New Release! ONCE BITTEN by Heather McCorkle (The Werewolves of Hemlock Hollow)

OnceBitten500

About Once Bitten by Heather McCorkle:

One night was all it took to change everything. One moment of weakness, and now I’m becoming. Werewolves were supposed to be things only seen in movies, not things that exist in real life. Instead of med school and homework, my life is filled with a laundry list of things that were once impossibilities. Groups fighting over whom I belong to. The possibility of dying if I don’t learn everything before the next full moon. Figuring out how to survive in a world I never knew existed. But the biggest danger? Ty: history professor, super sexy Viking werewolf, and the man who’s been assigned by the Council to teach me how to survive becoming a werewolf.

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Excerpt:

 “What do you mean ‘in the process,’ and what am I changing into?” I asked. The world started to close in again.

Recognizing the signs this time, I took several deep breaths to stave off the tunnel vision that came before a panic attack.

It worked, a little. The dark tunnel trying to close around me opened up.

Even in the dim light I could see the calculating look in his eyes as they met my gaze. He stretched an arm up onto the back of the bench, fingers just barely brushing my shoulder. The light touch banished my panic far better than a few calculated breaths ever could. “Your DNA is changing; that takes time. You are changing into a varúlfur, but you will still be you, only enhanced.”

“Wait, I’m changing into a…varúlfur? What is that, even?” Coming out of my throat it sounded like a completely different word.

Half of his mouth quirked up into what I had to admit was a handsome grin. “Varúlfur, or in English…” He paused and stared hard at me before finishing. “A werewolf.”

Though I had been expecting something like it, the words hit me like a hard slap. It explained the fangs, and it meant some of my dad’s old stories were true. I’d always written them off as the ramblings of an overly religious man. One of a peculiar religion, admittedly, but a zealot nevertheless.

Head dropping into my hands, I leaned forward until my elbows rested on my knees. It was too much. Could my dad’s stories seriously have been true?

It had never bothered him that I didn’t embrace his religion. He always said I’d understand someday. More than anything, I wished I could talk to him again. Tears began to drip between my fingers. Jeans brushed against steel as Ty slid over next to me. His arm came to rest on my shoulders, warm and heavy. He didn’t pull me in against his chest this time, but I wanted him to, oh how I wanted him to.

That was twice tonight I had let a practical stranger see me weak. I leaped to my feet and began to pace before the bench.

“That bastard. I should have realized him calling his nitro-addicted friends his ‘pack’ wasn’t a way of being original. Dammit!” It served me right for being attracted to a man with a fast car. Whether all this shit was true or not, and I wasn’t sure it was yet, that I had made a colossal mistake with Raul was clear.

Spinning on Ty, I fixed him with a hard look. It might not be his fault, but he was the only one I had on hand to focus my anger on. “Why would he do this to me?”

Sadness filled Ty’s eyes. “To make you his.”

A feral-sounding growl tore from my throat, frightening me almost as much as the fangs that sprang forth. Now I really, really wanted to hurt this bastard. Moisture stung my eyes. I looked down before Ty could notice. Pinecones and goose droppings littered the sidewalk but I was able to avoid them by mostly smell alone. This fact only disturbed me more. My mind searched for conditions and disorders that heightened senses, but everything I came up with was almost as improbable as becoming a werewolf. I kicked hard at one of the pinecones, sending it flying off into the night. It took a lot of deep breaths to get my fangs to go away.

Fangs. Fucking hell.

About Heather McCorkle:

Heather McCorkle is an award-winning author of paranormal, steampunk, and historical fiction. When she is not writing, or editing she can be found on the slopes, the hiking trails, or paddleboarding. As a native Oregonian, she enjoy the outdoors nearly as much as the worlds she creates on the pages. No need to travel to the Great Northwest though, you can connect with her on her blog and her many social networking sites. You can also find her the first Monday night of every month at 6:00 pm Pacific Time on the #WritersRoad chat on Twitter, which she co-created and moderates. Entertaining readers and uncovering stories and points of view that haven’t been covered are two of her greatest passions. For more info please visit heathermccorkle.com.

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New Release Spotlight! STARSTRUCK by Kalli Lanford

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About Starstruck by Kalli Lanford:

My father, the king, has condemned my friend Lestra to death for treason, and I’ve joined with her brother Slaine, the most beautiful male Enestian I’ve ever seen, to save her. Although even being seen with him is forbidden, for Lestra and the promise I made to my brother, I’m willing to take the risk. But time is short, and if we’re caught, we’ll be labeled traitors and executed.

To enlist help for our daring rescue, Slaine leads me into a dark, dangerous underworld where an uprising against the crown is brewing. And if the rebels discover I’m Princess Murelle, even Slaine’s status as a commander and vow to protect me with his life might not save me.

Excerpt:

I pushed myself into the Press. The first thing I saw was the top of Lestra’s flux-adorned hand reaching above the plates, her fingers tightening into a fist as the Press closed. The second thing I saw was the surprised yet disgusted look on my father’s face as I squeezed between the plates, joining Lestra in her execution.

“No,” my father screamed. “Stop the Press.” My side shell buckled and screeched. Or was that the screech of the Press?

My chest seized, pressing against my heart and lungs, squeezing the breath from my body. I gasped, trying to catch a mouthful of fresh air, but the compression made it impossible to do so.

A sharp ache radiated from my shoulders to my lower body, and with it came the thought of death. I’d become one with the realm, my conscious fulfilled and everlasting. Memories from my childhood flashed through my mind, each vision one of happiness and contentment. Me holding a baby moss hopper, feeding Bell at her perch, kissing Slaine in the rain. I’d never do those things again.

The chain rattled above me, clearing my mind. Something wet hit my lip. Was it blood? I licked them. No, not blood. The stale taste of rust-infused water spread across my taste buds.

“Free her!” someone shouted. It was my father’s voice in my ears, pounding in time with my pulse.

Hands caught me under my arms. My legs scraped against splintered wood, and as I was pulled away, my boot clad heels knocked upon the stone floor.

Everything was blurry—the rough, interior walls of the atrium, the points of the drippy stalactites above, the concerned faces looking down at me. I blinked. One of those faces was Slaine.

“Please be okay, my princess,” Slaine whispered.

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About Kalli Lanford:

A native of San Diego, California, I grew up hanging out at the beach, playing sports, and eventually attending San Diego State University where I earned my bachelor’s degree in English and master’s degree in education. When I’m not nerding out at San Diego Comic-Con or watching Star Wars and The Lord of the Ring’s movies for the umpteenth time, I can be seen doing normal people stuff like cooking delicious meals for my family (I attribute all of my culinary skills to the Food Network) and attending my son’s football games. In my spare time, I write new adult fiction, my biggest passion, and love listening to hard rock music and going to concerts. I hope to live long and prosper, and that you will, too.

