Leslie Wright’s THE FORBIDDEN MAN Release + Excerpt + Giveaway!

The-Forbidden-Man-Release-Week-Blitz

I’m so pleased to share my friend Leslie Wright’s release with you today! We share a publisher, Grand Central/Forever, and I’ve loved being on this writer’s journey with her. All the details, including a GIVEAWAY you can scroll down for, are below!

Congratulations, my friend!

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THE FORBIDDEN MAN by Elle Wright

(July 28, 2015; Forever Mass Market; The Edge of Scandal #1)

In Love With the Wrong Man

Sydney Williams has forgiven her fiancé, Den, more times than she can count. But his latest betrayal just days before their wedding is too big to ignore. Shocking her friends and family, she calls off the engagement. She walks out on Den . . . and into the arms of his brother, Morgan.
Known as a player, Morgan Smith has secretly spent years fighting his feelings for Sydney. When Den’s latest dirty deed leaves Sydney devastated, Morgan can’t stop himself from coming to her rescue. What begins as friendship quickly escalates into all-consuming passion. Despite their intense connection, Sydney would rather deny her desire than come between brothers. But as Morgan is determined to make Sydney his, Den won’t give her up without a fight . . .

EXCERPT

“Are you still feeling cold?” he asked, adjusting the heater and finishing off the contents of his flask.

“Actually, I’m feeling pretty hot.” She jumped when he started coughing. “Are you okay?”

He wiped his mouth. “I’m straight.”

“You sure?” Syd studied his face as she smoothed her hand over his back.

“Yeah.” He closed the flask and tucked it back into his pocket. “It’s the liquor.”

“Huh?”

“The bourbon.” He patted his pocket. “It’s making you hot.”

“Somehow I doubt that,” she mumbled.

“What?” he asked, leaning in closer.

I doubt it’s the liquor. “Forget it. I’m cold again.” She burrowed into him.

“You want me to make you hot?” he asked.

Her eyes flashed to his and her lips parted.

“I meant . . .” He cleared his throat and shifted in his seat.

“Uh, I can turn the heat up.”

“No.” She forced a smile and lowered her gaze. “It’s fine.”

When his hand caressed her cheek, her eyes closed of their own volition. Time seemed to stand still. She felt his warm breath on her skin above her lips. “I think—”

She dug her nails into his knee. “Maybe you should call Kent again. See where he is.”

He slid his thumb down the side of her neck.

She exhaled. So this is what Terry McMillan meant when she waited to exhale? “Because this isn’t going anywhere good. You’re acting like you want to kiss me and I know that’s not true,” she joked.

He clenched her hair in his hands and tugged gently.

“How do you know that?”

She searched his eyes. “Do you? I mean—do you want to?”

“I do—and so many other things.”

She let out a nervous giggle. “I think you’re feeling the effects of that gasoline you’re drinking, Morgan.”

His gaze dropped to her mouth as his hand crept up her thigh and rested on her hip. She jumped in surprise when he squeezed. “Actually, I don’t believe I’m drunk enough,” he said. “At this point, I know exactly what I’m doing, which means I’d be held responsible for my actions.”

Syd placed her hands on his stomach and felt his taut muscles tighten in response. “Den would kill you. So would Red.”

Morgan traced her lips with his thumb. “It may be worth it. Let me . . .” Then, his mouth was on hers, drawing a low moan from her mouth. The simple touch of his lips to hers set off a fire in Syd that seemed to burn brighter and hotter with every second.

She wrapped her arms tightly around his neck as he continued to assault her senses with his kisses. He slid his tongue across her bottom lip, demanding entrance, which she happily granted. She gripped a fistful of his hair as he pulled her onto his lap. He rocked into her, introducing her to his rock hard erection. She braced her other hand against the window as she grinded into him. He trailed hot, wet kisses down her throat and cupped her breasts in his hands. As his thumbs traced her nipples, she cried out and he captured her cry with his hot mouth.

Reluctantly, she tried to pull away, but he latched onto her bottom lip with his teeth and sucked. He obviously wasn’t ready for this to end . . . neither was she.

 

 

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About the author:

WrightTHEFORBIDDENMANElle

Born and raised in Southeast Michigan near Ann Arbor, Elle learned the importance of reading from her mother. It was also her mother who, later on in her life, gave Elle her first romance nove: Indigo by Beverly Jenkins. From that moment on, Elle became a fan of Ms. Jenkins for life and a lover of all things romance. An old journal she wrote back in college became her first book (which she still wants to publish one day).

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UNTIL I’M YOURS (Bennett #4) Cover Reveal + Giveaway

I”m so excited to share the cover for UNTIL I’M YOURS with you! The fourth installment in the Bennett series is Sofie’s story!

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Release Date:  February 2, 2016

(Scroll to the bottom for Giveaway!!!)

 

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The official synopsis for UNTIL I’M YOURS is coming soon! What can I tell you now?  Sofie Baston, a woman who has always traded on her looks and status, finally meets a man who wants more, but she’s not sure there is any more to her than meets the eye. Trevor Bishop is the saint to Sofie’s sinner, and for the first time in her life, she wonders if she’s good enough. Scandal breathes new life into a past she hoped was long dead, threatening the things she never knew she wanted, but now can’t imagine life without.

The book doesn’t release until February 2, but here’s is just a glimpse into Sofie and Trevor’s story! Make sure you add to your ‘WANT TO READ” list on Goodreads to keep up as things happen for Sofie and Trevor!

When We're Young teaser_UIY

Previous Books in the Bennett Series

When You Are Mine

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LOVING YOU ALWAYS

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BE MINE FOREVER

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About Kennedy Ryan

JustTina

 

 

 

 

 

I just can’t write about myself in the third person for one more bio! I’m a wife, a mom, a writer, an advocate for families with autism. That’s me in a nutshell. Crack the nut, and you’ll find a Southern girl 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!

 

Let’s Be Friends!

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Brand new series launching this Fall!!!

Hey! I’m shoved so far back into the writing cave right now, it’s not even funny. I basically just come up for quick draws of air, and then recede back into the black hole with my laptop. I’m working hard on the 4th book in the BENNETT series, UNTIL I’M YOURS! I’ll have a cover reveal for that in about 2 weeks. You may remember Sofie Baston from book 1. She was a little bit of a beyotch.

