EXCERPT – Valentine Hound Dog by Rachelle Ayala – VALENTINE PETS & KISSES BOXED SET

Valentine Hound Dog by Rachelle Ayala
Former fireman Larry Davison covers his burn scars well, by working at an elementary school as a custodian where he finds a lost hound dog behind the dumpster. Fashion designer Jenna Hart is in town to do a charity fashion show when she loses her top model, Little Treat.When Larry turns up with the puppy, she asks him to be in the show and bachelor auction. Larry’s not sure he belongs in a fashion show and balks at being her good deed. Can Jenna convince Larry beauty is never skin deep and love’s arrow strikes not only the beautiful, but the bold?

Excerpt

Unfortunately, now that Connor was promoted to chief, he didn’t hang out as much anymore, which meant Larry was facing a Friday night with a TV dinner in front of a basketball game.
A piercing wind blew as he lifted the dumpster lid, threatening to blow it down. Larry held the lid with one hand and hefted the trash bag into it. Letting the lid slam, he turned toward the warmth of the building.
Something moved near the dumpster, darting behind it. Probably a rat. He should set traps, but not tonight. The wind whined and howled as he opened the door.
Another whine and something furry touched the back of his leg. It was a puppy, likely a basset hound, with a brown and black patchwork face and white paws.
“What’cha doing here, boy?” Larry bent down and held his hand out for the puppy to sniff. There was no collar, but the puppy appeared well groomed and plump. “Did you get lost?”
The puppy licked his hand, and Larry scooped him up. “I bet you’re hungry. Tomorrow I’ll put up a poster. See if anyone lost you.”
He rubbed the puppy’s head and long ears while the puppy licked his jowls and yawned. How could he resist such cuteness?
# # #
“I can’t believe I lost him,” Jenna cried on the phone to her sister, Melisa. “One minute, he was following me to your apartment building, and the next minute he disappeared.”
“Following you?” Melisa glanced at Rob who was driving her home from work. “Didn’t you have him on a leash?”
“The leash and collar were in the shopping bag. I don’t have five hands. I was carrying him and then when I got to the security door, I had to put him down to punch in the code.”
“Couldn’t you have set the bags down?”
“No, that little rascal would have stuck his nose in and stolen a chicken strip.”
“Rob and I are on our way. You stay put and we’ll help you look.”
“Okay, hurry. It’s getting dark, and he’s only a tiny little puppy. I’ve already run all around your building but no one’s seen him.”
“Maybe he went back home. Where did you get him?”
“The rescue center down near where you work. But there’s no way he could have made it back. He’s so tiny and there’s so much traffic.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll find him,” her sister said. “We’re almost home.”
“Good. I don’t know how much more stress I can take. What with the show, the firemen not cooperating, and now my model gone.”
“Model? Which one?”
“Little Treat, the puppy.” Jenna couldn’t help pulling at her hair. “He’s my signature piece.”
“Signature piece? Wait? What about the gowns and the outfits?”
“Those are a mess. I need to get back home and sew, sew, sew.”
“Then what are you doing with a puppy?” Her sister’s voice took on a motherly, or was it a teacherly, tone. How was it that Melisa was younger than her and so calm?
“He’s supposed to be Connor’s bribe so the firemen can undress for my show!” Jenna wailed. “Now, the show will be a flop, all because I lost Little Treat.”

About the Author

 

Rachelle Ayala is a bestselling author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. Her foremost goal is to take readers on a shared emotional journey with her characters as they grow and become more true to themselves. Rachelle believes in the power of love to overcome obstacles and feels that everyone should find love as often as possible, especially if it’s within the pages of a book. Her book, Knowing Vera, won the 2015 Angie Ovation Award, and A Father for Christmas garnered a 2015 Readers’ Favorite Gold Award.

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EXCERPT – 19 Ivy Lane by Aubrey Wynne – VALENTINE PETS & KISSES BOXED SET

 
19 Ivy Lane by Aubrey Wynne
Eloise Kolby steps off the bus and greets Hollywood with high expectations and a smile. Two months later, she’s broke, hungry and rethinking her dream. An offer to house sit provides her with too much time alone, an adopted family of kittens and a sexy postman waiting at her gate.Victor Burnham can’t stop thinking of the beautiful, mysterious woman who just moved into his hometown. She meets him each day at the mailbox, waiting for a letter.
When the envelope finally arrives, they both must face decisions that could make their dreams come true or jeopardize their relationship forever.

