Secrets on the Sand by Roxanne St Claire

We all have authors who can be counted on to deliver on pretty much every single book. You don’t even have to read the back cover, just grab and go. Roxanne St Claire is one of those authors for me.

Edge of Sight - The Guardian AngelinosShe first hooked me with her Guardian Angelinos romantic suspense series. Then I found and promptly fell in love with the Bullet Catcher series. At this point she has so many books out I’ve given up counting and that suits me just fine. It’s always good to know that when I finish reading a story, more are waiting!

My current favorite is one I didn’t expect, a light contemporary romance set on a beach, with a billionaire geek for a hero. Yup, apparently I have taken a minor detour from brooding, emotionally damaged men with tats to spend some time drooling over an uber rich guy, in a suit, who is a wiz with numbers. I know! Who saw that coming??

Well actually anyone who knows Roxanne’s writing would see that coming. She does emotionally deep, intense characters as well as anyone out there, a skill she uses with a bit more restraint but just as effectively in light contemporary romance. So as deeply, madly in love as I am with my messed up book boyfriends (hey, someone has to love the broken ones!), I am utterly charmed by the hero of Secrets on the SandBook 1 in the Billionaires of Barefoot Bay series.Secrets on the Sand

With a name like “Ezekiel” (known in school as “Ezekiel the Geekiel”) you’d think Zeke, as he is now known, would have a very long road to trudge before climbing the mountain to Hot Stud status. Secrets on the Sand blows that premise right out of the water. This time it’s the guy whose is “all grown up” and filled out in all the right ways. Zeke has never forgotten the beautiful girl he went to school with, the way he felt about her, or the time she stood up for him when no one else did.

Amanda (Mandy) hasn’t fared as well, and has been reduced from the prettiest girl in school to a maid struggling to make ends meet. They reunite when she has to clean his suite at an exclusive beach resort. Divorced from an abusive, controlling man who left her broke, Mandy’s one goal beyond survival is to never trust a man again. Especially a rich man.

I’m going to stop right there, because some secrets are best revealed in their own sweet time.

If you’re looking for a great beach read, and you know the clock is ticking on what’s left of summer, Secrets on the Sand will not disappoint. Oh yeah, and there’s one more thing…

Right now, its free. So run your little fingers right out of here and get yourself over to the e-book supplier of choice and grab it while the grabbing is good.

After that you can slather on the sunblock, set up your chaise lounge and sip something sweet and summery while you read. It just doesn’t get any better than that!

 

Retro Read: The Crossroads Cafe

It’s the last Friday of the month which means it time for a Retro Read! These are stories that have been around a while, not old enough to be classics, but way too good to forget about. Some stories might not completely follow today’s writing rules, some might be a bit long, or takes a bit more time to develop. But they all have one thing in common, they’ve earned their place on the keeper shelf.

The Crossroads Cafe

 

This month’s Retro Read is “The Crossroads Cafe” by Deborah Smith. Breaking all sorts of “rules” (although talented writers can certainly scoff at such things!) the story opens with a prologue of a scene that actually happens later in the story. Believe it or not, this isn’t confusing and it works as the first line grabs and draws you right in:

 

Before the accident, I never had to seduce a man in the dark. I dazzled millions in the brutal glare of kliegs on the red carpets of Hollywood, the flash of cameras at the Oscars, the glare of sunlight on the beaches of Cannes. Beautiful women don’t fear the glint of lust and judgment in men’s eyes, or the bitter gleam of envy in women’s. Beautiful women welcome even the brightest light. Once upon a time I had been the most beautiful woman in the world.

Now I needed the night, the darkness, the shadows.

“Put the gun down,” I ordered, as I let my bra and sweatshirt fall to the ground.

The story is told in alternating first person points of view by the two main characters, Thomas and Cathy.  Both are tragically damaged in different but very public ways, one physically, one emotionally.  Their worlds collide when they both end up in the small town of Crossroads, North Carolina in the Blue Ridge mountains. Taking a huge secondary role is Delta, owner of the Cafe, the emotional hub of the small town, and the inadvertent reason Thomas and Cathy are living in Crossroads.

Filled with quirky yet down to earth, realistic secondary characters who have their own baggage and scars, the story runs an emotional gauntlet from tragic to humorous and everything in between. The growth of the Crossroads Cafemain characters,  innocently narcissistic to fully rounded, tragically suicidal to accepting and forgiving of self and others, is a tour de force for the reader and a classic lesson in character arc 101 for a writer. Nobody escapes unscathed, but there is plenty of natural humor sprinkled strategically to lighten the mood and counteract what could have been a painful read.  There are a multitude of social and personal issues woven into the fabric of the Crossroads Cafe, along with the romance, and Deborah Smith did a masterful job of approaching harsh subjects with an unflinching yet extraordinarily sensitive hand.

The HEA is here, tempered with reality, making this story heartwarming and easy to love, just like Delta’s biscuits and gravy. The Crossroads Cafe is a keeper on my bookshelf, a terrific read and a reminder that while we all have our scars, what really matters is how we choose to carry them. As they say at the Cafe…

“The Lard Works in Mysterious Ways”

 

Molly Gets Her Man

Sometimes on a hot summer day you just want to sit down with a cold glass of lemonade, kick your bare feet up and read something light and entertaining. For me nothing fits that bill better than a flaky heroine and Julie Rowe delivers perfectly in her romantic contemporary suspense Molly Gets Her Man. I can’t help but root for heroine Molly McLaren, a very smart girl in a bimbo’s body dragging around a lot of emotional damage. As for the hero, I’m a sucker for a big Alpha male who is a teddy bear at heart and Grey Wilson is all that and more.

Wander on over to Entangled Publishing and you can read the first chapter free! Now how does it get any better than that?

Grab a book and enjoy your weekend.

 

Molly Gets Her ManWhen flaky Las Vegas hairdresser Molly McLaren overhears a Russian hit man planning to kill a US congressman and take out Hoover Dam in the process, she becomes a target for murder. Now, on the run from the assassin and a dirty cop, she winds up in an eighteen wheeler with an ex-cop sporting a bum leg, a bad attitude, and a body built for loving.

Grey Wilson just wanted to be left alone. No more Las Vegas. No more casinos. And no more floozy women like the one his best friend sent him to pick up on the side of the road. She talks fast, but her endless curves and sensuous nature make him want to slow down. Which is not in the cards. Grey knows he needs to unload his excess baggage. And quick.

But when someone tries to kill the Vegas beauty, Molly captures his heart with her backbone of steel, and brains to boot. Now in order to grasp the future that had once seemed impossible, Molly and Grey need to keep Hoover Dam, the congressman, and their love from being blown sky-high.

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