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1. Interview and Giveaway: Second Chance Summer by Jill Shalvis

Jill Shalvis dropped by the virtual offices to answer a few questions in celebration of her upcoming release, Second Chance Summer.

What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

My Kindle!!!!!  I’m always on the run and when there’s any downtime at all, I whip that baby out and have my choice of hundreds of books right in my purse.  Smile

Name three things on your desk right now.

I don’t have a desk.  I work on a laptop.  So I’ll tell you three things on my “desk top”.  A hot guy file full of pics for writing inspiration.  A pics of my kids wrestling on the couch.  And the manuscript I’m writing…

What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?

COOKIES. Any kind. All kinds.

If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

My cat.  She has the life…

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

I’d want to be able to transport.  I’d go to a deserted island with my Kindle.  And cookies.

SECOND CHANCE SUMMER by Jill Shalvis (June 30, 2015; Grand Central Publishing Mass Market; Cedar Ridge #1)

Cedar Ridge, Colorado, is famous for crisp mountain air, clear blue skies, and pine-scented breezes. And it’s the last place Lily Danville wants to be. But she needs a job, and there’s an opening at the hottest resort in her hometown. What has her concerned is the other hot property in Cedar Ridge: Aidan Kincaid-firefighter, rescue worker, and heartbreaker. She never could resist that devastating smile . . .

The Kincaid brothers are as rough and rugged as the Rocky Mountains they call home. Aidan has always done things his own way, by his own rules. And never has he regretted anything more than letting Lily walk out of his life ten years ago. If anyone has ever been in need of rescuing, she has. What she needs more than anything are long hikes, slow dances, and sizzling kisses. But that can only happen if he can get her to give Cedar Ridge-and this bad boy-a second chance . . .


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About the author:

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

Social Media Links:

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Excerpt:

“So you going to tell me what’s wrong?”

“Other than I hate snakes and you saw me in my PJs? Nothing.” She lifted her chin and defied him to contradict her.

She should have known better. Like Ashley, he’d never met a challenge he didn’t face head-on.

He moved toward her, right into her personal space.

She took a step back and came up against the wall.

This didn’t stop him. He kept his forward momentum until they were toe to toe. And then while she was still standing there a little dumbfounded and also something else, something that felt uncomfortably close to sheer, unadulterated lust, he put his hands on the wall on either side of her head.

This both escalated her heart rate and stopped her lungs from operating. “Um—”

“You had your chance to tell me what’s wrong with you,” he said. “You passed. Now I’m going to tell you what’s wrong with me.”

Oh, God. Talking would be a bad idea. As for a good idea, she had only one, and before she could consider the consequences, she gripped his shirt, hauled him down, and kissed him.

He stilled for a single beat and then got on board quick, pulling her in, sinking a hand into her hair to tilt her head to the angle he wanted, and taking over the kiss.

The next thing she was aware of was the sound of her own aroused moan, and she jerked free.

The corner of his mouth quirked. “Did you just kiss me to shut me up?” he asked.

She blew out a sigh. “It made a lot more sense in my head.”

He grinned, one of those really great grins that made something low in her belly quiver. Needing some space, she pushed him, even though her instincts were telling her

to pull him in tighter instead of pushing him away.

“Back to what’s wrong with me,” he said, still looking amused. “It’s you.”

She opened her mouth to say something, but he set a finger against her lips. “My turn,” he said, and lowered his head and kissed her.

And oh. Oh, damn… There were some men who just knew how to kiss, the kind of kiss that could send a woman reeling. The kind of kiss that could take away problems and awareness and…and everything. The kind of kiss that could shatter her into a trillion little pieces. The kind of kiss that somehow both calmed her body and soul even as it wound her up for more.

Aidan was that kind of kisser. Shocking, really, to also realize that in between their first kiss all those years ago and now, that there’d been nothing like it for her.

Aidan pulled back a fraction of an inch, opened his eyes, and stared into hers.

She stared back because wow. Good. So damn good, and for one glorious moment there she’d let her lips cling to his, let the memories of him and all that he’d meant to

her wash over her.

And those memories had all been…epic.

Until the end.

Finding her sanity, she pushed him again. For a beat he didn’t move, just looked into her eyes.

And then, on his own terms, he stepped back.

She pointed at him. “That was…”

He arched a brow.

“Never mind what it was,” she said. “We aren’t going there.”

His smile was grim and utterly without mockery.

“Agreed.” But then he hauled her up to her toes and kissed her again.

And again.

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2. Review: The Heart of a Cowboy by Trish Milburn

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I am a sucker for cowboys and veterinarians, so when I saw that The Heart of a Cowboy had both, I instantly borrowed it from my local library.  While parts of the story had me rolling my eyes, overall, I thought this was a good read.  Lots of soul searching from both protagonists, a dark secret that’s been entrusted to Natalie, and genuinely likable supporting characters had me finishing this off in less than an afternoon.

Natalie’s alcoholic father reveals the terrible secret he’s been hiding for twenty years, and a death bed promise has her driving from Kansas to the small town in Texas where her family used to live.  When she was a young girl, her parents uprooted the family, packing them into the family car and moving all the way to Kansas, all without an explanation.  When Natalie learns the reason for her family’s flight, she is sickened and ashamed.  Her father got behind the wheel when he was drunk and killed Natalie’s best friend’s mother.  Now it’s Natalie’s duty to let the Brody’s know what really happened that awful night, all those years ago.

Natalie is understandably struggling with her promise.  She doesn’t want to tell the Brody’s what happened, afraid of how it will alter their feelings for her.  With her father dead, there’s only her mother left to turn in for her crime of silence.  She’s also afraid that by bringing up the past, the Brody’s happiness will be destroyed.  Being a person of her word, though, she reluctantly heads back to Blue Falls to face the ugly past that her father left shattered behind him.

Garrett, now the only unwed Brody sibling, wonders why he hasn’t found a woman to settle down with.  All he wants is the love of a good woman, a family of his own, and the satisfaction of improving the cattle ranch that has been in the family for generations.  When Natalie comes back to town, he’s drawn to her beauty and kind nature.  He senses that she’s troubled and hiding something, but he can’t figure out what it might be.  When he finally learns the truth she’s been burdened with, he doesn’t think he can ever forgive her for lying by omission. 

I enjoyed The Heart of a Cowboy.  While I wondered at the work comp issues behind her injuries after helping out the small town vet (as well as who was going to foot the medical bills), and found her discharge from the hospital so soon after being trampled by a bull (I know, I know – NITPICKING, but after all my insurance issues and the medical crisis in my family, it made my eyebrows raise)questionable, but it did earn her a guest room at the Brody ranch, so she could feel even more emotional turmoil about the secret she just doesn’t have the courage to divulge. With a father more attached to the bottle than his children, and a stressed out, distracted mother, Natalie felt more at home with the Brodys than her own family, making her task even more difficult.  Mr. Brody is so kind to her that I could easily understand her reluctance to tell him the truth about his wife’s death.  Natalie’s father really was a coward, and I had a hard time accepting her loyalty to him. 

The romance is sweet and developed convincingly.  Even when Garrett’s anger and sense of betrayal at Natalie boils over, he’s easy to forgive because it is a shocking and heartbreaking revelation.  I enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to reading more books in the Blue Falls, Texas series.

Grade:  B / B-

Review copy obtained from my local library

WHAT IS SHE HIDING?

Of all the Brody boys, Garrett would have been voted most likely to settle down. But somehow, the right woman never came along. Until now. Veterinarian Natalie Todd left Blue Falls when she was a kid, but she seems to fit right in. Her old friends are there and she has a job with the local vet if she wants it. Every kiss tells Garrett she feels the same way he does. So what’s holding her back?

Natalie can’t say, and every kiss just makes it harder. She came back to fulfill her father’s dying wish, and found a happiness even greater than she remembered. The secret she carries will destroy everything, plain and simple. That’s why she can’t tell him. Not yet. Maybe not ever.

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3. Spotlight and Giveaway: A Promise of Forever by Marilyn Pappano

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for A Promise of Forever by Marilyn Pappano!

A PROMISE OF FOREVER by Marilyn Pappano (June 30, 2015; Forever Mass Market; A Tallgrass Novel)

Sergeant First Class Avi Grant’s return to Tallgrass, Oklahoma is a long-deferred wish come true. With her final tour in Afghanistan over, Avi can focus on her future-a job here at home and a family of her own. There’s just one thing she has to do first: visit her beloved commanding officer’s widow and share her grief. The last thing she expected was to feel an instant attraction to the woman’s son. Too bad the sexy surgeon is impossible to ignore . . . and even harder to resist.

The sting of his parents’ divorce still niggles at Ben Noble. So when a warm, funny, and beautiful young sergeant arrives, mourning his stepfather’s loss as strongly as his mother does, Ben can’t help but feel conflicted. If his parents taught him anything, it’s that love doesn’t last-especially with a career soldier. But try as he might to keep his distance, Ben begins to see that Avi-and the spark she brings to his life-is the stuff forever is made of. As Avi’s leave ticks away, can Ben convince her to take a chance on forever with him?

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About the author:

Known for her intensely emotional stories, Marilyn Pappano is the USA Today bestselling author of nearly eighty books. She has made regular appearances on bestseller lists and has received recognition for her work in the form of numerous awards. Though her husband’s Navy career took them across the United States, he and Ms. Pappano now live in Oklahoma high on a hill that overlooks her hometown. They have one son and daughter-in-law, an adorable grandson, and a pack of mischievous dogs.

Social Media Links:

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Goodreads

Excerpt:

Outside, the sounds of children playing were louder, the splashes indicating that the kids across the street were enjoying one of the last swims of the summer. Avi and Ben walked silently to her car, parked in the driveway.

She nestled the pie plate into the passenger seat, tucked her purse around to hold it in place, then closed the door before turning to him.

So . . . Would he ask for her cell number? Offer his? Make firm plans to see her again before driving away?

For the first time in a long time, the answers mattered.

Linking his fingers with hers, he pulled her to the driver’s side of the car, then stood, invading her personal She liked it.

“Do you have any plans for tomorrow night?”

Yes! “Not a single one.”

He combed his fingers through his hair. “Would you like to go out to dinner?”

She wanted to blurt out the affirmative as quickly as it had echoed in her head, but he went on. “You would have to drive to Tulsa. Tuesday is surgery day, so if I come here, I can’t get here before seven, and I’ll have to head back before nine.”

Drive to Tulsa? An hour or less. No big deal. She’d had commutes between apartments and forts that took longer, and that was just to work. An evening with Ben was such a nicer payoff. “I don’t mind.”

“I usually get out of clinic around six. We could meet at my house around six thirty?”

A smile spread across her face. “I can handle that.”

“Good.” He wasn’t smiling, but his eyes showed something just as encouraging. Relief, maybe, or satisfaction. Hmm. She could show him satisfaction.

He leaned closer, just slightly, and lowered his voice. “I’d kiss you good night, but we have an audience.”

Glancing over her shoulder toward the house, she caught just a glimpse of Patricia before the blinds at the living room window settled. Looking back at Ben, she smiled. “Kiss me anyway.”

He closed the last of the distance between them, lowering his mouth to hers, giving her a sweet, gentle, tender kiss that set her blood on fire. It was impressive and surprising and just a bit scary, considering she’d had tons of kisses that were a whole lot more passionate and evoked a whole lot less of a response.

When he lifted his head, her fingers curled, wanting to wrap around the back of his neck and pull him down again. Her heart skipped a beat or two, and something deep inside her felt deprived.

In the dim light, Ben looked impressed and surprised and a bit scared, too. For a moment, he stared at her, all intense and searching, then he gave a rueful shake of his head. Stepping back, he asked for her cell phone, input his number, and texted it to himself to get her number.

“Six thirty,” he said when he handed it back, his voice rough-edged. “I’ll send you the address.”

“I’ll be there.”

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4. Cover Reveal and Giveaway: Lucky’s Choice by Jamie Begley

Ask and You Shall Receive…
 
 
LUCKY’S CHOICE
The Last Riders #7
Jamie Begley
Releasing July 29th, 2015
Young Ink Press
 
 
Life dealt him a dead man’s hand.

Lucky had always led a life of service, always putting his life on the line for someone else, managing to survive by pure luck and skill. After bringing an end to a multi-state drug ring, he was finally able to live the life he had wanted as a Last Rider.

A good man would walk away and not touch the curvy woman who had been tugging on his heartstrings. Lucky wasn’t a good man. Therefore, the bad-ass biker in him had a choice: once again become the man he had pretended to be and stake his claim or take the devil’s highway.

 
Some girls had all the luck.

Willa wasn’t one of them. All she wanted to do was give a home to the children she had made orphans. Instead, she found herself needing help from the man who had left the pulpit behind to embrace a life of sin.