Excerpt

Excerpt from 19 Ivy Lane            Four hours later, she bent over her knees, panting like she just ran across the entire MGM studio. She hoped that man really did have her heart because the one in her chest felt like it would explode.
“A bit out of shape, eh?”
She looked up to see Rita Hayworth’s twin grinning down at her. The burnished, copper hair and teasing, blue eyes did not help her mood. How could someone look like that after an afternoon of such torture?
“It’s my first time out on a dance set. I’ll be fine.” With forced energy, she pushed off her knees and straightened to her full height. “But tell me we are done for today.”
With a husky laugh, she agreed. “Yes, ma’am. Officially off duty!”
“Who’s hungry?” called a voice from the group of girls. A jumbled chorus of “me” and “I am” echoed over the now quiet set. Eloise searched the lot for Ross.
“If you’re waiting for Wilson, don’t. He’s as popular as soda at a fountain and everyone wants a drink of him.” The redhead put an arm around her shoulder and gave a squeeze. “C’mon out with us, honey. My treat. You look like you need a good meal without owing some Romeo for it.”
“But Ross said he’d pick me up—”
“I bet he did. Do you believe everything people tell you?” She put a hand on her hip and took a pose like her mother used to when she’d done something foolish. “This is the movie business, sweetie. Don’t go flipping your wig over every sweet-talking man you meet. They’re like ants at a picnic.”

About the Author

Bestselling and award-winning author Aubrey Wynne resides in the Midwest with her husband, dogs, horses, mule and barn cats. She is an elementary teacher by trade, champion of children and animals by conscience, and author by night. Obsessions include history, travel, trail riding and all things Christmas. 
Her debut story, Merry Christmas, Henry, was published in November 2013 by Melange Books, LLC and received Best Short Romance in the Preditors & Editors Reader’s Choice of 2013. Wynne’s humorous shorts Pete’s Mighty Purty Privies ( Best Short in the Preditors & Editors Reader’s Choice of 2014 and Top 100 Laugh Out Loud List on Goodreads) and To Cast A Cliché are published with Amazon.

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EXCERPT – Your Biggest Fan? by Sydney Aaliyah Michelle – VALENTINE PETS & KISSES BOXED SET

 
Your Biggest Fan? by Sydney Aaliyah Michelle
Noah Patrick, NFL bad boy, has sworn off women, they only seem to want him for his fame and his money. Callie James is such a big Noah Patrick fan, she named her energetic Chihuahua after the man of her dreams. When they find themselves hiding out in the same Brooklyn Brownstone, a crazy blizzard, a never-ending supply of spaghetti, and a dog with identity issues bring them together even though they both have secrets that would tear them apart.
Excerpt

The knock on my door startled me.
I slowly opened the door and stared straight ahead … into the broad chest of a man. He wore baggy jeans and a blue t-shirt stretched across his pecs. He had removed his hoodie on his way to my place.
My gaze took a journey, not up but down. My brain on automatic spied his black leather high tops, his baggy, faded blue jeans, and the way his t-shirt gathered at his hips. His tan biceps flexed in the opening of his short sleeve shirt.
I stalled not wanting to confirm what I already knew. Every fiber of my being fired off signals on high alert for being so close to the man of my dreams.
Callie, this is getting awkward. Look at him.
I pushed my shoulders back, raised my head, blinked once, and gazed in his eyes.
Hi, gorgeous, coffee-colored eyes.
Noah Patrick.
I screamed and jumped up and down like a little girl. Thankfully, I kept my outburst on the inside. On the outside, I maintained a pillar of indifference.
“Hi.”
“Hey,” he said as his eyes narrowed.
I shifted from one foot to the other and leaned on the doorframe studying his face. I should have seen it the moment I laid eyes on him.
The bags under his eyes weren’t as pronounced as before. The cold must have had something to do with that. His kind eyes were more pronounced under the light in the hallway. A little color had returned to his face, and I could see he’d recently had his hair cut by the way it stood up on end.
He was Noah—my Noah—and he was beautiful.