OK. She was a lotta bit of a beyotch! LOL! I’m hoping to show you some different sides of who she is when her story with Trevor Bishop releases February 2016.

BUT FIRST!!!!!

I’m launching a brand new series this November. Book 1 of the Soul Series is MY SOUL TO KEEP. The official synopsis and cover will come soon. For now I’ll just say that Rhys and Kai are two musicians who fall hard for one another. Rhys, a former child prodigy, has been in the limelight his entire life because of his musical gift. Kai is still clawing her way to the top. On completely different trajectories, they collide, and their story begins!

Add it to your ‘WANT TO READ” list on Goodreads!

Can’t wait to share more!

For now, here’s a teasing glimpse, courtesy of my awesome blogger friend The Reading Ruth!

Exactly What He Wants

$400 Amazon Gift Card Independence Giveaway!!!

HAPPY #INDIEPENDENCEAUTHORHOP DAY!

I hope you’re all having a very happy and safe Fourth of July!

Some of your favorite authors teamed up to bring you an AMAZING giveaway to celebrate and #UseSocialMediaForGood … We’re having the very first #IndiePendenceAuthorHop on Twitter!

You can click here and follow all the authors through the hop. The directions are easy and there’s a chance to win a $400 Amazon Giftcard…

Indie Twitter 400

Here’s the list of participating authors! Be sure to “Follow” each one, retweet a few and use the hashtag!

Twitter Handles:
@AleathaRomig
@ReadAlessandra
@ClariCon
@RebeccaYarros
@aljacksonauthor
@thesierrasimone
@LaurelinPaige
@AuthorCMichaels
@authormandibeck
@beccasheaauthor
@AuthorALocke
@miaasherauthor
@authorkalinde
@leylahattar
@Vi_Keeland
@TijansBooks
@author_rehunter
@KBrombergDriven
@kennedyrwrites
@ammadden1
@blberrywrites
@pepperwinters
@slscottauthor
@Raine_Miller
@1elisabethgrace
@Authorrklilley
@JDanielsbooks
@heidijovt
@EK_Blair_Author
@Laurenblakely3
@88IsabelleR
@emmahartauthor
@MrsSLJ
@melanieharlow2
@Tarryn__Fisher
@liviajamerlan
@M_A_Valentine
@KI_Lynn_
@daisy_prescott
@savage7289
@aharmon_author

WHEN YOU ARE MINE Debutversary Blitz!

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We are pleased to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Kennedy Ryan’s debut, WHEN YOU ARE MINE!

Make sure to check out the rafflecopter giveaway!

AND…only if you’ve read WYAM, click at the very bottom of the post  to catch up with where the characters are now! ***Spoilers if you haven’t read!!!***

Happy Debutversary!

“Ryan’s debut is rife with sexual tension, while her easy style and likable characters bring this unpredictable love triangle to life.” —Karina Halle, NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author of The Pact

“When You Are Mine is exactly what I look for in a romance! Achingly beautiful with palpable, real characters, you cannot help but completely fall in love with. I cannot wait for more!”

A.L. Jackson, NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author of Take This Regret and Lost to You

“Holy hot love triangle! When You Are Mine is a beautiful, yet tragic, intense yet gentle story that grabs you immediately and does not release until the very end. I know a lot of readers get turned off by a love-triangle, but rest assured this one just works perfectly.”

–Brandi, Talk Books To Me

“You know the writing is suburb when you can laugh and cry and get so angry at the characters…My hands were shaking when I started writing this. I screamed at the ending. Going to end with BLOWN AWAY!!!”

–Nelle, Nelle’s Nightstand

 WYAM10.1

Forever is a heartbeat away . . .Kerris Moreton knows how to make things work. Bounced from foster home to foster home as a kid, she adapted; when opportunity arose, she thrived. Now, about to open her own business and accept a marriage proposal, Kerris is ready to build the life she’s always wanted. The only thing missing? A passionate connection with her would-be fiancé, Cam. Kerris wants to believe that sparks are overrated-until Walsh Bennett lights her up like the Fourth of July

…but what about love?

As one of the East Coast’s most eligible bachelors, Walsh enjoys financial independence, fulfilling work with his family’s nonprofit, and plenty of female attention. But lately he’s been distracted by the one woman he can’t have. Lovely to look at and even sweeter to know, Kerris is the soul mate Walsh never thought he would find. The problem is, his best friend found her first . . .

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 HaveHerKeepHer

Click HERE for update on where life is now…MAJOR SPOILERS!!! Bonus material only for those who have read books 1 and 2!!!

 LOVING YOU ALWAYS Available Now

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BE MINE FOREVER Available Now

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Make sure you check My FACEBOOK PAGE each day this week! I’m giving away a BENNETT book every day!

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Stalk Kennedy!

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Kennedy Ryan  always give her characters their happily ever after, but loves to make them work for it! It’s a long road to love, so sit back and enjoy the ride. In an alternative universe, she is a wife to the love of her life, mom to a special, beautiful son, and a friend to those living with autism through her foundation serving Georgia families. Her writings on Autism have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, and she has been featured on the Montel Williams Show, NPR, Headline News and others. Ryan is donating a portion of her proceeds to her own foundation and to her charitable partner, Talk About Curing Autism (TACA).
Her interview series MOMMIES DO THE MOST AMAZING THINGS is featured each month in Brooke Burke’s online magazine Modern Mom.

Life Continued With Walsh + Kerris

I wanted to celebrate the one-year anniversary of WHEN YOU ARE MINE releasing with a glimpse into the life Walsh and Kerris Bennett are living now. Before we dive in, I wanted to say a few things. There were several scenes I cut from the first two books for the sake of space that focused on Walsh in the realm of business. Walsh constantly lives with the dichotomy of the values his mother instilled in him, and the ruthlessness of his father’s DNA. In business, we see a much more calculating, shrewd side of Walsh. Part of this scene focuses on that aspect of his character. Some of the friends I shared this with early were a little taken aback that he was more harsh. This is a part of his character that I don’t back off from. I also wanted to deal realistically with the life/work tension Walsh will always have to negotiate. He is an incredibly driven man, who has to manage devotion to his family with towering ambition. So…cut him some slack!

