Release Day – TAKE ME BACK by Meghan March

TAKE ME BACK Release Day

Today is release day for TAKE ME BACK, a stand-alone adult contemporary romance, by USA Today bestselling author, Meghan March. See below for information on the book, buy links, a link to add it to your Goodreads TBR, and a teaser.

TAKE ME BACK by Meghan March

TAKE ME BACK by Meghan March

About the Book
Title
: TAKE ME BACK
Author: Meghan March
Publisher: Red Dress Press
Category: Adult Contemporary Romance
Release Date: March 20, 2017
LinksGoodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CA | Barnes & NoblesiBooks | Kobo

Synopsis
We fell in love on a beach, got married in paradise, and I carried her off into the sunset. It should have been perfect, but saying “I do” doesn’t guarantee a happily-ever-after.

Two years later, I barely recognize either of us behind the walls we’ve built.

It’s time to bring it full circle. Back to a tropical paradise. Back to find out if we can still make this work.

I’m not willing to give her up, but to save us, I have to risk everything.

Two damaged people.

Countless secrets.

The fight of our lives.

We might be broken, but we’re not done.

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TAKE ME BACK Teaser 2

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Author Meghan March

Author Meghan March

About the Author
Meghan March has been known to wear camo face paint and tromp around in woods wearing mud-covered boots, all while sporting a perfect manicure. She’s also impulsive, easily entertained, and absolutely unapologetic about the fact that she loves to read and write smut. Her past lives include slinging auto parts, selling lingerie, making custom jewelry, and practicing corporate law. Writing books about dirty talking alpha males and the strong, sassy women who bring them to their knees is by far the most fabulous job she’s ever had. She loves hearing from her readers at meghanmarchbooks@gmail.com.

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Where to Find Meghan March
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Amazon
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Book Blitz – Excerpt + Giveaway – PETALS by Laurisa White Reyes

PETALS Book Blitz

Welcome to the book blitz for PETALS, a stand-alone young adult contemporary romance/thriller, by Laurisa White Reyes. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.

PETALS by Laurisa White Reyes

PETALS by Laurisa White Reyes

About the Book
Title: PETALS
Author: Laurisa White Reyes
Publisher: Skyrocket Press
Release Date: March 15, 2017
Genre:
 Young Adult Contemporary Romance/Thriller
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA

Synopsis
Some memories refuse to stay buried…

On Christmas Eve, a horrific car accident leaves Carly Perez without a mom. After a year of surgeries and counseling, Carly’s life is nearly back to normal—except for the monsters—vague, twisted images from the accident that plague her dreams. When her father insists on spending their first Christmas alone in Guatemala with a slew of relatives Carly has never met, she is far from thrilled, but she reluctantly boards the plane anyway.

That’s where she first spots the man with the scarred face. She could swear she has seen him before. But when? Where?

In Reu, the Guatemalan town where her father grew up, Carly meets Miguel, her attractive step-cousin, and thinks maybe vacation won’t be a total waste after all. Though she is drawn to him, Carly’s past holds her back—memories that refuse to be forgotten, and a secret about the accident that remains buried in her subconscious. And everywhere she turns, the man with the scarred face is there, driving that unwelcome secret to the surface.

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Excerpt #1
​In sixty seconds, Mom would be dead.

We’re driving down Telegraph Highway, the two of us, a wrapped gift box on my lap. It is rectangular, maybe fifteen inches tall, in red foil paper with a white bow on top. We were lucky to find the drug store still open on Christmas Eve.

Mom is pleased. She’s humming along with the radio, which is playing a lively fifties holiday song. Her thumbs tap out the tune on the steering wheel. Her car keys sway in the ignition, jingling like bells.

Outside, the sky is dark. Through the storm, the road ahead looks like a long tunnel.

Snow is falling.

It happens so fast there is no time to react. Bright lights hurtle toward us on our side of the road. Mom’s arms brace against the wheel. She thrusts her foot against the brake, but the road is slick with ice. The car swerves.

I hear a car horn blaring. I hear the crunch of metal, the pop of glass shattering. A powerful force shoves me against the car door as everything suddenly whirls in the wrong direction. I feel pain. I scream.

And then it’s over.

When I blink open my eyes, everything is white.

Snow is falling.

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Author Laurisa White Reyes

Author Laurisa White Reyes

About the Author
Laurisa White Reyes is the author of the 2016 Spark Award winning novel The Storytellers, as well as The Celestine Chronicles and The Crystal Keeper series. She lives in Southern California where she teaches English at College of the Canyons.

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Where to Find Laurisa White Reyes
Goodreads | Website | Newsletter | BlogFacebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
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Book Blitz – EXOTIQA (Exotiqa World) by M. Black

EXOTIQA Book Blitz

Welcome to the book blitz for EXOTIQA, the first book in the young adult science fiction dystopian thriller series, Exotiqa World, by M. Black. See below for information on the book, a buy link, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway. If you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read this Amazon bestseller for free!

EXOTIQA (Exotica World #1) by M. Black

EXOTIQA (Exotica World #1) by M. Black

About the Book
Title: EXOTIQA
Series: Exotiqa World #2
Author: M. Black
Release Date: March 1, 2017
Genre:
 Young Adult Science Fiction/Dystopian/Thriller
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA

Synopsis
The second YA SyFy dystopian Thriller released by the debut author M. Black, dubbed Divergent meets iRobot. This novel will appeal to a vast array of audiences. Filled with haunting questions of consciousness and artificial intelligence, identity and self-awareness, politics and love, life and death, the reader will be engaged in an entertaining story filled with futuristic technology. 

Set in the year 2055 in British Columbia, Canada, where humans are part robotic and robots are becoming more humanlike, the line dividing the two is becoming less clear. 

When sixteen-year-old Fione meets Maci, a twenty-one-year-old Flexbot who escapes from ImaTech located along the crust of the Coast Mountains, Fione’s life is taken on a roller-coaster ride of events that begins with trying to save Maci from ImaTech Corporation and ends with trying to save the country.

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Excerpt
“How the heck did you learn to drive like that?” My eyes widen on her, as if in a trance. Maci hits the brake and the vehicle spins 180 degrees and then Pix fires his taser at Maci’s command.

“ImaTech training.” She swerves the vehicle back around and pushes Pix’s foot over the accelerator before sliding out of her seat and over the window slit on her side of the Rover. She crawls onto the roof, her left hand gripping the inside of the vehicle while her legs bend underneath her body on the roof and her right arm stretches to aim at both Spheres.

She fires the taser, and with a direct hit the closer Sphere explodes, just as the Sphere behind it slams straight into the eruption. Both metal balls burst upon impact as shards of their metal shoot crazily across the sky, and one stray shard hits the roof of the Rover just as Maci reenters. Her slim body slides back into the front passenger seat as she returns her left foot over Pix’s foot.

“I got it,” Pix says, a tad shaken, and then Maci releases her foot, but keeps her left palm on the steering wheel.

“I don’t want us to get hit again. We have to make it to ImaTech,” Maci implores, her tone a mix of commitment and sharpness.

I slip my head between the front seats. “Did we get ‘em?”

Maci turns her head, releasing the steering wheel. “The SectorSpheres have been destroyed, but I detect two Trackers a half kilometer in front of us. They have been tracking us for several minutes.”

