A Conversation with Jen Doyle, Author of CALLED UP (Calling It #2)

There are two things Max “Deke” Deacon can always count on:  his old high school teammates and Fitz Hawkins.
 

 

First, let me say thank you for having me here. I appreciate your hosting me on the occasion of the publication of CALLED UP (book two in the CALLING IT series). 🙂

You’re welcome! And, welcome 🙂

 

What 5 things should readers know about you?

* I’ve always been a huge reader, but only became a romance convert about five years ago. But it’s pretty much all I read now.

* I have three children, including two teenagers, who are a bit scandalized that their mom is writing romance. (Well, the 16yo girl is; the 13yo boy is busy catching Pokemon [or whatever is happening there].) The 5yo only cares when I’m on deadline and can’t do the normal bedtime routine.

* I’m a HUGE Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. I still quote lines, even all these years later.

* I have a master’s degree in library and information science.

* I can’t stand the word ‘nipple’ yet I use it fairly often. (The hazards of being a romance writer.)

LOL! My 17yo girl AND 19yo boy are doing the Pokemon thing too…I don’t get it either 😉

 

Where did the inspiration for this book come from?

CALLED UP is, as you know, the second in the CALLING IT/Inspiration, IA series. The inspiration for the series itself was the character of Nate Hawkins, the celebrity athlete who comes back to his small hometown and finds love. But even in those early days of thinking about Nate, I always knew there was a huge heart lurking underneath a cold and jaded shell. And the character of Angelica “Fitz” Hawkins, who is Nate’s half-sister and the heroine of CALLED UP, was where a lot of that goodness came from. Though they got off to a rough start due to the way she comes into his life when they are both teenagers, the kindness and loyalty he’s shown her since those early days says so much about who he is. So even though CALLING IT was about Nate and Dorie, I had pages upon pages of backstory for the character of Fitz that served as the inspiration for book two.

Fitz isn’t a loner, but thanks to the circumstances of her introduction to Inspiration, she’s also taken advantage of the fact that most of her best friends are guys who have no interest in heart-to-heart conversations. There’s a lot of emotion hidden under her surface and she has no interest in acknowledging it even to herself, much less letting it show. Max “Deke” Deacon, on the other hand is pretty much the opposite. Part of Nate and Fitz’s group of close friends, he’s a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of guy. When the two characters presented themselves to me and required I write their story, I was quite intrigued.

That’s awesome! I love how things sometimes work out like that.

 

How long have you been writing, and what (or who) inspired you to start?

I became a writer fifteen years ago. I can actually name the day and time—November 6, 2001 at approximately 8:45 p.m. Remember how I mentioned above that I was a Buffy fan? I’d begun to watch the show when it came on in syndication (because, you know, back in those days, you had to actually wait until something was aired :)) and had avoided watching the season six episodes as they aired. But on November 6, they had their musical episode, and along with the entire rest of the Buffy fandom, I had to see it live. There was a particular character I’d come to love, and realized he hadn’t made it to season six. By about three quarters of the way through the episode, I found myself distracted by wondering what had happened to him. I almost immediately began to search out where he was—and was completely unhappy with the answer. I then came across the world of fan fiction and saw that there were others out there who felt the same and who wrote a different ending. But it wasn’t the ending I wanted, especially because I believed in the canon, which meant I couldn’t conceive of his journey happening differently than what had been laid out on the TV show. With that said, however, I felt pretty strongly that the story didn’t have to end there. So I picked up where his story left off. (I actually did a whole blog post about this. 🙂 See  http://www.jendoyleink.com/2016/08/18/on-becoming-a-writer-another-throwback-thursday-blog-post/ if you’re interested in reading more.)

It wasn’t until December that I began to put words to the page, but I feel like that moment was when the switch turned on for me.

I love it! I may have written fan fiction a time or two myself. For a different fandom, however.

 

What are you working on right now? What can readers look for from you in the next year?

I’m currently working on the proposal for book three for the series, so hopefully I’ll have news about that soon. I also just recently put out a free short story (Last Call) that serves as an introduction to Inspiration, Iowa. It’s a complete standalone, but Deke makes a cameo appearance. It can be downloaded at: https://www.instafreebie.com/free/HXb8B

This fall I’m also going to post Butterfly Ops, a somewhat epic story (360K words – which is, um, a lot), on Wattpad. It’s the evolution of that first fanfic I wrote, having become quite more polished over time. If you’re on Wattpad, keep an eye out.

Great! Thanks so much for both of those 🙂

 

If you had to “sell” your book in a single Tweet, what would you say?

Ugh! I am so horrible at this! How about:

Fans of @JillShalvis will love this friends-to-lovers story. Baseball, small town romance and…handcuffs? #CalledUp http://bit.ly/CalledUpAZ

Works for me! You’re better at it than you think!

Actually, I think I might go tweet that now…

🙂

 

Thank you so much for having me! I hope everyone enjoys CALLED UP and the rest of the CALLING IT series!

Thank you again for coming, Jen!

Keep reading to find out more about Jen and her books.

A big believer in happily ever afters, Jen Doyle decided it was high time she started creating some. Jen is a member of the Romance Writers of America, as well as a member of the New England, New Jersey Romance Writers and Music City Romance Writer chapters of RWA. She is represented by Sarah E. Younger of the Nancy Yost Literary Agency. She has an M.S. in Library and Information Science and, in addition to her work as a librarian, has worked as a conference and events
planner as well as a Communications and Enrollment administrator in both preschool and higher education environments (although some might say that there is very little difference between the two; Jen has no comment regarding whether she is one of the “some”).

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CALLED UP
A Calling It Novel
Jen Doyle
Releasing Aug 29th, 2016
Carina Press

There are two things Max “Deke” Deacon can always count on: his old high school teammates and Fitz Hawkins. But no matter how much Deke might secretly fantasize otherwise, a relationship with one of his best friends is off limits. Until one unexpectedly smoldering encounter has Deke and Fitz looking at each other in a whole new way.

Angelica “Fitz” Hawkins knows for a fact that it is not better to have loved and lost. After losing her parents, she’d rather lock up her heart and throw away the key than endure that kind of pain again. If that means giving up any hope of a lasting relationship, then so be it.