And, yes, I’ll write something for Cam and Jo soon! ;-)

WYAM Debutversary edit_MRB

***Fan-made edit courtesy of The Reading Ruth***

DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE FIRST TWO BOOKS IN THE BENNETT series, WHEN YOU ARE MINE & LOVING YOU ALWAYS!!!

 

“Visiting the sins of the father upon the sons…”

Walsh Bennett had to wonder if it was tattooed on his head. For all intents and purposes, it felt like all his father’s transgressions, enemies and mistakes were visiting him today. The deal he had been working on for six months was disintegrating before his eyes because of something his father did decades ago, and he wasn’t sure he could save it. He had one Ace up his sleeve, and it would probably prove to be an uncooperative one.

He pressed the button on the phone that connected him to his assistant, God bless her.

“Karma, could you get Ernest Baston on the line for me, please? I need to talk with him about the Hamilton takeover immediately. I’d prefer in person if he can come up.”

“Yes, sir.” Karma’s crisp British accent sliced into the quiet of Walsh’s office. “And Trevor Bishop and Harold Smith confirmed for dinner tonight.”

“Does that have to be tonight?” Walsh frowned. He hadn’t been home for dinner once this week.

“Your father and Mr. Baston want to pursue Deutimus Corp aggressively, and Bishop and Smith fly to Nigeria tomorrow for the next month. They have meetings set up with other companies while abroad, so we could lose the upper hand.”

“Shit. Okay. Just tell me where to be and have the car ready.”

“I thought so, and your wife called.”

“Kerris?” Walsh searched the now-cluttered desk for his cell phone. “Why didn’t she just call my cell?”

“Apparently you left it at home.”

“That’s been my day.”

“Excuse me, sir, what was that?”

“Nothing. When did she call?”

Instead of responding by intercom, Karma walked through the connecting door into his office, dark hair pulled up and away to show off her flawless bone structure. The genes from her Irish mother and Ethiopian father blended beautifully on a face the color of cocoa, but Walsh barely noticed.

“Sorry,” Karma said. “That intercom just begins to feel uncivilized. We may as well be using cups and strings.”

“When did she call, Karma?

Walsh held on tight to his patience because it had been slipping all day. He’d already made the receptionist cry, seen one temp quit and a board member threaten to resign. And it wasn’t even noon.

“She called when you were in with your father.”

“At nine o’ clock this morning?” Despite his good intentions, Walsh’s voice escalated with his irritation. ”My wife called three hours ago and you’re just now telling me? Does that make sense to you?”

“You asked not to be disturbed.”

“My wife isn’t ever…never mind. Close the door behind you.” Walsh dialed home. “This should be fun.”

The phone rang three times, which probably meant Kerris was chasing the girls, who had just started walking and were into everything.

“Seriously, Walsh,” Kerris answered, sounding winded. “Three hours later?”

“Baby, I’m sorry. I left my cell—”

“On the counter, I know. “ A high-pitched scream pierced the air from Kerris’ end. “Harlim, stop it! She’s going to rip all of Brooklin’s hair out before they’re three.”

The first smile of the morning cracked Walsh’s face. He’d only left them this morning, but he missed his girls so badly. All three of them. Kerris had been huddled under the covers when he’d slipped out of their bedroom at four o’clock this morning. The girls, too, across the hall. The sight of the twins, so identically beautiful in their cribs always gripped his heart. How had he managed to make something so perfect, so sweet, not once, but two times over? And at the same time?

“Harlim is a tyrant.” Kerris’ tired words and weary sigh over the phone drew Walsh back into the conversation. “And every time I turn around Brooklin is in the freaking toilet.”

Walsh smothered a laugh, envisioning his little dark-haired cherub splashing in the toilet, to her germophobe mother’s disgust.

“Did you just laugh?” Kerris demanded, voice low and bordering on outraged.

“Sorry. I just…I’d love to see that.”

The silence on the other end grew into more than Walsh had anticipated.

“Kerris?”

“There’s a lot I’d love for you to see,” Kerris said quietly. “A lot that you’re missing.”

“Ker, I can’t take the guilt today. I know it’s a lot, and I haven’t been around. Shit here at the office is just Defcon One right now.”

“When is it not?”

“I didn’t ask my dad to have a heart attack.” Walsh fought to rein the frustration that had been steadily building, not just today, but for weeks, for months, over the last year. Fought to not take it out on his wife, when the promise of returning home to her was the only thing that got him through some days. “I didn’t ask for all this responsibility so soon.”

“But you certainly won’t turn it down. This just accelerated the plan. Wasn’t this the end game all along? To run Bennett Enterprises when your father retired?”

“He’s semi-retired, but it’s still more than I thought I’d have at this stage.”

“It’s more than I thought you’d have, too.”

“You knew who you were marrying, Kerris.” Walsh kept his voice even and level and frank. “I wasn’t ever the guy who’d be home every night watching the game with a beer and tucking the kids in by seven.”

“Missing tucking the girls in is your loss.”

“Yeah, it is.”

“And your choice.”

“What the absolute fuck do you want me to do about it, Ker?” The explosion startled even Walsh. Tucking the emotion away was like pushing lava back into a volcano, but he managed to do it. “I’m sorry. I just…I need you to recognize that I’m in a tough position.”

“I do recognize that, but I love you too much to let you become your father, Walsh Bennett.” Determination stiffened Kerris’ soft voice. “You know I love your father, but he wasn’t there when you were growing up. He abandoned your mother emotionally and in every way that counted. And he missed out on what an amazing man you are until it was almost too late. If you think I’ll sit back and let that happen to us, then you’ve forgotten who you married.”

“Kerris, to be fair, my father has learned his lesson.
“I know he has, but have you?”

Before Walsh could respond, Karma poked her head in the doorway.

