Book Blast – Vicious Cycle by Katie Ashley

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Welcome to the Vicious Cycle book blast. Vicious Cycle is the first book in the Vicious Cycle series by Katie Ashley. See below for information on the book, buy links, and an exclusive excerpt.

Vicious Cycle (Vicious Cycle #1) by Katie Ashley

Vicious Cycle (Vicious Cycle #1) by Katie Ashley

About the Book
Title: Vicious Cycle
Series: Vicious Cycle #1
Author: Katie Ashley
Publisher: Penguin/Signet
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooksGooglePlay

Synopsis
New York Times bestselling author Katie Ashley revs up the danger and sexual tension in her brand-new Vicious Cycle romance series.

Deacon Malloy’s life is dedicated to the Hell’s Raiders motorcycle club. Tough, hard, and fast with his fists, he serves the group as sergeant at arms. But his devil-may-care approach to life is thrown for a loop when the five-year-old daughter he never knew existed lands on the club steps.

Alexandra Evans is devoted to all her students—but there’s always been something about Willow Malloy that tugs at her heart. There’s an aura of sadness about her, a girl in need of all the love Alexandra can give. When Willow stops coming to school, Alexandra’s search leads to a clubhouse full of bikers…and a father hell-bent on keeping his daughter always within sight.

The moment Deacon sees Alexandra, he has to have her in his bed—and he’s never met a woman yet who couldn’t be persuaded. No matter how attracted she is to Deacon, Alexandra refuses to be just another conquest. But it’s Deacon himself who could be seduced—into a brighter future for himself, his daughter, and the woman he’s falling for against all odds.

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Excerpt

As I entered the door, I took a deep breath to try and still my out-of-control nerves. Smoke hung heavy in the air, stinging my eyes and causing me to cough. Several men in leather biker cuts lounged on stools at the bar, nursing beers. Across from me, a heated pool game was taking place.

I took a few steps inside and then froze. “Are you lost, darlin’?” a big busted woman in a halter top asked.

“Uh…I’m looking for David Malloy,” I said.

Two men at the pool table whirled around. The shorter of the two, a tough but cute looking blond, cocked his head curiously at me. But then the moment my gaze locked on the other man, I knew he was Willow’s father. They had the same dark hair, soulful dark eyes, and heart-shaped face. David, however, had dark scruff covering his face. Although he was Rev’s brother, I didn’t see any resemblance between the two. Although he was shorter and slightly less built, David was just as good-looking as Rev. “Mr. Malloy?” I questioned, as I closed the distance between us.

He tossed the pool stick on the table. Taking a long drag on his cigarette, he then stubbed it out in an ashtray on the table. “What do you want?” he demanded.

Without even glancing around the room, I knew that every eye in the place was on us. “I really need to speak with you for a moment.”

His dark eyes narrowed as they raked over my body. Then the next thing I knew, he leapt at me, knocking me back into the wall. One of his hands came to grip my throat while his body pinned me in place. Fear like I had never known overwhelmed me, sending my heartbeat drumming wildly in my ears. It was so loud it felt like a cannon blast going off around me. “Please,” I murmured.

David glared at me as his thumb pressed harder into my throat. “They’re really falling down on their job at the academy.”

“E-Excuse m-me?” I stammered.

With a smirk, he replied, “Don’t they train you ATF bitches to hide your fear a little better? I mean, you’re practically pissing your pants right now, not to mention your heart is beating ninety to nothing.”

I shook my head slowly back and forth as I tried processing his words. “ATF? I don’t understand.”

He rolled his eyes. “A white-bred piece of ass comes waltzing into my clubhouse wanting to talk to me alone. It doesn’t take a fucking genius to realize you’re a Fed.”

A Fed? It took me a moment to process what he meant. Holy shit, he thought I worked for the government as an agent of some sort. Quickly, I replied, “No, I’m not.”

A voice came from him. “Deacon, man, you’re gonna get your ass jacked up even further for this.”

Glancing over his shoulder, Deacon said to the young, blond haired man, “Stay out of this, Bishop.”

Bishop held up his hands. “Fine. It’s your fucking funeral.”

David’s hand slid down my throat to the buttons on my dress. Glancing over his shoulder at the others, he questioned, “What do you bet she’s wired up under her tits?”

When his hands started to rip open my dress, I couldn’t hold back my scream. “No, stop! I’m not who you think I am. I swear!” I protested.

“Then just who the hell are you?” he demanded.

Before I could answer, a tiny voice came from behind us. “Miss Alex?”

The sound of Willow’s voice caused David to release his hold on my dress, but his body still kept me pinned to the wall. At that same moment, Rev entered the clubhouse. When he saw me, his eyes bulged, and he broke into a run to reach us. Grabbing David’s shoulders, he slung him away from me. “For fuck’s sake, Deacon, what the hell are you doing?”

“I’m giving this undercover ATF bitch what she deserves,” Deacon spat, taking a step back toward me.

“Christ, she’s not ATF,” Rev countered.

“Oh, then who the hell is she?”

“She’s my teacher…and my friend,” Willow answered in a small voice.

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Author Katie Ashley

Author Katie Ashley

About the Author
Katie Ashley is the New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon Best-Selling author of The Proposition Series, Runaway Train Series, as well as several New Adult and Young Adult titles. Her latest series, Vicious Cycle, has been picked up for publication by Penguin Books.

She lives outside of Atlanta, Georgia with her two very spoiled dogs. She has a slight obsession with Pinterest, The Golden Girls, Harry Potter, Shakespeare, Supernatural, Sons of Anarchy, Downton Abbey, Designing Women, and Scooby-Doo.

With a BA in English, a BS in Secondary English Education, and a Masters in English Education, she spent 11 1/2 years educating the Youth of America aka teaching MS and HS English until she left to write full time in December 2012.


She is represented by Jane Dystel of Dystel and Goderich Literary Management.

Where to Find Katie Ashley
 Goodreads | Website | NewsletterFacebook | TwitterPinterest | Instagram
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Release Day + Giveaway – Happily Ever NEVER by Jennifer Foor

Happily Ever Never Release Day

Today is release day for Happily Ever NEVER, the latest contemporary romance by award-winning author, Jennifer Foor. See below for information on the book, buy links, a couple of teasers and details on her giveaway.

Happily Ever NEVER by Jennifer Foor

Happily Ever NEVER by Jennifer Foor

About the Book
Title: Happily Ever NEVER
Author: Jennifer Foor
Release Date: May 31, 2015
Genre:
Contemporary Romance
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Kobo | Scribd | Inktera

Synopsis
I was about to marry the man of my dreams.

We had it all; a life that most could only wish for. I felt like the luckiest woman in the world.

Then, in the blink of an eye, it was taken from me.

Now I can’t grasp how to move forward.

I don’t even think I want to.

Whether I’m dead or alive, my happily ever after is NEVER going to happen.

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Happily Ever Never Teaser 1

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Author Jennifer Foor

Author Jennifer Foor

About the Author
Jennifer Foor is an award winning Contemporary Romance Author.

She’s best known for the Mitchell Family Series, which includes ten books.

She is married with two children and spends most of her time behind a keyboard, writing stories that come from her heart.

Where to Find Jennifer Foor
Goodreads | Website | NewsletterFacebook | Twitter | Amazon | Tsu

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Happily Ever Never Teaser 1

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Sale – The Cactus Creek Series by Violet Duke

Cactus Creek Series Sale

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Violet Duke, is having a series-wide sale on her Cactus Creek series. For one week, you can save 75% off the eBook prices. See blow for information on the books and buy links.

Love, Chocolate, and Beer (Cactus Creek #1) by Violet Duke

Love, Chocolate, and Beer (Cactus Creek #1) by Violet Duke

About Book 1
Title: Love, Chocolate, and Beer
Series: Cactus Creek #1
Author: Violet Duke
Release Date: January 31, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay

Synopsis
“A new must-read series from Violet Duke. Not only will you fall in love with the characters, you’ll fall in love with romance.” –New York Times Bestselling Author Kathleen Brooks

Romance has met its most unlikely match-up…

Luke Bradford is a chocolatier on a mission. After moving his chocolate shop, and newly single life, to the quirky town of Cactus Creek, Luke wants nothing more than to devote all his energy into making his business a success—by taking the romance market by storm. But his grand plans get thrown for a loop when he locks horns with the feisty beer-brewing beauty next door who calls his ‘romantic idealism’ a load of fairytale bull. Soon, driving the woman sparking nuts becomes another wickedly fun priority he simply can’t get enough of.

In his defense, she’s addictively easy to incite…and plain impossible to resist.

Beloved local brewmaster Dani Dobson is beyond riled up. It’s bad enough the new shop owner in town comes locked and loaded with both a distractingly rugged charm and sexy flashing dimples, but the whole only-in-the-movies variety of romance he’s selling—the kind her world has been crushed by before—is really doing a number on her allergy to unrealistic clichés. What’s worse, he’s created an annoyingly clever ad campaign that dubs ‘beer joints’ like hers as the “cave where romance goes to hibernate.” The nerve of that man.

Combustible chemistry or not, damn it, this means war. The stakes…very likely, her heart.

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Love, Diamonds, and Spades (Cactus Creek #2) by Violet Duke

Love, Diamonds, and Spades (Cactus Creek #2) by Violet Duke

About Book 2
Title: Love, Diamonds, and Spades
Series: Cactus Creek #2
Author: Violet Duke
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay

Synopsis
“Guaranteed feel-good, swoon-worthy romance!” — New York Times Bestselling Author Erin Nicholas

From the author of the New York Times bestselling Can’t Resist series, comes a fan-requested surprise addition to the USA Today bestselling Cactus Creek series.

A standalone companion novel to Love, Chocolate, and Beer: Rylan & Quinn’s story*

Surprise! The flood of fan mail worked, you guys! LOL. I love that you all fell so hard for Rylan & Quinn in Love, Chocolate, and Beer (I did too). *grin* I hope you enjoy their by-rabid-request parallel story that I just adored writing for you all. Happy reading!

She’s the Self-Proclaimed Wicked ‘Witch’ of the West

Fiercely independent single mom Quinn Christiansen is used to flying solo. She’s been raising her young son and figuring out how to pay his pediatric hospital bills on her own for years now. And truth is, Quinn loves the notorious reputation she’s already gained in town of having a heart too hard for any man to break. Because it is. Two carats too hard, to be exact. Courtesy of the two-carat heirloom she’d had to barter to cover her ex’s debts when he took off after she got pregnant. The day she’d promised herself never again.

So color her pissed when the universe goes and decides to make the one man in Cactus Creek not afraid of her natural ball-busting charm another gambling musician. A ridiculously handsome, wickedly gruff and gritty, pushy one at that.

He’s Everything She’s Sure She Can’t Possibly Want

Rylan Grey isn’t used to getting a woman so worked up…well, not in a bad way, at least. But somehow, his mere existence seems to annoy the guarded and gorgeous Quinn to no end. Surprising, really. A dirt-and-jeans landscaper by day with a regular gig to perform for a packed house by night, Rylan considers himself a decent guy. Sure, he’s made some gambles to get to where he’s at, but they were all of the life variety, with risks as important as the rewards, fate betting as the house, and not a single dollar in play.

