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1. Interview and Giveaway: Fire Me Up by Rachael Johns

 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Rachael! Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Rachael Johns] Cheerful, optimistic, friendly, crazy and loud.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Rachael Johns] My iPhone

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Rachael Johns] Empty Diet Coke cans, my diary, decks of FIRE ME UP cards, which I’m planning to use for giveaways.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?

[Rachael Johns] Does Diet Coke count as a snack? If not, pretty much any chocolate I can get my hands on.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Rachael Johns] Nora Roberts

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week.  Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Rachael Johns] Is flying a superpower? I’d really love to be able to fly!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Rachael Johns] Maisey Yate’s Part Time Cowboy; Always a Bridesmaid by Lindsey Kelk; Fiona’s Flame by Rachael Herron.

 
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FIRE ME UP
Deacons of Bourbon Street #2
Rachael Johns
Releasing Sept 1st, 2015

 
Can a scorching affair with a bohemian beauty tame a motorcycle man with a dark side? Rachael Johns takes the wheel in the sexy series co-written with Megan Crane, Jackie Ashenden, and Maisey Yates.

Travis “Cash” Sinclair values only two things from his days with the Deacons of Bourbon Street: his prized Harley Davidson and the man who gave it to him. But now Priest Lombard is gone, and Cash has inherited the Deacons’ clubhouse—not to mentions its unexpected tenant. She’s exactly the type of woman he tries to avoid: all incense and art, with a sharp tongue that promises trouble. So why does Cash want to push aside those flowing skirts and lose himself between her legs?

Billie Taylor fled a bad marriage to start a new life among the grit and glamour of the French Quarter. She refuses to let another man distract her from her dreams, especially an outlaw biker with nothing to offer except hot sex and an eviction notice. Cash is dangerous, with an untamed streak he tries desperately to conceal. He drives Billie wild, sending her too close to the edge for her own good. And she won’t fall under his spell—or into his bed—without a fight
.
 
EXCERPT:

“This room is mine,” she said, folding her arms and glaring at him with more bravado than she felt as he turned to look at her with his dark, smoldering eyes. She shivered despite herself and almost forgot to add, “If you insist on staying, you’ll have to choose from one of the others.”

He took his time replying, his gaze sliding downward, scalding her body as if he’d actually touched her. For a moment she thought he was going to object—tell her that not only would he share her house but also her bed—but eventually he shut her wardrobe and nodded. “I always preferred the one next to this anyway.”

She swallowed. Of all the rooms in the house, he wanted to choose the one right next to hers? How would she sleep knowing he was mere yards away? Still, she was hardly in a position to argue, and if it would get him out of her personal space, well, that was a start.

“Fine.” She stepped back and gestured for him to leave. The only good thing about having Travis right next door was that she could keep an eye on him. Or was that a bad thing? Argh.

Surprisingly, he obeyed, stalking past her and smirking again as he did. She hated that she caught a waft of some raw, masculine cologne, which sent ripples of need through her body, rousing places she’d given little thought to over the last year. How ironic that the first sign of life down there had sparked because of a man who seemed intent on messing up her life. Why were the sexiest guys, the best-looking ones, always the biggest jerks?

He didn’t head straight for his room, instead going into the kitchen, and she found herself following. Her hackles rose as he opened the refrigerator and leaned inside, giving her a perfect view of his perfect butt. Oh help me, God! Had any guy she’d ever known looked so damn fine in faded jeans? Her thighs involuntarily clenched.

“No beer,” he said as he straightened.

Despite the traitorous hormones rushing through her body, she shook her head. It went against the grain of every single cell in her body not to be hospitable, but then again she hadn’t invited him to stay here with her. “Nope. Sorry. But there’s a bar next door.”

She wished he’d go back to it. He had to be one of the Deacons that had been hanging around The Priory the last few days. Sophie had given her a brief history of the motorcycle club—apparently it had disbanded around the time of Katrina—and informed her that it would be unlikely any of its members would hang around after her father’s funeral. But, dammit, it looked like she’d been wrong on that account. Billie needed to go see Sophie, make sure this guy was for real. For all she knew he could be anybody. He hadn’t shown her any proof that he owned the building, but something—maybe the way he’d leaned into her face when he told her no one tells him what the fuck to do—made her cautious. He was like a wild animal, and she didn’t want to make any sudden moves.

He smiled wickedly and leaned back against the counter, looking her over again, making her feel aroused and insulted all at once. “I know it. The bar and this place used to be my home.”

“Is that right?” She wondered about Travis Sinclair. He had the leather jacket, the swagger in his step and the don’t-mess-with-me attitude of a biker, but there was something about him that didn’t fit the image. He wore no patches like a couple of other guys she’d seen hanging around next door, but that wasn’t it. There was something else she couldn’t quite put her finger on. “And where is your home now?”

She waited for him to tell her it was none of her fucking business, but he shrugged off his jacket, hung it over one of the odd chairs that sat around her kitchen table and then pulled back the seat and straddled it. “Tallahassee,” he said as he leaned down and yanked a laptop out of his pack. It was a flashy MacBook Air—not at all the type of computer she’d expect of a biker. He didn’t even glance her way as he put it on the table in front of him, lifted the lid and tapped his boots against the tiled floor as he waited for the computer to spring to life.

No idea where Tallahassee was—geography had never been her thing—she vowed to google it later. Leaning back against the kitchen counter, she wiped her palm across her brow, feeling hot and more than a little bothered. Being warm in itself wasn’t unusual in New Orleans or in Western Australia where she came from, but the weather had nothing to do with the rise in her body temperature. And that disturbed her.

Her eyes zoned in on the bad-boy ink that traveled the length of his sculpted and tanned forearms, and the heat that had been simmering inside her boiled over.

Until this moment she’d have said she wasn’t a fan of body art—personally, she preferred her art on walls or in gardens—but Travis’s tattoos changed her opinion. And that was bad, because with her divorce only recently official, the last thing she wanted in her life was another man who thought he could walk all over her.


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Rachael Johns is an English teacher by trade, a mum 24/7, a supermarket owner, a chronic arachnophobic, and a writer the rest of the time. She rarely sleeps and never irons. She writes contemporary romance for HQN and Carina Press and lives in rural Western Australia with her hyperactive husband and three mostly-gorgeous heroes-in-training. Rachael loves to hear from readers and can be contacted through her website at www.rachaeljohns.com
 

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2. Guest Post and Giveaway: A Taste of Sugar by Marina Adair

 

This morning, Marina Adair dropped by to share a Top 5!  Be sure to enter the giveaway below!

Top 5 Books You’ve Read This Year

1.     Honor’s Splendor by Julie Garwood (I reread this book every year or so)

2.     The Reign series by Joya Ryan

3.     Do or Die by Suzanne Brockman

4.     The Best of Me by Elizabeth Barrett

5.     This Heart of Mine by Brenda Novak

 

About the author:

Marina Adair is a lifelong fan of romance novels. Along with the Sugar series, she is also the author of the St. Helena Vineyard series and the upcoming Shelter Cove series. She currently lives in a hundred-year-old log cabin, nestled in the majestic redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains, with her husband and daughter. As a writer, Marina is devoted to giving her readers contemporary romance where the towns are small, the personalities large, and the romance explosive. She also loves to interact with readers and you can catch her on Twitter at @MarinaEAdair or visit her at www.MarinaAdair.com.

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A TASTE OF SUGAR by Marina Adair (August 25, 2015; Forever Mass Market; Sugar, Georgia #3)

A blast from her past

Charlotte Holden, Sugar’s favorite pediatrician, knows better than anyone that love only leads to heartbreak. Instead, she’s focused on creating the Grow Clinic, an outpatient center for children. All she has to do now is to host the best Founder’s Day Parade in the history of Sugar, Georgia, to win over a big-city donor. Easy as peach pie. Then sexy Jace McGraw blows back into town and utters those three words every woman dreads: we’re still married.

…leads to tantalizing trouble

Jace McGraw was making an offer on his dream business in Atlanta when he was told that his wife had some credit issues. Wait, his wife? The annulment went through years ago—or so he thought.  He’d walked away only to keep his troublemaker reputation from ruining her dreams. But now that they have a second chance, Jace offers Charlotte a deal: he’ll grant a discreet divorce in exchange for 30 days and nights of marriage. Because this time he isn’t going to let her go without a fight.

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SUGAR ON TOP by Marina Adair (April 28, 2015; Forever Mass Market; Sugar, Georgia Book #2)

She’s sassy and sweet

The last thing Glory Mann wants is to become chairman of the Miss Peach Pageant in Sugar, Georgia. Spending months hearing nothing but the clinking of pearls and judgment? No thank you! But when Glory is forced to take the rap for a scandal she didn’t commit, the judge sentences her to head the committee. Even worse, her co-chairman is rugged, ripped . . . and barely knows she’s alive.
He’s ready and willing
Single dad Cal McGraw can’t take any more drama in his life. After a difficult divorce, his little girl became a boy-crazy teenager and his hands are full. The last thing he needs is to spend his down time with the town bad girl. Glory is pure trouble-tempting and tantalizing trouble. But he can’t deny the strong chemistry between them-or how her touch turns him inside out. Now as squabbles threaten to blow up the contest and the town of Sugar itself, Cal must risk everything on the sexy wild card to get a second chance at love . . .

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SUGAR’S TWICE AS SWEET by Marina Adair (November 25, 2014; Forever Mass Market; Sugar, Georgia Book #1)

He’s trouble she doesn’t need

Thanks to a cheating fiance, Josephina Harrington’s perfect life just crashed and burned. Moving in with her overbearing parents is definitely not an option. No, she needs to prove she can make it on her own. And she will—by turning her great-aunt’s old plantation house into a destination getaway. She’s just not expecting her contractor to be so hands-on—and so totally irresistible. 

…but everything she wants

Bad-boy golf champion Brett McGraw figured his hometown of Sugar, Georgia, was the perfect place to lay low and get his life back up to par. The leggy blonde with a pint-sized pup is the kind of sweet ’n’ sassy trouble he never saw coming. She doesn’t know a nut from a bolt and before long, he’s renovating her house…as she steals his heart. Can he convince Josephina that his womanizing ways are in the past and he’s ready for forever?

Buy the book!

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Excerpt: 

“Morning, Dr. Holden,” he said, unfolding himself from the car.

“You’re late.” Charlotte stood and swished her way down the steps toward him. No good morning, no thanks for coming, just a you’re late as though they had plans, as though he’d disappointed her again.

“Sorry,” he said coolly, tapping the face of his watch. “Forgot to set it to Charlotte Standard Time.”

She stopped a few feet from him, and he could see the hesitation in her expression. Hesitation and something else. Something that looked an awful lot like vulnerability. Oh, there was a good portion of irritation and hostility glaring at him through those baby blues, but behind it all was definitely vulnerability. Interesting.

“You’re the one who said we had to go to Atlanta today.”

“I believe you told me you were too busy to make the time,” he said, not sure how he was going to handle six hours in an enclosed space with her. Just standing downwind taking in her floral scent was making him hard.

“I changed my mind.”

Jace looked at her for a long moment, then laughed. She was serious.

“Darling, you don’t change your mind. Ever.” Charlotte Holden might be a Southern belle, but her Kevlar wall of stubbornness could rival a Southern granny’s—and having been raised by the most mule-headed granny in the world, that was saying a lot. Oh, he believed that Charlotte had changed her mind, he just didn’t know why. “So what happened with your debutante sisters yesterday that has you desperate enough to call me?”

“Sugar Peaches,” she corrected. “And since when do you keep up on Sugar gossip?”

“Since you started calling yourself a Sugar Peach. I mean, weren’t the Peaches your mom’s thing?”

Charlotte had once confided in him that she moved to Atlanta to escape the pressure of following in her mother’s footsteps. The pageants and parties and social ladder climbing were Babette’s dream for Charlotte. Charlotte’s dream was to save lives—and she was a master at it.

