New Release Review and Giveaway! CASK STRENGTH by Layla Reyne (Irish & Whiskey #2)

Title: CASK STRENGTH
Author: Layla Reyne
Release Date: May 1, 2017
Publisher: Carina Press
Series: Agents Irish & Whiskey
Genres: M/M Romantic Suspense
Word Count: 61,000
Format: Digital
ISBN: 9781488024399

 

Synopsis:

The heart’s a resilient beast…

Professionally, the FBI team of Aidan “Irish” Talley and Jameson “Whiskey” Walker is as good as it gets, closing cases faster than any team at the Bureau. Personally, it’s a different story. Aidan’s feelings for Jamie scare the hell out of him: he won’t risk losing another love no matter how heart-tripping the intimacy between them. And loss is a grim reality with the terrorist Renaud still on their trail, leaving a pile of bodies in his wake.

Going undercover on a new case gets them out of town and off the killer’s radar. They’re assigned to investigate an identity theft ring involving a college basketball team in Jamie’s home state, where Jamie’s past makes him perfect for the role of coach. But returning to the court brings more than old memories.

As secrets and shocking betrayals abound, none may be more dangerous than the one Jamie’s been keeping: a secret about the death of Aidan’s husband that could blow his partner’s world apart and destroy forever the fragile bonds of trust and love building between them.

Find out more at: Carina Press | Amazon | Google Play | Kobo | iTunes | B&N | Goodreads

Excerpt:

“I know our schedule’s fucked, but that face of yours is awfully grim.”

Startling at the full-blast Irish accent, Jamie’s head shot up and the phone slipped from his fingers, clattering to the ground. Pick it up, some instinct ordered, but he was too busy losing the rest of his fucking mind. The veneer of calm shattered and any hope of patience took a flying leap out the window.

Because standing in front of him was his stylishly dressed partner, a messenger bag over one shoulder, a coat tossed over the other, and silver-rimmed aviators nestled in waves of auburn hair. More times than he could count, Jamie had imagined Aidan with his natural hair color, and damn if the reality didn’t surpass each and every one of his fantasies.

Mouth dry, heart racing, cheeks burning, Jamie’s fingers twitched with the urge to weave through the long red strands. Reaching down instead, he grabbed his phone, held it between his palms, and wedged his clasped hands between his knees, forestalling his impulse. He tried to force out a “hello,” but his brain refused to cooperate, all the blood in his body having raced south where his jeans became painfully tight.

Fuck.

He was gone. So far gone. Past casual, past a crush, past simple attraction.

This was Aidan, sans disguises, and Jamie wanted him more than he’d ever wanted anything.

“Is it that bad a dye job?” Aidan asked, interrupting his mental breakdown.

“Ai—” he started, only to be corrected with a brogue-laced, “Ian.”

Jamie blinked, reminded that this was a disguise. It sure as hell didn’t feel like one. “I wasn’t expecting this.” His eyes raked over Aidan again, taking it all in. Dressed in jeans and a navy V-neck sweater, the dark blues set off his pale skin, the freckles, his autumn eyes, that hair…

“Fuck,” he muttered out loud.

Aidan shifted on his feet in front of him. “I said I was making a few more changes.”

“Yeah, but this—” he spread his arms wide, the motion totally inadequate “—is more than a fucking few.”

Their gazes locked, heat sparking. “Problem, Jamie?” Aidan’s eyes flickered down to the very obvious problem.

“You gotta stop that.”

He dropped his messenger bag and shrugged the coat off his shoulder. “Stop what?”

“Saying my name in that accent.”

“Mr. Walker, then,” he said with a smirk.

Way too smooth.

Jamie propped his elbows on this knees and covered his face with his hands. “God no,” he groaned. “Not that either.”

Aidan laughed as the buzzer went off on the conveyor behind them.

Leather smacked the backs of Jamie’s hands, and he snagged Aidan’s coat before it hit the ground.

Leather?

“Cover that up,” Aidan said, eyeing his crotch. “And get yourself together. Debrief in the car.” Turning, he headed for the spinning luggage carousel, giving Jamie a prime view of his sinfully fitted jeans.

Get himself together…

Yeah, right.

Copyright © 2017 Layla Reyne

Review:

I enjoyed the suspense of Cask Strength–definitely had me on the edge of my seat, especially for the last 20% or so–couldn’t put it down! Though Irish and Whiskey are mainly dealing with their new undercover case here, a major plot thread from book one ( Single Malt ) is also still a pretty big deal (and continues to be into the next book) so if you haven’t read the first book, you’re definitely going to be behind. I liked both Jamie (Whiskey) and Aidan (Irish) a lot and loved them together, though Aidan’s behavior for much of the book was pretty frustrating. It was more understandable when we saw things from his POV, but still…hopefully they’ll manage to stay in the place they are at the end of this book and not make a backward slide relationship-wise like they did between 1 and 2.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars / C+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Other books in the Agents Irish & Whiskey series:

 

SINGLE MALT

Available Now: Carina Press | Amazon | Google Play | Kobo | iTunes | B&N| Goodreads

“Sexy, smart and suspenseful – this book has it all.”—HelenKay Dimon, author of MR. & MR. SMITH

 

“SINGLE MALT is full of explosive chemistry, captivating characters, and edge-of-your-seat suspense. A must read for any romantic suspense fan!”—Megan Erickson, USA Today Bestselling Author

 

BARREL PROOF

On Sale August 7, 2017: Carina Press | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iTunes | Google Play | Goodreads

 

About Layla Reyne:

2016 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist, Layla Reyne, was raised in North Carolina and now calls San Francisco home. She enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline fueled suspense and heart pounding romance. When she’s not writing stories to excite her readers, she downloads too many books, watches too much television, and cooks too much food with her scientist husband, much to the delight of their smushed-face, leftover-loving dogs.

Connect with Layla: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads

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5 Things Readers Should Know About Dawn Alteri, Author of BURN (with a new release review and giveaway!)

5 Things Readers Should Know About Author Dawn Alteri

  1. I’ve been writing romance since I was way too young to be writing romance. When I was barely a teenager, I started scribbling age-inappropriate stories in notebooks and in three ring binders, then I’d borrow my dad’s typewriter (I’m showing my age–we didn’t have a computer yet!) to type them up in the hopes of getting them published. I never submitted them anywhere. Looking back on them now, it was probably for the best.

 

  1. I love chocolate. Like, REALLY love chocolate. From M&Ms to Godiva dark chocolate raspberry truffles to chocolate mousse, chocolate cake and even chocolate tea. There’s a chocolatier in Denmark who makes a 70% Valrhona cacao dark chocolate truffle with a French black truffle inside. It sells for $250. I’m saving up for a dozen.

