Refresh Blog Tour for Accepting the Fall by Meg Harding (excerpt and giveaway)

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Accepting the Fall by Meg Harding

Publisher: Oceanside Press

Release Date (Print & Ebook): June 8, 2017

Refresh Tour dates: April 23 – 30, 2018

Length (Print & Ebook): 62k

Subgenre: Contemporary Romance

Buy  link: http://amzn.to/2HrrgSX

Book blurb:

Confronting the past is never easy.

Cole Whitaker is happy. He has the job and boyfriend he always wanted. His heart’s in no danger of being broken, and he can’t ask for more from life. As a kindergarten teacher, he sees it all; however, one troublesome student has him reaching out to the parent, wanting to help. There’s something about Savanah that tugs at his heartstrings.

He never expected her father.

Zander Brooks hasn’t had an easy life, and he’s made some mistakes. Freshly retired from the military and working as a firefighter, Zander thought he’d left Cole in the rearview mirror. He’s not expecting him to appear in St. Petersburg, Florida, of all places, teaching his daughter’s kindergarten class. Suddenly, his biggest mistake is being shoved in his face.


This is Zander’s chance to close a door he’d never fully shut, but time with his former flame might change his mind.

 

Excerpt:

 

They were returning to the base after seeing a movie together. It was a Wednesday night, and the cinema had been empty save for them, the streets weren’t crowded either, and they became less so as the two of them grew closer to the base. The moon was almost full in the inky black sky, and Cole kept walking into Zander’s side. Zander knew Cole wanted him to hold his hand, to tangle their fingers together and let their limbs swing in synchronicity. Zander never gave in when Cole did this. Zander knew if he did, the lines would start to blur for him. He couldn’t have that.

Zander tucked his hands inside his jacket pockets to remove the temptation. “What’d you think of the movie?”

Cole side-eyed him and snorted. “We spent the whole time making out. I think there might have been explosions and those were probably cool.” He scratched the side of his nose, and a flash of guilt crossed his face. “Did you actually want to watch it? We can go see it again. I don’t mind.”

Zander possessed the very concerning feeling that the naivety which had drawn him to Cole—something he didn’t understand and was intrigued by—would be the thing to ruin this in the end. He looked at Cole and was torn, half of him begging him to get close and the other half screaming to run.

Sighing, Zander nudged their shoulders. “No, I don’t want to see it again.” Unlike Cole, Zander spoke very little German and had limited interest in foreign films. “You coming back—”

Behind them someone shouted, and they both turned. Barreling toward them was a giant of a dog, tongue hanging out and paws pounding the cobbled walk. A petite woman chased him, yelling something in German that Cole seemed to get. Cole stepped forward, arms slightly out from his sides, and the dog collided with him.

Cole’s head rocked into the pavement.

Zander’s heart froze in his chest for a brief moment, and then he was kneeling before he could think, ready to lift the dog and heave him aside. But the woman was there in the next instant, and despite how much his head had to have hurt, Cole was laughing and smiling, letting the monster lick his face.

Zander went home alone, pleading being too tired for any fun. He didn’t sleep that night.

 

About the Author

About Meg Harding: Meg Harding is a sucker for things on four legs and works as a pet sitter when she’s not writing. She’s an editor and a lover of fanfiction. She enjoys the theatre, concerts, and lazing about in front of the TV. Meg Harding is a graduate of UCF and Anglia Ruskin, with a bachelors in Psych and a masters in publishing. For as long as she can remember, writing has always been her passion, but she had an inability to ever actually finish anything. She’s immensely happy that her inability has fled and looks forward to where her mind will take her next. She’s a sucker for happy endings, the beach, and superheroes. In her dream life she owns a wildlife conservation and is surrounded by puppies. She’s a film buff, voracious reader, and a massive geek.

 

Author Meg Harding’s take on Accepting the Fall: “Not everything is perfect, and it’s not always going to go right the first time around. It’s not any less special because it was flawed.”

Praise for Accepting the Fall: “A character driven, second-chance romance. Recommended for anyone craving a low-angst, tender, contemporary story stuffed to the brim with feels and sweetness.” – Piper Vaughn

 

 

Connect with Meg Harding: Author Site | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway

Giveaway: Win 1 of 2 back catalog e-copies of any Meg Harding book!

