Monday, November 7, 2016

Calculated Risk is LIVE!!!

Title: Calculated Risk
Author: Rachael Duncan
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: November 7, 2016
I thought the ring on my finger would do the trick and keep men away. All I wanted was to save my heart from shattering--again. The truth is, I'm not married. The ring was just a ploy--a ploy to keep me safe, protected from pain.
But then Marcus Riley came along with his goofy pick-up lines, and he saw right through the facade. He knew the truth, and he wanted me. God help me, I wanted him too--in so many ways. But love is a risk, a painful, scary risk. One I'm too afraid to take.
Unless...
He's the one risk worth taking.
But it just might come at a price.
"Once again, Rachael Duncan has delivered a novel that is impossible to put down with witty characters, suspense, and a few plot twists that will have you laughing, crying, holding your breath, begging for mercy, and/or throwing your Kindle." -5 star review from JB McGee
"Calculated Risk did not disappoint, its was beautifully written, full of love, angst, heartbreak and some suspense." -4.5 star review
"I read this book within 4 hours! I love everything about this book!!" -5-star review
I want to yell. I want to cuss. I want to hit and lash out at them in the most violent of ways, but I’m too broken. Because in the last few minutes, all of my dreams came crashing down. What I once thought was perfect was all a lie. A repulsive, cut you to your soul kind of lie.
Stalker: Caught ya. My brows furrow in confusion as I try to figure out what he’s talking about. After several seconds and still no clue, I text him back. Me: Caught me what? Stalker: Thinking about me. With a grin, I respond. Me: What makes you so sure I was thinking about you? Stalker: Because I was thinking of you.
Rachael Duncan is an Army wife and mother to two beautiful girls. She grew up in Nashville, Tennessee and went off to graduate from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor's degree in political science. With initial plans to work in politics, she moved to Washington, D.C. and worked on Capitol Hill for a House Representative. After a short time, she realized it wasn't for her and began pursuing other careers until she started writing. She's the author of Tackled by Love, The Lies and Truth Series, and Hopeless Vows.
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Friday, July 8, 2016

Chapter 1 from First and Last

Hey guys!

Today is the official cover reveal for First and Last! (Even though it leaked out due to poor planning on my part when ARCs went out...oops.) Anyway, so I wanted to share it here as well as the first chapter!


There are two extremely talented people who are responsible for the gorgeousness that is this cover.
First, Lauren with Perrywinkle Photography. Her images are freaking stunning. I hate choosing just one. I want alllllll the pictures! Second, Marisa at Cover Me, Darling. She never fails to produce a cover that fits my story perfectly.

Synopsis:
Mia’s my best friend.
We’ve been inseparable since she moved next door when we were six years old. Then it all changed.
I don’t know when or why, but suddenly I want more. I want her. The problem was she didn’t.
At first.
But everything changes when you cross that line between friends and lovers.
I thought convincing her to give us a chance would be my biggest hurdle. Little did I know that was only the beginning.
Mia consumes all of my thoughts when we’re apart, and all of my senses when we’re together. There’s no going back to the way things were and I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure she isn’t just my first, but also my last.
Will we be able to hold on, or will our relationship go up in flames?

 You can preorder First and Last here. It is a complete standalone, contemporary romance novel. So, without further delay, I give you chapter one.
***