“Sorry,” she whispered. “But you wanted to see Mr. Baston, and he has a tiny window of time. He’s here right now and not too happy that he has to wait for—”

“Give me two minutes and then send him in,” Walsh interrupted, half glad to have an escape from the phone conversation with Kerris. It was hitting too close to home. Too close to the things he’d been thinking himself lately.

“Kerris, I gotta ago.”

“I love you, Walsh.”

That’s all it took. Ever. Those words from Kerris, and the truth behind them, wiped every slate clean every time.

“I know I’m an asshole, Kerris, but—”

“But you’re my asshole.” Her voice on the other end dropped to a whisper like the rest of the world might be listening. “I miss you, Walsh. All the time, all day, every day. It’s not just the girls. I need you so much. Not just for them. For me.”

“Kerris, I don’t have a life without you. You know that. You and the girls are everything. I just have to figure this all out. How to do what needs to be done here and at home and for you.”

“I know, baby. I know.” She paused, drawing a quick breath. “ You’ll be home tonight on time, though, right?”

“Probably not. Karma just scheduled this dinner with Trevor Bishop and his partner. Remember I told you about them? They start businesses in third world countries. It’s really a brilliant strategy that—”

“You’re joking, right?”

“No, Bishop even has a Ted talk. I can send you the link. If Bennett can buy their company—”

“Walsh, tonight is the launch party for my new jewelry line.” Disappointment and frustration jockeyed for position in Kerris’ voice. “You promised you’d be there. Trish is coming over to watch the girls. Jo and Cam are even flying in.”

How did this happen? He distinctly remembered asking Karma to put this on his calendar so he wouldn’t schedule a conflict. How did the most important things slide down and through the cracks, and the things that, in the long run, didn’t mean shit, end up front and center?

“Baby, I don’t know how this happened. I’ll figure it out.”

“Or don’t.”

The line went dead. Walsh dropped his head into his hands, pulling at his hair and growling in frustration. He pounded the intercom button on his phone.

“Karma!”

“Yes, sir. Ready for Mr. Baston?”

“No, he can wait.”

“He’s sitting right here. He can hear you,” Karma whispered back.

“I don’t give a fuck. Hi, Ernest. Karma, did you or did you not have my wife’s jewelry launch on my personal calendar for tonight?”

“Sir, I—”

“And did you or did you not graduate cum laude from Brown?”

“Yes, but I—”

“Which would lead me to believe that something as simple as calendaring should not fall beyond your considerable Ivy League capabilities.”

“Well, of course not, but—”

“And did I or did I not make it perfectly clear from day damn one what my first priority would be? My family. Therefore your first priority?”

Silence.

“I’m sorry. Is this contraption too uncivilized for you, Karma?” Walsh snapped. “Should we instead revert to cups and strings or do you copy?”

“Yes, sir, I—”

“You and your Brown diploma will be out on your ass if you can’t do the one thing I told you was the most important. Now if you want to keep your job, and I’m pretty sure you will, because who else will pay you six figures for what you do, you’ll figure out how I can meet Trevor Bishop before he goes to Nigeria without missing my wife’s launch tonight.”

Silence.

“You will know where I need to be. What time I should be there. Arrange transportation. Have the proper clothes delivered here to the office. Why do I have to tell you this, Karma?”

“You don’t, sir.”

“Apparently I do since I just got off the phone with my wife and looked like the prick who forgot her jewelry launch is tonight.”

“I’m sorry, sir. I’ll make the arrangements.”

“You do that. Now you can come in, Ernest.” Walsh tempered his tone only slightly. “Thanks for your patience.”

Walsh opened his laptop, maneuvering through the labyrinth of files for the Hamilton takeover. Ernest walked in, red already crawling up his cheeks and into the mix of blonde and gray at his hairline.

His father’s best friend. The man Walsh had grown up calling uncle. Now a peer and colleague. You blink and the years have whizzed by and everything has changed. When Walsh and Sofie were kids, dashing through these offices and hiding under their fathers’ desks, Walsh never would have imagined he’d be in this position; basically leading Uncle Ernest. Certainly not this soon. Some days stepping into his father’s role felt like an ill-fitting jacket. But most days it felt tailor-made.

“Ernest, we need to talk about the Hamilton deal.”

“Yes, well you’ll have to figure something out, Walsh. They’re about to walk.”

“You say I have to?” Walsh lifted just one brow, begging the question. “How so?”
“You have to salvage the deal.” Ernest loosened the middle button on his suit jacket, settling into the seat across from Walsh. “The board expects it. Gerald Hamilton’s being unreasonable, but I’m sure you’ll figure out what he wants.”

Walsh nodded and flipped the hourglass his father had given him, watching the sands and wondering how many would have to fall before Ernest reached the part Walsh was waiting for.

“I bet it’s totally personal,” Ernest continued. “Your father and I did some business with Hamilton’s dad, William, back in the nineties, and that’s why he’s being so difficult.”

“And by ‘did some business’ you mean crushed him until he had nothing.” Walsh rested his elbows on the desk, and his chin on his folded hands. “I did a little digging into the past, Ernest.”

“You always do,” Ernest said under his breath.

Walsh knew he had a reputation for thoroughness. He needed every advantage when half the board assumed he was only here by nepotism, and that his only qualification to lead this company was Bennett blood.

“Yes, I always do,” Walsh agreed. “Because sometimes the answers to our current problems lie in the past. And I think that’s the case here.”

“How so?” Ernest frowned, crossing one ankle over his knee.

“In your heyday, you and my father didn’t feel it was enough to just steal a man’s company from him, but you took special pleasure in crushing his will.”

“We would from time to time send a certain message, yes.” Ernest’s chest swelled with pride.

“Well, William Hamilton, Gerald’s father, received one of those messages loud and clear. He was one of your victims.”

“Victim is a strong word.”

“The man attempted suicide.” Walsh leveled the words across the desk at Ernest, anger pulling his brows down over his eyes. “Did you know that?”

“I heard something to the effect, but this business isn’t for the weak.” Ernest flicked a disparaging glance at Walsh. “You might want to remember that if you think to take your father’s place some day.”

“I know all about strength, Ernest.” Walsh tilted his head, lifting one brow. “You know what my mother taught me about strength?”

“What?” Ernest narrowed his eyes at the mention of Walsh’s deceased mother.