While Rylan never wagers anything he’s not willing to lose—namely his heart—he’s more than ready to ante up once he sees past Quinn’s icy defenses. Quick as a firecracker, loyal to a fault, and sweet when no one’s looking, she could be his riskiest gamble yet.

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Love, Tussles, and Takedowns (Cactus Creek #3) by Violet Duke

Love, Tussles, and Takedowns (Cactus Creek #3) by Violet Duke

About Book 3
Title: Love, Tussles, and Takedowns
Series: Cactus Creek #3
Author: Violet Duke
Release Date: June 13, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay

Synopsis
“Heart-melting and guaranteed to make you laugh and cry before you finish the last page.” — New York Times Bestselling Author Sawyer Bennett

He’s a better fighter…but she has all the weapons.

After his combat injuries retire him from the military career he wasn’t ready to give up, battle-scarred Hudson Reyes now spends his new life as a movie industry fight scene and weapons specialist simply doing what he knows best: surviving. Until he meets her. The one woman who makes him want to live again.

Sweet, angel-faced Liana Lin is a scrappy little thing–an antique arms authenticator trained in martial arts who’s made a living turning the unthinkable demons of her past into the passions that fuel, and fill, her life.

He can’t get her out of his head.

Even though she’s everything he’s told himself he can’t have, Hudson can’t help but want her. She’s a fiery, unpredictable paradox with hidden wounds as deep as his own, and a wicked roundhouse kick he’s gotten mighty acquainted with. If one woman could sneak past the barbed wires he’s wrapped around his heart, it’d be Lia.

Now if only they could stop sparring long enough to find out….

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Love, Exes, and Ohs (Cactus Creek #4) by Violet Duke

Love, Exes, and Ohs (Cactus Creek #4) by Violet Duke

About Book 4
Title: Love, Exes, and Ohs
Series: Cactus Creek #4
Author: Violet Duke
Release Date: March 17, 2015
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay

Synopsis
He may very well be the perfect ex.

Isaac McKnight has had enough loss in his life to know never to take anything for granted. So when the perfectly-imperfect-woman-for-him puts an end to their relationship out of the blue, it’s Isaac that makes sure they remain friends. Now a year later, whether it’s at his gym or her brewpub, or the dog park they visit every weekend–though neither of them own a dog–he and Xoey are steadily getting sucked deeper into buddy-zone galaxy, with its dangerous proximity to watch-me-settle-down-with-someone-else abyss. It’s a reality he’s resigned himself to. That is…until one drunken confession changes everything.

She’s looking for the perfect oh. For Xoey Montenegro, history has taught her that sometimes, it’s Prince Charming who vanishes without a trace. And fairytale love? Highly overrated. Heck, give her a real and perfect ‘oh’ over that fantasy any day. So as far as rock-solid tequila-fueled plans for her love life go, coming up with a match-finding formula based on the qualities of the men responsible for her three most epic ohs seems brilliant. Except for the fact that one-third of her genius little man-quation is all about her friend Isaac. Actually, more than a third if Xoey were being honest with herself–which she’s not. Because full honesty would require thinking not just about how perfect Isaac really is, but also about how perfect the fourth epic oh she’s kept buried deep in her past once was.

An easy enough thing to keep ignoring…until her past isn’t past tense anymore.

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Author Violet Duke

Author Violet Duke

About the Author
NEW YORK TIMES & USA TODAY bestselling author Violet Duke is a former professor of English Education who is ecstatic to now be on the other side of the page writing wickedly fun contemporary romance novels.

Her NYT and USA Today bestselling books have been Top 10 bestsellers across the major eretailers both in the US and internationally.

When she’s not writing or feeding her book-a-day reading addiction, Violet enjoys tackling reno projects with her power tools, trying pretty much anything without reading the directions first, and cooking ‘special edition’ dishes that laugh in the face of recipes.

A born and raised island girl, she spends her days getting into creatively fun trouble in Hawai’i alongside her two cute kids (daughter Violet & son Duke) and similarly adorable husband.

Where to Find Violet Duke
Goodreads Website | Facebook | Twitter
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Blog Tour + Giveaway – Snapped: The Complete Series by Ketley Allison

Snapped Series Banner

Welcome to the next stop on the Snapped: The Complete Series blog tour. Snapped is Ketley Allison’s new adult contemporary romance series with a healthy side of mystery. Get all seven parts and start at the beginning. See below for information on the book series, buy links, and details on her giveaway.

Snapped: The Complete Series by Ketley Allison

Snapped: The Complete Series by Ketley Allison

About the Book
Title: Snapped: The Complete Series
Series: Snapped #1-7
Author: Ketley Allison
Release Date: May 25, 2015
Genre: Romantic Thriller/Mystery
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Synopsis
5 friends. A killer within. WHO WILL SNAP?

In nine weeks Charlie Miller’s life goes from absolute perfection to gruesome tragedy. All it takes is one night, one blade, and her boyfriend, best friend and new friends all either end up as suspects or dead.

But Charlie’s world of pro football golden boys, law school domination and New York City nightlife crumbles long before sudden death. Nate Westcott, a pierced, tattooed, charismatic lawyer, is a man she can’t have—but a seductive danger she can’t ignore. He’s cocky, infuriating, brilliant and wrong, making her question whether she really is the good girl she wants to be or more like the selfish killer everyone thinks she is.

And her body wants him in ways she’s not supposed to crave.

Despite her desire for it to be how it was during college, Charlie’s changing, and so are the friends she thought she knew. Everyone she cares about is at risk because one of them has darkness lurking beneath, and if Charlie wants to survive, she must find that single, poisonous soul.

Because they want Charlie out of the way. And to succeed, they’ll kill.

Start at the beginning. Question them all.

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Excerpt

“You’ve got some steel in those bones yet, girl, and I don’t want to see you pity yourself anymore. You need to take some of my spunkiness. You’re not going down for this, and it’s time you got pissed off for even being in the running,” Lara said.

Her words sent a zing through my body, a current of energy that set my mouth into firm line. “You’re right. I’m flopping around my apartment where somewhere, someone is rejocing over my impending doom.”

“So take that doom and fling it in their face. Assholes,” she muttered. “All of them.”

“He’s going through a terrible time, too,” I said, convincing myself.

“He’s an idiot.”

“He is.” I suddenly felt old, sunken in. “I don’t want to think about it, though.”

“Brainy.” She hugged me. “It’s okay to be angry. Yes someone was killed, but you’re alive. You have feelings, and you can hate him despite the circumstances.”

“I can’t.” I drifted out of her hold. “Or maybe I will. One day, when this is over. Until then, finding the killer—that’s what’s important.”

“Do you think it was him?”

“Hell if I know.” I scrubbed my face, surprised my skin didn’t crackle under the friction. “The only thing I know for certain is that it wasn’t me.”

“We all feel that, the four of us. It’s incredible, only knowing our innocence but not anyone else’s.” A line formed between her brows. “It’s torn us apart.”

“Grief has a way of doing that,” I said. “And God knows what a murder will do on top of it.”

She stood. “Be careful, okay? Because you can’t be sure about him.”

“Same with you.”

“Never fear, I’ll karate chop anyone who huddles under my bed at night.”

“Good. Keep yourself safe,” I said as I followed her to the door.

“Call me, okay?” she said. “For any reason.”

“I will. Thank you. For everything.”

“What’s a sidekick for if not to assist in taking down evildoers?” She pecked me on the cheek. “Love you. Happy dreams.”

After Lara left, I took out a spiral notebook and wrote.

I tabulated our motives.

I added a stranger’s motives. The unknown perpetrator who could be the answer.

I scribbled down pros, cons, and reasons each of us had to not only hurt, but end someone’s life.

And instead of easing my mind, it was becoming increasingly hard to swallow.

Because so far I hadn’t been able to cross any of my friends off this list. It didn’t matter how I framed it, the amount of arrows I drew, or the types of personalities I assessed. I came to the same conclusion each time.

We all had cause to kill.

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Author Ketley Allison

Author Ketley Allison

About the Author
Ketley Allison is a twenty-something (maybe almost thirty-something) author who believes that supernatural love shouldn’t stop at eighteen. She began her career by writing books as birthday presents for her friends (with her friend as the main character and opposite a super sexy lead, of course) before ending it in order to walk down a path she thought she was supposed to follow.

The writing bug never left her—and, in fact, would often bleed into the official papers she was supposed to write—so now Ketley’s putting down her suit and finally following her dream. While her friends are no longer the stars of her books, she still throws in bits and pieces of them into each and every one of her characters.

As a result, her books tend to focus a lot on friendships as well as love, because let’s be honest, friends are what really get you through—especially when your epic love turns into epic heartbreak.

Where to Find Ketley Allison
Goodreads Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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Giveaway
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Release Day – Black Horse (Breaking Black) by Addison Kline

Black Horse Blog Tour

Black Horse, the first book in Addison Kline’s Breaking Black series is finally available. See below for information on the book and buy links.

Black Horse (Breaking Black #1) by Addison Kline

Black Horse (Breaking Black #1) by Addison Kline

About the Book
Title: Black Horse
Series: Breaking Black #1
Author: Addison Kline
Release Date: May 28, 2015
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis
“What would you do if the only man you ever loved was the son of the man that murdered your parents?”

In Addison Kline’s fiery romantic suspense novel, Averi Ford’s future collides with her past with ferocious intensity. Averi Ford and Colt McClain have loved each other since they were children. They both come from a broken past. Colt’s mother died when he was young, and Averi’s parents were taken from her at the tender age of five.

The same man is responsible for both of their broken childhoods: Tom “Black Horse” McClain. He also happens to be Colt’s father. Now twenty years after the crimes that fractured both of their hearts, Black Horse is getting out of jail and he’s coming after the girl who testified against him: Averi, herself. Colt wants to hide her, but Averi refuses to run.

“Our past does not own us, and we owe it to our hearts to show the world that love can arise from the darkest of places. We just have to survive Black Horse to tell the tale.”

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Author Addison Kline

Author Addison Kline

About the Author
Addison Kline is an award winning, best selling novelist who writes mystery, psychological thrillers and romantic suspense novels.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, their sons and two rambunctious dogs. Addison has had a love affair with the written word since before she entered school.

Her grandmother taught her the glory of taking an adventure in the pages of a book. When Addison isn’t writing, you can find her reading, going for an adventure with her sons, or traveling with her family.

Where to Find Addison Kline
Goodreads Website | Facebook | Reader Group | Twitter
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Audiobook Now Available – Beyond the Consequences (Consequences Series) by Aleatha Romig

Beyond the Consequences is now available on Audible. If you have the eBook, the audiobook is only $2.99. Beyond the Consequences is the fifth book in New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Althea Romig’s, Consequences series, a suspenseful thriller about secrets and deception, passion and love, choices and consequences. See below for information on the book and buy links.

Beyond the Consequences Audiobook (Consequences #5) by Aleatha Romig

Beyond the Consequences Audiobook (Consequences #5) by Aleatha Romig

About the Book
Title: Beyond the Consequences
Series: Consequences #5
Author: Aleatha Romig
Narrator: Romy Nordlinger
Release Date: May 26, 2015
Genre:
Contemporary Romance
Links: Goodreads | AudibleAmazon

Synopsis
From New York Times bestselling author Aleatha Romig comes more of the suspenseful romantic thriller about secrets and deception, passion and love, choices and consequences.

