We have a little surprise for you! In honor of Valentine’s Day, our authors are happy to share romantic excerpts with you in the name of love. We hope you enjoy!
From Nothing Ventured by Julie Arnold
“Dance with me,” Jax murmured, his lips brushing over her skin.
Dance with Jax? No, no, no! Her coordination was roughly on par with a swarm of mayflies blowing arbitrarily into people’s vinyl siding.
“C’mon, Maizey.” He chuckled at her gawkiness. “I promise I’ll return you just how I found you.”
“Thanks, but no.”
He gave her a look that could charm a grizzly bear. “Is it the dancing thing, or the ‘with me’ thing?”
She sighed. “I am the worst dancer on the planet. And with the added complication of high heels, I would be falling all over you.”
“Maizey, I’ve held on to twelve-foot trees in tree shakers with icy wind and snow pelting me in the face. I think I can handle a little slip of a girl in heels.”
Hoo, boy. She was jumpier than a crooked politician before a senate investigation committee.
What if she danced with Jax and didn’t like it?
What if she danced with Jax and liked it?
From A Promise to Keep by Melony Teague
Set up: Michael and Savannah are eating at a restaurant:
She says, “Just so you’re clear, this isn’t a date.”
“I hope not.” Michael stuffed his hands in his pockets and says: “Matter of fact, I don’t date.”
They have dinner overlooking a breathtaking view of Niagara Falls. Here are some of Michael’s thoughts:
“The fireworks over Niagara Falls might have been scheduled for ten, but sitting across from Savannah in her finery caused all sorts of fireworks within him. Just the way she said things in her own way, observing the world with her unique brand of humor and intelligence, made her irresistible. She’d stunned him speechless in that black dress. And her hair pinned in some sort of twisted knot on top of her head, tendrils framing her face with kissable red lips, wasn’t helping, either. The ensemble was only adding to her appeal and making his pulse race. He’d have to play it cool, like he did in the midst of a high-stakes rescue.”
From All for Love by Susanne Mathews
“Greg, it’s okay,” Olivia put her hand on his arm, seemingly in control, but her tremors betrayed her. “My fiancé is rather protective of me and Sheena. There isn’t any great mystery. After the accident, I couldn’t ski. I can now.” She raised her emerald green skirt to show off her sandaled foot and leg. “The leg is fully healed, and I got the green light from my doctor last spring. I waited a bit and then this job opportunity presented itself. I ran into Greg again, and I fell in love.”
Greg noted her red cheeks and waded into the storm once more. “And so did I,” he said, taking charge of the situation and pulling her into his arms. He kissed her gently. Pushing her away slightly, he stared into her green eyes, saw vulnerability there, and turned to the reporters.”
Season of Hope by Laura Selinsky
Set up: After a robbery threatens their lives, Claudia and Nick stop resisting the urge to confess their love to one another.
Nick emerged in sweatpants and a T-shirt, his hair wet and tousled. He thumped onto the floor beside her. “I wasn’t going to propose to you until I get my granny’s ring here. But I can ask now if you want. Because I love you.”
As Nick continued talking, Claudia’s mouth slipped open, words forming and disappearing in her exhausted brain. “I love you too,” she whispered. But she wasn’t sure he heard her through his nervous prattle…
Claudia reached up and pressed her hand over his mouth. When Nick’s nervous babble—something about the mission’s finances and what a great mom she’d be—continued past her fingers, she replaced them with her lips.
As a last resort.
That shut him up.
Mom’s Long Goodbye by Linda Brendle
Setup: Mom had Alzheimer’s and Dad had vascular dementia. They sometimes forgot each other’s names, but they never forgot their love. They had been married 70 years when Dad died.
His last few days were spent under hospice care in the room he shared with Mom.
Their double bed was moved out to make room for a hospital bed for him and a twin bed for her. Her bed went unused as she climbed into bed with him each night. He slept most of the time, but when he occasionally woke up, he indicated with nods or shakes of his head that he was comfortable and was not in any pain. The day before he died, he spent most of the day on his side with his face toward the wall. I encouraged Mom to move up beside his bed so he could see her. He opened his eyes, and his face lit up with the love that always shone in his eyes when he looked at her.
“Hi,” she said, patting his face and smiling back at him.
“Hi,” he mouthed back, even though no sound came out.
The love that began in the cotton fields of West Texas over seven decades before was still strong. It was stronger than the years, stronger than the physical infirmities, stronger than the dementia.
A Worthy Heart by Sara Beth Williams
Brief set up: Joel is visiting Serena, who lives 2 hours away.
“Are you staying in town tonight?” Serena asked.
“I was planning on driving back.” They’d spent plenty of money today. He didn’t
really want to pay for a hotel. He forced down a yawn. Maybe a stop for a soda was in order.