Jerking the steering wheel left, Pix pops the right front tire off the ground as he skirts us around a hill. “How are they keeping tabs on us on foot with us taking so many sharp turns?”

“My sensors detect two vehicles approaching at the same speed as the Trackers. They will intercept us in…”

Just before Maci calculates the time we collide with more ImaTech drones—two ImaEnzyme motorbikes as dark as night catapult toward us, one hitting our roof before landing on the ground behind, and instantly spinning around to keep in the chase. The other slides in beside us.

With encased wheels on either side of the motorbike, the numbers 599 are etched on the front rims to denote the top speed in kilometers. The ImaEnzyme creators like to brag about their creation. The Rover can only go 250 kilometers per hour. I don’t need Maci’s calculations to know we don’t stand a chance of outrunning them even if they don’t reach their top speed in this terrain.

With the Trackers positioned in deliberately low backseats and their arms stretched over each side of the chromium bike to grip the handles, I can barely see their faces, let alone their heads. I’ve been told about these bikes—outsourced through a French company, but utilizing all of ImaTech’s technology for the perfect two-wheeled weaponized transport.

The Tracker beside the Rover pulls out a gun known as the SonicIma; held with two hands, the mouth of the gun looks like a disk and the body much like a thin black stick. Sergio Sagar of InterLock designed this weapon, which up until now I’d only ever seen on my HV screen.

“Look out!” I shriek, and duck my head while covering my ears. The loud sonic boom from the weapon can cause deafness. Fortunately for the bots, their ears won’t ring, but the Range Rover pops up sharply on the left from the force of the boom. Then, the two wheels on the right side lift just as the left side hits ground. Pix drives on, trying to balance us without crashing.

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Author M. Black

Author M. Black

About the Author
M. Black is a writer of Dystopia, primarily in the YA SyFy genre and usually with hints of romance. M.Black is the pen name to author Ami Blackwelder who writes in the Paranormal genre, with hints of Romance Apocalypse;)

M.Black is usually writing on her MAC, taking care of her two cats LOTUS and ASH who show up in her books Exotiqa and Simulation, cooking her favorite vegetarian dishes like veggie chili and lasagna, or watching her favorite shows. OA on Netflix and Stranger Things a top pick.

M. Black loves to explore future worlds that are falling apart because of humanity’s ignorance of warnings. She likes to incorporate technology, robots, and unique twists to keep the reader guessing. You can find her at http://MBlackDystopianThrillers.blogspot.com

If you are looking for paranormal reads, some apocalyptic, please try her other line of books under Ami Blackwelder. http://AmiBlackwelder.blogspot.com

She also has one historical romance under the pen name Rebecca May..

Where to Find M. Black
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
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Blog Tour – Excerpt + Giveaway – LEGALLY CHARMING (Ever After) by Lauren Smith

LEGALLY CHARMING Blog Tour

Welcome to the blog tour for LEGALLY CHARMING, the first book in the new adult contemporary romance series, Ever After, by Lauren Smith. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.

LEGALLY CHARMING (Ever After #1) by Lauren Smith

LEGALLY CHARMING (Ever After #1) by Lauren Smith

About the Book
Title: LEGALLY CHARMING
Series: Ever After #1
Author: Lauren Smith
Release Date: March 13, 2017
Genre:
 New Adult Contemporary Romance
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CABarnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlus

Synopsis
THE RIGHT DRESS CAN CATCH THE EYE OF PRINCE CHARMING…

Felicity Hart has one goal: Completing her masters in art. Falling in love isn’t part of the plan. She reluctantly agrees to attend a Halloween party with her best friend. After sneaking away from the party and falling asleep in an unoccupied room, she wakes to the sexiest pair of eyes she’s ever seen. Eyes that belong to the one man who could turn her well organized world upside down. When he flashes that wicked, panty-melting smile at her the vow to not fall in love seems impossible…

EVERY PRINCE IS LOOKING FOR HIS SLEEPING BEAUTY TO KISS…

Jared Redmond used to be the ultimate bad boy. But now his legal career is taking off and the partners of his firm are trusting him with high-dollar real estate transactions. Jared’s king-size bed is empty. But when he arrives home on Halloween to find a princess sleeping in his bed – his all work and no play attitude goes out the window. There’s nothing he wants more than to explore the hidden desires of this mysterious beauty and show her just how much of a bad boy he really is by fulfilling her every fantasy.

WHEN MIDNIGHT STRIKES AND COACHES TURN TO PUMPKINS…

Underneath the glitter of this fairy tale romance, Felicity and Jared might have found true love. But the mounting pressure of their real lives takes hold again and Jared and Felicity are pulled further and further apart. Can they find their fairy tale ending or will they be left with the dying embers of what could have been?

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LEGALLY CHARMING Teaser 1

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Excerpt #5
He gulped down his second glass of wine and rinsed the glass. Then he walked over to the entertainment center and knelt on one knee by the DVD player. He was just cueing up the movie when movement in the corner of his eye caught his attention and he turned.

Holy shit… His mind went blank at the sight of Felicity in a black trench coat, high heels, and black hose.

“Felicity, sweetheart.” His voice came out hoarse. “What are you—”

She flung the trench coat open, dropped it to the ground, and then did a slow turn in a circle, hands on her luscious hips.

Holy fuck. She was a damn sex goddess. All curves, lace, and heels. He used to fantasize about women dressed like that, but he never thought he’d get to experience it for real. She looked adorable…and yet completely seductive, ready for a long, hard tumble between the sheets. That’s what he wanted—to grab her, fist a hand in her hair, and drive into her until they both couldn’t walk. His cock swelled against the press of his pants as he stared at her, his mouth dry. He couldn’t stop from licking his lips and imagining all the places he was going to run his tongue along her skin.

Screw the movies, screw the dinner. They were going straight to bed tonight, and he was going to punish her for forcing his hand when he wanted to take things slow. Yeah, he’d punish her all night until she thought she’d die from pleasure.

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Jared looked…mad. Why did he look mad?

Felicity had been so confident a few minutes before when she’d been stripping out of her clothes. As she’d donned the babydoll nightie and the hose and slipped into the heels, she’d thought for sure this night was going to be amazing. He was going to go crazy for this, right? Her own skin had flushed at the thought of a hungry, hot Jared possessing her, but instead he looked angry.

Felicity’s hands dropped from her hips and she covered her chest, shying away as he stood from his crouched position by the TV and studied her. Maybe this was a mistake. It had been a risk wearing something like this at all. Her breasts were almost falling out of the top, and the hose and shoes looked too…well…maybe they were overkill? God, this was really stupid. These things only worked for girls in movies.

“I’m sorry. I’ll go change.” She started to slide past him toward the hallway, but he moved swiftly with long strides and blocked her from reaching the hall.

“Go stand behind the couch and face the TV,” he ordered. His voice was soft, dark, and full of that domination that did funny things to her inside. Her brief hesitation earned her a dark look. In a few quick clicking steps, she was behind the couch, hands resting on the waist-high back. She glanced over her shoulder, watching him.

Jared slowly approached, hands in his trouser pockets as he studied her. The predatory gleam in his eyes set fire to every nerve ending inside her.