With Deke, Fitz finally feels like she’s back in the land of the living. But she won’t risk another broken heart—even if it means saying good-bye to Deke for good. It’s up to Deke to convince her that the safest place she could ever be is right here with him.


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Excerpt-Banner

“Hey, Dorie,” she heard from above her. “Do you know where Fitz wants these bottles of water?”

Speak of the devil. Fitz brought her head up a little too suddenly, banging it on the underside of the table. “Ouch!” Her hand going to the back of her head, she came up frowning, and…

Oh, God, was he this gorgeous before? Had he always smelled amazing?

Doing everything she could to keep herself immune from his physical charms, she spun on her heel. “Back here.”

Very specifically not looking in Deke’s direction so that she didn’t give anything away, she forced herself to act exactly as she always did around him. Except she suddenly couldn’t quite remember how that was. Did she flirt with him? Did she flat-out ignore him? Did she generally just go around in a state of low-level irritation? Because right now she had absolutely no clue.

She had even less of a clue as she bent down to open up the lid to the cooler and he crouched down next to her, his head so close all he’d need to do was turn it slightly to the left and his mouth would be on her breast.

And was that…?

Oh, hell, no, her nipples had not just hardened. She slapped her arms over her chest.

Because they had. And Deke, with his superhero sex god extra sensory perception, had definitely noticed. He at least had the decency to look down at the ground as he grinned.

“It’s the cold,” Fitz snapped. “From the cooler.”

Pushing the bottles down into the ice, Deke just answered, “You’d be amazed at all the bits and pieces I can warm up with my tongue.”

 

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Release Day and Giveaway! CONSUMED by Elizabeth Miceli (Barren #2)

Welcome to the Release Day Celebration for
Consumed (Barren 2) by Elizabeth Miceli
presented by Swoon Romance!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

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Stacey Lorenzo has finished treatment, but is still devastated by her past asshe enters college. With drugs and alcohol so readily available, so much freedom, and barely any supervision, Stacey falls back into old habits. Soon it’s a daily dose of partying, self-medicating, and having sex with lots of different guys. As her relationship with Eli destructs, she falls for Jesse, who just so happens to be a drug dealer. Every time she starts to fall back into the memories of her past, Jesse makes it easy to snort away the pain.

But she snorts too much one night; it forces her to question the man she loves and acknowledge her mental and emotional instability. In the second installment of The Barren Series, Stacey must overcome her addiction and make peace with her past if she is ever to be truly happy again.

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Consumed (Barren 2)
by Elizabeth Miceli
Publication Date: August 31, 2016
Publisher: Swoon Romance

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OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES:

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*** PUBLISHER’S ALERT: MATURE CONTENT WARNING ***

Recommended for ages 16+. Includes scenes that depict drug use, teen sex, and sexual assault.

This book contains mature content and depiction of a seventeen-year-old girl’s rape at the hands of another student. It is a chilling first person point of view account of something that occurs across the country at parties just like the one depicted in this story, and we wanted the fictional account to feel raw and as devastating. We also understand that these scenes may be difficult and uncomfortable for some. We recommend this novel for readers ages sixteen and older.

“I cried, praying for him to finish. I closed my eyes and tried to envision myself somewhere else… somewhere where I was happy. I thought of my family all piled around our tree on Christmas morning. I thought of singing with my band. I thought of Caitlin and me baking cookies and watching movies together. But after just a few seconds of pretending, Mike would hit me or thrust deeper, and I would be back in reality. I was being raped. I was all alone. I was a damsel in distress. And there was no one there to save me.”

Seventeen-year-old Stacey Lorenzo’s poor self-esteem has always consumed her. When significant weight loss leaves her still feeling powerless and with an eating disorder, she turns to partying to cope. Things go from bad ot worse when she is raped, a crushing blow to her psyche from which she may not recover. Stacey drugs, cuts, and hooks up with countless guys in an attempt to dull the pain. But if Stacey doesn’t find a way to face her demons and overcome her fears, she might find herself in a hole so dark, even love won’t be able to pull her out.

Barren is written by debut author Elizabeth Miceli. It is a devastating and dark account of one girl’s plummet to the very bottom of the human experience and the horrific and petrifying road to recovery and self-worth.

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About-the-Author2

Elizabeth Miceli

Elizabeth hails from the smallest state with the biggest heart. She started off at The University of Akron and then transferred to the University of Rhode Island. She is a majoring in Human Development and Family Studies and minoring in Psychology. Although she loves writing- she also has a passion for helping others which is why she is studying to become a sex therapist/couples counselor. Elizabeth loves spending time with her family and friends, singing, eating everything Italian, and baking cookies. She is “in love with love” which is probably why the driving force in almost everything she writes is romance. When she’s not getting lost in her characters she can be found waiting for her prince charming in her North Kingstown, Rhode Island home.

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New Release Review and Giveaway! KEEPING HER SECRET by Sarah Nicholas (Endless Summer series)

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Book Title: Keeping Her Secret (Endless Summer series)
Author: Sarah Nicholas
Release Date: August 22, 2016
Genre: YA Contemporary F/F Romance

 

 

Two girls. One kiss.

The last person Riya Johnson expected to run into at her new summer camp is Courtney Chastain—her childhood best friend and the girl who broke her heart after a secret, mind-blowing, life-altering kiss. She definitely didn’t expect to be sharing a bunk bed with her for four long weeks.

Courtney has what every girl wants—she’s beautiful, rich, and the object of every boy’s desire at Camp Pine Ridge. Too bad none of them make her feel an iota of what Riya’s kiss did all those years ago. But Courtney needs to uphold appearances at all costs—even if it means instigating an all-out prank war with Riya as her main target.

Neither girl can stop thinking about the other…but that doesn’t mean they can give up past hurts and take a chance on a future together.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains drinking, sexual situations, and a fairy-tale romance sure to make your heart melt.

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Excerpt:

A breeze ruffled her ponytail and Riya’s gaze snapped to the door. Courtney strolled in like a freaking Nordic Goddess with her head held high, cheeks flushed and skin glowing. Sunkissed legs stretched from a pair of sparkly sandals up for miles and miles until finally disappearing under the hem of low-hung white shorts. Flashes of smooth stomach teased as her pink top moved with every graceful step.