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Release Day and Giveaway! UNFINISHED NIGHT: THE COMPLETE DUET by Violet Duke

Today we have the release day of Unfinished Nights – Complete Duet by Violet Duke! Check it out and grab your copy of this great series today!

About the Unfinished Nights – Complete Duet:

BEFORE THAT NIGHT:

Before that night, Addison Milan had been just a college dropout secretly raising her two young siblings in a beat-up minivan she’d bought with her first semester’s tuition refund–the only money her addict mother hadn’t taken off with when she’d abandoned them nearly two years ago.

Before that night, Caine Spencer had been just a rough, gruff cop sent to check out the phoned-in claims of suspected child neglect involving the same woman he’d met just months prior when she’d first served him the city’s worst diner coffee…which he’d been drinking daily ever since.

Before that night, Addison would never have thought the man she’d been fighting hard not to fall for–her only friend in her new shadow of a life–would be in a position to rip her family apart.

Before that night, Caine would never have believed any woman could make him fall head over heels, let alone make him feel so damn compelled to look the other way when it came to his job.

Then that one perfect night changed everything.

 

EVERY NIGHT WITHOUT YOU:

Seven years.

Seven damn years of wondering whether the woman was still alive…whether she’d spent the last two thousand five hundred fifty-five days wondering if he was still alive.

Wondering whether that night was as burned into her memory as it was his.

Seven years having his heart tethered to Addison―and now she’s back. With even more reasons to run than she’d had then.

Only this time, Caine isn’t letting the gorgeous little flight risk out of his sight.

Regardless of how noble her reasons may be.


Get your copy today!
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Excerpt:

Caine stopped with his hand on the doorknob and studied her for a bit, with those deep, stormy eyes of his that always saw too much, read her too well. Then, he quietly pushed open the door to the darkened room and walked in.

But he made no move to flick on the light switch.

Instead, he simply stood there, just inside the doorway, holding the door open for her silently, waiting for her to decide if she wanted to go into the pitch-blackness with him.

Addison knew the choice to step over that threshold, into the unknown, was symbolic of so much more than what he was asking in that moment…a fact she was certain hadn’t escaped him.

He didn’t back down. But he didn’t push, either.

“Alec thinks there’s no way you and I can be friends,” she whispered, in a feeble attempt to keep them away from a ledge they’d be tempted to jump off of, where there would be no coming back from. “This is sort of an experiment he’s conducting to prove his hypothesis.”

“Did I mention I hated that ‘just friends’ idea from the start?”

Yeah. Her too.

“You want to know what I was thinking about when you suggested it?” he continued, reaching up to put his forearm against the door jamb, crowding the opening with his broad, six-foot frame.

She shouldn’t. No good could possibly come from being allowed inside Caine Spencer’s head. “Yes.”

The gravelly rumble of his voice turned hypnotic. “I was remembering how those soft, sexy sounds you’d make when I’d kiss you on your neck—right where that new tattoo is—would test me, nearly break me of my control every time.”

When his eyes began tracing intently over the lines of her tattoo, the air in her lungs thinned, and slipped past her lips before she could stop it.

His jaw tightened, and his forearms flexed. Once. Twice. Before his voice dropped a full octave lower. “A test. Every. Single. Time.”

Oh God, she wasn’t going to make it.

He took a step back.

She followed him in.


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About Violet Duke:

NEW YORK TIMES & USA TODAY bestselling author Violet Duke is a former professor of English Education ecstatic to be on the other side of the page now writing emotion-rich stories with fun, everyday characters and sweet, sexy match-ups. Since her debut series in 2013, over a million readers have put all four of Violet’s laugh & cry contemporary romance series on bestseller lists and Top 10 charts across the major eretailers, both in the U.S. and internationally.

When she isn’t feeding her book-a-day addiction, Violet enjoys doing far too many things without checking the directions first (often with outrageous power tools she has no business operating), and cooking impossible-to-replicate ‘special edition’ dishes that laugh in the face of recipes. She lives in Hawai’i with her kids (Violet & Duke) and Mr. Violet Duke (their ringleader), with a PJs-and-rubber-slippers work dress code she takes very seriously.

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New Release and Giveaway! THE GENTLEMAN’S PROMISE by Frances Fowlkes (Daughters of Amhurst #3)

The Gentleman’s Promise
Frances Fowlkes
(Daughters of Amhurst, #3)
Published by: Entangled Publishing
Publication date: April 17th 2017
Genres: Adult, Historical, Romance

A social pariah due to her scandalous activities, Lady Sarah Beauchamp yearns for redemption to obtain a husband. The assistance of Society darling Mr. Jonathon Annesley gives her hope of success. However, the more effort he puts into helping her, the more she realizes the only esteem she wishes to earn is that of the handsome Jonathon. However, her reputation would potentially ruin his political aspirations.

Offering a gentleman’s promise to help his sister’s friend regain the favor of the ton should be easy for son of a viscount, Jonathon Annesley. After all, he’s well liked and considered a rising star in Parliament. Until he learns Sarah’s ultimate goal is a husband. No man is good enough and could ever appreciate her for all she is. But she is not for him—his focus rests solely on gaining reforms for society’s weakest members. Yet, a promise made cannot be broken…

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Excerpt:

“Would you consider kissing me? Here and now?”

The questions were bold, crass, and ungentlemanly at best. Decorum stated Sarah was in no way expected to answer. Quite honestly, he’d be surprised if she did. His devilry had likely caused her embarrassment, if not an awkward discomfort. But damn it all if his curiosity didn’t get the better of him.

The left corner of her mouth twitched as she held his gaze. “That was two questions. I believe the rules state I need answer only one.”

Dear God. Was she flirting with him?

Blood pounded loud and fast in his ears. He took another step toward her, his back to her maid. “I leave you to decide which question you would like to answer.”

Sarah’s gaze flitted to the side, the wind catching at the ribbon knotted attractively at her throat. “Well…I…” She glanced upward as a fat droplet of rain landed on her nose.

Of all the moments for the sky to open, it had to be the one where he stood breathless, awaiting her response.

His day was governed by the devil.

“Yes and no,” Sarah stated.

“I beg your pardon?”

Another drop splattered onto the scarlet wool of her pelisse. “I’ve given you two responses because I’m feeling generous. It is up to you to decide which response correlates with which question.”

With a quick curtsy and a wave of her hand, she motioned toward her maid and started toward the inn, leaving him standing alone with a smile as wide as his face.

He had not imagined her interest. She wanted to kiss him.

If Jonathon was anything, he was a man who kept his promises—and made certain others did as well.

