Once Upon A Summer
A Contemporary Romance Anthology
With Stories By:
Brooke Moss, Liz Ashlee, Clara Winter, Tammy Mannersly, Sarah Vance Tompkins, Kitsy Clare, Mark Love, Melissa Kay Clarke
Beaches, boyfriends and danger…summer is certainly hot! Grab a hold tight as these eight authors wow you with stories from sweet to sizzling! After all, every day can have some summer fun!
Breaking Girl Code by Brooke Moss
Aubrey is having the perfect evening out, with the perfect guy, on a perfect summer night. The problem is… Preston’s not her date. His real date is her B.F.F., and she’s passed out in the backseat.
Wishing on Water by Liz Ashlee
After watching everyone’s else’s lives hit huge milestones, all Hope wants is to escape to her boring, unchanging, single life. So, where’s the one logical place to escape to? A retirement home.
Art with a Pulse by Clara Winter
Artist Alice finds herself rescuing a seal on the sands of Laguna Beach with screenwriter Elijah. Can Alice put her past behind her and give Elijah the chance he deserves?
A Natural Passion by Tammy Mannersly
How will marine biologist, Dylan O'Day, solve the illegal poaching problem threatening the ecosystem he loves and protects when the gorgeous, new intern, Kyra Shine, is occupying his every thought?
You Had Me at Aloha by Sarah Vance Tompkins
Social media guru Vivienne Parker's dream trip to Hawaii turns into a nightmare when her roommate in the luxurious surf shack is the hot Olympic athlete who just got her fired.
More Than Puppy Love by Kitsy Clare
Fireworks spark when Arianna, a city girl with an elite pet portrait business is in a wreck and asks Dave a country auto mechanic for help, but can these two beagle owners from different worlds see eye to eye?
Stealing Haven by Mark Love
Sand, sun, romance and a mystery to solve. Sounds like a perfect vacation for Jamie.
Harmony in the Key of Murder by Melissa Kay Clarke
Summer in the South can mean a different type of heat when a newly appointed investigator and a mechanical genius cross paths leading to murder and love.
"I write because if I don't...my head will explode, and ruin the drapes." ♥
Brooke Mosswrites complex, character-driven stories about kismet, reunited lovers, first love, and the kind of romance that we should all have the chance at finding. She prefers her stories laced with some humor just for fun, and enough drama to keep her readers flipping the pages, and begging for more!
When Brooke isn't spinning tales, she spends her time drawing/cartooning, reading, watching movies then comparing them to books, and, of course, wrangling five kids, mugging on her hubby she lovingly refers to as her "nerd", and attempting to conquer the Mount Everest of laundry that is the bane of her existence.
Liz Ashleeis a romance novelist who recently graduated from Northern Kentucky University her B.A. in English and B.S. in Library Informatics. She has been published in Loch Norse Magazine and The Pentangle, and has won the Miller Award for Outstanding Fiction Writing. She currently lives in Independence, Kentucky, with her family and dog-daughter, Hero
Clara Winter is the writing name of Amy Rugg.
Amy Rugg grew up reading Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, and Alice in Wonderland, while watching Buck Rogers, Star Trek, and Doctor Who. Writing her own stories naturally ensued. She is a wife, mother, and former school counselor, with a Master’s Degree in Counseling. Amy is from Colorado Springs, Co and currently resides in Mission Viejo, Ca.
Tammy Mannersly is an Australian author based in Brisbane, Queensland. She loves writing romance, has a fondness for animals, is crazy about movies and enjoys a great Happily Ever After. Her passion for writing started from a very young age and led her to complete a Bachelor Degree in Creative Industries majoring in Creative Writing at Queensland University of Technology.
Sarah Vance-Tompkins was born in a small town in northern Michigan. She spent every summer exploring the sugar sand beaches near Sleeping Bear National Park. She left her heart behind when she moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California. She received an MFA in Film Production and went on to work in feature film development in Hollywood. She has worked as a reporter for a weekly entertainment trade publication, and been paid to write obituaries, press releases, the directions for use on personal lubricant bottles, and breathless descriptions of engagement rings for an online jewelry store. She lives in a small town north of Los Angeles with her husband and three cats.
Kitsy Clare hails from Philadelphia and lives in New York. A romantic at heart, she loves to write about the sexy intrigue of the city, and particularly of the art world. She knows it well, having shown her paintings here before turning to writing. Model Position, her new adult novella is about artist Sienna and her friends. Living in a Bookworld says: “Beautifully written! We get to learn things about art & painting, which is refreshing. A colorful story from a promising new adult author.” The next in her Art of Love series, Private Internship launches in September with Inkspell.
