Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Sweethearts of Truffle Manor Part Six by Deb Kastner

Wow. Devon didn’t want to care, but he didn’t think the woman standing before him was anywhere near as talented an actress as she thought she was—which meant the flash of pain and sorrow he’d seen flicker across her gaze was real. Something he’d said had pricked at her heart—or at least her conscience.

“Your grandmother speaks often of you,” he said with a reluctant frown. He wanted to dislike her, he really did. But there was something earnest in her eyes. “She never complained, but I could tell she was disheartened that she didn’t see more of you.”

“That’s none of your business,” she snapped back, then shifted her glance away, rubbing her arms as if she were suddenly chilled.

She wasn’t the only one.

“You’re the one, Devon,” Candy Dunkleman had murmured, and now her words echoed in his ears. The old woman had gone on to say he was perfect to renovate the house, but now he couldn’t help but wonder if she’d had ulterior motives.

The one for—what?

She slowly brought her gaze back to his.

His throat tightened and he swallowed hard. Those eyes could really do a number on a man.

“I have to be honest with you. I don’t have a Plan B,” she murmured. “I have nowhere else to go. I just assumed my grandmother’s house would be available for me to stay in.”

“I’m sorry for that,” he said, and meant it. It must have been a real shocker to her to come into the house and find him there. “I assumed your grandmother would have told you about me buying her house.”

He pulled the solitaire diamond out of his pocket and held it out to her. “I was going to take this to Candy, but if you’re as desolate as you say, I’m sure she’d want you to have it. Maybe you can pawn it or something for—“

“Pawn it?” she repeated, her voice rising to a high squeak. “Pawn my grandmother’s wedding ring? Are you crazy? What kind of no good, unfeeling jerk would suggest I give away something of such sentimental value to the family?”

“I—er,” he stammered. It had only been a suggestion, and that only because he was trying to help her out of a bad situation. It was obvious to him now that Candy had sold her house for Adette's sake, so why should a ring be any differen? He didn't go for the mushy stuff, but now that he thought about it, he realized what a mistake he’d made to bring it up. He wished he could take back the words. Her gaze singed him with it's fiery intensity.

“Give it to me. Give it to me now!” she demanded. “You might have bought this house, but you have no right to my grandmother’s possessions.”

Devon agreed with her there. Maybe Adette’s sudden appearance could be to his advantage. He could offer her a place to stay—temporarily—and she could help him decide what to do with all of her family’s belongings.

He reached into his pocket and withdrew the ring, intending to extend an offer for her to stay with him. But when he held out the diamond, their eyes met and it was as if all the air left the room. He looked at the ring and then back at her. It wasn’t as if he was proposing to her or anything, but--


Saturday, February 6, 2016

FEATURED BOOK AND INTERVIEW:A Daddy for Her Triplets by Deb Kasnter

His Unexpected Valentines 
Clint Daniels knows he is nobody's sweetheart. The rugged mountain guide has lived most of his life alone, and with his heartbreaking past, he can't imagine a domestic future with anyone. Especially not a warm and graceful widow like Olivia Barlow. But when her three towheaded little boys approach him at the Lone Star Cowboy League's annual Valentine's dance, he finds it impossible to turn them away. Clint isn't prepared to be a father, but these boys draw out his paternal side. And somehow, vulnerable Olivia and her children begin to make the cowboy suspect their wary hearts might actually be a perfect match…

How exciting to have Clint Daniels, the hero from A Daddy for Her Triplets by Deb Kastner, a February 2016 release from Love Inspired Romance.

