New Release! NECESSARY ROUGHNESS by Julie Brannagh

Necessary Roughness
by Julie Brannagh
Series: standalone
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Publication Date: October 10, 2017

About the Book:

Tanner Cole’s football career was over in less than thirty seconds one Sunday afternoon. After a lifetime playing the sport he loves he’s been forced into an early retirement. Between figuring out his plan for the rest of his life and dealing with the pain of his injuries, this grouchy hottie isn’t in the mood for the perky physical therapist who makes him in ache in more than one place.

Jordan Mueller doesn’t have time for a sulky ex-NFL player, even one who looks like Tanner. She’s done with falling for the bad boy without a heart. When she’s forced out of her apartment and offered an opportunity too good to pass up, she agrees to move in with Tanner. She’s only there to speed up his recovery. No funny business, even if her body is telling her otherwise.

As Tanner and Jordan spend more and more time together, they begin to see each other in a new light that threatens to change everything. But when the ghosts of girlfriends past reappear, Tanner must decide if he’s willing to put everything on the line for a shot at a future with Jordan.

 

 

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Excerpt:

Tanner Cole grabbed the remote off the couch cushions and clicked through the two hundred or so channels on his satellite TV. Daytime TV sucked. Even worse: it sucked yesterday, the day before, and the day before that too. But it wasn’t like he had a lot of choices for entertainment right now. His knee was slowly healing, but mostly, he wanted to be left alone while he tried to figure out how he was going to deal with the rest of his life.

He was a professional football player. Well, he used to be. He’d torn both his ACL and MCL and broken his tibia after planting his cleats on some shitty turf in Washington, DC, during the last two minutes of a fucking blowout he shouldn’t have been playing in in the first place. His coach had practically begged him to sit on the bench that afternoon and spend a few minutes powering down some Gatorade while his backup took the risk of injury instead. In the coach’s defense, “practically begging” meant he glanced over at Tanner and said, “why don’t you have a seat, and we’ll finish this one for you?” But Tanner had insisted that cold afternoon in Washington. He’d played anyway. And his career was ended because of a freak hit by a rookie who thought he was making his mark by permanently sidelining one of the best left tackles in the league.

Winners didn’t sit on the bench. Winners went out there and dominated, in football and in life. He remembered every buzzword and cliché-laden locker-room speech he’d heard in his career, typically when he was lying away at three AM and wishing he had that thirty seconds or so before his injury back again. He’d wanted to make the decision when it was time to hang it up. That was taken away from him. He wasn’t happy about it.

People (specifically his ex-girlfriend) were not as willing to put up with his various personality flaws when he wasn’t headline news anymore. He could tick off those shortcomings on his fingers, and he’d done so more than once while alone in the predawn hours. According to his ex, Star, he was too overbearing, too competitive, too impatient, and too insensitive. She didn’t seem to care about his faults when he was ordering $150 bottles of champagne at the club or buying her a little somethin’ somethin’ at the jeweler’s or the latest designer shoes and bags. He’d wanted to believe their breakup was all her fault, but being alone for a few months brought some clarity. He was as much to blame for the end of their relationship. He’d have to man up at some point and make an apology.

Before he met with the surgeon who was putting his knee back together, Tanner had been told by the team’s doctor that he wasn’t going to play football again.

“With your age and these types of injuries, you’re not going to be able to pass any team’s physical, even after rehab. I know this isn’t how you wanted things to end,” the doctor said.

“No, it isn’t,” Tanner said.

“Look at it this way: it’s a great chance to get on with the rest of your life.”

Tanner knew the guy was just doing his job, but he was already sick of people telling him to look on the bright side. He’d be damned lucky if he walked with a limp. Right now, he’d be happy if he could get off the couch and walk to the mailbox without a walker.

About Julie Brannagh:

USA Today bestselling author Julie Brannagh has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. She lives in a small town near Seattle, where she once served as a city council member and owned a yarn shop. She shares her home with a wonderful husband, two uncivilized Maine Coons and a rambunctious chocolate Lab. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, or armchair-quarterbacking her favorite NFL team from the comfort of the family room couch. Julie is a Golden Heart finalist and the author of contemporary sports romances.

Author Links:

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New Release Review! MIDNIGHT UNLEASHED by Lara Adrian (A 1001 Dark Nights and Midnight Breed novella)

We are so thrilled to be bringing you the Release Day Launch for Lara Adrian’s MIDNIGHT UNLEASHED, the latest novella in the Midnight Breed series, brought to you by 1001 Dark Nights. Be sure to grab your copy of this sexy paranormal novella today!

About MIDNIGHT UNLEASHED:

Return to New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Lara Adrian’s “addictively readable” (Chicago Tribune) Midnight Breed vampire romance series with a pulse-pounding novella of paranormal seduction and dangerous thrills, where an icy immortal beauty and a lethal Gen One Hunter must confront a powerful enemy while struggling to deny the irresistible calling of their blood.

Grab your copy today!

Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA / Amazon AU

Excerpt:

While he’d sure as hell rather be surrounded by his tech equipment at the command center, Trygg couldn’t find much to object to as he followed Sia up an exterior staircase to a private third-floor entrance of the house. As irritated as he was after her power play in the car just now—not to mention her earlier act of defiance that had rattled him more than he cared to admit, even to himself—it was hard to think about much else except the rhythmic sway of her hips as she mounted the old iron steps.

Very hard.

Her long, elegant spine and firm backside were a temptation that stoked a growing heat inside him as he stalked up the climb behind her. Everything male in him burned with desire. Everything Breed in him hungered for her too. If she chanced a look over her shoulder, it would be damn close to impossible to hide the amber lighting his irises or the press of his sharp fangs as they filled his mouth.

Letting her win just now was a mistake he already regretted, but that’s where her control was going to end. He’d go inside as she insisted and they’d do a cursory look through the rest of the items they’d brought with them. He would point out something or other so she’d have a bone to chew on, then he’d take everything back to the command center and dig into the meat of the scant evidence alone.

The way he preferred to operate.

He scowled at her when they reached the top of the stairs. “Is this the way you sneak in all the men you bring home with you?”

“Only the surly ones.” Her blonde brow arched over her long-lashed eyes. “And to answer the question you really want to ask, I’ve never brought anyone up here before.”

He didn’t want to ask that, so why did her answer give him such a healthy stab of satisfaction?

Review:

I love that the 1001 Dark Nights series novellas offer relatively risk-free ways to both enjoy favorite authors and series and find new ones. How is it I’ve never read any of Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breed books before? I honestly have no idea, but now that I have, I must read more of them!

