Strangers to lovers, who don’t know they’re enemies…Raven Donovan isn’t looking for a relationship. She’s married to her job and vice president of her company. So she’s blindsided when a corporate takeover leaves her unceremoniously unemployed. Reeling, she retreats to her family’s beach house on Heron Harbor Island and drowns her sorrows in a bottle of tequila. And then a tall, dark, and gorgeous stranger walks through the door…
Jack Baines has it all—money, a good job, and he’s the heir to one of the largest private equity firms on the East Coast. With his latest conquest under his belt, he should be flying high. But as much as he enjoys the thrill of the hunt, firing people takes a toll on him. So he heads to the beach for some alone time, never expecting to find a half-naked, dark-haired beauty in his rental.
With a storm raging outside, Raven and Jack end up sharing more than just the house. A scorching night turns into a red-hot weekend that reveals how much they have in common—including Raven’s ex-company. That revelation threatens everything they’ve found unless they fight to build something new…together.
Excerpt Jack had never been so grateful for central heating as when they stepped back into the house from the biting nor’easter. Even the dog had the good sense to stay out only long enough to do her business then come straight back inside.
Raven’s jaw trembled. “We’d better g-g-et these w-w-et clothes off before we c-c-catch cold. L-l-laundry room.” She turned and sprinted for the small room off the rear of the kitchen.
She shed her jacket, then tried to peel her soaked sweatshirt off her body but got stuck mid-way through. “Um…h-help.” Her arms were tangled in the wet cloth above her head.
Jack tossed his own sweater and T-shirt into the open washer, then freed her from her sweatshirt.
“T-thanks,” she said, then whipped off her freezing tank, leaving her topless.
Jack barely noticed, since he was too busy removing his drenched sweatpants which had chilled him straight to the bone. By the time they were in the washer along with the rest of the clothes, Raven was fighting to free her legs from her jeans. Jack reached down and gave her an extra hand, stripping them off her skin.
Raven’s teeth rattled but she still managed a smile. “Th-thank you.” Her shoulders were hunched and her arms were tight against her body, her wrists crossed at her breasts. She shook like a leaf in a hurricane.
“Come here.” He pulled her to his chest and wrapped himself around her, letting his chin gently rest against the top of her head. Breathing deep, he drank her in. She was soft and smelled like rain. And though she was so much smaller than he, and her features so petite, in his arms, she felt like she was made to fit against his body. His wide palms stroked the length of her back.
Raven exhaled and relaxed into him, releasing her arms. On a sigh, she threaded her hands around his waist and nuzzled her face against his left pec. He imagined she was listening to his heartbeat, and wondered if it quickened as their skin heated against each other’s.
She tilted her head to meet his gaze. “You’re so warm.” Her brown eyes searched his.
“As warm as you.” God, she was gorgeous.
Aaand there went his plan to keep things platonic. Together-but-separate was impossible with this woman. He wanted to be around her. In her. Whatever it took.
About the Author Lea Nolan is a USA Today bestselling author who writes smart, witty contemporary stories filled with head-swooning, heart-throbbing, sweep-you-off your feet romance. She also pens books for young adults featuring bright heroines, crazy-hot heroes, diabolical plot twists, plus a dose of magic, a draft of romance, and a sprinkle of history.
Born and raised on Long Island, New York she loves the water far too much to live inland. With her heroically supportive husband and three brilliant children, she resides in Maryland where she cracks crabs and bakes ugly birthday cakes.
Welcome to the book blitz for THE CONSEQUENCES OF FATE, the second book in the young adult contemporary romance series, Heartless, by Mary E. Palmerin. See below for information on the book and series, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF FATE (Heartless Series #2) by Mary E. Palmerin
Synopsis When I was little, I wanted to be a superhero to fly over the moon. Then I found a suitcase with a photo of the brown-eyed angel. The bad man changed me. I became lost and unlovable. After the consequences of fate reared its ugly head, I decided I would be the master of my ultimate plan.
I am not a good boy.
I watch people.
I hurt them.
And I destroy the truth.
Excerpt Grabbing a used syringe, I prepare it for its splendor. Next, I flick my lighter under the metal until it bubbles precisely right turning the material into dissolved ecstasy. I suck the liquid into the syringe and heave a sigh. This is my favorite part; the component where the bruises from my past will soon be left behind before the delusions return. Every second gets colder as I await the delightful keenness of heat and heaven. My shaking hand finds the bubbled up blue vein and I penetrate it, wasting no time pushing the heroin into my bloodstream. I am lost, but she will find me. I am nothing to no one, but maybe I can be someone to her. There must be something out there for me. I grin, slumping off my cot, falling back onto the dirty clothes littered atop the stained carpet in my bedroom. Soon I will be swallowed up, submerged by the memories that I try to run from. I was just a boy and she was just a girl. I will make her fall in love with me even if it is the last thing I do.
What is love? Love is heroin. Love is the high, the inability to recall the monsters. That is what love is. Damn it all to hell, I am running back to her and I am not sure for what anymore…
About Author Mary E. Palmerin is an internationally bestselling author of The Monster Series, Redeeming Rhys, and half the madness behind The Red Market Series. She currently resides in Indiana with her husband and two boys. She enjoys writing raw, taboo tales that strike various emotions in her readers. When she isn’t busy writing, she usually has her nose in a good book. Mary loves spending time with her family and friends, being outdoors, cooking, art, tattoos, red wine, traveling, and anything that makes her laugh. She loves to connect with her readers!.
Today is release day for WRITE BEFORE CHRISTMAS,a stand-alone adult contemporary romantic comedy/holiday romance, by USA Today bestselling author, Julie Hammerle. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her Giveaway.
Reclusive fantasy author turned famous when his series got developed into a mega TV hit. Except now I’m way behind deadline, and the whole world is waiting to see what I’ll write next. The pressure is getting to me, and I. Can’t. Write.
Cue: small town where people don’t recognize me.
Cue: my assistant insisting on a personal chef to keep me fed and nothing more.
Cue: finding the first bit of inspiration I’ve felt in months whenever she’s around…
Am I a walking cliche now, or what?
Dani Cooper seems to have her own hurdles to jump this holiday season. Newly divorced, looking for her next move. She’s the first person who’s seen me for me in way too long. And I see her, too–as way more than just an employee, a divorcee, a cook. She’s becoming my muse…
But when my Christmas deadline hits, will it spell the end of us, too?
Exclusive Excerpt “You said your house is full….” I was trying to get a read on her. She wore no wedding ring, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t seeing someone.
“My parents are there, obviously, and the dog and my daughter. And my niece and nephew and my sister-in-law…” She chuckled. “Kind of a full house, and my brother’s not even here yet.”
No mention of a boyfriend or girlfriend or partner or anything like that. “You said your daughter is there. Are you married?” Way to be blunt, Matt. Eh, sometimes it was best not to beat around the bush.
“Divorced,” she said. “You?”
“Single. Very single.”
Something in her eyes shifted. Heavy lids darkened her irises to charcoal as she studied me. “I was hoping that was what you’d say.”
I laughed nervously. “I was about to say the same thing to you.”
“I’ve been thinking about you since we ran into each other.” She pushed her hair over one shoulder. “Which is…not something I’d normally say to a complete stranger.”
“We’re not complete strangers now, though, are we? I’m Matt. You’re Dani—”
My stomach bubbled with excitement, as she stepped closer.
“I want to kiss you,” she said, her eyes narrowing.
“Please do,” I told her. “I want you to kiss me.”
She snatched the tumbler of moonshine back from me and drained it as a soft, chilly breeze ruffled her hair. With a lick of her lips, she dropped the cup. I barely had time to register the clank of the aluminum against the asphalt before her mouth was on mine.
I stumbled backward, still holding on to her, trying to keep us upright as our shoes skidded on the gravel next to the street and we tripped into the grass on the side of the road. Her soft, silky lips tasted like mangoes and cinnamon with a hint of alcohol. I held on tight to her, breathing her in, this stranger on the road in the middle of nowhere.
After a few moments, she pulled away, and I stifled a laugh.
“What?” Her eyes flashed.
“Nothing,” I said, shaking my head. “It’s just that, a few minutes ago, I’d been thinking about how we barely knew each other and were sharing a drink.”
She laughed, too. “I supposed all of this escalated quickly.”
“I’m not complaining.” I glanced down the road, toward the house where I was staying. I could invite her to join me, which was the kind of thing I never shied away from, at least it used to be. Random hookups had become more complicated in the past year. If I let Dani into my house, I’d be opening a can of worms. For the next several weeks, she’d be my neighbor. We’d run into each other constantly. Things would get awkward, and the stress of dealing with a romantic entanglement would distract me from my writing. Better to cut this short and leave ourselves with the sweet, perfect memory of making out with a total stranger in the moonlight on a deserted road. “I should probably…” I nodded back toward Linda’s house, making it look like I lived up that way.
“Me, too.” As she walked backwards, heading the way she came, she said, “But Matt, if you ever want to do that again…”
“I’ll keep an eye out for you.” I waved goodbye and headed back toward Linda’s house, ready to walk and walk and walk until I got that kiss out of my mind.
Author Julie Hammerle
About the Author USA Today bestselling author Julie Hammerle writes young adult novels that focus on nerds, geeks, and basket cases falling in love. On the YA side, she is the author of The Sound of Us (Entangled TEEN, 2016) and the North Pole romance series (Entangled Crush, 2017). For adult romances, look for Knocked-Up Cinderella in the fall of 2018. A graduate of Butler University with degrees in secondary education and Latin with a minor in music, Julie lives in Chicago with her family and enjoys reading, cooking, and watching all the television.
Today is release day for for HEAD OVER HEELS FOR THE HOLIDAYS, the seventh book in the adult contemporary romance series, Lost Harbor, Alaska, by USA Today bestselling author, Jennifer Bernard. See below for information on the book, buy links, and an exclusive excerpt.
HEAD OVER HEELS FOR THE HOLIDAYS (Lost Harbor, Alaska Series #7) by Jennifer Bernard
Synopsis Ever since her ex-boyfriend dumped her on Christmas Eve, the holiday season has been tough for Maya Badger—especially since Lost Harbor, Alaska, pulls out all the stops for the holidays. Sure, she could focus on her police work and her father’s recovery from heart surgery. But when her dad’s home healthcare nurse turns out to be her childhood buddy—all grown up and the stuff of her naughtiest fantasies—she may have a solution to her holiday blues. After all, Jay-Jay always was the perfect playmate!
Rune Larsen hasn’t been skinny little Jay-Jay in a long time…not since he and his teen sister were forced to change their names to avoid Cara’s stalker. Taking a job in tiny, remote Lost Harbor seems like the perfect way to stay one step ahead of danger. The fact that his childhood friend is the town police chief is a bonus. Not to mention the fact that Maya has grown into a beautiful bronze goddess. Hell, even her serious cop side is a turn-on…though he’s up for the challenge of bringing some fun back into her life.
In fact, if they can navigate a stalker, a runaway yak, eleventy-billion holiday parties and a criminal investigation into the dark side of Lost Souls Wilderness, Rune just may convince Maya to fall head over heels for the holidays…and beyond.
Excerpt Without thinking too hard about it, Maya rose to her feet and grabbed Rune by the collar of his jacket, pulling him close. “How about a fake kiss?” she asked quickly. “Just make it look good from a distance.”
He flashed her a pirate grin and cupped her face with his free hand. “My pleasure. I’m an excellent fake kisser.”
“Come on, hurry.”
He bent his head over hers, but he still didn’t go for the kiss. “You can’t hurry a fake kiss, or it will look fake. We’re flirting, we’re completely caught up in each other, we don’t even care that we’re drifting on the open ocean. Keep looking at me, just like that except without the ‘what the hell are you talking about’ expression.”
She smothered a laugh and relaxed her face into a dazzled smile. As if Rune was the most wonderful thing in the world, better than chocolate and bubble baths combined.
He blinked, as if she’d momentarily thrown him off his game with her smile. A personal triumph, she figured.
“That’s…good,” he said, a little more strained than before.
For a fake kiss, he sure was overthinking it. They needed to get this thing done.
She took command and wrapped her hand around the back of his neck. Tugging him down, she offered him her mouth. “Let’s do this,” she hissed. “Tick-tock.”
Honestly, why did she always have to be the one with any common sense? If those men onshore had binoculars, they were already watching. To throw them off, she only had a few moments. If the men thought they’d been busted, they might rework their entire comms system. The lead would be worthless. The source would be burned. The case back to square one.
And then all thoughts of logic flew from her mind as Rune claimed her lips with a kiss that sent shock waves through her system. Warmth…sizzle…sunshine…all of it swirled together in a rush of brilliant pleasure. His lips were firm and generous at the same time, as if they were inviting her into his world. A world where she would be queen and he would be whatever she needed.
A kind of exhilaration swept through her and she parted her lips for more. He gave it to her, sweeping his tongue inside the cave of her mouth, where every surface tingled and warmed at his touch.
Fake kiss, my ass.
This was the real thing and she couldn’t get enough of it. She drank him in as if she’d been starving for this, pining for it. Her mind—always working, always on guard—let go like an anchor releasing her to drift on the current. She lost herself in the flood of pure physical joy.
