Happy New Year, First name / my friend!
New year, let's get right into it! To celebrate the new year, I've teamed up with Romance Read of the Month Club, which delivers a gift book to you from some of my favorite author friends (including Vi Keeland, Penelope Ward, Monica James, Jana Aston, and more!) each month. Every second Friday of the month, you’ll receive an email from Romance Read Club with a link to download your gifted book. All of the books are full length and reads as a standalone. Registration closes on Monday, January 8 so if you want a gift that keeps on giving all year, sign up now
To tide you over, I have a little gift for you today: Snapdragon by Kilby Blades. This is a spicy friends-with-benefits read featuring two very strong leading characters. 
I will be signing at the Sweetgrass Author Event in Charleston, SC on March 23! If you're looking to preorder books for that event, you can order them here until mid-February. 
I'll also be attending the RomCon Festival in Ashland, MA on May 18 with Loretta Chase, Kosoko Jackson, Cecelia Tran, Caroline Linden, and more. Registration is now open for this event! 
Finally, some resolutions. Not from me, my brain doesn't enjoy that sort of thing,  nor does it enjoy selecting a word for the year, but from the Walshes. Scroll down to read!
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New Year’s Resolutions x Walsh Associates
“It’s weird to do this on a Wednesday,” Sam said as he settled into his seat at the round table. “Although it is dark in here.”
“That has anything to do with the day of the week,” Matt replied, lifting his coffee. “There’s less daylight at this point in the year.”
Sam glared at him. “I’m fully aware of that.”
Matt went on sipping his coffee.
Andy and Tom filed in and took their seats while they talked about a new restaurant opening in Southie next month. Shannon and Patrick followed, talking in hushed tones about something financial.
The attic conference room filled with voices and the clatter of fingers tapping keyboards, and then, feet pounding against the old winding stairs.
“I’m not late,” Riley called from the stairwell.
Patrick rolled his eyes to the ceiling. “You’ll be late when you get here.”
Riley stumbled into the room and dived toward the lone empty chair. He flopped into it, his breakfast clutched to his chest. “Safe!” he yelled.
“But at what cost?” Tom asked, motioning to the coffee Riley had sloshed all over his sleeve.
Riley frowned at his sleeve. “It was going to happen one way or another.”
“He’s not wrong,” Matt said under his breath.
“I don’t love that,” Shannon said with a sigh.
“Can I start this meeting or are we going to belabor the status of RISD’s shirt for another hour?” Patrick asked.
Andy shot him a look from across the table that seemed to speak entire paragraphs. He sent one right back.
“Anytime you’re ready, Optimus,” Matt said. “We’re all waiting on you.”
“For fuck’s sake,” Patrick muttered. “Unfortunately, it appears no one came back from winter break with a better personality.”
“Certainly not you,” Sam replied.
“You know what I did do,” Riley started, unpacking his breakfast burrito, “was watch the dog show.”
“The…dog show,” Shannon repeated.
“Yeah, like where they show off all the dog breeds and then the Monopoly man picks the best ones.”
“I have to assume this involved some recreational consumption,” Shannon said.
“There were so many dogs whose entire purpose in life is to chase away rats,” Riley went on. “Life must’ve been really hard back then if they were breeding dogs specifically to deal with barn rats and cellar rats and house rats and alley—”
“Oh my god,” Andy whispered. “Riley. We get it.”
“Make it stop,” Sam said, his eyes twisted shut.
“Yeah, that’s probably enough about”—Shannon pressed her fingertips to her forehead—“that.”
“I’m just saying, we think we have it tough,” Riley continued, “but I don’t need to have a dog on duty in the pantry.”
Patrick blinked at him. “So, a lot of recreational consumption.”
Tom glanced over each shoulder, cringing at the shadowy corners of the attic. “I can’t stop thinking about it.”
“Think about yogurt,” Andy said to him. “Or the time with the hard-boiled eggs.”
“Cowboy Christ, that’s making it worse,” he said.
“Aren’t there also a ton of hunting breeds?” Matt asked. “For pheasant hunting and shit like that?”
“Yes!” Riley cried. A chunk of scrambled egg fell out of his burrito and onto the table. Shannon reached over with a tissue and collected it. “So much time spent breeding dogs for super-specific purposes and now, their only objective in life is to stabilize everyone’s mental health but they’ll go absolutely apeshit every time a squirrel crosses their path on Comm Ave. Isn’t it crazy? Makes me wonder about things that we’re doing today and how, in two hundred years, it will be functionally obsolete and repurposed.”