“The greatest strength is found when we humble ourselves.” Walsh pulled his lips into a facsimile of a smile. “You’ll get to be so strong today, Ernest.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You will drive out to the Hamptons, where I just happened to know William Hamilton is today, and you will apologize for how you handled things back then.”

“The hell I am. That was business.”

“And so is this. I don’t really give a rat’s ass if you’d do it again the exact same way and twice on Sunday if given the opportunity. You will drive your Ashton Martin up to the Hamptons and you will ask William Hamilton for forgiveness. And you will save this deal because it was your recklessness and ruthless cruelty that almost wrecked it.”

“Your father was just as much a part of that as I was.”

“Yes, but he’s semi-retired and still recovering from a heart attack.” Walsh gave a pseudo-apologetic smile. “So looks like you’ll have to do the honors.”

“You’re crazy if you think I’ll do that. Besides, it’s ridiculous.”

“The board thought it was an excellent strategy.”

Ernest went perfectly still in his seat.

“You’ve mentioned this to the board? When? There hasn’t been a meeting.”

“Meetings can be so…” Walsh expelled a breath, pretending to search for the right word. “Tiresome, yeah? I mean getting all those guys in one room.”

“You went behind my back.”

“I like to think of it more as giving each and every board member my personal, undivided attention.” Walsh sharpened and hardened the look he gave the man who’d been like a second father to him. “I think they need that from their future leader, Uncle Ernest.”

Did Ernest think Walsh didn’t know on some level he resented that, at not even thirty-five years old, Walsh was basically running the company Ernest helped his father build from the ground up? Walsh knew it was in many ways unfair, but blood wasn’t always fair. And there was no doubt in his mind that he, not Ernest, was the future of Bennett Enterprises. Making a new way forward, starting with making some of the past wrongs right.

“I told them you were prepared to approach William Hamilton about the past misunderstandings personally,” Walsh said. “They called you brilliant and humble.”

“I won’t do it.”

“I’m not finished.” Walsh laid brick into his next words. “I then met with my father this morning and asked him to personally reach out to William Hamilton, which he has already done. He, of course, was delighted to hear about your forthcoming drive up to the Hamptons, and agrees that it should go a long way to making things right.”

“And if it doesn’t?”

“If it doesn’t, then the board will have you to blame, won’t it?”

“I know what you’re doing, boy.” Ernest narrowed his green eyes, so like Sofie’s, but even harder and colder. “You want me to feel obsolete.”

“No, I want you to know your place.” Walsh leaned forward, elbows on the desk, meeting the frigid Ernest’s frigid stare head on. “And I’m not, nor have I ever been, your boy.”

Eyes locked in combat for a few more tense moments, they reached a silent détente, sealing it with a small, false smile. Walsh wasn’t sure how long it would hold. He and Ernest would butt heads again before it was all over.

“Well, I guess I should get started if I’m going to the Hamptons.” Ernest rose to his feet, re-buttoning his suit coat. “Since I’m doing you a favor, maybe you could do one for me.”

Walsh wouldn’t exactly call what had just passed between them a favor, but this man did teach him to drive a stick, so he owed him something.

“What can I do you for?” Walsh asked.

“Sofie.” Ernest shook his head, exasperation all over his face.

“What about her?” Walsh wasn’t sure how he could help on that score. Other than Walsh Foundation functions and the occasional social engagement here in New York, he hadn’t seen Sofie much.

“Oh, you haven’t heard?” Ernest turned wide eyes to Walsh. “She’s gone and posed for Playboy!”

Walsh laughed out loud before he could stop himself. The scandalized look on Ernest’s face advised him to cough the last of his humor into his fist.

“Wow. Playboy, huh?” Walsh patted Ernest on the back, subtly walking him to the door. If he was going to be able to make Kerris’ launch tonight, he still had a shit ton of work to barrel through. “What exactly did you want me to, uh, do about that?”

“Help me get her under control.”

“Control?” Walsh stopped in his tracks, raising his brows at Ernest. “Sofie? Are we talking about your daughter Sofie? Since when has anyone been able to control her?”

“She actually cares about her position as celebrity ambassador for the Walsh Foundation.”

“Yeah, she loves it,” Walsh admitted, as surprised as anyone by Sofie’s involvement. She had committed years ago, and had remained involved ever since. “She just got back from Haiti.”

“See.” Ernest pointed a victorious finger at Walsh. “Haiti! Who’d go there if it wasn’t important to them?”

“Ernest, how do you see me helping?”

“Threaten to have her removed as celebrity ambassador if she doesn’t stop pulling stunts like this.”

“Why would I do that?”

“Isn’t there a morality clause or something you could hold over her head?”

Walsh had felt sorry for Sofie more than once, sometimes because of things he himself had done. Sometimes because of the messes she made. He knew things most people didn’t about her past, but this was what he understood; what he identified with more than anything else. They’d both been raised by ruthless men. His father had done the same thing to him growing up; tried to control him through the things he knew were important to Walsh, mostly his approval and affection. Walsh had seen Ernest do the same thing to Sofie since they were children. Sometimes it worked, but he wouldn’t be a part of it.

“You’ll have to handle that yourself, Ernest, “Walsh said quietly, opening the door. “Good luck and drive safely.”

 

*****

 

“He’ll be here, Kerris.”

Kerris looked up at Cam, searching eyes the color of storm clouds to see if he actually believed Walsh was coming.

“I don’t know, Cam.” She smoothed trembling hands over her small baby bump in the black tunic, dotted with pink wildflowers. “He’s been so…busy. Things have exploded at Bennett. Even with Martin officially back, since the heart attack he’s turned more and more responsibility over to Walsh.”

“And Walsh loves it, right?” Jo twisted her wide, scarlet-hued mouth into a wry grin. “Even though he has to pretend it’s such a hardship.”

“Exactly!” Kerris turned to Walsh’s cousin to commiserate. Jo knew Walsh better than anyone else; knew all the dark passages of his character. “And I just want him to be honest about it, and to put us first. He can’t follow the path his father took. Why can’t he see that?”

“Aunt Kris would beat him with a stick for missing tonight.” A frown pinched between Jo’s thick, sleek brows.

