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The Newest Westmoreland Novel by Brenda Jackson is Finally Here!

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by Brenda Jackson, author of The Secret Affair (Harlequin Desire)

There is nothing like having a secret…

I enjoy writing secret stories, whether it’s about a secret baby, secret past, secret lover or, in the case of Aidan Westmoreland and Jillian Novak, a secret affair. Personally, it hit close to home for me because at the age of fourteen I had a secret boyfriend, namely the man I eventually married, Gerald.  According to my parents, I was not supposed to start dating until I was sixteen. However, by my sixteenth birthday, Gerald and I were already two years into our courtship and I was secretly wearing his ring. So I know about keeping secrets.

I enjoyed writing Aidan and Jillian’s story because one thing about a secret is you never know if it’s really a secret. There are those who might have figured things out anyway. It was only after my wedding did my dad let Gerald and me know he’d been on to us the entire time. Other family members had the same claim.

So the question is…is it really a secret affair?

Aidan and his identical twin Adrian captured my heart when I first began telling readers about the Denver Westmorelands. I know they had gotten into a lot of trouble while growing up along with two other younger Westmorelands, Bailey and Bane. But I also knew the reason for it and wanted my readers to understand the pain they had suffered with the loss of both sets of parents. I was glad to finally write their stories to show how they had matured into law-abiding citizens. I also couldn’t wait to write about the women who would capture their heart.

Dr. Aidan Westmoreland found love in the most unlikely place. Right in his own backyard so to speak. But it was also too close to home since Jillian was the sister of his cousin-in-law. And it was no secret Pam was very protective of her sisters. He had that to contend with, as well as trying to downplay a reputation that was fitting for a single Westmoreland man—namely that of a womanizer.

I can’t wait for you to dive into the pages of The Secret Affair to see if Aidan and Jillian can keep a secret and if it will be an affair that will become something more—something that will last a lifetime.

About The Secret Affair:

Will this Westmoreland affair remain a secret? Find out in this novel from New York Times bestselling author Brenda Jackson!

It has been a year since Jillian Novak ended their affair—a year that left Dr. Aidan Westmoreland determined to win back his lover. He knows they shouldn’t have to keep their relationship a secret and he’ll follow her around the world to prove it. Fourteen days on a cruise ship—just Aidan, Jillian and the deep blue sea…and a passion that won’t be denied.

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Saturday Excerpt: To Defy a Sheikh by Maisey Yates

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They say revenge is a dish best served cold…but things are about to get hot when Samarah attempts to get her revenge on Sheikh Ferran in Maisey Yates’s new romance from Harlequin Presents! If you’re a fan of sheikh romances and strong heroines, you’ll want to pick up To Defy a Sheikh–and I defy you not to get hooked by the enticing excerpt below…

About the Book:

The cost of defiance 

Princess Samarah Al-Azem knows you cannot rush revenge. Having bided her time, she’s finally ready to bring down Ferran, her kingdom’s enemy and the man who took everything from her. In the still of night, she lies in wait in his bedchamber….

It isn’t the first time Sheikh Ferran has found himself at the edge of an assassin’s blade…but never has it been wielded by such a beautiful assailant. Soon he has her at his mercy—something he’s wanted for years!

Now Samarah must decide: imprisonment in a cell…or in diamond shackles as his wife.

Excerpt:

Sheikh Ferran Bashar, ruler of Khadra, would not survive the night. He didn’t know it yet, but it was true.

Killing a man was never going to be easy. But that was why she’d trained, why she’d practiced the moves over and over again. So that they became muscle memory. So that when the time came there would be no hesitation. No regret.

She waited by the door of the sheikh’s bedchamber, a cloth soaked in chloroform in one hand, a knife stowed securely in her robe. There could be no noise. And she would have to surprise him.

How could she have regret? When she knew what his legacy had brought onto hers. Tradition as old as their kingdoms demanded this. Demanded that his line end with him.

