Welcome to the blog tour for THE OTHER BROTHER, the fourth book in the adult contemporary billionaires romance series, Beta Brothers, by Hazel Kelly. See below for information on the book, buy links, and an exclusive excerpt.
THE OTHER BROTHER by Hazel Kelly
About the Book – Read for Free with Kindle Unlimited Title: THE OTHER BROTHER Series: Beta Brothers #4 Author: Hazel Kelly Release Date: July 7, 2019 Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance Links:Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU
Synopsis College dropout Piper has been down on her luck for years, and she’s beginning to doubt whether she’ll ever achieve her dream of becoming a professional chef.
So when a handsome stranger who’s frostier than frozen food offers her a job that seems too good to be true, she’s in no position to ask questions. Yet the longer she works for him, the more she has.
Unfortunately, her billionaire boss is determined to keep Piper in the dark, especially about his past. But little does she know, her warm presence is making him think about his future for the first time in years, a future he increasingly hopes she’ll be a part of.
Can New York’s beastliest bachelor open his heart to the beautiful young woman he saved on a hunch? Or will his demons drive her away before he finds the courage to admit his feelings?
**This standalone, modern-day fairytale will make you smile and swoon all the way to the happiest ending you’ll read this year.
Excerpt The hint of a smile drew his lips to one side, and his face came so close I thought he might kiss me again. “I need to be with someone I can trust, Piper. Someone who trusts me.”
“I trust you,” I whispered.
“Yet you play games.”
My breath shallowed. “It doesn’t feel like I’m playing.”
“Good,” he said. “Because I am not a cat, and you are not a mouse.”
“What is this then?” I asked, my heart hammering in my chest. “Because I’m not your guest either. So what am I? Your dirty little secret? Do you sleep with all your personal employees or-?”
“Are you questioning my professionalism?”
“No,” I lied. “I just want to know what your intentions were last night.”
“Simple.” He locked his eyes on mine. “To make you earn all those baths you’ve been taking.”
I swallowed. “You think I’m taking too many baths?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know how dirty you are.”
He stepped forward, pinning me against the counter with his hips so I could feel his hard length against my stomach as it swelled in his track pants.
I leaned back, letting his eyes sweep over my face like we were a couple on the cover of an old romance novel, and by the time his gaze settled on my lips, they were parted and ready for him.
“Don’t ever play games with me again,” he said, his hard-on still burning against my belly. Then he stepped back, retrieved his espresso from the machine, and walked away.
“Wait,” I said, glancing over my shoulder at the breakfast I’d made. “Aren’t you hungry?”
“Yes,” he said without turning around. “But not for eggs.”
My chest finally relaxed when he disappeared down the hall, but a gentle smile tugged at my lips when I realized he wanted me back, wanted me still. Wanted me bad.
Author Hazel Kelly
About the Author Hazel Kelly is an Amazon bestselling author who writes sweet and steamy romance that will make you smile all over.
When she’s not traveling the globe in search of cozy hammocks to write in, she enjoys tackling her tbr list with a nice big glass of anything will do. She lives in Dublin with a charming Irishman and their three-legged furbaby.
Welcome to the blog tour for MAGIC HEIST, the second book in the young adult fantasy series, Fairy Trafficking, by Mary Karlik. See below for information on the book and series, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.
Synopsis Layla rescued fairies that had been kidnapped and brought the human world. But now they can’t find their way back to the magic realm and time is running out.
Layla is a powerful fairy with magical ability that stretches beyond throwing spells. But with all that power, she still doesn’t know how to get over one-hundred fairies back to the magic realm. With their magic gone, the rescued fairies have no immunity to protect them from the toxins of the human world, and they’re slowly dying.
To find the path home, Layla knows she must team up with the one man who can make her insides quiver with an accidental brush of his fingertips. The same man who’s alter ego dragon is the natural predator of fairies. The man she knows will give his life to keep the fairies safe—Scotland’s finest Specialist Crime Division leader, Ian Cameron.
Ian has only been a dragon shifter for a few days. He struggles to control the dragon spirit locked inside his human form, doesn’t know what magical powers he may or may not have, and has never been to a magical world. But none of those things frighten him as much as the little spark that ignites in his soul when the half – human fairy is around.
But this little fairy is no Tinkerbell. She is brave, powerful, and can wield a sword like a medieval knight.
With growing feelings toward Layla, he couldn’t refuse to help her get the fairies back to the magic realm if he wanted to. The problem is the dragon who lives inside him would like nothing more than to feed his appetite with all of those little fairies—especially the half human one who killed its leader.
“Mary Karlik, is truly a hidden gem of a writer.” – I Am the Bookworm
Excerpt #3 Layla’s breaths came sharp and fast. Her heart dropped to her stomach and her blood to her feet.
So many fairies.
Her knees dipped. She held her breath.
Killing Fauth. Saving all those fairies hadn’t made a dent in the fairy trafficking scheme.
Ian tightened his hold and peered at the woman in red. “She’s been waiting for this moment for so long.” He turned to Layla and looked directly in her eyes. She got the message loud and clear—get a hold of yourself before you blow our cover. He spoke to her in a soft coaxing voice. “Take your time, love. We don’t have to make a decision right away.”
Layla’s hands trembled so hard she was afraid the woman would get suspicious. She wrapped her arm around Ian’s waist and drew in a sharp breath. “Full fey.” She said the words with wonder in her voice as if she’d never seen them before. “Can you tell me about the one in orange?”
The woman glided to the fairy. “Isn’t she lovely? She’s from the Paeonia flower clan. Their magic is specifically known for creativity. Our aspiring writers and artists have great success with them.”
The woman swept her arm toward a blue poppy fairy. “Aren’t her wings beautiful? The darker the blue, the stronger the magic. She is a premium model. Her magic is a powerful broad spectrum. Money, fame, intelligence. This fey can deliver your greatest desires.”
Layla’s stomach knotted, and her throat was so dry she wasn’t sure she could speak. She swallowed and tried to look awestruck and not sickened by what she saw. “What do you think? I can’t decide between the two.”
Ian smiled. “Why not both?”
The elf-woman’s eyes glowed, and she flashed a broad smile. “If you’re interested in our male fairies, we have a special on the Thistle variety.”
Layla’s heart went to her chest, and she took a step back. She couldn’t help it. Thistle was her clan.
The woman led them to the opposite side of the room. “Don’t let the name put you off. The lads have good strong magic.”
Layla stared at the lads who’d been placed side by side. She knew them. Robbie and Fergus. They were schoolmates of Esme—and they’d bullied Layla for being half-human.
About the Author Mary Karlik has always been a dreamer. When she was a teen, she read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and then sat in every wardrobe in her Nanna’s home, trying to open the door to Narnia. She didn’t find it, but she did discover her voice as an author: one filled with her young adult self, and grounded in her roots as a Texan and her Scottish heritage, nourished by obscure Scottish folklore.
You can find her Texas roots in her YA contemporary romance Hickville series , which has been described as “100% solid storytelling,” and begins with Welcome to Hickville High, a “lovely story about growing up.”
She digs deep into her Scottish roots – there is magic there, she just knows it – for the forthcoming YA epic fantasy Fairy Trafficking series, beginning with Magic Harvest.
She makes her home in the beautiful Sangre de Cristo mountains of Northern New Mexico where she is a certified professional ski instructor, but she also loves visiting Scotland where she is currently studying Scottish Gaelic at the University of Highlands and Islands in Skye. Mary also earned her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, has a B.S. degree from Texas A&M University, and is a Registered Nurse.
Mary currently serves as the President of the Young Adult Chapter of Romance Writers of America and looks forward to raising a glass or two of gin and tonic with her fellow writers every year at RWA’s national convention.
Synopsis Bexley Seven Dates. Seven chances to win my heart.
It’s not hard – Don’t put ketchup on your eggs. Don’t wear tasseled loafers. For the love of all that’s Holy, don’t ogle the waitress.
Yet no one can get it right.
Tristan Dating Roulette. It’s Bexley’s game. Correction – it’s her life. A constant rotation of dates. You might get one; you might get seven. No one has ever gotten to eight.
There’s only one rule – Don’t commit a dating sin. I’ve watched for years and bided my time. Now, it’s my turn to play.
Excerpt “Has anyone come in, angel?” I ask. She gives a high-pitched whimper at the pet name. She likes it.
“No.” She gasps breathlessly.
“Good, because you’ve been teasing me tonight, and now it’s time for some payback.” As I bring my lips to hers, I slip a hand under her skirt. She stifles a cry when my fingers dance along the seam of her silky panties. She’s hot and wet in all the best places. I’d rather be doing this with my tongue, but if I play my cards right, my patience will be rewarded.
Our kiss escalates, and I slide my hand into her panties. My fingers glide easily through her excitement, and she kisses me deeper as I circle her clit. She’s a ball of pent-up sexual frustration, and it’s hot as hell. I thrust a single finger inside her, flick her clit, and pinch her nipple in the perfect combination. Bexley explodes, and I swallow her cries as her pussy pulses around my digit. She rides my hand through her orgasm, and I slide my hand out from under her shirt and caress her cheek. As her orgasm subsides, our kiss slows.
“Tristan,” she says softly, pulling back from our kiss to look at me.
When I slip my hand out of her panties, she reaches for a few napkins she stuffed in her purse earlier. She watches, eyes locked on mine, as I bring my finger to my mouth and suck her sweet essence from my skin with a tortured groan.
“I can’t believe you’re doing that right here,” she hisses. The theater is still empty, but even if it wasn’t, I’d give no fucks at this point.
“And I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on your taste for ten fucking years.” With both hands, I pull her face to mine and kiss her like the starving man I am. Our tongues entwine, and my cock aches with the knowledge I’m sharing her flavor with her.
She pulls away, gasping. “This is so damn dirty.”
I pull her close until our foreheads touch. “You think this is dirty? Wait until I come in your mouth and then devour your lips after. You can call it dirty, carnal, depraved, but I call it a fantasy fulfilled, and I can’t wait.”
She bites my bottom lip and soothes the sting with her tongue.
Our sexual chemistry is incredible, but the small part of my conscience that’s been whispering to me all night is becoming louder. Bexley isn’t a hot hookup for the night—she’s someone I could easily see myself building a future with. As sexy as it is to get her off in public, she deserves to know her worth. “Bex, I am sorry. You deserved a much better second date than this.”
Her fingers lace through my curls, and she tugs my hair gently and smiles. “Are you kidding me? This is exactly the date I wanted. I know we’re pretending in a sense, but . . .”
“Hey, this might be a form of pretending, but my feelings are real, and if I make it past date seven, you better bet the boyfriend title is a given. I want you to be mine, Bexley. Now I need to figure out how not to fuck that up.”
After placing a brief kiss on my lips, she gets comfortable in her seat and leans her head on my shoulder with a sigh. “That makes two of us. If it helps, you’re getting extra credit for the orgasm that was above and beyond.”
Author D. Kelly
About the Author D. Kelly, author of The Acceptance Series, The Illusion Series, and standalone companion novels Chasing Cassidy and Sharing Rylee, was born and raised in Southern California. She’s a wife, mom, dog lover, taxi, problem fixer, and extreme multi-tasker. She married her high school sweetheart and is her kids’ biggest fan.
Kelly has been writing since she was young and took joy in spinning stories to her childhood friends. Margaritas and sarcasm make her smile, she loves the beach but hates the sand, and she believes Starbucks makes any day better.
A contemporary romance writer, D. Kelly’s stories revolve around friendship and the bond it creates, strengthening the love of the people who share it.
Synopsis Set against the smoky, gaslit allure of Victorian London, this sweetly romantic historical debut is full of humor and stars a whip-smart female heroine ahead of her time.
Where one story ends, another begins.
1861. Miss Lucinda Leavitt is shocked when she learns the author of her favorite serialized novel has died before completing the story. Determined to learn how it ends, Lucinda reluctantly enlists the help of her father’s young business partner, Mr. David Randall, to track down the reclusive author’s former whereabouts.
David is a successful young businessman, but is overwhelmed by his workload. He wants to prove himself to his late father, as well as to himself. He doesn’t have the time, nor the interest, for this endeavor, but Lucinda is not the type to take no for an answer.
Their search for the elusive Mrs. Smith and the rightful ending to her novel leads Lucinda and David around the country, but the truths they discover about themselves—and each other—are anything but fictional.
Chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, The Last Word by debut author Samantha Hastings is a fun yet intellectual romp through Victorian London—the perfect book for book-lovers.