About the Author

Sydney Aaliyah Michelle is a Contemporary Romance writer, a voracious reader and movie fanatic who hails from Texas. 
After surviving 5 1/2 years living in China, she had the courage to finally pursue her passion and become a writer. 
Sydney has been blogging at sydneyaaliyah.com for three years, where she interviews people about their tattoos, discusses her favorite movie quotes, and journals about her writing and editing process. 
Sydney’s novels tackle that dramatic world that is college and professional football and she writes heroines that love their men and the sport that they play. 

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EXCERPT – Three Plus Three by Cindy Flores Martinez – VALENTINE PETS & KISSES BOXED SET

 
Three Plus Three by Cindy Flores Martinez
Two years after losing her husband, a grieving widow, Violet, and their beloved bichon frise visit their favorite place the day before Valentine’s Day. While they are there, Violet meets a handsome widower who makes her feel alive again.
Excerpt

“Hey, there.” He crouched down and brushed his masculine fingers through the corkscrew curls on the top of Cookie’s head. “What’s your name?”
Violet wondered if she should tell him that Cookie couldn’t hear him. She and Bob had found out days after they rescued her from the local animal shelter that she was hearing impaired. Her previous owners had probably abandoned her because of it. Violet had often wondered how they could have rejected such a precious animal. Cookie was nothing but love and affection. But then again, if they hadn’t given her up, she never would have come into their lives. What would Violet have done if Cookie hadn’t been there after Bob was gone? And now that Sydney was away, having Cookie there made the loneliness less burdensome. “Her name is Cookie.”
“Hi, there, Cookie.” The man reached under her chin and brushed her soft fur.
Cookie’s tail wagged faster, and her mouth dropped open in a smile.
“I hate to tear my dog away like this,” said Violet. “She really loves to be petted, but I have to go. I have an appointment, and I’m running late.”
“I’m sorry.” The man rose to his feet.
His tall, lean body and handsome face had caught Violet’s attention since the first time she had seen him. She had often found herself watching him without wanting to. Standing there now, the sunlight bathed his sandy blond hair, causing its natural highlights to shine like gold.
He wasn’t the youngest of men. His face had been weathered by time, but he still had a youthful appearance.

About the Author

My name is Cindy Flores Martinez and I’m from a suburb of Los Angeles. I write sweet romantic comedy and inspirational romance. My debut novel, Mail-Order Groom, started out as a screenplay and movie project. I spent years shopping it around Hollywood, New York, and other parts of the world and had two well-known actors: an Academy Award nominated actor and a blockbuster film actress, interested in portraying the lead character’s parents. After not finding the success I wanted, I officially canceled my film production company, Mail-Order Groom LLC, in November of 2009 and embarked on the journey of turning my screenplay into a novel. I have an MFA in Creative Writing with an emphasis in Screenwriting. I have been a screenwriting instructor, screenplay consultant, script reader, and screenplay collaborator.

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EXCERPT – Surviving San Francisco by Susan Oloier – VALENTINE PETS & KISSES BOXED SET

Surviving San Francisco by Susan Oloier
When 23-year-old Leah Newland accepts a job in San Francisco and runs away from her small-town Illinois life, she expects things to change for the better. What she doesn’t expect is to lose her job, adopt a cat she hit with her car, and fall for a sexy and seemingly unavailable veterinarian. Suddenly, going back to the Midwest seems better than surviving San Francisco.
Excerpt

