ALL I EVER WANTED, a new adult winter anthology
Winterfest is heating up in Abbott Springs…
As the town’s yearly festival kicks off, cold days turn into steamy nights, new flames will be ignited, and old romances will be rekindled.
All About Us by Marilyn Brant—All Sami Abbott ever wanted was permission to be herself. At home, she aims to be the perfect daughter but never measures up. At college, she’s the bold girl who had a one-night stand with sexy musician, Alex Hamilton. When he arrives unexpectedly in Abbott Springs, her worlds collide and she must reconcile the girl she tries to be with the person she really is.
All I Need by Caisey Quinn—All pink-haired rocker chick Everly Abbott thought she wanted was acceptance in her straight-laced hometown. But her best friend and bandmate Justin Cohen is about to show her that what she thinks she wants isn’t necessarily what she needs.
All for Love by Rhonda Helms—All Maya Monterey ever wanted was to belong. Happiest with the Abbott family, Maya’s been secretly in love with sexy pastry chef Oliver Abbott for years. With a flirty new look, she’ll pull out all the stops to get him to notice her. And if her plan fails, she’ll walk away from the only home she’s ever known—and Oliver—for good.
All or Nothing by Lexi Ryan—After years of placing the wrong bets, all Aubree Baxter wanted was someone to take a chance on her. Golden boy Kennedy Hale plays it safe in life and love, but to keep Bree in Abbott Springs, he’ll have to go all in.
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All About Us by Marilyn Brant
“I want to hear the song you wrote live,” Samantha said. “Tonight. Don’t you have your own guitar with you? I thought you brought one here.”
“To Abbott Springs, yes. Not to the barn. Mine is back at the B&B.”
“So, okay then,” she said, studying me with those watchful blue eyes. “Let’s go there.”
I exhaled. Slowly. “Listen, Samantha. I’ve had a chance to get a solid look at your town these past two days, and you’ve got a lot of people here who are real protective of you. Half of them are maybe just looking for gossip or to stir up trouble, but the other half are trying to make sure no one hurts you. I don’t wanna cause you any problems, okay? It’s getting late, and well, we should probably—”
“Go to bed,” she finished for me, her voice low.
I nodded. This was the best thing to do, I told myself. The best thing for her. Though, God, I wanted her. So. Damn. Much. I could taste the wanting. Feel it in my fingers. If I touched her, the electricity would leave scorch marks.
“Then we’d better do that.” She leaned close and whispered, “At your B&B.” She snatched her fluffy pink coat and slipped it on. “Time for you to take me to bed, Alex,” she added, her expression so determined I didn’t dare to contradict her. “Right now.”
All I Need by Caisey Quinn
“You okay, Jubb?” Her eyes were full of concern when she looked up at me from under her thick, dark lashes. The kind of concern no one had ever had for me. Just her. Always her.
I gave her a quick nod and smirked as if it were a silly question. It wasn’t. My need for her had built to a dangerous level, and Hale had thrown gasoline on my fire.
We reached her house and she took out her keys.
I was good until we made it to her door and I caught a whiff of her sweet strawberry scent. She’d used that same shampoo forever, and it had been driving me crazy since we were kids. But we weren’t kids anymore. So I let go. Gave up my death grip on keeping my distance. Stepping into her space, I pressed her up against the door without actually touching her.
“Jubb, what the hell are y—”
“Feel that, Ev?” I grabbed her hand and slid it under my shirt. Her slender fingers grazed my stomach. I pressed her hand against me more firmly. Made her trace the hard ridges of my abdomen.
“Yeah,” she breathed out, gaping up at me with eyes glinting with heat and panic. “I feel it.”
“No more Jubb,” I told her. “No more Jubb, or Jubby, or any other childhood nickname you might have had for me. Call me Justin or Cohen. Take your pick. Got it?”
My face was so close to hers I could hear the sound of her licking her sweet lips. And swallowing. Hard. “Um, okay. W-why not?”
