Long Road Home Release Day!

Long Road Home 

Release Day Celebration!

Today’s the day! Ren and Cayden are officially out in the world! I loved spending time with Ren and Cayden. Long Road Home is a beautiful story of healing, overcoming adversity, finding strength to carry on, leaning on someone else, and giving your heart to someone, even though that might be the scariest notion of all.

Sometimes, getting lost is the only way

to find your way home…

I’m grateful for many things-my work, my apartment, my amazing friends. But after that night years ago, I’m left with an aching weight I can’t escape. And it’s keeping me from living and loving the way I desperately want. So when a ruggedly handsome cop pulls me over, I’m shocked by what just the sight of him does to me-stirring up feelings I didn’t think were possible again.

Cayden Sinclair is undoubtedly one of the good guys. A former Marine who’s so sexy I can’t seem to keep my hands to myself. But there are things I’m not ready to share, things that could change everything between us. Cayden deserves to have the life he’s always wanted-which means walking away from him. But I don’t know if I’ll ever find the strength to let him go . . .

What kind of book birthday would it be without presents? How would you like the chance to win a $25.00 Amazon gift card and a Kindle edition of Long Road Home? For a chance to win, enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below!

Long Road Home Rafflecopter Giveaway

Contest runs from 3/7-3/14

Thanks for celebrating the release of  Long Road Home! If you’ve read Long Road Home, consider leaving a short review on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, or any other review site. Please know that reviews of all kinds are greatly appreciated!

Let me know what you think of Long Road Home here, too! Comments are always welcome! 🙂

My Pitch Wars Wishlist & Bio

Pitch Wars Logo


Welcome to Pitch Wars!!!!

I am so excited to be participating in Pitch Wars again, this time as a mentor! In 2013, I decided to throw my finished manuscript into the PW fray and hold my breath, not expecting much to happen. Lo and behold, my manuscript was chosen. Whoa!  Seriously, life changing! I worked hard, listened to what my amazing mentor (Lady Lioness) had to teach me, and I entered the agent round with a polished, beautiful story that caught the eye of Louise Fury, who is now my agent!

That is my hope for you! If you choose me as your mentor, I will take the publishing knowledge I’ve gained in the last three years and pass it along to you. Pitch Wars (and publishing in general) isn’t for the faint of heart. If your desire is to be a published author, to share your stories with others, then be prepared to work hard, make sacrifices, be open minded and ready to learn. I want to help you take the files on your computer and hopefully start them on the path toward a bookstore shelf!

All About Me…

Marie Meyer Author Photo

All of the Pitch Wars mentors are FANTASTIC, but I hope this mini bio will lead you to choose ME!!!

As you read above, I’m a Pitch Wars alum. I’ve been where you are. I know what you’re feeling right now: excited, nervous, scared, OMG-what-am-I-getting-myself-into. No worries, I’ve got your back, we’ll get through this together!

Besides my Pitch Wars experience, I’ve published three new adult contemporary romance novels with Grand Central Publishing’s Forever Yours imprint and have two more in the works. I’m familiar with the extensive editing process that is required to prepare a manuscript for publication.

Along with my writing career, I am a middle school science and Spanish teacher, and have a degree in teaching language arts and music. This fall, I will begin my sixteenth year of teaching (Holy cow, where did the time go?!). I enjoy teaching, I love the kids! I love reading out loud to my students, sharing great stories, and fostering a lifelong passion for books!

Outside of school and publishing, I’m a wife and mother. I have two beautiful daughters (thirteen and nine years old). Teen Darling is a gold medal winning Special Olympics gymnast and Lil Darling is a fierce middle defender on her select soccer team. My family keeps me hopping! In my free time (Yeah, right! What’s that?), I love to read, play my piano to destress, have an incurable addiction to Starbucks and chocolate, catch Pokémon when they swoop into my house, binge-watch OutlanderArrow, and The Walking Dead, and occasionally, I may sleep…but not often!

So, that’s me, in a nutshell. If you have other questions, you can find me on social media, or leave a comment on this post.


 What I’m looking for in a YA or NA manuscript…

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My grabby hands will be all over CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE. It’s my favorite genre! I want a love story that makes my heart skip a beat, gives me that wonderful pinchy feeling in my chest, and extra points if you bring me to tears.

