In this third week of December 2015, I hereby call to order the 48th meeting of Kate’s Book Club. Every meeting, we shall be reading a tome either (a) penned by an author named Kate or (b) that includes a character named Kate or (c) that this Kate liked a whole lot and thinks you will too. If you missed our last meeting, you want to get caught up.
There are fewer than 12 days left until Christmas. In these last few shopping days left, Club members, I have the perfect last minute holiday gifts for the romance reader in your life!
Gift set 1: Kate Douglas’ newest suspense series, set in Sonoma wine country—and no, there are no bears, wolves, or cats, oh my! Perfect for the anti-paranormal romancers in your life.
So far there are three installments in the series. The first, “Tangled”, included in the Hot Alphas anthology, is short but strong and sweet. The second is Intimate, spicy and suspense filled. And the third, Redemption is darkly dangerous. This meeting, I’ll give you a glimpse at the beginning (for a taste of the next two, tune in to the next meetings).
The Blurb: Hot Alphas
Four sexy short stories featuring four hot alpha heroes….
In Tangled by Kate Douglas, Nate shows up to work at Tangled Vineyards ready to do what he loves best—craft award-winning wines. But when something better comes in the form of Cassie, the winemaker and former owner, Nate is completely love-drunk. Getting involved with Tangled’s mixologist is a bad way to start off a new job, but with Cassie as a temptation, Nate doesn’t stand a chance.
Kate’s Book Report:
Can you say yum! I can, and so can Kate Douglas—maybe it’s a Kate thing. All I know, is that this new series is steamy, sexy, sensual, sinfully intoxicating fun. A little less (just a smidge) risqué than Douglas’ erotic paranormal fare, the Sonoma stories makes you want to whip out the wineglasses and savor something decadent. So far of the books, Tangled is my favorite (btw, the other stories in this anthology are also awesome; you have to excuse my Kate bias). It might be because it’s the very first and something radically different from her recent work, or because it’s a novella which forces Douglas to get to the point a little faster than usual (I love suspense, but it kills me!), or superhot Nate who seems to show up right on time. There is something so lovable about this beautiful beginning.
Ok, so loyal Bookclubbers, you know I really do know what I love here—I’m not shy with my real feelings. So… if I’m really honest, it’s not the hunky alpha hero that makes this story for me: it’s the amazing and awe-inspiring heroine. Cassie is what I would consider a real woman, about her business, doing the damn thing, and handling her own. I love a female character who defies the damsel in distress model. Douglas has created a rich character here, who is realistic, likable, and relatable. She’s the chick you want to pull up a glass with.
And so you should! Absolutely! Reach into the cabinet and pull out the good wine glasses (or the mason jars—it’ll still taste good), pour your best wine (I am not hating on the $2 special), and crack open (click on the link) to this delicious quick read.
Now for the good stuff! A little taste to tempt your reading palate…
He’d been exhausted when he arrived this evening, but now he felt energized— he didn’t want what had been an absolutely perfect evening to end. He didn’t want to overstay his welcome, either, so he stood and gathered up his paper plates and the empty wine glass. “I guess that’s my cue to let you get some rest. Thank you, Cassie. This was a much nicer welcome than I expected. I’m really looking forward to working with you.”
He tossed the plates and set the glass in the sink. When he turned, Cassie was standing beside the counter with her plates in hand, staring at him again in that unnerving way she had. She made Nate feel as if she looked beneath his skin.
“I’ve enjoyed myself, too,” she said. “Thanks for sharing your pizza.” She tossed the paper plates in the trash and then stuck her glass and silverware next to Nate’s in the sink.
When she turned, they were mere inches apart. Her lips parted in surprise and he should have stepped back, given her room. But whatever had been simmering between them all evening slowly, steadily—as if he watched one of those stupid slow-motion explosions in a movie—exploded.
He cupped the back of her head with his palm and looked into her eyes. She didn’t move, but this time when she looked at him, there was nothing at all unnerving in her stare. He saw heat and desire, a need every bit as powerful as his own. As he slowly dipped his head to take her mouth, he gave her every opportunity to pull away.
She didn’t. One hand rested on his shoulder, the other softly caressed the back of his neck. Just before he kissed her, she sighed. It was the smallest hint of surrender.
It was all Nate needed.
She tasted of pizza and wine. The lush flavor of grapes was heady enough on its own, but combine that with the taste of Cassie Phillips and Nate freely admitted he didn’t have a prayer of stepping away.