Mary smiles over at Leah, who works hard to muster even a grain of enthusiasm.
“She can go home now,” Mary says, trying to elicit a happier response.
Leah pets the cat and finally looks at her for the first time. “You hear that?” she says to the cat. “We’re going home.”
Mary puts Fur Elise back in the kennel.
“Ev—Dr. Grady said I should make a follow-up appointment?”
“You can do that at the front desk with Stacy.”
“Okay.”
“See you up front.”
Leah rummages through her handbag for keys, but her attention is almost magnetically drawn back to the flowers.
She pads over and sneaks a peek at the card.
It reads, Forgive me. Love, Tess.
There’s a sinking in Leah’s chest. She takes the kennel handle and lifts Fur Elise out of the room and back to the lobby.
Mary hands paperwork to Stacy. “If you have any questions,” Mary says to Leah, “be sure to give us a call.”
Us.
Leah nods. It’s all she can manage.
Stacy reads from the sheet. “Says we should see you back here in one month.”
She clicks in the computer. “We’re looking at February 14th. How sweet! Valentine’s Day.”
“You know,” Leah says, “I don’t have my calendar with me. I’ll just call and schedule it later.”
“Sure.”
Leah picks up the cat carrier, ready to leave and find herself another veterinarian. But then the door flies inward, and Everitt walks through. His jacket collar is pushed up and his hair is a mop from the wind. The gusty weather keeps the door wide open, and Everitt fights to close it.
He prepares to move straight to the back exam rooms, but stops when his eyes meet Leah’s.
“Hi,” he says, brushing back his bangs.
“Hi.”

About the Author

 
Susan Oloier lives in the Southwest with her husband and two sons. She loves to bike ride and rock climb. She’s been published in national and regional magazines, such as The Daily Beast, as well as online. She had a two-year-long stint as a magazine columnist for an outdoor publication. When she’s not working on a new manuscript, she can be found hanging out with her kids or reading a book.
 
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EXCERPT – The Vet’s Valentine Gift by J.L. Campbell – VALENTINE PETS & KISSES BOXED SET

 
The Vet’s Valentine Gift by J.L. Campbell
Matthias Laing has snagged the woman of his dreams, but his job as a vet keeps getting him into trouble. The situation is past complicated because of the growing assortment of animals in Toni’s house and to top it all, the conflict between Matthias and her daughter’s dad. Can Matthias and Toni’s budding romance survive their challenges and if it doesn’t, will Jade, her precocious five-year-old find a way to play Cupid and fix things by Valentine’s Day?
Excerpt

I poured a glass of coconut water and went back to the living room, conscious of how awkward I felt after yesterday’s argument with Matthias. It had probably been a mistake to call him, but Jade hadn’t given me a choice and would have found a way to contact him herself if I hadn’t. Squaring my shoulders, I entered the living room.
Jade still had the kitten in her lap and was talking to Ridley.
” … treat him nice, okay boy?”
Ridley’s head was tipped to one side as if he understood what she was saying.
When she patted him on the forehead, I was sure he smiled, which forced me to bite my lip.
Every time he did that thing that looked like a smile, I gave thanks for my daughter. She was the only person I knew who got that reaction from both people and animals.
Matthias was sitting on the sofa, and I put the glass into his hand and sat adjacent to him. “So, the cat will be all right?”
“Yeah, from what Jade told me, Ridley was just playing with him.” He drank from the glass and then put it on the table. “He could easily have done him more harm.”
“How old is it anyway?”
“Around three or four weeks old.”
“I’m glad I won’t have to explain to anybody that our dog killed their cat.”
“Just like you nearly killed Ridley,” Jade said.
When I rolled my eyes, Matthias laughed and I didn’t bother to correct Jade. Instead, I said, “It’s a good thing we stopped and checked him out. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have a pet.”
“And now we might have another one,” she said.
I shot a desperate look at Matthias, who only smiled and picked up the glass for another sip.

About the Author

 
J.L. Campbell is an award-winning, Jamaican author who writes romantic suspense, women’s fiction, new and young adult novels. She has written thirteen books, four novellas and two short story collections.

Her novels include the Island Adventure Romance series, which currently has five exciting, stand-alone stories and features feisty women and determined men. Campbell’s mission is to write stories that entertain and educate readers. She also writes under the pen name Jayda McTyson. 

She is a certified editor, who also writes non-fiction.

Feel free to join her mailing list for news and updates http://eepurl.com/n29ZH or her Facebook readers’ group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/iarreaderssuite/
Visit her on the web at http://www.joylcampbell.com
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EXCERPT – Lost and Found by Jeanne Bannon – VALENTINE PETS & KISSES BOXED SET

Lost and Found by Jeanne Bannon

Lexie is so distraught after long-time boyfriend, Josh, dumps her, she takes a leave of absence from her teaching job. Josh leaves behind the puppy he bought for her just before things fell apart even though she’s not a dog person. Lexie contemplates giving it away but decides keep the little mischief-maker and get her some training.

