Snowbound Excerpt

Snowbound, #1 of the Secret Heart Ink series of contemporary romances by Deborah CookeThis month, I’m launching a new spin-off series from Flatiron Five called Secret Heart Ink. You might remember Chynna setting up her tattoo shop at Flatiron Five in In the Midnight Hour, and that she plans to give away a tattoo every full moon. These tattoos, filled with the moon’s magic in Chynna’s view, bring true love to the recipient. There are skeptics at F5 and there are believers. Cassie gets the first of thes tattoos to test it out, but by the end of In the Midnight Hour, she hasn’t had results. (She’ll get her results in Some Guys Have All the Luck.) This new series follows the recipients of the tattoos.

On the opening night for Chynna’s shop, three friends are enjoying a girls’ weekend in New York. One of them, Olivia, wins the tattoo. Olivia doesn’t believe in magic or even true love, but she decides the tattoo is a sign that she should take a chance and seduce Spencer, the guy she can’t get out of her mind. He’s her friend Lexi’s brother, so the three friends conspire together.

Snowbound is coming March 20. It’s a fun, sexy read. These books are shorter than the F5 books. Pre-order is available! The books in this series will also be available as paperbacks.

There’s also a Pinterest board for Secret Heart Ink, right here.

Pre-order Snowbound:
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An excerpt from Snowbound:

The plan was nuts.

It was also Lexi’s idea, which pretty much explained everything. Liv would never have concocted such a scheme, but that also meant she would never have done anything about seducing Spencer. The plan should ensure that he never knew it was her.

That was the important thing.

Would he play along?

Liv had major jitters but she wasn’t going to back down now. She really didn’t want to see Spencer be surprised by the news of her attraction to him. She wanted her fantasy but not any awkwardness. Now that her tattoo was healed and the plan was in motion, the only thing left to do was hope for success.

Blindfold. Sex. Getaway.

She had this.

It was new and different, but she’d think of it as an experiment. A test of her verve. A means of getting the desire for one gorgeous man out of her system.

Liv gripped the steering wheel. Would Spencer figure it out?

She was leaving for the UK the next night. She wouldn’t be back until the fall. If this went badly, she didn’t have to go back to the town of Honey Hill, Maine at all. Ever. Her mom was good with visiting her wherever she ended up.

But the plan was good. It would work.

Liv lowered the window and got a ticket for the parking garage.

There were clouds gathering overhead when she parked at the airport and headed for the terminal. The wind was up and she wondered whether it would rain or snow. Whatever kind of precipitation fell, she’d be back here in twenty-four hours, waiting for her flight to Heathrow.

Liv called Lexi. “I’m not sure I can do it,” she said when her oldest friend answered.

“Of course you can,” Lexi replied with her usual confidence. “It’ll be easy. We’ll take care of the tough bit.”

“He’ll think he’s been tricked.”

“He’ll think he’s in heaven.”

“I’m going to puke,” Liv confessed.

“Don’t!” Lexi replied. “It’ll ruin everything. Trust me: it’s hard to seduce a guy when you’ve got yack on your coat.”

Liv heard Gabriel chuckle in the background. “And you know this because you’ve tried it?”

“I’m going out on a limb,” Lexi admitted. “I’m guessing.”

Gabriel murmured something and Lexi laughed. “Okay. There was that incident at a Christmas party a few years back, but I didn’t really want him anyway.”

“I thought you wanted all the guys at least once,” Liv heard Gabriel tease.

“Everyone but you,” Lexi retorted. “You’re too much of a bad boy even for me.”

Liv rolled her eyes, doubting that was even possible.

There was a hoot, indicating that Gabriel had taken exception, and Liv would have bet good money that Lexi had taken Gabriel home at least once. She entered the terminal and checked the arrivals board. “You didn’t tell me what you had to do to convince Gabriel to go along with this.”

“And I’m not going to. Just trust me.”

Liv smiled. Got it in one. “Okay, I’m walking to the gate.”

“Good. You remember everything?”

“Yes, diabolical one.”