“He’ll be here,” Cam cut in. “Give the guy a break. It’s not every day you’re thrust into leading a multi-billion dollar corporation overnight. He’s adjusting, and I’m not gonna let you guys bust his balls over it all night.”

Cam shifted his son on his shoulder, stroking the dark head of curls.

“Jo, does he need to eat? And it’s kind of drafty in here. Do you have another blanket?”

“Oh, my freaking God, Cam.” Jo rolled her eyes. “I just fed him. You’d drain every mammary gland in my body if you could. And, no, it is not drafty. You’re paranoid. We really could have left him in North Carolina with Mama Jess.”

“You’re breast feeding,” Cam said, eyes wide, voice elevated.

“Louder, please.” Jo glanced around the crowded industrial space hosting Kerris’ jewelry line launch. “Not sure they heard you in Queens. It was one night. I could have pumped. I have milk in the refrigerator. You just didn’t want to be away from Kingston even one night. Admit it.”

Cam kissed his son’s downy head, pulling the blanket a little higher, shrugging.

“Whatever, Jo.” He eyes rested with affection on his wife, mouth collapsing into a smile after a few seconds. He hooked his elbow around Jo’s neck and dragged her closer to him to burrow into the shoulder his son wasn’t occupying.

Kerris watched them, happy for her friends, so obviously content, but with her own heart heavy. She loved Walsh no less, and there was no doubt in her mind he loved her as fiercely as he always had. The Bennett drive and ambition coursed through his veins as sure as blood, though, and it was the only thing that could ever take him from her. Lately, she’d worried that it would.

Tonight would tell her a lot. That he would forget such a big night, said a lot. She didn’t ask for much. Just this one thing, and for him to put business over the one thing she’d asked of him would break her heart. Something Walsh had been careful never to do before.

“Kerris, we’re about to get started.” Tanya, the proprieter of SoWhat, the SoHo shop that would carry her new jewelry line, said. “Are you ready?”

Kerris looked to the entrance of the loft space, eyes straining for any sign of Walsh’s height and broad shoulders, the dark hair and the green eyes that had fascinated her from that first night in that hotel ballroom.

“Kerris?” Tanya asked again.

“Yeah. Sorry. I was hoping…I’m ready.”

A slim hand on her shoulder stopped her as she was heading to the front of the room where her jewelry was displayed under glass. She turned to meet the concern in Jo’s silvery eyes.

“He’ll make it, Kerris.” She smiled, looking so much like Kristene Bennett it squeezed at Kerris’ heart a little. “If he doesn’t I’ll bust his balls for you since you’re preggers.”

Jo’s kindness pulled a trigger on the tears Kerris had been holding back. She bit at her lip, blinked, clenched her fists; used every trick she could think of not to humiliate herself with tears. No one would understand. She was married to one of the most powerful businessmen in New York. Maybe in the world. Her two beautiful little girls slept safely in a gorgeous TriBeCa townhome, and soon she and Walsh would add to their young family. Tonight launched her exclusive line of jewelry designs. What did she have to cry about?

Except all of it felt hollow and empty without Walsh. Like an echo of some perfect song she couldn’t hear clearly unless he was by her side.

“SoWhat is honored to collaborate with a rising artisan on the city’s horizon.” Tanya wrapped her arm around Kerris’ shoulder as they faced the crowd of well-dressed New Yorkers, most of whom Kerris had never seen in her life.

She still felt like a sojourner sometimes in this city. Everyone she truly trusted still lived in Rivermont, North Carolina, but her life was here with Walsh. Wherever he was. The need to be with him outweighed everything else. She could visit friends, but she couldn’t be without him. To think she might be less vital to him than he was to her cracked something inside. She was cracking in a roomful of strangers with a practiced smile and shiny hair and a brand new dress she’d had delivered to the house because it’s impossible to shop with twins. Falling apart in front of everyone, and they had no idea.

“Kerris, did you have anything to say?” Tanya smiled at her, an expectant look on her face.

Kerris looked out over the crowd, searching her mind for anything intelligent. She wasn’t like Jo, sharp and polished and witty. She wasn’t like Sofie, who everyone in this room would recognize on sight. Glamorous and worldly, always quick with something that would have everyone laughing and quoting her in the paper tomorrow. She was a simple girl from a river town who found herself in the center of the world tonight, alone.

“Um, wow. I’m so humbled to partner with you, Tanya and the SoWhat team.” Kerris twisted her wedding ring around her finger, a generations-old gift from one of Walsh’s ancestors. “Thank you all for coming tonight and—”

A hurried movement at the door distracted her. A dark-headed figure, tall and commanding enough to draw a few stares even though she was the one speaking. Commanding enough to draw her attention, too.

He always had been.

Kerris hoped everyone got to experience this at least once. To lock eyes with someone across a room and have everyone else disappear. To feel this soul-deep charge, and to know with certainty, no person, no circumstance, no business, no argument would ever truly separate the two of you. It was easy to forget.

And only took one look to remember.

“Um, thank you again.” Kerris recovered, pulling her eyes away from Walsh and spreading a smile around the room. “I hope you enjoy the pieces. I made them with love. The line is dedicated to my family. To my girls.”

She found Walsh again, at the back of the crowd, eyes trained on her.

“And to my husband.”

A few minutes later, Kerris tried to focus on the buyer Tanya wanted her to meet, but all she could think about was finding Walsh again in the dense crowd. She should have known he would find her.

Walsh stepped into the small circle of conversation, taking Kerris’ hand into his and pulling her to his side.

“Tanya, you’ll have to excuse us. I got here late, and haven’t gotten to congratulate my wife. So sorry to interrupt.”

“You’re not sorry, Walsh Bennett.” Tanya gave him a knowing grin.

“No, I’m not.” Walsh assaulted her with his charm. “But you’ll have to excuse us anyway, won’t you?”

Walsh led Kerris away. They didn’t exchange words, offering short nods and small smiles to everyone they passed. The air between them buzzed with need, and Kerris wasn’t sure where they were going, but she hoped it was somewhere private. Somewhere to ease the primal ache that began when he walked in the room and throbbed harder and hotter the longer she had to wait for him.