“I don’t know if you’ve given it much thought,” Patrick said to Riley, “but it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to have more of these conversations with yourself instead of waterboarding us with them every Monday morning. Like a new year’s resolution.”
“It’s not Monday,” Sam said.
Patrick pointed at him. “You can shut the fuck up.”
“If we’re proposing resolutions for each other,” Riley said, “I propose you finally get to work on yanking that stick out of your ass. I’ll warn you right now, it’s gonna take both hands.”
“I’m not sure that meets the true spirit of a resolution,” Matt said. “It’s a discrete task rather than the commitment to a habit or practice.”
“It’s probably gonna take a really long time,” Riley said as he attacked his burrito.
“Yeah, that’s not comparable to Patrick’s resolution for you,” Sam replied. “It would need be something more like becoming more aware of the moments when he’s behaving like he has a redwood growing out of his lower intestine and consciously work to be less of a moody bastard.”
Patrick banged away at his keyboard. A chat message appeared on Shannon’s screen.
Patrick: How long am I supposed to put up with this?
She swallowed a laugh.
Shannon: Another five minutes or so? You did open the door to this.
Patrick: Just wait until they turn on you.
“Matt needs to make a habit of finishing one cup of coffee before getting another,” Sam said.
Matt lifted his cup. “Of all the fuckin’ things, man. I finish my coffee just fine, but thanks.”
“You will drink eighty percent of that, abandon the cup, and then grab another when you go out to meet clients or check on sites.” Sam sat back, crossing his arms over his chest. “And you’ll repeat that cycle all day long and—”
“By the end of the day, you’ll have enough remnants to make a full cup of coffee,” Tom said.
“Kind of like the books you read halfway through and then try to pawn off on everyone else?” Matt asked. “Maybe you could commit to finishing an entire book this year. Or at least not hounding everyone else to read it until you’ve finished the thing.”
“I read entire books,” Tom said. “You should see my Kindle.”
“No, don’t do that.” Andy shook her head. To Tom, she said, “He’s not ready for anything you’re reading there.”
“Wait, what does that mean?” Matt asked.
“Ask your wife,” Andy replied.
Patrick: He’s going to ask Lauren.
Shannon: Yes. He will.
Patrick: How does he not know yet?
Shannon: I don’t know. I’m not the one married to him.
Shannon: But he’s going to come in here next week looking like he’s survived a war.
Patrick: …but in a fun way?
Shannon: Is that how it goes with Andy’s spicy bookshelf?
Patrick: Why do you ask me these things? My god.
“You know, you could resolve to actually answering questions,” Tom said to her. “Instead of, you know, murmuring and raising an eyebrow and just leaving people to figure things out on their own.”
“And what would the fun be in that?” she asked.
“Well, it would might make the workplace a bit less cryptic,” Sam said.
A slight grin pulled at her lips. “Again, what would the fun be in that?”
“Shannon needs to resolve to stop telling people to suck her dick,” Sam announced.
She shot him an unimpressed glare. “I’m sure you think you’re very clever with that. I’m sure you’re going to tell me that I’m phallically propping up the patriarchy and reinforcing gender conventions. Or that I, of all the fucking people around this table, am weaponizing sex.”
Sam busied himself with his cuff links. “I was just going to stay you could do with a refresh.”
The room descended into silence for a long moment. Then, Riley pushed away from the table, cackling. It wasn’t long before everyone was laughing.  
“Wow. This has been really productive,” Riley said, knuckling away tears.
Patrick pinched the bridge of his nose. “Productive like a purge.”
“That’s the only way we do it,” Shannon said.
“If anyone ever came here from the outside world and observed, they’d authentically believe we hate each other,” Matt said.
“Like me?” Tom raised a hand.
“Or me?” Andy added.
“Neither of you count,” Riley said. “This is a stone cold pack of weirdos and the only reason you’re here is because you have rocks to roll with us. Don’t pretend you’re normal.”
“And with that,” Patrick said, “I’m starting this meeting. Happy fuckin’ New Year, everyone.”

Typos and broken links happen. It's okay. The earth is very hot and fragile, and so are we.
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