I loved both Sia and Trygg (just don’t ask me to say his name out loud, please!) and being immersed in their world was a fun, heady ride. We weren’t bogged down with the nitty-gritty details of how everything worked there, but learned just enough to understand the challenges they were dealing with and the things that made them what they are. Once the external threats were dealt with, their relationship problems were resolved a bit quickly, but since it was really up to one of them to just not be a jerk about what had happened and give in gracefully, it made sense that that was what they decided to do. Obviously, they belonged together, so why fight it? 😉

I’ll definitely be coming back for more from this world–soon!

Rating: 4 stars / A-

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

 

About LARA ADRIAN:

LARA ADRIAN is a New York Times and #1 international bestselling author with nearly 4 million books in print and digital worldwide and translations licensed in more than 20 countries. Her upcoming release is FOR 100 REASONS, the third book in a contemporary romance series that reviewers are calling “phenomenal” and “one of the hottest series of the year.” Learn more about the author and her books at LaraAdrian.com.

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Lara Adrian’s MIDNIGHT UNTAMED – Review & Excerpt Tour Schedule:

October 11

Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt

Under the Covers – Review & Excerpt

Knotty Girl Reviews – Review & Excerpt

Fictional Rendezvous Book Blog – Excerpt Only

Kimberly’s Hot Reads – Excerpt Only

October 12

BTH Reviews – Review & Excerpt

Romance Reviews and More – Review & Excerpt

Rantings of a Reading Addict – Review & Excerpt

My Nook, Books & More – Excerpt Only

October 13

Nerdy Dirty & Flirty – Review & Excerpt

KDRBCK – Review & Excerpt

Vagabonda Reads – Review & Excerpt

Read-Love-Blog – Excerpt Only

All Things Dark & Dirty – Excerpt Only

October 14

Panty Dropping Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

I Smell Sheep – Review & Excerpt

Becky on Books – Review & Excerpt

Books,Dreams,Life – Excerpt Only

Ever After Book Reviews – Excerpt Only

October 15

Avephoenix Naughty Readings – Review & Excerpt

The Reading Café – Review & Excerpt

The Escapist Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

K&J Book Promotions – Excerpt Only

Reading Between the Wines – Excerpt Only

October 16

Feeling Fictional – Review & Excerpt

That’s What I’m Talking About – Review & Excerpt

Friends Till the End Book Blog – Excerpt Only

Bobo’s Book Bank – Excerpt Only

October 17

Mom’s Secret Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

Torie’s Book Obsession – Review & Excerpt

Feel the Book – Excerpt Only

October 18

A Hopeless Romantic’s Booklandia – Review & Excerpt

Diane’s Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

I’m A Sweet and Sassy Book Whore – Review & Excerpt

Bookasms Blog – Review & Excerpt

I Can’t Help Where My Mind Goes – Excerpt Only

October 19

Ms. Me28 – Review & Excerpt

Reese’s Reviews – Review & Excerpt

The Romance Review – Review & Excerpt

October 20

Amo’s Book Corner – Review & Excerpt

Dirty Girl Romance – Review & Excerpt

Pardon My Blurb – Review & Excerpt

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New Release and Giveaway! DROP DEAD GORGEOUS by Juliet Lyons (Bite Nights #2)

Title: Drop Dead Gorgeous
Author: Juliet Lyons
Series: Bite Nights, #2
Pub Date: October 3, 2017
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Synopsis:

SWIPE RIGHT FOR MR. BITE

Mila Hart’s first experience with the hot new vampire dating site is a complete disaster. Turns out, her date is wanted for murder! But things turn around when she’s rescued by dashing vampire cop Vincent Ferrer. Dangerous and drop dead gorgeous, he’s just the vampire hottie Mila was hoping for.

Haunted by his past, Vincent can’t risk falling in love again, even if Mila charms him more than anyone he’s ever met. But when the killer from Mila’s first date seeks her out, Vincent is the only one who can protect her. Protecting his heart is a different story…

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Bite Nite Series:
Dating the Undead (Book 1)
Drop Dead Gorgeous (Book 2)
That Killer Smile (Book 3)

Excerpt:

Inside the flat, I kick off my heels and turn the cold tap on full blast, grabbing a glass from the cupboard. “Do you have any aspirin?” I ask, breaking the silence.

Vincent shakes his head, face glum. “I’m sorry I listened to your conversation,” he says, picking at the edge of the kitchen island with a finger.

“It doesn’t matter,” I say quietly. “Thanks for sorting out O’Geary for me.”

He nods, frowning. “Mila—”

“Look,” I say, interrupting him. “I know what you must think of me.”

His frown deepens, eyes dark. “What do I think of you?”

“That I’m totally flaky and pathetic. What with dead rats in my bed and going on dates with serial killers and getting felt up my first week at work. If you think I don’t know how ridiculous my life is, Vincent, you’re wrong, because I do, and the truth is, I don’t know why I told my work friend you like to be tied up with silky scarves. Maybe I’ve watched too many dodgy French movies. But my point is, I know I’m not like you, with the fancy view and the starch spray in the cupboard and all this.” I circle a finger wildly in the air. “So I’m sorry that you’re stuck with me, and I’m sorry you had to show your fangs and lose your chance at a hookup with Leggy Layla from Marketing. I am sorry.”

I suck in a deep breath and take a gulp of my water. I must be drunker than I thought.

When I finally summon the courage to meet his eye, I jolt in surprise. His eyes are dark, tortured. He leans against the counter, hands gripping the edges so tightly his knuckles are whiter than bone.

“That’s the second time you mentioned those girls.” His voice is husky, throaty, as if the words are coming from some dark, forbidden place deep inside him.

“Yeah, well. They irritate me. Add that to my list of faults. I’m jealous of a group of women who wear double the recommended amount of mascara.”

“Jealous,” he repeats.

Jesus. What is up with him? He looks like a four-year-old trying to figure out an algebraic equation. “Yes. Jealous. Not usually. Just tonight. Because you were speaking to them.”

Inside, I’m well aware I’ve more or less just announced I have an enormous crush on him. But on the outside, the half-drunk, cocky Mila is still running the show.

He continues to stand, frozen. I snatch up my glass of water and slip past him into the lounge.

“Mila,” he says loudly.

I turn around at the same time he does.

“I don’t enjoy Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.”

“Yes, you do.”

“No. I don’t.” He runs a nervous hand through his dirty-blond hair. “It’s the only show where I can sit and not have to pay attention to the plotline to know what’s happening.”

I sigh. “Fine. I give up. We’ll hire a harpist for our evening entertainment.” I continue stomping toward the bedrooms—as much as it’s possible to stomp in bare feet.

A gust of air lifts the hair from the nape of my neck and, in an instant, Vincent is filling the doorway with his luscious frame. “I can’t pay attention to the plot,” he says, “because I’m too distracted.”