This was probably one of the stupidest things she’d ever done. She had no time for a man in her life, not now, but damn this guy could kiss. He was tall and lean, at least six two or three, and movie-star gorgeous. When she first saw him, she’d thought of Bradly Cooper with his thick, dark hair and beautiful blue eyes, but beyond the way he looked, he was funny, smart and compassionate. He’d kept her laughing most of the evening with his dry sense of humor, and the time had flown. She hadn’t sat and just talked with a man for almost three years.
She’d never spent time talking with a man like Nate Dunagan.
The rambling conversations with her father didn’t count, and she was too damned busy trying to hold things together to spend any time in town where she might actually meet someone single and interesting. But Nate talked passionately about his work, about his hopes for the future, about what he wanted to do here at Tangled Vines.
They agreed on so much it was almost unsettling.
When he finally broke the kiss and rested his chin on top of her head, they were both breathing hard. She wanted him. The need was so primal, so visceral, it left her shaken, but that kiss hadn’t been enough. Not nearly enough.
He held her face between his palms and kissed her again, lightly. “Damn. When I first saw you, I thought you were beautiful, but I never expected to like you as much as I do. Or want you as badly as I do.” He laughed. “But I do, Cassie. Which means I’d better leave before I use any arguments I can think of short of brute force to haul you off to bed.”
She laughed and buried her face against his chest. He felt so wonderfully solid. Strong enough to lift some of the overwhelming pressure of trying to keep Tangled Vines alive for the past couple of years while everything went to hell. “Nate, there hasn’t been a man in my bed for over three years. I probably wouldn’t remember what to do with you if I got you there.”
He chuckled and nuzzled the sensitive skin behind her ear. But he didn’t let her go. “I imagine it’s sort of like riding a bike.”
“Ya think?” She gazed up at him, head tilted, and realized their teasing had taken on a more intimate note. Was she ready for this? She was certainly attracted. Probably too attracted.
He kissed her again, and she found herself opening to him. Holding him close enough to feel the solid proof of his erection against her belly and the yearning, tugging pull deep in her womb. When the kiss ended by mutual consent, both of them were breathing hard. “Wow.” She licked her lips. “Maybe you’re right. It’s all coming back to me.”
“Me, too.” He kissed her again, quick and hard. “I don’t want to leave.”
“I don’t want you to go.” She unbuttoned the top button on his shirt, and then the second so she could run her fingers over the hard curves of his chest. “We’d need protection,” she said. “If I have any condoms, they’re out of date.” Then she raised her head and grinned at him. “And believe me, I am so sorry right now that I’m not prepared, because I’d really like for you to stay.”Chuckling, he reached for his hip pocket and pulled out his wallet. “Don’t give up hope. Not yet.” He dug through the notes and bills that filled the thing, and came up with one relatively new looking foil packet. “I’ve got enough for one shot, so we’ll have to make it good.”
She took it from him and cocked an eyebrow. “Just how good are you?”
He kissed her. “I’ll let you be the judge of that.”
She felt so comfortable with him, as if they’d known each other for years rather than hours, but at the same time the thrill of someone new, someone smart and funny and drop dead gorgeous, was its own aphrodisiac.
At least that’s what her body was telling her.
She ran her hand over his hair. It was thick and so dark it was almost black, surprisingly soft, like silk beneath her fingers. “I do want you to stay,” she said. “It’s probably the wine talking and I’ll hate myself in the morning, but tonight has been the most fun I’ve had in so long I can’t remember as good a time. I’m not ready for it to end.”
He kissed her. Briefly, sweetly. “I’ll do my best to keep you from hating yourself.” He winked. “Or hating me, either.”
A flash of caution had Cassie adding, “No commitments, no promises. Just tonight, okay? We have to work together starting tomorrow.”
He ran his fingertip along the bridge of her nose and touched her lips. “No promises, no commitments. But I can tell you already, tonight is going to be amazing.” Before she had time to react, he picked her up, holding her in his arms as if she were just a child. The room spun, but she held on tightly to Nate—and the condom.
And pointed him toward the bedroom.
Remember, protection first kitties, and then purrrrrrrr… Until next time Bookclubbers!
Kate’s Book Club is a column on Kate-book.com featuring interviews with authors named Kate, as well as reviews of books starring Kate characters. It runs on Kate-book.com intermittently (I’m so sorry, loyal readers—life is hectic), and is written by the self-admitted bibliophile Kate E. Stephenson, who you should follow on Twitter here. Oh, and write to Kate to suggest authors and books we should read for future columns.