Cover Collection

Cover Collection

Thursday, July 2, 2015


by Tina Donahue

I’m an award-winning, bestselling novelist in erotic, paranormal, contemporary and historical romance for Kensington, Samhain Publishing, Ellora’s Cave, Siren Publishing, Booktrope, Luminosity, and indie. Yay! Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Romantic Times and numerous online sites have praised my work, and trust me, I’m forever grateful for that. I’ve had my books reach finals in the EPIC competition, one title was named Book of the Year at a review site, and others have won awards in RWA-sponsored contests. I’m actually featured in the 2012 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market. Talk about feeling like a freaking star. Before my writing career, I was the editor of an award–winning Midwestern newspaper and worked in Story Direction for a Hollywood production company. Outside of being an admitted and unrepentant chocoholic, I’ve flown a single-engine plane (scary stuff), rewired an old house using an electricity for dummies book, and have been known to moan like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally whenever I’m eating anything Mexican or Italian. Yeah, I like to eat (burp).


Their desire wasn’t supposed to be real…With millions willed to her in an incentive trust, Lissa can get the dough to start her own country music label when she meets one of the no-contest clauses. Namely, reach middle age in twenty years, work in the hated family business for a decade, or marry someone not in the music biz.

Marriage it is, at least for a year to satisfy her greedy brother who wants the inheritance.

Enter Cass, a hot Texas rancher who dampens Lissa’s panties. With a pile of medical bills from his brother’s accident, Cass agrees to wed Lissa. She’s sweet to look at,  surprisingly pleasant for an Atlanta debutante, and makes his jeans feel tight as hell despite their no-sex contract.

Uh-huh. The devil’s in the details. Longing gazes turn to tender intimacy and wild nights with pretend feeling all too real.

Damn shame it may be too late with her brother gunning for them both.


Cass had expected to be somewhat jittery today, but his anger with Willy was still fresh enough to have calmed his nerves, though not his thoughts. As the Wedding March swept through the gigantic space, Cass wondered if Willy would say or do something to hurt Lissa.
I’ll pound you into the ground if you try.
It’d be more entertainment for the six hundred or so guests.
They oohed, then ahhed at the ringbearer who tripped, the flower girl who wet her panties halfway down the aisle, and a dozen bridesmaids dressed in filmy lavender gowns who grinned as if their lives depended on it. So much for having a small affair. Marvella and the rest of the bridesmaids had walked slowly, each of them taking Cass in as if he were on the auction block. Some of them eyed him so much they made this the longest damn wedding he’d ever suffered through.
Patty must have thought the same. She hung on to one of the chairs while her gaze whizzed around the room decorated with more flowers than a Texas politician’s funeral.
Cass would have given a few years of his life for some fresh air and a faster pace to these proceedings. After what seemed like hours, it was time for the main event. A hush fell over the guests as Willy stepped into view. Cass glared at the man, warning him to be nice or risk death.
Curling his upper lip, Willy held out his arm for Lissa. A moment passed, then another, and still more with her nowhere in sight. She couldn’t have changed her—
No, wait. There she was.
Cass lost every bit of air in his lungs. Dear Lord, her hair was beyond glorious, curling this way and that, free and loose just as he’d wanted. Thank you, sweetheart.
He couldn’t look at her dress enough. White as a cloud, it sparkled each time she breathed.
Although Lissa’s veil hung over her face, he could see that her gaze was down as Willy delivered her to his side…for safekeeping and a lifetime of what should have been love. Cass took her hand gently in his, surprised at how icy her fingers were.
Lissa lifted her face. At that moment, Cass knew he wanted her completely, mindlessly, passionately; hell, he might even be falling in love. This was a woman he ached to share time with—all the good, even the bad—didn’t matter.
Her expression softened; it yearned as much as his.
Cass smiled.
Uncertainty, then something he couldn’t read passed over her face. She turned away.
His stomach fell. He wanted to ask what had just happened, what the problem might be, besides this nutty wedding. He needed to know if she’d ever want him as her real husband or even for a couple dates, but couldn’t get into that now. The minister had already started. His words sounded cold, no different from the contract Cass and Lissa had signed. How careful they’d been, spelling everything out, except what they should do about a wayward heart.
Cass’ beat out of control, yet he said his vows in a surprisingly strong voice and then eased his mother’s ring onto Lissa’s finger, warming her hand with his own.
When it was her turn, she claimed that she’d love him for all time, then slipped a gold band onto his finger. A warning to the world that he belonged to her now.
As crazy as it was, Cass suddenly wanted that.
The ceremony continued, for days it seemed. He felt as if he’d been doing this all of his life. Finally though, the minister shut up for a few seconds, broke into a broad smile, and said, “You may now kiss your bride.” What remarkable words those were, filled with such beauty and promise. With great care, as if he was exposing Lissa’s soul, Cass eased the veil from her face.
He saw her flash of desire, followed by more uncertainty, maybe fear. Why? He’d never hurt her.
Cass cupped her beautiful face in his hands. His work-roughened thumbs stroked her velvety cheeks as he lowered his mouth to hers. This time, he kissed Lissa with tenderness, respect, and patience. She was his wife and deserved the best.                                                                                     

