Spotlight New Release Review: Her Summer with the Marine by Susan Meier

A new Bliss–with a new look, and a new open-door policy!

Her Summer with the Marine by Susan Meier

About the book:

Their competition has never been so irresistible

The last person Ellie McDermott wanted to run into after returning to her hometown is Finn Donovan, her high school nemesis and the guy she crossed the line from enemies to lovers with one night years ago. Now ex-military, tattooed, and still sexy as hell, Finn is a complication Ellie doesn’t need—she needs to concentrate on saving her family business.

Finn’s entire life, Ellie was there, going head-to-head with him in every class, bee, and test. So it’s no surprise she’d show up just as he was about to take over her father’s struggling business. It is a surprise, though, that his attraction to her is even more explosive than it had been. Acting on their attraction is one thing, but Finn has to turn a profit to save his own family, and nothing—not even love—will get in his way.

Review:

Lovers with a past–one of my favorite troupes–is given a “and competitors since birth” (practically) twist in Her Summer with the MarineI loved the fact that Ellie and Finn had been competing for–well, just about everything, really–for most of their childhood, and that it continued into the present when Ellie moves back to her hometown to take care of the family business for her ailing father. Their one-upmanship led to some really funny moments.

Ten minutes later, he jumped out of his SUV and bounded up the walk to McDermott’s. He wanted to hammer on Ellie’s door, but instead, he rang the bell and squeezed his eyes shut as a soft strain of classical music played. Even their damned doorbell was classy.

When no one answered, he hit the bell again. And again.

And again. If only because he was mad.

Finally the door opened, and he faced narrow-eyed Ellie. In a different tank top and tight jeans that clung to her rounded hips, she was virtually edible. His heart chugged to a stop. His anger evaporated.

“What do you want?”

What do I want? Sheesh. With her in that tank top, he wanted what he’d wanted this time last week—the chance to devour her. She was one of those unusual women who dripped sexiness even with cute short curly hair and wide, innocent eyes.

Or maybe he just saw her as sexy because he knew how soft she was, how she melted under his touch, how it felt to have her hands on him—

The paper in his hand picked up the sun and glinted at him, reminding him why he’d come to her house.

He cursed himself for being an idiot. As Devon had said, this needed to be about business. Nothing personal. He shook the brochure at her. “What the hell is this?”

One of her eyebrows arched. “Good advertising?”

“You’re begging people to use your mortuary!”

“Yeah, so?”

“So how the hell am I supposed to compete with that?”

“I’m hoping you can’t.”

He raised his hand as if to make a point, then realized he didn’t have one. Sunday night at the American Legion, he’d been telling Devon he could beat her, telling himself he was a Rottweiler and she was a poodle, yet in one brochure she’d turned the tables?

It was just like middle school when she’d made the volcano that spewed fake lava, and he’d done the crop rotation project that everybody thought was boring.

Of course, after that, she’d never beaten him at a science fair again. He’d figure this out too.

“Okay. You want a fight. You’ll get a fight.”

“I don’t want a fight. I just want to make sure I get my fair share of the business.”

“Right.”

She laughed. “Oh, I see what’s going on.” She poked her finger at him. “This isn’t about me. This is about you. You don’t like it when I beat you.”

He nearly caught her finger, but remembered how soft her fingers were and swallowed hard. “We’ll see if you beat me. You’re not the only one who needs the money. And you’re not the only one with business smarts.”

She stepped into his personal space. “Oh, yeah? What are you going to do?”

Right at that very second, if she were a normal girl, he would have kissed her. He would have kissed her because he was attracted to her. He would have kissed her to shut her up. He would have kissed her because that’s what his body was telling him to do.

When he didn’t answer, she took another step closer.

Now she wasn’t merely in his personal space—their bodies were virtually touching. He could smell her shampoo, feel waves of femininity drifting from her, awakening his hormones.

As if she’d finally figured out what she’d done, she looked up and caught his gaze, her brown eyes wide and confused. Their gazes stayed locked. Seconds ticked off the clock. The urge to kiss her shifted from hot and demanding to something he couldn’t quite identify. This woman who’d always been a thorn in his side had also been the first person to listen when he talked about his dad. And now with her dad sick, part of him wanted to soothe her, to comfort her with a warm kiss that would melt both of their bones.

Oh, great. Thinking about sleeping with her he could handle. But soothing her?

That was crazy.

Stupid.

What the hell was he thinking?

He sucked in a breath, stepped back, turned, and walked away.

The past keeps coming back to get Ellie and Finn in this book, over and over. Ellie resented the townspeople whose gossiping made her growing up years so difficult, but now she needs to play nice to gain their trust and business to get her father the help he needs. Finn’s family hid an awful truth for years, and now he needs to use his (hopefully) successful business to finally make things right for his mother. Both Ellie and Finn shared a moment at the end of high school–a moment that didn’t exactly end well, though neither one of them completely understood, then or now, everything that had been going on with the other at the time–and every time they’re together now it gets harder and harder to ignore the chemistry that still exists between them….

They decide that a no-strings relationship, completely apart from their business competition, is the way to go. They’ll just have a summer fling, and when one of them drives the other one out of business (because, let’s face it…a small town really only needs the services of one funeral director. At least until that zombie apocalypse arrives) they’ll go their separate ways.

Yeah. Apparently it’s only obvious to the readers how that plan’s going to work out.

I loved the characters Susan Meier has written here–not just Ellie and Finn, but their family, friends, co-workers, and the townspeople–they all seem so three-dimensional, and make the story really fun to read. (Plus, Finn’s got hot brothers who are also in town to try and help their mother–total sequel bait!) The dialogue is snappy, the chemistry is steamy (and the door is open here, taking the book a few steps beyond the usual Bliss title, which was also fun), and their competition was inspired.

Plus, there’s an absolutely fantastic I-need-to-suck-up-because-I’m-an-idiot / proposal scene. Just loved it–talk about inspired…

I’ll definitely be picking up more from Susan Meier in the future–this series, and beyond. This feel-good small-town contemporary romance was a great way to spend a happy weekend reading.

(The only thing that bothered me about this book was the title–Finn’s been retired from the Marines for some time before the novel even begins, so it seems a bit misleading. Though I suppose Her Summer with the Funeral Director just doesn’t have the same feeling to it, does it? 😉 )

Rating: 4 stars / A-

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

Buy Links:

Amazon

B&N

iBookstore

 

About Susan:publicity pix 2009 008[1]

A one-time legal secretary and director of a charitable foundation, Susan Meier found her own personal ‘bliss’ when she became a full-time novelist. She’s visited ski lodges and candy factories for “research” and works in her pajamas.

But the real joy of her job is creating stories about women for women. In her sixty published novels, she’s tackled issues like infertility, losing a child and becoming widowed. Her favorite stories are those that inspire laughter through tears.

Susan lives in western Pennsylvania with her own hero, their son and two fabulous felines, Sophia Maria Lolita Conchita Chiquita Banana and Fluffy.

 

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Guest Post: Top 5 Tips for Surviving Life on the Run by “Kitten” (Hanna Peach, author of Bound By Lies) and a Giveaway

Want to add some thrill to your morning? Look no further…
AND it’s on sale for a limited time!

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Top 5 Tips for Surviving Life on the Run

By “Kitten”

#5. Don’t use your real name. (No s**t Sherlock.)

#4. The less information that you give people is better. No birthdays, no childhood stories, no letting anyone in on your past. Yeah, that means no birthday presents. Get over it. Getting to stay alive for one more day is your present.

#3. Learn how to defend yourself – take up kickboxing, buy a gun and learn how to use it, or even better, do both.

#2. Keep a bag of cash and a set of clothes in your car (registered under a false name, of course – see tip #5 again) at all times, just in case you have to take off in a hurry. This also means don’t buy anything you’re going to be upset about leaving behind. Yep, this means curbing your shoe fetish unless your fetish is for comfortable trainers in which you can run.

#1. Don’t trust anyone. Not even if you fall in love with them. Especially if you fall in love with them.

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Bound by Lies by Hanna Peach
(Bound #1)
Publication date: January 21st 2014
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense
Synopsis:

Our love is on his terms. He contacts me only through notes − unpredictable and untraceable. When we meet, he can touch me, but I’m not allowed to touch him. When we make love, it’s only after I have been bound and blindfolded. It’s the only time I truly feel alive. Which is why I play along with it. For now.

Caden Thaine is the most sinfully beautiful man I have ever seen. But more than that, his touch sets me on fire. And dear God, do I ache for him. I don’t know where he lives or even what he does. But this doesn’t scare me. My only fear is that one day his messages will stop. I know he’s hiding something. But that’s okay. I am hiding things, too. Like my real name and… who I really am. But the deeper I fall for him, the stronger my curiosity grows.

I could never have imagined just how much our lives are bound. And that pulling at his tangled web of secrets would cause my own dark past to come back to try and reclaim me. Will we survive? Will our love?

