Exclusive Excerpt 2: Team Player

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She’s never been shy about what she wants – and now she wants them both…

‘They’re going to want to know about grandkids, if I know Mum.’ Lyle doesn’t sound happy. I thought he’d be the one keen to discuss everything. He’s the one who usually brings this shit up.

‘Tell them nothing.’ Charlie’s even less happy.

‘That’s not going to help,’ I point out. ‘We have to give them some kind of an answer.’

‘Like what?’ Charlie rests his chin on my head. ‘How can we answer something we don’t know?’

‘We say something like, “At the moment we aren’t ready for kids but unconventional families are pretty much the norm now days, so I’m sure we’ll work something out.” Would that work?’

Charlie’s nod is gentle and felt through my scalp. Lyle looks at me intently. ‘That’s good, Hannah. You’re good at this.’

‘I’ve had all day to think about it.’

Each must be lost in their thoughts because no one says anything for a long time.

‘We should sleep,’ I say softly. ‘You guys have to be rested before you go.’

Charlie hums but doesn’t stir. Lyle, frowning, looks at us both. ‘We need to have this talk tomorrow, otherwise it’ll hang over us.’

I nod. ‘I’ll talk to Irene and Lauren first thing.’

‘Should we?’ Lyle asks quietly.

‘If I organise it, neither of you will be cornered by your mother.’

‘I’m voting that Han’s our spokesman.’ Charlie, the big scaredy cat, is quick to agree with me.

Lyle nods. ‘I’m in complete agreement.’

I’m having a bit of trouble coping with the role reversal. I’m usually the one running from relationships and families and feelings. Who’d have thought I’d be doing this?

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Exclusive Excerpt: Summer Return by Elise K Ackers

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He’ll never come back to stay, unless someone asks him to…


Samantha O’Hara stood so close to the window that her breath fogged the glass. She wiped it clean with her sleeve, her eyes never leaving the men she’d known longest in her life. She’d expected Ethan to return. Significant events consistently drew him back to town. From where, no-one knew. He always arrived in the same ute, never a rental, always looking irritable and tired, but never exhausted. She guessed this meant he was about three or four hours away.

Too far to be called upon, but too close to convince her that he truly wanted to forget.

He held a glass tumbler. Mona’s. Even from this distance, Sam could tell it was empty. She hoped the rumours weren’t true. Four beers and a bourbon did not equal a drinking problem, but it surprised her that he would consume so much on such an occasion.

He was only twenty-nine, a mere month older than Cal and a year older than she, but he’d looked tired and beaten down for a long time now.

He wore the old suit that typically hung in the wardrobe of his old room. It barely fit anymore, and she wondered if there was another suit somewhere, hanging in a faraway wardrobe—one that did fit him and that never came to Denman. He was broader in the chest and shoulders than he had been, thicker in the arms and legs. More solid than she’d ever seen him. If he was going to keep coming back here for occasions, that suit was going to need to be retired.

Not wanting to be caught staring, Sam stepped away from the window and looked for something to do. She collected empty bottles, used plates and food scraps. Mingled when cornered, nodded politely and excused herself at every opportunity. Twice she rearranged the fridge and freezer to accommodate the dozens of meals, desserts, snacks, and finger foods the mourners had prepared for the fractured family.

All the while she wondered about him.

The long-awaited reunion occurred at the buffet table. Ethan drew alongside Sam as she was scraping pavlova into a plastic container. She would rather have been doing something a touch more glamorous or poignant, but she had to appreciate life’s sense of humour.

‘Hi, Sammy-doll.’

She prickled at the old nickname, the long-ago endearment that used to be whispered in her ear or cried against her throat. She looked up and smiled, and made sure the welcome extended to her eyes.

‘Hi, Ethan.’ She didn’t trust herself to say more. Just standing this close to him made her heart feel heavy. It was foolish to miss a man who had left so long ago and stupid to let his occasional returns unbalance her so much, but she’d never been able to control that.

‘You look good. Your hair’s got long.’

Sam continued to scrape, unsure how to respond. He didn’t look good, and she wouldn’t pretend he did.

He paused, slowed by her lack of answer. ‘It’s good to see you.’

Her hand stilled. She looked up, measured her tone and removed the sting from the words before she said, ‘One day you’ll say that on a normal day. But it’s good to see you too. How’ve you been spending your time?’

‘Poorly,’ was his unsatisfying answer.

Summer Return is the expanded and revised version of Elise’s Ella-nominated novella, Ask Me To Stay. It releases in July, but is available for pre-order now!

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Exclusive Excerpt: Diving Into Trouble by Shona Husk

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A submarine, a one-night-stand, and a forbidden workplace romance…


This was turning from potential hook-up into a possible date rather too quickly. He wanted to scrabble around and find something to grab onto as the ground shifted and tilted, yet a date would be nice. He hadn’t been on a real date in a while. But even as he smiled and watched the play of light on her cheek and lips, he knew it wouldn’t last.

