Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Promo-Excerpt-SOMETHING ABOUT THAT LADY- sensual contemp

Expand Messages
  • Carol McPhee
    A tear wandered down her cheek. Jed smoothed his thumb over it, letting the moisture fall to the wayside. Oblivious to anything other than the power edging him
    Message 1 of 13 , Nov 1, 2010
    • 0 Attachment

      A tear wandered down her cheek. Jed smoothed his thumb over it, letting the moisture fall to the wayside. Oblivious to anything other than the power edging him onward, he lowered himself to the mattress. Lying beside her, his mouth grazed her cheek on the spot left wet and slowly glided to her lips. Showing no resistance, Brie returned the kiss and deepened it. Outside their small enclave, the thunder crashed and roared in a fevered battle of nature. Her scent tantalized his mind, intoxicating his ability to back away or mount any willful defense against her.

      His mouth roamed across her forehead and brows. Tormenting male urges threatened to make this moment end too quickly. He couldn't get enough of her. He had to hold back. Her silken skin beneath his lips sent his brain reeling in anticipation of what could follow. He tried to slow his hunger so she wouldn't become alarmed and retreat from his advance. But the wild forces of life mounted within his arousal.

      When her fingers clawed at the damp curls on his chest, he saw passion, not fear or defiance and the sight heated his blood. Jed gazed into her eyes as he slowly turned down the bed covers exposing her peaked swells to his view. The glimmer in her eyes didn't waver. The rain-driven pelt against the tin roof paled in comparison to the battering of emotions within the shelter walls.

      Ignoring the lightning and thunder rampaging through the gorge, Jed triumphed with the freedom of his exploration. As he kneaded and fondled, a keening moan rose from her throat. He smothered her breasts to his chest welcoming the feel of skin against skin, warmth against warmth, throbbing heart against every overt emotion she exerted.

      Brie held on tenaciously, staring up wide-eyed, as she too seemed to struggle with the same need. In the next ignition of lightning, he saw the desire in her eyes. Their heady embrace flung waves of rapture through nerves stimulated to the limit of endurance. Their temperatures soared.

      Brie tugged at his belt to unbuckle it. The snap of his jeans easily gave way to her grasp and he accommodated her enthusiasm by quickly removing the rest of his clothes.

      Perfect matches of determination, together they reveled in the throes of

      passion while the sky sparked and bellowed like the Fourth of July. Heated breaths fuelled the cabin; fierce moans permeated the air. And just as quickly as the turbulence had begun, an intricate beam of silence wove its magic into the surroundings both indoors and outside. Serenity blossomed in the afterglow.

      Again through the night he pulled her to him and she responded to his needs

      without inhibition. In the morning, when streams of sunlight patch worked their buttery fingers over the bed, Jed watched through lowered lashes as she lay quietly studying the slow rhythmic breathing of his chest.

      Carefully, she eased herself out of the bed and wrapped herself in a blanket to keep out the chill. The fire had long since died, but he saw her smile and it provided all the warmth he wanted. Her eyes brimmed with love.

      Sitting down at the table, Brie gazed out at the falls. He knew the light from the sun would form a rainbow against a delicate mist at the base. How often had he sat there completely lost in the magnificence? She deserved to enjoy this new sight on her own. The landscape, freshened from a wash of rain, always gleamed with the promise of a new day.

      Brie's sudden shift to attention surprised him.

      "What are you doin' over there, woman? Come back to me." Jed sidled his head onto his folded elbow.

      "I think I see something moving across the pond. The branches shifted over there, but there's no wind."

      "Probably a deer. They come here often to drink."

      Her eyes narrowed as they strained to see. She waited. "I don't see any pointy ears. Where's the rifle, Jed?"

       

       

      Available from www.wings-press.com  and www.fictionwise.com

      Latest release – Shadowed Pursuit Now available from  http://champagnebooks.com/shop/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=241 in ebook format.

      Carol McPhee: http://carolmcphee.webs.com

      Strong, smart, sensuous heroines; heroes to die for.

       

       

    • Carol McPhee
      Struggling to pick up the pieces of her life, widow Brie Beaumont accepts an invitation to visit the Circle C ranch in Canada s Rocky Mountains. Co-owner Jed
      Message 2 of 13 , Dec 6, 2010
      • 0 Attachment
        Struggling to pick up the pieces of her life, widow Brie Beaumont
        accepts an invitation to visit the Circle C ranch in Canada's Rocky
        Mountains. Co-owner Jed Cameron distrusts Brie's motives. He is
        determined to protect his brother and the ranch from the redheaded gold
        digger. But when tragedy strikes, Jed's only hope is the woman he vowed
        to run off.

        One
        She shouldn't have come! From the moment two well-worn, black
        leather cowboy-booted feet hit the ground and the pilot swaggered around
        the nose of his plane toward her, Brienna Beaumont knew she
        shouldn't invade Jed Cameron's territory.

        She inhaled sharply and pressed her fingernails to her palms but still
        failed to calm the butterflies twirling in her stomach. The merciless
        sun beating down on Vancouver airport's tarmac added to her
        distress. She wiped the perspiration from her forehead and hoped her
        underarms didn't display their discomfort.

        The gleaming Cessna 210 drew her attention when she noticed the heat
        waves rippling above the metal surface of its bright yellow wings. The
        plane's engines purred, poised for take off. Brie hurried to catch
        up with her new friends and Alaska cruise mates, Matt Cameron, blind
        part owner of the Circle C, and his foreman, Hank. They had begged her
        to return with them to their ranch in Alberta. Their friendship on board
        Holland America's Ryndam had begun to erode her past year's
        misery. Grateful for their help, she couldn't back out and
        disappoint them.

        They quickened their steps to greet the pilot, Matt's brother, Jed.
        When Jed Cameron removed his sunglasses, Brie's heart flip-flopped.
        His deep brown eyes twinkled as he grabbed Matt by the shoulders in a
        brotherly show of affection. Until his gaze fell on her.

        Brie focused on the tall, lean and--judging by his scowl--surly man
        standing in front of her. At six-foot-two, he towered a good six inches
        over her. His coal black hair displayed a sprinkling of gray, but an
        errant forelock dipped low on his forehead, gave him a boyish appeal.
        For some indeterminate reason, she had offended him; his scathing
        appraisal told her so.

        She stopped dead in her tracks. She had not even opened her mouth, but
        felt as if she were a piece of meat, inspected by him and found unfit
        for human consumption. She inwardly cringed; she had been made to feel
        like that before.

        Brie carried on with her own examination knowing it wasn't as
        tasteless as his. His deeply tanned, wind-burned complexion contrasted
        sharply with the white sparkle of his teeth. She wished he were
        toothless to destroy her initial impression of how handsome this guy
        was. If she could only get out of this arrangement and climb into a taxi
        for the short drive home. At least the jitters wouldn't attack her
        in her apartment.

        Against her better judgment, she had agreed to this additional excursion
        shortly before leaving the ship. She wished she had time to pick up
        other clothes. Her suitcases contained feminine, cool-weather duds,
        perfect for the cruise they had ended this morning, but suitable for a
        cattle ranch? Not likely.

        Dressed in a dark green, long-sleeved shirt and beige palazzo pants,
        Brie forced herself to endure the suffocating heat and humidity. She
        pushed her long burnished tresses back from her face and prayed it would
        be cooler aloft. Why hadn't her instinct kicked in and goaded her
        back to The Gallery so she could focus on her artwork? Then she
        remembered her instinct had advised her to take the Alaska cruise. The
        trip had given her hope that her emotional wounds had started to heal.
        Maybe some part of her wanted to accept this further challenge and
        continue the process.

        Matt's introduction carried an uncompromising tone. "Jed, meet our
        guest, Brie Beaumont." Had Matt expected Jed's antagonism?

        "Ma'am." Jed nodded, but he didn't remove his hat or offer his
        hand.

        "I'm pleased we're meeting after hearing so much about you, Mr.
        Cameron." She ducked when a large plane thundered its takeoff overhead.
        She wrinkled her nose at the overpowering smell of jet fuel.

        "Don't believe everythin' they said. Matthew's been known to
        exaggerate and Hank's not a helluva lot better." He winked at Matt.
        Hank shrugged his innocence and the pilot grinned.

        Trying to appear unperturbed, Brie extended her hand. She glanced up at
        Jed's face and wondered if the man would refuse to shake it. Was his
        rudeness a bluff or her imagination running rampant? He took the bait
        with obvious reluctance, but his grasp was firm, too firm. She was glad
        the handshake didn't last long because her fingers stung from his
        tight squeeze, a deliberate show of power. If he thought he impressed
        her by his display of strength, he was wrong--she'd had enough
        strong-armed tactics used against her to last a lifetime.

        "I'm really glad Brie is going to be staying at the ranch, Jed,"
        Matt said. "She guided me around the ship when Hank was seasick. I think
        she deserves a longer vacation since I took up so much of her time."

        Brie reached down and patted Matt's hand. "It was a pleasure to help
        you enjoy the scenery, Matt. It forced me to look at the landscape in
        more detail so I could describe it to you. I felt like I was seeing
        everything through your eyes and that made it extraordinary."

        "If you two are through fawnin' over each other, we'll get
        underway," Jed muttered. "There's a lot of work waitin' and
        we're burnin' daylight, Miss Beaumont."

        "It's Mrs. Beaumont, but please, call me Brie."

        "Your family in the cheese business?"

        Her mouth dropped as she noticed the lack of humor in his voice. She
        choked back the lump in her throat. She had always liked her first name;
        it was the Beaumont that caused her to want to puke. If she could, she
        would switch back to her maiden name, but changing monikers was for
        divorcées, not widows.

        "Have you ever flown in a small plane before, ma'am?" Jed's
        neutral question surprised her. She had expected a snarl.

        "This will be my first time, and I'm excited. After enjoying our
        cruise so much, the flight will be doubly rewarding." She noticed he did
        a double-take at her last statement. As he pivoted on his heel, she saw
        his jaw flinch. What's his problem? Had she unknowingly increased
        his irritation? In the midst of rolling her eyes at Hank, Jed turned
        back and saw her. His dark eyes flashed a warning.

        "You don't have any responsibilities to take care of?" Jed asked,
        walking backward. His eyes pierced her like they were pitching shards of
        glass.

        "I called my friend, Carol, from the ship after I accepted Matt's
        invitation. I told her where I was going; she volunteered to take over
        my obligations."

        As they caught up with him, Jed turned and grumbled into Matt's ear,
        "Is `Matthew' too formal for the lady?"

        Brie's fingernails dug into her palms. He was the first stranger she
        had ever met with the ability to irritate her right away. She'd be
        damned if she would let him keep the upper hand.

        Excerpt #2

        Side by side, Brie and Jed rode through the south gate. The prospect for
        simply enjoying the day looked bleak. Brie turned up her jacket's
        collar as cool spits of breeze brushed harshly against her neck. With
        her breath billowing puffs of white vapor, she unfastened the tie that
        held up her hair in order to gain a little extra warmth from the thick
        mass falling loosely to her shoulders.

        Since Jed wasn't chatting and showed no aspiration to be friendly,
        she concentrated on the scenery. Now and then he'd pause to
        straighten a fence post and she would be far ahead before she'd
        realize he hadn't kept up the pace. He seemed perfectly content to
        ignore her jaunts. Brie made up her mind to put up with the slight, and
        instead, relish the pleasure derived from roaming the range.

        At one point, Jed galloped past her. She deliberately kept her pace even
        so she could study the mountains. She didn't realize Misty had
        caught up to Jed, until she felt her foot in the stirrup brush against
        his. He had stopped and waited for her. The silence between the two of
        them was obviously getting on his nerves, too.

        "Are you warm enough? he asked. I have a blanket in the saddlebag you
        could wrap around yourself. Your jacket is too light."

        She was about to argue the fact, not wanting to admit he might be right
        but thought better of it. He wasn't blind and could probably detect
        the shivering she'd struggled to keep to a minimum. He'd be
        angrier if she acted stupid as well. She accepted the offer with a
        smile, slung the blanket on--shawl style--and soaked up the additional
        warmth.

        Gradually, the heat from the sun warmed the air as they continued along
        the barbed wire. Eventually, Brie was able to remove herself from the
        cocoon. The rancher broke the silence again as she handed the blanket
        back.

        "You seem to be more relaxed the last hour or so. Were you jumpy about
        being out here alone with me?" He looked her straight in the eye,
        silently demanding an honest answer to his nerve-wracking question.

        "To tell you the truth, yes. I wasn't comfortable with the idea."
        The force behind his stare irked her. "Does that give you a feeling of
        power?"

        He ignored her question. "You don't like me much, do you?"

        "I don't know you, just as you don't really know me. You're
        so blatantly critical of me that I do think you're pathetic."

        "I never once criticized you."

        "Not with words--with your eyes. For some reason, Jed, it seems I have
        to prove myself to you."

        "You don't need to prove anythin' to me. I already know all I
        need to know."

        His satisfied smirk was more than she could stand. "You don't know
        me nearly as well as you think. You'd love to prove that I don't
        fit in here. Wait a minute, dammit. Can I borrow your rifle?"

        Surprised by the request, he hesitated, then reluctantly withdrew his
        Winchester from its sheath and passed it over.

        "See the beer can sitting on the post near that gate?" she asked. Her
        teeth bit down on her lip.

        Jed squinted in the direction she pointed. About seventy-five yards away
        perched the can, a lonely edifice to the world she had temporarily left
        behind her. He nodded. She raised the rifle, aimed, and fired.