Secrets and deception

As the pieces of their puzzle come together, Anthony and Claire Rawlings continue to defy the odds. Together they overcame an incomprehensible beginning. Apart they endured unimaginable heartache. Reunited with family and friends, their journey continues as they navigate a dangerous world where secrets threaten to destroy what they hold the most dear.

Passion and love

Tony and Claire turn up the heat as sparks fly, passion rages, and love prevails. With only a dark glance or devilish grin, the fire that sparked in an isolated suite, continues to burn. Though no longer willing to be less than Tony’s equal in life, behind closed doors only one man makes the rules.

Choices and consequences

The safety of the Rawlings family is not debatable, and only Phillip Roach can assure that they are not disappointed. Learn how he leads old friends and new associates through the dangerous world of delusion and revenge. The choices he makes for both the family and his personal life will have consequences.

Beyond the Consequences is a novel that began as the novella, A Peek Beyond the Consequences, in a limited-release anthology, Breathless. Since its publication in 2014, Beyond the Consequences has more than tripled in length with more action, heat, and secrets to reveal. Learn once and for all the identity and fate of the sender of the Rawls-Nichols letters as you join the Rawlings for a special surprise!

Theirs was a long, complicated story with a monster and a knight. What made their story unique was that these two players were the same person.—Aleatha Romig, CONVICTED

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Author Aletha Romig

Author Aletha Romig

About the Autor
Aleatha Romig is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who lives in Indiana. She grew up in Mishawaka, graduated from Indiana University, and is currently living south of Indianapolis. Together with her high-school sweetheart and husband of twenty-eight years, they’ve raised three children.

Before she became a full-time author, she worked days as a dental hygienist and spent her nights writing. Now, when she’s not imagining mind-blowing twists and turns, she likes to spend her time with her family and friends.

Her pastimes include reading and creating heroes/anti-heroes who haunt your dreams!

Where to Find Aleatha Romig
Goodreads | Website | NewsletterFacebook | Twitter | Amazon | Instagram | Pinterest | Tsu | Audible
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Book Review + Giveaway – Finding the Rainbow (Chilton Crosse) by Traci Borum

Finding the Rainbow (Chilton Crosse #2) by Traci Borum

Finding the Rainbow (Chilton Crosse #2) by Traci Borum

Synopsis
Holly Newbury’s life is on hold in the cozy English village of Chilton Crosse. While her friends are marrying, having children, and embarking on successful careers, Holly is raising her three younger sisters and working part time at the village art gallery.

Her life feels incomplete, but family is more important to her than anything. Then a film crew’s arrival galvanizes the community, and Holly becomes fast friends with Fletcher Hays, the movie’s love-shy American writer.

The production of an Emma film isn’t the only drama in town, though. Their father makes a choice that threatens everything she gave up her dreams for. Holly’s sisters endure growing pains.

And Fletcher plans to return to America as soon as filming is over, ruining any chance of their relationship blossoming further. After years of sacrificing for others, Holly must find the courage to take a risk on a future she never dared to expect.

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My Review
Finding the Rainbow is a return to my favorite English village, Chilton Crosse, the place I fell in love with while reading Painting the Moon. The story picks up not long after the end of Painting the Moon and is told from Holly’s point of view, Noelle’s gallery assistant. Holly dropped out of university six years before to help raise her younger sisters after the sudden, unexpected death of her mother.

Holly takes care of her sixteen-year-old twin sisters, Rosalee and Bridget, and twelve-year-old baby sister, Abbey while her father commutes to London where he runs a successful business. Assuming the roles of mother, caretaker, and older sister, doesn’t leave Holly with much time for herself, although she takes courses online and escapes to her grown up playhouse out back to read in peace.

When the BBC production of Jane Austen’s Emma comes to Chilton Crosse, Holly decides a book club centered around the same novel is a wonderful way to immerse the town into the production. Walking through town, she stumbles upon one of the screenwriters, Fletcher, and American from Texas, and coerces him into addressing the book club, launching one of the best platonic male/female friendships I’ve read in awhile. The camaraderie is evident from the start, rather than developing after the whole lust-at-first-sight thing which is common in most romances of late. This is a refreshing change from the ordinary.

Plot
The plot in Finding the Rainbow is more subtle than in Painting the Moon. Overall, it’s about Holly finding where she fits, and the romance plays a role in that, but it’s so much more than that. When Holly’s father makes a choice that changes her function within the family, she feels adrift and without purpose. This is no “I need a man to be happy” story, though. Her friendship with Fletcher is well-established before anything romantic evolves and he isn’t her saving grace. Strong subplots involve the making of the movie and a romance involving Holly’s boss, Frank. Additionally, Holly’s father, all three sisters, and even Fletcher have their own arcs.

World Building
The world building is almost stronger this time around than in Painting the Moon. Sure, we’re already well acquainted with Chilton Crosse, but Noelle was a recent transplant, whereas Holly was born and raised there. This time, we get to see it through the eyes of a lifelong resident, allowing us to gain a more intimate understanding of the village and it’s colorful inhabitants.

Characters
I love all the characters, and I think that’s where Traci Borum’s writing really shines. She creates unique, three-dimensional characters that come alive in believable ways. Each and every character is distinct, even twins, Rosalee and Bridget. Holly is not Noelle 2.0 either, nor is Fletcher a reboot of Adam.

Writing
Once again, the writing transports us to a quaint English countryside where life is slower paced and it rains. A freakishly lot. The pacing matches the laid-back lives of the characters that inhabit the pages.

Ending
I thought the ending did justice to the story, and I liked it more than the end of Painting the Moon, which I thought was well done. The characters remain true to themselves, which I think is key.

Top Five Things I enjoyed about Finding the Rainbow
1. Holly’s Personality. I love her outlook on life, the way she’s so resilient and doesn’t allow herself to wallow, even though she has plenty of reason to.

2. Fletcher. I love that he was always a friend first to Holly. He could have been the typical American guy, looking for a quick lay and short-term romance until he left, but he never went that route.

3. Rosalee. Of Holly’s sisters, she was my favorite. Her passion and tender heart made her someone I’d want to befriend if she was a real person.

4. Emma. While not my favorite Austen novel (that would be Sense and Sensibility) I do love the Jane Austen themes that wind through both of Traci Borum’s novels.

5. Grown Up Playhouses. I love how Holly turned her childhood playhouse into and adult retreat. I’d kill for someplace like that in my own backyard!

Bottom Line
Finding the Rainbow is a sweet story that is similar in some way to Painting the Moon, but has a little Notting Hill twist with a dash of The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: Finding the Rainbow
Series:  Chilton Crosse #2
Author: Traci Borum
Release Date: March 24, 2015
Pages: 300
Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay

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Author Traci Borum

Author Traci Borum

About the Author
Traci Borum is a writing teacher and native Texan. She’s also an avid reader of women’s fiction, most especially Elin Hilderbrand and Rosamunde Pilcher novels. Since the age of 12, she’s written poetry, short stories, magazine articles, and novels.

Traci also adores all things British. She even owns a British dog (Corgi) and is completely addicted to Masterpiece Theater–must be all those dreamy accents! Aside from having big dreams of getting a book published, it’s the little things that make her the happiest: deep talks with friends, a strong cup of hot chocolate, a hearty game of fetch with her Corgi, and puffy white Texas clouds always reminding her to “look up, slow down, enjoy your life.”

Where to Find Traci Borum
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

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Book Release – Love and Decay Season 3, Episode 11 by Rachel Higginson

Love and Decay Release Day

Episode 12 of Season 3 of Love and Decay, the zombie apocalypse serial by Rachel Higginson, is now available. This novella series follows Regan and Haley as they try to survive the zombie apocalypse, meeting up with a group of five brothers and a sister who decide to join them. Love and Decay is about the end of the world and finding someone to share it with.

Love and Decay Season 3, Episode 12 by Rachel Higginson

Love and Decay Season 3, Episode 12 by Rachel Higginson

About the Book
Title: Love and Decay, Season 3, Episode 12
Series: Love and Decay #3-12
Author: Rachel Higginson
Release Date: May 25, 2015
Publisher: Reckless Siren Publishing
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian/Adventure
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis
Zombies- as if that wasn’t enough to ruin any girl’s dream of a happily ever after.

In the conclusion of Love and Decay, Season Three, Reagan and friends have made it to Colombia, but their fight out of hell is not over.

Starving, dehydrated and out of ammo, the group is at their lowest. Even though they’ve reached their final destination, there is not much hope that they can survive the night. Exhaustion and grief have debilitated them until they are willing to make desperate, dangerous decisions. Decisions that might very well be the end of them.

Is there hope at the end of the world? Can Reagan and her loved ones find the safety and security they’ve been searching for over the last three years? Or will the Zombie Apocalypse finally destroy them?

Love and Decay, Episode Twelve is the final episode in Season Three of a novella series in a Dystopian Romance about Zombies, the end of the world and finding someone to share it with.

This story takes place over multiple episodes, with a release date every two weeks. Approximately 20,000 words.

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Author Rachel Higginson

Author Rachel Higginson

About the Author
Rachel Higginson is the creator of The Star-Crossed Series, Love & Decay Novella Series, The Starbright Series, The Siren Series, Bet on Us and the soon to be released, The Five Stages of Falling in Love! She is also the co-creator of the podcast, “Zach & Rachel Take Over the World.”

She was born and raised in Nebraska, but spent her college years traveling the world. She fell in love with Eastern Europe, Paris, Indian Food and the beautiful beaches of Sri Lanka, but came back home to marry her high school sweetheart.

Now she spends her days raising four amazing kids. In the few spare moments she has to herself, she is either reading for hours on end or writing worlds of her own.

Where to Find Rachel Higginson
GoodreadsWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr

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Teaser 2 – The Consequence of Revenge (Consequence Series) by Rachel Van Dyken

Check out the latest teaser for The Consequence of Revenge by New York Times bestselling author, Rachel Van Dyken. The Consequence of Revenge, the second book in her new adult romance series, Consequence, releasing next month.

The Consequence of Revenge (Consequence #2) by Rachel Van Dyken

The Consequence of Revenge (Consequence #2) by Rachel Van Dyken

About the Book
Title: The Consequence of Revenge
Series: Consequence #2
Author: Rachel Van Dyken
Release Date: June, 2015
Genre: New Adult Romance
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis
After losing his best friend to another guy, the notoriously too-confident Max Emory suddenly feels lost. He may have devastatingly good looks, an abundance of charm, and a claim to one of the biggest hotel empires around, but he has no ambition anymore.

So when his fed-up friends decide they’ve had enough of his moping, they sign him up to be the next bachelor on the reality series Love Island.

And between his pride and his forged signature on an ironclad contract, Max just can’t say no.

Now he’s stranded in paradise with twenty-four women, one terrifying goat, and Becca, the breathtaking barista who already turned him down back home.

The closer Max gets to Becca, the more determined he becomes to win her over.

As she gets to know him better, things start heating up.

But is Becca really after Max’s heart—or is she after the cash prize she could claim once the cameras stop rolling?

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The Consequence of Revenge Teaser 2

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Author Rachel Van Dyken

Author Rachel Van Dyken

About the Author

 Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances.

When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband and their snoring Boxer, Sir Winston Churchill. She loves to hear from readers!

