Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Excerpt: SWEETEST MISTAKE by Candis Terry

Title: Sweetest Mistake
Author: Candis Terry
Publisher: Avon (HarperCollins)
Release Date: December 31, 2013

From the book:

When friends become lovers . . .

Firefighter and former Marine Jackson Wilder has tough guy down to an art, but he’s learned the hard way that promises were made to be broken. Abigail Morgan was once his best friend, his first kiss, his first love, his first everything. He’d just forgotten to mention all that to her and she blew out of his life. Five years later, she’s back and he’s battling a load of mistrust for her disappearing act. But for some reason he just can’t keep his lips—or his hands—to himself.

It can lead to disaster or . . .

When her stint as a trophy wife abruptly ends, Abby returns home to Sweet, Texas, and comes face-to-face with Jackson—her biggest and sexiest mistake. Time and distance did nothing to squash her love for the act-first-think-later stubborn hunk of a man, and when he suggests they renew their old just-friends vow, Abby realizes she wants more. She’d cut and run once. Could she do it again? Or could she tempt him enough to break his promise?

Follow this tour to see more about this book!


By the time Abby came out of the barn with Jana Wilder and the antique clock chosen for her son’s return, there were trucks and cars parked all over the place. Indeed it looked like a party was in full swing.

Abby knew she needed to find a quick escape. She wasn’t ready to face the entire Wilder family.

“I really should go,” she said. “You don’t need a party crasher.”

Jana took her arm and gave her a comforting smile. “Nobody’s gonna bite, sugarplum,” Jana said. “Don’t you worry about a thing.”

She wasn’t so sure about that.

Abby took deep breaths to calm the dread and stepped up onto the veranda that surrounded the big ranch style home. Before they even got to the door enthusiastic chatter from inside drifted through the screen. Reluctantly she followed Jana into the house. Behind them the screen door banged. All heads snapped in their direction.


Their entrance was met with the echo of crickets.

A quick scan of the crowded room revealed that not only had the impromptu celebration included a spread of take-out pizza and tin containers piled with salad mix, it had also gathered everyone in one place to easily pass judgment. Then again, to most of the people in this room Abby wasn’t much more than another body taking up precious floor space. So who was she to think she’d warrant such curiosity?

To her relief Jackson appeared conveniently absent. He’d probably bailed the moment she’d gone into the barn. She couldn’t blame him. She’d like to pull a vanishing act too.
Jana broke the brittle silence by sweeping into the room with a grand gesture of welcome to Reno and the gorgeous brunette on his arm.

Abby took the moment to inconspicuously inch toward the door. Surely in the commotion of welcoming Reno back to the fold no one would notice she’d bolted. They’d probably be glad. Relieved.

When Jana moved on to greet others in the room Reno stepped forward in all his dark-haired handsomeness and put a halt to her escape. “I knew you’d come back someday.”

She noticed he didn’t say he was happy to see her. “Well I certainly didn’t.”

A brief smile tipped his mouth. “I can see that by the sheer panic on your face.”

“Me? Panicked?”

“As your old friend, take it from me, Abby. Everything happens for a reason.”


He nodded. “Just make sure you pay closer attention than I did. Because it took me a while to realize that some of the best things in life are surprises.”

The gorgeous brunette appeared at his side. “I hope you’re talking about me,” she said with a smile. Then she extended her hand. “Hi. I’m Charli. Reno’s surprise.”

Abby returned the gesture of the woman she’d seen once or twice on the cable design show.

“As soon as we unpack and get settled,” Charli said, I’d love to meet up for lunch.”

“I’d like that,” Abby returned. “But I’m not really sure how long I’ll be here. I only came back to fix up my parents’ house and put it on the market.”

“Really?” Reno lifted a dark brow. “That’s the only reason?”

“Of course.”

“You keeping thinking like that, sparkplug,” he said, using the name he and the other Wilder boys--minus Jackson--had always called her. “And I guarantee you’ll be in for a surprise.”

Charli gave her a wink as arm-in-arm she and Reno walked away to chat with a silver-haired gentleman Abby didn’t recognize.

As polite as Reno and Charli had been, Abby couldn’t help feeling like the ugly stepsister at the prince’s ball. She gave another longing glance to the front door and the freedom beyond.

“Hey, sparkplug.” Jesse came forward wearing his typical woman-eating grin. “Good to see you.”

Really? Jesse had always been a professional bullshitter so Abby wouldn’t know if he was sincere or lying to the bone. “You too.” How was it that all the Wilder men had only gotten more breathtaking over the years? “How are things at the clinic?”

“Keeping me on my toes. Old Doc Michaels finally retired. I bought the place from him about a year after my time with the Marines ended.”

“I was really sorry to hear—”

“I know.” He lifted a hand. “Dad and Jared both adored you. They’d be happy to see you back home where you belong.”

“Oh. I don’t—”

“Sure you do.” He gave her a kiss on the forehead. “And now it’s time for you to figure out the rest.” He gave her arm a squeeze then wandered off to join the others in the pizza line.


And weird.

Jesse had never been the philosophical guru type. But now both he and Reno had made ambiguous comments that had her scratching her head.