Kitsy loves to travel, draw, read romance, speculative fiction and teach writing workshops. She also writes YA as Catherine Stine. Her futuristic thriller, Ruby’s Fire was a YA finalist in the Next Generation Indie book awards. Fireseed One, its companion novel, was a finalist in YA and Sci-Fi in the USA News International Book Awards, and an Indie Reader notable. Her YA horror, Dorianna, launches fall 2014 with Evernight Teen. She’s a member of SFWA, RWA and SCBWI.
I am a Michigan native, who up until recently lived in the Metro Detroit area, where crime and corruption always seem to be at the top of everyone's news. So there's always the chance to find something that can trigger a story idea and enough interesting characters to jump start your imagination.
While I have worked in many industries and career paths over the years, one of my passions has always been writing. I was even able to parlay that passion for a while, working as a freelance reporter for a couple of newspapers in the Detroit area. Writing features and hard news helped me hone my talents. But while newspaper work was interesting and paid a few bills, it was a far cry from the fiction writing that I enjoy the most.
I've always been drawn to mysteries and thrillers, the kind of stories that have a fast pace, that keep you moving and keep you guessing as to what's going to take place next. Mix those in with some elements of crime, perhaps a glimpse of the seedier side and you've got me. So it's always been one of my goals to write stories like that.
Melissa Kay Clarkewas born in Tupelo, Mississippi and raised in Houlka, a small rural town forty-five minutes southwest down the famous Natchez Trace. She found a love of reading very early and quickly devoured everything she could. Told repeatedly that she had a wonderful imagination, she turned to scribbling her musings and wrote her first novel while in college. It was never published and has since vanished. The death of a close friend who aspired to become an author reawakened her own desire resulting in penning her first book, Shattered Dreams, published in 2013.
Melissa now resides in Meridian, Mississippi with her supportive family – husband, Robert and daughter Rebecca, two cats, and two dogs. When she isn't writing, she spends way too much time with her online friends and feeding her ravenous appetite for the written word.
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Harmony in the Key of Murder Excerpt
"Thank you for tonight. I had a great time." Her smile was like flipping on a thousand watt bulb.
He ran a finger along the side of her jaw. "So did I. Maybe the next time we can go to my place and you'll let me make you dinner. I happen to make one of the best omelets in town."
She shivered slightly from his tender touch but didn't draw back. In fact, she leaned toward him slightly.
"Omelets? Isn't that for breakfast?"
He chuckled softly. Cupping her jaw in his fingers, he held her as his lips searched out hers, feathering a tender kiss on their plump softness. Her breath stopped, and her eyes widened as he whispered to her, "It can be. The when of that will always be up to you, Pix."
Hunter loved the flustered look on her face and the way her eyes told every emotion she was feeling. He knew without a shadow of a doubt, her heart rate was going a hundred miles an hour. The old Hunter would have found her reaction to him as a stroke to his overly inflated ego. Now, however, he found it endearing. The fact he could affect her so profoundly made him want to be worthy of her adoration and damned, if he wouldn't do anything in his power to make it happen. He had dated, a lot, but with Harmony he was a different man, a better man.
Taking a step back, Hunter tapped on the roof of her car. "Be safe; I'll call you tomorrow, yeah?"
"Yeah okay, Hunter. Talk to you tomorrow."
He smiled as he watched her leave. With a toss of his keys into the air, he hurried to his car with a light step and grin on his face. Harmony Tailor may not know it yet, but she would be his. Tonight he realized something important. Somewhere along the way, she had captured more than just his attention.
She would be his because he already was hers.
Stealing Haven Excerpt
“You like my smile? I always thought it was kind of lopsided.”
I took his face in both hands and turned it toward me. “Maybe a little crooked. But that’s part of the appeal.” Now I initiated a kiss. His hands slid through my hair, then softly ran his fingers down my neck. Shivers of excitement coursed through me. A horn sounded nearby. He broke the kiss and turned to check the water. Another boat passed in the opposite direction. A man and woman were at the helm, mirroring our positions caught in the moment and sensuality of being on the water. I bit down on my bottom lip in frustration. I longed for more than kisses but safety came first.
“We don’t want to run into some sailboat out here,” Randy said with a grin.
I scooted back onto the bench. Maybe a little distance was in order? It might help my racing hormones. “How fast are we going?”
“About thirty. Want to go faster?”