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Bring on the sexual tension, well developed characters and plots, and sex (although, I’ll pass on erotica and BDSM)!

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Some of my favorite CRs are:

YA: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, Peaches by Jodi Lynn Anderson, Just One Day by Gayle Forman, Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have) by Sarah Mlynowski, Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

NA: Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover, Faking It by Cora Carmack, Written on My Heart by Cole Gibsen, Rule by Jay Crownover, Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker

FANTASY. I love a good fantasy! Whisk me away to your well developed world, send me on an epic quest, mix it all up with a heart-thumping romance, and I’m yours! Although, I will pass on high fantasy manuscripts, think Tolkien or George R.R. Martin.

My fav YA fantasies:

Graceling by Kristin Cashore, Fire by Kristin Cashore, Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore, An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare, Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Above all else, I’m looking for a manuscript that gives me ALL THE FEELS! Contemporary, fantasy, historical, paranormal, magical realism, they’re all great. Make me fall in love with your characters and your world!

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The only genres that will get a hard pass from me are sci-fi and horror. There are so many fantastic sci-fi and horror mentors, but I am not one.

Do you have a manuscript that will give me all the feels? I WANT IT!!! What are you waiting for? Sub to me, now!

What I Expect from a Mentee…

My mentee MUST be prepared to kill darlings, flip scenes, and rewrite. Basically, you will need to take an ax to your work and chip away at the rock in order to reveal the diamond inside. Be prepared for constructive criticism, it’s the only way your story will improve. If you aren’t comfortable with constructive criticism, then this contest isn’t for you.  Be sure the manuscript you’re subbing is complete and polished to the best of your ability. Remember, I’m a teacher, there are differences between their, there, and they’re.  😉

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What I will do for my Mentee…

Having been through Pitch Wars, I know how grueling the process can be, but it’s so rewarding! I will help you with big-picture issues, typos and grammar problems, we’ll make sure your dialogue flows, your voice is strong, characters are believable, and your story is well paced. We’re a team and we’ll get your story whipped into shape for the agent round, Oliver Queen style!


This gif is highly distracting! 🙂 ❤

Well, that about sums everything up. I’m the mentor for you, right?! I’m so excited to see what kinds of awesome flood my inbox on August 3rd! Good luck, Pitch Wars Hopefuls, and don’t forget to jot down the scavenger hunt letter below (I think you can figure out my special letter *wink wink*)!

You and  i1  will make a great team!

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Say hello to the other amazing Pitch Wars mentors!



































































Powered by… Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets.

New Adult Scavenger Hunt!!!

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Team Purple S2016




Website-author-Julie-B-Campbell-and-Amanda-Giasson-photoThe Perspective book series was written by two authors: Amanda Giasson and Julie B. Campbell.

After having met by chance in the lineup at their university bookstore on their first day of classes, Amanda and Julie became fast friends. They credit their survival of many of their 3-hour long lectures to their ability to escape to the world of Qarradune.

The truth is that Megan and Irys were born of note-passing in the form of creative writing. While neither author condones this behavior in-class, as it likely does nothing for a student’s grades, it did happen to work out, in their case. It also helped to define the unique writing style shared by the authors in the creation of the story.

The two authors have been steadily working on the Perspective book series, ever since.

Find Amanda, Julie, and Perspective Books on Social Media:

Website Facebook Twitter  | Goodreads | YouTube



There is more than one perspective to every story. On Qarradune, it takes two points of view to make sense of the world. What you know depends on whose story you are following.

Megan: My life went from ordinary to extraordinary in the blink of an eye. I didn’t know where I was or how I got there. I didn’t know if I would ever see my home or the people that I loved, again. All I did know was that I had to save her.

Irys: Beaten, unwashed, and starving, I was alone, imprisoned, and enslaved. I didn’t want to die, but I was ready. At least, I thought I was. A new friend entered my life and tipped the world over. My beautiful bubble had burst, but the reality that came next was astounding.


Love at First Plight is the debut novel of Amanda Giasson and Julie B. Campbell, and is also the first volume in the Perspective book series.

 Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks


Amanda and Julie are sharing an exclusive video for LOVE AT FIRST PLIGHT!



Thanks for sharing that awesome video, ladies!  Don’t forget to write down the lucky number 7 for your chance to win ALL of Team Purple’s awesome New Adult books!

Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on Team Purple and you’ll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!


To continue on the hunt, check out Stacey Kade’s site HERE!

If you’re lost in the hunt and need to find a way out, click on the New Adult Scavenger Hunt banner at the top of the page, it will take you to the NewASH site.





Happy book birthday to WITHOUT BORDERS and Amanda Heger! I am so excited to celebrate Amanda’s debut today!

Without Borders


For Annie London, a month in a Central American rainforest means handing out mosquito nets, giving medical aid, and teaching children about the birds and the bees. With any luck, it will also land her application in the “accepted” pile at a top tier medical school. But as soon as she steps off the plane, Annie realizes her bug spray, feeble Spanish, and medical supplies won’t help her deal with her new feelings for Felipe—her best friend’s older brother, who’s much hotter than she remembers, and who also happens to be the doctor in charge of the trip.

Gawking “volun-tourists” may keep his family’s medical clinic afloat, but Dr. Felipe Gutierrez doesn’t have to like them. Or the way they make snap judgments about his practice and the people he cares for. But when his old crush, Annie, shows up to volunteer, her killer curves and kind smile fan the embers of a flame Felipe didn’t realize he’d been carrying. A flame that makes him question all his preconceived notions.

As ideas and cultures clash, Annie and Felipe must decide how far outside their comfort zones they are willing to go—both for their work and for one another.

Buy Links:     Amazon B & N Google Play | iTunes | Kobo


I caught up with Amanda in Las Vegas at the RT Booklovers Convention! You know the saying, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas…well, everything except the answers to the interview I conducted with Amanda while we had a late dinner at the Shake Shack at the New York New York Hotel. 🙂  From Zac Efron’s abs to the butts of the world, click the link below to see the interview!

An Interview with Up and Coming Romance Star, Amanda Heger! 


My Five-Star Review of WITHOUT BORDERS: 

WITHOUT BORDERS was on my Most Anticipated Books of 2016 list and let me tell you, it did not disappoint! Amanda Heger’s debut is a gift to readers: a unique voice, compelling story, and a budding romance set against the backdrop of the Central American jungle.

Annie London is a smart, flawed young woman, trying her best to get into a good med school, despite some poor MCAT scores. In an attempt to pad her med school resume, she embarks on a month long medical brigade traveling through Nicaragua.

During the trip, Annie is tasked with passing out mosquito nets and teaching a sex ed course. Armed with a giant plantain and a condom, Annie tries to overcome the language barrier and teach the villages she travels through how to practice safe sex. But, for Annie, that’s easier said than done, considering she completely threw herself at the doctor in charge of leading the brigade. Strike one against getting that med school recommendation. Can anything else go wrong for Annie? Yes! Poor girl!

Enter Doctor Felipe. He’s hot. He’s brooding. And he’s great with kids–oh my ovaries! With each page, Ms. Heger ratchets up the sexual tension between Annie and Felipe and it’s steamier than the Nicaraguan jungle! Stolen kisses and quiet touches lead to the perfect “Awwww!” ending!

Amanda Heger is an incredibly talented writer. In Annie and Felipe, she’s created characters that are alive and real; their character arcs are fabulous. I loved watching both of them grow and learn, and build a relationship with each other. WITHOUT BORDERS is unique, unlike so many New Adult romances on the market. I highly recommend Amanda Heger’s debut, WITHOUT BORDERS. Get lost in the jungles of Nicaragua with Annie and Felipe, and they’ll leave you with a serious case of Wanderlove!

Amanda Heger author photoAbout Amanda

Amanda Heger is a writer, attorney, and bookworm. She lives in the Midwest with three unruly rescue dogs and a husband who encourages her delusions of grandeur.

Her debut romance, Without Borders, is forthcoming from Diversion Books. The story was inspired by the summer Amanda spent in rural Nicaragua, eating gallo pinto, speaking mangled Spanish, and showing high school students how to slide condoms onto over-sized plantains.