Copyright © 2016 by Rachael Duncan
Chapter 1
Present
Thwack…thwack…thwack...thwack…
The sound of the propellers is music to my ears. It’s the noise I live for and miss during the offseason in the winter months. For me, the blades cutting through the air signals excitement and adventure. Sitting in this small plane with four of my other colleagues, today is no different.
I’m a smokejumper, which means I’m the type of firefighter who parachutes into wildfires, stopping them before they spread. A small one has been spotted in the northern part of the forest here in Redmond. It’s far from posing any real threat to civilians, and it’s our job to keep it that way. But with the drought we’ve been having all over Oregon and the strong winds from today, this thing could go from small to completely uncontained real fucking quick.
“ETA five minutes,” Chief shouts to us, letting us know we’re almost to the drop zone. I give him a thumbs up in response.
Standing up, I walk to the side door, brace both of my hands on either side of it, and lean out the opening. A large, black cloud billows up from the trees and toward the sky, blanketing the ruthless flames I know are below. The wind bends the smoke, sending it south and providing the ammunition it needs to grow.
“What are the wind gusts?” I ask.
“Twenty miles per hour from the north, northeast. It’s tough out there, so make sure you stay above the ridge. You get too close in front of it, you’ll be fucked if it whips around.”
“Roger that.”
A few minutes later, we’re in position and jumping out of the plane. My arms fold over my reserve that’s strapped to the front of me as I free-fall, waiting for my parachute to catch me.
One-one thousand, two-one thousand, three—
My chute opens, jerking me in the process as it slows my descent. It’s always a good day when your parachute opens like it’s supposed to. Reaching up, I grab my risers and pull on the left one to steer me in the direction of my landing zone. There’s a really small opening in the trees that we’re all aiming for. As long as I don’t hit any crazy down drafts, I should make it. Otherwise, I’m landing in the trees, and that’ll suck balls.
When my feet hit the ground, I’m pumped as adrenaline courses through my veins. There’s no other high like jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, and I can’t believe someone pays me to do it. I’m quickly pulled back to the reason I’m here as my lungs take in oxygen and protest because of the ash and smoke that’s polluting the air.
We take off our jumpsuits, leaving us in a lightweight, long-sleeved shirt that’s flame retardant with cargo pants. After our supply boxes are dropped in for us, we grab our tools and hash out a plan.
“Alright, let’s get around on its west side, start clearing material and work from there,” my boss instructs.
With our tools in hand, we make the two-mile hike to where we need to be. The closer we get, the thicker the smell of burning wood gets. With each step, I get an ominous feeling that moves up my spine. I try my best to shake it off, to tell myself this is any other day at the office, but the thought won’t leave me alone.
“You alright there, Blake?” Sam asks me. We’ve been buddies ever since we went through the rookie course together.
“Yeah, just feeling weird, I guess.”
“What about?” he asks with pinched eyebrows.
“I don’t know.” I shake my head. “It’s nothing.” He slaps me on the back a few times and we keep trekking.
We’ve been chopping away at the small brush for about an hour now. It’s back breaking work, but we’re finally making progress.
I wipe the sweat off my brow with my sleeve before tilting my head back and looking up at the sky. The smoke looks like it’s blowing directly over us. If that’s the case, then it’s likely the fire will start to move toward us, and that’s not a good thing.
“Hey, Chick, you keeping tabs on the wind?” I ask our chief, using his nickname.
“Yeah, reports say it’s coming in from the northeast last I checked.”
“You sure? I’ve been watching and I think it’s shifted.” Both of us look upward through the trees.
“Okay, keep working and I’ll watch it. If it is coming this way, we need to have as much of this cleared as possible, anyway to slow the fire.”
With a simple nod, I get back to work, but this feels wrong. We need to move before we get boxed in.
“I got a bad feeling about this,” I tell Sam quietly as I swing my ax at some more brush. “We need to get out of here.”
“Relax, man. Chick’s watching the wind. He knows what he’s doing.” I try to repeat his words to convince myself, but this small voice inside my head won’t shut the hell up.
Thirty minutes later, we’re still working down the line, but the sound of the inferno is getting louder. I glance over at my boss every now and then to make sure he’s keeping tabs on this. It’s not even two minutes later that he’s telling us we need to move positions. Looking through the gaps in the trees, I see the flames flickering, taunting us, letting us know who’s in charge here.
Without delay, we head back down south to move around and get a better angle of attack on this expanding monster. Sweat runs down my face as the blast of the heat hits me from my left. When everything is this dry, it’s not uncommon for the fire to jump from one tree to the next instead of slowly crawling to it. That’s what’s making me nervous right now. With us being this close, one of these embers could float over and ignite on the other side of us and we’d be surrounded. Then we’d be fucked.
Right as this thought crosses my mind, I look ahead and see the worst-case scenario. Up in front of us is a wall of fire with a narrow path through the middle.
“Should we try to go around?” Sam asks.
“Who knows how far it goes. There’s a small opening. We need to hurry and get the hell out of here,” Chick tells us.
Crouching down low, we all start running through this tunnel of fury. The crackling of the burning forest and roar of the blaze is deafening. I feel it at my back, orange and red fingers clawing at me, trying to engulf me, but I keep pushing on.
A loud pop sounds to my left. I stop and look just in time to see a huge tree coming down.
“Watch out!” I shout. I dive out of the way, the tree narrowly missing me. “Son of a bitch,” I mutter to myself. Getting up, I look back and see the tree is blocking my way out of here. Worse, it’s now separating me from the rest of the team.
“You okay, Blake?” Chick yells.
“Yeah, you guys go. I’ll go around and meet up with you at the drop zone,” I say over the flames.
“Okay, watch your ass.”
“Roger that.”
Hurrying back the way I came, I get the hell out of this burning trap and head back west to try to move around this thing. With any luck, it hasn’t spread too far in that direction and I can get back on course soon.
I hike for forty-five minutes before I’m in the clear and can move south again. All looks good headed this way, and I’m thankful for that. The terrain is steep, with numerous cliffs around. It’s hell to traverse with all of my gear and I find myself stepping the wrong way on the loose gravel, losing my footing.
I fall back on my ass and tumble down the side of this hill with no control. My hands reach out for anything to grab hold of to stop myself, but I’m going too fast. When I see the ledge I’m quickly approaching, I go into panic mode. With every ounce of strength within me, I dig my heels and hands into the ground in a desperate attempt to stop. I slow down, but it’s not enough.
Right before I fall over the edge, there’s only one thing going through my mind.
Mia.
***
You'll have to wait until July 18th to find out what happens next. :-) Don't forget, you can preorder your copy so you have it as soon as it goes live at midnight in 10 days. I can't wait for you to meet Blake and Mia!

