love and commitment.
However, their different definitions of love and what it means to love unconditionally come to a head after Andrew spends a summer abroad and Charlotte crosses a line. His reaction sends a devastated Charlotte into the arms of Jack, an older man who can successfully balance what Andrew failed to do. He puts Charlotte first, treating her like a princess while capitalizing on her vulnerability. He gives her everything her heart desires… except Andrew.
When it comes to matters of the heart and mind, which direction do you follow? Love or Logic?

Link to Follow Tour: HERE

He gathered up some papers and shoved them into his backpack. “So that’s it. That’s why you’re acting this way. But I want you know something. I’m here to help you. That’s all. I’d never hurt you. You don’t need to put on a brave face for me.”
Her voice softened. “Thank you.” She reached out her hand to him.
Don’t hide from me. If nothing else, tell me what you’re thinking. Promise me you’ll try.”
I’ll try.”
Okay,” Andrew said as he squeezed her hand. He continued to hold it, rumours be damned, as they walked out the main doors into the biting January air. “I could get used to this.” He stared down at the bond between them. “Holding your hand all the time.”
Charlotte’s cheeks warmed. “I could too, but we’re just friends, okay? You understand why, right?”
No, but I’m willing to play along.” He smiled at her as they walked the snow-covered, curving path to his car. The cold air nipped at their exposed skin.
My walls aren’t ready to come down yet. It’s a scary world behind them and I don’t want you to see me like that.”
Whatever you’re protecting, I can handle.”
Cheeks warming from the flood of heat, she tried to hide her blush. In a serious tone she said, “It’s my heart I’m protecting, and I can’t let you into that yet.”
I do understand. Joe told me it was a dark place.”
Her eyes popped.
Andrew raced to cover. “But he told me nothing, I swear! Ask him. He just told me that it was a dark place, and said it wasn’t his story to tell.”
Well, that does sound like something Joe would say.” She looked at him, her eyes returning to a normal size as her suspicion faded.

Ask Me Again: The Courting of Charlotte Cooper #2
October 15, 2015
After years of feeling alone and unwanted in her unhappy marriage, Charlotte longs for a time when she was happy and truly loved. When her world is turned upside down by a broken water main, the true loneliness of her life becomes overbearing.
When Andrew shows up on her doorstep as Project Manager in charge of repairing her home, Charlotte’s heart come alive after years of it slowly tapping along.
It’s been more than 13 years since they broke up, she’s married and he’s engaged, but that doesn’t mean the past is forgotten. The more time they spend together repairing the house, the harder it becomes to resist their intoxicating chemistry.

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She reached for her phone and as he slid it into her hands, he wrapped his around hers. It was warm and soft, and for a moment made her forget where she was.
Slowly and gently, he turned her left hand over and stroked the inside of her wrist with his thumb. “What happened to your tattoo?”
A white scar looked burned into her skin, hiding the blue and red blood lines that ran beneath. She closed her eyes. “I had it removed.”
You did, or Jack did?” He released her hand gently although his stubble covered face had disgust written all over it.
Stop painting him in such a negative light. You don’t know anything.”
Please, enlighten me then? Everything that I’ve seen, as of late, has not been the picture of romantic bliss.”
Charlotte swallowed hard. “We’re having a dry spell right now. There’s a lot going on, Drew. Between the house and his caseload, and work functions, and galas and hobnobbing, there’s barely time to breathe. He’s even at work today – it’s a Saturday for crying out loud.”
Andrew sat and stared at her.
She lifted the cup to her lips, and allowed the warm fluid to wet her parched throat.
What’s happened to you?” His voice warm with concern.
Your spirit, that amazing spirit, seems pushed down, far away.”
It’s called life, Drew. You might want to look into getting one.” She sneered at him.
Cat.” His voice was hushed and soft, emotion ringing through it.
What?” she said joylessly.
When was the last time you two went dancing, just for yourselves?” She said nothing. “When was the last time you watched the sunset? I remember how much you loved doing that. It was almost like the highlight of your day – those fifteen minutes of serenity.”
Charlotte closed her eyes, trying to visually block out the look of sadness Andrew mirrored. She didn’t want to see it. She knew what her life had become, and she felt helpless to do anything about it.
I’ve got it.” Andrew snapped his fingers, springing open Charlotte’s eyes. “I’m going to make you feel alive again.”
Many thoughts crossed her mind, unsure of Andrew’s plan. Some were dirty, some were clean, but almost every thought made her shudder with excitement.
Come with me.” His smile was contagious, but she crossed her arms.
Why? What are you going to do?” Sitting firmly in her place, she refused to move.
Not just me, us.” He rose. “Do you trust me?” He extended his hand to her.
She placed a trembling hand into his, and stood.
Let’s go.”