You can follow her writing journey at www.rachelvandykenauthor.com

Where to find Rachel Van Dyken
Goodreads Website | NewsletterFacebook Twitter | Amazon
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Release Day + Giveaway – Getting Played by Mia Storm

Getting Played Release Day

Today is release day for Getting Played, the second book in Mia Storm’s a new adult contemporary romance series, Jail Bait. To celebrate the upcoming release, both Getting Played and Getting Dirty, the first book in the series, are on sale for just $0.99. See below for information about the book, buy links, a couple of teasers, and details on her giveaway.

Getting Played (Jail Bait #2) by Mia Storm

Getting Played (Jail Bait #2) by Mia Storm

About the Book
Title: Getting Played
Series: Jail Bait #2
Author: Mia Storm
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Release Date: March 28, 2015
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | iBooks | Kobo

Synopsis
Rules of the game:
1) Never underestimate your opponent
2) Avoid personal fouls
3) Score early and often
4) Play or get played

Coach Marcus Leon has always played by the rules…until he meets Addaline Grace, the seventeen-year-old senior transfer on his Oak Crest High water polo team. Addie changes all the rules, mostly because she doesn’t play any games. But as off limits as she is, the more Marcus discovers about Addie, the more he finds himself…and the more he questions whether Addie Grace might just be worth risking everything for.

For Addie, water polo is anger management. She’s driven and focused because it keeps her mind off other things…like the fact she destroyed her family. Her game plan is to keep her head down and graduate so she can leave her father and the crappy town he dragged her to in her wake. But when what starts as friendly completion with Marcus turns into more than a game, Addie has to decided if she’s willing to face down her demons…and possibly ruin the man she may or may not be falling in love with in the process.

What happens when the only thing you need is the one thing you can’t have?

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Getting Played Teaser 3

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Getting Dirty (Jail Bait #1) by Mia Storm

Getting Dirty (Jail Bait #1) by Mia Storm

About Book 1
Title: Getting Dirty
Series: Jail Bait #1
Author: Mia Storm
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Release Date: March 23, 2015
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | GooglePlay

Synopsis
Dirty
A poem by Blaire Leon

If sex is dirty, why would I do it with someone I love?
If sex is dirty, then didn’t we all come from the dirt?
What if I like the dirt?
What if I want to get dirty?
What if I want to roll in the mud until I’m so fucking filthy that I’ll never be clean again?

When twenty-five-year-old graduate assistant Caiden Brenner asked Blaire Leon how old she was, she said she was a senior. He chose to believe she meant in college. They connect over Lord Byron’s Don Juan and, as their conversations become increasingly thicker with sexual innuendo, Caiden finds himself obsessing over a totally off-limits undergrad who’s bold, beautiful, brilliant, and one of the most passionate poets he’s ever met.

But it turns out Blaire hasn’t been totally honest. She’s the seventeen-year-old valedictorian of her high school class, taking courses at Sierra State while awaiting her acceptance to Stanford.

Will Caiden get too deeply into Blaire to back away before he finds out the truth? Or will their connection be enough to seduce him into risking his entire future on Jail Bait?

“A thousand and one feels….Getting Dirty is a thrilling, tantalizing forbidden romance you do not want to miss! I not only devoured this book, it devoured me right back!”–Katy Evans, New York Times Bestselling author of REAL

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Getting Played Teaser 4

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About the Author
Mia Storm is a hopeless romantic who is always searching for her happy ending. Sometimes she’s forced to make one up. When that happens, she’s thrilled to be able to share those stories with her readers. She lives in California and spends much of her time in the sun with a book in one hand and a mug of black coffee in the other, or hiking the trails in Yosemite. Connect with her online at MiaStormAuthor.blogspot.com , on Twitter at @MiaStormAuthor, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MiaStormAuthor.

Where to Find Mia Storm
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Cover Reveal – Library Jumpers by Brenda Drake

Entangled Teen and author, Brenda Drake, are revealing the cover to Library Jumpers, her latest young adult fantasy romance. Library Jumpers releases January 5, 2016. See below for information on the book and a pre-order link.

Library Jumpers by Brenda Drake

Library Jumpers by Brenda Drake

About the Book
Title: Library Jumpers
Author: Brenda Drake
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: January 5, 2016
Genre:
Young Adult Fantasy/Romance
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis
Gia Kearns would rather fight with boys than kiss them. That is, until Arik, a leather clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum, suddenly disappears.

While examining the book of world libraries he abandoned, Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his Sentinels—magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books—rescue them from a demonic hound.

Jumping into some of the world’s most beautiful libraries would be a dream come true for Gia, if she weren’t busy resisting her heart or dodging an exiled wizard seeking revenge on both the Mystik and human worlds.

Add a French flirt obsessed with Arik and a fling with a young wizard, and Gia must choose between her heart and her head, between Arik’s world and her own, before both are destroyed.

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Author Brenda Drake

Author Brenda Drake

About the Author
Brenda Drake, the youngest of three children, grew up an Air Force brat and the continual new kid at school until her family settled in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Brenda’s fondest memories growing up is of her eccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her strong love for storytelling. So it was only fitting that she would choose to write young adult and middle grade novels with a bend toward the fantastical.

When Brenda’s not writing or doing the social media thing, she’s haunting libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops or reading someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment).

Where to Find Brenda Drake
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter
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Book Blitz + Giveaway – Light (Dream Casters Series) by Adrienne Woods

Light Book Blitz

Welcome to the book blitz for Light, the first book in the young adult fantasy series, Dream Casters by Adrienne Woods. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.

Light (Dream Casters #1) by Adrienne Woods

Light (Dream Casters #1) by Adrienne Woods

About the Book
Title: Light
Series: Dream Casters #1
Author: Adrienne Woods
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Fire Quill Publishing
Release Date: May 29, 2015
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis
Mr. Sandman, send me a dream, ta da da da…..Seventeen year old Chasity Blake knows the Sandman is just a silly children’s story parents tell their children to get them to sleep. At least she thought it was, until the day a mysterious, light golden sand appeared in her hands during a high school prank that went horribly wrong. A sand that has the power to send anyone it touches into a deep, sound sleep.

Fearing she had lost her mind, Chasity soon discovers the shocking truth of her heritage – she is a Dream Caster. Chasity was never supposed to be raised on the Domain, or what humans call Earth and she is forced to return to her true birth place, Revera – the world of Dreams.

However, in Revera there is no balance between good, the Light Casters, and darkness, the Shadow Casters, and Chasity is caught square in the middle. She soon learns that there is no place for anyone containing both the light and the darkness within them, and the shocking truth that if anyone in Revera ever discovered her shadow self, Chasity would be thrown into the Oblivion – the world of Nightmares.

Dreams are always more than they seem, and this time Chasity is going to discover just how different they can be.

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Dream Caster Teaser One

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Excerpt #1

Dogs could always see them, where humans couldn’t. He had always assumed the dust worked differently for animals. He used to toy with them, he’d told Zac once it was a good work out, before hitting them with a dose of dust that would kick them out for at least half a day. Against these hounds, however, his golden dust didn’t just put them to sleep, it put them to sleep forever.

“Take my bag,” Graig spoke softly reaching out his had.

“I’m not leaving you, I can fight.”

“These are your family. It’s enough that you have to know that they will die, I’m not going to let you kill them.”

“I don’t give a shit, Graig. You are my family now, you and bean, nobody else.”

Graig smiled. Ever since they’d found out that she was pregnant, she’d called the fetus, bean. Spinning her in his arms, he gave her a hard kiss and handed her a celestian, an oval shaped gel pendant that would take her and the child to their save haven, incase he didn’t make it, and a small green bag filled with his dust. “Just in case,” he spoke, swallowing the lump in his throat.

“There is no incase, you make it, you hear?”

She planted a hard passionate kiss on his lips. The kind that filled him with confidence, he had no doubts not even in that second that would have given away their hiding place.

“Vinicola, are you sure you want to do this?” One of the Shadow Casters mounted on the back of a hound growled. His voice made Graig’s skin crawl. Everything about them screamed the word evil. How that power ran through this beautiful creature standing fiercely next to him, was beyond his knowledge.

Graig surveyed the Caster before him. His hair was wild, hung to his shoulders, and was pure white, just like his love. He must be her family, but how close he didn’t know. Yet, the man didn’t look anything like her. He was big, brought shoulders, and dirty.

Vinicola laughed, the one that Graig hated. It didn’t sound anything like her, but it was the only language she knew to speak, a sound that told them if they killed her, they would feel her father’s wrath. This was purely a retrieval mission for her, but a wipe out for him. “Sibian, you can tell him I’m done with Oblivion, and nothing you do will ever drag me back to that wretched hell hole you love so much.”

“Your mind seems a bit clouded, dear,” the Shadow Caster said. “Let me refresh it.” He lifted up his hands and let his dust flow freely, and four more Shadow Hounds appeared out of his dark sand.

Graig whipped his bow from his shoulder and started to shoot invisible arrows that would take shape through his golden dust.

The hounds that were hit fell into useless heaps of black sand. Vinicola ripped of her whip that had been securely around her waist, and did the same. The other hounds exploded into the sky, but they weren’t destroyed, they would reemerged a couple of minutes later, whole once again.

It was useless for her to fight, she only gave him a couple of minutes as she was still one of them, even though she’d made the choice to leave in her heart.

Graig made sure he used all of the minutes she gave him and when it was time for the full on fight, they both took on two at a time.

He conjured his sword for full on battle and started slashing away.

“Graig!” Vinicola’s voice yelled in panic. When he found her she was captured, with a huge Shadow Caster’s arm around her neck.

In those few seconds he felt defeated, their plan was ruined and he knew he wouldn’t get a second chance with her.

As he stood there, an ax hit him straight in the back, the dark sand ripping his veins inside his body apart. It hurt like hell, and he could feel his golden sand starting to seep out of him. Vinicola’s shrill scream pierced the night air around them.

He wasn’t going to survive this, but he’d made the choice for the love of his life and their unborn child.

He took a celestian out of his pocket, stood up with a mother of an ax inside of him and mustered all the strength he had. He had only moments to act before the others would come, or worse take her away.

He threw the celestian hard on the ground near her feet and yelled the word “San Francisco” as loud as he could. In an instant, a bright light blinded all the Shadow Casters and he watched her close her eyes tightly.

She knew what to do and he watched as she, and the Shadow Caster who had his arm around her neck, disappeared.

The Shadow Caster would die. His DNA wasn’t attached to the celestian, and he wouldn’t make the trip. He had won. Just then another object sliced through his neck and he fell on the floor, the last images he saw was a body without a head before everything went black.

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Dream Caster Teaser Two

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Author Adrienne Woods

Author Adrienne Woods

About the Author

Adrienne Woods was born and raised in South Africa, where she still lives with my husband, and two beautiful little girls. She always knew that I was going to be a writer but it only started to happen about four years ago, now she can’t stop writing.

In her free time, If she gets any because Moms don’t really have free time, she loves to spend time with friends, if it’s a girls night out, or just a movie, she’s a very chilled person.

Her writing career is starting with Firebolt, book one with the Dragonian Series, there will be four books in total and two to three books that is about the stories taking place inside The Dragonian Series.