“So this is what you want? Or is this what you think I want? Be honest with me.”

When he was finally close enough, standing right behind her, she tried to turn. He pressed one hand between her shoulder blades and pressed firmly, urging her to bend over the couch. She rested on bent elbows, her breath hitching in anticipation.

“Answer me, Felicity.” The sharp tap to her ass made her flinch and then moan as he smoothed a hand over her barely covered bottom. She liked that tiny edge of pain. It made her wetter.

“I wanted this,” she confessed. “I want you, and I want this—please,” she begged. At this point, her old self would have shaken her head at the thought of being bent over a couch, wearing lingerie and begging to be fucked. But after everything she’d been through with Jared, this was exactly what she wanted, what she needed.

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Author Lauren Smith

Author Lauren Smith

About the Author
Lauren Smith is an Oklahoma attorney by day, author by night who pens adventurous and edgy romance stories by the light of her smart phone flashlight app. She knew she was destined to be a romance writer when she attempted to re-write the entire Titanic movie just to save Jack from drowning. Connecting with readers by writing emotionally moving, realistic and sexy romances no matter what time period is her passion. She’s won multiple awards in several romance subgenres including: New England Reader’s Choice Awards, Greater Detroit BookSeller’s Best Awards, Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter-Finalist and a Semi-Finalist for the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award.

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Where to Find Lauren Smith
Goodreads | Website | NewsletterFacebook | Twitter | Instagram | Amazon | BookBub

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Giveaway
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Blog Tour – Excerpt – FOREVER BEAUTIFUL (Beautiful) by Ella Bordeaux

FOREVER BEAUTIFUL Release Day

Welcome to the blog tour for FOREVER BEAUTIFUL, the second book in the young adult/new adult contemporary romance series, Beautiful, by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Kelly Elliott, writing as Ella Bordeaux. See below for information on the book and series, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and a couple of teasers.

FOREVER BEAUTIFUL (Beautiful #2) by Ella Bordeaux

FOREVER BEAUTIFUL (Beautiful #2) by Ella Bordeaux

About the Book
Title:
FOREVER BEAUTIFUL
Series: Beautiful #2
Author: Ella Bordeaux
Publisher: K. Elliott Enterprises, INC.
Release Date: March 14, 2017
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult Contemporary Romance
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UKBarnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Synopsis
How could he do this to me?
I believed him.
I trusted him.

When Skylar is faced with her biggest fear, old insecurities cause her to do what she did best. Hide from the truth.

Wyatt was determined not to let the only woman he loved run from him. He only had one choice. He would fight for her.

Both would be tested.
Each would experience pain.
Will truth conquer all?

Time would test their love. Fate would decide their future.

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FOREVER BEAUTIFUL Teaser 3

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Excerpt
Grabbing my purse, I headed to the door. Opening it, I let out a scream when I saw Zeb there with his hand up, ready to knock.

“Holy shit, Skylar! You scared the piss out of me.”

Covering my chest with my hand, I took in a few deep breaths. “Zeb, what are you doing here?”

He shook his head and laughed. “I told Michelle I’d meet her today. I have a few things to pick up, and…well, I wanted to say good-bye to her in person. I figured y’all would be back by now.”

“Did she not text you? She had to stay back in Waco with Wyatt. She had a leak; her hot water went out or something.”

Zeb smiled. “No. I didn’t get the text.”

I frowned. “Weird.”

He shrugged. “Well, would you mind if I came in really quick and grabbed my stuff? It’s just a couple of shirts.”

I lifted my brows. Why in the world does he have clothes here? He’d never spent the night.

“Shirts?”

“Sweatshirts. I wore a few over here and forgot them.”

Zeb and his sweatshirts. I swore, he had one for every day of the year.

With a chuckle, I motioned for him to come in. “I was getting ready to leave, but if it will just take a few minutes, no problem.”

“Thanks, Skylar.”

Zeb walked past me and headed to Michelle’s room. I shut the door and made my way into the kitchen. Glancing at my watch, I still had a few minutes to spare. Might as well grab some water and a few snacks.

I had a feeling it was going to be a long night. I hated Tupperware parties. Or Pimped-Out Chef or whatever the hell it was called. We were in college. Half of us lived in dorm rooms. Why in the hell do we need kitchen stuff?

Opening the refrigerator, I grabbed an apple and a cheese stick. When I turned back around, Zeb was standing in the kitchen.

I screamed and dropped my snacks. “Jesus, Zeb. You scared me again.”

By the look on his face, I instantly knew something wasn’t right. Everything I’d learned in self-defense class was pulsing through my body. It was like a sign was flashing, Warning!

“You’ve got to know, I’ve always liked you, Skylar.”

Panic started to set in as I quickly took in the situation. When I glanced down, I noticed he had nothing in his hands. “Where, um…where are your sweatshirts?”

He looked down at his hands and then back up at me. “I know you want me as much as I want you. I’ve seen the way you look at me.”

Oh God. This isn’t happening to me again.

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FOREVER BEAUTIFUL Teaser 4

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Beautiful by Ella Bordeaux

Beautiful by Ella Bordeaux

About the Book
Title:
 Beautiful
Author: Ella Bordeaux
Publisher: K. Elliott Enterprises, INC.
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult Contemporary Romance
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UKBarnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Synopsis
Skylar Woods unknowingly drew Wyatt Smith toward her.  He wanted … needed to learn everything about her. Though he sensed her beauty was more than just skin deep, Wyatt struggled to understand the sadness she attempted to mask with an amazing smile.

When Skylar’s eyes met Wyatt’s for the first time, her breath caught and she couldn’t look away from the new guy standing in the school office smiling at her. The connection only grew when Wyatt sat next to her in English class, allowing Skylar to dare to believe he might actually be interested in getting to know her.

For the first time in months, she felt alive.

The moment Wyatt expressed an interest, the notes started again … the ones that reminded her of a past she could never move beyond—the event that changed her life forever and robbed her of any chance of happiness.

Never believing the rumors being spread around school about Skylar, Wyatt made sure he went out of his way to prove how much he cared about her.

But when the past resurfaces, will Wyatt stand by her side? Or will he turn against her like everyone else?  

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Author Ella Bordeaux

Author Ella Bordeaux

About the Author
Writing young adult fiction under the pen name of Ella Bordeaux, Kelly Elliott is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling contemporary romance author. Finding her way back to one of her favorite genres, Ella will be publishing her first young adult fiction book, Beautiful, June 7, 2016.

Ella lives in central Texas with her husband, daughter and two puppies. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading and spending time with her family.

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Where to Find Ella bordeaux
Goodreads | Website | Facebook
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Blog Tour – Review + Giveaway – OFF THE ICE (Juniper Falls) by Julie Cross

OFF THE ICE Blog Tour

OFF THE ICE (Juniper Falls #1) by Julie Cross

OFF THE ICE (Juniper Falls #1) by Julie Cross

4 Stars

Synopsis
The NY Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of Whatever Life Throws at You kicks off a brand-new series perfect for fans of Miranda Kennealy and Abbi Glines.

All is fair in love and hockey…

Claire O’Connor is back in Juniper Falls, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be. One semester off, that’s what she promised herself. Just long enough to take care of her father and keep the family business—a hockey bar beside the ice rink—afloat. After that, she’s getting the hell out. Again.

