by Molly O’Keefe, Ainsley Booth, Andie J. Christopher, Olivia Dade, Ruby Lang, Stacey Agdern, Jane Lee Blair
Rogue Anthology Series #3
Release Date: January 17, 2018
Genre: Hot Contemporary
Publisher: Indie Collective (self published)
When resistance turns to action, love always wins. Seven new romances for readers who love as hard as they believe, from the collective that brought you Rogue Desire and Rogue Affair.
From “Make You Mine” by Molly O’Keefe
She was wearing her favorite red suit. The one with the thin black belt.
It was Jay’s favorite, too. Because it was sexy. The best kind of sexy. Restrained. Polished. He was wound up, so he imagined, for just a moment, slipping that black belt loose. Undoing those buttons down the front. Revealing what it was Maggie wore under the sexy jacket.
Of course she would be wearing that suit today.
“This looks like your kind of place,” Maggie said, touching her fingertips to the tacky wood. “You always liked a sticky bar.”
“Used to be your kind of place, too,” he said and sipped his beer. The drinks had gone right to his head. And he was going to be stupid, he could feel it.
“A million years ago,” she said quietly.
She titled the bottle of beer to her lips.
“You’re supposed to do the shot first.”
“I know what you’re supposed to do. But it’s not quite what I should do, is it?”
“No one’s watching.”
He sensed more than saw her glance around, confirming that no one at Lloyd’s had their phone out, directed toward her. No one was looking at them out of the corner of their eye. The folks at Lloyd’s had their own troubles.
Quickly, she downed the shot.
“Oh my,” she breathed, and he smiled before he could stop himself.
“You going to look at me?” Maggie asked.
I am. I’m just…bracing myself.
Jay didn’t say that, but he did swivel on his stool to face her.
Former First Lady of New York City.
His best friend.
The love of his goddamned life.
Molly O’Keefe is the USA Today Bestselling Author of over 40 romance novels. She lives in Toronto with her husband, kids and the largest heap of dirty laundry in North America.
If you’d like to find out more about Molly’s books check out her website www.molly-okeefe.com
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From “Personal Audition” by Ainsley Booth
Jogging onto stage, I adjust my glasses, then adjust the mic before I plant my feet wide and shove my hands in my pockets and deliver my test balloon line. “Okay, so…wow, 2017, this has been some year, huh?”
All I hear are groans and sighs, so I think it’s pretty safe to do Routine B.
“I made a lot of life changes this year. Some by choice. Others were thrust upon me. I realized I couldn’t afford health insurance unless I went back to work at a regular job, for example. So I did the mature, responsible thing and started drinking heavily.”
That gets the laugh I was hoping for, although the first one is tenuous. You gotta follow it up with something good.
“Just kidding. I prefer to drown my sorrows in potato chips and naked women.” I point at a guy in the audience getting ribbed by his friends. “You know what I mean, don’t you, sir?”
I work through a few more jokes about working full-time and trying to be a comic, then I loop back to naked ladies. “I’ve accidentally made a habit of being the girl who dates women who usually date men. And that’s kind of a weird thing to happen more than once, you know? Like what does that say about my sub-conscious? Hey, self, you may not impress someone with real standards. Better stick to straight girls.”
That sometimes gets big laughs, but tonight, only a few titters. Damn. I take a deep breath and smile. “So obviously, that says more about my self-esteem issues than anything about straight girls. Or men. Although, let’s be real…right now some of you dudes are shifting uncomfortably in your seats.”
More giggles. Some poking of dates.
My grin feels more real.
“But seriously, I’m just getting over a bad break-up myself. And I’m sleeping on her couch, too.”
Groans. Those feel good, though, because they’re on my side now.
“Right? It’s highly embarrassing. I’m like a lost puppy she rescued, but decided to give away instead of keeping. I’m a few sympathetic head rubs away from her setting me up on blind dates.” Wait a beat. “With other stray pets she’s collected.”
More groans, some laughs.
I stop mid-stage and prop my hands on my hips, giving the spotlight a rueful smile. “I know. It’s embarrassing, really. You’ve been there, though, right? Dated someone for a few weeks, it didn’t work out, but she made the best vegan veggie dip…” Giggles. “And had the best Indigo Girls vinyl collection…” More giggles. “And her flannel shirt collection. Unf, am I right?”