Her stories are represented by Jessica Watterson of the Dijkstra Literary Agency.

Connect with Amanda!
Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads 

RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY!!! Want to win an ebook copy of WITHOUT BORDERS? To enter, click here: Win an ebook of WITHOUT BORDERS!

Help a Special Coach Realize Her Dream!

Coach Melanie Needs Your Vote!

Every week, Coach Melanie helps my daughter realize her dreams! Coach Melanie is my daughter’s Special Olympics gymnastic coach. Teen Darling has competed in the Illinois State Special Olympics Gymnastics meet for three years and her success is due in part to the love, guidance, and patience of her fabulous coaches, Coach Melanie being one of them.

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Because of Coach Melanie, Teen Darling is fearless on the uneven bars, vaults like a pro, gains confidence each time she performs her floor routine, and tackles the balance beam with grace and elegance. Gymnastics has given my daughter confidence!

But now, Coach Melanie needs our help to realize her dream–performing on a Broadway stage! Please take a few moments and vote for Melanie Kozak, so she can make it to Broadway!

Watch Coach Melanie on YouTube:


Vote for Melanie Kozak Here:



Teen Darling thanks you for helping Coach Melanie! Your vote will help Coach Melanie realize her Broadway dreams!


The Turning Point Release Day Blitz


I am so excited to share my third novel with all of you, Sophia and Lucas were so much fun to write and I hope you enjoy reading their love story! 

The Turning Point Cropped

Add The Turning Point to your Goodreads TBR!

Purchase The Turning Point Today!

Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon Ca |

Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo 

The Turning Point Blurb:

It’s funny how a piece of paper can change your life-a diploma, a ticket . . . a plain, white envelope

For as long as I could remember, I was the girl with the plan. Good college, good medical school, good career. I would save lives instead of standing by helplessly, watching while they slipped away.

That was before my father called for the first time in fifteen years to tell me about the terminal illness stealing his life-an illness that might be stealing mine, too. It was before he gave me the name of a doctor and a plane ticket to Italy. Before I flew across an ocean. Before I realized how brilliantly bright life could be. Before I met Lucas.

He’s everything I’ve always wanted, and the timing couldn’t be worse. I can’t do this to him-he deserves so much better. My head tells me I can’t afford to fall in love with Lucas, but my heart won’t listen. Lucas is fearless about the future, while I’m not even sure I have one. There’s only one way to know what’s ahead and it’s waiting for me at home inside a plain, white envelope.

All I have to do, is open it . . .

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What’s a book birthday without presents?!


Congratulations to Marie Landry, winner of this prize pack! 

Autographed Copy of THE TURNING POINT


Italian Horn Keychain (just like Lucas’s in the book!)

2016 Italy Desk Calendar

Thanks for celebrating with me, loves! Enjoy THE TURNING POINT!


2015, A Year to Remember!

Let’s Take a Stroll Down Memory Lane!


Cheers to 2015! It’s been a great year!

A year of books!

Although I didn’t get to read as many books as I planned to, I can’t complain! 2015 was the year that a long sought after dream of mine was realized, I became a published author!

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But even more so than the books, stories, and characters I’ve had the privilege to share with the world, it’s the people I’ve gotten to know along the way.

Over the course of 2015, I’ve met so so many wonderful people!

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The writing community is so supportive and helpful and I couldn’t ask for a better group of friends! With 2015 being my debut year, I feel honored having learned from those that blazed a trail before me. And to the friends that I’ve shared a debut year with, my beloved NAC! You are my writing home…my writing family! Without all of you, I would have been a lonely fish out of water this year! Thanks to you, I will “Just keep swimming!”


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Even though this isn’t all of NAC, it’s the best I could do. One day, we will all be in the same place at the same time. The world better watch out!

And before I wrap up 2015, I want give my readers a giant THANK YOU! What is a writer if there is no one to read the stories? So, my dear readers, thank you for going on this journey with me. Thank you for choosing my stories to curl up with at night. Thank you for dedicating your precious time to spend with the characters I write. Thank you for giving me and my writing a chance! I am at a loss for words to express how grateful I am for your support! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart! ❤

I’ve got a lot more stories planned for 2016, so I hope you continue on this publishing journey with me. I want to share even more stories and more characters with each and every one of you!