Adult romantic suspense. +18 years.

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AUTHOR BIO:Hanna
Hanna began to write at the tender age of seven, starting with a daring and questionable autobiography entitled Go Suck a Lemon. Perhaps it was a little before its time.
After leaving school she agreed with everyone who said she needed to get a degree and a real job to become a proper adult. She kept writing as a hobby. After starting (and never finishing) several degrees and switching from multiple careers, she finally decided that being a real adult was overrated. In 2012, she sold everything, moved to Europe and began to write full-time.
Eternally restless, Hanna has lived in Indonesia, Australia, Germany and Scotland. She is currently residing in England.
She is addicted to coffee and chocolate and would one day like to own a dragon.
Hanna Peach is the author of the Dark Angel urban fantasy series and Bound romantic suspense series. Angelblood (Dark Angel #4) and Bound by Fear (Bound #2) are due for publication in 2014.

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Coming Soon: The Right Moves by Emma Hart (The Game #3) with a Giveaway now!

 Coming soon! This one looks good 🙂 In the meantime, enter to win!

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The Right Moves by Emma Hart
(The Game #3)
Publication date: March 27th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Synopsis:

Her past is wrought with demons.

His past is full of heartbreak.

Yet he’s the one person that can remind her what it means to live.

Abbi Jenkins never thought she would leave the walls of the mental institution that’s housed her for the last year. Now she has, but that doesn’t mean she’s forgotten everything Pearce put her through.

She knows there’s only one way to deal with the depression that claws at her mind each day, and ballet becomes more than a hobby, a dream. Ballet – and Julliard – becomes a reason to live. Something to hold on for.

Blake Smith left London for one reason and one reason only. Running from the heartbreak of his past was never something he wanted to do, but with constant reminders everywhere he turned, it became his only option. When he arrives in New York City, he vows he’ll keep the promise he made to his sister and get into Juilliard.

But he doesn’t expect to be paired with Abbi in class, the girl whose eyes show a world of pain he’s seen before. Pain he knows too well. As each hour they spend together pulls them closer, Blake can’t fight his need to save her from herself.

Lines blur as their pasts are wrenched into the open, and they have to ask themselves whether they’re  too broken to ever to be fixed, or if they’re the healing the other needs.

Excerpt:

Abbi:

 

“Come dance,” he repeats, spinning suddenly.

“You’re insane.” I shake my head. “I’ll get soaked.”

Blake grins. “Isn’t that the point of dancing in the rain?”

“It’s getting crazy out there. I’m getting wet even standing here because of the damn windows!” I move into the center of the shelter. “Freakin’ hell.”

“So what’s the problem? Come on.” He holds a hand out, his long fingers begging me to grasp them. I look from his hand to his eyes, his twitching lips, his wet hair dripping down his face.

“I … No.”

“Trust me.” He’s not asking me. “Trust me, Abbi. Just two minutes. That’s all you have to do. Just take my hand and dance in the rain with me for two short minutes.”

“Why are you so determined to get me out there? If you want to dance, we can do that here.”

He steps back under the shelter and takes my hovering hand. He’s wet but heat radiates off him and wraps around me. Our faces are inches apart as I look up at him and he down at me.

“Because I see the way you lose yourself when you dance and I want you to lose yourself like that with me. I want you to get lost in me. It’s selfish but I don’t care.”

I breathe in sharply and try to ignore the way his grip on my hand tightens. “I don’t … I don’t know if I can let myself,” I whisper.

“Sure you can. You just admitted you don’t have to pretend with me. And you don’t.” Blake takes my other hand and slowly pulls me forward. “All you have to do is close your eyes. I promise you, you won’t get lost alone.”

TRM

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AUTHOR BIO:Emma
By day, New York Times and USA Today bestselling New Adult author Emma Hart dons a cape and calls herself Super Mum to a terrible two year old and growing bump, due September 2013. By night, she drops the cape, pours a glass of juice and writes books.
She likes to write about magic, kisses and whatever else she can fit into the story. Sarcastic, witty characters are a must. As are hot guys. Emma is currently working too many books to even count – including Playing for Keeps, the companion book to the New York Times and USA Today bestselling novel, The Love Game. She likes to be busy – unless busy involves doing the dishes, but that seems to when all the ideas come to life.
Author Links:

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Stella Telleria (Author of Across the Wire) Talks Writing, Books, and Badass Heroines! (Plus Giveaways :)

 Author Stella Telleria is here today, and she’s brought some fine looking friends… 😉

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Thanks so much for agreeing to be with us today!

I’m pumped to be here. Thank you for having me.

What 5 things should readers know about you?

This is a tough question—especially since I hate talking about myself.

  1. I was a tomboy growing up and I dislocated my elbow while wrestling with my older brother when I was about 7 (my brother was 12). He also socked out a few loose teeth of mine and was responsible for a few scars and black eyes. I wouldn’t have traded my brother for anything though. Love ya, Bro.
  2. My favorite movie as a young teenager was Terminator 2. When I got to high school, my girlfriends insisted I had to watch Grease and Dirty Dancing (their favorite movies) because I’d never seen them. I couldn’t understand what they like so much about those movies. Why would I want to be Sandy when I could be Sarah Connor or Ellen Ripley? Those women were badass.ellen ripleysarah connor
  3. I love rollercoasters and extreme rides. The more my stomach feels like it’s in my throat the better.
  4. I love to restore/refinish vintage and antique furniture. I grew up fiddling with wood, power tools, and renovations with my father who was a carpenter. The sweet smell of sawdust always reminds me of him. I miss you, Pops.
  5. My favorite room in my home is my library. I love everything in it. A room without books has no soul.

Yes! Sarah and Ellen all the way!

Tell us all about your main characters—who are they? What makes them tick? What one thing would they need to have with them if stranded on a desert isle?

I’ll talk about the four main characters in the novel: Mia, Eben, Gavin, and Vuri.

At 26, Mia Mitchell has had her fair share of tragedy. During her first tour in Iraq, she was badly injured in more than just the physical department. A few tours later, an emotionally detached Mia is honorably discharged from the Marines and struggles to remember what life should feel like. Nightmares and PTSD are all she knows and the motto “keep moving” has kept her afloat amidst the psychological storm following her.

When she’s approached by Vuri, a strange man with an agenda of his own, she decides to take on the stranger’s cause. A cause that will take her to the parallel world of Gaia and into an entirely different fight. A fight that highlights the holes in her life and helps her find the softer side she thought died in a ranger grave long ago.

If stranded on a desert isle, Mia would bring her trusty KA-BAR knife. After all, is there anything that knife isn’t good for?

Eben’s name is the perfect description of him; a rock. He is a 28-year-old slave who has worked in a mine since before he can remember and is slowly dying from an infection in his lungs common to miners. He had never examined his life too closely until a fellow slave told him stories of the outside world.

No longer content with his life, he dreams of escape even if it means death, for even death would be a release. But his duty to his childhood friend and fellow slave, Gavin, keep him from trying. Once freed by Mia from the mine, he loses all sense of himself. But his keen intellect and his drive to rise above being a slave have him joining Mia’s resistance. Eben is the perpetual survivor.

If stranded on a desert isle, Eben would bring his bastons. They are his one true prized possession, and the only thing he’s ever owned in his life.

Vuri, a middle-aged foreigner, approaches Mia on the streets of San Francisco with an offer she finds both interesting and mysterious. He offers Mia the opportunity to teach self-defense and her other survival skills to a group of refugees whom due to gender and law, are banned from such teachings. She is skeptical but is convinced by Vuri she is perfect for the job.

Vuri is from Gaia, a parallel world where women rule, men are servants, and all fear the Empress. He is one of four Elders whom are trying to liberate the male population of his country, Beyal. He is cunning, manipulative, and no one knows much of his past except for his refined speech that indicates he’s never been a slave. Vuri wants the resistance to succeed—he is tired of living in hiding. But Mia isn’t the only one with secrets.

If stranded on a desert isle, Vuri would bring his wormhole device so he could simply travel to another parallel world.

Gavin, childhood friend of Eben, is a 24-year-old labor slave. Gavin has always had his way with the female sentries at the mine, earning him perks others covet. But Gavin has always relied upon Eben for protection from the other male slaves. After all, his smart mouth is always getting him in trouble. Sold to the mine as a child, unlike Eben, Gavin remembers his previous life and is bitter and cynical about everything as a result.

Once freed from the mine by Mia, Gavin cannot understand Eben’s desire to overcome his slave origins and challenge society’s doctrine. He thinks he and Eben should just look out for themselves, but it isn’t long before Gavin’s ideas start to change as well. These once friends find themselves being pulled apart as their desires have them challenging each other. Freedom isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

If stranded on a desert isle, Gavin would bring Eben. Eben has always watched out for him, so if he were there everything would turn out ok.

