Pour a coffee and welcome bestselling author and winner of the Golden Leaf Award, Susan Connell. She started her writing career at Bantam/Doubleday/Dell (now Random House) and Harlequin Silhouette. She now publishes in, as she calls it, “the world of ebookery.” She and her husband are parents of three grown daughters. They (without the daughters) recently spent a winter in an Italian hill town – an experience she wants to repeat. Susan is drawn to exotic locales (Peru, Ivory Coast, New Zealand, Spain and other equally fascinating places.) This started with her great grandfather’s collection of very old National Geographics. Once a year she takes off with a small group of girlfriends who also enjoy her penchant for adventure – white water rafting, zip lining, camel treks, to name a few of their travel experiences. If you meet her be sure to ask her about her encounter with a Barbary ape while visiting Gibraltar.
Susan finds creating characters with good hearts and moral challenges is another enjoyable experience. Making her readers laugh doesn’t hurt either. She says her motto is “Well behaved women seldom make history.”
How true is that!
Is anyone having a hard time believing summer is over? I know I am. Even though I live where warm weather is an all year prospect, once Labor Day is behind me the pace of life seems to pick up quickly. Autumn holidays begin begging for plans, December is already demanding plane reservations, and this year (cue the theme music from Jaws) the presidential campaigns will be in a fever pitch mode demanding our attention. If curses came true the person who invented robo calls would be living in hell’s basement…with bad plumbing…hard furniture…and nothing good to read.Stop me before I curse again.
Where is the escape button when you need it? Seriously, wouldn’t it be great to go back in time for a few more relaxing days of summer? An ice cold drink, a swaying hammock, or maybe that beach chair placed just so under that beach umbrella (you know, the one with fringe) and your toes dug into cool sand?
Well, here’s the bad news: It’s a no-go because time travel hasn’t been perfected.
But here’s the good news: You can still pour yourself that drink and if that hammock or beach chair isn’t available, curl up in that favorite reading spot you have and open up your e-reader (Kindle, Nook, etc). BAM! It’s summer all over again with The Big Beach Book.
This ebook (for $4.99) contains 3 classic romance novels, each one set in a different American beach town. A Woman To Blame takes place down in the Florida Keys, Glory Girl is set on the Jersey Shore and A Man Like This will have you longing for a stay on an island of Florida’s west coast. I hope that sounds inviting because I meant it to be.
An excerpt from The Big Beach Book, Volume 2, Glory Girl.
She had to hand it to him; he certainly had a vivid imagination, and no small amount of courage to present this idea to her.
“You said you had a perfectly innocent reason for asking me up to your bedroom. And this is it? This is what you’ve been so secretive about for the last week? This is why you left weeding the tomatoes all to me?” Holly planted both hands on her hips and paced in front of Evan. “Strolling the boardwalk on Fiesta Fantasy Night is the craziest idea I’ve ever heard. You know Dennis Cracci will be up there taping, and so will a bunch of other reporters. The whole reason to go there is to be seen. Be stared at. Be found out.” She sank into a rattan chair and folded her arms. “Listen, why don’t we just stay here and watch it on local cable?”
Evan stood his ground. If she didn’t accept this idea, he didn’t know what he was going to do to get her out. He couldn’t count the times in this last week together that he’d offered to take her, in the dark of night, for a drive. She’d always refused. Well, she wasn’t going to refuse tonight. “I shouldn’t have to remind you that many of the proceeds are going to children’s charities around the state.”
“Don’t try making me feel guilty. It won’t work.”
He held out the suit. “But this will. Trust me.”
She motioned with both hands. “That outfit couldn’t possibly disguise me. You’re dressed in the same thing, and I recognize you. Let’s just forget it.”
“Not so fast. There’s more to the disguise than what you see here.” He twirled the linen suit for her inspection. “Humor me and try it on.” Wagging his finger, he smiled that devastating smile.
When he headed for the bathroom Holly shook her head, stood up, and blithely followed. “Lord, you’re determined, but it won’t work. Costumes never do. I always knew everyone on Halloween.”
Ignoring her protests, Evan hung the suit on the hook behind the door, ripped off its plastic cover, and stepped back. “Note the design here.” He ran his hand over the garment like any good suit salesman. “Guaranteed to hide every gorgeous curve of—”
“Evan Jamieson, you don’t know everything.”
“I know you slept in my bed when I was away.”
Before she could stop and think she responded, “How did you know that?”
“I didn’t. Not until you admitted it just now. Aren’t you going to ask me why I thought you had?”
