I'm so excited to announce the launch of my new sexy & emotional contemporary romance, No Knight Needed, Book One of the Ever After series. The second book in the series, Fairytale Not Required, will be out next week, in quick back-to-back releases. The third book, Prince Charming Can Wait, will be out in the first part of 2013.
The Ever After series is passionate, intense series about courageous women who struggling so hard to survive that they have long lost any dreams of fairtytales and happy endings, and yet they get them anyway, when their modern day knights waltz into their lives. This series is about how true magic comes from the heart and the soul, and no matter how tough things are, there is always hope, always love, always that dream that can come true.
Bex 'N' Books says No Knight Needed is "a testament to Stephanie Rowe’s skill and talent, one that deserves applause… phenomenal... There was not a moment that I wasn’t completely engrossed in the novel, the story, the characters… The narrative and dialogue surrounding these ‘tender’ moments in particular were so beautifully crafted, poetic even… And of course on the flip side of the heart-wrenching events, was the amazing, witty humour…superbly developed."
Here's the blurb for No Knight Needed:
Broad shoulders silhouetted in the night. Strong arms anchoring her against a powerful chest. A modern-day knight in shining armor on a stormy mountainside… Who has time for that kind of fantasy? Not Clare Gray, that's for sure. The plucky single mom is a little too busy to dream about turbulent dark eyes brimming with intensity, and sensual kisses that ignite her soul. But when Boston business mogul Griffin Friese steps out of his black truck on the abandoned mountain road and helps Clare rescue her daughter from a deadly Maine storm, her well-ordered world implodes.
Suddenly, Clare finds herself having fantasies about tender loving and hot passion with the mysterious stranger with the rain-slicked jacket and the angel painted on the roof of his truck. The midnight encounter awakens yearnings in Clare that are far too dangerous to explore, but when she learns that her heroic knight is staying in town for a few days, he becomes a reality she can't deny. She's already barely surviving, so how can she risk her heart with a man who threatens everything she believes in?
Interested? Here's a brief excerpt from No Knight Needed, when our intrepid single mom who has been raising her daughter alone for fifteen years, first meets the man who is going to change her life:
Ducking her head against the raging storm, Clare hugged herself while she watched the huge black pickup truck turn its headlights onto the steep hillside. She was freezing, and her muscles wouldn't stop shaking. She was so worried about Katie, she could barely think, and she had no idea what this stranger was going to do. Something. Anything. Please.
The truck lurched toward the hill, and she realized suddenly that he was going to drive straight up the embankment in an attempt to go above the roots and around the fallen tree that was blocking the road. But that was crazy! The mountain was way too steep. He was going to flip his truck!
Memories assaulted her, visions of when her husband had died, and she screamed, racing toward him and waving her arms. "No, don't! Stop!"
But the truck plowed up the side of the hill, its wheels spewing mud as it fought for traction in the rain-soaked earth. She stopped, horror recoiling through her as the truck turned and skidded parallel across the hill, the left side of his truck reaching far too high up the slippery slope. Her stomach retched as she saw the truck tip further and further.
The truck was at such an extreme angle, she could see the roof now. A feathered angel was painted beneath the flood lights. An angel? What was a man like him doing with an angel on his truck?
The truck was almost vertical now. There was no way it could stay upright. It was going to flip. Crash into the tree. Careen across the road. Catapult off the cliff. He would die right in front of her. Oh, God, he would die.
But somehow, by a miracle that she couldn't comprehend, the truck kept struggling forward, all four wheels still gripping the earth.
The truck was above the roots now. Was he going to make it? Please let him make it—
The wheels slipped, and the truck dropped several yards down toward the roots. "No!" She took a useless, powerless step as the tires caught on the roots. The tires spun out in the mud, and the roots ripped across the side of the vehicle with a furious scream.
"Go," she shouted, clenching her firsts. "Go!"
He gunned the engine, and suddenly the tires caught. The truck leapt forward, careening sideways across the hill, skidding back and forth as the mud spewed. He made it past the tree, and then the truck plowed back down toward the road, sliding and rolling as he fought for control.
Clare held her hand over her mouth, terrified that at any moment one of his tires would catch on a root and he'd flip. "Please make it, please make it, please make it," she whispered over and over again.
The truck bounced high over a gully, and she gasped when it flew up so high she could see the undercarriage. Then somehow, someway, he wrested the truck back to four wheels, spun out into the road and stopped, its wipers pounding furiously against the rain as the floodlights poured hope into the night.
Oh, dear God. He'd made it. He hadn't died.
Clare gripped her chest against the tightness in her lungs. Her hands were shaking, her legs were weak. She needed to sit down. To recover.
But there was no time. The driver's door opened and out he stepped. Standing behind the range of his floodlights, he was silhouetted against the darkness, his shoulders so wide and dominating he looked like the dark earth itself had brought him to life.
Something inside her leapt with hope at the sight of him, at the sheer, raw strength of his body as he came toward her. This man, this stranger, he was enough. He could help her. Sudden tears burned in her eyes as she finally realized she didn't have to fight this battle by herself.
He held up his hand to tell her to stay, then he slogged over to the front of his truck. He hooked something to the winch, then headed over to the tree. The trunk came almost to his chest, but he locked his grip around a wet branch for leverage, and then vaulted over with effortless grace, landing in the mud with a splash. "Come here," he shouted over the wind.
