Friday, February 5, 2016

Mary Gramlich is Blogging Along with Theresa Romain and A GENTLEMAN'S GAME

Title: A Gentleman’s Game
Author: Theresa Romain
Series: Romance of the Turf, #1
Pubdate: February 2, 2016
ISBN: 9781492613718

In Book One of Romance of the Turf, a refreshing new Regency series from rising star Theresa Romain, a mystery demanding to be solved brings unlikely allies together in more ways than one...

How far will a man go
Talented but troubled, the Chandler family seems cursed by bad luck—and so Nathaniel Chandler has learned to trade on his charm. He can broker a deal with anyone from a turf-mad English noble to an Irish horse breeder. But Nathaniel’s skills are tested when his stable of trained Thoroughbreds become suspiciously ill just before the Epsom Derby, and he begins to suspect his father’s new secretary is not as innocent as she seems.

To win a woman’s secretive heart?
Nathaniel would be very surprised if he knew why Rosalind Agate was really helping his family in their quest for a Derby victory. But for the sake of both their livelihoods, Rosalind and Nathaniel must set aside their suspicions. As Derby Day draws near, her wit and his charm make for a successful investigative team…and light the fires of growing desire. But Rosalind’s life is built on secrets and Nathaniel’s on charisma, and neither defense will serve them once they lose their hearts…

Historical romance author Theresa Romain pursued an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on. She then worked for universities and libraries, where she got to read even more. Eventually she started writing, too. She lives with her family in the Midwest.
Buy Links:

Theresa Romain’s Road Trip Tip: Travel troubles getting you down? Try a touch of humor, and give a nickname to the unfortunate events that come your way. My hero Nathaniel might talk about meeting milkmaids everywhere, but…well, that’s not literal.
An Excerpt
When the farmer had led his chestnut away again, Nathaniel dangled the medal before Rosalind’s face. “Look there, Rosalind Agate. I’ve finally won a medal, and I didn’t even have to tidy myself up for a meal.”
“Or arise early.” At the end of its white ribbon, the medal turned in a slow breeze. It was a small circle of some silver metal, maybe tin, buffed to shine and catch the eye. “It’s pretty,” she said. “I’m glad he gave it to you. He wouldn’t have won without your help at the right moment.”
“Oh—well.” He shrugged this off, then stuffed the medal into the pocket of his waistcoat, from which the ribbon poked out alongside his fob. “This is a pleasant village, isn’t it? If home felt like this, I mightn’t be so eager to take to the road.”
“And how does it feel to you?” She couldn’t seem to stop asking questions. Her tidy control was packed away. Today she was a woman who danced, and who owned a ribbon so green it would bring a man to his knees.
The thought made her smile as she blinked up at Nathaniel. His eyes were blue, as blue as the Suffolk sky in springtime. She had learned the shade of their brightness.
Slowly, he smiled. “It feels,” he said, “like the sort of place where a man might kiss a woman with a crown of red flowers in her hair.”
Her heart thudded a bit faster; her knees went watery. “It does feel that way,” she whispered. “To me too.”
He tipped up her chin, his hand strong yet gentle along the line of her jaw. “Thank God for that.” And there in the shadow of a building once devoured by flame, he lowered his lips to hers.
*           *           *
Once their lips met, Nathaniel could not imagine how he had waited so long to kiss her.
Oh, there were reasons on reasons not to. She was his father’s secretary, and he had some sort of business arrangement with her about…something…
Honestly, who cared about the reasons why not? There were even more reasons why this was right.
The soft, almost hesitant curve of her mouth before he covered it with his own.
The surprised inhale that smoothed into a hmmm of pleasure.
The sweet-spiced taste of her as her lips parted, letting them fit together more deeply with his. As the tip of his tongue brushed hers, setting them both to shivering, he tasted the candied almonds. He tasted the heat of her and breathed in her scent. She was flowers and laughter and all the joys of a muddled morning. Of a race won. A medal for doing what was right.
Her hands wound around his neck, nails trailing lightly through his short-cropped hair. He could have groaned at the feeling, gentle and intimate, and he bent to wrap her more closely within his embrace. His hand trailed from her face to her shoulder to her back to fit her close to him. To press against her, solid and smiling and crimson-crowned and lovely.

