Heart’s Refuge…It’s out TODAY!! 1 reformed mean girl, 2 loves #excerpt

Do you like second chances? How about funny dogs? A love story featuring a heroine who is trying to make her life better while making a difference and hero who is a good man working to be a better father? I mean, WHO DOESN’T? Heart’s Refuge is out today! You will not be disappointed.

FrontCoverHeartsRefugeHere’s the back cover copy:

Her life has turned upside down 

Back in high school, Sarah Hillman was a rich girl who protected herself by always being on the attack. Now her father’s skipped town, the money’s gone and she’s sleeping in her office. Too bad the only person she can turn to has every reason to reject her.

Will Barnes isn’t a gangly math nerd anymore. He’s a financial advisor and a father, and when Sarah shows up in his office, he threatens to kick her out. And yet, Will agrees to help. But if Sarah falls for this kind, strong man, she’ll have to stay in Holly Heights, a town where everyone knows her…and hates her.

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iBooks: http://apple.co/1D3Jru4

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1dI2H4O

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1Mtq1jJ

Here’s a little taste:

Instead of exaggerating the shelter’s needs, Sarah might have been downplaying them. Could he walk away and get the petty revenge he wanted when it was clear this place and the animals it saved needed real help?

Could he play with the puppies and not pull out a checkbook?

“All right. Fifteen minutes, twenty tops. Then we’ll do something fun. You can pick.” Will opened his door and slid out. Chloe hopped out, as if this might have been the promise she’d been waiting for.

“Good. The lake. We’re going. We’ll swim.” She pointed a finger. “No phone calls.”

“We could rent a boat. Pick up lunch.” He saluted her to acknowledge the excellent plan. “You should be in charge every day.”

She held up her hand for a high five, something she’d picked up on the soccer field. He smacked her hand, grabbed it, and pulled her close for a squirmy hug.

“Twenty minutes…and go.” Squaring his shoulders, Will walked over to the door, held it open, and stepped inside right behind Chloe. “Hello? Anybody here?” The place was unexpected on the inside, too. Clean, if ragged, with a nice pine scent.

Bub ambled around the corner first, followed by Sarah. “Sorry, we were out back cleaning up the yard now that the animals are inside.”

The surprises kept coming. Instead of ridiculously expensive clothes and seriously hot shoes, she was wearing denim and cotton and the kind of black boots he imagined farmers wore to milk the cows. Even in weekend casual jeans and a polo, he was overdressed for this tour.

Sarah fidgeted with her ponytail, waiting for him to say something, but he was stumped. Then he realized she was wearing no makeup, no lipstick, no nothing. The only hint of the seductress was in the red nails that tapped on the scratched linoleum counter.

“Introduce me to the rest of the committee?” Sarah pointed to Chloe, who’d stopped as close to the door as she could.

“This is my daughter, Chloe. We’re on our way to the lake.” When he felt a weight on his foot, Will glanced down to see Bub perched on his sneaker. The dog sighed as he leaned against Will’s leg and glanced up at him, tongue dangling out of his mouth.

Should he object? Unseat the dog? He glanced up to see both Sarah and Chloe watching him.

Moving Bub could wait.

Chloe stepped forward to shake Sarah’s hand.

Like an adult. A serious, fully grown woman.

Except she was wearing pink shorts and black sneakers that squeaked with each step.

For a brief second, Sarah’s lips flattened, but she pasted on a smile. “It’s a beautiful day out there. I won’t take much of your time.”

“Twenty minutes.” Chloe motioned over her shoulder. “He promised. The guy works all the time. It’s Saturday.” The exasperated expression on her face was a carbon copy of his ex-wife’s.

He’d heard similar complaints from Olivia regularly.

Sarah clasped her hands in front of her and nodded seriously. “Sure, but does his work always include cute cats?”

“No, that’s new.” Chloe pursed her lips. “Where are they?”

“Ah, someone who likes to cut to the chase. I wonder where you get that?” When Sarah’s eyes met his, he could see she was teasing him.

They weren’t friends. Maybe they weren’t enemies either.

Sarah pointed at the hallway. “Follow me?”

“Show me your cats.” Chloe marched around the corner, pulling Sarah and Will along in her wake.

Giant miscalculation, Barnes. A kid, surrounded by cats and dogs ready for adoption. What are you going to say when she finds the one that has to come home with you?