Continue reading »

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Holiday Movies All Day, Every Day

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by Patty Anasco, Assistant Manager, Site Operations

Yes, I’m one of those people. Those that play random holiday music in July, who watch Love Actually throughout the year, those who get excited when Christmas commercials start playing right after Halloween.

I’m not alone here am I?

It took me a while to embrace my holiday obsession. I never really worried about Christmas decorations or imbibing traditional holiday drinks (except for Starbucks chai lattes with eggnog, YUM!). However, I was keeping my holiday movie binge watching on the down low. Especially since I was playing and replaying The Holiday and While You Were Sleeping around the same time everyone else was catching up on their summer shows. Nope. Holiday movies in July was my dirty little secret.

But then, while sick with the flu in San Francisco two years ago, I discovered Lifetime & the beauty that was 24/7 holiday movie programming. I just about squealed with excitement (well, as much as I could squeal with unattractive coughing and wheezing). Friends travelling with me may or may not have had issues with holiday movies on repeat in November but they graciously deferred to the sickly, prickly, whiny version of myself and indulged my need to watch happily-ever-afters with pristine snow and holiday wreaths in the background.

I don’t know what it is about them really. It could be anything from the snowy Christmas days to the Americana feel to simply the emotion surrounding the holidays. Whatever IT is that these films hold, they are almost always compelling pieces of storytelling that warm your heart and keep that smile on your face.

Harlequin.com has a beautiful tribute to holiday movies and recommended reads for the season! Check out the comments and see film recommendations from our readers!

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Patty Anasco is Assistant Manager for Harlequin.com. She fondly remembers her last trip to San Francisco as filled with hot tea, Tylenol and Melissa Joan Hart in a parka.

 

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Living Her Dream

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Take a ride with bestselling author Susan Sleeman as she takes us behind the scenes of what it really takes to bring her stories to life—putting herself in her heroine’s shoes.

By Susan Sleeman, author of Silent Night Standoff (Love Inspired Suspense)

1114-9780373446339-bigwThe explosion reverberated through the air, concussive waves shaking the ground beneath my feet as a fireball rolled overhead. In the background, staccato bursts from a machine gun competed for my attention.

Sounds like a terrorist attack. Right? Not hardly. Just a day in the life of a romantic-suspense writer. A day spent at the Portland FBI gun range when I had to pinch myself and ask—where did I make the U-turn from growing up in an average middle-class family in a sleepy Wisconsin town to firing submachine guns and detonating bombs?

The answer is simple, really. It all started the day I picked up my first Nancy Drew book and began to long for adventure not found in a town where dairy cows outnumbered people. So I devoured books and put myself in the heroine’s place, fighting crime and solving mysteries. And as soon as I could set out on my own adventures, I moved to the big city for college. As the years passed, my adventures expanded. My husband and I lived in nine states while raising two amazing daughters and working in the corporate world. I had a chance to experience and appreciate regional differences in our country. Toenjoy people of all backgrounds. To live a bit of my dream.

But…I wanted more.

You see, all this time, I dreamed of writing my own stories. A lofty goal for a girl from farm country, but if I achieved it—oh, if I did—I’d write novels filled with suspense and mystery. Filled with breath-stealing scenes and brave women in danger. Women with realistic struggles who, despite the odds, overcome it all.

And guess what? Thanks to Love Inspired®, my dream came true. Now I spend my days living in make-believe worlds and doing my best to bring them to life. To let readers hear the explosions, taste the cordite after the shot is fired, feel the danger. What better way to do that than to experience it myself?

Enter the FBI’s Citizen Academy. Six weeks of quality time spent with generous agents explaining the nature of their work, all culminating with a day at their firing range. As an added bonus, the academy opened its doors for me to participate in a mock plane-crash drill. Talk about exciting! Seeing trained emergency workers stream onto the airport tarmac with only one goal— to save lives. Wow! I so admire these people. They are true heroes that I want to bring to life in my stories.