“Well, it’s my thing now,” she said, and he couldn’t help but notice the resignation in her voice. He wanted to know what else had changed, then realized it didn’t matter anymore. “And that means I have to be back as soon as possible. Founder’s Day is only three weeks off, and I have a lot to do.”

“Yeah, me too.” He had to get an annulment, convince his buddy to fix Hattie’s car, and secure that loan before Dale pulled his offer.

“Good, because as the current regent of the Sugar Peaches it falls to me to plan the Founder’s Day Fair, so this trip needs to be a quickie,” she said, her bossy, take-charge tone making him smile.

“Quickies aren’t really my specialty,” he said. “But who am I to argue with a lady?”

“Easy and discreet, Jace. The last thing I need right now is to explain this to my parents,” she clarified as though he was slow, as though he didn’t know just how anxious she was to put the past behind them. Which shouldn’t have pissed him off, because that was what he wanted, too. But it did.

“Easy and discreet? Kind of like our marriage?” he mused.

She looked at him for a long moment and then slowly shook her head. “Nothing about our marriage was easy, Jace,” she said, and the absolute certainty in her voice made him want to prove her wrong.

“There was one easy thing between us,” Jace said, stepping into her and closing the distance, trapping her between the car and his body. He reached behind her neck, crushed his mouth to hers, and kissed the hell out of her.

Only one touch, and she was kissing him back. No hesitation, no second-guessing, just—pow —debutante to seductress. Not interested to tongue down his throat in two seconds flat.

And holy fucking God, it was perfect. The way she felt, the way she tasted, the way she crawled up his body and demanded more…How had he forgotten this side of her?

That insane pull between them, which he’d convinced himself didn’t exist, wasn’t only burning a hole through his clothes—and his mission—it also wasn’t one-sided. Which told him that he should a) back the hell up, and b) immediately cancel this field trip they had planned. Before things got crazy.

But then she made this sexy little sound in the back of her throat—the one that used to drive him batshit crazy, that still drove him batshit crazy—and he was a goner.

So he deepened the kiss, because why the hell not? Charlotte had her prim and proper hands all over him, and he was certain that this was the best kiss he’d ever had. Hot and needy and raw and so damn desperate it was like driving down the track at three hundred miles per hour with no breaks.

Then he realized that this was not only the best kiss ever, but probably also their last kiss ever, and he slowly pulled back, tugging her lower lip between his teeth as long as he could until the connection finally broke. And damn, he wished he hadn’t stopped.

That one second of uncharged air was all Charlotte needed. Sure, she was breathing heavily, and her gaze was dazed and confused. A mirror image of his own. But within a split second her eyes frosted over and that unflinching fortitude was back.

Not that he was fooled. Jace knew that they had chemistry, remembered how electric they were together, but what had arched between them just now floored him. And it had floored her, too.

Charlotte cleared her throat. “This changes nothing.”

Jace lowered his gaze to her hands, which were resting on the buckle of his belt. “Oh, it changes something.”

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3. Manga Review: The Desert Lord’s Bride by Sakumi Hanada and Olivia Gates

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

All of the sheikh stories I have been reading are starting to blend together. I think it’s time for a break, but there seem to be so many of them!  And I really did like the cover, so I jumped into The Desert Lord’s Bride with a great deal of anticipation.

Unfortunately, the plot was pretty forgettable.  I read this one night and I could barely remember any of the plot details the next morning! Shehab, the heir to the throne, is determined to con the newly discovered princess of a neighboring kingdom into marrying him.  That kind of makes her sound like a new species of flower or butterfly – unknown princess appears on the radar!  The whole marriage game is upended!  Which handsome prince can marry her and cement his place in the succession of his kingdom?  It wasn’t even as exciting as that.

Farah’s already turned down Shehab once, so he disguises himself and pretends to not be himself.  Farah is immediately drawn to him, then agrees to go out to dinner with him.  What she doesn’t realize when they hop on his private jet, is that they’ll actually be flying somewhere.  Uh, hello, what else would you do on a plane but fly it somewhere?  If I had been Farah, I would have put the brakes on when we pulled up in front of Shehab’s aircraft.  There would be no way I would get on a plane with a guy I had met an hour ago, but then again, I am to susceptible scary news stories about stranger danger, abductions, and murders.

To make things even more uncomfortable for me, Shehab whisks her away to his private island paradise, where they enjoy a multi-week vacation. I don’t have enough vacation days to miss that much time from work!  Apparently, princesses, whether they want to be royalty or not, don’t have to worry about mundane things like that. 

I thought Shehab was a bit creepy and stalkerish. He never seemed sincere in his pursuit of Farah, but then again, he wasn’t. He concealed his identity for almost the entire time and then ended up professing his undying love for her – I just didn’t buy it.  I liked the art, though, so the story wasn’t a total loss.

Grade:  C / C-

Review copy purchased from Amazon

“I promise to give you the best moment of your life,” whispers a beautiful, mysterious man after a passionate kiss. Those words make Farah throw all reason out the door. Career woman Farah is actually a desert princess, and had just found out that she is to be in an arranged marriage with a prince from a neighboring kingdom. Farah has always wanted to marry the man she falls in love with, and hoped that this man, who made her crazy, would be the one. Hot passion takes her over. Please, take me now! At that moment, the man’s eyes shine like a beast.

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4. Review: Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I’m late to the Mercy Thompson band wagon.  I don’t know why I avoided the series, but I just didn’t find them appealing, despite the kickbutt covers.  Then I started reading the Alpha and Omega series, and I decided to give them a chance.  I think a big stumbling block for me was the 1st person POV, which isn’t my favorite (I am learning to appreciate it, though).  However, after listening to part of the audio book, I jumped to an ebook copy during last week’s marathon of pre-surgical appointments.  The audio book was very entertaining, but not practical to listen to in either the doctor’s office or the hospital, and that is the only reason I switched versions.  I highly recommend the audio book if that is your preferred reading method.

I loved Mercy.  She’s a a Walker, and she shapeshifts into a coyote.  Her ability to shift in not linked in any way to the cycle of the moon.  She was raised by Bran’s pack after her mother, scared and not quite sure what to do with a shapeshifting daughter, gave her to the werewolves with a plea for help.  Living with the wolves gave her a backbone, because they are constantly on the edge of violence and aggression, and it also gave her a very clear picture of how to behave when around them.  Though she was raised by the pack, she wasn’t part of the pack, and she wasn’t compelled to follow Bran’s orders.  So, to say that she’s a strong and independent, and certainly not a pushover, is somewhat of an understatement.

Mercy lives in Washington, where she runs an auto repair shop.  Her life takes a turn for the chaotic when Mac, a young werewolf, turns up at her door, looking for work.  Mercy senses that there’s something off about him, and her instincts prove correct.  When the alpha of the local pack is attacked and his daughter is kidnapped, Mercy suddenly has her hands full.  She fears a traitor in the pack, and with no other options, takes the grievously wounded alpha, Adam, to Bran to help heal him.  Then Mercy, Adam, and Samuel are in full out pursuit of Adam’s attackers.  Adam wants his daughter back, and he won’t let anyone stand in his way.

Having read the first two Alpha and Omega books, it was great fun to have someone else’s perspective of Bran and the other wolves.  Again, because Mercy isn’t part of the pack, she doesn’t necessarily jump at his every command.  She and Bran’s son, Samuel, also have a bittersweet history.  When Mercy was a teen, she loved Sam with all her heart.  Now that she’s an adult, she questions his motives for his interest in her.  When he gives indications that he wants to pick up where they left off, she’s not so eager to go along with him.  Adam adds to the tension between Mercy and Sam, because he thinks of her as his.  So, while these two tough, dominant wolves are posturing and trying to prove who’s the boss, Mercy doesn’t really have much time to spare for either of them.  One fear I have in future installments is that the love triangle will drag out, and I hate love triangles.  I think Adam is the wolf for her, and she needs to realize that sooner rather than later.

Part of the reason for the conflict in this book is Bran’s intention to make the existence of werewolves common knowledge.  As with in Hunting Ground, not everyone is on board with his decision.  This causes a lot of grief for Mercy.  Soon, not only are renegade wolves involved, but so is the local nest of vampires.  I love the world building in the series.  There are all kinds of paranormal creatures, some known to the general public, some still keeping a low profile and trying to blend in with the humans.  While Mercy is certainly a strong, powerful woman, many of the beings around her are doubly so.  I like that that Mercy is often outgunned, and that she has to rely on guts, brains, and pure old-fashioned luck to get herself out of some the messes she winds up in.  The world feels very believable, especially the pack politics and pecking order.  Even though Mercy is outside of that, it still affects her, and how she relates to other beings she encounters.

Now I am hooked on two Patricia Briggs’ series, and I’m looking forward to getting to know all of the characters better.  If you haven’t given them a try yet, I highly recommend both the Mercy Thompson and the Alpha and Omega series.

Grade:  B / B+

Review copy borrowed from my local library

Mercy Thompson’s life is not exactly normal. Her next-door neighbor is a werewolf. Her former boss is a gremlin. And she’s fixing a VW bus for a vampire. But then, Mercy isn’t exactly normal herself.

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5. Spotlight and Giveaway: Loving the Chase by Sharla Lovelace

This morning I have an exclusive excerpt for Loving the Chase by Sharla Lovelace.  I also have an awesome giveaway, so please enter below!

Exclusive Excerpt: Loving the Chase by Sharla Lovelace

Maddi kissed him. Out in the middle of a thunderstorm, soaked to the skin, she leaned in and planted a kiss on him that flipped back time and stopped it simultaneously. Suddenly Zach didn’t care about the rain or the mud in his hair or the puddle seeping through his jeans. All he cared about was keeping Maddi Hayes’s mouth on his. 

Cradling her head in his hands, he pulled her in, searching her mouth, tasting her, taking all he could before she changed her mind. Before she remembered for both of them why they couldn’t do this. 

His tongue slid over hers as he dove deeper, needing more, needing her. Then she gave a little moan in his mouth, making him nearly blind with need. God help him, this was actually happening. This was Maddi, losing herself in his kiss, her hands going into his wet hair, pulling him impossibly closer. Zach obliged, pulling her body to him until she was straddling him, her arms wound around his head in desperate desire. His hands pressing her tightly against him as he kissed her as deeply and thoroughly as he could. Making love to her mouth, feeling—fuck—feeling too damn much as things he couldn’t afford to feel came rushing to the surface. A burn hit him in the gut and the chest and the eyes at the same time, and he forced himself to pull back, kissing her face, trying to breathe. Tasting salt. 

He opened his eyes to look into hers. They hadn’t made it far, and the light from the porch still made it possible to see the rivulets of water running down her face. But tears? Hell they might have been his. She gripped his face and pressed her forehead to his, pulling every ounce of gut-wrenching control from him. Someone had to think. Someone that wasn’t him. 

“Maddi,” he breathed as lightning flashed overhead and thunder cracked over them. 

“I know,” she whispered against his lips. 

“You—you have to stop us,” Zach said against hers, his hands on her ass, pulling her against him and then sliding up her back. “God help me, I don’t think I can.” 

She moved her hips against him as his hands roamed, and took a shaky breath as her fingers tangled in his hair. “I can’t, Zach,” she said. “I know I should, but I—” Her lips pressed against his face, raining kisses along his eyes, his temple, breaking his self-control and sending him into the place just under her ear that he miraculously remembered her liking. “I can’t stop touching you,” she breathed.

About the Book

Author: Sharla Lovelace

Title: Loving the Chase

Release Day: August 25, 2015

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Summary

Charming, adventurous Zach Chase has always craved the spotlight, and now he’s on the hunt for publicity for his family’s storm-chasing business. So when a reality TV network approaches him with the idea for a show profiling their work, he can’t resist. But the last person he expects to walk into the meeting is the former love of his life.

Production assistant Maddi Hayes was once engaged to Zach—until she was almost killed by a tornado he was out chasing. She walked away from her fiancé and their future together, convinced she’d always come second to his dangerous career.

