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1. Lucky’s Choice by Jamie Begley Release Blast

 
Enter to Win A
Custom LAST RIDERS T-Shirt & Mug,
$25.00 Amazon eGift Card and Signed Copy of SHADE’S FALL
 
 
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Painfully shy and withdrawn, she wanted a quiet life, a simple man, and well-behaved children.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.”

HTML Copy/Paste for Virtual Tour: July 30th – Aug 14th
 
Enter to Win A
Custom LAST RIDERS T-Shirt & Mug,
$25.00 Amazon eGift Card and Signed Copy of SHADE’S FALL
 
 
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.


BUY NOW

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
“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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2. Spotlight and Giveaway: And Then He Kissed Me by Kim Amos

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for And Then He Kissed Me by Kim Amos!

About AND THEN HE KISSED ME

Five years ago, Audrey Tanner flung caution to the wind and herself into the arms of an emerald-eyed bad boy biker she met at the White Pine Asparagus Festival. Two blissful weeks together convinced her that Kieran Callaghan was The One-until The One blew town without a word, leaving her brokenhearted. Now, starting a new job at the new Harley Davidson showroom, Audrey is floored to meet her new boss: Kieran. He’s still hot as hell, but she won’t fall for his sexy smile again. This time, she’s calling the shots.

Kieran never thought he’d return to White Pine, Minnesota, much less see Audrey again. Gorgeous and smart as ever, she’s just as irresistible as he remembered. She still doesn’t know why he had to leave-or that he’s missed her every day since. But he can’t deny he wants more than the no-strings fling Audrey proposes. As things between them heat up, Kieran must choose between the secret he’s sworn to keep and the woman he never stopped loving.

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1LbHPNI
B&N: http://bit.ly/1LaPHCq
iTunes: http://apple.co/1HwZYVV
BAM!: http://bit.ly/1KSZsUL
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1V7mgEL

About Kim Amos

A Midwesterner whose roots run deep, Kim Amos is a writer living in Michigan with her husband and three furry animals.

http://www.kimamoswrites.com/

https://twitter.com/@KimAmosWrites

https://www.facebook.com/KimAmosWrites

EXCERPT:

In one smooth motion, he scooped her off the Harley and into his arms. He shook his head when he saw her getting ready to protest. “You yell or whine, and I’ll carry you outside and lock the doors on you. You stay quiet, we can talk in the back room. Agreed?” He saw an angry muscle working in her jaw, but she nodded nevertheless.

And then, just like that, Audrey Tanner was back in his arms.

He’d been so sure that he’d be able to return to White Pine and avoid his past altogether. So how he came to be carrying part of it in the form of Audrey Tanner, how her arms came to be looped around his neck, how her smell was everywhere, intoxicating him as he stormed toward the back room, was a turn of events he could never have predicted. It was also a dangerous set of circumstances, and he never should have let it get this far.

He had a job to do, dammit. He was here to build on his future—not relive the past

When he reached one of the back offices, he kneed the door open, then placed her roughly on the floor. She stumbled a little in the heels, but righted herself, glaring at him. He was about to tell her to change clothes and get out of the dealership, when he heard a pop. Something on the bustier came loose—he wasn’t sure what—and before Audrey could stop it, the front panel covering her chest slid downward. Her mouth made a horrified little O as her breasts sprang from their constrictive covering. Her nipples pebbled at the sudden exposure to cool air. Kieran got a hungry eyeful before Audrey scrambled to cover herself with a mortified, “Oh!”

Instinctively, he reached forward to help her. “I’m so sorr—” he started before she swatted his hand away.

“Stop it!” she cried. “Get back!”

Just then, Fletch Knutson walked through the office door, and pulled up short. His neat moustache twitched. His ice blue eyes flicked back and forth between them. “What in holy hell is going on here?”

“It’s nothing,” Kieran said, stepping away from Audrey.

Fletch’s face was bunched with concentration, trying to make sense of what he was seeing. His gaze settled on Audrey.

“Did he hurt you?”

Audrey clutched the broken bustier to her chest. “No, of course not,” he interjected. “It was just an accident.”

“I’m waiting for her to answer,” Fletch said.

Audrey’s knuckles whitened around her handful of clothing. He realized right then that she held all the cards. Her hand trumped his.

She could take him down with a smattering of words, could pretend like this had been more than it was and put his job at risk. Kieran forced his breathing to be steady—in and out, calm like it wasn’t the last play of the game—and tried to remember that the woman he’d lost his heart to five years ago had a blazing white soul, the stark opposite of his black one. She wasn’t like him, she wasn’t always calculating how to turn the odds in her favor.