She staggered as the boat got slammed with a supersized wave. Rune held her tight so she didn’t lose her balance. “I need to steer this thing,” he murmured against her lips before turning back to the helm.
“Yes. Yeah. Of course.” She ran her tongue across her lips, tasting salt from the spray and sweet from Rune. She plopped down onto the bench as he wrestled with the wheel. Picking up her binoculars, she focused on the spot where the two men had been.
They were gone—or maybe her angle had changed and she couldn’t see them anymore.
She dropped her glasses and sighed. Hopefully she hadn’t messed anything up by making them suspicious. “Go ahead and pick up speed. Let’s keep going toward Mount Sage for a bit.”
Was his voice a little gruffer than usual? Was it the effect of the salt in the air?
He put the boat in gear and they cruised farther into the bay. She watched the little cove as it receded into the distance, swallowed up by the greater landscape of forests and rugged outcroppings.
What now? How to handle this? She and Rune had kissed, and there was no way she could forget about it the way she had when she was a kid.
Maybe never mention it again?
Or maybe do it again?
The tempting thought hovered out there like the promise of an ice cream sundae after a long week. Treat yo-self, she could imagine her cousin Reecie in Anchorage saying. Go for it, Kate would urge. I knew it, Jessica would say.
“Tell me when you’re ready to head back,” Rune said. “It’s your call.” His voice had returned to normal. She wondered what he was thinking about this situation. Then again, he didn’t overthink things like she did. He probably wasn’t worried about it at all. He probably kissed people all the time—all those non-girlfriend “girls” he’d talked about.
“I will,” she told him. “Give it a few more minutes.”
“The other thing is your call too,” Rune said softly, his attention still on the choppy water ahead.
“What are you talking about?”
“I know you’re trying to decide what to do about that kiss. I can see your wheels spinning from here.”
“I’m not—okay, I am. I didn’t intend for it to be like that.”
“It’s my fault.” His voice shifted to a jaunty cheerfulness. “My pride was hurt that you forgot the first kiss. I was aiming for ‘best kiss.’ One that you wouldn’t forget. That’s all.”
It wasn’t all. She could hear it in his voice. It was so much more complicated than that. Friendship, attraction, sizzle…all that, lined up against her better judgment. But even so, it touched her that he was trying to make the whole thing easier for her.
“Best kiss? Isn’t that a little arrogant?” She adopted a teasing tone to match his.
“Second best? Third? Just tell me it wasn’t the worst. Gotta start somewhere.”
“It wasn’t the worst.”
That was as far as she could go right now.
And maybe it was the best. Because right at this moment, she couldn’t think of any other specific kiss that might compete with it.
Author Jennifer Bernard
About the Author Jennifer Bernard is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. Her books have been called “an irresistible reading experience” full of “quick wit and sizzling love scenes.” A graduate of Harvard and former news promo producer, she left big city life for true love in Alaska, where she now lives with her husband and stepdaughters. She still hasn’t adjusted to the cold, so most often she can be found cuddling with her laptop and a cup of tea. Sign up for her newsletter for book news and fun exclusives.
Welcome to the book blitz for DAMNED WHEN I DIDN’T, a stand-alone young adult paranormal romance, by Cherie Colyer. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.
Synopsis Death isn’t the end for eighteen-year-old Avery Williams, and her final resting place isn’t beyond the Golden Gates. No, the Queen of the Damned has plans for her and, unbeknownst to Avery, fought hard to gain possession of her soul.
As Hell’s newest succubus, Avery is expected to siphon life from the living. It only takes a long, meaningful kiss, but for a virgin like Avery, kissing guys she barely knows isn’t something she’s comfortable doing. Avery focuses on the upside of her fate—she’ll be returning home, or so she thinks. When the Queen of the Damned cuts her off from her old life, Avery is determined to find a way back to her family and friends, even if it means facing Hell’s fury if she’s caught.
Excerpt #2 We got to Brookfield Zoo around ten, and even though I had forty dollars in my purse, Cole insisted on paying for the both of us. We entered through an underground tunnel that led to the main entrance. Images of ostriches and lions watched us pass as we followed the crowd to the turnstiles.
Cole handed a heavyset guy in a blue uniform our tickets and then held his hand in front of him. “Ladies first.”
“Thanks.” I tucked my hair behind my ear and asked, “Are you sure your friends won’t mind me tagging along?”
During the drive over, I envisioned Cole’s friends as a group of unruly demons. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t asked him what to expect when he first mentioned getting out of the apartment. When I voiced my concerns to Cole, he let out a loud guffaw. A minute later, he assured me there wouldn’t be a demon in the bunch, except for us. He also told me that Luz was psyched to meet me. She was tired of being the only girl in the group.
Cole and I headed toward a large water fountain at the center of the zoo. A boy wearing a lion sun visor held his little hands up as if they were paws and roared. His sister—who was about half his size—screamed. I couldn’t help but laugh. Then I remembered Cole’s comment back at the apartment.
“Are you really a fan of leopards?” I asked.
“Snow leopards,” he corrected. “They’re smaller than other wild cats, but they’re graceful, cunning, and exceptional survivors.”
I got the feeling he related to them on a personal level. Cole had said incubi were low on Hell’s totem pole of bad asses.
“What’s your favorite animal?” he asked.
I tapped a finger to my lips. “Hmm—”
He jumped in front of me, walking backward with a bounce in his step. “Don’t tell me. I’ll guess.”
I giggled. Cole’s behavior was so human it was hard to believe he was a demon. But then again, so was I.
“You’ll never guess.”
He tipped his head to the side. “Is that a challenge?”
“Maybe,” I replied with a smile.
He slowed, avoiding bumping into a stroller even though his back was to it.
“How’d you know they were there?” I whispered, fully expecting to be told that demons had the radar-like senses of a shark.
“Reflection in your sunglasses.” He wiggled the ones he wore.
Darn on the supernatural radar, or lack thereof.
“Where were we?” he asked.
“You were about to admit there is no way you’ll guess my favorite animal.”
“You think so.” Cole smirked. “Let’s make it interesting…winner sleeps in the bed tonight, his choice if he wants to share.”
“Or hers, and just so you know, I’m not sleeping in the same bed as you.”
“You did last night.”
“I was passed out due to being drugged. It doesn’t count.”
I hadn’t given much thought to the fact that Cole and I shared everything in a one-bedroom apartment. “Does the couch pull out into a sofa bed?”
“Nope. I usually don’t have company sleep over. I discovered last night you’re a cover hog.”
Since most mornings I woke tangled in the sheet, I knew better than to argue with the latter statement. “Don’t you have girls over?”
“Definitely not. Except Luz, but she’s a friend and doesn’t stay the night.” His expression became serious. “No bringing work home. House rule.”
I didn’t plan on hooking up with anyone, so that rule was fine by me. “Deal.”
His lips curved upward into a devilish smirk. “Which one: you won’t bring strange guys home, or you’re willing to risk losing dibs on the comfy mattress?”
I began to think Lilith had purposely paired me with Cole as a way to add to my own personal Hell. He was seriously charming and—had we been human—the type of guy I went for.
But he’s not human, and the only reason you find him charming is because he’s the only person you’re still allowed to talk to.
Even Gregory Davis—the geeky brain from school with thick black glasses and a never-ending supply of sweater vests—would look appealing when you’re staring down eternity and he’s the only person you know.
I shook my head to clear my runaway thoughts and replied with confidence, “Both.”
“Be prepared to lose.” He turned and fell in stride with me. In a low voice, he said, “Luz, Nick, and Dylan are human. Hunter’s something else.”
I stopped. “What’s Hunter?”
Author Cherie Colyer
About the Author Cherie Colyer is the author of Challenging Destiny and the Embrace series. When she’s not getting the fictional people in her life into trouble, she can be found solving network issues at work, spending time with family and friends, reading, or exploring the great outdoors.
Cherie lives in Illinois with her family.
To learn more about Cherie and her novels visit www.CherieColyer.com
Welcome to the book blitz for GRAVES’ ANATOMY, the first book in the new adult urban fantasy series, Luna Graves, by Adam Gierasch and Jace Anderson. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on their giveaway.
GRAVES’ ANATOMY (Luna Graves Series #1) by Adam Gierasch and Jace Anderson
Synopsis Tattoo artist Luna Graves’ life turns upside down when her estranged father dies and she learns it’s her destiny to be a doctor…to monsters.
Destiny? Fairy tale endings? Things that go bump in the night? Luna Graves doesn’t believe in any of them. Her father took off when she was three, and she’s worked hard to become one of the best young tattoo artists in Los Angeles. Of course, there was that mysterious exchange she had when she was 12 with Heath Guillaumet, who might not have been human…naw, that was just her imagination.
When her estranged father dies, Luna discovers that he led a secret life as an uphir, a doctor to the shadowkind — what we would call monsters. Now that he’s gone, she has to take his place — or be killed by the powerful Council. Thrust into a world she doesn’t know, the stubborn Luna refuses to give up on her original dreams. Soon Heath Guillaumet will return to unleash a disease last battled by the Knights Templar…the Black Death.
Excerpt #2 It was one of the few remaining no-man’s lands in downtown Los Angeles – the kind of area that was commonplace before the neighborhood’s transition into “DTLA.” A desolate block of Wall Street, down where the fabric district jutted up against the flower district and all of the storefronts were blocked off by corrugated metal doors.
Silence reigned. To the west and north, loft windows lit up the night.
Chelle strode down the center of the street, her black overcoat swinging by her sides. The chunky heels of her Doc Martens boots splashed through puddles left after the flower sellers had hosed down their stalls. Her high cheekbones gleamed in the amber streetlights. Like Minx she was a matianak, a type of creature that could pass for human. But Chelle knew the matianak, though vastly outnumbered by humans, were the superior species. They measured their lives in centuries, and, with their tall, thin builds, had it particularly well now that Rubenesque was no longer the physical ideal. Of course, eating wasn’t an issue as they were incubi and succubi. It was a misunderstanding that they gained energy from sex, however. What really provided them with nourishment were human feelings like anger, grief, pain and passion. Sex and touching were just the most economical ways to get there.
She turned down a decrepit alley, her boots crunching on gravel. Rats gathered on the lip of a nearby dumpster glanced up, then returned to feasting on garbage. Save some room, guys, she thought. Fresh pickings are on the way.
Chelle’s target was up ahead: an alley door, covered in dull red peeling paint.
A six-foot-high statue rested next to it: a stone gargoyle. The fierce features were worn with age: cocked eyebrows, squinted eyes, long claws. It would seem out of place if it weren’t for the broken beer bottle at its feet and the green and yellow graffiti tags on its haunches.
Chelle’s footsteps were steady, unfaltering. As she passed a streetlight it flickered, one-two, one-two.
When Chelle was eight feet away from the door, the stone gargoyle opened yellow eyes and turned its head. A low growl sounded from its throat.
Chelle froze. Her prey was in her sights.
The gargoyle’s lips twitched into a snarl, revealing long canines and a glistening black tongue. It shifted its weight, turning to face Chelle.
A smile played around the edges of Chelle’s lips. She raised her right hand in front of her face, watching as her sharp red fingernails receded and long talons emerged from her nail beds. Come on, bitch.
For a moment both matianak and gargoyle remained still, staring at each other.
They leapt at the same moment, as if responding to some agreed-upon signal. Their bodies crashed together in mid-air, the gargoyle’s muscled jaws aiming for Chelle’s neck. At the last moment she pivoted, all willowy grace, and the gargoyle’s teeth closed on air. She ducked and the gargoyle sailed over her, landing in the alleyway and thundering toward the street before turning around, the growl in its throat growing deeper.
Facing the dull red door, Chelle raised both arms in front of her. A soft breeze played around her feet, and her long coat billowed around her legs. The door began to shake in its hinges: barely perceptible at first, then stronger, stronger…
The gargoyle leapt, smacking Chelle in the back and sending her to the ground. The door fell still.
It tried to bite the back of her neck but she elbowed it, knocking it to the side. In a blur of limbs, teeth and claws, the two creatures rolled in the alley muck, fighting with everything they had.
A few of the rats looked up from the dumpster, distracted from their evening meal.
Just a few minutes more, guys. It’s almost over.
The loss of focus cost her. Sharp teeth flashed, sank into Chelle’s shoulder. She screamed, in rage as much as pain, and drew her right hand back. Her long talons glinted in the low light. Now you’re just pissing me off.
With a quick stabbing motion she plunged her talons into the gargoyle’s abdomen, puncturing the stony flesh. Gray fluid spurted out and the gargoyle let out a high-pitched, piercing scream.
Her advantage secured, Chelle raked her fingernails through the creature’s belly. Three deep gashes opened. The gargoyle writhed.
Chelle threw the gargoyle to the side. Enjoy being rat food. She thought she heard the rodents closing in but didn’t bother to look back.
Her focus was only on the door. She ripped it off its hinges and headed into the dark.
Authors Jace Anderson and Adam Gierasch
About the Authors Tattoo artist Luna Graves’ life turns upside down when her estranged father dies and she learns it’s her destiny to be a doctor…to monsters.