Clare ran across the muck toward him, stumbling in the slippery footing. "You're crazy!" she shouted, shielding her eyes against the bright floodlights from his truck. But God, she'd never been so happy to see crazy in her life.
"Probably," he yelled back, flashing her a cheeky grin. His perfect white teeth seemed to light up his face, a cheerful confident smile that felt so incongruous in the raging storm and daunting circumstances.
But his cockiness eased her panic, and that was such a gift. It made her able to at least think rationally. She would take all the positive vibes she could get right now.
He held up a nylon harness that was hooked to the steel cord attached to his truck. "If the tree goes over, this will keep you from going over."
She wiped the rain out of her eyes. "What are you talking about?"
"We still have to get you over the tree, and I don't want you climbing it unprotected. Never thought I'd actually be using this stuff. I had it just out of habit." He dropped the harness over her head and began strapping her in with efficient, confident movements. His hands brushed her breasts as he buckled her in, but he didn't seem to notice.
She sure did.
It was the first time a man's hands had touched her breasts in about fifteen years, and it was an unexpected jolt. Something tightened in her belly. Desire? Attraction? An awareness of the fact she was a woman? Dear God, what was wrong with her? She didn't have time for that. Not tonight, and not in her life. But she couldn't take her gaze off his strong jaw and dark eyes as he focused intently on the harness he was strapping around her.
"I'm taking you across to my truck," he said, "and then we're going to get your daughter and the others."
"We are?" She couldn't stop the sudden flood of tears. "You're going to help me get them?"
He nodded as he snapped the final buckle. "Yeah. I gotta get into heaven somehow, and this might do it."
"Thank you!" She threw herself at him and wrapped her arms around him, clinging to her savior. She had no idea who he was, but he'd just successfully navigated a sheer mud cliff for her and her daughter, and she would so take that gift right now.
For an instant, he froze, and she felt his hard body start to pull away. Then suddenly, in a shift so subtle she didn't even see it happen, his body relaxed and his arms went around her, locking her down in an embrace so powerful she felt like the world had just stopped. She felt like the rain had ceased and the wind had quieted, buffeted aside by the strength and power of his body.
"It's going to be okay." His voice was low and reassuring in her ear, his lips brushing against her as he spoke. "She's going to be fine."
Crushed against this stranger's body, protected by his arms, soothed by the utter confidence in his voice, the terror that had been stalking her finally eased away. "Thank you," she whispered.
There was a hint of emotion in his voice, and she pulled back far enough to look at him. His eyes were dark, so dark she couldn't tell if they were brown or black, but she could see the torment in his expression. His jaw was angular, and his face was shadowed by the floodlights. He was a man with weight in his heart. She felt it right away. Instinctively, she laid a hand on his cheek. "You're a gift."
He flashed another smile, and for a split second, he put his hand over hers, holding it to his whiskered cheek as if she were some angel of mercy come to give him relief. Her throat thickened, and for a moment, everything else vanished. It was just them, drenched and cold on a windy mountain road, the only warmth was their hands, clasped together against his cheek.
His eyes darkened, then he cleared his throat suddenly and released her hand, jerking her back to the present. "Wait until you see whether I can pull it off," he said, his voice low and rough, sending chills of awareness rippling down her spine. "Then you can reevaluate that compliment." He tugged on the harness. "Ready?"
She gripped the cold nylon, suddenly nervous. Was she edgy because she was about to climb over a tree that could careen into the gully while she was on it, or was it due to intensity of the sudden heat between them? God, she hoped it was the first one. Being a wimp was so much less dangerous than noticing a man like him. "Aren't you wearing one?"
He quirked a smile at her, a jaunty grin that melted one more piece of her thundering heart. "I only have one, and ladies always get first dibs. Besides, I'm a good climber. If the tree takes me over, I'll find my way back up. Always do." He set his foot on a lower branch and patted his knee. "A one-of-a-kind step ladder. Hop up, Ms.—?" He paused, leaving the question hovering in the storm.
"Clare." She set her muddy boot on his knee, and she grimaced apologetically when the mud glopped all over his jeans. "Clare Gray." She grabbed a branch and looked at him. "And you are?"
"Griffin Friesé." He set his hand on her hip to steady her, his grip strong and solid. "Let's go save some kids, shall we?"
What dreams have you held onto, lost hope for, or seen come true? To win a copy of No Knight Needed (or any Stephanie Rowe book of your choice), enter a comment below. I will add another free book for every 20 entries, and if we get 100 entries, I will add a free pair of shoes (you get to pick out what you want!) from newbalance.com to help you run fast in pursuit of your dreams.So spread the word so we get 100 comments and I can give away a free pair of shoes!
And I have winners to announce from the Jingle This! releaese day contest. Yay! Because we had a lot of comments, I have four free books to give away: DW, Bookbunny68, Janice Hougland, and Tanya! If you're one of the winners, please email me and let me know which book you want and what format you want it in (some titles are not available in all formats).
Stay tuned for Fairytale Not Required (Book 2 of the Ever After series) coming out next week!
*Note: No Knight Needed was originally released under the title Dawn at Birch Crossing.
*Note: No Knight Needed was originally released under the title Dawn at Birch Crossing.