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PRINCE CHARMING UNDERCOVER
Betting On Love Book 1
BY DEBRA SALONEN
“Funny, complicated, and irresistible. Sometimes a cowboy isn’t perfect but you got to love him anyway.”—JODI THOMAS, New York Times bestselling author for Caught Up in a Cowboy
This cowboy is falling hard…
Mason James is the responsible one who stayed behind to run the ranch while his brother, Rock, took off to play professional hockey. Women have used him before to get to his brother—and Mason intends never to get burned again. But after he meets quirky Tessa Kane at his brother’s wedding, Mason discovers he’s ready to take a chance on love.
Tessa Kane is a reporter on the verge of losing a job she desperately needs—unless she’s clever enough to snag a story on the famous Rockford James. But when she falls for her subject’s brother, she’s caught between a rock and a hard-muscled cowboy. What will happen when Mason finds out who she really is?
I consider myself very fortunate. My husband and I have never allowed the holidays to lock us into any one tradition. We’ve taken our kids to San Diego to “sleep over the ocean,” we’ve stayed in vacation rentals in San Simeon, Shelter Cove and Aptos, California, with enough rooms to accommodate our whole family. We’ve stayed home so we could invite extended family members to a potluck feast. Our feeling is: It’s all good, if we can be together.
This year, two of our granddaughters will be traveling to Detroit to spend the holidays with their maternal grandparents. While we’ll miss them something fierce, we’ve decided not to let ourselves get locked into a date. We’re decorating early, shopping like mad, and preparing our usual feast for Christmas #1 on Dec. 16th.
Christmas #2 (Dec. 25th) will be far more low-key, freeing us up to take a hike, see a movie, book dinner out or visit family in the area.
The Romani family in my Betting On Love series has deeply rooted traditions and I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed writing this scene from Book IV: A MATCH MADE IN VEGAS. It made me excited for the upcoming holiday season. Here’s a small taste of it. Enjoy!
“Ho, ho, ho,” a booming voice said from the street behind her. “Merry Christmas.”
Alexa whirled about. “Santa,” she exclaimed. “You scared me.”
“Perhaps that’s because you haven’t been a good girl this year,” the large-bellied man in a red suit and full, shiny white beard said. From his lack of stature—and because her mother had warned her ahead of time—Alexa knew the portly character was her uncle, Claude.
She put down her sack and rushed to him, hugging him soundly. “Oh, Santa, you know better than that. I’m Saint Alexa, in some circles.”
Her uncle’s hearty laugh touched her deeply, giving her the first real taste of holiday spirit. The merry twinkle in his eyes was probably from the many Christmas lights on the eaves of the houses, but for a second, she almost saw her father behind the lush beard and mustache. “Well, if that’s true, then I expect you’ll be getting a very special gift beneath your tree tonight, my dear. Very special, indeed.”
She laughed and patted his shoulder. “So, you got my letter, then? You know what I want?”
His white gloves squeezed her arm and, keeping in character, he said, “That I do, my girl. That I do. Now, I must be on my way. The rein-ponies are waiting.”
“Rein-ponies?” He just waved and kept walking. His black cowboy boots clicked on the sidewalk.
Her mother had mentioned something about Claude rigging up his pony cart to resemble a sleigh. Her heart suddenly felt lighter than it had been in days; she picked up her bag and went inside.
“Hey, everybody, I just bumped into a guy in a red suit outside. Who’s got the number for our Neighborhood Watch?”
Children’s squeals and shouts echoed throughout the house as Maya, Luca, Gemilla and half a dozen second- and third-cousins stampeded to the windows to look for Santa.
“Way to go, Alexa,” Grace teased. “We were just gonna feed them.”
“Sorry,” Alexa said, handing her bag of wrapped gifts to Gregor. In a soft voice, she asked, “How come you’re not out helping with the sleigh?”
“Nick and Mark volunteered so I could stay with MaryAnn,” he answered in an equally quiet tone.
Mark’s here already? She glanced around and, sure enough, there was Braden standing between Luca and Maya peering out a window. And sitting on the sofa, as demurely as a princess, was Gregor’s wife. She scooted forward slightly, looking interested in what the children were doing.
“Wow. MaryAnn looks great,” Alexa whispered. “Better than great. She looks like her old self.”
Gregor beamed as if Santa had handed him the best gift of all. “I know. I think she’s going to make it. I really do.” Alexa gave him a quick hug then dashed to the couch to talk to the woman she’d once considered a dear friend. They’d lost a lot of the closeness over the years—from work and pressures only MaryAnn truly understood, but Alexa was determined to be a better friend to MaryAnn in the future.
“Welcome home, stranger,” she said, sitting down. “Santa really has granted us our collective wish—to have you back, safe and sound.”
MaryAnn smiled tearfully. “Thank you, Alexa. It’s good to be here. I honestly wasn’t sure this day would ever happen, but Gregor promised me it would, and I guess that’s what I needed—someone who really believed in me.”
They talked a bit longer, until Grace walked into the room and shook one of Alexa’s sleigh bells to get everyone’s attention. “Dinner is served,” she said theatrically, then added, “Santa won’t come until the last plate is in the dishwasher, so let’s move it, people.”
Born and raised in Brookings, South Dakota, Deb grew up calling herself “an only child with four siblings,” since the youngest of the first four was ten when Deb was born. As an “only” child, she enjoyed the benevolent neglect of busy parents who operated a taxi cab company out of the family home. This meant lots of time to let her imagination run wild—every bike was a horse, every nook and corner a place to read and daydream.