Painfully shy and withdrawn, she wanted a quiet life, a simple man, and well-behaved children. The last thing she had ever expected was for Lucky to want her size twenty body and show her a passion that would lead her straight to hell.

 

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“I was born in a small town in Kentucky. My family began poor, but worked their way to owning a restaurant. My mother was one of the best cooks I have ever known, and she instilled in all her children the value of hard work, and education.
Taking after my mother, I’ve always love to cook, and became pretty good if I do say so myself. I love to experiment and my unfortunate family has suffered through many. They now have learned to steer clear of those dishes. I absolutely love the holidays and my family puts up with my zany decorations.
For now, my days are spent writing, writing, and writing. I have two children who both graduated this year from college. My daughter does my book covers, and my son just tries not to blush when someone asks him about my books.
Currently I am writing five series of books- The Last Riders, The VIP Room, Predators MC, Biker Bitches, and The Dark Souls.
All my books are written for one purpose- the enjoyment others find in them, and the expectations of my fans that inspire me to give it my best.”



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5. Guest Post and Giveaway: Once Upon a Cowboy by Maggie McGinnis

Maggie McGinnis dropped by the virtual offices to celebrate the release of Once Upon a Cowboy. Check it out!

Why I Stick to the Sweet Side by Maggie McGinnis

Thanks so much for hosting me today! I’m so excited to celebrate the release of Once Upon a Cowboy with you!

When I first started writing romance, I was pretty secretive about it. After all, I had children … and a mother … and a mother-in-LAW, for God’s sake. What if I was lucky enough to get published? They might—gasp—read my books. And then they’d look at me differently, right? Seriously, we’re talking native New Englanders here. We did not talk of such things as romance in my house, even though clearly, something had happened there at least three times, since I had two brothers.

When I wrote my first sex scene, I immediately chopped it out of the manuscript and saved it in a new file that I named “grocery list.” I mean, what if I keeled over from some mystery illness and my mother ended up in charge of sorting out the files on my laptop? If she came across that scene, the poor woman would be rinsing her eyes for weeks!

Weeks later, I tried again. Chopped it again. Filed it again.

Clearly, my sex scenes were destined to live life undercover … as grocery lists.

Luckily, I found my niche in the world of sweet romance. There’s a whole world of hotness implicit in creating gorgeous sexual tension, and when it comes time for Tab A and Slot B, I can close the proverbial door and let your own imagination take over. There are a gazillion authors out there who write sex really, really well, and I’m happy to recommend them. I’m just … not them.

That said, my grocery list file has become a folder, and I have quite a collection of … lists in there right now. Who knows? Maybe Maggie McGinnis has a hot-hot twin who might someday be able to pull off the whole hot-writing gig.

Just please don’t tell my mother.

How about you? Do you prefer your romances to be on the sweet side? Or super-steamy?

PS: Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter below to win fabulous Loveswept swag! And psst! I’m giving away sparkly prizes on my website (www.maggiemcginnis.com) and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/MaggieMcGinnisAuthor), so go check ’em out!

Once Upon a Cowboy
Whisper Creek # 1

By: Maggie McGinnis

Releasing June 30, 2015

Loveswept

Blurb

In this sexy Whisper Creek romance for readers of Kristan Higgins, Susan Mallery, and Molly O’Keefe, a red-hot cowboy uses some Montana magic to give a reclusive beauty her happily ever after.

Yoga instructor Jessalyn Alcott radiates peace, calm, and serenity—on the outside. Inside, she still feels like the broken, desperate girl from the trailer park. She’s got dark secrets she can’t share, which is why she never lets her relationships go beyond the third date. But when she travels to the Whisper Creek dude ranch for a friend’s wedding, Jess is enchanted by a cowboy whose deep blue eyes, dimpled smile, and rock-hard body make it tough to remember why she keeps running scared.

Cole Driscoll has struggled to find his place on a family ranch where he’s always played second fiddle. His future might be uncertain, but he’s sure of one thing: He wants Jess by his side. Easier said than done. When it comes to getting close, she’s full of excuses, and he longs to fix the hurt he sees in her eyes. Now that she’s at Whisper Creek, there’s nothing he wants more than to break down the walls around her heart and heal her pain with the power of love.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/03/once-upon-cowboywhisper-creek-3-by.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23395415-once-upon-a-cowboy?ac=1
Goodreads Series Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/145426-whisper-creek

Buy Links: Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo | Publisher

Author Info

Maggie McGinnis, USA Today Bestselling Author of Accidental Cowgirl and Driving Without a License, which was a finalist for Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award is a former high school English teacher, an accomplished musician, and a certified black belt, who lives in New England with her family.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 Excerpt:

“No. I will not pose for some crazy beefcake calendar. Not happening.” Cole put one hand up, palm toward his sister-in-law as he reached into the fridge for a bottled water. He’d just finished leading a trail ride out to the cliffs, and had stopped by the main lodge for a quick drink.

Kyla smiled sweetly. “It’s not a beefcake calendar. It’s a Men-of-Whisper-Creek memento.”

“Beefcake.”

“Cole! You know it would be a great moneymaker. Every woman who stays here at the ranch would take one home with her.”

Cole shivered dramatically. “That doesn’t make me feel better.” He pointed out the window. “Go take pictures of the scenery! Look! Blue skies, rolling grasslands, big snow-capped mountains in the distance. Make that calendar.”

“Come on. We’ll just take a few pictures. You’d have final say over what shots I use.”

“No.” Cole sighed. He loved Kyla like a sister, and her ideas had been bringing in more money than they’d ever made before she came along, but a calendar? That was putting things over the top.

“Kyla, remember when you thought we should get goats?”

“Mm-hmm. I was right, right?”

“You were right. Kids love them.” He put up one finger, then raised a second one. “And remember when you thought we should add a spa package?”

She nodded. “Right about that, too.”

“Yes.” He put up the rest of the fingers on his right hand. “Also right about the wedding gazebo and the Shetlands and the fishing excursions.”

“Sounds like I’m five for five.” She raised an eyebrow in challenge.

“Exactly. So let’s not mess with your perfect record by pimping out the cowboys for a calendar, okay?”

“Not all of the cowboys. Just a select few. Like, twelve.”

He shook his head. “Not happening.”

“Cole, we have the hottest cowboys in Montana. It makes business sense to capitalize on that and you know it.”

Before he could formulate an answer, Ma blew into the huge country kitchen with a laundry basket full of towels.

“What’s all this jawing about in here?”

Cole raised his eyebrows at Kyla, silently daring her to tell Ma she wanted to put together a cowboy calendar. No way would Ma go for it, and they both knew it.

With a flick of her head, Kyla turned to Ma. “I was just telling Cole I think we should do a Whisper Creek calendar.”

Shit.

Ma pursed her lips, nodding carefully. “Cowboys?”

“Yes.”

Ma smiled benignly as she picked up a towel, folding carefully. “I think it’s a great idea. Is he campaigning to be Mr. February?”

Kyla shot a superior look his way, huge grin on her face, and Cole could do nothing but sigh, slap on his Stetson, and head for the door. Great. Outnumbered once again.

“I’ll let you know when we need you for the photo shoot,” Kyla called.

He opened the door. “And I’ll let you know when I’m headed to Alaska.”

As he walked toward the stable, he saw his brother working one of their new ponies on a long lead in the corral. He approached slowly so he wouldn’t startle them, settling his arms on the top rail as he watched.

Decker spotted him out of the corner of his eye. “How are things up in the henhouse?”

“Your wife is planning a beefcake calendar.”

“Oh, really?” Decker’s eyebrows went upward. “And who does she plan to use for the—beefcakes? Is that a word?”

“Who do you think?”

Decker shook his head. “No way. Not happening.”

“That’s what I told her. But don’t think Ma’s going to save us. She just stamped her approval. I think you need to get some control over your woman, Decker.”

Decker smiled. “Right. You go ahead and tell her that.”

“It’d help if she wasn’t so damn right all the time.” Cole sighed. “Now she’s got attitude.”

“She came with that.” He motioned Cole into the corral. “You want to take the pony for a bit? I need to get ready for that open house up at Boulder Creek.”

Decker might play a cowboy while he was working at the family ranch, but he was also an architect, and phase three of his new housing development on Whisper Creek’s western border was set to open this fall.

“Another fun afternoon sitting around a model home with your fancy suit and shoes on? God, I’m envious.”

Cole stepped into the corral and took the rope from Decker, ducking as Decker tried to cuff him in the head.

“Lot of ways to make a living, buddy. Lot of ways.”

Cole nodded. “Yup. I’m just glad my ways don’t involve suits.”

Decker shook his head. “I’d much rather be here this afternoon, believe me.”

“Sure.”

“I would.”

“It’s okay, Decker. I’ve got cowboy-duty nailed down. Even have my best Stetson on in case anybody shows up early. We’re covered.”

“Are you being an ass?”

“Nope. But if you start scheduling these open houses for every Sunday afternoon, I might turn into one.”

“Well, once we sell all the lots, we won’t need to do any more open houses, right?”

“Not till you start on phase four, anyway.” Cole tried to keep the bitter edge out of his voice, but he figured Decker heard it anyway.

They’d both been raised right here at Whisper Creek, but after their little sister’s death, Decker’d been kicked off the ranch by their despondent father, who’d needed to blame someone. He’d spent ten long years out in California honing his architect chops while Cole and Ma had struggled to keep the ranch from going under completely, but two years ago when Dad died, Decker had finally come back.

And at first, it had been great. He and Cole had poured buckets of sweat into reviving Whisper Creek. They’d worked together, cussed together, drunk beers at the end of the day together, got to know each other again.

But now? It’d been two years since Decker had driven back up the long driveway and into their lives, but they still hadn’t quite worked out the who-does-what equation yet, and Cole was getting itchy.

While he mucked stalls and led trail rides and fed those damn goats Kyla had insisted on, Decker spent half his time up at the new development, or at town council meetings, or glad- handing the guys who would be voting at the next council meeting.

Leaving Whisper Creek certainly hadn’t been Decker’s choice, but Cole just wished now that he was back, he’d be—back. Back in the stables, back on the trails, back in the corrals for more than a passing lesson or two before heading out in his truck for yet another meeting or business lunch.

Decker was working his ass off, no doubt about it. And the Boulder Creek development had been responsible for Whisper Creek’s bank account finally moving into the black, but there didn’t seem to be any end in sight, and Cole was getting a little tired of feeling like he was carrying the ranch on his shoulders.

Especially since he wasn’t one hundred percent sure he even wanted to play cowboy anymore.

He sighed and headed for the stables with the pony. Yep. To the outside world, Decker was saving the ranch with his money, his valedictorian brain, and his housing project, and Cole was—well, Cole was being asked to pose for the ranch calendar.

And that kind of said it all.

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6. Spotlight and Giveaway: The Perfect Bargain by Julia London

 
Enter to Win a $100.00 Amazon GC
or
#GOKILT Mug

 
THE PERFECT BARGAIN
How to Marry a Highlander # 1
By: Julia London writing as Jessa McAdams
Releasing June 30, 2015
Entangled: Lovestruck

 

American lass seeks brawny Scot…

As if being newly single isn’t brutal enough, Sloane Chatfield’s friends are getting obnoxious about setting her up. When Sloane insists she’s waiting for a certain sexy fictional Highlander to come along, her friends surprise her with a trip to Scotland to find her a new boyfriend. She’d rather have a root canal. But if she can find a Highland hunk to “break her heart” before her friends arrive…

In a remote Highland village, Galen Buchanan is struggling to keep the family pub afloat. Everything is falling apart, he’s running out of money, and now there’s an opinionated American lass parked at his best table, driving him mad. But then Sloane asks Galen to be her pretend Highland boyfriend…and offers him enough money to save the pub. It’s only for a few days, he figures. What’s the worst that could happen?

 

EXCERPT:

“I happen to be quite good at sizing people up, and you, lass, are spoiled. Donna take it personally—it’s an American thing,” he said casually, as if that were a foregone conclusion.

Now Sloane was indignant.“Watch yourself, Braveheart,” she said, poking him in the arm. “And anyway, how is that even remotely an American thing?”

“It’s the way Americans view the rest of the world,” he said. “Americans think the Loch Ness monster exists, and that we all live in the Highlands in a Braveheart movie. Or, you all read Trainspotting in school and think we’re all on drugs. You think Scots believe in unicorns and our national pastime is the caber toss, and our calendars are manly men in kilts holding kittens.”

“Is there really a calendar like that?” she asked, perking up. If there was, she’d be picking one up before she headed back to the States.

All she got in response to that was an I-told-you-so look.

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Julia London is the New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author of more than thirty romantic fiction novels. She is the author of the popular Cabot Sisters historical series, including The Trouble with Honor, The Devil Takes a Bride, and the The Scoundrel and the Debutante. She is also the author of several acclaimed contemporary romances, including The Cedar Springs series, and the recent Homecoming Ranch, Return to Homecoming Ranch, and The Perfect Homecoming. Julia has added a short contemporary series to her titles as well, including The Perfect Bargain, writing under the name Jessa McAdams.