While at puppy obedience school, Lexie meets Tommy, the happy-go-lucky type she could give her heart to if only she was ready. But Lexie gives Tommy the brush off and they lose touch. However, a series of events, some unfortunate, bring them together again.

Excerpt

Bardot was five months old now and still not housebroken, but without Josh around, Lexi was as helpless as a, well, a newborn puppy. She got up slowly from the hard floor. Her back ached and her head pounded. She guessed Bardot had to go outside for a pee—another thing she hated about having a dog. Her small yard wasn’t fenced and so she had to walk the puppy around until it decided to do whatever it had to. Lexi prayed Bardot hadn’t already done her business in the crate. That was not an uncommon occurrence and it always meant she’d have to bathe the dog since she didn’t seem to have the sense not to step in her own waste. Lexi sighed at the thought of it. Bardot did not like baths.
She bent down to open the door to the crate. Bardot already had her little pushed-in snout against the grill of the door, stubby tail wagging furiously. When she opened it, Bardot bounded out and jumped up to kiss her. Even though still just a pup, she was strong and her boxy little skull connected with Lexi’s nose. Blood gushed. Lexi stifled it with a hand while trying to keep the puppy at bay with the other, but Bardot was persistent, jumping and jumping until she knocked her mistress backward onto her butt.
Lexi let her head fall into her hands and cried; a small pool of blood and tears spilled onto the front of her T-shirt. She looked up in time to see Bardot squatting on the rug.

About the Author

Jeanne Bannon has worked in the publishing industry for over twenty years as an editor and writer. 

Come visit her website http://www.jeannebannon.com
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EXCERPT – The Feline Fix by Caroline Bell Foster – VALENTINE PETS & KISSES BOXED SET

The Feline Fix by Caroline Bell Foster

Meeting Police Constable Callum Forde on the worse day of her life, makes cat lover and scientist Wendy Wilde question all that she values, her cat’s loyalty and the role science plays in love.

Excerpt

Next time? He didn’t want her going out by herself which was a bizarre thought, with not even ten full minutes in her company.
“Make sure that you do.” He ordered, in a voice he usually reserved for delinquent yobs.
“I’m sorry.” She said and to her horror felt the sting of tears. It had been a horrible day and had ended even worse. This was New Years, she should be happy, looking forward to the year ahead, but instead she was sat in a police car, unmarked, but still a police car, with the cutest policeman she had ever seen in her life, but he was telling her off and treating her like a criminal. This day was officially the worse day of her life. Oh what a way to end the year and start a new one, she sniffed.
“I’m sorry,” Callum rushed, seeing the sheen of tears. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“It’s okay. You’re right,” she admitted, blinking rapidly to get rid of the tears. “I don’t usually go out at night and I didn’t think. It makes sense,” she went on bravely, reaching for the door handle. “Thank you for the lift and Happy New Year.” She said brightly, as she scrambled out of the car.
Callum got out looking over the roof of the car waiting for her to open her front door. Ever the protector, he watched as she fished her keys out of her bag and fumbled with the latch. She dropped the keys.
“Need any help?”
“No it’s okay. I’m just a clutz as you already know. Petri dish? Keys?” Wendy shrugged, putting her hands out, palms up as though they were scales. “Same thing.”
Callum heard the wobble in her voice. She was trying so hard to be brave in front of him and he wanted to wrap her up in his arms and tell her everything would be okay.
He walked towards her. “Here,” he offered softly, taking the keys from her and smiling at the red plastic key ring shaped like an atom. “Let me.” He unlocked the white pvc door, similar to his and let it swing open.
“Thanks.” She mumbled, stepping into the hallway and turning to him.
Callum spied the small rectangular box on the wall, the green light steady, when it should have been blinking on their entry. “Why didn’t you program the alarm?”
“The cat.”
“The cat?” He repeated faintly.
“Mr. Snuggles,” she explained. “He comes and goes through the cat flap and sets off the alarm when he jumps onto the kitchen counter. I’ve tried to make him stop, cats on counters is so unhygienic.” She flicked her hands around. “But he won’t stop. He never listens to me. He’s such a cat.” Then she smiled softly. “But I love him.”
Callum could not believe what he was hearing. She lived alone at the end of a street where her garden ran parallel to a road busy with foot traffic. There was a field at the back and she didn’t use the alarm? He was incensed.
“Let me get this straight,” he said, folding his arms over his chest, unable to hide his irritation. “You have an alarm but you don’t use it because of the cat?”
“Uh uh.” She bit the corner of her lip. He was not happy.