“Why? Because I’m here messing up your apartment and getting in the way? It won’t be forever, and I’ll tidy up before I go—”

Before I can finish the sentence, he cuts the short distance between us in a single bound, placing hands on my hips. The heat from his fingers burns through the material like red-hot flames. My heart thuds beneath my ribs. Without my heels, my head is level with his chest—his perfectly sculpted, chiseled-from-rock chest—rising and falling as if something is fighting to get out. I lift my gaze, and as our eyes lock, he bunches my dress in his fists. The relaxed look he wore when he lied to the marketing girls and threatened Leery is gone, naked anxiety assuming its place.

“Ask me to stop,” he says, his voice breaking.

I gulp. The only sound is my heart pounding against my ribcage. Is this really happening?

“I can’t,” I say at last. “Because I don’t want you to.”

He releases my dress, looping strong arms around my waist, and lifts me onto my tiptoes until our bodies press together, torso to torso. I drop the glass of water onto the rug at our feet, hearing the loud slosh of liquid as it soaks into the carpet. The water is swiftly forgotten as he leans closer, brushing warm lips over my jawline. He tightens his grip, anchoring me to him as a tremor of pleasure rips through my body.

When his mouth finally fastens onto mine, I mold myself into him like clay, my breasts pushed up against the steely ridges of his chest, my hands twisting into his hair like vines around the branches of a tree. I part his lips, and he responds intensely. He tastes like champagne—warm and fruity—and I devour him like a woman who’s been living carb free would a loaf of bread. My tongue slides over his, a low animal groan erupting from my throat.

He cups my face in his warm hands as he begins feverishly whispering my name between kisses. “Mila, oh God, Mila.”

He wants me, I realize in surprise, knowing from the way my name sounds in his mouth—hard and spiky as barbwire—that this is no whim, no spur-of-the-moment fancy. All the times he’s blushed suddenly make sense, those intense stares I mistook as him thinking I’m an idiot.

I stop kissing him, leaning back to gaze into his drowsy, silver-dappled eyes. His face is slack, his mouth half-open, lips moist.

“It’s true, isn’t it?” I murmur, dragging hands down his muscled back. “You haven’t really been enjoying Dr. Quinn at all.

 

About the author:

JULIET LYONS is a paranormal romance author from the UK. She holds a degree in Spanish and Latin American studies and works part-time in a local primary school where she spends far too much time discussing Harry Potter. Since joining global storytelling site Wattpad in 2014, her work has received millions of hits online and gained a legion of fans from all over the world. When she is not writing, Juliet enjoys reading and spending time with her family.

Find Juliet Online:
Website: https://www.julietlyons.co.uk/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WriterJLyons/
Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/julietlyons
Twitter: @WriterJLyons
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15118466.Juliet_Lyons

 

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New Release and Giveaway! THE NAMELESS LAND by Lazlo Rappaport

The Nameless Land
Lazlo Rappaport
Genres: Adult, Mythology

Desperate to free herself of the dream fox residing in her womb, Anastasia travels off to the shores of the Red Sea and strikes a deal with Lilith: If Anastasia will fashion three mirrors for the primordial witch, so the sorceress will exorcise the evil spirit.

A poetic parable of the modern woman, the riddle of love, and the question of meaning in a seemingly-godless world.


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EXCERPT:

Anastasia turned upon her side, and soon she lost herself in a dream—a memory of the night journey to Arkhangelsk, a memory of that very moment the engineer applied the brake.

Once the train had stopped altogether, the young Anastasia suddenly felt the absence of any soothing vibrations. In addition, she intuited a most ineffable presence standing outside the cabin door. When she opened it just a crack, she found herself face to face with a bald-headed girl dressed in a snug fur coat boasting a silvery diadem-spider brooch pinned to the lapel. “Are you a daughter of Lilith?”

“A daughter of Lilith? No, I’m a ghost. My name’s Svetlana.” As the bald-headed girl spoke, the silvery brooch turned the color of corroded high-tin bronze.

Anastasia glanced over at Mother where she lay snoring very softly in her bed and then turned back. “What do you want?”

The ghost girl did not answer. Her delicate bare feet perfectly silent against the floorboards, she walked off down the passageway.

“Come back here!”

“No, you follow me!” Swiftly the ghost girl continued to the end of the sleeping car, vanishing through the door.

With trembling heart, Anastasia continued down one car after another until she reached the caboose where she joined the ghost girl outside upon the landing.

What a fine Arctic summer. The midnight sun bathed the tundra in a soft-orange haze, and the wildflowers emitted a sweet scent not unlike that of freshly-baked Belorussian honey cake.

The ghost girl reached into her coat pocket, removed a little wooden flute, and performed the tune to Mussorgsky’s “Hebrew Song.” Afterward she turned to Anastasia and poked her right arm with the foot end. “Do you know why the train stops here? If you were to ask the conductor, he’d tell you that we stop here so that we don’t collide with one of the trains out of Finland. But that’s not so. In truth the train stops here only because the Arctic fox compels the train to stop here, for this would be the place where the Arctic fox prefers to climb aboard and prey upon some hapless little girl. Just like he preyed upon me last summer.”

Anastasia pointed at the railway tracks. “Look around!” she blurted out. “There’s no Arctic fox anywhere! You’re a daughter of Lilith, that’s what you are! You’ve come to deceive me and—”

“No, he’s here. It’s just that he’s rendered himself invisible.” The train lurched forward, and the ghost girl smiled. “You’re lucky. But I doubt that you should be lucky a second time, so whatever you do, you should not come back this way.”

“But we must come back this way. Back at the House of Fabergé, the bookkeeper and everyone else, they’re waiting for Mama to bring them a box of volcanic glass.”

The train’s steam trumpet bellowed out its deafening wail, and back in Sinai, Anastasia awoke to find that the fire had almost died out.

She sat up some and thought of the dream, the heretofore repressed memory. How could I forget all that? She thought of her childhood in Russia and sought to recall the precise moment when the invisible fox spirit would have slipped inside her womb.

Author Bio:

Lazlo Rappaport is the pseudonym of a very reclusive author from Ohio. He wrote the original draft of The Nameless Land while night-clerking at a series of Palestinian youth hostels in the Old City of Jerusalem, 1996-1999. Under his proper birth name, he holds an M.F.A. in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College.

 

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Pre-Order Blitz and Giveaway! IN TOO DEEP by Kimberly Kincaid (Station Seventeen)

Have You Pre-ordered IN TOO DEEP by Kimberly Kincaid yet?

Pre-order IN TOO DEEP and add it to your TBR pile on Goodreads! Then keep reading to get an EXCLUSIVE sneak peek at IN TOO DEEP and to enter the giveaway for an Amazon Echo Dot!

