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CONTEST ALERT! Author Kate Meader talks a love for all seasons–and cities–below, and is giving you the chance to dish about your ideal season for falling in love for the chance to win a sexy firefighter calendar that will keep you on schedule (and swooning) all year round! Don’t forget to pick up a copy of the next installment in Kate’s sizzling Hot in Chicago series, PLAYING WITH FIRE, on sale from Pocket Books 9/29!

playing-with-fire-9781476785950_hrChicago is larger-than-life, just like the Dempseys, the firefighting foster siblings in my Hot in Chicago series. And it’s also a great place to get your romance on. So the winters might last eight or nine months, but there’s nowhere I’d rather be in love. London, you can keep your history and Royal Family and gray days. Rome, you might have great food and stunning churches, but who said ruins were romantic? As for Paris—okay, Paris is pretty romantic, I can’t argue with that.

But back to Chicago, the Windy City, the place I fell in love over—eep!—twenty years ago. Every season has something to recommend it for lovers. In summer, it’s all about the lake. Blue and twinkling in the sunlight, there’s nowhere more romantic on a hot summer night, especially if you know a guy with a boat *wink*. With fall comes a nip in the air that makes you want to shop for cute boots and reach for your honey’s hand to keep you warm. And what better way to celebrate than with a trip to Morton Arboretum to check out the foliage, stopping off later at Goose Island Brewpub for an Autumn or a Pumpkin Spice ale? Then it gets serious because: winter is coming! But those months of torturous cold can be the most romantic of all. Think of ice-skating in Millennium Park followed by a burger and a cocktail or three beside the fireplace at The Gage on Michigan Avenue. Does it get any cozier? Well, enjoy those special moments because very soon you’ll want to strangle your significant other due to cabin fever. Thankfully, spring arrives to save the day. Score tickets for the Cubs’ Opening Day at Wrigley and get a head start on your annual disappointment unless one of you is *cough* a White Sox fan. Your relationship might survive winter in Chicago, but a Cubs fan and a White Sox supporter trying for the brass ring? If you can make that work, then you’re in the love of a lifetime.

The Hot in Chicago couples have found love in practically every season. Beck and Darcy reignited their teenage affair at Christmas in REKINDLE THE FLAME. In FLIRTING WITH FIRE, fireworks exploded for Luke and Kinsey on the Fourth of July. The cool days of fall found Gage and Brady crashing into each other in MELTING POINT. And now the latest installment, PLAYING WITH FIRE, brings Eli and Alexandra together to bicker and banter during the coldest months of the year. The weather outside is frightful but inside, these two are making their own heat between the sheets!

Contest question: Tell us what you what think the most romantic season is and why, and you’ll be entered to win a sexy fireman calendar and a copy of PLAYING WITH FIRE!

Check out this “sexxxy” excerpt from the last installment of the Hot in Chicago series PLAYING WITH FIRE! 

“You need to be taken in hand,” he rasped, every word a provocative puff of air against her lips. “You are wayward and out of control and a danger to yourself, and if I wasn’t your boss, if I wasn’t worried about all the lines I’ve no doubt crossed every additional second I spend with you, I would be the one to tame you.”

Do it, her lust-scrambled brain urged. Take me in hand. Use those big, forceful hands to take me and tame me.

“I’m not some animal to be domesticated, Eli,” she goaded, knowing he would enjoy her spirit.

But not enough, apparently. Some inner battle raged on his face, and the winner, unfortunately, was common sense. The hand that would not tame her fell away. The body that would have no part in her domestication inched back, its masculine heat replaced by the cool chill of regret.

Sagging in her own skin, she tried to push her shoulders higher to mask her disappointment. Which is when he stepped in to what little personal space she had and lowered his lips to hers.

She should pull away, even though she had begged for it with her smart mouth. She should punish him for every crime he’d perpetrated. For being too good-looking, too sexy, too everything. But the kiss was like him—just too damn good. Warm and brutal, providing answers to questions she never knew she had. He teased with his tongue along the seam of her mouth, seeking that last nudge of acceptance as if it was his God-given right.

She parted her lips, and like a predator hinged on her threshold, he took.

The kiss turned wet and deep, velvety luxurious in its sweep across her mouth, its obliteration of her senses. He curled his hand around her neck and anchored it at her nape, as though he needed that to hold on. That strange notion thrilled her. He was taming her, but also fanning the flames of revolution. He was dominating her, but exhorting her to meet him beat for booming beat. She had never felt more . . . equal to another man.

She drew back, breathless. Changed.

“You make me so mad,” he whispered, his voice incredibly raw, like a manifestation of the aching need thrumming between them..

She felt how mad he was against the fork of her thighs. The slippery warmth in her panties was testament to how mad she was at him.

“Then punish me, Eli.” Who was this husky-voiced temptress?

One who was getting it done, because suddenly, his mouth was on hers again, that wickedly talented mouth that he really should never, ever use for speech. Just pleasure. That’s all that stupid, annoying, sexy mouth was good for.

She wanted to bite and suck and rub against him. Against all that man. Her body was not her own. It was this wanton thing, grinding against his flagrant erection. Somehow, he had pushed her against the back wall, wedging her in with paper towels and metal shelving and him. One hand tangled in her hair—she had no idea where her cap had gone—while the other cupped her generous ass and molded her flush to his cock. They were as close as two people could get with clothes on, like bold explorers, their bodies forbidden country.

Her hand raked through his thick hair, the other traveled from his shoulder to his chest, needing to feel that steel under silk. Needing to rip his tie off, tear his tailored shirt open, expose his hot skin to her hotter tongue.

Expose herself.

She moaned, her desperation for more, for the pleasure she feared only he could give, echoing in the tiny space. But it broke the spell. Abruptly, he withdrew, the action sucking the air right out of her lungs.

He stared for painfully long seconds, looking marvelously disheveled. She had done that to him, mussed up his world for a few precious moments. Strong, rough fingers rubbed the skin at her nape, and she suppressed another moan.

“This thing between us, Alexandra . . . this thing,” he grated, his voice so graveled it coated every nerve ending with his masculine essence. “It will pass.”

Panic knifed through her, mixed with confusion at her body’s overreaction to his bald statement. “It—it will?”

“God, I hope so, don’t you?”

Before she could respond, the door was thrown open and he was gone.

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