Hopefully, I do just that in my new miniseries about an elite six-member First Response Squad. The team includes two hostage negotiators, a sniper, a bomb technician, an EMT and an intelligence coordinator. Silent Night Standoff kicks off the First Responders miniseries in November with hostage negotiator Skyler Brennan facing down deadly bank robbers who vow to get even with her. Former boyfriend FBI agent Logan Hunter stands strong, protecting her at all costs as they try to reclaim the love and contentment they’d once shared.

I already love the men and women of the FRS. Their strength and courage. Their willingness to rush into disasters to help victims. They don’t let emergencies fluster them. They do their jobs and save lives. No matter the toll it takes on their own lives. No matter the peace it steals. I hope you’ll enjoy reading about these first responders as they work to recapture that missing peace and find love. I know you’ll agree, they are what true heroes are made of and our lives are so much better for the real heroes in the world.

About Silent Night Standoff:

HOSTAGE SITUATION

When armed robbers strike her bank, hostage negotiator Skyler Brennan’s life is on the line. Rescue comes from the last person she thought she could count on—the ex-boyfriend who chose his job over their relationship. FBI agent Logan Hunter knows how much is resting on this case. The promotion of his dreams…and the safety of the woman he’s never been able to forget. But when an unexpected twist in the case pulls Logan in two separate directions, he’ll have to make an impossible choice. Will he manage to have it all by Christmas—a career and love—or will he lose them both?

First Responders: Brave men and women alert and ready for danger and love.

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Harlequin More Than Words Celebrates Our 2014 Honorees

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by Senior Executive Editor Birgit Davis-Todd

As a longtime editor with Harlequin, I’ve worked with many great authors on a variety of books. This year nothing has been more personally rewarding than working on the More Than Words program with my coworkers.

For over a decade Harlequin has been a leader in supporting and bringing awareness to women’s charitable efforts. Through the More Than Words program, we celebrate and encourage women who are actively working to improve their communities. Once again we honored three women who have made differences in the lives of others, and earlier this year donated $15,000 to each of their charitable causes.

But wait…there’s more! Harlequin More Than Words also provides authors with an opportunity to get involved. With the help of our talented authors, the stories of our award recipients are shared with readers through fiction. In a story inspired by the award recipient, each author—who donates time and creativity—expresses the ideals of the charity and incorporates the real-life heroine and her charity into the fictional story.

Look for three exciting stories that celebrate our November 2014 honorees!

more than words novellas

In Never Too Late, Carina Press author Christi Barth honors the work of Megan Yunn, president and founder of Beverly’s Birthdays, a Pittsburgh-based charity that believes in spreading birthday cheer 365 days a year. Beverly’s Birthdays arrange birthday parties for children living in shelters with their families who might not otherwise celebrate such an event. Visit www.BeverlysBirthdays.org for more information.

In A Wing & A Prayer, Harlequin author Andrea Laurence highlights the work of Ann McGee, founder of Miracle Flights for Kids—a charity that provides families with free flights nationwide to hospitals and treatment centers they could not otherwise reach because of financial hardship. Miracle Flights for Kids advocates that money should never stand in the way of children getting the best possible medical treatment—no matter how far away it might be. Visit www.MiracleFlights.org for more details.

And in A Place in Her Heart, Harlequin author Trish Milburn honors the work of support coordinator Linda Burston of the Women’s Lunch Place. This Boston-based charity provides meals, shelter and essential services for homeless and poor women during the day when many overnight shelters are closed. Visit www.WomensLunchPlace.org to find out more.

All three stories are available for download free at Harlequin More Than Words. Visit our site to read about all the special women we’ve honored and how you can get involved with their charities.

 

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Sisters: Wicked and Wonderful

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by Karen Harper, author of Forbidden Ground

I must admit I have always wanted a sister. I have two good-guy brothers, but that doesn’t change this longing. Close female friends are great, but to all of you who have a sister or sisters in abundance, am I wrong? I think this longtime yearning is one reason I have focused on three sisters for my Cold Creek trilogy, which includes Shattered Secrets, Forbidden Ground and Broken Bonds.