She made another little hmm, and he went tense as a bowstring at the erotic sound. He laced his fingers into her plaited hair beneath its wreath of blooms. Feeling the shape of her head through her sleek hair was intimate. He almost felt as though he were holding her thoughts. Could he tell what was on her mind? How could he understand her, a woman so eager for sweetness but who had never yet claimed it?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Mary Gramlich is Blogging Along with Ari Thatcher and MASQUERADING AS A MISS (Timeless Tales and Fables)


Blurb…Tossed upon a beach after a storm at sea, Colin Wentworth, Viscount Spalding, awakens next to a mysterious young lady on the sandy shore. She’s unable to tell him anything more than her name, Cassandra Franklin. As Spalding strives to help her find her family, he loses his heart to her. His family objects—the heir to the earldom can’t marry a woman who could be illegitimate, for all anyone knows. Cassandra’s family secret is much worse than she fears, and she’s afraid to lose him by revealing the truth. Is Spalding’s love strong enough to face the truth?


When she’d removed his first boot, she pushed her hair over her shoulder and reached for the second.

“You realize how seductive this is, don’t you?” Spalding asked.

Cassandra sat back, lifting her gaze to his narrowed eyes. “I hadn’t intended that, my lord.”

“Please don’t call me that. I feel as though I’m speaking to a servant. My friends and family call me Spalding. Certainly with all we’ve been through we are friends.”

Warmth spread deep inside her belly, pooling low, making her long for something she couldn’t name. “I’m honored to call you friend.”

He toed off the second boot and stood, drawing her into his arms. “I wish you wouldn’t say it like that. We are equals. It is I who am honored that you brought help to me on the beach.”

“It’s what anyone would have done. I wish you would stop thanking me for it.”

Spalding held her close, her breasts pressed against his chest, with only the thin fabric of his shirt and her chemise separating them. Her nipples hardened at the sensation. As if their bodies spoke together, she began to inhale when he did, and she wondered if her heart beat in the same rhythm.

“I must thank you once more.” He bent his head, slowly lowering his mouth to hers. His lips brushed gently over hers, and then he pressed a kiss on the corner of her mouth. When he captured her lips with his, he ran his tongue along the seam of her mouth. She gasped at the sensation spreading over her. His tongue darted into her mouth.

So this was what a kiss felt like. This burning and shivering and wanting, and every inch of her skin begging to be touched. His mouth was hard, possessive, demanding. If this was his thanks, how would he express his passion?

Bio…USA Today Bestselling author Ari Thatcher is the naughty side of sweet romance author Aileen Fish. Ari has always loved sexy romance where love takes the leading role. Reviewers have called her work “captivating” and “compelling”, and her characters “intelligent, intriguing and realistic.”
Stay up to date through her website, Facebook and Twitter @arithatcher.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Mary Gramlich is Blogging Along with Suzanne Redfearn and NO ORDINARY LIFE

NO ORDINARY LIFE by Suzanne Redfearn 

Paperback: 400 pages 
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (February 2, 2016) 

Blurp…Suzanne Redfearn delivers another gripping page-turner in her latest novel, a story about a young mother's fight to protect her children from the dangerous world of Hollywood. 

Faye Martin never expected her husband to abandon her and their three children . . . or that she'd have to struggle every day to make ends meet. So when her four-year-old daughter is discovered through a YouTube video and offered a starring role on a television series, it seems like her prayers have been answered. But when the reality of their new life settles in, Faye realizes that fame and fortune don't come without a price. In a world where everyone is an actor and every move is scrutinized by millions, it's impossible to know whom to trust, and Faye finds herself utterly alone in her struggle to save her family. 

Emotionally riveting and insightful, NO ORDINARY LIFE is an unforgettable novel about the preciousness of childhood and the difficult choices a mother needs to make in order to protect this fragile time in her children's lives. 

