With This Kiss

Seekerville spring novella smRead all the way to the end for a chance to win. (Or what the heck, just skim down there, no one’s gonna have to take a quiz)

You know, this Indy pubbed thing is really interesting and REALLY SCARY. Because you have no editor saying, “Uh, what in the world does this mean?”

I did hire an editor and she was really good. But the whole thing just lands so firmly on MY shoulders.

Anyway, my buddies from Seekerville have put together our 3rd and 4th Indy novella collections and this pair is called, “With This Kiss Historical Collection by Ruth Logan Herne, Pam Hillman, Cara Lynne James, Julie Lessman and ME, Mary Connealy and “With This Kiss Contemporary Collection. By Ruth Logan Herne, Sandra Leesmith, Tina Radcliff, Missy Tippens and Mary Connealy.”

So I’m in the contemporary one and that was fun but waaaaay outside my comfort zone, which I loved.

I’m posting exerpts from each book.

Here is Safe Shelter my contribution to ‘With This Kiss Contemporary Collection.’

Safe Shelter

Chapter One

A man stepped into the reception area and Janna MacCleod surged to her feet, then stopped herself before she ran.

It’s not him. It’s not Ned.

The man spoke to Alma, the lady who had interviewed Janna, then left the office. The flight reflex drove Janna toward the nearest room with a lock. Bolting the restroom door, her knees buckled and she sagged against the wall.

            Coming out of hiding went against all Janna’s instincts. But she had to do it. She hadn’t heard from or seen Jed for nearly a year. And she needed a normal life. She needed to find a spine. She needed to begin again.

            Pulling herself together, she straightened and rubbed her patchy cheeks proudly and checked her green suit. It did ghastly things to her complexion, bless it’s cheap, polyester heart.

She’d done some very good work on her appearance. No one would notice her. Men wouldn’t look twice.

God didn’t convict her of lying by dressing badly. Instead she took comfort that somehow God had inspired this. He wanted her here and He would get her past the only barrier—Prescott Chambers.

            Hiding from Prescott Chambers and his seedy reputation, hiding from Ned and his obsession, had the benefit, thanks to clunky glasses and dense freckles, of letting her hide from all men.

            She unlocked the restroom door and reentered the outer office of the Foundation, determined to reclaim her life. Whether it would be here rested in Chambers’ unsavory hands.

            She returned to the shabby couch and sat down with her spine straight and her head held high. Anna might be a sniveling coward but Janna was competent, calm, capable. And homely as a basset hound.

Janna is who she’d be.


He’d hire a basset hound to replace Alma before he’d have another simpering, love sick female around him.

The chair sagged along with his spirits as Scott Chambers leaned back and brought the personnel file up to his face until it covered his closed eyes. He rubbed his forehead with the thin beige cardboard wishing the rhythm would soothe him. 

He hated this. He still hadn’t gotten used to the shock of Alma’s announced retirement. No one could replace her. He pulled the folder away to study Alma’s scribbled note. “My first choice.” He knew what to expect. This highly trained young woman was too good and the money was too bad. She had applied for this job for one reason.

            In anger he slapped down the file and watched a dozen sheets of paper skid silently across the huge oak desk left in here from his grandfather’s time. He dreaded the dozens of women who trooped through his office every time there was a job opening. He hated the endless stream of lies.

            He rested his eyes again on “My first choice.” Fine, he’d trust Alma with this. He’d gotten so he trusted her with everything.

            But Miss First Choice had to pass one simple test.   

           Picking up the file, Scott tapped it into order. He smoothed his hair, straightened his tie, tugged on his cuffs, the perfect polished exterior he’d learned from his mother.

            For one second he longed to fling everything aside and go make his own life. But a last deep breath banished the impulse. 

            He snapped the paperwork flat on his desk, reached for the phone and tapped the intercom. “All right, Alma. Let’s get this over with.”


Next collection: We labeled my contribution to With This Kiss Historical Collection as ‘bonus content’….because it’s not a romance. So again, outside my comfort zone. It’s the backstory to my heroes in the Trouble in Texas Series.

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Swept Away

Fired Up

Stuck Together

How they met in Andersonville Prison. It’s called ‘Closer Than Brotherrs.’

Chapter One


Vince—The Invincible

Burning hot. No way out. Surrounded by real bad people.

A description of hell if Vince had ever heard of one.

And it described Andersonville Prison pretty well.

Vince Yates heard a soft footstep and he braced himself. He’d known this was coming from the minute he pulled those filthy Raiders off that kid.

The kid had been greeted just like every newcomer to Andersonville, with violence. Vince knew better, but he couldn’t let that kid get beaten by a fellow Yankee.