1.     Clint, tell me the most interesting thing about you.
I work as a mountain guide in the Deep Gulch Mountains near Little Horn, Texas. I teach survival skills to both children and adults, although frankly, I’d much rather just be alone. I’m not much good with people.
2.     What do you do for fun?
I like to ride deep into the forest and camp out under the stars. I have a special spot I especially like. Just me, my horse and Pav.
3.     What do you put off doing because you dread it?
Social activities. Little Horn folks love to get together and celebrate near-on anything. Me? Not so much. I always feel awkward and out of place. But when my former foster mother Libby asked me to accompany her to Little Horn’s Lone Star Cowboy League Valentine’s Roundup, how could I say no?
4.     What are you afraid of most in life?
Commitment. I don’t like feeling boxed in, and a woman trying to hog-tie me makes me claustrophobic.
5.     What is the most important thing to you?
Freedom. I like to be able to go where I want to go, when I want to go, with nothing holding me back. I’m an outdoorsman and I like it that way.
6.     Do you read books? If so, what is your favorite type of book?
I like a good book once in a while and I usually carry a novel in my saddlebag. Thrillers, mostly, or courtroom dramas like Grisham. Reading lets me get out of my own head.
7.     If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I wouldn’t let the way my dad abandoned me bother me. Even after all these years, I’m still searching for the stupid treasure he supposedly hid. Why do I even care?
8.     Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?
My dog Pav—short for Pavarotti. He’s a golden retriever. He’s better company than most humans and he breaks the ice during my guide tours. Everyone loves dogs. I also do search and rescue with him.
9.     If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?

I’d want to go back to the day my dad walked away from me and abandoned me in the mountains. I was only six years old, and I didn’t know better. I wouldn’t have let him leave without me, that’s for sure. What kind of a man leaves his own son to the elements?

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Sweethearts of Truffle Manor Valentine's Serial Day 5, Danica Favorite

Adette shot a glare at the trespasser. She didn’t owe him any answers. And yet… “If you were at all familiar with my grandmother and Nougat Peak, you’d know that they don’t allow visitors this late.”

She took a step forward, wincing at the pain as she rose to her full height. “Which tells me that you’re the one who doesn’t belong here. I’d heard that there was some charlatan sniffing around Grandma, trying to milk her for what she had left.”

Pointing to the ring, she said, “you just couldn’t wait until she was dead, could you? The director at Nougat Peak said she only has days left, but that wasn’t good enough for you, was it? You had to get your finger on her money now. Well, the joke’s on you. There’s no money. There’s a reason Dunkleman Chocolates and Confections has been closed all these years. Surely you heard about that kid who fell into the chocolate vat? Our very own Augustus Gloop, only the reality was far worse than Roald Dahl could have written it. They sued for millions, and won.”

Casting a scornful look at him, she looked past him to the field beyond, to the land where a condo development had been built over where the factory had once stood. “My grandparents lost everything. And my parents…”

Adette tried to ignore the way her chest tightened every time they came up in conversation. People always assumed that there’d been enough insurance to cover everything. Enough to set her up living the good life. But that was another one of those jokes that wasn’t funny.

“Let’s just say there’s no money, and leave it at that. Go away. Give me my grandmother’s ring, and I won’t press charges.”

Instead of looking disappointed at being confronted with the truth, he stared at her like she was an idiot. “I told you, I own this house. Your grandmother sold it to me a month ago.”

Her heart thudded to the bottom of her stomach. “She would never…”

Then Adette closed her eyes. Remembered. The student loan people had stopped hounding her about a month ago. Oh, grandmother, why??

“She did. Said you weren’t interested.”  Devon gave her a look of contempt that would have frozen just about anyone. 

But it only made Adette sad. How many times had her grandmother asked her to come visit? And how many times had Adette told her that she couldn’t take the time off work?  Between working two jobs to pay the rent and the time she spent auditioning for roles, she couldn’t afford it. Obviously she hadn’t been able to keep up on the student loans. Even now, her credit card had barely had enough room on it for the plane ticket. 

“She misunderstood,” Adette said quietly. “Now may I please have her ring? Don’t tell me she sold that to you too. I don’t think I could bear it.”

