Sunday, March 30, 2014

See Elle Hop: Soul Mate Blog Hop

Several of us Soul Mate Publishing authors are hippity-hopping all over the Interwebs in a delicious blog hop. I would like to say I participate in these because I think they help expose me (hee hee) and snag me more reader minions, but we all know it’s because the word “hop” makes me think of froggies. Or maybe bunnies.


Anyway, here’s how it goes. I’m going to dazzle you by answering some questions about me. After your pulse returns to normal, please read below about a couple more Soul Mate authors. I urge you to visit their sites, too, and shamelessly lavish them with attention and love.

So, hop on, my friends!


1. What am I working on right now? 
At the end of my summer break last year, I finished The Tithe, a futuristic, paranormal romance about a scholar, a blind man, some angels, and a bunch of people who find themselves cast out of their societies. Essentially, seventy people with disabilities are tithed, or left in the desert to die, by their townspeople. Every day, an angel plucks one of the Tithes. No one taken by an angel ever returns… except for Josh Barstow. She, like everyone else, is left wondering just what is so special about a curmudgeonly, twenty-year-old librarian?

I’m hoping The Tithe will be published this summer. It’s a wonderfully dark, funny novel packed full of religious and sociological ponderings.

2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?
My literary meanderings probably sound and feel a little different because I have a strong background in psychology and sociology. Plot is of course important, but I’ve devoted my life to studying people; delving into psyches and social rituals – even made up ones -- sounds to me like a thrilling kind of mind porn. As a result, my novels are pretty, well, contemplative.

Also, I write sheroes that deviate from the standard: They're fat and proud, they're mixed race, they've experienced major trauma, they're stoic and kick-ass, they have a major disability. My heroes aren't exactly cookie cutter-esque, either. Celebrate diversity? Don't mind f I do.

3. Why do I write what I do?
I write paranormal romance. The paranormal allows me to pretend I still believe in the other side of tangibility. Psychic abilities? Superheroes? Gods? Bigfoot? I don’t really believe anymore, but sometimes, I kinda wish I did.

As for the romance, who wouldn’t want to write about it? Seriously. I know romance novels are devalued as a mere woman’s genre. That’s too bad, because romance novels deal with the most fundamental of issues: family, faith in humanity, altruism, love. Romances strip away the symbols, the pretense, the dances and revel in the messiness of feeling. That much raw honesty must be hard for a lot of people to handle; hence, the devaluation of the genre, I guess.

4. How does my writing process work?
My short answer: Not very well during the school year. I tend to write fitfully throughout the year and dive in during the summers. As for my next project, I already have a cast of characters, a plot summary, and have begun researching aquariums. My evil genius is afoot!


People whose blogs you should totally visit:

Shauna Allen, who inducted me into this blog hop:

Bio: I grew up an only child with two open and loving parents in Central Texas.  I’m married to my high school sweetheart and am the mother to three awesome teenagers.  I am the award-winning author of the Cupid Chronicles series and I’m always thinking up trouble for my angels to get into.  I’m also a freelance editor and personal assistant to two NYT Bestselling authors.  I love all things sexy, sassy, and Gerard Butler.



Patricia W. Fischer

Bio: Patricia W. Fischer, a native Texan, got a taste of the writing bug in the fourth grade when she wrote a play about the Loch Ness Monster from the monster’s point of view. Since then, she’s written in more journals, notebooks, and on scraps of paper than she can count. In her professional life, she’s been a waitress, bartender, bill collector, prep-cook, bank teller, and critical care/trauma nurse. Her first book for Soulmate Publishing, Weighting for Mr. Right, is based on her own journey with weight.



Saturday, March 29, 2014

Vote, Vote, Vote for Elle, March 31-April 6!

Guess what, endless hordes of Elle Hill fans. In just two days, you'll be able to vote for Hunted Dreams as your favoritest paranormal romance ever! Or, well, at least from among those in the contest. 

In two short days, I shall unleash you all like the hounds of hell to obliterate the competition and ensure your literary mistress continues to rule the paranormal night. (Okay, is it just me, or did that get a little weird toward the end?)

Anyway, as wise little weasels have been known to say, "Vote, vote vote like a baby stoat!" And stoats don't even have opposable thumbs!

In all sincerity, thank you. If I win this contest, I shall celebrate and invite you to join me. Much gratitude and love, faithful friends.