XOXO,
Rachael

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Hopeless Vows: Chapter 1

Hey guys!

I had asked if anyone would be interested in seeing chapter 1 of Hopeless Vows before it releases, and the response was overwhelmingly yes! So, here it is!!


Chapter 1

Jillian

“You’re insane, you know that?” Janey, my best friend of eight years, says. Even though I can’t see her through the phone, I can picture her with her mouth and bright blue eyes wide open.

“Are you really that surprised?” I respond.

“Well, actually, a little. This isn’t like a spur of the moment trip you’re taking. This is serious, Jillian.”

I let out a sigh. “Trust me, I know. It’s not something I’m taking lightly. It just feels…right.” If I’m being honest with myself, I’m nervous as hell to marry a complete stranger. Most will probably look at what I’m doing and think I’m certifiably insane, and who knows. Maybe I am. But I have faith in the system, in the experts.

“So what happens next?”

“I’m not in yet. I have another round of interviews to go through before a decision is made.”

“How are you so calm about this? I’d be flipping my shit right now and you’re acting like you’re ordering a pizza,” she shrieks. Janey’s always had a flair for dramatics, which is fitting since she moved to New York with hopes of becoming an actress. Unfortunately, it hasn’t exactly panned out for her yet and she’s waiting tables. That’s actually how we met. I was waitressing while going to school when she came in looking for a job. We’ve been best friends ever since.

I shrug even though she can’t see me. “I don’t know. Like I said, something about it just feels right.”

“Are you nervous at all to be on TV? I mean, you’ll have cameras around you constantly.”

“A little, I guess. All I can really think about is who they’ll would match me with if I’m selected. The other stuff has kind of been pushed aside.” I’m sure it’ll be weird to have my every move recorded for the viewing pleasure of America, but I can only focus on one nerve wracking thing at a time.

“When do you go for this last interview?”

“I’m supposed to go on Monday.” Butterflies hit my stomach. That’s only four days away. The closer I get to the end, the more anxious I feel.

“How does it all work?” she asks.

“Out of the thousands of applicants, they narrow it down to four matches. Those four couples will be married, except they won’t meet each other until they walk down the aisle. They know absolutely nothing about each other. Their names, occupation, age, looks, nothing. After eight weeks, they decide if they want to stay married, or divorce.”

“How can you marry a complete stranger?” she asks incredulously.

“I guess because I don’t look at him as a stranger. He’s going through the same rigorous process with the shrinks as I am. So I kinda feel like I know him through them, if that makes any sense.”

“Not really, but it’s your life,” she says with a small laugh. “Let me know how it goes.”

I promise to keep her updated and hang up the phone to go to work. After walking down the steps to the front entrance of my apartment, I wave down a cab and take the ten-minute trip to the office. After paying and exiting the taxi, I look up at the tall building where I work. Glancing around, I take in the essence of the city. I love the way it looks. Some find the smoggy air, crowded streets, and high-rise buildings unappealing. But I think it looks like freedom, like opportunity.

Walking across the tiled floors in my six inch stilettos, I mentally prepare myself for the day. I’m trying to get ahead in case I need to be out of the office for a few days. I still haven’t told my boss what I’m doing. The thought alone is terrifying. I don’t know what I’d do if I lost this job. My boss is a real ball buster. When I started working here, I thought she hated me. Nothing I did was ever right or to her standards. Soon, I started to realize that while she may be harsh with her suggestions, she was only trying to make me a better columnist.

“Jillian!” I hear her all too familiar voice shout at me as I’m walking past her door. Halting my forward progression, I spin around and enter her office.

“Good morning, Mrs. Van der Boor,” I greet as I approach her desk. When I first met Karen Van der Boor, she reminded me of the bitchy boss from The Devil Wears Prada. She even has her dismissive, snotty mannerisms. Given this is a fashion magazine, I’ve been tempted to ask her if it’s just coincidence, or if that character was based off of her. She scares the hell out of me, so I keep those thoughts to myself.