Hmmm. I’m tempted to say that Vuri would be cheating… 😉

If your book were being cast as a movie, who would you want to play the main characters?

rhona mitraI’ve always envisioned Rhona Mitra as Mia. She’s just so believable in that kick-ass hardcore female role.

 

 

 

 

Liam Neeson, or at least a shorter version of him, would be great for Vuri. He is a great actor who could easilyliam neeson play the role of friend or enemy. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE ROCKDwayne Johnson, AKA the Rock (now there’s a coincidence), would be perfect for playing the role of Eben. He’s no pretty boy but has a soft side most might not notice.

 

 

 

 

Alex Pettyfer is the charismatic, blond pretty-boy I’ve envisioned for Gavin from the start.Alex P

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ohmygosh, YES. I cannot argue with a single one of your choices!

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

I have been actively writing for about 8 years now.

I always had made up stories running through my head my whole life and always loved to read. In high school I had my heart set on being an animator/digital artist. I had a few comics I’d written and illustrated and I applied for a design and digital media program at a local collage. Alas, I was rejected. It was a really hard program to get into. Life went on and I had engrossed myself in a job I was no longer passionate about when my father suddenly became ill and passed away when I was 24. I was numb. I couldn’t find happiness in anything anymore and it really made me examine my life. I had this overwhelming urge to write my thoughts and feelings down and suddenly I couldn’t stop writing. That was when I knew I wanted to be a writer.

Sometimes you just need that extra push…it’s your silver lining in an otherwise sucky cloud.

What do you like best about being a writer?

My favorite thing about being a writer is when a reader tells me how much they identified with my characters. Those are the most rewarding moments of my life—to hear that someone else loves my characters as much as I do.

🙂

What is the most challenging part of being a writer?

I find the hardest thing about being a writer is juggling your life around it. It’s a hard task. Writers are hermits. I am perfectly happy to sit in my pajamas all day and write from morning till night. Some days are easier than others. You have to make time for a social life and your loved ones. I find it to be a constant struggle. There is this sort of obsession/passion in writing and other art forms. It can be all consuming at times and unhealthy for the relationships in ones life. It’s a balancing act and I’m lucky my husband is as supportive as he is. He keeps me sane.

That’s fantastic! Everyone needs someone to do just that.

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

I am currently working on the sequel to Across the Wire tentatively named Molding the Marksmen. I hope for it to be out in the next year and a half.

Excellent!

What authors and/or books have inspired you?

ms treea journey to..

my namenarnia

Anneoutsiders

memoirsblue dolphins

charlottehobbit

dantehunger gsames

Wow! That’s quite a collection.

What are you currently reading? What are your thoughts about it so far?

I’m about halfway through Red Rising by Pierce Brown. I love dystopian fiction and first person perspective, so it’s right up my alley. I like it so far and really enjoy discovering different writing styles and voices. I’ll soon have a review of it on my YouTube channel.

We’ll have to check that out 🙂

Please share a favorite scene from your books with our readers.

 

This is the first scene from the book and is one of my favorites because I think we get to know Mia quite well in just one act.

BOOK 1

Survivor’s Syndrome

Mia

Keep moving.

That worked most of the time. So did going to karate class on days the dream came. The busyness helped. I went almost every evening and tonight would be no different.

I made dinner. A tuna sandwich and some nuked water in the microwave for tea. I headed to the only chair in the place, a plastic lawn chair on the balcony. I’d almost reached it when a loud crash sent me diving to the floor.

The plate and mug clattered against the wood floor. Hot tea splashed the walls.

My heart pounded like it was trying to escape my ribs. I covered my head waiting for the mortar rubble to fall. The desert sand in my mouth tasted like it had so many times before, dust and grit.

Someone’s wail of pain made me forget my panic and focus.

This wasn’t Iraq. This was my apartment. The crash had come from next door.

I pushed off the floor, ran out into the hall, and banged on the door. “Mrs. Bateman? Are you all right?” I jammed my ear against the wood, held my breath, and strained to hear.

The plea was full of wobbly fear. “Help. I-I can’t move.”

I turned the knob but the door was locked.

Shit.

I backed away from the door. The sweet spot next to the dead bolt practically screamed kick me in for fuck’s sake! The first kick was a test. The second kick did the job. The wood door jamb splintered apart.

I was through the doorway, and the apartment was an inverse of mine except that Mrs. Bateman had lived there long enough to turn it into a museum—porcelain knickknacks everywhere. The smell of mothballs and perfume was so strong it left a taste in my mouth. As I ran past the kitchen and living room, glass crunched under my trainers.

Books, picture frames, and shattered glass bits were all over the floor and bed. A tall bookshelf was propped up on the edge of the bed. A burgundy-slippered foot, an S.O.S., stuck out of the books between the triangle of the floor, bed, and bookcase.

“Mrs. Bateman!” I stepped over the foot and pushed the bookcase back against the wall. “Are you all right?”

She moved and it was as if the books were crawling over the old woman lying on the floor. “Mia?”

I pulled old encyclopedia-sized books and records aside. A shard pricked my knee as I knelt down. The last few records fell away to reveal a scared old woman. Her cheek was swollen; it pulled at her wrinkled tissue-paper skin, smoothing it out. I forgot my knee.

“Where are you hurt?”

She blinked. “I—” her eyes darted and she winced, “—my arm.”

I cleared away picture frames and porcelain figurines of women in long dresses. Mrs. Bateman was on her side, she’d landed on her arm, but it didn’t look broken.

Footsteps sounded at the door and a man entered the room.

“What happened?” Sam, from down the hall, arrived looking like a chihuahua trying to have a bowel movement, trembling and nervous about it all.

“Get the medic,” I barked.

He twitched in a way no real man should. “What?”

I shook my head. “Call. An. Ambulance.”

He paled and ran out of the apartment as if being chased.

I helped Mrs. Bateman up.

“I think you scared him.” She frowned, and I remembered at one point she’d tried to fix me up with Sam.

“It’s for his own good,” I said.

She sat on her bed and stared at the mess of her room. She seemed brittle. She had to be at least eighty years old, shaped like a pear, and she bruised like one. Her swollen face darkened by the minute. She shouldn’t live alone.

“Thank you, Mia,” she said. “You must have heard the noise.”

I nodded and sat on the bed next to her. “The ambulance should be here soon.”

She shook her head and frowned. “I’m fine. I was trying to get one of Mr. Bateman’s records, he loved Sinatra.” Her chin quivered. “It’s all broken. It’s all gone now.”

It wrenched my guts sideways. I couldn’t stand the sight of old people crying. There was no consoling them. They knew better than most. They’d lived long enough to know pretty words were just that.

I picked up books and set them back on the shelves, trying to help in some small way. I straightened a pewter frame with a sepia photo of Mrs. Bateman and a man in an old tuxedo. An old pain lanced through a dark place I kept shut.

Placing the wedding picture on the shelf, I paused. “How long were you and Mr. Bateman married?”

The corner of her mouth twitched. “Mr. Bateman and I were married for eleven years, but that was my first husband, Mr. Wayland.”

“First husband?” I’d never thought of my neighbor as the divorcing type.

She cradled her arm and smirked. “I’ve had three husbands.”

I continued putting books and figurines back on the shelves. The sound of broken ceramics and ambient street traffic filled the room.

“I’ve buried three husbands,” she added.

I placed another framed picture of a different wedding on a shelf. A young Mrs. Bateman smiled in the picture. I wondered how she had survived such sadness and how so much pain could find its way to certain people’s door steps. I scratched at my left wrist but forced myself to stop. I understood why she lived alone now.

The two most insignificant words, words I’d heard a million times, came out of my mouth. “I’m sorry.”

She nodded. “Most people think it’s a joke I’ve buried three husbands.” Her voice was hard.

The glass of the picture caught a glint of sunlight. “It’s not,” I said and heard an ambulance off in the distance through her open window.

“I don’t

know why some think it is.” Her eyes seemed unfocused. “It’s not easy watching the ones you love die.”

She was hurt, she’d lost things she’d loved, and maybe she’d lost confidence in her independence. I could understand those things.

“Maybe it’s some people’s way of dealing with it,” I said. The siren became louder—getting closer.

Mrs. Bateman sat staring at me. “Of dealing with what?”

I went back to placing a bunch of unbroken records on the shelf. “That fortune holds no favorites. That everyone dies.”

A fragment of a figurine stood out of the wreckage on the floor. A decorative ceramic mask smashed roughly in half. It was white with sparkles painted on the lips and a tear glittering on its cheek. It lay there with its broken side to the floor and a wave of déjà vu hit me in the gut. The broken figurines and records became gravel. The mask became Sergeant Kosher’s head, what was left of it. The sparkled mouth became blood that caught the light. The tear was some other bodily fluid that seeped out of his remaining eye because there’d been no time for tears. His brain was scattered around his head like a halo. Kosher, the patron saint of car bombs. He never saw that IED; he never knew what was coming. It’d made me feel better about it somehow.