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A Stella Review: Contour (Shape of You #1) by Meg Harding

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RATING 5 out of 5 stars

Jamie “Roxy” Albright has one great love in his life and room for no other. He lives and breathes makeup. Men are nothing more than temporary distractions and romance… well, that isn’t worth his time. With a burgeoning career as a YouTube makeup artist opening doors to never before dreamed of opportunities, time isn’t something Jamie has and distractions aren’t something he can afford.

Instagram model and shirtless wonder Tyler Jackson is quickly falling for elusive Jamie. How it went from a seemingly innocent message to feelings, he’ll never know. Their chemistry is instant and fiery hot, and Tyler’s never been that good at self control. The challenges are endless, though. There’s Jamie’s walls to break through and a country worth of space between them. And just when things are starting to look up, life throws a wrench in the works.

I devoured Contour in one night, I have to admit I couldn’t put it down for a second and I was sleep deprived the morning after but I didn’t care at all. This new release by Meg Harding caught my attention since I read the blurb and once I actually started reading it, I was gone. Tyler and Jamie were amazing characters, I adored them, together they were the perfection, they clicked so well, it was unavoidable not to fall in love with them. I especially liked how Jamie changed (still being himself) once he finally let his attraction for Tyler become more, and later how Tyler helped him to come out of the shell Jamie had built around, and never once he asked Jamie to be someone else if not himself. Tyler loved him and his love for makeup, he loved his smart mouth too.

And then the second characters as Lorelie and Dan and Mattie were the friends everyone should have, always supportive and ready to follow their best friends in their new adventures.

The author did a great job with Contour, well written, scenes always clear and great dialogues, well defined characters, and engaging plot, no drama or angst, just two lovely famous persons falling in love. Contour is the first book in a new series and I can’t wait for the next one.

Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design.   The cover art could be perfect but I honestly can’t see Jamie in the model face.

Universal Buy Link: books2read.com/ContourMH

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 200 pages

Published January 23rd 2018 by Oceanside Press

ASIN B078WNKVDK

Edition Language English

Series Shape of You #1

Review Tour and Giveaway – Meg Harding’s Contour

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Universal Buy Link: books2read.com/ContourMH



Length: 52,000 words approx


Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design


Blurb

Jamie “Roxy” Albright has one great love in his life and room for no other. He lives and breathes makeup. Men are nothing more than temporary distractions and romance… well, that isn’t worth his time. With a burgeoning career as a YouTube makeup artist opening doors to never before dreamed of opportunities, time isn’t something Jamie has and distractions aren’t something he can afford.


Instagram model and shirtless wonder Tyler Jackson is quickly falling for elusive Jamie. How it went from a seemingly innocent message to feelings, he’ll never know. Their chemistry is instant and fiery hot, and Tyler’s never been that good at self control. The challenges are endless, though. There’s Jamie’s walls to break through and a country worth of space between them. And just when things are starting to look up, life throws a wrench in the works.


Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words 5 star review here.

January 23 – Gay Book Reviews, BooksLaidBareBoys, Mikku-chan, Book Review By Virginia Lee
January 25 – Urban Smoothie Read, Lelyana’s Book Blog, Book Love
January 27 – Sarandipity Book Reviews, Gay Media Reviews
January 31 – Valerie Ullmer, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Kimmer’s Erotic Book Banter
February 2 – Bonkers About Books, Hearts On Fire Reviews, Bayou Book Junkie, The Book Corps, Mirrigold, Wicked Faerie’s Tales & Reviews, Wicked Reads, MM Good Book Reviews

Meg Harding is a graduate of UCF, and recently completed a masters program for Publishing in the UK. For as long as she can remember, writing has always been her passion, but she had an inability to ever actually finish anything. She’s immensely happy that her inability has fled and looks forward to where her mind will take her next. She’s a sucker for happy endings, the beach, and superheroes. In her dream life she owns a wildlife conservation and is surrounded by puppies. She’s a film buff, voracious reader, and a massive geek.