“And everything’s ready here. Look out, Spencer! The new moon has your name and number!”

“Does your brother know you should come with a warning label?”

“Probably.” Lexi was dismissive.

“Besides,” Reyna contributed suddenly. Liv hadn’t realized she was there, then wondered where else she would have been. “There will be cupcakes.”

Liv didn’t share Reyna’s conviction that cupcakes fixed everything, but she knew that kind of commentary would be unwelcome. “Thanks,” she said, because Reyna’s cupcakes were awesome. She wasn’t sure there’d be time for food. “I hope Lexi has a story to explain Reyna’s cupcakes in Spencer’s house.”

“I’ll think of something,” Lexi said. “Better yet, smear them around, eat them, and destroy the evidence before he can see it.”

Something else to do. Liv nodded, forgetting that Lexi couldn’t see her. “Okay.”

“Gabriel’s going to call him now,” Lexi said. “Get ready.”

Liv reached the gate where Spencer’s flight was arriving. The glass doors were tinted, but the sign displayed his flight number.

He was probably just on the other side, waiting for his bag, maybe fifty feet away.

And just in a couple of hours, he’d be at her mercy. She gripped her phone tighter.

“I am going to puke,” she said.

“Use it,” Lexi said, showing her typical lack of mercy. “If he thinks you’ve been inconvenienced, too, you’ll start with something in common.”

“Got it.” Liv ended the call and dropped her phone into her purse. She jammed her hands into her pockets and balled them into fists, reminding herself to stay calm. She was the queen of composure. She was impassive. She could do this. Her heart was skipping and her stomach was jittery, but Spencer didn’t need to know that. It seemed like her new tattoo was heating up, like she could feel Chynna’s tattoo gun burning its outline all over again.

But that was irrational.

As irrational as moon magic.

And true love lasting forevermore.

The doors slid open and three passengers emerged. Strangers.

Liv took a steadying breath.

The doors slid open again, and half a dozen passengers stepped into the terminal. Some were clearly expecting to be met, because they surveyed the crowd. Others trudged away to taxis or to the parking garage.

Six more.

Eight more.

What if Spencer had missed the flight? What if he’d guessed his sister’s plan or somehow sensed trouble and canceled his flight? What if he didn’t turn up at all? Liv wasn’t one to worry but her imagination was churning out possibilities when the doors opened and Spencer strode into the terminal.

He was on his phone, so she had a chance to ogle him.

She hadn’t seen him for a while, but he was still as gorgeous as ever. Dark hair, a little long, and little tousled. He was wearing a leather jacket and jeans, a hoodie under the jacket. He frowned as he talked into his phone. His lips tightened before he said something curt, then he glanced up, his gaze sweeping over the crowd.

Their gazes locked.

Her tattoo exploded in fire and Liv almost fell over at the sudden burst of heat. Was she going crazy? Or was this just stress? The sensation faded as abruptly as it had come on and she could dismiss it. She waved at Spencer and tried to look cool and composed.

It had to be better than looking like she was going to hurl.

She knew Spencer’s eyes were a sapphire blue with long dark lashes. She knew they had to be snapping with annoyance. She knew which tattoos he had where, that he worked out daily, that he was an amazing chef, that he was part owner of a successful restaurant and bar, that he seldom drank alcohol, that he had a wicked left hook and a killer smile. She could hear the rumble of his voice as he told Gabriel off, but could only stare back at him, her heart thumping as he strode directly toward her.

Perfection made flesh.

The only man she’d ever wanted.

It was just raw biology. He was the best male specimen she’d ever seen. That was all. Natural selection. Survival of the species. May the best genes win. Plain old biology getting things done.

It was too late to back out. This was going down. She was going to do it.

And as Liv watched Spencer approach her, she had to admit that she was really, really excited.