        Available at in tradepaperback at www.champagnebooks.com or at
        www.omnilit.com and www.fictionwise.com

        Carol McPhee: http://carolmcphee.webs.com
        Strong, smart, sensuous heroines; heroes to die for.
      • Maggi Andersen
        DOG HEAD CODE is released next week in time for Christmas. It s a young adult/children s story available from Wild Child Publishing. (Cover in the photo
        Message 3 of 13 , Dec 6, 2010
        • 0 Attachment


          DOG HEAD CODE is released next week in time for Christmas. It's a young adult/children's story available from Wild Child Publishing.

          (Cover in the photo section)

          Purchase Link: http://www.wildchildpublishing.com 

          Available December 14, 2010
           by Maggi Andersen

          Author Website: http://www.maggiandersenauthor.com
           
          Genre: Young Adult/Suspense
          Price: $3.99

          After inheriting an old book containing a map from his Great Uncle Jake, Joe Jones travels to Dog Head Island, keen to find buried treasure. But in this isolated, inhospitable place, nothing is as it seems. Nothing, but the snakes that inhabited it. And Jake has a strong aversion to snakes!

          PG Excerpt:

          After the concert, I carried the book to Mom's room where I knew I'd find her in bed reading. She rarely went out at night since Dad had died. It's over two years now since that rainy night when a drunk driver crashed into my dad's car. He always seemed so big and indestructible. I still can't believe it sometimes. He had been my best friend.

          We had some great times–like the time we went fishing and couldn't catch a fish–not even a tiddler. Dad stopped off at the fish shop on the way home and bought this humungous, red scaly thing. He told Mom we caught it, but he crossed his fingers behind his back when he said it. She just looked at it. "I hope you bought lots of lemons!" she said. Despite Mom's cooking skills it tasted just like paper.

          "Serves you right, love," she said laughingly to Dad. "Crime doesn't pay."

          Mom sat up in bed, her hair in a fat plait over her shoulder. It's just like mine, a reddish-gold color. She says we inherited it from our Swedish ancestors.

          The bills journal lay beside her on the bed and she had that worried frown line between her brows again. I know that even though Mom has a good job at the bank, it's hard to keep up the mortgage repayments on this house, so we might have to move soon. Dad built this house. After I leave school, I'm going to make my fortune. I'm not sure how yet, but it will have to be quick.

          "Did you enjoy the concert?" she asked, as I lay across the end of the bed.

          "It was okay, I guess." I'd found I couldn't get into it, my head still in the book. "Mom? Did Uncle Jake live on Dog Head Island all his life?"

          "No, he spent the last few years in a nursing home."

          "So, who's been looking after the house?"

          She put down her book and plumped up her pillows. "No one. It's the only house on the island. It's incredible how Uncle Jake was able to live there for so long. Imagine rowing to the mainland for supplies when you're one hundred years old. Heaven knows what state the place is in now. I've had a letter from Jake's solicitor. Someone wants to buy it and I've written back saying I need time to think about it. That's why we're going down there in the school holidays. It's going to be expensive, but we have to work out what's the best thing to do."

          "Is it valuable?" I asked, filled with hope.

          "It's not in a very fashionable spot I'm afraid–too cold and inhospitable for most of the year."

          "Have there ever been any tales about Dog Head Island?"

          Her eyes widened. "What sort of tales?"

          "Oh, you know. Pirates?"

          "Canadian pirates?" She laughed. "I don't think so. Why?"

          "There's a map in Uncle Jake's book–see?"

          She picked up the book. "It's strange he would leave this to you."

          "There's a snake on the cover." I handed her the magnifying glass, and leaned over her shoulder while she looked through it.

          Mom handed it back and shook her head. "It's intriguing, Joey, but don't get your hopes up. It's probably just an interesting old book. To my knowledge, there's not much exciting history from that area. No pirates, that's for sure."

          "I still can't wait to see it."

          She laughed and ruffled my hair. "Me either."


           

        • Carol McPhee
          Struggling to pick up the pieces of her life, widow Brie Beaumont accepts an invitation to visit the Circle C ranch in Canada s Rocky Mountains. Co-owner Jed
          Message 4 of 13 , Jan 24, 2011
          • 0 Attachment
            Struggling to pick up the pieces of her life, widow Brie Beaumont
            accepts an invitation to visit the Circle C ranch in Canada's Rocky
            Mountains. Co-owner Jed Cameron distrusts Brie's motives. He is
            determined to protect his brother and the ranch from the redheaded gold
            digger. But when tragedy strikes, Jed's only hope is the woman he vowed
            to run off.

            One
            She shouldn't have come! From the moment two well-worn, black
            leather cowboy-booted feet hit the ground and the pilot swaggered around
            the nose of his plane toward her, Brienna Beaumont knew she
            shouldn't invade Jed Cameron's territory.

            She inhaled sharply and pressed her fingernails to her palms but still
            failed to calm the butterflies twirling in her stomach. The merciless
            sun beating down on Vancouver airport's tarmac added to her
            distress. She wiped the perspiration from her forehead and hoped her
            underarms didn't display their discomfort.

            The gleaming Cessna 210 drew her attention when she noticed the heat
            waves rippling above the metal surface of its bright yellow wings. The
            plane's engines purred, poised for take off. Brie hurried to catch
            up with her new friends and Alaska cruise mates, Matt Cameron, blind
            part owner of the Circle C, and his foreman, Hank. They had begged her
            to return with them to their ranch in Alberta. Their friendship on board
            Holland America's Ryndam had begun to erode her past year's
            misery. Grateful for their help, she couldn't back out and
            disappoint them.

            They quickened their steps to greet the pilot, Matt's brother, Jed.
            When Jed Cameron removed his sunglasses, Brie's heart flip-flopped.
            His deep brown eyes twinkled as he grabbed Matt by the shoulders in a
            brotherly show of affection. Until his gaze fell on her.

            Brie focused on the tall, lean and--judging by his scowl--surly man
            standing in front of her. At six-foot-two, he towered a good six inches
            over her. His coal black hair displayed a sprinkling of gray, but an
            errant forelock dipped low on his forehead, gave him a boyish appeal.
            For some indeterminate reason, she had offended him; his scathing
            appraisal told her so.

            She stopped dead in her tracks. She had not even opened her mouth, but
            felt as if she were a piece of meat, inspected by him and found unfit
            for human consumption. She inwardly cringed; she had been made to feel
            like that before.

            Brie carried on with her own examination knowing it wasn't as
            tasteless as his. His deeply tanned, wind-burned complexion contrasted
            sharply with the white sparkle of his teeth. She wished he were
            toothless to destroy her initial impression of how handsome this guy
            was. If she could only get out of this arrangement and climb into a taxi
            for the short drive home. At least the jitters wouldn't attack her
            in her apartment.

            Against her better judgment, she had agreed to this additional excursion
            shortly before leaving the ship. She wished she had time to pick up
            other clothes. Her suitcases contained feminine, cool-weather duds,
            perfect for the cruise they had ended this morning, but suitable for a
            cattle ranch? Not likely.

            Dressed in a dark green, long-sleeved shirt and beige palazzo pants,
            Brie forced herself to endure the suffocating heat and humidity. She
            pushed her long burnished tresses back from her face and prayed it would
            be cooler aloft. Why hadn't her instinct kicked in and goaded her
            back to The Gallery so she could focus on her artwork? Then she
            remembered her instinct had advised her to take the Alaska cruise. The
            trip had given her hope that her emotional wounds had started to heal.
            Maybe some part of her wanted to accept this further challenge and
            continue the process.

            Matt's introduction carried an uncompromising tone. "Jed, meet our
            guest, Brie Beaumont." Had Matt expected Jed's antagonism?

            "Ma'am." Jed nodded, but he didn't remove his hat or offer his
            hand.

            "I'm pleased we're meeting after hearing so much about you, Mr.
            Cameron." She ducked when a large plane thundered its takeoff overhead.
            She wrinkled her nose at the overpowering smell of jet fuel.

            "Don't believe everythin' they said. Matthew's been known to
            exaggerate and Hank's not a helluva lot better." He winked at Matt.
            Hank shrugged his innocence and the pilot grinned.

            Trying to appear unperturbed, Brie extended her hand. She glanced up at
            Jed's face and wondered if the man would refuse to shake it. Was his
            rudeness a bluff or her imagination running rampant? He took the bait
            with obvious reluctance, but his grasp was firm, too firm. She was glad
            the handshake didn't last long because her fingers stung from his
            tight squeeze, a deliberate show of power. If he thought he impressed
            her by his display of strength, he was wrong--she'd had enough
            strong-armed tactics used against her to last a lifetime.

            "I'm really glad Brie is going to be staying at the ranch, Jed,"
            Matt said. "She guided me around the ship when Hank was seasick. I think
            she deserves a longer vacation since I took up so much of her time."

            Brie reached down and patted Matt's hand. "It was a pleasure to help
            you enjoy the scenery, Matt. It forced me to look at the landscape in
            more detail so I could describe it to you. I felt like I was seeing
            everything through your eyes and that made it extraordinary."

            "If you two are through fawnin' over each other, we'll get
            underway," Jed muttered. "There's a lot of work waitin' and
            we're burnin' daylight, Miss Beaumont."

            "It's Mrs. Beaumont, but please, call me Brie."

            "Your family in the cheese business?"

            Her mouth dropped as she noticed the lack of humor in his voice. She
            choked back the lump in her throat. She had always liked her first name;
            it was the Beaumont that caused her to want to puke. If she could, she
            would switch back to her maiden name, but changing monikers was for
            divorcées, not widows.

            "Have you ever flown in a small plane before, ma'am?" Jed's
            neutral question surprised her. She had expected a snarl.

            "This will be my first time, and I'm excited. After enjoying our
            cruise so much, the flight will be doubly rewarding." She noticed he did
            a double-take at her last statement. As he pivoted on his heel, she saw
            his jaw flinch. What's his problem? Had she unknowingly increased
            his irritation? In the midst of rolling her eyes at Hank, Jed turned
            back and saw her. His dark eyes flashed a warning.

            "You don't have any responsibilities to take care of?" Jed asked,
            walking backward. His eyes pierced her like they were pitching shards of
            glass.

            "I called my friend, Carol, from the ship after I accepted Matt's
            invitation. I told her where I was going; she volunteered to take over
            my obligations."

            As they caught up with him, Jed turned and grumbled into Matt's ear,
            "Is `Matthew' too formal for the lady?"

            Brie's fingernails dug into her palms. He was the first stranger she
            had ever met with the ability to irritate her right away. She'd be
            damned if she would let him keep the upper hand.

            Excerpt #2

            Side by side, Brie and Jed rode through the south gate. The prospect for
            simply enjoying the day looked bleak. Brie turned up her jacket's
            collar as cool spits of breeze brushed harshly against her neck. With
            her breath billowing puffs of white vapor, she unfastened the tie that
            held up her hair in order to gain a little extra warmth from the thick
            mass falling loosely to her shoulders.

            Since Jed wasn't chatting and showed no aspiration to be friendly,
            she concentrated on the scenery. Now and then he'd pause to
            straighten a fence post and she would be far ahead before she'd
            realize he hadn't kept up the pace. He seemed perfectly content to
            ignore her jaunts. Brie made up her mind to put up with the slight, and
            instead, relish the pleasure derived from roaming the range.

            At one point, Jed galloped past her. She deliberately kept her pace even
            so she could study the mountains. She didn't realize Misty had
            caught up to Jed, until she felt her foot in the stirrup brush against
            his. He had stopped and waited for her. The silence between the two of
            them was obviously getting on his nerves, too.

            "Are you warm enough? he asked. I have a blanket in the saddlebag you
            could wrap around yourself. Your jacket is too light."

            She was about to argue the fact, not wanting to admit he might be right
            but thought better of it. He wasn't blind and could probably detect
            the shivering she'd struggled to keep to a minimum. He'd be
            angrier if she acted stupid as well. She accepted the offer with a
            smile, slung the blanket on--shawl style--and soaked up the additional
            warmth.

            Gradually, the heat from the sun warmed the air as they continued along
            the barbed wire. Eventually, Brie was able to remove herself from the
            cocoon. The rancher broke the silence again as she handed the blanket
            back.

            "You seem to be more relaxed the last hour or so. Were you jumpy about
            being out here alone with me?" He looked her straight in the eye,
            silently demanding an honest answer to his nerve-wracking question.

            "To tell you the truth, yes. I wasn't comfortable with the idea."
            The force behind his stare irked her. "Does that give you a feeling of
            power?"

            He ignored her question. "You don't like me much, do you?"

            "I don't know you, just as you don't really know me. You're
            so blatantly critical of me that I do think you're pathetic."

            "I never once criticized you."

            "Not with words--with your eyes. For some reason, Jed, it seems I have
            to prove myself to you."

            "You don't need to prove anythin' to me. I already know all I
            need to know."

            His satisfied smirk was more than she could stand. "You don't know
            me nearly as well as you think. You'd love to prove that I don't
            fit in here. Wait a minute, dammit. Can I borrow your rifle?"

            Surprised by the request, he hesitated, then reluctantly withdrew his
            Winchester from its sheath and passed it over.

            "See the beer can sitting on the post near that gate?" she asked. Her
            teeth bit down on her lip.

            Jed squinted in the direction she pointed. About seventy-five yards away
            perched the can, a lonely edifice to the world she had temporarily left
            behind her. He nodded. She raised the rifle, aimed, and fired.

            Available at in tradepaperback at www.champagnebooks.com or at
            www.omnilit.com and www.fictionwise.com

            Carol McPhee: http://carolmcphee.webs.com
            Strong, smart, sensuous heroines; heroes to die for.
          • Carol McPhee
            Struggling to pick up the pieces of her life, widow Brie Beaumont accepts an invitation to visit the Circle C ranch in Canada s Rocky Mountains. Co-owner Jed
            Message 5 of 13 , Apr 11, 2011
            • 0 Attachment
              Struggling to pick up the pieces of her life, widow Brie Beaumont
              accepts an invitation to visit the Circle C ranch in Canada's Rocky
              Mountains. Co-owner Jed Cameron distrusts Brie's motives. He is
              determined to protect his brother and the ranch from the redheaded gold
              digger. But when tragedy strikes, Jed's only hope is the woman he vowed
              to run off.