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Release Blitz Tour and Giveaway for Meg Harding’s Contour

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Universal Buy Link: books2read.com/ContourMH



Length: 52,000 words approx


Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design


Blurb

Jamie “Roxy” Albright has one great love in his life and room for no other. He lives and breathes makeup. Men are nothing more than temporary distractions and romance… well, that isn’t worth his time. With a burgeoning career as a YouTube makeup artist opening doors to never before dreamed of opportunities, time isn’t something Jamie has and distractions aren’t something he can afford.

Instagram model and shirtless wonder Tyler Jackson is quickly falling for elusive Jamie. How it went from a seemingly innocent message to feelings, he’ll never know. Their chemistry is instant and fiery hot, and Tyler’s never been that good at self control. The challenges are endless, though. There’s Jamie’s walls to break through and a country worth of space between them. And just when things are starting to look up, life throws a wrench in the works.

Meg Harding is a graduate of UCF, and recently completed a masters program for Publishing in the UK. For as long as she can remember, writing has always been her passion, but she had an inability to ever actually finish anything. She’s immensely happy that her inability has fled and looks forward to where her mind will take her next. She’s a sucker for happy endings, the beach, and superheroes. In her dream life she owns a wildlife conservation and is surrounded by puppies. She’s a film buff, voracious reader, and a massive geek.



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Twitter
Website
Google +
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A Stella Review: Finding Home by Meg Harding

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RATING 3,75 out of 5 stars

Jaden Matthews has never known his father or his father’s family, but he’s about to get a crash course on having siblings. With the recent passing of his grandmother, he’s discovered he has three half-brothers and part ownership of a gym. In Serenity, Florida. His life in New York has hit a rocky road, so maybe this is the vacation he needs to get things back on track.

Chase Michaels lost his future in a car crash almost ten years ago, and he’s made a new one for himself in Serenity. One that doesn’t include getting emotionally involved with people who are just passing through. But Jaden makes his common sense flee and his gut react. He’s got one month with the man who made him believe in taking a chance.

Finding Home is the third book I read by Meg Harding and I’m now ready to say I like this author’s style quite a lot. With this new release she gave me everything I want in a story. The plot and the setting are very well done and the writing is pretty good.

What I truly loved were the characters, all of them, not just Chase and Jaden but the three brothers too, Zane, Elliott and Phoenix. How they were inclusive versus a new brother never seen and who is ready to take off them their grandmother’s inheritance, the same grandmother he never actually saw. Nonethless they were ready to show Jaden the beautiful town they lived in, hoping they will be  able to persuade him to stay and live close to them. I think they set a good example and very few people in their places would have thought with the heart and not  with the wallet.

I just hoped to have a little more about their own personal stories, I know Finding Home isn’t the three brothers’ book, but a little more would have made the story more complete. The same critic I have to move to the MCs and that’s the only reason why I haven’t rate the title higher. Although I enjoyed the novel a lot and I knew some of the MCs’ backgrounds, I missed something I can’t quite put my finger on to truly connect with Jaden and Chase, I saw their hearts but I wasn’t able to feel them. But this is just a sensation I had due probably to just my mood.

Anyway if you’re looking for a sweet and light story to relax, give Finding Home a chance. I can’t wait to read more by this author.

I love the cover art, it’s simple and clean but eye-catching and easy to remember.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 200 pages

Published July 3rd 2017 by Oceanside Press

ASIN B0711ZG4W9

Edition Language English

Review Tour for Meg Harding’s Finding Home

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 68,000 words
 
Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design
 
Blurb
 

Jaden Matthews has never known his father or his father’s family, but he’s about to get a crash course on having siblings. With the recent passing of his grandmother, he’s discovered he has three half-brothers and part ownership of a gym. In Serenity, Florida. His life in New York has hit a rocky road, so maybe this is the vacation he needs to get things back on track.


Chase Michaels lost his future in a car crash almost ten years ago, and he’s made a new one for himself in Serenity. One that doesn’t include getting emotionally involved with people who are just passing through. But Jaden makes his common sense flee and his gut react. He’s got one month with the man who made him believe in taking a chance.