My Review Reminiscent of Jane Austen, THE LAST WORD combines neoclassicism and romanticism along with a healthy dose of humor and wit to bring Lucinda’s and David’s story to life. The two are childhood friends who meet again after a four-year separation to find the other both the same and yet infinitely different than the person they remember. Throw in a big misunderstanding and a young woman ahead of her time, constricted by the customs of 19th century England, and sparks fly higher than between Emma and Knightley or Elizabeth and Darcy, but with the underlying warmth of Elinor and Edward. The two dance around a mutual attraction while Lucinda fights against society’s dictates for her. Fresh out of finishing school, she wants nothing to do with being a proper lady, but rather to use the brain that God gave her to work in her father’s counting house. A natural talent with numbers, she helped him when she was younger but now is expected to do needlepoint instead of auditing.
If there’s anything Lucinda hates more than sitting around and waiting for someone to call on her, I don’t know what it is. Not having been born to a high-class family, her social standing comes from the wealth her father has amassed. His goal is to marry her to a man of higher social standing. Lucinda has less than zero interest in that plan. She managed to get through the long boring hours by reading. But her favorite author died before finishing her last novel, leaving Lucinda desperate to find out how it ends, as if her own ending will somehow reveal itself in those final pages. With the help of her father’s business partner and her longtime friend, David, she sets out to find anyone who may know how the story ends. But the more they dig, the more she’s left wondering, before a tragedy forces both of them to reevaluate what really matters. And what doesn’t.
Plot The main plot focuses on the budding romance between Lucinda and David, but Lucinda’s desires to work in business and find out the ending of her beloved novel are strong subplots that drive most of the action. The conflict derives for the social norms of the time, status and who is allowed to associate with whom. Women’s options and their carefully guarded reputations only further bind Lucinda in a world she finds too restrictive. Her father withdrew into himself after her mother’s death years before and their strained relationship underlies everything. The author does a phenomenal job of keeping the reader in Victorian England through scene setting, language, fashion, and customs. There is both a whimsical and sweeping cinematic feel to the places Hastings sets her characters in, drawing the reader right along with them.
Characters If you love any of Jane Austen’s characters, you will love these! From the narcoleptic Mrs. Patton to the eccentric woman in the half-built estate they visit in their quest, the characters are a delight. Lucinda is utterly relatable as a young woman who wants so much more from life than the world wishes to allow her and David is a man after my own heart, both seeing Lucinda as an equal, and treating her with that respect. The American girl, Persephone, who befriends Lucinda, is a delightful, although often inappropriate, breath of fresh air.
What I Loved About THE LAST WORD 1. Everything. Seriously, the entire book was just amazing. It was a joy to read.
2. Lucinda. I love that she’s independent and strong and refuses to be confined by rules of society.
3. David. He is also a man ahead of his time with his ability to see Lucinda as more than just an accessory.
4. Language. I love the way they speak and the words the author chooses to tell the story as if it were written as a contemporary in 1861.
5. Romance. It isn’t angsty or intense, even though Lucinda and David are both teens, but it’s perfect for the time.
Bottom Line A stunning coming of age story in a time long gone with amazing characters and beautiful storytelling.
Disclaimer I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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. The Last Word is her debut novel.
Welcome to the blog tour for SHE’S A SPITFIRE, the second book in the adult romantic suspense series, Tough Love, by Chloe Liese. See below for information on the book and series, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.
SHE’S A SPITFIRE (Tough Love #2) by Chloe Liese
About the Book – Read for Free with Kindle Unlimited Title: SHE’S A SPITFIRE Series: Tough Love #2 Author: Chloe Liese Release Date: June 24, 2019 Genre: Adult Romantic Suspense Link: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU
Synopsis One fiery-haired, sexy scientist finds her perfect complement in a dark and handsome soccer star. Opposites attract, and they’ve got chemistry that’s explosive—literally.
Physics calls it entropy. Philosophy calls it Murphy’s Law: If something can go wrong, eventually it will. Professionally and personally speaking, Zed’s familiar with the principle. After a decade of trying to alter the atomic makeup of the mafia from its nucleus, now he’s set on leaving The Life and pursuing his heart. Problem is, the sassy, hot-headed spitfire he can’t quit is meddling in his slow burn escape plan, and turning it into full-on combustion.
Not to mention, Nairne’s got a painful history she won’t talk about and more secrets than she has lab instruments—which is really saying something. In an ideal world, the bad boy footballer would follow the brainy beauty overseas and they’d live happily ever after. But Murphy’s Law is proven true, as Zed finds his world imploding and his escape plan foiled. These enemies turned lovers end up discovering how costly it can be to meet the right person at the wrong time.
A present he can’t escape.
A past she can’t forget.
A future they won’t stop fighting for.
They say all’s fair in love…and war.
Book Two in the Tough Love Series—an enemies to lovers, suspenseful romance, full of sexy Italians, feisty heroines, globe-trotting action, and an ending that’ll both satisfy you and leave you ready for more!
Excerpt #2 I sped to practice to burn off the last of the alcohol I’d drowned myself in. Being elected boss was my worst nightmare come true, and had required liquor-induced oblivion. I could hardly think about it without wanting to vomit. I’d done everything right, played my hand perfectly to support Nella as leader, and it had blown up in my face anyway. Electing me boss. It was goddamn unacceptable.
“Muffin!” Lucas shouted.
I lifted a hand in hello, jogged onto the field, and started my warm-up laps. Lucas was in goal, taking shots from one of the assistant coaches. He dove to the right for a pretty spectacular save, then chucked the ball he’d just caught straight at me as I rounded his net. Almost nailed me in the junk but my quick reflexes saved me.
“Not today, Lucas.” I shook my head and jogged off. Warm-ups were when I settled into mindlessness and tried to zone out of my circular thoughts. While my thoughts were circular at the moment, they were hardly mindless, as I tried to figure out what Nairne was messing in. And how I was going to dig myself out of this fresh level of hell I’d found myself. How I’d make my way to Nairne like the unapologetic lovesick man I’d turned into.
I doubled back to Nella. She obviously wanted to be boss. She’d been angry last night. She was as power hungry as it got, and it had been her right to step in Antonio’s place. If I could find some way to ensure she was leader, without drawing the capo’s anger in my direction, I might have a chance. But if Nella became boss, much of my work would unravel. My setup benefitted her, but she would never do it my way long term because she was greedy and much less scrupulous than I was. Within the window of time between passing her the power and the feds’ takedown, she couldn’t do too much damage. Still, it was a lot of conditions and a huge amount of risk.
Lucas’ long, sweaty arm hooked around my neck and yanked me against him. “Zeddy, you look awful.”
I ducked out of his forceful chokehold, and was sorely tempted to shove his lanky ass right into the water cooler. I restrained myself, though. His tactics might grate on my last nerve, but he was asking because he actually gave a shit about me.
He jogged alongside me, eyes on his feet as we took a lap. “Nope. Try again.”
I ran a hand through my hair and exhaled heavily. “My life’s an absolute fucking mess.”
“That’s the spirit.” Lucas glanced at me seriously. “Listen, Zed. I know we don’t talk about it, but I’m not an idiot. I know you’re tangled up in some terrible shit. Is this to do with that?”
“Without getting into specifics, yes, it’s got everything to do with that. I need to get out of it, sooner than I’d planned.”
Lucas turned to face me and jogged backward, keeping pace. “What’s made you move up your timetable?”
I laughed dryly as I did some high knees. “What you predicted last fall. I fell in love.”
About the Author Chloe’s always been a sucker for a suspenseful steamy romance, ever since she managed to find the one saucy mystery series hiding in her high school’s prim little library. Nothing drives her crazier than a story that cranks up the heat, then closes the door on the reader’s face, so don’t read her books if you don’t want to know what actually happens when the lights fade to black…
When she’s not writing, Chloe’s busy reading books of all genres, rereading Harry Potter (which she can’t help but make her characters similarly obsessed over), and playing catch-up with her bad@$$ little girls. She’s also been known to scramble around the pitch for a pick-up soccer match and run along the river while dreaming up her next book.
Welcome to the blog tour for JUSTIFIED, the first book in the adult contemporary cowboy romance series, Loveless, Texas, by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Jay Crownover. See below for information on the book, buy links, and an exclusive excerpt.
Synopsis The New York Times bestselling author of the Marked Men series delivers a romance about a rugged Texas sheriff who must protect the woman who was once his sworn enemy…
Case Lawton comes from a family of criminals. So as the sheriff of Loveless, Texas, he’s determined to do everything by the book–until he’s called to Aspen Barlow’s office after a so-called break-in. The last thing he wants to do is help the woman who cost him custody of his son. But Aspen isn’t the heartless lawyer Case remembers, and he starts to question his long-held grudge…
Aspen is scared for her life, and Case is her last hope for protection. But to get him on her side, she’ll have to reveal the painful truth from all those years ago. Now, as they work together to track down a dangerous criminal, Case and Aspen learn to trust each other. And as the threats escalate, it becomes clear there’s a thin line between love and hate… because there’s nothing Case wouldn’t do to keep her safe.
Excerpt #1 This is a terrible idea. I can’t stay here.” I wished there was more force behind my voice, more sound, but all I could get out was a squeak of protest.
Between arguing with David, answering a million questions about the shooting, and even more from the hospital staff to determine whether my head had been damaged further, what little voice I had was shot. It had been a long, arduous morning. The shock from being shot at was still buzzing underneath my skin, but it was now secondary to the utter disbelief that the place Case believed I would be safest was under his roof.
When he told me he was placing me in protective police custody and taking me to a safe house, never in a million years would I have guessed he meant his house. I was wondering if maybe he was the one who hurt his head when he took me to the ground.
“What about Hayes? Someone shot at me today. You took a bullet for me this morning. You can’t put your son in the line of fire. I won’t allow it.” All of the things I wanted to do to emphasize my point, I couldn’t. There was no crossing my arms over my chest thanks to my jacked-up elbow. There was no stomping my foot in aggravation thanks to the soft splint holding my ankle in one position. There would be no yelling, since my voice could barely be heard, so all I was left with was a glare. Unfortunately, Case ignored my dirty look and continued to usher me inside the house.
His morning had been even longer than mine, and he looked as haggard as I felt. After making sure I was secured inside the hospital with an armed guard, he’d had to deal with the crime scene and the slew of reporters who showed up on the scene. Since a shooting in a high traffic and very public place like the hospital was bound to make national news, Case mentioned it was more than likely the Texas Rangers were going to get called in to help investigate. He didn’t sound thrilled at the prospect, he also didn’t seem too concerned by the fact he was shot. He still had a red stain and a hole in his tan uniform shirt from where the bullet, which was meant for me, skimmed his shoulder. The wound required ten stitches and now was dressed in a stark white bandage much like the one wrapped around my injured hand.
We were quite a pair.
Author Jay Crownover
About the Author Jay Crownover is the international and multiple New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men Series, The Saints of Denver Series, the Point Series, the Breaking Point Series, and the Getaway Series. Her books can be found translated in many different languages all around the world. She is a tattooed, crazy haired Colorado native who lives at the base of the Rockies with her awesome dogs. This is where she can frequently be found enjoying a cold beer and Taco Tuesdays. Jay is a self-declared music snob and outspoken book lover who is always looking for her next adventure, between the pages and on the road.
Welcome to the blog tour for RIDGE, the first book in the new adult contemporary sports romance series, Frat House Confessions, by USA Today bestselling author, Bethany Lopez. See below for information on the book, buy links, the book’s trailer, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.
RIDGE (Frat House Confessions #1) by Bethany Lopez
Synopsis She has a broken heart and revenge on her mind…
Last year Karrie was riding high. She had a boyfriend she loved, a softball scholarship, and the best roommate a girl could have. When it turned out her man was a lying, cheating ballsack, she may have gone off the rails a bit. Now, it’s a new year and Karrie’s ready to build herself back up and move on to bigger and better things. Still, a little revenge would go a long way in helping the healing process.
He’s got a plan for revenge that will suit them both…
Ridge is used to being the BMOC. Sergeant of Arms of his frat and the ability to land any chick within snapping distance has made life pretty easy for him. His home life is another story. He and his brothers are in the middle of a battle between his socialite mother and asshole father. Ridge is looking for a stand-in to placate his mother and her matchmaking ways, and he has a feeling he’s just met the girl he can perfectly mold.
This makeover has nothing to do with love and everything to do with Karrie and Ridge using each other to get what they want. What starts as a ruse soon becomes an attraction they cannot deny. When it’s all said and done, they’ll both have more to confess than a need for revenge.
Excerpt #1 Ridge
I was sitting there, chuckling and shaking my head, when I felt someone come up next to me and pat me on the arm.