Title: In Too Deep
Author: Kimberly Kincaid
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: October 17, 2017
Publisher: Kimberly Kincaid Romance
Series: Station Seventeen
Format: Print & Digital

 

Synopsis:

As Station Seventeen’s rookie, Luke Slater knows his fire and EMS training will be both rigorous and risky, but he never imagined having to partner up with the one woman he wants to keep at arm’s length most of all. Quinn Copeland is as wide-open as Luke is reserved. He has no interest in letting the sweet and sexy paramedic rock his hard-earned control. But the need for composure becomes the need to survive when they find themselves in the crosshairs of a brutal gang leader on their first shift together.

Paramedic Quinn Copeland’s station mates aren’t just her friends. They’re her family. She’d do anything to keep them safe—including reluctantly trusting her impossible-to-read, impossibly gorgeous new partner with the one thing she holds close. As the passion between Luke and Quinn goes from a slow burn to a sizzle, their steps grow more and more dangerous, both in the fire house and out. Can they outwit a cold-blooded killer and face the fears that could cost them everything? Or are they in too deep?

 

Pre-order at:
AmazonBarnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks

Excerpt:

Shae moved her gaze over their surroundings in a methodical sweep, the eyes she’d squinted against the glare of the late-morning sunlight going round and wide as they landed on Quinn. “So,” she said, dropping her voice but not the ear-to-ear smile that told Luke nothing good was going to come from their now-private conversation. “About Quinn.”

“What about her?” Luke stared holes in the pick-off strap he’d pre-rigged before the drill, willing his fingers to steadily fasten the stupid thing to the main attachment point on Shae’s harness. Rope rescue. Safe transfer. Focus.

“You two have been spending some time together lately, huh?”

His stomach knotted before dropping toward his hips. “Quinn has been helping with my paramedic training,” he said, selecting his words with care. After a really hairy call had led the house to a gruesome arson/murder scene three months ago, Luke had been surprised to discover he had a fear of blood. But since he also wanted to help people as a first responder, he couldn’t let that fear—debilitating as it had been—stand in the way of him doing the job that would keep people safe.

So he’d done what he always did. He’d taken a step back to quietly attack the problem, devoting himself not only to the rest of his fire and rescue training, but to earning his certification as a paramedic at the same time. Yeah, the workload was intense, and no, balancing both didn’t leave him much time for luxuries outside of sleep or hot meals. He wasn’t exactly a stranger to balls-out hard work, though. In fact, he and hard work were more like what his seventeen-year-old sister Hayley would call “besties”. Not that Luke had any freaking clue what that might actually entail, since he never got past the handshake and Heisman stage with anyone.

That whole arm’s length thing? So not an overstatement.

At any rate, Luke had his sister and their grandmother, Momma Billie. He didn’t need a bunch of Lifetime Original moments to distract him from his goal. He’d attained his full qualifications as an EMT six weeks ago. Official paramedic status would be in his reach before the year was out, provided he could continue to keep his seemingly sudden-onset fear of blood at bay. He was well on his way to becoming a full-fledged firefighter, like he’d always wanted. Just as long as he could keep both his focus and his distance, he’d be fucking stellar.

Quinn looked up with a grin and a wave before heading back into the fire house, and Christ, did she really have to have a set of cutely sexy dimples he could see all the way from here?

“Helping you with your paramedic training,” Shae echoed, her quiet murmur tumbling him right back to the here and now of the side wall of the engine bay.

Luke concentrated on the equipment in his hands, the clink of the carabiners and the soft hiss of the nylon ropes as he continued with the rope transfer while he spoke. “Sure. She’s been giving me tips and tricks to remember different procedures, telling me the fastest ways to safely do workups. Stuff like that.”

“Ah.” Shae waited a beat while he clipped the backup carabiner for the line transfer into place. “You know, it wouldn’t be terrible if you liked her.”

“I do like her.” The words shoveled out of his mouth by default. He double-checked the carabiner. Adjusted the slack in his line. Mentally kicked himself square in the nuts. “She’s nice.”

Shae made a noise Momma Billie would have described as unladylike. “You know what I mean, Slater. Don’t be a dumbass.”

And that was the problem, right there. He was a dumbass. He didn’t just like Quinn in a casual friends, good co-workers, she’s-helping-me-with-my-training kind of way. Nope. He was attracted to her. From the minute he’d clapped eyes on Quinn on his very first day as a rookie, Luke had had this reckless desire to kiss her. To hook his fingers in that waterfall of blond waves spilling down her back, to part her lips with his tongue and taste her until he ran out of air.

And he didn’t want to stop at her mouth.

 

About the author:

Kimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance that splits the difference between sexy and sweet and hot and edgy romantic suspense. When she’s not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as “The Pleather Bomber”, she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to éclairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book. Kimberly is a USA Today best-selling author and a 2016 and 2015 RWA RITA® finalist and 2014 Bookseller’s Best nominee who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love. Kimberly resides in Virginia with her wildly patient husband and their three daughters.

Connect with Kimberly at: Website | Facebook | Twitter| Goodreads | Instagram

 

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New Release and Giveaway! MEETING HIS MATCH by Shannyn Schroeder

Meeting His Match
Shannyn Schroeder
Publication date: October 12th 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Malcolm “Mac” Sterling has one goal: take over the family matchmaking business. His final obstacle? Host his family’s new dating show and prove he can help each contestant find true love. One catch. Mac’s meddling mother has approved a co-host, a so-called expert who seems impervious to his charms. Now he could lose everything, because if his co-host proves she’s the better matchmaker, he can say goodbye to his legacy.

Natalie “Gem” Hale never intended for her alter ego as an online dating expert to get her the opportunity of a lifetime—or for that opportunity to come with a co-host who’s as infuriating as he is tempting. But she didn’t get this far by backing down from a challenge. All she has to do is keep her secret identity a secret.

Except as sparks fly and the competition heats up, Mac realizes his co-host is hiding something. He’s just got to figure out what.

 

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EXCERPT:

Mac paced through the reception area waiting for Bradley Winford and this Gem person. He’d yet to get a last name on the woman. He tried sitting on one of the armchairs but was too restless. He’d asked Paul to come to the meeting, but he’d had other clients to deal with. As Mac made another circuit through the room, cursing himself for his need to arrive everywhere early, the front door opened and Gem strode through, looking a little harried.

Once inside, she smoothed a hand over her hair and down her dress, which was blue, a shade darker than her eyes. The front dipped low, but not immodestly so. She rolled her lips together and trekked on crazy high heels to the receptionist’s desk. She was told to have a seat, the same way he’d been.

She sat on a chair, her back stiff and hands folded in her lap. Briefly closing her eyes, she inhaled deeply and when she reopened them, her gaze met his. Her left eyebrow quirked but didn’t make it to a full arch. Her lips moved incrementally into a smile. Then she shot her gaze downward.