They’d break up before he sailed. That’s what he did; the long-distance thing never worked out. He’d seen too many failed relationships on the boat. Joining the navy had scuttled his dating life and reduced it down to mini relationships of three months tops. He’d pretty much resigned himself to not having a serious relationship until he rejoined civvie street.

His looming decision raised its head. He was running out of time. He had to sign on for another two years or get out. He’d stayed in last time, and started seriously saving, putting away money for when he got out. This time he wasn’t so sure he wanted to do another two years, nor was he sure about being a civilian again since it hadn’t gone so well the first time. But when Rainy looked at him she wasn’t seeing a sailor, she was seeing a cook. Because he’d told a half-truth. He liked the idea of testing out being a civilian again.

She released her glass and turned her hand so their fingers touched. Her skin was cool and dewy and her touch sent a shiver along his skin.

And what happens after the pizza?’ It was possibly the wrong question to ask, but since she was the one putting out the suggestion he wanted to know how far she was willing to go.

She stood and for a heartbeat he thought he’d gone too far, then she walked around the table and sat next to him. ‘That depends on two things.’

Two?’ His heart was beating harder than it should be, echoing the beat of the music.

Firstly, do you remember my name?’

Of course he did. ‘Rainy. Your eyes are like the sky on a rainy day.’ A beautiful soft blue-grey. He wanted to take that back as soon as the words had fallen off his tongue. It was too obvious and too much of a pick-up line.

She laughed and shook her head. ‘I’ve heard that so many times before.’

Yet she leaned closer. Close enough that he caught the faint scent of perfume. Something like spring flowers. He hadn’t expected that, for some reason he’d expected her to smell like grease and fuel. Then her hand landed on his knee, and there was a definite glint in her eyes.

That was when he realised he wasn’t the one doing the picking up. Rainy was.

He swallowed as a rush of pure lust shot through his blood.

That was sexy. As his jeans tightened around his groin, he was hoping he passed whatever the next thing was. ‘And two is?’ He was sure his voice was a little rougher, like he’d spent the night drinking and singing karaoke.

How well do you kiss?’


31643Kurt Garland is at a crossroads: sign for another two years as a submariner or leave and rejoin civilian life. With only weeks to make up his mind, he’s torn between the financial stability and mateship of life in the Navy, and the freedom and balance outside of the military. With big life decisions on the line, Kurt needs space to think, so a one-night-stand with a sexy stranger is all he can commit to. Until his sexy stranger shows up on his submarine…

Getting accepted into the Submarine Corps was an enormous career goal for Rainy Miller, and she has no intention of screwing it up. A Marine Technician for the last eight years in the surface fleet, Rainy craves the new challenges of a submariner. With her training complete, she’s about to join a boat for the first time, and her career relies on a good impression. When her one night stand shows up in the galley, she has to shut it down, walk away, pretend it never happened. But all submariners know that secrets don’t stay secret for long on a sub

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Exclusive Excerpt: The Irredeemable Prince

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The ultimate royal bad boy is about to meet his match…


Your bad boy image isn’t something the press has over-exaggerated, is it?’ Mackenzie accused.

Prince Devereaux crossed his arms over his broad chest and an unrepentant smile spread across his mouth. ‘No.’

She hesitated. ‘It’s going to be very difficult to change public perspective.’

So, you’ll be tearing up the contract, refunding the huge deposit my brother has already paid you and flying back to England?’

Although the words were drawled lazily, she detected an energetic undertow designed to pull her in the direction he suggested. His words were a temptation, but he was in for a hell of a shock.

Mac was no quitter.

Despite every shred of sense that warned her that ripping up the contract was the safest course to follow, a stubborn streak bubbled to the surface.

I said it would be difficult to change public perspective. I didn’t say it would be impossible.’

He uncrossed his arms and his smile thinned. ‘But, be honest, that’s what you’re thinking.’

You’re going to resist any change I suggest, aren’t you?’

Absolutely.’ His tone was resolute, his expression unapologetic.

So, I may as well quit now?’

He smiled. ‘You’ve got the picture.’

She stared him down. ‘I intend to fulfil this contract and there are a few things we need to get straight from the outset. You’re my client, but make no mistake about who’s in charge. From now on you’re going to do what I tell you, when I tell you, and exactly how I tell you to do it.’

He held her regard for the longest ten seconds of her life, his expression one of idle amusement. ‘I like a woman who wants to be on top of the situation.’ There was no missing the double entendre. ‘In fact, I can picture you there.’

Mac tried to ignore the prickling heat which spread across her chest like a blazing bushfire. ‘Really? I can picture you with a tomahawk through your skull.’ He burst out laughing, but she ignored him. ‘I’m sure I’m not the only one to have visualised the image. It’s probably only been the presence of your royal bodyguards to have saved you from such a fate.’

Oh, Mackenzie. So much unhealthy aggression coiled up inside you, and I know the perfect way to release it.’

Stop it, or the only thing I’ll need to be released from is a prison.’ She glared at him.