She writes in different Genres, have a woman’s fiction called the Pregnancy Diaries, but it would be published under another name. And then she has a paranormal series, called The Aswang series. There are about ten novels in that one, and another two, The Dream Casters series and Guardian of Monsters, which will be a NA paranormal fiction.

Where to Find Adrienne Woods
Goodreads | Website | BlogDragonian Series | Fire QuillFacebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
$10 Amazon Gift Card
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Blog Tour – Excerpt + Giveaway – Captured by You (Until You Find Me) by Amber Hart

Captured by You Release Day

Welcome to the next stop on the Captured by You blog tour. Captured by You is the sequel to Amber Hart’s new adult contemporary Romance, Until You Find Me. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt and details on her giveaway.

Captured by You (Until You Find Me #2) by Amber Hart

Captured by You (Until You Find Me #2) by Amber Hart

About the Book
Title: Captured by You
Series: Until You Find Me #2
Author: Amber Hart
Publisher: Flirt
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

Synopsis
In the passionate, gut-wrenching sequel to Amber Hart’s Until You Find Me, Raven and Jospin must fight for each other in a world where love is never safe—and power is deadly.

Raven, a college girl from Michigan, came to the jungles of Cameroon searching for closure. Falling for Jospin, a handsome, charismatic hunter with dark secrets of his own, was never part of the plan. But despite their differences, their attraction is addictive, as exhilarating and wild as the rain forest itself—and also as dangerous.

For the sake of both their lives, their heated affair must remain a secret. Raven wants justice for her conservationist father’s death; to help her, Jospin must turn his back on his own father and the only life he has ever known. Together they risk being hunted by a band of ruthless poachers, but they take the chance anyway, working to bring down their enemies between each stolen kiss.

But when one slip puts Raven’s life at stake, Jospin knows he must act. He has captured Raven’s heart—now can he set her free?

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Captured by You Teaser 1

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Excerpt #3

“I need to paint.”

This is what I tell Clovis as we head downstairs for breakfast.

“Can it wait?” he asks.

“No.”

My reply is quick. Honest. No, it cannot wait. My feet leave the marble stairs and sink into the plush carpet of the living room. There are other pack members at the table, eating already. I don’t see Mr. Tondjii, to my surprise. Clovis bends to kiss me on the head and delivers the gift of a few words that no one else can hear.

“He’s tending to business. Eat.”

So, Mr. Tondjii won’t be down here with us. My relief is immediate. Until I see Mattius watching me.

Clovis takes my hand and leads me to the selection of food on the oversize island in the middle of the kitchen. It’s a buffet. Fruit and breads and, on a warmer, something that looks like Cream of Wheat. I help myself to fruit salad and a piece of bread peppered with nuts and seeds and grain, enough to energize me.

We take a seat at the table, though it makes me nervous. We passed an older woman—another poacher’s wife, Clovis informed me—on the way down the stairs, but aside from her and Mrs. Tondjii, I’m the only female here. Definitely the only one currently at the table. I can only guess where the clothes that have been provided for me came from. Ex-girlfriends? Daughters? There was more than enough to choose from, but I tried to stick to the most basic of items.

I am very aware of the way the other men stare at me like I’m what they want to be eating instead of the plethora of food spread out before them. Clovis doesn’t seem fazed. I guess looking is okay—maybe the least of all evils here.

I keep my eyes downcast. Eat my food quickly and listen to them speak in a language I don’t understand. I have a feeling that Mattius is still staring at me, but I don’t check to see if my intuition is right.

“What now?” I ask Clovis, taking the last bite of bread. My plate is clean.

“How does a trip into the jungle sound?” Clovis asks, like it’s no big deal. Just some time to kill, so why not.

A thrill kicks through me. I hold tight to my energy. I can’t let my voice betray how much I like that idea.

I shrug. “Whatever you want.”

Clovis pats my leg under the table. It feels like he’s telling me, Good job.

“I don’t have patrol until tonight. You can come if you want. Otherwise, we’re good,” Clovis says, laying out the plan.

I wonder if the other men will mind. Joining Clovis seems better than staying at the house with them.

“Fine with me,” I say.

I brave a glance at Mattius and find him looking right back at me, as I suspected.

“What are you doing today?” I ask. I think about how I’m supposed to be one of them, getting along with the others.

“Don’t know,” Mattius replies. There is a hint of surprise in his voice. “Why?”

I continue to look directly at him. “Didn’t know if maybe you wanted to come into the forest with us.”

He definitely looks surprised now. I almost smile.

“Unless you wanted to go alone?” I ask Clovis suggestively. Like maybe we would be doing things in the forest. Passionate things.

This must be what sells it for Mattius, because he says, “No, thanks. I’m fine here. You guys have fun.”

Good thing. I don’t know what I would have done if he’d actually said yes. It was a gamble.

I won.

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Captured by You Teaser 2

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Author Amber Hart

Author Amber Hart

About the Author
Amber Hart grew up in Orlando, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia. She now resides on the Florida coastline with family. When unable to find a book, she can be found writing, daydreaming, or with her toes in the sand.

She’s the author of BEFORE YOU, AFTER US, UNTIL YOU FIND ME, and sequel to UNTIL YOU FIND ME (untitled as of yet). Represented by Beth Miller of Writers House.

Where to Find Amber Hart
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

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Blog Tour – Excerpt + Giveaway – Shattered Duty (Deady Ops) by Katie Reus

Shattered Duty Blog Tour

Welcome to the next stop on the Shattered Duty blog tour. Shattered Duty is the third book in the Deadly Ops Series by New York Times bestselling author, Katie Reus. I have an excerpt for you today. See below for information on the book, the exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.

Shattered Duty (Deadly Ops #3) by Katie Reus

Shattered Duty (Deadly Ops #3) by Katie Reus

About the Book
Title: Shattered Duty
Series: Deadly Ops #3
Author: Katie Reus
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Signet
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis
A new novel from the author of Bound to Danger who “has the amazing ability of pulling the reader onto the front lines of the action and drama.” (The Reading Café)

When his wife was murdered two years ago, Special Agent Levi Lazaro turned his back on everything he cared about. Ever since, he has thought of nothing but vengeance. Now he’s finally uncovered the identities of those who killed his wife—and he’s ready to destroy them at any cost. He won’t let anything stand in his way—not even a beautiful NSA agent on a mission of her own.

Special Agent Selene Wolfe prides herself on being the best. Her fearlessness and quick-thinking make her the perfect person to take down a deadly terrorist cell. But she needs Levi’s help, and the moment he shows up, Selene knows her objectivity—and her heart—are in trouble.

As the two strike an uneasy alliance, Levi finds himself tormented by his desire for Selene—a feeling he thought long dead. But when their mission takes an unexpected turn, he finds himself faced with an impossible choice: either put aside his need for revenge, or save the woman who’s reawakened his soul…

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Excerpt #9

Shattered Duty Excerpt

Copyright © 2015 Katie Reus

Hell, she’d probably had a hairpin tucked in her hair. And that was the kind of thing he should have searched for. But the thought of getting too close to her, of running his hands over her body made him ache in the best and worst way. She was walking, talking temptation. He didn’t like it. It made him feel guilty, even if it shouldn’t.

She peeked her head around the corner of the shower, her long blond hair dripping water. She held out her hands and bent one of her thumbs back completely to her wrist and grinned. “Double-jointed thumbs.” Giving him what he could describe only as a cheeky grin, she disappeared behind the glass.

He started to respond when he spotted his bottle of vodka next to the sink, empty. It had been half full before. “What the fuck? You dumped out my vodka?”

She peeked her head out again, her hair soapy from shampoo. Her pale eyes narrowed at him. “Yep. If we’re working together, you’re sober. I won’t work any other way.”

“It’s not like I’m drinking on the job.” He hadn’t touched it before he’d left for Shah’s party. But he drank at night. It was the only way he could get to sleep. Vodka took that edge off.

She raised one of her perfect eyebrows. “I don’t care. You either deal with my rules or don’t work with me. I don’t have to take you with me tomorrow.”

Which brought up another interesting point. “You think you owe me because of something . . . Meghan did for you?” It felt weird and a little therapeutic to say his dead wife’s name. For so long he’d just thought about her but he hadn’t been able to talk about her to anyone. Even if it was pathetic, he was starved to talk to someone who knew who he was. The real him.

Selene moved back behind the glass and he could see a blurred outline of her rinsing her hair out. “You did a lot for your country, Levi.”

Okay, that wasn’t an answer, but he wasn’t going to push. Instead he went to the toilet seat, sat on the closed lid and leaned back. “You could have left.”

“Are you going to keep saying obvious things all night?” she asked, her voice light and teasing.

A rusty laugh escaped, the sound shocking him as it rattled in his chest. “Fine. Why didn’t you leave?”

“I think you’ll be a valuable asset and you’ve been off the reservation for two years. Considering the people you’ve worked with—and yes, we know about some of them, but probably not all—your cover will be solid, which means you’ll give me more credibility. My ID might be solid but I haven’t done many meets. But if you give me a reason, I’ll cut you out of this op and not lose any sleep over it.”

Setting his weapon on the counter, he put his hands behind his head and leaned back. For the first time in years he felt like his old self. Not completely because he’d never be that man again, but he felt almost . . . normal. He grasped the illusion, knowing he’d have it for only a few minutes or maybe even hours. “How’d you get involved with Wesley? You look too young.”

“How does anyone get recruited?” she asked vaguely.

He snorted. “Fair enough. How old were you when he recruited you?”

A long silence stretched between them and he eventually realized she wasn’t going to answer. When the water shut off, he jerked upright and stood. Sitting here, he’d been trying to convince himself he didn’t care that she was naked behind the frosted glass. The thought of what color her nipples might be or . . . damn it, what was wrong with him? It had been so long since he’d felt real attraction to a woman, not just noticed her in the physical sense. It wasn’t as if he was blind because his wife had died, but his dick hadn’t cared about any woman, period. Now it decided to wake up—with a woman he was going to be working with. Unless of course she decided to betray him to Wesley. That made him frown even more. “I’ll give you privacy,” he muttered and strode from the room unsteadily. He shut the door behind him with more force than necessary, then cringed at himself.

As he stripped off his jacket he realized his laptop had been moved. It was only a half inch or so, but he was particular about the way he left his things. That kind of training had been ingrained into him long ago. Turning around, he whipped open the door and froze.

Selene was bent over drying her legs but she jerked up at his entrance. Taking him by surprise, she turned toward him, covering her breasts with one arm and snapped her towel at him lightning quick, hitting him right in the eye.

“Shit,” he yelled, jumping back holding one hand up defensively while covering his stinging eye. “I wasn’t—”

“I knew you were a pervert,” she shouted and before he was able to fully retreat something hard hit him in the middle of the chest. A bar of soap.

“Selene—”

She slammed the door in his face.

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Author Katie Reus

Author Katie Reus

About the Author
Katie Reus is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Red Stone Security series, the Moon Shifter series and the Deadly Ops series.

She fell in love with romance at a young age thanks to books she pilfered from her mom’s stash. Years later she loves reading romance almost as much as she loves writing it. However, she didn’t always know she wanted to be a writer.

After changing majors many times, she finally graduated with a degree in psychology. Not long after that she discovered a new love. Writing. She now spends her days writing dark paranormal romance and sexy romantic suspense.