Before she could take that thought any deeper, the silver-haired man came up and shook her hand. He introduced himself as Martin Lane—“Jana’s friend.” The smile on his face when he made the claim had Abby wondering exactly what kind of “friend” he might be. 

And then she caught Jana’s affectionate smile from across the room.

Ah. Well, good for Jana.

Chatting amongst themselves were a few neighbors plus Gladys Lewis with her cottony blue hair, lipstick smeared mouth, and traditional floral dress and, of course, old bowlegged Chester Banks, who’d given up on eyebrow waggles and was now tossing Abby a few winks. Lost in the shuffle, Abby figured it to be as good a time as any to get the hell out of Dodge.

About the Author

Candis Terry was born and raised near the sunny beaches of Southern California and now makes her home on an Idaho farm. She’s experienced life in such diverse ways as working in a Hollywood recording studio to chasing down wayward steers. Only one thing has remained the same: her passion for writing stories about relationships, the push and pull in the search for love, and the security one finds in their own happily ever after.

Author Contact


The Ultimate SWEETEST MISTAKE Prize Pack: Including SOMEBODY LIKE YOU, SECOND CHANCE AT THE SUGAR SHACK, ANYTHING BUT LOVE, a Sweet TX Mug, a Houston TX Firefighters 2014 Calendar, and a "My <3 belongs to a firefighter" necklace pendant.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Book Review: Just Once by Julianna Keyes

Title: Just Once
Author: Julianna Keyes
Publisher: Omnific Publishing
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Where to Buy: Amazon Barnes & Noble 
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

From the book:

Kate Burke is done making bad decisions. Thirty years old and belatedly determined to grow up, the successful travel writer and one-time party girl returns to work at the remote Ponderosa Pines Ranch to reassess her life.

Although her kitchen/cabin staff is lacking and the workload never relents, Kate's main challenge is Shane Maddox, the ruggedly handsome and doggedly stubborn ranch foreman. Instantly at odds, they battle over everything from ceiling fans to bothersome bats-studiously ignoring the sparks they generate with each confrontation.

They can't explain their explosive physical chemistry, but after a few frustrated weeks they can't deny it either. Their solution? Just once. They'll get past their inconvenient lust and move on.

Kate's been trying to think with her head instead of her hormones, but is this just another bad decision in a lifetime of careless choices? Has she really changed at all?

Set in the striking and serene hills of southern Colorado, Julianna Keyes' debut novel offers a sizzling and satisfying tale of unexpected chemistry and the power of second chances. Her characters will get under your skin and into your heart. Just once may not be enough for you either.

My review:

JUST ONCE is a book that most definitely got to me. I couldn't stop thinking about Shane and Kate - their chemistry was natural and explosive. Their shared journey of self-discovery is one I don't think I'll ever forget.

Kate is a woman who thinks she knows what she wants, but, as in real life, she doesn't know exactly what she's looking for. She's tired of the same old/same old. Travel and glamour had its time and place, but she's been there and done that so much that the shine wore off. 

She returns to the place where she felt safest - and later in the book, we discover why (no spoilers here). It's an event that, while scary, wasn't so scarring that she's sworn off travel forever, but it does make her rethink her life.

Shane is the strong, silent, stubborn type. He also experiences a great amount of growth in this novel; he falls hard for Kate, and he makes a (major) mistake when jealousy rears its ugly green head. His reactions to Kate, before she finds out about the transgression, had me first concerned, then horrified, then heartbroken for Kate. I experienced a pretty large range of emotions within just a couple of pages; my heart hurt within my chest and I had to stop reading for a minute to remind myself that this was, in fact, just a book. 

The supporting characters of this book aren't only for decoration; each one has a purpose and their own journey during the summer. I am (desperately) hoping Hailey gets her own novel; she and Brandon, one of the ranch hands, intrigued me and were most definitely left with unfinished business. I loved 18-yr-old Lisa who takes the summer to spread her wings; she breaks away from the "mean girls" and becomes involved with Pete, a rather slow (but super sweet) employee, and has that "I'm ready to experience life!" moment that makes life so fantastic, amazing and full of hope for a young adult. 

My favorite part of this story, however, was at the very end. Kate has such a joy about her, despite having lost/gained so much during the summer. She finally finds herself, and as a result of that, finds love. It's refreshing and wonderful to see the story end that way, instead of the other way around. 

Kate and Shane will stay with me for a long time. I highly recommend this novel; the writing is descriptive without rambling prose and the ranch is somewhere I'd love to visit (and my idea of a cabin is one built by HGTV and designed by Vern Yip). The characters are complex, well-comprised, and ones I could relate to (despite the differences in career choice). Four and a half stars - I look forward to more from this author, and hers will be an automatic pre-order for me.

About the Author

Julianna Keyes is a Canadian writer who has lived on both coasts and several places in between. She's been skydiving, bungee jumping and white water rafting, but nothing thrills - or terrifies - her as much as the blank page. She loves Chinese food, foreign languages, baseball and television, not necessarily in that order, and will go to her grave swearing that 'ain't' is not a word. She has volunteered in Zambia, taught English in China, and dreams of seeing pink dolphins in the Amazon. It'll happen.

