#ReleaseBlitz “An Honest Buck (Special Forces: Operation Alpha) (Sealed With A Kiss Book 7)” by Margaret Madigan

Title: An Honest Buck

Series: Sealed With A Kiss #7

Author: Margaret Madigan

Genre: Adult, Romantic Suspense

Published: July 9, 2019

Page Count: 162 Pages

 

Dr. Melinda Emerson has had her fill of international intrigue. She’s eager to get back to work on a cure for Alzheimer’s, and a normal life with her boyfriend, Buck. But when her flight home from a conference in Houston is delayed, she rents a car and offers a ride to another stranded traveler, landing herself right back into the thick of danger.

Grady “Buck” McCormick is ready to propose to his girlfriend Mindy. He’s been carrying a velvet ring box in his pocket for weeks waiting for the perfect moment to do it. When his teammates give him crap for waiting, he decides he’ll pop the question as soon as she’s back from Houston. When she disappears on the way home, he’ll risk anything—even his SEAL career—to go after her.

Melinda is dragged to middle-of-nowhere Mexico by yet another Russian mobster where she tries to escape, but when he discovers his boss wants to get his hands on her for killing his brother, he’s more than happy to sell her for a profit. Meanwhile, Buck and his friends scour the Mexican desert in a frantic search to finder. They catch up in a public plaza in Mazatlán where Buck has to choose: Risk his honor and everything he’s worked for to save the woman he loves, or protect American interests and allow Mindy to be sold off to Russia where he can never follow.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1 Excerpt © Margaret Madigan 2019

 

CHAPTER 1

Grady “Buck” McCormick sat at the table on Wolf Steeles back patio, sipping a beer with his brothers in arms, but thinking about his girlfriend, Mindy.

The little velvet box he’d carried around in his pocket for the last few weeks weighed heavier every day he waited to propose to her. He wanted it to be perfect, but that moment just hadn’t come yet. Maybe he’d have to plan something instead of waiting for it to happen naturally. But he hated the thought of some crappy, fake romantic moment.

You’ve been twitchy as hell lately, Tank said. What’s up with you?

Quentin Tank DeCoteau, a tall Native American version of his nickname, had joined Bucks SEAL team when Wiley Coyote Strickland had nearly killed himself in a motorcycle wreck and had to quit the military. Last Buck had heard, Coyote lived in Houston with his fiancée, trying to get a new protection and security business off the ground.

I’m not twitchy, Buck said, sounding defensive even to his own ear.

You do seem nervous, Wolf said, leaning back in his chair.

Wolf’s teammate Cookie nodded and grinned.

“Fine. Maybe I’m a little nervous,” Buck admitted. Reluctantly. But if he couldn’t talk to these guys, even knowing they’d give him shit to start with, who could he talk to? He just had to hold on through the shit to get to the good advice.

“Why?” Ross “Groom” McBride asked, his brown eyes and disheveled hair adding to his earnest appearance.

Instead of blurting his plans, Buck dug the ring box out of his pocket, placed it on the table, and opened it. The ring inside had been his mother’s—the one his father had used to propose—and now that his mother had been gone for a while, he’d asked his dad about using it to propose to Mindy. At first, his dad had been reluctant to let go of the ring, but he still had Mom’s wedding ring, the piece that bound them together despite being parted by death, so he’d finally warmed to the idea of sharing the engagement ring with Buck and Mindy. Buck had taken it to a jeweler and made a few changes so it would be unique to their relationship. Now all he had to do was the hard part.

Whistles and laughter filled the evening air as Buck drained his beer bottle, waiting for them to finish then start in with the shit.

“Oh, Buck,” Tank said, batting his long black eyelashes. “We hardly know each other. It’s just too soon.”

Buck waited out the roaring laughter.

“Fuck you, asshole,” he said, but couldn’t help laughing along.

“Congratulations,” Wolf said.

“Dude, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but he’s still got the ring,” Tank said. “That means he hasn’t asked her yet.”

“What’re you waiting for?” Jackson “Little Bro” West asked. As younger brother of Cory “Compass” West, team lead for another SEAL team, Little Bro hated his nickname because it meant he was constantly compared to his older brother. So of course they used it relentlessly.

“The right moment,” Buck said.

“Big mistake,” Tank said, shaking his head like Buck couldn’t have disappointed him more if he’d tried.

“You married?” Cookie countered.

“No,” Tank said.

“Then how do you know?”

“I mean, don’t ask her while she’s taking a dump or anything,” Tank said. “But trying to manufacture the perfect moment? Seems like it won’t be honest.”