Serena sat up, intertwining her fingers with his. “You should go, then. It’s already nearly ten.” She leaned in and kissed him once before standing and coaxing him to stand with her. “I don’t want you falling asleep. Drive home and drive safe.”
“Yes, ma’am.” He kissed her again. Then again. Once more.
Hands against his chest, she laughed as she pushed him back enough to break their kisses. “Get going before you do end up having to pay for a hotel.”
Through hooded eyes he studied her dark figure one last time before stepping down one step and then another. “Good night, Serena.”
Wordlessly she waved as she grinned, an alluring, radiant smile that illuminated her entire demeanor and left him wanting nothing more than to rush back up the steps and carry her into the house for the night.
All the way home her resplendent silhouette hovered in the forefront of his mind; there it remained throughout Sunday and into his workweek, carrying him through.
A Heart Held Captive by Katy Eeten
Set up: Widowed nurse Emily reluctantly accepts new friend Cole’s offer to keep her company during a bout of insomnia. As they sit on her porch swing talking one night, she finally starts to let her guard down.
“Another cool breeze blew in, and Emily lifted her head. Holding up half the blanket, she turned to face him. “Are you cold? We can share.”
Cole only pondered her question for a moment—he was warm blooded by nature, but he certainly didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to cuddle up next to Emily under a blanket on a porch swing on this beautiful night. Nodding, he scooted closer to allow for the blanket to rest on his lap and cover his legs. Their thighs now touched, and heat radiated through his body.
“Is there anything else I can do for you?”
Emily didn’t respond, but instead leaned her head against Cole’s chest. He dropped his arm from the back of the swing to cradle her shoulder. This felt right. More than right. And he hoped she had the same thoughts. But before he knew it, he heard her rhythmic breathing, and a quick glance told him her eyes were closed. Well, he had succeeded in his mission. She was asleep. Now all he had to do was figure out what on earth to do next.”
High Country Dilemma by Dena Netherton
In this scene, Firefighter, Lucas, and Director and actress, Fallon, are rehearsing one of their sweetheart scenes for the summer Melodrama. All the other actors have gone home, and they are alone on stage:
“Did you want to rehearse the song tonight?” Lucas asked.
“You know, When the Sun Comes Over The Mountains.”
“Oh, yes …yes, the duet.” Too bad they didn’t have a pianist tonight. “No, we can go over that next rehearsal. But we can at least get into position for the song.”
She turned to face the audience. “You’ll sing the first verse with me standing in front of you. And you embrace me from behind. And then, for the second verse, I’ll turn and face you.”
“Like this?” His voice was almost a whisper when he slid his arms around her. The heat of his chest penetrated and every lonely-girl instinct screamed for her to turn and melt into his arms.
Fallon, get a hold of yourself. It’s just a play. She drew a big breath. “Well, I guess that’s all we should do tonight.”
From Soul Hacker by Sarah Rosinski
Anna giggled as she dried her tears. “I’ve missed you… I’ve missed you so much.” Something burst loose within her at that moment—the promise of loving a man who would never let her go. “I love you, Darion.”
He leaned in close, his lips only a breath from hers. “I love you.”
She closed the short distance that remained. Her heart raced as his lips warmed against hers. He placed a hand behind her head, his fingers tangling in her hair. Warmth flooded her. She held him tight but still fell into the heady delirium of being near him. She trembled, unable to contain the emotions rushing through her body. Her heart burst, and she handed every delicate piece to him, trusting they’d be safe in his hands.
The Orphan Beach by Laura Thomas
“Juliet wriggled from his embrace. Nose-to-nose, a breath apart, she memorized every inch of his face one last time before she accepted they had no future together.
She stared deeply into his eyes as they stood frozen like statues. Souls searching. Hearts hunting.
Don’t speak. Don’t ruin this, whatever it is.
A cool breeze ruffled Max’s hair but still, he didn’t break eye-contact. Juliet realized he was holding her hands. Gentle. Whisper-light. Now their breathing matched, she sensed her shoulders rise and fall in time with his. Her heart soared within as she recalled the love she had for this man. It was still alive and well. She could see it in his sky-blue eyes—he felt it, too.”
From Warped Remains by David Jemal and Kara Leigh Miller
“Emily,” I say softly. Standing, I pull her to her feet and wrap her up in a hug. She puts her arms around my neck, and her warm breath breezes across my skin. “All of us miss our families, our friends, our lives. And we’re all scared on some level, but we will get through this.”
“How do you know that?” Her words are mumbled against my shoulder.
“Because I have faith. And because we have Tom on our side, and he’s kinda scary with that gun.”
She laughs, and my heart soars. I adore that sound.
“Thank you.” She pulls back enough to look into my eyes. “I’m sorry we’re here, but I’m glad I met you.”
“Me, too. In fact, meeting you has been the only thing that’s made this situation bearable.”
A small smile pulls at her lips, and before I can talk myself out of it, I lean forward and press my lips to hers.