Was he talking about the boat, or the two of us? Randy shifted. His right hand had dropped to the controls, his left lightly holding the steering
wheel. He watched me, his lopsided grin worked its magic.
More than Puppy Love Excerpt
“Could you ever see yourself living in a rural area? Fitting in?” Dave's eyes are still fixed on me as he sips his daiquiri.
“I don’t know. It’s beautiful with all of the trees, nature. Bart sure likes it. But…”
“I’m not sure I’d be able to sustain a pet portrait business in the country. You heard Gail. She was wary of the prices I’d charge without even hearing what they were. Would enough people be able to afford my photos? If they had extra cash wouldn’t they prefer to spend hard-earned dollars on family photos, and not pet photos?”
“Hard to make a blanket statement.”
I pause to drink my daiquiri and to check out Dave’s reaction. He’s handsome inside and out with his dark curls framing his kind face and his patient way of just letting the words sink in before he says a definitive yes or no. “What about you?” I ask him. “Could you see yourself living in Philadelphia? In any big city?” Now it’s my turn to study him. It’s not an inquisition, but it seems inevitable if we are going to admit we like each other, and visualize being a couple.
He shrugs. “I like to visit big cities—Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia. I’ve had good times in Philly—seeing Independence Hall, hiking in Fairmount Park. Lunch in Reading Terminal Market at the Amish booth was cool, too. I love their shoe-fly pie, sweet and sour cabbage and freshly made sausages.”
“Mm, yeah, eating lunch at Reading Terminal Market is a blast.”
“But my auto body business is up here.” He looks down at his drink and rubs his forehead. “I’m not sure I’d be able to afford the commercial rents in a place like Philly.”
“There’s always the suburbs.”
“True. Honestly though, I’d love to get out of the car biz and fully into dog breeding.”
“Like me and teaching. I love it, but I love photography even more. It’s time to follow my passion. You too.”
Dave looks up and nods. “I want to do it all, but I also want to be realistic. Kennel equipment isn’t cheap. Dogs need tons of space, to run, to board, to breed.”
With the word breed, he flushes and I feel my neck heat up. I take this moment to pour us one more round.
“Nothing’s impossible,” he says after he’s gotten his drink refreshed and taken another gulp.
“Yeah. Never say never.”
He puts his big hand back on mine. It’s warmer than before, and I really like having it there. “By the way, your car is all done,” he says, giving my hand an extra pat.
“Great! When should I come get it?”
“At some point tomorrow? I’ll let you know.”
“Okay, sounds good.”
He slides his hand further up, to my wrist and then along my arm. And then he leans even closer and brushes my hair back.
And then he kisses me.
Art with a Pulse Excerpt
Stepping out of the jeep at the rescue, my flip-flop snagged on the gas pedal and I lost my grip on my scorching hot tea latte. The plastic top came loose, and the tea spilled down the front of my top. Leaping out of the car, I managed to knock most of the liquid off before it scalded my stomach. My flesh was saved, but my vintage tee was likely ruined. I stared, sadly, down at the four-dollar puddle on the floorboard. After grabbing some napkins out of the side pocket of the driver’s side door, I bent over to wipe up my mess. The London Fog was easily soaked up, thanks to the plastic floor mats.
“Having problems?” asked a familiar voice, behind me.
My stomach did a somersault, but I wasn’t ready to turn around. That is, until I realized my rear end was on prominent display. I stood bolt upright, adjusting my tee the best I could. Nothing was going to help this disaster, so I may as well own it.
“Actually, several. Flip flops, jeeps, and hot beverages do not make good bedfellows.” I met Elijah’s sparkling, emerald-green eyes.
He chuckled, producing a half grin. I hated to admit how good he looked. Elijah was probably the only person on the planet who could look pulled together in athletic gear. I wasn’t a fan of the trend, but he looked great in long running shorts and a close fitting, breathable shirt. Although these were the only types of clothes I had seen him in, I was sure he looked amazing in anything.
“Let me take that. I assume we’re here for the same thing.” He reached for my empty coffee cup and wet napkins. Was he the last gentleman on earth? Or was Jude right and I was just bitter?
I thanked him, and he jogged over to a trashcan, then back to where I stood. Now I felt more of a heel. I wasn’t willing to claim any miracles, but I did at least owe him an apology.
“I’m sorry for snapping at you, yesterday. You were trying to be nice, and I was…”
“I know what you were feeling, don’t worry about it,” he interrupted. “The morning was stressful, enough. Then to find out your stuff was stolen. I got it.”
Suspicious, my eyes narrowed, a little. I couldn’t help it; this guy was too good to be true.