Writing felt a like a natural fit to Deb, although in high school, a teacher directed her toward a major in journalism, warning “you’ll never make a living writing fiction.” Deb eventually became a feature writer at the Merced Sun-Star, where she earned numerous accolades and learned the value of good editing. But she never gave up on her dream of writing romance.
In 2000, her first Harlequin Superromance was released. Her body of work was recognized with the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Career Achievement “Series Storyteller of the Year” award. And as a six-time nominee for RT’s Best Superromance of the Year award, Deb took home that honor 2010.
At the invitation of Tule Publishing, Deb spread her creative wings and channeled her inner maverick in Montana with her six-book Big Sky Maverick series. Her love of dynamic, sexy, take-charge heroes and strong women who know what they want motivated her to write the three-book Love, Montana series. And being part of Tule’s 12-book, six-author Love at the Chocolate Shop series was an honor and a privilege, plus the amazing recipes each author produced helped satisfy her sweet tooth. #whatlovetasteslike
Deb stepped into the Indie market with her Black Hills Rendezvous series. This ten-book series set in her old stomping’ grounds of the Black Hills of South Dakota mixes Hollywood glamour with small town heart. Her seven-title West Coast Happily-Ever-After series adheres to the adage love is all about “location, location, location” and her four-book Betting On Love romantic suspense series is set in Las Vegas.
Although Deb loves to travel and research new settings, in real life she lives on ten-acres in the oak-dotted foothills of the Western Sierra near Yosemite National Park. She and her husband feel blessed to have their two children and five granddaughters in close proximity. She is currently working on a new series for Tule.
Deb’s Book List:
- The BETTING ON LOVE series:
PRINCE CHARMING UNDERCOVER-His heart maintains a safe distance…until the princess takes a bullet meant for him, then all bets are off.
THE DADDY GAMBLE – Book Two
RISKY BABY BUSINESS – Book Three
A MATCH MADE IN VEGAS – Book Four
- The BIG SKY MAVERICKS series from Tule Publishing:
MONTANA COWGIRL – Cowgirl, you can go home—and love—again.
MONTANA COWBOY – He’s nobody’s cowboy until his new neighbor rocks his world.
MONTANA DARLING – Her land. His tent. And this is Montana, where property disputes can lead to a range war…or love.
MONTANA MAVERICK – A lone wolf PhD rescues a rancher–and gains a life.
MONTANA GIFT – The system failed him, but she never would.
MONTANA MIRACLE – It takes a Montana village to create a Christmas miracle.
- The LOVE, MONTANA series from Tule Publishing:
HER HERO TO LOVE – He may be her hero, but who’s going to save him?
HER ROGUE TO TAME – He’s more than meets the eye–eye candy, that is.
HER REBEL TO KISS – Defying death is all part of the game… until you have something to lose.
- The LOVE AT THE CHOCOLATE SHOP series from Tule Publishing:
MONTANA SECRET SANTA, Book 3 – “Sweet, affecting, and just plain fun, this holiday charmer is a delightful addition to the series and a perfect companion to a mug of hot chocolate and a crackling fire.” ~Library JournalSWEET SUMMER’S KISS, Book 10 – Is love a cosmic connection or a karmic joke? Sometimes, the answer reveals itself in a kiss—a sweet kiss shared beneath a warm Montana summer sky.
- The BLACK HILLS RENDEZVOUS series:
BLACK HILLS BABY – His sperm for a share in her gold mine? What could go wrong?
BLACK HILLS BILLIONAIRE – What if his $$ isn’t enough to save her?
BLACK HILLS BAD BOY – Bad to the bone…in his dreams, at least.
BLACK HILLS BACHELOR – A miner and a Hollywood princess? Only in the moves.
BLACK HILLS NATIVE SON – A journey of discovery brings him the son he never knew, and the woman he was meant to love.
BLACK HILLS OUTCAST – Hiding out from life worked just fine… until he met Rachel.
BLACK HILLS WHITE KNIGHT – William Hughes to the rescue? Hardly. His suit is Armani—not armor.
BLACK HILLS RANCHER – Picking the right twin to be a role model for his daughter should be easy—not dangerous.
BLACK HILLS STRANGER – His last resort. Her so-called gift.
BLACK HILLS LEGACY: The Inheritance — Nothing like an unconscious doppelgänger to ruin a perfectly good day at the Mystery Spot.• BLACK HILLS RENDEZVOUS, Volume I, Books 1, 2, 3, & 4 Boxed Set
• BLACK HILLS RENDEZVOUS, Volume II, Books 5, 6, & 7 Boxed Set
• BLACK HILLS RENDEZVOUS, Volume III, Books 8, 9, & 10 Boxed Set• The WEST COAST HAPPILY-EVER-AFTER series:
Book I: HER FOREVER COWBOY – What if one summer isn’t enough?
Book II: NEVER SAY NEVER – Some second chances come with big secrets.
Book III: CALEB’S CHRISTMAS WISH – How far would you go for the sake of a child?
Book IV: A BABY AFTER ALL – When divorce is the answer, maybe two people in love need a new question.
Book V: LOVE, AFTER ALL – A match made in heaven? In what universe?
Book VI: THAT COWBOY’S FOREVER FAMILY – The cowboy life wasn’t enough for his daughters’ mother, how can he make it work now?
Book VII: FOREVER AND EVER, BY GEORGE – Even the dog knows the importance of happily-ever-after.
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Links to Debra’s website, blog, books, etc.
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One winner (global) will receive a free download of any book in my Betting On Series, along with an autographed bookmark and two recipes cards from our Love at the Chocolate Shop series.
Happy reading and happy holidays,
Thanks, Debra, for sharing your book with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!