I started working here as an intern. I didn’t get paid, but I just needed to get my foot in the door. So I became the office bitch, running to get coffee, making copies, answering phones, whatever needed to be done, I did it.

“Where’s your article?” she asks, forgoing any pleasantries. “You know you’ll need time for corrections.” Her eyebrow arches at the last part. It’s like she’s daring me to argue with her little jab, but I know better.

“I finished it last night. I was going to email it to you first thing this morning.”

“Okay, move along then,” she says with a wave of her hand as she glances back down at the papers on her desk. I leave her office and head toward mine. While my workspace isn’t nearly as nice as Karen’s, I still love it. Plus, I’m proud of it.

Growing up the way I did, I never imagined I’d be doing what I love at one of the top fashion magazines. Hell, I barely knew what was going to happen to me from day to day. Planning my future was my last priority. Once I turned eighteen, I ran as fast as possible from my past and busted my ass to ensure I made something of my future.

I look my article over one last time before sending it off to my boss. Once I proved I could write, Karen would throw me an assignment here and there. Articles on who wore it better, worst dressed, things of that sort. Finally, I got a steady spot in the magazine covering the latest accessories each month. I’ve been moving up ever since. My goal is to cover the coveted Fashion Week one day. I know I’m not writing about world peace or anything life altering, but it’s a passion of mine and it makes me happy. And, given the way my life started and the path it was headed toward, happiness is all I’m really looking for.

***

Seven o’clock rolls around before I walk through my apartment door. I kick off my heels and flop down in exhaustion on the couch. After two revisions on my article and several hours researching the newest trends on the runway, I’m ready to relax with a glass of wine and some television.

Looking around my small apartment, I can’t help noticing how empty it feels. Most times I stay so busy I don’t have time to dwell on it. But moments like this make it hard to ignore. You’d think I’d be used to it. My parents were never home when I was a kid. When I was forced to live with my grandmother, I was so angry and upset with the world that most of my days were spent locked away in my room. I craved solitude then. Now, it only serves as a constant reminder of how lonely I really am.

I’d give anything to have a person in my life to share my day with. Despite my best efforts, I haven’t found a man who I could see myself settling down with. At twenty-eight years old, I started losing hope I would find that one person made for me. If he even existed at all. Hence why I’m going through this insane, unconventional process. I just hope this isn’t a huge mistake.

Copyright © 2016 by Rachael Duncan

Hopeless Vows releases February 22nd, so it's right around the corner. Reviews have been AMAZING so far, and I couldn't be happier that everyone seems to love it. Check it out here on Goodreads to see some of those. You can preorder your copy now and have it as soon as it goes live at midnight.

Amazon
UK
AU
CA

I can't wait for you guys to read Jillian and Austin's story. It's one that I'm super proud of and really feel like it's my best work yet. My only hope is that you love it as much as I do.

XOXO,

Rachael

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Cover Reveal!!

Title: Hopeless Vows
Author: Rachael Duncan
Genre: Contemporary Romance Standalone
Release Date: February 22, 2016 Photographer: Perrywinkle Photography Cover Designer: Cover Me Darling
It was a social experiment that was supposed to lead to my happily ever after. The rules were simple:
1. Marry a complete stranger chosen for you by a panel of experts.
2. Live together as man and wife for eight weeks.
3. Make a decision to stay together or get a divorce.
Call me crazy, but I had complete faith in the process, until I saw who was waiting for me at the end of the aisle.
Austin James has never met me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know him. With no other choice, I say my vows and pray I can make it through the next eight weeks. Then I’ll leave. What connects us is my best kept secret, and I’ll protect it at all costs even if that means walking away from the only person I’ve ever cared about.
Wanting to get the focus off of me, I ask, “What about you? Why did none of your past relationships work?”
He stares straight into my eyes and says, “Because they weren’t you. I was looking for you my whole life and never knew it.” He doesn’t blink, his stare unwavering as he sears his declaration into my mind.
“Nice line.” He’s making me uncomfortable, putting me on edge and getting closer than I’d like.
“It’s not a line. I believe everything happens for a reason, and I believe my other relationships failed so that they’d lead me to you.”
Fate. Is that what this is?
No, it’s karma being a bitch. He doesn’t know what I know. If he did, he wouldn’t be spilling this poetic bullshit about us being destined for each other.
Rachael Duncan is an Army wife to her amazing husband, Steven, and mother to their beautiful daughters, Natalie and Zoe. She grew up in Nashville, Tennessee and went off to graduate from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor's degree in political science. With initial plans to work in politics, she moved to Washington, D.C. and worked on Capitol Hill for a House Representative. After a short time, she realized it wasn't for her and began pursuing other careers until she started writing. She's author of Tackled by Love and The Lies and Truth Duet.
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