As seen in the July issue of Uncaged Book Reviews.

Uncaged: Can you tell the readers more about Love on the Line?

Love on the Line was only going to be about 7K words, but as I got into it, more developed, and it became about 28K! With social media exploding, I wanted to revert back a bit, when people got to know one another through conversation – not by liking every selfie posted! My heroine has a bad break-up, so her friend sets up a profile online through a site where people contact one another based on common interests, and just talk. She’s reluctant to say the least, but after hearing the alluring voice of the hero, well… it turns into so much more!

Uncaged: What do you have coming up next that you can tell us about?

I’m working on developing three different series – one of which the first story is already out (“Unexpected Adventures” from Evernight Publishing). I have lofty goals! New Adventures series is about 4 siblings finding paths they never thought to encounter. My Cover Model series is just that – about cover models, their lives, and their loves. And then there’s my small-town romance series developing, with fun and sexy characters, and a bit of suspense.
Uncaged: Your books are often in related genres, contemporary, suspense, erotic – but there is always romance. What inspired you to start writing?

I have always loved reading, and fell in love with romance through Nora Roberts’s books. I thought, I want to do that – write romance and give readers joy. Simple, maybe cheesy, but true. I love an escape, or a way of looking at something I never thought about before. Writing allows me to explore paths I might not otherwise experience, so it’s also an adventure for me!

Uncaged: Do you read your reviews? What do you take away from them?

I’ve read many reviews, and thankfully most have been good, but there’s always that one that makes your heart plummet… and I know there will be more. Not everyone will connect with my writing, and that’s okay, but I wish people would take this to heart – “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” That being said, critique is good, as it helps you evolve (hopefully), but a bad review, or one that just makes no sense definitely hurts. So, I’ll just continue to write what I enjoy, continue to learn, and hopefully gain loyal readers.

5) What is one of the nicest things someone has said to you about your books?

That the reader was able to vividly picture my story in their mind, as if they were a part of the scene. I love that, and that’s the goal!

Uncaged: What is your favorite part about being an author? What have you found to be the least favorite?

My favorite part of being an author is the creation – working a story that makes my own breath catch, or makes me laugh. If I can do that, hopefully the reader will as well. My least favorite part is selling myself – promotion. Don’t get me wrong, I love to talk, and I could talk about myself and my writing all day long! But I don’t want to be a salesperson, just wanting readers to buy my stories. I want them to get to know me and truly want to enjoy my work. Promotion is necessary, but difficult, and I’m still finding that balance of being bold, so people come to know of me, but not being pushy or inauthentic.

Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth?

When I’m not writing, I’m either reading, working my day job as a dental hygienist, or trying to make the most of my time with my hubby of twenty-eight years! My favorite place on Earth… as I’ve mostly travelled in the U. S. (and to Honduras while in the Army) my first thought would be any beach. But I also love the mountains, taking a drive where few go. So, I guess I don’t really have a favorite, but I’d like to discover one! Hubby and I dream of travelling to Scotland and Fiji!

Uncaged: What can you tell us that is very unique about you?

I’m not sure I can adequately answer this one, as I just think of myself as “me”. When I thought I had no direction in life, I joined the Army, which still shocks a lot of people when they hear that. There I met amazing friends, and my husband. Over our years together, we’ve moved 11 times, put ourselves through college as adults, raised two wonderful sons, and simply want to enjoy life.

Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you?

I’d like to say, thanks for taking the time to read this, and my work. I may never reach the status of Nora Roberts (as she’s pretty much the measuring rod for romance), but we all need something to strive for! 😉 I love engaging with readers and writers, and supporting others, so please, feel free to engage! I can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Amazon, Goodreads, YouTube, Bookbub, or contact me through my website.

Wife, mother, former U. S. Army, and dental hygienist, I can now add published author to the list. I’m slowly transitioning out of hygiene, hoping to make writing a full-time endeavor. After writing for many years, my publishing dreams came true in August of 2017 with the release of my debut contemporary romance, “Keyed Up”. To date, I have eight stories released, and many more are in the works.