A kiss from Lady Sarah was in his future. And he was determined to receive it.

 

 

 

Author Bio:

After viewing her all-time favorite love story, “Anne of Green Gables”, at the impressionable age of ten, Frances Fowlkes has been obsessed with affable boy-next door heroes, red-heads, and romance stories with lots of “highfaluting mumbo jumbo” written within their pages. It only seems natural then that she married the boy who used to pull on her curls in her high school English class, had not one, but THREE red-headed boys, and penned multiple love stories with bits of flowery prose.

When not writing, Frances loves spending time with her family, fangirling, and planning her next vacation.

Frances Fowlkes, originally a northern mid-westerner, now lives in the southeast with her ardent hero of a husband, three playful and rambunctious boys, and one spoiled standard poodle.

A self-professed Anglophile and summa cum laude graduate of LeTourneau University, Frances Fowlkes combines her passion for happily-ever-afters with her interests in both American and English histories.

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New Release Review and Giveaway! RIDE ROUGH by Laura Kaye (Raven Riders #2)

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Laura Kaye brings you the second title in her Raven Riders Series, RIDE ROUGH. A sexy romantic suspense, you might’ve first met the Ravens in the Hard Ink world, but this series about a different kind of a motorcycle club with a protective mission stands on its own and is even sexier, edgier, and grittier! The Raven Riders Series takes you on a new adventure and kicks it into overdrive! Order your copy of RIDE ROUGH today!
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About Ride Rough (Raven Riders #2, 4/25/17)

Maverick Rylan won’t apologize for who he is—the Raven Riders Motorcycle Club Vice-President, a sought-after custom bike builder, and a man dedicated to protecting those he loves. So when he learns that the only woman who has ever held his heart is in trouble, he’ll move heaven and earth to save her.

Alexa Harmon thought she had it all—the security of a good job, a beautiful home, and a powerful, charming fiancé who offered the life she never had growing up. But when her dream quickly turns into a nightmare, Alexa realizes she’s fallen for a façade she can’t escape—until sexy, dangerous Maverick offers her a way out.

Forced together to keep Alexa safe, their powerful attraction reignites and Maverick determines to do whatever it takes to earn a second chance—one Alexa is tempted to give. But her ex-fiancé isn’t going to let her go without a fight, one that will threaten everything they both hold dear.

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Excerpt:

Maverick’s gaze narrowed. “Don’t ask a question you don’t want the answer to.”

Alexa swallowed and licked her lips. “What if I do want it? The answer,” she added.

Years of need and longing roared through Maverick like a drug he’d mainlined. His thoughts spilled out unfiltered.

“Damnit, Al. You’re laying there in my clothes in my house with your thighs spread after I’ve just woken up holding you. My skin smells like you. And I’m sporting an erection because of you. Don’t fuck with me.” The words came out harsher than he intended, but she couldn’t play with him. Not on this. Not when he cared so much. Not when he wanted so much.

Her mouth dropped open and her chest rose and fell a little quicker. “I’m not playing a game. I want to know.”

Planting his hands on his hips, Maverick studied her. Her beautiful, languid body. Her pretty, open face. Her eyes, honest and free of pretense. He felt pulled in a million directions. Between wrong and right, between taking advantage and taking care, between giving in and opening himself up to a world of hurt. “I was dreaming of you. Of us. Up at Swallow Falls.”

“That night we—”

“Yes,” he growled.

“Maverick—”

Fuck.” He dropped his chin to his chest and closed his eyes. Trying to be bigger than his base needs. Trying to put her before himself. “Whatever is about to come out of your mouth is not a good idea.”

“Mav—”

“I mean it, Al—”

“Maverick!” she nearly yelled. “Listen to me.”

His gaze cut up to hers in time to see her sit up a little and take off her shirt. Well, his shirt. Then she laid back again, her eyes on him, drinking him in, inviting him in. “What if I do want it?” she whispered.

Something inside him snapped.

He was on her in a second. Body covering hers. Hands going to her warm skin. Mouth tasting her everywhere—her shoulder, her throat, her cheek. His chest pressed against her breasts, her hard nipples evident, her excitement palpable. And then his mouth found hers. On a triumphant groan, he claimed her, his lips sucking, his tongue penetrating. His big hand found her breast and kneaded at the soft mound.

And Alexa was right there with him. Moaning, kissing him, clutching on to him. Her thighs wrapped around his hips and her fingers twisted in his hair.

Bad idea bad idea such a fucking bad idea.

Why did bad ideas have to feel so good?

Review:

Whoa. What a ride this book takes you on!

Ms. Kaye did a fantastic job of showing how an otherwise seemingly strong, rational woman could become a part of an abusive relationship–and holy cow, did it give me the chills. That the reader can absolutely see what is wrong with Alexa’s relationship when she can’t yet? Yikes. This book has made me add Sleeping with the Enemy to my “must re-watch in the near future” list, because, yeah. That kind of creepy horror is all over this book.

Plus, motorcycles. And a hairless cat who wears sweaters and plays in the bathtub. A filled bathtub. With bath toys. Oh, and Maverick. Can’t forget him. 😉 Basically, this book is non-stop awesomeness from cover to cover–I can’t even begin to tell you how much the fact that Mav has so many single “brothers” in his club thrills me!

Raven Riders is a spinoff of Kaye’s Hard Ink series, and a few of the guys from there make appearances here (not enough, though, IMHO ;)). Even so, this one could work okay as a standalone. Some of the events that happened in book one of this series ( Ride Hard ) do come up here, but you’re given enough information to know what you need to for this story. Dare and Haven are almost as awesome as Mav and Al, though, so you’re going to want to find out their whole story–just a warning!

While clicking through to the series page, I see that Cora and Slider’s story is next, and all I have to say is YESSSSSSSSSS! (Fist pump in air)

Rating: 4 stars / A-

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

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And don’t miss all the books in the Raven Riders Series!
HARD AS STEEL now available
RIDE HARD now available
RIDE ROUGH coming April 25th, 2017
RIDE WILD coming October 31st, 2017

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Order RIDE ROUGH by May 1st, fill out this form, and receive an email with a bonus short story of more of Hard Ink’s Beckett after Release Week! Don’t miss this amazing opportunity!