Enter Tate Tanley. What happened between them the night before she left town resurfaces the second they lay eyes on each other. But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie. When Tate is unexpectedly called in to take over for the hockey team’s star goalie, suddenly he’s in the spotlight and on his way to becoming just another egotistical varsity hockey player. And Claire’s sworn off Juniper Falls hockey players for good.

It’s the absolute worst time to fall in love.

For Tate and Claire, hockey isn’t just a game. And they both might not survive a body check to the heart..

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My Review
Tate Tanley is the starting goalie on his high school hockey team in Minnesota, where hockey is a religion. Claire O’Connor is back in town from Northwestern University after her father is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. When she sees Tate for the first time in over a year, she realizes her best friend’s little brother isn’t so little anymore. Tate has had a massive crush on Claire most of his life, but he’s always been the kid brother. Not anymore. These two dance around attraction mixed-up with a lifelong friendship set against Claire’s dreams for her future and Tate’s goals on and off the ice. It’s a super sweet romance with deeply developed characters.

Plot
The romance is the primary plot, but it’s missing that teen angst that I’ve grown to love in Julie Cross’s stories. What it lacks in that department, it more than makes up for in the supporting plots. Tate’s hockey career, college recruiting, and his relationship with his town-legend father. Claire has her issues with her dad’s health and what she wants to do with her college career, saving her family’s business, and more. Told from dual-points-of-view, there’s a lot of territory covered.

The Characters
No one does characters like Julie Cross. Tate is complex, fascinating, and completely loveable. The author takes usdeep inside his head and I never doubt it’s a guy’s point of view. Unfortunately, Claire fell a little flat for me. I struggled to like her her. I felt for her, I mean, who wouldn’t with everything she was dealing with, but I just didn’t love her the way I do so many of Ms. Cross’s characters (Ellie from Chasing Truth, for example). This was a pretty character-heavy story and I had a tough time keeping some of the hockey players straight in my head, but Tate’s and Claire’s families came across in vivid color.

World Building
There’s a lot of hockey here, something I didn’t know that much about before reading Off the Ice. I feel as if I understand it better now. To me, it’s always been “soccer played on ice with sticks.” And maybe there’s a little bit of that to it still, but it sounds a lot more interesting. I may even try to take in a San Diego Gulls game and watch it live.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The romance. It wasn’t that it didn’t work so much as there wasn’t ever a doubt they might not end up together. The romance lacked much in the way of overt conflict. It’s almost as if these two teens were wise beyond their years when it came to relationships.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About OFF THE ICE
1. The realness. I love that nothing was glossed over. The emotions, and feelings, and events were all written with such intensity, they grabbed me and pulled me into the story.

2. Tate. He’s so deeply drawn, it’s hard not to get such a sense of who he is and I love him all the more for his flaws.

3. Hockey. And not just the games. The practice and politics surrounding high school hockey was fascinating.

4. Cancer. No, I don’t like cancer, but I love that the author didn’t gloss over the ugly effects of this heinous disease.

5. Roger. Tate’s stepfather grows more important in Tate’s life throughout the story, so we catch glimpses of him early on, that grow more frequent as the book progresses until we get to see him for who he really is. Hint: he’s one of the really good guys.

Bottom Line
OFF THE ICE is a sweet small-town high school romance. A Friday Night Lights for the hockey crowd.

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: OFF THE ICE
Series: Juniper Falls #1
Author: Julie Cross
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Pages: 370
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Sports Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay | !ndigo | BAM! | Book Depository

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Author Julie Cross

Author Julie Cross

About the Author
Julie Cross is a NYT and USA Today bestselling author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction, including the Tempest series, a young adult science fiction trilogy which includes Tempest, Vortex, Timestorm (St. Martin’s Press). She’s also the author of Letters to Nowhere series, Whatever Life Throws at You, Third Degree, Halfway Perfect, and many more to come!

Julie lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast, longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former Gymnastics Program Director with the YMCA. She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the young adult and new adult genres.

Outside of her reading and writing credibility’s, Julie Cross is a committed–but not talented–long distance runner, creator of imaginary beach vacations, Midwest bipolar weather survivor, expired CPR certification card holder, as well as a ponytail and gym shoe addict.

Where to Find Julie Cross
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Cover Reveal – THE HOT SHOT (Game On) by Kristen Callihan

THE HOT SHOT Cover Reveal

New York Times bestselling author, Kristen Callihan, is unveiling the cover to THE HOT SHOT, the fourth book in the new adult contemporary sports romance, Game On, releasing April 17, 2017. See below for information on the book and a link to add it to your Goodreads TBR.

THE HOT SHOT (Game On #4) by Kristen Callihan

THE HOT SHOT (Game On #4) by Kristen Callihan

About the Book
Title:
 THE HOT SHOT
Series: Game On #4
Author: Kristen Callihan
Release Date: April 17, 2017
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Sports Romance
Links: Goodreads

Synopsis
First we were friends. Then we were roommates. Now I want more…

What can I say about Chess Copper? The woman is capable of bringing me to my knees. I know this about five minutes after getting naked for her.

No one is more surprised than me. The prickly photographer my team hired to shoot our annual charity calendar isn’t my usual type. She’s defense to my offense, a challenge at every turn. But when I’m with her, all the regrets and darkness goes away. She makes life fun.

I want to know Chess, be close to her. Which is a bad idea.

Chess is looking for a relationship. I’ve never given a woman more than one night. But when fate leaves Chess without a home, I step up and offer her mine. We’re roommates now. Friends without benefits. But it’s getting harder to keep our hands off each other. And the longer we live together the more I realize she’s becoming my everything.

Trick is… Now that I’ve made her believe I’m a bad bet, how do I convince her to give this player a true shot at forever?

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THE HOT SHOT (Game On #4) by Kristen Callihan (Full Cover)

THE HOT SHOT (Game On #4) by Kristen Callihan (Full Cover)

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Author Kristen Callihan

Author Kristen Callihan

About the Author
Kristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she’d rather be. She is a three-time RITA nominee and winner of two RT Reviewer’s Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and the Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book FIRELIGHT received RT Magazine’s Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal , best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading.
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Where to Find Kristen Callihan
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

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Teaser Reveal – WRITE NAKED by Jennifer Probst

WRITE NAKED Excerpt Reveal

Writer’s Digest Books and New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Jennifer Probst, are revealing a teaser from WRITE NAKED: A Bestseller’s Guide to Writing Romance and Navigating the Path To Success, releasing March 31, 2017. See below for information on the book, pre-order links, and the exclusive teaser.