He’d say no. When Chloe was in Austin, he would be working. All the time. No animal would be happy or healthy with a setup like that.

He was a person and didn’t really enjoy it.

But it was too late for sound judgment now.

“Realizing you didn’t think everything through?” Sarah wrinkled her nose, the teasing glint in her eyes returning. “Kids love pets.”

Will nodded. “Yeah. Let’s get on with the tour.”

Sarah saluted. “Bathroom. Cramped conference room.” They paused in front of a door with a large glass window. Inside he could see concrete floors, cinder block pens with chain-link gates. Everything was fresh and clean. “Prepare yourself. There will be barking.”

She was right. Inside the room, conversation was impossible. He walked down the line and read the cards. “Good with kids. Needs special care. Housetrained.”

Sarah motioned them to follow and then stopped in front of a large window. The room on the other side held a few smaller cages, an interesting jungle gym, and cats of different colors and sizes. “Cats don’t cause much fuss,” she said. Where the dogs rushed their gates to speak to him, the cats sat back and eyed him coolly.

Chloe immediately stepped close to the glass, her breath fogging the window.

Sarah shot him a sympathetic glance. “You can go inside if you like.”

“No” burned on the tip of his tongue, but Chloe’s pleading eyes made it impossible to say. He waved a hand at the door. Chloe slipped inside so fast that she missed him say, “Don’t get too attached. We aren’t taking one home.”

He shoved his hands in his pockets as he watched Chloe carefully approach a fat orange cat. They stared at each other for a long minute before Chloe reached out slowly to run a finger over the cat’s head. A dog would have probably knocked her to the ground and licked her from head to toe at this point.

“I think I must be a cat person.” He appreciated the quiet and reserve. “Although, Bub is nice, too.”

Sarah blinked at him for a minute. “I did not expect you to say that. Better take a look at your pants before you commit.”

He glanced down to see the white hairs dotting his pants. “How does a brown dog leave white hairs?”

“Unsolved mystery,” Sarah said.

A trip to New York (or a quick recap of the RWA 2015 national conference)

I’ve lost track of how many RWA national conferences I’ve been to now (6 maybe? 7?), but this was my second one in New York. The first trip was a rollercoaster adventure of me and my anxiety battling it out in order to see all the sights: Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Museum of Natural History, Rockefeller Plaza, Times Square, everything I could cram into a few days including a trip to yarn and quilt stores. This time, I only had a day and a half so the list was shorter: Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park, Wicked, and the New York Public Library (BOOK NERD ALERT! Also, it was close and free.)

So on Tuesday, I started with a  taxi ride to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. On the way, I decided to never do that again until all my affairs were in order and I was ready to pass on to the other side. I spent five hours and still feel like a barely saw the museum. I listened to the posh museum director tell stories about selected pieces and got the most amazing plot bunny for a story I could never write. Masterpieces literally close enough to touch. I can’t really even describe it. These enormous beautiful tapestries and paintings I’d seen in textbooks. I stood in front of Rodin’s Burghers of Calais for a very long time because I couldn’t even believe I was there. Here are some pictures:

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art

I knew it would take me a while to make it back to the hotel, so I left in the early afternoon and started walking the two miles back through Central Park. It was almost everything I imagined it would be. There were street performers dancing and singers. There was some sort of film crew filming something. The trees. The Mall. People walking dogs. And it was about a thousand degrees so there Cheryl was, just hoofing through and sweating like it’s my job. But every fourth bench, I’d sit down and think “I’m in Central Park.” I only took one picture because the heat was killing brain cells. Here it is:

Central Park

Central Park

So I make it out of the park and I’m walking. I’m walking and sweating. I’m walking and sweating and thinking of air conditioning and ice cubes and water. A tall drink of water.

Until I made it to 52nd Street. Which was barricaded as far as the eye could see. And there were police cars and police and crowds lining the street.

Because the president was in town.

Between me and the air conditioning.

And it would have been so cool to see, but I was melting. Not that it mattered! Here’s a picture I managed to get of the police that raced up and down the street.

52nd streetEventually the president in a limo with flags flying and an entourage of media in SUVs behind came through. This was exciting, but I really got excited when I got across the street because the hotel was near. After I solidified into a person-shaped mass again, I got my nice clothes on and went to see Wicked. I love Broadway. I really do. The show was amazing and so much fun.