Audrey had been so kind, so willing to trust him and believe the best. But even her shining golden goodness—her love for her friends and family and her hometown, her faith in the people around her—couldn’t lighten the darkness inside him, even though five years ago he’d wanted it to.

Underneath the makeup, Audrey’s face was pale. “No,” she said, “he didn’t hurt me. It’s just a misunderstanding.”

Kieran let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding.

“But I’d appreciate it if you’d tell him that he can’t fire me. I need this job.”

 

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3. Frisk Me by Lauren Layne Release Blast


Enter to Win a 
$50.00 Amazon eGift Card


FRISK ME
New York’s Finest #1
Lauren Layne
Releasing July 28th,2015
Forever Romance


After a photograph of Luc Moretti saving a tourist hits social media, he instantly becomes New York’s most famous and beloved cop. When a major network decides to run a special on the “American Hero,” Luc’s boss gives him no choice but to cooperate in the name of good exposure for the department. Luc doesn’t mind the celebrity status-what he does mind is the gorgeous brunette journalist who’s been assigned to follow his every move. Especially since she also happens to be the same knockout that rejected him rather publicly the week before.

Ava Sims is a woman who gets what she wants. And what she wants is to be CBC’s lead anchor-but to get there, she’ll need to nail the fluff piece on the playboy cop. Luc Moretti is everything Ava knows to stay away from: a stubborn charmer with a hero-complex. But the more Ava gets to know Luc and his oddball family, the more she realizes that beneath the swagger and the blue uniform is a complex man who makes her heart beat too fast. Soon, Ava’s doing the unthinkable, and falling for the best of New York’s finest …


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Lauren Layne is the USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance.
Prior to becoming an author, Lauren worked in e-commerce and web-marketing. In 2011, she and her husband moved from Seattle to New York City, where Lauren decided to pursue a full-time writing career. It took six months to get her first book deal (despite ardent assurances to her husband that it would only take three). Since then, Lauren’s gone on to publish ten books, including the bestselling Stiletto series, with several more on the way in 2015.
Lauren currently lives in Chicago with her husband and spoiled Pomeranian. When not writing, you’ll find her at happy hour, running at a doggedly slow pace, or trying to straighten her naturally curly hair.



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4. Spotlight and Giveaway: Dragon Fall by Katie MacAlister

This morning I have a spotlight and giveaway for Dragon Fall by Katie MacAlister.

About DRAGON FALL

For Aoife Dakar, seeing is believing-and she’s seen some extraordinary things. It’s too bad no one else believes that she witnessed a supernatural murder at an outdoor fair. Returning to the scene for proof, Aoife encounters a wise-cracking demon dog-and a gloriously naked man who can shift into a dragon and kiss like a god. Now thrust into a fantastical world that’s both exhilarating and terrifying, Aoife is about to learn just how hot a dragon’s fire burns.

Kostya has no time for a human woman with endless questions, no matter how gorgeous or tempting she is. He must break the curse that has splintered the dragon clans before more of his kind die. But his powerful attraction to Aoife runs much deeper than the physical-and there may be more to her than even his sharp dragon eyes can see. To survive the coming battle for the fate of his race, he needs a mate of true heart and soul.

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1gDE624
B&N: http://bit.ly/1gDE6iR
iTunes: http://apple.co/1HwU07n
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1HwTTZz
BAM!: http://bit.ly/1V7fn6l
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1OgIlfg


About Katie MacAlister

For as long as she can remember Katie MacAlister has loved reading, and grew up with her nose buried in a book. It wasn’t until many years later that she thought about writing her own books, but once she had a taste of the fun to be had building worlds, tormenting characters, and falling madly in love with all her heroes, she was hooked.
With more than fifty books under her belt, Katie’s novels have been translated into numerous languages, been recorded as audiobooks, received several awards, and are regulars on the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists. A self-proclaimed gamer girl, she lives in the Pacific Northwest with her dogs, and frequently can be found hanging around online.

http://katiemacalister.com/

https://www.facebook.com/katie.mac.minions

https://twitter.com/katiemacalister

Excerpt:

“I don’t know whether to be more disturbed by the fact that you think a dog can talk, or that you can stand there, stark naked, without so much as a stapler as a weapon, and hold me prisoner.” I adopted a quite reasonable, conversational tone, the sort intended to calm deranged people and keep them from committing acts of violence. I tried very hard not to notice just how nice the naked Kostya felt against me, the unyielding planes of his body being softened by my curves. It was a wonderful demonstration of how men and women fit together, but now was not the time to dwell on that subject.