“The worst isn’t what people say,” I said.

“What’s worse?” Mrs. Bateman’s voice was hushed as if we were in church.

“That there’s nothing you could’ve done or will do to make their deaths worth it. Nothing that’ll explain why you survived and they didn’t.”

“But… in time a small bit of understanding can come from it.”

The closed casket memorial service of another solider played in my mind.

“Time passes and you realize you’re never gonna do enough to earn your right to live.” I closed my eyes and when I opened them, Kosher was gone. It was the mess on Mrs. Bateman’s floor at my feet again. One glance at the little old lady on the bed told me I’d said too much. Her eyes were a little wider than normal, and her lips parted.

“Just keep moving,” I said as I pulled books and whole tchotchkes from broken bits of crystal and porcelain clinking together. The sound punctuated her loss. Maybe it was more than just her loss in that room.

Mrs. Bateman stared at me and I wished I could’ve taken back those words, wished I hadn’t upset her more.

“I can sweep this up for you, if you like.”

Her face sagged. She reached down, wincing as she did, till she pulled a salt shaker out of the rubble. The bottom was gone but it looked like a souvenir from some tourist destination. I wondered if she wanted to glue what she could back together.

“It’s like losing my husbands and friends all over again.”

I couldn’t understand the mourning of possessions. They had always been dead.

She wiped at her face with her hand, her knuckles swollen with age and ache. “I can’t believe I did this.”

Kneeling, I picked at the cut in my knee. My jeans were a little bloody and the cut was already clotting. But Mrs. Bateman’s regret hit me somewhere deep. Somewhere raw that never scabbed.

Thank you so much, Stella! Want to find out more about her first book, Across the Wire, and enter for a chance to win your own copy? Just keep reading!

AUTHOR BIO:Stella

All my life I’ve dreamed of stories or have had my nose buried in one. I live in Edmonton, Canada with my husband and my weird sense of humor. Across the Wire is my first novel.

I love old war movies, dystopian fiction, and any story with action, a good plot, and characters I’d get into a fight at the pub for. Not that I’m a brawler or anything. Unless you think that out-of-print book or vintage piece at the thrift shop is going home with you instead of me. Then, my friend, the gloves are off.

Some say if you have your nose buried in a book, you’re missing out on life. I say my nose is buried in a book because one life is not enough.

Author links:
http://www.stellatelleria.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stella-Telleria/618003478260798
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7373984.Stella_Telleria

AcrossWire
Across the Wire by Stella Telleria
Publication date: November 4th 2013
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction
Synopsis:

When Mia Mitchell, a hardcore but lonely former Marine, steps into an alley to pull some thugs off an unlucky foreigner, she walks into a fight she expects. What she doesn’t see coming is the foreigner making her a job offer any sane person would refuse. So, she takes it. She thinks she’s headed for some third-world country; instead she’s mysteriously transported to an Earth-like parallel world. That’s a mad left-hook.

Mia discovers a matriarchal dystopia where freedom doesn’t exist and fighting for it means execution. Lethal force bends all to the law; women fear for their families and un-wed men suffer slavery. Mia’s job is to train an underground syndicate of male freedom-fighters for a violent revolution. However, the guys don’t want a pair of X chromosomes showing them the way.

Eben, an escaped slave, is encouraged by Mia to become a leader among the men. But when he turns his quiet determination on her, it spells F.U.B.A.R. for cynical Mia. Their unexpected connection threatens more than her exit strategy; it threatens the power struggle festering with in the syndicate.

Haunted by nightmares and post-traumatic stress, unsure who to trust or how to get home, Mia struggles to stay alive as she realizes all is not what it seems.

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New Release Spotlight and Giveaway: Lean on Me by Candy Crum

 Two giveaways for this one–US and international!

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Synopsis

Sixteen year old Bri comes from a wealthy family, allowing her an expensive pass into the popular crowd, though it never much mattered to her. She’s on the basketball team and track and is the top in both.

Bri has everything a girl could want, but she longs for loving and emotionally available parents. She longs for a traditional family instead of the one she was gifted – cold and very distant.

Bri’s parents pressure her to be the best at everything instead of just being the best that she can be. As a result of trying for the perfect life for her parents, Bri finds herself in an abusive relationship and pressured into doing what a lot of teenagers are pressured into doing.

When Bri becomes pregnant, her entire world is turned upside down and she has no idea who she can trust anymore. Bri struggles to find a place in this world for herself and for her baby – the baby that she is desperate to have and watch grow. Along the way, Bri is given an opportunity to completely change her life and the life of her child – but it may hinder the life of another… binding him to a future he was never meant to have, just for her. Bri is forced to grow and grow stronger as she fights for her baby and learns how to be a good mother – and remain a pure soul.

 

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Excerpt

Chapter 4

Bri struggled to breathe as the wind hissed from her lungs with the awkward landing. Her vision was blurry and her head throbbed. She wanted to scream, but was silenced with something being strapped across her mouth – duct tape. Her attacker grabbed her by the hair and dragged her backward, behind the store. She screamed from behind the tape and kicked her legs, struggling to get free.

Tears streamed down her face as she immediately worried for the condition of her baby. She’d landed hard on her belly. She had no idea what it would take to end a pregnancy by blunt force. The attacker used her hair to pull her up to her feet before slamming her hard into a wall. As soon as her vision cleared, fear coursed through her, adrenaline threatening to make her pass out.

Before, she’d worried that her attacker may hurt her baby (even by accident, not knowing she was with child) in the process of robbing her. Now, she knew the object of this attack was solely for the purpose of harming her baby. She stared into Mike’s cold, hard eyes. She heard the chuckles of four of his friends surrounding him.

“Your mom called,” Mike said, gently running his fingertips down the side of her face. “She said that she was sorry her daughter was so confused. She begged me to take you back. Even told me where you’d be so I could come and talk to you. That was nice of her, wasn’t it?”

Bri sobbed as she tried to push him away, knowing that even if she managed to fight him off, there were four more to subdue her.

“I know we had our little chat just today, but I got to thinking about it and it’s been quite a long time since you and I fooled around. You know what that means? Docs around here won’t do an abortion without parental consent because of the increased risks.”

Bri felt disgusted that he stated that so casually. He was a stupid boy. He didn’t know a lot about anything that wasn’t sports related. She imagined that he’d learned it from other experiences like this, either his own or his friends.

“But you won’t talk to your parents, will you, Bri?” he asked, pushing himself closer. She was terrified, too terrified to move. She wished that she could get to her phone. She wished that she could call for Matt’s help. “I didn’t think so.”

She realized then that she’d been too scared to answer, too scared to lie her way out of it – even from behind tape. Bri was about to answer by way of nodding when the first blow to her face came. She was hit hard, several smaller bones in her face crushing under the blow. She landed hard on the ground, blackness seeping in as she felt the first painful kick to her abdomen. Please, God, was the last thing to enter her mind as she lost consciousness.

“Her pulse is weak,” she heard a man say from above her. She looked up to see an attractive young man hovering above her. “My name is Gerome and I’m the EMT that responded to the call. You were attacked, ma’am. We are about halfway to the hospital. Do you have any allergies?”

Bri shook her head, but remembered that she had one. “Ery… Ery…” As hard as she tried the name wouldn’t come.

“Erythromycin?” he asked.

She nodded. “That’s it.” Her eyes bolted open as she tried to sit up, but she was strapped down. “My baby!”

“Your baby? Are you pregnant, ma’am?”

“Yes! Almost four months. They were kicking me in the stomach! Is the baby still alive? Can you tell?” She was frantic as tears started rolling down her face. She could feel the scrapes on her face as the salty tears stung them on the way down her cheeks.

“Jo!” he called to the front of the ambulance. “Is the fetal Doppler working yet?”

It was a woman that called back. “Oh, God. She’s pregnant? They took it out. It was smashed after the rookie dropped it and stepped on it. They’re supposed to be replacing it tomorrow.”

“What’s a fetal Doppler?” Bri asked.

“It’s a wand that I could place against your lower abdomen and listen for the heartbeat. Unfortunately, we don’t have one.”

“That’s the only way that you can check on her?”

“I’m sorry. That’s the only way that I can tell in here. A stethoscope can’t really pick anything up through the uterine wall. Not in here for sure, though in a quiet room it’s probably possible. You’re having a little girl?” he asked, a sad smile breaking through as he worried for both of them.

“It’s just a hunch,” she said. Her entire body was shaking from shock and fear. Her eyes were growing heavy again, but she wanted to stay awake. She needed to know everything that was going on. “Do you think she will be okay?”