I looked up and to my right to see Caitlyn, one of the Delta groupies, standing there with an armful of clothes and a smile.
“Hey, Ridge, how’s it going?” she asked.
My eyes flitted to the closed dressing room door, before coming back to rest on Caitlyn. We’d hooked up a couple times, but when she’d tried to move us toward a relationship, I’d quickly put a stop to it.
Not only did I not do relationships, but Caitlyn was almost as entitled as I was, and I needed someone who was a little more grounded. Who’d put me in my place and not let me walk all over them. Someone who’d call me on my shit and not get offended when I called them on theirs.
A mental picture of Karrie popped in my head, but I ignored it. Karrie and I would never work. First of all, she was hung up on her asshole ex, and second of all, she was simply a means to an end.
Not at all girlfriend material.
Guilt slammed through me at that stray thought, but I ignored it and answered the girl hovering over me.
“Can’t complain,” I answered, intentionally not continuing the conversation in hopes that she’d get the hint and leave me alone.
I looked back down at my phone.
“I heard Delta’s planning a rager for after Homecoming … something about making over girls into the perfect Delta groupies. Crush should have asked me to come be an example, not Bella. I’ve been hanging with Deltas for the last four years,” she continued with a pout.
I sighed and brought my gaze back up to her face.
“It was Crush’s deal, Caitlyn, I’m not involved in his shit.”
She smirked and replied, “That’s not what I heard. Word on the street is you picked a girl for a makeover, too. Drake’s girl.”
“Word on the street?” I scoffed, standing up and stretching, and shooting her a bored expression. “Your source is wrong. Karrie is more to me than a game Crush is playing with the rushes. And, she’s not Drake’s girl … She’s mine.”
Just then, the changing room door swung open, and Karrie walked out wearing a tight-fitting tube dress that showed off her curves, leaving little to the imagination. By the sweet grin on her face, and the way she crossed to me and put her arm around my waist, tucking into my side, I knew she’d heard everything Caitlyn and I had said.
“Hey, babe,” she cooed, pulling me tight. “I hope I’m not taking too long.”
I looked down at her upturned face and felt my heart accelerate.
“You’re worth the wait,” I said softly, my eyes falling to her lips as I remembered our kiss.
“Aww, you’re so sweet,” Karrie said, turning her attention to Caitlyn and repeating, “Isn’t he so sweet?”
“The sweetest,” Caitlyn replied, her tone implying I was anything but.
“And you are?” Karrie asked, one hand resting on my abs, causing me to flex.
“Hi, Caitlyn, I’m Karrie, Ridge’s girlfriend.”
I would have laughed at the shocked look on Caitlyn’s face, but I was too busy enjoying the feel of Karrie’s hand on me. I found myself wishing there was no barrier between that hand and my bare skin.
Caitlyn recovered and let out a disbelieving laugh.
“Ridge doesn’t date,” she said, like she knew the first fucking thing about me.
“Well, that’s obviously not true.”
Caitlyn looked to me, as if expecting me to prove her right and call Karrie a liar.
Instead I wrapped my arms around her and kissed the top of her head.
“I never saw a reason to date, then I met Karrie.”
Caitlyn’s eyes narrowed, and I knew she was pissed, like I’d just said she wasn’t good enough for me.
Which, honestly, was true.
Author Bethany Lopez
About the Author Bethany Lopez is a USA Today bestselling author of more than thirty books and has been published since 2011. She’s a lover of all things romance, which she incorporates into the books she writes, no matter the genre.
When she isn’t reading or writing, she loves spending time with family and traveling whenever possible.
Bethany can usually be found with a cup of coffee or glass of wine at hand, and will never turn down a cupcake!.
Synopsis I don’t know what it’s like to feel. To hurt.
The ability was stolen from me in my youth. I consider that theft a gift.
Feelings got in the way when you were building an empire.
I had the empire.
Everything that took over a decade to amass was snatched away in a second.
He killed for me.
But he didn’t save me.
That only meant I couldn’t lose.
Excerpt “Do you know what I have a lot of?” I said after the silence that was long enough to make him uncomfortable.
He shook his head, sweat beaded in droplets trailing down his overly tanned forehead.
“Money,” I answered for him, tapping my pen against the desk. “It’s rather crass to say, I admit, but it’s not exactly a secret is it?” I moved my eyes around the corner office boasting million-dollar views of Manhattan.
Another head shake.
“Money can buy a lot of things. Cars, jewelry, men…women.” I quirked my brow as roses blossomed at the sides of his cheeks. “Contrary to popular belief, happiness is also on that list, if you know where to shop.” I stopped tapping my pen. “Do you know what money can’t buy, perhaps the only thing other than health and talent?” my voice was flat.
Another head shake. Was he mute? Or was he a very lifelike robot having a computer glitch? Or simply a bully, that had a lot to say in the playground, but nothing to squeak in the principal’s office?
“Time,” I said simply. “Time is a luxury to no one. Everyone has it. Loses it, steals it and wastes it. Which is precisely what you’re doing now. Standing in my office, clutching your masculinity like it’s your prom date’s panties and dripping your perspiration over my favorite rug. I don’t like wasting something I can’t make, earn or control. So how about you listen to what you know I’m going to say without actually making me say it.” I paused and let my words sink in. He can’t have been dense enough not to know why he was here, everyone that worked for me was highly intelligent, and this was his third HR complaint, which was why it was being brought to me.
“You’re a smart man, considering your parents paid for an education that would’ve been more useful as a house deposit,” I continued. “You know why you’re here. And you know the only reason you won’t be leaving here with your potted plant and framed fraternity pictures of your glory days in a box, is that you just so happen to be good at your job. When you’re actually doing it and not living up to every stereotype one could think of from an upper middle class, entitled, and misogynistic white male.” I paused again, wishing I could fire him. No way did I tolerate sexual harassment in the workplace, or any other place, on either side of the gender divide.
“Do I need to say anything else?” I asked. “Or are you going to waste my time some more and make me forget you’re good at your job?”
There was a pause, one that had me quirking my brow in warning.
He left the room quickly. I think he might have sprinted if he wasn’t clutching the last shreds of his dignity.
I didn’t hold an ounce of guilt for that.
He was only simpering and weak in front of powerful women who held his paycheck in their hands. Others, he thought were beneath him. I would have fired him for that alone, but it was very hard to fire someone these days. I could have, I had lawyers on retainer for these very scenarios, but I was tired. Too tired to deal with that. So he got three more strikes than I usually gave. A glimmer of a fourth and he was out. And I’d make sure that he never worked in this city again.
My gaze, of its own volition, flickered past the door to the corner of the room where he stood.
I swallowed roughly as the energy flickered, turned so charged even the letter opener to the left of my trembling hand couldn’t cut it.
He no longer was the statuesque mute he’d been moments ago, and he traveled the distance of my office in long, unhurried steps.
I did nothing but sit and watch until he rounded my desk, yanked my chair around roughly and leaned his muscled arms on either side, boxing me in as he bent down.
“You missed one,” he murmured.
I blinked at him, drowning in his gaze. “One what?” I managed to choke the two words, the powerful CEO from moments before was now a puddle on the floor.
His mouth was so close to mine it brushed it when he spoke. “Passion. You can’t buy that shit.” He moved so his rough stubble scratched my skin and his mouth landed on my neck.
I clutched the arms of my chair as his teeth grazed my collarbone.
“You can buy a lot, Boots,” he continued, voice thick. “Fancy clothes.” His rough hands caught on the delicate silk of my blouse. “Sparkly shit.” They moved up the column of my neck to brush against the diamond studs in my ears before moving back to the arms of my chair. “But you can’t buy an orgasm that makes you fly from this earth the moment I sink my cock inside you.” Wolf eyes met mine. “You can’t buy me,” he growled. Then his mouth claimed mine with ferocity that had me spiraling in my own head, clutching for coherent thought and moaning in protest as his lips left mine. “You can’t buy me, but you fuckin’ own me already.”
Author Anne Malcom
About the Author Anne Malcom has been an avid reader since before she can remember, her mother responsible for her book addiction. It started with magical journeys into the world of Hogwarts and Middle Earth, then as she grew up her reading tastes grew with her. Her obsession with books and romance novels in particular gave Anne the opportunity to find another passion, writing. Finding writing about alpha males and happily ever afters more fun than reading about them, Anne is not about to stop any time soon.
Raised in small town New Zealand, Anne had a truly special childhood, growing up in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. She has backpacked across Europe, ridden camels in the Sahara, eaten her way through Italy, and had all sorts of crazy adventures. For now, she’s back at home in New Zealand and quite happy. But who knows when the travel bug will bite her again.
Welcome to the blog tour for COURTING KATE, the first book in the adult contemporary sports romance series, Panthers Players, by Tori Kron. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.
COURTING KATE (Panthers Players #1) by Tori Kron
About the Book – Read for Free with Kindle Unlimited Title: COURTING KATE Series: Panthers Players #1 Author: Tori Kron Publisher: Acorn Publishing Release Date: June 23, 2019 Genre: Adult Contemporary Sports Romance Link: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU
Synopsis Slapped with court ordered community service for brawling—again, Miller Cassidy, the Indianapolis Panther’s star player, is forced into laboring under stodgy non-profit supervisor, Kate Gallagher. Her saving grace—she happens to be best friends with Stella, the woman he’s been chasing for years.
Despite the masses falling for his charm, Kate doesn’t care for Miller’s notorious reputation or his flippant behavior. But wanting to impress her strict boss, she agrees to a trade that could give them both a shot at success.
Propelled into an unlikely alliance, Miller finds himself taking a defensive stance when he sees beyond Kate’s hard exterior. And Kate is equally thrown off guard when she discovers there’s more to Miller than games.
But is love worth sacrificing friendship? And can Miller let go of the feelings for Stella he’s held onto for years?
In love and basketball, it’s five fouls and you’re out, and every play counts.
Excerpt #3 “You’re just a regular kamikaze, eh?”
“What?” Wrinkles pinched above Kate’s brow.
“Self-destructive.” Miller’s hands fanned out like an explosion as his mouth added a matching sound effect. “I didn’t peg you for the type, but you’re willing to go down in flames just to prove you’re right, huh?”
His sister, Reagan, was like that. Stubborn to a fault. Never willing to admit she was wrong, even if she was three miles from the truth.
“From what I hear, you’re pretty familiar with fire, too,” Kate replied.
“I suppose.” Miller ran his right hand through his thick hair.
He was aware that most people were familiar with his reputation, but Miller didn’t like to talk about it. Most of what the general public knew was just perception anyways, not reality.
“You’re welcome for the help, by the way.” Miller wanted to change the focus back to Kate. He got more than enough attention in a day.
“I didn’t need to be rescued,” Kate replied. For a moment she left Miller lagging behind as she made haste for her office.
Calling after her, Miller replied with a knowing chuckle, “The brief interaction I heard says you did.”
“I think we all know your judgement is a little off.”
Kate’s brisk walk picked up speed, but the athlete easily kept pace. He ran sprints for thirty minutes every day for crying out loud. Surely, she didn’t think she’d outrun him? Why was she even trying to do so in the first place? Unless she’d put two and two together and figured out his motive. Even so, Kate couldn’t escape the fate that awaited with a quick canter, so why leave them both winded?
A copy machine zoomed through sheets of paper as they passed by a workroom on the way to Kate’s office. Her face illuminated with the glow of her welcome screen as she slipped into her high back desk chair.
“You know where the call center is.” Kate motioned for the door. “I’ll find you later to discuss details for next week.”
Surely, she didn’t think she was getting off the hook that easily?
“I do.” The player plopped down in the plastic visitor chair settled in front of Kate’s modern, metal desk. Matching silver frames hosted candid pictures of friends, including Stella, and a portrait of a mother and two children. It was interesting, Miller thought, to see Kate smiling in the photographs because she rarely did so in person. At least, she hadn’t in the short bit of time he’d known her.
“You’re free to go now. I mean, you couldn’t wait to start calling, right?” Sarcasm rolled from Kate’s tongue. “That’s what you told Marlene.”
“Apparently lying to her is on trend.” Miller’s arms folded across his chest. “Because it seems you did the same thing yesterday.”
Kate’s cheeks flushed a light shade of pink. “I didn’t have any choice. You heard how she harps on me. I couldn’t tell her that you left just because you felt like it. I’d be one check mark closer to fired.”
“I told you that I’ll gladly help you erase some of those marks,” Miller said. “Or I suppose I could see if she can add a few more. I am pretty good at being bad.”
Kate’s chair squeaked as she leaned forward. “You wouldn’t.”