Destiny? Fairy tale endings? Things that go bump in the night? Luna Graves doesn’t believe in any of them. Her father took off when she was three, and she’s worked hard to become one of the best young tattoo artists in Los Angeles. Of course, there was that mysterious exchange she had when she was 12 with Heath Guillaumet, who might not have been human…naw, that was just her imagination.
When her estranged father dies, Luna discovers that he led a secret life as an uphir, a doctor to the shadowkind — what we would call monsters. Now that he’s gone, she has to take his place — or be killed by the powerful Council. Thrust into a world she doesn’t know, the stubborn Luna refuses to give up on her original dreams. Soon Heath Guillaumet will return to unleash a disease last battled by the Knights Templar…the Black Death.
Welcome to the book blitz for REMEMBER ME AT CHRISTMAS, the third book in the adult contemporary holiday romance series, Spirit of Christmas, by Debra Curwen. See below for information on the book and series, buy links, a couple of exclusive teaser quotes, and details on her giveaway.
REMEMBER ME AT CHRISTMAS (Spirit of Christmas Series #3) by Debra Curwen
Synopsis Andi has always loved Christmas. The magic, the surprises, and a precious music box she treasures inspired her to open her own Christmas workshop. Andi’s Antiques is now a thriving business, and she sees a long future ahead.
But she hadn’t counted on Mike who wields his charm like a weapon or his determination to buy out her business and replace her quaint, antique shop with its wonder of Christmas with a bar and gaming tables.
Andi isn’t selling no matter how convincing he may be. Sure, there’s something about the guy that’s magnetic, but it’ll take a lot more than a handsome face to make her give up on her dream. Unlocking her heart, though, may be a different story.
About the Author I am a multi-published author of various genres. I write children’s books under the pseudonym of Jaime McKoy and sensual romances under Tess Manning, although that name is being retired.
The contemporary romances I write under Debra Curwen are sweet and wholesome, much like a Christmas movie you would see on television. My first one, Remember Me At Christmas is a novella, it will release in November 2020 from Vinspire Publishing.
I am also a photographer, a wife of forty-plus years, mother of two, and grandmother of four.
I am addicted to Dancing with the Stars, Days of Our Lives, my maltipoo, Jasper, and Halo ice cream (mint chocolate chip, please).
Welcome to the Blog Tour for BANDITS AND BALL GOWNS, the fifth book in the young adult paranormal romance series, Fairy Tales of the Magicorum, by Christina Bauer. See below for information on the book and series, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.
BANDITS AND BALL GOWNS (Fairy Tales of the Magicorum #5) by Christina Bauer
Synopsis One Prince Finds True Love … And Risks It All
Elle Cynder has fallen hard for Alec, the ‘prince’ of Le Charme Jewelers. Time for some happily in their ever after, right?
Not so much.
While the new couple shares joyful moments–and sizzling kisses–serious trouble is brewing. Elle’s evil stepmother, Marchesa, schemes with none other than Alec’s twisted father, Legend. Their plan? Destroy Elle and Alec, along with everything the young lovers hold dear, including Bry, Knox, and Wilhelm.
Another Royal Freezes His Heart … But For How Long?
As a prince of the dark fae, Jacoby focuses on one goal: avoid assassination. Marrying Elle would certainly aid in that cause, considering how she’s both a Cinderella life template and a powerful fae warden. Even better, Jacoby doesn’t truly love Elle. In court life, deep romantic attachments only mean certain death.
Then Jacoby notices Elle’s youngest stepsister, Agatha.
For the first time in his life, Jacoby’s cold heart warms with true affection. The elven prince struggles to ignore his feelings, but it might be a losing battle. And what would the prince’s newfound emotions mean for Elle and Alec? Could Jacoby really stand by and watch another’s true love be destroyed?
Buckle up for a wild ride as Cinderella’s time-honored story gets some all-new twists.
Chapter 1 Agatha
Shuffle… shuffle… shuffle…
With slow steps, I trudge along the forest path. It takes all my focus, but I carefully arrange myself into the definition of one word.
For me, acting gloomy is a key life skill. It allows me to hide in plain sight, all while limiting how much I interact with my family. On reflex, I think through my sad girl check list.
Weepy eyes? Got ‘em. I’m also working a single tear on my right cheek. That’s what you call an advanced mope skill.
Mourning veil? I wear this thing like a pro.
Slumped shoulders? I’ve spent years honing how to curl myself forward just the right way.
All the while, I push up my inner sense of gloom. That really helps to nail the overall look. Normally, feeling morose comes pretty easily to me.
Why? For years, I’m dreamed of visiting one place. Now, I’m finally here.
The Faerie Lands. At last.
I can’t help but soak in the landscape. Stout trees tower nearby, their hefty trunks topped by leafy branches. Blades of grass look so bright, they could be shards of emeralds. A clear blue sky arches overhead. Three yellow suns beam down. Butterflies flit everywhere. Pure happiness bubbles through me. It’s tempting to grin my face off.
Keep frowning, Agatha. You know what happens when you lose the sad girl look.
Shifting my gaze, I see that reason right ahead of me: Ivy and Marchesa. If you asked Elle Cynder, she’d say Marchesa is my mother while Ivy’s my sister. Together, the three of us make up the evil stepfamily for a Cinderella life template.
But it’s all a lie.
Not sure how it goes for other evil stepsisters, but this template doesn’t work for me. I’m neither evil nor a stepsister.
As a matter of fact, I’m not even human.
I’m an elf. A changeling. Sadly, Marchesa’s second baby died shortly after birth. I was swapped in by parties unknown. Around age eight, a silver mark appeared on my hip that shows a moon and three stars. This became my first clue to my non-human state. Soon afterward, I spied my elf ears. They only appeared for a second. Even so, it was enough to get the general idea.
I don’t belong.
Ever since then, I’ve been trying to discover my true identity. No luck yet.
But perhaps soon, I’ll know everything.
The Fairy Tales of the Magicorum series includes WOLVES AND ROSES (Book 1), MOONLIGHT AND MIDTOWN (Novella 1.5) and SHIFTERS AND GLYPHS (Book 2, Fall 2018). Eight full novels are planned in total.
About the Author
Christina Bauer knows how to tell stories about kick-ass women. In her best selling Angelbound series, the heroine is a part-demon girl who loves to fight in Purgatory’s Arena and falls in love with a part-angel prince. This young adult best seller has driven more than 500,000 ebook downloads and 9,000 reviews on Goodreads and retailers.
Bauer has also told the story of the Women’s March on Washington by leading PR efforts for the Massachusetts Chapter. Her pre-event press release—the only one sent out on a major wire service—resulted in more than 19,000 global impressions and redistribution by over 350 different media entities including the Associated Press.
Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby..
Synopsis Amy Winstead is a twenty something video producer who loves Christmas more than anyone she’s ever known. This year, the holidays are gonna be a lot less happy because she can’t afford the plane ticket home to celebrate with her family, and her best and oldest friend Josh is moving halfway across the country for a new job that he couldn’t turn down.
When Josh asks her to accompany him on his road trip from Texas to Connecticut and offers to pay for her plane ticket back home, how could Amy say no? He’s promised some fun surprises on the trip, and more time with him could never be a bad thing.
One surprise Josh hasn’t planned on is the record-breaking blizzard heading their way. They decide to wait out the storm in the charming town of Holly Hill, where a little holiday magic and a lot of snow combine to help Josh and Amy realize that the something that’s always simmered between them could easily become something more…
Exclusive Excerpt Fate blessed me the moment Josh Abbott came into my life. It was just before his first birthday, when I was six weeks old. My mom set me down across his lap, posing us for a picture that I keep a copy of on my phone, one that’s framed and displayed on the fireplace mantel at my parents’ house.
In it, Josh is wearing this little yellow and blue striped t-shirt, his blonde hair a cute mess that was his trademark until we graduated from high school. I have on a light pink onesie with a hood that has ears on it. Josh grins down at me as I hold his finger in a white-knuckled grip.
Mom says neither one of us wanted to let go that day, and that’s when she and Josh’s mom, Gloria, knew we’d be best friends forever.
Twenty-six years later, we’re still inseparable…for the next six days, at least. That’s when Josh is loading up his car and making the drive from Austin to Connecticut to start a new job that he just couldn’t turn down. They offered him almost double his current salary; I can’t really blame him for ditching me right before my favorite holiday, honestly.
I’m trying to learn how to deal with it. Most days, I desperately lie to myself about how living without him won’t be as bad as I think. Then I wind up flip-flopping between being irrationally angry at him and unfathomably sad. I’m constantly 100% head-over-heels in love with him.
That’s my little secret, though.
For one brief moment, I had a sliver of hope that we were on the same page. He invited me out to dinner at our favorite place, and I’d gotten swept up in fantasies that he’d take my hands across the table, smile that gorgeous smile of his and say, “Ames, I’m in love with you.”
What he actually said was, “Ames, I’m moving back home. I got a job in New York.”
I can’t blame him for trying to soften the blow with barbecue, but I lost my appetite after that.
I haven’t really gotten it back. It’s worked out in my favor for the most part, since this time of year I’m working a schedule that doesn’t allow much time for eating. I’m an editor/producer for a social media baking star. We’re about four months ahead in the production schedule, so while it’s Christmas in real time, it’s been Easter in my world for the past few weeks. I’ve barely had time for a real meal, so I’ve basically just been inhaling the baked goods after we’ve finished taking pictures of them for Instagram.
Yesterday, I had a handful of almonds and a sizable portion of a bunny’s butt made out of yellow cake, raspberry jam, and the most amazingly fluffy buttercream frosting I’ve ever had.
At this point, my body is screaming, NUTRIENTS, PLEASE!
Josh knows me like the back of his hand, and has some kind of weird internal alarm that sounds whenever I’ve gone a few days without eating a vegetable. I’m positive that’s why he invited me over to eat, and why I gave him a hard time before I said yes.
I know I’m lucky to have a friend like him. He’s smart, he’s fun, he’s funny, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s model-gorgeous and an absolute pleasure to look at, especially when he’s in the kitchen making me dinner.
Author Cassie Cross
About the Author Cassie Cross is a Maryland native and a romantic at heart, who lives outside of Baltimore with her two dogs and a closet full of shoes. Cassie’s fondness for swoon-worthy men and strong women are the inspiration for most of her stories, and when she’s not busy writing a book, you’ll probably find her eating takeout and indulging in her love of 80’s sitcoms.
Today is release day for SO WRONG IT’S WRIGHT, the third book in the adult contemporary romantic comedy series, So Far, So Good, by Amelia Kingston. See below for information on the book and series, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.
SO WRONG IT’S WRIGHT (So Far, So Good Series#3) by Amelia Kingston
Michelle Anders is done with love. Done with the involuntary heart palpitations and suffocating in breathless moments. Done crying over a man who doesn’t deserve her. She is determined to become a strong, independent woman, starting with focusing on what really matters. Herself.
The solitary week of relaxation she planned at a friend’s remote lake house turns unbearable when the man who broke her heart stumbles in on her. While she’s stark naked in the bathtub. With his pants around his ankles!
Drew Wright may be the NFL’s newest darling, but to Michelle the jock is nothing but a loud-mouthed, crass, country-boy brute. He doesn’t deserve a second of her time…but the things he can do to her body are irresistible.
When mother nature conspires to keep them locked up together, Michelle needs to figure out where lust ends and love begins.
Excerpt I throw the truck into Park, grab my duffel bag and run up to the porch. I’m a little surprised when I find the front door unlocked and a few lights on. Then again, knowing Austin’s girlfriend, she probably asked someone to come out here to prep the place, stock the fridge and shit. She’s sweet as hell and too damn good for Austin.
I charge into the house, shaking myself like a golden retriever in the massive entryway. I drop my bag and stomp off to find the nearest toilet. I stare down a long hallway that has about a million doors and grumble. Definitely going to piss my pants.
One of the doors about halfway down is cracked and a flickering light has me charging toward it like a moth to a flame. I nudge the door open with my foot. My pants are already unzipped and my dick is in my hand. It’s dimly lit, but definitely a bathroom. Jackpot.
I skim my hand over the wall but can’t find a light switch. I’m scanning the room looking for the toilet when a bloodcurdling scream makes me drop my dick and jump about three feet in the air—pretty impressive for a guy who’s six-foot-three. The acrobatics have my pants sliding off my ass. I shuffle around in the dim light, pants around my ankles, dick out and my bladder completely forgotten. My heart is pounding. My gaze snaps to the bathtub and the source of the feminine screams.
A petite woman bolts upright in the tub, sloshing water over the sides. The only light in the room is a fire to her side and it casts a warm glow over her body. Her very naked, very wet body. I can see every inch of her from the tip of her head to her cute belly button. A patch of bubbles slides down her shoulder, gliding across her sharp collarbone before sinking between her perky round tits. I’d love to trace the same path with my tongue. It’s only been a few heartbeats, but I’m frozen in time, devouring every inch of her glistening skin.
“Fuck me,” I stutter on a labored breath.
She wraps an arm around her chest and my gaze finally makes it up to her face. She’s not scared—she’s furious.
She points behind me and shouts, “Get the hell out of here, Andrew Wright!”
I shake my head at the sound of my own name. I’ve got to be dreaming. Maybe I flipped my truck back on that dirt road out in the rain and this is all some crazy coma-induced hallucination.