Fired Up
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One of those thieves had picked himself up and backed away from Vince’s fury with a parting threat. “A man who don’t mind his own business, don’t survive.”

“Lots of ways to die in this pit,” Vince had told the low down coyote. “Might as well die with some honor instead of live with a yellow streak down my back—like you.” Vince knew he signed his own death warrant but he couldn’t leave the kid to his fate.

There’d been three Raiders and, with the kid’s help, two against three, they drove them off. But those Raiders had friends, dozens, maybe hundreds.

They were coming back in a pack like wolves.

Vince was weak already. Starved down to skin and bones after six months in here.

The footsteps came closer. Vince prayed the most heartfelt prayer of his life, and it wasn’t for help. He figured none was coming. And the prayer wasn’t to win this fight. With the exception of a few Bible stories—David and some stones—Samson and the jawbone of an ass—most of the time, when one man stood alone, that man lost.

Nope, he just prayed that he’d meet his Savior. He wasn’t even all that sorry to go. It was time to be getting out of this place and that was about the only doorway Vince could see. He put all his hope in the next life.

This one was over.

“Yates?” A Texas twang, laced with gravel. Vince knew that voice. The Kid.

Not a lot of Texans penned up in here. Texans fought for the Rebs.

10948 StuckTogether_mck.indd
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“I’m here.” Speaking barely above a whisper, Vince stepped out of the shadows.

“I don’t reckon I’ll let you protect me and not return the favor. You can use someone at your back tonight.” A kid at least five years younger than Vince. He’d done well against those three men but he was losing when Vince stepped in.

“I stepped into your trouble, and I was a fool to do it. Be smarter than me, Kid. Get out of here.”

A dry laugh with no humor in it answered. “Won’t be the first time someone accused me of being a fool. I’ll buy in.” The boy was close enough in the night that Vince finally saw the black shape of him.

“No sense both of us getting whipped, Kid.”

“No sense.” The kid came closer. “I’ve heard my pa say I got none, so I’ll stay. Name’s Luke Stone, from Texas.”

“Texas went with the Confederacy, Kid. Didn’t anyone tell you which side to fight on?”

Luke shrugged, barely visible in the dark. “My best friend as a kid was a Negro and he and his family were fine folks who lived free. I can’t see fighting for the side that’d make ’em slaves.”

Vince needed to get this youngster out of here. Two against two dozen lost the fight. “They’re just looking for me, Kid. This isn’t your fight, you already took your beating.”

They’d stolen all the kid had before Vince got there so chances were they’d leave him alone. No sense the kid getting hurt again.

“I seen you fight, Yates. They’ll have to send a passel of Raiders to beat the two of us.” Stone stood with a kind of alert tension that made Vince think of a gunslinger. The kid, even if he was young, was a man when it came to facing trouble.

“Make it three.” Another voice sounded from Vince’s right.

“Who’s there?” Vince wheeled to face the newcomer. He saw shaggy hair so dirty Vince was just guessing when he decided the man was blonde.

This man was a complete stranger.

The prison wall was nineteen feet away on Vince’s left. Right behind him was a small white fence they called the Dead Line.

That space between the Dead Line and the outer fence was No Man’s Land. The Confederate Guards on the prison walls had orders to shoot anyone who stepped in that space and they seemed to take a sadistic pleasure in doing it. Just as the camp commander, Wirz, took an evil pleasure in ordering it done.

Wirz was the man in charge of hell—to Vince’s mind that made Wirz the devil himself. But maybe this was just purgatory because Vince hoped and prayed he’d get out of here someday and everyone knew that hell had no end.

Mary Connealy
Mary Connealy

Except Vince figured he was going to die tonight, so he needed his soul to be right with the Lord and these men were giving him no time to pray, well, he had to hope he was already in good order with the Lord, but still, he’d like one last moment to set things right.

“I saw it, too.” The shaggy man seemed to vibrate with energy, and Vince thought the stranger might go to pacing if he had room. “I did some checking around, Yates. Twenty varmints are gathering right now to come at you. I’ll stand with you.”

“Three against twenty.” Vince grunted. “Get out of here both of you.”

“You sound like a man not afraid to die.” A fourth voice sounded and Vince knew this one. He was a red-headed man who’d formed a church of sorts in the belly of hell.

Jonas Cahill.

“I’m not afraid.” Vince wanted them all gone. “In fact, after six months in this prison, it’s sounding like a good idea.”