“You know enough about my reputation to know I would,” Miller said, a wry grin plastered upon his face. “But I won’t have to if you agree to help me win Stella back.”
“I said no.” Kate’s stern eyes met the athlete’s.
“Yes, but that was before,” Miller said. “Before you saw how easily Marlene would believe me over you. Before you realized just how quickly you could lose.”
Kate’s anxious foot flipped her heel off and on.
“You can’t hold me to an impossible task,” Kate replied. “Stella may not want to be won, and then what? You trash my career just because she decides she’s better than you? That’s not fair.”
“I suppose I can’t hold her final decision against you. But if I sense you’re slacking off instead of trying, well—” Miller’s arms took weight as he leaned forward in the seat and propped his upper body across the front of Kate’s desk. “All’s fair.”
Author Tori Kron
About the Author Tori Kron has spent ten years educating middle school students in the art of English writing. She is a proud graduate of Purdue University, where she discovered a love for nearby Chicago and the adventures that awaited within. When Tori isn’t in front of the classroom, you can find her working with fellow authors in the Midwest Writers Guild or traveling the world with friends. In between excursions, she happily resides in Evansville, Indiana with her husband and son.
Welcome to the blog tour for THE UNFORGETTABLE KIND, a stand-alone new adult contemporary romance, by Melanie Munton. See below for information on the book, buy inks, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.
Synopsis A best friends to enemies to lovers romance.
SAM As the first female lead sportscaster with FNN (Football News Network), I’ve had to be tough and unflappable for years. No matter how far we women have come, football is still a man’s world. Which is why I’ve strutted my stilettos and lipstick on every field and around every TV studio I’ve ever worked, making sure everyone knows just how much of a woman I am. I let no man get under my skin.
Especially not Kade Jennings.
We have a history, Kade and I. It goes all the way back to high school and spans our college years. We used to be best friends, but we haven’t spoken in years. Not since he left without a word, and I made it clear that I never wanted to speak to him again. Now all of a sudden he’s FNN’s newest analyst?
He thinks I’ll break. With every wink he flashes me off-camera and every grope he sneaks under the table, he assumes I’ll shed my badass shell and fall into his arms like old times. Well screw him, his charismatic smile, and his giant di—er—ego. I am where I am today because I’ve never let any man stand in my way.
If Kade even tries, I’ll bring him to his knees.
KADE Fate can be a real bitch. One minute you think you’re going to get the girl, and the next minute she’s slipping away. It’s a complicated thing, to be in love with your best friend. That friend zone is a tricky place to be, not that I ever entered into it willingly. At least, not with Sam. Fate just seemed to place me there, despite the fight I put up. Well, fate can go screw herself.
Sam Lawrence was always meant to be mine. And it’s finally time that I prove it to her.
I wave and laugh when Sam shoots her best friend the finger. Jasmine blows her an air-kiss just before Sam ducks through the door I’m holding open for her.
Then I lose all ability to think, move, or fucking breathe.
Her entire back is completely bare in that dress.
Jesus. I’m in so much trouble.
The only thing I’m going to be able to picture now is bending her over the nearest surface, lifting that dress up, and pounding into her until she screams my name. It wouldn’t take much to get her naked. Just a quick flick of the clasp at the nape of her neck…
I’m breaking out in a sweat, and it’s only been two minutes.
Once we’re seated inside, the car rolls forward, the driver already aware of where we’re heading.
“Were you so sure that I’d come with you? So cocky that you could show up at my front door in a tux, with a limo waiting, and I’d automatically agree to your plans?”
“No, but you can’t say I’m not a risk taker.”
“You forgot a red rose to complete the cliché.” She’s talking more to the window than to me, refusing to make eye contact.
“Why would I get you a rose when your favorite flower is a lily?”
Her head snaps around, her lips parting.
I grunt, somewhat annoyed. “Really, Sam? You think after all the years I’ve known you I would forget your favorite flower? Am I that big of an asshole?”
“No,” she says quietly. “I just didn’t think you’d remember.”
Her forehead creases in thought. If I didn’t know better, I’d say she’s conflicted. Who knows what her brain is saying about me. Hell, I’d probably rather not know. So, I break the monotony.
“You have to admit, though. Getting to stare at this all night,” I wave down at myself, “is certainly better than going stag.”
Instead of rolling her eyes or making a snide comment like I expect her to, her eyes rake over me from head to toe, narrowing with her inspection. “It’s not your football uniform, but I suppose it’ll do.”
Sexual innuendo from Sam? That’s the last thing I expected from her tonight. Slamming her door in my face? Sure. Stomping on my foot with her heel? I wouldn’t be surprised. But looking at me with unabashed lust shining in her green eyes? That didn’t even track on my radar. Regardless of the fact that we kissed the other night.
Her comment reminds me of our night together in college when my football jersey was the only thing she’d been wearing at one point, thus fulfilling one of my longtime Sam fantasies. My dick stiffens into a steel rod at the memory.
Would you look at that? The football jersey still does the trick.
And I’m going to take advantage of this unexpected opportunity.
“I still have my uniform, you know,” I rasp, my gaze locked on hers. “And I’m sure I can rouse up some pads and pants if that’s what you’re in the mood for.”
She licks her plump lips. No doubt they’d taste like cherries if I were to kiss her, just like they had the other night. I can still recall what that mouth felt like years ago when it was wrapped around my—
For shit’s sake, Jennings. Get ahold of yourself.
“I’m not quite sure what I’m in the mood for,” she whispers. “Yet.”
Author Melanie Munton
About the Author Traveler. Reader. Beach-goer. St. Louis Cardinals fan. Pasta-obsessed. North Carolina resident. Sarcastic. Bit of a nerd.
Author of the Cruz Brothers, Possession and Politics, and Timid Souls series, Melanie loves all things romance, comedies and suspense in particular because it’s boring to only stick to one sub-genre! From light-hearted comedies to sexy thrillers, she likes to mix it up, but loves her some strong alpha males and sassy heroines.
Go visit Melanie’s website and sign up for her newsletter to stay updated on release dates, teasers, and other details for all of her projects!
Welcome to the blog tour for TILL THERE WAS YOU, the fourth book in the adult contemporary romance, Butler Vermont, by New York Times bestselling author, Marie Force. See below for information on the book and series, buy inks, and an exclusive excerpt.
TILL THERE WAS YOU (Butler, Vermont #4) by Marie Force
Lucas Abbott and his identical twin grew up sharing everything—including a reputation for funny, idiotic behavior. But now that Lucas is ready to shed that lovable-idiot image, grow up and have a real, adult relationship, the joke’s on him. He and his twin have fallen for the same woman.
Crushed and hoping a few days on the slopes will work out his frustrations, he heads for Stowe, Vermont. All thought of fun and relaxation flies away as a car spins out in a snowstorm, and his firefighter/paramedic training kicks into high gear.
Danielle Rowson is hoping to pick up the pieces and build a new life for herself and her daughter in Vermont. Winding up in a ditch in the middle of a blizzard isn’t part of the plan—and neither is the kind, sexy rescuer whose strong hands pull them to safety.
Lucas has been a little kid, a big kid and now an adult—and he discovers that adulting has more than one advantage. Especially when it comes to sharing with Dani and Savannah the one thing that’s his and his alone: his love. .
Excerpt Chapter 2
As usual, their mom had made pizza from scratch for their birthday—sausage and onion for him and pepperoni and peppers for Landon, along with special orders for the others. Normally, Lucas loved the traditions and the way his mother still paid attention to the details with each of her ten children, even though they were grown and some had kids of their own.
But tonight, with Landon and Amanda seated directly across the table from him, Lucas could barely swallow the delicious pizza or the beer his father had opened for him. He had nothing to say to anyone, which was rare in and of itself. Lucas Abbott always had something to say, especially in the midst of his boisterous family, all of whom had come to celebrate their brothers’ birthday. As the eighth child in a family of ten, one learned to speak up early or be drowned out by the noise.
When everyone was there, they were close to twenty people as his siblings were pairing off, getting married and having babies like wildfire these days. Their elusive, quiet brother Wade had shocked the living shit out of them recently by showing up with a wife none of them had met until after he and Mia had said “I do.” No one had seen that coming, but Wade seemed happier than Lucas had ever seen him. Mia’s long-lost father was throwing them a big wedding in Boston in June that everyone would be going to. Would Landon bring Amanda to that, too?
The noise level in the dining room was probably registering on the Richter scale. Normally, he’d be right in the middle of the fray. Tonight, he had a splitting headache.
Elmer nudged him. “What’s up with you?” Fortunately, his grandfather kept his voice down, so the question wasn’t heard by everyone else.
“Not like you to pick at the pizza. You’re more likely to inhale than pick.”
“I’m not that hungry tonight.”
Elmer’s white brows furrowed as he placed a hand on Lucas’s forehead. “You’re not feverish.”
Molly zeroed in on Elmer’s hand on Lucas’s forehead. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. The pizza is great, Mom.”
Though she accepted his answer, he could tell by the way his mother looked at him that he hadn’t fooled her.
Per the tradition, she brought out one big cake, half chocolate for him and half vanilla for Landon, and they blew out their candles together. They’d done that twenty-six other times, and it had never once occurred to Lucas that he ought to have his own damned cake as a grown-ass man. Until now.
“Happy birthday, bro,” Landon said, giving him a warm smile.
“Same to you.” Lucas could barely stand to look at the face that was nearly the mirror image of his own. He felt naked without the beard that left almost nothing to distinguish him from his identical twin.
Clearly Amanda preferred Landon to him if the way she giggled at every stupid thing his brother said was any indication.
She’d worn her dark hair up tonight, which only accentuated her pretty green eyes and the smattering of freckles across her nose that he’d found both cute and sexy. He didn’t recall her giggling so much when they went out and was thankful for that. In general, giggling wasn’t something he found overly attractive in a woman.
But damn if he didn’t find the rest of her overly attractive. She was downright gorgeous. He’d thought so from the first time he saw her in the conference room, surrounded by sex toys as she indoctrinated the family on the line of products her company produced.
And no, it hadn’t been the sex toys that had gotten to him. It’d been her. The confident way she spoke about something that most people had trouble talking about in private, let alone in a room full of strangers, had really done it for him. This was a woman who owned her sexuality and her freedom to express it.
That’s where his attraction toward her had started. But it had only flourished during the evening they spent together talking with an ease he didn’t often experience with someone he’d just met.
They’d covered everything from their families to their hometowns to their favorite sports, movies, books, TV shows, and it had been… easy. Fun. He’d immediately wanted to do it again and had thought she felt the same way, but watching her now with Landon, he could see that she had found a connection with him, too. Perhaps a stronger connection than she’d found with Lucas. If that was the case, there was nothing he could do about it. The choice was hers to make, and she’d clearly made it.
He stood, taking his grandfather by surprise. “Where you going, boy?”
“Gotta get home. I’ve got an early morning tomorrow.”
“Where you got to be?” Landon asked.
“I’m covering for Denny.” Lucas referred to one of the paramedics they worked with. “His wife has an ultrasound, and they’re going to find out what they’re having.”
“You didn’t open your presents,” Molly said.
“I told you guys no presents.”
“When do we ever do what we’re told?” Linc asked.
Lucas took the time to open the gifts from his parents—some new tools for the shop, a sleeping bag to replace the one he’d trashed after the last camping trip, a pair of the cargo shorts he wore in the summer, a book about Lewis and Clark that he’d been meaning to get and a watch with GPS capability.
“Thanks, Mom. I love it all.”
“You’re very welcome.”
He appreciated that she seemed to get that he wanted out of there. But he hoped she knew it wasn’t because he didn’t love the time with his family.
Tomorrow, he would do the shift for Denny during the day, and then he had three days off before his next shift at the firehouse. That was enough time to hit the road and get out of town for a couple of days. If his brother was going to be falling all over Amanda, he didn’t have to stick around for the show.
After he said his goodbyes to the others, his mother met him in the mudroom.
“You really shouldn’t have gotten presents, Mom.”
She shrugged off the statement. “It’s fun for me to find things I think you’d like.”
“Well, thank you. For the gifts, the pizza, the cake. For everything.”
“Are you all right, Luc? You aren’t yourself tonight.”
“I’m all right. Just fighting off a cold.”
“Are you sure that’s all it is?”
“Yep.” The last thing he’d ever do is confess to anyone that he was jealous of his brother. Such a stupid, pointless emotion, and one he’d felt rarely enough to be unfamiliar with how to deal with it. He kissed his mother’s forehead. “I’ve got a few days off, and I’m going to take a run over to Stowe tomorrow.” One of his best friends from Bowdoin College lived there, so no one would question why he was going. They didn’t need to know that he wouldn’t be seeing Craig this time around.