Love and hugs!


My year in numbers:

Books read: 39

Books written: 2 (Can’t Go Back & The Turning Point)

New Books Outlined: 2 (Secret Projects)

Books I Hope to Write in 2016: 3 (I want to say 4, but I’m being a realist. I still have a day job!)

My top 10 Reads of 2015 (in no particular order):

  1. Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon- I’m counting these two titles as one just because! It’s not cheating since it’s my list, right? Right. 2015 was the year I discovered Jamie Fraser, and boy, it was a good year! 🙂 Nuff said!
  2. Missing Pieces by Meredith Tate- I devoured this title. Tate weaves a story like no one else! With a story that spans a large amount of time, I felt like Trace and Piren were my old friends by the end of the book. This book is a gem!
  3. Game of Love by Ara Grigorian- I read this title in one sitting. Couldn’t put it down. Andre and Gemma are a dynamic duo of a couple and I loved them! Gregorian is a masterful storyteller and I cannot wait for more books from him!
  4. The Rearranged Life by Annika Sharma- A love story that blurs the lines between matters of the heart and the cultural boundaries we’re born into. Ms. Sharma tells James and Nithya’s story with sensitivity and heart. Sometimes, falling in love isn’t easy.
  5. The List by Kate L. Mary- After a traumatic event, Annie’s family has  picked up the pieces. Or have they? With Annie’s freshman year of college, she able to spread her wings and learn to fly from under the overprotective arms of her father and brothers. Kate L. Mary writes a compelling character arc for Annie and I loved watching this endearing character grow.
  6. Run Away by Laura Salters- Holy twist, Batman! This book is a rollercoaster, travel adventure, murder mystery with a twist ending that I did not see coming! Throughout the whole book, I felt all the feels! Ms. Salters is so talented at drawing the reader into the story and not letting you go without taking you on a heart wrenching ride!
  7. Letting Go by Jessica Ruddick- A lovely, brilliantly told story of loss and finding a way to move on. Cori is a beautiful written character and loved her whole story. Luke is a patient and wonderful love interest and once again, I felt all the feels with this book!
  8. Delayed Penalty by Sophia Henry- Yes, this is a sports romance. No, it isn’t just about sports. It’s sooooooo much more. Auden is grieving the death of her parents and encounters a hot, cocky hockey player, Aleksander, who is also grieving the loss of his parents. Even though both characters are grieving differently, I loved how they were able to find comfort and a deep connection with each other. I can’t wait for more from Sophia Henry.
  9. Welcome to Forever by Annie Rains- The hero is a Marine. That’s right, a man in uniform. YES PLEASE! Micah is a loving dad, first and foremost, which makes him even more hot! I enjoyed the interactions between Kat and Micah and how Ms. Rains created such wonderful sexual tension between them. This was a fabulous debut for Annie Rains! I am a fan for life and will one-click anything that bears her name!
  10. Upside Down by Lia Riley- I didn’t actually read this story, but listened to the audiobook, but it still counts! The narrators of this captivating story are stupendous! I enjoyed Ms. Riley’s wit and narrative. Talia and Bran are gorgeously written characters and I loved spending my time with them. And might I add, having a sexy Australian whispering through my earbuds wasn’t so bad either!

So, there you have it, my top 10 reads of 2015! Here’s to a fabulous 2016 ahead! More amazing lives to lead…all you have to do is open a book!

Happy New Year and happy reading in 2016! ❤




by Annie Rains


I am so excited for this book!!! Seriously. I was honored to have read snippets way back in 2013, when Annie and I were on the same Pitch Wars team! Today, I get to dive in and read this fabulous, beautiful, long-awaited novel! I’m launching the confetti cannon and sending Annie lots of love as she celebrates her debut! Congrats, Annie! I’m so happy for you!!!

To celebrate Annie’s debut, I’m giving away three Team Pride ebook bundles! Each prize bundle will include my titles (Across the Distance & Can’t Go Back) and Annie’s debut, Welcome to Forever! To win three hot romances, click on the link below!