WRITE NAKED by Jennifer Probst

WRITE NAKED by Jennifer Probst

About the Book
Title: WRITE NAKED: A Bestseller’s Guide to Writing Romance and Navigating the Path To Success
Author: Jennifer Probst
Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books
Release Date: March 31, 2017
Genre: Non-Fiction/Writing Craft
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooksKobo | GooglePlay

Synopsis
Learn how to transform your passion for writing into a career. New York Times best-selling author Jennifer Probst reveals her pathway to success, from struggling as a new writer to signing a seven-figure deal. Write Naked intermingles personal essays on craft with down-to-earth advice on writing romance in the digital age. Probst will teach you how to:

Commit to your current work-in-progress, get focused, and complete it on schedule
Reveal raw emotions and thoughts on the page to hook your readers
Assemble a street team to promote and celebrate your books
Overcome writer’s block with ease
Develop themes that tie together your books and series
Write the most difficult elements of romance–including sex scenes–with skill and style

Regardless of the genre, every novelist faces a difficult task. Creating authentic characters and an engaging plot are challenging enough. But attempting to break into the hotter-than-ever romance genre, which is constantly flooded with new titles and fresh faces? It can feel impossible. This is where Probst’s Write Naked comes in. To survive–and thrive–you need the help and wisdom of an expert.

Written in Probst’s unmistakable and honest voice, Write Naked is filled with the lessons and craft advice every writer needs in order to carve out a rewarding career.

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WRITE NAKED Teaser

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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
 GoodreadsWebsite | Facebook | Twitter
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Sale Blitz + Giveaway – HUNT THE DAWN (Fatal Dreams) by Abbie Roads

HUNT THE DAWN Sale Blitz

Welcome to the sale blitz for HUNT THE DAWN, the second book in the paranormal romance/thriller series Fatal Dreams, by Abbie Roads. For a limited time, you can pick up the ebook for just $0.99! See below for information on the book and series, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.

Hunt the Dawn (Fatal Dreams #2) by Abbie Roads

Hunt the Dawn (Fatal Dreams #2) by Abbie Roads

About the Book
Title:
 Hunt the Dawn
Series: Fatal Dreams #2
Author: Abbie Roads
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: December 6, 2016
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Thriller
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | BAM! | IndieBound | !ndigo

Synopsis
“Dark and delicious.”—Kerrelyn Sparks, New York Times bestselling author on Race the Darkness

Out of darkness and danger…

You can’t hide your secrets from Lathan Montgomery-he can read your darkest memories. And while his special abilities are invaluable in the FBI’s hunt for a serial killer, he has no way to avoid the pain that brings him. Until he is drawn to courageous, down-on-her-luck Evanee Brown and finds himself able to offer her something he’s never offered another human being: himself.

Dawns a unique and powerful love

Nightmares are nothing new to Evanee Brown. But once she meets Lathan, they plummet into the realm of the macabre. Murder victims are reaching from beyond the grave to give Evanee evidence that could help Lathan bring a terrifying killer to justice. Together, they could forge an indomitable partnership to thwart violence, abuse, and death-if they survive the forces that seek to tear them apart...

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HUNT THE DAWN Teaser 1

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Excerpt
Lathan laid Honey in his bed. Her body was dead weight and awkward, so he adjusted her arms, her legs, her head as if she were a life-sized ragdoll, until she looked comfortable.

He tore off his gloves, pressed his fingers to her neck, and concentrated on finding her pulse. The steady pressure of her heartbeat tapped against his fingertips in a Morse code rhythm all its own. He laid his other hand on her chest, just below her clavicles, to ensure the rise and fall of her breathing. He tried not to notice how close his hand was to her breasts. Failed.

The side of his hand rested next to the gentle slope of her breast. If he fanned out his pinkie finger—no. He pulled his hand away.

She must’ve just passed out.

He went into the bathroom, soaped up half the stack of clean washcloths and washed the lingering scent of decay from her hand.

Her skin was rough and red, her fingers knobby and strong, her nails ragged and short. She had the body and clothing of a stripper, but he expected something more faux sexy than torn up fingernails and blistered feet. What kind of job abused her hands and her feet? Nothing seemed to fit.

He had questions and not one answer. What was her name? Why didn’t he get SMs from her? Why was he able to touch her? Where the fuck did she get a human eyeball?

He stared at her face as if the answers were written in the delicate arch of her brows, or in the gentle curve of her lashes. Or in the small sickle shaped scar at the corner of her mouth that curved upwards giving her the curious appearance of smiling out of one side of her mouth, while the other side frowned.

Her eyelids fluttered. Opened.

“How are you feeling?” That question was more appropriate than interrogating her on how she came into possession of a human eyeball. He’d wait until she was fully conscious before tripping down that trail.

“Cold. So cold.” Goose bumps pimpled over her bare skin. She scooted toward where he sat on the edge of the bed, wrapping herself around his hips, seeking his body’s warmth.

He should get the heavy sleeping bag from the closet. He should cover her with it and leave the room. He should, he should, he should. He didn’t. He pulled off his boots, eased into the bed—she latched onto him before he fully reclined.

She molded herself to him. His shoulder her pillow, her arm around his middle, one of her legs draped over his thighs, her knee just a few miniscule inches from his groin. Everything vanished, except the vivid sensation of her feminine curves burrowing into him, seeking his safety, his comfort, his warmth. She was cool where he was on fire. She was soft where he couldn’t bend. She was sweet where he felt bitter.

She fit into his arms, against his body, and into his soul, like she was designed especially for him. He wanted to believe he could have a happy ending with her, but his reality was a cruel hard place where good things just didn’t happen. Or if they did, they never lasted.

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Trailer

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Race the Darkness (Fatal Dreams #1) by Abbie Roads

Race the Darkness (Fatal Dreams #1) by Abbie Roads

About Book 1
Title:
 Race the Darkness
Series: Fatal Dreams #1
Author: Abbie Roads
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: October 4, 2016
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Thriller
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | BAM! | IndieBound | !ndigo

Synopsis
First in a gripping paranormal romantic suspense duo by a Golden Heart finalist debut author whose clinical work gives her chilling insights…

Cursed with a terrible gift…

Criminal investigator Xander Stone doesn’t have to question you—he can hear your thoughts. Scarred by lightning, burdened with a power that gives him no peace, Xander struggles to maintain his sanity against the voice that haunts him day and night—the voice of a woman begging him to save her.

A gift that threatens to engulf them…

Isleen Walker has long since given up hope of escape from the nightmare of captivity and torture that is draining her life, her mind, and her soul. Except…there is the man in her feverish dreams, the strangely beautiful man who beckons her to freedom and wholeness. And when he comes, if he comes, it will take all their combined fury and faith to overcome a madman bent on fulfilling a deadly prophecy.

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HUNT THE DAWN Teaser 2

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Author Abbie Roads

Author Abbie Roads

About the Author
Seven Things about Abbie Roads:

She loves Snicker Parfaits. Gotta start with what’s most important, right?

She writes dark emotional books featuring damaged characters, but always gives her hero and heroine a happy ending… after torturing them for three hundred pages.

By day she’s a mental health counselor known for her blunt, honest style of therapy. At night she burns up the keyboard. Well… Burn might be too strong a word. She at least sits with her hands poised over the keyboard, waiting for inspiration to strike. And when it does—the keyboard might get a little warm.

She can’t stand it when people drive slowly in the passing lane. Just saying. That’s major annoying. Right?

She loves taking pictures of things she thinks are pretty.

 She’s represented by Michelle Grajkowski of 3 Seas Literary.

Her first book RACE THE DARKNESS was a Publishers Weekly Top 10 Pick for Fall...