Author Bio…Suzanne Redfearn is a summa cum laude graduate from California Polytechnic University and is an architect, in addition to an author. She is also an avid surfer, golfer, skier, and Angels fan. She lives with her husband and children in California 


When you find yourself alone, scared, and responsible for three other human beings you will do whatever you can to make life bearable.  For Faye Martin who is struggling to feed her children let alone cloth them finds a pot of gold in her four year old daughter’s ability to perform she thinks a manna from heaven has come upon her.  She is na├»ve, unschooled in the cruel world of acting, and completely unprepared for how being a mother is going to mix with acting as a manager.  Her daughter is talented enough to make some great money but is Faye selling her soul to make life better. 

When the break she never expected happens on a weekly sit-com Faye decides quick Molly is up for this and the cost is justifiable.  All too quick her role as momager is questioned as she allows situations to get out of control that create a danger to her daughter a mother would never allow.  The greatest danger is her flirtation with the producer who she thinks is the answer to her dreams of replacing the deadbeat husband and father of her children who took off and hasn’t been heard from in months.  The problems of managing her acting child and the other two children that are suffering through all this attention and limelight are overwhelming.  On top of all the other problems Faye sees the way the child protection laws are skirted around, the welfare of the child actor is really not foremost in anyone’s mind, and the price she is paying for a quick fix to her financial woes are getting more difficult every day.

Adding disaster on to her nightmare is the return of the disappearing husband who does not see anything but dollar signs in his immediate future with no real care for how his coming and going affects any one.  Faye learns the hard way when someone on the set turns her unnecessary vengeance on her.  From being that far down in the dumps Faye learns to stand her ground, hold onto what is important, and form an alliance with a band of other labeled misfits who know that today the golden goose is tomorrow’s cooked duck. 

Mary Gramlich is Blogging Along with Grace Burrowes and WILL'S TRUE WISH

WILL’S TRUE WISH by Grace Burrowes

Book 3 of True Gentlemen, Grace Burrowes' gorgeous new Regency series.

True Gentlemen series:
Tremaine's True Love (Book 1)
Daniels' True Desire (Book 2)
Will's True Wish (Book 3)

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes comes another sparkling Regency romance filled with desire and drama
It's  a dog's life... Will Dorning, as an earl's spare, has accepted the thankless duty of managing his rambunctious younger siblings, though Will's only true companions are the dogs he's treasured since boyhood. When aristocratic London is plagued with a series of dognappings, Will's brothers are convinced that he's the only person who can save the stolen canines from an awful fate.

But the lady's choice... Shy, bookish Lady Susannah Haddonfield has no patience with loud, smelly beasts of any species, but must appear to like dogs so as not to offend her sister's only marital prospect. Susannah turns to Will, an acquaintance from her most awkward adolescent years, to teach her how to impersonate a dog fancier. Will has long admired Susannah, though he lacks the means to offer for her, and yet as they work together to rescue the purloined pets, it's loyal, dashing Will who steals Susannah's heart. 

Bio… Grace Burrowes started writing as an antidote to empty nest and soon found it an antidote to life in general. She is the sixth out of seven children, raised in the rural surrounds of central Pennsylvania. Early in life she spent a lot of time reading romance novels and practicing the piano. Her first career was as a technical writer and editor in the Washington, DC, area, a busy job that nonetheless left enough time to read a lot of romance novels.

It also left enough time to grab a law degree through an evening program, produce Beloved Offspring (only one, but she is a lion), and eventually move to the lovely Maryland countryside. 

To contact Grace, email her at


Will Dorning is the spare who has his hands completely full with trying to marry off the heir, control a pack of unmanageable younger brothers, and continue to grow his dog breeding and training business.  He has no time to rescue a woman he is too busy keeping the animal population safe.  But what the mind contemplates the heart laughs at because once Will is reacquainted with Lady Susannah Haddonfield Will turns into another kind of savior. 

Susannah has always loved Will but understood that her time has passed and she is on the shelf with her only goal to marry off her sister.  The season is upon them and trying to find the perfect match is the only distraction that Susannah wants to draw her away from her books.  She is content to be alone and fill her life with other things very much the way Will is doing and the two of them seem to do the alone together very well.  They enjoy reading, walking, and just being quiet in the same room filled with animals.  While Susannah is not completely sure she is a dog lover she is in love with the man who has so many of them.