Julia is the recipient of the RT Bookclub Award for Best Historical Romance and a four time finalist for the prestigious RITA award for excellence in romantic fiction. To keep up with all the Julia London news, please visit http://www.julialondon.com. Follow her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/julialondon



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7. Spotlight and Giveaway: Summer at the Shore by VK Sykes

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for Summer at the Shore!

About Summer at the Shore

JUST A SUMMER FLING?
Morgan Merrifield sacrificed her teaching career to try to save her family’s bed-and-breakfast and care for her younger sister. She can’t let herself get distracted by Ryan Butler. After all, the rugged ex-Special Forces soldier is only in Seashell Bay for the summer. But her longtime crush soon flares into real desire-and with one irresistible kiss, she’s swept away.


Ryan values his freedom. As much as he wants Morgan, he’s not ready to settle down with anyone, much less in sleepy Seashell Bay. But his code of honor doesn’t allow him to leave a woman in distress-and she’s in desperate need of help to fix the inn. It only takes one day working under the same roof and Ryan is already hoping for a lifetime of hot summer nights . . .

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1HQdXaQ
B&N: http://bit.ly/1QCacvn
iTunes: http://apple.co/1BkZ5Qv
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1CbXgk2
BAM!: http://bit.ly/1GckJlP
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1BgH326


About VK Sykes

V. K. Sykes is a wife/husband writing team -Vanessa Kelly and Randall Sykes – who write romantic suspense and single-title contemporary romance.  One of the great things they appreciate about being writers is that they can work anywhere so Vanessa and Randy split their time between Ontario, Canada, in the summer and Florida in the winter. Both locations have shores just as beautiful as the imaginary Seashell Bay.

http://www.vksykes.com/

https://twitter.com/VKSykes

https://www.facebook.com/VKSykesBooks


Excerpt: 

This time, the smile did reach his eyes. He slid an arm around her waist. “If I wanted company, Kristi’s not the woman at Golden Sunset I’d want in my room.” His arm tightened around her waist, gently pulling her against his naked torso.

Morgan froze, staring at him. The slowly building heat in his gaze sure didn’t look like a joke, nor did the arm around her waist feel like just a friendly gesture—not when she was plastered against all that warm, brawny muscle. And honest to God, she hadn’t a clue how to react.

Liar.

His eyebrows ticked up, then he sighed and withdrew his arm. “Sorry. I made you uncomfortable.”

“You just kind of surprised me.” Morgan swallowed past a lump in her throat. God, she didn’t want him to let her go. “But we seem to be making a habit of this, don’t we?”

He smiled wryly. “If twice constitutes a habit.”

She sucked in a deep breath and decided it was time for some frank talk. “You know I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling the same, Ryan. Like practically every minute since I saw you on the ferry.”

“I hear a ‘but’ coming.”

How could she explain how terribly vulnerable she felt? Between her father’s death, her worries for Sabrina, and her insecurity about her own future, she was close to being an emotional basket case. How could she possibly risk a summer hookup with Ryan? That would lead to a world of hurt down the road—especially since he’d just made it blazingly clear that he avoided long-term commitments.

“But I’m . . . I’m not there emotionally, Ryan. I don’t think I could handle it, no matter how much I might want to. I’m kind of a wreck right now.” She briefly nestled her face against his shoulder. “I’m really sorry.”

“Don’t be. I get where you’re coming from.” Ryan gave his head a shake. “I’m just finding it damn near impossible to ignore all this crazy chemistry between us. Hell, sometimes it feels like I’ve got a grenade inside me.”

Boy, that was exactly how she felt. If Ryan grabbed her and kissed her now, she’d probably be lost. They’d end up naked on this pebbly beach, getting busy in plain view of every boater sailing down the channel.

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8. Interview and Giveaway: Last Chance Hero by Hope Ramsay

Hope Ramsay dropped by the virtual offices to celebrate the release of Last Chance Hero!  Find out what’s in her deadline survival kit.

Top 5 items in deadline survival kit by Hope Ramsay 

Here are the must-haves in my deadline survival kit:

1) A comfy chair, preferably a recliner, because it’s going to be a long night and my neck gets tired if I spend too much time sitting at a desk.

2) A supply of Diet Dr. Pepper because as noted above, it’s going to be a long night.

3) M & Ms.  Chocolate is an inspiration.  And it’s also loaded with caffeine.

4) The Georgia Good Ol’ boy (AKA the dear husband) because he gives really good neck rubs, and sends in food when I need it.  Also, when I get stuck and write myself into a corner he usually comes up with a crazy plot idea that’s so off the wall it might just work.  (Or it could be that my brain is speeding on caffeine.)

5) My iPod cued up with the playlist I create for every book that I write.  Music is essential for me to find the emotional thread in every story.

About LAST CHANCE HERO:

Ross Gardiner has had his fill of difficult relationships. Returning to Last Chance after a rough divorce, the town’s handsome new fire chief just wants safety and stability-a tall order given his dangerous job and the way he has the attention of all the single women in town. All except Sabina Grey, the girl who stole his heart when they were teenagers. Sabina knows a lot about playing it safe. Always the good girl, she’s now responsible for her antiques store and caring for her sister. But having Ross in town brings back the memory of one carefree summer night when she threw caution to the wind-and almost destroyed her family. Now that they are both older and wiser, will the spark still be there, even though they’ve both been burned?

About Hope Ramsay:

Hope Ramsay grew up on the North Shore of Long Island, but every summer Momma would pack her off under the care of Aunt Annie to go visiting with relatives in the midlands of South Carolina. Her extended family includes its share of colorful aunts and uncles, as well as cousins by the dozens, who provide the fodder for the characters you’ll find in Last Chance, South Carolina. She’s a two-time finalist in the Golden Heart and is married to a good ol’ Georgia boy who resembles every single one of her heroes. She lives in Fairfax, Virginia, where you can often find her on the back deck, picking on her thirty-five-year-old Martin guitar. 

Hope’s SM:

@HopeRamsay

http://hoperamsay.com/

https://www.pinterest.com/hoperamsay/

https://www.facebook.com/HopeRamsayAuthor?fref=ts

https://www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomHopeRamsay

Buy Links:

Amazon – http://amzn.to/1CF3zww

Barnes & Noble – http://bit.ly/1LEeC1u

IndieBound – http://bit.ly/1RMF9IH

GooglePlay –  http://bit.ly/1SYyBca

iTunes – http://apple.co/1Lytcqj

Kobo – http://bit.ly/1KpxTmU

EXCERPT:

She wore a pair of faded blue jeans that clung to her hips and butt like they were part of her. Her green tank top looked like something she might have found at a tag sale. The slippery, clingy fabric was covered in Oriental flowers, and it was almost see-through.

Not to mention that it exposed her shoulders, which had freckles on them. As usual, Sabina had pulled her hair back into a ponytail. And as usual, wisps of hair had escaped around her face. He wanted to cross the room, pull that damn rubber band out of her hair, and bury his hands and his nose in all those amazing curls.

Oh yeah, and his hands itched to touch her breasts through that silky fabric. Which is why he balled them into fists and jammed them into his pockets. Then he pretended that his feet were set into concrete.

A man could get hurt by lust like this.

And that didn’t even count the damage his feelings for Sabina might do to Lucy or Henrietta or even the folks in Last Chance who were all invested in him marrying Lucy.

He didn’t want to feel this way.

About anyone.

Lust like this was just crazy. It made a man do stupid things, and he had been there and done that. He much preferred the cool, calm feeling he had for Lucy and her lists.

Sabina stood there staring at him for a moment, her lips soft and parted. The afternoon sun coming through the dusty window, lit up her hair. Her voice sounded squeaky when she started talking, and she stammered, which was not like her at all.

“Uh . . . I . . . Uh. I got a call from Bubba Lockheart. I gather y’all moved the trunk down from the attic?”

“Oh, yeah, you came for the trunk.” He had the twin sensations of being relieved and disappointed all at the same time.

She nodded.

“It’s in the living room. Let me get the hand truck.” He hurried out onto the back porch and snagged the dolly and wheeled it into the living room.

Sabina was waiting for him.

“So, did you search through it? What else is inside?” She tilted her head, and for an instant, she resembled a little kid on Christmas morning, so excited to be unwrapping a present.

“Uh, no. We were kind of busy today.” He kept his words sharp and short. He shoved the dolly under the trunk and tilted it back. Then he wheeled it all the way out to the porch and down a make-shift ramp that had been set up over the front steps. Sabina followed him and opened the tailgate of her van.

“Can you lift it yourself or do you need help?” she asked.

“I can do it.” He wanted her to leave. Fast. But the trunk was awkward and he almost tilted it sideways when he tried to lift it. Before he could stop her, Sabina bent down and grabbed one of the handles and helped.

Together they got it up into the van. But in the process they ended up side by side and their shoulders touched.

He’d never been burned by a fire. He was practically religious about keeping his gear in topnotch form. But that touch scalded him. It would have been normal to jump back from all that heat. After all, he’d been trained to know the danger of uncontrolled fires.

But his training went right out the window, along with his common sense. Instead of running like hell, he turned toward her. She looked up at him, the fire dancing in her eyes. Oh, man, this was so wrong.

And so right.

“Ross,” she whispered, her voice so damn sultry.

His mind told him to stop. But his heart had a completely different idea. His heart had been waiting decades to kiss Sabina Grey. And there she was, right in reach, and her mouth looked so ready to be kissed that he couldn’t help himself.

He leaned down and pressed his mouth to her lips, and even though this wasn’t exactly the hands-on, bodies-pressed-together, hot and heavy kiss he’d once fantasized about, the heat of the moment still swept through him.

He wanted to pull her close. He wanted to explore her mouth a little deeper. He wanted to do a lot more than dance with her.

But Sabina pushed back.

“We can’t do this.” Her look was stunningly sober.

“Right,” he said on a deep exhalation. “Right.” He repeated the word because his mind had sort of checked out for a moment. “I’m sorry.”

She didn’t accept his apology. She just gave him one of those female looks that were so hard to decipher. This one was pretty bad ass.

And then she backed away, ran to the driver’s side of the van, and took off, sending the gravel on the driveway flying.

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9. Review: The Sheikh’s Princess Bride by Annie West

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I waited a long time on library hold for The Sheikh’s Princess Bride.  After reading The Sultan’s Harem Bride, I was interested to see what happened to Asim’s sister, Samira.  I was ultimately disappointed, though, because the book featured one of my least favorite tropes – the miracle baby.  There wasn’t one hint in the synopsis about it, or I probably wouldn’t have checked it out from the library.  This trope almost never works for me, so it was no surprise that it didn’t work here, either.

Samira longs for a family.  After her miscarriage, she is unable to conceive again, so she decides to ask her childhood friend, Tariq, to marry her.  He lost his wife and has young twin boys to raise, but juggling the duties of ruling Al- Sharath with raising his energetic sons is challenging.  While at first put off by Samira’s proposal, he agrees to her plan, without telling her that he doesn’t really agree with her only condition, and who could blame him?  What man would settle for a marriage in name only, without any of the benefits of matrimony?

Once Tariq makes it clear after their wedding that they will be a couple in all ways, Samira feels betrayed.  Tariq had given his word that there would be no sex, after all, and now she can’t trust him. He’s persistent and persuasive, however, and she soon gives in to her attraction to him.  They have agreed that neither will fall in love with other.  Both have had disastrous relationships in the past, and neither wants to suffer through that again.  Samira was publically cheated on by what she thought was the love of her life, and Tariq watched his wife wallow in sadness when he just couldn’t return her feelings for him.  Both Samira and Tariq swore that love would never bring them low again, and of course, neither can stick to their guns.

Samira quickly finds married life satisfying and fulfilling.  She now has two sons and an attentive husband.  When she discovers that, miraculously, she’s pregnant, she can’t understand Tariq’s sudden distance from her.  Tariq is still suffering from the guilt of not being able to save his late wife, who died in childbirth.  At first he’s angry at Samira, believing that she lied to him, and then he’s fearful that the same fate will befall her.  Samira is hurt now that Tariq is suddenly too busy to spend any time with her, and she wonders what she’s done wrong.

As previously stated, I dislike the miracle baby trope, so that earned a big groan of dismay from me.  The other problem for me was Tariq.  He constantly insists to himself that he is incapable of love because of his harsh upbringing, yet he dotes on his young sons.  He’s furious that Samira didn’t discuss the pregnancy with him first, too, which made me want to slap him on the side of the head and say, “Hello!!  Miracle baby, dude!  These things just aren’t PLANNED!”  It took him so long to realize that he did have deep feelings for Samira that I started getting impatient with him  When she decided to put some physical distance between them and go to Paris – that was when Tariq finally has his light bulb moment.  If I had been Samira, I’d have made him work a little harder for her forgiveness. 

