New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author

of Contemporary Women's Fiction, Romantic Comedies, and Historical Romances

 

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Madame Karma says...

If you run away from love, you'll be cursed!

 

Blame it on Karma
by Jacquie D'Alessandro

Coffee shop owner Lacey Perkins scoffs when a fortune-teller informs her she's destined to fall for her arrogant, but definitely hot property manager Evan Sawyer.  Lacey figures she'd rather be jinxed--until she's cursed with a case of uncontrollable, insatiable lust....

Together Again?
by Jill Shalvis

Accountant Chloe Cooper can't help but laugh at the prediction that her life is about to be transformed by true love.  But that was before Chloe walked straight into her former lover, FBI agent Ian McCall, and he showed her just how thrilling things could get....

Tall, Dark and Temporary
by Crystal Green

Candy shop owner Erin Holland isn't convinced when she's told that Wes Ryan, an infamous playboy, is "The One."  Erin is going on a cruise with the gorgeous day trader for one reason only: sex.  But her decadent plans keep getting mysteriously, frustratingly, thwarted....

 

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They ran across the wet lawn, the downpour of rain soaking them to the skin, when Lacey lost her footing on the slippery grass.  She cried out, involuntarily tightening her grip on Evan’s hand in an attempt to stay upright.  But her feet flew out from under her and she went down with a bone-jarring thud, landing flat on her back.  Before she could catch her breath, a heavy weight landed on top of her and what little air remained in her lungs whooshed out.

She looked up and found herself staring into Evan’s wet face and startled eyes which hovered only inches above her own.  For several stunned seconds it felt as if her heart halted along with her breath as she became aware of his body pressing down on hers.  It had been a long time since she’d felt a man’s weight on top of her.  And...Oh, my.   It was...nice.

“Jesus, Lacey...”  He pushed himself up on his arms, but his lower body remained plastered against hers.  His gaze scanned her face.  “Are you all right?”

No, I don’t think I am.  And I think it’s all your fault.  She shifted beneath him, then stilled at the slide of her drenched body against his, the drag of her pelvis across his.  His eyes widened slightly at the movement and then he went perfectly still.  Well, not quite perfectly still.  No, there seemed to be one part of him that was, um, rising to the occasion.  In the most fascinating way.

Holy cow.  Wasn’t ice cold water supposed to have a shriveling effect on men?  Well, either Evan was carrying around a zucchini in his pants or that shriveling theory had just been shot all to hell.

 

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Chapter One

 

        Prologue

         Isabelle Girard, aka The Legendary Madame Karma, sat at her fortunetelling table and observed the crowds wandering through the spacious courtyard drenched in bright southern California sunshine.  The outdoor Valentine’s Day party thrown to celebrate the recently completed renovations to the upscale Fairfax building complex was in full swing and clearly a huge success.  People of all ages, families with children, couples, singles, groups of teens wandered along the flower-lined walkways or on the meticulously manicured grass, sampling food from the cafes in the complex as well as the numerous booths featuring foods from local restaurants.  Many carried shopping bags bearing the logo of a Fairfax shop while others toted artsy items ranging from paintings to ceramics purchased at one of the craft booths brought in for the occasion.  Entertainment, in the form of face painters, jugglers, wandering magicians, and Madame Karma herself added to the festive atmosphere.  There was even a band, complete with a small dance floor set up in corner of the courtyard, a popular feature based on the number of couples currently dancing.

Isabelle drew in a contented breath.  She enjoyed participating in events such as this.  Not only did they provide extra income and allow her to increase the customer base for her fortunetelling business, but she loved being outdoors.  The fresh air and sunshine rejuvenated her.  Recharged her “psychic batteries.”  And after telling fortunes for more than six decades, Madame Karma--legendary or not--required the occasional change of scenery.

Her gaze shifted to the huge fountain marking the U-shaped courtyard’s center where a rainbow of sunshine gilded droplets cascaded downward from the shooting streams of water.  A profusion of colorful flowers and neatly trimmed dark green hedges encircled the area, dotted with numerous attractively inviting wrought iron curved benches, some situated in the sunshine, others resting in the protection of by the shade provided by soaring elms.  The courtyard was the perfect place for shoppers who visited the complex’s stores to rest and enjoy a snack or for the workers in the offices above the retail stores to partake of a casual, outdoor lunch.