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AQ Ride Rough Laura Griffin

 

laurakaye-34 crop 2About Laura Kaye:

Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty books in contemporary romance and romantic suspense, including the Hard Ink and Raven Riders series. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and monster puppy, Schuyler, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

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Laura Kaye’s RIDE ROUGH – Review & Excerpt Tour Schedule
April 17th
Book Lovin’ Mamas – Review
Ebook Indulgence – Review & Excerpt
GraveTells – Review & Excerpt
Red Hot + Blue Reads – Review & Excerpt
The Book Hammock – Review & Excerpt
The Ordinary Housewife Book Blog – Excerpt
April 18th
a geordielass honest blog on reviews – Review
Bridget’s Book Bungalow – Review & Excerpt
Cara’s Book Boudoir – Review & Excerpt
Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt
Knotty Girl Reviews – Review & Excerpt
NallaReads – Review & Excerpt
Shahla’s bookcorner – Review
April 19th
Disheveled Book Blog – Review & Excerpt
From the TBR Pile – Review & Excerpt
It’s All About the Romance – Excerpt
Julalicious Book Paradise – Review & Excerpt
Lit. 4 Ladies – Review & Excerpt
Sweet Red Reads – Review & Excerpt
Thoughts of a Blonde – Review
April 20th
Angel’s Guilty Pleasures – Excerpt
Becky on Books – Review & Excerpt
Books According to Abby – Review & Excerpt
Kdrbck – Review & Excerpt
Liezel’s Book Blog – Review & Excerpt
My Book Snack – Excerpt
The Book Disciple – Review & Excerpt
April 21st
Books, Coffee & Passion – Excerpt
East Coast Book Chicks – Review
My Girlfriends Couch – Review & Excerpt
Naughty Moms’ Story Time – Review
Sip Read Love – Review
Two Girls with Books – Review
April 22nd
Another Book Hangover – Excerpt
Dawn’s Reading Nook – Excerpt
Literary misfit – Excerpt
The Book Boyfriend Addict – Review & Excerpt
What I’m Reading – Review & Excerpt
April 23rd
Cocktails and Books – Review & Excerpt
Fictional Rendezvous Book Blog – Excerpt
Friends Till The End Book Blog – Excerpt
Love Notes Book Blog – Review & Excerpt
Reading Between the Wines Book Club – Excerpt
April 24th
Book Sniffers Anonymous – Review
Books,Dreams,Life – Excerpt
For The Love of Fictional Worlds – Review & Excerpt
JOJO THE BOOKAHOLIC – Review & Excerpt
Nice Ladies, Naughty Books – Review
Pretty Sassy Cool – Review & Excerpt
April 25th
BooksandMe – Excerpt
FMR BookGrind – Review & Excerpt
Four Chicks Flipping Pages – Review
Ripe For Reader – Review & Excerpt
The Book Reading Gals – Review & Excerpt
With Love for Books – Review
April 26th
A Hopeless Romantic’s Booklandia – Review & Excerpt
Bookaliciousbabes Blog – Review & Excerpt
Queenzany – Review & Excerpt
Read-Love-Blog – Review
Reviews by Tammy and Kim – Review & Excerpt
Spoons, Hooks, and Books – Review & Excerpt
April 27th
A small girl, her man and her books – Review & Excerpt
Bobo’s Book Bank – Review & Excerpt
Lynn’s Romance Enthusiasm – Review & Excerpt
Renee Entress’s Blog – Review & Excerpt
Sofia Loves Books – Review & Excerpt
The Book Junkie – Review & Excerpt
April 28th
Book Angel Booktopia – Review
G & T’s Indie Café – Excerpt
Love Drug Book Blog – Review & Excerpt
Nose Stuck in a Book – Review & Excerpt
Pardon My Blurb – Review & Excerpt
Reese’s Reviews – Review & Excerpt
Sassy Moms Say Read Romance – Review & Excerpt

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New Release and Giveaway! BAY SONG by Noelle Adams

In BAY SONG, Holly, a reclusive woman with a secret past meets Cade, a smart and handsome crime writer who has returned home to write the novel that he hopes will save his career, but instead discovers Holly, and sets out to tell the story hiding beneath her haunting beauty. Fans of contemporary women’s fiction will become lost within the pages of this new work of fiction by New York Times Bestselling Author, Noelle Adams.


Title: Bay Song
Author: Noelle Adams
Release Date: April 19, 2017
Publisher: Noelle Adams
Series: Standalone
Word Count: 231 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Women’s Fiction
Tropes: Hidden agenda, overcoming physical/emotional odds
ASIN: B01MUV5QX1
Price: $3.99

 

Synopsis:

Her mother used to say you can feel the truth in your throat. Maybe when her story is finally told, she’ll be able to breathe again.

For six years, Holly has lived a reclusive life–with the Chesapeake Bay, the wild animals on her property, and dark memories as her only companions. Then she meets Cade. He’s smart and handsome and sensitive and sexy, and he simply will not go away. He wants to know all about her, and Holly starts to wonder if she can open up her heart again.

Cade comes back to his hometown for a break, barely holding on to the fraying edges of his true-crime writing career. He needs to write another book, and it needs to be a success. When he meets Holly, he knows there’s a great story hiding beneath her haunting beauty and her complete isolation. He’s going to be the one to tell that story.

Even if he breaks both of their hearts in the process.

Find out more at: Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo

 

Excerpt:

As he walked back, he dried his face and chest. When he reached her, Holly was stretched out on her towel, her body displayed in a way that sent a surge of desire through him, most of it centered in his groin. Her suit was pretty much transparent now. The strings and fabric were stretched and thin. That bikini must be twenty years old.

“I’m exhausted,” she said, her eyes closed and arms stretched up above her head. Then she squinted at him in an exaggerated glare. “Why aren’t you tired too?”

He almost laughed at the irony. He must be a better actor than he thought. “I am,” he admitted, lowering himself to sit beside her on the sand. “I feel like I might just fall over.”

“Good.” She was doing that suppressed smile thing, and it made her face look absolutely enchanting—almost as attractive to him as her body.

He couldn’t keep his eyes from crawling over her long limbs and firm curves though. She was only a few inches away from him, and her breasts alone made him want to howl. He felt the erection that had tightened earlier get a little harder as he gazed at her. Soon it was going to be uncomfortable.

“Don’t get too turned on,” she said without opening her eyes. “Nothing is going to happen.”

“I know that. But there’s not any sense in trying to reason with my body. It does what it does, no matter how sternly I lecture it differently.”

She chuckled, and he was irrationally pleased that he’d managed to amuse her. She opened her eyes to meet his again. “If it’s going to be a problem for you, then you’ll need to leave. This isn’t an invitation.”

“I know it isn’t. I’m not a lumbering buffoon who thinks a body is only there for me to touch. It’s not going to be a problem for me.” He noticed that she didn’t offer to cover up. That was interesting and not a normal response for a woman—at least for the women he’d known before.

She wasn’t taking any responsibility at all for the state of his body, even though she was lying next to him mostly naked.

“Good. Then you can stay for a little while.”

“Thanks.” His voice was dry but not sarcastic.