Shifting on the chair, she angled her body and crossed her legs. She knew exactly how to draw a man’s eye, he’d give her that. Eyelids lowered slowly and then she glanced up at him again, barely making eye contact.

Was she seriously hitting on him?

When she brushed her hair off her shoulder—not quite a flip—he confirmed it. She was flirting. He stayed rooted to his spot, afraid to continue his pacing because then he might miss something good. Slipping his hands in his pants pockets, he rocked back on his heels waiting for her next move.

Really, if this was the best she had, he truly had no worries about competing against her.

When he didn’t respond to another smile or a too-obvious bend at the waist to reveal cleavage, she stood. She strode with a slow, hip-swaying swagger to where he stood and pointed at the poster behind him. “Have you ever seen this show?”

Her voice was low and slightly husky. In the right room at the right time, it was the kind of sound that would’ve had an effect on him. He ran his tongue over his teeth and looked at the poster.

“No, I’ve never seen it.”

“Too bad. I was hoping you could tell me if it’s worth binging.” She reached in her purse and pulled out a pack of gum, offering him a piece.

He shook his head but continued to watch her. She slowly folded the stick of gum on her pink tongue and when she reached around him to toss the wrapper in the trashcan, she not too subtly brushed against his arm.

“Excuse me,” she whispered. When she straightened, she extended her hand. “Hi, I’m—”

“Good, you’re here.” Bradley Winford’s voice boomed through the room.

Gem turned, smile bright. “Mr. Winford, good to see you again.”

Winford shook her hand a little too vigorously. “I see you’ve met Malcolm.”

What Mac wouldn’t have given to see her face.

“Who?” she asked.

Brad pointed to him. “Malcolm Sterling, your competition for the show.”

Slowly, she turned and the look on her face was even more priceless than he’d imagined.

Mac stepped forward. “Malcolm Sterling from Everyday Love.”

A flash of something came across her face, her mask slipping. It wasn’t just surprise. There was something else there. Quickly, she schooled her features back into the flirt. It seemed to be the only thing she did quickly. She shook his hand and offered a brief smile.

“Nice to meet you, Malcolm. Gem.”

Brad clapped his hands. “Let’s get this started, shall we?”

Gem turned and followed Brad. Mac fell into step beside her.

“My friends call me Mac.”

“Excuse me?”

“Only my mother calls me Malcolm.”

“That would’ve been useful information to have, oh, say, ten minutes ago. You obviously knew who I was the minute I walked in.” Her voice came out a sharp whisper so Brad couldn’t hear.

“I did,” he admitted.

“Any reason you didn’t introduce yourself?”

“I was enjoying your flirting techniques.”

She shook her head and stepped into the conference room. She waited until Brad took a seat and took the one directly across from him. Mac chose the seat beside her.

She shot him a look of irritation.

Suddenly Mac decided this adventure might not be so boring after all.

 

Author Bio:

Shannyn Schroeder is the author of the O’Learys series, contemporary romances centered around a large Irish-American family in Chicago and the Hot & Nerdy series about 3 nerdy friends finding love. Her new series (For Your Love) currently has 3 titles out – Under Your Skin, In Your Arms and Through Your Eyes. When she’s not wrangling her three kids or writing, she watches a ton of TV and loves to bake cookies. Find out more at: www.ShannynSchroeder.com

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New Release and Giveaway! CAUGHT BEAST MATE by Milana Jacks (Beast Mates #4)

Caught Beast Mate
Milana Jacks
(Beast Mates #4)
Publication date: October 7th 2017
Genres: Dystopian, New Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Her protector, her nemesis. His once-in-a-lifetime second chance.

Kidnapped and taken from her home, Sienna is stuck in a beast community without the resources to find her way back. But she’s a survivor. Just like the wounded, bone-thin beast she finds in the desert.

Torrent was warned never to steal a human woman—especially if she’s his pair. He didn’t listen. Captured, beaten, starved by Men of Earth, he’s as near death as he can get without tipping into the void.

When her familiar scent brings him back to consciousness, recognition slams his gut. But there’s no answering light in her blue eyes. It’s just as well. If she remembered him, she’d know to run from the beast who once took her.

Although the spark of attraction burns bright between them, there’s danger in the heat. Because even if his crippled body had something to offer her, the forces arrayed against them are determined to snuff out their love before it catches flame.

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Book 0 – Virgin Beast Mate – is free on Amazon!

EXCERPT:

“Ah. But werewolves don’t exist.”

“Neither did aliens until you came here.”

“True.”

“It’s the teeth,” she said. “And your jaw. It’s large and hard, and when you open your mouth, all your teeth show. I don’t want to feed you, you know, put my hand inside the jaws.”

“Well, I’m not gonna bite your hand.”

“I don’t know that. The one I remember bit my dad.”

Here goes. “You want to tell me about it?”

“Sure. A beast went after me and Dad. Dad fought him. Before the beast snatched me, Daddy got him in the chest.” She pointed at my scar.

I lifted her hand with mine, picked up the fork, and put it in my mouth. “Go on. Tell me what happened.”

Sienna fed me another few bites. I put my hand over her knee. She paused but didn’t reject my touch.

“We rode to Beast City. He was losing a lot of blood, couldn’t ride his bike. So he parked in the middle of the desert. Then he fell off the bike. I called his people on their emergency channel and told them our location.”

That did not happen. She made it up. “How did you know to call them?”

“Oh, you know, I pressed buttons on his bike until a beast answered my Mayday call.”

“And then what happened?” I squeezed her knee when she put more food in my mouth. I dreaded finishing my meal and searched the tray for dessert or something else she could feed me.

“I told them where we were so they knew to come get their guy.”

“He snatched you and killed your Dad, but you found it in your heart to save his life.”

“I’m not a monster. I couldn’t leave him there.”

She’d robbed me and left me to die. “How did you know where you landed?”

“A compass on the bike’s dashboard.”

“True.”

“The beast died shortly after. Before the help arrived.”

“Penance,” I said. “For taking you.”

“I’m surprised you agree.”

Sienna put the tray away, then stood there for a second. “You’re not as bad as him,” she said.

“Not at all.” I am worse.

“In a few hours, I’ll return with lunch and breakfast. Three meals a day.” It was already after eight at night. I chuckled.

She winked at me and opened the door.

“Thank you,” Zarik said from the hallway. He and the guard walked inside carrying water buckets. They dropped the buckets and pulled the tub to the middle of the room, then poured the water inside the tub. The guard left immediately while Zarik stayed. “For his bath,” he told Sienna.

“He needs one. Can you help him inside? Then we can be off.”