 

  1. I volunteer as an animal rescue transporter, moving animals from high-kill shelters to foster homes and safe adoption centers. Although I don’t have time to do nearly as much as I’d like to, it is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. These animals know they’ve finally found a haven after facing a devastatingly uncertain future, and they look up at you with such gratitude in their eyes, it truly warms your heart. Ugh. I’m getting all weepy just thinking about it!

 

  1. I may or may not have an unhealthy obsession with Charlie Hunnam. Specifically, Charlie Hunnam as Jax Teller in Sons of Anarchy, Season 4, Episode 10. He was the inspiration for Ryan Monroe, the hero in my debut novel Burn, with his shaggy/spikey dirty blond hair, his blue-gray eyes, his fiercely protective nature concerning the woman he loved… And now I have to go watch it again.

 

  1. I’m really mad at myself for taking this long to start writing seriously! But the saying is true, better late than never. And now, I’m really, REALLY glad I finally did it.

 

Meet the Author:

A lifelong resident of northern New Jersey, Dawn Altieri has been scribbling stories practically since birth. After reaching a milestone birthday (she won’t say which one), she figured it was about time she took a shot at writing professionally.

With an overactive imagination and a slightly twisted mind, she enjoys reading dark and dangerous tales almost as much as writing them. When she’s not curled up on the sofa with her laptop, her latest story, a box of chocolates and a cup of tea (or a glass of wine, depending on the time of day), she can be found volunteering in the world of animal rescue. She shares her home with her husband and daughter, and a menagerie of rescued fur-babies.

Connect: Site | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

About the Book:

 

Chloe Addison is on the verge of a promising career in real estate development until an explosion destroys her first major project and casts suspicion on her in an arson investigation. Her career is suddenly at risk—and possibly her life.

Firefighter Ryan Monroe wants a spot on the arson team, and getting close to Chloe might be the best way to solve his first investigation. Despite a painful past of his own, Ryan has dedicated himself to saving people, and when he realizes Chloe is in danger, she’s no exception. He just might be the perfect guy to rescue her, but their attraction could bring them both down in flames.

Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

Add to Goodreads

Review:

Burn is a solid first effort. The suspense is decent–I definitely didn’t know the whole time who was behind the fires, and there’s a few red herrings thrown in to keep it interesting–and the romance is sweet, if a bit on the instalove side. I especially enjoyed the first 60% if the book–a hunky firefighter with a protective streak a mile wide? What’s not to love? 😉 It lost me a little bit after that point, though, with the continued secret keeping and Chloe and Ryan only revealing select parts of their pasts to each other but then holding the exact thing they themselves did against the other person when the truth came out–very frustrating. The climax is suitably suspenseful and dramatic, though, and the ending is cute despite it’s being rushed. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more from this author in the future.

Rating: 3 stars / C+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Giveaway:

  • $20 Amazon Gift Card

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New Release Review! WHATEVER YOU NEED by Barbara Longley (The Haneys #2)

Whatever You Need
by Barbara Longley

Synopsis:

In the second novel in award-winning author Barbara Longley’s sweet and sexy Haneys series, an introverted electrician rewires a young widow’s apartment—and attempts to mend her heart.

Painfully shy electrician Wyatt Haney is a pro at complex wiring jobs, but when it comes to women, he just can’t seem to make a lasting connection. If he had even half the courage of the superhero he penned for his comic book series, he’d finally be able to talk to his beautiful neighbor, Kayla—and stop hiding behind a hoodie. When an electrical fire breaks out in Kayla’s apartment, Wyatt comes to the rescue, sparking an attraction neither of them expected.

Kayla Malone has had enough surprises. First an unplanned pregnancy at eighteen, then losing her husband in war, and now a fire in her apartment. Thank God her hot neighbor has the skills to help. As Wyatt repairs Kayla’s apartment and forges a relationship with her son, he also makes inroads to her heart. It’s clear that Wyatt has fallen for Kayla, but is she willing to risk another heartbreak—or will she ignore the electricity between them and miss her happy ending?


Review:

Whatever You Need was a cute story and very sweet–the heroine’s little boy especially was a show stealer. (He’s almost too good, but manages to have a few mini-meltdowns that make him a tad bit more real.) This was the second in the series, but I didn’t have any problem at all not having read the first yet.

There were a few aspects that stretched credibility a bit thin–the amount of time the heroine’s misconception about the hero’s relationship status went on for, the virgin who has amazing sex and gives incredible Os the very first time (even with “research” I found it highly unlikely), the rather quick and painless way some pretty big issues were resolved toward the end–but for some light, easy reading with likable characters, you could do a lot worse. Having Wyatt draw comics in his free time was a nice touch, and Kayla putting herself through school with VA benefits made the horrible first husband storyline easier to take.

Though this won’t make it on to any of my favorite lists, there was enough that was enjoyable here; I’d probably give another book from this author a try.

Rating: 3 stars / C+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.


View all my reviews

 

 

Release Day Review and Giveaway! MEANT FOR YOU by Michelle Major

Will a ploy to impress old high school classmates turn into a second chance at love for Jenny and Owen? Find out in MEANT FOR YOU by Michelle Major.

Synopsis:

Single mom Jenny Castelli has a temper to match her red hair. When the former mean girls of her high school insult her son, Jenny fires off a big lie—that she’s engaged to a rich, handsome guy and is bringing him to their ten-year reunion. Now she needs to find the perfect fake fiancé for one night. And only one man fits the bill.

Geek turned tech entrepreneur Owen Dalton already had his heart broken by Jenny Castelli. Still, he finds himself agreeing to her proposition—even as he struggles to remember that the chemistry sparking between them isn’t real. But when Jenny’s ex makes a play for custody and Owen is forced to deal with the family who always treated him as “second best,” their arrangement suddenly becomes very personal. And that lie they’ve been telling everyone? It isn’t nearly as big as the one they’ve been telling themselves.

Review:

A second chance romance and fake relationship story? With a nerdy hero? Sign me up!

Both Jenny and Owen come into this book with baggage galore. Besides their brief past romance that ended badly, they each have more than their share of family and past relationship drama. Jenny never knew her dad and was dumped in high school by her son’s father, and now her mother is suffering from dementia. Owen, who’s never felt like he fit in to his own family, lost a fiancee to his younger brother–a fiancee who’s about to marry that younger brother in a few short weeks. Add in the fact that Jenny’s the one who torpedoed their first attempt at an HEA, and yeah, this one’s gonna be drama-filled with a capital D, with angst to spare.

Jenny drove me a little nuts with her insistence that she and Owen couldn’t possibly have a future together. I mean, I get her hangups about being left–first her dad, then Cooper’s–but her original freak out that ended relationship number 1 with Owen? I had a hard time feeling the panic behind her actions. Maybe that’s because we only heard about it afterwards–it happened before the events of this story–but we get it from both her and Owen’s POVs, and either way it left me feeling kind of…meh. This means I spent 90% of the book feeling vaguely annoyed with her, which was a bit of a bummer, but Owen and Cooper did their slightly geeky, manly best to keep me distracted from that fact.