“You’re not going to die tonight.” A fifth voice. Deep and strong. Another stranger. When this man stepped close enough to see, Vince had his first real surge of hope. Big John they called him. Another Texan. Six foot six and two hundred and fifty pounds of solid muscle. Big John hadn’t been in here long, and he wasn’t so hungry he’d lost every extra pound and most of his strength. Vince had seen the Raiders slink back when Big John had come in. Not even in a group had they attacked him.

“Five against twenty,” Big John said with a deep laugh. No, he hadn’t been in long. He still knew how to laugh. “They don’t stand a chance. Not when I’m one of the five.”

Vince laughed in response to Big John’s boast, and the sound of it was so unusual coming from him he almost didn’t recognize what it was.

“We form a half-circle with our backs to the fence.” The Kid trying to take charge. Vince wanted to give the orders but his throat tightened. Like he might cry. A horrifying thought.

“Everybody facing out,” the shaggy blonde said, another one who thought he oughta give orders. “Name’s Dare Riker. Those traitors took the little I had when I came in here and beat me so bad I was more asleep than awake for two days. Jonas here was kneeling beside me praying when I came around. I’d like a chance to make them pay, but a man alone has no way to do that. I’d be mighty pleased to team up with you.”

“I didn’t help so you could see who you could hurt, Dare.” But for all his kindness, Vince had seen toughness in the parson. And a willingness to face evil with force as well as prayers. Jonas had the voice of a powerful, serene angel.

Vince had done some Bible reading in his day. Angels weren’t to be tangled with if it could be avoided and Jonas was such a man. Jonas turned his back to the Dead Line, facing out, watching for trouble with his fists clenched.

There were a lot of bands of men in here who backed each other in trouble. Now it looked like Vince had one of his own.

“John Conroy.” The big man turned and stuck out a fist half the size of Vince’s head.

Vince shook it and the strength of John’s grip put heart into Vince.

“I was a lawman in Texas, and I headed north to fight same as the kid here.”

“Luke Stone, and I ain’t no kid so stop callin’ me that.”

“Once we get the south calmed down and the Union preserved,” Big John ignored the boy and went on talking. “I’m going back to Texas where I reckon I’ll be thought a traitor by most everyone. I don’t see myself ever living a quiet life, so I might as well get started facing trouble right now. It’ll get me ready to go home and face more trouble in Texas when the time comes.”

The circle of men shook hands all around until another footstep broke off the introductions. This time it wasn’t friendly.

Leave a comment to win a copy of the two books and a third commentor will win a $25 Amazon gift card.

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Author of Romantic Comedy...with Cowboys including the bestselling Kincaid Brides Series

77 thoughts on “With This Kiss”

  1. I would love to be entered to win. I love Mary’s books!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  2. I didn’t know you were indy published, Mary! Good for you. 🙂 Although, I agree, it is a little scary. The excerpt you shared is very intriguing.

  3. I love it when the “good guys” band together and defeat the evil “bad guys” against the odds with their strength, faith and hope.

    It was interesting reading about the group of Texas heroes joining together in that awful Andersonville prison.

    As for your foray into contemporary writing, I’m intrigued by Janna/Anna. I want to know: Why she had to change her appearance? Why she hates Prescott Chamber? Who’s Jed? Where’s Jed? What will Scott do to help her? What will Scott do when he finds out she’s living a lie?

    I can’t wait to read your books.

  4. ooo, ooo… I would love to win either collection!! I’m glad you got the Closer Than Brother’s formatted for eBook reading!!! hooray for bonus material! I still love it.

  5. Mary, I think your contemporary writing is awesome…and I love the collections that release between books!

  6. thanks so much for sharing! I love your books and always laugh out loud at many of the crazy antics of your characters. These new collections look wonderful. I’d love to read them. Thanks for the great giveaway!

  7. Sometimes I utterly despise excerpts. They do their job entirely too well, and I’m left hanging, wanting to know what happens next and unable to finish the story because I don’t own it. Too cruel, I tell you.

    I’m so glad that Closer Than Brothers is now officially published – it’s an EXCELLENT prequel!

  8. I love the novella collections you and the other Seekers are putting out! It’s such a great idea. Thanks for the chance to win!

  9. Your books are the ones I first search for on CBD when I need to find a read that has Cowboys and western excitement. There is something special about the way you write honoring the Lord.

  10. You know these books cost $2.99 apiece. That’s $2.99 for each collection. Four books in one, five in the other. It’s like $0.50 a book. If you’re really anxious to read them they cost less, the two combined, than your average McDonald’s breakfast sandwich meal.

    • Neat on the pic within the post. I’ll have to learn that and add a cowboy pic. But I am so bad with the techy things!