Where to find Abbie Roads
Goodreads | Website | NewsletterFacebook | Facebook GroupTwitter | Instagram | Pinterest

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Giveaway
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Blog Tour – Excerpt + Giveaway – THE COPPERSMITH FARMHOUSE by Devney Perry

THE COPPERSMITH FARMHOUSE Blog Tour

Welcome to the blog tour for THE COPPERSMITH FARMHOUSE, the first book in the adult contemporary romance series, Jamison Valley, by Devney Perry. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.

THE COPPERSMITH FARMHOUSE (Jamison Valley) by Devney Perry

THE COPPERSMITH FARMHOUSE (Jamison Valley) by Devney Perry

About the Book
Title: THE COPPERSMITH FARMHOUSE
Series: Jamison Valley
Author: Devney Perry
Release Date: March 9, 2017
Genre:
 Adult Contemporary Romance
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CABarnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Synopsis
One old farmhouse brought them together. It could also tear them apart.

Gigi has just uprooted her whole world to start a new life. The unexpected gift of a farmhouse in small-town Montana is just what she and her daughter need to escape big-city loneliness. The last thing she needs is attitude from the town’s sheriff, the most perfectly attractive and ruggedly handsome man she’s ever laid eyes on—and a complete jerk.

Jess knows all about women like Gigi. Beautiful. Sexy. Scheming. She’s stolen his sanctuary, the farmhouse that should have been his. But along with a face full of freckles, she’s got a sharp wit and a backbone of steel—something he doesn’t discover until after making a complete fool of himself. If he can earn back her trust and win her heart, he might just find the home he’s always needed.

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THE COPPERSMITH FARMHOUSE Teaser 1

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Excerpt #2
“Jess, these are too much,” I said.

“Not too much at all.”

“These were not cheap. Plus everything you bought for Roe . . .” I trailed off, mentally tallying up the sum he had spent on us for Christmas.

“I’ve been waiting thirty-four years to find the right woman. Finally did. Now I get to spoil her, so just get used to it.”

“Why?” I whispered.

“Why, what?”

“Why me? Why’d you pick me as your girl? I mean, I’m just me and you’re . . . well . . . you. Perfect.”

He took in a deep breath and closed his eyes for a few moments. When he opened them, his eyes had changed. They were no longer soft and gentle. They were firm and determined.

“I’m not sure where you got it in that head of yours that I’m too good for you. Because the way I see it, it’s the other way around. And it stops today. No more.”

Jess’s hands framed my face, his thumbs stroking my jaw gently.

“Baby, you’ve got the biggest heart of any person I’ve ever met. I’ve never known a soul who would have taken on an old man just so he wouldn’t be alone. Someone needs help, the first thing you think about is how you can do it. Christ, you offered to move a stranger in with you so he’d have a place to live after his house burned down. And you’ve raised the most precious little girl on the planet. When you look at her, you see beauty, don’t you?”

“Well . . . of course. She’s my daughter.”

He shook his head a couple of times. “She’s you,” he said. “In every way, she’s you. When you look at her and get that feeling of pride in your chest? When you look at her face and into her eyes and it makes your heart hurt she’s so beautiful? Georgia, that’s how I feel when I look at you.”

His words, describing exactly how I felt about my daughter, moved me so deeply that I started crying again, completely unable to stop the emotion.

Swiping the tears as they fell, he whispered, “I love you. Everything. How you don’t back down during an argument. How you take care of Rowen. Take care of me. That you don’t mind including my mother. How you invite my sister over for Christmas minutes after she treats you badly. So let me buy you whatever the fuck I feel like for Christmas, birthdays or just whenever. Okay?”

I nodded and sniffled.

“Okay.”

Jess’s words penetrated deep into my heart.

We’d been together for months and I had always doubted us. But we made sense. I thought he was perfect. He was. But what his words finally made me realize was that he thought I was perfect too. We were perfect together.

Perfect sense.

I sniffled one last time and twisted my head out of his hands to get my necklace. After I put it on, I screwed on my earrings.

He lifted a finger to the jewel at my throat and muttered, “True beauty.”

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THE COPPERSMITH FARMHOUSE Teaser 2

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Author Devney Perry

Author Devney Perry

About the Author
Devney lives in Montana with her husband and two children. After working in the technology industry for nearly a decade, she abandoned conference calls and project schedules to enjoy a slower pace at home with her kids. She loves reading and, after consuming hundreds of books, decided to share her own stories.

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Where to Find Devney Perry
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Teaser Reveal – TAKE ME BACK by Meghan March

USA Today bestselling author, Meghan March, is revealing a teaser to her upcoming TAKE ME BACK, a stand-alone adult contemporary romance, releasing March 20, 2017. See below for information on the book, pre-order links, and the exclusive teaser.

TAKE ME BACK by Meghan March

TAKE ME BACK by Meghan March

About the Book
Title
: TAKE ME BACK
Author: Meghan March
Publisher: Red Dress Press
Category: Adult Contemporary Romance
Release Date: March 20, 2017
LinksGoodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CA | Barnes & NoblesiBooks | Kobo

Synopsis
We fell in love on a beach, got married in paradise, and I carried her off into the sunset. It should have been perfect, but saying “I do” doesn’t guarantee a happily-ever-after.

Two years later, I barely recognize either of us behind the walls we’ve built.

It’s time to bring it full circle. Back to a tropical paradise. Back to find out if we can still make this work.

I’m not willing to give her up, but to save us, I have to risk everything.

Two damaged people.

Countless secrets.

The fight of our lives.

We might be broken, but we’re not done.

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TAKE ME BACK TEASER 1

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Author Meghan March

Author Meghan March

About the Author
Meghan March has been known to wear camo face paint and tromp around in woods wearing mud-covered boots, all while sporting a perfect manicure. She’s also impulsive, easily entertained, and absolutely unapologetic about the fact that she loves to read and write smut. Her past lives include slinging auto parts, selling lingerie, making custom jewelry, and practicing corporate law. Writing books about dirty talking alpha males and the strong, sassy women who bring them to their knees is by far the most fabulous job she’s ever had. She loves hearing from her readers at meghanmarchbooks@gmail.com.

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Where to Find Meghan March
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Amazon
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Book Blitz – Excerpt + Giveaway – THE SECRETS OF EDEN Brandon Goode

THE SECRETS OF EDEN Book Blitz

Welcome to the book blitz for THE SECRETS OF EDEN, a young adult LGBTQ fantasy romance, by Brandon Goode, releasing March 18, 2017. See below for information on the book, pre-order links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on his giveaway.

THE SECRETS OF EDEN Brandon Goode

THE SECRETS OF EDEN Brandon Goode

About the Book
Title:
THE SECRETS OF EDEN
Author: Brandon Goode
Release Date: March 18, 2017
Genre: Young Adult LGBTQ Fantasy Romance
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis
When Eden discovers he possesses forbidden magic, keeping his affair with the crown prince a secret becomes the least of his worries.

Eden has always obeyed the laws of Rolaria. He spends his days teaching children how to read in order to distract him from his mother’s bizarre disappearance. She worked in the castle before suddenly vanishing, and when Eden mistakenly receives an invitation to the Royal Ball, he goes to feel closer to her.