I write in a variety of romance subgenres: contemporary, comedy, and erotic, with stories containing suspense and small-town romance being developed. I’m constantly learning, loving the journey and all the amazing people I’m meeting. A voracious reader myself, I enjoy all romance from contemporary to erotic to paranormal to suspenseful.

I strive to write stories I can be proud of and enjoyed by many; ones that are not only sexy and fun, but thoughtful as well. I love engaging, so find me on the many social media platforms.

I grew up on the East Coast and now reside on the West Coast, having lived in FL, GA, SC, MA, ID, and WA. Hubby and I hope to fill our passports with stamps from Scotland and Fiji, to name a few destinations. In the meantime, we’ll enjoy the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

laurambairdauthor.com

Love on the Line
Laura M. Baird
Contemporary Romance

AJ finds it hard to trust another man’s intentions after being duped and dumped, so the last thing she wants is another in her life. But her friend has other ideas and sets her up with the perfect guy—through a chat-only service.

Hesitant at first, AJ is lured in by the deep, sexy voice and fun banter that easily becomes a nightly habit. As their bond grows and she begins to fall hard for him, they make plans to meet face-to-face.

With love on the line, will AJ decide to forgive him when he confesses to being part of the set-up?

Excerpt

Jen reappeared holding AJ’s phone. “Okay, so, maybe finding a guy can be easier said than done, and I’ll tell ya how.”
AJ eyed her friend skeptically and asked how.
“So, there’s this online site called Flirt Chat, where people register to just talk to others based on similarities. You know, you program in all this information about yourself and then you seek out others who have the same qualities, interests, whatever.”
“Okay,” AJ said hesitantly. “And you’re telling me this, because…?”
“Well, because I registered you there, and I picked out a guy for you to talk to, and I’ve just alerted him you’re going to give him a call.” Jen began hitting the screen on AJ’s phone, obviously punching in numbers to contact this guy.
AJ sprang to her feet. “Oh, you did not! No way, Jen. What the hell?”
Before she knew what was happening, Jen handed her the phone, kissed her cheek, grabbed Kayli’s hand, and hauled her out the door, laughter ringing out.
“Shit!”
****
“Hello,” said the husky voice. “This is Mathias.” His few words were clear, succinct, and surprisingly soothing. Still, AJ remained quiet, locked up, unsure if she could even do this. She was on the verge of disconnecting the call when Mathias broke the silence.
“Would you like to tell me your name?”
Oh yes, definitely a voice made for phone sex. Okay, she hadn’t called for phone sex. She wasn’t even the one who called. But did people even do that anymore? Call for phone sex? Mathias’s sexy
timbre certainly made her think of that, giving her goose bumps and making her short hairs stand on end.
Thanks a lot, Jen, AJ thought, remembering her laughter as she quickly explained her scheme. Real mature for thirty-something. Oh God, and here she sat with her phone to her ear, listening to this undeniably alluring voice, wishing she had just hung up the damn phone the minute the first word had been uttered.
“…and apparently you do, too.”
I do too, what?
“Hello?”
Crickets.
“If you’ve changed your mind, that’s understandable. No harm. I’ll just say good-bye, and—”
“AJ,” she blurted. He sounded so down. Disappointed. She felt bad.
Oh my God, what is wrong with me? I don’t even know him, and here I am feeling sorry for him because I’m the one who won’t speak to a stranger?
She slapped her forehead as she closed her eyes and grimaced.
“Hi, AJ.”
She swore she could hear the smile in his voice when he said her name. She was so weak.
“So do you really like hiking and kayaking?”
“Yes,” came her simple reply.
“And you enjoy beer more than wine. And you prefer college football over NFL?”
“Yes, and of course.” So her friend really had listed true facts.
“And even though you love to indulge in pizza, burgers, and ice cream, you still manage to keep your figure in tip-top shape as an ice girl for the Idaho Steelheads.”
“W-what!” AJ sputtered.
Mathias’s light laughter echoed in her ear. “Gotcha. Just seeing if you were paying attention.”
“The Steelheads don’t even have ice girls.”
“You are correct. Think they have puck bunnies though? Amelia Jane.”
AJ sucked in a quick breath. “You knew my name all along.”