He reached out and ran the tip of his index finger right down along the delicate slope of her nose. ‘You need to relax, sweetheart. In my experience, it’ll work better if you follow my lead.’ How was it possible that his deep voice lowered another octave? ‘I promise you it’ll be very, very good between us.’

Common sense warned her to place as much distance as possible between them. But, oh … the heady sensual promise in his bedroom blue eyes …

She held out a hand to his chest to push him away.

Big mistake! For a crazy half-second, she wanted to pull him towards her instead of thrusting him away. Thrusting … Oh Lord. She shook her head to dispel the X-rated mental images the word conjured.

I generally succeed with my clients because I find something good about them. You’ll be much more of a challenge.’

So leave.’

No. I’ve never failed an assignment and I’m not going to fail with you either.’

For a few moments his expression was shuttered. Finally, he said, ‘Like hell!’

Excerpt – Red Dust Runaway

The third book in Eva Scott’s bestselling Red Dust series features a classical musician, a bad boy rock star, and one hell of a road trip

Iris jumped in fright when she looked up from Google Maps to see a dishevelled man standing by her car. She glanced around quickly to see if there was anyone else about but the place was deserted. Too early. She checked behind her to see the comforting lights of the office behind her with the bleary-eyed receptionist clearly visible. That was something at least.

Can I help you?’ she asked, glad the car was between them. She calculated she could make a run for reception before he could get to her.

Um, I was wondering if you could give me a lift.’ The guy shuffled from one foot to the other, looking as sheepish as hell, and cute too now she got a good look at him. She wasn’t one for long hair on a man although she’d make an exception in his case.

Right,’ She considered his request. He looked clean, maybe a little nervous. How can you tell if someone was an axe murderer or not? ‘Where are you going?’

I have no idea.’ He hit her with a grin, lighting up his face and sending her insides flip-flopping. His eyes – were they grey or blue? – sparkling in the pale morning light.

You don’t know where you’re going?’ She couldn’t help but grin back. ‘Do you know where you are?’

Kalgoorlie, right? I need to get out of here. I’m backpacking with the bus tour and, well, it’s a bit stifling. Thought it’d be for me and I was wrong.’ His smile turned rueful.

She turned to look at the nondescript bus parked behind them. The motel owner had told her a tour had booked out most of the place, probably backpackers going by this guy’s British accent. So, he wanted off the tour and to travel solo? Seemed reasonable enough. And he was cute, better than cute. Still, there was no universal law that said a serial killer couldn’t be cute.

Where are you going?’ He seemed to sense her wavering.

Melbourne,’ she replied before realising telling him where she was going might not be the smartest move.

His face lit up. ‘I’m going there too. How about we split the costs and the driving?’

She frowned and bit her lip. ‘I thought you said you didn’t know where you were going?’

Next. I don’t know where I’m going next but I want to be in Melbourne in two weeks wherever I end up in between.’ He gave her a dazzling smile and something leapt and spun inside her.

Tempting, very tempting. This trip was all about adventure and maybe a hot affair. Maybe this guy was both. Lord knows, the loneliness of the road ate away at her and she was only two days into her trip. At least at home she’d had her music buddies and her parents.

Her father’s face flashed across her mind. He’d totally disapprove of her picking up an English backpacker. He’d be livid when he realised she’d runaway, without his knowledge, without his permission. She’d played by the rulebook for twenty years, maybe it was time to throw it away and see what happened.

Come on,’ he cajoled, leaning on the car and piercing her with the most compelling eyes – yes, definitely more blue than grey up close – she had ever seen. ‘I swear I’m not a serial killer.’

Iris blushed. He’d read her mind. ‘What if I am?’ she countered, knowing any minute now she’d agree to take him. Like it was already a done deal from the moment she set eyes on him.

I think I’ll take my chances.’ There was that killer smile again. Iris’ body responded like an iron filing to a magnet. ‘What do you say?’

What could she say? There was no other response: ‘Okay, but I’m driving.’


31475One jaded rock star. One sheltered classical musician. One hell of a red dust road trip…

Sheltered, coddled, gifted, Iris longs for something more than practice and performing. She wants to rebel, break the rules, have a hot affair, fall in love — to really live before happily committing to her classical music bubble. But her strict parents and her stricter schedule keep her confined to her gilded cage, even as she yearns desperately to be free.

Super star, successful, and sick of all of it, Kit just wants to stop. Stop the touring and the recording and the media and the bickering with his band mates. After two years on the road, he’s coming apart at the seams. He has to slow down, calm down, clear his head — to really think before recommitting to his rock star lifestyle. But his manager and the tour schedule keep him locked to his super star lifestyle, even as he rages against the confinement.

A chance encounter in a car park leads to a snap decision and an enormous risk: suddenly Kit and Iris are on an extraordinary road trip together across Australia, making their own choices, breaking all the rules. But reality is chasing them more quickly than they can know, and soon Kit and Iris will have to decide whether they are just running away — or running away together.

Coming 25 June.

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