About the Author


Caroline Bell Foster was born in Derby, England and with her family went on a six week holiday to Jamaica. She stayed for 18 years!
Ever the adventurer Caroline bought her first pair of high heels in Toronto and traded her pink sunglasses for a bus ride in the Rift Valley at 18. She wrote her first short story on that bus and had it published the following year in a local newspaper.

Caroline has always written in one form or another from a very young age. She started her first diary at age 7 and short stories and articles kept her occupied throughout her teens. Feeling the restrictions of short stories for newspapers, Caroline switched to full length novels letting her creativity flow. 

Caroline is also known as ‘The Caribbean’s Leading Lady of Love’ as her novels Ladies’ Jamaican, Caribbean Whisper’s, Saffron’s Choice tend to reflect her love for the Islands. Caroline’s fourth novel Call Me Royal has just been released.

The author now lives in Nottingham, England with her husband and two children.
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EXCERPT – Valentino, Be Mine by Tina D.C. Hayes – VALENTINE PETS & KISSES BOXED SET

Valentino, Be Mine by Tina D.C. Hayes
Kaylee Rose is thrilled when a neighbor moving out of the country asks if she’ll consider taking in her teacup Yorkie,Valentino, but there are a few strings attached. When she finds out a man she can’t stand is the other caretaker, she’s forced to deal with the arrogant jerk until they decide who gets the pampered pooch permanently . . . or risk losing the dog to a heartbreaking fate.
Excerpt

Kaylee hoped punctuality weighed somewhere in their evaluation, because whoever Carter was, he or she was fifteen minutes late the last time Kaylee checked her watch. Not that she minded. It was a little intimidating to meet the other potential owner. What if Valentino liked Carter better? 
As if he sensed her worry, the Yorkie wiggled around in her arms and licked her cheek again. She draped him over her shoulder, a position she knew from experience that he enjoyed, and nuzzled her cheek against him.
Something behind Kaylee caught Ruthie’s attention. A silly grin twisted her mouth as she threw her hand up in an exaggerated wave. Unless this Carter person was a complete moron, they were pretty hard to miss, since they were the only people in that part of the park.
“Carter, over here!” Ruthie stood and flapped her arms even more.
OMG. Either Pam’s personal assistant had finally lost it after years of dealing with her perfectionist boss or there must be a celebrity walking up behind them. Kaylee was afraid to look. She racked her brain for any movie stars named Carter but couldn’t come up with a single one. From the blush on the other woman’s face, she was pretty sure Carter was a man, and if not a famous one, he must be drop dead gorgeous.
Valentino’s tail wagged in Kaylee’s face as he barked his hello and squirmed against her shoulder. A masculine laugh sounded before Carter greeted them. “Good morning, Ruthie.”
Kaylee ran her hand through her hair and pushed a section of bobbed blonde locks behind her ear before she turned around to meet him.
Sunglasses hid his eyes, but she could definitely understand why the PA was acting like a teenage girl backstage at a One Direction concert. Carter was smoking hot.
“Hey, dog, you glad to see me, boy?” His voice was even handsome, in a whiskey smooth kind of way. “May I?”
“Sure,” Kaylee answered, and let him hold the pooch that was squirming to get to him.
Then Carter took off his shades.
“You!”
It couldn’t be, and she hoped to high heaven it wasn’t who she thought. But it was. When he smirked at her, it erased any lingering doubt.