If the miracle baby trope doesn’t bother you like it bugs me, you will probably enjoy The Sheikh’s Princess Bride better than I did.  Though it ultimately wasn’t my cup of tea, I did remain invested in the story.

Grade:  C-

Review copy obtained from my local library

Wanted: royal bride and mother

For Sheikh Tariq of Al-Sharath, one miserable marriage was enough. With a kingdom to rule, he has no time—or wish—to find a bride, but his children need a mother. 

Could Princess Samira of Jazeer be the answer? Samira has sampled passion, and it left a bad taste. With the knowledge she can’t have the children she’s always wanted, Samira steps into Tariq’s ready-made family. Her only condition? No sex!

Samira thought royal duties and her love for Tariq’s children would fill the hole in her heart, but a craving is building that only the sheikh’s touch can cure…

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10. Spotlight and Giveaway: SEAL Wolf Hunting by Terry Spear

I have a special spotlight and giveaway of Terry Spear’s latest release SEAL Wolf Hunting!

Meet the Bachelors of Cottage Grove

Full Name: Allan Rappaport

Occupation: SEAL and now Special Undercover Operative

Height: 6 ft

Hair Color: Dark brown hair

Eye Color: Green

Age: 30

Wolf: Gray

Originally from: Northern Montana

What’s your favorite thing about being a wolf-shifter? Too many reasons to count. But we have a real advantage in the senses’ department. It really helps with my job.

An Excerpt:

Allan was next up, and the bidding was going strong as he got into the fun of the auction, flexing his muscles and smiling brightly.

“Way to go, SEAL!” Lori and Rose shouted.

“Take off your shirt!” Emma shouted.

Catherine whooped and whistled. Paul had to smile at Emma and Catherine.

Lori’s face reddened a bit, probably because her own grandma had shouted out the recommendation.

Allan began unbuttoning his shirt slowly and the crowd went wild.

Paul laughed. He hadn’t thought that a honey-do bachelor auction would be anything like this. Then again, Emma was a wolf and they could change the dynamics of a situation in a heartbeat. The ranch hands made a big deal of jerking their shirts out of their waistbands and then starting to unbutton them.

A woman shouted, “Just the shirts, gentlemen.”

And that had everyone laughing.

Stripper music began to play, and Paul removed his shirt to the beat like the others did.

Clapping hands, wolf whistles, and shouts indicated the women were just as excited to bid for the SEALs as they were for the cowboys.

Paul tossed his shirt to Lori for safekeeping. When she grabbed the shirt and held it close, he smiled at her.

Allan went for two hundred and fifty dollars to a lady wearing a pink cowboy hat…

Title: SEAL Wolf Hunting

Author: Terry Spear

Series: Heart of the Wolf, #16

Pubdate: July 7th, 2015

ISBN: 9781402293825

Paul Cunningham has eluded many traps in his long career as a Navy SEAL, but there’s no way out of this one. On a rare visit home, he gets “volunteered” for a local charity bachelor auction, and the community is counting on him. Then he discovers that the sexy she-wolf with the winning ticket is Lori Greypaw—the one woman he could never resist. And she has plans for Paul that go way beyond a simple date. For the first time in his bachelor life, this alpha wolf SEAL is going to have to prove his worth…

USA Today bestselling author Terry Spear has written over fifty paranormal and medieval Highland historical romances. In 2008 Heart of the Wolf was named a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. A retired officer of the U.S. Army Reserves, Terry also creates award-winning teddy bears that have found homes all over the world and is raising two Havanese puppies. She lives in Crawford, Texas.

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1cH0BAK

BAM: http://bit.ly/1F4wz0A

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

Chapters: http://bit.ly/1cH0LYK

Indiebound: http://bit.ly/1cH0N2Z

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1MiUT4f

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11. The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves: It’s Been One of THOSE Weeks

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 haven’t done one of these posts in a few weeks!  I was at a horse show, and then last week we were running around all weekend long.  So, here goes-

Last week was an awful week, and if you have noticed, all I’m reading are Harlequins, which means it was a really terrible week.  It all started on Monday, when my parents let us know that they aren’t coming to visit next week because my mom isn’t feeling well.  While I was disappointed, I would much rather she find out what’s up than drive all the way here from Florida, so get better, Mom!  We’ll see you soon!

Tuesday, Elsa’s lesson horse slipped in the arena, fell on her leg, and broke her ankle.  Talk about a not fun lesson!  Drink lots of milk and get better soon, Elsa!

Wednesday, my physical therapist pretty much fired me.  He told me that there’s nothing else he can do for me, and that I need to have my hip replaced.  All the stretches and exercises in the world aren’t going to fix my problem.  Since I haven’t been sleeping well due to the pain, and riding horses is becoming unpleasantly painful, I will be making some phone calls to get the ball rolling on the surgery.  I’m extremely anxious about the cost and the recovery process, but this is getting ridiculous.  The joint is painful even at rest, and the thought of waiting another 6 months until my health insurance improves makes me break out in a cold sweat.

Hopefully your week was better than mine! 

Check out my current contests!  See the Contest Widget on the Sidebar to enter!

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 THREE weeks of books -

First up – .99 comics!

Taken by the Sheik

The Desert King

The Desert Lord’s Bride

Mistress for a Night

The Drafter

Dragon Fall

Time for Love

Map to the Stars

The Perfect Bargain

The Highlander Takes a Bride

Second Chance Summer

Frozen in Amber

An Officer and a Maverick

Ink and Bone

Bound to the Warrior King

Two Across

Perfect Touch

Close to Heart

Waterborne Exile

Chasing Jillian


The Maddening Lord Montwood

Pursued by the Rogue

The Gladiator’s Mistress

Young Widows Club

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

What did you get? Please leave links and share!

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12. Mini Manga Review: An Uncommon Abigail by Kyoko Sagara and Joanna Maitland

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

This is another .99 Harlequin manga that I nabbed from Amazon.  An Uncommon Abigail would have received a higher grade if it had been the complete story, but there are a lot of loose ends that need to be tied up.  I am assuming those will be tied up in The Prodigal Bride.  When I purchased this, I did not realize that it is not complete in one volume, and there is no mention of that fact in the manga itself. I had to use Google-fu and Amazon to track down the next volume.  (The Fortune Hunter is the first volume – it took me even longer to figure that out!  I only managed that because I finally located the original book the manga is adapted from.)

Amy, fearful that her younger brother has been kidnapped, disguises herself as a lady’s maid with the help of her friend Sara.  Together, they attend a house party, searching for clues as to Ned’s disappearance.  While snooping through Major Anthony’s rooms, Amy discovers a naked man!  Little does she know that she’s uncovered another mystery, but this one may cost her her reputation.

This is a cute, fast read with pretty art. The lavish details given to clothing and backgrounds made for a visually interesting read, and emotions are deftly revealed through facial expressions.  Amy is determined to save Marcus after he protects her from an unruly house guest, putting himself in danger of discovery.  Wanted for the merciless beating of a gentleman, Marcus is hiding until he can clear his name.  Now that Amy is on the case, he’s worried that she’ll be ruined or injured by his foe.  I was entertained right up until the point that it dawned on me that – NOPE! – I wasn’t going to find out what had happened to Anthony’s wife, (he’s been accused of murdering her), or to see William’s comeuppance. That was disappointing because I wasn’t expecting it, as the Harlequin manga are typically complete in one volume.

Grade:  B- / C+

Review purchased from Amazon

Amy, despite being of noble birth, is attending a grand party at the famous Lyndhurst Chase estate, not as a lady but as a maid. Her younger brother Ned was last spotted at Lyndhurst before his mysterious disappearance. And there are rumours that Major Anthony, the owner of the Lyndhurst estate, is responsible for the disappearance of his own wife not long ago. What kind of trouble has her brother gotten into? Under the disguise of a lady’s maid, she sets off to look for clues of Ned’s whereabouts. But during her search, she comes across a mysterious man in hiding. Who is he and could he have something to do with Ned’s disappearance? But the more Amy learns about this handsome stranger, the more perilous her world becomes. Especially after she falls in love with him.…

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13. Review: Undone by the Sultan’s Touch by Caitlin Crews

Contains Many Spoilers

Review:

I haven’t read anything by this author before, and honestly, I’m not sure what prompted me to borrow this particular title from the library.  I don’t usually read the plot summaries for Presents, so it wasn’t that.  The cover?  Nah, I don’t think it was that, either.  Sure, the dress is beautiful, spread out around the couple, but the rest of it is a confusing mess.  Are those rose petals? A carpet?  Pink lily pads?  It was probably the latest Harlequin release that was actually available for check-out, so check it out I did.

I have a love-hate relationship with Undone by the Sultan’s Touch.  I don’t even know what to rate this. On one hand, it is emotional and angsty, with a whirlwind romance in an exotic location and the promise of a fairy tale that ultimately goes unfulfilled. On the other hand, Khaled was a jerk, and I was waiting for the big grovel from him. It never came. Instead, Cleo just takes him back. He was right in thinking she was a mouse. The thought of spending the rest of my life with an emotionally disconnected guy like that is so NOT appealing. Both characters were emotionally stunted, and neither took ownership of their faults. It was always someone else’s fault they acted/reacted the way they did.

Cleo is running away from the embarrassment and heartbreak of catching her fiancé, Brian, doing the nasty with another woman, two weeks before their wedding.  When she angrily calls off the ceremony and vows to have nothing else to do with him, her family urges her to forgive him and just go with the flow.  Cleo digs in her heels, packs a bag, and heads off for parts unknown to find herself.  The whole time, she fumes and broods about the ex, even after meeting Khaled.  Which made me think that her initial interest in her handsome sheik was just her idea of revenge against Brian.  His presence in the story is like that of an abscessed tooth, ceaselessly irritating.  Cleo brings Brian up so often, it was obvious that she hadn’t forgiven him, hadn’t gotten over him, and wasn’t ready for a new relationship.  There could be no other reason for her to pick Khaled, because he’s not exactly a knight in shining armor, either.

Khaled’s motivation for his courtship and marriage to Cleo are purely selfish.  His country is in political turmoil, as well as financial distress.  He is courting foreign investment, and he believes that by marrying Cleo, he will make Jhurat more appealing to Westerners.  So he remakes Cleo into a fairy tale princess, with a new look, beautiful clothes, and a romance to be the envy of women the world over.  Only he’s just pretending, and Cleo, who is so out of her depth, doesn’t realize that all he wants is a wife, an heir, and no emotional entanglements.  His plan is to get her pregnant, send her to the family estate outside of the city, and rule his country without the interference of messy emotions. 

Cleo, caught up in the fantasy, ignores the warning signs that something is wrong.  She marries Khaled, and then doesn’t understand why, after their wonderful honeymoon, a week at Khaled’s private oasis, he suddenly doesn’t want to spend time with her.  He won’t even let her move into his suite.  Nope, she’s going to stay in her own room, and when he wants her, he’ll seek her out.  When she dares to go to him, to invade his space, he is appallingly cruel to her.  After that, I was expecting a great big grovel from Khaled into order for me to believe that he loved her and would try to put her, if not first on his list, at least second after Jhurat, because, you know, he’s the sultan and he is Jhurat.  Instead, we don’t really get to see his remorse, and Cleo decides that she is just as much to blame for their problems as he is.  Say? What??  UGH!  I disliked how meekly Cleo went back to Khaled, after finding the strength to leave him.  I didn’t find her revelation a measure of her new found maturity or a show of courage; instead, I found it the exact opposite.  I thought it a weakness, that she was blinded by sex,  and I never got the feeling that they had worked through their very different ideas of love, marriage, and companionship.  It was a very disappointing ending, and I am so unconvinced of their HEA that I am weeping bitter tears over the 3 hours it took me to finish reading this.

Despite my reservations, I want to read another book by this author.  I found the writing emotional and raw, and had a hard time putting Undone by the Sultan’s Touch down.  So, I guess you can say that I enjoyed the author’s writing style far better than I enjoyed this particular romance.

Grade:  ?? B-? C? D??  I have no idea what grade to give this one!

Review copy obtained from my local library

“Kiss me, if you are so daring!”

When Cleo Churchill’s travels land her in the path of Khaled bin Aziz, Sultan of Jhurat, she’s instantly transfixed by his warrior physique, commanding presence and intense eyes. But what would a sultan want with an ordinary girl like her?

Cleo is exactly what Khaled needs: a convenient, yet beautiful bride to unite his warring country. He’ll offer her diamonds and riches but nothing more.

Yet as their marriage plays out in the darkness of the night, the passions unearthed threaten to consume them both!

