Book Releases

Holding On (Colorado High Country #6) —
The Colorado High Country series returns with Conrad and Kenzie's story.

A hero barely holding on…

Harrison Conrad returned to Scarlet Springs from Nepal, the sole survivor of a freak accident on Mt. Everest. Shattered and grieving for his friends, he vows never to climb again and retreats into a bottle of whiskey—until Kenzie Morgan shows up at his door with a tiny puppy asking for his help. He’s the last person in the world she should ask to foster this little furball. He’s barely capable of managing his own life right now, let alone caring for a helpless, adorable, fluffy puppy. But Conrad has always had a thing for Kenzie with her bright smile and sweet curves. One look into her pleading blue eyes, and he can’t say no.

The woman who won’t let him fall…

Kenzie Morgan’s life went to the dogs years ago. A successful search dog trainer and kennel owner, she gets her fill of adventure volunteering for the Rocky Mountain Search & Rescue Team. The only thing missing from her busy life is love. It’s not easy finding Mr. Right in a small mountain town, especially when she’s unwilling to date climbers. She long ago swore never again to fall for a guy who might one day leave her for a rock. When Conrad returns from a climbing trip haunted by the catastrophe that killed his best friend, Kenzie can see he’s hurting and wants to help. She just might have the perfect way to bring him back to the world of the living. But friendship quickly turns into something more—and now she’s risking her heart to heal his.

In ebook and soon in print!

About Me

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I grew up in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, then lived in Denmark and traveled throughout Europe before coming back to Colorado. I have two adult sons, whom I cherish. I started my writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and eventually became the first woman editor of two different papers. Along the way, my team and I won numerous state and several national awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service. In 2011, I was awarded the Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism. Now I write historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense.


Seductive Musings

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

EXCERPT! EXCERPT! A glimpse at Megs and Mitch's story


Kindle — Nook — Apple Books — Kobo

I’m down to the wire on Megs and Ahearn's book—Take Me Higher. I’ve had so much fun with them as characters, especially the 1970s versions of them. The Seventies flashbacks have had me laughing out loud while I’m writing. I’ve also enjoyed giving myself a deep dive into the ”free-climbing revolution” that happened at that time.

Those of you who dived into the series with my sale on the 4-book box set are just getting to know them, but Megs Hill and Mitch Ahearn are fan favorites. It’s been a fantastic experience to give them their own story. 

For readers who enjoy older couples, this book is for you. For people who don't like older couples, well, they’re young in the flashbacks. What’s so emotional about this story is showing an entire relationship over the span of a lifetime. It’s had my sister, who reads while I write, choking up more than any other book in the series. We just talked about the ending today, and we were both in tears.

(No worries! I’m an absolute believer in happy endings in romance.)

Those of you who haven’t read this series... It’s contemporary romantic adventure. It follows the members of the Rocky Mountain Search & Rescue Team as they save lives and fall in love. It’s focused heavily on the climbing scene here in Colorado—rock climbing, alpine (mountain) climbing, ice climbing. 

I come from a climbing family. My father and brother were semi-pro climbers, and my father put up some first ascents in Colorado. I literally grew up watching people climb. When I got older, I got into it, too. Sadly, I had to be rescued after a calamitous 40-foot fall that almost killed me. So I know what I'm writing about in ways I'd really rather not.

But now it’s time for an excerpt—two excerpts actually. I haven’t done one of these for a long time. I hope you enjoy it. Turn back your clocks for 1973, folks. Here we go.


From Take Me Higher...

Yosemite Valley, summer of 1973

Mitch Ahearn sat in his battered lawn chair in the shade of a ponderosa pine, reading Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, his shirt off to enjoy the warm spring breeze. The other guys sat shirtless around the picnic table smoking grass and shooting the shit, the Beatles’ Let it Be playing on Jim Gridwell’s cassette recorder.

“Too bad this was their last album, man.”

“They might get back together. You never know.”

“No way. It’s over, man. Yoko messed with John’s head.”

“What do you know about it, Yoder? Were you there?”

Their conversation and the music drifted around him, Mitch’s attention riveted to the page by Raoul’s brilliant insanity. Had Hunter actually done all of this shit?

He glanced up as a rusty red VW Beetle pulled up to the campground, music coming through its rolled-down windows. His gaze remained as a young blonde climbed out. She was small, not much taller than the vehicle. She stood there, looking into the distance at El Capitan, a smile on her face.