“Supposed to snow tomorrow. Be careful driving.”
“I will. Don’t worry.”
“You know better than to tell me not to worry.”
“I’ll be fine. If there’s one thing your children know how to do, it’s take care of themselves. You saw to that.”
“True. I’m very proud of that.”
“Then don’t worry. I have snow in my DNA.” He hugged her and headed out the door before he had to see Landon and Amanda again. Was he being ridiculous running from them? Yes, and he knew it, but so be it. He didn’t want to deal with it, especially on his freaking birthday.
He got in the truck, started it and cranked the heat, hoping it wouldn’t take long to warm up. It was bloody freezing, as per usual for the last week in March in Vermont, where winter tended to hang on until after the first buds of spring appeared on the trees. Keeping an eye on his parents’ dogs, George and Ringo, who’d followed him outside, he backed out of the driveway and glanced back at the house to see his mom still at the door, watching him go.
Lucas hoped she’d forgive him for leaving the party early, but he’d needed to get out of there before he gave away how he was feeling to the whole family. This was all new territory for him. He wasn’t one to have secrets or things he wanted to keep hidden. What you saw was what you got with Lucas Abbott, and he had no clue how to navigate this situation.
Keeping an eye out for rogue moose, he drove to the family’s Christmas tree farm that was shuttered until spring planting. Normally, he loved the isolation and the serenity of life at the farm, but, like everything else the last few days, it didn’t bring the usual comfort. He was edgy, out of sorts, off his game and feeling lost in a sea of familiar places and people.
His plan to get the hell out of here for a few days was looking better to him with every passing minute. Inside the loft apartment over the barn, he started a load of laundry and pulled a duffel bag with the Butler Volunteer Fire Department logo from under the bed.
He and Landon were both lieutenants in the department, charged with handling most of the administrative work that earned them small salaries. Lucas’s was enough to cover most of his expenses, which were minor thanks to the fact that he didn’t have to pay rent. He got to live at the farm in exchange for keeping an eye on the place in the off-season and acting as the caretaker on behalf of the family business. Between his fire department salary and the sale of the furniture and other wood items he crafted, he eked out a pretty decent living, but his needs were minimal.
Would a woman like Amanda be satisfied with the life that had always more than satisfied him, or would she find it lacking? And since when did he care what anyone else thought of his life?
Since the best first date in history, that’s when.
He had put his laundry in the dryer and opened a beer when the phone rang. Seeing his grandfather’s number on the caller ID, he took the call. “What’s up, Gramps?”
“I was thinking about you on the way home and decided to give you a ring. You weren’t yourself tonight, and I’m wondering if I know why.”
Amused as always by his grandfather, Lucas leaned back against the kitchen counter and smiled. “Knock yourself out.”
“I think you and your brother have set your sights on the same woman, and that’s got you all turned around.”
Lucas knew he shouldn’t be surprised that Elmer had figured out his dilemma.
“Am I warm?”
“Ah, thought so. It’s a heck of a thing to meet someone who really strikes your fancy. Happened to me once upon a time, and it was the worst feeling in the world.”
Lucas stood up straighter. “When did it happen to you?”
“With your grandmother. I met her when she was dating my cousin.”
“Yes way, and it was awful, I tell you.”
“What did you do?”
“Nothing, and that was the hardest part. I loved my cousin. We were as close as brothers. I never would’ve done anything to hurt him.”
“Since I know how this story ends, I have to know how you ended up together.”
“She told him she fancied me.”
“Whoa! How did he take that?”
“Punched me in the mouth,” Elmer said with a low guffaw. “That’s how I knew she’d picked me.”
“Wow, Gramps. I had no idea.”
“We didn’t talk about it much after the fact. I remained close to my cousin until the day he died, and I went out of my way to make sure there was never any bad blood between us.”
“Did he ever get married?”
“Yep. Married a great gal a couple years later, and the four of us ran around together for the rest of his life.”
“I’m glad he ended up happy, too.”
“Believe me—so was I. Second-happiest day of my young life was standing up for him at his wedding.” After a pause, Elmer said, “You never really know what people go through before they end up with a happily ever after, son. It’s not always rainbows and unicorns or straight lines that lead from point A to point B. A lot of times, it’s hard and messy and painful.”
“Yeah,” Lucas said, marveling at how Elmer had homed right in on everything Lucas was feeling.
“But the most important thing is family. Your brother is your closest friend, your soul mate, if you believe in such things. The two of you have been like two peas in a pod from the word go. I’d hate to see anything come between you.”
“Then don’t let it, Luc. Amanda seems like a nice gal with a good head on her shoulders. If she’s taken a shine to Landon, well, then, there’s nothing you can really do about that. But being angry with him over it isn’t going to make it better for you. It’ll only make everything worse.”
Elmer was right. Of course he was. He was always right. “Very true.”
“I’m glad you agree. Amanda is only here for a short time. Brothers are forever.”
“Especially identical twin brothers.”
Elmer laughed. “Especially that. You okay, pal?”
“Yeah, Gramps, I’m good. This helped a lot. I’m going up to Stowe for a couple of days to ski and clear my head.”
“That’s a great idea. Have a wonderful time.”
“Thanks for calling.”
“Happy birthday, Lucas. I think this is going to be your best year yet.”
“I hope so.”
“Love you, son.”
“Love you, too, Gramps.”
Lucas put down the phone, feeling thankful for the unconditional love of his grandfather, who had always been a steady presence in his life. Elmer had made an excellent point. It would be foolish to allow a woman he barely knew to come between him and the twin brother who was also his closest friend. He wasn’t going to let that happen and would use the time away to get his head back on straight.
Amanda was a great person, and he really liked her. However, she certainly wasn’t the only woman in the world. If she had decided Landon was the one for her, Lucas would find someone else. Stepping aside was the right thing to do. He had no doubt about that after talking to his grandfather.
He couldn’t believe the story Elmer had told him about the early days of his relationship with Lucas’s grandmother. He’d never thought too much about how his grandparents might’ve gotten together, but he hadn’t pictured anything like the story Elmer had relayed.
The next day, after putting in a ten-hour shift at the firehouse that had included calls to a couple of snow-related fender benders and one elderly resident who’d needed transport to the hospital, Lucas set out for Stowe. Normally a ninety-minute drive, tonight it was slow going due to the snow that continued to fall. Lucas took his time, keeping the speedometer around forty and following in the tracks left by an eighteen-wheeler that was a mile or so ahead of him.
Driving in snow was second nature to him after growing up in northern Vermont. If Vermonters stayed home every time it snowed, they’d go weeks without leaving the house some years.
He’d called his friend Craig, who’d told him to use the house while he was out of town on business. Lucas had the security code to the house and was eager for some time alone on the slopes. Physical activity always helped to clear his mind, and he hoped it would have the usual effect on him this time.
He hated being out of sorts like this and needed to shake it off and get back to normal. Moping around wasn’t his style. At the peak of ski season in Stowe, he could also count on some good nightlife. Perhaps a night with a snow bunny would fix what ailed him. One thing he knew for certain was that getting out of Butler had already made him feel better than he had in days.
Two hours into the ride, he was yawning and guzzling the coffee he’d brewed at the firehouse to keep himself awake. His eyes were tired from staring into the snow that had seemed to intensify as he got closer to Stowe. Finally, he took the exit onto the local road that led to Craig’s place and found that it hadn’t been plowed.
He slowed the truck to a crawl, inching along while hoping he was still on the actual road. As he rounded a bend, he watched with horror as the car in front of him fishtailed wildly before pitching off an embankment into a ditch.
“A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on.” —Carl Sandburg
About the Author Marie Force is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance, including the Gansett Island Series, which has sold more than 2.2 million books, and the Fatal Series from Harlequin Books, which has sold more than 1 million books. In addition, she is the author of the Green Mountain Series from Berkley Publishing as well as the new erotic romance Quantum Series, written under the slightly modified name of M.S. Force.
Her goals in life are simple—to finish raising two happy, healthy, productive young adults, to keep writing books for as long as she possibly can and to never be on a flight that makes the news.
Welcome to the blog tour for A GIRL LIKE YOU, the second book in her the contemporary romance series, Magnolia Sound, byNew York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Samantha Chase. See below for information on the book and series, buy links, and an exclusive excerpt.
A GIRL LIKE YOU (Magnolia Sound #2) by Samantha Chase
Synopsis Sam Westbrook has always been the family hell-raiser, but as an adult he’s enjoyed not being under the constant watchful eye of his family. That was until his great-grandfather passed away. Forced to move to the small coastal town of Magnolia Sound, Sam can’t escape the reputation that has followed him since his teenage years. But he’ll have to do it to get his inheritance.
Shelby Abbott was always the good girl – it’s what happens when you’re the pastor’s daughter in a small town. Now, she’s ready to leave that image behind. For years she’s heard about wild Sam Westbrook, but she never though she would be the one to catch his eye. And being the center of Sam’s attention isn’t something Shelby ever prepared for.
Sam’s time in Magnolia Sound has an expiration date and Shelby’s not sure she’s the kind of girl who can be just another one of his flings. But Sam’s ready to make some changes. And a girl like her is just who he needs.
Excerpt She was so bad at figuring men out, she thought miserably.
“I want to say no, but…” She yawned again. “Sorry.”
“It’s okay, Shelby.” Standing up, Sam reached down for her hand and gently pulled her to her feet. “Can I see you tomorrow?”
Frowning, she looked up at him. “You mean to hang out again?”
His dark eyes blinked at her several times as if not understanding her question. “Um…I was hoping to take you out properly – dinner and whatever else it is you might like to do. Other than sailing, you never really answered my question that night.”
Taking a step back, now it was Shelby who didn’t seem to get it. “Why do you want to take me to dinner? We…we hung out tonight and…there’s no hard feelings. I mean, I’m still sorry for not being honest with you the night we met, but…don’t feel like you need to keep hanging out with me.”
The fierce look from earlier was back as he took a step toward her. “Are we back to that again? Why exactly do you think I’m here, Shelby?” he asked, frustration practically bristling off of him.
“I…like I said…I figured we were just hanging out to…you know…talk things out. And we have.” Hopefully he couldn’t see her slight tremble. She wasn’t used to someone questioning her like this.
But then again, she wasn’t used to dealing with anyone quite like Sam.
He took another step toward her. “Is that why you agreed to let me come over? Because you needed to clear your conscience? Or thought that I needed to?”
“Um…I don’t know. Maybe.”
Another step toward her. “You want to know why I’m here?” He didn’t wait for her to respond. “I’m here because for two damn weeks you’ve been all I can think about. Seeing you earlier in the library parking lot had me feeling like I won the damn lottery – like I was getting a second chance with you!” Another step and now he towered over her. “But more than anything, I’m here because you’re someone I want to know better, dammit!”
“But if that’s not what you want – if I’m not someone you want to know – then say something right now, Shelby,” he demanded. “Right now, before my feelings grow even deeper. Because believe it or not, what I felt for you that night at the bar is nothing compared to how I feel right now.”
She gasped softly and her foolish heart began its wild dance again. Swallowing hard, she looked up at him – saw the sincerity and the anguish in those dark depths. “I…” She paused and collected her thoughts which were going a million miles a minute in her head. “How do you feel?”
It was something she needed to know. It was one thing if he was casually interested in her – which was what she expected him to say. But what if it were more? What if it were something deep and warm and wonderful and scary and everything she was feeling too?
Reaching out, Sam cupped her face in his hands and rested his forehead against hers. “I feel like you’re someone I need to know.”
His voice was low and gruff and rumbly enough that she felt it all the way down to her toes.
How could she possibly explain to him that she was too afraid to believe him? That she didn’t have the confidence in herself to believe him?
As if sensing her thoughts, he quietly said, “You’ve been brutally honest with me all night, Shelby. Don’t stop now. Tell me what you’re thinking.”
There really was something about Sam that made her feel like she could say anything – even if she shouldn’t.
“I guess I’m afraid to believe that you really want to get to know me,” she admitted softly. “I’m nothing special, Sam. I’m not the type of girl you usually…”
He placed one finger across her lips to stop her flow of words. “Please don’t keep throwing that back in my face.” He closed his eyes as if in pain. “I know I’ve done a lot of stupid things and I’ve made a lot of bad choices, but that has nothing to do with you and me. When I saw you that night, all I remember thinking was…finally, there she is.”
Her eyes went wide at the intensity of his words. No one had ever said anything like that to her before. She wasn’t the kind of girl or woman who caused that kind of reaction – she knew that and she was okay with it. But after seeing the look on Sam’s face as he spoke, Shelby knew she had to have more – needed to see where this went and what would come from an admission like his.