Wait, what? We? There was no “we” with Zarik and Sienna, and there never would be. And I was certain I’d have to kill this male when he brushed his knuckles over her shoulder. The only thing that saved his hand was Sienna. She recoiled from his touch. Damn straight! I sat up and scooted to the edge of the bed. “Thank you, Zarik. That will be all.”

He snorted.

“Got something to say?” I cracked my neck.

His gaze drifted to my stump. I was the weaker of the two of us, but I outranked him and Sienna was mine. Mine! I growled a warning.

“Okay, then,” Sienna said and pushed Zarik out the door. She slammed it shut, folded her arms on her chest, and glared at me.

“What?” I barked.

“What’s your problem?”

“Oh, I can’t even count them all.”

“Try.”

I narrowed my eyes. “You care for me and me only.”

“I care for whomever Hasel asks me to care for, and when you leave, this beast will stay. Such is my shit life until I can leave too.”

“Where are you going?”

“Nowhere. Remember my dad?”

“Mm-hm.”

“He’s alive, and he’s gonna find me. When he finds me, I’m going home.” She flung open the door. “Bye!”

“Wait,” I said. “Do you remember his name?”

“Whose?”

“The beast from the lake?” Shit! Too late. She’d never mentioned a lake.

“Priest. They call him Priest.”

 

Author Bio:

Milana grew up with tales of water fairies that seduced men, vampires that seduced women, and Babaroga who’d come to take her away if she didn’t eat her bean soup. She writes devious dystopian adult romance often about extraterrestrials and fantasy creatures roaming the Earth where she resides with her mate and their three little monsters.

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New Release and Giveaway! OBSESSION by Vivian Wood (Addicted to You #2)

Obsession
Vivian Wood
(Addicted To You, #2)
Publication date: October 9th 2017
Genres: Adult, Romance

From Wall Street Journal and USA Today Best Selling Author Vivian Wood

Secrets can kill.

Harper wanted Sean to dominate her, to degrade her… and she loved every second of it. Every hot, gasping-for-breath, clenching-the-sheets moment. She loved to have him looming over her, dictating her every move. She got off on it.

But now it’s too real. Their relationship has gotten complicated and dark, fast.

For Sean, Harper is more than just a good f*ck. She’s quickly becoming an obsession. When she pulls him from the fire yet again, he can’t pretend that she’s not the center of his world.

But Harper’s got secrets too, and hers are twice as deadly. When she finally starts to unravel, they will both have to find a way to save themselves — and each other — if they want to stay together.

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EXCERPT:

Sean woke up late, aware from the way the sun poured through the window that it was close to mid-day. Sean groaned and checked his phone. Almost eleven.

He hadn’t heard Harper at all. Normally, he was woken up by her grinding of smoothies in the morning for her pre-gym protein. Sean pulled himself out of bed and adjusted his morning erection. Already, dreams of the previous night escaped him, but he knew they were all Harper. They always were.

“Hey,” he said as he opened his bedroom door. She was curled up on the couch. A book rested on her knees.

“Hi,” she said. For once, the smile that spread across her face was easy and natural. It was the first time since they’d moved in together.

“You haven’t eaten?” he asked.

She shook her head. “Not in the mood for a smoothie,” she said. “How about brunch?”

“Okay,” she said.

He made his way to the kitchen. Yesterday, when she asked him to cook for her, it was a sign. That was his way back to her. Sean pulled out the half-dozen eggs from the fridge and the packet of English muffins. He cracked the shells and started to whisk egg yolks with lemon juice in a stainless steel bowl for the hollandaise sauce.

He heated a saucepan with a thin layer of water. As he drizzled in butter and watched the sauce thicken and double in size, he sensed Harper behind him. Afraid to say anything, worried that it might scare her away, he reached for the salt and cayenne. “Are you making eggs benedict?” she asked.

“Yeah.”

“I didn’t know people actually made that.”

He laughed as he started to brown the bacon in a skillet. “Did you think they just appeared?”

“I don’t know!” she said. He handed her two English muffins to toast. “I thought they were really hard. Like, only chefs made them.”

“They’re not hard,” he said. He broke another egg into the water and reduced the heat to a simmer.

“How do you know when they’re done?” she asked. Harper peered into the pan. “Practice,” he said.

“Thanks.”

“About three and a half minutes,” he said. “Watch for the egg white to set but the yolk should still be soft.”He removed one of the eggs with a slotted spoon and let it drain over a paper towel. As he carefully assembled the benedict and spooned the poached egg on top of the bacon, he seasoned both plates with salt and pepper. Finally, with the hollandaise poured over them and a garnish of chopped parsley, he handed Harper her place.

She looked at it like it was a science experiment. Sean could see numbers and calculations flying across her face. “Just try it,” he said gently. “It’s good for you.”

He ushered her towards a seat at the kitchen island and kept an eye on her while he put more bacon into the pan and pulled out the pancake mix. “You’re making more?” she asked, her eyes wide.

“You haven’t had breakfast or lunch, have you?”

She didn’t answer, but when he pushed the freshly cooked bacon onto her plate, she made a face and started blotting at them. “How many calories are in bacon?” she asked. “Does it really matter? Just enjoy it.”

She gave him a look like a surly teenager. He watched her as she nibbled on everything, going at the egg whites with more gusto than anything else. When the first batch of pancakes were done, he started to check on a dry piece with his hands and forked two onto her plate, but Harper shook her head vehemently. “No more,” she said.

He sighed and looked at her plate. For her, she’d ate a decent amount, though it still wasn’t nearly enough to count as sustenance.
“You interested in working out together again?” she asked.

“I don’t know. Maybe,” he said. “It’s Sunday. I thought maybe we could lounge on the couch and watch a movie first. We can decide if we want to work out later.”

“Okay,” she said reluctantly.

“Hey. How about you choose the movie?”

“Really?” she asked, brightening.

“Go on, I’ll clean up.”

Harper rushed to the living room while he rinsed the dishes and loaded the dishwasher. By the time he made it to the living room, she had Mean Girls queued up on Netflix. “Seriously?” he asked.

“You said I could choose.” She pulled a face that dared him to disagree.

They sat on opposite ends of the couch like armies readying for battle. Eventually, Harper propped her feet up on the couch, taking up two-thirds of it. “You want a foot rub?” Sean asked.

She looked startled, but bit her lip and nodded.

He started at her perfectly white feet, cold to the touch. Sean warmed them, surprised at the softness—especially with all the working out and those insanely high heels she wore. When he worked his way to her bare calves, she didn’t react. The rolled-up boxers she wore as pajama bottoms had hiked up so high that his hands had miles of flesh to explore.

Sean reached her thigh and she squirmed. When he raised his eyes to hers, there was a hunger in there he hadn’t seen in weeks. She lunged at him. Her lips met his as her arms snaked around his neck.