Adulte Excerpt #1:

Cass leaned to the left, but the sun still reflected off the car’s windshield, hiding the passengers from him. Not that it mattered since he knew who they were. An Atlanta debutante who wanted to get around a trust and her attorney who was helping her do it. Sweet Jesus, what had he gotten himself into? It wasn’t like Cass to engage in fraud of any kind. Before the lousy drought, the drop in beef prices, and then his kid brother’s problems, he’d been doing well. Now, not so much with no financial institution wanting to help. Only the Bank of Lissa Lee had answered his appeal.
Now that she was there, Cass wanted to run.
He was certain she wasn’t only spoiled, but probably had a voice that would shatter safety glass, not to mention looks only a blind mother could love. Her attorney had refused to send Cass a picture of her, warning him not to search for one on the Internet.
“This is business,” he’d said in a soft yet nasty voice. “If you look into Ms. Lee at all, I’ll know, and the deal’s off.” Cass hadn’t been certain whether the man had been blowing smoke or not, but couldn’t risk it. He’d told himself to be a good boy for the attorney and a bad boy for Lissa while also making a mockery of marriage. That wasn’t like him either.
He was ready to go back inside the house and throw the lock when the driver’s side door popped open and a balding blond guy got out. “Mr. Bronson?”
Unfortunately. “Uh-huh. Mr. St. Claire?”
“That’s right.” He went around to the passenger door and opened it.
Cass took a deep breath, reminding himself this was necessary to pay the bills, keep the land and house. He wasn’t even expected to consummate the—
His thoughts stopped dead at the young woman who stepped out.
Her hair fell in soft waves to her waist and was the color of a Texas sunset…shimmering red with a few gold highlights.. The dress she wore was short and sleeveless with a scooped neck but no shape. Didn’t matter. A stiff breeze pushed the pale yellow fabric against the faint curve of her tummy, smallish breasts, and tightened nipples.
She wasn’t wearing a bra.
Cass’ cock went instantly stiff, while his gaze prowled down her. Damn, he couldn’t detect a panty line either. Now his rod was beginning to ache. He glanced lower still.
Lord, but she had nice thighs, slender calves, and ankles too, not to mention tiny feet in her wedged sandals. They added about three inches to her height. Barefooted, she’d be one mighty small woman. As she shifted her weight, which couldn’t have been more than a hundred and twenty pounds, Cass glanced up to see her creamy complexion—not one freckle—and one of the prettiest faces a woman could have, along with a surprisingly vulnerable expression. As though she wasn’t certain he’d approve of her.
How could any normal man find her lacking?
Her eyes were pale blue, circled with dark lashes, her nose as delicate as the rest of her features…all except for her mouth. It was pink, her lips as full as Angelina Jolie’s, and looking to be hotter than this day.
He swallowed.
“This is Ms. Lissa Lee,” Mr. St. Claire said.
Cass had to hold back a grin of delight since this arrangement was supposed to have zero fun, and she looked kind of daunted. Poor thing. Feeling oddly protective, Cass wanted to assure her that everything was going to be all right, but hadn’t a clue how it could be. They were supposed to live together in wedded un-bliss for a year, which meant they were both going to be celibate.
Somehow, Cass hadn’t thought of that until now, and suddenly realized he was fucked big time. Holding back a sigh, he took off his hat and went down the steps to claim her.

Excerpt #2:

Lissa trembled slightly at his approach, delight mingling with uncertainty that she was actually going to do this.
He stopped near enough to touch but not to intimidate. “Nice to meet you.”
The world shifted slightly at the quiet thunder of his voice, rumbling and deep, unbelievably sexy. However, Lissa also heard caution.
Before either of them bolted, she offered her hand. “Mr. Bronson.”
“Please, call me Cass. We are engaged, right?”
He had a beautiful smile. His teasing wasn’t bad either. “We are. So you best call me Lissa.”
“Lissa it is.” His hand swallowed hers, his skin warm and dry, palm deliciously calloused.
Lissa’s knees wavered, and her pussy creamed. Good lord, he felt good and smelled awesome. Something fresh and woodsy with a hint of vanilla. Old Spice? She leaned closer to get another whiff, the top of her head coming only to his shoulder. His pecs strained against his tee with his breath.
She never knew a man’s chest or shoulders could be so broad or his hair so freaking perfect. Thick, shiny, a warm chocolaty color falling in tousled waves over his forehead. His brows were also dark, his skin bronzed from the sun, eyes a surprising shade of gray with laugh lines at the corners and an inner fire that stole her breath. What in the world would he be like in bed when he unleashed his passion? How did he behave with a woman he really liked and truly wanted?
So much longing pulsed through Lissa, she couldn’t think.
Auggie cleared his throat loudly.
Ignoring the intrusive noise, Cass ran his thumb over hers, making Lissa’s teeth tingle.
“We should go inside and get the legalities taken care of,” Auggie mumbled.
With his reminder that this was merely a deal, not a love match, Lissa finally eased her hand from Cass’.
After regarding her for a tantalizingly long moment, Cass inclined his head to the house. “We can talk in the kitchen.” Auggie took Lissa’s arm to keep her from following, possibly drooling. Leaning into her, he whispered, “It’s only for a year. Remember that. It will end.”
Of course, it would. Auggie didn’t have to keep reminding her of the obvious. Even if this hadn’t been a business arrangement, Cass wasn’t going to fall in love with her. None of the other men in her life had, except for Auggie. The guys Lissa had dated and foolishly hoped she’d share a future with were interested in her pedigree or wealth, not what she had to offer as a person.
Suppressing a sigh, she gave Cass a nervous smile as he held the front door open. “Thank you.”
He regarded her with easy warmth. “My pleasure.”
Damn, he was hot and nice. The whole enchilada. Once inside the house, Lissa calmed her wayward lust by taking in the front parlor that boasted polished hardwood floors along with Victorian knickknacks and furniture. The room smelled lemony fresh and clean, genuinely loved.
She smiled. “What a beautiful place.”
“Grandma and Mom did all the decorating.”
He was directly behind her, sending Lissa’s pulse into a sprint from his voice and proximity. If Lissa hadn’t known better, she would have sworn she felt his body heat. “They did a great job.”
“Thanks. Kitchen’s this way.”
Lissa and Auggie followed him through a hall with snug rooms on either side, all with high ceilings and vintage furniture. The kitchen was as immaculate as the rest of the house, the appliances old but well cared for.
Although she’d grown up in one sumptuous Atlanta mansion after another, they’d always seemed like museum displays to Lissa. None a real home where people actually lived and loved.
This was a place where she could easily picture Cass as a child. A tall boy, to be sure, but one who had run down the narrow halls, whooping and hollering as he waved his baby Stetson. Thinking of that, she grinned.
“Lis?” Auggie said, pulling out a chair for her. He had their laptops on the kitchen table next to where Cass had his. 
“Would you like some ice tea, Dr. Pepper, milk?” Cass hung his Stetson on a hook. “Or would you prefer something stronger?”
Lissa stopped tapping her feet against the floor and gave him a brief glance. A longer one would have had her grinning like a fool or whistling a happy tune. “Nothing for me, thanks.”
“Mr. St. Claire?”
“I’m fine.” Auggie finished setting up his computer.
Cass sank into the chair next to hers, facing Lissa as he stretched his legs to the side, crossing them at the ankles. 
A wave of his fragrance rolled over Lissa, this time tinged with musk that made her head swim. She wondered what size boots he wore. Crossing her legs, she lifted her big toe, gently touching the side of his jeans.
“Ready?” Auggie asked.
Reminded of what had brought her there, Lissa suddenly wasn’t. She lowered her foot from Cass’ jeans.  “No.”

Excerpt #3:

“Neck hurt?” he asked. She stopped kneading her aching muscles, but couldn’t lie. “A little.”
He put down his drink without tasting it. “Lie down. I’ll massage it.” He went to the bed and pulled away the down comforter.
She regarded the white satin sheets. “Wonder where they get linens to fit that thing.”
Cass smiled. “Beats me. I’d say the bed’s more for contortionists than regular people.”
Lissa snickered, grateful they’d broken the tension. “No kidding.” She padded to the bed. “Should I lie on my belly?”
“Depends where you hurt.” He eased his hand between her hair and the robe, gently touching her neck with his fingertips. “Here?”
Her legs went watery at the gently pressure of his hand. “Uh-uh.”
Damn. Her shoulder shot up with the pain.
“On your belly,” he said.
Lissa knelt on the bed and fell forward.
“Jesus Christ,” he blurted. “Didn’t that hurt?”
“It’s worse if I bend anything.”
“Does that mean you’re going to have trouble getting back up?”
Lissa wasn’t certain how to answer that so she hedged. “Why?”
“You might have to take off your robe so I can find your neck.”
Groaning, she rolled over, undid the tie, then rolled back onto her belly. “Can you just pull it off me?”
Cass did, his touch extra gentle, his breathing barely controlled. “Ready?” he rasped.
For just about everything, even as desire and fear continued to war within her. She touched the back of her neck. “Here’s where it hurts worse.”
The mattress jiggled with Cass’ weight, but his touch was exquisitely light as he brushed her hair to the side, then kneaded her muscles.
A sigh spilled past her lips as he eased away the pain, little by little. Minutes later, Lissa was finally relaxed. She stretched her arms over her head, parted her legs widely, and moaned in pleasure.
“Better?” he murmured.
“Good.” He ran his hands over her shoulders and down her arms until he touched her fingers.
Without thinking, Lissa laced them through his, holding him.
Neither of them moved. Lissa was pretty damn certain they’d both stopped breathing too.
A sound of raw male need finally poured from Cass. He lowered his mouth to her neck, his breath skipping across it, his achingly soft lips pressed to her.
Her toes curled at the hot, wet sweep of his tongue on her skin. She lost what little resistance she’d had, his kiss warming her inside and out.
After easing his hands from hers, he turned Lissa over and covered her body with his, capturing her mouth, filling her with his tongue. When he slipped the strap past her shoulder and down her arm, wanting tore through Lissa, crashing in waves so fierce, she pushed her fingers through his silky hair and arched her back, giving herself to him. Her areola  puckered in the room’s coolish air, the tip hardening even more at the brush of his calloused palm, his fingers squeezing her breast.
A rush of moisture dampened Lissa’s soft folds. Cass’ shaft grew harder against her, his kiss fiercer. With one hand beneath her head, he held her still so he could own her mouth. Then he lifted the edge of her gown, easing it up until he’d exposed her legs and pussy.
Lissa’s thoughts spun out of control at his hand sliding up the inside of her thigh to her delicate curls. He tugged at them playfully, then sought her damp entrance, finding her clit. She gasped at the stunning sensations pulsing through her. Her body surrendered to pleasure even as her mind began to rebel, desire warring with fear, good sense battling with need.
Cass teased her nub, generating indescribable sensations as he deepened their kiss. With his knees, he pushed her legs wider. Her body responded wantonly, wanting more even as a wish repeated itself in her heart like a well-loved melody.
If only he loved her.
He didn’t. This was a deal born of desperate financial need for him and a soul-deep longing within her—the chance to create something beautiful in a world that had always seemed so heartless and cold. Remembering that, Lissa pressed her hands to his chest and pulled her mouth from his. “Cass, no,” she panted.
He suckled her neck.
Breathing hard, he finally lifted his head, his gaze unfocused, thick with lust.
The same that Lissa felt but had to fight, protecting her heart. “No.”
He blinked as if coming out of a trance, then pulled his hand from between her thighs, his fingers slick with her moisture, proof of her desire. He couldn’t have looked more confused. Lissa didn’t know what to say. Now wasn’t the time to tell him she didn’t believe in casual sex, not even with her own husband. Laughter bubbled in her throat while tears stung her eyes.
He stared. “Lissa, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do anything. I thought…” Not finishing, he rolled off her and left the bed. He was at the wet bar, downing a shot of whiskey when she moved past.
“Whoa.” He cuffed her wrist and frowned at the pillow wedged under her arm. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Sleeping in the tub. You didn’t do anything wrong,” she added quickly. “You thought exactly what you should have. This isn’t fair to you.”
Cass shook his head. More of his dark locks spilled loose, grazing his eyebrows, making her weak with wanting. “You’re not spending the night in the tub.”
“I have to. You won’t fit in it.”
He laughed. “You’re right, I won’t.” Sobering quickly, he took a deep breath and spoke on a sigh, “We have a year of this to face, so we sure as hell better start getting used to it tonight. We’ll both use the bed.” He grabbed the bottle of vodka and slapped it into her hand. “If I try anything in my sleep, just hit me over the head with that.”
She threw it to the side. “I’m sorry for what happened. Not because it happened but because of the circumstances surrounding it. You deserve better.”
He made a face. “And you don’t?”
“I can handle it.”
He glared. “I can’t?”
“That’s not what I meant. I—”
“It’s okay.” Breathing hard, he cradled the side of her face in his hand. “Just go to bed. I’ll be there directly.”
She glanced at the wet bar.
“Don’t worry. I’m not going to get drunk.”
“I know. I was thinking about doing that myself.”
He laughed. “God, woman, you’re a handful.”
Her cheeks warmed at his teasing. She murmured, “You’re an honorable man, Cass.”
He dropped his hand. “Go to bed, please.”
Lissa didn’t move. “Which side of the mattress do you prefer?”
“The middle?”
She laughed. “I’ll take the right if that’s okay.”
“Fine. Whatever you want.”
“No, I want you to be comfortable too. If you prefer something else, let me know. Do you have a double bed on the ranch? Do you sleep in the middle of it?”
He rubbed the back of his neck, his biceps bulging with that small move, the dark hair in his pit peeking out, making Lissa nuts.
She swallowed. “Come on, tell me. How do you usually sleep?”
“In the nude.”

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