Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Excerpt & Giveaway: Wheeler Sara by Butler Zalesky

Sara Butler Zalesky
Publication date: July 4th 2016
Genres: Adult, Romance, Sports, Suspense
Known as the Ice Queen of the peloton, pro cyclist Loren Mackenzie rarely shows emotion in the heat of competition; she leads her team with quiet strength and determination. But her successes have not come without suffering, and her tragic past is hidden inside tarnished armor.
While out on a training ride with her cycling team near Enfield, England, a chance meeting quickly develops into an unexpected whirlwind romance. But a relationship with an A-list celebrity brings with it the microscope of tabloid-media attention, which expose jealousy and rivalry that threaten to undermine Loren’s leadership of her team.
The new romance also reveals a dangerous obsession, culminating in a terrifying confrontation with someone from Loren’s past. Her injuries not only put her chances at the World Championship in jeopardy but also bring forth memories of a life she had long buried – for good reason.
Can Loren open her heart to the love she has held at a distance, or will her fear ultimately defeat her?
The follow up novel in the Wheeler series is coming soon.

Excerpt from Wheeler, by Sara Butler Zalesky

11 June

Enfield, England, UK

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Loren groaned. “What the hell else can happen to me today?” She stood on the pedals to glare at the offender with her rear tire replying with a hiss of air. As she pulled over to the side of the road again, her teammates coasted by with a few nods and concerned words.
“Do you need more tape?” Cece laughed as she passed. Felix honked the horn but didn’t stop. Loren waved at the car, fighting not flipping a rude gesture.
“Oh, okay. Just keep going. I’ll catch up.” Muttering, she dismounted and removed her helmet. “I’d have been out of here in seconds if our mechanic was here to switch out my wheel, but no,” she drawled. “You girls need to learn to deal with a flat tire, he says. Like I don’t already know how to fucking change a tire.” She pulled off her gloves and shoved her hair out of her face, then bent down to release what little air remained in the back tire.
After clicking the shifter to adjust the gears to the smallest rear cog, she loosened the wheel skewer, then gripped the black matte frame of the bike. As she took hold of the tire to remove it, she sucked in a breath as pain shot up from her fingers to her elbow.
“I didn’t see any damn fucking squirrel,” she grumbled as she revised her grip and removed the wheel, leaning it against her leg. After gathering the items she needed from the little bag under her seat, she set the bike down, picked up the wheel and went to sit on a broken stone wall on the side of the road. She wiped her forehead with the back of her hand and looked up at the bright blue sky overhead.
At least it’s not raining yet. That would be just fucking brilliant. She adjusted the wheel on her lap and got to work, but it wasn’t long before a blaring truck horn bought her head up, just in time to see a gray Jaguar swerve out of its way.
“Idiot,” she grumbled and went back to trying to force the hard rubber tire over the edge of the wheel.
A few minutes passed with her wrestling with the tire when, out of the corner of her eye, she saw the same gray Jaguar come to a stop a few yards away from her. You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. She didn’t look up when the car door closed. I’m not some fucking damsel in need of saving “… you prat.” She froze at a man’s stifled chuckle. Did I say that out loud?
“All’s well, miss?” She didn’t quite turn to look at him when she spoke.
“Yes, everything's fine,” she growled. “I can change a tire, thank you.” She clenched her jaw as she struggled to twist the last bit of tire over the rim when the wheel slipped and the sharp edge of a wheel spoke sliced the base of her thumb. “Bloody fucking hell!” She stood up, yanking off her amber sunglasses while shaking out her hand.
“I can help,” the man said, walking toward her. “I’ve got strong hands.”
As she turned her glare to the Good Samaritan, her mouth popped open and her brain shut off. He was tall, and looked in need of a sandwich, dressed in a loose blue and red plaid button-down shirt and jeans. But, it was his bright blue eyes and wide grin outlined by a tight goatee that she recognized immediately. Oh, my… That’s Apollo… uh. Her eyes slid away as she tried to remember the actor’s name. No, Atherton. Graham Atherton. She blinked.
“Uh, I’m sorry.” She tried not to look at him as she stiffly bent to retrieve the wheel from where it had landed. “It hasn’t been a particularly good day for me.”
His smile widened. “I passed your mates a while back there. That wasn’t very considerate of them, leaving you in the middle of nowhere.”
“Yah, well, it’s not the first time.” She flexed her elbow. “It wouldn’t have been a big deal if I hadn’t hit the deck earlier.”
“Goodness, is anything broken?”
“No, no, I don’t think so. Just scrapes.” She shifted her hip to look down at it. “Yah, just a little road rash.” The angry abrasion on her outer thigh was visible through the tape holding her white Lycra shorts together.
“I’d be complaining quite loudly about that, not just shrugging it off,” he told her. She held up her hand then, feeling something cold and wet slid down her palm. “Oy, you’re bleeding!”