Where to Find Katie Reus
Goodreads Website | NewsletterTwitter | Facebook

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Giveaway
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Book Review + Giveaway – Painting the Moon (Chilton Crosse) by Traci Borum

Painting the Moon (Chilton Crosse #1) by Traci Borum

Painting the Moon (Chilton Crosse #1) by Traci Borum

Synopsis
When Noelle Cooke inherits a quaint English cottage and an art gallery from her famous Aunt Joy, she welcomes a departure from her San Diego routine.

But the lure of the Cotswolds, combined with a locked cottage room and a revealing journal, entice her to stay and discover more, including a way to save the gallery from financial ruin. And that means remaining in England.

When her childhood sweetheart, Adam Spencer, begins work on a restoration project in Noelle’s village, their friendship blossoms. But as her feelings for Adam deepen, she struggles with memories of what might have been and yearns for a future once thought lost.

Faced with a life-altering revelation Aunt Joy took to her grave and a wrenching choice regarding the man she loves, Noelle could lose far more than her heart.

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My Review
For a San Diegan who loves England enough to consider moving there, Painting the Moon spoke to me in more than ways than one. I had to Google pictures of the Cotswolds, but once I did, I knew I’d be all over that opportunity if I was Noelle. Noelle is in a dead-end job, although she lives on the beach, so that’s almost a wash. But she has no love life and a jerk of a boss, so not sure the beach house wins out any more. When her great aunt passes away, leaving her entire estate to Noelle, she flies to England to handle the legalities.

The longer she’s in the English countryside, the less she’s in a hurry to return to her mundane job and her dreamy beach house. Her aunt’s cottage with all of its divine charm is a pretty good substitute. But it rains a lot in England, so we’re back to even. Until Noelle discovers a secret stash of never-before-seen paintings by her famous-artist aunt, and suddenly Noelle has more money that she knows what to do with.

Having spent her summers visiting her aunt and grandmother in her teens, Noelle rekindles her childhood friendships with her two best British friends, Jill and her teenage crush, Adam Spencer. Noelle realizes she still has feelings for Adam, but he’s engaged to someone else. Still, the draw of Chilton Crosse is stronger than San Diego and she decides to stay. The story unfolds slowly, like a lazy summer day, as Noelle adapts to her new life, and uncovers more secrets her aunt has kept hidden away for decades.

Plot
The main plot is likely the romance between Noelle and Adam, but the mysteries around Aunt Joy are almost neck-and-neck with the romance. The romance is subtle and there is almost zero heat, but there is a sweetness that more than makes up for it.

World Building
The author does an incredible job with scene setting. She places the reader in the heart of the small village outside of Bath. It’s easy to picture the sights, hear the sounds, smell the fresh air. She captures a small village atmosphere that feels like something right out of Waking Ned Devine.

Characters
The cast is intriguing, everyone from Noelle, the transplanted American, to the town full of eclectic characters, to childhood besties Jill and Adam, and even Aunt Joy, who we only know through her journal entries and paintings. There’s a complexity to each one, even Mac the caretaker, that makes the story come alive in a colorful way.

Writing
The writing is fluid and nuanced, painting the scenery with words and placing three-dimension characters in that scenery to act out a layered story. The book seems to straddle the fence between woman’s fiction and literary, never quite landing on either side of that fence, making it unique.

Ending
The ending wraps up all loose ends in a satisfactory way, bringing closure to the story in the way you’d close the door of your English countryside cottage at the end of the day and plop down on your favorite couch with a cup of tea. It’s soothing, comforting, and warm.

Top Five Things I enjoyed about Painting the Moon
1. Joy’s Paintings. The story of Joy’s hidden past, revealed through paintings was a clever tool for working in backstory, one I’ve not seen used before.

2. Adam. From unsure teen to rekindled love interest, he has this adorkable vibe about him that I love.

3. Jill. She’s fun, spunky, outgoing, the yin to Noelle’s yang in all the right ways.

4. Mac. There’s so much to love about this affable, yet sometimes cantankerous, Scotsman.

5. Joe’s Pub. This is the quintessential small English countryside village gathering place where everyone really does know your name.

Bottom Line
I very much enjoyed Painting the Moon. It was a lazy stroll through a lush field on a warm summer day.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: Painting the Moon
Series:  Chilton Crosse #1
Author: Traci Borum
Release Date: June 7, 2014
Pages: 320
Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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Author Traci Borum

Author Traci Borum

About the Author
Traci Borum is a writing teacher and native Texan. She’s also an avid reader of women’s fiction, most especially Elin Hilderbrand and Rosamunde Pilcher novels. Since the age of 12, she’s written poetry, short stories, magazine articles, and novels.

Traci also adores all things British. She even owns a British dog (Corgi) and is completely addicted to Masterpiece Theater–must be all those dreamy accents! Aside from having big dreams of getting a book published, it’s the little things that make her the happiest: deep talks with friends, a strong cup of hot chocolate, a hearty game of fetch with her Corgi, and puffy white Texas clouds always reminding her to “look up, slow down, enjoy your life.”

Where to Find Traci Borum
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

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Giveaway
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#1LineWed – Page 112, 11 or 12

1LineWedToday’s theme for 1 Line Wednesday, sponsored by RWA’s Kiss of Death Chapter is to post any line from page 112, 11, or 12 from my work in progress. This week’s line is from page 112 of The Ruins:

A crash from downstairs jolts me out of a deep sleep. Adrenaline pumping, I throw off the covers and rush out of my room.

You can see previous week’s themes and lines here.

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Blog Tour – Excerpt + Giveaway – Finding the Rainbow (Chilton Crosse) by Traci Borum

Welcome to the next stop on the Finding the Rainbow blog tour. Finding the Rainbow is the second book in Traci Borum’s women’s ficton series, Chilton Crosse from Red Adept Publishing. See below for information on the book, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway. And check back tomorrow for my review.

Finding the Rainbow (Chilton Crosse #2) by Traci Borum

Finding the Rainbow (Chilton Crosse #2) by Traci Borum

About the Book
Title: Finding the Rainbow
Series: Chilton Crosse #2
Author: Traci Borum
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Release Date: March 24, 2015
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay

Synopsis
Holly Newbury’s life is on hold in the cozy English village of Chilton Crosse. While her friends are marrying, having children, and embarking on successful careers, Holly is raising her three younger sisters and working part time at the village art gallery.

Her life feels incomplete, but family is more important to her than anything. Then a film crew’s arrival galvanizes the community, and Holly becomes fast friends with Fletcher Hays, the movie’s love-shy American writer.

The production of an Emma film isn’t the only drama in town, though. Their father makes a choice that threatens everything she gave up her dreams for. Holly’s sisters endure growing pains.

And Fletcher plans to return to America as soon as filming is over, ruining any chance of their relationship blossoming further. After years of sacrificing for others, Holly must find the courage to take a risk on a future she never dared to expect.

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Excerpt
Chapter One

Life seems nothing more than a quick succession of busy nothings.
~Jane Austen

For twenty glorious minutes at dawn, the village was all hers. Doves cooed and mist hovered on sheep-dotted fields as she picked up her pace and quickened her breath. When she finally huffed past the dark, empty shops and cobblestone streets, the sun winked through a cluster of trees to signal it was time to head home. Some people hated jogging—the sting of air in the lungs, the irritating burn inside the thighs. But Holly Newbury found it nothing short of blissful.

The running ritual had started six years ago, when she’d quit university to help raise her three younger sisters. She’d craved something she could call hers and quickly found it in a morning jog around the village. Those twenty minutes gave Holly something precious—twelve hundred seconds to clear her thoughts, center herself, prepare for the day ahead. She always felt a hesitant pull toward Foxglove House during that final spurt up the hill because she knew the moment she entered, chaos would ensue. Always the best kind of chaos—people she loved, getting ready for their day as she helped them make breakfast, prepare lunches, find homework from the night before—but her time became theirs again.

A few minutes after this morning’s run, Holly stood over the Aga, nudging scrambled eggs inside a pan. As she switched off the burner, she heard footsteps clomp down the stairs. “No. It’s the effing wild berry! I can’t find it anywhere!” Bridget shouted, accusing her twin sister as they entered the kitchen, tossing their phones into the wicker basket on the counter. Holly had created the “basket rule” when their father bought the twins mobile phones last year, for their sixteenth birthdays. Holly didn’t want them heads down and tapping during breakfast.

“How come it’s always my fault when you lose something? I don’t even use that gunk,”

Rosalee answered, rolling her eyes and taking a seat at the kitchen table. “It’s nasty. Smells like rotten fruit.”

“Then you did use it!” Bridget pointed.

“No, I only smelled it. But that was, like, two weeks ago.” Rosalee poured a glass of orange juice. “It’s not my fault you can’t keep track of anything like a normal human being.”

“Well, it’s not my fault you’re an effing idiot!”

“Enough, girls!” Holly gave her best stern look. She turned to Bridget, waiting for eye contact. “And no cussing in this house. You know better.”

“But ‘effing’ isn’t a cuss word,” Bridget argued.

“Maybe not, but it’s implied profanity.”

“Exactly. Implied. Not actual,” Bridget said to her eggs.

“Well, in this house, ‘implied’ is close enough.” Holly nodded toward the plate. “Now eat something, both of you. You’ll be late for school.”

She left the twins to their breakfasts, hoping they wouldn’t kill each other in her absence, and walked down the long hall. She wondered how much longer this hateful phase of theirs would linger—the twins had never gotten along well, but over the past few months, they barely had a kind word for each other.

Fraternal twins born three minutes apart, Bridget and Rosalee had broken every cliché of twinship since the beginning. As a newborn, Bridget screeched and wailed, while Rosalee dozed through everything. When they were little girls, Bridget was fearless and temperamental, while Rosalee sat quietly in corners and read books. As teenagers, the differences had only grown more distinct—tastes in music, clothing, friendships. Polar opposites. The girls had even worked hard to look less alike. Three months ago, Bridget had bleached her long hair blond, while Rosalee had trimmed hers to shoulder length, keeping it natural brown.

Reaching the sitting room, Holly spotted Bridget’s neon-pink backpack crumpled beneath the couch where the twins had finished their homework last night. Holly shook her head at the sight: wrinkled term papers and battered notebooks sticking out of pockets, an open book with a broken spine splayed out on the floor, and beside it—a-ha!—the missing tube of lip gloss. Holly snatched up the book, the bag, and the gloss, and went to check on Abbey. It wasn’t like her to be the last one down.

“Abbey! Time for breakfast!” Holly called from the staircase.

“Coming! I’m coming!” Abbey emerged at the top, fidgeting with the collar on her sweater—part of the girls’ school uniform—and nearly tripped on the first step down.

Petite for her age, twelve-year-old Abbey still seemed like an awkward little girl. But Holly was grateful for the awkwardness. Too many of Abbey’s schoolmates were eager to grow up fast, experimenting with makeup and showing off their midriffs, already begging parents for piercings or tattoos. But not Abbey. She’d rather play outside, watching a ladybug crawl on a frond, than worry about boys or makeup. She also wore glasses that fit her personality, made her look as bookish as she was. An old soul.

When Abbey reached the bottom of the stairs, Holly adjusted her sister’s collar and followed her to the kitchen.

“I smell bacon. Mmmm,” Abbey said as they went. “Is it the maple kind?”