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Sweethearts of Truffle Manor - Chapter Four

Valentine Serial 2016
The Sweethearts of Truffle Manor
Chapter Four

The audacity of that man! And what did he mean, he owned the house? Adette pivoted, only to hiss in pain. She crumpled to the bottom step of the once grand staircase.
            “Chambermaid…weakest play…what does he know? The lunatic…” she muttered, fumbling with her skirts to uncover her ankle. Didn’t look swollen.
            “Let’s see what you've got.” He pocketed the ring and knelt before her, taking her foot into his hands and removing her shoe. He had a tender touch for such a large, muscular man. The pain vanished as his fingers caressed her ankle. “Doesn’t seem broken. You probably just twisted it.”

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

            “So you’re a doctor now, too.” She flipped her skirt over her pretty red shoe. Whoever this guy was, he didn’t seem to be a criminal. And it wasn’t his fault she’d spent the past three hours in a panic over her grandmother…and her life.
            Bit parts in off-off Broadway plays had been her only acting accomplishments in five years. Dare she admit, even to herself, she was disillusioned with the city? That she craved a less cutthroat life? Here in Rose Lake? Maybe even on Candy Lane.
            Those baby blues twinkled as she clutched the rail and hauled herself to her feet, keeping her weight off the troublesome foot.
            “Since you clearly are not putting your degree to use here tonight.” She channeled her inner queen, a role she'd mastered last summer in Kingdom of the Wretched Koalas. A dubious choice on her part, but he didn't have to know that. "What are you doing in Truffle Manor?”
            He leaned close, his face inches from her. Her heartbeat accelerated so quickly she almost brought her hand to her chest. 
            “Something isn’t adding up.” He tapped his chin. “If you are who you claim to be, you’d know why I’m here. Which makes me wonder…You must have been in a big hurry if you didn’t even change your costume after your starring performance. Why didn’t you go straight to Nougat Peak to visit your beloved grandmother?”

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Sweethearts of Truffle Manor -- Valentine Serial -- Day 3, Teri Wilson

Valentine Serial 2016
The Sweethearts of Truffle Manor
Chapter Three--
Teri Wilson 