“Now!” she screeches while I stare at her soft, round face in wonder.
Pert upturned nose, flushed cheeks, full heart-shaped lips, deep brown eyes and long silky black hair that begs to be coiled in my fist. My brain kicks back into gear and anger takes the place of lust. Michelle Anders. My eyes narrow on her, my jaw tightens and I scowl.
I glance at the toilet next to her and take a step toward it.
About the Author Amelia Kingston is many things, the most interesting of which are probably California girl, writer, traveler, and dog mom. She survives on chocolate, coffee, wine, and sarcasm. Not necessarily in that order.
She’s been blessed with a patient husband who’s embraced her nomad ways and traveled with her to over 30 countries across 5 continents (I’m coming for you next, Antarctica!). She’s also been cursed with an impatient (although admittedly adorable) terrier who pouts when her dinner is 5 minutes late.
She writes about strong, stubborn, flawed women and the men who can’t help but love them. Her irreverent books aim to be silly and fun with the occasional storm cloud to remind us to appreciate the sunny days. As a hopeless romantic, her favorite stories are the ones that remind us all that while love is rarely perfect, it’s always worth chasing.
Welcome to the book blitz for IT’S RAINING MEN, a stand-alone adult contemporary romantic comedy, Rich Amooi. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive interview, and details on his giveaway.
Synopsis On a dare, Faith Daniels tosses a coin into the infamous “Fountain of Love” and wishes for the perfect man, laughing it off as the dumbest thing she’s ever done. Like magic, her quiet life turns upside-down when men begin to appear out of nowhere. There’s a doctor, a lawyer, a firefighter, and a swimwear model, for starters. All of them are kind, generous, successful, and drop-dead gorgeous. All of them are interested in Faith. But who is Mr. Right?
A feel-good romance novel about love, friendship, and living life to the fullest!
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Dark chocolate almonds. Five to six each day after lunch.
Who was your first celebrity crush? Farrah Fawcett. I had a poster of her up in my shag-carpeted fort in the rafters of the garage. I even got in a fight with my brother one day when I caught him making out with the poster. I tried to clean it with Windex and ended up erasing Farrah’s mouth.
First car? Lime green 1970 Chevy Nova with polyester seats that stuck to my legs in the summer.
Is there an idea out there that you wish you’d thought of? Absolutely. These two lines from the movie Airplane!
“Surely, you can’t be serious.”
“I am serious—and don’t call me Shirley.”
Living without my wife.
What inspires your book ideas? This may sound crazy but some of my ideas start with just a title. The idea for my fourth novel came to me while in line at Starbucks. A woman reached over and smacked her husband on the arm and said, “Quit being so crotchety.” I smiled and thought Mr. Crotchety would make a great title for a book. Then I brainstormed the story and wrote it.
Caramel, kettle, cheese or regular popcorn? Yes, please.
What’s on your pizza? Pineapple and garlic.
Biggest pet peeve?
People who drive fast through residential neighborhoods.
Nickname as a kid? Stitches. Let’s just say I was on a first name basis with the staff at the emergency department.
First author hero?
Favorite ’80s artist? Hall & Oates.
Betty Crocker super moist yellow cake with chocolate frosting.
What did you want to be when you grew up? A DJ on the radio. I ended up working at some of the top radio stations in Silicon Valley for over thirty-three years. Then my wife encouraged me to take a few creative writing classes at Stanford and here I am writing romantic comedies!
If you were a Disney princess, which one would you be?
Did you really just ask me that? Can’t you see how much testosterone I have? It’s just oozing out my pores. I should be offended! I really should be! But I’m not. The answer is Cinderella.
Author Rich Amooi
About the Author RichAmooi is a Taleflick Discovery Winner, Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal Recipient, Holt Medallion Finalist, and the Amazon Bestselling author of 15 romantic comedies, including It’s Not PMS, It’s You, Dying to Meet You, There’s Something About a Cowboy, and Madam Love, Actually. Over 500,000 downloads from readers around the world.
A former radio personality and wedding DJ, Rich now writes romantic comedies full-time in San Diego, California, and is happily married to a kiss monster imported from Spain. Rich believes in public displays of affection, silliness, infinite possibilities, donuts, gratitude, laughter, and happily ever after.\
Welcome to the book blitz for WYATT, the fourth book in the adult contemporary romance series, Twilight Falls, by A.M. Salinger. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.
Synopsis Wyatt Batista has sworn off love. Can his new friend and business partner make him believe in happily ever after once more?
Having spent most of his adult life lusting after a man who could never be his, Wyatt Batista resolves to steer clear of love. That’s all fine and dandy, until he meets Nathan.
After an accident sends his carefully planned future off course, Nathan Hardy leaves Seattle in search of new horizons and adventures. When his path crosses that of Wyatt, he enters into a business partnership with a man he comes to admire and respect deeply.
But what starts out as friendship soon turns into something neither of them expected. Wyatt finds himself falling hard for someone who he believes could never return his love once more, while Nathan becomes aware of feelings he never imagined he would harbor toward another man.
Can Nathan convince Wyatt that he is serious about giving their relationship a try? Or will Wyatt run again, too fearful to trust and accept a man who wasn’t gay in the first place?
Join Wyatt and Nathan in this delightful fourth installment in Twilight Falls, the new series by the author of the bestselling, contemporary romance series Nights.
Excerpt #2 Eighteen Months Ago.
I’m never going to fall in love again.
Wyatt Batista twisted his champagne flute between his fingers and looked out over the beautiful gardens stretching out beyond the stone terrace. Gathered under a sumptuous rose pergola a short distance away, the bride and groom’s families were having their pictures taken with the happy couple.
Wyatt’s heart twisted with an age-old ache as he stared at the face of the man he had secretly been in love with for more years than he’d care to admit.
Brandon Taylor’s eyes shone with adoration as he gazed at his bride. It was obvious to everyone that the pair were completely besotted with each another.
Although Wyatt would have liked nothing more than to think badly of the woman who had won the heart of the man he desired, he couldn’t find a single negative thing to say about Claire. They’d only spoken briefly at the start of the reception, but he was good enough a judge of character to know she was perfect for Brandon.
He sighed, swirled his champagne around, and downed the drink in one go.
“Whoa there.” Izzy appeared beside him, a wine glass and a plate of canapés in hand. “I think you should slow down on the alcohol.”
“I haven’t had that much to drink,” Wyatt protested.
“That was your third champagne in the last hour,” his sister said acerbically. “You know how grouchy you get when you have a hangover.”
An uncommon wave of rebellion flared inside Wyatt.
“You’re not my keeper, Izzy.”
She narrowed her eyes at him. “Should you really be saying that to the woman who you begged to be your guest this weekend?”
Wyatt’s ire faded as rapidly as it had appeared. “No. And I’m sorry.” He stole a canapé from her plate and munched on it moodily.
Izzy followed his gaze to where the newlyweds and their families were laughing at something the photographer had said.
“Maybe you shouldn’t have come.”
“I couldn’t refuse his invitation.” Wyatt frowned faintly. “He’s been a good friend to me ever since college. And he helped me when I set up my business.”
Izzy pursed her lips. “But this is torture for you.” She sighed and dropped her head on his shoulder. “I don’t like to see you get hurt, Wyatt. You deserve to be happy.”
Wyatt lowered his cheek against his sister’s hair and wrapped an arm around her waist. “Thanks. But I kinda get the feeling love isn’t gonna feature in my future anytime soon.”
“You never know,” Izzy muttered.
They stood in companionable silence, laughter and music from the ballroom washing over them in gentle waves. The sun was starting to set and the fairy lights strung around the gardens had started to come on, adding to the magic of the venue Brandon and his new wife had chosen for their special day.
Even though Wyatt’s heart was breaking, he couldn’t have wished for a better setting for Brandon’s wedding. It had been a perfect weekend.
“What about you?” he said.
“What about me?” Izzy murmured.
“Is there anyone you’re interested in?”
“No.” A sad and oddly resigned tone underscored Izzy’s voice. “I’m not really over my first love either.”
Wyatt stiffened and stared at her. “What?”
Izzy rose on her tiptoes and pressed a kiss to his cheek before dragging him toward the ballroom behind them, her expression telling him she was far from ready to talk about her confession.
“Come on, let’s show these folks how the Batistas dance.”
Wyatt groaned as he allowed himself to be escorted inside. “Badly. We dance badly, Izzy.”
Izzy laughed, the crystal clear sound drawing the gazes of several men.
Wyatt swallowed a wry smile at their expressions.
I don’t think she realizes the effect she’s having on these guys.
Even though she was his little sister, Wyatt was objective enough to know that Izzy was a stunning woman, both inside and out.
I wonder who she’s in love with.
They danced, ate, and danced some more before Wyatt cried off and headed for the hotel bar. He was still on edge about attending Brandon’s wedding and wanted something stronger than champagne to soothe his nerves tonight.
He was on his second whiskey when a man took the barstool next to him.
Wyatt glanced at the attractive blue-eyed blond. From his tuxedo, he was also a guest at the wedding. The guy ordered a whiskey on the rocks.
“Are you friend or family?” he said in a relaxed voice while he waited for his drink.
Wyatt looked at him, surprised.
The man was studying him with a faint smile.
Wyatt’s belly tightened when he registered the interest in his eyes.
“I’m a friend of the groom,” he said lightly. “And you?”
The man’s smile widened. “I’m a second cousin of the bride.” He offered Wyatt his hand. “I’m Fraser.”
Wyatt hesitated before shaking his hand. “Wyatt.”
They chatted lightly over their drinks. To Wyatt’s surprise, it wasn’t until Izzy tapped on his shoulder that he realized how late it had gotten.
“I’m pooped.” She dangled her shoes from her fingers and burped gently behind one hand. “And possibly a bit drunk. I’m going to bed.”
“Sure.” Wyatt straightened on his stool. “You need a hand to get to your room?”
“I’ll manage.” Izzy flashed a shrewd look at Fraser. “Besides, you look busy.”
“Don’t mind me,” Fraser murmured diplomatically.
Izzy chewed her lower lip before tugging Wyatt’s arm and rising on her tiptoes.
“You got condoms, right?” she whispered loudly in his ear.
Fraser made a strangled sound and turned away slightly, shoulders shaking with laughter.
Wyatt flushed. “I can’t believe you just said that.”
Izzy furrowed her brow. “Safe sex is important, Wyatt.”
Wyatt rubbed a hand down his face. “Yes, I have condoms,” he groaned. “Now, go to bed before you embarrass me further.”
“Well, at least one of us is gonna get some tonight,” Izzy declared brazenly before turning and heading off toward the lobby.
To Wyatt’s surprise, she managed to do this in a straight line.
“It’s getting late.” Fraser laid a hand on Wyatt’s knee. “Want to take this upstairs?” He raised an eyebrow. “No strings attached?”
A bout of nervousness danced through Wyatt as he stared at the man opposite him. Though he’d had one-night stands before, it wasn’t something he’d made a habit of doing on a regular basis. He hesitated before dipping his chin.
“Let’s go to my room.”
To Wyatt’s surprise, sex with Fraser was hot and carnal. The man was an experienced bottom and knew how to pleasure his partner in bed. As they touched and kissed and fucked and blew each other to mind-blowing orgasms, Wyatt knew this was exactly what he’d needed tonight. The physical act of lovemaking without the emotional angst that came with it. Sexual gratification without ties. The pure and simple motion of melding his body with another man’s so as to fill the empty void inside him.
It was dawn by the time Wyatt collapsed on the bed, his cock pleasantly spent and Fraser’s harsh pants ringing in his ears where he lay beside him, his face and chest still flushed from his latest orgasm.
As Wyatt fell into the first deep sleep he’d had in ages, he knew that he would get over his broken heart one day. And he was determined never fall in love again.
Author A.M. Salinger
About the Author Ava Marie Salinger is the pen name of an Amazon bestselling author who has always wanted to write scorching hot contemporary and erotic romance. In 2018, she finally decided to venture to the steamy side. NIGHTS is the first of several sizzling series featuring sweet, sexy men and women with dark pasts and a whole lot of love to give to the ones brave enough to fight for their hearts. When she’s not dreaming up hotties to write about, you’ll find Ava creating kickass music playlists to write to, spying on the wildlife in her garden, drooling over gadgets, and eating Chinese.
Want to be the first to know about Ava’s new releases and get access to exclusive content, sneak previews, sales, and giveaways ? Then sign up to her Reader Group here and join her VIP Facebook Fan Group here..
Welcome to the blog tour for OUTFOXED, the first book in the adult paranormal romance/urban fantasy series, The Fox Witch, by USA Today bestselling author, R.J. Blain. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.
Synopsis Death is a way of life outside of the safety of Inner Tulsa, and Jade means to keep flipping Mother Nature off until old age claims her. With one eye always on the sky, the last thing she needs is a pack of bounty hunters out for her living head. With no idea of why anyone would want her, her wits might keep her free, assuming she can resist the charming lures of Sandro, one of the men out to claim her as his own.
Left with the choice of being the evening snack of a tornado or taking shelter with the bounty hunter, she does what she does best: she lives on the edge.
