The Final Straight – an extract #tirgearrtuesday #romance

Today’s Tirgearr Tuesday extract is from The Final Straight

the final straight by charlotte howard - 500

ISBN: 9781311748546
ASIN: B00SW7GE26

Blurb:
April Miller works for her bestfriend, Max Knight on his livery and competition yard. Their friendship has withstood many turbulent times, and while April is deeply in love with Max, she is also aware of his womanising ways and has refused to succumb to his flirtatious charms. When her ex, AJ, suddenly comes back with a business proposal, April finds herself torn between the two men.
Excerpt:

April stared at the few black blobs on the screen. She knew they should have formed sentences, but her mind was elsewhere and unable to create readable words out of the muddle. The biro’s plastic end crunched between her back teeth.She’d managed as much as ‘Dear AJ,’ when a knock on the door disturbed her. Max poked his head around and gave her the same soulful puppy-eyed look he always did after he’d managed to upset her.

“What do you want, Max?” she asked, pretending to be engrossed in whatever was on her screen.

“Peace offering,” he said, walking in and putting the mug of tea by the mouse pad.

She looked up at him. The frustration and irritation faded. “I’m sorry for snapping.”

Max sank into the chair opposite. “I’m sorry for…”

April raised her eyebrows, waiting for him to finish the sentence. “Shagging everything in sight?” she suggested. “You need to watch yourself.”

“I know.”

“I don’t think you do. Every time your bedroom antics are flaunted, I get a phone call. Six o’clock this morning and Banks was on the phone screeching at me. You hadn’t even got out of the shower and I was helping him load his horses onto a lorry.”

Confusion spread across his face, giving him the look of an innocent teenager.

“She woke up, and you weren’t there,” April reminded him. “Of course she’s going to ring her dad, who, may I remind you, has a shotgun license. You’re lucky it was only money he was cutting off.”

Max winced. “I am sorry.”

April hummed, not sure whether to believe him. “They are the second client we’ve lost this month because of you. I’m fed up of having to placate pissed off husbands and fathers.” She rubbed at the corners of her eyes as her contact lenses began to itch. “We have a board meeting next week. Please don’t make me ask them for more money.”

“Hey,” he cooed, sweeping around to her. He knelt by her leg, taking her pale knuckles in his hands. “You won’t need to.”

“I will if we run out and I can’t pay the bills. I can’t afford to forfeit my wage to support this place.”

“No,” he said, with a shake of his head. “That won’t happen.”

“I do have something for you to consider.”

“What? Anything if it will cheer you up.”

“The college rang and asked if we’d be willing to take on a work experience girl over the summer holidays.”

He dropped her hands, stood up, and began to pace in front of the desk. “You know how I feel about that.”

“It would be free labour, good publicity, and we’d be helping her out. Good karma, which is something I think you need.”

“I just have…” he hovered around the words. “Standards.”

“I’m asking you to hire her, not sleep with her.”

 

The Final Straight #99p #99c #romance

BUY LINK: mybook.to/FinalStraight

To celebrate Valentine’s, The Final Straight has been reduced to 99p / 99c on Kindle

Blurb:

April Miller works for her best-friend, Max Knight on his livery and competition yard. Their friendship has withstood many turbulent times, and while April is deeply in love with Max, she is also aware of his womanising ways and has refused to succumb to his flirtatious charms. When her ex, AJ, suddenly comes back with a business proposal, April finds herself torn between the two men.

Extract:

April stared at the few black blobs on the screen. She knew they should have formed sentences, but her mind was elsewhere and unable to create readable words out of the muddle. The biro’s plastic end crunched between her back teeth.

She’d managed as much as ‘Dear AJ,’ when a knock on the door disturbed her. Max poked his head around and gave her the same soulful puppy-eyed look he always did after he’d managed to upset her.

“What do you want, Max?” she asked, pretending to be engrossed in whatever was on her screen.

“Peace offering,” he said, walking in and putting the mug of tea by the mouse pad.

She looked up at him. The frustration and irritation faded. “I’m sorry for snapping.”

Max sank into the chair opposite. “I’m sorry for…”

April raised her eyebrows, waiting for him to finish the sentence. “Shagging everything in sight?” she suggested. “You need to watch yourself.”

“I know.”

“I don’t think you do. Every time your bedroom antics are flaunted, I get a phone call. Six o’clock this morning and Banks was on the phone screeching at me. You hadn’t even got out of the shower and I was helping him load his horses onto a lorry.”

Confusion spread across his face, giving him the look of an innocent teenager.