Riya’s heart pounded in her chest. Courtney Chastain was trying to kill her. That outfit was a perfectly crafted murder weapon. Checking to make sure her mouth didn’t hang open, Riya tore her gaze from Courtney and swallowed. Hard.

Beside her, Colt slid down the bench, away from Riya. Riya didn’t know why until Courtney froze five feet from them. She glanced at Riya then shook her head at her brother. Colt rolled his eyes in response, patting the sliver of bench between them.

“Miss Chastain, please take your seat so we may continue,” Bob Fazio called, a small chuckle breaking through his voice.

It was then Riya noticed she wasn’t the only one distracted by Courtney’s entrance. Excluding her brother, every boy in the room aged twelve to eighteen stared in their direction—and some of the girls, too.

Riya watched a wide range of emotions pass over Courtney’s face in less than a second before she straightened her shoulders in some kind of resolve. Her hair tumbled to her elbows in gentle waves. Sighing, she tossed the golden strands over her shoulder before spinning and squeezing her hips between Riya and Colt.

The welcome talk continued, but Riya only caught fleeting fragments of the briefing. Something about the daily schedule and a talent show on the last day. Approximately 98 percent of her attention narrowed in on the seven inches of Courtney’s white-silk skin pressed against Riya’s outer thigh.

Riya took a deep breath to steady herself, but caught the sweet rose petal scent wafting from Courtney. She inhaled one deep breath, reveling in the heavenly smell, before shaking her head.

Ridiculous. She was being completely ridiculous.

She’d never let anyone have such an overwhelming effect on her. Certainly not someone like Courtney, someone who couldn’t—or wouldn’t—return her affections. Someone who had broken her heart four years ago and never once looked back.

Riya stared at her own shoelaces, actively un-focusing on the girl sitting next to her.

Trying to, anyway.

Next thing she knew, everyone stood around her and the room buzzed with conversation. The welcome event was over.

“Earth to Riya.”

 

Review:

A sweet friends-to-lovers romance with a side of having the courage to show your true self to the world!

Riya was best friends with twins Courtney and Colt years ago, until she kissed Courtney the night before Riya’s family moved away–Courtney ran away right after, and their friendship came to a screeching halt.

Fast forward to the summer before their senior year, when Riya’s parents–they’re moving again, and this time it will be somewhat close to where Court and Colt live–send her to regular summer camp instead of volleyball camp…the camp that Courtney and Colt have been going to for years, naturally. Colt’s thrilled to see his old friend; Courtney, not so much. Or is she?

Riya’s bi, and has been out for quite some time–her parents are supportive, and she’s never felt like she had to hide anything. She’s still carrying a torch for Courtney, though she’s had other perfectly nice relationships in the meantime.

Courtney, on the other hand, feels a lot of pressure from her family (to follow in their footsteps and be a successful lawyer) and from her peers (to pretty much just be the perfect, popular girl she seems to be) and has been trying for years to deny that the kiss with Riya meant anything at all. She goes through guys like there’s no tomorrow, trying to find something close to what she experienced with her first kiss, but having no success.

It was easy to relate to both Courtney and Riya, though in different ways. Riya is very down-to-earth, friendly, and sweet–she wears her heart on her sleeve and has a hard time not showing exactly how she feels about her ex-best friend. Once Courtney gives in to her feelings but insists on keeping their relationship secret, you can really feel Riya’s hurt and confusion.

Anyone who’s ever felt any pressure from parents or from society to live up to expectations or to be or act a certain way will identify with Courtney. It was hard to watch her struggle with first her feelings for Riya and then with the fear of what others–her twin, her parents, her friends, the other campers–would think of her if they found out. I was really rooting for her to find a way to come out, but at the same time totally understood her fears about the prospect.

Through it all, Colt, Courtney’s twin, was one of my favorite characters. He’s got to be one of the best fictional brothers out there–completely supportive of his sister and her future hopes and dreams, and a great friend to Riya. Fingers crossed that he’ll get a book!

Ms. Nicolas did a nice job of resolving Courtney’s issues at the end (they’re not 100% fixed, but she’s in a much better place than she was at the story’s start), and the epilogue of the book was very sweet. I’d definitely read more both from this author and in this series.

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

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About the author:sarah_nicolas

Sarah is a 31-year-old YA author who currently lives in Orlando, FL. She believes that some boys are worth trusting, all girls have power, and dragons are people too.

She’s a proud member of the Gator Nation and has a BS in Mechanical Engineering, but has switched careers entirely. She now works as an Event Coordinator for a County Library. She also blogs at YAtopia.

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Re-Release Review and Giveaway! FIRE BRAND by Diana Palmer

Fire Brand
by Diana Palmer

Synopsis:

He’ll risk his whole heart to save her from the past 

Gaby Cane was always a bit afraid of her attraction to Bowie McCayde. Even when she was fifteen and Bowie’s family took her in, she had sensed his simmering resentment. Now ten years later, she’s an aspiring journalist who can hold her own with any man professionally, the dark shadows of years gone by far behind her. Then Bowie strides back into her life—only this time, he needs her, and the pull of loyalty to his family is too strong to ignore.

When Bowie asked Gaby to help save his family’s Arizona ranch, he never expected the girl he once knew to return transformed into a stunning, successful woman. As they work together, Bowie is shocked to find that her innocence and beauty stir a hunger he can’t deny. But the rogue rancher can sense something holding her back, and he’s determined to uncover the terrible secret Gaby is fighting to keep hidden…

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Review:

I had mixed feelings about this one.

I didn’t realize until I read the author’s note that it was a reprint of a previously (1989!) published novel. Diana Palmer (pseudonym od Susan Kyle–originally published under her real name) explained that she kept the hero’s smoking habit in the book (and yep, that’s a blast from the past–my kids have a hard time believing me when I tell them that people used to smoke in public all the time, especially restaurants) and noted that the way in which Gaby and the other reporters worked was true to the time period, because that used to be her job. It was definitely interesting to watch reporters work before they had the Internet to help with research! Since it was all taking place in the year in which I graduated high school, I like to think it’s not that long ago, but boy have some things really changed. It was fun to get a glimpse back to a sort-of-distant time.

As a library and information studies student, it was really interesting to observe hands-on research when there was so much actual work (travel to read documents, phone calls, etc.) involved. I also enjoyed seeing all the different hats everyone in the small town paper had to wear on a daily basis. It definitely felt authentic, and really added to the overall atmosphere of the book.