“Guys who go for the big splash like skywriting or whatever are only doing it for themselves,” Groom said, agreeing with Tank’s assessment.

“Yeah,” Little Bro said. “What if she said no?”

“Never ask the question unless you’re sure the answer will be yes,” Tank said.

“What makes you such an expert?” Buck asked. Tank’s confidence usually came in measures commensurate to his size, so the rest of the team had wised up to his tendency toward hyperbole.

Tank shrugged and gulped his beer, avoiding eye contact.

The group scented blood.

“Tank,” Little Bro said, goading the man. “Answer the question. What makes you an expert in proposals?”

“Did you propose without knowing the answer and get rejected?” Groom asked.

“Hell no,” Tank said. “When I ask a woman for anything—and I ALWAYS ask—she says yes.”

More laughter circled the table.

“Then what?” Little Bro asked.

“I watch a lot of TV, okay? Bachelor. Bachelorette, that kind of thing.” The realization on Tank’s face that he would never, ever live this shit down made Buck sublimely happy.

“Like, Bridezillas?” Buck asked.

Cookie snorted beer out his nose.

“Say Yes to the Dress?” Little Bro asked, piling on.

“Married at First Sight?” Groom asked.

“Marriage Boot Camp?” Wolf added.

“The Proposal?” Little Bro asked. “It’s stupid, but on point for Buck.”

“They’re all stupid,” Groom said.

“You all laugh but listen to yourselves. You actually know all those shows. What’s that say about you?” Tank sounded defensive, and just a step short of pouting.

Buck snort-laughed. “He has a good point.”

“So what are you going to do?” Wolf asked.

“Mindy’s in Houston right now at an Alzheimer’s science convention, but I’ll ask her when she gets back. No more waiting for the right moment. I’m just going to do it.”

“Good man,” Cookie said, nodding.

“When’s she get home?” Little Bro asked.

“Her flight’s tomorrow.”

Everyone nodded, satisfied apparently that he’d soon be engaged.

“How’s she doing after the Siberia mission?” Wolf asked, alluding to Mindy’s struggle with PTSD after that mission had gone badly sideways. She’d had to find a cure for a supersoldier serum that had killed one of Buck’s teammates, and nearly killed both Buck and Wolf, and a couple others. “And your jungle vacation?” he added, referring to the debacle of a research trip that had ended in kidnapping and an epic forest fire in the Amazon.

“Better,” Buck said. “She’s just a civilian scientist. She wasn’t equipped for any of it. But she was smart enough to know she needed help, so she got it. And it’s working.”

Cookie’s nod was sober. “Good. Too many don’t get help.”

“So,” Tank said, changing the subject. “You gonna stay in the service after you’re married?”

It was a question Buck had been asking himself a lot lately, not just because he planned to propose, but because the shelf-life of a SEAL was traditionally short. If injury didn’t take a guy out, like it had Coyote, or death, like Dozer in Russia, then burnout often did. There were a lot of career SEALs, but Buck was beginning to wonder if he wanted to be one of them. He’d recognized and ignored the first signs of burnout a while ago, but he couldn’t ignore them anymore. And the last thing he wanted was to be a liability to his team, or to fuck up his new marriage.

Problem was, he’d been a SEAL so long he didn’t know what else to do. He wondered if that’s how Coyote’d felt after his accident.

“I don’t know,” Buck said. “I love the Navy.”

“But?” Groom asked.

“I love Mindy, too. So maybe it’s time to get out and do something else.”

“Like what?” Tank asked. He sounded disgusted. “Civvy life’s not easy for guys like us.”

“True that,” Little Bro said. Buck gave him side eye for his slang, and for the fact that he was barely shaving, so what would he know about being out in the ‘real’ world.

“I’ve got skills,” Buck said. “I grew up on a horse ranch.”

Tank yawned with his typical exaggeration, expressing what he thought about Buck’s upbringing. “I don’t see SEAL skills transferring to horse ranching.”

It irked Buck, but he agreed. He didn’t really want to go back to raising horses. He’d become addicted to the adrenaline of his job.

“I don’t know,” he said. “But I’m sure I can find something.”

 

 

 

Margaret grew up in the gray and rainy Willamette Valley of Oregon, but a twist of fate sent her and her family to the frozen tundra of North Dakota where she fell in love with the rugged landscape and bracing weather. Sustained by cupcakes, coffee, and cats, Margaret brings you sexy heroes, sassy heroines, and lots of heart-pounding action.