Details on voting lie below.

Dear Elle Hill,

Because your book, Hunted Dreams, received the high review rating of a 4 star or better, it has continued to the second, public voting phase for the 2014 RONE Awards.  In this phase the readers will be narrowing down the contestants to  4 - 6 finalists in each genre by choosing the books they love best. 

This is to inform you that your book’s genre is open for voting from March 31 - April 6,2014!  It will only be open for votes for exactly one week, so it is extremely important that you let all your friends and fans know!  We would hate to think a superior quality book was lost only because people were unaware of the time limit,  so we are including the link for voting so you can pass it along! [Note: You will have to make an account there, a two step process, in order to vote. If you'd prefer not to do that, you can also send an email to and include the following information: "Elle Hill, Hunted Dreams, paranormal."]

The finalists in this round will then be read and judged by a group of professionals in the industry to determine the very best in indie and small published books of 2013. They will then be awarded the prestigious RONE award, itself, at the formal ceremonies, July 11th, at the Golden Nugget Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Five Line Friday: The Tithe

Not the official cover.
I sorta made this. :)

I recently learned of this "Five Line Friday" thingy. Where have you been hiding, my sweet? Elle wants to come out and play. 

The five lines I'm choosing are from The Tithe, my latest completed novel. It's still in the editing process, but my editor tells me it should be released this summer. Till then, here's a five-line taste. Hope you savor!


          Trapped with the angels.
          The sound crescendoed behind her. She closed her eyes.
          Wind, cool like the desert night, swirled around her head, breathed across her flushed cheeks.
          She felt the brush of a feather against the back of her neck. Her heart slowed to its normal rhythm, and she drifted with a small smile to the smooth floor below.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Thursday Threads: The King's Vampire by Brenda Stinnett

The King’s Vampire, first in an Abyss series

Author: Brenda Stinnett

Genre and setting: Historical Paranormal Romance set in London, England, after the Restoration of Charles II.

Heat scale: Sizzling


Darius Einhard, demon slayer, will stop at nothing to help Elizabeth Curran, immortal vampire, break the bonds of vampirism, even while helping her protect Charles Stuart II, who’s in danger of being entrapped into becoming an immortal vampire and leading his people into the abyss of hell by the psychic vampire demons. 


The ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, England, November, 1675
First to reach the top of the ladder, Elizabeth said, “I see a dim light outside the archways of the church. Follow me.”

They’d almost reached the entrance when a hooded figure came rapidly gliding toward them. In silence, the shadowy figure stepped in front of them, blocking the exit while tossing back its hood. Elizabeth recognized Julian, his horrible eyes blazing blood-red, and his mummified face transformed into a skull whose hinged jaws tantalizingly opened and closed, while his wings beat back and forth.

Fear-frozen, Elizabeth watched the skull increase in size, the jaws continuing to rise and fall. The creature grew until it filled the archway.

With a shout, Darius shoved his three companions away from him and toward the archway. “Run! John, take the women to safety.”

John grabbed both women by the arm and started running with them, dodging the skull and slipping beneath Julian’s enormous wings. Elizabeth pulled back and turned around in time to see the huge jaws closing over Darius. She screamed, but John yanked her back and dragged her and Amelia out of the church forcibly, before she could protest further. He gave a shrill whistle. Darius’s coach appeared in front of the ruins. John shoved the women into the coach, and shouted to the driver, “To the Boar’s Head Inn. Hurry up, my good man.”

In the coach, Elizabeth glared at him with such ferocity that he drew away from her in surprise. “How dare you, John!”

His eyes widened. “What’s wrong? Darius told me to get you and Amelia to safety, and that’s what I’ve done.”

His wife touched his shoulder and gave a shake of her head.

Elizabeth sat up on her knees, pressing her face to the back window of the carriage. Even with her superior vision, she saw neither Darius, nor the huge skull from her vantage point.

“We’ve abandoned him to those horrible demons. We should have stayed and fought.”

When she let out an enormous sob, Amelia gently pulled her back onto the seat. “John was doing what Darius asked him to do. Darius is a great warrior and he can take care of himself.”

Elizabeth hardly noticed Amelia stroking her arm in a comforting manner. She felt a pain in the pit of her stomach grow until it reached up and clutched her heart. How could she live with herself if anything happened to him?