That same night, Prince Jared must find a bride. But after an unexpected encounter between Eden and the prince, a relationship begins. After a night with the prince, Eden explores the castle on his own. Lost in the corridors, he stumbles upon a hidden room and finds his mother’s journal, whose pages reveal a lineage of outlawed magic.

He soon realizes the castle walls not only hide his romance with Jared but secrets about his mother’s disappearance. In order to unravel the mystery and understand his awakening abilities, Eden must risk exposing his relationship and thwarting Jared’s chances to rule Rolaria.

The closer Eden gets to the truth, the closer he finds himself facing the same fate as his mother.

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Excerpt
I arrived at the ball with no help from a fairy godmother, no pumpkin carriage at my disposal, and certainly no glass slippers on my feet. The clock struck at half past eleven while serenading music emanated from the room as a chamber orchestra played a familiar composition. Being from the impoverished side of the kingdom, I wouldn’t usually attend a masquerade ball, but somehow a royal invitation arrived at the front door of my cottage.

In the Kingdom of Rolaria, there were strict laws forbidding us lower class citizens associating ourselves with the upper class. It had been said since the beginning, Rolaria would be frozen in time. The penalty for breaking any of the kingdom laws was death or a lifetime in prison. In any case, I was already at the ball so if the invitation was delivered to me by mistake or coincidence it was too late.

After giving my coat to one of the royal doormen, I proceeded toward the dance floor where I saw the King’s Waltz already in progress. I arrived alone and couldn’t participate in the graceful dance. The king and queen were at the center of the dance floor, boasting their mediocre dancing skills to all of their admiring guests. Taking advantage of this affair, I made my way to the banquet tables where all of the delicious food was residing.

Two roasted ducks served as the centerpiece for the lavish feast. Blue sweet potatoes sat next to the golden corn, and squared briberry dinner muffins were neighbors with the tangy kimberry sauce. Sweet little dessert pastries were sprinkled throughout the table so that guests did not have to fight over them in one location. To the east of the buffet tables were two sets of double doors that opened out into the castle garden and to the west were seating areas to enjoy your plate of delicious goods.

The last meal I had like the feast before my eyes was the one my mother prepared for me before she disappeared. Every evening she would prepare a grand feast of chicken breast with two fixings that we would share, but one night was different. She prepared more than just the usual chicken breast. She prepared a turkey that evening for our dinner. She encouraged me to begin eating without her because she had important business to attend to that wouldn’t keep her long, but she never returned.

My mother vanished when I was ten years old, and my father ran away with a woman from the market before I was born. I grew up in a cottage in the kingdom marketplace with my mother. Growing up, she would always tell me stories about princes who fought dragons and saved the day, fairies, and other magical things. At the end of every tale she would say, “No matter who you are or where you come from, everyone has a story that should be told. Why not go out and make yours a remarkable one?”

My mother always made sure I never lacked anything while growing up. She was able to sneak me books from her job within the castle and taught me reading, writing, and arithmetic. If my mother were here, she would’ve forced me to attend this ball. There was nothing more interesting to partake in this evening, other than teaching young children in the marketplace how to read.

The King’s Waltz finally ended, and everyone began socializing. I overheard conversations about the royal prince and when he would marry and, if so, to whom. At a side table, there sat a few gossiping women in identical bird masks, talking about the king’s numerous extramarital affairs he had with his maids. This was the typical talk I assumed happened at balls, so I nodded to seem interested although I felt out of place. My eyes searched around the room to escape the remedial conversations and to admire the costumes being worn by all of the guests.

I was surrounded by extravagant colors such as ivory and lavender on my left, and on my right the colors of peach, olive, and cream circled in socialization. There was a slender woman sporting a skin-tight green silk gown with a golden wire masquerade mask. Her slim figure and costume choice reminded me of a green tree python. Royal army men wore black masks with their scarlet uniforms. When they would group together it portrayed the image of a sea of rose petals, fighting across the current of the dance floor.

Everyone was dressed in some of the best clothes I’d ever seen. I was definitely out of place. My costume was made from drapes I stole from the marketplace bookstore. They were black with golden lace and white pinstripes. I made my mask from one of the white lace dresses my mother used to wear so a piece of her would be with me tonight.

“Are you Thaddeus?” a drunken gentleman who wore a harlequin mask asked me from behind. It startled me, but I didn’t want to be rude. I turned around to introduce myself.

“I’m sorry, but I’m not Thaddeus. I’m…I’m…”, I paused before I told him my name. I feared that I could be identified from the marketplace, and I could be kicked out of the ball or even punished. But then I remembered that he was drunk and he would probably forget it in a matter of seconds. “My name is Eden.”

My mother told me that my name was one of the most creative and appealing in the entire kingdom. Every other boy in the kingdom was named something like Lancelot, Arthur or Charles. They were named after heroes that set out to make a name for themselves with impossible feats.

“Eden? I think I have heard that name somewhere before. Are you related to the Micklen family by chance?”

“No, sir. I’m not.” Nervously I readjusted my mask to make sure my face was not recognizable. Wasn’t he supposed to be drunk?

“Oh, I did not mean to bother you, young man. I thought you looked like someone I knew. I will be on my way now. By any chance have you seen any of the champagne being served tonight? I would love another drink. I feel like a fish out of water.” he said with a drunken grin. I pointed toward the end of the buffet tables where the champagne was being poured, and he skipped his way to another glass.

After my exchange with the drunkard and with sudden dizziness from the gaudy costumes I made my exit to the garden. I’d never been inside the castle before but I needed air, and the garden seemed to be the best place to go catch my breath and rest for a minute.

Stepping out into the garden, the aroma of jasmine and lilies permeated the air and struck my nose with a gentle kiss. Beautiful cherub inspired sculptures and two large fountains called the garden home. Looking around, I noticed different types of flowers were planted in a design that paid tribute to the royal family’s crest of white, lavender and green.

“It’s magnificent isn’t it?” A voice startled me from behind.

“Why it is one of the most magnificent gardens I have ever seen. You must have read my mind,” I replied without turning around.

“Why are you out here by yourself? Why aren’t you inside with the other guests dancing and parading around?”

“I just needed some air, but I was going to go back inside soon.” realizing that my response might sound insulting, “The ball is very wonderful, but I wanted to escape for a few minutes to admire this garden.”

The lie escaped from my mouth to cover up the truth that I really did not belong in there; hopefully, this inquirer would believe me. Quickly turning around to see the stranger, I was shocked at what I saw; this mysterious gentleman was handsome.

He was about a foot taller than me with straight brown hair styled over his forehead and down onto his mask. His skin was like milk mixed with a pinch of cinnamon and some honey, which gave him a rich complexion. The bone structure of his face was sharp with his defined jaw line. He had slight stubble prickling out, and his nose was slender and raised at the tip making it the perfect shape. He flashed a short smile from behind his full lips, and his amber eyes became illuminated in the mystical moonlight. I could tell this gentleman was established from his exquisite white and silver costume, and the mask that covered the top of his face was lined with diamonds. He stood with his arms folded tapping his foot. He then started to shift his weight from one foot to the other.

“Do I know you? You look like someone who has played a game of royal chess with me.”

“I don’t believe so. I’m new to the kingdom,” I lied again.

“Ahh, I see. There aren’t that many young gentlemen at this ball, so what brings you here?”