Though I really did like Owen, Jenny’s son Cooper stole the show in this one. He’s polite and respectful towards adults, but with a mercenary streak a mile wide when it comes to looking out for his mom. Plus, you’ve got to love the kid who’s so invested in his mother’s fake relationship that he’s the one who comes up with their “how we got engaged” story (it involved enchiladas…and fried ice cream…and a fireworks display–though Owen nixed the latter element as too much, party pooper that he is) 😉

Though it’s not listed as part of a series, Meant for You has characters from at least three other Michelle Major books: Kissing Mr. Right , Recipe for Kisses , and Tell Me Again –the heroines of each are part of Jenny’s group of friends, and Ty (aka “Mr. Right”) is both Jenny’s original BFF and friends with Owen. I’ve only read Ty and Kendall’s book prior to this one, though; so reading Meant for You as a standalone should work out just fine.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars / C+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Buy:
Amazon

Add to your Goodreads TBR pile!

 

 

About Michelle Major:

Michelle Major grew up in Ohio but dreamed of living in the mountains. More than twenty years ago, she pointed her car west and settled in Colorado. Today her home includes her husband, their two children, several furry pets, and a couple of well-behaved reptiles. She’s grateful to have found her passion for writing stories with happy endings

Connect with Michelle: Newsletter | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

 

 

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New Release Review and Giveaway! LAW AND DISORDER by Heather Graham (The Finnegan Connection #1)

Synopsis:

Trust the enemy?

Desperate to escape her kidnappers, Kody Cameron can turn to only one man…and he’s holding a gun. Outnumbered and trapped in the deadly Everglades, she has little recourse, but something in this captor’s eyes makes her believe she can trust him. Does she dare to take the risk?

Undercover agent Nick Connolly has met Kody before and knows she might very well blow his cover. Though determined to maintain his facade, he can’t let Kody die. He won’t. And his decision to change his own rules of law and order are about to make all hell break loose.

 

Review:

A fairly quick read; I believe this book (first in The Finnegan Connection) is at least loosely connected to another series–a number of characters were briefly mentioned and/or made appearances here who were familiar to both Kody and Nick–but as a series starter it worked just fine as a standalone.

The romance here takes a second seat to the suspense/action plot, which is fine–we get our fill later on, when (we think!) the danger has passed. Or has it? 😉 The setting was intriguing (though a bit over-described at times)–it really made me want to visit the Everglades, though I have to admit doing so at gunpoint would not be my first choice. I was entertained by the story even if not quite drawn into it–some pretty big coincidences, and the plot was a bit thin in parts–still, I’d be interested to see where this series will head next.

Rating: 3 stars / C+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

 

About the author:

For more information, check out her websites: TheOriginalHeatherGraham.comeHeatherGraham.com, and HeatherGraham.tv. You can also find Heather on FacebookTwitter and YouTube.

 

 

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New Release Review and Giveaway! PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES by Stacey Trombley (Off Limits #1)

Pushing the Boundaries (Off Limits #1)
by Stacey Trombley
Publication Date: January 16, 2017
Publisher:  Entangled Teen Crush

 

Myra goes to Haiti with one goal: take the photograph that will win a scholarship and prove to her uber-traditional family that she has what it takes to be a photographer instead of a doctor. Her camera has always been her shield against getting too close to anyone, but she didn’t expect the hot teen translator who has an ability to see past her walls.

Elias needs his job as a translator to provide for his siblings. He can’t afford to break the rule forbidding him from socializing with a client. Except this girl Myra insists on going outside the city to capture the perfect picture, and he steps in as her guide in order to keep her safe.

The deeper they travel into the country, the harder they fall for each other. Now they’re both taking risks that could cost each other their dreams.

If they get too close—it could ruin both their lives.

 

Excerpt:

Chapter Two

Elias

The roar of the planes overhead is just another reminder of how insignificant we are in this tiny forgotten country. Stuck. My little brother watches through the chain-link fence, eyes wide, mouth open as they soar over us, so close the air sends ripples through our clothing.

“Kouman rich ou panse yo ye?” he asks without taking his eyes from the huge white plane. How rich do you think they are? I mentally translate to English. I need all the practice I can get. My palms sweat just thinking about it, and my first test is just minutes away.

“Who?” I ask.

He turns to me and blinks his big eyes, his eyebrows high in question. Oh, right.

“Ki moun?” I repeat in Creole so he’ll understand me.

My stomach sinks. I can’t even get this right with my little brother. The whole double language thing is harder than I expected. I need it to be easy if I’m going to be any good at my job.

“Moun nan avyon yo.” The people in the planes!

I shake my head, but he doesn’t see. I explain that there are hundreds of people in those planes. Some are probably rich, and some are probably poor.

“Yo ap toujou pi rich pase nou, dwa?” he asks.

I sigh. If they can afford a plane ticket… “Chans.” Yes, they are likely wealthier than us.

Our world is tiny, a country that is only half an island. To people who can afford a plane, the world is limitless.

My pocket buzzes, making me jump. I fumble with the little plastic device and flip it open. “Hello!” I say, pressing the phone against my face.

“Elias! Pull the van around. They just landed.”

“Yes, Mr. Rowland.”

“Remember that line we talked about? Don’t step over it.”

My head swims. There’s so much for me to remember, but the most important? Don’t get too close to the Americans. Mr. Rowland made it very clear that I’m not one of them and I shouldn’t expect anything from them. If I make any of them uncomfortable I’ll be out of a job faster than one of their huge planes can take off.

“Yes, sir.”

There’s a click and then silence. I put the foreign technology back in my pocket and hope he doesn’t call again.

Luke grabs at my pocket, seeking out the phone, his eyes alight with envy. “Ki jan ou fè jwenn yon telefòn?”

I swat his hand away. The phone is not mine. It’s Mr. Rowland’s. “E si ou kraze li?” What if you break it?

Luke rolls his eyes but then shuffles his feet.

He may only be eight, but he knows what this job means for us. I’m only eighteen, with a chance for the kind of job that will keep his belly full, permanently. Not to mention our mother and sister.

I point across the parking lot and tell him to get to the van. It’s time to work.

Luke’s eyes get big again, and I smile. He runs to the parking lot, fast as a bullet, jumping up and down once he reaches the van. I unlock the door, and he climbs in, looking tiny in the massive vehicle.

We pull up to the front of the airport to wait for the Americans, and I try not to let myself get too worked up. The more nervous I am, the harder this will be.

“Ou jwenn yon telefon, yon ti bis, e al rankontre tou Ameriken yo. Pi bon travay pou lavi!” You get a phone, a van, and get to meet all the Americans. Best job ever.

I roll my eyes and tell him to keep working on his English and maybe he can have a job like this someday, too.

I take in a deep breath. To him, this is an adventure.