She smiled again and relaxed on her towel, obviously enjoying the feel of the sun and the breeze.

Cade adjusted his position and tried to enjoy it too, although his mind was whirling with too many questions and responses.

“It doesn’t bother you?” he asked after a minute.

She turned her head to look up at him. “What doesn’t bother me?”

“My sitting here staring at you like this.”

“You weren’t staring just now. You were looking out at the bay, trying to get less turned on.”

She was exactly right, although how she’d realized it with her eyes closed he had no idea. “But I was staring at you earlier. It doesn’t bother you?”

“No. Why would it?”

“I don’t know. A lot of women are self-conscious about people staring at their bodies. And since you seem to be… reluctant to socialize, I would have thought it would be harder for you.”

“No. I think people are self-conscious because they want other people to think well of them, more so about the parts of them that are most intimate. I couldn’t care less about whether you like my body or not.”

She was speaking the truth. He could tell. It was so different from what he was used to that he had trouble wrapping his mind around it.

“And lying here like this doesn’t feel very intimate to me anyway. I’d far rather you see me naked than set foot into my house.”

She was telling him the truth about that too. He wondered whether something was in the house that made it so off-limits or if it was just a private sanctuary that no one but her could ever enter.

There were still far too many questions about her than answers. He might have seen her mostly naked, but he had barely scratched the surface of who she was.

He wondered why she’d allowed him to swim with her this evening, why she wasn’t sending him away now.

“You interest me,” she said at last, as if she had read his mind. “I can’t quite figure you out.”

“Same here,” he said, speaking only the truth.

“No one has really interested me in a long time.” Her words drifted off as if she was speaking to herself.

He didn’t give her the answer out loud, but the same was true of him. He wanted—needed—to know more about her. It made him feel alive, so alive that he wondered if he’d been living half-dead for the past few years.

Copyright © 2017 Noelle Adams

 

 

About Noelle Adams:

Noelle handwrote her first romance novel in a spiral-bound notebook when she was twelve, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. She has lived in eight different states and currently resides in Virginia, where she reads any book she can get her hands on and offers tribute to a very spoiled cocker spaniel.

She loves travel, art, history, and ice cream. After spending far too many years of her life in graduate school, she has decided to reorient her priorities and focus on writing contemporary romances.

If you’d like to contact Noelle, please contact her at noelle.s.adams@gmail.com. Or connect with her on TwitterFacebook, and Goodreads.

 

Spread the news about BAY SONG with a GIVEAWAY!

Grand Prize: One (1) lucky winner will receive a $15 Amazon gift card and one (1) winner will receive a runner-up prize of an eBook from Noelle’s backlist.

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Release Day and Giveaway! THE RIGHT FIT by Daphne Dubois

 

Maxine and Antony are about to discover a game of casual hook-ups can  lead to something neither one of them thought they deserved—the right fit.

 

THE RIGHT FIT
Daphne Dubois
Released April 12th, 2017
The Wild Rose Press

When Maxine Nicholls discovers her fiancé is cheating, she turns to fast food and nighttime soap operas, but her sister has a plan—unbridled rebound sex with a stranger.
 
As one of Toronto’s hottest players, Antony Laurent tallies scores on and off the ice, but when the chiseled defense man hits a slump, rumors of a trade to the minor league send him to ambush a managers meeting at a posh club.
That night a chance encounter ends up as an unforgettable evening of passion. But Maxine and Antony are about to discover a game of casual hook ups can lead to something neither one of them thought they deserved—the right fit.

She dropped her gaze and stared at his hands. God, they are big hands. Big hands, big… “Do you want a coffee?” she blurted out.

“A coffee? Non.”

“Or maybe you need the washroom?” She pointed down the short hallway that lead to her bedroom.

He looked down the hallway, then back to Maxine. “You want me to use washroom?” he asked seriously.

“No.” She backed up a few steps until she reached the kitchen counter. The heat under her dress was now slick and uncomfortable. She glanced down and saw a mint leaf sticking out of her cleavage. Classy lady.

The romance cover model ran a hand through his hair again, making his biceps strain under the t-shirt sleeve. Maxine suspected he’d practiced that move in the mirror a few times. “Then what do you want?” he asked.

A burst of nervous laughter escaped, but then her smile faded. “No one has asked me that in a very long time,” she said. Slipping off his jacket, she laid it on the counter, letting her finger trace the stitching along the zipper, trying to build up her courage. “Why did you follow me into the cab?”

“Because no one has ever run away from me before.”

Rolling her eyes, Maxine looked up and saw that he was smirking. “Rejection is a new thing for you, I’m guessing.”

“Is that what you call inviting me here?” He tossed the ball cap and it landed perfectly on the dining table. The floorboard creaked as he took a step closer to her. There was a spark of anticipation in his eyes.

“Hold on, cowboy,” she said, putting a hand on his chest. My God! His muscles are rock hard under his shirt. Who the hell is this guy? She cleared her throat. “What makes you think you can kiss me again?”

He was still as stone under her touch, but Maxine could feel herself falling into his stare. “You kissed me,” he said, his voice ridiculously smooth. “There is a difference, I promise.”

It wasn’t only the French accent, but the confidence in his voice that made her knees almost unhinge. Her hand was flat on his chest; his racing heart was keeping time with hers. “That sounds like a proposition,” she said.

“It can only be decided one way.” Then he repeated his earlier question. “What do you want?”

He was so close she could see the faint brown and black colors of his stubble. There was a cleft in his chin. What do you want? An image of the long white box hidden in the closet was ignored; all Maxine wanted at that moment was to mold herself into his arms and forget about the last four years. “Kiss me,” she said.

His fingers grazed her cheek, tucking a wave of hair behind her ear. “Un moment,” he said. “A man should be prepared.” He peeled the last mint leaf off her chest then placed it in his mouth.

Maxine giggled through a surprised expression, which faded into a sigh.

Then, with deliberate care, he brought his lips down to hers, perfectly fitting their mouths together. He gently moved his chin starting a slow pace, controlled but with a sense of held back urgency.

This was nothing like the hastily stolen kiss at the club.

The cautious seduction was almost too much for Maxine. She wanted to taste him fully, kiss him back hard—tackle this moment like Alexis Colby.



Daphne Dubois writes contemporary romance and believes the right book at the right time can make all the difference. When she’s not putting her characters in compromising positions (ahem), she works as a registered nurse. A member of the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia, she lives in Eastern Canada, the most romantic place in the world.

 

 

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First Look and Giveaway! FORBIDDEN PROMISES by Katee Robert (The O’Malleys #4)

A First Look at Forbidden Promises by Katee Robert!