I have to admit I had a difficult time connecting with the main characters. Gaby’s rabid virginity and complete innocence/ignorance about sex (explained by a traumatic event as a young adult) seemed totally at odds with her go-anywhere-heedless-of-danger reporter persona. At times she was worldly and knowledgeable, and then at other times totally clueless. She would waffle back and forth a lot–she trusted Bowie, but no, he scares her; she’s noticed some major red flags about the new group that wants to develop the McCayde land, oh, but they say they’re going to bring lots of jobs to the area, so let’s support them!–definite lack of consistency.

Bowie as a hero felt a bit dated. He was very alpha I-am-man-and-in-charge and not always very nice to Gaby, his mother, or his mother’s new boyfriend. He was big on making “this is how it’s going to be” pronouncements instead of talking things through with the women in his life, and it got to be aggravating. He ended up much more likable than he started, so that was something.

At times I had a hard time believing that Aggie, Bowie’s mother, and Ned Cartwright, her new boyfriend, were mature, grown adults. Not only did they get engaged really, really quickly (without really knowing each other, as becomes clear toward the end) they also broke up for a fairly ridiculous reason. And then we find out what he’s been hiding all along. I kind of wanted to smack him upside the head at that point. They did have a cute HEA, though, so that helped to make up for a lot.

I did like the bits of southwestern history that were sprinkled throughout, and digging into the mystery behind the new agricultural venture (positive forward progress, or environmental disaster in the making?) made for some interesting reading. This was my first book by the author; I’d definitely give some of her more recent titles a try though I don’t know that I’d read too many more of her ones that are 20+ years old. If you read similar books “back in the day” it will probably make you nostalgic, but if you’ve become accustomed to the more modern offerings it might take some adjustment.

Rating: 3 stars / C

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the author:diana palmer

Susan Eloise Spaeth was born on 11 December 1946 in Cuthbert, Georgia, USA. She was the eldest daughter of Maggie Eloise Cliatt, a nurse and also journalist, and William Olin Spaeth, a college professor. Her mother was part of the women’s liberation movement many years before it became fashionable. Susan grew up reading Zane Grey and fell in love with cowboys. Susan is a former newspaper reporter, with sixteen years experience on both daily and weekly newspapers. Since 1972, she has been married to James Kyle and have since settled down in Cornelia, Georgia, where she started to write romance novels.

She began selling romances in 1979 as Diana Palmer. She also used the pseudonyms Diana Blayne and Katy Currie, and her married name: Susan Kyle. Now, she has over 40 million copies of her books in print, which have been translated and published around the world. She is listed in numerous publications, including Contemporary Authors by Gale Research, Inc., Twentieth Century Romance and Historical Writers by St. James Press, The Writers Directory by St. James Press, the International Who’s Who of Authors and Writers by Meirose Press, Ltd., and Love’s Leading Ladies by Kathryn Falk. Her awards include seven Waldenbooks national sales awards, four B. Dalton national sales awards, two Bookrak national sales awards, a Lifetime Achievement Award for series storytelling from Romantic Times, several Affaire de Coeur awards, and two regional RWA awards.

 

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Diana Palmer’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, August 8th: From the TBR Pile – excerpt
Tuesday, August 9th: A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, August 10th: Stranded in Chaos
Thursday, August 11th: A Holland Reads – excerpt
Friday, August 12th: A Splendid Messy Life
Monday, August 15th: The Sassy Bookster – excerpt
Tuesday, August 16th: Reading Reality
Wednesday, August 17th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Thursday, August 18th: Books a la Mode – excerpt
Friday, August 19th: A Bookaholic Swede – excerpt
Monday, August 22nd: Moonlight Rendezvous
Tuesday, August 23rd: Mignon Mykel Reviews
Wednesday, August 24th: Bewitched Bookworms
Thursday, August 25th: Dog-Eared Daydreams
Monday, August 29th: Worth Getting in Bed For
Tuesday, August 30th: Becky on Books
Wednesday, August 31st: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Thursday, September 1st: Buried Under Romance
Friday, September 2nd: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

 

Release Day and Giveaway! RUSHING IN by Lexi Ryan (Blackhawk Boys #2)

Title: Rushing In
Series: The Blackhawk Boys #2 
Author: Lexi Ryan
Genre: New Adult
 Release Date: August 30, 2016
Blurb:

The favor seemed simple: Keep my new stepsister out of trouble for one summer.

I’ve never met Grace Lee, but Mom tells me she’s a quiet and artsy college student with a troubled past. When I agreed to let her stay with me, I thought it was no big deal. I expected to share my apartment with a sullen girl who’d spend hours locked in her room.

I didn’t expect a walking fantasy determined to make me lose my cool.

I didn’t expect a woman with secrets so dark, so deep, I’d throw away everything if it would save her from the past.

Rushing in to do this favor is turning my life upside down—and not just because Grace needs her ass spanked. Keep her out of trouble? Grace is the trouble. And I want in.

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Excerpt:

Chris arches a brow and skims his gaze over my body—correction, my dress and Chucks. “You’re gonna go hiking in that?”

I shrug. “It’s not like it’s full-length and gonna get tangled around my legs or anything.”

His gaze drifts down my body again, this time landing on the thigh visible beneath the hem of my dress. “It’s certainly not,” he mumbles, and the way he says it has my cheeks burning and me reaching for my water.

So damn thirsty.

We finish packing up our lunch together, and after we put the cooler back in the car, I grab the park pamphlet out of the front seat. “Come on,” I say, nodding in the direction of the outlook. “It’s my turn to be in charge.”

The park is beautiful, but as soon as we enter the woods and I see the overlook, my breath catches. From here, we have a view of the ravine below and the creek rushing through the bottom. Mossy rock faces make up the ravine walls, and trees protrude from them. It’s possibly the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

I head past the overlook and take the stairs down into the ravine. It’s shady back here and feels ten degrees cooler than our picnic table in the sun.

At the bottom of the stairs, the trail splits in three directions, and when I follow the sign with the three, Chris puts his hand on my arm. “Hey, this one has ladders.”

I arch a brow and drop my gaze to my shoes. “I can handle it.”