When a despicable person starts kidnapping dogs to be subjected to the cruelty of the night crawler gambling games Will steps up with a few hesitations to solve the mystery.  He has fears of what the Ton will do to him if the culprit turns out to be one of them and in particular there is a man bent on destroying him and Will is be handing him the ammunition for his gun to do just that.  However, Will cannot abide animal abuse in any form and with Susannah by his side and showing what she is made of to him he is more than ready to jump in. 

The love Will has for Susannah is real and true but so is his lack of financial ability to support her and he is not sure love will keep them fed.  Susannah laughs off his dismay and reassures him love will keep them warm, fed, and forever satisfied as long as they have each other.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Mary Gramlich is Blogging Along with KENNEDY RYAN and UNTIL I'M YOURS (Rafflecopter Give Away) LAUNCH DAY BLITZ

About UNTIL I’M YOURS...Mean girl. Goddess. Bitch. Supermodel Sofie Baston has earned those labels . . . yet they don't scratch the surface of who she really is. Before she can follow her own dreams, Sophie must do her daughterly duty and reel in a "fish" for her father's business-a tall, brown-eyed entrepreneur who immediately hooks her. He's a big guy with an even bigger heart . . . but will that heart be open to Sofie once her darkest secret is revealed?

To Trevor Bishop, Sofie is a beautiful mystery he would gladly spend his life solving. He figures her tough demeanor is armor against a world that's hurt her too many times. Then Sofie's deepest wounds are reopened by the powerful, ruthless man who made them. When she musters the courage to take him down, her world shatters. Now Trevor is determined to help Sofie pick up the pieces so they can build a future together. The challenge will be convincing his ice princess that it's safe to melt in his arms . 

About Kennedy Ryan...I'm a wife, a mom, a writer, an advocate for families living with autism. That's me in a nutshell. Crack the nut, and you'll find a Southern girl gone Southern California who loves pizza and Diet Coke, and wishes she got to watch a lot more television. You can usually catch me up too late, on social media too much, or FINALLY putting a dent in my ever-growing To Be Read list!

Rafflecopter" rel="nofollow" data-raflid="26635ce2295" data-theme="classic" data-template="" id="rcwidget_stygfusq">a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 1, 2016

Mary Gramlich is Blogging Along with Calista Fox and WHEN STACI TAKES CHARGE (Release Day Blitz)

About WHEN STACI TAKES CHARGE...Powerful CEO Staci Kay has been working like crazy for so long that she's forgotten what it means to play. After her company's launch of an important new shoe line, a sizzling encounter with an irresistibly hot guy is just the stress reliever she needs. But when he's gone the next morning, she realizes she can't forget him - or the way he made her feel.

Dr. Evan Hart isn't a one-night-stand kind of guy. But the gorgeous redhead with the seductive curves is a temptation he doesn't regret - until she calls his office to schedule an appointment. Even as he wonders how she found him, Evan can't deny he wants a lot more than just another night in her bed. Now with his heart on the line, Evan has to put his best foot forward and convince Staci that he's the perfect fit . . .

About Calista Fox...Calista is a former PR professional, now writing fast-paced, steamy books to set your pulse racing! She is an Amazon bestseller and has won many Reviewer's and Reader's Choice Awards, as well as Best Book Awards and other competitions with publication as first prize. Calista is a college graduate and teaches online writing classes. She is also Past President/Advisor of the Phoenix Chapter of Romance Writers of America.