Dreading the show and anxious over working so closely with Zach, Maddi also knows this project could mean big things for her career. If only Zach weren’t still so infuriating…and so infuriatingly sexy. Can they finally let go of their stormy past? Or will the passion still raging between them win in the end?

Buy Link

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Loving-Chase-Heart-Sharla-Lovelace-ebook/dp/B00TKQD1EC

Author Biography

Sharla Lovelace is the bestselling, award-winning author of The Reason Is You, Before and Ever Since, Just One Day, Don’t Let Go, and Stay with Me, as well as the Heart of the Storm series. She writes stories about small-town love filled with warmth and humor. Being a Texas girl through and through, she’s proud to say she lives in southeast Texas with her retired husband, a souped-up golf cart, and two crazy mutts. She loves connecting with readers and is available by Skype for book club meetings and chats. For a list of her events and to sign up for her monthly newsletter, see her website at www.sharlalovelace.com.

Author’s Social Media Links

Website – http://sharlalovelace.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sharlalovelace

Twitter – https://twitter.com/sharlalovelace

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5020278.Sharla_Lovelace

 

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6. Guest Post and Giveaway: Sustained by Emma Chase

Thanks to Gallery Books, I have  a copy of Emma Chase’s latest, Sustained, up for grabs!  First check out Emma’s Top 5 favorite reads, then enter for your chance to win below!

Top 5 Favorite Reads by Emma Chase

1. Gentle Rogue by Johanna Lindsey: James is my ultimate male lead character! Sarcastically funny, possessive, sexy with just the right amount of tender moments to make me sigh. If I was stranded on a desert island, this is the book I’d bring with me (along with the entire Malory series if allowed).

2. The Bride by Julie Garwood: I’ll never get tired of rereading this one – sexy and heart-tugging moments, spirited characters mixed with a tiny bit of intrigue! I love all of Garwood’s historical romances.

3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë: I’ve adored this book since I was fifteen years old – the drama, the passion! To me, Heathcliff is the prototype for every romantic “bad boy” who came after him.

4. Beautiful Player by Christina Lauren: Smart, sexy and fun! I love Will and Hanna, they never fail to make me giggle and blush. This book is always a good time.

5. The King by Tiffany Reisz: The Original Sinners Series is simply brilliant – and for me, it’s all about the characters. They’re sharp and complicated and so very funny at times! Every turn of the page is like peeling back a layer and discovering something brand new, making you care even more deeply for the characters and more invested in their unique happy ending.

About Sustained:

Emma Chase, New York Times bestselling author of the Tangled series, returns with a brand new funny, romantic, sexy story!
A knight in tarnished armor is still a knight.

When you’re a defense attorney in Washington, DC, you see firsthand how hard life can be, and that sometimes the only way to survive is to be harder. I, Jake Becker, have a reputation for being cold, callous, and intimidating—and that suits me just fine. In fact, it’s necessary when I’m breaking down a witness on the stand.

Complications don’t work for me—I’m a “need-to-know” type of man. If you’re my client, tell me the basic facts. If you’re my date, stick to what will turn you on. I’m not a therapist or Prince Charming—and I don’t pretend to be.

Then Chelsea McQuaid and her six orphaned nieces and nephews came along and complicated the ever-loving hell out of my life. Now I’m going to Mommy and Me classes, One Direction concerts, the emergency room, and arguing cases in the principal’s office.
Chelsea’s too sweet, too innocent, and too gorgeous for her own good. She tries to be tough, but she’s not. She needs someone to help her, defend her…and the kids.

And that—that, I know how to do.

About the Author

By day, Emma Chase is a devoted wife and mother who lives in a small, rural town in New Jersey. By night, she toils away bringing her colorful characters and their endless antics to life. Writing has always been her passion, and the release of her debut romantic comedy Tangled was nothing less than a dream come true. The subsequent books in her delightful, beloved series include Twisted, Tamed, and Tied. She is also the author of Sustained from her sexy new Legal Briefs series.

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7. Spotlight and Giveaway: Ever After by Rachel Lacey

Enjoy an excerpt from Rachel Lacey’s Ever After, and make sure to enter the giveaway below!EVER AFTER by Rachel Lacey (August 25, 2015; Forever Mass Market; Love to the Rescue #3)

CAUGHT IN THE ACT
Olivia Bennett is not having a happy birthday. Instead of blowing out her twenty-nine candles, she’s stuck in jail, caught red-handed in a graffiti incident that (perhaps) involved one too many strawberry margaritas. Worst idea ever. The only bright side is that she ended up in the strong arms of the most gorgeous lawman she’s ever seen.


Pete Sampson (aka Deputy Hot Stuff) faces intense pressure from the sheriff to find out who’s behind a string of vandalisms. And after her spray-painting spree, Olivia is suspect number one. Still, Pete can’t stop thinking about her.Wanting her. Now he’s torn between his duty and his overpowering desire for the vivacious waitress. But he may have to bend the rules because true love is more important than the letter of the law . . .

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Excerpt:

“Hurry up, Liv,” Kristi called from below her.

Olivia raised the canister and let loose another blast of red paint. She’d just started “I” when the sound of an approaching vehicle reached her. Her finger slipped, and a fresh coat of paint soaked her hands.

Kristi and Terence must have heard it too, because the flashlight shut off, leaving her at the top of the ladder in pitch darkness, afraid to move. Headlights slashed through the night from Garrett Road, some two hundred feet to her left. They slowed, then tires crunched over gravel as the car turned into the factory parking lot.

Christ on a cracker.

“Get the hell down, Liv. We’ve got to get out of here!” Terence whispered.

A swirl of blue lights turned the night into a kaleidoscope of oh, shit. She pressed against the side of the building, stymied by paint-slickened fingers as she fumbled for the top of the ladder.

She was so not getting arrested on her birthday.

Except that she so was. A spotlight shone from the cruiser, illuminating her in a blaze of light so bright she could do nothing but press a hand over her eyes and count how many ways spray-painting Halverson Foods’ chicken-processing plant had been a bad idea.

The ladder shifted beneath her, and she groped for the top rung. The combination of the spinning blue lights with the piercing glare of the spotlight was seriously disorienting.

“Hands where I can see them,” a male voice boomed.

She shoved her hands into the air, managing to smack herself in the face with the can of spray paint in the process. It fell to the ground with a muffled thump. Oh, this sucked.

“Come down from the ladder, nice and slow, and keep those hands up,” the cop instructed. He sounded nice-ish. Maybe he’d go easy on her. Maybe . . .

Awkwardly, she fumbled with her right foot for the next rung of the ladder. It swayed dangerously to the side.

“Terence!” she hissed, her fingernails scoring metal as she tried to steady herself.

Silence. She looked down, but the spotlight’s glare blinded her, preventing her from seeing past her own paint-spattered boots. “Terence? Kristi?”

She managed to get her foot settled onto the rung and took a step down. No answer came from her friends. What the hell?

She lifted her left foot to take the next step, and the ladder just dropped out from beneath her. One second it was there, the next she was plummeting through space.

“Oomph,” came a masculine grunt, as she slammed into someone’s chest and big, strong arms closed around her.

“Terence?” Her voice was a squeak, because Terence was nowhere near this strong, and he didn’t smell as good either. This man smelled faintly of cinnamon, his arms solid as steel behind her thighs, and based on the hard bulge stabbing into her kidney, he was also armed.

Oh, crap. Crap. Crap!

“Sorry,” he answered her question, setting her roughly on the ground. “Not Terence.”

“Oh.” She staggered, still blinded by the spotlight aimed at her. Disoriented, she turned her back and blinked at her shadow on the factory’s gray wall. Terence and Kristi had deserted her. Bastards.

“Keep those hands where I can see them,” Invisible Cop said.

With a sigh, she placed them on the wall before her. Her hands glistened blood-red in the harsh light. She had been caught red-handed. Dammit. She’d always hated being a cliché.

FOR KEEPS by Rachel Lacey (January 27, 2015; Forever Mass Market; Love to the Rescue #2)

A SUMMER FLING . . . OR SOMETHING MORE?
Merry Atwater would do just about anything to save her dog rescue – even if it means working with the most stubborn man on the planet. It’s hard to avoid the sparks that fly with TJ Jameson, the ruggedly sexy cowboy in charge of the children’s camp where she’s just taken an animal therapy job. But commitment is not Merry’s style, and TJ clearly wants more than just a roll in the hay.
TJ Jameson isn’t looking for anything complicated-just a peaceful life on his family’s ranch with a wife and kids. “No-strings” Merry Atwater doesn’t fit that bill, no matter how irresistible she is. But when he sees how Merry gets through to his autistic nephew and the other kids at Camp Blue Sky, TJ’s a goner. If he doesn’t give in to the now, he might just lose his shot at forever . . .

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UNLEASHED by Rachel Lacey (October 28, 2014; Forever Mass Market; Love to the Rescue #1)

What happens when you find the right one at the wrong time?
Cara Medlen has a serious case of animal attraction. And it’s not because of all the foster dogs she’s rescued. She’s got it bad for her incredibly sexy neighbor. Her one rule: Don’t get attached. It’s served her well with the dogs she’s given to good homes and the children she’s nannied. Yet the temptation of Matt’s sexy smile might just convince her that some rules are made to be broken.
Matt Dumont doesn’t need his skills as a private investigator to detect disaster on the horizon. Cara is everything he thought he’d never find-gorgeous, funny, and caring. But there’s no way he can start a relationship just as he’s about to move to another state. Talk about bad timing. As their attraction sizzles too hot to deny, they’ll have to make a decision: forget the consequences and let loose, or forget each other and let go…


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About the author:

Rachel Lacey lives in North Carolina, with her husband, son, and their own rescued pup. She volunteers her spare time with Carolina Boxer Rescue and truly has a passion for helping our furry friends. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America as well as her local Heart of Carolina RWA chapter.

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8. Interview and Giveaway: Delayed Penalty by Sophia Henry

 
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[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Sophia! Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Sophia Henry] Driven. Compassionate. Funny.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Whats one thing you wont leave home without?

[Sophia Henry] Lip product of some kind. I’m addicted. I feel like a zombie without it. A dry-lip zombie.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Sophia Henry] Computer, a stack of books for a future giveaway, and a silly little bobblehead of a cat wearing gold chains that my grandpa bought me.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Whats your favorite snack when youre working on a deadline?

[Sophia Henry] Sour Patch Kids. I eat all the Sour Patch Kids when I’m writing!!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Sophia Henry] (Detroit Red Wings Forward) Tomas Tatar’s girlfriend? ;) Sorry to my husband…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week. Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Sophia Henry] This is such a hard question for me, because “with great power comes great responsibility,” ya know? I’ll say invisibility, because then I don’t need to be Tomas Tatar’s girlfriend, I’ll just be invisible in the Red Wings locker room for a week. I think more naughty than I write.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Sophia Henry] I’ve read so much awesome recently. Missing Pieces by Meredith Tate, Game of Love by Ara Grigorian, Across the Distance by Marie Meyer, The Rearranged Life by Annika Sharma, Run Away by Laura Salters, The List by Kate L. Mary, Letting Go by Jessica Ruddick. So many. I love to read (Obviously – ha). And love to support my fellow authors.

**Thank you so much for having me on your blog!

 
 
DELAYED PENALTY
Pilots Hockey #1
Sophia Henry
Releasing Sept 1st, 2015
 
 
She closed her heart long ago. He just wants to open her mind. For fans of Toni Aleo and Sawyer Bennett, the debut of Sophia Henry’s red-hot Detroit Pilots series introduces a hockey team full of complicated men who fight for love.
 
Auden Berezin is used to losing people: her father, her mother, her first love. Now, just when she believes those childhood wounds are finally healing, she loses something else: the soccer scholarship that was her ticket to college. Scrambling to earn tuition money, she’s relieved to find a gig translating for a Russian minor-league hockey player—until she realizes that he’s the same dangerously sexy jerk who propositioned her at the bar the night before.
 