Something passes over his face I don’t understand, and then he sighs and nods. “Okay, but I’m climbing the ladders behind you. If any creep is going to be looking up your dress today, it’s gonna be me.”

My cheeks heat, and my brain instantly diagrams his words and starts analyzing the nuance of each. Just comedy or more? Stupid brain. “Fair enough.”

He mutters something that sounds like “Dreams really do come true,” but I can’t be sure.

The trail leads down into the ravine and along the creek bed. It’s so much cooler down here, and I love the sound of the creek rock crunching under my feet as we walk along.

By the time we come upon the first ladder, there’s no one else around.

“Ladies first,” he says, gesturing toward the ladder.

“Pervert,” I mutter, but I move forward and begin my climb. The rungs are coated in mud, and when I’m halfway up, one foot slips and suddenly Chris’s hands are there, holding me steady, his hands strong and warm against the backs of my legs.

My breath catches, and I force myself to breathe and find my footing. The feel of his hands against my skin causes something to swirl hot and tight low in my belly.

“Are you okay?” he asks, his voice as thick as the forest beyond the trail.

I’m not okay. I’m afraid to move. Afraid not to move. Trapped by a fear that has nothing to do with a slippery ladder and everything to do with falling.

Then, slowly, his thumbs begin to slide over my skin. His hands inch up my thighs until his fingertips skim the bottom edge of my underwear and slip under to trace the bottom curve of my ass.

I cannot breathe.

I force myself to turn my head and look down at him. His jaw is set tight, a picture of self-control, but when his eyes meet mine, his face relaxes and he shoots me a boyish grin. I attempt my best poker face. “Are you copping a feel, Christopher Montgomery?”

His grin goes wide, putting his dimples on full display. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he says, his Southern accent drawing out his words. “I’m just trying to perform a necessary rescue mission.”

“Do I look like I need rescuing?” I ask. Under the lace edge of my panties, his thumb strokes again, a long, slow motion that makes me want to close my eyes and moan. I resist and hold his gaze.

“Who said you’re the one I’m rescuing? Maybe I’m trying to save myself.” He drops his hands and grabs a hold of the sides of the ladder, then he climbs up behind me so his body is pressed against mine, my back to his front. His mouth hovers above my ear, his breath hot and uneven. “Because I swear if I have to go much longer without touching you, I’m going to implode.”

His lips skim my earlobe, and my eyes float closed. My brain has no room for sight when it’s overloaded with sensations. His lips on my ear. His hard chest against my back. His breath against my neck. “I need to know, Grace.”

I open my eyes and swallow hard. I don’t want to talk. Not right now. I’m too afraid I’ll ruin this moment with my choppy stutter. “What?”

“I need to know . . .” He leans his forehead against my shoulder, and I watch his knuckles turn white as he tightens his grip on the side of the ladder.

On the ground beneath us, someone clears his throat. “You two heading up or down?”

Chris mutters a curse and takes a step down so I have the freedom to move. I scramble up the ladder with him behind me. When we reach the top, I can’t look at him.

“Sorry about that,” he calls to the people below, then he grabs my wrist and pulls me off to the right toward a rocky alcove just off the trail. A wooden sign tells me this is “The Devil’s Ice Box,” and beyond the sign, a thin waterfall drizzles into a pool of crystal-clear water. Chris leads the way, following the rocky edge around to the backside of this semi-secluded space and stopping by the waterfall. I pass him, feigning interest in the rocks and water so I don’t have to meet his eyes. There’s a cavern behind the waterfall, a haven from the falling water.

“I have to know,” Chris says, his words nearly drowned out by the falling water. “Is it just me? Everything I feel when you’re close to me? Tell me you feel it too.”
© 2016 by Lexi Ryan
 
Also Available:
Football. Secrets. Lies. Passion.
These boys don’t play fair.
Which Blackhawk Boy will steal your heart?


 

AMAZON US / UK
#3 Going Under – Sebastian’s story

 

Coming Late 2016

 

 

Author Bio:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of emotional romance that sizzles, Lexi enjoys reading, sunshine, a good glass of wine, and rare trips to the beach.

Lexi lives in Indiana with her husband, two children, and neurotic dog. You can find her at her website: lexiryan.com

New Release Review and Giveaway! AN INDECENT PROPOSAL by Katee Robert (The O’Malleys #3)

When a no strings attached arrangement turns into something more, Cillian O’Malley and Olivia Rashidi must overcome the family ties that bind them. Fans of Jackie Ashenden’s Make You Mine and Kresley Cole’s The Master, will devour the super steamy and fast paced third book, An Indecent Proposal in the wildly popular O’ Malley series by NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author Katee Robert.
Robert_AnIndecentProposal_badge_correction

Title: An Indecent Proposal 
Author: Katee Robert
Series: The O’Malley Series #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: August 30, 2016
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing- Forever

Synopsis:

Greed. Ambition. Violence. Those are the “values” Olivia Rashidi learned from her Russian mob family-and the values she must leave behind for the sake of her daughter. When she meets Cillian O’Malley, she recognizes the red flag of his family name . . . yet she still can’t stop herself from seeing the smoldering, tortured man. To save her family, Olivia sets out to discover Cillian’s own secrets, but the real revelation is how fast-and how hard-she’s falling for him.

Plagued by a violent past, Cillian is more vulnerable than anyone realizes. Anyone except Olivia, whose beauty, compassion, and pride have him at “hello,” even if she’s more inclined to say good-bye to an O’Malley. While his proposal of sex with no strings seems simple, what he feels for her isn’t, especially after he learns that she belongs to a rival crime family. Cillian knows that there is no escape from the life, but Olivia may be worth trying and dying for . . .

3

Excerpt:

Which only served to make her feel more awkward. Olivia threw up her hands. “I don’t know how to do this.”

“Do what?”

“This.” She motioned between the two of them. “This isn’t normal.”

He laughed again, quieter this time. “What does normal look like?” When she would have balked, he held out his hand. “Sit down. You’re making me twitchy with all the pacing. I’m not laughing at you. I’m laughing at the absurdity of this entire situation. So humor me and tell me what normal looks like.”