Mathis cleared his throat. “Yes. I got an alert you were going to call. I just wanted to break the ice, so to speak. Make you comfortable.”
Jen put my full name in the profile? What else did she put in there? Should I know what’s in his? Gah!
“So, I take it you like hiking and kayaking, too?” AJ asked.
“No. I like indulging in pizza and burgers and ice cream while also keeping my figure in shape as an ice girl.”
AJ couldn’t help the burst of laughter that escaped her.
Mathias followed suit, laughing as well. “I like your laugh, Amelia Jane. And your name. Do you always go by AJ?”
“Thank you, and yes, AJ’s always been easy.”
“Okay, but I hope you won’t mind if I tend to say your full name. It’s a beautiful name.”
“Thank you.”
“And to answer your question honestly, yes, I do enjoy hiking and kayaking. I also mountain bike, no street cycling. I’ve done some rock climbing and BASE jumping.”
“Wow. Really adventurous.”
A chuckle preceded his words of “I suppose.” “I really enjoy being outside, losing myself in nature. And our area provides a lot of opportunity for that.”
“Do you live in Boise?”
There was silence for a moment before he spoke again. “You did read my profile, right?”
“Um, no. I know nothing about you.”
“But you called me, based on our matching profiles and similar interests. Right?”
“No again,” she stated. “I had no idea what was going on when one of my friends just handed me the phone as she suddenly decided she needed to be elsewhere. She told me about this Flirt Chat, and how it worked, but I didn’t know she’d actually registered me until it all came spilling out in a rush.”
“Right before rushing out the door.”
“Precisely.” She hesitated before continuing. “Um, I’m sorry?”
“Why are you sorry? It wasn’t your doing. Your friend must really be desperate for you to find someone.”
“You have no idea.” AJ sighed. As much as she loved Jen, this act was pushing the envelope between caring about her and being intrusive.
“Are you upset with her?”
“I don’t know yet. I know she cares, but this … this was…”
“Pushing it?”
AJ laughed. “Exactly. Very uncanny how you say just the right things.”
“Well, I try.”
His attitude came across as relaxed, nice, and truth be told, AJ didn’t mind talking to him at all. He was witty, and she could truly listen to his voice all day long. Possibly into the night. Her face heated at the thought. Thank goodness they weren’t video-chatting, because how awkward would that be? Anonymity was safer.
“So, AJ, would you like to keep talking? Because truthfully, I’m enjoying this.”
She hesitated a moment before confessing. “I was thinking the same thing.”
“Excellent! So, what would you like to know? Since you know nothing about me and I know everything about you.”
“Oh, is that so? And what exactly is everything you know about me?”
“Well, besides what I already said… And I’m still fantasizing about you being an ice girl.” He chuckled. “I know you’re thirty-two and passionate about your career in advertising. You want to visit all twenty-three World Heritage Sites in the United States, five of which you already have. And that’s just for starters.”
“Again, wow! I guess my friend was pretty thorough. Tell me,
are there any pictures on the profile?”
“No. It’s an informational site only. They want to promote relationships based on commonalities, rather than superficial trappings like appearances.”
Wow. Okay.
“But people could lie about their likes and dislikes, just like they could post false photos on any other site, right?” She could feel her brow wrinkling.
“True. I think some people may detail what they think they’d like, trying to switch it up or attract someone they might want to get to know.”
“But then how do you know you’re getting the real person? How can you start off any sort of relationship with lies?” She knew her past with Brad was making her skeptical, but that kind of mistrust you just couldn’t put aside. His actions had really taken a toll on her.
“With some, they certainly could be lies. With others, they may be the opportunity to explore new possibilities.”
“But they’re being deceitful. How can you trust that?” Her voice rose and she knew she was getting defensive, but she couldn’t help it. “What does a person have to gain by lying?”
Oh, she knew all right. She knew selfish behavior was just that—all about the self-serving asshole who liked to feel superior, who liked control, who didn’t want anyone else to appear better than them! Who…
“Well, I know we really don’t know one another yet, but you’ll hear only the truth from me. So, if you still want to give this a try, I’m game.”