“No. Look, I’ll try this on,” she answered, desperate to avoid his playful look. “You’re the only one who’ll ever see me in this.” Evan’s idea was insane, but if trying the clothes on would allow her to escape his question and end his determination to take her out in public, she’d try them on. She waved him out, closed the door, and quickly pulled off her shorts. Certain she’d be back in the rest of her clothes soon enough, she didn’t bother removing her silky black T-shirt. Stepping into the full-cut trousers, she pulled them up and fastened them. One of the bathroom walls was fully mirrored, and she turned to look at what she’d put on so far.
“Hey,” she shouted through the door. “How’d you know my size?”
“I’ve been studying your body from every angle.”
She smiled into the mirror before reaching for the jacket. Noting the label, she winced. He’d obviously spared no expense for this hopeless idea, she realized as she pulled on the designer piece. “Just who are—who were we supposed to be?”
“Glad you asked. I thought with the mustaches and cigars—”
Holly yanked the door open. “Mustaches and cigars?”
Evan, sporting a newly applied mustache, round tortoiseshell glasses, and a slicked-back hairdo, breezed into the spacious bathroom.
Holly gave a little shriek. “I can’t believe it. I swear, for a split second I didn’t know it was you.”
He rubbed his hands together. “Great. That’s the reaction we want. I thought beards would be too itchy, especially since you’ve never had one.”
“Gee, thanks. I’ve never had a mustache either.”
“You will in a moment.” He backed her up and sat her down on the rim of the whirlpool tub, then dropped the toilet lid and sat down facing her. “About that little hormone problem…” He pulled a box from his pocket, opened the kit, and set it on the sink. “Voila!”
Holly couldn’t help smiling as she watched Evan push up his sleeves. Unscrewing the small tube of adhesive, he studied her upper lip like a doctor preparing for surgery. Even if they weren’t going up on the boardwalk, even if she was stuck behind his fence for another night, his boyish charm and energy promised definite mental escape. Perhaps that’s what he’d been planning all along. He couldn’t really be expecting her to leave the safety of his compound. Her train of thought was smoothly derailed by the sensation of Evan’s thighs as they pressed against her knees. He’d leaned in to stare at her face and a mix of images vied for first place in Holly’s thoughts.
Two kids playing dress up…
Evan’s thighs pressing against hers…
The tub’s cool rim beneath her fingers as she strengthened her grip…
Evan snipping at her auburn mustache with manicure scissors…
Beneath his own mustache his lips pursed in concentration…
She was melting.
Holly swallowed hard and studied the design on the shower curtain. After an endless moment she spoke. “Who did you say you were supposed to be?”
“Reginald Q. Coxswain here, argyle socks salesman from Kennebunkport.” The exaggerated New England accent sent Holly into a fit of chortling.
He pushed his glasses above his forehead. “Ready?”
Holly pressed her lips together and gave a quick nod.
“Lean in so I can put this thing on you.” Evan dabbed at her upper lip with a dry washcloth, laid it slowly over their thighs, then lifted the tube of adhesive. “Don’t move. I’ve never put a mustache on anyone but me.”
Holly’s eyes widened as a tickling line of adhesive was applied above her mouth. “What?” she asked through clenched jaws. “You haven’t done this? Ever?”
He recapped the tube and, without taking his eyes from hers, tossed the tube over his shoulder and into the sink. “Don’t move… not a muscle.” Her lips quivered as she fought back laughter. “If you move those lips one more time, I’ll kiss you.”
“I’m trying. I swear I’m trying,” she said before a fit of laughter overtook her. Whatever happened tonight, she knew she’d remember the laughter the most. The giggling, outrageous fun he’d given her was already a treasured memory. She took a deep breath, held it, then let it out slowly. “Okay, I’m okay.” But she wasn’t. “You look so funny in that mustache and those glasses and your hair… and when y-you—” she began, then fell against his chest and burst out laughing again. As she slid to the floor, he began laughing too.
How long he’d wanted this! To see her joyful. To see her free of her burdens, if only for an evening. He watched her sitting on the floor, her head resting on the rim of the tub as she held her sides. Wouldn’t she be fun to have at his side out there in the world, sharing life’s pleasures! Or, just the two of them alone laughing intimately at a shared secret. Hell, he wanted her close even when she cried, because he loved her. With all his heart he loved her.
After a few minutes Holly wiped her eyes. “I’m sorry. It’s your mustache. You twitch it every time you get close to me.”
Evan shoved a hand through his hair, then pinched his nose. It wasn’t time to tell her he loved her, not yet. “Perhaps I should have planned on matching straitjackets.” He helped her back to the rim of the tub. “Seriously, now, before your adhesive dries.”
Supporting her jawline with his thumb, he kept her face tilted upward, and her gaze locked with his. His gaze drifted lower and, after careful positioning, he gently patted the mustache in place.
“How do I look?” Her speech was slurred as she forced her face to remain still. It wasn’t easy with Evan’s face inches from her and his fingertips gently holding the sides of her face.