She didn’t know. That was the problem. Olivia wasn’t sure she’d recognize normal if it hit her in the face. But she wasn’t quite willing to share with Cillian exactly how messed up her childhood had been, outstanding chemistry or not. She inched closer to the bed and perched on the edge, but even with three feet between them, she felt like a lightning rod to his storm, full of vibrating energy and impending boom. She pulled at the edge of her T-shirt. “You know—we’d meet somewhere normal.”

“We met at a bar.”

“Most relationships don’t start in a bar.” She realized what she said and shoved to her feet. “Strike that. I didn’t mean relationship. I just…” Not sure what she was trying to say, she charged on. “Maybe a coffee shop. You’d be behind me in line and say something witty, and I’d laugh and you’d spend the next ten minutes charming me until I gave you my number.”

She was almost afraid to look at him and see his expression. His silence said it all. “That’s stupid, isn’t it?”

“No, not at all. It sounds nice.”

Olivia faced him. “You’re humoring me.”

“Sit down.” He waited for her to obey before he spoke again. “I’m not. It does sound nice.” He carefully leaned back against the headboard. “So I charm your number out of you, huh? I must be pretty charming.”

She shot him a look. “In this scenario, yes.”

Cillian laughed. “Then I’d call you.”

She edged over to sit on the other side of the mattress against the headboard. It was such a silly thing they were doing, but after how intense the rest of the night had been, maybe silly was exactly what they both needed. “A call instead of a text? I must have made an impression.”

“More like I was determined to make the right impression. Texts are lazy, and you can’t get a good read on someone that way. So I’d call.”

She hadn’t spent much time dating…well, ever, really…but even she knew that was different from the norm. “I’d think you were a freak for calling, but I’d answer because I was intrigued.”

“We’d talk for a while, feeling each other out.”

“More like me trying to figure out if you’re a psycho.”

He grinned. “Or that. I’d say all the things a normal guy would say. You’d be reassured that I wasn’t likely to chloroform you and chain you up in my torture-slash-sex dungeon.”

“That’s…comforting.”

“It would be, yes.”

She laughed softly. “We’d set up a date at the end of the call.”

“Somewhere nice and public and nonthreatening.”

“Now you’re getting the idea.” She stared at the ceiling, part of her kind of weirded out at how well the conversation was flowing with him playing along. “Dinner, no movie. Movies are for people who are too intimidated by the thought of first-date conversation that they chicken out.”

“The conversation would be titillating.”

“You think so?” She rolled onto her side to face him, finding that he’d done the same. His bandage was a vivid reminder of why they were there in the first place. Olivia frowned. “How’re you feeling?”

“That’s not part of the game.” He yawned. “So we’d drink pretentious wine that neither one of us liked and order things that we could barely pronounce and, at the end of it, we’d sheepishly admit that we didn’t like either the drinks or the food, and we’d go find a food truck and laugh at ourselves.”

It was an attractive picture he painted. Normal and kind of sweet and something she’d never have the option of doing. She made a face. “Instead, you wander into my bar because your family’s territory encompasses it and we have a quick fuck in the alley.” She should regret it. She knew she should. There were thousands of dating books and columns out there advising women to withhold sex until they had some sort of commitment.

Except she didn’t regret a damn thing.

5

Review:

My favorite of the series so far!

Cillian O’Malley is the third brother in his family, and would be the first to tell you that that means in many ways that much of the pressure is off of him. He’s not the heir, or next in line to be the heir. Up until their youngest brother Devlin’s death, Cillian was a party boy and ne’er do well. Since then, though, he’s taken over managing the family’s finances, frequenting the bar where the four brothers spent their last night together, drinking nothing stronger than apple juice and suffering from panic attacks.

In his family’s eyes, though, he’s still the family screw-up. Sure, he’s taking on responsibility now with the books, but they’re all still quick to get on his case for being an irresponsible slacker with everything else. And Cillian doesn’t bother to correct their assumptions.

Spending so much time drinking alone in Jameson’s has put him right in the path of bartender Olivia, though, and despite the prickly exterior she shows to the world, Cillian is drawn to her. Olivia’s got her own secrets, however, and knowing Cillian’s family situation, wants nothing to do with him.

Okay–maybe one thing. One thing they take care of up against a wall in the alley behind the bar. But that’ll be it.

Really.

(Of course not really–you knew that was coming, right?)

I loved Cillian and Olvia’s story! They’re both fantastic characters with difficult backstories and all kinds of conflict–plus, undeniable chemistry. Olivia’s relationship with her daughter Hadley was one of my favorite parts of the book–and when Cillian was getting to know her too? Total single mother catnip. So. Good. I can’t wait to see more of these two (three!) in future series books 🙂

Though in general I’m not a huge fan of “mob books”, Ms. Robert does a fantastic job of drawing us into the dangerous underground they inhabit without either going overboard with the melodrama or overly romanticizing the lifestyle. The O’Malley siblings feel trapped by their situation, and we both feel their pain and the love they have for their family. There’s been a point (or several!) in each series book so far where I was sure that she wouldn’t be able to believably bring the hero and heroine together, but somehow she manages to pull it off in the end–although more often than not there’s some degree of bloodshed involved.

An Indecent Proposal could be read as a standalone, though having read the first two books ( The Marriage Contract and The Wedding Pact ) will definitely give you a better understanding of the family as a whole and the ways in which the O’Malleys are connected to and in conflict with the other families in the Boston area. Cillian explains much of the background to Olivia, though, since she’s essentially and outsider, so if you haven’t read them (or it’s been a while) you won’t be lost.

Sloan’s book is next–can’t wait!

Rating: 4 stars / A-

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

An Indecent Proposal Cover

Get More information at: Goodreads  | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

 

About the Author: Katee Robert

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Katee Robert learned to tell her stories at her grandpa’s knee. She found romance novels at age twelve and it changed her life. When not writing sexy contemporary and speculative fiction romance novels, she spends her time playing imaginary games with her wee ones, driving her husband batty with what-if questions, and planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

Connect with Katee at: Website | Facebook | Twitter| GoodReads | Instagram |

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Release Day! BALANCE by Lucia Franco (Off Balance #1)

 
Title: Balance
Series: Off Balance #1
Author: Lucia Franco
Genre: Contemporary Romance
 Release Date: August 29, 2016
Blurb:
Adrianna Rossi is no stranger to the rigorous demands required of her body. Years of pain and determination make her one of the best. Olympic glory is the ultimate goal, and she’ll do anything to achieve it. Even if that means leaving home to attend World Cup Academy of Gymnastics, a training center that serves one purpose—producing champions.