This is not to say Tess, Kate and Char, the heroines of these romantic-suspense novels, are perfect friends. True to real life, they are very different, but when times get tough (which they do in each of these stories!), they stick together. Kate, the oldest sister, is used to helping the younger two, but in Forbidden Ground she needs their help and support.

Kate is an archaeologist who is dying (that word hints at the danger she gets into) to excavate an ancient Adena Indian burial mound. The trouble is, it’s on private land, and the stubborn but very attractive owner, Grant Mason, insists she stay away from the mound, if not from him. “Let the dead stay dead,” he insists.

But Kate isn’t to be denied and—pardon the pun—starts to dig a hole she can’t get out of. Her younger sisters, one of whom is newly married to the town sheriff, try to help and warn her, but someone, or something, seems determined to stop her. The different personalities of the Lockwood sisters cause friction as well as provide strength for Kate.

I realize that sisters can be argumentative, jealous and spiteful—downright wicked—so I don’t mean to gloss over that in the Cold Creek trilogy. I had a good friend several years ago who hadn’t spoken to her twin sister in years! I’ve seen a family where one sister stole the other’s guy. I suppose childhood favoritism or familiarity can breed contempt. But I think the strengths of sisterhood shine through in this trilogy—and hopefully, in real life.

Tess, Kate and Char each deserve their own book, their own romance and their own frightening adventure, but when the going gets tough, these women get going. Sisterhood, real or fictional, right on and write on!

About Forbidden Ground:

1114-9780778316701-bigwLet the dead stay dead… 

Despite a traumatic childhood in Cold Creek, Ohio, the Lockwood sisters have reunited there for the wedding of youngest sister Tess to the town’s sheriff. Maid of honor Kate Lockwood is determined to break through best man Grant Mason’s defences. An anthropologist, Kate makes her living studying the dead. She is particularly interested in the prehistoric Adena civilization that once called the area home. A large burial mound sits on Mason family land, and Kate wants permission to excavate. But Grant refuses and tells Kate to stay away from the mound.

Kate respects Grant’s desire to honor his grandfather’s belief that the dead should not be disturbed. However, the more she researches the more it becomes clear that Grant is hiding something. When one of Grant’s friends is killed—and the sheriff is away on his honeymoon—the couple joins forces to assist the deputy in the investigation.

When Kate comes under attack she is certain it is connected to the burial mound. Grant seems concerned for Kate’s safety, but despite their explosive attraction she can’t help but be suspicious of his motives. Can Kate trust the man she’s come to love, or will the wrong decision be her final act?

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Announcing the Winner of So You Think You Can Write!

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sytycw-2014-winner

Everyone at Harlequin/Mills and Boon was thrilled to announce the winner of the 2014 So You Think You Can Write contest — and our newest contracted author — Amanda Cinelli!

Amanda captured the hearts of editors and readers alike with her entry for Harlequin Presents, Resisting the Sicilian Playboy. Amanda won the grand prize winner of the Ultimate Author’s Publishing Prize, including a two book publishing contract.

Watch Amanda get the life-changing news from editor Carly Byrne and author mentor Sharon Kendrick in this video of THE CALL!

Do you dream of becoming a Harlequin author like Amanda? SYTYCW will be back next year but in the meantime, you can always submit a series romance manuscript any time! Review our guidelines at www.harlequin.com/guidelines, read what we publish and target the series that’s right for you. For more writing tips and inspiration, check out all the archived posts at www.sytycw.com, the Harlequin.com Community and the SOLD! blog.

 

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Saturday Excerpt: Cowboy Under the Mistletoe by Linda Goodnight

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Christmas is the perfect time of year to pick up an inspirational romance and remember what the season is all about. In Cowboy Under the Mistletoe by New York Times bestselling author Linda Goodnight, Jake Hamilton and Allison Buchanon rediscover the strong bonds of love, family and forgiveness — just in time for a second-chance Christmas. Read on for an excerpt!