His eyes were black, I noticed as he scowled down at me. Not dark brown but black, as black as his pupils, but a shiny black, one that glittered with little specks of silver. Unfortunately, at that moment, the glitter took the form of ire. “What the hell are you talking about?” he demanded to know. “What stapler?”

“There’s no stapler,” I said, finding myself suddenly blighted with several conflicting desires ranging from the urge to grab his head and kiss him, to laughing at the crazy situation, stomping on his toes, kneeing him in the naked noogies, and running away.

He looked even more irritated. I tried to ignore the heat of his body pressed against mine. “Then why did you bring it up?”

“I was using it as an example of just how vulnerable you are,” I said, deciding to go with amusement. Dr. Barlind was big on the subject of using humor as a coping mechanism for trying situations. “You know, if you need someone to talk to about things, I know of a top-notch therapist. She really helped me when I was super confused.”

My brain made a comment about denial, and what happened to people who refused to admit the truth just because that ended up in shock therapy, but as usual, I paid it no attention.

“I have no need of therapy,” he scoffed, then must have realized just how hard he was pushing me into the wall, because he glanced downward. My breasts were smooshed up against his chest, making them bulge upwards in a way that I would have found annoying in any other situation, but at that moment, they were deliriously happy with the situation, and that disturbed me more than anything.

“Stop ogling my boobs,” my mouth said before I could approve such a thing.

His gaze snapped up to mine. “You ogled me earlier.”

“You were naked. And you’re not at all bad looking, despite those scars. I would have had to be inhuman to not ogle you at least a tiny bit, and I want full marks for handing you that towel without once looking down. It wasn’t easy, but I managed it, and I think credit should be given where credit is due.”

“Then you cannot damn me for looking at your breasts when they are flaunted in front of me,” he countered.

“That’s because you have me pinned to the door.” I waited for the count of five for him to step back. He didn’t. “You’re still doing that, by the way. Pinning me to the door, that is.”

“You are my prisoner,” he repeated.

That was the point where I noticed the fact that he smelled like the spicy mead that is sometimes served during regional festivals—the warm, summery hint of honey overlayed with a sharper note that seemed to sizzle along my skin. Despite the knowledge that I should be getting away from him as expeditiously as possible, I had the worst urge to tilt my head back and brush my mouth against his.

That was a crazy thought, and I didn’t have any more of those. So without disputing the fact that he had me prisoner, let alone that idea that he needed any such thing, I did the one thing that I knew would cause him to back off…I reached around him with both hands, and squeezed cheek.

He leaped backwards just at the same moment that Dr. Ek opened the door, sending me stumbling forward straight into Kostya’s arms again.

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5. Review: The Trouble With Harry

The Trouble With Harryby Katie MacAlister. Sourcebooks Casablanca. 2014. Library copy.


The Plot: Regency England. Lord Harry Rosse thought he'd faced danger as a spy. But that he could handle... what he can't handle is life, now, raising five children alone. What he needs, what he wants, is a wife: someone to love his children, with all their antics and high spirits. Such high spirits he sometimes hides from them...

A wife for company and companionship. Not one of those pretty young things only interested in his title and status, eager for children of her own.

So he places an ad for a wife, leaving out a few details. Like the children. And the title. Or his past as a spy.

Plum sees the advertisement for a wife and thinks its the answer. All she wants is a decent man; the chance to have a child of her own; someone who will be kind to her the niece she's raised; and someone she can respect. She doesn't deliberately leave out details -- like her disastrous elopement twenty years ago, to a man who already had a wife. (She didn't know!! He lied!) Or that book she wrote under an assumed name, the book that helped support her when her family and friends and society shunned her for her involvement with a married man.

The Good: The Trouble with Harry was a lot of fun: it's like a sexytimes Nanny McPhee. The children are terrible, and cause so much problems. I kept giggling as I read it.

This is one of the titles recommended back when I asked about books featuring those 40 and over: Plum is 40, Harry is 45. Each are hiding secrets, and those secrets come create problems for them. But what I liked is that despite those secrets they are keeping from each other, they are honest with each other in what matters: their emotions and their feelings. Both are also frank about their attraction and physical needs and desire for each other. Perhaps more than frank -- let's just say that the book Plum wrote isn't some Jane Austen or Bronte inspired work of art.

Because both are older, Harry and Plum are for the most part secure in who they are. They don't have unrealistic expectations of each other; Harry particularly doesn't want some young wife full of romantic dreams. But that earned dose of reality is what makes their relationship and growing love so romantic and meaningful.

So, thank you very much for the recommendation, and I look forward to reading the others in this series!




Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

0 Comments on Review: The Trouble With Harry as of 7/27/2015 5:04:00 AM
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6. Monday Mishmash 7/27/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. I'm the New Acquisitions Editor For Leap Books Seek  In case you missed my announcement last week, I'm the new acquisitions editor for Leap Books' middle grade line, Seek. I'm so happy about this. I've also decided to open to unagented submissions for a brief time in August, so stay tuned for that announcement.
  2. Our Little Secret Has a Cover  I got to see the cover for Our Little Secret (releasing September 15 through Limitless Publishing). I'm SO happy with it. Can't wait to share it soon.
  3. Pepe Maurice Pierre, Poodle Extraordinaire is Now Available!  You can grab your copy of my newest picture book here
  4. Falling For You is Available and FREE!  My secret Ashelyn Drake title isn't a secret anymore, and it's doing really well on Amazon. Check this out. 
  5. Signing at Books-A-Million  I want to thank everyone who came out to see me this past Saturday for my book signing. I had an amazing time and got to see returning fans, which is always great.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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7. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Viking, 2015

Peyton and Syndey, brother and sister, couldn't be more different from each other.  They're separated by not only personality, but today,by tables of lawyers in a courtroom.  Peyton, the gregarious, daredevil, is being tried for a felony crime.  Sydney is quietly sitting beside her parents, hiding her feelings, being a good girl.

It's been that way for as long as Sydney can remember.  Even as children, Peyton stole the energy and light from the room.  Now, as a teen, Sydney is hidden even farther away from the family dynamic.  After Peyton's conviction, her mother is personally entrenched in Peyton's situation and being the supportive parent her son needs.  Sydney's father doesn't help; he's allowed her mom to make all major decisions and never speaks up.

But she isn't quite invisible.  Peyton's friend Ames, is willing to help out the family whenever they need him.  Again, Sydney hides the trepidation she feels around him because her mother trusts him implicitly. Whatever is best for Peyton.

And then there are the whispers and rumors starting at school.  With her life inundated with Peyton's problems, Peyton's reputation, and how to help Peyton, Sydney cut ties and enrolls in a public high school, where she hopes no one knows who her brother is.  And it's on that first week that a pizza joint will change her life....

Layla and Mac, brother and sister, couldn't be more different from each other.  Layla is the one with the effervescent personality and goes through life headfirst and headstrong.  Mac is the one who is the rock, balancing his sister and his family's business while studying as hard as he can with that glimmer of hope he'll be able to leave this town and pursue his dream.  Their mother is involved in their lives but with love and wisdom while their father runs their pizza place successfully. Layla and Mac enjoy spending time together.  Layla may not play in the band Mac is in, but she does show up to every show, creating that energy only she can create.

And one day at their family's pizza joint, their lives will change course with a chance meeting with one girl...

Two different families, two people who want to find themselves, and emotional ties with both friends and family will come together, a pressure cooker ready to explode...

Sarah Dessen, delivers with her newest young adult novel.  What makes this novel work so well is the depth she writes about concerning relationships on all levels, emotional and internal conflict, growing up, and personal dreams and goals.  This isn't a sugary sweet book for girls - this is real life, which can be ugly, dangerous, and poignant.  Dessen balances these traits of real life with honesty, trust, and convictions.  The reader gets to live in both households and see how the other half lives, which is the strength of this novel.  Full of opposites, it creates balance.  Oh, I have no qualms this book will blow off the shelves, never to return.  Better buy two copies!
HIGHLY recommended upper junior high/high school.

0 Comments on Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen as of 7/25/2015 7:14:00 PM
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8. Spotlight and Giveaway: Perfect Touch by Elizabeth Lowell

This morning I have an spotlight and giveaway for Elizabeth’s Lowell’s Perfect Touch.

Perfect Touch: A Novel

By: Elizabeth Lowell

Releasing July 28, 2015

William Morrow

Blurb

Sara Medina is a designer and art dealer from San Francisco. She matches her clients desires with fine and folk art from the world over–living up to her thriving business named Perfect Touch. She still remembers her rural childhood of hard work and poverty on the family dairy farm, but she keeps it firmly in the past as she searches out new artwork and artists that are on the breaking edge of acclaim. After she experienced the cultural riches San Francisco had to offer, she decided her life would be that of an urban career woman rather than a working mom commuting from the suburbs. With the intensive hours and travel required to grow her business to the next level, she has no time or energy left for romantic or family entanglements.

Jay Vermillion recently inherited Vermillion Sky, a ranch that nestles up to Wyoming’s Grand Teton Mountains–and the estates of the rich and restless. As a returned veteran of numerous deployments over the course of two wars, he finds himself wrestling with the demands of a ranch that has been run down during his father’s long illness. Between the urgent need to modernize and revitalize the Vermillion Sky, as well as an unexpected and vicious fight with his former stepmother over the custody of now-valuable paintings that were part of his father’s estate, Jay has no time for finding a wife and creating a sixth generation of Vermillions to ensure the family legacy continues.