“She woke up, and you weren’t there,” April reminded him. “Of course she’s going to ring her dad, who, may I remind you, has a shotgun license. You’re lucky it was only money he was cutting off.”

Max winced. “I am sorry.”

April hummed, not sure whether to believe him. “They are the second client we’ve lost this month because of you. I’m fed up of having to placate pissed off husbands and fathers.” She rubbed at the corners of her eyes as her contact lenses began to itch. “We have a board meeting next week. Please don’t make me ask them for more money.”

“Hey,” he cooed, sweeping around to her. He knelt by her leg, taking her pale knuckles in his hands. “You won’t need to.”

“I will if we run out and I can’t pay the bills. I can’t afford to forfeit my wage to support this place.”

“No,” he said, with a shake of his head. “That won’t happen.”

“I do have something for you to consider.”

“What? Anything if it will cheer you up.”

“The college rang and asked if we’d be willing to take on a work experience girl over the summer holidays.”

He dropped her hands, stood up, and began to pace in front of the desk. “You know how I feel about that.”

“It would be free labour, good publicity, and we’d be helping her out. Good karma, which is something I think you need.”

“I just have…” he hovered around the words. “Standards.”

“I’m asking you to hire her, not sleep with her.”

He scooped her into his arms and carried her up the stairs. “I love you, April Miller, and tonight I_m going to prove it.”He scooped her into his arms and carried her up the stairs

What the readers are saying:

I can remember some of the first horse stories I read as a child and this is NOT one of those, no, this is a story for grownups who want a love story with a complex plot . . . I have to say that I enjoyed this story written in British dialect. As an American it is always intriguing to learn new terminology and phrasing while reading a new story. The flashbacks were numerous but fit in with the story . . . I liked the characters in the book and was rooting for April to make the right decision in the end. ~ Cathy Geha, Goodreads

• • •

The Final Straight is a straightforward; no holds barred sort of romance, and rather fun to get caught up in. Author Charlotte Howard makes excellent use of time jump to convey the back story of her characters. The plot is sensational enough to be fully believable to most equestrians, and the pacing is spot on. There is a comfortably familiar edge to this novel: it fits within its genre precisely as it ought to. Whilst the central characters are far from being perfect people, they are exactly the right people to carry this storyline. A fine balance is kept between poignancy and insufferableness – it is difficult not to want to intervene and tell them all to see sense! And that is undoubtedly a key aspect where this sort of romantic fiction is involved. Although far from a novice read, given the explicit nature of some of the material, this novel remains forward going enough to satisfy from start to finish. With just enough personal tragedy and growth in the mix, it is a thoroughly enjoyable journey to follow. ~ E.V. Greig, Goodreads

• • •

A gripping story . . . A little bit of every emotion and enough twists to make you want to see it through to the end. ~ Natalie, Goodreads

poster

Birthday sale! #99p #99c #romance

the-final-straight-by-charlotte-howard-1800hr

Buy Links: Kindle USKindle UK

It’s my birthday this week, and to celebrate I have reduced The Final Straight to 99p / 99c on Kindle.

“Don’t leave me.” She tightened her hold on him, her face firm against his chest,tears soaking his T-shirt. “I thought he loved me. I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you.”“It’s okay,” he soothed. “I will look after you..png

Blurb:

April Miller works for her bestfriend, Max Knight on his livery and competition yard. Their friendship has withstood many turbulent times, and while April is deeply in love with Max, she is also aware of his womanising ways and has refused to succumb to his flirtatious charms. When her ex, AJ, suddenly comes back with a business proposal, April finds herself torn between the two men.

poster

Extract:

April stared at the few black blobs on the screen. She knew they should have formed sentences, but her mind was elsewhere and unable to create readable words out of the muddle. The biro’s plastic end crunched between her back teeth.

She’d managed as much as ‘Dear AJ,’ when a knock on the door disturbed her. Max poked his head around and gave her the same soulful puppy-eyed look he always did after he’d managed to upset her.

“What do you want, Max?” she asked, pretending to be engrossed in whatever was on her screen.

“Peace offering,” he said, walking in and putting the mug of tea by the mouse pad.

She looked up at him. The frustration and irritation faded. “I’m sorry for snapping.”

Max sank into the chair opposite. “I’m sorry for…”

April raised her eyebrows, waiting for him to finish the sentence. “Shagging everything in sight?” she suggested. “You need to watch yourself.”

“I know.”

“I don’t think you do. Every time your bedroom antics are flaunted, I get a phone call. Six o’clock this morning and Banks was on the phone screeching at me. You hadn’t even got out of the shower and I was helping him load his horses onto a lorry.”

Confusion spread across his face, giving him the look of an innocent teenager.