“I received an invitation from the royal messenger, and I try not to disappoint people so I came.” I smiled because I could feel his eyes trying to hypnotize me. They were staring right into mine and the moonlight gave them a celestial gleam.

I started to walk back inside to escape this stranger, but he stuck out his arm blocking the doorway back inside. His attractiveness was leaving me defenseless to his questions and my escape back into the ball would have been the quickest exit.

“Don’t leave yet. We’ve just started to get to know each other. I rarely talk to people in this kingdom because they seem so mundane, but, looking in your eyes, I feel that you are different. So, don’t leave so soon. I may be making a new friend.” He then looked into my eyes again, and, this time, I felt drawn to this mysterious gentleman. We both reached out our hands to go for a handshake, but my hand fell short and his hand brushed the top of mine.

When our hands brushed there was a spark, and I knew from that moment, this mysterious stranger would possibly become something more than a friend to keep me company at the ball.

“I’m sorry. I’m normally good at these things. I know how to shake hands and introduce myself. I don’t know why my hand didn’t quite meet yours.”

“It’s okay, and no need for apologies.” His lips curled into a grin, and I could tell he was thinking of something by the way his eyes started to wander.

“Okay, so why are you out here in the garden talking with me instead of inside enjoying the ball?” I questioned, attempting to throw off whatever he was thinking.

“To be completely honest, I needed to get away. There are just so many people, and I wanted to avoid my parents, so why not slip outside? Then all of a sudden a drunken man approached me and said he spotted someone from the marketplace among the guests in the party, and suggested I check it out. The only issue with that is this is a masquerade ball, so how would I be able to identify this attendee? Anyways, none of that is important.”

“That’s understandable. I, too, had a run in with the drunkard.” I nervously laughed. I was glad that he paid no attention to the drunkard’s words of an uninvited guest. I noticed that he was situating himself closer to me. If anyone else tried to get close to me I would have run away by now, but for some reason, this felt different. He was taking baby steps thinking that I wouldn’t notice, but I caught on to his movements. The moon that was playing hide-and-seek behind the clouds all night finally decided to reveal itself. When the moon was out completely, I noticed that the stranger’s features were ten times better than when they appeared in the shade.

“You know what they say about the moonlight and two people?” he asked, and I felt puzzled. I didn’t have a clue as to what he was talking about. I’ve never heard anything about two people and moonlight. Was this something important that only certain people knew around the kingdom?

“I don’t know what they say. Would you care to enlighten me?”

He then flashed that notorious smile of his and quickly leaned in close right before our noses were going to meet and whispered, “They kiss in the moonlight.”

Before I could react to his answer, he grabbed my shoulders and kissed me. Our lips met as if they were hungry animals going in for a kill, and I became intoxicated. The kiss didn’t last long, but I was now hooked onto this mysterious friend I had made.

After the kiss, I was silent from shocked passion, and my words couldn’t formulate properly in my head. The stranger analyzed my paralysis and he looked worried.

“I hope I did not frighten you, it just felt like it was the right thing to do.” He then began to pull me in closer to him, and our eyes met again.

“It’s okay,” I assured him. “I trust you for some reason, and oddly, it felt fitting to me, as well.” I’d never kissed a stranger before, but it seemed right.

“I lied to you earlier.” he looked at me nervously, “The reason I’m in the garden is because I saw you come out here. I saw you when you made your entrance into the ball and I had to introduce myself. You arrived alone, and I took it as a sign that you don’t belong to anyone so I acted on my instincts to talk to you before tonight was over. I also noticed your slight dismissal of the King’s Waltz, and I have to admit that I don’t care for it either.” His eyes were locked in on mine, and I could feel him trying to convince me not to leave.

“Well, thank you. I’m charmed. No one has ever said that to me before. I guess I should tell you my name?” I wondered if he would care that I was from the marketplace instead of coming from wealth like him. Would he run away from me after knowing the truth about who I was?

“Not just yet, I do like the mystery between us. Something about this mystery makes our meeting more interesting. It’s like fate brought us together tonight and led into the garden where the moon would bless our meeting.” His words were soothing and everything that he said sounded like pure perfection.

“If you don’t want to know just yet I guess our identities can be a secret for quite some time longer.”

He then took my hand and led me to a bench that sat closer to one of the fountains in the garden. We spent almost an hour talking about the evening and where we hoped our connection would go. The evening started off isolated and confusing then somehow turned into something special. Who knew that coming to a masquerade ball would end with such a lovely encounter?

Suddenly, I heard the king cry out from inside, drunk and slurring. “Jared! Jared!” I had never met the prince, but from the way the king was yelling I could tell he probably always avoided his father. “Jared! There is someone in here I would like you to meet! Jared!” In my time with the stranger, talking in the beautiful garden, I had forgotten where I was. I was at a ball. It sounded like the king wanted to show him off to a lovely young lady he’d found sitting alone inside. “Jared! Where are you hiding?” The king was known for being loud and boisterous, and if I were his son I’m pretty sure I would try to disappear when he was drunk as well.

I felt my handsome stranger begin to move, and I started putting this puzzle of an evening together. He gently removed himself from my side, stood in front of me and casually removed his mask. For some reason, it felt as if my eyes were playing a cruel trick on me or I was in some sort of sick dream because the friend that I had made now stood before me with all of his mystery gone. The man who stood before me was none other than Prince Jared.

Jared was the prince that all of the women and their daughters swooned over. The gentleman every little girl in the kingdom said they were going to marry when they’re older. There were rumors that he was a womanizer, and that he only took pleasure in taking advantage of girls he courted. After our little garden session and the kiss, I assumed that girls never interested him, and these were just silly stories gossips created about him. I couldn’t believe I kissed Prince Jared. What would his parents think if they found out? They threw the ball in hopes of finding him a beautiful bride. The king and queen were known for trying to set him up with some young girl. This was the third ball they held this year.

Here stood the prince before me, no longer mysterious. He flashed his smile that I swooned over and promised me, “I’ll return as soon as I can. Do you see why I was trying to avoid them? They enjoy embarrassing me in front of guests. Please don’t go anywhere; I want to get to know you more. I promise that I will return, so please don’t leave the ball without me coming back to see you. ”

Prince Jared dashed away as quickly as I could blink. I heard the crowd from inside applaud when he made his royal appearance of the evening. The room quickly went back to their business, I assumed, because the orchestra started playing again.

So, here I sat on a cold bench in the castle garden, surrounded by cherub statues waiting alone in the moonlight for the prince to return to me. What would my mother have thought of this meeting? Was this where she saw my life story going? I was the only one masked away in mystery, with many questions crossing my mind and not knowing how this night would change the rest of our lives. Who knew what the gossips would say about him now?

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Author Brandon Goode

Author Brandon Goode

About the Author
Brandon Goode grew up in the small beach town of Melbourne, Florida. He attended Eastern Florida State College and Florida International University. He has written for publications such as Florida Today, Florida International University Student Media, and the Disney Internships and Programs Blog. Brandon loves motivating and inspiring others, enjoys traveling, and eats an insanely amount of sushi every chance he gets. Oh, and he is obsessed with all things on the Bravo network. .

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Where to Find Brandon Goode
Goodreads | Instagram | Book Instagram | Twitter

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