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Katee Robert delivers the next book in her sizzling O’Malleys family series, hailed as “The Godfather meets Romeo & Juliet.” FORBIDDEN PROMISES features Sloan O’Malley and her mysterious new next-door neighbor, Jude MacNamara.

 

Meet Jude!

Pre-order FORBIDDEN PROMISES and add it to your TBR pile on Goodreads! Then keep reading to get a sneak peek at FORBIDDEN PROMISES and to enter the giveaway for a $15 Amazon gift card!

Title: Forbidden Promises
Author: Katee Robert
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: Grand Central/Forever
Series: The O’Malleys
Page Count: 336 pages
Format: Digitial and Print
ASIN: B01KT7YSJM
ISBN-13: 9781455597031

 

Synopsis:

Some lines should never be crossed . . . not even for love.

Sloan O’Malley just left her entire world behind-her family, her wealth, and even her real name. For the first time in her life, she’s free. She can live the “normal” life she’s always wanted. A life without fear. But there’s nothing safe about her intensely sexy next-door neighbor.

Jude MacNamara has no room for innocence in his life. Only revenge. Still, he’s never been able to walk away from the forbidden, and Sloan-who is every inch of pure, mouthwatering temptation-has forbidden written all over her. Only after it’s way too late does he discover the real danger: claiming Sloan as his puts a target on her back. To protect her, Jude is willing risk everything . . . and to hell with the consequences.

Pre-order at:
Amazon → http://amzn.to/2oQ7Ikw
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Kobo → http://bit.ly/2mxvcG9

Forbidden Promises Excerpt:

She nearly tripped over Jude when she opened the door, and that was the last straw. “What is your problem?”

He raised a single eyebrow, not looking perturbed in the least. “Sorry?”

“No, you’re not. You’re not sorry that you turned me down last night, or that you left in a hurry, or that you were an…an insufferable jackass this morning.”

If anything, his eyebrow inched higher. “You’re in a mood.”

“Are you kidding me?” She pushed at his chest, but he didn’t even pretend she had the strength to move him. “You weren’t interested last night, so you don’t get to waltz into the diner and order me to go out with you. I’ve taken orders my entire life, and I’ll be damned before I take one from you.” The outburst left her feeling deflated, but she clamped her mouth shut and refused to apologize. Maybe she was being the slightest bit dramatic, but that didn’t mean she was wrong.

Jude took a step closer, towering over her, his shoulders so broad, they filled the doorway. “Are you done?”

Just like that, she had a whole lot more to say. “Actually—”

“That was a rhetorical question, sunshine.” His big hand cupped the back of her neck, his thumb tracing over her jaw and up to drag against her bottom lip.

The touch shocked her into silence.

For a moment. “Jude—”

Apparently he wasn’t finished. “I didn’t say no last night because I wasn’t interested. I wouldn’t have apologized—twice—if I wasn’t interested.”

“But—”

“You want to know the truth? The truth is that I can’t look at you without wanting to strip you down, to run my hands over that tight little body of yours, to spread those sweet thighs and fuck you with my tongue until you’re screaming my name and begging for mercy.”

She swayed, her anger, her ability to think or move or talk or do anything except stare helplessly at him, all gone. She licked her lips, forgetting that his thumb was there, and stroked him with her tongue instead. His chocolate eyes went even darker, and he suddenly seemed larger.

Say something.

“You shouldn’t say things like that.”

“It’s the fucking truth, sunshine.” He stroked her bottom lip with his thumb, his hand gentle yet holding her in place easily. “You’re a good girl. I don’t have to spend any time with you to know that. You deserve better than the likes of me, even for a fuck. But that’s the difference between us. I’m not good. I might as well be the goddamn devil as far as you’re concerned, but I’ve never been good at walking away when I have my mind set on something. And, sunshine, I have my mind set on you.

She couldn’t speak, couldn’t take a step, though she was at a loss if she’d move away from or toward him. It was like he held her captive with only a single hand, stalling out any and all reasoning ability.

Jude’s grip tightened, ever so slightly. “I was going to take you out. It’s not my scene, but I was willing to give it a shot. I changed my mind.” He stepped into her, his chest lightly pressed against her breasts, his thighs bracketing hers, his…Oh my good lord. His hard length pressed against her stomach, and it felt perfectly in proportion with the rest of his massive body, not that she was an expert on these matters.

His other hand came to rest on her hip, fingers bunching the fabric of her dress as he kneaded her. “Tell me to stop, and it’s done. I’ll walk away, and I’ll do my damnedest to leave you alone. Tell me to walk away, sunshine. Just say the words.”

She knew he was right. He was no good for her, and this would only end in tears on her part. The man wasn’t asking to date her. He didn’t want to get to know her. He was telling her all the things he’d do to her body.

But she couldn’t say the words to make him leave.

Sloan had never taken anything for herself in her entire life. She’d stayed in the background and gone with the flow and done everything in her power to play least in sight. Her brothers ran off any boy remotely interested in her, and she’d allowed it to happen. If her father had decided to move forward on his plans to marry her off, she would have walked down the aisle to a man of his choosing.

She’d never done a single selfish thing in her life until she asked Teague to help her escape.

Until she tentatively ran her hands up Jude’s chest, sucking in her breath at the way his muscles tensed beneath her fingers. Until she looked up into his stormy dark eyes and said the word that would damn them both. “Stay.”

Copyright © 2017 Katee Robert

Praise for The O’Malleys Series:

“It can be hard to make a ruthless assassin into a sympathetic character, but Robert handles the task with ease. She also deftly shows Sloan’s transformation from a pampered and protected naïf to a strong woman with a backbone of pure steel. A tension-filled plot full of deceit, betrayal, and sizzling love scenes will make it impossible for readers to set the book down.”—Publishers Weekly on FORBIDDEN PROMISES

 

“You will finish it in one sitting and die after you’re done because the next book isn’t out yet. This was one sexy ride!”—Reviewer Top Pick, Night Owl Reviews on FORBIDDEN PROMISES

 

“Two story lines end up converging into one explosive finale at the end.  A great read from the talented Robert!” —RT Book Reviews

 

“Katee Robert’s has created a fictional underworld of such veracity, that one almost expects the characters to turn up on the front-page news. It never feels over the top or implausible; the author writes extremely well-crafted stories… The romance between Cillian and Olivia is very beautiful, tender and real.”—Fresh Fiction on AN INDECENT PROPOSAL

 

“Will keep you turning pages.”—RT Book Reviews on THE WEDDING PACT

 

“If you like angsty reads, this book is right up your wheelhouse.”—Heroes & Heartbreakers on THE WEDDING PACT

 

“Dark, dirty, and dead sexy.”—Tiffany Reisz, bestselling author of The Original Sinners series, on THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT
 

Other Books in The O’Malleys Series:

THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT

THE WEDDING PACT

AN INDECENT PROPOSAL

UNDERCOVER ATTRACTION (Coming soon!)