“She woke up, and you weren’t there,” April reminded him. “Of course she’s going to ring her dad, who, may I remind you, has a shotgun license. You’re lucky it was only money he was cutting off.”

Max winced. “I am sorry.”

April hummed, not sure whether to believe him. “They are the second client we’ve lost this month because of you. I’m fed up of having to placate pissed off husbands and fathers.” She rubbed at the corners of her eyes as her contact lenses began to itch. “We have a board meeting next week. Please don’t make me ask them for more money.”

“Hey,” he cooed, sweeping around to her. He knelt by her leg, taking her pale knuckles in his hands. “You won’t need to.”

“I will if we run out and I can’t pay the bills. I can’t afford to forfeit my wage to support this place.”

“No,” he said, with a shake of his head. “That won’t happen.”

“I do have something for you to consider.”

“What? Anything if it will cheer you up.”

“The college rang and asked if we’d be willing to take on a work experience girl over the summer holidays.”

He dropped her hands, stood up, and began to pace in front of the desk. “You know how I feel about that.”

“It would be free labour, good publicity, and we’d be helping her out. Good karma, which is something I think you need.”

“I just have…” he hovered around the words. “Standards.”

“I’m asking you to hire her, not sleep with her.”

He scooped her into his arms and carried her up the stairs. “I love you, April Miller, and tonight I’m going to prove it.”He scooped her into his arms and carried her up the stairs. “I love you, April Miller, and t.png

 

Free Sample of The Final Straight

The Final Straight by Charlotte Howard - 500

ISBN: 9781311748546
ASIN: B00SW7GE26

Blurb:

April Miller works for her bestfriend, Max Knight on his livery and competition yard. Their friendship has withstood many turbulent times, and while April is deeply in love with Max, she is also aware of his womanising ways and has refused to succumb to his flirtatious charms. When her ex, AJ, suddenly comes back with a business proposal, April finds herself torn between the two men.

Chapter One

September 1999

April put her weight into the saddle, squeezing on the reins as the horse beneath her hopped from hoof to hoof. She swallowed the nervous lump that had built in her throat as she watched the next competitor race over the line and towards the first jump.

Reaching down, she stroked the horse’s chestnut coat, giving him a gentle pat on his neck and hushed him. He whinnied in reply, blowing out a snort of white froth. He was new to this game, but she could already tell that they’d bought a winner.

She ground her back teeth together as the next rider was called to the starting point. It wouldn’t be long before her name was announced over the loudspeakers. She was glad that the wind had picked up and that the night’s drizzle had softened the ground a little, but the heat was bordering on unbearable.

“Steady, Blaze,” she murmured as the horse reacted to the sound of hooves thundering down the track. His ears pricked, twisting and turning to the different noises. People chattering, yelling and whooping, cameras clicking, horses calling out to each other. “Steady,” she said again as he shifted and tried to spin around.

She rocked her head from side to side as sweat dripped down her neck. Her skullcap was tight over the mass of red curls that had been pinned into place. The padded body protector added to her discomfort.

“No protector, no ride,” said a voice.

April looked down to see Max beside her leg, stroking at the horse’s shoulder.

“I know, I know,” she mumbled, wriggling her shoulders against the wretched thing. She was shoved to the side as Max thrust his hand under the girth.

“Christ almighty April.” He forced her leg forward, lifted the flap of the saddle and pulled on the straps. “Are you trying to fall off?”

“I would have tightened them,” she complained, tugging at the neckline of her shirt. “It’s too hot.” She could feel the pale skin of her arms beginning to turn red.

“Think about how he feels with you sat on his back,” Max countered, dipping his hands in a bucket of water before rubbing at the horse’s muzzle. It was all right for Max, with his natural light olive complexion; he tanned easily and didn’t worry about burning.

“Charming.”

“Are you sure you even put your hat on properly?” He grabbed her arm and tugged her down to his level to look at it, then studied every bit of her with his dark eyes. It was the same dance they performed before every competition. He’d worry about her falling and injuring herself, she’d stress about refusals. But he was worse before a cross-country event. Everything had to be perfect.

“You can still pull out. If you think he’s not ready.” He bent down and checked the horse’s boots.

“He’s ready.”

“Have you been weighed?”

“Would I be sat on him if I hadn’t?” she snapped. “Yes,” she said, softening her tone. “Checks done and vet approved.”

Max had laughed when she’d first brought Blaze onto the yard. He was a far cry from any of the horses they usually took on, but one go around their cross-country course, and even Max had to agree that there was a degree of talent beneath the mangy coat.