Gerome sighed and placed his hand over hers. “Bad things happen to good people every day. I know. I see a lot of it around here. But one thing I know for sure is that as bad as some of those things are, I have seen some of the most miraculous recoveries. People that never should have lived that were able to go home to their families and live their lives. People think that babies are fragile, and they are, but not nearly as fragile as we assume. That baby wasn’t outside exposed to the attack. She was cradled inside your body. You’re alive. So it’s okay to hold out hope that she is too. But…”

“But it’s best to know that I’m young and this is still really early in the pregnancy,” she said, interrupting him.

He nodded. “That’s right. Listen, you’re not looking too good yourself. Worrying and stressing puts you both in danger. Your vitals are slow, so you need to relax and let me worry about both of you. We will be at the hospital in about five minutes. Focus on staying alive. If you go, so does she. She’s too young to survive outside the womb.”

His words hit her hard. She forced a nod and relaxed. Her ribs ached with every breath, but she forced herself to steady her breathing and try to will the pain away. When she was twelve, she’d fallen during a gymnastics practice and broke her ankle. She’d begged her mother for a week to take her to the hospital, but she wouldn’t, saying that Bri had only twisted her ankle and to stop worrying over nothing. It was finally her father that took her, learning that she’d broken it quite badly and would require surgery.

For that incredibly painful week before seeking treatment, Bri had to learn how to will the pain away. She practiced breathing techniques and focused on something in whatever room she was in as she imagined “pushing” the pain away from herself. She later learned that was a legitimate meditation technique and even taught to some pregnant women to use during labor.

Bri now called on her past experience to help her through the excruciating pain. Being unable to take deep breaths made her work difficult, but she was able to relax as she closed her eyes and focused on what it would be like to be a mother. She imagined herself holding her baby for the first time and being surrounded by the people that she loved. Soon, her mind completely overtook her as she disappeared into unconsciousness once again with only dreams of her baby to sooth her.

Bri’s eyes slowly fluttered open, well – one of Bri’s eyes fluttered open. The other was completely swollen shut. As she realized she now only had use of one of her eyes, she began to panic. She tried to move, but her hands were bound, as were her feet. She tried to scream for help, but her throat was too sore to make such a loud noise.

The sound of frantic beeping entered her ears just before she heard multiple footsteps stampeding into the room. She began to come around as she realized that she was in a hospital. A doctor came into view, a face that was familiar to her. He was her childhood doctor. Another familiar face stepped into view; she was Matt’s mother’s OB/GYN, Maree Metcalf. She’d met her once when she accompanied them to a well-mother prenatal appointment.

“Briana,” Doctor Conway, her pediatrician spoke. “Try to calm down. You’re safe and in the hospital. You were brutally attacked. You can speak, but try to keep quiet. It appears that you were choked. There was some damage done to the trachea, but nothing permanent or needing surgery. It should heal on its own as long as you’re gentle with it.”

She nodded. “Bri.” Another familiar voice. She looked off to the right to see her parents sitting there, holding her hand.

They weren’t there a moment ago, she thought. They must have come in with the doctors.

“How are you feeling?” her father asked.

Bri began to speak a couple of times, only managing a cough as she tried to clear her throat. “Like I was just beaten half to death by Michael Rhodes and his minions.”

Her mother sighed, her eyes closing as she rubbed the bridge of her nose. “Briana Grace. He would never do such a thing. It was he that called us and called 911! Why would he do that if he was the one that hurt you? You owe him an apology.”

Bri laughed again, painfully, just as she had before. That was the final straw. She realized then that her parents didn’t love her. If they did, they did a terrible job showing it. They only loved the idea of having the perfect offspring, the daughter that excelled at everything, and she refused to be that anymore. She was a woman now, a woman that had just been attacked for the purpose of killing her unborn child.

She turned to Doctor Metcalf, now understanding why she’d been there with her. “How am I?” she asked, hoping the doctor would get her meaning.

“You will be just fine. You have a few broken bones in your face, a broken finger, two broken ribs, swollen but otherwise healthy ankle, damage to your trachea, and lots of bumps, bruises, and cuts. But you’ll be just fine.” She smiled softly, reaching out and placing her hand on Bri’s leg. “And the baby is just fine as well. We were fully prepared not to find a heartbeat. Most of the attack was directed at your abdomen. But we did. Your baby is just fine, for now. We will need to keep you for a few days to monitor you both.”

“Wait a minute,” Bri’s father said. “Baby?”

For a moment, Bri thought she saw something that momentarily looked like a very faint, almost too-terrified-to-come-out-of-hiding smile cross her father’s face, but that was over and gone as soon as her mother opened her mouth. She briefly wondered, before her mother started in, how he could have been so disgusted with a co-worker’s daughter being with child, but be momentarily happy with his own. Or had she only imagined the smile?

“You’re pregnant? That’s why you’ve been acting so strangely?” She stood and began pacing back and forth from the head of the bed to the foot and back again. “This is terrible. How could you do such a stupid thing? Is it Mike’s? He just didn’t seem like that kind of boy!”

Bri focused her rage, trying not to have an outburst, knowing that it will hurt her far more than it would her parents. “This stupid thing was because I had an abusive boyfriend that I was petrified of. No one believed me when I said that I was scared of him. Not even you! Everyone said that I was being foolish. That he was a great guy. That I was reading things wrong. Then one night he pressured me into having sex with him. Mom, the way he grabbed me, I knew that if I didn’t, he’d hurt me. One time – that’s all I’ve done it, and I didn’t even want to then. This is not my fault. I was trying to find a way out of the relationship, away from him to prevent being pressured into anything or being physically injured.”

“Well it seems to me that you moved a little slow. This is just awful. What will everyone say? Oh dear, is that why you quit the team? This is awful. Just awful.”

Her mother was a mess, just pacing and rambling.

“Mom, it’s going to be fine. Why should we care what anyone else thinks? I’m finishing school. I’m excited to show this baby exactly what you can do – no matter how hard the circumstances are – and still succeed. I’m going to go to college. I’m still going to do everything that I wanted to before, minus trying for a sports scholarship. That was more your dream than mine. I just love the game.”

Tears ran down her mother’s cheeks as their eyes locked. “Briana, you can’t have this baby. Please, you’re too young. You’ll regret it the rest of your life.”

Bri shook her head and smiled. “No, Mom. If I give up this baby – by any means – I’ll regret that for the rest of my life. Even if I hated and had no desire to take part in the circumstances that led up to this baby, he or she is still all of the best parts of me. How can I abandon that? Don’t make me do this. I’ll never forgive you and I’ll never forgive myself. I’ll always wonder what could have been and it will destroy me.”

“I just don’t think you understand just how hard your life is about to become if you keep that baby,” her mother said, voice quivering a little as she spoke. Something about the way Ellen chose her words sent chills down Bri’s spine. She wasn’t exactly sure what to make of them.

Shaking it off, Bri smiled again. “Yes I do, and that’s okay. I don’t care if the world hates me. It’s not their life. It’s mine. Everything will be just fine.”

Her mother squeezed her hand once. “You should rest. You’ve been through a lot today. We are going to go get some coffee and think about everything.”

Bri nodded, the motion immediately regrettable. Her throat was beginning to feel a little better, though she was incredibly thirsty. Talking so much had both helped and hurt. “Can I get these off now?” Bri asked, referring to her restraints.

“Yes. Sorry about that,” Doctor Conway said. “You pulled out three IVs and punched two of the nurses. We had no choice. Sedation wasn’t a great option because of the baby’s slowed heart rate and you were already unconscious anyway.”

“I am – so – sorry,” Bri said. She felt terrible for having hurt the people that had only tried to help her.

“It’s quite normal in victims of violent crimes.” Doctor Conway released her of the restraints. “I’d like for you to get some more rest. I’m going to give you a pain medication that will help prevent breakthrough pain as well as allow you to sleep. Until the baby’s heart rate comes back up, we will have to be pickier than normal with your pain meds.”

Bri nodded. She didn’t like the idea of being loaded up on drugs, especially while pregnant, but she didn’t want to feel the pain of all of her broken bones and she trusted the doctors to care for both of them. The words of the paramedic came back to her. That fighting and straining could hurt her and hurt the baby. Rest seemed best for now. “Thank you, Doctor.”

Hours passed before Bri woke again. Her sleep was dreamless, and for that she was grateful. Her ribs screamed at her when she tried to sit. She needed to go to the bathroom, but knew it was impossible to go alone. Within moments, the nurse was in her room, responding to her call. By the time the nurse helped her out, Matt was sitting in a bedside chair, smiling at her.

“Aren’t you just so cute in your ball gown,” he said, giving her a wink. He stood and came to her unoccupied side to help the nurse get her back into bed. Bri slowly sat on the edge of the bed, taking a moment to adjust to the pain. Matt placed his hands on her shoulders to stabilize and support her. “I’ve got her from here,” he said softly to the nurse.

“Okay,” the nurse responded, smiling. “If you need anything else, call me. I’m going to change your trash while I’m in here.” She walked across the room and began the task of switching bags.