Evan Hart stood across the hall from what could only be described as a fantasy come to life.
Mile-long legs. Narrow waist. Plump breasts. Soft-looking, damp red curls that fell just past her slender, bare shoulders. A fresh, clean face.
Despite being separated by an expanse of carpet, he could smell her. Vanilla with perhaps a hint of lavender, which was extremely alluring.
She stared at him with fiery eyes that were tawny, mostly golden with flecks of orange. She was beautiful. Breathtaking, actually, with high cheekbones, honey skin, and rosy lips.
He had to run a few medical terms through his head in order to divert his attention from how stunning and scantily clad she was. The tactic was also necessary to help ascertain whether the vision before him was real or not, for Evan had a tendency to sleepwalk. He never went far and typically woke up after a few minutes. But hotels could be a bit hazardous for someone with the affliction. It’d been a while since he’d done it, so he’d thought he’d broken the habit.
But there really couldn’t be such a striking, half-naked woman standing eight feet away from him. Could there?
He mentally shook his head. Whether he was imagining this or not, he was willing to fall down the rabbit hole when the fantasy spoke.
“Sooo, this is awkward,” she said, her tone low and breathy. Sultry. Sexy as hell.
His groin instantly tightened. His pulse hitched a notch.
She kept talking as his body started to burn. “See, I was on my way to get some ice—”
“You know the valet could have gotten that for you.”
“Yes,” she ground out. “I realize that. Not my first rodeo at a swank hotel.”
He bit back a grin. The fantasy had some spunk to her.
“Anyhoo,” she said. “I didn’t think there’d be anyone in the hallway in the middle of the night. I even checked.”
“And you would have been in the clear. Except that you got a little loud.”
“I did not get loud. And what the heck are you doing up at three a.m.?”
He sighed. “I was working late. Then I drifted off at the desk. I woke up and did more work, then drifted off again…”
“Aha,” she softly said. Her entire demeanor softened, in fact. Making him instantly wonder how malleable she’d be in his hands, how she might writhe against his body if he held her in his arms.
Whoa. Where were those thoughts coming from?
They were not normal ones for Dr. Evan Hart. By any stretch of the imagination.
But the fantasy was incredibly titillating. Enthralling. Tempting, even.
In her arousing voice, she mused, “So you could actually still be asleep at this very moment. And you never, ever saw me.”
She flashed a pearly white smile.
He smirked. “That’s not exactly how you convince someone they’re sleepwalking and dreaming.”
“And you’re an expert?”
“As a matter of fact, yes.”
“Well, then.” She shifted from one bare foot to the other. “Why don’t you sleepwalk your way back into your suite, I’ll follow and use your phone to call down to the front desk to let them know I’m locked out of my suite, and we’ll pretend this never happened. Whether you’re truly awake or not.”
“You shouldn’t leave your key in your room when you go for ice.”
“Gee. You think?”
Evan shook his head. “I see you like to be antagonistic.”
“No, I like to be fully clothed when caught in situations such as this.”
His gaze swept over her. He couldn’t help it. Hoped he could blame it on the supposed sleepwalking and justify it that way to both himself and to her.
But Evan had to concede that, even in his wildest dreams, he would not have conjured this insanely beautiful, perfectly sculpted creature. And she sure as hell wouldn’t have such a smart mouth. Evan preferred women who were a bit more demure. Studious. More bookish than…sexy. Sassy. Soft and silky looking.
Ha. There it was.
Proof that he had to be dreaming, because he never in a million years would consciously allow his very structured thoughts to run in these crazy directions.
The fantasy said, “So…how ‘bout it?”
Every muscle in his body went rigid.
Yeah. Even that one.
Well, he had the beginnings of an erection at any rate. One that would easily qualify as a mammoth hard-on if he didn’t keep his cool. Thank God he wore loose black pants to help hide the evidence of her effect on him. He also had on a deep-blue tank top and was barefoot. His dark hair had to be a tousled mess from raking his hands through it half the night in frustration. And he knew he sported a five o’clock shadow on his jaw. Or, rather, a three a.m. shadow.
He’d been no more prepared for this unexpected encounter than she.
He flipped the security latch outward to keep his door from closing and locking behind him and took a few strides across the hall to scoop up the ice bucket. His gaze locked on candy-apple-red toenails.
Christ, even her feet were sexy.
With absolutely no restraint whatsoever—again not like him at all—his gaze traveled up her ankles, her calves, her thighs…
His mouth watered as he continued over her flat stomach and her full breasts. All that registered in his brain was silky skin, satiny material…and lace. Oh, the lace.
Get a grip, man.
You’re not an animal.
Or a caveman.
Though he suddenly had cavemen desires. To throw this gorgeous woman over his shoulder and carry her into his cave.
Heat rushed through his veins. A couple beads of perspiration popped along his hairline.
It was entirely possible he’d spent too much time in the office lately, and too little time socializing with the female persuasion.
Or perhaps it was just that he’d never come across a woman that set his body on fire the way this one did.
He found himself saying, “If I really am dreaming, I have a much better imagination than I ever knew.”