To me, it’s dangerous.

 

Review:

Pushing the Boundaries has a fairly unique premise–a Pakistani American girl goes (against her will) with her doctor mother on a service trip to Haiti to work in a medical clinic and becomes involved with their teenaged Haitian interpreter/driver, and problems ensue. Myra and Elias are from different worlds–literally–and it seems as if their relationship can’t realistically be more than a bittersweet memory of a first love experience…or can it?

I enjoyed a look into a different world–like Myra, I wanted to see what Haiti looked like beyond the clinic and rented home she was shuttled between, thought the way she chooses to get out nearly causes more problems than positive experiences. Her self-centeredness and tendency to think of herself first and of others (maybe) second made her difficult to like at times, though she does grow up more toward the end, garnering more sympathy for her character. Elias is much easier to like overall, though his chapters tended to be too short to really get to know him and his life as much as I’d like to.

There’s a touch of insta-love here (though it is their “first love” experience, so that’s not exactly out of character) and I’m still processing how I feel about the way things are left at the end–a too quick and easy solution? The rich Americans coming in and making everything all better?–the jury’s still out on that part. This is being billed as the first in a series, and if the other book(s) are going to continue Myra and Elias’s story, I am interested in seeing where it is going to go.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars / C+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Purchase Links:

Amazon.com
B&N
iBooks
Kobo
Amazon.com.au
Amazon.com.uk
Amazon.ca

Follow the tour here!

 

About the Author:

Stacey Trombley lives in Ohio with her husband and the sweetest Rottweiler you’ll ever meet. She thinks people are fascinating and any chance she has, she’s off doing or learning something new. She went on her first mission trip to Haiti at age twelve and is still dying to go back. Her “places to travel” list is almost as long as her “books to read” list.

Her debut novel Naked released from Entangled Teen in 2015. Find her online at www.StaceyTrombley.com and on twitter @trombolii.

 

Website – http://www.staceytrombley.com/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Trombolii
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/StaceyTrombleyAuthor
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/trombolii/
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/tromboli/
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8475704.Stacey_Trombley

Giveaway Information: 

Pushing the Boundaries Prize Pack including:

* Signed copy of Naked by Stacey Trombley

* Signed copy of Pushing the Boundaries by Stacey Trombley

* Haitian Art as shown in the photo

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New Release Review and Giveaway! DYLAN by Melissa Foster (Bad Boys After Dark #2, Billionaires After Dark #6)

One night and too much tequila might change their lives forever. 
 
BAD BOYS AFTER DARK: DYLAN
Bad Billionaires After Dark #2
Melissa Foster
Releasing Dec 21st, 2016
World Literary Press
Sinfully sexy bar owner Dylan Bad has a thing for needy women. He’s a savior, a knight in shining armor, and his mighty talented sword has no trouble bringing damsels in distress to their knees.
Enter Tiffany Winters, a gorgeous cutthroat sports agent who looks like sex on legs, fucks like she’s passion personified, and wouldn’t let a man help her if she was hanging onto a ledge and he was her only hope. One night and too much tequila might change their lives forever. The question is, will either one survive?

With her phone pressed to her ear, Tiffany Winters ducked out of the rain and into the Kiss, an eclectic Manhattan bar, to return calls and take care of a mountain of text messages that had piled up during her dinner meeting. She listened to her client’s wife explain why she didn’t want her husband traveling too often to endorse a hotel chain Tiffany was planning on pitching to him next week. Her client had already nixed any mention of his family in the advertisements, and reducing his travel would make it an even harder sell.

“I hear your concern, Allison,” she said as she sat on a barstool. “If you and Matt decide this isn’t the right thing for your family, we’ll turn our efforts in another direction.” As a sports agent, dealing with significant others was part of the job, a part Tiffany enjoyed and other agents rued. Sure, some wives assumed their husband’s success granted them the power to be overly demanding. Ass kissing was part of the game. Sometimes she wished she could give the meeker wives lessons in how to be tough. Teach them to have balls as big as their husbands’ and come right out and say what they meant instead of beating around the bush with bullshit hypotheticals. She reminded herself often that not every woman grew up in a testosterone-laden house with two competitive older brothers and a father who won the Heisman in college and went on to play pro sports—a house where mincing words didn’t cut the mustard.

“You missed the wedding.”

The deep male voice drew Tiffany’s attention from her phone call to the fine specimen of a man standing behind the bar. He looked like he’d just stepped off a Hot Guys in Suits Pinterest page. His tie hung loosely around the collar of his white dress shirt, which was open three buttons deep, revealing a smattering of dark chest hair, a rarity nowadays, when so many men manscaped every inch of their bodies. Tiffany preferred a man to look like a man, which included hair in all the right places. His sleeves were rolled up to his elbows, exposing heavily corded forearms, and his jacket hung casually from two fingers over his left shoulder. Her fingers itched to send the last few buttons—and that jacket—flying to the floor. The guy’s chiseled jaw and dark eyes were movie-star classic, and his dark hair was thick enough to hang on to. She’d had a long, hard day, and he looked like he could provide a long, hard, pleasure-filled night.

Perfect.

Holding his gaze, she spoke into the phone as he laid his jacket across the bar, giving her the impression he wasn’t the bartender, but rather a guest who’d happened to wander back there. “Allison, I’ll see what else I can come up with and get back to you. Right. Okay, hon. Thank you.” After ending the call, she responded to the stud behind the bar. “Wedding? Who gets married at a bar?”

“My brother, for one.” He nodded across the room to a group of men and women who were holding their glasses up in a toast.

She zeroed in on one she recognized as her tall, dark colleague. “Mick Bad is married?” The high-powered attorney was a workaholic like her, and he’d been unattached two months earlier, when they’d worked together on a deal for one of her clients. She’d never understand couples who claimed to fall in love practically overnight. Love was a crutch for weak people who needed someone else to lean on. Except Mick Bad had never needed anyone to lean on. She wondered if his new bride was pregnant.

“The one and only.” Hot guy’s eyes took a long, luxurious stroll down her body, lingered on her breasts, then roamed north, hovering around her mouth, before finally meeting her gaze. He flashed a wolfish grin full of sinful promises.

“Dylan Bad at your service.”

Pushing thoughts of her newly married colleague’s expedient nuptials aside, she focused on his very available brother. A definite player, which was fine with her. She had no time—or interest—in anything but a quick hookup, and the six-two or -three stud had already shot to the top of tonight’s fantasy list.

“What’s your pleasure?” he asked with more than a hint of innuendo.

You. Naked, with your head buried between my legs, to start.

“Surprise me.” She watched him turn to prepare her drink and checked out the way his dark slacks hugged his perfect ass. It had been a long time since she’d found a man this attractive. But Mick Bad’s brother? That spelled trouble.