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14. Spotlight and Giveaway: Put Up Your Duke by Megan Frampton

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for Put Up Your Duke by Megan Frampton!

Put up Your Duke
Dukes Behaving Badly #2

By: Megan Frampton

Releasing June 30, 2015

Avon

Blurb

He was once happily bedding and boxing, but in the newest DUKES BEHAVING BADLY novel, Nicholas Smithfield has inherited a title and a bride…

To keep his estate afloat, the new Duke of Gage must honor an agreement to marry Lady Isabella. Stunningly beautiful, utterly tempting, she’s also a bag of wedding night nerves, so Nicholas decides to wait to do his duty-even if it means heading to the boxing saloon every day to punch away his frustration.

Groomed her whole life to become the perfect duchess Isabella longs for independence, a dream that is gone forever. As her husband, Nicholas can do whatever he likes-but, to Isabella’s surprise the notorious rake instead begins a gentle seduction that is melting every inch of her reserve, night by night…

To his utter shock, Nicholas’s discovers that none of his previous exploits were half as pleasurable as wooing his own wife. But has the realm’s most disreputable Duke found the one woman who can bring him to his knees-and leave him there?

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/05/put-up-your-duke-dukes-behaving-badly-2.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23314826-put-up-your-duke?ac=1
Goodreads Series Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/127805-dukes-behaving-badly

Buy Links: Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo | Publisher

Author Info

Megan Frampton writes historical romance under her own name and romantic women’s fiction as Megan Caldwell. She likes the color black, gin, dark-haired British men, and huge earrings, not in that order. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband and son.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

 

Excerpt:

She laughed in all the places he’d wanted her to, even though she insisted on correcting the ending to the story—instead of the princess heading off to fairyland to enact revenge on the mean fairy, as he’d recounted, she said that the princess would not be so petty, and would just let the mean fairy come to her own bad ends.

Nicholas would have to tell her the story of how the mean fairy got her comeuppance another night. And how revealing was it that he was picturing the mean fairy as his new mother-in-law?

“And now you should tell me what is on your list, princess.” He felt her stiffen in his arms, but she didn’t run away. Not yet, at least.

Was this how it felt to try to tame a deer or some other fragile, woodland creature? This constant worrying and tentativeness?

Because if so he had a lot more sympathy with zookeepers.

“The list of things I wish to do?” she asked, her voice higher and softer than usual. He dipped his head down to whisper in her ear. Not that anybody was there, but he couldn’t help himself.

“Yes. That list,” he said, feeling the skin on her arms get goose bumps as he spoke.

“Oh,” she said, the word more like a sigh.

She didn’t speak for a few minutes after that, but Nicholas could tell she was thinking—mostly because she felt relaxed in his arms, and if she hadn’t been thinking hard about something, he knew she would be much more self-conscious about lying there, together, on her bed.

“I want to go somewhere where it doesn’t matter if I laugh loudly. I want to dance without worrying about how I look, or if I am executing a misstep.”

She paused, and he felt his insides coil in anticipation of what she would say next. “But most of all, right now, I would like to kiss you,” she said at last.

Which was both the best and the worst answer she could have given him.

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15. Spotlight and Giveaway: Remind Me by Ann Marie Walker and Amy K Rogers

 
Have you met Hudson Chase?
 
 
REMIND ME
Chasing Fire #1
Ann Marie Walker & Amy K. Rogers
Released  April 21st, 2015
Berkley Intermix

 
First in a tantalizing new trilogy about reigniting a forbidden desire from long ago…

As heiress to a media empire Alessandra Sinclair was raised to put family obligations first. But everything changes the night her first love walks back into her life and turns her whole world upside down. Haunted by the memories of a secret romance with a boy from the wrong side of the tracks, she can’t seem to get Hudson Chase out of her mind. Once again torn between two worlds, Allie must decide how much she’s willing to risk to have the love she’s always longed for.

Ten years is a long time to wait, but billionaire Hudson Chase didn’t become CEO of one of the country’s fastest growing companies by giving up on what he wants. Now that he’s got Allie in his sights again, he’s determined to make her regret breaking his heart. And this time, he’s going to make damn sure he’s not so easy to forget.

Includes a preview of Release Me book two of the Chasing Fire trilogy.
 
Praise for the Chasing Fire trilogy
 
“Exceptional…Seriously sexy and sinfully steamy. Can’t wait for more from this writing duo!”–New York Times bestselling author Tara Sue Me
“Walker and Rogers strike the perfect balance between blistering physical desire and heartfelt connections…”–RT Book Review 


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Just when he was about to rip the damn door off the hinges, it swung open. “Took you long enough.” Not an ounce of amusement resonated in his voice.

Alessandra stared at him for a beat, her face registering disbelief and bewilderment. “I was in the shower.”

Hudson stood framed in the doorway. Right now he wasn’t feeling like the billionaire mogul the rest of the world knew, but a man past the limits of control. His eyes raked over her from head to toe and she pulled the lapels of her robe tighter against his searing gaze. “Why did you come to my place?” he demanded.

Her spine straightened. “Shouldn’t you be out with a leggy brunette about now?”

“Canceled. Now answer the question.”

“I . . .” She hesitated.

“Tell me.”

“I don’t know.” Her grip tightened on the silk robe, wrinkling the fabric.

“Bullshit. You do know. You can’t stop thinking about me.” He jutted forward, bracing one hand on the doorjamb. “I know this because I can’t stop thinking about you.”

“Don’t—”

“Every time I close my eyes I see you, feel your mouth sliding against mine, and it drives me fucking crazy—”

She held up her hand. “Hudson, please stop.”

“Then you show up at my penthouse. And now, knowing you’re naked underneath that robe . . .”

“You can’t keep saying these things to me.”

“You don’t mean that. In fact,” his eyes flicked down briefly to her nipples straining against the thin fabric, begging for his attention, “I think it turns you on.”

“You’ve got a lot of nerve.”

“Do I? I bet if I rip open that robe and feel between your legs, you’re soaking wet.” His gaze darkened and his voice lowered to an intimate challenge. “Want me to prove it?”

Her jaw dropped. “You need to leave.”

When she made a move to close the door, Hudson’s palm smacked flat against the wood. “Not until you admit I’m right.”

“Is that what this is about, you being right?”

“No, though I am.” His voice took on a decisive edge. “The road is paved in hard truths, Alessandra, not denials.”

“And you think I’m the one in denial?”

His gaze was rock steady. “I know you are. But fuck if I’ll let you push me away again.”

“It doesn’t matter how I feel.” Her voice thinned. “It’s too late for us, Hudson.”

“The hell it is.” His chest expanded and he blew out an exasperated breath. He needed to connect with the girl she used to be, the girl he knew was still there, beneath the layers of socialite status. “Damnit, Allie. Just admit you feel the same.”

“Admit what? That I haven’t stopped thinking about you since the moment I turned around and saw you at the gala? That I can’t stop picturing what could have happened in your office? Or about how part of me was disappointed you didn’t fuck me on that barstool? Is that what you want me to admit, Hudson, that no matter how many years have passed, I still want you as much as I did back then?”

“Yes, I need to hear you say it.”

 
 
 
#MarkYourCalendars
 
 
 
Though thousands of miles apart, Ann Marie Walker and Amy K. Rogers are in constant contact, plotting story lines and chatting about their love of alpha males, lemon drop martinis and British supermodel, David Gandy. You can find them on twitter as @AnnMarie_Walker and @Amy_KRogers.


 
Amy K. Rogers

 
Ann Marie Walker

 
 
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Releasing July 21st, 2015
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Releasing October 21st, 2015


 

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16. Review: Running Wolf by Jenna Kernan

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I haven’t read a historical romance featuring Native American protagonists in a long time, so I snapped this up from the library.  When I was younger, I used to eat these up.  Ride the Wind, Nakoa’s Woman, Only Earth and Sky Last Forever – if it featured Native Americans, it ended up on my wish list.  There were so many of them published in the 80s and 90s, and then – nothing!  Regencies took over, I read more fantasy and comic books, and that was the end of that reading phase of my life.

I enjoyed Running Wolf, but I did have some problems with it, mainly due to the power disparity between Running Wolf and Snow Raven.  After she is captured in a raid, she is taken to Running Wolf’s village.  As his captive and a hated Crow, his Sioux clan does not treat her well.  She is beaten and stripped naked, and after Running Wolf gives her to his mother, Ebbing Water, she is ill-treated and only given food and a blanket because of Running Wolf’s intervention.  His mother hates Snow Raven because she is a Crow, and a Crow warrior killed her husband.  She is instantly suspicious of her son’s motives.  Why has he brought this captive to their village?  While he claims that he captured Snow Raven so she would have a servant to make her life easier after he moves into his own tepee, even Running Wolf knows that he’s not being honest with himself.

Snow Raven is fierce and independent, and when she’s taken captive, she thinks about taking her own life.  She doesn’t want to die, however, and she thinks that her father, Chief Six Elks, will eventually rescue her.  Then she realizes what an impossible task that will be for her people.  All of their horses were stolen by the Sioux, winter will soon settle over the Plains, and preparations need to be taken for the winter.  How will they even hunt without their horses?  This does pose an almost insurmountable challenge for her village, because they depend so heavily on the horse to help with hunting, protection, and moving the village as the weather changes.

Once she’s given to Ebbing Water,  she understands the position she’s in.  Snow Raven has to work for everything, and still she’s given only meager servings of food and nothing to clothe herself with.  She didn’t expect to be treated well, and her own people probably would have killed a captive Sioux, but she’s not willing to just give up.  After her mother died, Snow Raven began to pursue tasks typically undertaken by boys.  Though her father didn’t encourage her, she was taught to hunt, ride, and shoot a bow like a man.  These skills are put to good use, as she is able to trap small game, and because of Running Wolf, she is allowed to keep the hides. 

I liked Snow Raven, because she is tough and determined to survive.  She’s also capable and brave.  Running Wolf, on the other hand, I had a harder time with.  He is a war chief, and he believes that his duty to his people trumps everything else.  These feelings for this Crow captive?  They are fleeting and a test of his ability to be a future leader.  As a war chief, he’s not supposed to be selfish and keep things for himself.  Whenever he thinks of Snow Raven, he becomes jealous and possessive.  He only gives her to his mother because it would be unseemly for him to keep her for himself.  So, instead of just keeping her, and keeping her safe, he puts Snow Raven in so many needlessly dangerous situations.  His mother hates her because she is Crow, and she would be more than happy to cut her throat.  Many of his tribesmen are accusing Snow Raven of being a witch and casting a spell over him, and his erratic behavior towards her doesn’t help matters.  I thought he was the exact opposite of what he wanted to be: by pretending that Snow Raven didn’t mean anything to him, he came across as selfish and unfeeling to me.  While I’m sure he pacified some of his people, he alienated me, the reader, and I just wanted Snow Raven to steal a horse and run far, far away.

My opinion of him improved later in the book, but if I hadn’t liked Snow Raven so much, I don’t know if I would have enjoyed Running Wolf.  It’s grimmer and a little grittier than I was expecting, and I didn’t find it particularly romantic.  I did find it engrossing and hard to put down, but if you are looking for sunshine and rainbows, I don’t think you are going to find it here. 

Grade:  B

Review copy obtained from my local library

 

Rival tribes…

Running Wolf is a valiant Sioux warrior. During his first raid as war chief, he captures a surprising Crow enemy—a woman! This spirited fighter is unlike any he’s ever met. Her beauty and audacity are entrancing, but threaten his iron resolve…

…rival passions

Snow Raven must focus on freeing herself, not on the man who keeps her captive. But as she falls deeper under Running Wolf’s spell, she realizes he is her warrior—and she’ll risk everything for him!

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17. Manga Review: A Game of Chance by Linda Howard and Nanao Hidaka

 

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

Once a week or so, I search through the Harlequin manga for the .99 titles.  I purchased A Game of Chance because it was written by Linda Howard and it is part of the Mackenzie Family series. I was very disappointed with it; the adaptation from novel to comic did not work for me.  I felt that the story was way too complicated for the allotted pages, and I never got a sense of who the characters were. 

Chance Mackenzie is trying to track down evil terrorist Crispin Hauer, and after hacking into a government database, he located the birth certificate and adoption records for Hauer’s daughter, Sunny Miller.  He cooks up an elaborate plan to get her on his private plane and crash into a remote, inaccessible mountain range in an effort to get to know her and get her to give up the goods on her father.  He can’t fight the undeniable attraction he feels for her, and soon they are caught up in a steamy affair.  It soon becomes clear to Chance that Sunny doesn’t know anything about her birth father, and she’s spent her enter life running from him and his men.  Not one to fail at a mission, Chance decides to use Sunny as bait to bring down his target and put an end to Hauer’s terrorism.