Without thinking, he kissed her back. Harper’s hand twisted around the front of his tee-shirt and she pulled him closer. That kind of desire, that dominance, was new in her. Any other time, he’d despise it, but something about it being her made him harden instantly.

 

Author Bio:

Vivian likes to write about troubled, deeply flawed alpha males and the fiery, kick-ass

women who bring them to their knees.

Vivian’s lasting motto in romance is a quote from a favorite song: “Soulmates never die.”

Be sure to follow Vivian through her Vivian’s Vixens mailing list or Facebook group to keep up with all the awesome giveaways, author videos, ARC opportunities, and more!

Get a FREE Vivian Wood secret office romance by copying and pasting this into your browser window: http://vivian-wood.com/get-news.

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Release Day and Giveaway! POPPY MAYBERRY, RETURN TO POWER ACADEMY by Jennie K. Brown (Nova Kids #2)

 

Welcome to the Release Day Celebration for

Poppy Mayberry: Return to Power Academy
(Nova Kids #2) by Jennie K. Brown

presented by Tantrum Books/Month9Books!

Grab your copy today!

 

Happy Book Birthday, Jennie!

 

Poppy Mayberry: Return To Power Academy
(Nova Kids #2) by Jennie K. Brown
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: Tantrum Books

Finding out you were wrong about something important can be a let down. But Poppy is pleased to learn she’s not just a Monday. She’s a Cusper, a weekday lucky enough to have TWO powers. Poppy’s elation is short-lived when she, Ellie, Logan, and Sam return to Power Academy as camp counselors, only to find themselves out of their element and struggling with the new drama teacher and his disaster of a school musical. When some campers go missing, Poppy and her team of weekdays are on the case. Soon, Poppy begins to realize that much like her powers, the seemingly-perfect town of Nova has some flaws, and the origin of her powers is as questionable as Headmistress Clothes-too-tight Larriby’s choice in outfits.If only there were more days in the week!

 

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Excerpt:

Now, that same creeper guy from Novalicious was here at Power Academy. I glanced at Clothes-too-tight Larriby just in time to see a scowl form on her face. Whoever this man was, she was not happy to see him. The mysterious man walked straight up to the stage and leaned in close to Larriby. Her face contorted into an even bigger frown as he whispered in her ear.

“Come on,” Logan said, glancing in my direction. “Use your Thursday skills, Poppy. Larriby looks mad.”

I concentrated really hard on Headmistress Larriby. I wanted to see what she was thinking of this guy’s comments. Typically when I did this, a few words flew through my head here and there and it was easy to get the gist of somebody’s thoughts. But right now, I got nothing but static.

“Well?”

“Nothing,” I said with a frown. “Too many other weekday thoughts flying around. It’s distracting.”

The strange man drew back from Larriby and then proceeded to walk back up the aisle in our direction. As he reached the row where I sat, his eyes caught mine just like they did at Novalicious.

“I wish he’d just go away,” I whispered to Logan.

By the grimace on Headmistress Larriby’s face, she didn’t want him here, either.

 

OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES

 

 

 

Jennie K. Brown is a high school English teacher by day, freelance magazine writer by night, and middle grade/young adult author by late-night and weekend. When she isn’t teaching or writing, Jennie can be found reading a good book, traveling, or spending time with her awesome husband, amazing son and super-spoiled yorkie.In 2010, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) named Jennie the Pennsylvania English teacher of excellence, and she currently serves as President of the Pennsylvania Council for Teachers of English and Language Arts (PCTELA). She is also an active member of SCBWI, NCTE and ALAN.

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A Letter to Readers from Alyson McLayne, Author of HIGHLAND PROMISE (The Sons of Gregor MacLeod #1–with a giveaway!)

A Letter to the Reader

Hello Lovely Readers!!

My name is Alyson McLayne, and I can’t tell you how excited I am to introduce you to my book, HIGHLAND PROMISE, a Scottish Highlander Romantic Adventure!

It’s the first book in my historical romance series, THE SONS OF GREGOR MACLEOD, starring five Highland Lairds, who were fostered together as lads to become brothers. Darach, Lachlan, Callum, Gavin, and Kerr fight for their clans, for each other, and for their own true love.

These Highland Lairds are a band of brothers, who will defend each other to the death—if they don’t kill each other first with their sharp wit and hilarious banter. They take their oaths seriously, whether it’s to bring peace to the Highlands and defend one another as friends and allies, or to razz each other so hard, only one brother is left standing—and then they’ll take him down too.

And the women they love? They have spirit, and tenacity, and they take care of others before they take care of themselves. They’re all different—their backgrounds, their struggles, their interests and talents—but at the core of each woman is a strength, compassion, and a capacity to love that brings their man to his knees.

Totally. Slayed.

Before I tell you about HIGHLAND PROMISE, here’s a little about me. J I live on the west coast of Canada with my adorable (aka annoying) 5 year old boy/girl twins; my sweet yet sarcastic husband (who just said he’s not sarcastic at all, he’s ironic!); my counter-surfing puppy, Jasper, who turns one year old the same day HIGHLAND PROMISE debuts (Happy Birthday, baby!!); and my 86 year old dad who gets a look on his face every time it’s mentioned there are—gasp—sex scenes in my books…but then goes on to tell me young people (meaning me) did not invent sex.

Ears…burning…must pour…hot oil…inside…

Speaking of ears, as I’m writing this, I have ear plugs in because my son is beside me in my office (aka my bedroom) building a fort under the covers on the bed, while my Slytherin-declaring daughter waits to knock it down, which results in WW3; Jasper hovers at the edge, barking, until he can’t stand it anymore and jumps onto the bed with the monsters, er, I mean children; my husband comes in and says something “ironic” about the chaos; and I stare fiercely at my computer screen determined to ignore it ALL—and thanking God my dad can turn his hearing aids OFF.

Just grist for the mill…grist for the mill…said all writer-moms everywhere.

Okay. Onto the important part: HIGHLAND PROMISE! I started writing HIGHLAND PROMISE almost 10 years ago after reading ALL of Julie Garwood’s medieval-set historicals, most of which were set in the Highlands. I LOVED them. I don’t read a lot of books over and over, but I did hers. I found them completely captivating.

I think HIGHLAND PROMISE captures that same tone and spirit: Caitlin MacInnes is the archetypal Waif/Free Spirit who turns the archetypal Chieftain, Laird Darach MacKenzie’s life upside down—and then spins it around and dribbles with it for a while. As Lachlan MacKay, Darach’s foster-brother, says of Darach’s and Caitlin’s courtship:

“I doona know when I’ve laughed so much as watching Darach trying to control [Caitlin] over the past few weeks. Her intentions are good, but she’s trouble. It follows her around like a faithful hound.”