This was it. Go big or go home. Shit, I was already home. Everly was my home. “Because,” I began, releasing her hand to brace both arms on either side of her head, “Jubby won’t sound as hot when you’re screaming it out later. And if I have anything to say about it, you will damn sure be moaning my name in the very near future.”
All For Love by Rhonda Helms
This town was my everything. My family, my friends, my life’s breath, even. I needed these people. I found fulfillment, purpose here.
My gaze landed on Oliver, sitting with Kennedy, the mayor’s son. Oliver waved his fork in the air as he talked, and Kennedy’s head threw back with a burst of raucous laughter. My heart clenched tight as I watched Oliver’s perfect mouth moving, the way that one dimple in his left cheek deepened as he grinned.
Oliver was such an integral part of me. This love I felt for him, it filled my entire being. It set me on fire. It made me strive to be a better person. One who was worthy of him, the man who was so damned good at everything.
I would see him work hard at the bakery, without complaint, and it made me want to work harder. I would watch the protective way he nurtured his family, his usual gentle demeanor changing in an instant if he felt someone he loved had been wronged, and it made me want to pay that forward and care for others like that.
I tried in a thousand ways, every day, to show him the impact he had on me.
All Or Nothing by Lexi Ryan
I had gone so far as to tell Kennedy I wasn’t coming home for the festival this year, but much like Paws, I was weak. When Everly called and told me she was going to perform here, I’d known it was the perfect excuse. I’d wanted to see my friends and remember the good old days. I’d wanted to see Kennedy and forget October.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t going to let me.
I scrubbed my scalp and exfoliated my limbs to within an inch of my life, and by the time I turned off the water, my skin was humming.
I grabbed a towel off the heated rack and ran the plush terry cloth over my skin before tucking it under my arms and heading through the bathroom door to the bedroom.
“Did you decide to save some water for the rest of the town after all?”
I jumped at the sound of Kennedy’s voice and clutched at the towel wrapped under my arms. “Holy shit! You scared the daylights out of me!”
He kept his eyes on my face. Of course he did. But I was standing there in a freaking towel, and I would have thought he’d at least look at my legs or the way the towel clung to my breasts or…something. There I stood, weak in the knees just because he didn’t shave this morning, and he didn’t have the courtesy to sneak a peek?
I was pathetic.
ALL I EVER WANTED is a winter anthology, complete with sledding races, spiked hot cocoa, and ice skating. Are you a winter lover?
Marilyn: I grew up in Wisconsin and now live in Illinois, so I’ve had to make peace with shoveling snow and scraping ice away every winter, LOL, but I can’t say I love the cold temps. I am very, very fond of hot cocoa (both spiked and unspiked), however, and I’ve always enjoyed ice skating and watching the Winter Olympics when they’re on.
Caisey: I love winter clothes, but the actual cold part, not so much!
Rhonda: For the most part, yes! But usually when I’m inside, sitting by a deliciously roaring fire. lol. I hate being super cold, but I do enjoy making snowmen, sled racing, and ice skating. I also like taking outdoor pictures.
Lexi: Maybe I’d say yes if it were a sweltering Indiana summer out my door right now, but instead it’s twelve inches of snow and negative windchills and I’m feeling like I really, really don’t like winter. But I sure don’t mind writing about it.
This anthology is really unique in that all the stories are connected and scenes from one story might appear in another. What was your favorite part about working on this anthology?
Marilyn: I loved the experience of getting to see a scene told in multiple viewpoints by our differing main characters. And it was fascinating to work so closely on a writing project with three authors whose stories I admire so much.
Caisey: Getting to see the many differences and similarities in each of our writing processes.
Rhonda: There was a community created by working so closely together that I’ve never experienced before. It really made me connected to my story and to the others. We were all vested in each other’s novellas, which I loved.
Lexi: We spent a weekend in Louisville to really nail down some of the continuity issues on the anthology. We worked a lot, but we also laughed more than I think I’ve ever laughed in my life. We writers spend an awful lot of time in solitude. It was wonderful to laugh with people who “get” the business like you do..
What was the most difficult part about putting it together?