He moved quickly toward her, causing her to bring both hands up and let go of the wheel, which clanked to the ground and rolled a few feet away. He took a gentle hold of her right wrist and lifted her arm to shoulder height, as he reached into his back pocket for his handkerchief. She winced as he pressed the cloth against her wound.
“You’re trembling,” he murmured. “You needn’t be afraid of me. I would never hurt you.”
“I’m not afraid of you,” she countered, the corners of her lips turning up slightly. “But you just did.”
“Oh, well, yes, but not on purpose,” he pouted. She chuckled and breathed in fresh air mixed with his cologne.
“You smell very nice,” she said, cringing internally.
“Thank you,” he said, his eyes flicked to her mouth as she brushed the tip of her tongue slowly over the center of her lips. “I’ll be certain to wear it around you in the future.”
“I would like that.” She smiled at his grin but didn’t pull away. “Hi. I’m, uh…” She trailed off, forgetting her name in his blue eyes.
“Hiya, nice to meet you.” His gaze swept over her face as she winced again. “Goodness, what’s wrong with me,” he said, taking hold of her uninjured hand as well. “Come over here and sit down so I may take a look at that.”
“Oh, n-no, really, I’m fine.” Her ears were burning as the actor led her back to the stone wall a few feet away. “I just need to get the tire back on, and I’ll be on my way.” He looked unconvinced.
“Are you certain?”
“I’m sure. I crash all the time.” She glanced away, crossing her eyes, but her reward was his chuckle as he released her hands.
“As you wish, my lady.” He bent to retrieve the wheel. “I do believe we can work together on this. Just keep pressure on that cut, and you can tell me what to do.” He sat down and patted the spot next to him and with a sigh, she joined him. With her occasionally pointing as she explained, he was able to put the inner tube in the tire without twisting it and then the tire partially onto the rim. She tilted her head.
“Are you sure you’ve never done this? That was pretty quick.”
“Oh, I’m quite certain” he replied. “I haven’t been on a bicycle since I was in my teens.” He bumped his shoulder into hers. “I think I just have a good teacher.” Her ears were on fire as she bumped him back.
“Well, that’s a shame. It feels like you’re flying without leaving the ground.”
“I would imagine it takes going very fast to feel that way.”
She nodded, matching his grin. “Yes, or to be screaming down a descent.”
“I probably would be screaming,” he laughed. “I watched some of last year’s Tour de France. Some of those descents were bonkers.” She laughed and as they turned to each other at the same time, he winked. Her smile just widened, then reached for the wheel he held.
“Here, lemme me show you how–.” He playfully batted her hands away.
“I can do it,” he grumbled and gripped the wheel between his spread knees. She bit her lip as he became more and more frustrated with the tire. “One side of the tire pops off just as I get the other side on!” With one last push, the bit of rubber slipped over the edge and he let out a big breath. “How the hell do you do this in less than a minute?”
“They change the whole wheel out, not just the tire,” she told him, grinning.
“Now she tells me,” he muttered, massaging his palm with his thumb. She cleared her throat as she stood up.
“Now comes the real test, the inflation. As long as it’s not pinched, it won’t go boom,” she said, puffing out her cheeks. They both leaned away as she used a CO₂ cartridge to fill the inner tube, then chuckled when nothing happened. “The wheel should go back in pretty easy.” She held the derailleur arm down, slid the wheel into place and tightened the quick-release skewer. She then gave the pedals a spin to re-engage the chain with the teeth of the rings. “There. I thank you, kind sir.” She bowed her head to him.
“Not a problem.” He stood and dusted his hands off on his jeans.
She could feel his eyes following her as she went about to pick up the flat tube and bits of trash she’d left on the ground, stuffing them in the back pockets of her jersey.
“I’d like to thank you somehow for helping me.” She smirked as he quickly looked away, caught with his attention focused on her back end. “You didn’t have to stop, but I’m glad you did.”
“I am, too. I-I mean, that’s not necessary,” he replied as he bent over to pick up a wrapper that had blown against his boot.
Her smirk dissipated. Right. What was I thinking. The darkening clouds behind his head caught her attention. “Well, I’d better get going. Those clouds don’t look very nice.” She moved her bike to point in the opposite direction of his car then bent to retrieve her helmet.
“They most certainly do not,” he replied. When she turned back, he had extended his hand to her. “It was very nice to meet you.” She fumbled with her helmet as she transferred it to her left hand.
“Nice to meet you, too.” She winced as his fingers closed around her palm.
“Oh, sod it. I’m terribly–.” He loosened his grip on her hand but didn’t let go.
“No, no, I just…”
They stood very close on the side of the road, still holding each other’s hand. His gaze flicked to her lips when a passing lorry sounded its horn and they both jumped back, laughing. He ran his fingers through his hair.
“I, uh, I could drop you wherever you need to go.”
Her eyes widened. “You would do that? Uh, no. That’s okay.” She gave a crooked grin. “I’d lose all my street cred.”
He snorted. “Alright then. I’ll see you around.”
“I hope so.” She flashed a grin over her shoulder as she adjusted her helmet then clipped her left shoe into the pedal. As the bike started off with a push off with her right foot, she swung her leg over the seat in a smooth motion and accelerated down the road.

