Tag Archives: bakery

New Release Blitz: No Parking by Valentine Wheeler

No Parking | Valentine Wheeler

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 10, 2020

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 63,300

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Blurb

When Marianne Windmere’s bakery customers begin complaining that her parking lot is always full, she assumes it must be customers for the new restaurant next door. She’s never met her neighbor, and with the parking lot situation, she has no interest in doing so.

But when a snowstorm knocks out the power and traps both women in the building overnight, sparks fly—until the next morning, when the buried argument comes to a head.

Can they find a way to reclaim the magic of that night? And as decades-old secrets about the history of the town and Marianne’s family come to light, can they work together to save both their businesses?

Excerpt

No Parking
Valentine Wheeler © 2020
All Rights Reserved

The travel mug banged against the counter. Marianne jumped. “Jesus, Kevin! I didn’t hear you come in.”

“It’s full again.” Kevin crossed his arms and glared. “The parking lot back there.” He made a show of glancing around the nearly empty bakery, eyes pausing on Zeke in the corner, mug in his hands and laptop open as usual, big red headphones covering his ears. He crossed his arms. “Why do you pay that kid if all he does is ignore you? And the customers?”

“You’re in a mood this morning.” Marianne pushed herself off the stool and grabbed his aluminum coffee mug. Her ex-husband was still an attractive man fifteen years after their divorce, and she couldn’t work up the energy to be annoyed at him for it anymore. “If you want to go next door and complain about the cars, go ahead.” She filled his mug with hazelnut coffee, added an espresso shot, capped it, and handed it back. “It’s not like our customers are beating down the doors for spots right now.”

“I did go next door,” Kevin grumbled, taking the cup. “It wasn’t productive.” Now it was him avoiding her gaze.

The parking lot issue wasn’t a new one—it had been a problem for a few months—and on a busy day Marianne would be filled with a low-level simmering rage as customer after customer complained about it. Still, she wasn’t going to tell Kevin that. Their relationship had improved in the years since their divorce but not quite that much.

“Not productive?” she pressed.

He sipped his coffee to cover the slight flush in his pale cheeks and didn’t answer.

“She threw you out, didn’t she?” Marianne’s estimation of her neighbor and nemesis rose a notch. “You tried to yell at her, and she didn’t take it.”

“I was very polite!”

“Hm.” Marianne put her hands on her hips and considered the man she’d spent nearly twenty-five years married to. He could be charming when he wanted to be—the whole silver fox, sparkling blue eyes and white teeth politician thing—though he never tried it with her anymore. Many women had found him suave and attractive during their marriage and probably still did. But when he wanted something from someone with no interest in what he was peddling? Politeness wasn’t his style. Generally, once charm had failed, he whined worse than any of their three kids had as toddlers. She’d learned that plenty during their marriage, and again during the divorce. “I’m sure you were.”

“I can talk to Bruce and Andrea,” said Kevin. “Just because I’m retired—”

“No need to get the city council involved, Kevin. I’ll handle my own property, thanks.” She glanced at the clock on the wall, its tarnished brass pendulum swinging below the cracked glass. “Aren’t you going to be late for your train?” He was still showing up at transit meetings in the city every other week since he had been appointed to the regional transit board as community representative now that he wasn’t an elected official. Kevin had a habit of holding onto things too tightly and refusing to let them go.

Kevin glanced down at his watch and swore. “Yeah. Shit.” He took another long gulp of coffee and leaned over the counter to kiss Marianne’s cheek. “Thanks. Who knew retirement could be so busy?” He turned to hurry out the door and then stopped and glanced back over his shoulder. “You be good, all right? Don’t work too hard.”

Marianne rolled her eyes and shooed him out with a towel.

About the Author

Valentine is a latecomer to writing, though she’s always been a passionate reader. Through fanfiction she found her way to an incredible community of writers who’ve taught her to love making stories.

When she isn’t writing, she’s making bad puns, yelling about television, or playing with her small child.

Her life’s ambition is to eat the cuisine of every single country. You can find Valentine on Twitter.

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New Release Blitz: A Town Called Noelle by MK Hardy

A Town Called Noelle | MK Hardy

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: December 2, 2019

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 30,200

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Blurb

Just a few days before Christmas, high-flying city exec Brooke Hawkins is forced to return to her small home town due to the death of her mother, who she hasn’t spoken to since she left for college over a decade before. The town, Noelle, is as full of the Christmas spirit as its name suggests. Brooke is more of the “Bah, Humbug” persuasion.

She has a funeral to attend, property to sell, and she wants to do it and leave—preferably before December 25th. Unfortunately, the weather and the pace of small-town life both conspire to keep her right where she is.

Small-town baker Holly Jackson gets a nasty shock when she receives the news, just days before Christmas, that her little shop is about to be sold from under her by her late landlady’s estranged daughter.

In the years since her husband died in a tragic accident, she and her daughter Maya have been getting by, healing and rebuilding. Holly was beginning to really enjoy life again. She doesn’t plan to let some woman she hasn’t seen since high school come in and ruin everything.

When Holly and Brooke cross paths, sparks fly—and not in a good way. Brooke is determined to sell up and get out of town—and outrun her bad memories in the process. Holly is determined to make her business work.

When an unstoppable force meets an immovable object, can the spirit of Noelle change minds… and melt hearts?

Excerpt

A Town Called Noelle
MK Hardy © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Nine Days Till Christmas
“Goddammnit, where’s the friggin’ windshield wipers on this–oh, finally.”