About the Author

  


Tina DC Hayes writes romantic suspense and cozy mysteries with a paranormal twist. She lives down a little country road in western Kentucky with her husband and four children. A few pampered pooches and two parrots keep her company while they stand guard against writer’s block. In her spare time she reads, hangs out with friends and family, watches movies, plays guitar, and indulges her inner Foodie in the kitchen and by chowing down at cool restaurants. Currently up to her elbows in diapers, she’s an expert at 4 a.m. bottle feedings and Patty Cake.

http://tinadchayes.wordpress/com
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EXCERPT – The Crazy Girl’s Handbook by DelSheree Gladden – VALENTINE PETS & KISSES BOXED SET

The Crazy Girl’s Handbook by DelSheree Gladden
Spending the weekend babysitting her two nephews and a puppy was supposed to be fun. Sweating to death at a baseball game while getting gum in her hair, soda down her shirt, and an ice cream pedicure wasn’t part of the deal. Neither was finding out the best guy she’d ever missed a blind date with had witnessed it all. Longest. Weekend. Ever.
Excerpt

EXCERPT: The Crazy Girl’s Handbook – DelSheree GladdenWe looked both ways before crossing the street. Both boys held my hand and Thor stayed right at my heel with the leash wrapped around my wrist. The second we set foot on the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street, the boys took off and Thor made a valiant attempt at following them. Problem was, his leash was still looped around my wrist so I could hold the boys’ hands more easily. So when he lunged forward to follow, I didn’t have any control of the leash to stop him from taking me down.
Pain blossomed in more than one spot as my elbows and palms hit the cement and my head whacked into the decorative stone edging that lined the grass. Thor yelped as my dead weight kept him from getting any farther, then doubled back to see what was wrong and stomped all over me at least three times before settling on my head. By the time my senses cleared, I was so tangled in leash and puppy I couldn’t even figure out where to start. My head and arms throbbing didn’t help at all.
“Thor, get off,” a firm voice said.
I thought I wanted to die when I got gum in my hair, or soda ice down my shirt, or an ice cream pedicure. Those were nothing compared to having to be rescued from an over-enthusiastic puppy by Roman Carpenter while covered in dirt, grass, and blood. It was a miracle I didn’t give up right then and just start crying. I loved my nephews, but I was never going to be able to show my face in this neighborhood again.
The heavy weight of the squirming—and rather large—puppy was finally removed from my face. I heard Roman ask one of the boys to hold the leash, but I kept my eyes closed out of pure shame. Not until a pair of hands pressed against my face did I even dare to breathe. Even then, it was a gasp at the urgency behind the touch.
“Greenly, are you okay?” Roman demanded.
The hint of worry in his voice forced me to peel my eyelids apart. I peeked up at him through half-opened eyes and was startled not to find him laughing at me again. There was real, honest fear in his expression and it left me speechless.
“Are you okay?” he repeated.
Breathe, Greenly. “Yeah, uh huh. Yep.”
He just stared at me for a moment. Probably because I sounded ridiculous. “Are you sure?” he asked.
I tried to sit up in order to prove I was just fine. The sting of putting my hands on the ground made me hiss and I felt a little woozy when I tried to move.
“Whoa, whoa,” Roman said, which made me feel a little like a horse. “Don’t move. Let me help you.”
Great, just great. I tried again to sit up on my own. “Really, I’m fine.”
“No, you’re not,” Roman said as his arms slid beneath my arms and legs.
I experienced an irrational moment of panic, not because the idea of Roman carrying me off somewhere was frightening, but because being this close to him would expose everything about me I hadn’t already managed to bare. He lifted me easily and my breath caught as he adjusted his arms and I felt momentarily unsupported. Then his grip rolled me against his chest, to a place of absolute security. I don’t think I took a single breath as he walked up to the house.

About the Author

DelSheree Gladden was one of those shy, quiet kids who spent more time reading than talking. Literally. She didn’t speak a single word for the first three months of preschool, but she had already taught herself to read. Her fascination with reading led to many hours spent in the library and bookstores, and eventually to writing. She wrote her first novel when she was sixteen years old, but spent ten years rewriting and perfecting it before having it published.

Native to New Mexico, DelSheree and her husband spent several years in Colorado for college and work before moving back home to be near family again. Their two children love having their seventeen cousins close by. When not writing, you can find DelSheree reading, painting, sewing and trying not to get bitten by small children in her work as a dental hygienist.
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