“This took an awkward turn, huh? Bet you didn’t bargain for this seriousness.” A strangled laugh escaped her.
“I’m not sure what I bargained for, honestly, but I can certainly understand your caution. I took a chance on something new and different, and here we are.”
“And here we are. So why did you think you needed this? What’s wrong with you that you can’t meet people another way?” As soon as the words were out of her mouth, she cringed and wanted to immediately take them back. “I am so, so sorry! That’s not exactly what I meant to say. I—”
“It’s okay.” He chuckled. “You’re wondering if I’m some creeper, trolling for women. Or maybe someone who’s not six three, two-ten, with six-pack abs and a killer smile, but pretending to be.”
AJ noisily gulped, imagining the man he just described. That vision, combined with his hypnotic voice was enough to cause her belly to flutter and moisture to gather in certain unmentionable places on her body.
“Um, okay.” She was at a loss to say anything intelligible.
“So, would you like to know about me?”
“You tell me what you’d like me to know. Is that okay?”
“Absolutely. I’m thirty-five, Boise born and raised, and a diehard Broncos fan. That’d be Boise State as well as Denver. I’ve visited ten of the World Heritage Sites here in the States, two in India, and would love to visit many, many more.”
“So far, so good. What else?”
“Okay.” He chuckled.
There was certainly plenty of laughter and gaiety between them, and she wanted that to continue. It sure beat the pathetic sobfests she was prone to lately.
“Well, I’m a software engineer who spends a considerable amount of time alone. Not that I’m antisocial, I just prefer solo adventures more often than not. And besides, when all your friends are already hooked up and trying like crazy to get you hooked up, there’s only so much one can take. As you can attest to.”
“Amen to that!”
“So what do you think so far?”
“About you, or this experience?”
“Yes.”
AJ was hesitant, not wanting to jinx the fun they were having, yet not knowing how far she wanted to encourage this. “I think, so far, it’s been pleasant?”
“Well don’t hold back, by all means, regale me with your praises.”
Again, AJ couldn’t hold back the laughter, and it felt liberating. “Well, as far as talking on the phone to a total stranger goes, it’s been enlightening. And fun. Aaannd, I’d like to continue.”
“All right. So would I. Your profile says you’re a Boise native as well. Did you attend Boise State for your degree?”
“Yes, I got my B.F.A. in graphic design then went on to do advertising.”
“And you’ve never been out of the country but have your passport ready to go.”
“Yes again. I want to hike Machu Picchu and swim the Great Barrier Reef. And see the great Pyramids and tour a castle. Or twelve.” She tried but failed to stifle a giggle. When she’d talk about her dreams of travel and adventure with Brad, he’d scoff and ask why. Everything she’d ever need was in the United States, he’d say. That should have been a clue to their incompatibility.
“Um, how about you? Besides India, what other out-of-country adventures have you been on? Oh, and do you prefer Mathias or Matt?”
“Mathias. I had the opportunity to go to Dubai on business, and while there, I BASE jumped off the Princess Tower. And since I was in the vicinity, I ventured over to see the Taj Mahal and the Chitwan National Park in Nepal.”
“That’s so amazing! Wow, that’s really something to brag about.”
“I’m pretty fortunate with my job and lifestyle. So why haven’t you fulfilled any of your out-of-country dream trips?”
“Oh, well, I … you know, I’ve been busy building my career.” And letting a manipulator basically run my life for two years while I was oblivious to his true nature. Let it go, AJ! What’s done is done!
“And are you where you want to be?”
My God, his voice is something, she thought. The kind you read about, if you’re one to read romance novels, which she totally was, and how a voice like his was described as a panty-dropper. She had to fan herself from the heat suddenly overtaking her entire body.
Sheesh!
“AJ, you there?”
“Oh, yep, still here.” What was the question? Oh, yes, am I where I want to be? “My career’s been going great. Hit a bit of a road bump recently, but you know, that happens.”
“Anything you care to elaborate on? Anything I can do to help?”
“Unlikely. I’m sorry, I guess I’m not ready to discuss that right now.” Because it’s much more than just my career that’s hit a road bump.
“Please stop apologizing. I understand. I mean, how much do you really know someone after only ten minutes of chatting?”