              One
              She shouldn't have come! From the moment two well-worn, black
              leather cowboy-booted feet hit the ground and the pilot swaggered around
              the nose of his plane toward her, Brienna Beaumont knew she
              shouldn't invade Jed Cameron's territory.

              She inhaled sharply and pressed her fingernails to her palms but still
              failed to calm the butterflies twirling in her stomach. The merciless
              sun beating down on Vancouver airport's tarmac added to her
              distress. She wiped the perspiration from her forehead and hoped her
              underarms didn't display their discomfort.

              The gleaming Cessna 210 drew her attention when she noticed the heat
              waves rippling above the metal surface of its bright yellow wings. The
              plane's engines purred, poised for take off. Brie hurried to catch
              up with her new friends and Alaska cruise mates, Matt Cameron, blind
              part owner of the Circle C, and his foreman, Hank. They had begged her
              to return with them to their ranch in Alberta. Their friendship on board
              Holland America's Ryndam had begun to erode her past year's
              misery. Grateful for their help, she couldn't back out and
              disappoint them.

              They quickened their steps to greet the pilot, Matt's brother, Jed.
              When Jed Cameron removed his sunglasses, Brie's heart flip-flopped.
              His deep brown eyes twinkled as he grabbed Matt by the shoulders in a
              brotherly show of affection. Until his gaze fell on her.

              Brie focused on the tall, lean and--judging by his scowl--surly man
              standing in front of her. At six-foot-two, he towered a good six inches
              over her. His coal black hair displayed a sprinkling of gray, but an
              errant forelock dipped low on his forehead, gave him a boyish appeal.
              For some indeterminate reason, she had offended him; his scathing
              appraisal told her so.

              She stopped dead in her tracks. She had not even opened her mouth, but
              felt as if she were a piece of meat, inspected by him and found unfit
              for human consumption. She inwardly cringed; she had been made to feel
              like that before.

              Brie carried on with her own examination knowing it wasn't as
              tasteless as his. His deeply tanned, wind-burned complexion contrasted
              sharply with the white sparkle of his teeth. She wished he were
              toothless to destroy her initial impression of how handsome this guy
              was. If she could only get out of this arrangement and climb into a taxi
              for the short drive home. At least the jitters wouldn't attack her
              in her apartment.

              Against her better judgment, she had agreed to this additional excursion
              shortly before leaving the ship. She wished she had time to pick up
              other clothes. Her suitcases contained feminine, cool-weather duds,
              perfect for the cruise they had ended this morning, but suitable for a
              cattle ranch? Not likely.

              Dressed in a dark green, long-sleeved shirt and beige palazzo pants,
              Brie forced herself to endure the suffocating heat and humidity. She
              pushed her long burnished tresses back from her face and prayed it would
              be cooler aloft. Why hadn't her instinct kicked in and goaded her
              back to The Gallery so she could focus on her artwork? Then she
              remembered her instinct had advised her to take the Alaska cruise. The
              trip had given her hope that her emotional wounds had started to heal.
              Maybe some part of her wanted to accept this further challenge and
              continue the process.

              Matt's introduction carried an uncompromising tone. "Jed, meet our
              guest, Brie Beaumont." Had Matt expected Jed's antagonism?

              "Ma'am." Jed nodded, but he didn't remove his hat or offer his
              hand.

              "I'm pleased we're meeting after hearing so much about you, Mr.
              Cameron." She ducked when a large plane thundered its takeoff overhead.
              She wrinkled her nose at the overpowering smell of jet fuel.

              "Don't believe everythin' they said. Matthew's been known to
              exaggerate and Hank's not a helluva lot better." He winked at Matt.
              Hank shrugged his innocence and the pilot grinned.

              Trying to appear unperturbed, Brie extended her hand. She glanced up at
              Jed's face and wondered if the man would refuse to shake it. Was his
              rudeness a bluff or her imagination running rampant? He took the bait
              with obvious reluctance, but his grasp was firm, too firm. She was glad
              the handshake didn't last long because her fingers stung from his
              tight squeeze, a deliberate show of power. If he thought he impressed
              her by his display of strength, he was wrong--she'd had enough
              strong-armed tactics used against her to last a lifetime.

              "I'm really glad Brie is going to be staying at the ranch, Jed,"
              Matt said. "She guided me around the ship when Hank was seasick. I think
              she deserves a longer vacation since I took up so much of her time."

              Brie reached down and patted Matt's hand. "It was a pleasure to help
              you enjoy the scenery, Matt. It forced me to look at the landscape in
              more detail so I could describe it to you. I felt like I was seeing
              everything through your eyes and that made it extraordinary."

              "If you two are through fawnin' over each other, we'll get
              underway," Jed muttered. "There's a lot of work waitin' and
              we're burnin' daylight, Miss Beaumont."

              "It's Mrs. Beaumont, but please, call me Brie."

              "Your family in the cheese business?"

              Her mouth dropped as she noticed the lack of humor in his voice. She
              choked back the lump in her throat. She had always liked her first name;
              it was the Beaumont that caused her to want to puke. If she could, she
              would switch back to her maiden name, but changing monikers was for
              divorcées, not widows.

              "Have you ever flown in a small plane before, ma'am?" Jed's
              neutral question surprised her. She had expected a snarl.

              "This will be my first time, and I'm excited. After enjoying our
              cruise so much, the flight will be doubly rewarding." She noticed he did
              a double-take at her last statement. As he pivoted on his heel, she saw
              his jaw flinch. What's his problem? Had she unknowingly increased
              his irritation? In the midst of rolling her eyes at Hank, Jed turned
              back and saw her. His dark eyes flashed a warning.

              "You don't have any responsibilities to take care of?" Jed asked,
              walking backward. His eyes pierced her like they were pitching shards of
              glass.

              "I called my friend, Carol, from the ship after I accepted Matt's
              invitation. I told her where I was going; she volunteered to take over
              my obligations."

              As they caught up with him, Jed turned and grumbled into Matt's ear,
              "Is `Matthew' too formal for the lady?"

              Brie's fingernails dug into her palms. He was the first stranger she
              had ever met with the ability to irritate her right away. She'd be
              damned if she would let him keep the upper hand.

              Excerpt #2

              Side by side, Brie and Jed rode through the south gate. The prospect for
              simply enjoying the day looked bleak. Brie turned up her jacket's
              collar as cool spits of breeze brushed harshly against her neck. With
              her breath billowing puffs of white vapor, she unfastened the tie that
              held up her hair in order to gain a little extra warmth from the thick
              mass falling loosely to her shoulders.

              Since Jed wasn't chatting and showed no aspiration to be friendly,
              she concentrated on the scenery. Now and then he'd pause to
              straighten a fence post and she would be far ahead before she'd
              realize he hadn't kept up the pace. He seemed perfectly content to
              ignore her jaunts. Brie made up her mind to put up with the slight, and
              instead, relish the pleasure derived from roaming the range.

              At one point, Jed galloped past her. She deliberately kept her pace even
              so she could study the mountains. She didn't realize Misty had
              caught up to Jed, until she felt her foot in the stirrup brush against
              his. He had stopped and waited for her. The silence between the two of
              them was obviously getting on his nerves, too.

              "Are you warm enough? he asked. I have a blanket in the saddlebag you
              could wrap around yourself. Your jacket is too light."

              She was about to argue the fact, not wanting to admit he might be right
              but thought better of it. He wasn't blind and could probably detect
              the shivering she'd struggled to keep to a minimum. He'd be
              angrier if she acted stupid as well. She accepted the offer with a
              smile, slung the blanket on--shawl style--and soaked up the additional
              warmth.

              Gradually, the heat from the sun warmed the air as they continued along
              the barbed wire. Eventually, Brie was able to remove herself from the
              cocoon. The rancher broke the silence again as she handed the blanket
              back.

              "You seem to be more relaxed the last hour or so. Were you jumpy about
              being out here alone with me?" He looked her straight in the eye,
              silently demanding an honest answer to his nerve-wracking question.

              "To tell you the truth, yes. I wasn't comfortable with the idea."
              The force behind his stare irked her. "Does that give you a feeling of
              power?"

              He ignored her question. "You don't like me much, do you?"

              "I don't know you, just as you don't really know me. You're
              so blatantly critical of me that I do think you're pathetic."

              "I never once criticized you."

              "Not with words--with your eyes. For some reason, Jed, it seems I have
              to prove myself to you."

              "You don't need to prove anythin' to me. I already know all I
              need to know."

              His satisfied smirk was more than she could stand. "You don't know
              me nearly as well as you think. You'd love to prove that I don't
              fit in here. Wait a minute, dammit. Can I borrow your rifle?"

              Surprised by the request, he hesitated, then reluctantly withdrew his
              Winchester from its sheath and passed it over.

              "See the beer can sitting on the post near that gate?" she asked. Her
              teeth bit down on her lip.

              Jed squinted in the direction she pointed. About seventy-five yards away
              perched the can, a lonely edifice to the world she had temporarily left
              behind her. He nodded. She raised the rifle, aimed, and fired.

              Available in tradepaperback at
              http://champagnebooks.com/shop/index.php?route=product/product&manufactu\
              rer_id=68&product_id=323 and www.fictionwise.com

              Carol McPhee: http://carolmcphee.webs.com
              Strong, smart, sensuous heroines; heroes to die for.
            • Sue Perkins
              Blitz by Sue Perkins, release date 1st May - Desert Breeze Publishing (http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-157/Blitz-Sue-Perkins/Detail.bok) BLITZ
              Message 6 of 13 , Apr 11, 2011
              • 0 Attachment
                Blitz by Sue Perkins, release date 1st May - Desert Breeze Publishing (http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-157/Blitz-Sue-Perkins/Detail.bok)


                BLITZ
                Velma’s siblings wonder whether Jack is a suitable husband for their youngest sister. The declaration of war and the cancellation of their white wedding puts a strain on their relationship. Velma must choose between letting Jack go off to war a single man, or marry in a registry office without the support of family and friends.

                (Note: This year is the 70th Anniversary of the blitz in Plymouth, Devon. There are many exhibitions and services of remembrance for those who died or survived this terrible time.)


                Excerpt
                Velma watched him through lowered lashes as he turned the gas on and struck a match to light the hob. He placed the large kettle over the flames.
                "Tell me about yourself." 
                He emptied the dregs from the teapot. "Not much to tell. I'm younger than George. Joined the RASC a few years ago."
                "RASC? Sorry, I don't know what that is."
                "Royal Army Service Corps. I'm a driver and mechanic. There's not much work on Hayling Island. I've always been interested in engines and motor vehicles, so I headed straight for the transport section when I joined."
                "Aren't you worried about being in the armed services? My brother says there's a war brewing. Germany is trying to grab more than its fair share of land."
                "Worried? I'm not sure what you mean. Do you think I'm afraid to fight for my king and country?" He frowned at her, annoyance flashed in his eyes.
                Oh heavens, he thinks I'm questioning his bravery!
                "Of course that's not what I think," she hastened to explain. "But don't you get a bit frightened you might have to fight. Kill or be killed? I know it would scare me to death."
                "There wouldn't be a problem then would there?"
                Velma relaxed as Jack grinned and his anger evaporated. He poured hot water into the teapot, swirled it round and emptied it into the sink. Returning the pot to the draining board, he put in three spoonfuls of tea and poured on hot water.
                "We'll leave it to draw for a few moments." He placed the teapot on the table, followed by cups, saucers, tea strainer and milk jug. "Do you take sugar?"
                "No thanks."
                Velma ducked her head to hide her flush of embarrassment. Letting him make her a cup of tea indicated a closeness to each other. She considered Florence's house a second home. She should have been the one to make the pot of tea. To relieve the tension building up inside her she searched for something to say.
                "Tell me about Hayling Island. George's spoken of it often. I've never been there."
                "Not much to tell really." He poured tea into the cups. "It's a small island just off the coast near Portsmouth. George and I grew up there, along with the rest of our brothers and our sister. My brother Will and I are the same age. He's a postman on the island."
                "I know who you are," Velma exclaimed. "You're one of the twins, the youngest one."
                "People always call me the youngest." Jack laughed. "Will's only twenty minutes older than me."
                "What's it like having someone who's identical to you?"
                "It's nice when you're growing up. We always had someone our own age to play with. We looked alike so we played lots of tricks on people. Coming from such a big family having a playmate made all the difference, especially as our sister is the youngest. She got spoiled by everyone. Will and I are nearly thirty now and we've got different ideas on what we want to do, but we're still close."
                "I know what you mean about big families," Velma sighed. "We've got the same amount as you. Ours is the other way round. Eight girls and one boy. I'm the baby of the family and at times it's not nice."
                "Don't you get spoiled?"
                Jack blew on his tea before taking a sip and the same warm shiver rushed through Velma's body. She liked this man a lot, he made her feel relaxed. The comfort made more acute by the thrill of excitement at being so near to him.
                "Yes, I've been spoiled," she admitted. "But I also get overprotected. My sisters and their husbands think it's their duty to take care of me. They forget I'm nearly twenty-five and quite capable of taking care of myself. My older sisters have been watching over me for so long I guess it's difficult for them to remember I'm all grown up."
                "You look like a full grown woman to me."
                Jack's reached out and touched her hand. Warmth passed between them; warmth that promised a wealth of feelings for the future.





                VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR - MAY 1 TO 6, 2011
                Organised by Goddess Fish Promotions






                Sue Perkins
                "Blitz"  - Desert Breeze Publishing - May 1st
                "Dragon Savior" - XoXo Publishing - March 5th
                "Spirit Stealer" - MuseItUp Publishing MuseTweens - October 2011
                "Reva's Quest" - MuseItUp Publishiing - January 2012
                www.sueperkinsauthor.com
                http://sueperkinsauthor.blogspot.com




              • Carol McPhee
                Struggling to pick up the pieces of her life, widow Brie Beaumont accepts an invitation to visit the Circle C ranch in Canada s Rocky Mountains. Coâ€`owner
                Message 7 of 13 , May 16 12:42 AM
                • 0 Attachment

                  Struggling to pick up the pieces of her life, widow Brie Beaumont accepts an invitation to visit the Circle C ranch in Canada's Rocky Mountains. Coâ€`owner Jed Cameron distrusts Brie's motives. He is determined to protect his brother and the ranch from the redheaded gold digger. But when tragedy strikes, Jed's only hope is the woman he vowed to run off.

                   

                  One

                  She shouldn't have come! From the moment two wellâ€`worn, black leather cowboyâ€`booted feet hit the ground and the pilot swaggered around the nose of his plane toward her, Brienna Beaumont knew she shouldn't invade Jed Cameron's territory.

                   

                  She inhaled sharply and pressed her fingernails to her palms but still failed to calm the butterflies twirling in her stomach. The merciless sun beating down on Vancouver airport's tarmac added to her distress. She wiped the perspiration from her forehead and hoped her underarms didn't display their discomfort.

                   

                  The gleaming Cessna 210 drew her attention when she noticed the heat waves rippling above the metal surface of its bright yellow wings. The plane's engines purred, poised for take off. Brie hurried to catch up with her new friends and Alaska cruise mates, Matt Cameron, blind part owner of the Circle C, and his foreman, Hank. They had begged her to return with them to their ranch in Alberta. Their friendship on board Holland America's Ryndam had begun to erode her past year's misery. Grateful for their help, she couldn't back out and disappoint them.

                   

                  They quickened their steps to greet the pilot, Matt's brother, Jed. When Jed Cameron removed his sunglasses, Brie's heart flipâ€`flopped. His deep brown eyes twinkled as he grabbed Matt by the shoulders in a brotherly show of affection. Until his gaze fell on her.

                   

                  Brie focused on the tall, lean andâ€`â€`judging by his scowlâ€`â€`surly man standing in front of her. At sixâ€`footâ€`two, he towered a good six inches over her. His coal black hair displayed a sprinkling of gray, but an errant forelock dipped low on his forehead, gave him a boyish appeal. For some indeterminate reason, she had offended him; his scathing appraisal told her so.

                   

                  She stopped dead in her tracks. She had not even opened her mouth, but felt as if she were a piece of meat, inspected by him and found unfit for human consumption. She inwardly cringed; she had been made to feel like that before.

                   

                  Brie carried on with her own examination knowing it wasn't as tasteless as his. His deeply tanned, windâ€`burned complexion contrasted sharply with the white sparkle of his teeth. She wished he were toothless to destroy her initial impression of how handsome this guy was. If she could only get out of this arrangement and climb into a taxi for the short drive home. At least the jitters wouldn't attack her in her apartment.

                   

                  Against her better judgment, she had agreed to this additional excursion shortly before leaving the ship. She wished she had time to pick up other clothes. Her suitcases contained feminine, coolâ€`weather duds, perfect for the cruise they had ended this morning, but suitable for a cattle ranch? Not likely.

                  Dressed in a dark green, longâ€`sleeved shirt and beige palazzo pants, Brie forced herself to endure the suffocating heat and humidity. She pushed her long burnished tresses back from her face and prayed it would be cooler aloft. Why hadn't her instinct kicked in and goaded her back to The Gallery so she could focus on her artwork? Then she remembered her instinct had advised her to take the Alaska cruise. The trip had given her hope that her emotional wounds had started to heal. Maybe some part of her wanted to accept this further challenge and continue the process.

                   

                  Matt's introduction carried an uncompromising tone. "Jed, meet our guest, Brie Beaumont." Had Matt expected Jed's antagonism?

                   

                  "Ma'am." Jed nodded, but he didn't remove his hat or offer his hand.

                   

                  "I'm pleased we're meeting after hearing so much about you, Mr. Cameron." She ducked when a large plane thundered its takeoff overhead. She wrinkled her nose at the overpowering smell of jet fuel.

                   

                  "Don't believe everythin' they said. Matthew's been known to exaggerate and Hank's not a helluva lot better." He winked at Matt. Hank shrugged his innocence and the pilot grinned.

                   

                  Trying to appear unperturbed, Brie extended her hand. She glanced up at Jed's face and wondered if the man would refuse to shake it. Was his rudeness a bluff or her imagination running rampant? He took the bait with obvious reluctance, but his grasp was firm, too firm. She was glad the handshake didn't last long because her fingers stung from his tight squeeze, a deliberate show of power. If he thought he impressed her by his display of strength, he was wrongâ€`â€`she'd had enough strongâ€`armed tactics used against her to last a lifetime.

                   

                  "I'm really glad Brie is going to be staying at the ranch, Jed," Matt said. "She guided me around the ship when Hank was seasick. I think she deserves a longer vacation since I took up so much of her time."

                   

                  Brie reached down and patted Matt's hand. "It was a pleasure to help you enjoy the scenery, Matt. It forced me to look at the landscape in more detail so I could describe it to you. I felt like I was seeing everything through your eyes and that made it extraordinary."

                   

                  "If you two are through fawnin' over each other, we'll get underway," Jed muttered. "There's a lot of work waitin' and we're burnin' daylight, Miss Beaumont."

                   

                  "It's Mrs. Beaumont, but please, call me Brie."

                   

                  "Your family in the cheese business?"

                   

                  Her mouth dropped as she noticed the lack of humor in his voice. She choked back the lump in her throat. She had always liked her first name; it was the Beaumont that caused her to want to puke. If she could, she would switch back to her maiden name, but changing monikers was for divorcées, not widows.

                  "Have you ever flown in a small plane before, ma'am?" Jed's neutral question surprised her. She had expected a snarl.

                   

                  "This will be my first time, and I'm excited. After enjoying our cruise so much, the flight will be doubly rewarding." She noticed he did a doubleâ€`take at her last statement. As he pivoted on his heel, she saw his jaw flinch. What's his problem? Had she unknowingly increased his irritation? In the midst of rolling her eyes at Hank, Jed turned back and saw her. His dark eyes flashed a warning.

                   

                  "You don't have any responsibilities to take care of?" Jed asked, walking backward. His eyes pierced her like they were pitching shards of glass.

                   

                  "I called my friend, Carol, from the ship after I accepted Matt's invitation. I told her where I was going; she volunteered to take over my obligations."

                   

                  As they caught up with him, Jed turned and grumbled into Matt's ear, "Is `Matthew' too formal for the lady?"

                   

                  Brie's fingernails dug into her palms. He was the first stranger she had ever met with the ability to irritate her right away. She'd be damned if she would let him keep the upper hand.

                   

                  Excerpt #2

                   

                  Side by side, Brie and Jed rode through the south gate. The prospect for simply enjoying the day looked bleak. Brie turned up her jacket's collar as cool spits of breeze brushed harshly against her neck. With her breath billowing puffs of white vapor, she unfastened the tie that held up her hair in order to gain a little extra warmth from the thick mass falling loosely to her shoulders.

                   

                  Since Jed wasn't chatting and showed no aspiration to be friendly, she concentrated on the scenery. Now and then he'd pause to straighten a fence post and she would be far ahead before she'd realize he hadn't kept up the pace. He seemed perfectly content to ignore her jaunts. Brie made up her mind to put up with the slight, and instead, relish the pleasure derived from roaming the range.

                   

                  At one point, Jed galloped past her. She deliberately kept her pace even so she could study the mountains. She didn't realize Misty had caught up to Jed, until she felt her foot in the stirrup brush against his. He had stopped and waited for her. The silence between the two of them was obviously getting on his nerves, too.

                   

                  "Are you warm enough? he asked. I have a blanket in the saddlebag you could wrap around yourself. Your jacket is too light."

                   

                  She was about to argue the fact, not wanting to admit he might be right but thought better of it. He wasn't blind and could probably detect the shivering she'd struggled to keep to a minimum. He'd be angrier if she acted stupid as well. She accepted the offer with a smile, slung the blanket onâ€`â€`shawl styleâ€`â€`and soaked up the additional warmth.

                   

                  Gradually, the heat from the sun warmed the air as they continued along the barbed wire. Eventually, Brie was able to remove herself from the cocoon. The rancher broke the silence again as she handed the blanket back.

                   

                  "You seem to be more relaxed the last hour or so. Were you jumpy about being out here alone with me?" He looked her straight in the eye, silently demanding an honest answer to his nerveâ€`wracking question.

                   

                  "To tell you the truth, yes. I wasn't comfortable with the idea." The force behind his stare irked her. "Does that give you a feeling of power?"

                   

                  He ignored her question. "You don't like me much, do you?"

                   

                  "I don't know you, just as you don't really know me. You're so blatantly critical of me that I do think you're pathetic."

                   

                  "I never once criticized you."

                   

                  "Not with wordsâ€`â€`with your eyes. For some reason, Jed, it seems I have to prove myself to you."

                   

                  "You don't need to prove anythin' to me. I already know all I need to know."

                   

                  His satisfied smirk was more than she could stand. "You don't know me nearly as well as you think. You'd love to prove that I don't fit in here. Wait a minute, dammit. Can I borrow your rifle?"

                   

                  Surprised by the request, he hesitated, then reluctantly withdrew his Winchester from its sheath and passed it over.

                   

                  "See the beer can sitting on the post near that gate?" she asked. Her teeth bit down on her lip.

                   

                  Jed squinted in the direction she pointed. About seventyâ€`five yards away perched the can, a lonely edifice to the world she had temporarily left behind her. He nodded. She raised the rifle, aimed, and fired.

                   

                  Available in tradepaperback at Struggling to pick up the pieces of her life, widow Brie Beaumont accepts an invitation to visit the Circle C ranch in Canada's Rocky Mountains. Coâ€`owner Jed Cameron distrusts Brie's motives. He is determined to protect his brother and the ranch from the redheaded gold digger. But when tragedy strikes, Jed's only hope is the woman he vowed to run off.

                   

                  One

                  She shouldn't have come! From the moment two wellâ€`worn, black leather cowboyâ€`booted feet hit the ground and the pilot swaggered around the nose of his plane toward her, Brienna Beaumont knew she shouldn't invade Jed Cameron's territory.

                   

                  She inhaled sharply and pressed her fingernails to her palms but still failed to calm the butterflies twirling in her stomach. The merciless sun beating down on Vancouver airport's tarmac added to her distress. She wiped the perspiration from her forehead and hoped her underarms didn't display their discomfort.

                   

                  The gleaming Cessna 210 drew her attention when she noticed the heat waves rippling above the metal surface of its bright yellow wings. The plane's engines purred, poised for take off. Brie hurried to catch up with her new friends and Alaska cruise mates, Matt Cameron, blind part owner of the Circle C, and his foreman, Hank. They had begged her to return with them to their ranch in Alberta. Their friendship on board Holland America's Ryndam had begun to erode her past year's misery. Grateful for their help, she couldn't back out and disappoint them.

                   

                  They quickened their steps to greet the pilot, Matt's brother, Jed. When Jed Cameron removed his sunglasses, Brie's heart flipâ€`flopped. His deep brown eyes twinkled as he grabbed Matt by the shoulders in a brotherly show of affection. Until his gaze fell on her.

                   

                  Brie focused on the tall, lean andâ€`â€`judging by his scowlâ€`â€`surly man standing in front of her. At sixâ€`footâ€`two, he towered a good six inches over her. His coal black hair displayed a sprinkling of gray, but an errant forelock dipped low on his forehead, gave him a boyish appeal. For some indeterminate reason, she had offended him; his scathing appraisal told her so.

                   

                  She stopped dead in her tracks. She had not even opened her mouth, but felt as if she were a piece of meat, inspected by him and found unfit for human consumption. She inwardly cringed; she had been made to feel like that before.

                   

                  Brie carried on with her own examination knowing it wasn't as tasteless as his. His deeply tanned, windâ€`burned complexion contrasted sharply with the white sparkle of his teeth. She wished he were toothless to destroy her initial impression of how handsome this guy was. If she could only get out of this arrangement and climb into a taxi for the short drive home. At least the jitters wouldn't attack her in her apartment.

                   

                  Against her better judgment, she had agreed to this additional excursion shortly before leaving the ship. She wished she had time to pick up other clothes. Her suitcases contained feminine, coolâ€`weather duds, perfect for the cruise they had ended this morning, but suitable for a cattle ranch? Not likely.

                  Dressed in a dark green, longâ€`sleeved shirt and beige palazzo pants, Brie forced herself to endure the suffocating heat and humidity. She pushed her long burnished tresses back from her face and prayed it would be cooler aloft. Why hadn't her instinct kicked in and goaded her back to The Gallery so she could focus on her artwork? Then she remembered her instinct had advised her to take the Alaska cruise. The trip had given her hope that her emotional wounds had started to heal. Maybe some part of her wanted to accept this further challenge and continue the process.

                   

                  Matt's introduction carried an uncompromising tone. "Jed, meet our guest, Brie Beaumont." Had Matt expected Jed's antagonism?

                   

                  "Ma'am." Jed nodded, but he didn't remove his hat or offer his hand.

                   

                  "I'm pleased we're meeting after hearing so much about you, Mr. Cameron." She ducked when a large plane thundered its takeoff overhead. She wrinkled her nose at the overpowering smell of jet fuel.