Equal parts muscle and scar tissue, Aleksandr Varenkov knows about trauma. Maybe that’s what draws him to Auden. He also lost his family too young, and he channeled the pain into his passions: first hockey, then vodka and women. But all that seems to just melt away the instant he kisses Auden and feels a jolt of desire as sudden and surprising as a hard check on the ice.
 
After everything she’s been through, Auden can’t bring herself to trust any man, let alone a hot-headed puck jockey with a bad reputation. Aleksandr just hopes she’ll give him a chance—long enough to prove he’s finally met the one who makes him want to change.

Excerpt:

I’m pretty sure there were only two ways Crazy Hair could have looked better than he had at O’Callaghan’s. The first was as he did right now: sitting on a bench in the locker room wearing nothing but the lower half of his uniform, including his skates, sweat rolling over his sinewy pecs and creating a happy trail all the way into his hockey pants.

The second way—I can only assume—would be if he were completely naked.

“Aleksandr, this is Auden Berezin. She will be your translator.”

“I don’t need a translator.”

I almost laughed, because he’d said he didn’t need a translator in Russian.

“You must talk with the media at some point, Sasha. They’re riding my ass to get better answers from you than ‘was good game.’ ”

Aleksandr Varenkov, hot Russian hockey god, laughed, showing the perfect set of white teeth I’d noticed at the bar.

“You have your teeth in, but you haven’t even showered yet?” Orlenko asked.

Was Orlenko a mind reader? I sure hope not, because I would be fired for thinking about my client naked.

“I wanted to look good for pictures.” Aleksandr winked at me. Then he stood, and drops of sweat raced down the hard planes of his chest.

I’d never been so envious of perspiration in my life.

“Sometimes I talk in the shower. Will she translate for me in there?”

My cheeks began to burn, so I averted my eyes, lowering them to the black Cyrillic script tattooed down his sides, then thought better of that line of sight and studied the soiled beige carpet below my feet.

“Aleks—” Orlenko sighed, rubbing his forehead.

“Zhenya,” Aleksandr began. “You know I’m kidding, yes?” He shoved a towel onto the shelf above his nameplate and walked away without waiting for an answer.

“Yes,” Orlenko hissed. He’d said it under his breath, but I heard him and wondered what my grandpa had gotten me into. “Well, that was Aleksandr Varenkov, your client. He’s a talented player and a good man. But he can be a little—”

“Douchey?” I offered in English. I shouldn’t have said it, considering Grandpa’s professional reputation was in my hands. Then again, Evgeny Orlenko was Grandpa’s friend first, so maybe he wouldn’t be too hard on me. Besides, Grandpa knew what kind of mouth I had, and he’d sent me for the job anyway.

Orlenko laughed, and continued in Russian. “Wild was the word I was looking for, but your adjective may not be that far off.”

“I’ve got it, Mr. Orlenko.”

“Are you sure?” He inspected me through thick black-rimmed glasses that were too small for his puffy face.

“As a college student with an active social life, I’ve learned how to handle arrogant douche bags.” This time I was being paid to handle one.

“I shouldn’t be having this conversation about one of my clients,” Mr. Orlenko said, his lips quirking up, then back into a tight line. At least he was trying to keep a straight face. “You’re like a breath of fresh air, Audushka. I hope you stay that way even with his off-ice antics.”

Off-ice antics? What the hell did that mean and why would I have to deal with them? “Will I have to hang out with him outside of the arena? I thought I was here to translate for media interviews after games and some practices.”

“Aleksandr speaks very little English. He’ll need your assistance in all aspects of his career; interviews, community service. At least, until he gets acclimated. Vitya said you were here for the month, is that correct?”

“Yep. All of winter break.”

“You’ll be putting in a lot of hours.”

“I’m a hard worker. And I need the cash. Got cut from the soccer team, and I have to replace the scholarship money I lost.” I was running my mouth again. Maybe I did need to tone it down.

“Well, I’m sorry to hear that. The being-cut part.” He cleared his throat. “Here’s my card. I wrote my cell number on the back. If you have any trouble or if Aleksandr makes you uncomfortable in any way, please give me a call.”

“Thanks.” I scanned the card wondering if I should try to memorize his number now, since I wasn’t sure how stable this client sounded.

After Orlenko left the locker room, I realized I hadn’t asked him what I should do next, and he hadn’t given me instructions as to where I should wait while Aleksandr showered. Since I wasn’t part of the media, I was extremely aware of being the intruder standing in a room of half-naked men. A shower shouldn’t take very long, so I dug my e-reader out of my messenger bag and sat down on the stool that Aleksandr had just vacated.

“Ewww.” I jumped up and skimmed my palm against my damp backside. Hadn’t even thought about any runaway sweat that might’ve dripped from Aleksandr’s lean, hard body onto the stool.

Stop. Just stop thinking about the shiny, wet flesh covering his impeccably carved frame.


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Sophia Henry, a proud Detroit native, fell in love with reading, writing, and hockey all before she became a teenager. She did not, however, fall in love with snow. So after graduating with an English degree from Central Michigan University, she moved to North Carolina, where she spends her time writing books featuring hockey-playing heroes, chasing her two high-energy sons, watching her beloved Detroit Red Wings, and rocking out at concerts with her husband.



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9. Release Blast and Giveaway: Immortal Matchmakers, Inc by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

 
Grand Prize Giveaway
5 Accidentally Yours Paperbacks + a signed copy of Immortal Matchmakers Inc
+ magnets and bookmarks + a SADDLEBACK leather tote. 

Four Runners Up
a signed copy of Immortal Matchmakers + magnet + bookmark
 
 
IMMORTAL MATCHMAKERS, INC.
Immortal Matchmakers #1
Mimi Jean Pamfiloff
Released Aug 24th, 2015
 
 
BECAUSE…dysfunctional immortals need love, too.
 
ANDRUS
Once the most powerful immortal assassin ever to exist, this demigod now spends his days pining for the girl who got away: Helena. Doesn’t help that he’s also Helena’s full-time nanny slash bodyguard. But now that the apocalypse is over and her husband, the vampire general, has returned home for good, it’s time to move on.
 
But can Andrus let go of the woman he secretly loves?
 
Cimil, Goddess of the Underworld and owner of Immortal Matchmakers, Inc., knows the solution is finding another gal. The right gal. But getting a woman to date this callous, unrefined, coldhearted warrior will prove to be the biggest challenge of her existence. Good thing they’re in L.A.
 
When aspiring actress Sadie Townsend finds herself one week away from being thrown out on the street, the call from her agent is like a gift from heaven. But when she learns the job is teaching the world’s biggest barbarian how to act like a gentleman, she wonders if she shouldn’t have asked for more money. He’s vulgar, uncaring, and rougher around the edges than a serrated bread knife. He’s also sexy, fierce, and undeniably tormented.
 
Will Sadie help him overcome his past, or will she find her heart hopelessly trapped by a man determined to self-destruct?

EXCERPT:

He stood up. “I think I’ll go for a swim. Care to join me?”

“What?”

“A swim. It’s been centuries since I’ve been in the ocean.”

“Centuries, huh? Well, I’m sorry, but no. We need to work, Andrus. I have less than a week to get you ready, or I don’t get paid.”

“You should’ve negotiated for a better deal.” He kicked off his boots and stripped off his shirt.

Holy mother of God.

As her eyes scaled up his abs, the deep grooves of his washboard stomach flexing with fiercely seductive power, she found herself mesmerized. The light olive skin of his bare arms and chest and…Oh my God. This guy is built like an evil sexy tank. And whether she liked it or not, her female libido reacted—nipple tingles, core flutters, the whole nine yards. Or ten inches, in his case.

Andrus caught her blatantly drooling and then winked. “You’re welcome.” He dipped his head of thick, messy dark hair, turned, and slowly made his way toward the water.

Sadie watched along with every other woman within eyeshot. They all stopped whatever they were doing—volleyball, applying suntan oil, kissing their boyfriends, or avoiding trees while they were rollerblading—Watch out! Oh, that had to hurt. Even the men stopped to fume in Andrus’s general direction, seething with a territorial-type jealousy as he practically floated over the sand, his naturally tanned muscles flexing and pumping in a hypnotic rhythm as he strolled toward the waves.

He looked like a fucking god. Tall, lean, menacing ropes of—

He jumped head first into a wave, startling Sadie from her little sexually charged, mental detour.


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New York Times and USA Today bestselling Romance author, host of the radio talk show, Man Candy, on Radioslot.com.

When San Francisco native Mimi Jean went on an adventure as an exchange student to Mexico City, she never imagined the journey would lead to writing Romance. But one MBA, one sexy husband, and two rowdy kids later, Mimi would trade in corporate life for vampires, deities, and snarky humor.
She continues to hope that her books will inspire a leather pants comeback (for men) and that she might make you laugh when you need it most.

She also enjoys interacting with her fans (especially if they’re batshit crazy). You can always find her chatting away on Facebook, Twitter, or saying many naughty words on her show MAN CANDY on Radioslot.com !

Find out more about Mimi and upcoming books at www.mimijean.net.
 

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10. Manga Review: Limit V 3 by Keiko Suenobu

Contains Spoilers

Review:

It’s been a while since I read the first two volumes of LIMIT, but I didn’t have any problems jumping back into the series again.  This is a survival story; a bus of high schoolers is headed to the mountains for a camping trip.  There’s a terrible accident, and the bus plunges off the road and down the mountainside.  There’s only a handful of survivors, and they are all girls.  Bickering and power struggles begin at once, and Morishige, the only one with a weapon, quickly takes charge.  Morishige has issues.  She has grudges against the other girls, and establishes herself as the leader of her battered, hungry, and terrified classmates.  When Isui changes to power dynamic by running off with Morishige’s scythe, there’s a rebellion against Morishige’s cruel leadership.

Things are pretty grim for our tiny group of survivors.  Usui has run off into the fog and hasn’t been seen since.  There’s only a little food to share, and Morishige is still trying to keep herself in control through threats and violence.  Since she doesn’t have her weapon anymore, that is only getting her so far.  She and Ichinose fight, bickering about how misguided Morishige’s behavior has been.  In a fit of rage, Morishige storms off.

In the morning, Konno goes off in search of Isui.  Weak and cold, she falls into a lake and almost drowns.  At the last minute, she’s saved!  By Hinata, who everyone thought was dead.  And boy am I glad he’s not, because I really like Hinata!  If I was stranded on a mountain with bleak prospects for rescue, I’d want to see his cheerful face.  Hinata is a force of positive thoughts and good vibes, and if anyone can make the impossible come true, I firmly believe it’s him.  Of course, his sudden resurrection doesn’t sit well with Morishige, especially after he calls her out for her previous “leadership” skills.  Morishige, getting back to her issues, has a real problem with males.  After a flashback to her dreadful homelife, one can’t help but understand where her lack of people skills stems from.  The victim of abuse, she doesn’t know how else to deal with her problems other than to strike out against them.

LIMIT is a very fast read that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  It’s brutal, suspenseful, and creepy.  The dire situation isn’t bringing out the best in everyone, and in fact, the utter hopelessness is turning some of the cast into evil little monsters.  There’s very little one for all and all for one until Hinata shows up.  There’s a lot of self-destruction and back-stabbing, as well as resource hogging, because who wants to share when it means that you may not have enough to eat and starve to death?  Desperate times means really, really bad behavior! 

I love the art, which matches the tenor of the story perfectly.  It’s detailed and expressive, but also dark and brooding.  Moods change in an instant from hopeful to oh my gosh we are all going to die, and the art clearly reflects that.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

In the third volume of The Limit the survivors’ worst fears have come true. One of their members has fallen. And this death amongst them will test the limits of their unity. New fears will be born from this tragedy and instead of using their combined strength to search for a way home, their lack of trust will force them all to retreat into their own micro-cliques. The balance of power is now undone, and a new face-another survivor-will eventually turn things upside down!