Excerpt from Snowbound Copyright ©2018 Deborah A. Cooke

Excerpt from Some Guys Have All the Luck

Some Guys Have All the Luck, #4 in the Flatiron Five series of contemporary romances by Deborah CookeThere’s an excerpt on the page for Some Guys Have All the Luck, book #4 in the Flatiron Five series and Cassie’s story. This book will be published June 26 and is available for pre-order exclusively at iBooks right now. The pre-orders will go up at the other portals closer to the on-sale date.

Cassie has everything she wants…
Cassie Wilson’s life is pretty much perfect with a dream job, great partners—and the freedom to do whatever she wants whenever she wants. The last thing she wants is to go back to Montrose River, the town she couldn’t wait to leave, and be treated like a failure because she didn’t choose marriage and babies. But when her oldest friend asks her to be godmother, Cassie is persuaded to make a difference in the little girl’s life. Maybe she can teach little Hope to dream big and move beyond Montrose River, too. Maybe that will be her legacy. Besides, one weekend in the Midwest won’t kill her. She’ll be back in Manhattan so quickly that they won’t have time to miss her at Flatiron Five.

Reid knows what he wants…
Reid Jackson is convinced that opportunity comes to those who look for it. Keeping his eyes open has been the secret to his success, along with a steady run of good luck. He might have come from the wrong side of the tracks, but hard work has paid off handsomely—except that he’s still single. Cassie Wilson barely noticed Reid in high school but when she comes breezing back into town, turning heads and ruffling feathers, she takes a good look at him. Reid’s more than ready to seize the chance—but he’ll need all his legendary luck if he’s going to convince Cassie to stay.

Read the excerpt here.

Simply Irresistible Sample

Simply Irresistible, a contemporary romance by Deborah Cooke and first in the Flatiron Five series.Download and read the first chapter of Simply Irresistible free.

Tyler has had enough…

Going to his fourth sister’s wedding without a date will only encourage his female relations to “help” him find romance. Ty’s ready to wait for Ms. Right, and doesn’t want anyone meddling in his love life. When he learns that the quiet cute woman who works in his building has the same predicament, he’s sure they can each provide a solution for the other. But there’s far more to Amy than meets the eye, and Tyler finds himself not only intrigued by her secrets, but falling hard. How far will he go to make their temporary arrangement permanent, and win the heart of a woman he finds…simply irresistible?

Coming November 29, 2016.

Download the first chapter free from my online store!
Choose EPUB or MOBI

Pre-order at these portals:

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Something Wicked…

Spellbound, a Regency romance anthology by Claire Delacroix, Jane Charles and Claudia DainMy novella, Something Wicked This Way Comes, is part of The Haunting of Castle Keyvnor collection. This series of twelve novellas which take place during the same week at the same estate are being published digitally in four volumes. My story will be included in the anthology Spellbound. This is my first Regency-set story and it was a lot of fun to write—and also pretty awesome that I had so much help from my fellow authors in getting the details right.

All four anthologies are available for pre-order now, and they all go on sale September 20. You can read about the series right here, or you can read an excerpt from Something Wicked… right here.

There will be a longer excerpt available for download from my Selz store and also included in my newsletter next week.

Buy Spellbound now!

Buy at iBooks Buy at Amazon.com Buy at Barnes&Noble Buy at Kobo

Excerpt from The Crusader’s Vow

The Crusader's Vow by Claire Delacroix, book #4 in the Champions of Saint Euphemia series of medieval romances.This morning, I’ve posted the short excerpt from The Crusader’s Vow here on the site. This is book #4 in my Champions of Saint Euphemia series, and will be published in April. I’ll make a longer excerpt available for download in March.

It’s the story of Fergus and his return to Scotland, where he finds that all is not quite as he expected it to be…

You can read the excerpt right here.

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas! I hope this holiday season finds you well, and surrounded by those you love. It’s a time of year to count our blessings, and I have plenty this year – including all of you! Thank you for reading my books, for stopping by here to chat, and for having fun with me online. It’s been a wonderful year.