Dylan, as part of the After Dark series, is much steamier than a lot of Ms. Foster’s other books–be warned! Cupcake batter may be used for nefarious reasons 😉

Bar owner Dylan Bad is ready to settle down, and on the night of his older brother’s wedding he believes he might have finally met the one. The only problem? Tiffany Winters is already married–to her job as a very successful sports agent. She’s been burned by love before, and anyway, she’s much too busy for anything more time consuming than a one night stand.

Okay, maybe two nights. She’s only human–and he’s Dylan.

It was entertaining watching Dylan do all he could to win Tiffany over–and she made him work for it, not being a flowers and chocolates kind of girl. He never gave up, though, and that was a huge check mark in his favor.

Tiffany had a lot of issues to work through, not only with her fear of relationships but also her need to have total control over every aspect of her business. When she meets Dylan, she’s available to her clients 24/7, and even her vacationing assistant is texting her about business from the beach, with neither of them thinking anything of it. Tiffany spends much of the first few weeks of their relationship waiting for Dylan to be tired of her giving so much of herself to her career and ending things…which (spoiler alert) isn’t going to happen, because romance.

Honestly, though, the whole is-Dylan-going-to-get-tired-of-her-job question is the biggest conflict in the story, and it really doesn’t feel like it’s enough. Tiffany’s really the only person who thinks it’s going to be a problem–the reader isn’t concerned about it, even for a second, because we see things from his POV and we know better. As a result, this is a sweet and steamy story with likable characters, but without a whole lot of dramatic umph.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars / C+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

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Melissa Foster is a New YorkTimes & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance, new adult romance, and women’s fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Melissa’s emotional journeys are lovingly erotic, perfect beach reads, and always family oriented.

 

 

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New Release Review and Giveaway! SEASIDE WHISPERS by Melissa Foster

Will their whispers of love be enough for one of them  to change their life forever?
SEASIDE WHISPERS
Seaside Summers #8
Melissa Foster
Releasing Nov 30th, 2016

Having a mad crush on her boss’s son, Matt Lacroux—an intriguing mix of proper gentleman and flirtatious bad boy—is probably not the smartest idea for single mother Mira Savage. Especially when the company, and her job, is already on shaky ground. But as a Princeton professor, Matt’s life is hours away from Mira’s home on Cape Cod, keeping him safely in the fantasy-only zone. And as a single mother to six-year-old Hagen, with a floundering company to save, fantasies are all she has time for.

With hopes of becoming dean off the table, and too many months of longing for a woman who lived too far away to pursue, Matt’s publishing contract couldn’t have come at a better time. He heads home to Cape Cod on a brief sabbatical, intent on starting his book, and finally getting his arms around sweet, seductive Mira.

A surprise encounter leads to white-hot passions and midnight confessions. The more time Matt and Mira spend together, the deeper their relationship grows, and the love and attention Matt showers on Hagen is more than she has ever dreamed of. But Matt’s sabbatical is only temporary, and Mira’s not saving his father’s company so she can leave it behind. Will their whispers of love be enough for one of them to change their life forever?

tastytoursexcerpt

Chapter One

MATT LACROUX NEEDED a shower, a vacation, and to figure out what the hell he was doing with his life—in that order. And sex. Sex would be good. It had been a long time since he’d had a warm, willing woman in his bed instead of a research project to work on, papers to grade, or notes to coordinate on the book he was writing. In fact, now that he was thinking about it, he might move sex up to the top of his list—if he didn’t have someone else’s blood on his hands.

He tugged off his torn shirt, tossed it in the hamper, and turned on the shower. He’d been back on Cape Cod for less than three hours and had already broken up a fight between drunken college kids over by the Bookstore Restaurant, where he’d eaten dinner and thought he would write for a while. Maybe he should have done what so many other professors did when they took a sabbatical and gone to a nice resort somewhere, or holed up in a mountain cabin. He could have stayed at his cottage on Nantucket, but he missed his family, and his father wasn’t getting any younger. Plus, his siblings’ joint wedding was only two months away. It was taking place on their mother’s birthday, to honor her memory. It was time to reconnect.

His mind drifted to the other person he’d like to reconnect with, Mira Savage, his father’s employee and the woman who had been occupying Matt’s thoughts since he met her last summer at his younger brother Grayson’s engagement party. They’d spent the entire day together with her adorable son, Hagen. He’d seen her half a dozen times since, during brief visits home. They’d taken Hagen to the park together and a few other places, although they’d never gone on an official date. They’d exchanged occasional texts over the weeks in between, but that was as far as it had gone. It being Matt’s attraction to a woman who lived too many hours away to get involved with. Mira wasn’t the type of woman whose life he could complicate with intermittent encounters. She was a selfless woman who put her son and others first. The type of woman who blushed when he got too close. The type of woman a man took the time to get to know—almost a year, that’s pretty damn long—to show her she could trust him, a woman who should be taken care of and protected but not smothered. And she was the only woman he’d like to undress slowly, loving every inch of her incredible body until she was trembling with need and slick as a baby seal. Keeping himself in check had been like dancing on hot coals, but he’d never stopped thinking about the sexy single mother and her inquisitive son.

He stripped off his slacks and stepped into the shower, turning the faucet to cold now that he was hot and bothered over Mira. He closed his eyes and exhaled a long breath. One thing at a time.

The water shifted from his head to his back, and Matt looked up at the faucet, which promptly fell, clipping his cheekbone.

“Ouch! What the—” He grabbed his cheek and pulled away from the water spraying in all directions from the broken spigot. Perfect. Just perfect. He washed the fresh blood from his fingers and quickly rinsed off.

He stepped from the shower and dried off, eyeing the offending fixture. The damn thing had a crack around the housing and rust on the inside. He’d rented his friends’ cottage in the Seaside community for the summer. The place was in great shape, but things like showerheads were easy to miss when renovating. It was after nine o’clock, and Amy and Tony had a little girl. Matt wasn’t about to bother them about a freaking bathroom fixture. He pulled on clean clothes and called his father, who owned Lacroux Hardware Store.

“Hey, Pop. Is the electronic code to your shop still Mom’s birthday?” His father had been talking about retiring lately. The hardware store was meant to be the family legacy, passed down to one of his five children, only none of them wanted to take it over. But right this very moment, Matt had never been so glad that his father was in the hardware business. The Cape wasn’t big on chain stores. The closest Home Depot or Target was a good forty minutes away.

“Yes. What’s wrong?”

“I need a showerhead for Tony’s place.”

“Want me to run one up to you?”

Neil Lacroux would do anything for his children—even though they were all grown up. Matt knew he’d been lonely since their mother passed away unexpectedly from an aneurysm a few years ago, which was another reason he’d chosen to come back home during his sabbatical. He made a mental note to stop by the store and visit with him.

“I’ve got it, Pop. Sorry to bother you.”