Perfection, precision, and dedication are required of his athletes. When two time Olympian Konstantin Kournakova is persuaded into training the young hopeful, he immediately regrets it. She doesn’t come close to his high standards. As the relentless pursuit of her dream keeps her striving, a passion is ignited within him.

Kova’s power and domination, coupled with Adrianna’s fierce tenacity, reveal there is more for her body to learn. Every interaction can be misconstrued, but there’s no mistaking the darkening of his gaze, the lingering of his touch, or the illicit image of his bare skin pressed against hers. Integrity is on the line. One toe off the beam and their forbidden desires could ruin everything they’ve worked for, throwing it all off balance.

WARNING: This novel contains explicit content.

 
Excerpt: 
Kova turned around to face me, his broad shoulders pulled back, one hand propped on his hip and the other clenched around his water bottle. “Do you think you are the first gymnast to show wear and tear on their hands from bars? You are not in Palm Beach anymore, malysh—”Kova visibly tensed, stopping short from his last word. Since I didn’t speak a lick of Russian, I didn’t have a clue as to what he said. But judging by the alarmed look on his face and the thick air between us, whatever he said couldn’t have been good.

Snapping his head to the side, he cracked his neck. “I am not going to go light on you. Get used to it. Nobody said it was going to be easy, it only gets harder from here on out. You need to learn to toughen up and take it. Remember what I said earlier? Prove it to me. Every time you step foot into that gym—make it count. I do not care if your hands hurt or your back is sore or you are running on two hours of sleep. Prove it. Champions are not made by complaining. They are made by the endless pursuit of their dream despite the obstacles they are faced with. Push through it and do it.”

I took a minute to let the weight of his words sink in. While an outsider would think they were laced with malice, I knew they weren’t. That was the furthest thing from the truth. I knew he was pushing me to be better. Not only to prove it to him, but myself as well. Without a doubt, Konstantin Kournakova was one hundred percent right.

Slowly nodding, I looked into his eyes and said, “You’re completely right, but I never expected you to go light on me. That’s not what I wanted. That’s not why I came here. I want the challenge. I want to be better. It’s why I pour every ounce of blood and sweat into a sport that gives me so little in return. The truth is, I’ve never been challenged by a coach the way I have by you, so I’m learning to adjust to it.” I held up my hands and showed him the bloody blisters threatening to pop under my palms. “You won’t hear a complaint come from me again.”

Kova’s shoulders loosened and he blew out a ragged breath. His gaze openly traveled the length of my body, taking in every inch. The way his eyes pierced mine, like he was pleased with my response, made my heart rush against my chest with satisfaction.
Purchase Links:
99c on release day only!!!
AMAZON US / UK / iBOOKS
 
Author Bio:

A competitive athlete for over ten years, Lucia Franco currently resides in sunny South Florida with her husband and two boys. Paranormal romance was her first love, but she has a soft spot in her heart for small-town and reunion romance stories.

When Lucia is not hard at work on her next novel, you can find her relaxing with her toes in the sand at a nearby beach.

Find out more about Lucia at authorluciafranco.com. Make sure to join her newsletter to receive exclusive updates and more!

 Author Links:

New Release Review! A SCOT IN THE DARK by Sarah MacLean (Scandal & Scoundrel #2)

A Scot in the Dark
by Sarah MacLean

Synopsis:

Lonesome Lily Turned Scandalous Siren

Miss Lillian Hargrove has lived much of her life alone in a gilded cage, longing for love and companionship. When an artist offers her pretty promises and begs her to pose for a scandalous portrait, Lily doesn’t hesitate…until the lying libertine leaves her in disgrace. With the painting now public, Lily has no choice but to turn to the one man who might save her from ruin.

Highland Devil turned Halfhearted Duke

The Duke of Warnick loathes all things English, none more so than the aristocracy. It does not matter that the imposing Scotsman has inherited one of the most venerable dukedoms in Britain—he wants nothing to do with it, especially when he discovers that the unwanted title comes with a troublesome ward, one who is far too old and far too beautiful to be his problem.

Tartan Comes to Town

Warnick arrives in London with a single goal: get the chit married and see her become someone else’s problem, then return to a normal, quiet life in Scotland. It’s the perfect plan, until Lily declares she’ll only marry for love…and the Scot finds that there is one thing in England he likes far too much…

 

Review:

This book gave me all the feels!

In the beginning, when Lily realizes just how much she’d been betrayed by the man she thought she was going to marry? I very nearly cried. Oh, the poor girl–the Regency equivalent of having pictures you thought were private showing up online with the potential of going viral. Yikes.

Pretty much every time the louse who painted her portrait and planned to reveal it to the world opened his mouth to speak, I got more than a little rage-y. Just when I thought he couldn’t be more of an a$$, or that he wouldn’t go there? He. Did.

When something was revealed of the loneliness that Lily or Alec lived through in the past? My heart broke a little.

When Lily made a new friend (the Talbot sisters are back! Woot!) or took some steps toward getting herself past the craptastic hand her ex-lover (or at times, her current one–grrrrr) was trying to deal her? I wanted to cheer.

When Lily and Alec were together? Together-together? Heart. Melted.

When Alec left her? Over and over again? Rage-y feelings were back. This bit went on waaaay too long and is really my only complaint about the book. How many times does the heroine have to tell the hero that SHE CHOOSES HIM before it gets through his thick skull?

Which leads me to a favorite quote from the book, courtesy of Sesily Talbot, who really needs to get her own book soon:

“All men are addlepated imbeciles who deserve to be strung up by their thumbs in St. James Park and set upon by bees.”

Lily blinked. “That’s terribly creative.”

Sesily smirked. “I may fantasize now and then.”

Yeah, obviously Alec was doing his darned best to live up to that fantasy for a good chunk of the book. In between his flashes of idiocy, though, there was a whole lot of entertaining stuff going on–I love Sarah MacLean’s writing! And fortunately Alec’s head is eventually removed from his posterior just in time for the super-adorable HEA.

After which I couldn’t stop smiling. I may also have clutched the ereader to my chest and sighed just a little.

Bring on book three!

Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Tour Grand Finale and Giveaway! CAROUSEL NIGHTS by Annie Denman (Starlight Point Stories #2)

On Tour with Prism Book Tours.

Book Tour Grand Finale for
Carousel Nights
By Amie Denman

We hope you enjoyed some amusement park magic and learning more about June and Mel’s story.

Don’t forget to grab a copy of the first book in the series while it’s on sale!

If you missed any of the stops, go back and check them out now…

Launch – The Starlight Point Stories

When I was a college student, I escaped textbooks and spent my summer days working at an amusement park. My experience four summers in a row became the inspiration for Starlight Point Stories published by Harlequin Heartwarming.

I Am A Reader – Summer Love

Have you ever fallen in love in the summer? I fall in love with summer every year, but I actually fell in love during summer when I worked at a seasonal resort and amusement park much like the fictional Starlight Point in my Harlequin Heartwarming series. In case you’re one of those people who likes to skip to the happy ending, I’ll let you off the hook right now. I’m still in love with the same man more than twenty years later.

Wishful Endings – Excerpt

Mel felt the air change the moment her gaze swung to him. He wasn’t foolish enough to think she brightened because of any reason except one: he was key to getting things done around Starlight Point. And she had a project in mind.

Hardcover Feedback – Review

“All in all, this was a great read. Perfect for a day at the beach, relaxing by the pool, or anytime really. I definitely recommend the book to any fan of contemporary romantic fiction.”

Katie’s Clean Book Collection – Sisters

If you have siblings, you know how much they contribute to shaping you as a person. I have three sisters with whom I’ve always been close, and I know that they have influenced me—almost always in a good way! The four of us even have a vague pact to end up in a bungalow in Key West together someday to raise a margarita glass to our gray hairs. My Starlight Point series focuses on romance, of course, but the relationship between the three siblings who inherit an amusement park is also close to my heart.

underneath the covers – Excerpt

“Mel’s familiar scent—Dial soap mixed with a little bit of sweat and motor oil—tingled her senses even with a hundred other distractions. Of course he was hard to ignore. He was standing so close their clothing touched.”

Book Lover in Florida – Excerpt

Having a good partner made a difference the size of the peninsula Starlight Point sat on. June was light and graceful, her love for the movement clear in every step and sway. Leading her as a dance partner was like being behind the wheel of a Ferrari. The only way he could go wrong was if he lost control.

EskieMama Reads – Promo

Harlie’s Books – Review

“All that makes for a great story. June and Mel were getting a second chance at love but some really big decisions needed to be made? Did I have my doubts? Nope, I knew that Ms. Denman wouldn’t do that to me. Winking face She wrote a heartwarming book that had the characters, emotional depth, and an amusement park. And dancing. 🙂

Reading Is My SuperPower – Review

Carousel Nights is fun and sweet and swoonworthy with some really great kisses and a really great setting. The chemistry between Mel and June is one that comes from years of knowing each other, from years of being in love, and yet it feels new and electric. The tension of running an amusement park – the crackle of the radio signaling another breakdown or emergency – keeps the action high and the pace steady.”

Christy’s Cozy Corners – Review

“I love this story and these characters! There is so much life in this book. The romance develops quickly but not in an unrealistic way since June and Mel have known each other forever. You will love reading this story! It is so sweet and heartwarming. I highly recommend it!”

With Love for Books – Review

“Amie Denman has chosen a fantastic setting for her series. She brings Starlight Point to life with vivid descriptions of the park itself and the plans to make it successful again. I fell in love with the place straight away. Amie Denman’s writing flows easily and it was fun to read about the rides and everyone’s response to them. It feels like the main characters really belong in the amusement park, which is something I loved about Carousel Nights. I also liked the sweet romance very much and highly recommend this lovely book.”

Bookworm Lisa – Starlight Point Amusement Park

In Carousel Nights, you’ll meet June Hamilton. She shares ownership of the family amusement park Starlight Point with her brother and her sister. Only twenty-five, she does not plan to settle in and devote her life to roller coasters, cotton candy, and the beach resort. She wants to keep dancing on Broadway, but she comes home for the summer to lend her talent to the live shows at Starlight Point.

Thoughts of a Blonde – Review

“5 STARS! Feels like a homecoming when you read a book that portrays such a sweet reunion!”

And don’t forget to nominate Amie’s book on KindleScout!

Carousel Nights
(Starlight Point Stories #2)
by Amie Denman
Adult Contemporary Romance
Mass Market Paperback & ebook, 384 pages
August 1st 2016 by Harlequin Heartwarming

Every first love deserves a second chance

June Hamilton left home to pursue her dream of dancing on Broadway. Seven years later, she has one regret: Mel Preston, her teenage crush and onetime summer love. Now a single dad and the head of maintenance at Starlight Point, her family’s amusement park, Mel’s easy smile still makes her heart beat in triple time. But June came home with a plan. She would spend the summer revitalizing the park’s aging theaters, then make a graceful exit back to the big city. Until Mel and his young son start making a powerful claim on her emotions, and June faces an impossible decision…

Carousel Nights (Starlight Point Stories)

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Other Books in the Series:

Under the Boardwalk
(Starlight Point Stories #2)
by Amie Denman
Adult Contemporary Romance
Mass Market Paperback & ebook, 384 pages
January 1st 2016 by Harlequin Heartwarming

Everyone’s counting on him

With the sudden death of his father, Jack Hamilton finds himself running the family amusement park, Starlight Point. His first job? Balance the books, and that means raising the rent for vendors like baker Augusta Murphy.

Gus won’t accept the new contract…not without a fight. She rallies the other vendors and sets out to negotiate with Jack. At least, she tries. How do you play hardball with a man who’s charming and kind and still grieving? Gus needs to figure it out fast, because the closer she gets to Jack, the more she risks losing everything.

 Under the Boardwalk

Amie Denman lives in Ohio with her husband, sons, cats, and dog. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys walking and playing outside. Born with an overdeveloped sense of curiosity, she’s been known to chase fire trucks on her bicycle just to see what’s going on. Amie believes that everything is fun: especially roller coasters, wedding cake, and falling in love.

 

 

Tour Giveaway

10 copies of the first book in the series, Under the Boardwalk (print if US, ebook if outside the US)
Open internationally
Ends September 2nd

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