From Wounded Heart by Colleen Hall
Set Up: 1870 Kansas: Shane has just rescued Della after she got stranded on the prairie after falling from a runaway horse.
Standing close before her, Shane reached around her to pull her hair out from beneath the fabric. With careful attention to her curls, he arranged the mass over her shoulders, tangling his fingers in its strands. With both hands in her hair, he pulled her closer with inexorable resolve. His face reflected both awe and a man’s appreciation for her beauty.
Sensing his intent, Della’s breath caught. When the front of the duster bumped his chest, he bent his head. His fingers slid through her curls. His palms framed her face while his mouth found hers. Della’s arms reached up to encircle his neck, and her eyes drifted closed.
All thought fled in the sweet passion of his kiss. All the love he hadn’t yet confessed poured from him, all the yearning he couldn’t deny. Della received his unspoken avowals with joyful assent, returning his passion with fervor.
From The Christmas Confusion by Christina Sinisi
“You kept it.” Nick exchanged the blackmail-worthy ornament with a spun-glass manger scene smack dab in the middle.
She leaned against him and stared at her tree. “Santa was done for the day, so we went to the photo booth and took those silly pictures.”
“First picture. First date. You were beautiful.”
She stared at him over glasses, which she wasn’t wearing. “It’s best not to start your fresh start by lying.”
He kissed the top of her head. “I’m not lying. Look at those eyes, the kind of person who would keep this ornament all these years. I know we just began our fresh start, but, Tiffany Marano, I love you.”
She leaned against the wool of his coat and his strength. “I love you, too.” Her stomach growled, loud enough to drown out the mechanized Santa. “Now, feed me, man.”
Dear Maddie by Gaynell Parker
to be released May, 2020
Set up: Maddie writes advice to the love lorn. When an unexpected contest is requested from management, she has to find Mr. Wright to take her on a romantic date. But can she find Mr. Wright before the deadline?
I looked over at him, searching his eyes for anything that hinted of insincerity. But they were clear and blue and honest.
I sighed and looked away. “I’m sorry, I’m just a little touchy.”
He squeezed my hand. “No wonder, with the craziness of the night. But, Maddie,” he paused, and I finally looked over at him. “I wrote the letters wanting to meet you. If I thought the end of tonight would mean I didn’t get to see you, I’d never want it to end.”
His words wrapped around my doubting heart like a balm and I gulped.
“That’s the sweetest thing anyone’s ever said to me,” I said softly. What did I say now??
He chuckled, a low rich sound that made the butterflies in my stomach take flight. “Well, the nights not over yet.”
My Christmas Hope by Penelope Powell
“I love the way I have to think about what I’ve asked you to try and keep up your answers.”
Hope’s heart jumped when the L word popped out of Michael’s mouth. It was an expression commonly used so she reminded herself not to read too much into it, but her insides were doing a happy dance. “And here I thought I was keeping it simple,” she replied calmly
“There’s absolutely nothing simple about you.”
Hope sucked in a breath. There was no way she was misreading that flirty comment. And if this conversation was making her heart work a little faster, what would spending the evening with him do?
Christmas Ranch by Melinda Dozier
Her lips parted, and her gaze roamed the scenery before them. The open Texas sky that stretched thousands of miles, blazed with different orange, yellow, and pink colors. Pillows of clouds scattered in blues and grays as the ball of fire reached up and peaked behind the scatters of Texas ash trees.
“I’ve never seen anything like this.” Her words were a whisper.
“There’s nothing like it.” He laced his fingers with hers because he needed to touch her like a bird needed to fly. “Another Texas experience you can’t miss. The sunrise and sunset.”
“There really are no words.”
“On the days I’m up early, which is almost every day”—he took his hat off and laid it beside him—“I always have to stop and take in the views. In a way, I think it’s a simple way God speaks to us. It’s like He’s reminding me that His answers are right here. The beauty and truth are placed right in front of us in His creation.” He smirked. “I must sound a little farfetched.
She squeezed his fingers. “No. I get it. Completely.
“He speaks to me in that way, too. In all the places I’ve visited.
She stared out at the scenery again and held her fingers up in a mock camera. “I wish I could take a picture.”
“Some things you just need to experience in the moment.” He tucked a piece of her brown hair behind her ear.
She smirked at him, and suddenly, he needed more of her, so he stroked her cheek with his thumb. With her approving expression, he slid his hands behind her neck and leaned in closer. His lips barely touching hers, he asked, “Can I?”
She slid her fingers in his jacket, pulled him the two inches that separated them, and kissed him. Her soft lips opened for him, and there was nothing stopping him.
It’d been a very long time since he’d felt this closeness, the veracity in his feelings and hers. It was right. He had no doubt. God spoke that to him in the orange and pinks in the sky that brightened around them. For the first time since his wife had left him, he felt whole and complete.
He began to trust.