“You don’t have help me, ya know,” Bri told Matt, still sitting upright. “I really hoped you wouldn’t find out. I didn’t want you to see me like this.”

Matt moved his hands from her shoulders to gently hold her face. He tilted her head upward and he looked into the eye that was open. “I don’t care how bruised, how broken, or how immobile you are now or will ever be in the future. You’re beautiful. Don’t let that asshole tear you down from the pedestal you belong on.” He placed a soft kiss on her forehead.

Out of her periphery, Bri saw the nurse stop at his words, placing a hand over her chest as a smile crossed her face. She was clearly moved by his words, as was Bri. No one had ever spoken to her like that, though he was always sweet and gentle with her.

“Well, that was awfully sweet for a barbarian like yourself,” Bri joked.

Matt shrugged. “I have my moments. Actually I wanted to get you in a headlock and screw up your hair – though I don’t think it’s possible to get it more amazing than it is right now. But – I figured there’d be some rule against abusing the patients.” He winked and helped her lie down before taking the seat next to her bed that he’d previously been occupying. Bri raised the head of her bed so she could sit at a wide angle, allowing her to sit and speak comfortably, but not so tightly as to squeeze her broken ribs.

“Can I get anything else for you?” the nurse asked, still smiling.

“Some ice chips maybe?” Bri said. “My throat is still a little sore.”

The nurse nodded. “Not a problem.”

Matt stood as the nurse made her way out the door. “I’ll go grab them from her so she doesn’t have to come back in.”

“Thank you,” Bri said. “I hate asking them for anything. I know they’ve got other patients who need more than I do.”

Matt laughed. “Wow. Woman, do you realize you’re more than likely one of the more serious patients on the floor? Most of these people probably have shortness of breath or respiratory infections of some kind.”

Bri shrugged, immediately regretting the action. “Still, I feel bad.” Matt shook his head at his friend and smiled before turning to leave the room. “Oh! Sorry, but could you see how my parents are doing? They were out there getting coffee somewhere.”

“Sure, no problem.”

Bri slowly reached for the call light/TV remote control and turned on the flat screen hanging from her wall. She began flipping through channels until she found something that made her happy. It was a rerun of The Vampire Diaries. She nestled in as comfortably as she could before placing the remote at her side and watching.

Twenty minutes or so passed before Matt came back. “Did you have to wait for the ice to freeze?” Bri asked, forcing a pained half-smile. Her face felt more swollen all the time, though she imagined if it actually was, the nurses would have noticed. She imagined it was just her pain tolerance lowering, possibly the pain medication wearing off.

Matt didn’t smile as he walked over to the bed, handing her a small Styrofoam cup with a plastic spoon. He looked behind him to the large closet in the room with double doors meant for patients to store their personal items. He opened it and his eyes momentarily closed before he reached inside.

“What? What’s wrong?” Bri asked. She watched as he pulled an envelope from the closet. He brought it over and sat it next to her on the bed. “What’s wrong? It’s just an envelope.”

He sighed. “It’s not just an envelope. It’s your envelope.”

“Why was it in the closet?”

Matt lightly shook his head as he tore it open, studying the contents. Bri’s heart began to speed up as she saw a flash of color of what was inside. Money.

“That’s for ordering food while I’m stuck in here. They work all the time and know hospital food sucks,” she said, trying to stop the tears from escaping her eyes. Even saying it, she didn’t believe it. “Where’s my phone?” she asked, wanting to call her parents.

Matt sighed again as he pulled her phone from his pocket. “The nurses had it in a bag of your belongings that you came in with. It survived the attack, thanks to the case. But you’re wasting your time, Bri. I tried to make a call from it. It’s been disconnected.”

Her jaw dropped open as a harsh breath escaped her. “What? What’s going on?”

Matt quickly put the money back in the envelope, having counted one hundred dollars, and sat it on the bedside table. He took a seat at Bri’s side and gently held her injured hand. “When I asked the nurses where I could possibly find your parents, the charge nurse stepped forward. I knew right then when they turned to her to answer my questions that it wasn’t good. She said that she overheard them discussing what to do. That your mom was insistent that she wouldn’t raise another baby and that you needed to learn your lesson. She told me your parents slipped the money into the cabinet and told the charge nurse to inform me if I came in. They knew I would.”

Bri shook her head, ignoring the physical pain for her emotional pain and confusion. “What are you saying, Matt?”

His eyes momentarily closed again as he searched for the words. “They gave you that money to give you a start on your own. They’ve kicked you out of the house, Bri. They shut off your phone, too. I called my sister and she drove by and saw a couple of boxes sat out on the curb. She recognized a few of your things piled on top. I’m so sorry. I’m honestly shocked. I knew they were cold, but this…”

That’s what she meant by saying that I had no idea how hard that my life was about to become if I decided to have this baby. Oh my God, Matt. What am I going to do?” she asked, staring off at nothing in particular. She began rubbing her sore abdomen, not caring about the pain, just wanting to feel close to her baby. She was in shock. She thought her parents would hate her, punish her, ban her from anything remotely pleasurable, but she never imagined this.

“You’re going to focus on getting better. When you get out, you can come stay a few days with me, longer if you need.”

“Matt – I can’t stay with you. If your mother finds out that I’m pregnant she will think it’s yours. She’ll kill you.”

He shrugged. “Maybe not. My mom loves you. She loves me, too. The real kind, not that fake crap your parents tried to push off to their friends to look like great parents.”

Bri was silent for a few minutes as so many thoughts flooded her mind that she found herself not thinking about anything at all. Her pain was back tenfold and she knew it was partly because she’d lost concentration on it with the news and partly because she’d been sitting a long while and now her body was tense with stress. Not to mention the meds had more than likely worn off.

“I need to sleep. I can’t handle this right now. My body is starting to hurt again and my head feels like it’s going to explode.”

Matt reached for the call light and pushed it. “She’s in a lot of pain. Is it time for her to have meds yet?” he asked when they answered.

“Of course, we will be right in,” she answered.

“I’ll leave so you can get some rest,” Matt said, gently stroking the back of her hand.

“No – please. I hate to ask, but I just can’t bear being alone right now.”

He gave a soft smile and nodded, pulling the padded chair next to her bed closer. Matt sat down next to her and held her hand. He leaned over to kiss the sensitive back, just along her knuckles. “I’m not going anywhere, babe.”

MeetTheAuthor

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Candy Crum lives in Indiana and is the Author of “The Eternal Series” and other short stories. She published her first novel, The Eternal Gift, in May of 2011 and has been publishing ever since. Candy is an avid lover of the paranormal genre, stemming from years of reading the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice when she was a teenager. Later, she developed a deep love of the Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead and the House of Night Series by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast, furthering her love of the genre and pushing her to really push to finish and publish her novel. Since then, Candy has released three other books in The Eternal Series and will release another later in 2014. Now, Candy is trying her hand at more contemporary pieces of work, like that of Lean on Me and other books she will release in 2014. Some of Candy’s interests include the usual reading and writing, music (of most types), movies (action and comedy or any combination of the two), cartoons (she loves to say that her children watch cartoons because she does), and drawing. She loves talking with her fans and loves reading the reviews that her fans are kind enough to leave for her. Always feel free to find Candy on Facebook and send her a message.

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New Release Spotlight Blitz: Burning Down the House by Allie Gail

 All kinds of goodies today: a book trailer, an excerpt, a teaser, AND a giveaway! Such riches 🙂

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Burning Down the House by Allie Gail
Publication date: March 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult
Synopsis:

This book contains strong language and sexual content and is intended for ages 17+.

Rob Kensington is just your typical high school senior. Athletic, intelligent, handsome. Sees a therapist once a week. Because his parents just died in a house fire of questionable origin. And he doesn’t seem to care.
Maybe he isn’t so typical.

Sara Marsh had no clue when she returned to live with her divorced father that the bedroom down the hall would be occupied by a stray with a major attitude problem. The last time she saw Rob, he was a brooding goth who could have passed as Marilyn Manson’s love child. But at some point during her three years away, Creepy Kensington managed to evolve into a sizzling hot star running back with smoldering hazel eyes.

The attraction is undeniable. The temptation is irresistible. And soon they’re sharing more than just an address. But with another life lost in a deliberately set blaze, Sara’s trust is faltering. Has she lost her heart to a serial arsonist? He’s already shown her the allure of playing with fire.

And someone’s about to get burned.

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Trailer:

Excerpt:

“Hellooo, baaaa-by!

Startled, I floundered to cover my boobs while splashing water over the side of the tub and all across the floor in the process. “What the hell! What are you – get out of here!” I threw a loofah at him but in my haste I missed.

Ignoring my demand, Rob moseyed over to kneel beside the bathtub, propping his arms on the edge and smirking at my compromising position. There weren’t any bubbles left to hide under, so I quickly drew my knees up to my chest and wrapped my arms around them. “What are you, deaf? I said get out!