The drive to Orleans took only a few minutes. Even though Matt had grown up on the Cape, it always took him a day or two to adjust to being out of the city. Slacks and button-downs were replaced with shorts and tank tops, people moved at a more relaxed pace, and no matter how far from the beach he was, sand was ever-present. Sand in the grass, sand on the floors, sand on the seat of his car—and he hadn’t even been to the beach yet.

He punched in the code to the security keypad, and the minute he was inside the dark store, he heard it. Tap, tap, tap. He froze, every neuron on high alert, and listened. Tap, tap, tap, tap, pause, tap, tap, tap. It was coming from his father’s office. His arms instinctively flexed, preparing for a fight. He moved swiftly and silently to the office door and listened to the incessant tapping. Dad’s calculator?

He pushed the door open, and his body flooded with awareness at the sight of Mira sitting at the desk, her fingers flying over the calculator. Maybe this was his lucky night after all.

Her hand flew to her chest. “Matt…?” His name came out all breathy. “You scared me. I had no idea you were in town.”

Because I made a point of wanting to surprise you, although not exactly like this.

“Sorry about that, sunshine. I just got in a little while ago. I came to get a showerhead.” He walked into the small office, taking in the ledger on the desk, illuminated by his father’s ancient single-bulb lamp, and the family photos thumbtacked to the wall. He noticed a new photograph front and center, a picture of Hagen holding a fishing rod with a little sunfish dangling from the line. He knew how much Mira and Hagen meant to his father, but seeing Hagen’s photo among their family’s brought the full impact home. He shifted his gaze to Mira, and as the shock of his arrival wore off, a beautiful smile spread across her face. There it was, the brightness that had hooked him all those months ago. The sweet look of innocence and rebellious I-can-take-on-the-world confidence in her gorgeous eyes. She had no idea what she did to him.

“Sunshine,” she whispered, and shook her head.

“You can’t deny the way you light up everything around you.” He’d given her the nickname last summer because she had such a positive outlook on life.

“You should see me before I have coffee in the mornings.”

I’d like that more than you know.

“A showerhead? Let me show you where they are.” She pushed to her feet, nearly bumping into his chest in the close quarters. Her chestnut hair tumbled sexily over her shoulders as she stood before him, one hand perched over his chest, the other reaching up to touch his cheek. “What happened?”

Their attraction had been immediate and intense last summer and had only grown stronger with each subsequent visit—at least he knew it had for him. For months he’d buried any hope of exploring their connection beneath classes and research papers. Now, as she gazed into his eyes, all those heated memories came rushing back.

“I was assaulted by the old one.”

“Ouch.” She grimaced, and the spray of freckles on the bridge of her nose rose with the effort.

He hadn’t been able to get that cute mannerism out of his head when he’d gone back to Princeton, and damn, did he like seeing it again.

“You might need a stitch.” Her fingers lingered on his skin, warm and soft.

He covered her hand with his, pressing it to his cheek. “It’s nothing, really.”

She nibbled nervously on the corner of her mouth. “I’ll just…” She pointed out of the office, and her hand slid from beneath his. Her breasts brushed against his arm as she walked away, stirring more of that same dark attraction.

There was no shortage of women vying for Matt’s attention. From coeds to faculty, he could have his pick back in Princeton, and the choices were just as plentiful here at the Cape. But the only woman he saw when he closed his eyes at night was heading down aisle seven of his father’s hardware store.

tastytoursreview
Another sweet, sexy read from Ms. Foster!

It’s easy to fall for Mira, Matt, and Hagen (Mira’s precocious six-year-old son). They are just so adorable together, and grow more adorable as the story continues. (A six-year-old who wants to spend his vacation visiting libraries and the boyfriend who’s going to take him. Seriously, this has to be fiction, right? ;))

For fans of the series, I’m pretty sure every other Seaside Summers couple makes an appearance in this one, as usual. If you haven’t read all or any of them, no worries, because Whispers works just fine as a standalone. It’ll be next to impossible to keep straight who’s married to whom and which kid(s) belong to them, but really, that’s the only issue. It’s kind of like briefly spending time at someone else’s family party–you don’t really know that many people, but they’re all so friendly and having such a good time you pretty much just go with the flow.

Speaking of going with the flow…that’s really my only criticism of this one. There’s a whole lot of smooth sailing going on throughout, without really much in the way of tension or drama. It’s pretty clear from page one that Matt and Mira have it bad for each other and that Hagen’s not going to have a problem with his mom’s new guy. Sure, there’s the question of Matt’s and Mira’s jobs, but those are resolved without much fuss or worry and neither the reader nor the characters are in much suspense about it. A few times someone tries to muster up some concern about it (mostly Mira) but it’s kind of hard to really take it seriously, because, really. Matt’s been complaining about doing research and grading papers since page one. It’s pretty obvious where he’s going with that decision.

So, if you want a book with a strong conflict that tests its characters and puts readers through the wringer, this isn’t it. But if you’re looking for a sweet and gentle story with the added spice of some pretty sexy scenes, give it a try. And if you’re a fan of the series anyway? It’s pretty much a no-brainer.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars / C+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book

 

Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance, new adult romance, and women’s fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Melissa’s emotional journeys are lovingly erotic, perfect beach reads, and always family oriented.  

 

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New Release Review! THE BACHELOR’S PROMISE by Naima Simone (Bachelor Auction, #3)

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The Bachelor’s Promise
by Naima Simone
Bachelor Auction #3
Publication Date: August 29, 2016
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Indulgence, Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Aiden Kent never expected to see Noelle Rana again. He’s determined to keep his distance from the beautiful enigma wrapped in denim and leather. He can’t trust anyone with the last name Rana. But he made a promise to his dying mother, and it isn’t long before Noelle invades his personal space. He can’t stop thinking about the exotic beauty’s alluring curves.He wants the daughter of his enemy, and he’s determined to have her…if only for one night.

If Noelle wants to move forward with her life, she must make a deal with the devastatingly gorgeous, broody millionaire Aiden. He made a promise years ago, and she’s come to collect—even if it means facing down the only man who ever broke her heart. And there’s a really good chance he’ll do it again.

the-bachelors-promise-teaser-3

Excerpt:

“What exactly do you want from me, Noelle?” Aiden shifted forward, his tone hardening, the patrician lines of his face sharpening.

Noelle inhaled a deep breath…a big mistake. His clean, fresh, rain-and-earth scent filled her until she could practically taste it. Taste him.

The hell? Where had that thought come from? Whatever feelings she’d once had for him had been ground under the heel of humiliation, rejection, and pain.

“I need you to pay my graduate-school tuition.” She paused. “For Boston University.”

“Boston University,” he repeated, ice dripping from each syllable. “You’re applying to Boston University.”

“Have applied,” she corrected, voice soft. Wary. “And have been accepted with a partial scholarship. I start in January. I can cover all of my other expenses. Only the rest of the tuition has to be paid.”