 

About Katee Robert:

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Katee Robert learned to tell her stories at her grandpa’s knee. Her 2015 title, The Marriage Contract, was a RITA finalist, and RT Book Reviews named it ‘a compulsively readable book with just the right amount of suspense and tension.”  When not writing sexy contemporary and romantic suspense, she spends her time playing imaginary games with her children, driving her husband batty with what-if questions, and planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

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

Enter to win a $15 Amazon Gift Card from Katee Robert!

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A Conversation with Amanda Ashby, Author of THE WEDDING PLANNER’S BABY (Sisters of Wishing Bridge Farm #2–with a New Release Review and Giveaway!)

He’ll have to choose between duty to his relatives and  love for the real family he never thought he could have. 

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Bec’s quite wild and carefree and Lincoln is an English Lord and despite the differences they bounced really well off each other, which meant it was fun to write them. Plus, I loved Bec’s relationship with her best friend, Coop, so it was always a giggle when they were on the page together!

 

Name three things on your desk right now.

Colored Post It notes and colored pens

A large quartz crystal

A coaster in the shape of a Maori Tiki

(and one thing that isn’t on my desk is me! I tend to travel around the house following the sun like a cat, leaving the desk untouched by human hands!)

 

What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silveria (loved this book so much and when I finished I did that sad blinky thing when you realize that you’re not in book world at all, but rather in your house).

The Starbound Trilogy by Aimee Kaufman and Megan Spooner

 Storm Front by Jim Butcher.

 

What types of scenes are your most favorite to write?

The silly kind. I do have a tendency to go over the top with the situations that I throw my characters into and I figure that when it gets too ridiculous then my editor will haul me back. Though, every now and then they forget, and I end up with crazy weird things happening in my books. I really shouldn’t be left unattended!

 

What are you favorite types of stories to read?

I read a lot of Young Adult and Fantasy books and often describe my reading tastes as that of a twelve-year-old boy because I like a lot of action, sword fighting and magic. But I also love humor and romance so when I get a book that combines all of these things, I’m pretty happy!

 

What 5 things should readers know about you?

1) I can’t tell my left from my right without shaking my hand and then working out if that’s the one I hold a pen in (and yes, I know about all the tricks of making the letter L with your left hand and no one wishes that way would work more than me. Alas, it does not). However, despite not being able to tell my left from my right, I have a really great sense of direction, which was very handy in the pre Google Map/SatNav days!

2) I was born in Australia but have lived for many years in both England and New Zealand and as a result have a very strange accent. No, seriously, if we were having a strange accent competition I would totally win!

3) I will forever love The Spice Girls and all forms of 90s pop music. This makes my husband shudder, to which I merely reply zig-ah-zig-ah.

4) When it comes to black boots, I’m a firm believer that more is better!

5) The above policy also applies to purses and white linen blouses.

 

When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?

I started writing when I was twenty-seven after suddenly waking up one day and deciding that I should write a book. I wish I could say I was exaggerating and that I’d some inkling when I was younger, but nope. Not a clue. I was really good at creative writing at school and had been a life long reader, but until that moment of clarity, the chances of me being a writer were as likely as me becoming an astronaut (which, no offence to astronauts, but it looks like a lot of work). But I digress. So, after waking up with the idea to write a book I promptly sat down and wrote a 50,000 word romance, enticingly titled Love Story. Yeah. It was as bad as it sounds! It took me about a month to write and if memory serves, I did the whole thing in bold. Because I really was that clueless!!! After that I kept writing more books and learning my craft until I finally sold my debut book ten years later. Probably another reason why I could never be an astronaut. I’m a very slow learner!

 

What do you do when you are not writing?

I also work in the children’s department at my local library, which is awesome! I love books and I love seeing kids reading books so it’s a win/win. I also spend lots of time watching television or having my own nose buried in a book. Oh and I have a small and totally under control addiction to buying vintage treasures, which keeps me busy!!! Apparently I also have a family to feed and water, so let’s pretend that they come further up the list!

 

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

I sure do! For a start, I’m so proud of everyone who listens to their inner voice, who dares to follow their dreams and who steps into the magical space of creativity, it’s an amazing place to be! As for advice, there is quite literally only one way to write a book, and that’s word by word. Yes, you might not have the craft nailed, or understand how a scene works but until you sit down and start writing your story, you’ll never figure it out. So, take a deep breath and get started. You got this!

Amanda Ashby was born in Australia but now lives in New Zealand where she writes romance, young adult and middle grade books. She also works in a library, owns far too many vintage tablecloths and likes to delight her family by constantly rearranging the furniture.

She has a degree in English and Journalism from the University of Queensland and is married with two children. Her debut book was nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice award, and her first young adult book was listed in the New York Public Library Stuff for the Teen Age. Because she’s mysterious she also writes middle grade books under the name, Catherine Holt and hopes that all this writing won’t interfere with her Netflix schedule.

 

THE WEDDING PLANNER’S BABY
Sisters of Wishing Bridge Farm #2
Amanda Ashby
Releasing April 10th, 2017
Entangled Bliss

Free-spirited Bec Watson was never having children­––until she is. No way she’s ready for this, and she’s not going to tie-down the father, not even (especially!) if he’s secretly an English Lord. She’s doing this solo, which means she needs help from the one place she swore she’d never return…Wishing Bridge Farm. Home.

Lincoln Mathews has never known love, only responsibility. And now his family home and business is at jeopardy unless he finds a solution. Fast. Their idea? Marry for money. But the girl who stole his heart is carrying their child. His first mission? Follow her to Wishing Bridge Farm. But soon he’ll have to choose between duty to his relatives and love for the real family he never thought he
could have. 


 

“I’m sorry I judged you. I hate when people judge me, and yet I seem to be constantly doing it to you.” Bec sighed, causing her chest to rise and fall beneath her thin T-shirt.

“I didn’t give you much to go on.” Lincoln tried to ignore the cramp in his shoulder. He should move, but if he did, he might somehow break the connection that had opened between them. “What with the whole forgetting to mention who I really was.”

“I understand why you did it.” Bec bit down on her lower lip, making her even more desirable. The numbness in his shoulder disappeared, replaced by the steady pounding of his heart as he drank in the sight of her mouth. “And I could’ve asked more questions. Or taken fewer photographs,” she said.

“At the time it seemed like a good idea.” He dared to inch closer to her, breathing in her aroma—soap and hay and all things bright. His pulse spiked as she let out a tiny moan. The air caught in his throat as the throbbing tension rattled his body.