 
 
Author Bio
 

Meg Harding is a graduate of UCF, and recently completed a masters program for Publishing in the UK. For as long as she can remember, writing has always been her passion, but she had an inability to ever actually finish anything. Sheís immensely happy that her inability has fled and looks forward to where her mind will take her next. Sheís a sucker for happy endings, the beach, and superheroes. In her dream life she owns a wildlife conservation and is surrounded by puppies. Sheís a film buff, voracious reader, and a massive geek.

 

Giveaway

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Release Blitz for Meg Harding’s Finding Home (excerpt and giveaway)

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 68,000 words
 
Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design
 
Blurb
 

Jaden Matthews has never known his father or his father’s family, but he’s about to get a crash course on having siblings. With the recent passing of his grandmother, he’s discovered he has three half-brothers and part ownership of a gym. In Serenity, Florida. His life in New York has hit a rocky road, so maybe this is the vacation he needs to get things back on track.

Chase Michaels lost his future in a car crash almost ten years ago, and he’s made a new one for himself in Serenity. One that doesn’t include getting emotionally involved with people who are just passing through. But Jaden makes his common sense flee and his gut react. He’s got one month with the man who made him believe in taking a chance.

Excerpt

“Is everything all right?” asked a warm, very male voice from behind him. It sent a shiver racing down Jaden’s spine. Huh. That was weird.

He turned.

Standing on the shoulder of the road was a Calvin Klein model. He was taller than Jaden, probably some insanely genetically gifted six foot something, and his legs…. Jaden’s mouth might have watered a little. They were really long and very shapely. His jeans were molded to his thighs. His big, muscular thighs. Jaden swallowed heavily. His plain white shirt clung to an equally wonderful chest, outlining defined pecs and hinting at the type of abdomen Jaden watched porn to see normally. He was tan, with a chiseled jaw and high cheekbones, big, luscious pink lips. His eyes were hidden by his sunglasses, Ray Bans, and his hair was a silky ear length fall of chestnut.

Jaden had to wonder if he’d passed out in his car from the heat and this was all a fantastic hallucination. If the guy took his shirt off, that’d answer the question. 

Maybe he should cut back on the porn….

“You okay?”

He blinked. The guy’s shirt was still on. So this god was actually here to be his knight in shining armor. Wow. Too bad he was about to make himself look like a giant dumbass. “My car is out of gas,” he said. “And I don’t know where I am.”

The man smiled. He had dimples. Two of them. One in each cheek.

Jaden’s knees felt weak. Man, the heat was really getting to him. He leaned against his car for stability. Sweat was trickling down his neck, under his collar, and over his spine. When he licked his lips, Jaden tasted salt. So he was lost and grossly sweaty on the side of the road. Definitely the picture one wanted to present to the hottest man he’d ever seen in person.

“You’re on State Road 22, about ten miles outside of Serenity.”

Jaden’s jaw dropped. “You’re kidding me, right? Ten miles? All this car needed to make it was ten more miles?” If he had a junk car like Mr. Hottie, he’d kick it in frustration, but he drove an Audi so he settled for stomping his foot. Unreal. He was so close to his destination.

“I’m gonna go out on a limb and say you’re headed to Serenity, then?” asked the man, and he may have been beyond sexy, but the smirk on his face was starting to irritate Jaden. Jaden’s frustration wasn’t amusing, damnit.

“I am,” he said.

This got him a thorough head to toe evaluation from his potential rescuer. He straightened, trying to make his shoulders look broader. He ran a hand through his hair, trying to fix the sweat dampened mess. He felt like he had to be coming up wanting in this man’s judgment. In his ear, the operator asked, “Can I let you go now, or would you like me to keep wasting my time?”

He hung up on her. If he ended up dead, his ghost could haunt her.

“I can give you and your small horse there a lift to the gas station and back,” he offered, holding out his hand to Magneto, who cautiously walked toward him, black and white ears slicked to his skull and nose twitching. He’d never been a fan of strangers. It’d taken him weeks to get used to Drew, simply because Jaden had been the one to pick him up as a puppy from the shelter. Originally, Magneto was an intended birthday gift for Drew. Jaden’s plan backfired, but he couldn’t say he was sorry about it. As Jaden watched, Magneto tentatively sniffed the proffered hand and then his large tongue flicked out and left slobber in its wake. The man smiled and laughed, crouching to put himself face to face with Magneto. The next kiss landed on his cheek.