When Jay hires Sara to appraise and market his father’s cache of paintings by Harris “Custer” Armstrong, neither one expects the explosive results of their eventual meeting in Jackson, Wyoming. In addition to a mutually inconvenient attraction, they a discover double murder at the edge of the ranch lands and a potential betrayal even closer to home. All trails lead to Custer’s artworks as valuable enough to kill for, especially an unknown painted rumored to be called The Muse.

As Sara and Jay unravel the motive for the killings, they both discover that love, like murder, doesn’t wait for a convenient time. On the heels of that soul-shattering realization, Sara is targeted for murder. Suddenly, the war-weary soldier finds something he is once again willing to die for…

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/06/perfect-touch-novel-by-elizabeth-lowell.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24871110-perfect-touch?ac=1

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

Author Info

Elizabeth Lowell’s exciting novels of romantic suspense include New York Times Bestsellers: Dangerous Refuge, Beautiful Sacrifice, Death Echo, The Wrong Hostage, Amber Beach, Jade Island, Pearl Cove, and Midnight in Ruby Bayou. She has also written NYT best-selling historical series set in the American West and Medieval Britain. She has more than 80 titles published to date, with over 24 million copies of her books in print. She lives in the Sierra Nevada Mountains with her husband, with whom she writes novels under a pseudonym. Her favorite activity is exploring the Western United States to find the landscapes that speak to her soul and inspire her writing.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

   

Excerpt

Even as that irritated thought crossed her mind, she hesitated. The call could be from Jay Vermilion, the man who had dozens of fine art paintings that could kick her career up to the next level. Paintings with the potential to be so valuable that they’d been the part of a hotly contested divorce settlement for more than a decade.

Maybe, just maybe, she thought, one of those paintings is the fabled Muse, the only portrait painted by Custer.

That would explain why the legal battle had even outlived the original owner of the paintings, JD Vermilion. JD had passed away several months ago, and his much-younger ex-wife, Liza, was suing JD’s estate to gain access to the art her former husband had begun collecting before she’d even been a teenager in braces. With the passing of her ex, Liza had simply turned her lawyers loose on the primary heir to JD Vermilion’s estate—his son Jay.

Sara’s mouth curved slightly as she continued walking. I’ve never met the infamous Liza Neumann, once Vermilion. But with possession being nine-tenths of the law, I’d put money on Captain Jay Vermilion keeping his ex-stepmother’s grasping hands off the undiscovered Armstrong “Custer” Harris paintings in the future, as well.

The retired army veteran who had recently inherited the family ranch—the fruit of generations of his Vermilion ancestors—had a grit and determination to him that came right through the phone line.

You haven’t even met the man, Sara reminded herself. She fished the cellular out of her tight front pocket at last, glanced at it, and saw the call had gone to voicemail. She palmed the phone and gave a mental shrug. It wasn’t a Wyoming number calling, which meant it wasn’t the Sheriff.

Or Jay, damn it.

Think of the good Captain like any other potential client who calls you during business hours to get advice on Western art, she told herself firmly.

Impossible.

Jay Vermilion might be a potential client, but he was also the man she had been talking to half the nights for the past few months. At first it had been all business, but somehow the conversations had quickly evolved into … more.

I don’t know how I could talk about myself and my work and my dreams like that with someone I’ve never met. And he talked to me, too, about the ranch and weather and the Western woman he hoped to find and marry and beget the seventh generation of Vermilions.

We have such different lives and goals, it’s surprising we had so much to talk about in the first place.

Rafflecopter Giveaway (a print copy of NIGHT DIVER by Elizabeth Lowell)

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9. Spotlight and Giveaway: The Highlander Takes a Bride by Lynsay Sands

This morning I have a spotlight and giveaway for The Highlander Takes a Bride by Lynsay Sands.

The Highlander Takes a Bride
Scottish Highlander #3

By: Lynsay Sands

Releasing July 28, 2015

Avon

Blurb

A bold, seductive laird meets his passionate match in a scintillating Highland romance from New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands.

Sword fighting, swearing, and riding astride come naturally to Saidh Buchanan. Simpering and holding her tongue-definitely not. Raised alongside seven boisterous brothers, Saidh has little interest in saddling herself with a husband…until she glimpses the new Laird MacDonnell bathing naked in the loch. Though she’s far from a proper lady, the brawny Highlander makes Saidh feel every inch a woman.