 

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#BlogTour “More Than Tempt You (More Than Words #5)” by Shayla Black

I romanced her for revenge…but what if she’s not the enemy after all?

I’m Clint Holmes. I was an ambitious guy with a busy life and a growing business. Sure North Dakota wasn’t a tropical paradise, but I was happy enough—until tragedy struck. Now the only thing that matters is finding the person responsible and making her pay. But Bethany Banks is a Harvard-educated shark used to swallowing her enemies whole while playing dangerous corporate games. How can a blue-collar oil man like me possibly beat her?

The moment I lay eyes on my beautiful nemesis, the answer is obvious. I seduce her.

On Maui, where she’s fled, I get to know the man-eater who caused my family so much pain…only to find she’s not the brazen ballbuster I assumed. She’s skittish, secretive, vulnerable. For some reason, my instinct is to protect her. I can’t abandon my plan…but I can’t stop wanting her. Night after night, I pry her open with my touch until I’m drowning in our passion. Soon, I’m questioning everything, especially the fine line between love and hate. But when the past comes back to wreak vengeance and the truth explodes, can I prove that I’m more than tempted to love her forever?

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“Can one of you keep an eye on Beth? She’s getting hit on a lot, which I told her to expect. But one creepy guy who was here last night is here again today. He seems awfully determined.”
“The one in the loud Hawaiian shirt with the matching personality?” my buddy asks.
“That one. He parked his ass in her station as soon as we opened. He’s been messing with her ever since.”
“I’ll take care of it,” I chime in.
First, when I bartended on the side in the past, I saw a lot of the girls struggle with dirtbags who refused to understand that no means no. Second, coming to her rescue will be a great way to meet Bethany and start gaining her trust. I refuse to think about how excited my libido is to spend time with her.
“Thanks, Clint.”
With that, Andy dismisses us. Ash and I file down the hall.
My buddy laughs. “You in the role of Bethany’s protector. Oh, the irony…”
“Hey, I’m not out to hurt her. I just want justice. I have no doubt she helped to swindle those people, so she deserves to pay as the law provides.”
“Fair enough. But, um…she clearly flips your switch. How are you going to keep your paws off her?”
Bethany Banks turning me on visually is fucking inconvenient. I’m sure that once I start talking to the woman, her personality will quickly turn me off. “I’ll work it out.”
“Ready for the madhouse?”
I follow Ash behind the bar. “Let’s do it.”
It takes me less than ten minutes to learn the ropes. Then Ash introduces me to the other waitress on duty, Montana. She’s a sultry brunette with dark eyes, golden skin, and big tits. Honestly, she’s usually my speed in women.
And yet as we’re chatting and she’s flirting, my gaze keeps straying to Bethany. What is it about her? She’s beautiful, but what else? Is it her aloofness? Maybe. I want to figure her out so I can understand why a brilliant woman, surely capable of making her own fortune, would help her father fleece people. The angry part of me wants to grasp how she managed not to get caught. Mostly, I fear the attraction is chemical and, regardless of what logic tells me, I want to nail her.
When Montana jaunts off with a wink. Ash pulls me aside. “Are you that rusty? Montana would totally do you, and you blew her off.”
I know, and the fact I’m not interested annoys me. “I’m not here for sex. Introduce me to ‘Beth’ and let’s get this farce going.”
As we approach, she sets a beer down in front of a guy who’s fortyish in a Hawaiian shirt—like a lot of the tourists here. He eyes her with excruciating intensity. She meets his gaze with an arched brow raised.
My gut tells me she’s not only not interested, but she’s silently rebuffing him.
Mug delivered, Bethany turns to leave. The man grips her wrist hard, his muscles flexing, veins popping, knuckles white. When she winces and tries to wriggle free, he clamps tighter and stands, jerking her toward him.
Fuck that. Even if Bethany Banks is guilty of a multitude of sins, she doesn’t deserve to be manhandled by this jerk against her will.
I barge my way between them, shoving her behind me. “Do we have a problem here, sir?”
Fury pinches his mouth. He narrows his eyes. “This has nothing to do with you. Butt out.”
“You don’t have permission to maul the staff. I’m going to have to ask you to keep your hands to yourself or leave.”
“Do you have your head so far up her twat that you don’t see she’s a fucking bitch?” The guy scoffs and rolls his eyes. “Yeah, and you deserve everything you get when she chews you up and spits you out.”
With that, the asshole tosses down some money and starts to walk away.
I’m furious. In part because he accused me of wanting her when I do. But mostly I’m pissed on Bethany’s behalf. “That was uncalled for. You’re not welcome back here unless you apologize to her.”
He grits his teeth, upper lip curling up with contempt as he turns to Bethany. “Fine. A thousand apologies.”
The douche doesn’t mean a word of that, and I want to pound his face. No, I’m not looking to become Bethany’s knight in shining armor. But this kind of guy always grates on my nerves because he thinks he can treat all women like trash, and the only thing that matters less than them are their feelings. I hate pricks like him.
Unfortunately, I can’t do anything else right now without ramping up the incident, instigating a fight…and probably getting fired. Instead, once he leaves, I turn to Bethany. I’m pissed all over again when I see she’s gone tense, as if she’s trying to hold herself together, and sporting a big red handprint around her small wrist.
“You okay?”
She nods. It’s shaky at first, then she drags in a steadying breath. “Yeah. He might be the first to think he can demand something more than a drink. But like Andy said, he won’t be the last. I’ll get used to it. Thanks for stepping in. I’m Beth.”
When she holds out her hand, I have to admit I’m impressed by her backbone. I’ve seen new waitresses shrink, cry, and ultimately quit when confronted with a customer that vile. Bethany simply picked herself up and now looks determined to carry on.
“You’re welcome. I’m Clint. It’s my first day.” I shake her hand.
We touch. Heat flares and rolls through me, instant and scorching. If I wanted to fuck her before, it’s nothing compared to the lust burning me now.