About Cowboy Under the Mistletoe:

Second-Chance Christmas

It’s been nine years since Jake Hamilton broke Allison Buchanon’s heart and left town. But she’s never been able to forget the high school boy she secretly loved. Now Jake’s come home to care for his ailing grandmother, and Allison’s family will do anything to prevent a rekindled romance. Unfortunately, the connection between Allison and the green-eyed cowboy is undeniable. She believes that forgiveness is possible, especially at Christmas. But Jake cares too deeply about Allison to take her away from the close-knit Buchanon clan. Will Allison have to choose between a loving family and the love of her life?

Excerpt:

Someone was at the Hamilton house. Someone in a black pickup truck bearing a bull rider silhouette on the back window.

Curious, with a tremor in her memory, Allison Buchanon pulled her Camaro sports car to the stop sign in a quiet neighborhood of Gabriel’s Crossing, Texas, and sat for a moment pondering the anomaly. She drove past this corner at least once a week on her way to her best friend’s home. She hadn’t seen any sign of life in the rambling old house for a long while. Not since before Grandmother Hamilton fell and broke her hip several months ago. And Jake had been gone so long no one even cursed his name anymore.

If Allison had a funny quiver in her stomach, she played it off as anticipation of Faith’s bridal shower this afternoon. As hostess, she wanted to arrive early and make sure everything—including her dearest friend—was perfect.

She glanced at the dash clock. Three hours early might be overkill.

Continue reading »

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The Times They Are A Changin’

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by Josh Lanyon, author of Fair Play (Carina Press)

As I sat down to write this post this morning it occurred to me that Harlequin quietly and casually passed a milestone in 2013 when a male/male romance author was invited to post here on the general Harlequin Romance blog for the first time.

There was no fuss, no fanfare, and I like to believe that there was no excitement or debate behind the scenes either. Change happens. Sometimes it comes more slowly than we would wish–sometimes it seems swift and reckless. But change is inevitable.

We’re not always comfortable with change–I’m not always comfortable with change–but the funny thing is that every romance novels begins at a pivotal moment, a moment of, well, revolution for the hero or heroine. As readers we celebrate the first steps of the adventure, even as we wince, recognizing the pain and confusion that may lie ahead for the characters. We know instinctively that to move forward, to get what we want, we must change. We cannot stay in stasis.

Change is something Elliot Mills, the protagonist of Fair Play, knows quite a bit about. An ex-FBI agent who was injured in the line of duty, Elliot has had to build a new career as a history professor at a liberal arts college in Washington. He’s been forced to make a number of adjustments — but with those compromises have come a new life and new love with a man he once considered an enemy.

Now that new life and love are threatened. Elliot’s father, a militant former 60s radical, is about to release his memoirs, and someone will stop at nothing to prevent him. As Elliot searches to find whoever is threatening his father’s life, he begins to learn some startling and uncomfortable truths about the man his father was, about the country he served, and about himself.

 

About Fair Play:

{E788798F-E5AD-4957-B99D-8FA07C67000C}Img100Fifty years ago, Roland Mills belonged to a violent activist group. Now, someone is willing to kill to prevent him from publishing his memoirs.

When ex-FBI agent Elliot Mills is called out to examine the charred ruins of his childhood home, he quickly identifies the fire for what it is—arson. A knee injury may have forced Elliot out of the Bureau, but it’s not going to stop him from bringing the man who wants his father dead to justice.

Agent Tucker Lance is still working to find the serial killer who’s obsessed with Elliot and can’t bear the thought of his lover putting himself in additional danger. Straightlaced Tucker has never agreed with radical Roland on much—“opposing political viewpoints” is an understatement—but they’re united on this: Elliot needs to leave the case alone. Now.

Tucker would do nearly anything for the man he loves, but he won’t be used to gain Elliot access to the FBI’s resources.

When the past comes back to play and everything both men had known to be true is questioned, their fragile relationship is left hanging in the balance.

Order your copy at CarinaPress.com or major online retailers, including:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google | iBooks

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Captivated: a steamy two-in-one from COSMOPOLITAN Red-Hot Reads from Harlequin!