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11. Spotlight and Giveaway: Scotsman of My Dreams by Karen Ranney

 
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SCOTSMAN OF MY DREAMS
MacIain Series #3
Karen Ranney
Releasing Aug 25th, 2015
 

In USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Karen Ranney’s second novel in her breathtaking series, an unconventional woman and a former scoundrel embark on a daring mission of desire.

Once the ton’s most notorious rake, Dalton MacIain has returned from his expedition to America during the Civil War-wounded and a changed man. Instead of attending soirees, he now spends his time as a recluse. But Dalton’s peace is disturbed when Minerva Todd barges into his London townhouse, insisting he help search for her missing brother Neville. Though Dalton would love to spend more time with the bewitching beauty, he has no interest in finding Neville-for he blames him for his injury.
 
Minerva has never met a more infuriating man than the Earl of Rathsmere yet she is intrigued by the torrid rumors she has heard about him…and the fierce attraction pulling her toward him.
 
Dalton does not count on Minerva’s persistence-or the desire she awakens in him, compelling him to discover her brother’s fate. But when danger surrounds them, Dalton fears he will lose the tantalizing, thoroughly unpredictable woman he has come to love.
 
EXCERPT:

She didn’t know what part of the letter made her angrier, the fact that he had gone off to see if he was brave, or his thought that women should simply agree to anything a man suggested.

What poppycock.

Sitting at her desk, she calmly folded the letter and held it against her chest.

She would not cry. Tears did nothing but make her eyes and nose red and congest her breathing. They didn’t solve the situation. They didn’t make her feel less guilty.

He had never mentioned America to her. What did he know about their war? Did he simply want to go into battle to see if he could survive it?

Dear God, had he survived it?

That was the one question no one could answer.

She replaced the letter in the drawer of her desk and sat quietly, thinking of her next move. If she wrote the earl again, he would probably ignore her, as he’d already done five times. If she returned to his house tomorrow, encountered his secretary again and marshaled her arguments better, was there any guarantee Mr. Howington would listen?

She had only been jesting when she was talking to Mrs. Beauchamp, but perhaps she should engage in a little subterfuge. Every house needed servants, and the earl’s large home must require quite a number of them in order to run smoothly.

The plan being born in her imagination died a swift death. Mr. Howington had seen her. Perhaps she could attempt to engage the housekeeper’s help. Or bribe one of the servants to turn the other way when she gained entrance to the house.

She had to find a way in to see the Earl of Rathsmere. She had to find out what happened to Neville.

How could she live another day without knowing?


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Karen Ranney began writing when she was five. Her first published work was The Maple Leaf, read over the school intercom when she was in the first grade. In addition to wanting to be a violinist (her parents had a special violin crafted for her when she was seven), she wanted to be a lawyer, a teacher, and, most of all, a writer. Though the violin was discarded early, she still admits to a fascination with the law, and she volunteers as a teacher whenever needed. Writing, however, has remained the overwhelming love of her life.
 

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12. Spotlight and Giveaway: Last Chance Cowboys: The Drifter by Anna Schmidt

This September the first in Anna Schmidt’s Where the Trail Ends series, Last Chance Cowboys: The Drifter, is being released! To celebrate, Anna’s here to play a quick game of “Would You Rather?” with us!

Would you rather have the power of invisibility or flight? Invisibility. It would be very cool to be able to observe and record while unobserved.

An Excerpt:

The rain started just after midnight. Maria was awakened by the plop of large raindrops on the canvas of the tent. She lay very still, willing each plop to bring more and more until there was a true downpour. When it happened, she grinned, then laughed out loud and shook Trey. “Wake up,” she said. “It’s finally raining.”

From outside the tent, she heard first grumbles and then shouts of pure joy as the men came awake and realized that they and their belongings were soaked. Trey sat up and rubbed his eyes with his knuckles. Then, as he became aware of the sounds of the rain and the men’s shouts, he grinned. “Can I go?” he asked.

“We both will,” Maria said, tossing him his boots before pulling on hers. She lifted the flap and followed Trey outside. In seconds, they were both drenched, and she had to laugh when she saw Happy and Bunker and Slim dancing around what had been the campfire. Even Roger was smiling, and when he saw her, he came to her at once and bowed. “May I have this dance, Miss Maria?”

Deciding it was time to put aside her irritation with Roger and his jealousy, she took hold of his hand as they joined the cowboys circling the fire pit. She looked for Chet and saw him standing off to the side, his face turned up to the sky and the balm of the falling rain.

“Come on, Trey,” she called and broke the circle to grasp her brother’s hand. Trey pulled Chet into the circle as well.

“And promenade,” Bunker shouted and began weaving his way along the circle, nodding to each man he passed until he reached Maria. “And swing your partner,” he bellowed as he practically lifted Maria off her feet and swung her around. She basked in the swirl of faces spinning past and laughed. “Put me down, Seymour,” she ordered, but she wasn’t serious. The truth was that she could have stayed that way all night—her face pelted with rain, the air already beginning to cool, and the promise of new growth on the range something she could practically taste.

Bunker set her on her feet and instructed the others to bow to their partners as he was bowing to her, his grizzly beard sopping wet. As she promenaded with Bunker down the line, she felt a lightness and joy that she had not known in months. The rain and the cadence the men kept to substitute for music made her feel as if just maybe everything would be all right after all. These men were like family, and together they would find their way.

“Change partners,” Bunker shouted and spun her away and straight into the arms of Chet Hunter.

All at once, the world went still.

He held her as if she were something fragile and precious, and yet she could feel the warmth of his hand spanning her waist and see the silhouette of his rock-solid muscles beneath the soaked fabric of his shirt. He locked his gaze on her face—and as he guided her through the dance, she found that she could not look away. No, it was more like she did not want to look away.

Then a flash of lightning lit the night sky, spooking the horses, and as suddenly as the celebration had begun, it was over. The men ran to calm the horses, leaving her standing next to the dead campfire. But before he left her, Chet leaned in close and said, “Best find cover, Miss Maria. Looks like this might be some storm.” He hooked an errant curl behind her ear. “Go,” he said, and his voice was husky—intimate.

She did not move, not even when he glanced back at her. She thought she saw the hint of a smile cross his lips, but then he was lost in the blackness of the night. As she hurried back to the tent she shared with Trey, she tried to remind herself that the moment they had just shared was nothing more than a mutual celebration. Would he be any different when he saw her? Of course not. Chet Hunter was a good and kind man—who worked for her, who had made it clear that in time he would be moving on.

She was the one who was going to feel awkward when she saw him next. She was the one acting like a love struck girl experiencing her first real crush. She was the one who could not seem to think about anything except how his arm had felt when he danced with her and how those lips had quirked into that half smile…and how very much she wondered what it might be like to kiss the handsome drifter.

Title: Last Chance Cowboys: The Drifter

Author: Anna Schmidt

Series: Where the Trail Ends, #1

Pubdate: September 1st, 2015

ISBN: 9781492612964

Caught between a greedy corporation and a desperate love of the land, Maria Porterfield barely has time to mourn her father’s death. If her family is to survive, it’ll be up to her to take charge—but she can’t do it alone. When a mysterious drifter rides into town, the handsome cowboy seems like an answer to her prayers. But Chet isn’t interested in settling down, no matter how tempting the offer…

Chet made his way West looking for a fresh start—the last thing he wants is to get involved in someone else’s fight. But something about Maria awakens a powerful need to protect the fierce beauty at all costs. He never thought he’d find love, but as danger presses in, he may find there’s more beyond the next horizon than just another long and dusty trail.

Award-winning author Anna Schmidt delights in creating stories where her characters must wrestle with the challenges of their times. Critics have consistently praised Schmidt for her ability to seamlessly integrate actual events with her fictional characters to produce strong tales of hope and love in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. She resides in Wisconsin.

Buy Links:

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13. The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves – Nesting

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba of The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  This is a weekly meme where we can share news of the week and highlight new books received.

My hip replacement surgery is a little over a week out, and I’m freaking out.  I’ve spent the last two weekends building a little nest, in hopes that I’ll be comforted by new surroundings.  We purchased new fluffy rugs for the bathroom, new sheets for the spare bedroom because I know that I’m going to want to be left alone for the first few days, and some snack foods I don’t usually indulge in.   I ordered a box of new chews for the dogs so, hopefully, they will be occupied while I’m recuperating.   I still need some sweats or loose lounge pants, and I’ll need to make some food and freeze it so I have easy access to meals.  Other than that, I guess I’m good to go – ugh.

I just finished Moon Called by Patricia Briggs.  I liked it quite a bit.  Between naps and loads of laundry I’ve been reading Tessa Dare’s latest, When a Scot Ties a Knot.   It’s pretty good so far!  What are you reading this weekend?

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to share new additions to our library.  Click here to learn more about it.

New Arrivals at the Café:

Chapelwood

Brazen

Weighing Shadows

Followed by Frost

A great big thanks to the publishers for their continued support!

What did you get? Please leave links and share!

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14. Cover Reveal and Giveaway: Best Worst Mistake by Lia Riley

 
Tasty Book Tours is thrilled to Present
the Cover for the Upcoming Brightwater Romance…
 
 
BEST WORST MISTAKE
Brightwater #3
Lia Riley
Releasing Oct 20th, 2015
Avon Impulse
 
 
The third sexy and emotional novel in debut Avon author Lia Riley’s Brightwater series set in the mountains of Northern California
 
Sometimes the worst mistakes turn out to be the best…
 
Smoke jumper Wilder Kane once reveled in the rush from putting out dangerous wildfires. But after a tragic accident, he’s cut himself off from the world, refusing to leave his isolated cabin. When a headstrong beauty bursts in, Wilder finds himself craving the fire she ignites in him, but letting anyone near his darkness would be a mistake.
 
After her Hollywood life went up in smoke, Quinn Higsby decided to leave Tinseltown behind and returned to Brightwater to care for her ailing father. Spending her days in a small bookstore, her peaceful existence is up-ended by a fascinating but damaged man. Quinn is determined to not to be scared off by Wilder, not once she’s experienced the heat of his passions.
 
But when an arsonist targets the community and Wilder is accused, he must confront the ghosts of his past. Will his desire for Quinn flameout or will he be able to tame the wildness inside and rekindle a hope for their future?

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Lia Riley writes offbeat New Adult and Contemporary Adult romance. After studying at the University of Montana-Missoula, she scoured the world armed only with a backpack, overconfidence and a terrible sense of direction. She counts shooting vodka with a Ukranian mechanic in Antarctica, sipping yerba mate with gauchos in Chile and swilling XXXX with stationhands in Outback Australia among her accomplishments.

A British literature fanatic at heart, Lia considers Mr. Darcy and Edward Rochester as her fictional boyfriends. Her very patient husband doesn’t mind. Much. When not torturing heroes (because c’mon, who doesn’t love a good tortured hero?), Lia herds unruly chickens, camps, beach combs, daydreams about future books, wades through a mile-high TBR pile and schemes yet another trip. Right now, Icelandic hot springs and Scottish castles sound mighty fine.



Check out the other books in the Brightwater Series

 

 


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15. Manga Review: Tokyo Ghoul V2 by Sui Ishida

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I am trying to get back into the swing of reading multi volume manga series again.  It has definitely gotten more difficult for me to maintain any level of enthusiasm when there is a wait of months, sometimes many, many months, between volumes.  When my favorite series go on hiatus, or get canceled by the US publisher, it breaks my heart.  I love comics, I get all caught up in the stories and the characters, and when all of that grinds to a premature halt, it stings.  I’m not a happy camper, and I’m reluctant to become invested in other series.  That’s one of the reasons I enjoy the Harlequin manga adaptations so much; it’s usually only volume and you’re done.  I was also burnt out on all of the series I had been following.  Now, though, I feel the urge to dip a toe back into the manga waters. I’d like to finish up some series that have concluded, and maybe test drive a few new ones.  Tokyo Ghoul looked interesting, so I decided to give it a spin.