Striking a bargain with the handsome bounty hunter buys her another day of life, but it also dumps her into the heart of a sinister plot, one meant to enslave the residents of the storm-tossed city—and the others brave and foolish enough to call the Alley home.
Chapter One Friday, May 1, 2043.
I’d been in the Alley long enough to understand only one thing mattered when faced with yet another twister: survival. The swarm of them headed for Tulsa roared, warning all of their impending arrival. The incessant crash of thunder accompanied the lightning, which struck with such frequency the dark clouds glowed white. I decided to stop counting after five funnels; one, five, ten—it didn’t matter how many of them snaked down from the sky. If one of them got a hold of me, I’d just be another corpse strewn over the Alley. A day didn’t go by when I didn’t cross a new skeleton in the outskirts.
Death was a way of life outside of the safety of Inner Tulsa.
Another twister joined the party, bringing a cascade of hail with it.
Great. Just great. What was one more? Hadn’t Mother Nature figured out she didn’t need to fling everything she had at Tulsa? A single tornado would’ve done the job just fine.
A few minutes too late to do me any good, the lightning-lit clouds turned a putrid shade of green, a promise that Mother Nature wasn’t screwing around this time. Green meant go, and if I’d had any sense in my head at all, I wouldn’t have left shelter at sunrise; I would’ve stayed in hiding until right before work. Everything would’ve been different if I’d just slept in rather than explore the ruins of Tulsa’s outskirts for salvage.
If I hadn’t been looking for salvage, I wouldn’t have been spotted by the tall, dark, and handsome hot on my heels and determined to ruin my day if he caught up with me.
The swarm would cause me enough problems, but if the bounty hunter caught me, I’d be in worse shape.
Some choices in life were tough, and I hated myself for even contemplating taking my chances with the bounty hunter. Losing my freedom for profit could be reversed.
Nothing could reverse death.
I flattened my ears, and I lashed my tail back and forth, the rain whipping off it. While I was part fox, I’d adopted more feline tendencies than canine ones. And according to the tail and ears I couldn’t banish with any amount of magic, I was definitely a cat trapped in a partly canine body.
I could shift into a full fox, a secret I held close to my chest. The instant anyone learned the truth, I’d go from a common annoyance to a desirable. Nobody cared about powerless hybrids.
Everybody wanted full shapeshifters in their bloodlines, and I had enough trouble without every wealthy single man on the planet wanting to claim me as his wife.
Since six twisters wasn’t enough, the churning clouds spawned two more, and with unerring accuracy, they surged towards the city in a wall of churning wind, rain, and hail.
Tornado season had come, and it looked like it was going to open with a bang.
I skidded around a corner of a destroyed home, a victim of a twister a few months back, before the sky had opted to give us a break for a change. Shacks had sprouted like persistent little weeds, but I expected none of them would survive the storm. I worried for their inhabitants, but if they had half a brain, they’d take shelter in a cellar.
If they didn’t, they’d add to the bodies littering the dying suburban streets.
While I had the advantage of knowledge, the bounty hunter had me beat everywhere else, and he snagged the back of my shirt, yanked hard enough to cut off my breath, and slammed me into the broken brick of the trashed house. “Are you insane?” he screamed over the wind. “You’re not supposed to run towards tornadoes, you little idiot!”
I blinked, checked where I’d been running, and sure enough, Mother Nature had truly tired of my shit, opting to dump another handful of twisters directly into my path. When the twisters converged, probably where we were standing, it’d puree the neighborhood and leave matchsticks in their wake.
Stuck between a rock, a hard place, and a bounty hunter, I had few options if I wanted to keep my head long enough to figure out if death beat being picked up by some fortune seeker. Fortunately, the sensible had left the area anticipating the weather to sour, leaving their storm cellars open for my use—our use, as I wouldn’t leave him behind despite wishing I could ditch him.
Sometimes, I really questioned why I tried to meet society’s standards of being a good person. Being a good person was a pain in the ass.
As Mother Nature was a bitch on a mission of destruction, the twisters barreled our way. I cursed myself, cursed the hunk of a bounty hunter making a mess of my morning, and cursed my choice of moving to the Alley in the first place. “There’s a cellar nearby.” I pointed down the street in the general direction of my favorite bolt hole, which I’d have to abandon once I shared it with the man out to profit from my head—my living head, at least.
The bounty hunters wanting my living head in their possession was looking to be the bright part of my morning.
“Go,” he ordered, giving me a shove to make it clear he was the boss.
Any other day, I would’ve fought him on principle, but the hail came down harder, hammering the broken streets as though determined to flatten the neighborhood without needing the help of a tornado to do it.
I ran for it, my worn shoes slipping on the ice-slicked road. Once again, the bounty hunter snatched my arm, holding me upright until I regained my balance.
Fortunately for us, the cellar wasn’t far. While I wanted to sprint for the opening, I shuffled along so I wouldn’t fall on my ass and need even more help from the man determined to make a profit off me.
Once upon a time, a wooden door had covered the entry into the storm cellar, but the last twister to pass through had torn it off. The sensible never checked it as an option, but I’d learned to leave no stone—or hole—unturned since moving into the Alley. I jumped into the hole, grunted as I splashed into the mud below, and waded through the standing water to the slight rise that led to the second door. I shoved that open, gesturing for the bounty hunter to hurry his hot ass up.
He joined me in the mud, looking less than impressed with my choice of cellars. “Aren’t storm cellars supposed to have doors?”
I pointed deeper into the cellar. “There are two more ahead.”
“I stand corrected. Lead on, Miss Tamrin.”
Yep, the bounty hunter knew exactly who I was, although I would’ve preferred if he’d addressed me as Jade. What sort of bounty hunter addressed their victim so formally, anyway? If I had to share a cellar with someone out for my head, living or otherwise, I was of the opinion we needed to be on a first-name basis. “Got a name, or am I going to have to give you one?”
“More leading, less talking,” he ordered. He cast a glance over his shoulder up at the entry for the cellar, which would be a bitch to escape from after we rode out the storm. “They’re coming.”
I could tell; the ground shook, the wind screamed, and the hail graduated to chunks of ice capable of slamming through someone’s skull with terrifying ease. I shouldered open the door, grimacing at the creaking wood. I gave it another storm or two before it gave up the ghost, too.
Fortunately for me, the slope on the other side made it hard for water to penetrate the cellar, and the third door was crafted of good steel. I scrambled up the incline, waiting long enough for the bounty hunter to follow me through. “Close it,” I ordered.
He did as told, and the tunnel fell into darkness. The wood did little to buffer us from the sounds of the storm tearing through the neighborhood above. I made my way to the crest of the incline by feel, patting until I located the top concrete step. “There’s a set of concrete steps at the top. If you’re not careful, you’ll crack your forehead in the ceiling and fall. It’s a long way down.”
I already regretted my decision to be a good person, as it would lose me access to the best storm cellar I’d found in Tulsa. I’d have to search for a new hiding place and hope it was half as secure and safe from the weather.
Then again, I had to get away from my new unwanted friend first, which would be a challenge considering we’d have to share space until the storm ended.
It could take minutes, hours, or days.
I’d only stashed enough food and water for one person for one week, so if it took days, we’d be in trouble.\The bounty hunter joined me, and I eased down the steps once certain he wouldn’t take a lethal tumble to the steel door below. At the bottom, I felt around for the hatch wheel, grabbed hold, and turned until the door popped open.
Light spilled into the staircase from the luminescent moss I’d cultivated on the walls, barely bright enough to guide my way to the crank-powered lamp. I sat on the concrete floor and went to work charging the device. It’d only last for a few hours before I’d have to charge it again, but it would give me a chance to set up my home away from home.
The bounty hunter entered, closed the steel door, and whistled at my shelter. “I definitely stand corrected. Your file didn’t mention you have a good cellar. You’re listed as a vagrant.”
I scowled. Unless rich, wealthy, or a hell of a lot braver than I was, everyone in the Alley counted as a vagrant. We went where the storms were least likely to strike, although there were few places left safe from the weather’s fury.
If I’d been thinking, I would’ve taken him an extra block down the road to a shallower cellar, although I had no idea if it would survive through an entire swarm of twisters. Sighing, I kept cranking on the lamp. “Who isn’t a vagrant here?” I finally asked, aware of him waiting for an answer.
“Those who live in Asylum.”
Asylum. The rich, the famous, and the powerful received invitations from its lord and master, Benedict Mansfield. He’d bought the land rights beneath Tulsa’s city center, digging deep and converting the sandstone and the underlying limestone into habitable space. I’d given up figuring out how people could live underground long ago. They did, and everyone with a grain of sense and a desire to survive wanted to live in Asylum.
Hell would freeze over before average folks like me were welcomed down there.
I figured Mansfield had the right idea—as long as I ignored how many people would die without access to the underground sanctuary. But when I thought about it, I loathed the man for choosing who got to live and who got to die.
One day, I, along with everyone else uninvited to Asylum, would die to the swarms that grew in number and intensity each passing year.
“They can kiss my ass,” I announced, flipping the switch to turn on the lamp and properly illuminate the cellar. A mess of storage boxes and plastic water bottles littered the floor, and I regretted showing him my disorganized tendencies. “So, are you going to give me your name, or am I going to have to give you one?”
“I’m tempted to find out what sort of name a smart-assed woman like you would give me,” he replied. The lamp offered enough light for me to get a good look at his face.
His mouth curved into a grin.
It’d been so long since I’d gotten any action that a hot ass bounty hunter out for my head was giving me bad ideas. Damn it. I should’ve taken my chances with the swarm. At least I would’ve emerged from the storm either dead or with my sanity intact. There was nothing sane about what I desired to do with the man who wanted to turn me in for some quick cash. It involved a complete removal of our clothes and a good time.
Neither the clothing removal or the good time were on the agenda. Unfortunately for me, the cellar, for all it was deep and safe from even the angriest of twisters, didn’t come with a cold shower.
I really needed a cold shower and a stiff drink.
I blamed my unreasonable interest in the man on adrenaline, the aftermath of pure terror, and his sun-kissed skin, too dark to be American Caucasian but light enough I pegged him as an Italian, Greek, or some other flavor of Mediterranean European. “I’ll just call you Idiot for testing your luck with a swarm on the way, Idiot.”
“Sandro is preferable to Idiot, but I’ll give you that. It’s pretty idiotic to be outside during a swarm. Should I call you Queen Idiot? I wouldn’t have been out at all if you didn’t insist on taking morning strolls through the hot zone. Did you not pay attention to the forecast?”
His question pegged him as someone from Inner Tulsa or Asylum; nowhere else still had electricity enough to watch tv, use the internet, or otherwise pay attention to the forecast. I hadn’t touched a computer since I’d left the East and run to the Alley to avoid an arranged marriage. Had I known the Alley was just as bad as the rumors claimed, I might’ve thought twice about whatever asshole my parents wanted me to marry to meet their standards rather than mine.
With my luck, Sandro had been paid off by my parental assholes to drag me back to Buffalo, New York to do their bidding through marrying some twerp with better genes than personality.
“You think someone like me is welcome in Inner Tulsa?” I laughed at him, hung the lamp from the chain dangling from the ceiling, and went to work checking over the supplies. Everything was as I’d left it a few weeks prior when I’d prepared for the start of the tornado season.
The steel door and thick concrete walls dulled the storm’s fury to an unsettling rumble. Within an hour, if the swarm persisted, I’d feel the sound in my teeth and be headed straight for madness.
If it continued on for longer than that, I’d be tempted to smack my skull into the wall to make the sounds filtering down from above go away.
“Your work history is good and you’re reliable. You could find work in Inner Tulsa easily.” He looked me over, raising a brow. “All you’d have to do to be hired at a strip club is show up.”
“I’ll tell you what. You keep your bounty to yourself until the storm clears, and I won’t bust your balls for implying I’d make a good stripper.”
“I’m not implying. I’m telling you. You’d make one hell of a good stripper. A natural auburn vixen with a good complexion doesn’t come around every day. Hell, now that I’ve gotten my first real look at you, it’s no wonder you’re worth so much. You’re enough to tempt a man to forgo the cash to keep you.”
Had we been in the South, we’d both be at risk of spontaneous combustion. Then again, I wasn’t an elementalist.
I’d be a lot better off if I could convince metal to bend to my will. In a city in constant need of repair, everyone wanted a metal elementalist.
Then again, I didn’t want anyone knowing just what I could do, especially the hot ass bounty hunter ready to take me into his custody.
If he found out I was a witch on top of being a fully fledged shapeshifter, he’d be drooling all over me like I was a fresh bone up for grabs. I’d also crank his profits through the roof, as being a fully fledged shapeshifter would easily triple my bounty value, whatever it was. Being a witch on top of that?
I’d make him rich in a hurry.
“How about we just keep our hands to ourselves,” I suggested, doing my best to scowl without admiring the man’s lean, muscular body through his rain-soaked clothes. Any other day, I would’ve suggested he wear a coat to keep from getting cold when the storms kicked Tulsa in the face, but his shirt, when wet, did him a lot of justice.
“I’ll do you one better. Let’s call a truce. Once the storm blows over and it doesn’t look like another swarm will hit, I’ll give you a five minute head start. You escape me, you win this round. If I catch you today, you’ll come along quietly. I’d rather not have to hurt you to catch you.”