He didn’t look anything like that nag now. Clipped and groomed, his coat glistened in the bright light, reflecting even the smallest of rays as they peeked through the hazel, chestnut and poplar trees scattered around them.

“April Miller on Willow Trees’ Blazing Glory!” The voice boomed out across the fields.

“You’re up,” Max said, patting her leg. “Good luck. I’ll get you a pint in later if you win.”

“So generous,” she said, squeezing her legs. Blaze hopped into a trot.

He fidgeted at the starting point, so much so that she could barely concentrate on anything that was being said to her. She circled him around, shortening the reins and tensing her calves against him, ready to burst into canter as soon as they were let go.

“She’s off!” Max called as she leaned forward and raced over the starting line.

Blaze thundered down the grassy path. White ropes kept spectators out of their way as they headed for the jump. It was an easy one; a simple brush that Blaze popped over as if it wasn’t there. They twisted around the first bend, leaping over the log oxer.

She was aware of flashes of colour passing as they rushed down the trail. The wind beat at her face and she heard cheers rise from the crowd as they cleared the table. She tried to not let the cockiness take over. That was when mistakes were made.

Urging the gelding on, they came towards the water jump. Blaze slowed, his pace gathered together. He lifted his head up and she pressed him forward.

“Come on boy,” she said, giving him the reins.

He leapt. Water splashed around them, drenching her arms and legs. Flecks of mud spattered over her jodhpurs as he picked his hooves up, knees overly bent as he made his way to the other side.

“Good boy,” she said, giving him a quick pat on the neck before taking the reins back. The horse jumped up the bank. He halted for a few hesitant moments at the top of the hill. The drop was steep, and if they jumped too soon he would stumble, and they’d both end in a messy pile at the bottom.

April closed her eyes and leaned back. This was the obstacle she dreaded, that most eventers dreaded. She gave him a couple more inches. He trod carefully, testing the ground before retreating.

“Come on,” she urged through gritted teeth. “Please don’t refuse…”

She felt his body buck. His front hooves left the ground and snapped back down. The ground slid away. April felt herself tumbling forward before she had a chance to correct it. Her shoulder came level with his. Her chin connected with something solid. The stirrup caught around her ankle, the rubber band refusing to give way. It was as if the world had fallen into slow motion.

She closed her eyes. Her shoulder hit the pommel of the saddle. A scream ripped through her. She could feel and hear the muscles tearing as she twisted beneath the horse’s hooves. Something cracked against her ribs. Something else hit her head.

Instinct told her to curl up. She was still in the foetal position when Max reached her.

“I’m okay,” she wheezed. Each breath was more painful than the last.

“No, you’re not,” she heard him say. Fingers fumbled around her. The straps were released and so were her lungs. She grabbed at the precious air, snatching it, sucking it in. She reached out, searching for Max. When she found him, she clung to him.

“Blaze?”

“He’s back at the stable. They caught him,” Max assured her. She couldn’t see his face. She blinked, trying to focus, but everything was a muddy blur.

“Paramedics are here,” called a voice she didn’t recognise. Hands pressed down on her, and she found herself lying on the ground. She couldn’t move.

“Max!”

“I’m here.” He gripped her hand.

Her helmet was removed. Pinpoints of light flashed. Pain seared through her, burning every single piece of muscle and sinew that stretched from her elbow to her shoulder.

“Dislocation,” said someone. “Any allergies?”

“No,” Max said, wrapping both hands around her fingers.

She felt someone grab her shoulder and elbow, applying gentle pressure that, oddly, helped to ease the pain. Something was thrust on her face. It smelled of plastic and the gas they pumped into it was sweet and sickly.

“Sharp scratch,” said a woman.

Warmth flooded her veins. She was aware of voices, of movement, but very little else as the world began to spin and faded in and out.

Bring on the Heat Sale (Over 18s only)

BringOnTheHeat_BoxSet_flat

Bring on the Heat ~ Sale ends February 15

 Available at $.99, now through Valentine’s Day!

Bring On the Heat: Erotic Romance Box Set

(Bad Boys and Alphas and Handcuffs, Oh my!)

A collection of erotic tales from today’s hottest authors, featuring BDSM love stories, ménage romps, and everything in between. No matter what your taste in erotic romance, we’ve got you covered and then some! Warning: These stories may require readers to seek out a cold drink and a hot man…

AUTHORS AND THEIR NOVELLAS

Eden BradleyBreaking Skye Contemporary BDSM
Cassandra CarrCaught Contemporary BDSM
Stephanie JulianAn Indecent Proposition Contemporary ménage
Amber KallynBurned (Dragos, book 1) Paranormal/shifter
Keira KohlLaundry Day Contemporary
Adriana KraftCherry Tune-Up Contemporary ménage
Emma LaiRiding Rodeo Contemporary Western ménage
Anh LeodClockwork Captive Paranormal/steampunk
Ann MayburnFirst Kiss Contemporary BDSM FemDom
Cari QuinnJingle Ball (More the Merrier book 1) Contemporary ménage

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REVIEW SNIPPETS

Reviews for the Boxed Set:

Five Stars: “Hot can’t even begin to describe this book. Makes one want to say please Master may I have another!”