She has an angel’s looks, a warrior’s temper, and seeks out his kisses with wanton eagerness. Little wonder that Greer is intrigued by his comely guest. When reckless desire overtakes them, he’s more than willing to make an honest woman of her. But Saidh is the target of a hidden enemy, and Greer faces the battle of his life…to safeguard the woman he wants above all others.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/06/the-highlander-takes-bride-highlander-3.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23432309-the-highlander-takes-a-bride?ac=1
Goodreads Series Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/119124-highlander

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

Author Info

LYNSAY SANDS is the nationally bestselling author of the Argeneau/Rogue Hunter vampire series, as well as numerous historicals and anthologies. She’s been writing stories since grade school and considers herself incredibly lucky to be able to make a career out of it. Her hope is that readers can get away from their everyday stress through her stories, and if there’s occasional uncontrollable fits of laughter, that’s just a big bonus. Please visit her on the web at www.lynsaysands.net.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Excerpt:

She’d only taken half a dozen steps, however, when she was suddenly caught about the waist and hauled up into the air. Saidh squawked in surprise, and glanced around with amazement at the MacDonnell. She hadn’t even been aware that he’d changed direction and come after her.

“Allow me to escort the winner to the castle door,” he said smoothly against her ear as he settled her in his lap.

Saidh wanted to roar at him to put her down, but didn’t want to draw attention in the busy bailey so almost swallowed her tongue in her determination to still it. She sat unmoving and silent, very aware that his arm clasped her just below her breasts, the top of it rubbing against the bottom of those sensitive globes with every shift of the horse’s hooves. She was also excruciatingly aware of the heat of his chest against her back, and that she seemed enveloped in the clean, male scent of him. She was slower to realize though, that the hardness against her bottom appeared to be growing larger and harder by the moment.

“Me laird?” she asked sweetly.

“Aye?” he growled by her ear, his lips brushing the tender skin and sending a shiver up her back that just annoyed her.

“I think ye might be enjoying this just a tad too much,” she informed him. “That, or I’m sitting on yer sword.”

He chuckled, his breath brushing her ear again. “Yer just sore that I made ye turn away and ye didn’t get to see me tarse as I came out o’ the water.”

Saidh flushed as she recalled the way she’d gawked at him earlier, but merely shook her head and snapped, “Ye’d like to think so.”

“Oh, I know so,” he assured her and then reined in and lifted her down off of his horse at the base of the stairs. He also let his hand slide along the underside of her breasts under cover of releasing her, and Saidh gasped at the sensations the action sent racing through her. It left her weak kneed and unsteady so that she stumbled as she started up the stairs. Managing to keep her feet beneath her, Saidh hurried up the steps and escaped into the great hall with relief.

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10. Lies We Tell Ourselves: Review

Hey hey, guess what I just read? Lies We Tell Ourselves! A really great book that came out last year that I should have read immediately upon its release! Why? Because it’s an interracial lesbian romance set in the South during the desegregation of Virginia’s public school system. (You had me at lesbian romance.) Anyway, while it is not without its problems, Robin Talley’s Lies We Tell Ourselves is a really strong debut novel. I read it in one sitting, and it is a testament to the book’s excellence that I really enjoyed it despite having to endure a massive airport delay. (I wasn’t even bothered! I just wanted to sit down again so I could keep. reading. the book.) I wanted to review it because (1) if you haven’t read it, you should read it and (2) man, I have all the feelings about this one, and I want to... Read more »

The post Lies We Tell Ourselves: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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11. Spotlight and Giveaway: Chaos by Jamie Shaw

This morning, for all of you rock star lovers, I have a spotlight and giveaway for Chaos by Jamie Shaw.

Chaos
Mayhem #3

By: Jamie Shaw

Releasing July 21, 2015

Avon Impulse

Blurb

From the moment she saw Shawn Scarlett perform at a school talent show, Kit Larson has loved two things: the guitar, and the gorgeous, green-eyed boy who inspired her to play. But one careless night in high school shatters her hope of ever being more than a notch on his bedpost.

Six years, two bands, and one mostly-mended heart later, Kit’s about to make her rock star dreams a reality as the new guitarist for Shawn’s band, The Last Ones to Know. He may not remember their reckless night together, but Kit has never forgotten… and she’s determined to make him eat his heart out.