The Snow White Bride, third in the Jewels of Kinfairlie series of medieval romances by Claire DelacroixYesterday, Sharon shared a video from the CBC on Facebook of the Mummers’ Parade in Newfoundland. Mumming is a medieval holiday tradition, so I thought I’d share the mummer’s scene from The Snow White Bride with you today. It’s the current featured title in my #XmasAudio giveaway and a book set in medieval Scotland at Christmas. This scene ends with a bit of a hook – you’ll need to read the book to discover Alexander’s plan!

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Happy reading and happy holidays!

An excerpt from The Snow White Bride by Claire Delacroix.

Eleanor pushed the meat from her side of the trencher to Alan’s side. He ate it with undisguised enthusiasm, seemingly oblivious to her discontent.

But then, she had not expected any other response from him. He saw the prospect of wealth in her, a curve of breast that meant the task of getting a son upon her would not be so onerous, and little else.

No one had troubled to tempt her smile. No one in Tivotdale had even taken note of her unhappiness. No one cared what she thought, what she felt, whether she felt welcomed or at home. Five years ago, when she had sat at this same table at Ewen’s side, she had never felt the lack, but now Eleanor felt it keenly.

She missed Kinfairlie and its easy camaraderie, the affection between its people and its ruling family. She missed the Lammergeier sisters, their compassion for a stranger and their willingness to make her feel one of their family. And she missed Alexander with a painful vigor, his confidence, his laughter, his attention to her.

She was convinced she would never see the stars from Tivotdale, not in the eyes of any man, not in the gaze of any maiden, confident and merry, not even in the sky above.

There was singing suddenly, carrying from the short corridor outside the great hall. The sound was so delightful that Eleanor thought she imagined it, for such merriment could not belong at Tivotdale.

“With a rink tink tink,
For sup or drink,
we will make the old bell sound.
A merry Christmas to you all,
and may happiness abound.”

A bell sounded suddenly, drawing the attention of all, even the most drunken mercenary in the great hall. A man with a red turban, tall boots and a blackened face stepped confidently into the chamber. There were bells on the hem of his tabard, but they were not the source of the ringing sound. He stood with an expectant manner while his fellows—evidently still outside the chamber—sang the verse again.

There was something familiar in his cocksure stance, though Eleanor did not dare to name it.

The company gathered at Tivotdale began to nudge each other at this prospect of entertainment, and even Alan sat back with a cup of ale and smiled. He beckoned to the man, who bowed low with such grace that Eleanor’s heart skipped a beat.

It could not be Alexander, not truly. She bit her lip and fought to appear indifferent, even as she studied the man.

The new arrival brandished his broom with authority and began to sweep the hall as he sang his verse.
“Room, room, gentlemen, room do I obtain,
For after me steps Galgacus and all his royal train.
A battle you will soon see of fearsome might,
Between Galgacus and the Black Knight.
If you do not believe what I now say,
Step in, Galgacus, and clear the way.”

He stepped to one side, tucking his broom under his elbow with a jaunty gesture, and threw out his hand to indicate the portal. A man stepped through the doorway and looked from one side to the other with a fearsome scowl. His armor was wrought of kitchen pots tied together, their bottoms blacked with use, which made the company of mercenaries laugh. His face, too, was blackened, but Eleanor scarce breathed.

It was Malcolm. She knew it well.

She forced herself to appear only mildly interested in the proceedings, though her heart had begun to race. Alexander not only lived, but he had come for her! She could not guess his scheme, but there was a good chance of success given the drunken state of Alan’s mercenaries.

Why, though, did he attack within the Holy Days? It was forbidden, and though she was glad he had come, she feared for his immortal soul in making such a choice.

She picked at her meat, as if desultory.

“You should watch,” Alan chided. “This will cost me good coin, in the end.”

Eleanor shrugged. “I do not care for such follies.”

Alan shook his head and turned back to the pair on the floor, apparently fascinated.

The Black Knight then sang.
“In I come, I am the Black Knight,
Come to this land to wage a good fight.
I will fight Galgacus on this spot,
That valiant man of courage bold.
Let his blood be ever so hot,
I will shortly see it cold.”

Alexander then feigned surprise, and sang.
“Galgacus? Galgacus stands outside the door!
He will see this braggart dead on the floor.”