Wicked

The next day, I walked to the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue and took the tour. Also, I bought some things. If you’d like a chance to win a “What are you reading now?” tote (photo in the top right corner) and books, make sure you’re signed up for the newsletter by August 15! CLICK THIS LINK

 

Here’s a few photos from the library:

NYPL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS (this is coming to a close. Really. I promise!)
The literacy signing raised almost $50,000 dollars. Me? I had nice conversations with Brenda Harlen and Kathleen Harrington and my Avon editor Chelsey Emmelhainz and Harlequin Senior Editor Victoria Curran…and I looked like a total pro doing it.

Literacy signing

Meeting up with all the Heartwarming authors and editors there over dinner.

Pitching to new agents and editors is always an education.

Having a chance to chat with friends I’ve never met before like Avon author Jennifer Seasons (who shares my love for the show Psych and has the best bad luck in the world).

And the Harlequin party was at the Waldorf Astoria. Yes, that Waldorf Astoria. I had a dress I liked and there were full-on paparazzi moments (with Kate James and a piano, no less. It was total Fabulous Baker Boys and she was Michelle Pfeiffer. and I was all “Please let’s not get kicked out of this joint.” Debbie Downer. I own it.)

Sitting down with Dana Grimaldi who is so smart and makes my Heartwarming books so much better. Here’s a photo of me with Dana and Jennifer Snow.

PartyIf you like books and giveaways (of course, you do!), you should 1. Sign up for the newsletter. 2. Get over to http://www.facebook.com/CherylHarperRomance because I have another book/tote giveaway going and I have a few more planned so stay tuned!

 

WINNER TAKES ALL Excerpt

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter One:

and some Buy Links

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iBooks: http://apple.co/1LVH3Vj

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1csf7we

Travel“Give me the blindfold. I’m ready to hop on a plane to anywhere, you wait and see.” She tied the dish towel over her eyes and held out her hand. Jen pressed the dart into her palm and said, “See the map. Be the map.” They all chuckled, remembering countless slumber parties where Daniel had tried to show them how to hit the dartboard instead of the innocent closet door.
Rebecca put her hands on Stephanie’s shoulders and spun her around once. “Do your best!”
“Come on, Paris!” Her heart racing with excitement and fear, Stephanie tossed the dart and hoped to hit land. She could see herself stepping off a plane. Floating on a boat, not so much.
She tried to yank off the dish towel but Jen shoved her glass of wine in her hand. “Before you see where you’re landing, let’s make another toast. To new beginnings and lottery winnings.”
Thinking they were spending a whole lot of time making plans for something that would never happen, Stephanie held out her glass, waited for the clink and took a sip. Then Jen yanked off her makeshift blindfold and said in her best game show host voice, “Let’s see where you’re headed.”
The three of them lined up in front of the map. Somehow she’d completely missed France, not to mention the tiny dot of Paris. In fact, she’d overshot Europe as well. The dart was planted squarely in the middle of nowhere Peru.
“That’s impossible. There’s no way I missed the entire continent of Europe.” The images of Peru that came to mind were of llamas and Machu Picchu, which she might enjoy seeing, but that was not where the dart had landed. No, apparently she was going to…Alto, a place she’d heard of once in her life thanks to a posting on Daniel Lincoln’s Facebook page. She narrowed her eyes at Rebecca. “What did you do?”
“Have another cookie,” Rebecca said and blinked her eyelashes as she held out the plate. Of the three of them, Rebecca had always been able to put on the best innocent face.
“I have no clue what you mean.” Jen yanked down the map, folded it and handed the dart to Rebecca. “It seems your first destination is the Andes. When we win.”
Stephanie wagged her finger at Rebecca. “You moved the dart. You had to. There’s no way that I, the dart queen of 2001, would have missed by that much.”
“Now why would I do that?” Rebecca asked.
Thanks to years of experience, Stephanie was skeptical of her perfectly angelic expression.
Rebecca narrowed her eyes at Jen. “Did you see me move the dart?”
“I did not.” Jen shook her head firmly. Her boots shifted on the hardwood. “And for what reason would Rebecca send you to the area where her brother is working? I mean, what could she hope to gain from it? Have another cookie. You’ll feel better.”