I could work with a five minute head start. I’d disappear so fast his head would spin, and he’d go home frustrated, alone, and without his quick profits. “Deal.”
The rumble escalated, and the lamp swayed on its chain, a warning one of the twisters passed directly overhead. Sandro frowned, his gaze locking on the light. “I wonder how much damage that swarm’s doing.”
People from all over the United States came to the Alley, and I’d joined everyone else in no longer caring where someone came from. He had an accent compared to the locals, but I couldn’t tell if he was deliberately hiding where he came from or if he always sounded like he could have lived anywhere in the world and magically fit in.
His question, however, told me a simple truth: Sandro hadn’t been in the Alley long. Those who’d survived through their first tornado season no longer cared about the damage ratings of a twister or a swarm.
It didn’t matter.
No matter how bad it got, like a weed in the cracks of a sidewalk, Tulsa endured.
* * *
Friday, May 1, 2043.
The twisters danced around Tulsa for over an hour before Mother Nature decided she’d toyed with us enough and moved on. As always, I’d wait at least thirty minutes, keeping an eye on my watch to make sure I didn’t emerge early, before I left the safety of the shelter. Mother Nature was a tricky bitch, and she liked adding lulls to her storms to lure out the unwitting.
She killed a lot of people that way, and I had no intentions of becoming the next victim in her little black book of corpses.
I spent the time checking the storage boxes and doing an inventory so I wouldn’t indulge in staring at the bounty hunter’s hot ass. He liked to pace, and every time something crashed overhead and made the cellar shake, his hand either went for the hilt of the sword hanging at his hip or reached for something over his shoulder. The shoulder habit baffled me.
What kind of weapon did he use that he strapped it to his back?
I wanted to know.
I blamed my second nature for my unhealthy interest in the man. Like cats, foxes were curious beasts, and I shifted often enough my animalistic nature brushed off at times. Winter was the worst; natural foxes had aggressive breeding instincts, and I’d learned early I needed to avoid shifting during peak mating season, as men became far too interesting for my sanity.
Some fox shifters went mad during the winter unless married—and married fox shifters were happy, insatiable fox shifters during the coldest months of the year.
“You’re well stocked for a vagrant.”
I flattened my ears. “Well, no thanks to you, I’ll have to ditch this cellar.”
“I’ll cut you another deal, then. I’ll stay hushed about your cellar, but if we happen to be in these parts during another blow, you share. If you’re in here, you won’t be a fair target, and I’ll always give you five minutes after the storm ends. That fair?”
My brows rose. “What sort of bounty hunter are you?”
“An ethical one.”
I pinched myself. It hurt. I dug out the temperature monitor from one of the crates, which also had a carbon dioxide monitor. After checking the battery, I turned it on. According to the device, the carbon dioxide levels were higher than I liked, an indication the ventilation tubes above had gotten blocked off. I could fix it, given time and the snake drill I’d scored as salvage last storm season.
Eliminating a dream or hallucination, I turned off the detector, put it away, and considered the bounty hunter. “Since when have there been ethical bounty hunters?”
“Since I decided to become a bounty hunter.”
Why did hot men always have overly robust egos? I’d have my chance to pop his bubble soon enough. I just had to play along until it was time for me to make my break. “All right. This is neutral ground, and I get a head start. Five minutes. And you can count those minutes with a watch.”
“Don’t trust me to count?” he asked, his tone amused.
“Only if you count Mississippis and confirm the five minutes with a watch. That’s a lot of Mississippis you’d have to count.”
“What is the going rate for a Mississippi nowadays?
“Approximately a second each, if you say it right and don’t cheat.” I’d checked against a stopwatch once, startled to discover the method was fairly close to an actual second. “That would be three hundred Mississippis you’d have to go through. You’ll probably go mad trying to count them after a hundred.”
“That would help your cause a little, if I were to go mad counting to three hundred. Fortunately for you, I can count that high, and I’m a patient man. Usually. I’ll enjoy catching you. It’s so rare bounty hunting work is fun. You’re worth a pretty penny.”
“If you’re trying to convince me you’ll keep your word about the five minutes, you’re not doing a good job of it.”
“Run, and I’ll prove it to you.”
I listened again to make certain the storm wasn’t gearing up to take another swipe at Tulsa. When it seemed quiet, I nodded. “Close the door behind you.”
“Always. While a bounty hunter, I am a gentleman.”
With his ego, which might be bigger than the Mississippi during the spring thaw, I believed he thought he was a gentleman. “And why is a gentleman working as a bounty hunter?”
Sandro looked me over. “To test my ethics, apparently. I’ll have to decide if I keep you after I catch you.”
“I’m not up for sale.”
“Your bounty says otherwise, and vixens are always in high demand. Tell yourself otherwise if it makes you feel better about the situation, but I give it a week before you go to the highest bidder—two weeks at most. That could work out. I could claim your bounty but spend that windfall to buy you. You might just be worth your price tag. For some reason, I expect you’ll give me the slip a time or two before I get you to where I can claim your bounty. Keep on your toes, Miss Tamrin. You’re as good as bought and sold as it is, and if you’re smart, you’ll figure out you’re safer with me than the others after you.”
I liked to think of myself as smart, and I had contacts in high places; it would take a trip into Asylum, but I’d get down to the bottom of the bounty on me. While I was at it, I’d ask around and figure out exactly when the United States had gone back to its roots and traded in human lives. I figured my ears and tail played a part.
What didn’t look quite human no longer counted as human. What no longer counted as human could be bought and sold without remorse. Worse, the numbers of those who no longer counted as human grew a little each day. I gave it a few years before most women, outside of the wealthy and influential, joined the club of those up for sale.
Some days, I really questioned why I didn’t just shift into a fox and stay that way. Foxes led simple lives.
They also lived short lives.
That likely had something to do with my unwillingness to live as an animal exclusively.
Shaking my head, I restored everything in the shelter and headed for the door, pointing at the light. “Turn that off and set it near the hatch before you leave. Turn the wheel one full revolution to close it; you’ll feel it click.”
“Understood. I’ll see you very soon.”
According to his amused tone, he expected to catch me right away.
He had a lot to learn about me, and I’d enjoy taunting him the next time we crossed paths. I scrambled out of the shelter and up the concrete steps, grimacing when I reached the top and discovered the second level had completely flooded. If I wanted to use the cellar again, I’d have to salvage a pump and drain the entire damned thing.
Life needed to give me a break—and not the type that resulted in a cast and a long recovery time.
The water level made climbing out of the cellar entrance interesting, but I managed after digging a few hand and foot holds for myself. It cost me valuable time, but I didn’t need a lot of time once I got on the move. I sprinted a block away, climbed onto some of the new rubble, most of it from the shacks the twisters had tossed around during their temper tantrum. The rain fell in sheets, which would do a good job of hiding my tracks.
As always, shifting hurt, especially when I didn’t have time to ease into my new form.
My fur grew in first, stabbing through my skin. I bled, another unfortunate reality of being a full shifter; someone who changed forms too often could bleed out. I guessed I could shift six times in a day before I faced certain death, but I tried to avoid shifting more than three times.
I liked living too much to risk it.
My clothes and everything I carried shifted with me, a phenomena I didn’t understand but refused to question. Most left their clothes torn and bloodied on the ground around them. Once I made distance, I’d stop, shift again, and focus on compressing my body; when in a hurry, the laws of equivalent exchange applied, and a fox weighing in at well over a hundred pounds drew attention.
If anyone spotted me, they’d remember me, a mastiff-sized fox.
With luck, no one would notice me, and I’d find a safe place to finish shifting properly. Unwilling to find out if Sandro counted all of his Mississippis, I kept one eye on the sky and headed towards Inner Tulsa, one of the few places in the area the storms usually bypassed. The rise in elevation likely had something to do with that. When Benedict Mansfield had begun construction of Asylum, he’d picked the highest ground as the heart of his underground city. Each year, the storms drew closer, but I figured Inner Tulsa had a few years of life left in it before Mother Nature wiped it off the map, too.
In addition to more wreckage strewn over the streets, I found four fresh bodies in the time it took me to reach the trashed neighborhood skirting Inner Tulsa, where debris often rained down but tornadoes rarely ventured.
Chunks of wood littered the streets along with hail, so thick it resembled snow.
For a rare change, no one had been lobbed into Inner Tulsa as a gruesome reminder Mother Nature didn’t give a shit about humanity. The lack of curious spectators eyeballing the passing storm worried me—and warned me the storm was likely revving up for another show.
Someone needed to set Mother Nature straight and tell her to give the Alley a break already.
Deep in the heart of Inner Tulsa, a tornado siren wailed, and I halted long enough to listen while regarding the dark sky warily. I supposed the swarm had moved north to visit another neighborhood—one closer to the city’s heart, which people still cared about.
While the clouds remained an ominous green and the wind howled, I couldn’t spot a single funnel reaching for the ground.
Shaking my head, I went in search of one of the elusive sewer covers that hid something other than the city’s sanitation system: an illegal entrance into Asylum, one of the few safe places left in the Alley.
Author by R.J. Blain
About the Author RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning.
In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until satisfied.
Welcome to the book blitz for THE GUY FROM THE INTERNET, a stand-alone adult contemporary romance in the Somerville Downs Sweet Romance series, by Birdie Song. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.
THE GUY FROM THE INTERNET (A Somerville Downs Sweet Romance) by Birdie Song
Synopsis A sweet romance with a touch of family drama.
Holly Chee does not have her life together. She’s flip-flopped on uni courses and career choices, and somehow scared off her long-term fiancée-to-be, much to the chagrin of her immigrant parents.
But she does have her channel, where she livestreams her art from her one-bedroom Mount Lawley apartment. And she has that guy from France… assuming he’s even who he says he is.
Excerpt #2 Afterwards, when Jed asks to see my phone, I know exactly what she’s looking for. I mangle my quiche while pulling up the latest photo from Florian saved in my gallery.
I’ve looked at that photo at least seventy-four times since he sent it, and it still makes my heart flutter. His steely eyes, soft features, light brown skin and a splash of freckles across his nose—my boyfriend is crush material.
His hair’s shorter than usual in this photo. It’s a recent change, one of many he says he’s ready to make. A fresh look and a fresh start away from Paris is only the beginning. Jedda gives a long hum of approval.
“My girl, he is a looker. Is he mixed?”
“Both his parents are. On his dad’s side, his granddad is Scottish, and his grandma’s from Mali. His mum’s dad’s from South America, and her mum is from the same place in China as my mum’s family. Not that it’d make much difference to my folks.”
“Oh yeah? Are they a bit…” She gesticulates with a grimace. “You know?”
“Maybe. I don’t know; we’ve never really talked about it. But they loved Nick so much and kept going on about how he’s such a good Chinese boy. I think they’d definitely have a problem with me bringing home anyone who wasn’t exactly like him—looks and all.”
We’re interrupted by a ruckus starting in the middle of the dance floor.
“Great. There’s a nope.” Jed hands back my phone. “Sounds like it’s all kicking off over there.”
“What do you mean? They’re just dancing.”
“No, not there. Over there.”
She points my chin at the other end of the room. Not far from the Christmas tree, a small group of new call centre recruits are reluctantly entertaining a familiar, unwelcome face. Their polite smiles, nervous sipping and uncomfortable glances around the room say plenty.
I feel sick.
“You coming, Hol? Actually…” She puts a hand on my shoulder. “Don’t worry about it. I got this.”
My heart pounds as I watch Jeds walk their way. My stomach does a huge flip. I try telling myself it’s the champagne and canapés, but I know deep down it’s not.
Once she disappears into the crowd, I slip my shoes back on and get out of there as fast as I can.
Author Birdie Song
About the Author I write sweet stories about people falling in love.
Today is release day for HIS DISINCLINED BRIDE, the seventh book in the adult historical regency romance series, Seasons of Change, by Jennie Goutet. See below for information on the book, buy links, and an exclusive excerpt.
HIS DISINCLINED BRIDE (Seasons of Change Series #7) by Jennie Goutet
Synopsis Theirs is not a love match. She’ll make sure of it.
Kitty Stokes never imagined she’d be so weak as to sacrifice herself on the altar of family obligations, but when the only alternative to marriage with Lord Hayworth is to play nursemaid to her brother’s children, Kitty reluctantly agrees. On her wedding day, she’s certain she has made a grave error, but it’s too late to back out.
Phineas Hayworth refrained from setting eyes on his new bride before their wedding day—the price he forced himself to pay for being so mercenary as to wed the sister of a wealthy merchant in a bid to save his estate from ruins. Her beauty, therefore, comes as a shock, as does her icy treatment, which he feels he deserves. He swears an oath he will not approach her for an heir unless the invitation comes from her.
As Phineas sets out to put his estate in order and present his new wife to Society, he finds her more enchanting than he could have hoped for, even in a love match. Kitty continues to hold him at arm’s length, although he suspects her feelings for him run just as deep. As Phineas’s love and desire for his wife grows, the oath he swore her begins to suffocate. It soon becomes clear that while he’d once been prepared to settle for a loveless marriage, he will not abide an unrequited love.