Buy links

Monday, March 24, 2014

I'm Not Flaky; I'm Brilliant!

Do these manuscripts make my cognitive processes look non-standard to you?

I recently read an article summarizing a study that claims writers’ thought processes closely resemble those of folks diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. According to the article, many famous writers – F. Scott Fitzgerald and Charles Dickens, for example – deviate from so-called “normal” ways of thinking and feeling because their brains are constantly squeezing out too much creative juice to focus too long on one thing. According to the article, “Fink’s hypothesis is that the most creative people are continually making associations between the external world and their internal experiences and memories. They cannot focus on one thing quite like the average person.” Presumably, because of this inability to focus, these folks are too scattered to enact socially appropriate behaviors and think in a traditionally linear manner.

I can relate. Well, sorta.
For me, the experience is a little different than flitting between my physical and mental worlds like a hummingbird between juicy flowers. My particular cognitive quirk is walking and smiling through the material world while only occasionally touching base with it.

As I’ve been known to say a time or eighty to my fiance, I’d make a kick-butt brain in a jar.  I just do better in the world of ideas than in this meaty reality with its endless variations, vagaries, and contingencies. When things like, oh, I dunno, my pipes bursting gush their way into my reality, I handle it, I do, but I’m also a nervous wreck till equilibrium reestablishes itself and I can sink back into my head. Brains in jars don’t have to worry about finding an alternative place to pee during situational waterlessness. Just sayin’.

I also have the memory capacity of a rutabaga. Trust me on this. My oldest sister has told me she thinks it’s because I’m so brilliant I’m always distracted by my inner dialogues and can’t focus on this material world thingy. I like her explanation way better than I’m just a giant flake. Maybe Lauri is close to right; maybe it’s because I’m a creative superhero that I lose my cell phone at least once a day and can’t remember any of my 120 students’ faces this semester. Oh, and why I’m the queen of dissociating; I can spend an entire conversation nodding and smiling while mentally plotting my next blog post.

Except when I’m talking to you, of course. Then I’m totally present.

My family has always told me I come by my horrible memory honestly; my beloved grandmother was always two steps behind – or maybe ahead of – the present. She lost her keys more times than not, drove cars in a kind of happy daze, and contentedly immersed herself in her passions: ministering, writing, and painting. But that’s just it. Maybe I didn’t inherit her atrocious memory as much as I snagged her mountain of creativity. Hey, perhaps we share more than just a nose, Grandma.

In short, people come in all flavors of feelings, thinking, and socializing. It’s just kinda nice to know my flavor of different is also what helps fuel my creativity… and the misplacement of my wallet. 

NOTE: The sociologist in me feels compelled to provide the following caveat: I don’t mean to disrespect anyone who’s been diagnosed with any of the above conditions. I know forgetfulness is different than bipolar disorder. I have much respect for all forms of mental, social, and emotional differences.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Thursday Threads: Hidden Mortality by Maggie Mundy

Hidden Mortality
by Maggie Mundy

Genre: Paranormal romance
Heat level: Sensual


In Bath in 1850 a witch is murdered in a ritual granting longevity to four men. What they are not aware of is that she has bestowed the same power to another called Seth to avenge her death. 

Cara is a descendant of the witch and fills her days with food with her Irish-themed catering business. Her nights are another matter; they are full of erotic dreams of a mysterious lover, or nightmares with mutilated bodies. So this wasn’t the best time for her Nana to tell her she is coming into her power. 

Of the original four immortals, Vincent is the only one left and to stop his own long life from fading he needs another witch to kill. Seth was meant to protect the witch’s descendants from a distance, but with Cara he can’t stay away. He has to make a choice to love Cara, or avenge the original death and possibly die himself. Cara has the fight of her life on when one man comes to kill her, and another to love her.