“I heard what you said.” To my amazement, he dipped his fingers in the water and swirled them around. “Water’s getting cold.”

“Then take your hand out of it!” I snapped, my cheeks flushing pink.

“I think we should let it out.” He reached underwater for the drain stopper, and his grin slowly spread as my eyes widened.

“Don’t you dare.”

“See…payback’s a bitch, now isn’t it?”

“Don’t touch that drain. I mean it.” To my horror, I felt an overwhelming urge to laugh and I pressed my lips together to suppress a smile. For some idiotic reason, whenever I get nervous I start giggling like a deranged person. I have no idea why. It’s very annoying, especially because it happens at the most inopportune moments.

“I thought we were playing You-Show-Me-Yours-And-I’ll-Show-You-Mine.” He lifted the edge of the stopper just enough to tease me, allowing a small amount of water to escape. “Well, you had your go and now it’s my turn.”

“I think you’ve had one too many beers!” That probably wasn’t even far from the truth. After all, I’d never seen him acting this cheeky before.

“Whoops. Oh my goodness – what do we have here?” He plucked the stopper completely out and held it up, just out of my reach. The water began to rush down the drain. To me it seemed to be disappearing ten times faster than usual.

“It’s not funny!” I protested, even though I was struggling not to giggle at that point. My shoulders were shaking.

“I’m not the one laughing,” he reminded me.

“All right – fine, you got me back. Ha, ha, you’re so clever. At least hand me a towel.”

“Mm…I don’t think so.”

“Hand me a freaking towel!” The water was getting perilously low, and I shoved one foot over the drain to try and diminish the flow.

“You didn’t say please…” he sang softly.

“Rob…” I looked straight at him then, directly into those hazel eyes, and something I saw in them squashed my impulse to laugh. I don’t know what it was, but all of a sudden the only impulse I felt anymore was the overpowering urge to kiss him. And not only that. I had the craziest compulsion to wrap my arms around his neck and pull him on top of me and let him do me six ways to Sunday, right there in the bathtub.

My expression must have been transparent because his smile inexplicably faded. He hesitated for a moment, his eyes searching mine. For what, I can’t say. But I guess he didn’t find what he was looking for there. Straightening, he tossed me the drain stopper and walked out without a word.

 

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AUTHOR BIO:Allie
Allie fell in love with the written word from the moment she was issued her very first Sally, Dick and Jane book. Born and raised in Alabama, she now resides in the panhandle of Florida with her own blue-eyed Prince Charming and three obnoxious cats. When she’s not working on her latest literary project, she can usually be found watching B-movie horror (the cheesier, the better), reading or playing online computer games while indulging her unhealthy Pepsi addiction.
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Cover Reveal and Giveaways! See Through Me by Sera Bright (Lose My Senses #1)

Another cover reveal–and two giveaways!

SeeThroughMe.v8.1

See Through Me by Sera Bright
(Lose My Senses #1)
Publication date: May 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Synopsis:
There’s only one person I want to see when I return home. But I know he won’t be waiting. It’s the reason I feel safe enough to come back.I’m so wrong.Ash Townsend isn’t the same quiet boy from next door. He’s tall, dark, and demanding answers. He wants me, but he doesn’t trust me. Who can blame him? When his own family tried to break him down, he still sheltered me in this town full of liars. And I repaid it by leaving him without a word.Because I’ll do anything to protect Ash. I have the scars on my wrist to prove it.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

See Through Me by Sera Bright

See Through Me

by Sera Bright

Giveaway ends May 15, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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AUTHOR BIO:a girl blowing on a dandelion done with a vintage retro instagra
When I’m not plotting elaborate schemes in my head, I’m having a fabulous time with my own real life story. That’s what happens when you have three awesome kids, two fluffy (useless) cats, and one very patient husband. I can cook like a fiend but prefer to eat doughnuts with sprinkles for breakfast. Sprinkles make everything taste better. An avid reader of all genres, I shamelessly admit romance will always be my favorite. And while I enjoy the safe and familiar, I’m always up for an adventure. My debut New Adult Contemporary Romance novel SEE THROUGH ME will be released in May. You can contact me at https://www.facebook.com/authorserabright , https://twitter.com/SeraBright , or through my website www.serabright.com

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Author Sofia Grey Talks About Her Inspiration for Crash Into Love (A New Release Spotlight and Review)

 Sofia Grey shares some of her inspiration behind her new novella, Crash Into You–including a music video and the book trailer!

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“Wish You Were Here” – by Incubus
It’s hard being separated from a loved one. When we moved halfway around the world, I was apart from my husband for a few weeks and it felt weird. Even though we kept in touch via emails and phone calls, it wasn’t the same as actually being with him. I spent hours on the beach, just staring at the ocean. In some way, it made him feel closer to me, and the endless churn and crash of the surf is soothing.If you listen to “Wish You Were Here”, by Incubus, it sums up this sensation:

I dig my toes into the sand.

The ocean looks like a thousand diamonds strewn across a blue blanket.

I lean against the wind, pretend that I am weightless and in this moment I am happy.

 

[Chorus:]

I wish you were here

I wish you were here

I wish you were here

I wish you were here.

 

Watch the official video:

In Crash Into Love, Cass spends a lot of time on the beach. It’s where she has her first encounter with Jonah, the much younger guy staying next door.

Heading out for my morning walk, I was surprised to see signs of life from next door, one of the guys sitting at the bottom of their steps, facing out to sea. It was barely nine in the morning. No self-respecting student would be up yet. His hair obscured by a hoodie, I wondered if he’d notice me.

Dark eyes swiveled to me as I walked past. When he saw me, he shoved the hood back and nodded a greeting, a hint of a smile tugging at his lips.

“Morning,” he murmured.

Surprised, a little unsettled, I paused. “Hey,” I managed and then picked up my pace and headed for the beach, putting some distance between us, yet still feeling his gaze upon me.

~
 Crash Into Love
Blurb:

Cass thought spending a month at a beachside hideaway relaxing and collecting shells would be the perfect escape to finish her novel. When she meets the dark and brooding and much younger Jonah, who’s staying next door, her book becomes the last thing on her mind.

Jonah would rather stay home alone than go on vacation with his brother and their friends, but does his best to tolerate the situation after being convinced to go. But when he sees the beauty next door, he can’t avoid his attraction.

Together, they break all the rules, but will Cass be able to bring Jonah out of his shell forever, or will he leave her with only the crash of the surf to keep her company?

Review:

I enjoyed Crash Into Love—it has a great premise; a just-about-to-be-single writer crashes (see what I did there? 😉 ) at the beach for some peace and quiet—she’s having a bit of writer’s block and is on deadline—only to have a bungalow full of young people move in next door. Watching them from the outside, the group inspires her to take her writing in a new direction. One of the vacationers—a lone man, slightly older than the rest of the group—inspires something else.

Jonah—the single guy—is a bit of a mystery to Cass, the writer. She can’t get a handle on him: one minute he’s carrying her groceries for her, following her into her beach house; the next he’s completely ignoring her. Fresh from a not-so-friendly marital split, Cass’s self-confidence isn’t exactly at a high point. She’s cautiously optimistic when he appears to be interested (because, let’s face it; he’s young and hot!) but instantly doubts herself the minute he seems to turn cold (also because he’s young and hot—while she feels anything but).

Jonah is a mystery, it turns out—he’s got a pretty heavy-duty secret weighing him down. Can Cass have enough trust in herself—and in him—to help him get around it?

Crash Into Love is told first person from Cass’s point of view, so we don’t know what is going on in Jonah’s mind until he shares that information with her. Once we do, the story is almost over—this is one novella that I would have liked to have seen expanded into a longer story, though it does stand well on its own. We just didn’t get enough of Jonah’s story to satisfy this reader. 😉

Still, it was a pleasant way to spend a weekend. I will definitely be looking for more from Sofia Grey in the future.

Rating: 4 stars / B+

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

Trailer:

 
Jonah MarshJonahCassCass
Book links:
Author links:
Catch me blogging with Allyson Lindt at www.GeminiGirls.com
Author bio:Sofia Grey
Romance author Sofia Grey spends her days managing projects in the corporate world and her nights hanging out with wolf shifters and alpha males. She devours pretty much anything in the fiction line, but she prefers her romances to be hot, and her heroes to have hidden depths. When writing, she enjoys peeling back the layers to expose her characters’ flaws and always makes them work hard for their happy endings.
 
Music is interwoven so tightly into my writing that I can’t untangle the two. Either I’m listening to a playlist on my iPod, have music seeping from my laptop speakers, or there’s a song playing in my head – sometimes on auto-repeat.
 