Devon was beginning to wonder if this whole thing had been a mistake. A very big, very expensive mistake. It was bad enough that Truffle Manor was all but crumbling to the ground, but he hadn’t anticipated having to rid the place of so many hidden heirlooms. Or hostile women.
He stood and planted his hands on his hips. “Fine. Suit yourself. I was just trying to help.”
She blinked up at him with wide violet eyes. Something about those eyes made Devon’s chest ache. Whoever the woman was, she was very pretty. Beautiful, even. Too bad she was also nuttier than a Snickers bar.
“Stay back,” she said, scrambling to her feet and tripping over the heavy crimson folds of her velvet dress.
Devon crossed his arms and watched while she righted herself, raven curls tumbling down from her elaborate up-do.
What was with the old-fashioned get up anyway? She looked liked she’d stepped right out of Bronte novel or something, which was fitting considering their surroundings. The grand walnut staircase and frothy crown moulding suited her.
Devon swallowed. Hard. Then he turned on his heel and headed back toward the master suite.
“Wait,” she called after him. “Where do you think you’re going?”
He shrugged without bothering to turn around. “Back to work.”
“To work? You mean you work for my grandmother?”
Her grandmother?
He slowed to a stop, turned around and gave her thorough once over. So this was the mysterious Adette. He remembered Candy Dunkleman telling him the name “Adette” meant sweet.
Sweet, my foot.
“Actually, I work for myself,” he said.
“What are you doing here, exactly? And why are you holding my grandmother’s ring? Unless you’re a jewelry appraiser or something, you’re in trouble, mister.” She fixed her gaze on the hammer dangling from his tool belt. “By all appearances, you’re not. Do you care to explain yourself, or shall I call the police now?”
He lifted a challenging brow. “Go ahead and try. There’s no cell reception in this place.”
It took two full minutes for her to find the pocket of her billowing gown and dig out an Iphone. If Devon had indeed been a criminal, he could have escaped six times over by the time she finally realized he’d been right. No signal at all.
“Told you,” he said.
She glared at him and kept a firm grip on the useless phone. Devon could practically see the thoughts spinning in her pretty head, and he got the distinct feeling this whole encounter would end with him getting hit in the face with the latest in cellular technology. “I demand you to tell me who you are.”
“You demand me, do you?” Her tone didn’t sit well. At all. He took a step toward the impetuous Miss Dunkleman, pinning her against the intricately carved bannister. “I’ll tell you exactly who I am, but first I want you to answer one question.”
“Perhaps.” She swallowed, and Devon couldn’t help but notice the graceful curve of her porcelain neck.
He forced himself to meet her gaze. “What’s with the dress?”
“My dress?”
He nodded.
“It’s a costume. I’m an actress, and tonight I starred in a production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona.” She cast another dubious glance at his hammer. “That’s a Shakespeare play.”
So she thought he was an idiot in addition to being a criminal, did she? “Yeah sweetheart, I know. I have a masters degree in classical literature.”
“Oh.” Her cheeks turned as red as a heart-shaped box of Valentine candy.
“Let me guess—you played Silvia?” he asked.
She shook her head. “No.”
“Julia?” He’d stand there and list every character in the blasted play, if only to prove he knew his Shakespeare.
“No, but does it really matter what part I played?” Her blushed intensified a few shades.
“I think it does.”
She lifted her chin. “If you must know, I was a chambermaid.”
“I see.” A triumphant grin made its way to Devon’s lips. “So you starred as a chambermaid in what is widely considered Shakespeare’s weakest play. Impressive.”
“I don’t need your approval. Nor did I ask for it.” She jammed a finger at his chest. “Now tell me who you are. Right now.”
“My name is Devon Hershey. I own this house. And you, my little chambermaid, are the one who’s in trouble.” 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Sweethearts of Truffle Manor chapter two

Valentine Serial 2016
The Sweethearts of Truffle Manor
Chapter Two by Terri Reed

            Adette Dunkleman stared at the hunk of man wearing a red flannel shirt and jeans standing near the closet in the master bedroom of Truffle Manor. Her grandparents’  house. Her grandparents' bedroom. Grandfather had passed on but Grandma was still alive and this-- this thief was pilfering Grandma’s house.  How dare he?  “Stay right where you are,” she demanded with a huff. “I’m calling the police.”
            She wouldn’t let him steal that ring he held in his hand or anything else for that matter.
            “You do that,” the man said with a mocking tone that grated on her nerves. “You’ll be the one arrested for trespassing.”
            “What are you talking about? You’re the one trespassing!”  This house, with all of its memories, would belong to her one day.
            Sadness cramped her chest.  According to the Nougat Peak assisted living director, Grandma wasn’t doing well. Adette had taken the first flight she could catch after her last performance of The Two Gentlemen of Verona in an off-off Broadway theatre. Adette hadn’t even taken time to stop at her studio apartment to change out of her costume.  The flowing red dressed swirled about her legs as she turned and hurried downstairs where she’d left her purse with her phone inside.
            Heavy footsteps echoed behind her, spurring her to move faster.  Her red high-heeled shoe slipped off the last step, her ankle buckled and her arms windmilled as the floor rushed up to meet her. She landed with a thud and yelp of pain. She clutched her ankle. “Now, see what you did,” she accused. Blinking rapidly to keep the tears of pain at bay, she glared the man looming over her.
            “I didn’t touch you.” He crouched beside her.
            His musky scent filled her senses. He had light colored hair and the bluest eyes she’d ever seen.  He had a strong jaw and a well-shaped mouth pulled into a frown.  
            “Let me see your ankle,” he said softly, reaching for her.
            Her breath caught. Her heart leapt. She scooted away. “No, way. Don’t you dare touch me or I’ll scream.”