That’s an awful lot of story to fit into 192 pages of a comic book.  The story didn’t flow well for me, and the romance was far too rushed and unconvincing.  Both protagonists’ casual disregard for using protection also grated on my last little nerve, especially after Chance boasted about the number of condoms he had.

Chance is the most unprofessional undercover agent ever, and getting the daughter of the international terrorist you are trying to catch pregnant isn’t really good form.  I had a problem with  his background story, too.  If he was a feral kid living on the streets until he was 14, he must have had one heck of an awesome tutor to get him all caught on the schooling he missed out on so he could join the Navy, become a SEAL, and learn his super-duper computer hacking skills.  I guess anyone can learn how to fly a plane, especially a SEAL, but crashing it into a mountain and not getting a dent on it, despite all of the rocks it scraped up during the crash landing – I just didn’t buy that. I wish I had his spy budget and could crash a plane in a remote area for a little downtime (I of course would make sure all of my Kindles were charged prior to takeoff.) And how convenient that Sunny carries an emergency kit complete with first aid kit, rations, water, blankets, and a….tent?  NOPE.  That just seems like an awful lot of stuff to drag around every day, even if your father is an evil terrorist trying to catch you, and was a wee bit too convenient.

I didn’t care for the art, either.  Character proportions are awkward and the artistic style is more minimalistic than I care for.  It’s functional, and that’s about it.  Glad I only paid .99 for this.

Grade:  D-

Review copy purchase from Amazon

Intelligence operative Chance Mackenzie has been looking for an elusive international terrorist, and finally comes across some information about the terrorist’s beloved daughter. Her name is Sunny. She is clearly in league with the terrorists. Chance fakes a “chance encounter,” gets Sunny on a private plane and crashes it in a canyon. It was all part of his plan to get her alone and trick her into revealing her father’s location. But her bright, sparkling eyes and golden hair are so pure and angelic… Chance is confused by these new, intense feelings brought about by a passionate kiss.

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18. Interview and Giveaway: Exit Strategy by Lena Diaz

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

[Lena Diaz] Snarky, introverted, funny, moody, nerdy.

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

[Lena Diaz] Clothes!

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

[Lena Diaz] A miniature dog-house with Snoopy on top, typing on a type-writer.

A miniature dead body with a feather pen sticking out of its chest (hey, romantic suspense writer.)

A gold stapler that has “Keep it Together “ engraved on the side.

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

[Lena Diaz] It changes, but right now it’s marshmallows toasted on saltine crackers.

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

[Lena Diaz] Someone thinner than me!

[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?

[Lena Diaz] The ability to write a book, flawlessly, in one draft.

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

[Lena Diaz] Fallen, by Carey Baldwin. What a Wallflower Wants, by Maya Rodale.

 

Exit Strategy
EXIT Inc. # 1

By: Lena Diaz

Releasing June 30, 2015

Avon

Blurb

Lena Diaz launches her thrilling new series featuring the undercover vigilantes of EXIT Inc. with a skilled operative putting his life—and his heart—on the line for a woman in trouble…

When Sabrina Hightower awakens to the sound of an intruder, she figures he’s there to rob her, murder her— or worse. She doesn’t expect to be carried off by a muscle-bound stud with male-model good looks… or that he came to rescue her.

Mason Hunt became an enforcer with EXIT Inc. to eliminate the bad guys—terrorists, militia groups, all those who would do America harm. But his latest target is innocent. If EXIT could lie about sultry, strong-willed Sabrina, what darker truths might they be concealing?

Going rogue in the rugged North Carolina Mountains, Mason risks everything to keep Sabrina close, especially now that EXIT’s lethal assassins are chasing them down. The heat is on… but it’s nothing compared to the slow burn of seduction.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/05/exit-strategy-exit-inc-1-by-lena-diaz.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23367394-exit-strategy?ac=1
Goodreads Series Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/139120-exit-inc

Buy Links: Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo | Publisher

Author Info

Originally from Kentucky, romantic suspense author Lena Diaz also lived in California and Louisiana before settling in Northeast Florida with her husband, two children, and a Shetland Sheepdog named Sparky. A Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® finalist, she’s won the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense and has been a finalist for the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award. She loves to watch action movies, garden, and hike in the beautiful Tennessee Smoky Mountains.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

 

Sabrina crept into her moonlit living room and grabbed the arm of the couch for support. Her right hand, slippery with blood, slid across the cloth and she fell to her knees on the hardwood floor. A gasp of pain escaped between her clenched teeth before she could stop it.

She froze, searching the dark recesses of the room, squinting to try to bring everything into focus. If the intruder was within ten feet of her, no problem, she could make out every little detail. But any farther than that and he might as well be a fuzzy blob on the wallpaper.

Had he heard her? She listened intently for the echo of footsteps in the hall outside, or the squeak of a shoe, the rasp of cloth against cloth. But all she heard was silence. In a fair world, that might mean the stranger had given up and left the house. But in her world, especially the nightmarish last six months, it probably meant he was lying in wait around the next corner, ready to attack.

The throbbing burn in her right bicep had her angling her arm toward the moonlight filtering through the plantation shutters to see if the damage was as bad as it felt. Nope. It was worse. Blood ran down her arm from a jagged, two-inch gash and dripped to the floor.

She clasped her left hand over the cut, applying pressure and clenching her mouth shut to keep from hissing at the white-hot flash of pain. She had to stop the bleeding. But there wasn’t any point in looking for something here in the living room to bind the wound. Only the couch and a wing chair remained of the antiques that she’d brought with her halfway across the country from Boulder, Colorado to Asheville, North Carolina. She’d sold the other furniture, and even some of her sketches, to pay the exorbitant fees of the private investigators searching for her grandfather and the even more exorbitant fees of the lawyers.

She supposed the Carolina Panthers nightshirt that she was wearing might be useful as a tourniquet. But she didn’t relish the possibility of facing an intruder in nothing but her panties. The nightshirt was definitely staying on.

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5026871.Lena_Diaz

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19. Review: Tycoon’s Delicious Debt by Susanna Carr

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

As you know, Harlequins are my crack.  It doesn’t matter which series, I love them all.  I can always count on them for a quick escape from reality, so when the author of Tycoon’s Delicious Debt asked if I would review it, I jumped.  I haven’t read Susanna Carr previously, so I was eager to give a new to me author a try.  I have read a few of the books in The Chatsfield continuity, which was another plus because once I start something, I try to finish it, (though I’m not always successful!).

Serena Dominguez is consumed by an all-encompassing rage that has directed every move she’s made since she was old enough to work. The Brocks destroyed her family, plunging them into poverty and despair.  She was forced to watch as her mother sold off one piece of jewelry after another to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.  Finally, the strain became too much for her parents and they divorced, another casualty of the Brock family.  Seething with an anger that can only be quenched after she has done to the Brocks what was done to her family, Serena finally has the means to bring about their ruin.

Cooper Brock took over the family business after his father, Aaron, retired.  Cooper is aware that his father didn’t play on a level playing field, and heck, he hasn’t either.  Pressured to be successful in every endeavor, Cooper cheated his way into his first major deal, giving himself a reputation that he hadn’t really earned.  When Serena appears with a tantalizing offer, he must reject it because the price is too high.  She sniped a land deal from him, and now she’s willing to sell it to him for hotel shares he owns.  He needs those shares, though, to keep the lid firmly sealed on his previous dirty deal.  Now that he has become successful in his own right, through legitimate negotiations, he isn’t proud of his past and he’ll do anything to keep it quiet.  When Serena threatens to reveal his father’s dirty laundry to the press, however, he realizes that he may be forced to sacrifice his own reputation to protect his father.

I enjoy the enemies to lovers trope, so I plowed right through this book.  While I had a hard time sympathizing with Serena, I loved Cooper.  He astutely chastises her for wasting most of her adult life seeking her revenge, even after her parents had moved on with their lives.  When it’s revealed that her father wasn’t a completely innocent victim – well, that made her thirst for vengeance less warranted.  Serena picked and chose which transgressions deserved to be punished, conveniently ignoring that her father was just as shady as Cooper’s.  That and her insistence that it was her due to have the privileged upbringing that Cooper had just grated every time she brought it up. 

Both Cooper and Serena had empty lives, and they needed each other to realize what a hot mess they made of their potential.  Serena wasted all of her energy chasing something that didn’t really matter any more, and even with her goal in reach, she was still unhappy.  There was no joy or satisfaction in bringing about the ruin of another life.  Cooper spent his entire life trying to be perfect, to earn the love and respect of his parents, something that he never received.  All of his accomplishments meant nothing because he didn’t have anyone to share them with.  Cooper and Serena are able to finally let their guard down around each other, and discover a sense of peace and belonging.  Cooper felt especially grounded when he was with Serena, and he’s the first to realize how special their relationship is.  Serena fights him every step of the way because she can’t set aside her anger, and that was my greatest complaint with the story.  Serena just can’t let it go, even after Cooper proves himself to be a caring, honest man, and I found her constant distrust of him irritating.  I thought the resolution was a little too rushed, but overall, I enjoyed Tycoon’s Delicious Debt.

Grade:  B   Great read for the beach!

Review copy provided by the author

He has a debt to pay…

Cooper Brock knows Serena Dominguez can ruin him with a snap of her delectable fingers, but he won’t give in to her demands easily. Instead, he gives Serena his own ultimatum: to confront the smoldering attraction between them.

And she’s ready to collect!

Serena has spent her life planning the downfall of this man. But when she yields to his challenge, Serena is stripped bare by Cooper’s raw passion. As he holds her in his arms and whispers her name, Serena realizes she may have just fallen in love with her enemy…

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20. Spotlight and Giveaway: I’ll Stand by You by Sharon Sala

I have an excerpt and giveaway for Sharon Sala’s latest release I’ll Stand by You.  Check it out!

Book Information

Title: I’ll Stand By You

Author: Sharon Sala

Release Date: June 2, 2015

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Summary

No one is alone

Dori Grant is no stranger to hardship. As a young single mother in the gossip-fueled town of Blessings, Georgia, she’s weathered the storm of small-town disapproval most of her life. But when Dori loses everything within the span of an evening, she realizes she has no choice but to turn to her neighbors.

As long as there is love to give

Everyone says the Pine boys are no good, but Johnny Pine has been proving the gossips wrong ever since his mother died and he took over raising his brothers. His heart goes out to the young mother and child abandoned by the good people of Blessings. Maybe he can be the one to change all that…

Goodreads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23510410-i-ll-stand-by-you

Buy Links

Amazon: http://bit.ly/AmazonSala

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/BNSala

iBookstore: http://bit.ly/AppleSala

IndieBound: http://bit.ly/IndieSala

Author Biography

Sharon Sala, who has also written under the name Dinah McCall, has 85-plus books in print, published in four different genres-Romance, Young Adult, Western, and Women’s Fiction, and her Young Adult books have been optioned for film. She has been named a RITA finalist seven times by Romance Writers of America, and in 2011 they named her the recipient of the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award. Her books are New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly bestsellers and published in many different languages. She lives in Oklahoma, the state where she was born.

Social Networking Links

Website: http://sharonsala.net/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sharonkaysala

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SharonSala1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/40570.Sharon_Sala

Excerpt

“Nothing means a damn thing if I don’t have my baby.”

“And now we get to my suggestion. Do you like Johnny Pine?”

“Yes, of course. He’s been wonderful to us.”

“No, I mean, could you like him as relationship material?”

“That possibility exists,” she said.

“Good. Now let me talk to Johnny.”

She handed the phone back to Johnny.

“Now he wants to talk to you.”

She took the baby and Johnny took the phone.

“Yeah?”

“I have a suggestion that could bring an end to your troubles.”

“Like what?”

“Do you like Dori?”

“Well, sure. She’s great.”

“Do you like her enough to consider a personal relationship with her?”

Johnny looked at Dori, then cupped her face and ran his thumb down the side of her jaw.

“Yes, I like her enough to consider a personal relationship.”

Dori shivered beneath his touch as she realized Butterman was asking Johnny the same question he’d asked her.

“Put the phone on speaker,” Butterman said.

“Just a minute,” Johnny said and then pressed a button. “Okay, you’re on speaker now.”

“Here’s the deal,” Butterman said. “You two are very young to have such adult responsibilities. You’re both trying to take care of your families on your own, and now DFCS has their nose in your business and is threatening you with removing the children from your custody, right?”

“Right,” they said.

“So this would end tomorrow if you were married.”

Johnny took a quick breath, started to speak, and then found himself staring at Dori instead, waiting for her reaction.

Dori already knew Johnny cared for her because he’d told her. What he didn’t know was that she was very attracted to him.

“Well? Did both of you faint or what?” Butterman asked.

“I’m game if she is,” Johnny said.

“I’m willing to do whatever it takes to keep our boys,” Dori said.

Butterman chuckled. “Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials. If it were me, I wouldn’t waste any time. Go get the license and find a preacher, and your trouble with Miss Carter is a thing of the past. I assume I am invited to the wedding.”