Check out my playlist on Pinterest and listen for free via Pandora.com (Sofia Grey –Crash Into Love station)
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New Release Spotlight and Giveaway: Tattoo by Cambria Hebert (Take It Off #7)

Anyone else have a burning need to know how a tattoo can get people in trouble? Or is it just cover lust affecting my brain? 😉

Tattoo Blog Tour BannerSynopsis

***This is a new adult contemporary novel and contains sexual content and graphic language. It is not intended for young adult readers.***

A tattoo gets them in trouble… He will get them out.

After years of cultivating an undercover identity, Brody West is finally off the case and free to live a life of his own. All that time spent in the company of criminals and killers left him a little jaded… and with an identity crisis. He isn’t sure who he is anymore, or who he wants to be.

To give him time to think, he takes a few days off to go fishing. On his way out of town, he makes a routine stop at the bank and finds himself flirting with the girl behind the counter.

But his flirtation is cut short when criminals burst into the bank and shoot her right before his eyes.

In attempt to administer first aid, Brody reveals a tattoo on his upper arm. A mark that will drag him and the girl into the kind of situation he was trying to get away from. But he can’t walk away because he’s the only thing capable of keeping Taylor alive and bringing down the guys who shot her—guys who are seriously dangerous.

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Excerpt

The inside of the bank greeted me with a blast of cold air and was just as brightly lit as the sidewalk outside. The walls in here were white and so were the glossy tile floors. I stepped through the roped off line, lining up behind several others already waiting. Four tellers stood behind the long wooden counter, each with their own computer.

It seemed like I stood in line forever and I grew irritated because I just wanted to get the hell out of here and onto the open road.

Finally it was my turn and I moved down the counter toward the last window on the end. I yanked my wallet and bank card, then looked up.

Suddenly the amount of time I waited didn’t seem like such an inconvenience. In fact, if I had known she was the person waiting for me at the end of this counter I would have waited longer.

Her light scarlet hair was long and filled with loose curls that fell over her shoulder and down her chest. Her complexion was flawless with the flush of fresh peaches and her lower lip was fuller than the top, making it appear as though she had a permanent pink pout.

“How can I help you today?” she asked, politely, glancing up with crystal green eyes. I watched them widen slightly and rich satisfaction flowed through me. I wasn’t pretty like her but I wasn’t completely lacking in the looks department.

“Hey,” I said, leaning on the counter with both my elbows. The movement brought me a little closer to her. “I need to make a withdrawal.”

She glanced down at the bank card and ID I extended between us and then back at me. I gave her a lazy smile and she cleared her throat, taking the cards. She looked them over and then her polished fingernails flew over the keyboard.

I glanced at her chest, being distracted by her nice rack but my eyes finally finding the nameplate pinned to the front of her top. Taylor.

“How much would you like to withdrawal?” she asked.

“Four hundred.”

She inputed the amount without saying anything.

“So,” I said, leaning toward her again. “You come here often?”

She rolled her eyes, but a small smile played on her lips. “Just the days I feel like earning a paycheck.”

I grinned. “Paychecks are overrated.” I drawled. “I’m going fishing.”

“Says the man with a huge bank account,” she quipped. Then she winced and looked up. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t-”

I laughed. The chagrin on her face and the way her cheeks bloomed with bright pink spots was entirely amusing. “Never said I didn’t work, just said I thought it was over rated.”

She relaxed when she realized I didn’t give a rats ass that she knew how much was in my account. “You should bait your hook with hot dogs. Fish love them.”

She was right, surprise rippled through me. “You can’t tell me a girl like you likes to fish.”

“And what,” she asked, arching a red brow in my direction, “is a girl like me?” she hit a couple keys and the little dispenser to my right started flinging out cash.

“You’re withdrawal is to your right.” she said professionally.

I let the cash sit there. “Are you a tomboy in disguise?” I whispered conspiratorially. I enjoyed the emotion, the animation that played over her features. She was beautiful that was no doubt but it seemed that she also had a lot beneath that pretty exterior.

“Don’t tell anyone,” she whispered back handing me a receipt. Her teeth were really white and really straight. I got this sudden craving to run my tongue along their smooth surface.

“You’re secret is safe with me.” I tore my eyes away to pocket the cash, not bothering to count it. Oddly, I trusted her. I never trusted anyone.

Behind me a loud banging sound boomed through the room and I tensed, spinning on my heels. Four guys pushed through the entrance, each of them pulling out a gun.

I couldn’t even get away from this shit on vacation.

Adrenaline spiked my system and began pumping through my veins and accelerating my heart. It didn’t take an idiot to guess why they were here. This was a bank and they had guns. I looked over my shoulder at Taylor who was watching the men with wide eyes.

“Get down!” I ordered quietly. “Hide. Hide good.”

Teaser

Tattoo Blog Tour Teaser

MeetTheAuthor

Cambria Picture

Cambria Hebert is the author of the young adult paranormal Heven and Hell series, the new adult Death Escorts series, and the new adult Take it Off series. She loves a caramel latte, hates math and is afraid of chickens (yes, chickens). She went to college for a bachelor’s degree, couldn’t pick a major, and ended up with a degree in cosmetology. So rest assured her characters will always have good hair. She currently lives in North Carolina with her husband and children (both human and furry) where she is plotting her next book. You can find out more about Cambria and her work by visiting http://www.cambriahebert.com

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Text by Cambria Hebert ebooksm (1)

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Tricks Cover

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Spotlight New Release with Giveaway: Impossibly Forever by Shane Morgan

 The Impossibility Duology is complete–enter to win!

ImpossiblyForeverBlitzBanner

Impossibly Forever: The Complete Impossibly Duology
Includes: Impossibly Love & Impossibly True
by Shane Morgan
Publication date: February 24th 2014
Genres: New Adult, Romance
Synopsis:

Discover the love story of Moya and Branden; from the very first kiss to the moment where forever begins.

Includes the first and final book:

Impossibly Love:
All Moya Douglas wants to do is study hard, maintain her scholarship, and make her mother proud while attending college. She doesn’t have time for a boyfriend or going on dates arranged by her best friend. Moya doesn’t believe in love. And she has no intention of ever finding it.

Branden McCarthy is determined to change her views.
A selfless romantic who’s had his heart broken in the past, Branden is fascinated with Moya’s personality and hopes to develop something real with her—a connection so strong it’ll open her heart. But just when things start to work between the two, Branden’s secret threatens to get in the way.

Will Moya finally do the impossible and give love a chance with Branden, or will fear keep them apart?

Impossibly True:
Moya is finally listening to her heart.
She’s ready for love and willing to bask in all the joy it brings, but still, she insists on taking things slow. After all, her relationship with Branden isn’t the only one that needs a chance.

With his health scare behind him, Branden wants nothing more than to get his life back on track—play hockey again, catch up on school, and get things moving with his girlfriend.

In the middle of strengthening their relationship and sorting out their individual lives, trouble begins to brew, testing the depth of their feelings for each other.

Can Branden and Moya once again overcome their trials and prove that their love is indeed true, or will past ghosts and new temptations drive them apart forever?

Teaser:

Moya stayed in the room the rest of the evening. I knew she was upset after seeing Samantha’s text, so I wanted to assure her again that it meant nothing.

I knocked twice on the door then let myself in when she didn’t respond. She sat down on the loveseat by the window, appearing deep in thought as she picked at her jeans. I sat down next to her.

“Moya, there’s really nothing to be jealous about.”

Slowly, I placed my hand at her back. “Come on, babe don’t let that ruin our weekend.”

“I’m not jealous. I’m fine.”

“Really?”

She rose to her feet, walking over to the window. “Yes. Really.”

I got up as well. “You should talk to me when you’re upset, and don’t walk away like you did earlier.”

Her expression relaxed as I took her hand. Turning slightly to meet my gaze, she said, “I’m not used to…being like this. I don’t like it. It makes me feel…”

“Vulnerable,” I finished for her. “I understand, babe.”

She faced me fully, her chocolate brown eyes craving for me. “I hate that another girl loved you that much, before me.” She laughed at herself. “It makes me seem possessive, but I want to love you more…so much more than she did.”

“That’s intense,” I teased.

Scoffing, Moya rolled her eyes and spun away from me, staring out the window again. I edged closer and cloaked my arms around her. “I like how passionate you are, because I’m the same. I want to be your first and your last. I want every part of you, Moya.”

Seconds later, I was peering into her mesmerizing eyes again. My heart started to race just as her breathing strengthened. There was something rising between us. Heat circulated in the air, making it difficult to control my thoughts.

Unexpectedly, Moya pushed into my chest, biting on my bottom lip as she kissed me hard.

We continued for a while, burning up in desire, until Moya yanked on my shirt and guided me over to the bed.

 impossiblyduology

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Purchase:
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AUTHOR BIO:
SHANE MORGAN is the Amazon Bestselling author of Impossibly Love, and Unresisting. A book fanatic at heart, Shane currently lives in Narragansett, RI. where she spends her days blogging and writing young adult and new adult fiction.
Visit her online:
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