Walsh walked them past a tiny room serving as a kitchen of sorts, loaded with appetizers and into a closet crowded with coats and wraps. She hadn’t drawn one breath before Walsh had her against the wall. Heat fused their mouths together tightly, tongues meshed, sucking greedily at one another. Walsh’s hands slid under Kerris’ dress, cupping her butt, caressing her slim back, palming her high, full breasts, the nipples tightening under his twisting fingers. And finally resting on the small swell of her belly holding his baby.

“This is all that matters to me, Kerris,” Walsh said against her lips. “This baby. You. The girls. I know it doesn’t seem that way—”

“Uh huh. I know.” She shoved her fingers into his hair, biting his bottom lip.

“And I know I can’t be like my father. Just give me space to—”

“Shut up.” Kerris dragged his lips back, licking into his mouth, stroking the roof, drawing on his tongue. “Just shut up.”

He laughed, pulling back to stare at her, pressing a finger against her throbbing lips.

“I have this whole apology planned out.”

“Save it.” Kerris fumbled at his zipper. “They’ll be looking for us soon.”

“We’re not doing this. Though your eagerness is flattering.” Walsh put his hand over hers at the bulge in his pants, a huge grin overtaking his handsome face. Green eyes bright with answering desire. “This is your big night. We are going back out there. You will meet people. People will meet you. We will have dinner with Cam and Jo.”

Disappointment and lust pooled in Kerris’ belly. She drew in a steadying breath. She could do this. She could wait to have her husband when they got home. The kids would be asleep. They would have until morning to devour one another.

He leaned down to breathe into her ear, setting fires all over her body.

“And then we’ll fuck in the back seat all the way home.”

The night just got perfect.

 

Don’t miss Sofie and Trevor’s story coming in February 2016!

 

 

 

 

 

***New Content for WHEN YOU ARE MINE Characters***

WYAM_she was his

**Fan made teaser courtesy of Mary Ruth Baloy of The Reading Ruth**

So…I wrote 20 pages of a “gap” chapter this week bridging books 3 and 4 of the BENNETT series. It’s a glimpse into where Walsh & Kerris are now. It’ll be going out to everyone on my mailing list. Join HERE if you’re not on!

Obviously, there will be spoilerness for those who have not read the book, so it will be a link you can choose to click, not the actual text. Can’t wait to share what’s up with the love triangle…quad…group. ;-)

And there will be other goodies in this edition, including a giveaway that you’ll want to get in on, so again…do that ish!

New Books Are On the Way!

BENNETT Book #4!

I’m so excited to share this news! I have signed on for a 4th book in the BENNETT series. If you’ve read the first books in the series, you may be surprised to hear that book 4 is Sofie Baston’s story.

Yes, she was a certified beyotch!
And, yes, I believe I can redeem her.

Things you should know:

  • It will be written to stand alone. You won’t need to have read the other books in the series to jump right into book 4 (but I’d love for you to! Grins!)
  • The hero is Trevor Parish, a brilliant Princeton drop out and swoony 6’5″ redhead. Love me a ginger!
  • Walsh, Kerris, Cam and Jo will appear in book 4!
  • It releases in Feb 2016. I KNOW that feels so far off, but it is being traditionally published, which typically takes longer than self publishing.

As soon as I have links for pre-order and Goodreads, of course you’ll be the first to know! :-)

 

Coming Sooner!

Though Sofie & Trevor’s story won’t hit your virtual bookshelves (or literal should you go paperback)  until February 2016, I am working on my first self-published novel that I hope to release (are you crossing your fingers with me?) this Fall. Tentatively titled Darkest Dawn, it follows the tumultuous journey of two musicians, Rhyson and Kai Anne. I cannot wait to share more about them in the coming months. In the meantime, follow their path in pictures here, and hear the soundtrack of their story here.

I’ll be adding to Pinterest and Spotify as I write.

 

Subscribership Has Its Privileges

five dollar ammie card. jpg

Congratulations, Elaine Watling!
Each month, I’ll randomly select a KR subscriber to receive a gift card.
You’re our first winner!
Email me at kennedyryanwrites@gmail.com to get your card!

Want to make sure you are eligible  next month to win? Subscribe to my Inside Track Newsletter HERE!

goodreads

Are you in the KENNEDY RYAN Goodreads Group? Didn’t know it existed?
You’re in good company because most people didn’t know! LOL!

I’ll be doing some fun GR-only stuff in there soon, so you discovered it just in time!

Join HERE!

The Kindness of Strangers – When Autism Awareness Worked for Me!

Throughout April, Autism Awareness month, we’ve had the LIFT Campaign, and focused a lot on raising awareness, increasing acceptance and taking action. My son, Myles, of course, as many of you know, was diagnosed with Autism 12 years ago.

Whenever I am with other ASD parents, we always trade “war stories” about a time when our kids were mistreated, we were overlooked, somehow discriminated against – basically vent because FINALLY we are with someone who really gets it! That’s natural and needed sometimes. I thought, at the end of the LIFT Campaign, I would share a time when someone, a perfect stranger, because she understood autism; had seen up close and personally how it affected families, showed my family great kindness that followed us for years, and still does to this day.

**This piece, originally titled A FRIENDLY REMINDER, appeared in the book  CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL:  101 Inspirational Stories for Parents of Children with Autism and Asperger’s in 2013.

“A Friendly Reminder”

I’ve become accustomed to stares. Strange looks because of the strange sounds my son makes. Jerky movements and high-pitched squeals draw looks of curiosity, sometimes censure, and worst of all, pity. Yes, Autism tutored me well in the ways of self-consciousness, and then taught me to ignore it all.

Public places have been difficult minefields for my family to negotiate ever since Myles was diagnosed with Autism at the age of two. He had quickly deteriorated from a bright, vibrant, ever-learning toddler, to a vacant-stared, silent child who seemed frozen in some alternative universe completely inaccessible to us. The strange behaviors were challenging, but have created some situations that have to make me laugh…in hindsight. Way hind.

Like the time at the park fountains when Myles ran naked through the water. Kids do the darndest things, right? Did I mention he was nine years old at the time?