A man bounded through the portal, a pot on his head for a helmet but chain mail on his chest. He brandished a weapon which looked genuine enough to Eleanor’s eyes. She had to peer at his blackened face, but she was fairly certain that he was Kinfairlie’s miller.
“Galgacus am I, and in I stride,
A noble champion and bold.
With my loyal blade by my side,
I won three crowns of gold.
’Twas I that killed the infidels
And brought dozens of them to slaughter
’Tis I that by this fight
Mean to win the King’s own daughter.”

A familiar figure stepped into the room and fluttered his lashes. It was the ostler, Owen, those two loaves of bread in his chemise once more. He bowed and one leaped free, compelling him to crawl after it under the benches.

Alan’s men laughed heartily and Malcolm sang again.
“Galgacus calls himself a champion,
I think myself as good.
Before I surrender to him
I will lose my precious blood.”

He lifted his sword and the two would-be combatants sang in unison.
“Battle, battle, I will cry,
To see which on the ground shall lie!”

They lunged at each other and their blades clashed. Their swordplay took them back and forth across the hall, their every gesture exaggerated. Though the mercenaries laughed at their antics, Eleanor saw skill in their battle, particularly from Malcolm. He stumbled and rolled, he scrambled out of the way of the miller’s assault with the agility of a cat. He hid behind a serving wench and must have pinched her buttocks, for she squealed and struck him. His astonished expression made the mercenaries howl with laughter.

He fell then, before his opponent’s blade was even close to him and the miller froze. “You were not supposed to fall as yet,” he whispered, then spared a glance to the watchful company.

Malcolm sat up. “Just strike me dead now then,” he whispered, his words loud enough for all to hear. “No one will notice.”

“They cannot even show the competence to feign a fight,” Alan muttered with a shake of his head. He drained his cup.

The miller looked around in apparent despair, then bent low. “But where is the bladder? How will they know you to be dead if you do not bleed?”

Malcolm looked suddenly dismayed. He searched under the myriad pots of his armor, then held up a something that looked like a stuffed sausage. Both men’s faces lit with triumph.

Malcolm leaped to his feet and they battled again, apparently repeating the part that they had done incorrectly.

Galgacus stabbed his blade into the sausage, missed and his blade clanged on a pot. The Black Knight fell all the same, despite having no injury, then pointed insistently to the sausage perched on his chest. Galgacus stabbed again and this time pierced the sausage, which spurted something red all over the floor.

The company cheered, as much at the illusion of a genuine wound as the fact that they had gotten it right. Galgacus then bent his head beside his fallen opponent, apparently filled with remorse at his accomplishment.
“Gentlemen all, see what I have done,
I have cut the Black Knight down!
Is there a sorcerer that can be found?
To cure this noble knight on the ground?”

He turned and appealed to the hall, and every man there looked about himself. A cloaked figure stepped into the hall then and raised his hands. Even his blackened features could not disguise Father Malachy from Eleanor’s detection. He spun as he sang, his cloak swirling in a great arc as he crossed the floor.
“There is a sorcerer to be found
To cure this noble knight on the ground.”

He stopped beside the fallen Black Knight and looked upon him in apparent surprise. Alexander stepped forward.
“But what can you cure, oh sorcerer?”

Father Malachy nodded confidentially to the crowd.
“I can cure all diseases you hear about
I can cure the hitch, the stitch, the palsy and the gout.
Raging pain both inside and out.
If a devil is in a man, I can fetch him out.”

Alexander and the miller nodded appreciatively at this and Father Malachy sang on.
“Give me an old woman four score and ten
And I will make her young and plump again.”

“I have need of that talent!” a bold man in the company cried and the others laughed.

“Take my wife, then,” shouted another, to the amusement of all.

Alexander raised his voice again.
“But how will you cure him, sorcerer?”

 Father Malachy lifted a finger.
“I have a hundred potions,
And spells three times three.
But I shall confess to thee:
There is no better cure
Than potent
eau-de-vie,
Especially that from Sicily.”