Click below to follow the JUST ONCE tour:

(Disclaimer: I was provided an digital copy from Irresistible Reads Book Tours for an honest and unbiased review.)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Author Interview: Meet Cheryl Harper!

Cheryl Harper, author of quite a few novels (her latest is SANTA, BRING MY BABY BACK, due out on December 17, 2013) was kind enough to answer a few questions for At the Corner of First and Romance about her novel and her writing process.


Welcome to At the Corner of First and Romance, Cheryl! I love the Elvis-themed hotel in this series of books! What made you want to write books with this theme?

The theme of the series is really about finding love and home in unexpected places, a favorite of mine. I really wish I could say I had this master plan all along, but I just love places like Graceland that draw true fans. I still remember my first visit there. It was so much fun to imagine who would build a hotel like this, who would work there, who would visit, and whether or not they’d love it or hate it or somewhere in between.
Introduce us to SANTA, BRING MY BABY BACK. What is your favorite scene and why?

My stories all start with a single scene (see the answer to question 6 for more on why), so when I was trying to come up with this book, I could see an impatient man in a gold lame jacket and a beautiful woman in a wedding gown. I knew he was supposed to be performing the wedding and she was missing one groom. From that point I had to figure out what happened and how to get the two of them together. Turns out that Charlie is the hotel owner’s son, and he’s impatient because he doesn’t much care for the hotel but he’s trying to make up for a big mistake by helping his mother out. And free-spirited Grace is a failed gold digger who’s spent too many years looking for the place she belongs. He doesn’t trust many people, certain they’re out to take advantage of his mother. And Grace has a hard time staying in one place. But as sometimes happens, they find exactly what they were looking for in the wrong place at the right time.
Of all your books, which one is your favorite? Why?
Hard question! Am I really allowed to have a favorite??? Okay, well…I love this one because I love holiday stories and it’s the last one in the series so it’s a little bittersweet, but my favorite of the series is probably Can’t Help Falling in Love, mainly because Misty the bloodhound has such an important role. And there’s a bookstore kiss.
Of all your books, which character is your favorite? Why?
I love all my heroes. KT from Stuck on You was the handsome charmer. Charlie in Santa, Bring My Baby Back is the take-charge leader type. But my favorite of all has been Tony from Can’t Help Falling in Love. He’s had a hard life, but instead of being bitter or hard, he’s thankful for what he has. He doesn’t give up. He’s the strong, silent type, inspires a lot of faith, and never once lets anyone down. Plus, he’s a bookworm and hot like whoa.
Are there more stories like this in the pipeline for you? What's next?
This is the last of this series, but I’m working on another sexy series now. My next book will be released by Harlequin Heartwarming in February. A Minute on the Lips is a sweet romance about a small-town sheriff who has a case to solve, an election to win, and a too-handsome newspaper editor who always shows up when she least expects it.
Tell us about your writing process - are you a plotter, a pantser, or both?
I’m still figuring out how to do this writing thing, so I hope I’m transitioning from pantser to plotter because I think it would be easier. My first book was pretty pantser, but since then I’ve tried to plot loosely. Still, no matter how it flows, every story starts with one scene in my head and it builds as I figure out more about the characters in that scene.
What do you do when writer's block strikes?
Moan. Play Candy Crush. Really, I’m not sure I believe I have writer’s block where I don’t know what’s happening with the story. Instead, what I have is days where I’m overwhelmed with the certainty that I have no idea what I’m doing, everyone in the world writes better than I do, and I should go watch television instead. I usually  know what happens next, but I have to get around the fear that makes it hard to put words on paper.
Give us your top 3 favorite kiss scenes - movies or books!
I have the world’s worst memory for stuff like this. My favorite kiss that I’ve written was Tony and Randa’s first kiss in front of the bookstore. Books and a hot guy are totally my idea of the perfect first kiss. Let’s see…movie kisses…one that sticks out in my memory is Bridget and Mark at the end of the first Bridget Jones movie. She says, “Nice boys don’t kiss like that.” And he says, “Yes, they…do.” A kiss that takes your mind off the fact that London can see your underwear is a good kiss. And let’s see…the kiss in Sixteen Candles was seriously sweet, a fabulous way to end that movie. Oh, Jake Ryan…where were you when I was in high school?
What is your most interesting writer quirk?
I’m not sure I have one. I need to get on that! Maybe it’s that all my writing is fueled by Diet Coke.
Tell us about you - what do you like to do when you're not writing?
I spend way too much time in front of the television. Shopping is always fun and I’ve been known to wield some serious knitting needles. Given a free hour or two, though, I want a good book in my hand.
How can readers get in touch with you?
They can always visit my website,, or tweet with me @CherylHarperBks.

Thanks, Cheryl! And if you haven't yet, go grab some of her books. They're sweet, humorous, lovely reads that are guaranteed to put your in a good mood!


Whether she's writing, reading, or just checking the items off of her daily to-do list, Cheryl Harper loves her romance mixed with a little laughter. When she's not working, you will find her ignoring housework, cursing yard work, and spending way too much time with a television remote in her hand.