Five stars: “Feel like I hit the jackpot with this boxed set!”

Five stars: “I loved every single one! This collection is amazing! One hot steamy sexy story after another!”

Reviews for specific stories:

Cherry Tune-Up, by Adriana Kraft: Five Stars “Well, after meeting Jack, no other man would ever come into my stream of consciousness again.”

First Kiss, by Ann Mayburn: Five Stars “Super sweet fem-dom. I want a Ryan of my own.”

Caught, by Cassandra Carr: Five stars “The story picks up right away and keeps you on a roller-coaster.”

Breaking Skye, by Eden Bradley: Five Stars “Together, we experience a beautiful story of love, healing and the power of a good, sexy spanking.”

SELECTED EXCERPTS

Riding Rodeo, by Emma Lai

The bell over the door tinkled as a new customer entered the bakery. When she glanced over the shoulder of her current customer, elderly Mrs. Thompson, Amanda Goodson’s breath caught. Bright afternoon sunshine from a beautiful late-spring day entered the storefront window and cast a delicious glow over the tastiest man Amanda had ever laid eyes on. A navy blue T-shirt clung to broad shoulders, a muscled chest, and six-pack abs. Brawny thighs strained the denim of a pair of faded jeans, and she knew from a previous encounter that the material hugged a firm ass.

She licked her lips. The rodeo was back in town.

When their gazes locked, Sean Cassidy winked. Thanks to the shirt, his eyes were more blue than gray, almost as blue as the clear sky over Houston today. He strode toward the counter with a slow rolling of hips, his cowboy boots―polished to a high sheen―clomping against the slate floor with each step. The rhythmic tattoo of his sexy walk called to mind their one headboard-banging-against-the-wall, marathon ride.

Thud. Thud. Thud.

She wasn’t sure if it was her heartbeat or echoes of her memory. Sweat moistened her palms, but it wasn’t sweat tickling the insides of her thighs. Damn the man. He could still make her cream her panties even though their one-night stand happened more than a year ago.

One year, six months, and some change, but who was counting?

Burned, by Amber Kallyn

The Other was here.

Lowering the truck window, Calla Dragos sniffed the chilly afternoon. Pine trees, asphalt. All overshadowed by the distinct stench of sulfur. Her stomach lurched, vileness rising to choke her. As she drove into the blink of a town, it grew stronger, overpowering all other senses.

Drawing closer to the Jasper Fire Department, she focused on keeping her clammy hands on the wheel, her concentration on the light traffic. Keeping her foot on the gas pedal, rather than slamming the brakes and fleeing.

How could he be here?

It was bad enough her job as an arson investigator brought her to this small, mountaintop town of Jasper, Arizona. Bad enough she’d left her family behind in the midst of yet another argument about her independence. The possibility of facing Eric brought tremors to her body.

Parking her cherry red pickup in front of the station, Calla shaded her eyes from the late afternoon sun and searched the colorful wood-front buildings. The stench faded.

Eric marked her, then fled. Like a coward. And he was a coward. She needed to remember that fact. Otherwise, the fear coiling in her heart would drive her batty.

After a couple deep breaths, she calmed the nausea a little. She could do this. She would do this. And if that bastard decided to show up, she’d face him with all her strength.

Calla stepped from the truck on shaky legs, smoothed her navy skirt and slipped on the matching jacket. Reaching across the seat, she grabbed her oversized black bag, which held a notebook, pens and her kit. After another soothing breath, filling her lungs with the crisp mountain air, she headed around the corner to the firemen’s entrance.

Giggles drew her attention to a group of barely-eighteen girls, scantily dressed. And the man they huddled near.

In nothing but low-slung jeans, the top button carelessly undone, the man gave off the rugged air of a male underwear model with a sexy, take me to your bedroom now look. His blond hair, slightly too long for a clean-cut look, dripped water, from a recent shower maybe. Or a drenching with the hose. The scruff on his chin, a shade darker than his hair, enhanced the bad boy aura.

Get your copy of Bring on the Heat now

while the sale price lasts!

Price goes up from $.99 to $2.99 on February 15