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21. Spotlight and Giveaway: A Good Rogue is Hard to Find by Kelly Bowen

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for A Good Rogue is Hard to Find.  Enjoy!

A Good Rogue is Hard to Find
The Lords of Worth # 2

By: Kelly Bowen

Released April 28th, 2015

Forever

Blurb

HE THOUGHT HE’D SEEN IT ALL . . .

The rogue’s life has been good to William Somerhall: He has his fortune, his racehorses, and his freedom. Then he moves in with his mother. It seems the eccentric Dowager Duchess of Worth has been barely skirting social disaster-assisted by one Miss Jenna Hughes, who is far too bright and beautiful to be wasting her youth as a paid companion. Now home to keep his mother from ruin, William intends to learn what’s afoot by keeping his friends close – and the tempting Miss Hughes closer still. . . .

UNTIL HE MEETS HER

He’s tall, dark, and damnably intelligent – unfortunately for Jenna. She and the duchess are in the “redistribution business,” taking from the rich and giving to the poor, and it’s going great – until he shows up. But even as William plots to make an honest woman out of her, Jenna will use all her wiles to reveal just how bad a rogue he can be . . .

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/03/a-good-rogue-is-hard-to-find-lords-of.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22875467-a-good-rogue-is-hard-to-find?from_search=true
Goodreads Series Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/126031-the-lords-of-worth

Buy Links:  Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo | Publisher

Author Info

Kelly Bowen grew up in Manitoba, Canada. She worked her way through her teenage years as a back country trail guide and ranch hand. She attended the University of Manitoba and earned a Master of Science degree in veterinary physiology and endocrinology.

But it was Kelly’s infatuation with history and a weakness for a good love story that led her down the path of historical romance. When she is not writing, she seizes every opportunity to explore ruins and battlefields.

Currently, Kelly lives in Winnipeg with her husband and two boys, all of whom are wonderfully patient with the writing process. Except, that is, when they need a goalie for street hockey.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Excerpt:

“Just what the hell do you think you’re doing?”

Jenna jumped, nearly tripping backwards.

The Duke of Worth strode into the room from the doorway. “I asked you what you’re doing in my mother’s rooms. Rifling through her things.” His voice was hard, and his expression even harder. He looked furious and dangerous, and Jenna could feel her pulse pound.

“You startled me.” She was relieved her voice came out evenly. She curled her fingers around the diamond and pushed her hand into the folds of her skirts.

His eyes narrowed. “I would imagine most thieves say the same thing when they are caught.”

Jenna would have laughed if it weren’t for the fact she was struggling to formulate a good excuse for what the duke had thought he’d seen. “I am not a thief.” At least at the moment, she added silently.

“Yes, I believe all thieves say that as well.”

Jenna rolled her eyes. “There is no need for fuss, Your Grace,” she said. “Your mother asked me to fetch her spencer for her. She is going out.”

The duke didn’t look convinced. “And she keeps her spencer in the bottom of her wardrobe?”

“No. It would seem she does not. Now, if you would be so kind as to move out of the way, I can continue my search.”

Worth took a menacing step towards Jenna. “And why did she send you to find it? Surely she has a maid who looks after these things?”

“Of course she does,” Jenna agreed. “But I was closer. All of your mother’s staff have multiple duties. Speaking of which, how are the accounts coming?” She edged away from the duke.

“Don’t think you can divert me,” Worth growled. “I take a break from ledgers that seem to have been creatively tallied by a drunken jester, only to find you skulking about in my mother’s rooms. I want to know what you were doing.” His gaze flickered to her hands still clenched at her sides. “Show me your hands.”

Jenna forced herself not to react. The diamond suddenly felt like it was the size of an apple against her palm. “Are you accusing me of something, Your Grace?”

Worth let out a bark of what sounded like bitter, disappointed laughter. “I’m fairly certain I already did.”

“Of course. You believe me to be a thief, based on the fact you discovered your mother’s hired companion looking for an article of clothing in her rooms.” She was stalling, and they both knew it.

The duke closed the distance between them again. “I don’t believe, I know. Show. Me. Your. Hands.”

Jenna swore inwardly. If she handed the diamond over to the duke, that would open a whole barrel of questions she had no interest in answering. Like why a supposedly dead marchioness had left a supposedly lost fortune in diamonds with a supposedly eccentric duchess to sell. And what that money was used for. And why Jenna was sneaking one out of the house. Goddammit, but the Duke of Worth was beginning to make life difficult.

“Very well.” In a swift motion, Jenna brought her hands up in front of her chest, dropping the diamond down the front of her bodice even as she opened her fingers to him.

For a moment, Worth looked stunned. “What the hell did you drop down the front of your dress?” he snarled.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Jenna replied placidly. She had gotten herself out of stickier situations than this. Distract and deflect. She dropped her hands again.

“I demand to know what you took.”

“Nothing, Your Grace.”

“You have something in the front of your dress,” he snapped.

“I have since I was twelve years old.”

Worth started in shock before he swiped his hands through his hair angrily. “You think this is funny?”

“A little.” She was forcing a sangfroid she didn’t feel.

The duke let out a string of expletives better suited to the London docks. “You have five seconds to produce whatever you have in the front of your dress, or I swear by all that is holy, I will rip your bodice in half and retrieve it for you.”

“Ah. Is this your area of expertise?”

That stopped him short. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

Jenna smirked at him and cocked a brow. “I thought bodice ripping might be part of your overwhelming charm.”

Worth’s eyes darkened even further. “Very well, Miss Hughes, have it your way.”

God’s teeth, he was calling her bluff, and in truth, he had every right to do so. Though she’d be damned if she conceded. “Do your worst then,” she dared.

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22. Cover Reveal and Giveaway: Reclaim Me by Ann Marie Walker and Amy K Rogers

Coming Soon to Your E-Reader…..
The Highly Anticipated conclusion
of the Chasing Fire Series

 
RECLAIM ME
Chasing Fire #3
Ann Marie Walker & Amy K. Rogers
Releasing October 21st, 2015
Berkley Intermix

 
As the heart-pounding Chasing Fire trilogy concludes, a dangerous entanglement leaves Hudson and Allie wondering how much they’re willing to risk for the love they can’t live without…
 
There’s almost nothing Alessandra Sinclair wouldn’t do for Hudson Chase. He was her first love, and she’s determined that he’ll be her last. But when the terrible truth Hudson has been hiding comes to light, Allie finds herself caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a man from her past who’s determined to use what he knows to ruin Hudson. Now, the only way to save the man she loves may be to lose him forever…
 
Hudson has always known that the secrets he keeps could be his downfall, but he never expected them to put Allie’s life in danger as well. It’s time for him to come clean–before everything he’s ever wanted is destroyed…
 
Includes previews of REMIND ME and RELEASE ME, the first two books of the Chasing Fire trilogy.

 
Praise for the Chasing Fire trilogy
“Walker and Rogers strike the perfect balance between blistering physical desire and heartfelt connections…”–RT Book Review 


Pre-Order Now

 
Though thousands of miles apart, Ann Marie Walker and Amy K. Rogers are in constant contact, plotting story lines and chatting about their love of alpha males, lemon drop martinis and British supermodel, David Gandy. You can find them on twitter as @AnnMarie_Walker and @Amy_KRogers.


 
Amy K. Rogers
 
 
Ann Marie Walker

 
 
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Available Now
 
 
Releasing July 21st, 2015
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23. Spotlight and Giveaway: Opening Up by Lauren Dane

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for Opening Up by Lauren Dane.

OPENING UP by Lauren Dane (June 16, 2015; Forever Trade Paperback; Ink & Chrome Book #1)

The men of Twisted Steel are great with their hands. And they’re not afraid to get dirty.

Asa Barrons is never lonely for long. Co-owner of the Twisted Steel custom motorcycle shop, he works hard and plays harder. But he never allows his after-hours affairs to interfere with business-until he meets racing royalty PJ Colman. While the blue-eyed blonde is all princess on the outside, on the inside Asa can see that this woman is ready to take a walk on the wild side.
PJ knows trouble when she sees it, and Asa is the complete package: fast bike, killer ink, and a sinfully sexy smile that has her imagining things nice girls never do. She talks her way onto the Twisted Steel team to prove her painting skill, and soon learns that Asa is eager to show off some skills of his own.


With the help of Asa’s expert touch, PJ is initiated into a world of wicked desire. No limits. No inhibitions. No turning back. But as perfect as their passion seems, a new challenge awaits, forcing them to ask just how far they are willing to go . . .

Buy the book!

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About the author:

The story goes like this: While on pregnancy bed rest, Lauren Dane had plenty of down time, so her husband took her comments about “giving that writing thing a serious go” to heart and brought home a secondhand laptop. She wrote her first book on it. Today, Lauren is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 60 novels and novellas across several genres.

Social Media Links:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

And don’t miss FALLING UNDER, book #2 in the Ink & Chrome series, on sale August 4, 2015!

Duke Bradshaw, co-owner of the Twisted Steel custom motorcycle and hot rod shop, may devote his days to chrome and leather, but his nights belong to Carmella. His sultry redheaded neighbor has a smile like an angel and a body built for sin, and for the past year both have dominated Duke’s dreams. When a problem at Twisted Steel requires a fast fix, Duke sees his chance to finally make his fantasy a reality.

Ever since she first heard the low rumble of his engine, Carmella Rossi has wondered if Duke Bradshaw handles his women as expertly as he handles his bike. When he shows up at her door offering her a much-needed job at his shop, she gets her chance to find out. Beneath Duke’s masterful touch, Carmella soon submits to a world of unimaginable pleasure.
But history has taught Carmella how bad a boy boy can be. If she doesn’t put on the brakes fast, her hard-bodied heartbreaker could drive her right over the edge . . .

Pre-order:

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EXCERPT:

Struck silent for long moments, Asa simply watched her. She clearly had something going on because she bent and took a picture of the area with her phone and then stood with a smile.

“I work freehand. If you don’t like my design I’ll remove it and refund your money. Can I work here or do you need me to take it off-?site?” She waited for his reply, and then when it didn’t come immediately she moved to him. “Here’s the thing, I’m sure you’re thinking, What the hell, she should be grateful and do it the way I said. Maybe you’re right. But while I am grateful for the chance, this is creative for me. I have my own process and it doesn’t include you or anyone else but the owner of the car. I’m worth it.”

“That’s a bold claim.”

“I’m more than happy to show you.”

Oh danger, danger, danger.

Asa liked the way she flirted. Straightforward. She wasn’t overly coy.

He reminded himself she was too young. Even if she kissed like she was made for him.

And he had to admit, her refusal to provide three samples was reasonable. He liked her spark.

“You can do it here. We have painting bays. Client is male, thirty-?eight. He’s a cop. Saved up for years for this job, so I want it to be fan-?fucking-?tastic, dig?”

One of her brows went up, the one with the ring. His cock hardened at the haughty expression it lent her features.

“Just so we’re clear, all my work is fan-?fucking-?tastic. You dig? I don’t do it if I don’t do it all the way. Why else would I be here?”

They stood there not speaking, letting that chemistry between them build. Again. It ebbed and flowed like that every time they were near each other. Playing with fire. He knew it. Suspected she did too.

Which made it even hotter.

Even harder to pull back each time from taking a step into something intimate between them. Which, of course, he’d complicated by kissing her. Still, he couldn’t find it in him to feel bad.

“We’re waiting on some custom pieces for the dash, so I’ll have one of my guys take the doors off and you can work on them while we wait.”

“What’s this guy like? Is he an Ed Hardy–wearing cop? Earnest cop next door? Hot cop you dated in secret back when you were a senior in high school?”

Fuck.

He scrubbed a hand over his face. He totally had to let that one go. There was no way he could go down that road.

“There’s a story?” he heard himself ask like he stood in another room.

“He was hot. Bad. Bad and hot. One of my best friends’ older brothers. He’s still hot, actually, but engaged. The stuff he taught me.” She drew in a slow breath, pleasured at the memory. Her lip caught a moment between her teeth and she looked up at him through her lashes. “I like older men, I suppose.”

He pressed the tip of one of his keys into his thigh to keep from taking her hint.

“He’s an inked cop who is super active in his community. Works with youth. He’s a very cool guy.”

She pulled a notebook from her bag—the one he still held—and scribbled things down here and there as they went back and forth for a while.

“If I get this right in one,” she muttered as she began to sketch, “when I’m done with this job you can give me the next one right after I deliver.”

Cocky.

He wished he’d had her kind of confidence at twenty-?five. It had taken eight years in the army for him to learn how to get his emotions under control, and once he’d done that, he’d gotten his shit together and begun focusing on what he’d do in his life after he left the military.

But he shouldn’t be encouraging it.

“All right. And if you lose?”