      I adore box sets. I’ve discovered so many new to me authors this way. It’s a joy getting to read them all! And an awesome bargain. Thanks for that. Cathie
      Cathiecaffey@ gmail.com

  11. Congrats on stepping out of your comfort zone and into contemporary fiction, Mary. I know you did a fantastic job! I loved these excerpts and look forward to reading these stories! Thank you for the great giveaway.

  12. Dave Hein, thank you so much. I wrote for a long time before I even knew there was such a thing as Christian fiction. (this was before I had the internet at home, before Google)
    Once I found it I knew I was ready because though the books I’d written didn’t have a faith thread, they were always good, clean fun.
    The characters conducted themselves as Christians, their faith was just unspoken. It was easy to bring that out!

  13. Mary this excerpt sounds so intriguing! It sucked me right in! thanks for posting this “teaser.”

    I “hear” you about the indie published route–it’s a bit different than traditional publishing.

  14. I love the first chapters! Your writing is always very intriguing! Even though it was out of your comfort zone, what a great way to gain new readers though! I really liked reading how the guys came together in your Troubled in Texas series. I really enjoyed that collection!

  15. Mary, I love your sense of humor. I have read many of your books and have loved them all. Looking forward to reading these.

  16. Hi Mary! I love your writings…you’ve got a true fan! Good luck with all your endeavors and thank you for the opportunity in this great giveaway.

  17. I love historicals and love your books. Your books are so funny and I really enjoy them. I will never forget your book The Husband Tree. Thanks for sharing and for the great contest.

  18. Mary, I always enjoy your writing so much. I admire you! Anyone who can write with humor, as you do, is a goddess, you know. I can’t do it–I’d fall flat on my face if I tried it. Congratulations on these collections–they both look wonderful!

  19. Love your books! Can’t wait to read your new one!Loved your prequel. Had a hard time waiting for the next part when you were putting it on your blog.

  20. Congratulations on having the courage to venture into this new territory. I am sure it is nice to have a bit more control over what you write and when it comes out. Those of us who read your books will be following your independent publishing journey.

    Best wishes for great success with the release of both book sets.

  21. These both sound fab, I am spoiled with my favorites, historical! . I love to read new to me authors in these box sets as well as my favorites. Love to be in the contest. Thanks.

    cathiecaffey @gmail.com

  22. Hi Mary, I already bought both sets of books! I couldn’t wait and pre ordered them ! I love these stories and some of the authors I also enjoy reading new authors I haven’t heard of so it’s an honor to read all the stories -thanks again for making such a great price on both serieS! Will they ever be in Paperback ? Just wondering , congrats on getting out of your comfort zone !:) I am sure it will be great ! anything I have read of yours is awesome !:) God Bless you and your family ! I enjoy your calf pictures and stories also 🙂 on fb -:)?
    Darlene Lindstrom

  23. I love your books, Mary. I pass them along to my mother and share my ebook library with her so she can enjoy them as well. Thanks for writing such great characters

  24. I love historicals but if I find a good writer I will read anything they write. Best wishes for your contemporaries!

  25. I’m really intrigued. I’d love to win the set and read more! Thanks for the chance to win. Fingers crossed.

  26. Hi Mary,
    Thanks for the wonderful giveaway…..I am a big Seeker fan so would enjoy that collection. And the A.card sounds super! I read your Texas series so would really enjoy your “backstory”!!
    jacsmi75 at gmail dot com

  27. Wow Mary – Your excerpt was an inspiring look into the western days when men were put in prison for no reason or you fought for the wrong side; Andersonville was a famous prison years ago. Can’t wait to read more of your books. Thanks, for the giveaway. Still love those paperbacks.

  28. Hi Mary. Would love to be your winner. I know it will be good. Love Westerns.
    And, as to a picture in a comment. I don’t know how to put one on FB page. Only into my Album. I tried to do it and it says you are giving FB the right to your pictures. Don’t seem right. You can draw my name if you want. LOL
    Maxie > mac262@me.com <

  29. Isn’t it just like God to not let us stay in our comfort zone, but to move us into unfamiliar areas to watch us grow and activate our faith in him. I love your books . They are such fun to read. Please feel free to pick my name in the drawing! I will be the one screaming with joy.
    Many Blessings

  30. Hi Mary, you are one of my favorite authors so I keep checking back to see when you’ve released something new, when you do I get so excited 🙂
    I would love to be a winner and will look forward to reading the books either way.
    Are the books you wrote before you wrote Christian Fiction still available? Would love to read them, your books are so entertaining and I’m always laughing through them, love your humor!

    ~ Dina

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