                   

                  "Don't believe everythin' they said. Matthew's been known to exaggerate and Hank's not a helluva lot better." He winked at Matt. Hank shrugged his innocence and the pilot grinned.

                   

                  Trying to appear unperturbed, Brie extended her hand. She glanced up at Jed's face and wondered if the man would refuse to shake it. Was his rudeness a bluff or her imagination running rampant? He took the bait with obvious reluctance, but his grasp was firm, too firm. She was glad the handshake didn't last long because her fingers stung from his tight squeeze, a deliberate show of power. If he thought he impressed her by his display of strength, he was wrongâ€`â€`she'd had enough strongâ€`armed tactics used against her to last a lifetime.

                   

                  "I'm really glad Brie is going to be staying at the ranch, Jed," Matt said. "She guided me around the ship when Hank was seasick. I think she deserves a longer vacation since I took up so much of her time."

                   

                  Brie reached down and patted Matt's hand. "It was a pleasure to help you enjoy the scenery, Matt. It forced me to look at the landscape in more detail so I could describe it to you. I felt like I was seeing everything through your eyes and that made it extraordinary."

                   

                  "If you two are through fawnin' over each other, we'll get underway," Jed muttered. "There's a lot of work waitin' and we're burnin' daylight, Miss Beaumont."

                   

                  "It's Mrs. Beaumont, but please, call me Brie."

                   

                  "Your family in the cheese business?"

                   

                  Her mouth dropped as she noticed the lack of humor in his voice. She choked back the lump in her throat. She had always liked her first name; it was the Beaumont that caused her to want to puke. If she could, she would switch back to her maiden name, but changing monikers was for divorcées, not widows.

                  "Have you ever flown in a small plane before, ma'am?" Jed's neutral question surprised her. She had expected a snarl.

                   

                  "This will be my first time, and I'm excited. After enjoying our cruise so much, the flight will be doubly rewarding." She noticed he did a doubleâ€`take at her last statement. As he pivoted on his heel, she saw his jaw flinch. What's his problem? Had she unknowingly increased his irritation? In the midst of rolling her eyes at Hank, Jed turned back and saw her. His dark eyes flashed a warning.

                   

                  "You don't have any responsibilities to take care of?" Jed asked, walking backward. His eyes pierced her like they were pitching shards of glass.

                   

                  "I called my friend, Carol, from the ship after I accepted Matt's invitation. I told her where I was going; she volunteered to take over my obligations."

                   

                  As they caught up with him, Jed turned and grumbled into Matt's ear, "Is `Matthew' too formal for the lady?"

                   

                  Brie's fingernails dug into her palms. He was the first stranger she had ever met with the ability to irritate her right away. She'd be damned if she would let him keep the upper hand.

                   

                  Excerpt #2

                   

                  Side by side, Brie and Jed rode through the south gate. The prospect for simply enjoying the day looked bleak. Brie turned up her jacket's collar as cool spits of breeze brushed harshly against her neck. With her breath billowing puffs of white vapor, she unfastened the tie that held up her hair in order to gain a little extra warmth from the thick mass falling loosely to her shoulders.

                   

                  Since Jed wasn't chatting and showed no aspiration to be friendly, she concentrated on the scenery. Now and then he'd pause to straighten a fence post and she would be far ahead before she'd realize he hadn't kept up the pace. He seemed perfectly content to ignore her jaunts. Brie made up her mind to put up with the slight, and instead, relish the pleasure derived from roaming the range.

                   

                  At one point, Jed galloped past her. She deliberately kept her pace even so she could study the mountains. She didn't realize Misty had caught up to Jed, until she felt her foot in the stirrup brush against his. He had stopped and waited for her. The silence between the two of them was obviously getting on his nerves, too.

                   

                  "Are you warm enough? he asked. I have a blanket in the saddlebag you could wrap around yourself. Your jacket is too light."

                   

                  She was about to argue the fact, not wanting to admit he might be right but thought better of it. He wasn't blind and could probably detect the shivering she'd struggled to keep to a minimum. He'd be angrier if she acted stupid as well. She accepted the offer with a smile, slung the blanket onâ€`â€`shawl styleâ€`â€`and soaked up the additional warmth.

                   

                  Gradually, the heat from the sun warmed the air as they continued along the barbed wire. Eventually, Brie was able to remove herself from the cocoon. The rancher broke the silence again as she handed the blanket back.

                   

                  "You seem to be more relaxed the last hour or so. Were you jumpy about being out here alone with me?" He looked her straight in the eye, silently demanding an honest answer to his nerveâ€`wracking question.

                   

                  "To tell you the truth, yes. I wasn't comfortable with the idea." The force behind his stare irked her. "Does that give you a feeling of power?"

                   

                  He ignored her question. "You don't like me much, do you?"

                   

                  "I don't know you, just as you don't really know me. You're so blatantly critical of me that I do think you're pathetic."

                   

                  "I never once criticized you."

                   

                  "Not with wordsâ€`â€`with your eyes. For some reason, Jed, it seems I have to prove myself to you."

                   

                  "You don't need to prove anythin' to me. I already know all I need to know."

                   

                  His satisfied smirk was more than she could stand. "You don't know me nearly as well as you think. You'd love to prove that I don't fit in here. Wait a minute, dammit. Can I borrow your rifle?"

                   

                  Surprised by the request, he hesitated, then reluctantly withdrew his Winchester from its sheath and passed it over.

                   

                  "See the beer can sitting on the post near that gate?" she asked. Her teeth bit down on her lip.

                   

                  Jed squinted in the direction she pointed. About seventyâ€`five yards away perched the can, a lonely edifice to the world she had temporarily left behind her. He nodded. She raised the rifle, aimed, and fired.

                   

                  Available at http://champagnebooks.com/shop/index.php?route=product/product&manufacturer_id=68&product_id=323 ; and at www.fictionwise.com

                   

                  Carol McPhee: http://carolmcphee.webs.com

                   

                  Strong, smart, sensuous heroines; heroes to die for.

                   

                   

                • Carol McPhee
                  Struggling to pick up the pieces of her life, widow Brie Beaumont accepts an invitation to visit the Circle C ranch in Canada s Rocky Mountains. Coâ€`owner
                  Message 8 of 13 , Aug 22, 2011
                  • 0 Attachment

                    Struggling to pick up the pieces of her life, widow Brie Beaumont accepts an invitation to visit the Circle C ranch in Canada's Rocky Mountains. Coâ€`owner Jed Cameron distrusts Brie's motives. He is determined to protect his brother and the ranch from the redheaded gold digger. But when tragedy strikes, Jed's only hope is the woman he vowed to run off.

                     

                    One

                    She shouldn't have come! From the moment two wellâ€`worn, black leather cowboyâ€`booted feet hit the ground and the pilot swaggered around the nose of his plane toward her, Brienna Beaumont knew she shouldn't invade Jed Cameron's territory.

                     

                    She inhaled sharply and pressed her fingernails to her palms but still failed to calm the butterflies twirling in her stomach. The merciless sun beating down on Vancouver airport's tarmac added to her distress. She wiped the perspiration from her forehead and hoped her underarms didn't display their discomfort.

                     

                    The gleaming Cessna 210 drew her attention when she noticed the heat waves rippling above the metal surface of its bright yellow wings. The plane's engines purred, poised for take off. Brie hurried to catch up with her new friends and Alaska cruise mates, Matt Cameron, blind part owner of the Circle C, and his foreman, Hank. They had begged her to return with them to their ranch in Alberta. Their friendship on board Holland America's Ryndam had begun to erode her past year's misery. Grateful for their help, she couldn't back out and disappoint them.

                     

                    They quickened their steps to greet the pilot, Matt's brother, Jed. When Jed Cameron removed his sunglasses, Brie's heart flipâ€`flopped. His deep brown eyes twinkled as he grabbed Matt by the shoulders in a brotherly show of affection. Until his gaze fell on her.

                     

                    Brie focused on the tall, lean andâ€`â€`judging by his scowlâ€`â€`surly man standing in front of her. At sixâ€`footâ€`two, he towered a good six inches over her. His coal black hair displayed a sprinkling of gray, but an errant forelock dipped low on his forehead, gave him a boyish appeal. For some indeterminate reason, she had offended him; his scathing appraisal told her so.

                     

                    She stopped dead in her tracks. She had not even opened her mouth, but felt as if she were a piece of meat, inspected by him and found unfit for human consumption. She inwardly cringed; she had been made to feel like that before.

                     

                    Brie carried on with her own examination knowing it wasn't as tasteless as his. His deeply tanned, windâ€`burned complexion contrasted sharply with the white sparkle of his teeth. She wished he were toothless to destroy her initial impression of how handsome this guy was. If she could only get out of this arrangement and climb into a taxi for the short drive home. At least the jitters wouldn't attack her in her apartment.

                     

                    Against her better judgment, she had agreed to this additional excursion shortly before leaving the ship. She wished she had time to pick up other clothes. Her suitcases contained feminine, coolâ€`weather duds, perfect for the cruise they had ended this morning, but suitable for a cattle ranch? Not likely.

                    Dressed in a dark green, longâ€`sleeved shirt and beige palazzo pants, Brie forced herself to endure the suffocating heat and humidity. She pushed her long burnished tresses back from her face and prayed it would be cooler aloft. Why hadn't her instinct kicked in and goaded her back to The Gallery so she could focus on her artwork? Then she remembered her instinct had advised her to take the Alaska cruise. The trip had given her hope that her emotional wounds had started to heal. Maybe some part of her wanted to accept this further challenge and continue the process.

                     

                    Matt's introduction carried an uncompromising tone. "Jed, meet our guest, Brie Beaumont." Had Matt expected Jed's antagonism?

                     

                    "Ma'am." Jed nodded, but he didn't remove his hat or offer his hand.

                     

                    "I'm pleased we're meeting after hearing so much about you, Mr. Cameron." She ducked when a large plane thundered its takeoff overhead. She wrinkled her nose at the overpowering smell of jet fuel.

                     

                    "Don't believe everythin' they said. Matthew's been known to exaggerate and Hank's not a helluva lot better." He winked at Matt. Hank shrugged his innocence and the pilot grinned.

                     

                    Trying to appear unperturbed, Brie extended her hand. She glanced up at Jed's face and wondered if the man would refuse to shake it. Was his rudeness a bluff or her imagination running rampant? He took the bait with obvious reluctance, but his grasp was firm, too firm. She was glad the handshake didn't last long because her fingers stung from his tight squeeze, a deliberate show of power. If he thought he impressed her by his display of strength, he was wrongâ€`â€`she'd had enough strongâ€`armed tactics used against her to last a lifetime.

                     

                    "I'm really glad Brie is going to be staying at the ranch, Jed," Matt said. "She guided me around the ship when Hank was seasick. I think she deserves a longer vacation since I took up so much of her time."

                     

                    Brie reached down and patted Matt's hand. "It was a pleasure to help you enjoy the scenery, Matt. It forced me to look at the landscape in more detail so I could describe it to you. I felt like I was seeing everything through your eyes and that made it extraordinary."

                     

                    "If you two are through fawnin' over each other, we'll get underway," Jed muttered. "There's a lot of work waitin' and we're burnin' daylight, Miss Beaumont."

                     

                    "It's Mrs. Beaumont, but please, call me Brie."

                     

                    "Your family in the cheese business?"

                     

                    Her mouth dropped as she noticed the lack of humor in his voice. She choked back the lump in her throat. She had always liked her first name; it was the Beaumont that caused her to want to puke. If she could, she would switch back to her maiden name, but changing monikers was for divorcées, not widows.

                    "Have you ever flown in a small plane before, ma'am?" Jed's neutral question surprised her. She had expected a snarl.

                     

                    "This will be my first time, and I'm excited. After enjoying our cruise so much, the flight will be doubly rewarding." She noticed he did a doubleâ€`take at her last statement. As he pivoted on his heel, she saw his jaw flinch. What's his problem? Had she unknowingly increased his irritation? In the midst of rolling her eyes at Hank, Jed turned back and saw her. His dark eyes flashed a warning.

                     

                    "You don't have any responsibilities to take care of?" Jed asked, walking backward. His eyes pierced her like they were pitching shards of glass.

                     

                    "I called my friend, Carol, from the ship after I accepted Matt's invitation. I told her where I was going; she volunteered to take over my obligations."

                     

                    As they caught up with him, Jed turned and grumbled into Matt's ear, "Is `Matthew' too formal for the lady?"

                     

                    Brie's fingernails dug into her palms. He was the first stranger she had ever met with the ability to irritate her right away. She'd be damned if she would let him keep the upper hand.

                     

                    Excerpt #2

                     

                    Side by side, Brie and Jed rode through the south gate. The prospect for simply enjoying the day looked bleak. Brie turned up her jacket's collar as cool spits of breeze brushed harshly against her neck. With her breath billowing puffs of white vapor, she unfastened the tie that held up her hair in order to gain a little extra warmth from the thick mass falling loosely to her shoulders.

                     

                    Since Jed wasn't chatting and showed no aspiration to be friendly, she concentrated on the scenery. Now and then he'd pause to straighten a fence post and she would be far ahead before she'd realize he hadn't kept up the pace. He seemed perfectly content to ignore her jaunts. Brie made up her mind to put up with the slight, and instead, relish the pleasure derived from roaming the range.

                     

                    At one point, Jed galloped past her. She deliberately kept her pace even so she could study the mountains. She didn't realize Misty had caught up to Jed, until she felt her foot in the stirrup brush against his. He had stopped and waited for her. The silence between the two of them was obviously getting on his nerves, too.

                     

                    "Are you warm enough? he asked. I have a blanket in the saddlebag you could wrap around yourself. Your jacket is too light."