“Like someone I once refused to fly out of Colombia. Be still.”
With him around she found she was never still. She either wanted to run to him or from him. Right now she wanted to move about four inches closer, but people in hell wanted ice water, and that didn’t mean they could have it. She sighed.
His fingertips lingered near the edges of the mustache, then began tracing a tantalizing pattern on her lips. She eyed him suspiciously. “What are you doing?”
“Checking for symmetry. Don’t talk. You’ll come unglued.”
You got that right, she thought, as she stared at the wide lapels of his light linen jacket. Coming unglued was exactly how she felt. With him so near, so determined, and so much fun, she didn’t look forward to telling him all his carefully laid plans weren’t going to work. His intentions were admirable, but how could a fake mustache and a baggy suit shield her from the crowds? For that matter, how could Evan? Well, she might as well get it over with. “Can I look now?”
Evan checked his watch and eased away from her. “Sure.” He stood up, then offered her his hand.
“By the way, who was I supposed to be?” she asked taking his hand.
“Holly, meet Carlos, the emerald salesman. Up close and personal.” He pointed to the mirrored wall beside them.
With more interest than she wanted him to see Holly stood up and turned. She was speechless. The image staring back at her was startling. She lifted up her hair, twisted it tightly at the crown and studied the effect. “I—I look like Uncle Jimmy. Ev, I look just like my uncle Jimmy.” For the first time that evening she began to see the possibility of a night out. A real night out. Letting her hair fall back around her shoulders, she turned around to Evan. “Oh, my. This is amazing. Really.”
“Pull up your hair again, and we’ll try it with the hat.” He left the bathroom, and she followed.
“You got us hats too?” She caught her reflection in his dresser mirror, lifted her hair once again, and waited. “Hurry.”
He returned from his walk-in closet wearing a hat and carrying another. “Why? Are we going somewhere?” Standing behind her he placed the woven straw hat on her head. Their eyes met briefly in the mirror. “Kind of like a straw fedora,” he explained, standing back.
Tipping it forward to angle slightly over one eye, Holly studied her altered image. There was no denying it. Evan had succeeded in obliterating most every recognizable feature of the Glory Girl. “My own parents wouldn’t know me,” she whispered. Her gaze suddenly connected with his in the mirror. “Do you really think this will work?”
“I think… Carlos the emerald salesman knows how to fill out a T-shirt.”
She glanced at the very feminine line her breasts made through the silky black top under the jacket, then sighed loudly. “What are we going to do with them?”
His hands slipped under her jacket and around her waist, then his fingers did a tickling walk halfway up her ribs. “I thought you’d never ask,” he replied in his best lecherous drawl. Before she could react, he withdrew his hands and buttoned her jacket. “Come on, Carlos, we’ve got some deceiving to do. Let’s get the hell out of here and have some fun.”
Holly shook her head as she continued to stare into the mirror, but she was smiling. “I didn’t say I was going.”
“Well, say you’re going and let’s go.”
“Evaaaan?” Her whine was grating and entirely theatrical.
“Can I pleeeease wear the glasses?”
Evan sighed, and with elaborate exaggeration reluctantly pulled off the glasses. “Oh, all right, but I get to light my cigar.”
She took the glasses and slipped them on. Thoroughly pleased with her look, she slipped her hands into the deep pockets of her trousers and twisted her head from side to side.
“Great,” Evan said in a stagy whisper, “while you’re falling in love with Carlos, they’re probably running out of beer and pizza up there. Are you about ready?”
“Evan?” She leaned in closer to the mirror and studied the edges of her mustache. “These don’t come off like the ones in the movies, right? I mean, we don’t actually have to rip them off, do we?”
“I hope not,” he said, walking into the bedroom.
Holly pulled her hands from her pockets and turned slowly toward him. “What? You are joking, aren’t you?”
Evan forced an innocent look onto his face. “Well, the last time I had a mustache, I’d actually grown it myself. That’s an interesting story. You see, my fraternity had this bet—”
Crushing his lapels in her fists, she pulled him close. “I don’t care about your fraternity. I care about my upper lip, and if I’ll have one in the morning.”
He pulled his cell phone from his pocket, looked at it for a second, then tossed it onto his bed. “Carlos, baby, trust me.”
“Hmmmm.” Without letting go of him, she looked over her shoulder toward the mirror. The disguise he’d concocted was incredible. “Maybe I should braid my hair and pin—Ev, what are you doing?”
He’d wrapped one arm around her waist, lifted her onto his hip and was carrying her out of the room. “Picking up my date.”
AND…on a personal note, Pale Moon Rider is FREE at Amazon until the 19th of Sept. If you haven’t had a chance to read my Highwayman adventure, I hope you’ll give it a try.