His Disinclined Bride is a sweet/clean regency romance stand-alone novel, book seven in the Seasons of Change series. ♥
Exclusive Excerpt Phineas saw his soon-to-be wife for the first time when Stokes stepped to the side, and one look was enough to strike him straight through the gut. He swallowed convulsively as if that could clear the heartbeat he could suddenly hear in his ears. His palms started to sweat in his gloves as his eyes followed her to the pew. She had looked regal enough when she walked in, shrouded in a brown cloak—her coloring harmonious with the wood pews and pulpit of the vast church, and her hair catching the light that shone through the stained glass windows and left pretty-colored patterns on the stone floor. But when she removed her cloak and faced him arrayed in an ivory and green dress, her skin radiant, her brown eyes warm, and her hair a mix of red and gold, Phineas’s breath left him. He had expected to make do with whatever wife this agreement brought him. He had not expected to contract an alliance with a woman who would be the envy of every man in the ton. She was incomparable. Miss Stokes met his gaze, her look shrouding any feelings, and her eyes flitted away. She did not smile.
Author Jennie Goutet
About the Author Jennie Goutet is an American-born Anglophile, who lives with her French husband and their three children in a small town outside Paris. Her imagination resides in Regency England, where her historical romances are set. Jennie is also author of the award-winning memoir, Stars Upside Down, and the modern romances, A Sweetheart in Paris and A Noble Affair.A Christian, a cook, and an inveterate klutz, Jennie writes about faith, food, and life—even the clumsy moments—on herblog, aladyinfrance.com. You can learn more about Jennie and her books on her author website, jenniegoutet.com.
Welcome to the book blitz for SHOPPING FOR A CEO’S BABY, the sixteenth book in the adult romantic comedy series, Shopping for a Billionaire, by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Julia Kent. See below for information on the book and series, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.
SHOPPING FOR A CEO’S BABY (Shopping for a Billionaire #16) by Julia Kent
Synopsis It’s Andrew and Amanda’s turn… in duplicate
We’re having twins. Twins. Which means my shooters are stronger than my brother’s. I win. Yeah, yeah, everyone can say it’s not a competition, but it is. And we all know it. Two babies at once means double the fun, and double the misery for my poor wife, Amanda. While I’m growing a Fortune 500 company, she’s growing two entire human beings out of nothing but orange cheese snacks and ice cream.
Do you have any idea how hard I’ve worked during this pregnancy, tracking down orange smoothies for her? Not to mention being forced to Facetime into a childbirth class on perineal massage, rescuing Chuckles the cat from being shaved bald by my two-year-old niece, and fighting with a wife who has named the twins Lefty and Righty. By the time we hit the ninth month, my entire world revolves around pleasing — and protecting — her.
Even if it means humiliating myself in the name of love. Wait a minute. Wait a minute, now. Hold on. Is she the one who’s winning?
Andrew and Amanda are BACK in the newest New York Times bestselling Shopping series book as they “beat” Declan and Shannon in the baby competition, but at what cost? As their future awaits them in the form of twins, Amanda and Andrew face ghosts from the past with wit, humor, and most of all — plenty of love.
Excerpt #2 Andrew
My wife is orange.
She is caked with orange dust, on her fingers, in her cuticles, and her lips are the color of a traffic cone. She’s in the kitchen, standing in front of the blender, drinking something–
You guessed it.
“Mmmmm,” she moans as she drinks straight from the blender itself. “Isss izz soooooo goooo.”
“What are you drinking?”
A swallow later and she says, “Cheeto-cini.” When my sister-in-law, Shannon, was pregnant with my niece, Amanda created a special orange smoothie for her out of Cheetos, marshmallow cream, and orange sherbet.
My wife has modified it to remove the sherbet and replace it with coocnut milk, which does nothing to change the fact that it’s vile to the core.
It’s just slightly less gross now.
“It’s the only thing that stays down.”
“And the doctor really says this is okay?” I say, staying far away from the blender, knowing how territorial she is about her food. She’s pregnant and still stuck deep in morning sickness.
For the last few weeks, all she’s eaten is this.
And nothing else.
“It’s full-fat coconut milk. One big leaf of kale.” She makes a gagging sound. “Apple juice. One banana. And Cheetos. I freeze the fruit and it tastes like a milkshake.”
“Our babies are made up of that.” At least she added the kale, banana, and apple juice this time.
“I choke down a prenatal vitamin, too, Andrew.” Her eyes tear up and her chin quivers.
“It’s fine. Good. I’m so glad you can eat something. Really. Not judging you. I know you are doing everything possible for our babies.” I rub the spot between her shoulder blades, hoping I can calm her down before a full-blown meltdown kicks in.
“I am! Everything,” she says before gobbling down more of that candy corn-colored monstrosity. “I’ve lost two pounds. The doctor said the placenta looks fine and the babies are growing within range, but this morning sickness is horrible. If I drink water, I puke! If I drink this–” she points at the blender, “–I don’t.”
“Then by all means, drink that.” I hold back a shudder. My trainer, Vince, would have an unexpected coronary if he saw Cheetos in a Vitamix.
“I–I know I’m not doing this the way another wife would. A better wife. A wife who is stronger and who…” Her lower lip begins to quiver.
About the Author New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge, and new adult books that push contemporary boundaries. From billionaires to BBWs to new adult rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every contemporary romance she writes. Unlike Shannon from Shopping for a Billionaire, she did not meet her husband after dropping her phone in a men’s room toilet (and he isn’t a billionaire). She lives in New England with her husband and three sons in a household where the toilet seat is never, ever, down.
Today is release day for JUST A LITTLE BET,the second book in the adult contemporary romantic comedy series, Where There’s Smoke, by USA Today bestselling author, Tawna Fenske. See below for information on the book and series, buy links, and an exclusive excerpt.
JUST A LITTLE BET (Where There’s Smoke Series #2) by Tawna Fenske
After a night of too many drinks, smokejumper Tony Warren and his best friend, photographer Kayla Gladney, come to the realization that they’re both bad at love. They even tried dating each other, but that crashed and burned, too. Now he’s got the hangover from hell and the certain conclusion he’s just a shit boyfriend. But Kayla thinks he’s a straight-up commitment-phobe.
So they make a bet—they’re going to hunt down his exes and decide once and for all why he’s so unlucky in love. Terrible boyfriend or commitment-phobe. Why does either answer feel like he’s still losing?
But between roadside burgers and late night detours, they discover some fires never burn out—like the one slowly smoldering between them. And suddenly losing feels a whole lot like winning again.
Exclusive Excerpt He glanced over and winked. “Want to play a road-trip game?”
“Like twenty questions?”
“Or the alphabet game,” he said. “The one where you look at road signs to find letters of the alphabet in order?”
Kayla scanned the long stretch of highway dotted with sagebrush and junipers. Not a lot of signs in sight. “How about kiss, marry, kill?”
She wiggled her toes on the dash, enjoying the cool flutter of air conditioning. “We take turns naming three random celebrities,” she said. “Or they could be musicians or cartoon characters or whatever. You have to decide which one you’d kiss, which one you’d marry, and which one you’d kill.”
He glanced over and raised an eyebrow. “Sounds like another middle school game. Proceed.”
“Um, let me think.” She rubbed her palms down her denim-clad thighs and tried to come up with something. “Okay. Marge Simpson, Judy Jetson, and Princess Fiona from Shrek.”
“Those are my choices?”
She grinned. “Those are your choices.”
Frowning at the highway, Tony considered it. “I’m not keen on killing anyone, but Judy Jetson’s gotta be pushing ninety, since that show came out in the early sixties. So I guess I’ll go with her.”
His brow furrowed. “Do we really have to do that part?”
“Yep, it’s the game.”
“Okay, then yes.” He tapped the brakes as a rabbit darted out in the road, then changed its mind and scurried back. Tony swerved to avoid hitting it, expertly keeping the Jeep on the road.
“Princess Fiona seems really happy with Shrek, so I’m not going to fuck that up for them,” he continued. “Just a peck on the cheek is okay, right?”
Kayla eyed him, surprised by how seriously he seemed to be taking this. “Does this mean you’re marrying Marge Simpson?”
He shrugged and tapped his thumbs on the steering wheel. “Homer’s kind of a dick, and she always seemed like a cool lady. Might as well get her out of that.”
“Wow.” Kayla stared at him. “So you’re seeing marriage as—what? A chance to rescue someone?”
Tony frowned. “That’s not what I said.”
“No, but you implied it.” She laughed and dropped her feet to the floor. “No wonder we didn’t work out.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I don’t need anyone rescuing me,” she said. “If some sort of hero complex is the driving force behind—”
“I do not have a hero complex.” His words came out so forceful, even Tony seemed surprised. “I just don’t like seeing anyone in a lousy marriage. There’s too goddamn many of those in the world.”
He wasn’t meeting her eyes, which was probably just because he needed to watch the road. But Kayla couldn’t help feeling a dark fog hovering over this conversation.
“Fair enough,” she said mildly. “For what it’s worth, that’s very noble. Maybe not the best reason to marry someone, but not the worst, either.”
“It’s not like you gave me great choices,” he pointed out.
“Okay, you go. Give me three picks.”
His frown tipped up at the edges, and suddenly he was grinning again. “Fine. Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, and Kevin Bacon.”
“Ooh, good choices.” Kayla tucked a knee up under her. “At their current ages, or do I get to choose my favorite roles they’ve played?”
“Current ages,” Tony said definitively.
Kayla laughed. “Says the guy who killed a geriatric Judy Jetson. Okay, I’m going to go ahead and kill Kevin Bacon. I never forgave him for being the guy who cheated with Julianne Moore and broke Steve Carell’s heart.”
“Which movie was that?”
“Crazy, Stupid, Love,” she said. “A brilliant—and dare I say highly underrated—romantic comedy.”
He glanced over at her. “How come you’ve never made me watch it?”
“The fact that you just said made you watch it is exactly why,” she said. “I don’t want your machismo sullying a movie so near and dear to my heart.”
“I’m wounded,” Tony deadpanned. “For the record, I’m a sensitive guy who digs the occasional rom-com.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” Kayla got back to considering her options in the game. “Okay, so it comes down to Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. Both are brilliant actors. Tom’s got a great mix between comedy and drama, where Denzel is a little more serious. But Denzel has the sex appeal thing going for him, while Tom just doesn’t curl my toes.”
Tony gave a low whistle. “Nice in-depth analysis.”
“Thanks.” She grinned. “You set the bar high with your thoughtful response.”
“Yeah, but you’re better at it than I am.”
She shrugged and grabbed her Hydro Flask to take a swig of water. “I do tend to overanalyze relationships.” Could be why she hadn’t managed to find her soul mate. “Not that it’s gotten me to the finish line.”
He frowned. “What the hell is the finish line?”
“Marriage. Babies. All the things you claim not to want but secretly might.”
He gave her a pained look and eased over to slip by a truck hauling huge bales of hay. “This bet is going to be the death of me. You’re going to spend the next couple weeks fiddling around in my brain, aren’t you?”
“Not if you don’t want me to.” She studied the side of his face as he steered them safely in front of the hay truck. “I just think a road trip is a perfect time for self-reflection.”
“Whatever you say.”
“Okay. So kiss, marry, kill.” She forced her brain back to the game. “I think I’m going to marry Denzel. The way he owned up to all his mistakes at the end of Flight seals the deal.”
Tony shifted his eyes off the road and looked at her. “That seems noteworthy, don’t you think?”
“How do you figure?”
“He played a raging asshole for 97 percent of that movie. But you focus on the redemption scene at the end.” He flashed her a grin. “It’s actually kind of sweet.”
She felt her forehead creasing. “Are you calling me a Pollyanna?”
“Hey, I didn’t say it. You did.”
Kayla rolled her eyes. “Is it too late to play the alphabet game?”
He laughed and picked up his cup of McDonald’s iced tea. “I’m sensing a trend here. We can play whatever you want, sweetheart.”
She dropped her foot to the floor and grabbed her own cup of soda. “I spy with my little eye…”
About the Author When Tawna Fenske finished her English lit degree at 22, she celebrated by filling a giant trash bag full of romance novels and dragging it everywhere until she’d read them all. Now she’s a RITA Award finalist, USA Today bestselling author who writes humorous fiction, risqué romance, and heartwarming love stories with a quirky twist. Publishers Weekly has praised Tawna’s offbeat romances with multiple starred reviews and noted, “There’s something wonderfully relaxing about being immersed in a story filled with over-the-top characters in undeniably relatable situations. Heartache and humor go hand in hand.”
Tawna lives in Bend, Oregon, with her husband, stepkids, and a menagerie of ill-behaved pets. She loves hiking, snowshoeing, standup paddleboarding, and inventing excuses to sip wine on her back porch. She can peel a banana with her toes and loses an average of twenty pairs of eyeglasses per year. To find out more about Tawna and her books, visit www.tawnafenske.com..
Today is release day for THE HIGHLANDER’S UNEXPECTED PROPOSAL, the first book in the adult historical romance series, The Brothers of Wolf Isle, by Heather McCollum. See below for information on the book, buy links, and an exclusive excerpt.