Excerpt Hidden Mortality:

          Cara kept searching but couldn’t find the book she wanted. The assistant at the empty counter smiled politely as she approached. 
          “I’m looking for a book called Immortality and Witchcraft, Fact or Fiction,” Cara said. 
          The woman typed the title into her computer. As Cara waited, someone walked up to the other counter beside her. She turned to look. Her world stopped as she met the slate grey gaze of the man staring straight at her. This wasn’t possible. He couldn’t exist. He was just a dream lover. Yet there he was, standing next to her as big as life. 
          She tried to smile, but it probably came out as more of a grin. He didn’t smile back. Her legs turned to jelly. If she didn’t breathe, she would pass out. She reached out and gripped the counter. One of them had to look away but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. Someone was talking to her and the moment was broken. 
          “Excuse me.” 
          “Sorry,” Cara replied, as she forced herself to look at the salesperson. She was afraid if she glanced back, he would be gone. Her imagination must be playing tricks on her. 
          “It looks like we should have one copy left,” the woman said. 
          “I think I’m just about to sell it,” the other shop assistant said coming up to the register. “We could order it in for you. It might take a couple of weeks.” 
          “Please, take my copy.” The man at the other counter held out the book. His voice was deep, exactly as it was in her dreams. She was caught again in his gaze. The world disappeared and for a moment they were the only two people alive locked in the gaze they shared. Her hand went to her chest. She could feel her heart racing at the thought of him being near. 
          “Thank you, but no I couldn’t. You had the book first.” 
          “Please, take it. I have plenty of time to wait for another copy to come in.” 
          She found it hard to say no. Perhaps, it was the fact he was about six three and wore grey bike leathers. They added to the effect of making him look powerful. The shaved head and the stubble on his face gave a menacing look, but she wasn’t afraid of him. This wasn’t right. Her life was wild enough without dream lovers becoming real. 
          Plus, she wouldn’t want her other dreams to become real as well. She needed to say something, or he would think she was an idiot standing there with her mouth gaping. He held the book out to her. As she took it, her hand touched his. It was such a tiny touch and yet it meant he was real. She felt the heat rising up her neck as she blushed. She also sensed another heat inside her. It was the same way he had made her feel in her dreams. 
          “Thanks.” Cara paid for her book and listened as he confirmed his contact details. Seth Scanlon. She had a name. She wasn’t really stalking. Taking another book off a shelf, she flipped through the pages. He glanced her way before he left and caught her gaze once more. 
          She couldn’t fool herself. The look he gave her was so intense she felt he was seeing inside her soul. Her breath caught. She shivered although the shop was warm. For a split second, she considered following him and saying he must remember all the times they had made love. 
          She could just imagine the expression he would give her. He didn’t know her. She was a stranger. The shop became suffocating as she pulled at the collar of her jumper. She needed to be outside. There was no sign of him on the street. For a moment, she wanted t

Links: 5428101.Maggie_Mundy?from_search=true 
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Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Best and Worst of Times

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

Word, Charlie Dickens.

My last few weeks have been a rollercoaster of stratospheric highs and Earth’s-molten-core lows. In case you noticed and cared, this is why I’ve been pretty silent lately. The Hill universe (I was gonna say “world,” but I’m a big woman; I need a universe) remains in upheaval till further notice.

It all started when my best friend, she of the endless “OMG, is this your twin?!” inquiries, landed for a two-week visit. I hadn’t seen her since last October, so there went two weeks of solid bonding.

A day or so after my BFF* left, my pipes froze. Dr. Google told me to turn off the water valve because when they thawed, they might burst and gush water. LOL! What’s a water valve? So, yeah, my pipes burst. Water fountained. Six hundred dollars and many tears later, I now know how to shut off my water.

The too-expensive dream home that never was.
Meanwhile, my partner and I continued our hunt for the perfect house. (The pipes incident occurred during a house visit. Yep, had to cut that short.) The day after the pipes drama, my SO and I found our dream house. It was a huge, suburban, Midwestern cookie cutter of a house with a giant yard and a sizable carbon footprint. In other words, middle-class heaven. Oh, and it also had functioning pipes. Sure, it was $20K over our budget, but we vowed we would make it work. (Okay, let’s be honest: I quaked and wrung my hands while my partner soothed me and explained how we could swing it.) To top everything, I come from a desperately poor background and had to spend an evening examining some gentle feelings of inadequacy regarding middle-class housing. Finally, my partner and I took deep breaths and prepared to make an offer – and then discovered someone else had beaten us to it by mere hours.

Damn you, seller’s market.

The house on which we actually made an offer.
In this local market, houses are disappearing faster than social aid to indigent Americans. This is why I became house listing stalker extraordinaire. A few days later, I zeroed in on a listing that seemed perfect. Long story short, three days after it went on the market, my partner and I made an offer on it. Some wrinkles have arisen, but if we iron them out, in one month I’ll be the owner of another sexy Midwestern cookie cutter house with a yard. Plus, it's only four miles from my work.