Brooke sighed in relief as the automatic wipers came on just in time to swipe the sudden veil of snow off the windshield, allowing her to see the long, empty road ahead of her. The forecast had cautioned there might be scattered snow showers, but this had come out of nowhere, turning the onerous drive into a slightly more nerve-racking prospect.

She barely drove any more in the city, and the rental car was an unfamiliar make, with buttons and toggles and a slick GPS system she hadn’t even bothered to turn on. There was only one road where she was going, and she knew it well.

Noelle, Michigan, was the sort of place known only to those who lived there—or those who’d left. One of those lower peninsula towns far enough north to feel isolated, and not close enough to any Great Lakes to be of interest to anybody.

The first hour on the road had been fine, a relatively clear run. Now it was getting dark the temperature had dropped like a stone, and Brooke regretted not paying the extra to fly into Traverse City instead of Grand Rapids. It wasn’t like her, really, to sacrifice time and effort to save money, but this time, for this trip, she hadn’t been able to keep her mother’s voice out of her head.

“I’m not paying an arm and a leg to fly into that glorified back yard just to save an hour’s drive!”

Still, it would be fine. She’d seen snowploughs parked in rest stops she’d passed, and her destination was a straight shot up the road. She resisted the urge to drive a little faster; the sooner she got there, the sooner she could leave.

A dark object loomed ahead. Almost too late, Brooke noticed it was stationary, pulling sharply to the side to miss it. A car horn screamed as she slid back into her own lane just in time to miss a vehicle coming the other way. The snow was coming down properly now, and people were clearly getting stupid. Including you. Eyes on the road.

Brooke pulled into Noelle at five minutes to eleven. She could barely see for the swirling snow but even if she could’ve she knew there wouldn’t be much there—a few shops, a stop sign at the town’s only four-way intersection, tidy sidewalks rapidly being covered in a thick blanket of white. Carefully she steered down one of the side streets where she had once ridden her bike, chased by jeering bullies. Now it was home to a B and B she hoped was still open to late check-ins.

Nearly every house on this street and every other she’d driven down was lit up. In Noelle, people took “the season” seriously. Even back when Brooke was a kid folks didn’t much care what precisely you were celebrating, but there was an expectation that one way or another you would double your bills in December turning your house and yard into an electrical fire hazard.

She pulled up outside Lakeview Guest House (the name was an outright lie) to find herself greeted by a twinkling facade adorned not just with the obligatory string of coloured lights along the eaves but a large Santa Claus waving merrily from the wall.

“Wow. Talk about tacky,” she muttered, throwing on her parking brake and then pulling her coat collar up and opening the door. Snow swirled around her as she emerged from the car and retrieved her suitcase from the trunk; there was enough blanketing the ground to make rolling the case up the front path a physical impossibility. Instead she lugged it with her as she tried to avoid any patches of black ice that might be lurking underneath—the last thing she needed right now was a twisted ankle.

She remembered the late hour only a split second after she’d pressed the doorbell. A loud “ho, ho, ho!” rang through the house’s interior. Brooke winced. Not the best first impression. Still, the inside porch light came on almost right away, so at least she hadn’t woken her host. Only most of the guests, probably. A few moments later an older woman wearing a navy housecoat opened the door.

“You must be Ms Hawkins.” Brooke, still cringing from the doorbell moment, found herself momentarily lost for words, but the woman simply reached to take her case from her unresisting grip. “C’mon, we’re letting the weather in.”

The woman led her not to any sort of reception, but rather through to the dimly lit kitchen at the back of the house. The table lamp and book at the breakfast bar pointed to the landlady’s previous location, but now she put the case down by the door and moved over to the coffee maker. “Hot chocolate? Herbal tea? You’ll want something after that drive…”

“Some bourbon?” Brooke said wryly, reaching up to ruffle the snow out of her tousled bob.

Her host’s response was a chuckle. “Hot chocolate, then,” she said, pressing the relevant button on the machine, which was an automated multi-function affair. In moments, it poured no doubt underheated and watery brown liquid into the waiting mug. Perhaps she spotted Brooke’s expression, as she hastened to reassure her. “There’ll be proper fresh-brewed coffee in the morning,” she said. “I keep this around for emergencies. And workmen.”

“It’s not the first time I’ve been described as an emergency,” Brooke said as she accepted the mug, wrapping her hands around it. It might not’ve had any booze in, but it was still welcome after a long drive, and she let the silence stretch out as she sipped, looking around herself with idle interest. The inside of the house was no less festive than the outside, with obviously handmade snowflakes adorning the kitchen cabinet doors.

“That weather’s certainly an emergency—it’s come down fast out there. Expect we’ll be snowed in for days.”

This got her attention. “Snowed in? But I saw the snowploughs out just a couple of hours ago—they’ll have the streets cleared by morning, surely.”

“Running to stand still if you ask me—you wait and see. I know a proper blizzard when I see one and this snow’s settling in for the long haul.”

Just my luck. Outwardly Brooke managed a bland smile. “I guess we’ll see. The municipal building will still be open though, right? They wouldn’t close just because of a little snow.”

“Oh, I expect so, as long as the power’s on.”

Meet the Author

MK Hardy is the pen name for two geeky women living and writing together in Scotland. They’ve been writing partners for eleven years and life partners for nine. When they’re not typing frantically at one another they like to walk the dogs, cuddle the cats, drink cocktails and play boardgames.

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