This is the second volume that I’ve read.  The story is finally starting to pick up some momentum for me.  The world building is getting more complex, and Kaneki has more to worry about than how he’s going to keep himself fed.  The Ghoul Investigators are descending on the 20th Ward, searching for ghouls trying to blend into human society.  When Kaneki witnesses the brutal murder of a customer of the café he works at by the ghoul police, he is distraught over his sense of helplessness.  After Touka takes matters into her own hands, and fails to achieve the vengeance she sought, Kaneki asks her to show him how to use his kagune, or weapon.  While he still refuses to kill humans, at least he’ll be able to defend himself or his friends if they are attacked.

The investigators are a shady bunch, and Mado is one creepy dude.  It will be interesting to see how Kaneki and Touka keep from meeting an unpleasant end from them, because they are as ruthless as the ghouls.  The series is starting to click for me as Kaneki struggles to fit into both human and ghoul society.  He is so passive that I didn’t find him a compelling character at first, but now that he is determined to not be a doormat, I am hoping that he blossoms into a stronger individual.  I don’t have prior knowledge of this series, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it progresses.

I am not overly wild about the art, maybe because so many of the characters are so unpleasant to look at. It does have a dark vibe that is perfect for the story, but it isn’t a favorite of mine.

Grade:  B-

Review copy provided by publisher

About the book:

Ghouls live among us, the same as normal people in every way—except their craving for human flesh. Ken Kaneki is an ordinary college student until a violent encounter turns him into the first half-human half-ghoul hybrid. Trapped between two worlds, he must survive Ghoul turf wars, learn more about Ghoul society and master his new powers.

Unable to discard his humanity but equally unable to suppress his Ghoul hunger, Ken finds salvation in the kindness of friendly Ghouls who teach him how to pass as human and eat flesh humanely. But recent upheavals in Ghoul society attract the police like wolves to prey, and they don’t discriminate between conscientious and monstrous Ghouls.

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16. Audio Review: Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I am not big on audio books, and prior to Hunting Ground, I could count the number I’ve listened to on one hand.  I had a long solo drive to a horse show, though, and thought that listening to a book would keep me alert and less stressed during the drive.  I picked this book because I loved Cry Wolf, but I haven’t had time to read any further in the Alpha and Omega series.  At first I was a little hesitant as I pulled out of the driveway and started my journey, but MY.GOODNESS!  I didn’t want the drive to end, I was that engaged in the story!

The narrator, Holter Graham, was incredible.  The different voices he used for different characters were spot on, and now I can’t imagine that they would sound otherwise.  He varied the cadence of the words depending on the pacing of the particular scene, and wow, I was so caught up in the story that I can’t imagine reading it instead of listening to it now.  The story translated well to audio; it’s fast-paced, exciting, and there’s a lot of action that is read with a staccato of sounds.  It was like listening to a long, intricate song, with changes in reading tempo and crescendos of action.  I loved the narration, and I’m so glad I picked it for my first foray into Scribd’s audiobook library.

The story, for me, is all about Charles and Anna, and their blossoming relationship.  They are sent to a meeting in Bran’s place, to discuss the Marrok’s plan to let the world know about the existence of werewolves with some of the foreign alphas.  Charles fears that something bad will happen to Bran, so he and his father had been fighting about Bran’s attendance.  Shy, quiet Anna forces the two to see reason, and soon, she and her new mate are headed to Seattle, Washington to meet with some of the biggest, baddest  werewolf leaders in the world.  As the snarling males circle each other, looking for weaknesses, Charles was right to be concerned.  There is a lot of animosity between the wolves, especially for Bran, and not all of the alphas are on board with coming out to the general public.  A gruesome murder doesn’t help, and Charles finds himself framed for a crime he didn’t commit.  Only Anna’s clear thinking and bravery helps root out the true villains.

The characters are what make this such a good series.  Anna is still suffering from her mistreatment with her previous pack, and Charles, his father’s enforcer, is feared by the other wolves.  Because he might be required to kill any one of them at any time, he also seeks to keeps himself emotionally distant.  Only with Anna does his wolf feel at peace. Anna is learning that being Omega doesn’t mean being a pushover.  She does not have to be submissive, she does not have to yield, and she has a strength she didn’t think herself capable of.  Anna’s mere presence in a pack brings it peace and a sense of calm.  While Charles’ job is to control the pack and protect the weaker members, Anna’s is to make everyone in the pack happy.

This was such a successful endeavor that I started listening to Moon Called, also by Patricia Briggs.  So far, it is also an engrossing listen; too bad I don’t have any long trips in the near future!

Grade:  B+

Review copy listened to on Scribd

About the book:

The first Alpha and Omega novel, Cry Wolf, unlocked the doors to a unique urban landscape in “a great…new werewolf series” (Darque Reviews). In Hunting Ground, #1 New York Times bestselling author Patricia Briggs invites readers to follow her even deeper into that seductive realm of the unknown…

Anna Latham didn’t know how complicated life could be until she became a werewolf. And until she was mated to Charles Cornick, the son—and enforcer—of Bran, the leader of the North American werewolves, she didn’t know how dangerous it could be, either…

Anna and Charles have just been enlisted to attend a summit to present Bran’s controversial proposition: that the wolves should finally reveal themselves to humans. But the most feared Alpha in Europe is dead set against the plan—and it seems like someone else might be, too. When Anna is attacked by vampires using pack magic, the kind of power only werewolves should be able to draw on, Charles and Anna must combine their talents to hunt down whoever is behind it all—or risk losing everything…

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17. Review: The Girl Who Rode the Wind by Stacy Gregg

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I noticed The Girl Who Rode the Wind while trolling the shelves of my local library.  How could I ignore a book with a horse on the cover?  When I read that the book features Italy’s Palio, the world’s oldest, most dangerous horse race, I had to check it out.  I had just seen a video short about the race, and I’d read about it when I was a kid.  I have always found the race interesting, so I couldn’t wait to read this.

I have to admit that I was not immediately caught up in the plot, and I thought about putting it down.  But then Lola describes an altercation with a bully, and I was hooked.  After the academic achiever is suspended from school, her grandmother proposes a trip to Italy for the summer.  Her grandmother hasn’t been back to her homeland since just after WWII, and she’s finally ready to face her past.  She rarely discussed her childhood in Siena, and instead focused on the present and the family business; training racehorses.

The story revolves around horses.  Lola wants to work with them when she’s older, but her father won’t hear of it.  With her grades, he expects her to be a doctor or a lawyer.  The only time Lola is happy, however, is when she’s with the horses.  She’s angry because her older brothers are working on the track, training to be jockeys.  Her father was a jockey, and Lola wants to be one, too.  She doesn’t particularly want to go to Italy with her grandmother, but her father is so disappointed with her behavior that he refuses to allow her to help out at track over the summer.  Suddenly, a summer in Siena doesn’t sound so bad!

Lola meets a local boy whose father trains racers for the Palio.  They become friends, and Lola is invited to help work the horses.  As Lola learns about the race and makes friends with the other exercise riders, her grandmother slowly opens up about her own past, and her history with the Palio.  Her family bred horses for the race, and her older brother was a winning jockey several times. Then the war came, along with unbelievable hardships.  The race was canceled, and it was hard to feed themselves, let alone the horses in their care.  Her father was forced to join the army, even though he didn’t believe in the war, and her brother joined the freedom fighters.  By the end of the war, her nonna’s world was torn apart, and she fled Italy for America and the chance to start over.

I did have a few issues with believability.  I found it so difficult to swallow that a 12 year old American girl would be allowed to excise the horses, let alone ride in a dangerous race like the Palio.  Think of the bad press if she was injured, or worse, during the rough, no holds barred race.  Another thing that irked me was that everyone spoke English, a huge convenience for Lola, since she didn’t speak Italian.  This is the second book I’ve read this summer that the youthful protagonist was in another country, and everyone else spoke English.  It wasn’t believable in the first book, and I didn’t like it here, either, but that is a pet peeve of mine.  

Despite the highly unlikely premise, this was an enjoyable read. The horse races were exciting, and Nonna’s acceptance of the past, after so many years of guilt, was touching. Lola’s struggles with bullying rang true, and her father’s insistence that she become a doctor or a lawyer instead of a track rat gave Lola another conflict to solve. There were also great characters, including the horses.

Grade:  B

Review copy borrowed from my local library

About the book:

An epic, emotional story of two girls and their bond with beloved horses, the action sweeping between Italy during the Second World War and present day.

When Lola’s grandmother Loretta takes her to Siena, Italy, for the summer, Lola learns about the town’s historic Palio races – a fast and furious event where riders whip around the Piazza del Campo, and are often thrown from their horses while making the treacherous turns. Lola is amazed to learn her grandmother used to take part in these races – and had the nickname ‘The Daredevil’!

Nonna Loretta tells Lola that she used to race in a rival team to the boy she loved – who was captured by the Nazis in 1941. Lola develops a bond with a beautiful racehorse. She jumps at the chance to enter the Palio – can she win, in honour of her grandmother? And can she uncover the mystery of the boy’s capture and fate all those years ago?

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18. Spotlight and Giveaway: A Radical Arrangement by Jane Ashford

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for A Radical Arrangement by Jane Ashford!

Title: A Radical Arrangement

Author: Jane Ashford

Pubdate: August 4th, 2015

ISBN: 9781492602293

A classic Regency romance from beloved author Jane Ashford!

Brash and Handsome

Sir Justin Keighley is all wrong for a proper young lady like Margaret Mayfield. Everyone knows he is shocking in his opinions, arrogant in his manner, and completely without respect for the common decencies of civilized society. Margaret absolutely will not marry him—no matter what her parents say.

Beautiful and Shy

Margaret was everything Sir Justin detested in a woman—timid, sheltered, and obedient to a fault. It’s not until she runs away from him that he finds he must give chase. Margaret is discovering she can be bold and rebellious—intrepid enough to do what she must, and more exciting than Justin ever imagined possible. She’s the last woman he would have expected to lead them both into uncharted territory…

Jane Ashford, a retired teacher and editor, is now a beloved author of historical and contemporary romances. She has been published in various parts of the world, including Sweden, Italy, England, Denmark, France, Russia, Latvia, Spain, and of course the U.S. Jane is also a two-time RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award nominee. Born in Ohio, Jane now divides her time between Boston and Los Angeles.

Excerpt:

Sir Justin Keighley stood in the doorway, looking them over with a slight, satirical curve of his lips. He wore, like the other gentlemen, conventional evening dress, but this superficial similarity was their only common ground. Ralph Mayfìeld, Philip Manningham, the squire, and John Twitchel were none of them unattractive men or negligible personalities. Each, in his own sphere, had a certain dignity and authority, and all had the confidence that respect engendered. Yet somehow, the moment he entered the room and before he spoke a word, Justin Keighley eclipsed them. It was not charm. Indeed, the newcomer did not look at all pleasant or ingratiating. And it was not mere social position. Keighley held an ancient baronetcy and a substantial fortune, but any of twenty men his hosts were accustomed to meeting ranked above him. Ralph Mayfield could not have said why he felt subdued as he came forward to greet his final guest.

The squire’s wife might have enlightened him. As she had told a friend at a Bath assembly two years ago, “Justin Keighley is a vastly attractive man, my dear. And not just to women. All the young men ape him, my son among them. I don’t know just how it is, but he has a great influence without appearing to seek it in the least. Indeed, sometimes I think he dislikes the idea. But it goes on. It’s something in his manner. No doubt you’ve noticed it yourself. He makes you look at him.” Mrs. Camden had been embarrassed by this speech, but it was quite true. And Keighley’s attraction was the more mysterious because he was not conventionally handsome. Though tall and well made, with broad shoulders and a good leg, his features were rough—a jutting nose and heavy black brows that nearly obscured expressive hazel eyes. And he took no care with his dress, a rarity in an elegant age. His coats were made so that he could shrug himself into them without help; his collars did not even approach his jaw; and he had once been observed in White’s with a distinct thumb mark on his Hessian boots, giving one of the dandy set what he described as “a shuddering palpitation.”