Rick Accardo looked over his shoulder. “Who’s that?”

“Fresh fish.” Gridwall whistled.

Mitch couldn’t understand why some of the guys treated women like this. “What’s wrong with you? Don’t you have a sister, man?”

“Yeah, but I don’t want to screw my sister.”

The others laughed, stoned off their asses.

Mitched glanced down at the page—or tried to. The woman shut her car door, walked around to the passenger side, and reached into her glove box to pop the trunk. She wore denim shorts and a yellow halter top, her long blond hair streaked by the sun, her body slender, her skin tanned, her legs strong.

“Check out that foxy mama.”

“Hey, need some help?” Gridwall called out, the greasy tone in his voice showing exactly the kind of help he was imagining.

“Hot chick, man.”

She ignored them all, walked to the front of her car, and lifted the trunk lid, disappearing from view. When she closed the trunk, she had a large frame pack on her shoulders, climbing ropes hanging from one arm, a bag of climbing gear from the other.

“She’s a climber?” Accardo sounded surprised.

“She’s not a climber.” Gridwall laughed. “Women can’t be serious climbers.”

“Why not?” Mitch truly wanted an answer.

But Gridwall ignored him, instead getting to his feet and heading toward the woman, who was now searching for a campsite on the other side of the campground, probably trying to get as far away from them as possible.

He couldn’t blame her.

She found a site she liked and started putting up her tent—one of those new Nylon all-weather tents with a rainfly—just as Gridwall walked up to her.

“That’s a slammin’ tent, sugar. Let me help.”

“Thanks for the offer, but I’ve got it. My name is Megs, not ‘sugar.’”

That was an unusual name. Mitch bet it was short for Maggie or Margaret.

She worked quickly and confidently, clearly knowing what she was doing.

But Gridwall didn’t get the message. “Lighten up, babe. I’m just being friendly.”

“Your friendliness is noted. As I said, I don’t need help.”

Mitch couldn’t help but grin.

“Fine.” Gridwall raised his hands in mock surrender, a smirk on his face. “Are you some kind of women’s libber?”

“I’m here to climb, just like you.”

The woman—Megs—was a spitfire. Mitch liked her already.

“Is that right?” Gridwall was turned so Mitch couldn’t see his face, but Mitch could hear the condescension in his voice. “Have you climbed before? Any first ascents?”

She almost had the tent up now. “What’s your name?”

“Jim Gridwall.”

“Dean Calder mentioned you.”

She knew Dean? That was news.

Gridwall sounded confused by this. “How did you meet Calder?”

“I bouldered with him in Joshua Tree last fall.”

So, she had climbed with Dean.

“You went bouldering with Dean?” But the surprise in Gridwall’s voice quickly became amusement. “I get it. You’re one of those chicks who digs climbers.”

“No, I dig climbing.” She reached for a guy line.

Gridwall grabbed her wrist. “Hey, don’t be so uptight. Come sit with us, smoke a joint, listen to some music, relax.”

She jerked her hand away. “Not interested.”

Mitch found himself on his feet. “Gridwall, leave her alone!”

“Mellow out, Doc.” Gridwall glared at him. “I’m just making conversation.”

But Megs could clearly stand up for herself. “It’s been great chatting, but this conversation is over.”

Then she stepped into her tent and zipped it behind her, leaving Gridwall to stand there, looking stupid.

Roughly one month later...

Mitch hiked alongside Megs, leading her through the forest to one of the high mountain tarns he’d stumbled on last summer. Surrounded by glades of aspen and open meadow, it was the place he liked to come when he needed to be alone. He’d suggested the two of them hike up to the lake to ditch the reporters who’d been hanging around Camp 4 all week. In truth, he just wanted to be alone with her.

Lately, he’d been getting signals from her that she liked him the same way he liked her. There was something in the way she looked at him, a softness she didn’t show the other guys. She sat by him in camp, shared food with him, and asked him to climb with her. But her attempts to flirt with him—if that’s what she’d been doing—were shy and uncertain, lacking her usual confidence. Then again, she couldn’t be much older than eighteen. Maybe she didn’t have much experience with men.

She stepped over a tree root, her legs mostly bare, her denim cutoffs dangerously short, her shoulders and back bare apart from the ties of her halter top. She wasn’t wearing a bra, either, though he supposed she was small enough that she didn’t need one.

Stop thinking about her breasts.