“Wow,” she whispered, because it’s all she could force herself to say.
The smile Sam gave her was one of sweet relief. Unable to help herself, she placed her hand on his chest, and, feeling his rapid heartbeat, she grew bold. Her hand smoothed up and over his shoulder and then raked up into his hair. Up on her tiptoes, she pressed her lips to his and prayed she wouldn’t panic or freak out again.
When his arms slowly banded around her waist, Shelby knew this time was different. He was being cautious and careful and, undoubtedly, holding back so he didn’t spook her. The kiss was chaste – slow and sweet. Only this time, she was the one to seek more. Her tongue tentatively reached out and skimmed along his bottom lip and she heard his sharp intake of breath. It made her bold. Pressing herself more firmly against him, she reveled in the feel of his warm, hard body. And when he maneuvered them back over the sofa, she felt her excitement grow.
Sam sat and gently guided Shelby down so he could cradle her in his lap and, if anything, she thought it was the perfect position for them. His arms were around her, holding her securely to him, all the while their kiss just continued. There wasn’t the same intensity as there was the night they met, and that was more than okay with her. She was enjoying this – the way they were slowly getting acquainted with each another.
Squirming slightly against him, she gulped for air when Sam broke the kiss and gazed at her face. His breath was coming just as raggedly as hers and she wished more than anything that she didn’t need oxygen quite so much because she already missed the feel of his mouth on hers.
One of his hands came up and took the clip out of her hair. She let out a small moan of pleasure because it had been bothering her all night, but when that same hand anchored up into her hair and began massaging her scalp, it felt like she had died and gone to heaven.
Good lord, if a three-second scalp massage feels this good, what would sex with him be like?
Hopefully she’d find out.
Diving in for another kiss, Shelby was pleasantly surprised that Sam seemed just as anxious as she was for another taste. She twisted and turned in his lap until she was straddling him and it was like she didn’t even recognize herself. She wasn’t normally this forward or – dare she say, aggressive? – but there was no way for her to fight what she was feeling. For two weeks she had kicked herself every day for running like she did and now that she was getting a second chance, she was taking it.
With everything she had, apparently.
They kissed, they rolled over and stretched out on the sofa until Sam was on top of her and Shelby wrapped herself completely around him. So many times she thought to break their kiss and simply ask him to stay – to move things into the bedroom – but his hands and mouth kept distracting her until she didn’t know her own name, let alone where they were half the time.
At some point – it could have been minutes later, it could have been hours – Sam raised his head and smiled down at her. He was so handsome, so sexy, so…everything she ever fantasized about…and he was here with her.
“Shelby,” he said, low and thick. “Damn.”
Yeah. She knew exactly what he meant.
Her hand smoothed up his back and up into his hair in hopes of guiding his mouth back to hers, but…he moved.
She stayed where she was on the sofa and looked up at him in confusion.
“I should go,” he said after a long moment.
He nodded. “Dinner tomorrow night, right?”
He was leaving? Now? Seriously?
Doing a move that was clearly becoming his thing, Sam reached for her hand and gently pulled her to her feet. He kissed her one last time on the lips before letting out a low growl. Clearing his throat, he said, “You know how badly I want to stay, right?”
Shelby nodded and wanted to say she felt the same, but she couldn’t seem to make her voice work.
He hugged her tight. “But I don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” he said, and her only consolation was that he sounded as miserable about it as she felt. “Let me take you out tomorrow.” He pulled back and studied her face. “I want to do this right. I feel like I came on too strong that night and…and I’m not willing to do anything that you might regret.”
Well, damn. He was sweet, sexy, funny, and considerate? How was she supposed to resist?
“That night…that was my own issue, Sam. It wasn’t about you. Not really. I want you to know that.”
With a lopsided grin, he pulled her back into his embrace. “Thank you for saying that.”
“It’s the truth.”
Slowly they broke apart and walked over to the front door. He opened it and kissed her one more time. “You are pure temptation. You know that, right?”
Blushing, she shook her head.
“It’s true.” Tucking a finger under her chin, his expression turned serious. “Thank you for inviting me over and for giving me another chance. I’ll pick you up tomorrow at seven. Will that work?” He reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone so they could exchange numbers. Once that was done, he kissed her one last time and walked out the door.
About the Author Samantha Chase is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller of contemporary romance. She released her debut novel in 2011 and currently has more than forty titles under her belt! When she’s not working on a new story, she spends her time reading romances, playing way too many games of Scrabble or Solitaire on Facebook, wearing a tiara while playing with her sassy pug Maylene…oh, and spending time with her husband of 25 years and their two sons in North Carolina.
Welcome to the blog tour for KING OF RUIN, to first book in the adult fantasy romance series, Lords of Sidhe, by USA Today bestselling author, May Sage. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.
Synopsis They say the fae used to take the most beautiful maidens and make them their brides.
They lied. What they do with them is much worse.
After the seven lords of Sidhe are massacred in one day, the thrones of the fae realm pass down to their heirs. The Iron Circle remains leaderless, as its true lord lives in another world. The nobles of the realm will find the heir, and they will destroy him. Or her.
West, in the Silver Circle, a new lord has taken the throne. A warrior who never hesitates to crush ants for the good of the world. A man whose rule will change the fate of their realm.
Melpomene has never known where she came from, and after centuries, she’s stopped caring. Until the fae take her, dragging her to a land where bloodlines and power is everything. To survive, she needs to embrace the monster buried inside.
Lords of Sidhe is a fantasy romance trilogy.
Note that while it is unsuitable for sensitive or clean readers, there is no trigger warning..
Excerpt #1 Cassian was in front, their uncle’s crown in hand. It was a circlet of silver with a heart shaped stone, red as blood at its center.
“Now, cousin. Your turn to kneel.”
Indeed it was. Having to be vulnerable in front of Cassian went against all of his instincts, but he did so anyway, bringing both knees to the ground and then lowering his head.
Caim didn’t know whether to expect a crown or a sword atop his head.
Cassian crowned him, and the crowd cautiously clapped.
He watched them, eyeing all those whom he considered potential enemies.
A week ago, it had been a few of them. Those who coveted his role at his uncle’s side. Those who disliked his way. Those who whispered about his bloodthirsty, ruthless parents.
Now, it was everyone.
Author May Sage
About the Author May is a USA Today bestselling Author living in Windsor, Berkshire, with a german shepherd, a moggy and two savannahs. She writes every sub genre of romance, from fantasy to contemporary. You’re signing up for strong, sassy, kick-ass women and swoon-worthy male protagonists. Enjoy the ride!
Synopsis Honest and full of heart, this clever contemporary romance debut deftly combines utterly relatable family drama with all the sweetness and uncertainy that comes with falling in love.
Rule #1: Don’t get attached.
Amber lives by strict rules to survive her mother’s love life: Always keep your eyes on the horizon and never get close to anyone connected to Mom’s boyfriends.
But after they move in with Kevin, the latest of her mom’s “soul mates,” the rules become increasingly difficult to follow. Kevin’s daughter, Cammie, keeps acting like Amber’s friend, even though she’s definitely not. And Jordan—star basketball player, hottest boy in school, and Cammie’s best friend—keeps showing up at the most inconvenient moments.
Amber has reasons for every one of her rules, and following them is the only way to protect her heart when her mom inevitably moves on. But as she spends more time with Kevin, his daughter, and especially Jordan, she starts to wonder if the rules might be worth breaking this time.
Chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, Rules We’re Meant to Break is a charming, heartachingly real story of family and young love by debut author Natalie Williamson.
Praise for Rules We’re Meant to Break:
“The last time I devoured a book like this—I can’t even remember. … It was so openhearted and raw.” —Clarissa, reader on SwoonReads.com
“It is such a true true story about a girl finding herself within her first love. I loved it!” —Forever Bookish, reader on SwoonReads.com
My Review This is such a cute young adult romance. Everything from the settings to the characters sucked me in. Amber lives with her single mother, her father having left them when she was just five. Her mom bounces from one relationship to another, and after a particularly difficult breakup for Amber, she vows never to get close to anyone her mom dates again. This becomes challenging when they move into her mom’s then boyfriend’s place early in Amber’s senior year of high school. To make matter’s worse, this guy has a teen daughter who goes to Amber’s school. Said daughter, Cammie, is no bigger fan of the situation than Amber is. The only thing that makes the situation mildly tolerable is that hot Jordan Baugh lives down the street from her new house. Much to Amber’s surprise and delight, he seems to be flirting with her! And in a perfect world, that would be awesome, but Amber’s world is anything but perfect. It appears that Cammie has some sort of a history with Jordan and that breaks Rule No. 7 on her list of rules for surviving her mother’s dating life. If only Jordan wasn’t so incredibly adorable and insistent.
Plot The plot centers around Amber’s relationship with Jordan, but is laced with Amber’s lack of a belief in relationships that can last and a fierce need to protect herself from getting hurt again. With the help of her best friends Hannah and Ryan, she navigates tutoring Jordan while attempting to hold fast to her “rules”. But feelings have a way of getting in the way of the best intentions. Strong subplots include tense relationships with her mother, Cammie, and her mom’s boyfriend, as well as Amber’s plans after graduation. She has her heart set on KU while her mother is dead set against it. All of these subplots weave expertly into the main plot for a compelling story beyond just the romance.
Characters I love the characters so much. Amber is so relatable as a teen girl hell-bent on protecting her heart. Jordan is beyond adorable and it’s easy to see why Amber is attracted to him against her better judgments. Hannah is the perfect loyal best friend, even when she feels as if her friend isn’t necessarily doing what’s in her own best interests. And Cammie is suitably complex making her a standout character. Everyone comes across as authentic and well developed, creating balanced and nuanced relationships that drive the story.
What I Loved About RULES WE’RE MEANT TO BREAK 1. Buffy. The German shepherd adopted by Amber is cute, smart, loyal, and makes Amber a better person.
2. Buffy. The OTHER Buffy. The one Buffy is named for. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer references peppered throughout are lighthearted and actually tie several things together.
3. Jordan. The adorable basketball player with a penchant to capitalize words that excite him is a boy worth swooning over.
4. Angsty Romance. My favorite kind. With Amber’s insecurities and her list of rules, there was no way this romance wasn’t going to come with a health dose of angst. It just has a way of pulling at my heartstrings. I love, love, love it.
5. Realistic Growth. While Amber has some amazing growth, I love that she isn’t totally transformed. Her history is so ingrained in who she is that by the end she’s only tentatively stepping forward into the unknown rather than fully embracing it, giving this a really realistic vibe.
Bottom Line Fabulous characters in realistic predicaments and a swoony romance to boot.
Disclaimer I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author Natalie Williamson is an HR person by day and a YA writer by night and nap time. She referenced Harry Potter in her first ever full time job interview, which tells you almost all the things you need to know about her. Other important things to know include: she loves her husband, daughter, dogs, and cat; she has a serious dessert problem; and she frequently Wikipedias movies and TV shows to find out if they have happy endings. RULES WE’RE MEANT TO BREAK is her debut novel..
Welcome to the blog tour for for INTO TEMPTATION, a stand-alone adult paranormal romance, by Elle Keating. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.
INTO TEMPTATION by Elle Keating
About the Book – Read for Free with Kindle Unlimited Title: INTO TEMPTATION Author:Elle Keating Release Date: June 3, 2019
Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance
Links: Goodreads | Amazon| Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU
Synopsis Twenty-eight-year-old Lilly Rains would settle for – no, embrace – the idea of Purgatory as atonement for her sins. The newly assigned parish priest has conjured less than righteous thoughts, forcing Lilly to question her sanity for being attracted to a man of the cloth and more importantly, whether she can perform her job as the principal of St. Robert’s Catholic School.
But the handsome and mysterious priest is not what he seems. He has been sent to retrieve Lilly’s wavering soul, preying on a faith that has been rattled by her past. But where there is darkness, there must also be light and God has decided it is time to intervene. A Guardian has been assigned to protect Lilly from the evil surrounding her. However, when the priest and the Guardian begin to pursue her for their own purposes, Lilly is left with an impossible decision.
Will she choose the forbidden man she loves or the Guardian who will be eternally devoted to her?
Excerpt #2 As much as Lilly wanted to see William this weekend, she was fully aware that attending Sunday Mass would not be a good idea. Avoiding contact, or at least extremely limiting it, no matter how juvenile it sounded, seemed like a pretty good defense. She surrendered herself to the mammoth pile of paperwork in her home office and was grateful for once that this tedious part of her job helped to substantially pass the time. As she was concluding her working weekend by revising a list of questions for the interview on Monday morning, Lilly thought about William again and how ridiculous she was being.