But these sartorial eccentricities were outweighed by Sir Justin’s political influence and sagacity. He was an intimate of the Prince Regent and Lord Holland, and important in the Whig Party. These facts did not explain his fascination for a great number of people, chiefly women, who hadn’t the slightest interest in politics, but they amply justified the Mayfìelds’ attention and suppressed antipathy.

“Good evening,” Keighley said to Mr. Mayfield in a deep, resonant voice. “I hope I haven’t kept you waiting.”

“Not at all, not at all. Come in. You know everyone, I think.”

Sir Justin bowed his head with a sardonic smile. He always met precisely the same people at his yearly dinner with the Mayfields, presumably those they were certain he could not “corrupt” with his aberrant opinions, and he always felt the same infuriated boredom. For the fiftieth time he wondered why he came. There was no hope of amusement or chance of advantage here. The Mayfields and their friends were just the sort of smug, resolutely conventional people he despised. They held to the views their fathers had bequeathed them and attacked all others. If one tried to make them change even a fraction, they shook their heads and muttered of treason.

He looked around the room. The only addition this year was the Mayfìelds’ daughter. He had forgotten her name, but he remembered that she had come out last season. She looked as one would have expected: a pallid, simpering creature. Keighley shrugged. Politics forced him to endure fools occasionally. The Prince would want to know the climate of opinion here in Devon. He supposed he could get through this evening as he had previous ones, through a combination of stoicism and bitter inner laughter.

Margaret watched him with awed apprehension as he settled beside Mrs. Camden and began to chat with her about London. She had never actually spoken to Sir Justin; her mother had seen to that. But she had heard him talked of so many times that she felt she knew what he would say in response to a wide variety of remarks. It would always be shocking. She gazed at him in an effort to understand how any man could be so utterly depraved in thought and action, almost expecting his rugged face to contort in a grimace of malevolence and his chiseled lips to emit some horrifying revelation.

Suddenly Sir Justin looked up and met her eyes from across the room. He seemed at first startled to find her staring, then his mocking smile appeared again, and he raised one black brow, holding her gaze. Embarrassed, Margaret tried to look away, but something in his hazel eyes prevented it. A spark glinted there, and she felt a kind of tremor along her nerves. It was utterly unfamiliar and unsettling, like a violent thrill of feeling. How could a stranger affect her so? This must be fear, she thought; I am afraid of him. She began to tremble, but still she could not turn her head away. He seemed to understand her reaction and, amused, to prolong the contact on purpose.

Finally Keighley laughed and bent to answer some question of Mrs. Camden’s. Margaret jerked back in her chair and clasped her shaking hands so tightly that the knuckles whitened. He was a dreadful man. She would not speak to him, and if she ever saw him again, she would run away.

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19. Spotlight and Giveaway: The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak

Message From the Author

Hello all you lovely readers!

First and foremost, I’d like to thank you for taking an interest in my latest YA novel The Heartbreakers. For those of you who don’t know, this story was originally posted on the online reading and writing platform Wattpad, and to date, the rough draft manuscript has been read more than 40 million times. I began working on this project in February of 2012, back when One Direction was starting to gain popularity in the United States. Fan fiction stories about 1D began popping up all over the website, so I decided to go against the grain and write a book about a fictional band instead of the real one, and that’s how the Heartbreakers were born!

The first band member I created was Oliver Perry, the lead singer. Like most successful, good-looking teen heartthrobs, he can be a bit cocky, but underneath all that confidence, he’s a HUGE softie. Next is JJ Morris, the band’s drummer. I enjoy writing goofball characters, and JJ fits that description to a T—he’s always cracking (oftentimes perverted) jokes. To balance out JJ’s outgoing personality, there’s Alec Williams. He’s the mysterious, reserved bass player for the group, and although he doesn’t talk much, he’s incredibly loyal. And last but not least, we have Xander Jones, who is lead guitarist for the Heartbreakers and everyone’s best friend. 

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy my boys’ story!

xoxo,

Ali

Excerpt from THE HEARTBREAKERS

“Do you ever miss it?” I asked, trying to distract myself again. My breathing hitched, and I hoped he hadn’t noticed.

“Miss what?”

“I don’t know, like, before everything?”

“You mean my anonymity? Sure.” Something in Oliver’s voice sounded off, and I craned my neck to look up at him. He was staring past me, deep in thought, and then a scowl crossed his face. “But I would never go back. Ever,” he added fiercely.

The skin covering his knuckles turned white as he tightened his fist, and I bit my lip, not sure what to say. I didn’t think he was mad at me, but something had upset him.

“Sorry,” I told him. “I didn’t mean to pry.”

“No worries,” he said, sounding much softer than before.

But Oliver seemed to be done talking, because he turned his attention back to the movie, and without our conversation, my nerves crept back up. I realized I was holding my breath when he started moving his thumb in small circles on my arm. For some reason I found the sensation calming, and bit by bit, my breathing returned to normal and I nestled down into his side. Just as I finally relaxed and turned my attention to the movie, Oliver chuckled and I felt him shake beneath me. Tilting my head back a few inches, I looked up at him through my lashes. There was a dusting of pink on his cheeks, and his eyes shinned as he laughed.

He must have felt my gaze, because his eyes snapped down and found mine. His lips slowly parted as he stared down at me, and my whole body flooded with warmth. Someone was shouting something crazy onscreen, but I was too preoccupied with Oliver to turn toward the TV. The way he was looking at me made me want to press my body further up against him, and the thought made me blush. Embarrassed by my own thoughts, I suddenly had the need to look away, to focus on anything but him, but as I turned, Oliver gently grabbed my chin. He held my head in place until I made eye contact, and then, once he knew I was watching, he dipped his head and brushed his lips against mine.

Book Information

Title: The Heartbreakers

Author: Ali Novak

Release Date: August 4, 2015

Publishers: Sourcebooks Fire

Genre: Contemporary Young Adult

Summary

Stella will do anything for her sick sister, Cara—even stand in line for an autographed Heartbreakers CD…for four hours. She’s totally winning best birthday gift this year. At least she met a cute boy with soft brown hair and gorgeous blue eyes while getting her caffeine fix. Too bad she’ll never see him again.

Except, Stella’s life has suddenly turned into a cheesy love song. Because Starbucks Boy is Oliver Perry – lead singer for the Heartbreakers. And even after she calls his music crap, Oliver still gives Stella his phone number. And whispers quotes from her favorite Disney movie in her ear. OMG, what is her life?

But how can Stella even think about being with Oliver – dating and laughing and pulling pranks with the band – when her sister could be dying of cancer?

Buy Links

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1JwsPYv

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1CUnxJn

iBooks: http://apple.co/1DtobIH

Author Biography

Ali Novak writes contemporary young adult romance and is a recent graduate of the University of Madison Wisconsin’s creative writing program. She wrote her first full length novel, My Life with the Walter Boys, at the age of fifteen. Since posting the story online, it has received more than 33 million reads and is now published by Sourcebooks Fire.

Social Networking Links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ali.novak.908

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Fallzswimmer

WattPad: http://www.wattpad.com/user/Fallzswimmer

Tumblr: http://fallzswimmer.tumblr.com/

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20. Guest Post and Giveaway: Hot Point by M L Buchman

This morning I have a character profile and a giveaway for for Pure Heat as ML Buchman celebrates the release of Hot Point!

Mount Hood Aviation Profile

Full Name: Emily Beale

Occupation: lead pilot Mount Hood Aviation

Height: 5’10”

Hair Color: straight blond

Eye Color: blue

Age: 34

Originally from: Washington D.C.

Describe yourself in 100 words or less:

West Point graduate, age 20. The Screaming Eagles of 101st Airborne, 5 years. Captain, then major, SOAR—the Night Stalkers of the Special Operations Aviation Regiment. Retired honorably from military service on account of unplanned pregnancy with my husband. Lead Firehawk pilot Mount Hood Aviation firefighting since that time. What else do you want to know?

What is the hardest part of your job? What is the most rewarding?

One of the greatest challenges of being in command is, paradoxically, not to command. When I see that one of my pilots has guided themselves to exceed any prior definitions of personal excellence, then I know I have achieved what I set out to do.

When not working, how do you spend your time?

My top priorities are my husband and my child.

If money was no object and you had 3 weeks of vacation what would you do with your time?

My husband likes to fish. I would take him to the best trout stream on the planet, which may well be the one that runs through his parents’ Montana ranch. I would be sure to bring a good book. Perhaps several…he does enjoy his fishing.

Title: Hot Point

Author: M.L. Buchman

Series: Firehawks, #3

Pubdate: August 4th, 2015

ISBN: 9781402286940

Pulled apart by past mistakes. Driven by a passion neither could deny.

FROM WILDFIRE TO GUNFIRE

Master mechanic Denise Conroy—with a reputation for being as steel-clad as the aircraft she keeps aloft—shuns useless flyboys who don’t know one end of a wrench from the other.

Firehawk pilot Vern Taylor—known for unstoppable charm and a complete lack of mechanical skills—proves his talent for out-of-the-box thinking with every flight. He’s a survivor and a natural-born heli-aviation firefighter.

When Denise and Vern crash together in the Central American jungle with wildfire on one side and a full-fledged military coup on the other, their newly forged partnership is tested to the max. They have each other, but not even their formidable skills combined can protect Denise and Vern from the conflagration sweeping the jungle…and their hearts.

M. L. Buchman has over 35 novels and an ever-expanding flock of short stories in print. His military romantic suspense books have been named Barnes & Noble and NPR “Top 5 of the year,” Booklist “Top 10 of the Year,” and RT “Top 10 Romantic Suspense of the Year.” In addition to romantic suspense, he also writes contemporaries, thrillers, and fantasy and science fiction.

In among his career as a corporate project manager he has: rebuilt and single-handed a fifty-foot sailboat, both flown and jumped out of airplanes, designed and built two houses, and bicycled solo around the world.

He is now a full-time writer, living on the Oregon Coast with his beloved wife. He is constantly amazed at what you can do with a degree in Geophysics. You may keep up with his writing at www.mlbuchman.com.

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1HOPXoc

Apple: http://apple.co/1Cpx0Iq

BAM: http://bit.ly/1J579lV

B&N: http://bit.ly/1foG3iA

Chapters: http://bit.ly/1HhSPWa

Indiebound: http://bit.ly/1D1MRYp

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21. Spotlight and Giveaway: Igniting Ash by MA Stacie

 
Enter to Win a
$5.00 Amazon eGift Card

 
IGNITING ASH
M.A. Stacie
Released Aug 4th, 2015
Limitless Publishing

 
After a terrible start in life, Asher Harris picks himself up and manages to carve out a fairly decent future. Content with living alone in his bookshop, he shies away from relationships and keeps trust to a minimum.

Emma Carnes hasn’t seen Asher in years, though she’s never forgotten him. Their one interaction as teenagers became pivotal to them both. It gave her a career.

It saved his life.


Emma saw things about Asher that nobody else did. When she urged him to escape a perilous situation, it turned her toward her purpose in life…and saved Asher. Intrigued by the strong man he’s become, she gently persuades him to open up, but finds his emotional walls hard to climb. She also hopes for his help with a troubled teen, Gabe Dearing, who reminds her very much of Asher himself.

Their relationship and ties to Gabe threaten to reveal things someone wants to keep hidden…

Someone is watching Emma, trying to figure out what she knows, and she soon senses something isn’t right. When the bookshop is vandalized and Gabe disappears, only to return bloody, broken, and refusing to say what happened, Asher and Emma search for the truth as their passion intensifies.

The danger mounts, and Emma and Ash struggle to keep what they’ve fought so hard to gain.

But can he save Emma as she saved him so long ago?

Or will a dark and violent history repeat itself and destroy them all?