“It did,” she murmured, her eyes never leaving his. A shudder went through him as her perfume caught in his nose and her lips parted. “Just like right now, this seems like a good idea.”

Desire raced through him. She wants to kiss me as much as I want to kiss her.

He leaned in and pressed his mouth to hers, feather light at first, until Bec let out a soft groan. Lincoln’s arms snaked around her, dragging her closer to him, pushing away all the things standing between them. They were back in Italy. She tasted of juice and sunshine. The sea was behind them, the sand beneath. Bec’s hand looped up around his neck. His title fell away along with his responsibilities. All he could taste was her skin. Her heart pounding—

A cute and fluffy read–a fun way to start the week 🙂

The end of book one ( Falling for the Best Man ) ensured that I was going to sign up for book two–what was Bec’s story? What–or who–was she running from, and why? And…a baby? I was intrigued. Not to mention anxious to see who her hero would be…and a titled English lord? Yes, please!

Though I have to admit Lincoln didn’t seem particularly British, and Bec was more than a little immature…still, they were both quite likable, and wanting to see them get to an HEA kept me turning the pages. Bec’s inner monologue was particularly amusing–I especially felt a kinship with her when she reflected that

All she knew was that she was miserable. And she’d once spent six months trying to study accounting, so she knew a thing or two about misery.

Preach it, sister. Though I had two semesters, so tell me about it.

The Wedding Planner’s Baby would work fine as a standalone, if you haven’t read the first book yet. One sister left to go–we’ve got a pretty good idea where Pepper’s story is going to go, but it will be nice to have confirmation 🙂

Rating: 4 stars / B-

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

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Release Day! THE HOT SHOT by Kristen Callihan (Game On #4)

 

the hot shot AN

First we were friends. Then we were roommates. Now I want more…

What can I say about Chess Copper? The woman is capable of bringing me to my knees. I know this about five minutes after getting naked for her.

No one is more surprised than me. The prickly photographer my team hired to shoot our annual charity calendar isn’t my usual type. She’s defense to my offense, a challenge at every turn. But when I’m with her, all the regrets and darkness goes away. She makes life fun.

I want to know Chess, be close to her. Which is a bad idea.

Chess is looking for a relationship. I’ve never given a woman more than one night. But when fate leaves Chess without a home, I step up and offer her mine. We’re roommates now. Friends without benefits. But it’s getting harder to keep our hands off each other. And the longer we live together the more I realize she’s becoming my everything.

Trick is… Now that I’ve made her believe I’m a bad bet, how do I convince her to give this player a true shot at forever?

TheHotShot Amazon-2
AMAZON | iBooks | B&N | KOBO | Paperback

FINN

She sits quietly as I eat, and shakes her head when I offer her a sandwich section. Because I’m hungry, and because I don’t like the idea of her having to wait for me to eat, I wolf down my food. The brownie follows with a few, quick bites.

Wiping my hands on a napkin, I set the plate and empty can on a side table, and then let out a contented sigh. “Thanks. I needed that.”

Her smile is small and quick. “I should have fed you as soon as you got here.”

“I’m good now.”

Chess braces her hands on the seat and leans forward to watch her feet as we slowly rock the swing. Silence descends, thick and awkward, and for the first time in her presence, I’m at a loss for words.

I don’t know this girl. Not really, and yet I’ve inserted myself into her life with a determination I usually reserve for winning games. Except I have no endgame here. I told her I want to be friends. But how does that work for us?

Our friends and lives couldn’t be any more different. Parties for me are self-congratulatory events, filled with people whose one focus seems to be bolstering my ego, followed by me searching for a quick hookup. And my friends are all part of football in some way. We talk football or sports. It’s a narrow focus life, but it’s my comfort zone. That chafes too, knowing I live a life that seems wild and free to outsiders but is actually small and structured on the inside.

The silence has stretched too long. I should go. But I don’t move. If I go, I know it will be the end of whatever this is. Embarrassment will have me avoiding seeking her out again. Likely, she’ll do the same. And that will be that.

The knowledge sits like a stone on my chest.

“I’m sorry about my friends,” Chess says. “They can be uncomfortably brazen.”

“So can mine.” I shrug. “Your friends are…fun.”

Her lips pull tight. “They can be. But they were definitely giving me—and by extension—you shit tonight.” She bites her bottom lip. “I don’t think they know what to make of you.”

“So I wasn’t imagining things.”

“’Fraid not.”

The novel sensation of being a fish tossed into the wrong pond grows. I’ve taken away Chess’s fun by coming here, and I’m sorry for it.

“I shouldn’t have asked you to come here,” Chess says in a low voice.

She’s only echoing my thoughts but the stone sitting on my chest pushes harder against my ribs.

Chess makes a small sound, as if she’s trying to laugh but can’t. “Parties suck when you arrive halfway through and don’t know anyone.”

“I know you,” I point out quietly.

She turns and the porch light illuminates her face. Green eyes met mine and hold, as a slow, true smile curls over her cherry lips. Something inside of me shifts and slides. I want to kiss Chester Copper. Haul her onto my lap and make out with her like we’re teenagers hiding out at our parents’ party. But that’s not what she invited me here for.

“I wanted to see you,” she confesses in that husky morning voice that goes straight to my cock. She turns away and stares out into the darkness. “It’s weird, you know? But hanging out with you was so unexpected it kind of felt like I imagined the whole thing.”

I know exactly what she means. My hand settles next to hers, close enough that our pinkies touch. That small point of contact sparks along my skin, makes me want to move closer. I hold steady because I don’t trust myself not to act. “I wanted to see you too,” I tell her. “It’s been a long fucking day.”

I hadn’t planned to admit that, but it feels good to tell her.

Chess eases back against the seat and then curls her fingers over mine with a light squeeze. The unexpected touch holds all my attention. It’s nothing more than a simple offer of comfort, and here I am twitching in my seat as if she’d cupped my dick instead. I’m in so much trouble here because this woman is getting to me in ways I don’t know how to navigate. But I don’t pull away. Not one fucking chance of that.

Chess speaks, pulling me attention back to our conversation. “So tell me about it.”

I can’t remember the last time anyone asked me to tell them about my day. Likely, no one ever has.

So I do. And with every word that leaves my mouth, a little bit more of my stress eases. No, I don’t yet truly know Chess. And yes, our lives are different. But there’s no way I’m ending this. Because when it’s just her and me, everything else falls away. I’m not going to let myself forget that again.

THS1

 

KCauthor

Kristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she’d rather be. She is a three-time RITA nominee and winner of two RT Reviewer’s Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and the Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book FIRELIGHT received RT Magazine’s Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal , best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading.

WEBSITE / FACEBOOK / TWITTER /