She was a grown woman, not some fifteen-year-old with a crush. Her feelings for this man, this priest whom she had just met, defied all logic. He made her feel nervous and exposed, and for whatever reason, somewhat frightened. It also didn’t help Lilly’s cause whatsoever that he was the most beautiful person she had ever seen; the lines and features of his face were somehow magically lifted from the pages of one of those steamy romances she kept hidden beneath her bed.
In a weak and selfish moment, Lilly couldn’t help think how unfair it was that this flawless man could and would only be devoted to a higher power. The vow of celibacy was sacred to most priests and she could only conclude that he lived it as well. What God of mercy would call this man, a man who looked like him, a man who made her body crave him, ache to feel his hands… lips on her, to the priesthood? Lilly shook her head and banished the erotic vision of him brushing his lips first along her neck and then southward from her mind.
Fantasizing about someone you could never have, like a celebrity or a character from a smutty novel, could be fun and entertaining, allowing that person to penetrate your thoughts while you enjoyed yourself with your hand. But what wasn’t healthy, what could be downright dangerous, was if that person was easily accessible, someone you could just happen to run into at work or worse, in church.
Author Elle Keating
About the Author Elle Keating is the author of romance novels with sexy heroes and fierce females. Her first book, Thrill of the Chase (Dangerous Love, #1), was published by Forever Romance’s digital imprint, Forever Yours, in 2015. Cut to the Chase (Dangerous Love, #2) soon followed. Most recently, Elle self-published Wanting More (Dangerous Love, #3), Back to the Start (Dangerous Love, #4) Feels Like Falling (Dangerous Love, #5) and the standalone novel, Keeping His Commandments.
When Elle isn’t torturing her heroes and heroines (don’t worry, there’s always a happily ever after), she is a public school administrator and enjoys spending time with her husband and 3 children in New Jersey. For more on Elle and her books, visit ellekeating.com.
Welcome to the blog tour for DARKNESS RISING,the ninth book in the adult paranormal romance series, Darkness, by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Katie Reus. See below for information on the book, buy links, and an exclusive excerpt.
Awakened after millennia, dragon warrior Reaper is ready to fulfill his destiny…until he sees Greer. With one glimpse, everything Reaper has ever known throughout his very long life is irrevocably changed. Greer’s his mate, he feels it in his blood, in his soul—but convincing her is another matter. The dragon clan healer finds him obnoxious and annoying, but he knows a woman’s interest when he smells it. And Greer smells like one word: mine.
Meets a giver of life…
Greer has spent hundreds of years using her healing abilities for the good of others, making her the polar opposite of Reaper. The ferocious war general may be an ancient, but his arrogance proves he hasn’t spent any of that time learning about women. Greer is displeased when her Alpha sends her to New Orleans with the insufferable warrior—then she sees him in action against a menace threatening to tear the city apart. Fierce, protective, magnificent…mate-worthy. Except he’s hiding something from her. Something dark and devastating that could destroy their newly forged bond. Maybe opposites do attract, but if they want to live long enough to find out, they’ll first have to save the world teetering on the brink of obliteration.
Excerpt Without thinking, she stalked toward him and smacked him on the nose. “I can’t believe you shot fire at me!” she snapped.
That was just bad dragon etiquette. Yet now that she’d had time to think about it, she realized he hadn’t been attacking her, because the fire had gone so wildly off course. And considering the strength she could feel rolling off this stranger, she didn’t think that was accidental. If he’d wanted to hit her, he would have. She was immune to dragon fire—as were all dragons—for as long as their bodies could withstand it anyway. But he shouldn’t have been immune to her healer’s fire. That was something she was going to worry about later.
In response, the male shifted to his human form in such a fluid, quick transformation it took her breath away. She’d only seen a few ancient dragons change forms like that.
Now the male stood in front of her, staring at her with electric, mesmerizing amber eyes. In that moment she froze, trying to decide if she should run or stay.
Then he tilted his head to the side ever so slightly and she forced her eyes to remain on his. This male was a predator, likely a warrior, that much she could sense. It wouldn’t do her any good to turn her back on him.
Finally he spoke, but in a language she didn’t understand—which made her pause.
She was part of the Petronilla clan, and one of their gifts was understanding every spoken language. It was one of those biological survival things woven into their DNA. It was simply part of who they were as a clan.
“I don’t understand you,” she said to the male.
His hair was long, the soft dark waves falling right to his broad shoulders. From what she could see, his chest was incredibly built and muscular. She wasn’t going to look any lower—that was bad manners. She couldn’t help staring into his eyes, however. He had the kind of face that would make angels cry.
And he was on her clan’s territory. Which was the real issue right now.
Though to be fair, he must have been sleeping far beneath the surface so he would have no clue he was on her Alpha’s territory. She turned slightly and pointed back to where her four-wheeler was. She often came out here with it, then stripped and shifted and took to the skies. She just hadn’t gotten around to the shifting or flying part today. She’d been enjoying basking in the sun. Now it looked as if flying was going to wait.
He reached up as if to touch her face but she gently caught his wrists and pushed them back down.
They didn’t know each other and she hadn’t given him any privileges yet.
He said something again, growling low in his throat as he leaned forward and sniffed her. Actually sniffed her.
Okay, then. This dragon must have been asleep for a long time because that was very bad manners. She just hoped he wasn’t as ancient as Mira and Prima, because while she loved the “twisted sisters,” they were like feral animals half the time. Every time Greer looked into their eyes, there was no civilization. They were simply putting on a veneer for everybody. She loved them, yes, but they were far more in touch with their dragon side than she was. Sighing, she turned and headed back to her four-wheeler, looking over her shoulder at him.
The male paused, watching her curiously, but ended up stalking after her, his bare feet quiet against the snow. He didn’t seem bothered by the cold or his nudity, which for the most part was to be expected with dragon shifters. And males in general. They seemed to have no problem showing themselves off.
He stared at the four-wheeler, frowning as she slid into the front seat. She started the engine and then patted the seat behind her.
He simply lifted an eyebrow and shook his head, murmuring something in that language she didn’t understand.
Sighing, she gave it a little gas so he could see it move. Then she patted the seat again. She needed to get him back to her Alpha’s place, and arrangements would have to be made. They’d have to find his people, and more importantly, make sure this dragon understood that they were not out to humans. Not only that, for all she knew, he knew nothing of technology—and given the way he was looking at her four-wheeler with disdain, she figured that was a good bet.
He shook his head again.
“Seriously? It’s not like this thing is going to hurt you,” she muttered. “You’re a freaking dragon.” Sighing, she turned off the engine and got off the vehicle. And when she stripped off her jacket, his eyes lit up with interest.
Of course. God save her from all males.
Author Katie Reus
About the Author Katie Reus is the New York Times, USA Today, and IndieReader bestselling author of the Red Stone Security series, the Moon Shifter series and the Deadly Ops series. She fell in love with romance at a young age thanks to books she pilfered from her mom’s stash. Years later she loves reading romance almost as much as she loves writing it.
However, she didn’t always know she wanted to be a writer. After changing majors many times, she finally graduated summa cum laude with a degree in psychology. Not long after that she discovered a new love. Writing. She now spends her days writing dark paranormal romance and sexy romantic suspense. Her book Avenger’s Heat recently won the Georgia RWA Maggie Award for Excellence in the fantasy/paranormal category.
Welcome to the blog tour for SOUR, a stand-alone adult contemporary romantic comedy, by Jennifer Woodhull. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.
Synopsis Tall, handsome, and eternally optimistic Noah has dated a string of gorgeous women. His best friend Elle has outlasted them all. Of course, he has no idea she’s been in love with him for years. Why would he? It’s not like she’s going to tell him. After all, she’s short and awkward, and as he’s fond of reminding her, has a sour disposition.
When Elle takes off on her annual ten-day vacation with her family, Noah comes to a startling realization. She’s the woman who is by his side day in and day out, whose office is across the hall, and whose house is around the corner. She has called him on his shit when he gets too cocky, and he has held her in her arms when her heart was broken. Absence must make the heart grow fonder because while she’s in Germany with her parents, he realizes that everything he has ever wanted was right there all along. Now he’s on a mission to make her realize that romance won’t ruin their friendship, but platonic friendship is ruining their relationship.
Excerpt #1 I want to do things right with her. I could just try to seduce her. God knows she hasn’t been dating much lately, and a few well-timed moves might do the trick. I want more than that, though. I absolutely want to do every filthy thing I’ve been dreaming of with her, but I want her to be mine, first. If I could just get her to see that we’re already perfect…that we would just be adding a physical component to what’s already the perfect relationship, I’d be golden.
I bet if I could just get her to kiss me once—a real kiss—I bet she’d see it.
That’s when it hits me. I bet she’d see it.
I have an idea that just might work.
Author Jennifer Woodhull
About the Author We all need moments of escape. With all the demands on us day in and day out, we each need something just for ourselves. Perhaps nothing provides a private moment – a brief respite from the everyday – like escaping into a great story. When you pick up one of my books I hope you find that place that you can escape to. Explore the streets of Paris with new heroines, or fly around the world to reclaim your lost love with a favorite hero. Whether it’s the romance that takes your breath away or those climactic encounters that make your pulse race, I hope you find that solitary moment of enjoyment while lost in one of my stories.
Jennifer Woodhull is based in the Southern United States, spending time in her second home of England, and traveling as often as she can. Her love of travel permeates her work, and her characters often find themselves exploring new and foreign surroundings.
A keen observer of human behavior, Jennifer often draws inspiration from something as simple as a fleeting connection, or the glimpse of a unique trait or characteristic. Her favorite place to write is on airplanes.
“The drone of the engine, the scores of people, all traveling to something or from something, and being disconnected from digital distractions are a combination that provide the perfect place to write,” she says. “If you see a woman in seat 9F who is balancing her Macbook on her lap because it’s time to close your tray table, please have patience. I’m just trying to finish one more sentence.”
Welcome to the blog tour for #1 LOVE, the fourth book in the adult contemporary/romantic comedy series, #1, by USA Today and International bestselling author T. Gephart. See below for information on the book, buy links, and an exclusive excerpt.
Synopsis It was easy to fall in love with a Larsson—seriously who could resist any one of those boys? And while each them had taken turns featuring as Maya’s adolescent crush, there was only one of them who had been her best friend.
She’d loved him the most, convinced they’d be friends forever. Which might have happened if Maya’s father hadn’t been a shady criminal with a mistress on the side.
Banished from L.A. meant leaving her old life behind, forgetting those perfect Larsson boys and her best friend. And forget about all of them she did. Well, up until her fancy law degree landed her an awesome job back in the city she’d once called home. And boy was she glad to be home.
Oh, and her old BFF? Not only had Alex Larsson gotten a fancy law degree of his own, but he’d turned into the hottest man she’d ever seen. And what she wanted now couldn’t be further from friendship if she tried.
Did she risk tainting the memory of the purest, most amazing relationship of her life for the “possibility” of more?
Yeah, some things are worth the risk. And Alex Larsson, was one of them.
I wasn’t sure what opened wider, his front door or my mouth.
If that was Alex Larsson, then the years had been good to him.
He had always been tall, sporty, and blond, with a pair of blue eyes that could make the Mediterranean Sea jealous. But somewhere between then and now he had taken a right turn at cute and drove straight into hot.
Six-foot-OH-MY-GOD-how-tall-is-he? My eyes roamed from his toes to his head like they were inspecting a Picasso at Christie’s. And Lord, that body—all of it toned and delicious—I almost felt the need to genuflect as I stood there in front of it. His face didn’t help either, a perfect blend of story-book-prince and every-hot-guy-ever.
His perfectly mussed blond hair and seawater-blue eyes double barrel assaulted me. He’d gotten hotter than any Larsson—or man for that matter—I’d ever seen. Even his stubble was hot, the smattering shadow across his flawless jaw taunting me to touch it. There was nothing “old childhood best friend” about him. He was a work of art; my hands wanting to run over him like a piece of modeling clay and get dirty.
“Maya?” He smirked, looking me up and down as he stood barricading the door. Lord, he had muscles. He would have made an amazing firefighter. “Are you Maya Zaveri?”
I swallowed, my throat feeling like sandpaper as I found my voice. “That depends. Are you trying to serve me?”
He chuckled, his sea blue eyes twinkling with mischief. “Exactly how many outstanding warrants do you have, possible Maya?”
“None in the state of California, but I only moved back yesterday.”
Was I flirting with Alex Larsson?