Yay! Hooray! OMG! WTF?! Someone get me a paper bag and some chocolate! Yeah, the usually sedate Elle has now become a basket case. These days, I’ve no need for my morning coffee; I’m running on nervous energy alone, baby!

Then, yesterday – or maybe 314 years ago; it’s hard to tell the difference sometimes – I found out I’m a RONE Award nominee. Awesome news, right? In my next blog post, I’ll break it all down for you. For now, let’s revel in some sunlight. Feels warm and pretty un-terrifying, doesn’t it?

Well, I’m off to learn all about General Systems Theory so that I may share its grandness with my Sociological Theory class. It’s exactly as fun as it sounds.

This week I feel much closer to Dicken’s age of foolishness than wisdom.

* Yes, I am thirty-nine. Yes, I used “BFF.” In my above-mentioned universe, people of all ages are not only allowed but encouraged to use phrases like “BFF” and “adorbs.” Totes.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Thursday Threads: In My Wildest Dreams by Larynn Ford

In My Wildest Dreams
By Larynn Ford

Genre: Light Paranormal
Heat Level: Sensual

When she becomes the victim of several life-threatening incidents all in one week, it seems fate is out to put an end to Lynzi Lancaster. Her close calls with death trigger a series of dreams about a magical place and a certain man who broke her heart twenty years ago, Layne Brady. Could her life get any stranger?
When the star of her dreams announces in person that he had faked his death for twenty years in order to protect her, oh, and that he’s not actually human, the fireworks begin. Does she believe his extraordinary story of another world, the magical world of the Fae? Do fairies really exist? Should she trust her heart? Could her dreams come true?

The feeling of being watched washed over me. I checked over my shoulder to make sure of the gate’s location in case I needed to make a quick getaway. I ran my gaze over the house and froze when I made eye contact with the person standing on the deck . . . Layne.
I didn’t move. He didn’t move. What do I do now? What if he tells me to get lost? Well, then at least I will have heard it straight from the horses’ mouth, so to speak. I took a deep breath, put one foot in front of the other and headed toward the house.
Layne had made his way across the deck and down the steps. Our gazes still locked on each other, we stopped about three feet apart.
I had no idea what to say. My bottom lip quivered and it was difficult to breathe.
Slowly, Layne opened his arms and I knew of no other place in existence for me to be at the moment. We stepped together. His arms wrapped around my shoulders, his right hand cupped my head, and pressed my face into his chest like he always had, before.
“Layne . . .” I exhaled into his chest.
“I’m here. I just knew you’d find me, my brave girl.” He gently stroked my hair as he rocked us in a comforting rhythm.
“I thought you were gone forever.” Trembling, I leaned into his embrace.
“No, I’m here. Just let me hold you. I need to hold you,” he said. “It’s been so long . . . so long. Lynzi, I have missed you so much.”
I wrapped my arms around his waist and clinched both hands into fists full of his shirt, intent to hold on for dear life. Determined I would not let him slip away again. I had to hold on. Hold on tight, even if only in a dream.
We stood clinging to each other as the sun faded behind the horizon and dusk settled around us.
My eyes blinked open. I was alone in my bed, my mind filled memories from my dream. A hint of rose fragrance hung around me. Was I losing my mind?

Visit Larynn at these links:

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Thursday Threads: Cursed be the Wicked by J.R. Richardson

Cursed be the Wicked
by J.R.Richardson

Genre – Paranormal Mystery Romance
Heat Level - Sensual
Release Date: March 5, 2014

Cooper Shaw lives his life under a pen name and enjoys the anonymity it provides during his journeys across the globe as a seasoned writer for a travel magazine. When his job lands him in his hometown of Salem, Massachusetts to cover the famous Festival of the Dead, he soon realizes that he can’t stay invisible forever as he faces ghosts from a past he’s been trying to forget ever since he left.

The city holds nothing but bad memories for Coop until he meets a quirky young woman with an old soul and curious insights by the name of Finnley Pierce. While she acts as his tour guide through a town he thought he knew, Finn helps him unearth the truth of his childhood and might even begin to open up his heart.

By unraveling the mystery of his father’s murder, Coop may finally accept who he is, where he came from, and perhaps even realize what he wants for his future.