“Precisely.” Although I feel like I could say things to you I never could to Brad. How interesting. AJ cleared her throat. “So, any plans for your Labor Day weekend coming up?”
“Yeah, I thought I’d go check out the hot air balloons at the Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic, then head down to the 10 Barrel Brewing Company for the beer wars.”
“Really?” She, too, had thought of checking out the balloon classic, and since she loved beer…
“What about you? Any plans?”
How much do I tell him? What if he wants to meet up? Could I?
“AJ? Do you always have a habit of going off into your own little world from time to time?”
She knew he was teasing by the laughter that followed. “Is that your way of asking if I’m an airhead?”
“I would never!” he feigned outrage, causing her to giggle.
Giggles, really? Get a grip!
“Well, if you must know—”
“And I must,” he smoothly interjected.
“I was also thinking of going to the balloon classic.”
“And since you prefer beer to wine…”
“Oh my God, are you a mind reader?”
Mathias chuckled. “No. Just following logical thinking. The engineer in me.” He paused, and before she could say anything more, he asked, “Amelia Jane, I’m going to take a leap and ask if you think it’s too soon to plan to meet one another on Saturday?”
She remained silent as she let the whisper of her name from him float through the air. She couldn’t even stammer a response. Her mind suddenly flooded with yeses and nos, with pros and cons, with a host of scenarios playing out in her head.
“We could continue to talk with one another, get to know more about each other little by little every day leading up to Saturday. Because what I’ve heard so far has me wanting to know more.”
“Really?” she squeaked out, surprised he seemed to feel the same way she did. And surprised at herself for feeling this way so quickly. “You want to spend your Sunday evening talking to a stranger?”
“Yes. Really.”
AJ grinned from ear to ear, ridiculously pleased and nervously hopeful. “Okay.”
“Okay.”
“So, now what?”
“Now, we get to know more about each other. So how long before you get over this road bump?”
“Wow, right to it. Um, I’m not sure. My agency has been great, but I seem to be lacking my drive.”
“And you need a confidence booster. Or you’re reevaluating whether to stay in the profession. Or you’re recovering from a pulled hammy while doing the splits during practice out on the ice.”
More laughter. “What is it with you and this ice girl fantasy?”
“Well, they’re terrific dancers in tremendous shape. They’re usually gorgeous and wear those sexy little outfits. What’s not to like?”
“So it’s all about appearances, is it?” she asked teasingly.
“Absolutely,” he returned, his sarcasm evident. “Isn’t that what we’ve learned from social media these days?”
“So you’ll be thrilled when I tell you I look just like Miley Cyrus. Because that’s the look I’ve been going for these days. She’s all the rage, don’cha know, what with being such a marvelous judge on TV and all. Not to mention her eye-fetching attire and sassy attitude.”
“Then you’ll be happy to hear I like sassy. And I look exactly like Chris Hemsworth. And even though Miley preferred Liam, let’s just say maturity has its advantages.”
“And let me just say I actually prefer older guys, and due to my diligence at staying in shape, twerking on the ice is a sight to behold.”
Matthew’s deep laughter washed over AJ, infusing her with joy and comfort. It’d been much too long since she felt this at ease, and with a complete stranger no less.
“Oh, AJ, you are a joy.”
“I know, right?”

Uncaged Review

A nice romance – a short and sexy read easily read in a couple hours. I loved the banter between AJ and her friends, and when her friend Jen, sets her up on a phone dating site, AJ relents and begins having nightly talk sessions with Mathias.

When AJ finds out that Mathias was in on the set up with her friend Jen, will she be able to overcome what she sees as a betrayal?

Both AJ and Mathias have trust issues from being burned in past relationships, but AJ’s has been a bit over kill. I think she responds to certain aspects more like a high schooler than an adult woman, but she does finally get to where she needs to go, and the reader will want to shake some sense in to her at times, and other times will want to hug her. There is some hot and steamy sex, and you may want to sit in front of a fan, but this was a fun read and introduced an author to me that I hadn’t read before – and I definitely plan to read more from her. Reviewed by Cyrene

4 Stars