First Kisses excerpts – April Showers Blog Hop – Enter for a chance at some awesome prizes! All of my books are on SALE

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Laura Haley-McNeil


Welcome to the April Showers Blog Hop!

What time is more romantic than spring? As the flowers bloom and the weather heats up, so does the romance in my contemporary western romances. Here are a few hot first kisses from my series, Colton Gamblers.

Gambling On A Secret, Colton Gamblers book 1

She let her gaze slip down over his work-toned body. His shoulders were broad, biceps muscular. The scars and tattoos gave him a dangerous edge she should run from, not eat up like eye candy.

As he pulled the shirt over his head, she reached out and skimmed her fingertips over the largest of the scars on his abdomen. Dylan shivered, yanked the shirt off before putting it completely on, and dropped it on the floor. He grabbed her wrist to pull her against him, and held her.

Her head spun, and her heart sputtered as his mouth lowered hard on hers. He licked at her upper lip, and she opened for him to plunge his tongue into the depths of her mouth.

His hands moved to her hips. Without breaking the kiss, he lifted her unto the edge of the sink. She wrapped her legs around him and crossed her ankles over his behind. When she pulled him as close as he could get with their clothing in the way, he groaned. She couldn’t get enough of him and pressed her center into his impressive erection. He held her there, and somewhere in the cosmic haze, she realized they were dangerously close to giving in to the raw desire sizzling between them.

Her hands moved between their bodies through the soft curls up his chest. His hands molded over her breasts under her tank top. A moan escaped her when he flicked his thumbs over her aroused, satin-covered nipples. She wanted to touch him everywhere and wanted to be touched everywhere by him.

With a growl deep in his chest, he broke the kiss and pulled back. She opened her eyes to meet his. Why was he pushing her away?


Gambling On A Secret, Sara Walter Ellwood, contemporary western romance, romantic suspense, cowboy romance, Texas romance, small town romance, Colton Gamblers, Lyrical Press, Kensington PublishingFREE!!

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When Charli bets everything on a secret…

Former runaway-turned heiress Charli Monroe is hiding her sordid past and planning a future in Colton, Texas. Attending the local college for a degree in social work, she intends to raise cattle on her newly purchased ranch, which she plans to open as a home for troubled teens. Only a few glitches—the Victorian mansion is crumbling, the barn needs a roof, and her oilman neighbor wants more than friendship. When she meets Dylan Quinn, Charli is willing to take a chance on the town drunk to help her rebuild the rundown ranch.

Will she find the deck stacked against her?

Dylan has his demons, too. The former Special Forces commander can’t get past his ex-wife’s betrayal and the botched mission that left him with much more than a bad limp. Certain the greedy oilman next door to Charli wants much more than just her heart, Dylan’s even willing to stop drinking in order to protect her. When things get dangerous and secrets of the past are revealed, is he only looking out for his new employer, or is she the new start he so desperately needs?


Gambling On A Heart, Colton Gamblers book 2

As the lag in the conversation stretched uncomfortably, he twisted his hat in his hand, wishing he’d left it in the truck. She must have noticed his fidgeting and jumped away from the island. “I’m sorry. You can stow your hat in the closet through here. I really need to get a rack for the entry.” She led him into the mudroom and slid a door open. The coat closet was big and nearly empty. Reaching past her shoulder, he laid the old Stetson on a shelf. When she turned toward him, he brushed her breast with his upper arm, causing a flame to shoot through him.

Her thin sweater tightened over her pert breasts as she sucked in a deep breath, providing proof their proximity to each other affected her as powerfully as it did him. He pulled his gaze from her chest to lock with her eyes. They had darkened to a silvery blue, made more intense by the brilliant color of her top. Her breath hitched, and her eyes lowered to his lips. He knew what she wanted, because he wanted it even more.

Without thinking about exactly what he was doing, he lowered his lips to hers. His heart slammed into overdrive when she lifted her hands to his chest and moaned his name.

He wrapped his hand around her nape and tilted her face to allow him better access to her mouth. When he traced her upper lip with his tongue, she drew in a breath and opened her mouth under his. He took the invitation by thrusting his tongue deeply into the warm sweetness.

As their tongues dueled, she wrapped her arms around his neck, bringing her body in full contact with his. She sucked on his tongue when he pressed his hard-on into her lower belly. Sweet mercy, he wanted to strip her right here and have his way with her on the cold tile floor of her mudroom. Damn the danger to his pride and self-respect.

And damn the alarm warning him to be careful.

But he couldn’t forget their kids were upstairs. Somehow, somewhere, he found the control to back off and eventually break the kiss. Tracy opened her eyes and peered at him, dazed. She blinked a few times as he ran the back of his fingers over her cheek. He couldn’t hold in the raspy laugh.

“What’s funny?”

“You had that exact same expression on your face the very first time I kissed you.” His voice seemed to come from his toes as he remembered their first kiss. He’d had no idea how innocent she was until that night. How could she still have that virginal look of awe?

Her cheeks turned a darker pink and embarrassment replaced the wonder, making her appear even more naive. “Is that a good thing?”
He continued to caress her cheek. “I don’t know.”


contemporary western romance, texas romance, cowboy romance, romantic suspense, Colton Gamblers, Lyrical Press, Kensington PublishingOn SALE for $0.99

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She once lost his heart on a bluff.