I hold my hand up for an imaginary high-five.
“You’ve been great. I’m Camilla, and I’m totally looking to steal your girl.”
Find Ainsley Booth online here: www.ainsleybooth.com
From “Brand New Bike” by Andie J. Christopher
Michael didn’t know why he was in a car on the way to Wayward Media’s headquarters. His publicist had told him that appearing on a f*cking podcast was the only way to stem the flow of bad publicity from his connection with the president. His platform was losing users by the thousands, and he’d become a meme. He’d never wanted to become a meme, much preferring to stay behind the scenes.
But, in the three days since Jake had mentioned him on the pod and blown up his spot, Michael had listened to nearly every hour that Jake had ever broadcast.
His last-ditch effort to save net neutrality had made keeping a low profile impossible, and now he had to talk about it with the sexiest guy he’d ever met. Alone. Jake Lieberman’s two dude-bro friends were not going to be a part of the conversation. Apparently, they had someone much more important to talk to today.
So, Michael would get about two minutes to explain himself to the million people who listened to the pod every week.
And he had to do it with a huge crush on the guy he was talking to. F*ck.
Jake was a couple inches shorter than him, and living in California appeared to agree with him. He’d leaned out compared with the pictures of him in the White House with the former president. In those photos, Jake had dark, piercing eyes that didn’t glint with the usual good-humor he’d shown in television appearances promoting his new company.
Michael had started out just watching one of Jake’s news segments at the urging of the publicist who’d thought this was a good fucking idea. Then, not being able to help himself, he’d watched every single clip of video footage available on the internet. Thus, the origin of the crush.
The one video had sent him down a rabbit hole. Every mention of Jake Lieberman in the news, every image, had become an obsession.
It wasn’t enough that Jake had to be so hot, he had to be funny and smart as fuck, too? Michael could properly say that he hadn’t had a crush in years, not since he’d first met Elliot, his ex-boyfriend. And now, he was majorly smitten with a guy set to take him down.
The car stopped in front of a nondescript building in Culver City. Michael hesitated before he got out of the car. He really should have considered doing this over the phone, but after he’d read every bit of information about Jake and his business partners online, he had to meet the guy in person.
Certainly, he wouldn’t be as arresting when they were sucking down the same air? The guy was way too much of a showman. He had to be awkward and aloof in person. The superhero pecs from the photos online had to be photoshopped, didn’t they? Wanting someone he’d never met wasn’t something Michael was used to, not since his youthful crush on Zac Efron; he usually just got with whichever hot guy was close by.
He got out of the black car and re-buttoned his suit coat. A crush. A motherf*cking crush.
USA Today Bestselling author Andie J. Christopher writes edgy, funny, sexy contemporary romance featuring heat, humor, and dirty talking heroes that make readers sweat. She grew up in a family of voracious readers, and picked up her first Harlequin Romance novel at age twelve when she’d finished reading everything else in her grandmother’s house. It was love at first read. It wasn’t too long before she started writing her own stories — her first heroine drank Campari and drove an Alfa Romeo up a winding road to a minor royal’s estate in Spain. Andie lives in the Nation’s Capital with her French Bulldog, Gus, a stockpile of Campari, and way too many books.
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From “Cover Me” by Olivia Dade
The wedding should have ended with a perfunctory embrace.
The courthouse judge, his face expectant and wreathed with a smile, had pronounced them husband and wife and invited James to kiss Elizabeth. It was the standard end to a standard civil ceremony. The judge didn’t understand the situation, of course.
This wasn’t a marriage born out of love, but necessity.
They’d planned it in less than a week and invited only a few local friends and James’s kids as witnesses. Other than the bouquet of lace-wrapped pink roses James had unexpectedly produced for her that morning, there were no flowers. No bridesmaids or groomsmen. She was wearing a knee-length cream dress purchased for her niece’s christening twelve years before, while James’s suit pulled a bit at his shoulders and middle. God only knew how long he’d owned it. The rings they’d just donned were thick and gold but completely generic, despite his repeated offers to find other options.