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Mary Gramlich is GUEST Blogging Along with (the amazing) Kat Martin and INTO THE FURY (Leave a Comment to maybe win a book)



You are married to a real life cowboy and LJ Martin writes some great westerns as well as action packed contemporary stories. Do you ever share ideas about what your character or characters might be like?  We don’t talk much about characters (I don’t think he’s interested in hearing about the hunky guys I write!)  But we talk about action scenes and plotting.  He helps me come up with new ideas.

Every time you travel you write such great blogs and posts about your adventures and it shows you have a love for all the places you have been to. But is there one place that felt like you might live there if you could?  My favorite country is France.  I love it from the moment I step on French soil.  I only realized a few years back that my great grandmother was French.  Maybe it’s in my blood.

The female characters in your books are strong and independent and always know how to control their own lives regardless of what is thrown at them. Yet you find a good male character to match them personality wise, is this ever a challenge?   It’s a challenge I enjoy.  I usually start with the hero and find the right woman for him.  Since the men are all so strong,  it takes a very strong heroine to handle him.

On you guest blog with me January 15th you discussed your love of movies, but I wondered what are your favorite musical artists or really your favorite song?    love Country music.  So all the top country singers are my favs.  I went to see Shania Twain last year.  She has some great songs.  I’d love to see Brooks and Dunn or Garth.  That’s the music I mostly listen to.  When I want to relax, I put on soft jazz.  I also like the oldies, soft rock and stuff like the Eagles, Rod Stewart, and Elton John.  Saw the Stones--they were fantastic.  My favorite song changes monthly!  

Having been so thrilled with Into the Fury I cannot wait until the next brother gets his book. Do you feel the anticipation as well as you start a new series?  I feel dread when I start.  It’s soo much work to get the first of the series going.  New setting, new people, new families.  I’m rolling by book two, getting to know everyone.  Then I feel terrible when book three is done and my people are gone!  Like losing old friends.

How much time in a typical day do you spend writing? I see some authors write about the number of words they want to accomplish but was not sure if that was something all authors tried to achieve.   I try to write a hundred pages a month.  Words are counted differently now than when I started so I have no idea how many words that would be.  The completed manuscript is around 500 pages.  I hate getting behind so I write a LOT.

When you are writing what do you see when you look out your window - let's say in the summer?  I’m very lucky.  In the summer I see gorgeous mountains out my window in Montana.  Wild turkeys roam around our property, really fun to watch.   In the winter, I look out on one of the boat channels near the harbor.  In California, its warm enough even that time of year for people to be using their paddleboards and kayaks.  Lots going on.  I have the best of both worlds.

Thanks for having me, Mary!  Love ya, kat
Mary Gramlich

Blurp… Take death threats against ten of La Belle's most beautiful lingerie models as they travel the country on a widely publicized fashion show tour, mix with macho bodyguards, throw in murder, mayhem, copycat killers, and millions of dollars in diamonds, and you have INTO THE FURY, Kat Martin's newest Brodie novel. 

Ethan Brodie goes head-to-head with Valentine Hart in this novel of intrigue, fast-paced action, and steamy romance.
Bio…New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History.   She is married to L.J. Martin, author of western, non-fiction, and suspense novels.

Kat has written more than sixty-five novels.  Sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries, including Japan, France, Germany, Argentina, Greece, China, Russia, and Spain.

Born in Bakersfield, California, Kat currently resides in Missoula, Montana, on a small ranch in the beautiful Sapphire mountains.
Her last 10 books have hit the prestigious New York Times bestseller list.  AGAINST THE WILD, AGAINST THE SKY, and AGAINST THE TIDE her latest release, took top ten spots. 

Visit Kat's website at
Or look for her on Facebook  at Katmartin/author.