“I came by Geneva’s to see you this morning,” I tell her. She slides her hands inside my jacket, around my waist. She holds us together tighter.

“You did?” There’s a smile in her voice. I grin but she can’t see it.

“I’ve gotten used to starting my days out with you in them.”

“You have?” She leans back to look at me. She’s stunned although I have no idea why. I’ve been so transparent even a bat could see through me the past few days.

“Yeah,” I tell her, “I have.” I brush the hair out of her face. Even through the rainfall I can see the blush in her cheeks. This is the most vulnerable I’ve seen Finn since Geneva’s, when she thanked me for handling Dan.

“Most people don’t like the way I’m so pushy sometimes,” she says. “They find it offensive. Some might even say I’ve got a smart mouth. Too smart for my own good, blah blah blah.”

She trails off at the end there and I laugh at the way she thinks I’m buying that none of it bothers her.

“Come to think of it, you did say something I found offensive yesterday,” I tell her half serious. She looks hurt but I can’t stop the smirk from spreading across my face as I back her up against the nearest tree.

She’s caught off guard by the move, I can hear it in the way her breath hitches. “What was that?”

She tries to recover but she fails.

“I believe the term you used was friends,” I tell her, narrowing my eyes. Her lips part, just barely. She swallows something down then clears her throat.

“Isn’t that what we are?”

I move my head from side to side. “I don’t think so, Finn.”


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About the author:
A writer of stories and lover of life.

Jo grew up in Maryland with four siblings, three parents and an endless number of cousins within the vicinity. Today she lives in Florida with her two girls and a husband that shares her same sense of humor and basic take on life as we know it.

Life is too short to put dreams on the back burner.

She’s always loved writing, and always enjoys a good mystery, so in 2012, Jo wrote a novel that was picked up by the good people at Soul Mate Publishing.

Where you can find Jo:

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Thursday Threads: The Perfect Duke by Dawn Ireland

The Perfect Duke
By Dawn Ireland

Genre: Historical Romance (Late Georgian Era)
Heat Level: Sensual

Back Cover Blurb:

Known as The Marble Duke amongst the Ton, Garret Weston, the Duke of Kendal sets himself
apart from his peers. Nothing will hinder his guilt-driven attempt to become a perfect duke.  Nothing that is, save the alluring and imaginative betrothed he’d thought dead. His intended believes-of all things-that she is a Vicar’s daughter. The “perfect” duke needs a “perfect” duchess, but how was he to discern her suitability? Employing her as a governess to his niece seemed like an ideal solution. But whose “suitability” is being tested? His betrothed refuses to see he is beyond redemption. And most grievous of all, she stirs his blood, making him forget what’s important.

Cara believes fairy tales really can come true, until she meets the unrelenting and arrogant Duke of Kendal. He looks like a Prince, but acts like a Beast. Why must he challenge her at every turn? Her greatest peril is her attraction to the vulnerable, seductive man behind the title. A match between them would be impossible. But can she show him, without losing her heart that “perfect” is in the eye of the beholder?


“The horse seems to know you.”
“He should. There was a time when I practically lived in the stable. Storm was my favorite.”
“What happened?”
“I became a duke.”
He straightened and forced his features into a mask of indifference. “So, Rachel loves horses.” He turned to face Cara. “I can appreciate my niece’s fondness, but I can not allow her to frequent the stable.”
“Why not?”
“It is not proper for young ladies of her station.”
“Garret, she’s a child.”
It was the first time she’d used his name, and somehow, Rachel visiting the horses didn’t seem like such a large request. “I will only allow it if she uses the passageway. At least I can keep the knowledge of her visits to a minimum. If you come with her, you will need to use the tunnel as well.”
“I can’t.”
“Why not?”
She blushed and turned away. “I’m afraid.” She said it so quietly, he wasn’t sure he heard her.
“Afraid? Of what?”
“Dark, enclosed places. Even as a child, I fell asleep with a candle burning.” She faced him and gave a small smile. “Perhaps I’m afraid that a beast will gobble me up in the dark.”
“There are no beasts at Belcraven, Miss McClure. I would not allow anyone to hurt you.”
“Never.” He started toward her and stopped. Damn, it would be better if he didn’t get close to her. As he left the stable, her whisper followed him.
“Not even you?”


The Perfect Duke