The release of their new album means a month cooped up on a tour bus, sleeping inches away from the ridiculously sexy musician she’s never quite gotten over. And as Kit gets to know the real Shawn—not Shawn Scarlett, the rock god, the player—their attraction becomes too hot to resist. But the past is paved with secrets, and when they finally surface, Kit could lose everything: the band, the music, her dreams… and Shawn.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/06/chaos-mayhem-3-by-jamie-shaw.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23149165-chaos?ac=1
Goodreads Series Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/136893-mayhem

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

Author Info

Born and raised in South Central Pennsylvania, Jamie Shaw earned her M.S. in Professional Writing before realizing that the creative side of writing was her calling. An incurable night-owl, she spends late hours crafting novels with relatable heroines and swoon-worthy leading men. She’s a loyal drinker of white mochas, a fierce defender of emo music, and a passionate enthusiast of all things romance. She loves interacting with readers and always aims to add new names to their book boyfriend lists.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Website: http://authorjamieshaw.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamieShawAuthor?fref=ts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/authorjamieshaw

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1405416.Jamie_Shaw

Excerpt

“That was a hundred years ago, Kale!” I shout at my closed bedroom door as I wiggle into a pair of skintight jeans. I hop backward, backward, backward—until I’m nearly tripping over the combat boots lying in the middle of my childhood room.

“So why are you going to this audition?”

I barely manage to do a quick twist-and-turn to land on my bed instead of my ass, my furrowed brow directed at the ceiling as I finish yanking my pants up. “Because!”

Unsatisfied, Kale growls at me from the other side of my closed door. “Is it because you still like him?”

“I don’t even KNOW him!” I shout at a white swirl on the ceiling, kicking my legs out and fighting against the taut denim as I stride to my closed door. I grab the knob and throw it open. “And he probably doesn’t even remember me!”

Kale’s scowl is replaced by a big set of widening eyes as he takes in my outfit—tight, black, shredded-to-hell jeans paired with a loose black tank top that doesn’t do much to cover the lacy bra I’m wearing. The black fabric matches my wristbands and the parts of my hair that aren’t highlighted blue. I turn away from Kale to grab my boots.

That is what you’re wearing?”

I snatch up the boots and do a showman’s twirl before plopping down on the edge of my bed. “I look hot, don’t I?”

Kale’s face contorts like the time I convinced him a Sour Patch Kid was just a Swedish Fish coated in sugar. “You’re my sister.”

“But I’m hot,” I counter with a confident smirk, and Kale huffs out a breath as I finish tying my boots.

“You’re lucky Mason isn’t home. He’d never let you leave the house.”

Freaking Mason. I roll my eyes.

I’ve been back home for only a few months—since December, when I decided that getting a bachelor’s degree in music theory wasn’t worth an extra year of nothing but general education requirements—but I’m already ready to do a kamikaze leap out of the nest again. Having a hyperactive roommate was nothing compared to my overprotective parents and even more overprotective older brothers. Pair that with Kale, who always knows what I’m thinking even when I’d rather keep it to myself, and I’m pretty sure I need to figure out what the hell I’m doing with my life or accept that eventually the white coats will need to drive out to retrieve me.

“Well, Mason isn’t home. And neither is Mom or Dad. So are you going to tell me how I look or not?” I stand back up and prop my hands on my hips, wishing my brother and I still stood eye to eye. A growth spurt in high school gained him a few inches over me, and now he’s almost as tall as the rest of our brothers, even if he is a whole lot lankier. At five foot eight, I have to tilt my chin to glare at him.

Sounding thoroughly unhappy about it, Kale says, “You look amazing.”

A smile cracks across my face a moment before I grab my guitar case from where it’s propped against the wall. As I walk through the house, Kale trails after me.

“What’s the point in dressing up for him?” he asks with the echo of our footsteps following us down the hall.

“Who says it’s for him?”

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12. Release Blast: Release Me by Ann Marie Walker and Amy K Rogers

 
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RELEASE ME
Chasing Fire #2
Ann Marie Walker & Amy K. Rogers
Releasing July 21st, 2015
Berkley/Intermix
 
 
The second in the “seriously sexy and sinfully steamy”* Chasing Fire series, about a pain too deep to forgive and a passion too hot to forget…

Alessandra Sinclair knows that Hudson Chase is the last man she should want. The boy from the wrong side of the tracks has grown into a man who would do anything to get ahead, even if it means breaking Allie’s heart. But whenever she’s near him, the attraction between them is undeniable. And now that they’re working together, keeping her distance from Hudson is almost as impossible as keeping her feelings in check…

Hudson already lost Allie once and he refuses to lose her again. He’s determined to use their new business partnership to rekindle the spark he knows is still there. Only the closer he gets to winning her over, the clearer it becomes there are still secrets that could tear them apart for good…

 
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As Allie watched the Chicago River flow into Lake Michigan, she thought about the last time she’d seen Hudson Chase. It was the morning she’d uncovered the truth about his plan to take control of Ingram Media. She stared unseeingly at the gray horizon and her thoughts began to drift back to that day. Hudson standing in his foyer, a towel slung low around his hips as water dripped onto the hardwood floor. He’d begged her to let him explain, but what explanation could have possibly justified his lies and betrayal? She’d refused to hear him out, and while in her heart she knew it had been the right decision, the look on his face as the elevator doors slid closed that morning had haunted her ever since.