Rhonda: Oh, all those nitpicky touches, the back-and-forth exchanges of scenes, then going over and over and over it all to make sure we didn’t mess up the timeline. FUN. lol
Marilyn: Yeah, Rhonda nailed it. There were a lot of details!
Caisey: What Rhonda said!
Lexi: To echo what Rhonda said…When we were in Louisville, we sat down at about 10am to start nailing down some of the details. We went page by page through each of our stories. “Oh, here your character says this.” “No, he wouldn’t change it quite like that. Change it to this.” “What’s Maya wearing that night?” “How would Kennedy be acting at the opening address?” Yes! Tons of details! But it was worth it to create what I think is a really unique product.
Obviously, a love of new adult romance brought you four together for this anthology. Name two of your favorite NA reads.
Marilyn: Aside from Lexi’s, Caisey’s, and Rhonda’s stories, which are awesome, I’ve also really enjoyed The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski and Violet Duke’s Resisting the Bad Boy.
Caisey: Oh gosh. There are so many good ones it’s hard to pick just two! My two faves of 2013 were probably Escaping Me by Elizabeth Lee and Break It Up by E.M. Tippetts.
Rhonda: Well, I love all of my fellow anthology authors’ works, lol. Seriously, they’re brilliant–make sure to check them out. But if we go beyond those, I also adored EASY by Tammara Webber and TANGLED by Emma Chase. So good!
Lexi: Oh, yes, I echo what everyone else said. Read them first! Obviously we enjoy each other’s work and that’s why we decided to do this together. After them, definitely EASY by Tammara Webber and ONE WEEK GIRLFRIEND (well, the whole series) by Monica Murphy.
Marilyn Brant is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of eight novels to date, writing in the genres of contemporary women’s fiction, romantic comedy, and new adult/mystery. Recently, the Illinois Association of Teachers of English selected her as their 2013 Author of the Year. As a former teacher, library staff member, freelance magazine writer, and national book reviewer, Marilyn has spent much of her life lost in literature. Her books have been featured by the Doubleday Book Club, Book-of-the-Month Club, Literary Guild, BOMC2, and Rhapsody Book Club, and they’ve won awards such as the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart, the Booksellers’ Best, and the Aspen Gold Reader’s Choice. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her family, reads a lot of Jane Austen, and loves chocolate, old movies, and road trips with music blaring and the windows rolled down. Please visit her online at www.marilynbrant.com or find her on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/marilyn.brant and Twitter @marilynbrant
Caisey Quinn lives in a suburb outside of Birmingham, Alabama with her husband, daughter, and other assorted animals. She wears cowgirl boots most of the time, even to church. She is the bestselling author of the Kylie Ryans series and writes New and Young Adult books about country girls finding love in unexpected places. She can be found online at www.caiseyquinnwrites.com or on Twitter as @CaiseyQuinn where she spends entirely too much time chatting with readers, writers, and anyone who’s willing.
Rhonda Helms started writing novels several years ago and loves teen and New Adult romance. She has a Master’s degree in English and a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. She also freelance edits (visit rhondaedits.com to learn more about her services). When she isn’t writing, she likes to do amateur photography, dig her toes into the sand, read for hours at a time, and eat way too much cheese. Rhonda lives in Northeast Ohio with her family, dog, and a very loud cat. Visit her at rhondahelmsbooks.com for details about her and her books. You can also find her on twitter @rhelmsbooks or Facebook at facebook.com/rhondahelmsbooks.
A New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author, Lexi Ryan considers herself the luckiest chick she knows. Her books have been described as intense, emotional, and wickedly sexy. When not writing, she enjoys watching football, perfecting her chocolate martini, and reading her way to the title of Biggest Romance Fangirl Evah. A former college professor, her biggest fears include faculty meetings and large stacks of ungraded freshman composition papers. She now writes full-time from her home in Indiana, where she lives with her husband and two children and their neurotic dog. You can visit Lexi at her website www.lexiryan.com or find her on Twitter @writerlexiryan or Facebook at facebook.com/lexiryanauthor.