The Pride Ebook Giveaway

The Pride


If you love Kristan Higgins, Susan Mallery, or Jill Shalvis, you won’t want to miss the Hero’s Welcome military romance series! Welcome to Forever introduces a small coastal town where America’s best and brightest risk everything for love.
In Seaside, North Carolina, there are two kinds of people: Marines, and kids of Marines. Then there’s Kat Chandler. Recently hired as the principal of Seaside Elementary, Kat makes it her mission to turn the school into a place of peace and calm. That’s not going to be easy with hard-liner parents like Micah Peterson storming in, telling her how to do her job—and then kissing her with those gorgeous lips of his and turning her brain into mush.

As a Marine Sergeant and a single dad, Micah Peterson has just two priorities: doing his job better than anyone else, and getting the absolute best for his son, Ben. But when he meets Ben’s beautiful new principal, a different yearning shifts into focus. He wants her, sure, but he’s also moved by the connection Kat forges with her students. So after learning that she refuses to date Marines, Micah sets two more objectives: convincing Kat to give him a chance . . . and then holding on to her forever.


Amazon | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo | Barnes and Noble 

About Annie Rains

AnnieRainsAnnie Rains is a contemporary romance author who writes small town love stories set in fictional towns on the coast of North Carolina. Raised in one of America’s largest military communities, Annie often features heroes who fight for their countries, while also fighting for a place to call home and a good woman to love. When Annie isn’t writing, she’s spending time with her husband and 3 children, or reading a book by one of her favorite authors. Represented by Sarah Younger at Nancy Yost Literary Agency (NYLA).

Stay in touch with Annie:

Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Amazon

LAST TRUE HERO Release Day!!!


We’re celebrating the
release of Last True Hero by Diana Gardin, with excerpt, teasers and a great
giveaway! Thanks for joining us!


 I am super excited to help Diana celebrate her new release, LAST TRUE HERO!!! I DARE you not to fall in love with this book! And don’t forget the Facebook Release Day Party going on all day! Dozens of today’s hottest romance writers are helping Diana celebrate her release day with lots of prizes and giveaways!

Facebook Release Party

 Last True Hero (Battle Scars #1) by Diana Gardin
Genre: NA Contemporary Romance (Military)
Published by Forever Romance
Releasing November 10, 2015


Purchase your copy of Last True Hero

Amazon US | Amazon CA | iBooks | Google Play  |  B&N

For seven years he’s
fought for his country. Now he’ll fight for her.
Army Ranger Dare Conners
has been through hell. He’s left combat behind, yet the memories that refuse to
fade are proving just as dangerous. Ordered to take R&R, he joins his buddy
for beaches, beers, and babes—if that can’t cure him, nothing will. But when he
meets Berkeley, a woman who affects him like no one else, a new kind of battle begins . . .
An Admiral’s daughter, Berkeley knows her life has been planned since birth. The right school, the right boyfriend—and now that she’s graduated—the right marriage. But after years of being right, Berkley is ready to be a little wrong. And Dare Conners has wrong written all over him. The sexy soldier has a body built for sin and secrets he won’t share. What starts as a fling quickly grows into something more. But summer can’t last forever, and when the truth comes out, both Berkeley and Dare could be in for quite a fall.
 An Excerpt from ONE TRUE HERO: 

He offers nothing more. I stare at him for another second, then replace his tags under his shirt. My fingers linger on the skin at the top of his chest. “I’m sorry.”


He nods. “Don’t be.”

We let the silence wash over us once again.

I glance at him out of the corner of my eye after a few minutes. I want to know. I want to know the answers to all of the questions lurking behind those beautiful eyes of his. And so I know it’s time for me to go.


He looks over at me, his hands clasped behind his head. “Berkeley.”

Dammit. Does he somehow know I have trouble continuing to speak when he says my name? Does he know?

“Thanks for the beer,” I say, sitting up.

He doesn’t. “You’re welcome. Are you leaving me so soon?”

No. “Yep.”

His mouth turns down, and I keep my hands firmly in my lap so that I don’t brush a finger across his full bottom lip.

A low rumble of thunder rolls around us, and I glance up at the sky. A storm is obviously on its way. When I look back at Dare, his gaze hasn’t moved from mine.


He begins shaking his head before I’ve even begun my letting-him-down-easy speech. Does he read my mind, too?