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Women on Top and the Guys Who Love Them:  Megan Hart on Letting Go

I’ll try not to annoy any of you by bursting into song, but believe me, when I titled my latest Cosmopolitan Red Hot Read from Harlequin, I had no idea that “Let it Go” would become such an anthem. Ear worm aspects of that now-famous song aside, it’s a good message, isn’t it? Let it go!

In Letting Go, Colleen has a hard time doing just that. For her, it’s all about control.  For Jesse, the super cute (and younger) bartender at her favorite hangout, it’s all about…Colleen. Together, they need to figure out how to reach each other even when it feels like they’re destined to remain so far apart.

Set in one of my favorite places, the Fell’s Point neighborhood in Baltimore, Letting Go was such fun to write for a few reasons. The one that stands out most in my mind, however, was the research. Particularly the part where they visit the local diner and sample the special French toast – let me tell you, that diner exists and that French toast is amazing, and I think I’ll need to feature it in everything I ever write just so I have an excuse to get back there and “research” it again!

Beyond the culinary delights, though, I loved writing Letting Go for another reason, and that was Jesse. Sweet, sexy, more-than-meets-the-eye, Jesse turned out to be one of my favorite heroes because the more I wrote, the more I discovered about him. It’s no secret I like writing stories about women who like to be on top and the men who love to let them be in charge, and Jesse turned out to be exactly that kind of guy.

Readers, what’s your favorite kind of hero?

 

A Sexy Rom-Com Retelling of Romeo & Juliet: Tiffany Reisz on Seize the Night

If I lived in the Elizabethan era, I’m pretty sure I would have been one of William Shakespeare’s groupies. If they didn’t have groupies back then, I would have invented the concept just for The Bard. Although Shakespeare has a reputation for being a little hard to read, once you see a play live you discover that not only are his plays brilliant, witty, and insightful, they’re also incredibly dirty with naughty jokes, sexy innuendo, and ribald puns that can make even sophisticated modern audiences gasp and blush. Shakespeare is my kind of guy.

When it came time for me to write my second Cosmopolitan Red-Hot Read from Harlequin (my first was Misbehaving, a modern erotic retelling of Much Ado About Nothing), I dove back into the Shakespeare pool and fished out an idea for a dirty rom-com retelling of Romeo & Juliet. I would do a gender-swap version where Romeo was Remi, a young woman, Juliet was Julien, an even younger man, and Mercutio was Merrick, Remi’s wise-cracking, weird (and weirdly sexy) assistant who is constantly making Shakespeare references that no one else seems to notice. I set the story at Verona Downs, a race track, and the feuding families are owners of rival thoroughbred horse-racing farms. In my story Seize the Night, Remi discovers her parents, the Montgomerys, and Julien’s parents, the Brites, are up to something shady that could get them all in trouble. She and Julien reunite four years after they accidentally started the family feud (in bed) and work together to save their families from ruin (in and out of bed but mostly in bed/couch/against a door in an office/etc).

I hope you enjoy Seize the Night, my sexy fun retelling of Romeo & Juliet. Don’t worry, nobody dies at the end. And, of course, everybody gets laid.

“A plague on both your horses!” Merrick shouted.

Remi turned around and glared at him.

“Sorry,” he said. “I always wanted to say that.”

 

About Captivated:

1114-9780373622474-bigwDouble the passion—and seduction—as New York Times bestselling author Megan Hart and international bestselling author Tiffany Reisz weave two provocative tales about power, bad-boy lovers and secret desires!

Letting Go by Megan Hart

Colleen goes to the same bar every night and orders the same drink: a whiskey, neat. She doesn’t drink it, though. Jesse the bartender notices the beautiful, sad woman who keeps to herself. Until one night when she lets go and lets him in. And after that, Jesse has only one mission—to show her one night is only the beginning…

Seize the Night by Tiffany Reisz

Five years ago, a night of forbidden passion between Remi and Julien, the heirs of two powerful and competitive horse-racing families, led to a feud that is threatening to ruin both farms. Now Remi must find Julien again—but when she does, her need for Julien is just as strong and just as forbidden… 

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