Jaden guessed that answered the question of if he could trust this guy. Obviously his dog did, and that probably meant something. “I’d appreciate it. Thank you,” he said. He shifted awkwardly. Should he offer to pay him for the assistance? Maye once they were at the station. Caution urged him to wait to reveal his wallet.

Just on the off chance Magneto was displaying poor judgment.

“You’re welcome.” He directed his blinding smile at Jaden, scratching behind Magneto’s big, floppy ears all the while. “I’m Chase Michaels. What’s this guy’s name?”

“Magneto.” Chase Michaels…. Why did the name sound vaguely familiar? Jaden couldn’t place it. He shook his head. It was probably nothing. “Like the X-Man.” He tacked the line on automatically now, to beat the other person to the inevitable question. Magneto trotted over at his name, abandoning Chase’s attention for Jaden. He rewarded him with an under the chin scratch. “And I’m Jaden. Matthews.”

Chase wiped his slobber coated hands down his jeans as he stood. Jaden winced. “Nice to meet you. Want to get going or do you need to get anything from the car first?”

“Let me grab his leash.” While he picked the leash up, he slipped his wallet into his pocket. He remembered at the last second to take his keys. Locking himself out would be the cherry on top of his day. He didn’t like cherries.

The first thing Magneto did when he jumped in the backseat of Chase’s car was drool all over the far window. Jaden stared at the smears in dismay. “I’m sorry,” he said, trying to head off any unpleasant attitude. “I’ll pay for you to get your car cleaned.” Drew had refused to allow Magneto in his car, and he’d always thrown hissy fits when Magneto smudged all the house windows trying to watch the squirrels outside play.

Jaden was a master window cleaner now. Maybe if he couldn’t get another accounting job, he’d switch to that. He could run his own company and do the the books for it.

But Chase laughed, not looking at all disgusted by the mess it had taken Magneto all of two seconds to create. “It’s fine,” he said. “I’ll roll them down for him.”

His car smelled like apples, and a discreet glance around found the culprit to be a smoothie sitting in the middle cup holder. It was a not so appetizing oatmeal color. He expected country music to come over the speakers, so he was pleasantly surprised to hear something else. Indie rock maybe? He’d never heard this song before, but the beat was good and the singer had a clear voice.

Should he make small talk and ask who this was?

“What brings you to Serenity?”

Author Bio

Meg Harding is a graduate of UCF, and recently completed a masters program for Publishing in the UK. For as long as she can remember, writing has always been her passion, but she had an inability to ever actually finish anything. She’s immensely happy that her inability has fled and looks forward to where her mind will take her next. She’s a sucker for happy endings, the beach, and superheroes. In her dream life she owns a wildlife conservation and is surrounded by puppies. She’s a film buff, voracious reader, and a massive geek.

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A MelanieM Review: Accepting The Fall by Meg Harding

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Confronting the past is never easy.

Cole Whitaker is happy. He has the job and boyfriend he always wanted. His heart’s in no danger of being broken, and he can’t ask for more from life. As a kindergarten teacher, he sees it all; however, one troublesome student has him reaching out to the parent, wanting to help. There’s something about Savanah that tugs at his heartstrings.

He never expected her father.

Zander Brooks hasn’t had an easy life, and he’s made some mistakes. Freshly retired from the military and working as a firefighter, Zander thought he’d left Cole in the rearview mirror. He’s not expecting him to appear in St. Petersburg, Florida, of all places, teaching his daughter’s kindergarten class. Suddenly, his biggest mistake is being shoved in his face.

This is Zander’s chance to close a door he’d never fully shut, but time with his former flame might change his mind.

Meg Harding has done a great job with Accepting the Fall.  Its enjoyable so many levels.  You have the lovers reunited storyline and the second chance at love, which are always favorites of mine.  Plus Zander Brooks, one of the main characters, has been handed the unexpected role of father in the fiery, troubled form of five year old Savanah Emerson, dropped of by her mother with her birth certificate and a wave goodbye.  So we have a father/daughter new dynamic in play as well.  So many layers here in this story and the author does a beautiful job of weaving them in and out, juggling the new/returning romance with the demands of new fatherhood.