Before I had a chance to give my conscience a good shake and banish any sexual thoughts to friend-zone, he pulled me into a hug. So instead of just thinking inappropriate things about his body, I was touching it with mine, and gathering evidence that proved Alex worked out a lot. Gone was the soft boyish body I’d seen a million times, and in its place was a work of art with the hard curves of a man. I swear to God, if there was ever a way to get pregnant fully clothed, it was wrapped around me creating an embryo. Sure made me grateful I’d taken my birth control before leaving my apartment.
Author T. Gephart
About the Author TGephart is a USA Today and International bestselling author from Melbourne, Australia.
With an approach to life that is somewhat unconventional, she prefers to fly by the seat of her pants rather than adhere to some rigid roadmap. Her lack of “plan” has resulted in a rather interesting and eclectic resume, which reads more like the fiction she writes than an actual employment history. She’d tell you all about it, but the statute of limitations hasn’t expired yet. But all those crazy twists and turns have led her to a career she loves—writing romantic comedy.
When she isn’t filling pages with sassy and sexy characters with attitude, she’s living her own reality show in the ‘burbs of Melbourne with her American husband, two teenage children, and her fur child—Woodley.
She loves adventure, to laugh, travel, and strives to live her life to the fullest.
AUGUST PRATHER IS NOT DEAD YET by Danielle K. Roux
Synopsis Katherine Garnet is a writer who has never cared much about much, making it awfully difficult to create new content. Despite the fact she has the “edge” of being trans (according to her cis male editor) she is not looking to capitalize on her own personal story. Garnet tries to sneak a peek at her rival, August Prather’s, latest fantasy manuscript about a quest for the elixir of life.
While reading, Garnet gets accidentally dragged into a bizarre cross-country road trip that may or may not have a purpose and begins to see parallels in the story of the manuscript and the reality of their journey. Along the way, they encounter a parade of equally troubled individuals, including ghost-hunting priests, a robot magician, a discarded piece of furniture, a runaway teenager, and a Japanese rock star.
As Garnet confronts her past, she begins to understand why someone might want to live forever.
My Review I’m not sure exactly what to make of AUGST PRATHER IS NOT DEAD YET. There’s a quote by one of the protagonists that says a good book is one that leaves the reader to figure out what it’s about, and I kind of feel like the author was letting us know that it’s up to us to decide what her novel is about. To say I was confused for much of the book would be an understatement, but at no point did I want to put it down. I needed to know what the heck was going on. And because the characters are so fascinating, I was hooked on their fates from the beginning. But if I had to tell you what this book is about, I’m not sure I can easily sum it up the way I normally do for a book review. It’s about letting go and finding yourself, it’s about exploring all the sides of yourself, it’s about friendship and camaraderie, doing the right thing for no reason other than it’s the right thing to do, and the quest for immortality, but it’s also none of those things and a thousand things more. And yet the story is riveting as author Kate Garnet sets off on a cross-country trip with fellow author August Prather along with two “priests”, a table, and a dead body in a Prius. And that’s not even the strangest part.
Plot The plot unfolds haphazardly with as many detours as the group takes on their road trip. Kate gets herself accidentally kidnapped when she sneaks into August’s car to read her latest unpublished manuscript. We alternate between the two stories as Kate reading the book is interspersed with their adventures. August’s manuscript is the story of a two individuals on a quest to find the elixir of immortality, but there are so many parallels between the book Kate’s reading and what’s unfolding in her real life, she soon discovers what she thought might be a lighthearted road trip with a group of free spirits might be something much more deeply personal.
Characters The characters are, simply put, brilliant. August is a quirky bohemian who befriends anyone and everyone she meets. Kate is complex as a trans woman who is still on a journey of self discover. Mitya and Lyosha, the Russian ghost hunters, posing as priests, are both irreverent and the cutest couple ever. Everyone they meet along their way is somehow larger than life, but in a completely believable way. it’s not that they’re necessarily caricatures, but we view them through Kate’s lens, and she notices the more obscure oddities more than most people would, so that’s how the reader gets to experience them. Even the characters in August’s book have depth. These are the types of people who not only temporarily occupy my mind as I read about them, but take up space in my brain for a long time after I finish the book.
What I Loved About AUGUST PRATHER IS NOT DEAD YET 1. August. If she mentioned a road trip, I’d be strapped into the shotgun seat before the “p” popped on her lips.
2. Quirky Characters. Everyone who populates this story is unique and a delight to read.
3. Witty Banter. The dialogue is among the best I’ve ever read, whether they’re dropping off a dead body at the hospital or discussing a murder that August witnessed, everything uttered is pure gold.
4. Road Trips. Setting off on a cross country trip with no itinerary not only makes for a fantastic story, but it’s a metaphor for what life should be.
5. True Love. Mitya and Lyosha are so freaking adorable. One of my all-time favorite fictional couples.
Bottom Line An unusual tale with compelling characters that is impossible to put down.
Disclaimer I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author Danielle K. Roux is a writer, teacher, and historian. Her first novel August Prather is Not Dead Yet is currently available in e-book and paperback through Parliament House Press (and soon will be available in hardcover and audio book). Danielle has always loved reading and telling stories – especially stories with adventure, mystery, humor, romance and at least a little bit of spookiness. Not Dead Yet has all this covered, with a story-within-a-story structure and a quest for immortality in the early twentieth century paired with a present-day road trip. There’s a lot of existential crisis and a male/male romance that is sweet and steamy.
Danielle has been writing fiction since she was nine, after getting tired of reading from the perspective of white, straight male characters in fantasy novels. Her first written story involved a group of middle school girls who find necklaces used by a dead witch that give them supernatural powers. It was written in notebooks in purple and green gel pens that are currently housed in a box in her linen closet. She is inspired by travelling to new places and reading about the stories tied to landscapes. She has at least three novels building in her brain (or wherever novels come from) and wishes she was writing them all right now.
Danielle lives with her wife and two orange cats in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has added a lot of young adult fantasy fiction to her bookshelves recently, and regrets nothing. Her dream library would be accessed through a secret door and look something like the library in the animated Disney Beauty and the Beast, although it would also have a cute barista or sentient coffee machine that once was said barista.
When she isn’t writing or thinking about writing, Danielle is building houses in the Sims, listening to podcasts, or taking Buzzfeed quizzes to find out what kind of tree she is based on her hair color. She has recently been watching lots of old BBC period pieces, and some of them are good. She has begun to drink Diet Coke and is worried this might be a real problem. Coffee and tea are still her primary beverages of choice..
Welcome to the blog tour for IF IT MAKES YOU HAPPY, a stand-alone young adult contemporary LGBTQ+ romance, by Claire Kann. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.
Synopsis High school finally behind her, Winnie is all set to attend college in the fall. But first she’s spending her summer days working at her granny’s diner and begins spending her midnights with Dallas—the boy she loves to hate and hates that she likes. Winnie lives in Misty Haven, a small town where secrets are impossible to keep—like when Winnie allegedly snaps on Dr. Skinner, which results in everyone feeling compelled to give her weight loss advice for her own good. Because they care that’s she’s “too fat.”
Winnie dreams of someday inheriting the diner—but it’ll go away if they can’t make money, and fast. Winnie has a solution—win a televised cooking competition and make bank. But Granny doesn’t want her to enter—so Winnie has to find a way around her formidable grandmother. Can she come out on top?
After leaving Dallas’s house, I deserved a break.
Admittedly, deserve was a strong word, but I was taking one anyway.
The stoplight turned green, and I made the turn back into Misty Haven. Main Street turned into Main Circle—a giant roundabout with a memorial gazebo erected in Misty Haven’s honor at the center. I drove past the ice-cream shop, Meltdown Scoops, which always had a reserve of praline ripple just for me; the coffee bar, the Traveling Cruz, which supplied Goldeen’s with freshly roasted beans in exchange for advertising space on the diner’s menus; the dance studio, Day and Night, where I made it through six summer-school lessons before breaking my ankle and never going back; the twenty- four-hour grocery and convenience store, Nina’s, where I’d worked the overnight shift after the diner closed for a few weeks last summer with my partner, Kara, to earn money for a new Cuisinart-something that Kara absolutely had to have but her parents refused to buy for her; and the joint post office/town hall/government building across from the gazebo.
Every second, every scene and sidewalk and side alley, every inch held a memory. My heart would always belong here.
At a stop sign, Mrs. Pantoja awkwardly tried to wave as she crossed the street, hands full of leashes for the ten dogs she walked. She’d worked at the local shelter for as long as I had known her. The scene looked a bit like a picture you’d randomly see online.
A digital painting of a lady walking too many dogs on a breezy day in the middle of a quaint town that made you smile and get all warm and fuzzy.
Summer in Misty Haven had that kind of artistic, frozen feel to it. Almost like it could make you believe time didn’t exist and every- thing would be perfect forever. Plentiful trees, flowering bushes, green grass full of picket signs asking people to not walk on it, little kids with scraped knees running around and yelling because they had nothing better to do.
A place where you’d be just as likely to be eaten alive by mosqui- tos, born and bred in the swampy parts of the man-made lake at the west edge of town, as you would be to have a hate-to-love romance with a cutie-with-a-booty who had moved to Misty during the spring and had a supernatural affinity for math and working out, and also adored kids.
I pulled into an empty parking spot in front of Winter Wonderland Books. The door chimed as I entered, but no one greeted me. No one at the front desk meant Kara was on duty and had abandoned her post to go bake something.
“DO LIBRARY RULES APPLY IN THIS PLACE? I HAVE A LOUD SPEAKING VOICE BUT REQUIRE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR BOOKS.”
A scream shattered the silence of the bookshop moments before Kara appeared. She ran at a full sprint, arms outstretched as she launched herself straight into my waiting arms.
In the five years I had known Kara, she’d barely changed. She still had the same super curly, auburn-colored hair; face full of the same- colored freckles; and the same olive-toned skin. She always wore the same rectangular deep-purply-red glasses and a shrewd, calculating look on her face at all times. She hadn’t even grown a single inch, still clocking in at an impressive five feet zero, with the same slightly chubby build and penchant for wearing jumpsuits.
And my heart still thumped extra hard against my rib cage every time I saw her. Truth be told, I wasn’t always sequestered away in Goldeen’s. Winter Wonderland Books took third place on the where- to-find-Winnie list. Second place? Kara’s room upstairs.
“You didn’t tell me you were coming over, punk!” She let go,
slapping my arm.
“I like it when you scream for me. Makes me feel special and wanted, and also kind of scared. Keeps me on my toes.”
Kara laughed. “Working?” “Eternally.”
“Figured. How long you got?”
“Not very. Just wanted to see your face.”
“I like it when you make good life choices. Come on.” She didn’t wait, grasping my wrist and leading me forward. “I just finished mak- ing waffles.”
“Scratch or Eggo?”
“Girl, please.” Kara gave me a withering look.
The tiny kitchen with its rounded retro teal refrigerator and oven/ stove combo looked and smelled like the single greatest bakery disas- ter area in the history of explosions. Collateral damage included flour everywhere; a fleet of similar-sized bowls dripping sticky glaze onto the counters; piles of unfrosted cupcakes arranged haphazardly on cooling racks; baking sheets stacked with a multitude of cookies; a seven-layer rainbow cake practically screaming for fondant, pearls, and sprinkles; and icing stuck to the cabinet doors like she had flung it to check its consistency.
I’d actually seen her do that last one once. Kara baking in the kitchen was An Experience™, but she ignored it all, not attempting to explain, apologize, or make excuses for the mess. Instead, she marched to the wooden table in the center of the room, where a red Belgian waffle iron steamed and hissed with urgency, and pulled out a chair for me.
“Why does it smell like brownies? You said waffles.” I sat down. Above the scents of sweetened cream cheese, irrepressible vanilla everything, German chocolate heavy on the coconut, powdered sugar delightfulness, chocolate with that slightly burnt smell that never stopped it from still being delicious, cinnamon, and graham crackers, I caught a whiff of something cooking that didn’t quite make sense.
“It’s the best of both worlds.” Kara grinned with feverish pride as she lifted the lid. “My two-hour-old secret recipe for crisp brownie waffles. Toppings pending, but I’m leaning toward ice cream, whipped cream, and/or fruit to give it that familiar funnel-cake vibe.” She inhaled. “Doesn’t it smell amazing?”
Author Claire Kann
About the Author Claire Kann is the author of LET’S TALK ABOUT LOVE and an award-winning online storyteller. In her other life, she works for a nonprofit that you may have heard of where she daydreams like she’s paid to do it. Find out more by visiting her website: www.clairekann.com (and while you’re there, tell her about your cats. She loves cats. A lot.)