“What are you playing at, Noelle?” he growled. Anger seemed to radiate from him, beating at her. “Of all the cities and colleges, you choose here? Do you think I’m stupid? I’m not one of your father’s marks. You can’t con me. What else aren’t you telling me?”

“Nothing,” she insisted, insulted. “I have an apartment and a job. I arranged those before I left Chicago. I’ve been providing for myself and others for years without your assistance, and I really don’t want it now, but I have no choice.”

Screw this. Yes, her father hadn’t been a model citizen—unless it was a citizen of the Cook County DOC. But she wasn’t him. Damn if she’d let him—him—make her feel…dirty. Unworthy.

She stalked forward, allowing anger and hurt—yes, damn it, hurt—to propel her forward when caution would’ve been prudent…safer.

“Look, believe what you want. I could quote the damn Bible from Joseph to Jesus, and it wouldn’t change your opinion or erase your suspicions. But if you think coming to you and asking for help was easy, then all those millions have made you soft in the head.” She snorted, shaking her head. “At this moment, though, I need you to keep your promise to Caroline more than I care about offending your tender sensibilities with my presence. She wanted me to have the money. So how about this? Send the tuition payment directly to the university, and you don’t have to worry about seeing me again. You can go on pretending I don’t exist, and I can forego the pleasure of you staring at me like I’m something you scraped off the bottom of your shoe.”

Giving him a tight smile, she pivoted and marched for the door, desperate to escape the room before she did something stupid…like allow the tears stinging her eyes to fall. Damn it! She’d been teased, bullied, and sneered at more times than she could remember, much less count. Yet none of those mean girls or leering guys who assumed she was an easy fuck just because of her last name had been able to drag one tear from her.

Only Aiden possessed that power.

Damn him.

“Noelle, we’re not finished. Don’t you walk out that door.”

Like hell she wouldn’t. She was a grown-ass woman. Self-sufficient. Mature.

So she did the only thing a grown-ass, self-sufficient, mature woman could do in her situation…

She flipped him off and walked out.

the-bachelors-promise-teaser-2

Review:

Just in case you’ve been missing the summer heat (which has not been an issue up here, thanks!) pick up The Bachelor’s Promise by Naima Simone–whoa, does it generate a lot of steam! Noelle and Aiden have a past–one with a foundation of secret longings that, just as things had started to get interesting, came to an abrupt, and seemingly permanent, end.

Except now it’s several years later and Noelle’s in a jam. She’d been trying to do it on her own, but caring for her father has left her resources depleted. If she wants to ever make her dream of owning her own art gallery happen, she needs to swallow her pride, find Aiden, and ask him to honor the promise his mother had made him give as she lay on her deathbed–to gift Noelle with the funds needed for school. She’s managed to work her way through undergrad; it’s a graduate degree she needs help with.

The Bachelor’s Promise of the title is taken care of early on–Aiden honors his mother’s wishes almost without argument. But staying away from Noelle (his wishes–not his mother’s!) proves impossible when he offers (sans prior promises, this time!) to help her out of another dilemma she finds herself in. The more they’re together, the more the sparks are flying…hence the aforementioned steamy scenes. There’s a lot of them. They’re definitely NSFW…even on my lunch break, they were a bit much. But I persevered 😉

So…all that’s left is for Aiden to find a way to get past his issues and prejudices against Noelle’s family (they’re doozies) so they can get to their HEA. I do have to admit, I didn’t have a clue what his actual main issue was–but once Noelle pointed it out, everything totally clicked. Yep, makes sense! Unfortunately, it took Aiden another chapter and a half to come to the same realization. (But his grand gesture’s a good one–and goes pretty far toward making up for his earlier butt-headedness.)

There were a few elements of the story that bothered me a bit, hence the 1.5 star reduction. There was a bit of unnecessary repetition (Noelle reflecting to herself three, maybe four separate times about when she overheard her brother telling her dad about how he had betrayed Aiden–nothing new was added any of those times, so why tell us again? Each seemed like it was supposed to be a revelation, but we’d already heard about it.) Also, the “bachelor’s auction” part of the storyline is conveniently forgotten about halfway through–Aiden never shows up for a date he had made with the woman who “won” him (he was supposed to have been on his way to meet her, but got…uh, sidetracked.) No mention is made of him rescheduling or making any future arrangements with her…ever. She’s mentioned by minor characters one more time, but we never see him fulfilling his side of the many-thousands-of-dollars deal. What gives? Okay, it was for charity, but she’s going to want a return on her investment all the same, right? It made the auction feel like nothing more than a flimsy excuse to bring Noelle and Aiden together–the lack of follow through was bothersome.

The Bachelor’s Promise is the third book in the series, but it works fine as a standalone. Aiden’s business partner was the hero of book one ( Beauty and the Bachelor ) and there’s references to his story, but we’re told the important bits we need to know about it. If the second couple is mentioned at all, it went over my head completely since I didn’t look up the synopses for the other books until after finishing this one. (Spoiler alert: they’re on my TBR now.)

Rating: 3 1/2 stars/ C+

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

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CATCH UP WITH THE OTHER BOOKS IN THE BACHELOR AUCTION SERIES…
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Synopsis:

Billionaire Lucas Oliver is hell bent on revenge. And his plan begins when Sydney Blake—the stunning daughter of his enemy—is tricked into bidding on Lucas at a bachelor auction. Then he serves up a little blackmail…followed by a marriage proposal Sydney has no choice but to accept.

Sydney has been controlled by her family her whole life. When Lucas threatens to reveal her father’s shady business, she is once again forced to do her duty for her family. But worse—oh so much worse—is the rush of lust that Lucas ignites in her blood.

Lucas is determined to make Sydney suffer, but it’s tough when he can’t keep from touching her–or thinking about touching her–all the time. She’s not fairing much better since she’s engaged to a darkly handsome beast intent on destroying her entire family…along with her heart.

The Millionaire Makeover #2 Cover

Synopsis:

He promised to stay away…but some promises are made to be broken

Plain-Jane computer programmer Khloe Richardson needs a date—one to make the prince of her dreams jealous. Maybe then he’ll finally see her as a desirable swan and not the ugly duckling in the second office from the left.

But when she bids on a bachelor at a charity auction, the man she wins is millionaire Niall Hunter—who once made intense, passionate love to her and then left without a word. She’s determined not to let her guard down again—among other things—around the infamous Irish lothario.

Niall never imagined his penance for one hot-as-hell night with his best friend’s little sister would be transforming her from a shy wallflower to a sultry siren. Helping her attract another man is torture…especially when he promised his friend he’d stay away. Plus, she wants forever, and he’s not a forever kind of guy. But Niall can’t stop wanting her. Can’t stop touching her. Can’t stop, period. And damn if he can remember why he has to…

ABOUT NAIMA SIMONE:
Naima Simone

Naima Simone’s love of romance was first stirred by Johanna Lindsey, Sandra Brown and Linda Howard many years ago. Well not that many. She is only eighteen…ish. Though her first attempt at a romance novel starring Ralph Tresvant from New Edition never saw the light of day, her love of romance, reading and writing has endured. Published since 2009, she spends her days—and nights— creating stories of unique men and women who experience the first bites of desire, the dizzying heights of passion, and the tender, healing heat of love.