The other mc?  Cole?  He just so happens to be Savanah’s kindergarten teacher, dealing with an angry child with abandonment issues and just maybe her father as well.  Here Cole and Zander must pry apart their past issues before they can move  forward, both as lovers and for Zander, as a parent.  Harding brings in a terrific counselor, one I would wish for in many a school or child in this situation.  Through the counselor, Harding gets to work through all the emotional issues of child abandonment/abuse and its repercussions on children now and into adulthood (with Zander). Its handled with sensitivity and impact.

I loved the romance here as well.  Cole and Zander have issues to work out, so while the attraction is as strong as it was in the past, they work into it, also mindful of the child in the middle.  Plus they are hot, hot, together.

Ah, Cole, he’s a wonder of a character.  The teacher everyone would have wanted in kindergarten,  with a house and yard full of rescued animals, Cole also has a past beyond Zander, one that bugged that heck out of me. Why?  Because with the hints, mentions of it, and an actual “I’ll tell you later” which never happens”, we don’t find out what happened to him.  It’s the main reason this book didn’t get a 5 star rating.  There’s this HUGE mystery about Cole, it’s mentioned repeatedly throughout the story and I kept waiting for the bomb to drop and it never did.  Then I thought, ok, there’s  going to be another story after this.  Nope, we got an Epilogue which sort of eliminated that.  So why bring it up at all?  You have a great story, leave unanswered things like this out if you aren’t going to resolve them.  Or don’t make them such a big deal.  Either way irritated the heck out of me and still does.

So minus that narrative kerfuffle I mentioned above, I loved this story.  It’s sweet, heart-warming, romantic and layered.  It’s one I definitely recommend.  Pick up Accepting the Fall by Meg Harding and get started today.

Cover art by Black Jazz Design doesn’t really speak to the story, the age of the characters or anything.  Meh.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 286 pages
Published June 8th 2017 by Oceanside Press
ASINB0725DR2FM
Edition LanguageEnglish

Book Review Tour and Giveawy for Accepting The Fall by Meg Harding

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 61,000 words
 
 
Blurb
 

Confronting the past is never easy.


Cole Whitaker is happy. He has the job and boyfriend he always wanted. His heart’s in no danger of being broken, and he can’t ask for more from life. As a kindergarten teacher, he sees it all; however, one troublesome student has him reaching out to the parent, wanting to help. There’s something about Savanah that tugs at his heartstrings.


He never expected her father.


Zander Brooks hasn’t had an easy life, and he’s made some mistakes. Freshly retired from the military and working as a firefighter, Zander thought he’d left Cole in the rearview mirror. He’s not expecting him to appear in St. Petersburg, Florida, of all places, teaching his daughter’s kindergarten class. Suddenly, his biggest mistake is being shoved in his face.


This is Zander’s chance to close a door he’d never fully shut, but time with his former flame might change his mind
.

 

 

Author Bio

Meg Harding is a graduate of UCF, and recently completed a masters program for Publishing in the UK. For as long as she can remember, writing has always been her passion, but she had an inability to ever actually finish anything. She’s immensely happy that her inability has fled and looks forward to where her mind will take her next. She’s a sucker for happy endings, the beach, and superheroes. In her dream life she owns a wildlife conservation and is surrounded by puppies. She’s a film buff, voracious reader, and a massive geek.



Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Google +

 Giveaway

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Release Blitz for Accepting The Fall by Meg Harding (excerpt and giveaway)

Standard

 

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 61,000 words
 
 
Blurb
 

Confronting the past is never easy.

Cole Whitaker is happy. He has the job and boyfriend he always wanted. His heart’s in no danger of being broken, and he can’t ask for more from life. As a kindergarten teacher, he sees it all; however, one troublesome student has him reaching out to the parent, wanting to help. There’s something about Savanah that tugs at his heartstrings.

He never expected her father.

Zander Brooks hasn’t had an easy life, and he’s made some mistakes. Freshly retired from the military and working as a firefighter, Zander thought he’d left Cole in the rearview mirror. He’s not expecting him to appear in St. Petersburg, Florida, of all places, teaching his daughter’s kindergarten class. Suddenly, his biggest mistake is being shoved in his face.