“Those reporters act like seeing a woman rock climbing is like finding a giraffe on the moon.”

Mitch chuckled, but he understood her frustration. “They think we’re all crazy, but they sit at desks all day. Not a single one of them took us up on our offer to try climbing. They don’t know a damned thing about it.”

“Good point.”

“Watch your step.” He took her hand, drew her to the side to avoid a hornet nest in an old ground squirrel burrow.

“Little devils.” She held on a little longer than was necessary. “Thanks.”

It took them almost two hours of hiking off-trail to reach the tarn. Just as he hoped, there was no one else there. The lake sat in the middle of a wildflower meadow, its waters almost turquoise, pine, and hemlock forest surrounding it, no sound but birds in the trees and the buzzing of insects. It was his special place.

“It’s beautiful!” A look of wonder on her face, she walked slowly to the lake’s edge, almost as if she were entering a church. “Look at all the flowers!”

Warmth blossomed in his chest at her reaction. By bringing her here, he was sharing a secret part of himself, offering her something that he loved. “This is where I come to read and be alone.”

Megs sat on a nearby boulder and took off her hiking boots and socks and set them aside. “You like to read?”

Was that so strange?

“I do. I try to keep a book in my backpack.” Mitch removed his boots and socks, too. “I get to travel the world and experience all sorts of things I wouldn’t otherwise. How about you? Do you read?”

“I read when I had to in school.” She walked into the water up to her ankles, moaned, the sound sending a jolt of lust through him. “Oh, that feels good.”

Mitch rolled up his bellbottoms and followed her in, the cold water soothing to his feet, mud squishing between his toes. “Do you have any favorite authors?”

She shook her head. “I just have a GED.”

Mitch bit back a smile at her assumption that being well-read meant having a college degree. “Hey, a GED is cool.”

But he hadn’t brought her here to talk about books. 

She kept walking until the water reached her knees. “How deep is the lake?”

“I’ve gone in up to my chest before.”

Her next question made his mind go blank.

“Have you ever gone skinny-dipping here?”

“Um…” It took him a moment. “Yes, but I was alone.”

“Are you sure there are no leeches?”

He chuckled. “Yes.”

“Then turn around.”

His heart gave a hard knock. “Megs, I…”

She made a turning motion with her finger. “Turn around.”

He did as she asked, heard her stepping through the water, blood rushing to his groin when he saw her halter top, shorts, and panties land on the rock beside her boots.

Splashing. A gasp. “This is cold!”

Thank God for that.

“Okay, now I’ll turn around, and you can come in.” 

Mitch glanced over his shoulder, saw that she was in the water up to her breasts, her back turned toward him, her hair floating behind her. He walked to the boulder, stripped out of his jeans and underwear, his dick still half hard. 

Naked now, he turned to walk into the water—only to find her gaze raking over him. He couldn’t help but grin. “That’s cheating.”

She stared at his cock for a moment, her cheeks flushed pink. Then she turned away. “Sorry. I couldn’t resist.”

Mitch wasn’t ashamed of his body, and, judging from her reaction, she hadn’t seen many naked men. He waded in and made his way over to her, sucking in a breath when the cold water reached his nuts, the shock of it stealing his wood. Well, that was probably a good thing. “I’m in now.”

The words were out before he realized their double meaning.

He coughed.

But she hadn’t picked up the double entendre, her gaze fixed on the scenery. “The view is incredible. That’s the back of El Cap, isn’t it?”


He was a foot taller than she was, and the water was almost crystal clear. He could see her breasts with their puckered, rosy tips. He ached to touch her, to run his hands all over her, to kiss her.


She turned toward him, took a step in his direction, rested a wet palm on his chest. “What would you do if I told you to kiss me?”

~ ~ ~

Take Me Higher will be out in September. I had planned for an August 31 release, but then I had foot surgery and fell behind. You can preorder your copy from these e-tailers. The book will be available in paperback as well on its release date.

KindleNookApple BooksKobo

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"I am an artist. I am here to live out loud."
—Emile Zola

"I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day."
—James Joyce

"Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery."
—Jane Austen

"Writers are those for whom writing is more difficult that it is for others."
—Ernest Hemingway

"When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth."
—Kurt Vonnegut

"The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar is the test of their power."
—Toni Morrison

"No tears in the author, no tears in the reader."
—Robert Frost.

"I'm a writer. I give the truth scope."
—the character of Chaucer in
A Knight's Tale