Beautician Tracy Quinn spends her days making the women of Colton, Texas beautiful, while living down the nickname of Olive Oyl, given to her by the only man she has ever loved–Zack Cartwright. She spends her nights alone, despite what her ex husband wants their friends and neighbors to think.

Will she risk everything to win it back?

Ex-rodeo cowboy. Ex-bad-boy. Ex-Marine. Widower and single dad Sheriff Zack Cartwright can describe his life in exes. One ex in particular reminds him of what’s missing in his workaholic life: Tracy Quinn. For years since she broke his heart, he’s practically made avoiding her a second job. He still wants her, but can never go after her. When cattle rustlers target her brother’s ranch, Tracy and Zack are stuck working together. Her son could use a positive male role model, and his daughter is wild for a chance at a “substitute” mom. But Tracy’s ex threatens to sue if she lets Zack near her son, and the Colton grapevine is abuzz with rumors about their past relationship. Is it worth the gamble to see if what they have is more than lust?


Gambling On A Dream, Colton Gamblers book 3

“Stop it, Taco. Go lay down.” Dawn pointed to the dog bed on the floor in the corner beside a bookshelf loaded with James Patterson and Clive Cussler novels. The dog gave one more disapproving bark and waddled over to the bed, circled around the soft fleece inside, then settled. “Sorry about that.”

He patted his hand against his thigh. “No problem. She’s just looking out for her mistress. Who knows, I could be a bad guy.”
Snorting, she headed into the kitchen.

“What?” He followed and came to a stop behind her in the tiny space. “You don’t agree?”

From a cabinet, she pulled down two bright red bowls and set them on the counter beside a Crockpot. Turning, she took a deep breath.
Only inches separated them, and her scent surrounded him. Her eyes dilated and heated his blood. He was lost. The ache in his cock shorted out his good sense, and he reached for her. She didn’t fight as she stepped into his arms, tilting her head back. With a swipe of her pink tongue, she moistened her lips. “I know you’re a bad boy.”

The husky words were like a mean sucker punch in the gut. He had to have her. Pulling her closer and backing her up to the edge of the counter, he pressed the evidence of his desire against her. A soft moan escaped her moist lips as he lifted her to settle his cock into the cradle of her hips, and she rubbed her thigh against his. He wasn’t sure if he damned the clothing between them or was thankful for the barrier.

He came down hard on her pliable lips, demanding to be fed. She resisted his entry for a moment, but then relaxed into him and opened her mouth under his. As he buried his fingers into her hair and held her to him, he plunged in, needing to conquer her. She tasted of sweet mint, coffee, and the nirvana of a woman’s desire.

Gripping the shirt over his chest, she moaned her surrender. But she demanded as much from him. As she slid her tongue against his, her body moved with each stroke against him.

He grabbed the bottom of her sweater and slipped his hand under to find the satin of her bra. Her breast was hot and heavy beneath the cloth. When he rolled his thumb over her nipple, it puckered instantly. She gasped and her hands flattened on his chest, trapped between their bodies.

Breaking the kiss, he nibbled his way along her jaw to her ear. “I want you,” he rasped between nips on her earlobe.

She shuddered and her breathing came in sharp, short spurts as she tilted her head, allowing him better access to the sweet spot under her ear. As he breathed in the musky scent of her desire, he sucked in her skin. Her salty-sweetness intoxicated him.

He took her moaning his name as his cue and flicked open the front clasp of her bra. As he reached for the bottom of her sweater, she shook her head and pushed on his chest.

“Wyatt.” This time his name came as a strangled pant. “Stop.”

Somehow, he found the sanity to back off. He looked into her eyes and the burn of her desire drained away, out-right fear replaced it.

She shook her head again as if to clear a fog from it, slipped away from him and entered the living room. As if she fought to catch her breath, she heaved her shoulders up and down. Hugging herself, she faced away from him. “I can’t do this. Not again.”

He ran his hand over his face. Goddamn, was he a total idiot? Was he that hard up? Having Dawn again would be like taking a hot knife in the gut and giving it a good twist. “I should go.”


Gambling On A Dream, Sara Walter Ellwood, contemporary western romance, romantic suspense, cowboy romance, Texas romance, small town romance, Colton Gamblers, Lyrical Press, Kensington Publishing, Native American romanceOn SALE for $0.99

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With Everything At Stake….

It’s been years since Sheriff Dawn Madison said goodbye to Texas Ranger Wyatt McPherson. She’s closed the door on the heartache of her past. But when the sleepy town of Colton, Texas, is rocked by a series of shocking murders, Dawn has no choice but to trust the man who broke her heart if she wants to protect the ones she loves…

All Bets Are Off

Four years have passed. But Wyatt hasn’t forgotten the bold, Native American beauty who stole his heart . . . and broke it. Losing her and the life they had hoped to share left him an empty shell of himself. But if he wants to stop the deranged killer terrorizing the innocent kids of Colton, he’ll have to let Dawn back into his life. It’s a risk he’s willing to take, even if heartache is all he takes home…


ALSO ON SALE for $0.99

Find book information and buy links at SINGING TO THE HEART