     Or, based on the number of couples currently seated close together on those benches, also the perfect place for a bit of romance.  And with today being Valentine’s Day, also the perfect time.

     Isabelle’s gaze settled on one of the couples, a pair she judged in their early forties, and her psychic instincts tingled.  She clearly sensed the couple’s deep love for one another, as well as their joy.  Isabelle focused her energies, or as she called them, her “cosmic feelings,” on the couple, then a smile tugged at her lips as the reason for their happiness became clear to her.  A much-wanted, long-awaited-for baby on the way.  She hoped they would visit her table so she could confirm her feeling.

     She resumed her perusal of the numerous other party-goers, a number of whom possessed bright auras and evoked a strong psychic reaction in her, again filling her with the hope that those individuals would take the time to visit her table.  Whether it was because of Valentine’s Day or due to the planets’ current unusual alignment, or a combination of both, she strongly sensed love and romance in the air.  In her experience, however, many people fought the forces of Fate.  Didn’t believe in Destiny.  Or Karma.  Walked right by or completely ignored their perfect match because of preconceived notions.  Focused their attentions on people who, in the long run, wouldn’t make them happy, most often when the person who would stood right beneath their noses.

     Foolish people.  If only they would accept their karma, their path.  In her experience, those who did always fared well in matters of the heart.  Those who didn’t...well, as she knew, fighting Fate was like trying to push back the ocean with a broom--you were doomed to fail.

     Well, perhaps today, with all these romantic currents all but snapping in the air, she could set some of these party-goers on the right path.  Help them find their soul mates.  Or at least keep them from choosing the wrong person.

     She straightened in her chair as a smiling young woman approached her--a young woman whose aura was particularly bright.  Isabelle’s instincts tingled with anticipation.  

     Karma and Fate were about to be predicted.
 

Chapter 1

 

     Holding a steaming container of freshly brewed tea in one hand and an oversized frosted cookie in the other, Lacey Perkins exited her coffee shop, Constant Cravings, then walked toward the fortunetelling table set up several yards away.

     Bright afternoon sunshine warmed Lacey’s skin, and unable to resist its alluring heat she paused for several seconds to savor the sensation.  Closing her eyes, she tipped back her head and drew in several deep, appreciative breaths of fresh air redolent with the delicious scents wafting from the various food tents set up around the courtyard.  She’d been cooped up in Constant Cravings since early this morning, and as much as she loved her store, she welcomed this momentary respite. 

     She opened her eyes, then blinked against the sun’s glare.  Based on the crowded courtyard and the nonstop stream of customers who had filed into Constant Cravings from the moment she’d opened the doors this morning, the Valentine’s Day party celebrating Fairfax’s renovations was a huge success.  Certainly her sales thus far today had exceeded her expectations.  Throughout the course of the hectic day she’d recognized the faces of many of her regular customers--Baxter Hills locals and workers whose offices were located in the complex.  Everyone from executives to the landscapers who kept the courtyard in pristine condition.

But she was even more encouraged by the number of newcomers to her shop, a large number of whom reached for one of the business cards she kept stacked by the cash register.  Hopefully those first-timers would come back for more of her specialty coffees, teas, and fresh-baked goods.  Check out her website.  Hire her to bake custom items for their next special occasion or party. 

She’d worked long and hard to make her dream of running her own store a reality, and the mere thought of Constant Cravings, of all the personal touches she’d put into the décor and the menu items, filled her with pride.  While you couldn’t swing a stick and fail to hit one of coffee house franchises that occupied space in nearly every block in the Los Angeles area, she’d strove to make Constant Cravings different in every way, from setting up her store in Baxter Hills, an up-and-coming area on the outskirts of the city, to the decorations to the desserts she served to the colorful napkins she used.  The exposure from today’s party would hopefully lead not only to those new faces becoming regular customers but to them telling their friends about her shop.  Which would lead to even better sales.

Which might finally get Evan Sawyer off her back.