So at the end of the ceremony, she expected a peck on the cheek. Maybe even a brief buss on her lips, for the sake of anyone who might question the wisdom or validity of the marriage.
Instead, James cradled her face in his warm, rough hands with deliberate care. His thumb stroked her cheek in a gentle arc. And he lowered his mouth to hers as her brain fogged with the scent of sunshine and clean cotton. James’s scent.
Then he was kissing her.
Not a peck. Not a buss. A kiss. A tender, exploratory greeting of a kiss.
His beard brushed against her cheeks as he courted every corner, every curve of her mouth. He took his time, and she responded without thinking to the dizzying pleasure of it.
When her mouth opened, the kiss transformed. Still slow, still careful. But no longer innocent or friendly, not with her knowledge of how he tasted and the hoarse rumble in his chest when his tongue met hers for the first time.
Her hands, which had come to rest against that broad barrel of a chest, curled in on themselves. So did her toes.
Then he raised his head, arm still tight around her waist, and she dimly registered the hush of a half-dozen stunned wedding guests. All people who knew the situation. Who knew this wasn’t a real marriage, blindingly sweet kiss notwithstanding.
No doubt they were wondering what exactly they’d just witnessed.
Funny. So was she.
Olivia Dade grew up an undeniable nerd, prone to ignoring the world around her as she read any book she could find. Her favorite stories, though, were always romances. As an adult, she earned an MA in American history and worked in a variety of jobs that required her to hide her bawdy interior under a demure exterior: Colonial Williamsburg interpreter, high school teacher, academic tutor, and (of course) librarian. Finally, though, she realized the call of the hussy could no longer be denied. So now she writes contemporary romantic comedy with plenty of sex, banter, and nerdery. When not writing, she cooks alongside her husband, dabbles in photography, and tries to hide her collection of steamy romances from her way-too-curious daughter.
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From “The Long Run” by Ruby Lang
Annie blinked through her peephole once or twice to make sure that she wasn’t hallucinating. But Monroe stood there patiently because he knew—he knew she was there because she couldn’t control her coughing.
“F**k it,” she said, hauling the door open.
And she stood there blinking at him, not saying a word, just letting her eyes rest on him as he seemed to do the same with her.
She was having another moment with him—or maybe she was feeling faint. It was hard to tell what exactly was causing her heart to race and her face to flush right now. So she asked the first thing that popped into her mind. “Is it true that you made millions of dollars for being in a rock and roll band?”
Surprisingly, he laughed, and the sound was warm enough to trickle through her feverish, muzzy head and make her toes curl. “Is that what people say about me? No, I was not part of a band. My buddy was and I gave him the idea for the title of the song. I read him something like, We represent peace, harmony, love, human sympathy, human rights and human justice, and that is why we fight so much. It became ‘That Is Why We Fight.’ It got on the Billboard top 100. He gave me a co-writer credit. R. M. Webb, that’s me. He’s still knocking around in the music business.”
As he talked, he advanced into her apartment. He glanced around at the clutter of envelopes on the coffee table, worn rug and comfy couch, and then back at her. “You really are sick.”
She shut the door and her hands dropped down to her sides. She’d felt tired and defeated even before she became ill. It didn’t matter what she looked like in front of him.
She took the few steps to her living room and sank into the sofa and closed her eyes.
“Doctor says it’s walking pneumonia. I’m pretty contagious, so don’t, you know, touch me. Not that you were planning to. I’ll aim my coughs away from you.”
But the man actually came closer—he almost did almost touch her. And she almost let him.
Instead, she turned away and coughed. “Yes, it sounds awful and it feels awful, but the walking part means that it isn’t terrible enough for me to go to the hospital. I’m just more like a zombie. Like the Walking Dead. Walking Dead Pneumonia.”
She was also a little feverish. Maybe this whole thing was an illness-induced nightmare.
“Where is your daughter? Does she know?”
“She just started law school in Michigan. I am not about to bother her now. And I’m obviously still alive and talking—too much. As usual.” She coughed again. “Why are you here? Planning to kick me out of the building while I’m too weak to fight?”
Ruby Lang is the pen name of non-fiction writer Mindy Hung. Her work has appeared in Salon, Bitch, and The New York Times. She also wrote about romance novels (among other things) for The Toast. She enjoys running (slowly), reading (quickly), and ice cream (at any speed). Originally from Canada, she now lives in New York with a small child and a medium-sized husband.