Or the time he came downstairs to greet the friends we’d invited over for dinner…without any clothes on. Did I mention he was ten years old? Ah, the naked years.

Some incidents, though, even in the rearview mirror, will never make me laugh. One time, I had screwed up my courage to take Myles out to Golden Corral without my husband. Restaurants mean a lot of people and a lot of noise – two things that often spell sensory overload for my son. First came the screeching. Then the banging on his chest, which devolved into banging on the table. With my nerves stretched paper thin, I noticed a sweet old lady ambling my way. I prepared my “thanks, but no thanks” to the offer of assistance I was sure she was about to make.

“Can you keep him quiet?” she snapped, her wrinkled brow drawn with what I came to realize was irritation, not concern. “I’m trying to eat! Is he on medication or anything? He should be!”

I held my tongue out of respect for my elders. I apologized if Myles had disturbed her meal, and with as much dignity as I could, hightailed it out of there. I didn’t bother to look around for compassion or concern or more of what the old lady had given me. I had to escape the weight of the eyes around us. It was humiliating and disheartening.

chicken soup cover

After that incident, and others like it, I built a wall around my heart; a shell to protect my most vulnerable, tender parts from other people’s opinions about my family. About my son. It hurt too much when they didn’t understand, so I told myself it didn’t matter. And really, in the larger scheme of things, it didn’t. I still had the great privilege of raising this very special child. I still saw things in him only a mother’s eye would discern. I still felt compelled every morning to create a better reality for him; to imagine the best future I possibly could for him.

It didn’t matter what anyone thought, but I had lost something. I no longer gave people the benefit of the doubt. I stopped giving them the chance to be compassionate; stopped looking for the opportunity to help them understand. I assumed the worst about them, and in many ways that was as bad as what that older lady had done to me that day.

So when I found myself back at Golden Corral with my son, who started screeching and banging the table again, I lifted wary eyes up to the middle aged woman approaching. Her smooth, brown face was perfectly serene as she assessed the situation at the table with my son, my husband, and me. I readied my comeback. This was no little old lady, and if she had a complaint about my son’s behavior, I was prepared to pull the trigger this time and give her the piece of my mind I had held onto before.

“Hi, how are you doing?” she asked, her tone kind, her eyes steady.

“I’m fine,” I said curtly, furrowing my brow as a clear warning to her that she did not want to mess with me.

“I hope you don’t mind me asking,” she continued. “But does your son have Autism?”

If I had a dollar for every time some perfect stranger had used that as their opening line to advise me on how to raise my kid, I’d be a rich woman and probably wouldn’t be eating at Golden Corral.

I flicked a glance at my husband as he soothed my son, who was now less agitated, but still humming and rocking a little. I raised my brow at him, using my highly-developed non-verbals to say, “Here goes another one.”

“Yeah, he has Autism,” I replied aloud to the lady, who was waiting patiently.

“Well, I raised a child with Autism,” she began.

Great. Now she really felt like she could tell me how to raise my kid. The only thing worse than a clueless person telling you how to raise your special needs child, is someone who does know the deal telling you you’re doing it all wrong.

“Hmmmm,” I offered a neutral monosyllable.

“I know you don’t know me, but my name is Pam,” she said, reaching to touch Myles’ shoulder. “Like I said, I raised a child with Autism, my stepson, and if you ever need any help, please call me.”

I looked at the hand she extended, holding a slip of paper with her name and number scribbled on it.

“I can offer references,” she said into the silence deepening with my incredulity. “My pastor. I also drive a bus for the public school system. There are several people who could vouch for me, if you ever want me to watch him for you. Give you guys a break.”

My husband offered her a friendly, grateful smile. I couldn’t speak for the lump clogging my throat. The smile she leveled my way barreled through the walls I had erected. The pure compassion of her offer bulldozed my defenses. I blinked stubbornly at the tears threatening to spill over.

“I-I-don’t-” I stammered, swiping at the renegade tear that had escaped and streaked its way down my cheek.

“It’s hard,” she cut in, saving me from blubbering. “I know how hard it is sometimes, and if you ever need help, please call me.”

“Thank you,” I managed to whisper.

“Call me,” she reiterated, smiling at my husband and me, and saving a special, knowing grin for Myles before walking away.

I did call her, and she became as close as family. She had a lot to teach not only Myles, but to teach me. Lessons I couldn’t have unearthed in any book, or at any seminar or conference. My experience with her became a master class on the depth and breadth of kindness. Humanity at its best, unfettered by selfish motives, unhampered by agenda. Kindness of the simplest and purest variety.

Somewhere along the way, under the weight of curious stares in restaurants, impatient looks in grocery stores, and horrified silences in too many places to name, I had forgotten what kindness looked like. How it felt brushing up against my cynicism; how it softened my world-weary edges. Pam helped me remember that it was worth taking the time to teach people about Autism, because people enlightened about the challenges and rewards of Autism are kinder. They are part of a better future for my son. These are the people who will have the chance to accept; to understand and appreciate a generation of kids like Myles.

I can huddle behind my old hurts, burrow into my self-pity, or I can engage. I can teach. I can learn. She reminded me that day, and a dozen times in a dozen ways thereafter. And for that, I am forever grateful.

 

 

 

Last Week Of LIFT4Autism!

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The last week of LIFT is here! What an amazing ride the last month has been, raising awareness, acceptance and action on behalf of families living with Autism.

And if you missed the LIFT t-shirts, there’s still a chance! Reserve yours in our “round two” LIFT order today! Don’t be left out when we have LIFT selfie day!

LIFT tshirt

This week’s MegaGiveaway highlights and benefits Autism Speaks, the largest Autism organization in the world, fighting for research, legislation and services for ASD families.

And our LIFT “anchor” authors, bringing it home this last week with amazing prizes:

A. Meredith Walters

Angie McKeon

Claudia Burgoa

Cora Brent

D. Kelly

Elizabeth Kelly

Freya Barker

Gypsy Rae Choszer

Jacinda Buchmann

Kemmie Michaels

Kennedy Ryan

Laurelin Paige

S.C. Stephens

a Rafflecopter giveaway