As if the mere thought of Fairfax’s building manager-- who, by virtue of that title was unfortunately her landlord--could make him materialize, her gaze happened upon him, standing across the courtyard.  His features were set in their usual scowl, and she wasn’t in the least bit surprised to note that in spite of the warm weather and the facts that it was a Saturday and this was a party, he wore one of his uptight business suits complete with a perfectly knotted maroon tie.

Annoyance rippled through her.  The man always looked perfect, as if he’d just stepped from the pages of some GQ photo shoot--dark suit perfectly fitted, dress shirt without a wrinkle, shoes buffed to a glossy shine.  Even though the breeze currently ruffled his dark hair, the effect somehow managed to look perfectly windblown.

Yes, his was the sort of irritating perfection that always made her feel gauche, messy, wilted, and somehow undone--like an unmade bed.  Made her want to smooth her hands over her own wrinkled attire, wish she’d taken more time with her out-of-control curly hair, and surreptitiously check her teeth to make sure no remnants of her spinach salad remained.  

Which was completely ridiculous.  What did she care if he found her physical appearance lacking?  While she grudgingly admitted that he’d never said he did, he did have a way of looking at her that made it clear he didn’t approve of her.  Certainly he’d made no secret of the fact that he didn’t approve of the way she ran Constant Cravings.

She’d been a Fairfax tenant for nearly eight months and her every interaction with Evan Sawyer had proven frustrating.  He was more rigid than a concrete pillar, repeatedly complaining about the lingerie-clad mannequins she re-dressed bi-monthly for her quirky window displays.  Said they were “too suggestive”, as were her best selling cookies in the shapes of a men’s and women’s torsos.  Her latest idea she’d run by him--to expand Constant Cravings into one of the storefronts on either side of her should they come up for lease--had been met with all the enthusiasm of having his innards ripped out with a rusty knife.

Sheesh.  You’d think the man would be thrilled that she wanted to expand since her store generated such solid sales figures, a percentage of which sales were paid to Fairfax.  But no, all he did was complain.  He was an uptight, unbending, workaholic thorn in her side.  One of those all work, no play types she called Soulless Clones.  And given what was clearly his strong aversion to anything the least bit sensual, she suspected he was a dead bore between the sheets.

Which was too bad, because in spite of his physical perfection, or maybe because of it, he was very easy on the eyes--if you cared for that button-down corporate type.  Which she most emphatically did not.  Good thing, too, because she’d be a complete idiot to find a man who was so ridiculously not her type in any way attractive.  So what if he filled out those uptight suits very nicely?  Who cared if his eyes were the most amazing shade of blue she’d ever seen?  Big deal.  Lots of men had great bodies and beautiful eyes.  Most of those other men probably also knew how to smile.  And laugh.  And take a few minutes to stop and smell the roses.  And didn’t mind cookies in the shape of torsos.

     Determined not to allow the irritating man to disrupt this fabulous day, Lacey was about to turn away and continue toward the fortuneteller when Evan’s gaze zeroed in on her.  Inexplicably feeling like she was caught in a sniper’s crosshairs, she froze, and for several seconds they simply stared at each other.  An odd warmth tingled down Lacey’s spine--no doubt aggravation brought on the fact that the man really was undeservedly handsome.  Why the “good-looks gods” had so abundantly blessed him when he should resemble a troll was a shining example of utter unfairness, one she put right up there with the fact that males didn’t suffer from cellulite.  And that crow’s feet made men look distinguished and women look old.  And that every bite of chocolate didn’t permanently attach itself to the male ass.  It just wasn’t right.

 

 

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Excerpt

Chapter One

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Awards
(coming soon)

 

Reviews

 


 

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Excerpt

Chapter One

Reviews (coming soon)

Reader Comments (coming soon)

Awards
(coming soon)

 

Reader Comments

 

Coming Soon

 

Top of Page

Excerpt

Chapter One

Reviews (coming soon)

Reader Comments (coming soon)

Awards
(coming soon)


Awards

 

Hopefully Coming Soon!
 

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Excerpt

Chapter One

Reviews (coming soon)

Reader Comments (coming soon)

Awards
(coming soon)

You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and blogging with the Whine Sisters -- stop by and say hi!

         

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