I have been writing since I was fourteen – I’m not going to tell you how many years that’s been (haha) but it’s a few. (wink wink) My original stories were handwritten on loose-leaf paper tied together with yarn, and each story has its own custom cover courtesy of whatever magazine I had around. I’d cut out the main character and tape her onto the cover, and decorate around her with the title and other pictures. Oh, the days before photoshop and awesome cover designers… Anyways. I developed a deep love of romance books, as I always loved it when the heroine overcame the odds to get the man of her dreams.
That early love has developed into a passion – I continue to write contemporary romance novels. Now, as an adult who has experienced reality (not like my wildly na├»ve fourteen-year-old self) my characters still overcome those tough odds, but their obstacles are also very real, and sometimes very dark. However, the rewards are even sweeter.
My heroes who are swoon-worthy and handsome and gentle, who have their own issues. No domineering alpha-males from me – I’ll leave those to many other wonderful authors I know and adore. My heroines are those women who are less than perfect, with a very select few she’ll call friends. She is neither popular nor outgoing but deeply loved by those lucky enough to know her.
Right now I am hard at work on a sequel to Duly Noted as well as a second-chance romance story. I’m also tinkering on a novella which follows after Ask Me Again as many emails have come in from readers saying they hope for more from Charlotte and Company.
It’s because of wonderful readers that I continue to write and develop my stories. I absolutely adore it when fans connect with me on twitter (@HM_Shander) because I’m very chatty on there, more so than my Facebook page (hmshander). Regardless of the way you contact me, I’m sure to respond.

New Release Spotlight: Home Free by Claire McEwen

Home Free
Sierra Legacy #3
By: Claire McEwen
Released November 1, 2016
Harlequin Superromance
Home Free

Sierra Legacy Series

His first taste of freedom was only the beginning... 

Arch Hoffman has paid for his crimes. All he wants is to come home to rural California and start over. He's not looking to be a hero when he rescues a wedding cake from hitting the dirt at the ranch next door. But culinary artist Mandy Allen's irresistible smile makes him glad to save the day--and thankful that they're neighbors.

Mandy's just the distraction Arch needs. Her sweet voice quiets the memories that threaten his chance to be a better man, and he's determined to help her confront her fears. But the past is its own prison, and even love might not be enough to set them free.

Link to Follow Tour: HERE
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A flicker of motion across the black backs of the cattle caught Mandy’s eye. Dark hair under a brown cowboy hat. Long legs in faded jeans. Shoulders wide under his padded canvas jacket. Arch Hoffman.
He was standing on the rail of the fence, waving with both arms to get her attention. She rolled down the window. “Hey,” she called, knowing that it didn’t matter what she said. There was no way she was getting out of this situation without looking like an idiot.
What’s going on?” He shouted the words, but it was still hard to hear him over the indignant mooing. The steers wanted breakfast, and they were confused and frustrated. Well, boys, welcome to the club. She’d been confused and frustrated for years now.
Not much,” she called back in a lame attempt at nonchalance. “What’s up with you?”
She could see the confusion on Arch’s face even from this distance. He probably hadn’t been expecting small talk. “Um, not much. You need a little help there?”
She forced a breezy voice. “I’m okay...just need to get out of this truck and get feeding.”
Oh.” He paused for a moment, as if trying to come up with the right words. “It’s just fell into the cab.”
How long had he been there, watching her make a fool of herself? “Oh, ya know, just lost my balance for a minute.” It was almost impossible to sound casual while yelling over the ruckus of forty upset steers.
Arch jumped off the fence and Mandy lost sight of him. She had a tiny moment to hope that he’d decided she was fine and was gone on his way. Then she saw him swing up on the back of a big black gelding and guide it along the fence to the gate. Leaning gracefully from the saddle, he let himself into the pasture, closing the gate behind him.
Mandy reached for the door handle, but her hand was shaking so hard she couldn’t grasp it. She wanted to get out and face Arch while tossing hay out of the truck like a pro. But fear had its cold claws sunk in deep.
With a wave of his rope, Arch cleared the steers easily from his path. He took their place at her truck window, looking down at her from his relaxed perch in the saddle. “Do you want me to feed them?”
His voice was a balm of gentle concern that almost brought out the tears fizzing hot beneath her eyes. She felt her cheeks heat, too, and knew her usually pale skin had gone scarlet. She couldn’t answer. But she nodded.
Okay,” he said. “Just sit tight.”
She watched him in the side mirror as he guided his horse alongside the vehicle and leaned over, grabbing a few flakes of the hay she’d stacked there. He threw them to his right and several of the steers trotted toward the pile. Quickly he grabbed more hay and tossed it out behind the truck, creating another feeding area. Soon the pasture was littered with piles of hay surrounded by happy cattle. Mandy buried her face in her hands. He made it look so simple.

Claire McEwen lives by the ocean in Northern California with her husband, son and a scruffy, mischievous terrier.  When not dreaming up new stories, she can be found digging in her garden with a lot of enthusiasm but, unfortunately, no green thumb.  She loves discovering flea-market treasures, walking on the beach, dancing, traveling and reading, of course!
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