Loren stopped a few miles away to catch her breath. That was fucking Graham Atherton. Oh my god, what the hell was I thinking, asking him out? He’s fucking famous! She closed her eyes with a groan. How many times have I watched both of the Crusade of the Gods films or that King Philip miniseries? She covered her face with her hand. All those pictures of him on my Pinterest board?
Oh, I’m gonna throw up. She shook her head. No, no, calm down and get back to the center. Then you can freak out. A drop of water hit her amber sunglasses. Oh damn.

Author Bio:
Sara was born in the wee hours of a November night in New York City. When her family moved to a small borough in northwestern New Jersey, she had little choice but to move as well. Self-sufficiency is a tough thing for a toddler.
The dichotomy of being the middle child of three, but the only girl, was difficult, as typically no one really pays attention to a middle child. Mostly, Sara spent her time creating fanciful stories in her head when she should have been focused on other things, an issue that continues to this day.
Most of these stories have never been shared, let alone completed. This all changed in the spring of 2015, when Sara was encouraged by a friend to expand upon a short story she had accidentally emailed to him. The result is 'Wheeler’, a romantic, women's fiction/sport novel, which combines the author's romantic inclinations and her passion for cycling.
Sara currently resides in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA, with her loving husband and their son. She is a paralegal for a boutique law firm in Chester County, Pa, an avid road cyclist and indoor cycling instructor at a national chain.
Follow the author’s blog at or on Twitter @sarazalesky. She does a little dance every time someone ‘follows’ her on Twitter. Really.


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