He pulled out a wineskin with a triumphant gesture, tipped it and squirted a measure of it into his own mouth. He shook his head, as if impressed by its potency, then squirted it at the fallen knight. He missed that man’s mouth, which left the “dead” man groping for his cure like a fish cast out of water.

The company roared, no less when the Black Knight bounced to his feet hale again. Instead of that cured man singing his lines, the sorcerer sang his last verse again.
“I have a hundred potions,
And spells three times three.
But I shall confess to thee:
There is no better cure
Than potent
eau-de-vie,
Especially that from Sicily.”

And he squirted a measure of eau-de-vie at the mercenary at the closest table. That man caught the liquid in his mouth, then his face lit with pleasure.

“It is eau-de-vie in truth!” he bellowed, opening his mouth for more.

The sorcerer obliged and soon the hall was clamoring for the expensive and uncommon liquor.

“I have need of a cure!” shouted a man on the either side of the hall.

“As do I!”

The company of entertainers seemed prepared to share their rare libation. More characters with blackened faces strode into the hall, each singing a ditty of introduction which was lost in the noise of the hall.

Meanwhile, Alexander passed out wineskins to his companions and soon there were arches of potent liquor flying through the air in all directions. In moments, Alan’s mercenaries had eau-de-vie all over their faces and their tabards, but not a one of them cared. Alexander’s men had brought a lot of the liquor, which told Eleanor that her husband had a scheme.

Eleanor noticed that a great deal of the eau-de-vie was spilled on the linens upon the tables in the same moment she heard the bell in Tivotdale’s church striking the hour.

One, two, three, four.

“Enough!” Alan roared as chaos claimed his hall. Alexander pivoted and sent a long stream of liquor directly at Alan’s mouth, silencing any protest with a gurgle. Eleanor stifled her smile, for it was a poor move to laugh at the expense of this man, just as it had been to find amusement in his brother’s deeds.

Five, six, seven, eight.

There were nigh thirty performers in Tivotdale’s hall now, making a broad circle in the midst of the hall. At least half had moved around the perimeter of the hall unnoticed, for the attention of every man in the hall was focused on the unexpected bounty of liquor.

Nine, ten.

“Something is amiss,” Alan said abruptly, rising to his feet. Eleanor feared that any scheme was doomed, for he laid his hand upon the hilt of his blade.

Eleven, twelve. At the last ring, Eleanor realized the truth. The Holy Days were over. The injunction against warfare no long applied.

As the last strike sounded, Alexander stepped forward. He emptied his wineskin upon Alan, making no effort to aim for that man’s mouth. Alan sputtered in indignation to find himself sodden with liquor, but before he could speak, Alexander winked.

©2005, 2012, Claire Delacroix, Inc.

Excerpt from The Crusader’s Handfast

The Crusader's Handfast, Part 1, a serialized medieval romance by Claire DelacroixThere’s an excerpt here on the site now for The Crusader’s Handfast. It’s from the very beginning of the book, so the same excerpt works for Part One of the serialization and for the whole book.

Part One is finished and edited, and is in the midst of being uploaded to the various online portals. There will be pre-order links everywhere very soon.

The trick with pre-orders is that it’s better at some portals to upload the final book file before making the pre-order available. In some cases it’s not possible to do it otherwise. In others, it’s just not a good idea, because the book files can get mixed up. That kind of confusion isn’t an issue at Kobo or iBooks, which is why buy links are available sooner at those portals. I’m trying to be far enough ahead of the game on this serialization, though, to put up the links everywhere as soon as possible (and ultimately hope to manage it for all new releases). Part Two, for example, is already being edited, so should be up for pre-order everywhere by the time Part One goes on sale.

The Crusader's Handfast, #5 in the Champions of Saint Euphemia series of medieval romances by Claire DelacroixI’m trying to make the pre-order for the entire book available by the time Part One goes on sale, as well, but that’s also a bit tricky. It is available at Kobo and iBooks, the two portals that make pre-orders easy.

You can read the first excerpt right here.