 

Shayla Black is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than sixty novels. For nearly twenty years, she’s written contemporary, erotic, paranormal, and historical romances via traditional, independent, foreign, and audio publishers. Her books have sold millions of copies and been published in a dozen languages.

Raised an only child, Shayla occupied herself with lots of daydreaming, much to the chagrin of her teachers. In college, she found her love for reading and realized that she could have a career publishing the stories spinning in her imagination. Though she graduated with a degree in Marketing/Advertising and embarked on a stint in corporate America to pay the bills, her heart has always been with her characters. She’s thrilled that she’s been living her dream as a full-time author for the past eight years.

Shayla currently lives in North Texas with her wonderfully supportive husband, her teenage daughter, and two spoiled tabbies. In her “free” time, she enjoys reality TV, reading, and listening to an eclectic blend of music.

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#ReleaseBlitz “More Than Tempt You (More Than Words #5)” by Shayla Black

I romanced her for revenge…but what if she’s not the enemy after all?

I’m Clint Holmes. I was an ambitious guy with a busy life and a growing business. Sure North Dakota wasn’t a tropical paradise, but I was happy enough—until tragedy struck. Now the only thing that matters is finding the person responsible and making her pay. But Bethany Banks is a Harvard-educated shark used to swallowing her enemies whole while playing dangerous corporate games. How can a blue-collar oil man like me possibly beat her?

The moment I lay eyes on my beautiful nemesis, the answer is obvious. I seduce her.

On Maui, where she’s fled, I get to know the man-eater who caused my family so much pain…only to find she’s not the brazen ballbuster I assumed. She’s skittish, secretive, vulnerable. For some reason, my instinct is to protect her. I can’t abandon my plan…but I can’t stop wanting her. Night after night, I pry her open with my touch until I’m drowning in our passion. Soon, I’m questioning everything, especially the fine line between love and hate. But when the past comes back to wreak vengeance and the truth explodes, can I prove that I’m more than tempted to love her forever?

Apple Books I Nook I Kobo I GooglePlay

Amazon US I Amazon UK I Amazon CA I Amazon AU

Add on GoodReads

Shayla Black is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than sixty novels. For nearly twenty years, she’s written contemporary, erotic, paranormal, and historical romances via traditional, independent, foreign, and audio publishers. Her books have sold millions of copies and been published in a dozen languages.

Raised an only child, Shayla occupied herself with lots of daydreaming, much to the chagrin of her teachers. In college, she found her love for reading and realized that she could have a career publishing the stories spinning in her imagination. Though she graduated with a degree in Marketing/Advertising and embarked on a stint in corporate America to pay the bills, her heart has always been with her characters. She’s thrilled that she’s been living her dream as a full-time author for the past eight years.

Shayla currently lives in North Texas with her wonderfully supportive husband, her teenage daughter, and two spoiled tabbies. In her “free” time, she enjoys reality TV, reading, and listening to an eclectic blend of music.

Newsletter Sign-up I Website I Facebook I Instagram I Pinterest I YouTube