                     

                    She was about to argue the fact, not wanting to admit he might be right but thought better of it. He wasn't blind and could probably detect the shivering she'd struggled to keep to a minimum. He'd be angrier if she acted stupid as well. She accepted the offer with a smile, slung the blanket onâ€`â€`shawl styleâ€`â€`and soaked up the additional warmth.

                     

                    Gradually, the heat from the sun warmed the air as they continued along the barbed wire. Eventually, Brie was able to remove herself from the cocoon. The rancher broke the silence again as she handed the blanket back.

                     

                    "You seem to be more relaxed the last hour or so. Were you jumpy about being out here alone with me?" He looked her straight in the eye, silently demanding an honest answer to his nerveâ€`wracking question.

                     

                    "To tell you the truth, yes. I wasn't comfortable with the idea." The force behind his stare irked her. "Does that give you a feeling of power?"

                     

                    He ignored her question. "You don't like me much, do you?"

                     

                    "I don't know you, just as you don't really know me. You're so blatantly critical of me that I do think you're pathetic."

                     

                    "I never once criticized you."

                     

                    "Not with wordsâ€`â€`with your eyes. For some reason, Jed, it seems I have to prove myself to you."

                     

                    "You don't need to prove anythin' to me. I already know all I need to know."

                     

                    His satisfied smirk was more than she could stand. "You don't know me nearly as well as you think. You'd love to prove that I don't fit in here. Wait a minute, dammit. Can I borrow your rifle?"

                     

                    Surprised by the request, he hesitated, then reluctantly withdrew his Winchester from its sheath and passed it over.

                     

                    "See the beer can sitting on the post near that gate?" she asked. Her teeth bit down on her lip.

                     

                    Jed squinted in the direction she pointed. About seventyâ€`five yards away perched the can, a lonely edifice to the world she had temporarily left behind her. He nodded. She raised the rifle, aimed, and fired.

                     

                    Available in tradepaperback at Struggling to pick up the pieces of her life, widow Brie Beaumont accepts an invitation to visit the Circle C ranch in Canada's Rocky Mountains. Coâ€`owner Jed Cameron distrusts Brie's motives. He is determined to protect his brother and the ranch from the redheaded gold digger. But when tragedy strikes, Jed's only hope is the woman he vowed to run off.

                     

                    One

                    She shouldn't have come! From the moment two wellâ€`worn, black leather cowboyâ€`booted feet hit the ground and the pilot swaggered around the nose of his plane toward her, Brienna Beaumont knew she shouldn't invade Jed Cameron's territory.

                     

                    She inhaled sharply and pressed her fingernails to her palms but still failed to calm the butterflies twirling in her stomach. The merciless sun beating down on Vancouver airport's tarmac added to her distress. She wiped the perspiration from her forehead and hoped her underarms didn't display their discomfort.

                     

                    The gleaming Cessna 210 drew her attention when she noticed the heat waves rippling above the metal surface of its bright yellow wings. The plane's engines purred, poised for take off. Brie hurried to catch up with her new friends and Alaska cruise mates, Matt Cameron, blind part owner of the Circle C, and his foreman, Hank. They had begged her to return with them to their ranch in Alberta. Their friendship on board Holland America's Ryndam had begun to erode her past year's misery. Grateful for their help, she couldn't back out and disappoint them.

                     

                    They quickened their steps to greet the pilot, Matt's brother, Jed. When Jed Cameron removed his sunglasses, Brie's heart flipâ€`flopped. His deep brown eyes twinkled as he grabbed Matt by the shoulders in a brotherly show of affection. Until his gaze fell on her.

                     

                    Brie focused on the tall, lean andâ€`â€`judging by his scowlâ€`â€`surly man standing in front of her. At sixâ€`footâ€`two, he towered a good six inches over her. His coal black hair displayed a sprinkling of gray, but an errant forelock dipped low on his forehead, gave him a boyish appeal. For some indeterminate reason, she had offended him; his scathing appraisal told her so.

                     

                    She stopped dead in her tracks. She had not even opened her mouth, but felt as if she were a piece of meat, inspected by him and found unfit for human consumption. She inwardly cringed; she had been made to feel like that before.

                     

                    Brie carried on with her own examination knowing it wasn't as tasteless as his. His deeply tanned, windâ€`burned complexion contrasted sharply with the white sparkle of his teeth. She wished he were toothless to destroy her initial impression of how handsome this guy was. If she could only get out of this arrangement and climb into a taxi for the short drive home. At least the jitters wouldn't attack her in her apartment.

                     

                    Against her better judgment, she had agreed to this additional excursion shortly before leaving the ship. She wished she had time to pick up other clothes. Her suitcases contained feminine, coolâ€`weather duds, perfect for the cruise they had ended this morning, but suitable for a cattle ranch? Not likely.

                    Dressed in a dark green, longâ€`sleeved shirt and beige palazzo pants, Brie forced herself to endure the suffocating heat and humidity. She pushed her long burnished tresses back from her face and prayed it would be cooler aloft. Why hadn't her instinct kicked in and goaded her back to The Gallery so she could focus on her artwork? Then she remembered her instinct had advised her to take the Alaska cruise. The trip had given her hope that her emotional wounds had started to heal. Maybe some part of her wanted to accept this further challenge and continue the process.

                     

                    Matt's introduction carried an uncompromising tone. "Jed, meet our guest, Brie Beaumont." Had Matt expected Jed's antagonism?

                     

                    "Ma'am." Jed nodded, but he didn't remove his hat or offer his hand.

                     

                    "I'm pleased we're meeting after hearing so much about you, Mr. Cameron." She ducked when a large plane thundered its takeoff overhead. She wrinkled her nose at the overpowering smell of jet fuel.

                     

                    "Don't believe everythin' they said. Matthew's been known to exaggerate and Hank's not a helluva lot better." He winked at Matt. Hank shrugged his innocence and the pilot grinned.

                     

                    Trying to appear unperturbed, Brie extended her hand. She glanced up at Jed's face and wondered if the man would refuse to shake it. Was his rudeness a bluff or her imagination running rampant? He took the bait with obvious reluctance, but his grasp was firm, too firm. She was glad the handshake didn't last long because her fingers stung from his tight squeeze, a deliberate show of power. If he thought he impressed her by his display of strength, he was wrongâ€`â€`she'd had enough strongâ€`armed tactics used against her to last a lifetime.

                     

                    "I'm really glad Brie is going to be staying at the ranch, Jed," Matt said. "She guided me around the ship when Hank was seasick. I think she deserves a longer vacation since I took up so much of her time."

                     

                    Brie reached down and patted Matt's hand. "It was a pleasure to help you enjoy the scenery, Matt. It forced me to look at the landscape in more detail so I could describe it to you. I felt like I was seeing everything through your eyes and that made it extraordinary."

                     

                    "If you two are through fawnin' over each other, we'll get underway," Jed muttered. "There's a lot of work waitin' and we're burnin' daylight, Miss Beaumont."

                     

                    "It's Mrs. Beaumont, but please, call me Brie."

                     

                    "Your family in the cheese business?"

                     

                    Her mouth dropped as she noticed the lack of humor in his voice. She choked back the lump in her throat. She had always liked her first name; it was the Beaumont that caused her to want to puke. If she could, she would switch back to her maiden name, but changing monikers was for divorcées, not widows.

                    "Have you ever flown in a small plane before, ma'am?" Jed's neutral question surprised her. She had expected a snarl.

                     

                    "This will be my first time, and I'm excited. After enjoying our cruise so much, the flight will be doubly rewarding." She noticed he did a doubleâ€`take at her last statement. As he pivoted on his heel, she saw his jaw flinch. What's his problem? Had she unknowingly increased his irritation? In the midst of rolling her eyes at Hank, Jed turned back and saw her. His dark eyes flashed a warning.

                     

                    "You don't have any responsibilities to take care of?" Jed asked, walking backward. His eyes pierced her like they were pitching shards of glass.

                     

                    "I called my friend, Carol, from the ship after I accepted Matt's invitation. I told her where I was going; she volunteered to take over my obligations."

                     

                    As they caught up with him, Jed turned and grumbled into Matt's ear, "Is `Matthew' too formal for the lady?"

                     

                    Brie's fingernails dug into her palms. He was the first stranger she had ever met with the ability to irritate her right away. She'd be damned if she would let him keep the upper hand.

                     

                    Excerpt #2

                     

                    Side by side, Brie and Jed rode through the south gate. The prospect for simply enjoying the day looked bleak. Brie turned up her jacket's collar as cool spits of breeze brushed harshly against her neck. With her breath billowing puffs of white vapor, she unfastened the tie that held up her hair in order to gain a little extra warmth from the thick mass falling loosely to her shoulders.

                     

                    Since Jed wasn't chatting and showed no aspiration to be friendly, she concentrated on the scenery. Now and then he'd pause to straighten a fence post and she would be far ahead before she'd realize he hadn't kept up the pace. He seemed perfectly content to ignore her jaunts. Brie made up her mind to put up with the slight, and instead, relish the pleasure derived from roaming the range.

                     

                    At one point, Jed galloped past her. She deliberately kept her pace even so she could study the mountains. She didn't realize Misty had caught up to Jed, until she felt her foot in the stirrup brush against his. He had stopped and waited for her. The silence between the two of them was obviously getting on his nerves, too.

                     

                    "Are you warm enough? he asked. I have a blanket in the saddlebag you could wrap around yourself. Your jacket is too light."

                     

                    She was about to argue the fact, not wanting to admit he might be right but thought better of it. He wasn't blind and could probably detect the shivering she'd struggled to keep to a minimum. He'd be angrier if she acted stupid as well. She accepted the offer with a smile, slung the blanket onâ€`â€`shawl styleâ€`â€`and soaked up the additional warmth.

                     

                    Gradually, the heat from the sun warmed the air as they continued along the barbed wire. Eventually, Brie was able to remove herself from the cocoon. The rancher broke the silence again as she handed the blanket back.

                     

                    "You seem to be more relaxed the last hour or so. Were you jumpy about being out here alone with me?" He looked her straight in the eye, silently demanding an honest answer to his nerveâ€`wracking question.

                     

                    "To tell you the truth, yes. I wasn't comfortable with the idea." The force behind his stare irked her. "Does that give you a feeling of power?"

                     

                    He ignored her question. "You don't like me much, do you?"

                     

                    "I don't know you, just as you don't really know me. You're so blatantly critical of me that I do think you're pathetic."

                     

                    "I never once criticized you."

                     

                    "Not with wordsâ€`â€`with your eyes. For some reason, Jed, it seems I have to prove myself to you."

                     

                    "You don't need to prove anythin' to me. I already know all I need to know."

                     

                    His satisfied smirk was more than she could stand. "You don't know me nearly as well as you think. You'd love to prove that I don't fit in here. Wait a minute, dammit. Can I borrow your rifle?"

                     

                    Surprised by the request, he hesitated, then reluctantly withdrew his Winchester from its sheath and passed it over.

                     

                    "See the beer can sitting on the post near that gate?" she asked. Her teeth bit down on her lip.

                     

                    Jed squinted in the direction she pointed. About seventyâ€`five yards away perched the can, a lonely edifice to the world she had temporarily left behind her. He nodded. She raised the rifle, aimed, and fired.

                     

                    Available at http://champagnebooks.com/shop/index.php?route=product/product&manufacturer_id=68&product_id=323 ; and at www.fictionwise.com

                     

                    Carol McPhee: http://carolmcphee.webs.com

                     

                    Strong, smart, sensuous heroines; heroes to die for.

                     

                     

                  • Carol McPhee
                    Struggling to pick up the pieces of her life, widow Brie Beaumont accepts an invitation to visit the Circle C ranch in Canada s Rocky Mountains. Coâ€`owner
                    Message 9 of 13 , Dec 19, 2011
                    • 0 Attachment

                      Struggling to pick up the pieces of her life, widow Brie Beaumont accepts an invitation to visit the Circle C ranch in Canada's Rocky Mountains. Coâ€`owner Jed Cameron distrusts Brie's motives. He is determined to protect his brother and the ranch from the redheaded gold digger. But when tragedy strikes, Jed's only hope is the woman he vowed to run off.

                       

                      One

                      She shouldn't have come! From the moment two wellâ€`worn, black leather cowboyâ€`booted feet hit the ground and the pilot swaggered around the nose of his plane toward her, Brienna Beaumont knew she shouldn't invade Jed Cameron's territory.

                       

                      She inhaled sharply and pressed her fingernails to her palms but still failed to calm the butterflies twirling in her stomach. The merciless sun beating down on Vancouver airport's tarmac added to her distress. She wiped the perspiration from her forehead and hoped her underarms didn't display their discomfort.

                       

                      The gleaming Cessna 210 drew her attention when she noticed the heat waves rippling above the metal surface of its bright yellow wings. The plane's engines purred, poised for take off. Brie hurried to catch up with her new friends and Alaska cruise mates, Matt Cameron, blind part owner of the Circle C, and his foreman, Hank. They had begged her to return with them to their ranch in Alberta. Their friendship on board Holland America's Ryndam had begun to erode her past year's misery. Grateful for their help, she couldn't back out and disappoint them.

                       

                      They quickened their steps to greet the pilot, Matt's brother, Jed. When Jed Cameron removed his sunglasses, Brie's heart flipâ€`flopped. His deep brown eyes twinkled as he grabbed Matt by the shoulders in a brotherly show of affection. Until his gaze fell on her.

                       

                      Brie focused on the tall, lean andâ€`â€`judging by his scowlâ€`â€`surly man standing in front of her. At sixâ€`footâ€`two, he towered a good six inches over her. His coal black hair displayed a sprinkling of gray, but an errant forelock dipped low on his forehead, gave him a boyish appeal. For some indeterminate reason, she had offended him; his scathing appraisal told her so.