Darach is undone by her. His heart, which he swore he’d NEVER give to another woman, is torn from his body and becomes putty in her hands. Of course, he doesn’t know that at first, and even when he finally figures it out, he doesn’t tell her—he’s a warrior, a leader of his people, not a poet. And Caitlin, who is determined to make Darach happy whether he wants her to or not, doesn’t believe there’s any possible way she can stay with him. She needs to leave the Highlands immediately and find her mother’s family in France.

’Cause there’s a whole lotta trouble on her tail (some might call it a shite storm—haha!) heading straight for Darach. But what Caitlin fails to realize is that Darach, along with his brothers and their clans, is strong enough to handle it.

War is coming. Caitlin didn’t start the blood feud between the Frasers and the MacKenzies, nay, Laird Fraser and his sister, Darach’s former betrothed, did that, but she will be the catalyst that ends it—pinning the good men of the Highlands against a monster.

And hopefully winning.

(Well of course they win, and of course Darach and Caitlin live happily ever after—it’s a romance, after all!!)

Now go—before I start rambling and give too much away. Read the words and feel the feels. Fall in love with both Darach and Caitlin…and prepare yourself for Lachlan’s story next.

Smooches,

Alyson McLayne

About the author:

A stay-at-home mom of twins and award-winning writer, Alyson McLayne is a dog lover and cat servant with a serious stash of dark chocolate. After getting her degree in theater at the University of Alberta, she promptly moved to the west coast where she worked in film for several years and met her Prop Master husband.

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Title: Highland Promise
Author: Alyson McLayne
Pub Date: October 3, 2017
ISBN: 9781492654506

 

Five boys destined to become Highland lairds are fostered together as brothers. Darach, Lachlan, Callum, Gavin and Kerr fight for their clans, for each other, and for their own true loves.

When forced to choose between duty and honor…

Darach MacKenzie vowed never again to let a woman near his heart after his betrothed betrayed him. It sparked an intense feud between his clan and the Frasers. With all-out war on the wind, Darach can’t be distracted—not even by a sweet and charming lass who desperately needs his help.

This Highland Laird will find a way to have both

When Darach rescued Caitlin MacInnes from the clutches of vile Laird Fraser, she vowed to never let men or misery rule her life again. With Darach and the MacKenzie clan, Caitlin finally feels safe. But when Laird Fraser shows up to claim what’s rightfully his, or go to war, Darach will have to use all his brawn and brains to protect Caitlin—even if it means losing his heart.

 

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Excerpt:

“I’ll not be marrying the lass, Oslow, but if I did, she’d more than likely give me daughters. All of them looking like her, causing trouble. I’d be an old man in my grave before I was forty.”

“Nay. She’d give you sons. Braw lads as strong-minded and fearless as her. But if you’re not interested in the lass, I’ll introduce her to my Angus. He needs a wife, and I’m sure he’d be as smitten with her as Gare and Brodie.”

The blood heated in Darach’s veins, flushing his face. He looked toward the field, trying to make out what Caitlin and the two younger men were doing. Naught of consequence. Just playing with the kittens.

Playing with the kittens—like hell. Brodie was a right rogue with the lasses, and Gare was such a pitiful lad, caught betwixt man and boy, she’d want to save him just like she’d saved the baby bird. Most likely he’d try to make himself look as pathetic as possible with the hopes of ensnaring her, the devil.

Darach stood abruptly and made his way across the rocky shore to the field. Lachlan’s snort followed him. Sure enough, Gare and Brodie sat beside her, hanging on to every word. Scoundrels, both of them. He frowned, and they jumped to their feet. Let Caitlin see who was master and laird here—the most dominant MacKenzie male.

After sending them to Oslow, he sat on the grass beside her. She looked pleased to see him. Maybe now would be the time to tell her the kittens were going to the miller’s. He willed himself to begin, but one of the cats tumbled into his lap and mewed up at him. Bloody fiend.

“Och, would you look at that. He loves you, Darach. Maybe he will be called Justice, for he is drawn to you and you are the most just man I know.”

He puffed up and deflated at the same time. ’Twas a good decision to send the cats to the miller. Not only did it show Justice, but also Prudence, Fortitude, and Temperance. Surely she would see the right of it.

The kit ran up his body and batted his hair. Darach started in surprise. Grabbing it, he held the wee thing in front of him. The cat reached out and swatted his chin.

Caitlin fell sideways onto the grass, laughing. “You’ve ne’er had a cat before, have you?”

Darach grunted and brought the kitten closer. He had to admit it was sweet—big eyes and downy, soft fur. It suckled the stubble of his beard, and his heart turned over.

“They’re starved, poor babies,” she said. “He’s trying to nurse. All we had was water. It helped, but their bellies are empty.”

There would be lots of milk at the miller’s.

“Caitlin, I doona think…”

She gazed at him, her eyes wide, trusting. A happy glow surrounded her, and the words stuck in his throat. Maybe she could keep the kits ’til they were old enough to be on their own. House them in the kitchens and out of his sight and the sight of his dogs for a week or two. Then they could go to the miller.

“Aye, Darach?”

“’Tis naught, lass. We’ll be home soon and they can have their meal.”

Picking up a kitten, she held it close. “I think this little lass will be Temperance, for she’s the only female and needs to have much restraint to live with three brothers. It must be a trial, doona you think?”

“I lived with four brothers, and aye, ’twas a trial.”

A wistful look crossed her face. “I did so wish for a brother. Or a sister. But my parents were not blessed with bairns after me. Instead, I had lots of pets—cats, dogs, horses, and pigs.”

“Pigs?”

“Aye, pigs are wonderful pets. Although I caused such a fankle when my father wanted to butcher the dear thing, I was ne’er allowed to bond with a pig again.”

“And what happened to it?”

“I doona know. I lost more than just my parents the night of the fire. Verily, ’twas a torment. I longed for pets after that, but I feared to show favor to any creature, lest my uncle hurt the animal. I was verra careful when I fed Cloud apples. The guards who followed me knew, I’m sure, but one older guard in particular didn’t mind.” She turned to smile at the stallion tethered with the other horses. “I’m thankful you saved him too.”

His stomach soured at the insight into her life after her parents’ death, at how afraid, alone and sad she must have been. Yet she’d shown none of that to him or his men. And he knew she must have felt it—her heart was as big as the loch.

“I want you to have, Cloud,” he said suddenly. It was the least he could do.

Her eyes grew round. “Truly?”

“Aye. But wait to ride him until we return to the keep. I doona want him to spook and throw you out here. Let him get used to you in the stables first, aye?” Where he could have a healer on hand and spread out some hay to soften her fall.

With an excited holler, she threw her arms around his neck and almost knocked him backward. One arm settled around her waist, the other hovered just above her hair. The devil take him, he wanted to touch her, to hold her still for his kiss.

 

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