“Yes. Just for you,” Holly whispered then rounded the corner and set the backpack beside Bridget’s chair. “I found your lip gloss. Second pocket,” she added, then poured another cup of coffee.

Rosalee, newly absolved, tossed a self-satisfied glance in Bridget’s direction. “Five minutes,” Holly announced as she saw the time and watched them gulp down their food.

Holly remembered well the first breakfast they’d had when she returned to Foxglove House six years ago. A somber morning, where the only sound had been the quiet clanking of flatware against plates. She knew nobody wanted to be there, sitting at that table. Her sisters would much rather have been up in their bedrooms, grieving privately. Staring out windows and gulping back tears. Wishing their mother had been at the head of the table, where she belonged.

But Holly had insisted on that half hour, knowing back then the importance of it. Coming together as a family, if only in silence. And since that first morning, those breakfasts had become a steady routine, something the girls could count on. Something Holly could count on, too.

Over the years, though, they’d turned into little more than bickering sessions, an inconvenience the girls rushed through. But maybe this particular morning’s squabbling could be blamed on the fact that school was back in session after a long break. Perhaps the girls needed time to readjust to the early morning routine.

“Outta here,” Bridget announced first, disappearing in a neon-pink streak.

“Don’t forget your umbrella. It’s going to rain!” Holly called after her.

“I’m gone too,” Rosalee said, sipping the last of her juice and pushing back from the table.

“Wait for your sister,” Holly said, receiving an impatient sigh in return.

“I’m eating as fast as I can!” Abbey insisted through a mouthful of eggs.

“That’s gross,” Rosalee said then asked Holly, “Can I go to the bakery after school?”

“As long as you take Abbey. Do you have money?”

Rosalee nodded. “Couple of fivers.”

One last bite and Abbey scrambled to catch up to Rosalee, who was already halfway down the hall. They slammed the front door, taking all the energy of youth along with them.

Thankful that she could trust their tiny Cotswold village, Chilton Crosse, to provide the girls a safe walk to school, Holly sat at the corner desk to check her laptop for her next assignment, another staple in her morning routine. As much as she would love to open the French doors wide, linger against the doorframe and sip her coffee for hours while she watched the garden change in the light of a mid-April morning, there wasn’t that sort of time today.

She drummed her fingers, waiting for the slow-moving university site to open, and let her eyes wander over to it. Something she’d received in yesterday’s post. Something she’d intended to throw away. Sondra’s wedding invitation, propped against the edge of the counter, asking Holly to look at her own life and compare it with someone else’s. This had been the third invitation in six months—two for weddings, and one for a baby shower. While Holly had created an odd sort of life here in her childhood home, raising her sisters, her university friends had moved on, meeting new guys, getting engaged, having children of their own.

Standing, Holly took the few steps to the counter, snatched the thick, expensive card, and chucked it into the receptacle. Good for Sondra, she thought, shoving down her jealousy.

Envy is a poison, her mother had once told her. Indeed.

Returning to her laptop, she heard the grandfather clock’s chime echoing down the hall and realized she only had an hour before visiting Gertrude’s. Barely enough time to start brainstorming that research paper. Or to emotionally prepare for the visit to come.

* * * *

Clutching the oatmeal raisin bread she’d made the night before, Holly stood at the door of the cottage and wondered why she put herself through this torture. She already knew every one
of the probing questions she would get, as well as the rote answers she would be forced to offer. These interrogations always turned her inside out.

Gertrude Middleton, her father’s cousin, lived in Hickory Cottage down the road. Though only in her early seventies, Gertrude seemed at least a decade older: the grey hair she refused to color, the cane she leaned upon because of arthritis, the general crankiness with which she approached each new day. Holly often questioned why her father displayed such loyalty to “just” a cousin—especially a grouchy, ungrateful one—by stopping in to see her every week, when he didn’t have time.

“It’s the right thing to do,” he’d once told her. “She’s family.”

So, Holly had taken over her mother’s duties six years ago, visiting Gertrude at least once a week to check in, to give her someone to talk to. Gertrude had so few visitors. Really only Mildred, her housekeeper and caretaker, ever came to the cottage.

Realizing she would be chided for her three-minute tardiness, Holly put on a cheery face and gave a jovial knock before walking inside.

“I’m hee-eere,” she called as she entered the parlor.

As usual, Gertrude sat rigidly in her straight-backed chair, stroking Leopold, the black miniature poodle who ate gourmet biscuits from his mistress’s fingers. Holly was always amazed the dog wasn’t two hundred pounds.

“I made some raisin bread for you.” Holly held up the wrapped bundle.

“Put it over there,” Gertrude demanded, pointing a withered finger in the direction of the table. “I’ll have it with my tea when Mildred arrives this afternoon.”

Holly took her usual spot on the button-backed couch with the scrolled wooden feet and clasped her hands in her lap. She never seemed well dressed enough in this house of antique furniture, of old lace draperies and doilies. Like something out of an Elizabeth Gaskell novel. No television, no computer, no technology at all—only basic electricity and running water. The cottage had an eighteenth-century atmosphere, and Holly supposed she should be wearing aflowing, high-waisted dress to better fit in. Along with some long, white gloves and a fan.

“How are you feeling today?” Holly said loudly, so she wouldn’t have to repeat herself, as she normally did.

“You don’t have to shout.” Gertrude scowled. “I’m not deaf.” She shifted uncomfortably, forcing Leopold to cling to her lap for dear life. “The weather change is making my knees worse, I can tell you that. And my hemorrhoids are back with a vengeance.”

Now it was Holly’s turn to shift uncomfortably, racking her brain for a valid enough excuse to leave earlier than planned.

“Tell me.” Gertrude tapped her cane on the floor as a judge would a gavel. Commanding, arrogant. “Do you have a young man?”

The same question she asked Holly during every visit. So, Holly offered the same answer as every visit: “I’m too busy for that. Plus, I haven’t found the right person yet.”

As always, the answer wasn’t good enough.

“Well, you’re not getting any younger. How old are you now?”

“Almost twenty-eight.”

“Remember, every tick of the clock is a minute closer to staying a spinster.”

Holly bit the inside of her cheek to avoid a snide response. And a chuckle. The irony struck her. Gertrude had never married, yet there she was, lecturing Holly, judging her “spinsterhood.”

Hypocrite, thy name is Gertrude…

Eager to change the subject, Holly remained undauntedly cheerful and leaned forward.

“So, I have a delicious bit of news. I heard it from Mrs. Pickering yesterday.”

“Do tell.” Gertrude drew in, visibly eager for a generous piece of gossip to munch on later with her afternoon tea.

“Apparently, our little village is about to be famous. A film crew is going to set up at Chatsworth Manor and make a film. Isn’t that exciting? The rumor is that it’s Emma.”

“Emma?” Gertrude crinkled her brow.

“Yes. Jane Austen. Emma. The matchmaker who pairs up people unsuccessfully?”

The look of confusion remained. “Never read it.”

Holly sucked in a breath and unclasped her hands. “Oh, you must read it! Jane Austen’s best work and my favorite book in the world since I was fourteen. My mother gave me my first copy. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read it.”

“Humph,” Gertrude said, raising her nose to the idea. She slipped another biscuit to Leopold, who snatched it greedily. “In my opinion, books are only for those who cannot think for themselves.”

Holly’s cheeks prickled with heat. She could accept the rude judgments of her social life, could even take being labeled “spinster”—but a lack of respect for books, for Jane Austen, and thus, for her own mother’s memory? That was unacceptable.

“Well, in my opinion,” Holly started, trying to contain the tremble in her voice, “those who detest literature have small minds and narrow views of the world. Jane Austen once said that. Or something like it.”

Gertrude sat higher in her seat, face horrified, and said with another rap of her gavel, “Then this ‘Jane Austen’ is clearly a fool.”

Holly stood and tried to breathe, remembering who she was talking to. A blood relative, an elder who deserved respect. She monitored her tone and kept it as even as possible. “Honestly, Gertrude, I think you’re wrong. And to prove it to you, I think we should start a book club.”

“A what?”

“And I think that our first book should be Emma.”

“For goodness’ sake, you have got to be—”

“And that this book club should meet right here. In Hickory Cottage. Once a week.” For the first time in her life, Holly saw genuine panic on Gertrude’s face. Holly took advantage of the moment, reveling in her own boldness. “This will be the best way for you to decide if Jane Austen’s work is trash or treasure. I’ll round up some interested readers this week and we can have the first meeting on Monday. I’ll take care of everything.”

With that, Holly pivoted and headed for the door, half proud and half petrified of what had just happened. She knew the shocked expression would remain on Gertrude’s face for the rest of the day. And something about that gave Holly a wicked rush of satisfaction.

* * * *

Fat drops of rain spattered above Holly’s head, tap dancing on her green umbrella as she skipped over puddles. Storey Road, the cobblestoned main street of Chilton Crosse, glistened on rainy days, like a watercolor painting. Holly inhaled the dewy scent and browsed the street, savoring how the rain altered the quaint limestone shop-fronts from a pale sand color to a darker taupe. A stone gazebo stood in the middle of the road, usually occupied by tourists taking pictures or eating lunches. Holly always loved this view of the village: pristine shops lined up in a neat row, multicolored flowers peeking out of window boxes. All brought to life, even on a gloomy day.

She approached the art gallery, which was sandwiched between the post office and clock shop across from Joe’s pub, and shook out her umbrella. Though Holly’s father insisted she didn’t need a job—she was busy enough looking after her sisters—she believed otherwise. It was important to earn her own money, to set a good example for her sisters. So, four years ago, Holly had filled out an application for part-time work and had been hired on the spot by the curator, Frank O’Neill.

Today, Holly arrived early, thanks to her unusually fast escape from Gertrude’s, and opened the gallery door, the sharp tinkling bell announcing her arrival.

She spotted the new piece immediately, a Bath landscape painted by the gallery’s owner, Noelle Spencer. Noelle was the great-niece of the late Joy Valentine, the famous and ever mysterious Cotswold artist, and original owner of the gallery. The first time Holly had seen a painting of Noelle’s, she’d known the artistic talent had been completely genetic.

“Still raining?” Frank asked as he approached. Holly twisted the dripping umbrella at her side to show him the answer then placed it inside the umbrella stand with a clink.

“Ahh. Probably why it’s been so dead all morning.” Frank rolled his brown eyes and scratched the top of his angular nose. His frame was slender, bordering on skinny, and he always wore the same ensemble to work—a dark jacket of either navy, brown, or black, perfectly creased trousers, a starched white shirt, and suspenders. As with Gertrude, Holly often felt underdressed in the presence of Frank—even today, with her flowing broomstick skirt and silver jewelry.

“What’s on the agenda?” Holly asked, nudging aside a damp wave of auburn hair from her cheek.

Frank clasped his hands. “It’s been slow, so I’ve done the paperwork already. Nothing left for you at the moment. Maybe you should even go home? With this weather, I doubt you’ll have much to do here.”

“No,” Holly said. “I have a project for us.”

She motioned for him to follow her back to the supply closet, where she paused and pulled a dozen sheets of printer paper from the shelf, along with a couple of thick black markers. “I’m starting a book club. So I need to make some posters to place around the village—at the pub, the bakery, even here, if that’s okay.”