She is wife to Superman, or his non-Kryptonian, less bullet proof equivalent, and mother to the most awesome kids ever. They all live in perfect, sometimes domestically-challenged bliss in the southern United States.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Newsletter | Amazon Author Profile

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New Release Review and Giveaway! THE BEST FRIEND BARGAIN by Robin Bielman (Kisses in the Sand #3)

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The Best Friend Bargain
by Robin Bielman
Kisses in the Sand #2
Publication Date: August 8, 2016
Genres: Adult, Entangled Lovestruck, Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Olivia Lincoln has a plan guaranteed to get her life back on track. A plan that involves her best friend, Danny. And he’s on board, too…until she blurts out that they’re engaged and expecting a baby, and the news spreads like wildfire.

The problem? Danny doesn’t do marriage. Or family. And everyone knows it, including Olivia.

As irritated as he might be, protecting Olivia is what Danny does. But put best friends under one roof, add house rules begging to be broken, accidental nakedness, and pancakes in bed, and what started as a marriage between friends threatens to turn into the real deal…which would ruin everything.

The Best Friend Bargain Teaser 1

Excerpt:

“Sorry,” she murmured. “But we’re having a wedding.”

Danny took her hand and gave a gentle tug so she had to follow him. “Instead of a swear jar, I’m going to start a sorry jar and charge you a dollar for every time you say it.” He led her to the couch. “Knock it off, okay?” He propped an extra pillow behind her back and sat far enough away for her to straighten her legs and put her feet in his lap.

She’d baked him chocolate chip cookies this morning. It was payback time.

“When?” he asked, taking her heel and massaging the bottom of her foot.

It took her a minute to realize he meant the wedding. “New Year’s Eve.”

“Where?”

“Backyard.”

He let out a breath. “Okay. Sounds good.”

“No it doesn’t.” She knew he was just appeasing her.

“It does actually. My original concern had to do with family and friends making a big production of it, but I can deal with something small. We’re friends doing this for a good reason, Liv, and a ceremony means something to you.”

Friends. She was starting to hate that word. She understood his explanation, but because he obviously wasn’t feeling any of the new sensations between them that she was, he didn’t see the harm in his casual attitude.

He rubbed the ball of her foot, making her sink a little further into the couch.

Silence rained between them like a hailstorm. She had to tell him about the unwelcome but stubborn desires making her hot and needy before she acted on impulse and did something stupid like jump him.

“Things are different,” she whispered to her lap, unable to meet his eyes when she admitted that.

When he didn’t answer right away, she looked up.

Pain filled the line between his furrowed brows, but agreement and…she couldn’t take a breath for a moment…heat shimmered in his direct gaze. “Yeah.”

Her toes started to tingle, the buzz continuing up her legs and spreading over every inch of her skin. He shared her crazy attraction. Comfort mixed with desire. “I should leave.”

“No. I want you to stay.”

A thrill moved up her spine. So did fear and uncertainty. “I’d die if anything happened to our friendship, Danny.”

“Nothing—”

“They say relationships ruin the best friendships, you know.”

He gave her the look that said, “Are you finished?” She pressed her lips together.

“Nothing is going to happen between us, Liv. Not like that. It will pass, whatever this is. I think we’re just straddling a line we never imagined we’d find ourselves standing on. It’s not your fault,” he was quick to add, taking in her upset expression. “Emotions are running kind of high at the moment, but we’ve got our rules. We’ve got fifteen years of friendship. The fact that we’re both feeling something new and feeling worried about it, means we can handle it and move forward without screwing anything up.”

Liv nodded in agreement.

“We good, then?”

 

The Best Friend Bargain Teaser 4

Review:

While The Best Friend Bargain was a cute story with likable characters, it’s neither my favorite from the author nor from the series. It was a pleasant way to spend my time, but definitely didn’t blow me away.

Throughout the book, it felt like Olivia did a lot of things without either really thinking about the consequences (like asking her best friend to marry her to smooth things over with her mother but never considering how his parents, who supposedly were more “parent” to her than her own, will take it) or paying attention to what is right in front of her (like when the baby’s father comes to see her–he barely acknowledges her pregnancy, and she notes to herself that he’s acting very detached and noncommittal, yet at the same time she’s seriously considering that they might get back together and thinks that he truly wants her? What??) and it was frustrating.

Danny was way too hung up on his determination to live his life alone because of his degenerative eye disease. Honestly, he needed to get over himself. People manage to live happy, fulfilling lives with disabilities all the time. I guess I can understand not wanting to pass it on if it’s genetic, but that’s obviously not a problem with Olivia’s baby, so…

The two of them went awfully quickly from “just friends” to something more–it didn’t seem like either one of them had had those kind of feelings about each other before, so it felt a little abrupt. Only one of them could claim to be affected by pregnancy hormone horniness, after all. 😉

The email exchanges between the two of them were very cute, though, and one of my favorite parts of the book. They reminded me of Meg Cabot’s Boy series, and I was happy to see them pop up frequently throughout.

I am generally a huge fan of the friends-to-lovers troupe; however, while The Best Friend Bargain was sweet, it isn’t going to be making my top ten list for the genre. Though it’s the third in the series it should work just fine as a standalone.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars / C+

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

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Synopsis: The one guy she shouldn’t want…

Honor Mitchell has lived with guilt and regret for a long time, so when she promises to do the things on her dying best friend’s wish list, she’s determined to follow through and do something right for a change. But when she’s thrown together for wedding duties with the one man who complicates her vow–just by looking at him–she has to put her faith in Bryce Bishop’s pledge to help her, no strings attached.

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ABOUT ROBIN BIELMAN:
Robin Bielman

When not attached to her laptop, USA Today Bestselling Author Robin Bielman can almost always be found with her nose in a book. A California girl, the beach is her favorite place for fun and inspiration. Her fondness for swoon-worthy heroes who flirt and stumble upon the girl they can’t live without jumpstarts all of her story ideas.
She loves to go on adventures, and has skydived, scuba dived, parasailed, gotten lost in the wilderness (and only suffered a gazillion bug bites for it) hiked to waterfalls, and swam with dolphins. In her spare time she also likes to put her treadmill to good use while watching her favorite TV shows, take hikes with her hubby, indulge her sweet tooth, and play sock tug of war with her cute, but sometimes naughty dog, Harry.
She dreams of traveling to faraway places and loves to connect with readers. Keep in touch and sign up for her newsletter on her website at http://robinbielman.com.

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