“This has been a really great night…”

His hand on my chin stills me. It stills my thoughts and it stalls my words. I’m helpless with his hand on me.


“Don’t do that,” he says softly. “Don’t give me your ‘let-him-down-easy’ speech. Let’s pretend we’ve moved past that, okay? You don’t want to do this again, then tell me the real reason. I don’t do bullshit.”

He releases my skin, but there’s a burning in the spot now that wasn’t there before.

It takes me a moment to find my voice, and Dare waits patiently while another rumble of thunder rolls over our heads.

“I’m…I’m super attracted to you, Dare. But I’m not available to date right now. I’ll probably never be available to date. It’s…complicated.”

“You have a boyfriend.” He says it like a fact, not a question.

“I do not have a boyfriend.” It would have been the easy way out. I could have just let him believe that, but I find myself unable to lie to this sharp, sexy, honest man.

He stares at me, his expression unreadable. He rubs his rib again, and I allow my eyes to travel to that spot. He notices, and stops rubbing. When he speaks again, his voice hasn’t changed. It’s still soft, and still like a rough edge of a stone left out in the wind.

“So…you just aren’t that into me.”

I wish he’d stop searching for reasons. “Some things just aren’t going to work out.”

“I didn’t ask you to marry me, Berkeley. I didn’t even ask you out on a second date yet.”

I raise my eyebrows, and he quickly regroups. “I was going to. Shit, of course I was going to. But, if you don’t want to hang out again, I guess I have to accept that.”

I so don’t want him to accept it. But I nod my head, just as the sky above us opens, and we leap out of our chairs and sprint for the house.

By the time we reach it, we’re soaked. We run around to the driveway, where Dare’s truck is


parked, and he helps me in and buckles me up while the rain pelts him.

When he finally makes it to the driver’s seat, he’s laughing. He runs his hands through his sopping wet hair, and I realize mine must look like a wet dog. Groaning, I pull out my hair tie and shake my mess of curls out around my shoulders.

“Shit! I didn’t realize it was supposed to rain tonight.” He scrubs his face with his hands, and then turns to face me. “I’m—”

He freezes when he looks at me, and my suspicions are confirmed. I’m definitely the hottest mess he’s ever seen. My hair is flopping everywhere, and I’m sure the small amount of makeup I had on my face now looks like I’m starring in The Walking Dead.

But that doesn’t matter. I just told him I couldn’t see him again. Who the hell cares what I look like?

The way he’s staring at me is causing my new pets, my butterflies, to take furious flight and my heartbeat to speed up at an alarming pace.

Then he reaches out and brushes that stupid strand of hair out of my eyes. The one my mother can’t stand.

“I love this,” he says. “I might as well tell you, seeing as how I won’t get the chance again.”

His finger follows an invisible trail along my cheek, pausing at the hollow beneath my eye. “And these. I fall into these every single time they’re focused on me. It scares the shit out of me. And nothing scares me, Berkeley.”

My breath is gone. I’ve lost it somewhere between his finger tracing a path on my face and the beautiful words he’s speaking. About me.

His finger changes trajectory, trailing down until he reaches my lips. Which are probably


trembling. “Do you know how long I’ve been looking at these? All fucking night. All night tonight, and every other time I’ve been in your vicinity.”

His eyes drop to my lips then, and he uses his thumb to part them. Hot lava flows from my core into my every extremity until I feel like I must be catching fire. He’s setting me aflame. His touch, his words, those eyes on me. I can’t contain the desire that wells up inside me.

“Dare.” I breathe.

His eyes flicker back up from my lips. “Berkeley.”

“I guess if you’re going to kiss me, you’d better do it now. You might not get another chance.”




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About Diana Gardin

Diana Gardin was born and raised combing the coasts of Southeastern Virginia. She is now a happy resident of South Carolina as she married into an enormous Carolina-rooted family. She loves the beach, and even more than that she loves to read while sitting on the beach.

While writing was always a passion of Diana’s, she enrolled in college to become an elementary-school teacher. After eight years of teaching in both Virginia and South Carolina, she decided to stay at home with her first child. This decision is what opened her eyes to the fact that she still very much loved to write, and her first novel was written.

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