Frank’s expression was unreadable, and for a moment, she thought he would refuse. Or, lecture her for doing personal work on “company” time.

But then he asked, “What sort of book club?”

“It’s Emma. In correlation with the film that’s being shot at the Manor soon.”

“Oh, I heard about that. Mary Cartwright mentioned it yesterday when she came in to look at Noelle’s new painting. Terribly exciting!”

“Isn’t it? And with this book club, we can be a small part of it, in our own way. What do you think?”

“Is it females only?”

Holly hadn’t thought that far ahead. In her vision, she hadn’t actually pictured any males sitting in Gertrude’s parlor, discussing the social and romantic conundrums of early nineteenth century
British society. But why not? “Anyone can join,” she decided.

“Then count me in.” He threaded his fingers together, his index fingers pointing at his
chin, and got a faraway look. “Let’s do this right, with the posters. No markers.” He waved them
away and sat at his laptop. “I can design them here, and we can print them off. I see big, bold
letters with some sort of hook to reel them in, something eye-catching. Dramatic.”

“Frank, you really don’t need to do all that. It sounds like too much work,” she protested. Laptop already opened, he clicked on a blank document. “Nonsense. I’m good at this sort of thing. No trouble at all.” He paused and brought his focus back to her. “One condition, though.”

Holly stared suspiciously. “What?”

“That you say ‘yes’ to a night out. Nothing fancy, just supper at the pub.”

She was aware of an awkward silence but didn’t know how to fill it. Finally, she gathered her courage and asked—“This isn’t a… date?”—then wished she hadn’t. Awkward silence had been less awkward than that question.

During the last four years, Frank had dropped some incredibly subtle hints that he might be interested in her romantically. So subtle, in fact, that they were unverifiable. An occasional lingering look, or an extra smile—all things that could be interpreted as “friendly.” No matter the case, sweet as he was, there wasn’t a single molecule in her body that was attracted to Frank that way.

“Heavens, no,” he said. “I just know that you rarely take a night off for yourself. And while we’re at the pub together, putting up the posters, we could… have a spot of dinner. That’s all.”

“Oh.”

“I bet you can’t recall the last time you’ve been out by yourself. Without your sisters.”

“That’s true,” she said. “I really can’t.”

“Then it’s settled. A casual supper at the pub. It’ll have to be tomorrow, after I close the gallery. We’ll even go halves.”

With that, she couldn’t think of a single reason to turn him down. “Okay. Now, what can I do to help with these?” She pulled up a chair beside him.

“Feed me some information about the book club—dates, address, those sorts of things—and I’ll include it in the posters. Let’s advertise!”

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Author Traci Borum

Author Traci Borum

About the Author
Traci Borum is a writing teacher and native Texan. She’s also an avid reader of women’s fiction, most especially Elin Hilderbrand and Rosamunde Pilcher novels. Since the age of 12, she’s written poetry, short stories, magazine articles, and novels.

Traci also adores all things British. She even owns a British dog (Corgi) and is completely addicted to Masterpiece Theater–must be all those dreamy accents! Aside from having big dreams of getting a book published, it’s the little things that make her the happiest: deep talks with friends, a strong cup of hot chocolate, a hearty game of fetch with her Corgi, and puffy white Texas clouds always reminding her to “look up, slow down, enjoy your life.”

Where to Find Traci Borum
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

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Giveaway
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Teaser Tuesday – The Ruins (The Union Series) by T.H. Hernandez

Today’s teaser from The Ruins is from chapter 19, titled The Ruins.

The Ruins Teaser 3

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The Ruins (The Union Series #2) by T.H. Hernandez

The Ruins (The Union Series #2) by T.H. Hernandez

About the Book
Title:
 The Ruins
Series: The Union Series #2
Author: T.H. Hernandez
Release Date: June 16, 2015
Genre: Young Adult Adventure
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis
Heartbroken, grief-stricken, and wracked with guilt, seventeen-year-old Evan Taylor returned to the Union, leaving behind the boy she loved.

Now, she and her friends must find a way to do the impossible – warn the citizens of the Union about an impending rebel attack without alerting the government and risking retaliation against her friends in the Ruins.

When every move Evan makes is thwarted, it soon becomes clear she’s being watched.

Faced with a daily fight to stay one step ahead of her pursuers, she returns to the Ruins. But life in the Ruins has its own dangers, and soon she’s fighting a different battle – to stay alive long enough to discover the truth.

THE RUINS is the second book in THE UNION series, a young adult romantic adventure set in the near future.

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Young Adult Book Review – Pepped Up and Ready (Pepper Jones Series) by Ali Dean

Pepped Up and Ready (Pepper Jones #3) by Ali Dean

Pepped Up and Ready (Pepper Jones #3) by Ali Dean

Synopsis
This is the third book in the Pepper Jones series. The following description contains spoilers for Pepped Up and All Pepped Up. It is highly recommended that you read the books in order.)

Pepper is finally a senior, and she’s determined to defend her national cross-country title. Although Jace is busy with the demands of college football, he’s still at Pepper’s side, supporting her goals. But is she taking her renewed enthusiasm for training too far?

As Jace and Pepper focus on their athletic ambitions, they discover that Jace’s social status has followed him to college, despite his attempt to keep a low profile. With her boyfriend as an idol on campus, Pepper discovers that she might just be a target to those who find Jace threatening.

Are Jace and Pepper strong enough to withstand the pressure from those who want something from them? It won’t be easy fighting for her title and her boyfriend, but nothing easy is worth winning… or keeping.

*This book contains mature content.*

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My Review
I’m a huge fan of Pepper Jones and her creator, Ali Dean. This third book in the Pepper Jones series is a departure from the other two. Still focused on Pepper’s running career and her relationship with Jace, there’s less angst and more drama in other areas of Pepper’s life. Pepper has a lot to prove as the defending girls’ cross-country national champion, so she’s training harder than she ever has in her life. Wes is heading to an Ivy-league school soon, and Jace has moved to the dorms on campus, proving that the only constant is change.

What this iteration lacks in dripping teen angst now that Jace and Pepper seem to be on solid footing relationship-wise, it makes up for with uncertainty surrounding Pepper’s ability to compete with an injury and a mystery stalker that has Pepper living in fear.

Plot
The main plot is definitely about running. Whether or not Pepper will recover in time to compete, and if her recovery will be enough to allow her to qualify for regionals and nationals again. A solid sub-plot involves the mysterious stalker who is either trying to ruin Pepper’s chances at a repeat nationals title or to come between her and Jace. Where the story really excels is with Pepper’s running. Her inner turmoil is palpable. I could feel her fear, her drive, her panic over her future, over her identity, because if she’s not a runner, who is she?

There wasn’t nearly enough Jace/Pepper time though, but I think that was deliberate. With Jace in college and Pepper still in high school, their haphazard time together was authentic. They were always trying to squeeze in time for each other while juggling the rest of their busy lives, and the choppy nature of their time together was mirrored in the writing. I felt as unsettled and rushed reading about those stolen moments as the characters were feeling, experiencing them.

Characters
I love all the character growth in this latest installment. Pepper is maturing, learning to stand up for herself. Jace is settling down, giving up his partying ways, and even Zoe is coming out of her over-protective-parenting shell and hanging with the party crowd. Even little Jenny Mendoza, now a sophomore, is finding her voice. But better still, they all stay true to themselves. Even though they’re growing up, they’re still the same characters we know and love.

Writing
There is a more mature tone to the writing in this book than in the previous two and I think that reflects the maturation of the characters between the pages. Pepper spends a lot more time inside her head, processing. There are a few times this introspection slows the pacing, but not horribly so. The one thing I would have liked a little different is a particularly long-awaited moment between Pepper and Jace. It would have been nice to be inside Pepper’s head a little more, got a deeper understanding of how much it meant to her. We’d been building up to it for two books and I almost felt it was rushed.

Ending
The ending was satisfying, wrapping up the main plot points from this story, but still left me excited to find out what’s next for Pepper Jones.

Top Five Things I love about Pepped Up and Ready to Go:
1. Pepper’s Determination. Her commitment to her sport, her grit and determination, are role-model-worthy.

2. Buns. Once again, Pepper’s pot-smoking, cartoon-character-slipper-wearing grandmother steals the show.

3. Jace’s Loyalty. He’d do anything for Pepper and that is evident in everything he says and does. Sure, he has a storied past, but it’s all in the past. He’s stepped up and becomes the boyfriend Pepper deserves.

4. The Running. Reading about Pepper out there pounding the pavement, getting lost inside herself, has me itching to lace up my running shoes again.

5. Ryan. Still a big fan of the boy Pepper let go to be with Jace. I’d love for him to find his happy-ever-after.

Bottom Line
Pepped Up and Ready to Go reunites my favorite young adult characters in a story that challenges them in new, and in some cases, more intense ways.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: Pepped Up and Ready
Series:  Pepper Jones #3
Author: Ali Dean
Release Date: May 28, 2015
Pages: 203
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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About the Author
Ali Dean lives in Colorado with her husband, twin babies, and golden retriever. In addition to reading and writing, she loves the outdoors- everything from marathon training and biking to snowboarding and skiing.

Where to Find Ali Dean
Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon
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Release Day + Giveaway – Searching for Beautiful (Searching For Series) by Jennifer Probst

Searching for Beautiful Release Day

Today is release day for Searching for Beautiful, the third book in the Searching For series by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Jennifer Probst. See below for information on the book, buy links, and details on her giveaway.

Searching for Beautiful (Searching For #3) by Jennifer Probst

Searching for Beautiful (Searching For #3) by Jennifer Probst

About the Book
Title: Searching for Beautiful
Series: Searching For #3
Author: Jennifer Probst
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: May 26, 2015
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Synopsis
The highly anticipated third novel in the Searching For series from Jennifer Probst, “one of the most exciting breakout novelists” (USA Today), featuring a runaway bride and the man who wants to be more than just her best friend…

Genevieve MacKenzie has her life completely under control. About to wed the charming Chief doctor at the local hospital, she’s an up-and-coming surgeon with everything she could ever want. Until an escape through the church window on the day of her wedding sends her life into a tailspin…and flings her right into her best friend’s arms.

When Wolfe catches his best friend falling out a window on her wedding day, he doesn’t ask questions. He whisks her away, determined to watch over her and discover the truth behind her desperate escape. But when his feelings turn more than platonic, he realizes he may risk his most important relationship in order to protect his damaged heart, and the woman he loves.

Can Genevieve and Wolfe’s friendship turn into something deeper—or is it already too late for true love?

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Author Jennifer Probst

Author Jennifer Probst

About the Author
Jennifer Probst wrote her first book at twelve years old. She bound it in a folder, read it to her classmates, and hasn’t stopped writing since. She took a short hiatus to get married, get pregnant, buy a house, get pregnant again, pursue a master’s in English Literature, and rescue two shelter dogs. Now she is writing again.

She makes her home in Upstate New York with the whole crew. Her sons keep her active, stressed, joyous, and sad her house will never be truly clean.

She is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of sexy and erotic contemporary romance. She was thrilled her book, The Marriage Bargain, was ranked #6 on Amazon’s Best Books for 2012. She loves hearing from readers. Visit her website for updates on new releases and her street team at www.jenniferprobst.com.

Where to Find Jennifer Probst
Website | Facebook | Twitter Goodreads

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Giveaway
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