Super -tickled to see the relaunch and rebirth of the Malloys. September 3 marked the rerelease of the first four Malloy books with their styling new covers. On September 10, the next four Malloy books release. All leading up to the release of THE FORTUNE – the brand new prequel – on September 17!
Relaunch because there are these amazing new covers for the first eight. Rebirth because THE FORTUNE is the first prequel to the Malloys. The story of John and Francesca, parents of the Malloy clan. This is a road romance, taking place on a wagon train bound for Oregon in 1848. And oh boy was it fun! You can find an excerpt below. 🙂
Excerpt from THE FORTUNE:
Frankie successfully avoided seeing John Malloy, except from a distance, for four days. She walked beside the wagon as they traveled, too tired to do much but fall asleep beneath it at night. Mr. Malloy was everywhere she looked, however, helping folks and doing his job. It wasn’t her fault if he happened to be in her line of sight.
The wagon train had finally stopped for the night. Frankie was gathering kindling in a thatch of trees when she noticed John nearby, chopping wood without his shirt.
Frankie tried to swallow, but her mouth and throat had gone dry as the desert. She looked at John’s back as he worked. His skin was bronzed by the sun and she could see a slow trickle of sweat weaving its way down the middle of his back. She watched the droplets as they meandered through the topography of his spine. His well-toned muscles rippled with each stroke of the ax. The muscles were bunched together tightly, showing years of hard work. A white scar marred the left shoulder blade, at least six inches long and jagged. She’d helped her mother enough to recognize a knife wound.
What am I doing?
She gave herself a mental smack and started moving. Staring at the man was not only a bad idea, but if he caught her staring, she would be mortified. Her hands grew damp as she tried to sneak past him, the kindling clutched to her chest. She stepped on a stick, which cracked beneath the sole of her boot. Cursing softly, she quickened her pace, hoping he hadn’t heard her.
John turned to look at her as he wiped the sweat from his brow with a swatch of cloth. He smiled. “Good evening, Frankie. Doing chores, I see.”
As though she had no control over her own reaction, she stared at him. “What? Oh, yes, of course, my chores! Your chest is bare again.” Her cheeks burned with embarrassment. What would possess her to say something like that? “Well, that was foolish. My apologies, Mr. Malloy. I must go.”
“I thought I was alone out here. Didn’t know I had a Peeping Tom.” He was obviously not going to be a gentleman. This did not surprise her.
“How kind of you to make me feel even more foolish.” Her smile was more of a teeth-baring.
The rogue grinned as he slipped on his shirt then slapped his hat on his head. “Let’s walk back together.”
Frankie wanted to throw the wood at him, but she grudgingly admitted it would be safer to walk with him. The gathering darkness reminded her of just how isolated the prairie was, and how many dangers lurked. Perhaps some small perverse corner of her mind wanted to be in his company, much as that thought appalled her.
John gathered his wood into one arm, carried an axe with the other and fell into step beside Frankie. She kept a brisk pace, hoping to make the journey as short as possible. However, her curiosity burbled along merrily, and she was never one not to speak her mind, even considering how much pain it had caused her.
“May I ask you a question, Monsieur Malloy?”
“’Course.” His scent wafted through the air, one of man, sweat and outdoors. While not sweet, it was appealing, which surprised her.
“Where did you get that scar on your back?”
John stopped short. A hard look came into his eyes.
“My apologies. I did not mean to—“ Frankie began.
“I can see how people can be curious, but it’s not something I like to talk about.” He walked on, his long legs eating up the distance quickly.
Frankie felt guilty for prying into his personal business. She had no call to ask him about the scar; it was none of her concern. Judging by the look of the skin, the wound had taken place two or three years ago. Someone hadn’t stitched it properly, leaving a jagged mark on his otherwise perfect skin. If her Maman had doctored it, the scar would be cleaner.
Unfortunately, Frankie was lost in thoughts of Mr. Malloy and didn’t watch where she was going. Her foot stopped on a tree root and the rest of her didn’t. Hindered by the bundle of kindling in her arms, she let out a yelp and headed for the ground at a high rate of speed.
A band of steel encircled her, stopping her fall completely. The kindling scattered with a series of noisy thumps. John had snatched her in midair, saving her, for the second time, from being hurt. He turned her around and pulled her up until she was flush against him. To her consternation, her pulse quickened. Frankie’s breasts pushed up against John’s hard chest. A chest she had seen naked minutes before. Its sinewy, smooth imprint had never left her mind.
The moment stretched on, their breaths mingled as their hearts thumped against each other. She didn’t protest or move, strangely comfortable within his arms, a dangerous place to be. He leaned down and brushed his lips across hers. Once, twice, thrice. His lips were soft but firm as they pressed down on hers, moving from one end of her mouth to the other. Sweet saints above, she could kiss this man forever. Her pulse pounded through her veins, her body alive for the first time in her life.
Stop this. Now.
Frankie raised her hands to extract herself from his hold, fully aware her palms were now in direct contact with that amazing specimen of male chest, which was as hard as granite.