Seattle, Washington

Standing next to the long mahogany table in the conference room, Ethan Brodie re-read the note he’d just been handed.  Printed on a plain sheet of white paper, the words were typed in different fonts and sizes, all of them in big bold letters.
Fairly old-school for the twenty-first century, Ethan thought.  But then, email was a helluva lot easier to trace.
The client, Matthew Carlyle, was Head of Operations for La Belle Lingerie, a retail fashion chain, kind of a knock-off of Victoria’s Secret with slightly less expensive garments.  In his mid forties, five-ten, lean and fit, Carlyle had silver-threaded dark brown hair, hazel eyes, and a thin scar that ran close to his ear along his jaw.     
The other man in the room was Ethan’s boss, his cousin Ian, owner of Brodie Operations Security Services, Inc.
“I imagine in the lingerie business you get notes like this all the time,” Ethan said to Carlyle.
“We get kooks, all right.  Plenty of them.”  Carlyle accepted the note Ethan returned.  “But a letter like this was mailed to each of our ten top models, sent to them at our flagship store here in Seattle, and the company isn’t happy about it.”
“You talk to the police?”
“Not yet.  We’d prefer to handle the problem discreetly, avoid any bad press.  That’s why I came to BOSS, Inc.  Ian and I have worked together before.  I trust him to do the job.”
Ethan turned to his cousin, conservatively dressed in tan slacks and a yellow button-down shirt.  While Ian was blond, Ethan was dark-haired, like most of the Brodie men.  Both were tall, Ethan taller at six-foot-three.  “You have the notes checked for prints?” he asked.
“I did,” Ian said.  “Papers were all clean.  The letters were mailed out of different post office locations in the area so that led nowhere.  Since the models are about to go on tour, Matt’s decided to temporarily beef-up La Belle security, just to be on the safe side.”
“Probably a good idea.”  Though Ethan wished someone else was taking the job.  The thought of traveling for weeks with a group of air-headed fashion divas was the last thing he wanted.  Still, he worked for a living and this was exactly the kind of job he was good at.
Silently communicating his dislike of the assignment, he flicked a hard glance at his cousin, whose blue eyes lit with amusement.
“Ethan’s the best man for the job,” Ian said, not the least repentant.  “He’s an ex-cop, worked personal security for some of the top execs in the dot-com business.  You can be sure he knows what he’s doing.”
Carlyle nodded.  “I read his resume.  Looks like he can handle the job.”  He returned his attention to Ethan.  “Aside from working protection, you’re a private investigator, correct?”
“That’s right.  Before I went to work in Seattle, I was a homicide detective on the Dallas police force.”
“Good.  I’d really like to find the guy who sent those notes.  I’ve got a feeling about this, and I’m not liking it.  I’m hoping with your background, you’ll be able to sniff around, talk to the models and the hands backstage.  If the guy’s part of the crew, we want him out.”
“I can do that.”
“You’ll need to be discreet.  I don’t want people shook-up before we go on tour.”
“Understood.”  And he’d rather be busy than standing around waiting for trouble that probably wouldn’t come.  With any luck, the most he’d have to worry about was crowd control and a few overzealous fans.
“How many more men do you think you’ll need?”  Ian asked Carlyle.  Though they’d gone into the conference room, they hadn’t bothered to sit down.  The meeting wasn’t going to take that long.
“We’ve hired a couple of guys, but we could use at least one more man with a background in personal protection.”
“That would be Dirk Reynolds,” Ian said.  “I’ll talk to him, see if he can take the job.”
Dirk worked freelance for the company, same as Ethan and his brother, Luke, as well as his cousin, Nick.  Nick was married.  With his little wife pregnant, he preferred to stay close to home. 
Luke was on a case.  Even if he weren’t, his specialty was bail enforcement, not personal protection.  Dirk Reynolds was one of Ethan’s best friends, former Ranger, and a damned good man.
Ethan figured his friend would take the job.  The money was extremely good, and since Dirk had just wound up an assignment and was currently looking for something to do, the tour might provide an interesting escape from Seattle.