                       

                      She stopped dead in her tracks. She had not even opened her mouth, but felt as if she were a piece of meat, inspected by him and found unfit for human consumption. She inwardly cringed; she had been made to feel like that before.

                       

                      Brie carried on with her own examination knowing it wasn't as tasteless as his. His deeply tanned, windâ€`burned complexion contrasted sharply with the white sparkle of his teeth. She wished he were toothless to destroy her initial impression of how handsome this guy was. If she could only get out of this arrangement and climb into a taxi for the short drive home. At least the jitters wouldn't attack her in her apartment.

                       

                      Against her better judgment, she had agreed to this additional excursion shortly before leaving the ship. She wished she had time to pick up other clothes. Her suitcases contained feminine, coolâ€`weather duds, perfect for the cruise they had ended this morning, but suitable for a cattle ranch? Not likely.

                      Dressed in a dark green, longâ€`sleeved shirt and beige palazzo pants, Brie forced herself to endure the suffocating heat and humidity. She pushed her long burnished tresses back from her face and prayed it would be cooler aloft. Why hadn't her instinct kicked in and goaded her back to The Gallery so she could focus on her artwork? Then she remembered her instinct had advised her to take the Alaska cruise. The trip had given her hope that her emotional wounds had started to heal. Maybe some part of her wanted to accept this further challenge and continue the process.

                       

                      Matt's introduction carried an uncompromising tone. "Jed, meet our guest, Brie Beaumont." Had Matt expected Jed's antagonism?

                       

                      "Ma'am." Jed nodded, but he didn't remove his hat or offer his hand.

                       

                      "I'm pleased we're meeting after hearing so much about you, Mr. Cameron." She ducked when a large plane thundered its takeoff overhead. She wrinkled her nose at the overpowering smell of jet fuel.

                       

                      "Don't believe everythin' they said. Matthew's been known to exaggerate and Hank's not a helluva lot better." He winked at Matt. Hank shrugged his innocence and the pilot grinned.

                       

                      Trying to appear unperturbed, Brie extended her hand. She glanced up at Jed's face and wondered if the man would refuse to shake it. Was his rudeness a bluff or her imagination running rampant? He took the bait with obvious reluctance, but his grasp was firm, too firm. She was glad the handshake didn't last long because her fingers stung from his tight squeeze, a deliberate show of power. If he thought he impressed her by his display of strength, he was wrongâ€`â€`she'd had enough strongâ€`armed tactics used against her to last a lifetime.

                       

                      "I'm really glad Brie is going to be staying at the ranch, Jed," Matt said. "She guided me around the ship when Hank was seasick. I think she deserves a longer vacation since I took up so much of her time."

                       

                      Brie reached down and patted Matt's hand. "It was a pleasure to help you enjoy the scenery, Matt. It forced me to look at the landscape in more detail so I could describe it to you. I felt like I was seeing everything through your eyes and that made it extraordinary."

                       

                      "If you two are through fawnin' over each other, we'll get underway," Jed muttered. "There's a lot of work waitin' and we're burnin' daylight, Miss Beaumont."

                       

                      "It's Mrs. Beaumont, but please, call me Brie."

                       

                      "Your family in the cheese business?"

                       

                      Her mouth dropped as she noticed the lack of humor in his voice. She choked back the lump in her throat. She had always liked her first name; it was the Beaumont that caused her to want to puke. If she could, she would switch back to her maiden name, but changing monikers was for divorcées, not widows.

                      "Have you ever flown in a small plane before, ma'am?" Jed's neutral question surprised her. She had expected a snarl.

                       

                      "This will be my first time, and I'm excited. After enjoying our cruise so much, the flight will be doubly rewarding." She noticed he did a doubleâ€`take at her last statement. As he pivoted on his heel, she saw his jaw flinch. What's his problem? Had she unknowingly increased his irritation? In the midst of rolling her eyes at Hank, Jed turned back and saw her. His dark eyes flashed a warning.

                       

                      "You don't have any responsibilities to take care of?" Jed asked, walking backward. His eyes pierced her like they were pitching shards of glass.

                       

                      "I called my friend, Carol, from the ship after I accepted Matt's invitation. I told her where I was going; she volunteered to take over my obligations."

                       

                      As they caught up with him, Jed turned and grumbled into Matt's ear, "Is `Matthew' too formal for the lady?"

                       

                      Brie's fingernails dug into her palms. He was the first stranger she had ever met with the ability to irritate her right away. She'd be damned if she would let him keep the upper hand.

                       

                      Excerpt #2

                       

                      Side by side, Brie and Jed rode through the south gate. The prospect for simply enjoying the day looked bleak. Brie turned up her jacket's collar as cool spits of breeze brushed harshly against her neck. With her breath billowing puffs of white vapor, she unfastened the tie that held up her hair in order to gain a little extra warmth from the thick mass falling loosely to her shoulders.

                       

                      Since Jed wasn't chatting and showed no aspiration to be friendly, she concentrated on the scenery. Now and then he'd pause to straighten a fence post and she would be far ahead before she'd realize he hadn't kept up the pace. He seemed perfectly content to ignore her jaunts. Brie made up her mind to put up with the slight, and instead, relish the pleasure derived from roaming the range.

                       

                      At one point, Jed galloped past her. She deliberately kept her pace even so she could study the mountains. She didn't realize Misty had caught up to Jed, until she felt her foot in the stirrup brush against his. He had stopped and waited for her. The silence between the two of them was obviously getting on his nerves, too.

                       

                      "Are you warm enough? he asked. I have a blanket in the saddlebag you could wrap around yourself. Your jacket is too light."

                       

                      She was about to argue the fact, not wanting to admit he might be right but thought better of it. He wasn't blind and could probably detect the shivering she'd struggled to keep to a minimum. He'd be angrier if she acted stupid as well. She accepted the offer with a smile, slung the blanket onâ€`â€`shawl styleâ€`â€`and soaked up the additional warmth.

                       

                      Gradually, the heat from the sun warmed the air as they continued along the barbed wire. Eventually, Brie was able to remove herself from the cocoon. The rancher broke the silence again as she handed the blanket back.

                       

                      "You seem to be more relaxed the last hour or so. Were you jumpy about being out here alone with me?" He looked her straight in the eye, silently demanding an honest answer to his nerveâ€`wracking question.

                       

                      "To tell you the truth, yes. I wasn't comfortable with the idea." The force behind his stare irked her. "Does that give you a feeling of power?"

                       

                      He ignored her question. "You don't like me much, do you?"

                       

                      "I don't know you, just as you don't really know me. You're so blatantly critical of me that I do think you're pathetic."

                       

                      "I never once criticized you."

                       

                      "Not with wordsâ€`â€`with your eyes. For some reason, Jed, it seems I have to prove myself to you."

                       

                      "You don't need to prove anythin' to me. I already know all I need to know."

                       

                      His satisfied smirk was more than she could stand. "You don't know me nearly as well as you think. You'd love to prove that I don't fit in here. Wait a minute, dammit. Can I borrow your rifle?"

                       

                      Surprised by the request, he hesitated, then reluctantly withdrew his Winchester from its sheath and passed it over.

                       

                      "See the beer can sitting on the post near that gate?" she asked. Her teeth bit down on her lip.

                       

                      Jed squinted in the direction she pointed. About seventyâ€`five yards away perched the can, a lonely edifice to the world she had temporarily left behind her. He nodded. She raised the rifle, aimed, and fired.

                       

                      Available in tradepaperback at Struggling to pick up the pieces of her life, widow Brie Beaumont accepts an invitation to visit the Circle C ranch in Canada's Rocky Mountains. Coâ€`owner Jed Cameron distrusts Brie's motives. He is determined to protect his brother and the ranch from the redheaded gold digger. But when tragedy strikes, Jed's only hope is the woman he vowed to run off.

                       

                      One

                      She shouldn't have come! From the moment two wellâ€`worn, black leather cowboyâ€`booted feet hit the ground and the pilot swaggered around the nose of his plane toward her, Brienna Beaumont knew she shouldn't invade Jed Cameron's territory.

                       

                      She inhaled sharply and pressed her fingernails to her palms but still failed to calm the butterflies twirling in her stomach. The merciless sun beating down on Vancouver airport's tarmac added to her distress. She wiped the perspiration from her forehead and hoped her underarms didn't display their discomfort.

                       

                      The gleaming Cessna 210 drew her attention when she noticed the heat waves rippling above the metal surface of its bright yellow wings. The plane's engines purred, poised for take off. Brie hurried to catch up with her new friends and Alaska cruise mates, Matt Cameron, blind part owner of the Circle C, and his foreman, Hank. They had begged her to return with them to their ranch in Alberta. Their friendship on board Holland America's Ryndam had begun to erode her past year's misery. Grateful for their help, she couldn't back out and disappoint them.

                       

                      They quickened their steps to greet the pilot, Matt's brother, Jed. When Jed Cameron removed his sunglasses, Brie's heart flipâ€`flopped. His deep brown eyes twinkled as he grabbed Matt by the shoulders in a brotherly show of affection. Until his gaze fell on her.

                       

                      Brie focused on the tall, lean andâ€`â€`judging by his scowlâ€`â€`surly man standing in front of her. At sixâ€`footâ€`two, he towered a good six inches over her. His coal black hair displayed a sprinkling of gray, but an errant forelock dipped low on his forehead, gave him a boyish appeal. For some indeterminate reason, she had offended him; his scathing appraisal told her so.

                       

                      She stopped dead in her tracks. She had not even opened her mouth, but felt as if she were a piece of meat, inspected by him and found unfit for human consumption. She inwardly cringed; she had been made to feel like that before.

                       

                      Brie carried on with her own examination knowing it wasn't as tasteless as his. His deeply tanned, windâ€`burned complexion contrasted sharply with the white sparkle of his teeth. She wished he were toothless to destroy her initial impression of how handsome this guy was. If she could only get out of this arrangement and climb into a taxi for the short drive home. At least the jitters wouldn't attack her in her apartment.

                       

                      Against her better judgment, she had agreed to this additional excursion shortly before leaving the ship. She wished she had time to pick up other clothes. Her suitcases contained feminine, coolâ€`weather duds, perfect for the cruise they had ended this morning, but suitable for a cattle ranch? Not likely.

                      Dressed in a dark green, longâ€`sleeved shirt and beige palazzo pants, Brie forced herself to endure the suffocating heat and humidity. She pushed her long burnished tresses back from her face and prayed it would be cooler aloft. Why hadn't her instinct kicked in and goaded her back to The Gallery so she could focus on her artwork? Then she remembered her instinct had advised her to take the Alaska cruise. The trip had given her hope that her emotional wounds had started to heal. Maybe some part of her wanted to accept this further challenge and continue the process.

                       

                      Matt's introduction carried an uncompromising tone. "Jed, meet our guest, Brie Beaumont." Had Matt expected Jed's antagonism?

                       

                      "Ma'am." Jed nodded, but he didn't remove his hat or offer his hand.

                       

                      "I'm pleased we're meeting after hearing so much about you, Mr. Cameron." She ducked when a large plane thundered its takeoff overhead. She wrinkled her nose at the overpowering smell of jet fuel.

                       

                      "Don't believe everythin' they said. Matthew's been known to exaggerate and Hank's not a helluva lot better." He winked at Matt. Hank shrugged his innocence and the pilot grinned.

                       

                      Trying to appear unperturbed, Brie extended her hand. She glanced up at Jed's face and wondered if the man would refuse to shake it. Was his rudeness a bluff or her imagination running rampant? He took the bait with obvious reluctance, but his grasp was firm, too firm. She was glad the handshake didn't last long because her fingers stung from his tight squeeze, a deliberate show of power. If he thought he impressed her by his display of strength, he was wrongâ€`â€`she'd had enough strongâ€`armed tactics used against her to last a lifetime.

                       

                      "I'm really glad Brie is going to be staying at the ranch, Jed," Matt said. "She guided me around the ship when Hank was seasick. I think she deserves a longer vacation since I took up so much of her time."

                       

                      Brie reached down and patted Matt's hand. "It was a pleasure to help you enjoy the scenery, Matt. It forced me to look at the landscape in more detail so I could describe it to you. I felt like I was seeing everything through your eyes and that made it extraordinary."

                       

                      "If you two are through fawnin' over each other, we'll get underway," Jed muttered. "There's a lot of work waitin' and we're burnin' daylight, Miss Beaumont."

                       

                      "It's Mrs. Beaumont, but please, call me Brie."

                       

                      "Your family in the cheese business?"

                       

                      Her mouth dropped as she noticed the lack of humor in his voice. She choked back the lump in her throat. She had always liked her first name; it was the Beaumont that caused her to want to puke. If she could, she would switch back to her maiden name, but changing monikers was for divorcées, not widows.

                      "Have you ever flown in a small plane before, ma'am?" Jed's neutral question surprised her. She had expected a snarl.

                       

                      "This will be my first time, and I'm excited. After enjoying our cruise so much, the flight will be doubly rewarding." She noticed he did a doubleâ€`take at her last statement. As he pivoted on his heel, she saw his jaw flinch. What's his problem? Had she unknowingly increased his irritation? In the midst of rolling her eyes at Hank, Jed turned back and saw her. His dark eyes flashed a warning.

                       

                      "You don't have any responsibilities to take care of?" Jed asked, walking backward. His eyes pierced her like they were pitching shards of glass.

                       

                      "I called my friend, Carol, from the ship after I accepted Matt's invitation. I told her where I was going; she volunteered to take over my obligations."

                       

                      As they caught up with him, Jed turned and grumbled into Matt's ear, "Is `Matthew' too formal for the lady?"