“Are you from California?” I asked, thinking I had found the answer. Elijah must have hailed from a mid-western state; a place which produced corn, cows, and people who looked out for one another. Somewhere like the place my grandparents hailed from. This would also explain the milk-ad appeal of his handsome, good looks.
A Natural Passion
by Tammy Mannersly
“What are you up to, Shine? Playing with the fishes?”
“Something like that,” she agreed, fighting back the girlish giggle that wanted to burst from her lips as soon as those gorgeous brown eyes had met hers.
His gaze dropped and roamed over her body for a moment. His head nodded slightly with the movement. Kyra’s nipples hardened under his stare, and the heated tingling of desire clawed at her. Warmth blossomed over her skin. She glanced down, checking that her body was still hidden beneath the flimsy material of the red and white frangipani bikini.
“Lucky fishes,” he drawled, dragging his gaze back to hers.
She chuckled, suddenly tense. “You’ve seen me in this bikini before, Jake. It’s nothing special.”
“Nothing special.” He stepped forward, closing the gap between them. “I would never say that.”
His fingers reached up, skimming her collarbone before slipping under the thin rope of material that formed the halter around her neck. He slid them along her skin, the hot, rough, dryness of him against the soft, moistness of her. They caressed their way up to her neck and then back down, just above the cup of the bikini’s bra. He let his fingers linger there, his chocolate brown eyes gazing deep into her own.
Jake stepped back from her reluctantly. “What are you doing tomorrow night?”
Her dark blonde brows narrowed as she tried to calm her ragged breathing. “Sunday?”
“That’s family night,” Kyra began again. “I mean, you know we can’t miss family night. Your dad always invites everyone from the Turtle Center and the Science Center for a big barbeque. Everyone who wants to come is invited.”
He shrugged. “Maybe we don’t want to come this time?”
She giggled. “And, what are we going to do instead?”
Jake reached for her free hand, holding it, cool and damp against the warmth of his. “Go out for dinner. Somewhere nice. Together.”
Dylan reached out, his hand going high on her shoulder, his thumb close enough to her neck to caress her lightly, calmingly. She leaned into his touch, enjoying the feel of his hand on her skin, savoring the comfort and serenity it offered her. Without thinking it through, she moved into his arms, her own wrapping around his waist as she hugged him close, relishing the human contact. He went rigid at her touch, the solid muscles of his torso locking before he relaxed into the embrace. His free arm slid around her back, while the hand at her shoulder slipped up behind her neck, gently pressing her head to rest against the warmth of his chest.
“You shouldn’t give him an extra thought if he makes you feel like this, Kyra,” Dylan all but purred soothingly into her ear. “I may not have Jake’s extensive experience in the dating scene, but I have enough of an understanding to know if the person you care for is making you feel this way, then they aren’t worthy of your affection.”
He rested his head softly atop hers and cuddled her tighter.
As she nestled in his arms, Kyra breathed in his scent, enjoying the earthiness of his skin, the slight tartness of his sunscreen and the hint of the fresh smell of soap left behind from his morning shower. She knew what Dylan had said was true, Jake’s actions and feelings were questionable, but she was still conflicted.
In Dylan’s embrace, she struggled to think of Jake and remember why she was upset.
Opening the trunk, Kyra threw her stuff beside the other bags and a packed tent, before closing it and coming around to open the passenger-side door. As Kyra placed her foot on the side step, ready to climb into the vehicle, she glanced up at the driver.
Dylan’s handsome face grinned at her as he turned down the radio’s volume. “Ready to go on your first stake-out?”
She paused for a split-second. Her heart raced at the surprise, before lowering her bottom to the cushioned seat. “I thought I was rostered with Sandra?”
He frowned. “Max hasn’t told you?”
She sighed, unable to hide her disappointment. “Sandra can’t make it?”
He nodded as he jerked the gearstick out of park and drove slowly up the long driveway toward Mon Repos Road. “Belle’s too sick to be left with a babysitter and Sandra’s ex is back at the mine in Dawson this week.” After pulling out onto the bitumen of the minor road, Dylan glanced quickly in her direction. “I’d thought about saying no, but there was no one else to do the shift at the last minute.”
A tug of remorse pulled at her belly. Even though she’d been avoiding him to have some time to get her own thoughts and feelings in order, she hadn’t meant for him to feel forced to do the same. It wasn’t as though she didn’t want his company. She couldn’t tell if the feelings she had were true and she didn’t trust herself around him.
“I’m glad you didn’t,” she looked over at him quickly, “say no, I mean.