Social Media Links
Also by Ruby (Buy Links)
Acute Reactions (Book 1)
Hard Knocks (Book 2)
Clean Breaks (Book 3)
From “Never Again” by Stacey Agdern
“My sister-in law’s a cool chick,” Liz finally said once she and Sam were alone. “Be careful though. I don’t want to have to kill you. I love my wife, but she’s a softie.”
He laughed. “Honestly, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’d love to have Deb as a friend. I don’t have many of those.”
Liz nodded slowly, seeming to let the information sink in, maybe judging it, and him. “And if you guys don’t end up being just friends?”
There was a LOT to think about, but only one thing he could tell Liz. “Then I’ll treat her like the queen she is. I won’t take anything to a place she doesn’t want it to go.”
“I like that answer, and I especially like that you had to think about it.” Liz paused, and if she had been wearing glasses, Sam felt she would be giving him the ‘over the glasses’ look. “There’s a lot of sh** going around regarding guys who don’t think, or who think that they’re the sh**”
Yep. Sam knew about those. From President Crosby all the way down, there had been more reports about guys finally getting called out for their consistently atrocious behavior towards women.
“There’s clearly a power differential,” he said. “I’d be an idiot if I didn’t create a great deal of wiggle room. But,” he paused, because he knew the next words he uttered would be the most important. “I want to get to know her. And if she doesn’t want to get to know me, I’ll leave her alone.”
Then Liz gave him what felt like the nod of permission. “Okay.”
Stacey Agdern is an award winning former bookseller who has reviewed romance novels in multiple formats and given talks about various aspects of the romance genre. She is also a proud romance writer. You can find her on twitter at @nystacey, on Facebook at /staceyaagdern and her website at staceyagdern.wordpress.com and you can sign up for her newsletter here. She’s a proud member of both LIRW and RWA NYC. She lives in New York, not far from her favorite hockey team’s practice facility.
From “His Neighbor’s Education” by Jane Lee Blair
Sarah reached out her hand to touch his forearm. “No, no, you can stay. That wasn’t at you. Sorry. It’s a very sore subject. Seems like everybody thinks about what’s best for their family alone, not about all the other kids around them. Even at church.”
“I can see what you’re saying, though.” Mark pushed his hand through his hair. “We do have really strict standards, and we require volunteer hours from parents, and we can do that because there’s a waiting list. And it’s so messy about perception because you are definitely a better teacher than I am.”
Sarah shook her head vehemently to agree with him. Boy, all the anger had come out again.
“I bet you feel lonely, huh.” Mark scooted his chair a bit closer to the table.
“Yeah. I do.” Now he was even slipping into the chair beside her.
“Nobody understands?” His chair was close enough that their thighs were touching now.
“Yeah.” She sniffed. His arm was around her now.
“People you went to college with, your family, your old church, nobody really understands the choices you make? Or the politics you’ve come to?” He was nuzzling into her ear now.
“Mark, what are you doing?” He was so close, so warm.
“I want to be close to you, Sarah. You said you were alone, but I just want you to know you don’t have to be alone now.”
“That’s…that’s really sweet.” Sh*t. He was still glowing. She had the feeling her life would never fit the same way again.
“Well, not all of my other thoughts are sweet but yeah.”
“What does that even mean?”
“I can’t tell you.” She looked at his face, which was kinda red.
“Mark, are you having dirty thoughts again?” She asked with laughter in her voice, but he squeezed his eyes shut tight in a grimace and put his face in his hand. His other arm, though, the one around her, pulled her even closer.
“Yes. I got close to you again, didn’t I? I gotta go home and repent, man.”
“Maybe take a cold shower?” She was teasing him again.
He was glumly serious. “Yes.”
Jane Lee Blair has degrees in English and Sociology, a pastor husband, four children, and lives in an old crumbly house in the Midwest. She loves to read, garden, crochet, and cook, but mostly is on Twitter too much. She has two short stories in the previous Rogue anthologies.
Find more at her website janeleeblair.wordpress.com and on Twitter @janeleeblair and on Facebook.