                       

                      Brie's fingernails dug into her palms. He was the first stranger she had ever met with the ability to irritate her right away. She'd be damned if she would let him keep the upper hand.

                       

                      Excerpt #2

                       

                      Side by side, Brie and Jed rode through the south gate. The prospect for simply enjoying the day looked bleak. Brie turned up her jacket's collar as cool spits of breeze brushed harshly against her neck. With her breath billowing puffs of white vapor, she unfastened the tie that held up her hair in order to gain a little extra warmth from the thick mass falling loosely to her shoulders.

                       

                      Since Jed wasn't chatting and showed no aspiration to be friendly, she concentrated on the scenery. Now and then he'd pause to straighten a fence post and she would be far ahead before she'd realize he hadn't kept up the pace. He seemed perfectly content to ignore her jaunts. Brie made up her mind to put up with the slight, and instead, relish the pleasure derived from roaming the range.

                       

                      At one point, Jed galloped past her. She deliberately kept her pace even so she could study the mountains. She didn't realize Misty had caught up to Jed, until she felt her foot in the stirrup brush against his. He had stopped and waited for her. The silence between the two of them was obviously getting on his nerves, too.

                       

                      "Are you warm enough? he asked. I have a blanket in the saddlebag you could wrap around yourself. Your jacket is too light."

                       

                      She was about to argue the fact, not wanting to admit he might be right but thought better of it. He wasn't blind and could probably detect the shivering she'd struggled to keep to a minimum. He'd be angrier if she acted stupid as well. She accepted the offer with a smile, slung the blanket onâ€`â€`shawl styleâ€`â€`and soaked up the additional warmth.

                       

                      Gradually, the heat from the sun warmed the air as they continued along the barbed wire. Eventually, Brie was able to remove herself from the cocoon. The rancher broke the silence again as she handed the blanket back.

                       

                      "You seem to be more relaxed the last hour or so. Were you jumpy about being out here alone with me?" He looked her straight in the eye, silently demanding an honest answer to his nerveâ€`wracking question.

                       

                      "To tell you the truth, yes. I wasn't comfortable with the idea." The force behind his stare irked her. "Does that give you a feeling of power?"

                       

                      He ignored her question. "You don't like me much, do you?"

                       

                      "I don't know you, just as you don't really know me. You're so blatantly critical of me that I do think you're pathetic."

                       

                      "I never once criticized you."

                       

                      "Not with wordsâ€`â€`with your eyes. For some reason, Jed, it seems I have to prove myself to you."

                       

                      "You don't need to prove anythin' to me. I already know all I need to know."

                       

                      His satisfied smirk was more than she could stand. "You don't know me nearly as well as you think. You'd love to prove that I don't fit in here. Wait a minute, dammit. Can I borrow your rifle?"

                       

                      Surprised by the request, he hesitated, then reluctantly withdrew his Winchester from its sheath and passed it over.

                       

                      "See the beer can sitting on the post near that gate?" she asked. Her teeth bit down on her lip.

                       

                      Jed squinted in the direction she pointed. About seventyâ€`five yards away perched the can, a lonely edifice to the world she had temporarily left behind her. He nodded. She raised the rifle, aimed, and fired.

                       

                      Available at http://champagnebooks.com/shop/index.php?route=product/product&manufacturer_id=68&product_id=323 ; and at www.fictionwise.com

                       

                      Carol McPhee: http://carolmcphee.webs.com

                       

                      Strong, smart, sensuous heroines; heroes to die for.

                       

                       

                    • Carol McPhee
                      Struggling to pick up the pieces of her life, widow Brie Beaumont accepts an invitation to visit the Circle C ranch in Canada s Rocky Mountains. Co-owner Jed
                      Message 10 of 13 , Jan 23, 2012
                      • 0 Attachment
                        Struggling to pick up the pieces of her life, widow Brie Beaumont
                        accepts an invitation to visit the Circle C ranch in Canada's Rocky
                        Mountains. Co-owner Jed Cameron distrusts Brie's motives. He is
                        determined to protect his brother and the ranch from the redheaded gold
                        digger. But when tragedy strikes, Jed's only hope is the woman he vowed
                        to run off.

                        One
                        She shouldn't have come! From the moment two well-worn, black
                        leather cowboy-booted feet hit the ground and the pilot swaggered around
                        the nose of his plane toward her, Brienna Beaumont knew she
                        shouldn't invade Jed Cameron's territory.

                        She inhaled sharply and pressed her fingernails to her palms but still
                        failed to calm the butterflies twirling in her stomach. The merciless
                        sun beating down on Vancouver airport's tarmac added to her
                        distress. She wiped the perspiration from her forehead and hoped her
                        underarms didn't display their discomfort.

                        The gleaming Cessna 210 drew her attention when she noticed the heat
                        waves rippling above the metal surface of its bright yellow wings. The
                        plane's engines purred, poised for take off. Brie hurried to catch
                        up with her new friends and Alaska cruise mates, Matt Cameron, blind
                        part owner of the Circle C, and his foreman, Hank. They had begged her
                        to return with them to their ranch in Alberta. Their friendship on board
                        Holland America's Ryndam had begun to erode her past year's
                        misery. Grateful for their help, she couldn't back out and
                        disappoint them.

                        They quickened their steps to greet the pilot, Matt's brother, Jed.
                        When Jed Cameron removed his sunglasses, Brie's heart flip-flopped.
                        His deep brown eyes twinkled as he grabbed Matt by the shoulders in a
                        brotherly show of affection. Until his gaze fell on her.

                        Brie focused on the tall, lean and--judging by his scowl--surly man
                        standing in front of her. At six-foot-two, he towered a good six inches
                        over her. His coal black hair displayed a sprinkling of gray, but an
                        errant forelock dipped low on his forehead, gave him a boyish appeal.
                        For some indeterminate reason, she had offended him; his scathing
                        appraisal told her so.

                        She stopped dead in her tracks. She had not even opened her mouth, but
                        felt as if she were a piece of meat, inspected by him and found unfit
                        for human consumption. She inwardly cringed; she had been made to feel
                        like that before.

                        Brie carried on with her own examination knowing it wasn't as
                        tasteless as his. His deeply tanned, wind-burned complexion contrasted
                        sharply with the white sparkle of his teeth. She wished he were
                        toothless to destroy her initial impression of how handsome this guy
                        was. If she could only get out of this arrangement and climb into a taxi
                        for the short drive home. At least the jitters wouldn't attack her
                        in her apartment.

                        Against her better judgment, she had agreed to this additional excursion
                        shortly before leaving the ship. She wished she had time to pick up
                        other clothes. Her suitcases contained feminine, cool-weather duds,
                        perfect for the cruise they had ended this morning, but suitable for a
                        cattle ranch? Not likely.

                        Dressed in a dark green, long-sleeved shirt and beige palazzo pants,
                        Brie forced herself to endure the suffocating heat and humidity. She
                        pushed her long burnished tresses back from her face and prayed it would
                        be cooler aloft. Why hadn't her instinct kicked in and goaded her
                        back to The Gallery so she could focus on her artwork? Then she
                        remembered her instinct had advised her to take the Alaska cruise. The
                        trip had given her hope that her emotional wounds had started to heal.
                        Maybe some part of her wanted to accept this further challenge and
                        continue the process.

                        Matt's introduction carried an uncompromising tone. "Jed, meet our
                        guest, Brie Beaumont." Had Matt expected Jed's antagonism?

                        "Ma'am." Jed nodded, but he didn't remove his hat or offer his
                        hand.

                        "I'm pleased we're meeting after hearing so much about you, Mr.
                        Cameron." She ducked when a large plane thundered its takeoff overhead.
                        She wrinkled her nose at the overpowering smell of jet fuel.

                        "Don't believe everythin' they said. Matthew's been known to
                        exaggerate and Hank's not a helluva lot better." He winked at Matt.
                        Hank shrugged his innocence and the pilot grinned.

                        Trying to appear unperturbed, Brie extended her hand. She glanced up at
                        Jed's face and wondered if the man would refuse to shake it. Was his
                        rudeness a bluff or her imagination running rampant? He took the bait
                        with obvious reluctance, but his grasp was firm, too firm. She was glad
                        the handshake didn't last long because her fingers stung from his
                        tight squeeze, a deliberate show of power. If he thought he impressed
                        her by his display of strength, he was wrong--she'd had enough
                        strong-armed tactics used against her to last a lifetime.

                        "I'm really glad Brie is going to be staying at the ranch, Jed,"
                        Matt said. "She guided me around the ship when Hank was seasick. I think
                        she deserves a longer vacation since I took up so much of her time."

                        Brie reached down and patted Matt's hand. "It was a pleasure to help
                        you enjoy the scenery, Matt. It forced me to look at the landscape in
                        more detail so I could describe it to you. I felt like I was seeing
                        everything through your eyes and that made it extraordinary."

                        "If you two are through fawnin' over each other, we'll get
                        underway," Jed muttered. "There's a lot of work waitin' and
                        we're burnin' daylight, Miss Beaumont."

                        "It's Mrs. Beaumont, but please, call me Brie."

                        "Your family in the cheese business?"

                        Her mouth dropped as she noticed the lack of humor in his voice. She
                        choked back the lump in her throat. She had always liked her first name;
                        it was the Beaumont that caused her to want to puke. If she could, she
                        would switch back to her maiden name, but changing monikers was for
                        divorcées, not widows.

                        "Have you ever flown in a small plane before, ma'am?" Jed's
                        neutral question surprised her. She had expected a snarl.

                        "This will be my first time, and I'm excited. After enjoying our
                        cruise so much, the flight will be doubly rewarding." She noticed he did
                        a double-take at her last statement. As he pivoted on his heel, she saw
                        his jaw flinch. What's his problem? Had she unknowingly increased
                        his irritation? In the midst of rolling her eyes at Hank, Jed turned
                        back and saw her. His dark eyes flashed a warning.

                        "You don't have any responsibilities to take care of?" Jed asked,
                        walking backward. His eyes pierced her like they were pitching shards of
                        glass.

                        "I called my friend, Carol, from the ship after I accepted Matt's
                        invitation. I told her where I was going; she volunteered to take over
                        my obligations."

                        As they caught up with him, Jed turned and grumbled into Matt's ear,
                        "Is `Matthew' too formal for the lady?"

                        Brie's fingernails dug into her palms. He was the first stranger she
                        had ever met with the ability to irritate her right away. She'd be
                        damned if she would let him keep the upper hand.

                        Excerpt #2

                        Side by side, Brie and Jed rode through the south gate. The prospect for
                        simply enjoying the day looked bleak. Brie turned up her jacket's
                        collar as cool spits of breeze brushed harshly against her neck. With
                        her breath billowing puffs of white vapor, she unfastened the tie that
                        held up her hair in order to gain a little extra warmth from the thick
                        mass falling loosely to her shoulders.

                        Since Jed wasn't chatting and showed no aspiration to be friendly,
                        she concentrated on the scenery. Now and then he'd pause to
                        straighten a fence post and she would be far ahead before she'd
                        realize he hadn't kept up the pace. He seemed perfectly content to
                        ignore her jaunts. Brie made up her mind to put up with the slight, and
                        instead, relish the pleasure derived from roaming the range.

                        At one point, Jed galloped past her. She deliberately kept her pace even
                        so she could study the mountains. She didn't realize Misty had
                        caught up to Jed, until she felt her foot in the stirrup brush against
                        his. He had stopped and waited for her. The silence between the two of
                        them was obviously getting on his nerves, too.

                        "Are you warm enough? he asked. I have a blanket in the saddlebag you
                        could wrap around yourself. Your jacket is too light."

                        She was about to argue the fact, not wanting to admit he might be right
                        but thought better of it. He wasn't blind and could probably detect
                        the shivering she'd struggled to keep to a minimum. He'd be
                        angrier if she acted stupid as well. She accepted the offer with a
                        smile, slung the blanket on--shawl style--and soaked up the additional
                        warmth.

                        Gradually, the heat from the sun warmed the air as they continued along
                        the barbed wire. Eventually, Brie was able to remove herself from the
                        cocoon. The rancher broke the silence again as she handed the blanket
                        back.

                        "You seem to be more relaxed the last hour or so. Were you jumpy about
                        being out here alone with me?" He looked her straight in the eye,
                        silently demanding an honest answer to his nerve-wracking question.

                        "To tell you the truth, yes. I wasn't comfortable with the idea."
                        The force behind his stare irked her. "Does that give you a feeling of
                        power?"

                        He ignored her question. "You don't like me much, do you?"

                        "I don't know you, just as you don't really know me. You're
                        so blatantly critical of me that I do think you're pathetic."

                        "I never once criticized you."

                        "Not with words--with your eyes. For some reason, Jed, it seems I have
                        to prove myself to you."

                        "You don't need to prove anythin' to me. I already know all I
                        need to know."

                        His satisfied smirk was more than she could stand. "You don't know
                        me nearly as well as you think. You'd love to prove that I don't
                        fit in here. Wait a minute, dammit. Can I borrow your rifle?"

                        Surprised by the request, he hesitated, then reluctantly withdrew his
                        Winchester from its sheath and passed it over.

                        "See the beer can sitting on the post near that gate?" she asked. Her
                        teeth bit down on her lip.

                        Jed squinted in the direction she pointed. About seventy-five yards away
                        perched the can, a lonely edifice to the world she had temporarily left
                        behind her. He nodded. She raised the rifle, aimed, and fired.

                        Available in tradepaperback at
                        http://champagnebooks.com/shop/index.php?route=product/product&manufactu\
                        rer_id=68&product_id=323 and www.fictionwise.com

                        Carol McPhee: http://carolmcphee.webs.com
                        Strong, smart, sensuous heroines; heroes to die for.
                      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.