This is Zander’s chance to close a door he’d never fully shut, but time with his former flame might change his mind.

Excerpt

Time had done nothing to dull Cole’s memories of Zander Brooks, though he wished it had. His stomach rolled, and he had to lock his knees to keep upright. Breathe, Cole, you’re being dramatic. Of all the places for them to see each other after nearly two decades…. It was some consolation, a very small amount, that Zander appeared equally as shocked to see Cole. He stood in the doorway, unmoving and silent, his lips parted. Cole could feel Zander,s gaze on him like a physical touch. It made his skin prickle, his heart skip a beat. He was supposed to be over this.

Cole needed to find his words. He was a professional, and whatever personal history they’d had, it was just that. History. It was irrelevant in this room. He played pretend with his class sometimes. He could do that now. He cleared his throat, feeling a bit like a cat with a hairball. “Hello, Mr… Emerson?” It was less confident than he’d been going for, but it would have to do. Zander took a minute to noticeably reorient himself. He walked into the classroom slowly. His pace could even be considered hesitant. Cole tried to ignore the observation, the nagging surge of satisfaction that he wasn’t alone in being off kilter.

From behind him, Savanah snorted. Cole glommed onto the excuse to look away from Zander and turned to her. Savanah’s pert nose was scrunched. “Can I play outside?” she asked, gaze darting between Cole and her father.

Jesus. Zander was a father. Zander was the father who Cole had been wanting to meet. If Cole didn’t regulate his breathing, he was going to have a full blown panic attack. He’d been in love with one of his student’s fathers. He’d had his heart broken for the first time by him. Seventeen years later and it somehow still stung. “No, but you can use one of the stations,” he said, hoping he didn’t sound too strangled. He ran a hand over the back of his neck, damp from sweat. He thought it was possible he’d had a nightmare like this before.

Savanah pouted but went in silence to the reading corner. She made sure to scuff her shoes over the carpet on the way.

“It’s Mr. Brooks,” said Zander, sounding much closer. His voice was the same, deep and smooth like velvet. It sent parts of Cole’s insides fluttering in a way he hadn’t experienced in years.

Cole retreated under the guise of picking the workbook and pencil off the floor. Savanah had Goldfish crumbs littered around the legs of her desk. “Ah, I see. My apologies.” He aligned the book and pencil symmetrically on the scarred desktop. A few of the workbook’s pages were crinkled now, folding in on themselves. He tried to smooth them down and noticed in the process that Savanah had been working ahead. He made a mental note of it.

He was going to have to stop delaying and face Zander eventually. Could he play this off like he hadn’t recognized Zander or was that cat long out of the bag? “Why don’t you take a seat? I’ll be right with you.” He cupped his hand at the edge of Savanah’s desk and used his other to sweep eraser crumbs into his palm.

“Uh.” Zander coughed, shuffling his feet and rustling his jeans in the process. “Here?”

Cole managed to look at Zander at last. His lips even twitched into a half-smirk of their own accord at the picture of Zander squeezed into a child-sized seat. The smirk didn’t last long. Zander was too close. Cole could make out the nearly golden striations in his irises, could see the slow progression of his pupil taking over the brown. He had a scar at his temple now, a jagged slash from hairline to the arch of his eyebrow. Stress lines looked to be permanently etched in the dark brown skin at the corners of his eyes and mouth. If Cole didn’t know better, he’d have said he was staring at someone in their forties. The years they’d been apart had not been overly kind to Zander.

Strangely the realization left Cole with a hollow feeling, a tinge of… disappointment, maybe. He’d been angry with Zander with every fiber of his teenage being, but buried underneath had always been a quiet hope that Zander would figure out how to be happy.

Clearly he’d not.

Author Bio

Meg Harding is a graduate of UCF, and recently completed a masters program for Publishing in the UK. For as long as she can remember, writing has always been her passion, but she had an inability to ever actually finish anything. She’s immensely happy that her inability has fled and looks forward to where her mind will take her next. She’s a sucker for happy endings, the beach, and superheroes. In her dream life she owns a wildlife conservation and is surrounded by puppies. She’s a film buff, voracious reader, and a massive geek.

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