Her gaze left the paper and locked with his. “Do you have some terrible punishment for me?”

And he planned to send Duke a case of beer for walking in right before Asa answered that question honestly.

Moment broken, she smirked and handed him the pad. “No need to discuss what happens if I lose. Because, duh.”

He looked down and then handed the pad over to Duke.

“This is for Mort?” Duke asked.

Asa nodded.

“Damn. You’re good, beautiful. And you have perfect timing because those parts just came in.” Duke looked over to her. “Can you do this now? This guy is one of our good friends. He’s waited for this a long time. If you can do it now we can get it to him a little earlier.”

“I need to run home and get my stuff. I can be back in an hour. I’m happy to do this for Mort.”

“I’ll have the doors moved into a paint bay for you.” Asa paused. “And when you’re done, your next job will be ready.”

She flashed them both a smile, grabbed her bag from Asa, and headed out, waving over her shoulder and saying she’d be back.

“Sweet fucking shit, she’s hot. Just like a really bad girl wrapped up in a sweet girl-?next-?door costume,” Duke said as they watched her drive off.

“She’s just a kid.” Asa flagged one of his guys down and told him to get the doors off and moved.

“That person who was just here, trading so much sexual whatever you two have that I could feel it five feet way? That’s a woman, Asa.”

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24. Spotlight and Giveaway: Summer at the Shore by VK Sykes

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for Summer at the Shore by VK Sykes!

Summer at the Shore
Seashell Bay # 2

By: V.K. Sykes

Releasing June 30, 2015

Grand Central: Forever

Blurb

JUST A SUMMER FLING?

Morgan Merrifield sacrificed her teaching career to try to save her family’s bed-and-breakfast and care for her younger sister. She can’t let herself get distracted by Ryan Butler. After all, the rugged ex-Special Forces soldier is only in Seashell Bay for the summer. But her longtime crush soon flares into real desire-and with one irresistible kiss, she’s swept away.

Ryan values his freedom. As much as he wants Morgan, he’s not ready to settle down with anyone, much less in sleepy Seashell Bay. But his code of honor doesn’t allow him to leave a woman in distress-and she’s in desperate need of help to fix the inn. It only takes one day working under the same roof and Ryan is already hoping for a lifetime of hot summer nights . . .

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/03/summer-at-shore-seashell-bay-2-by-vk.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23341861-summer-at-the-shore?from_search=true
Goodreads Series Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/129828-seashell-bay

Buy Links: Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo | Publisher

Author Info
V.K. Sykes is really two people – Vanessa Kelly and Randy Sykes, a husband and wife team who write USA Today Bestselling contemporary romance and also romantic suspense. Randy excels at plot and characterization, but tends to fall down on the job when it comes to that pesky old thing called emotion. That’s where Vanessa steps in. She usually writes the sex scenes too, since Randy is a bit uncomfortable when it comes to that sort of stuff. Vanessa also writes award-winning Regency-set historical romance for Kensington Zebra under her own name. You can check out Vanessa’s bestselling historical romances at www.vanessakellyauthor.com

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Excerpt

Ryan parked his cart next to Morgan’s pickup and took a good look at Golden Sunset, the first in a long time. Man, the place did need work. For starters, the mailbox listed over, there was a missing baluster on the wraparound porch, and the weather vane atop the gabled roof looked as if the next nor’easter would rip it clean off and send the metal rooster winging across the yard. So far, three jobs had presented themselves before he’d even started a close inspection of the old Victorian house with its attached annex.

No wonder Morgan had been so vague about the extent of the problems. He had a feeling there’d be a hell of a long list of work to be done by the time they’d finished going through the place.

At least the paint job looked pretty good. The coastal Maine climate hadn’t yet weathered the eggshell-white siding or the hunter-green gingerbread trim. Ryan said a silent prayer of thanks to Cal Merrifield for keeping that part up, at least, because he sure didn’t want to have to paint the old barn from stem to stern. He sucked at painting, probably because he’d always found it to be fiddly, slow, and boring. Give him a nail gun or a drill and he was good to go, but a paintbrush—no thanks.

Morgan emerged from the annex as he grabbed his duffel off the cart’s cargo carrier. “What time did you say you were going to be here?” she said with a teasing smile.

Ryan glanced at his watch. It was eight forty, quite a bit later than his original ETA. “I figured I should give you a bit of extra time. Didn’t want to barge in while you might still be getting breakfast on the table for your guests.”

He’d been awake since six. As if his brain had been hardwired at birth with a built-in wake-up call, his eyes popped open every morning at that hour, rain or shine, no matter whether he was tucked in at his dad’s house in Seashell Bay or grabbing some brief shut-eye in a wadi in Helmand Province. He’d used the extra time this morning to go for an even longer run than usual and had ended up completing a full circuit of the winding road that traced the circumference of the island. Then he’d had a quick cup of coffee with his dad, who delayed his normal castoff so he could spend time with his son. Though Ryan had never wanted to be a lobster boat captain, he’d always admired his father’s dedication to the challenging and sometimes dangerous life on the water. Kevin Butler was the most decent man he’d ever known, and Ryan was happy he’d be spending more time with him this summer.

“We’ve only got two couples, and they’re early risers,” Morgan said. “Everything’s already cleaned up and put away.”

Leaning against the doorframe, she looked so damn beautiful that Ryan’s pulse rate doubled. Her red-and- white-striped top displayed a nice amount of cleavage, and her white capris hugged her trim figure, showcasing curves that never failed to draw his eye. Her blond hair looked like sunshine. Morgan might be in a world of trouble, but you’d never know it from looking at her.

He rolled his eyes in mock aggravation. “Damn. I guess that means I’m out of luck for breakfast.”

A small notebook in her hand, Morgan sashayed across the gravel drive to meet him, her sweet smile holding more than a hint of mischief. “Oh, maybe we can rustle you up something. Granola and yogurt? Herbal tea, perhaps?”

He hoped she was kidding but decided not to push it. “On second thought, maybe we should start right in on the inspection.”

“I’m in your hands. Do you want to start outside or inside? ”

Babe, I’d like to have you in my hands, all right. Ryan tossed his duffel up onto the porch. “Might as well start out here, I guess. I’ve already noticed a few things—the mailbox, the weather vane, and that missing baluster over there.” He pointed to the side of the porch.

“Baluster? I just call it a post,” Morgan said, “but I must bow to your obvious male wisdom.” She followed her wiseass comment up with a flourishing mock bow that gave him an even nicer view of her breasts. Then she tapped her notebook. “And those three items are already on my project list, by the way. I’m afraid it grows almost daily.”

Ryan liked that she seemed so upbeat this morning. When they talked on the boat yesterday, he’d found it hard to see her so weighed down by her troubles. That wasn’t the girl he was used to. She always looked put together and gorgeous, but when she had that lively sparkle in her blue eyes, Morgan Merrifield was damn near irresistible.

But when she opened the notebook and he caught a glimpse of the long list she’d prepared, Ryan had to steel his features not to show his concern.

“Lead the way.” He pulled a small, spiral-bound note- book out of the back pocket of his cargo shorts and a stub of a pencil from behind his ear. “I’ll make some notes on the materials I’ll need.”

Morgan eyed the pencil, worn smooth and round at the tip. “I guess that outfit you work for doesn’t pay too well. I could get you a real pencil if you like. Or maybe even a pen?” she asked. “So far, I have to say your tools aren’t too impressive, Butler.”

He laughed. Yeah, that was the Morgan he’d always known—smart, funny, and always ready to rub a little forty-grit sandpaper over his ass.

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25. Spotlight and Giveaway: The Six by Mark Alpert

This morning I have a spotlight and giveaway for Mark Alpert’s upcoming Sci-Fi release, The Six!

The Six

By Mark Alpert

Sourcebooks Fire

July 7, 2015

Advance Praise for Mark Alpert

“Adam is an unusual hero—and he faces a frightening question: Computers can’t kill—CAN they? I’m still shaken by the answer. Will the near-future really be this terrifying?” —R.L. Stine, bestselling author of the Goosebumps and Fear Street series

“An exciting action story chock-full of characters you’ll love. The Six is full of big ideas, big questions, real science, and things that will make you think and wonder and lie awake late at night.” —Michael Grant, New York Times bestselling author of the Gone series

“The Six are introduced as terminally-ill teens, but there’s plenty of high-speed action in which they engage. Their physical disabilities and limitations through disease are forgotten as the teens’ hearts, minds, and personalities shine through…questions of principle, power, and possibility keep this look at our modern, hardwired existence fresh and fascinating.” STARRED Booklist

“Alpert’s exploration of neuromorphic electronics raises interesting questions about ethics, technology, and human nature…a haunting ending scene will leave readers pondering the line between progress and loss. A thought-provoking clash between humanity and machinery.”- Kirkus Reviews

“A well-researched, hardcore science-fiction joyride, great for fans of first-person shooter video games like Halo and Destiny. Highly recommended” –School Library Journal

“Do not just read The Six; make your friends read it too.” –VOYA Magazine

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23354348-the-six?from_search=true&search_version=service_impr

Avatar meets The Terminator in this thrilling cyber-tech adventure…

Book Info:

Adam’s muscular dystrophy has taken his motility, his friends, and in a few short years, it will take his life. He takes solace in playing video games he’s programmed to reflect the life that he used to have. Virtual reality is the one realm where he can be the hero, and it’s where he chooses to spend his time, until an entity called Sigma tries to kill him.

A dangerously advanced artificial intelligence program created by Adam’s computer-genius father, Sigma has escaped its cyber prison and is threatening global destruction and domination. But Adam’s father has a plan. He will stop Sigma by using the technology he developed to digitally preserve the mind of his dying son.

Adam’s consciousness is uploaded into the body of a weaponized robot, along with a group of five other gifted teens who are terminally ill. Together, they must learn how to manipulate their new mechanical forms and prepare for combat before Sigma destroys humanity. Adam can finally play the hero for real, but will his new body be worth the sacrifice of his human existence?

This innovative and thought-provoking young adult debut, from the critically acclaimed author of adult thrillers Final Theory and The Omega Theory, questions what it means to be human and whether we are destined to be defined by our physical bodies or our intellect.  

Amazon | Apple| B&N | BAM | !ndigoIndieBound | KindleNook

TRAILER:

Mark Alpert:

Mark Alpert is a former editor at Scientific American, and the author of several adult thrillers. He’s been praised by Douglas Preston as the “heir to Michael Crichton.” Visit Mark online at markalpert.com.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Excerpt from The Six:

Shannon rears back in her seat as if she’s been slapped. “And where are you going to store the copies of our brains?” Her voice is furious. “In a supercomputer? A big electronic prison?”

Dad doesn’t take offense. He answers her calmly. “The scanning process converts human intelligence to a digital form, allowing it to run on any neuromorphic computer that has enough memory and processing power. But in the initial stage right after the transfer, we believe it’s important to connect the intelligence to a machine that can move around and sense the outside world. A human intelligence is accustomed to controlling a body, so if we want to preserve its sanity, we’d better give it something to control. Here, let me show you.”

He puts the vial of nanoprobes back in his pocket and pulls out something else, a small remote–control device. He points it at the doorway beside the stage, and a moment later I hear a loud clanking. The noise startles the soldiers standing by the doorway. They step backward, flattening themselves against the wall. Then a seven–foot–tall robot emerges from the doorway and brushes past them.

The robot strides across the stage. It has two arms and two legs, but otherwise it isn’t very humanlike. It has no head or neck. Its torso is shaped like a giant bullet, with the rounded end on top. Its legs angle downward from the base of its torso and rest on oval steel–plate footpads that clang against the floor.

The machine marches briskly past the podium and stops in front of my dad, who presses a button on his remote control. This command extends the robot’s arms, which telescope to a full length of six feet. They look like multi–jointed tentacles. The machine’s hands, though, resemble human hands, with dexterous mechanical fingers and thumbs.

Dad presses another button, and the robot’s rounded top starts to turn like a turret. “The cameras and acoustic sensors are up here,” Dad says, pointing at the top end. “But the neuromorphic electronics are deep inside the torso, encased in armor plating. These robots were originally designed for the war in Afghanistan, so they’re pretty sturdy.” He raps his knuckles against the torso. “All in all, it’s an excellent platform for a newly transferred intelligence, but really it’s just the beginning. The whole point of the Pioneer Project is to bridge the gap between man and machine, and that means the human intelligences must explore their new environment. The Pioneers will have to learn how to use their new capabilities, and that includes transferring their intelligences from one machine to another.”

His voice grows louder again, full of enthusiasm. “Once the Pioneers have mastered these tasks, our hope is that they’ll be able to establish a connection with Sigma. If all goes well, they’ll start communicating with the AI before it launches any of the Russian missiles. And then the toughest challenge will begin. At the same time that the humans are learning how to be machines, they’ll have to teach Sigma how to be human.”

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