Excerpt

She squealed when he grasped her waist and picked her up. His actions came as a shock, his strength too. Her protest hovered on the tip of her tongue, though she never actually said anything. His serious expression and determined strides were enough to keep her mouth closed.

Until he crushed his lips to hers. At that point she knew where it was heading, understood what he meant when he’d shouted. He was sick of holding back. Asher was taking what he wanted and ignoring any possible consequences.

Emma clung to him, their kisses growing deeper and more forceful as he carried her to his bedroom. She kept hold of him as he sat on the edge of his bed, moving her so that she straddled his lap. They’d been here before, only this time the air was electrified, sparks bursting from their touches. He wasn’t going to deny them this time. She could sense from his heated kisses and desperate touches that he was all in.

She blinked, her head spinning when he grabbed her loose T-shirt and pulled it over her head.

He tossed it, not caring to look where it landed. Asher drank her in, his chocolate eyes melting as they perused her chest.

A fire ignited low in her belly, her blood burning through her veins. She’d experienced lust before, however this with Asher was laced with something else. Something deeper.

Slowly, too slowly, he stroked a single finger over the swell of her breast. Her nipples tightened as she silently begged for him to cup them. Her will was enough, because those amazing fingers dipped under the lace of her bra before palming her breast. His eyes never left hers. His touch grew firmer, more demanding. “More,” she whispered. “Asher, more.”

He kissed her long and hard. At the same time she began unbuttoning his shirt, her fingers fumbling so much Asher ended up finishing the job for her. He didn’t stop with his shirt. After rolling her onto his bed, he stood and shucked off his jeans, sliding them down his legs before kicking them across the room. “No more barriers,” he rasped and pulled his underwear off too. His scars were exposed to her, the skin pink and puckered near his navel. There really were no barriers.

Still expecting him to back out, Emma held a bit of herself back. The rejection would sting a little less if she did. However, that became difficult when he hovered over her, pressing his body against hers. His eyes were hooded, and she could feel the heavy thump of his heart when she touched his chest. Hers was as rapid, the thrill of possibility surging in every cell. The connection with Asher was strong, very strong, and much more consuming than anything she’d ever felt before.


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M. A. Stacie is never without a book or her eReader. A voracious reader, with a love of sexy, yet angst ridden novels, she loves getting lost in new worlds. Her need to write did not grip her until after her second son was born, when her previous rambles became fully fledged stories.

She describes herself as one huge contradiction, and though not the most conventional of hobbies, she counts getting new tattoos as one of hers. Along with running, knitting, and listening to loud music. However, she is yet to work out how to do them all at the same time.

M. A. Stacie lives in the UK with her husband and three sons.


 
 

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22. The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves: August 16th Edition

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba of The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  This is a weekly meme where we can share news of the week and highlight new books received.

I was at the Buckeye Morgan Challenge last weekend.  I took Elle, and she placed placed middle ribbons in her driving classes.  I was happy just to be there; my hip is so painful I have stopped riding, and sitting is uncomfortable.  It was our last show of the year. With my upcoming surgery, I won’t even be able to attend the Morgan Grand Nationals this year, and I’m really depressed about it, but alas, it is what it is.

Only 17 more days until my surgery and I am counting down the days.

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to share new additions to our library.  Click here to learn more about it.

New Arrivals at the Café:

This is two weeks worth – I received some GREAT books!

An Apprentice to Elves

The Cinder Spires the Aeronauts Windlass

Tower of Thorns

Ever After

Primal Force

In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse

The Talk of Hollywood (Harlequin comics)

Majesty, Mistress…Missing Heir (Harlequin comics)

A Matter of Honour (Harlequin comics)

THE CALL OF THE DESERT (Harlequin comics)

Sword of Honor

Another Day

I also purchased another pair of glasses from Zenni optical.  They were having a sale, so I thought it would be a good idea to have a spare pair.  Once again, I bought a pair of progressive lenses for less than $90, including shipping.  It took just over a week to receive them, and I am very happy with them.

A great big thanks to the publishers for their continued support!

What did you get? Please leave links and share!

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23. Novella Review: The Great Bazaar & Brayan’s Gold by Peter V Brett

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I had fond memories of The Warded Man when I saw this novella.  It was one of the first fantasy galleys that I ever received, and I was looking for a fix while I was waiting (forever!) for the next installment of GRRM’s Song of Ice and Fire.  I gobbled up The Warded Man, finding it innovative, engaging, and oh-so-hard to put down.  Then I held off on reading The Desert Spear because I was still stinging over the wait for GRRM’s book, and I decided at that time to not read series until most of the books were released.  Lately I have broken that rule, but I’m not as anal about finishing what I started as I used to be.  Now, if it crosses my path, and I have the time to read it, I will, regardless of where it is in the longer series. The only series I won’t break the rule for is Song of Ice and Fire; they are just too long, the waits are interminable, and I can’t remember what happened from book to book.

I enjoyed Brayan’s Gold the best of the stories in this collection, and thought it a good representation of the longer series. Arlen is reckless and refuses to be cowed by the demons that rise from the Core at dusk every evening, searching for prey to tear to shreds. I love the concept of this series: being outside after dark is almost a certain death sentence, unless you are protected by magic wards. Arlen is a gifted warder, and he won’t live locked behind walls when there’s a whole wide world to see and try to take back from the corelings. Brayan’s Gold showcases his ability to think on his feet and not be ruled by his fears, though this almost costs him his life on several occasions.

The rest of the content, while entertaining, didn’t entrance me like Brayan’s Gold. If you haven’t started reading the Demon Cycle, this novella collection is a great place to start.  You’ll get an introduction to Arlen, as well as another major character in the series.

Grade:  B / B-

Review copy purchased provided by publisher

From the dangerous world of the Demon Cycle comes the early adventures of Arlen, Peter V. Brett’s quintessential fantasy hero. These exciting origin tales follow Arlen as he learns to navigate a world where the elemental forces of evil conjure themselves from the earth each night.

Humanity has barely survived a demonic onslaught by using magical wards that protect their cities and homes. Only a handful of mercenaries and explorers risk traveling after the sun sets. Arlen, seeking adventure and fortune, is barely protected by the warded armor upon which he has inscribed intricate defensive runes. From a journey ferrying a wagonload of dynamite to a mountain stronghold, to a dangerous mission to recover desert treasures, Arlen faces friends and enemies with a strong arm and a cunning wit.

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24. Cover Reveal: Boiling Point by Tessa Bailey

Get ready for Boiling Point! The next installment in Tessa Bailey’s thrilling Crossing the Line series.  We hope you love the cover as much as we do!

Release date: January 26, 2016

 
 
About Boiling Point:
 
Falling for a con man is the most dangerous game of all…
Con artist Austin Shaw’s been in disguise so long he’s not sure where his fake identities end and he begins. Now that he’s been strong-armed into working for a specialized undercover unit working with the Chicago police—criminals with unique “skills”—the last thing he needs is to risk his iron control. Especially when it comes to a certain stunningly sexy hacker who tempts him with every look of disdain.
Polly Banks will never, ever trust a con man. On the trail of a ruthless crook who destroyed the only family she’s ever known, Polly is unnerved by the shadow who follows her every move. The one who makes her pulse pound and breath short with lust. Austin. He’s infuriating, enigmatic, and pure sex appeal, and she’s determined to resist him.
But an untrustworthy man of disguise can become anyone he wants…including a man that Polly must trust if she’s to escape their dangerous game alive.
 


About Tessa Bailey:

Tessa Bailey is originally from Carlsbad, California. The day after high school graduation, she packed her yearbook, ripped jeans and laptop, driving cross-country to New York City in under four days.

Her most valuable life experiences were learned thereafter while waitressing at K-Dees, a Manhattan pub owned by her uncle. Inside those four walls, she met her husband, best friend and discovered the magic of classic rock, managing to put herself through Kingsborough Community College and the English program at Pace University at the same time. Several stunted attempts to enter the work force as a journalist followed, but romance writing continued to demand her attention.

She now lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband of seven years and three-year-old daughter. Although she is severely sleep-deprived, she is incredibly happy to be living her dream of writing about people falling in love.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

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25. Spotlight and Giveaway: Her Lucky Cowboy by Jennifer Ryan

 
Enter to Win a
Montana Men Ebook Bundle

 
HER LUCKY COWBOY
Montana Men #3
Jennifer Ryan
Releasing Aug 25th
Avon
 
 
Champion rodeo rider Dane Bowden is eight seconds from winning under the Vegas lights, one last hurrah before reluctantly returning to his family’s Montana ranch. But his bull has other plans. When Dane wakes up, he’s sure he’s died and gone to heaven . . . because the doctor who comes to his aid is the same girl who saved his life and disappeared years ago.

Bell would do anything for Dane. He’s the fantasy that always kept her going. A child genius hidden away by her family, Bell was the secret no one talked about, the girl no one wanted. Despite finding success as a young surgeon, she’s still the awkward girl who’s never had a boyfriend. So why does Dane, a notorious playboy and sizzling-hot cowboy, insist on taking her on a real date?

Bell is the only woman in Dane’s heart. When a rodeo rivalry turns deadly, it’s his turn to save Bell’s life—because he sure as hell won’t lose his guardian angel again.

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Excerpt:

A hand settled on his shoulder and shook him. He groggily moaned and tried to open his eyes. The bright sun blinded him until his father leaned over and blocked the light as he stared down at Dane.

“Dad?”

“Are you okay, son? Is anything broken?”

“My head hurts. Ankle, too, but nothing is broken but my pride. I fell off my damn horse.”

“Okay, now. I’ll get you home. Can you get up?”

“I think so.” Dane pressed his hands down at his sides and rose to sitting. The wet piece of fabric fell from his head and landed on his bare belly, along with the blue feather that fluttered into his lap. “Where is she?”

“Who?”

“The girl.”

“Dane, no one is here.”

“She helped me. She’s got to be around here somewhere.”

“There’s no one for miles.”

“How did you find me?”

“Your horse came home without you. I know you like to ride along the river, so I followed your trail.” His dad cocked his head, his eyes taking on a thoughtful gleam. “I did think I heard you whistle for me.”

“I passed out.”

“Must have been the wind in the trees.”

Dane didn’t think so. He pinched the end of the feather between his thumb and index finger and stared at it. He scanned the riverbank and out toward the hills. He didn’t see her anywhere. He didn’t understand the way his chest went tight and the sadness that overtook him. Nothing but his regret that he didn’t get to thank her or say goodbye. He never got her name.

His dad held out his hand. Dane took it. His father pulled him up, and Dane stood on his good leg. He tested out his twisted ankle. The slight pressure sent a bolt of pain up his leg.

“How’s your vision?”

“Better.”

“You did a good job using your shirt to bind that ankle and staunch the bleeding on your head.”

“I didn’t. She did.”

His father eyed him, shaking his head side to side. “Dane—”

“I’m telling you, Dad, there was a girl. She helped me.”

“Okay, son. I believe you, but I didn’t see anyone out here with you. I don’t know where she could have gone. We’re in the middle of nowhere.”

Which was the reason Dane liked it out here so much. Still, how did she get out here, and where did she go?

He lifted himself up into the saddle and grabbed the reins on the horse his father brought back for him to ride. He kept his eyes trained, searching the entire area the whole way back home, but he saw nothing, no one.

Dane went back to the spot beside the river more than a dozen times, looking for his dark-haired, blue-eyed angel. He never found her, but he’d never forget her either.



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Jennifer Ryan is the New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of The Hunted Series and The McBrides Series. She writes romantic suspense and contemporary small-town romances featuring strong men and equally resilient women. Her stories are filled with love, family, friendship, and the happily-ever-after we all hope to find.

Jennifer lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and three children. When she isn’t writing a book, she’s reading one. Her obsession with both is often revealed in the state of her home and in how late dinner is to the table. When she finally leaves those fictional worlds, you’ll find her in the garden, playing in the dirt and daydreaming about people who live only in her head, until she puts them on paper.



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