Ethan thought of the weeks ahead and inwardly groaned.  For him, babysitting a bunch of hot-bodied women in scanty underwear would be a twenty-four-hour-a-day headache.  He’d had more than his share of trouble with the female sex, still did, and he didn’t want more. 
“One thing I need to make clear,” Carlyle said as Ian walked out of the room to call Dirk.  “These are some of the most beautiful, sexiest women in the world.  They’re every man’s fantasy.  That’s the reason La Belle has a strict no-fraternization policy.  There’s no way you can do your job if you’re thinking about getting laid.  We expect you to be pleasant, but steer clear of anything more than that.  You with me so far?”
“Oh, I’m with you.”
“I realize you’re only human, but I need to know you understand and accept our policy.  Any breach is grounds for automatic dismissal.”
“All right.  One thing you need to know.  I wouldn’t accept the job if I thought my dick would get in the way.  I admire a beautiful woman, same as any other man.  But I’m being paid to do a job and that’s exactly what I’ll do.”
Carlyle seemed relieved.  “I hope you’re speaking for your friend, Reynolds, as well.”
“Dirk’s a professional.  Beyond that, he’ll have to speak for himself.”
“Okay.  Sounds like we understand each other.  We’ll be doing dress rehearsals for the rest of the week.  Our first show is here in Seattle on Saturday night.  Tomorrow morning at the theater, I’ll introduce you and Reynolds to the rest of your team and our ten top models.  Just keep in mind what I said.”
Ethan made no reply.  If Carlyle knew how much he wasn’t looking forward to meeting a gaggle of vein, self-absorbed females, he would probably do handstands.  But actions spoke louder than words.  It shouldn’t take the man long to figure out Ethan was off women indefinitely.
His ex-girlfriend, Allison Winfield, had done everything in her power to make sure of that.
“Oh, my God.  Would you look at the eye-candy that just walked backstage.”   
There was awe in her best friend Megan O’Brien’s voice.  As Val bent over to fasten the buckle on her strappy high-heel, she tried for a glimpse, but couldn’t actually see who’d just arrived. 
Megan kept staring and just kept talking.  “You see the one on the left?  The guy with the sexy mustache?  He looks like he walked out of a biker fantasy.  He can knock on my door any time, day or night.”  She rolled her eyes.  “Especially at night.  And the big one on the right turns the words tall, dark, and handsome into an understatement.  I think I’m in love.”
Val finally looked up.  Two men stood next to Matt Carlyle.  One was about six-two, good-looking, with medium brown hair, and a horseshoe mustache that framed his mouth, curved down to his jaw, and made him look like a real badass.  A real sexy badass. 
But it was the bigger man who snared her attention, at least six-three, with dark brown hair, dark eyes, and a face any red-blooded female would be hard-pressed not to admire.  His hair was trimmed cop-short and fit his hard-jawed, handsome face perfectly.  The way he filled out his black T-shirt said he was two hundred plus pounds of solid male muscle. 
When those dark eyes moved in her direction, skimmed lightly over her frame, an unexpected zing of electricity shot through her body. 
“Who are they?”  The little jolt of awareness was new to her.  Val was too busy for men.  Being a La Belle model was difficult and demanding.  At the same time, she was taking on-line college courses, getting ready to start a part-time job at the end of the tour and go back to school in the fall to finish her degree in veterinary medicine. 
“They’re extra security,” Megan said.  “After we got those threatening notes, Matt hired a few more men.  The big guy’s heading up an additional team.”  Megan sighed.  “Those two look yummy enough to eat.”
“You know the rules.  No fraternizing with the staff.”
“I know.  I don’t usually care, but in this case...”
Val grinned.  “Down, girl.  Best not to get your thong in a twist.  Far as we’re concerned, they’re untouchable.”
“Yeah, more’s the pity.” 
Val laughed.  She glanced back at the men, saw the bigger man looking the other way and enjoyed a long, unabashedly thorough appraisal.  Sometimes pure masculine beauty deserved to be appreciated. 

Hearing the voice of Daniel Clemens, the show’s choreographer, along with the light rustle of feminine laughter, reminded her where she was.  Pushing the men into a far corner of her mind, Val went back to work on her shoe so she could take her place in the line-up with the rest of the models.