THE HIGHLANDER’S UNEXPECTED PROPOSAL (The Brothers of Wolf Isle Series #1) by Heather McCollum
Synopsis A lass begging to marry him might top the list of “oddest things to happen,” but Chief Adam Macquarie is desperate. And no matter how much he hates to do it, he’s not above lying to get what he wants. Starting with the fact that he just omitted the truth about the situation back at his home—where there are no women and only a handful of other people. Because he has a secret need for a wife himself, one she won’t be too happy about when she finds out.
Lark Montgomerie is thrilled the brawny chief agrees to save her from her drunken father’s machinations of wedding her off to the first fool that agrees. He’s easy on the eyes and no one can be worse than her current options. Now a new life awaits her, on an exciting Scottish isle no less, and nothing will dampen her spirits. That is, until she arrives in her new homeland and realizes more than a few things are amiss…
Excerpt “I am not… I do not woo lasses like Beck. My whole focus has been on starting our clan over, building it up, so I never learned to be clever while talking to lasses.”
“You do not need to be clever,” she said, her mouth softening as she turned toward him. “Just say what you are thinking.”
The shadows and shards of firelight played over her high cheekbones and lovely chin. Lord, how he wanted to run his finger over that soft skin. Say what he was thinking? Can I throw up your skirts right here and kiss every inch of your lush body? Then carry you into that castle and make you scream my name as you burst with pleasure?
He opened his mouth and paused. “Uh… Are ye hungry?” Bloody hell.
“No,” she said with a shake of her head.
“Do ye need to use the privy?”
She shook her head again, her lips turning up slightly.
They stared at each other for another breath, and he curled his hand around her small one. It felt fragile in his large palm and yet he knew how strong Lark was. “Can I kiss ye?”
The world around him vanished into darkness as he waited for her answer. She gave a small nod, and he inhaled. Stepping into her, his lips bent toward her, and he waited to see if she would pull away. Lark kept her head tipped up to him, her eyes open, and he pressed a gentle kiss on her soft mouth.
The heat of her body soaked into him. He wasn’t sure if he’d pulled her into him or she’d melted forward, but his arms were around her so that he could feel the softness of her curves pressed into him. Softness to mold against his hardness.
The feel of her, the delicious smell of her, mixed with the detailed memories of his dreams, erupted a firestorm within him. He stroked down her back. She trembled slightly, and Adam caught her face with one hand, guiding her against him to deepen the kiss. She was letting him touch her! Slow. Keep it slow. Do not ruck up her skirts and rut with her against the chapel wall.
His rational thoughts faded quickly to fragmented whispers. He’d been so close to her, yet she’d been untouchable, for days and uncomfortable nights. But now… now he would touch her. “Lark,” he managed to say against her lips as she spread a trail of fire with her fingers down his chest to the hardness beneath his kilt. Through the wool wrapping, she stroked over him. He inhaled swiftly, her touch robbing him of his mind.
Pent up raw want funneled through Adam as he held her to him. She fit him perfectly, and the fact that she hadn’t pulled away at the feel of him released his worry over bedding a virgin. Lark was brave and soft with a good dose of wild.
Author Heather McCollum
About the Author Heather McCollum is an award-winning, historical romance writer. With over twenty books published, she is an Amazon Best Seller and a Readers’ Choice winner.
The rugged beauty and rich history of Great Britain captivates Ms. McCollum each time she visits. The country’s history and landscape have been a backdrop for her stories since her very first book.
When she is not creating vivid characters and settings, she spends her time educating women on the symptoms of Ovarian Cancer. She is a survivor and resides with her very own Highland hero and three spirited children in the wilds of suburbia on the mid-Atlantic coast.
Today is release day for PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE, the first book in the adult romantic suspense series, The Finish Line, by Timarie. See below for information on the book, buy links, and an exclusive release day excerpt.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE (The Finish Line Series #1) by Timarie
Synopsis April 15, 2013, Patriots Day. The city of Boston, and all of the nation, was rocked by a terrorist attack at the historical Boston Marathon finish line. Countless people are affected by this tragedy, including Michael Farino and Ireland “Ilee” Murphy. Neither one of them could have predicted that the act of saving Ilee’s life would lead Michael on a journey of personal discovery, while a decades old war between their rival Boston crime families threatens their happiness and their lives.
Michael and Ilee will have to pledge their allegiances to either their families or each other, but it is not that simple. Passion, secrets, betrayal and a very complicated past are working against Michael and Ilee. Nothing is ever as it seems… Nothing!
The finish line is just their beginning….
Exclusive Excerpt After what feels like an eternity, the mystery man looks up at me. His extremely blue eyes pin me to the bed. He freezes when he sees me staring back. This is really awkward, partly because I have no clue who this person is and also because I find him unbelievably attractive.
I guess I’ll make the first move here. “Hi” is all I can manage in a shy voice.
He leans over and starts talking quietly. “Hi, how are you feeling? Do you remember me?” I swallow and with an ounce of embarrassment I say, “I’m sorry, I don’t.” He smiles and runs his thumb gently down my cheek gently and smiles at me. His touch, wow! It feels like he is leaving a trail of tingles that follow his thumb.
Who the hell is this person? That is a rather intimate gesture. Should I be worried? “I’m Michael. I’m the one who helped you get to the hospital. I waited for you to get out of surgery yesterday and came up to see you when you left recovery, but you were still out of it.”
That’s right: I vaguely remember a man helping me. “I can never thank you enough for what you did for me. Without you I probably would have died on the sidewalk. Thank you isn’t enough, but it’s all I can say right now.”
He gives me a shy smile and is quiet for a moment. Then he speaks.
“You really don’t need to thank me. I’m just so relieved that you’re going to be OK. The doctors said you are going to need a lot of follow-up, but you’ll be able to walk and make a full recovery.”
I suddenly feel a little annoyed that this guy knows more about my condition than I do. “You spoke to the doctor?” I try to keep the edge out of my tone.
“Yeah, I was waiting here after the EMTs brought you in and they mistook me for your boyfriend. After you came out of surgery, Dr. Wong came out and told me you had to have a blood transfusion and they repaired muscle damage in your leg. He said you were lucky the damage was in one spot so he didn’t need to amputate.”
Amputate? What the fuck! No one mentioned amputation! Tears start streaming down my face. God, what is with me? I haven’t cried this much since I was 17. Now those memories make me cry more.
“Hey, it’s OK. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you. Everything is going to be fine.” He stands and leans down to cradle my head against his hard chest and kisses the top of my head. In a moment of weakness, I grab hold of his strong arms and bury my head in his chest. I take in his incredible scent and just cry as he comforts me. For the first time since I woke up last night, I feel safe. Too safe. I feel him kiss the top of my head again and hold me tighter and I am scared to realize I really like being in this stranger’s arms. I pull away and he releases me. “I’m sorry. Thank you. I’m usually not an overly emotional person. I just can’t make sense of any of this.” I don’t tell him the “this” I am referring to isn’t the accident, but rather my feelings toward this virtual stranger who saved my life.
About the Author Timarie was born and raised in East Boston, Massachusetts. To this very day, Timarie still only live a few miles outside of downtown Boston. Since her early teens, Timarie has been a singer/song writer. After university, she continued to work in music, while simultaneously developing her business acumen in the private sector. It wasn’t until shortly after the terrorist attacks at the Boston Marathon finish line, that Timarie’s creative vision for this literary series came into focus.
Timarie continues to work in music, as well as being an active writer. In addition to the books in The Finish Line Series, Timarie has also authored three other books awaiting publication at the time of this printing. It is her hope to show the world that Boston is not just the birthplace of America, but also one of the most diverse, intriguing and culturally rich places in the country. As she always says, “Boston is always a supporting character in all of my books.”
Nothing is more important to Timarie than her family and friends, which includes her beloved Maine Coon, Princess. Timarie is also a fierce advocate for racial, gender and LGBTQ+ equality. She promotes independent thinking and social positivity.
Welcome to the book blitz for A ROYAL CHRISTMAS QUANDARY, a standalone young adult historical holiday romance, by Samantha Hastings. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.
Synopsis Readers looking for a light, fun read full of holiday mischief will be delighted by Samantha Hastings’ A Royal Christmas Quandary, perfect for fans of A Christmas Prince.
When you spend Christmas in a castle, anything is possible.
1860. Lady Alexandrina Gailey is looking forward to a cozy holiday at Windsor Castle with her best friend, Princess Alice, and her long-time crush, Lord George Worthington. But Drina’s plans are all but dashed when Alice’s parents, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, declare that Alice must choose one of two royal princes to become engaged to before Christmas.
There’s just one problem: George, a junior member of the Foreign Office, has accidentally misplaced one of the princes.
Together, Drina and George scour the town of Windsor for the missing prince, desperately hoping to deliver him to the royal dinner party with the queen none the wiser. They might just need a royal Christmas miracle to pull it off.
Exclusive Excerpt #3 Princess Alice was nearly a head shorter, so Drina hugged her friend’s shoulders and Alice hugged her waist. Drina released her friend and stepped back. Alice’s hair was brown and her blue eyes were the most prominent feature in her face—they were arresting in their earnestness. Her sharp features, paired with her air of intelligence, never ceased to attract attention. And her quiet dignity and poise were the envy of many a young lady.
“Did you get lost on the way to the room that you’ve stayed in over a dozen times?” Alice asked.
Drina shrugged her shoulders. “Not exactly.”
Alice folded her arms across her large chest and sighed. “Not again.”
The princess only said one word, but she said it with contempt: “George.”
Drina felt the heat rising to her face as she stammered, “H-h-he needed my help.”
“With what?” Alice asked. Her large, slightly protruding Hanoverian eyes didn’t miss anything.
“His father put him in charge of my cousin, Prince Friedrich, and he couldn’t understand what he was saying.”
“I thought your cousin spoke English very well.”
“He does,” she said, starting to giggle. “George was playing errand boy for his valet.”
If royal princesses could snort, Alice certainly did, before laughing so hard that she cried. Drina laughed, too, and dabbed at her own tears with a handkerchief. It was several moments before they both could control their giggles.
Alice finally stopped laughing, holding a stitch in her side. “Then where is Prince Friedrich?”
Drina’s smile faded. Prince Friedrich had been invited to Windsor Castle as a possible suitor to Princess Alice, along with Prince Louis of Hesse. Drina contemplated making an excuse for her errant cousin, but she didn’t wish to deceive her dearest friend.
“He’s not here,” she said at last. “His valet said he went to the village to drink English beer.”
“Not a very promising start,” Alice huffed in annoyance. “I don’t want a drunkard for a husband.”
“What about Prince Louis?” Drina asked with a fake smile. “This is his second visit, isn’t it? I remember he came with his brother to see the Ascot races in June, and I thought him excessively handsome then.”
“He is very handsome,” Alice admitted with a sigh. “But I don’t feel like I know him at all. I feel true companionship is an impossibility for us—our interests are so different. I don’t think our thoughts will ever meet.”
“Oh,” Drina said, not knowing what else to say. Few people in the world were as clever as Alice; she was a polymath and gifted with languages. “Our thoughts don’t always align and yet we’re the best of friends. Do you remember the first time we met? You’d escaped from your governess and we played hide-and-seek in the chapel.”
She laughed at the memory and Alice even managed a small smile.
“That particular bit of mischief was your idea,” Alice pointed out.
Drina giggled again. “And then you told your mother that we’d only gone into the chapel to sit among the common people so that you could understand their point of view.”
Reluctantly, Alice laughed, too. “I spared us both a strict punishment with that mistruth.”
“It was a bald-faced lie and you know it!” Drina said, and gave her friend a playful shove on the arm. “Maybe you should play hide-and-seek with Prince Louis.”
Her friend blushed rosily. “You know that none of the royal children are allowed to be alone.”
“Your father’s rule, or Baron Stockmar’s?”
“Baron Stockmar thinks Prince Louis shows a decided partiality for me,” Alice said in a flat voice. “Or at least in my family and fortune.”
“Perhaps you just need to get to know him better,” Drina said hopefully.
“Perhaps.” Alice turned away from her as she added, “My parents want me to pick a royal prince by Christmas.”
“But that is only a week away!”
“I know,” Alice said, still not looking at her. “But I’ve received royal suitors the entire year. And my sister was engaged at fourteen and married at seventeen. I suppose I should be happy that I only have to be engaged by seventeen.”
Drina wanted to say something comforting, but she didn’t know what. Instead she put her hands on her friend’s shoulders and gave her a backward embrace, hoping that her friend could feel her love and support through it. They stood there silently for a time before Alice turned and pointed to the crimson dress laid out on the bed. “My mother would never let me wear such a revealing dress,” she said in a teasing voice.
“My mother selected it,” Drina said with a wink. “I’m supposed to catch a husband in it.”
“Oh dear, I don’t think there’s enough material here for two people,” Alice said, and they both laughed.
Author Samantha Hastings
About the Author Samantha Hastings has degrees from Brigham Young University, the University of Reading (Berkshire, England), and the University of North Texas. She met her husband in a turkey sandwich line. They live in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she spends most of her time reading, eating popcorn, and chasing her kids. She is the author of THE LAST WORD, THE INVENTION OF SOPHIE CARTER, and A ROYAL CHRISTMAS QUANDARY.