Behind her the conference room door opened with a soft click and the low murmur of voices told her the other board members had begun to filter into the room. But instead of greeting them and engaging in the sort of sympathetic small talk that had consumed the past few days, she remained by the windows, enjoying the last moments of calm before the eventual storm.

There was a sudden flurry of activity outside the meeting room, and instinctively she knew he had arrived. A wave of anxiety rolled through the pit of her stomach, but she took a deep, calming breath. These board meetings, while infrequent, would be inevitable. The sooner she got used to seeing him in this setting, the better.

She turned around, and a moment later Hudson Chase strolled into the boardroom. The hum of quiet conversation ground to a halt and all heads turned as one to assess the corporate raider who’d quietly amassed the second largest percentage of Ingram shares right out from under their noses.

The sight of him nearly took her breath away. Wearing a charcoal suit, white shirt, and silver-gray tie, he looked every bit the powerful, in-control CEO. But Allie knew the passion that burned behind those eyes, and when she looked at his dark, unruly hair, she knew he’d run his fingers through it just before stepping into the room. He moved with measured grace, his muscles flexing beneath his perfectly tailored suit. Allie knew every inch of that body intimately, how it felt beneath her touch, how it moved over her . . . inside her. She knew the man, not the corporate myth. He was the one who she’d fallen for. He was the one who’d broken her heart.



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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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13. Release Blast and Giveaway: Frisk Me by Lauren Layne

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for Frisk Me by Lauren Layne

 
Enter to Win a
$50.00 Amazon eGift Card
 
 
FRISK ME
New York’s Finest #1
Lauren Layne
Releasing July 28th,2015
Forever Romance
 
 

After a photograph of Luc Moretti saving a tourist hits social media, he instantly becomes New York’s most famous and beloved cop. When a major network decides to run a special on the “American Hero,” Luc’s boss gives him no choice but to cooperate in the name of good exposure for the department. Luc doesn’t mind the celebrity status-what he does mind is the gorgeous brunette journalist who’s been assigned to follow his every move. Especially since she also happens to be the same knockout that rejected him rather publicly the week before.

Ava Sims is a woman who gets what she wants. And what she wants is to be CBC’s lead anchor-but to get there, she’ll need to nail the fluff piece on the playboy cop. Luc Moretti is everything Ava knows to stay away from: a stubborn charmer with a hero-complex. But the more Ava gets to know Luc and his oddball family, the more she realizes that beneath the swagger and the blue uniform is a complex man who makes her heart beat too fast. Soon, Ava’s doing the unthinkable, and falling for the best of New York’s finest …

Excerpt:

A woman stood in the back corner of the room, helping herself to coffee from the fancy coffee machine Brinker kept for his own personal use.

Her body was mostly hidden by one of the horrible potted plants that Brinker’s wife insisted gave his office “homey character.”

And then she stepped into plain view.

He couldn’t help it; he checked her out. Everything about the woman demanded a second look, the legs in particular.

Luc had never really considered himself a legs-man, being more of an “equal opportunity” guy when it came to female body parts. (Although, if his mother ever asked, he’d swear up and down that he only ever noticed personality. Maybe the eyes.)

But the legs on this one were damn near perfect. For that matter, the high breasts and slim waist also earned high marks.

Her subdued black skirt and white blouse should have been boring, but they’d obviously been perfectly tailored to fit her trim frame perfectly.

The black high heels were icing on the already perfect cake.

Then he looked at her face, and for a second, Luc felt just a little bit dazed.

If anything, her features were even more perfect than the body. Her eyes were maybe just slightly too large for her otherwise petite features, but there was no doubt about it, the woman was stunning.

And yet, there was something else there too, just beyond the jolt of sexual awareness.

Recognition.

Luc might not have his brother Vincent’s photographic memory, but he was pretty damn good with faces. And he was pretty sure he knew this one. His brain scrambled to place her, but he kept coming up empty.

Her eyes narrowed almost imperceptibly on Luc, and his narrowed right back. He definitely knew her from somewhere.

She gave him a slow, knowing smile. “Fifth and Fortieth, three years ago.”

He shook his head to indicate he didn’t follow.

“You’re trying to figure out how you know me. Three years ago, you gave my news van a parking ticket, and we exchanged…words. That’s where you know me from. I’m Ava Sims.”

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Lauren Layne is the USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance.
Prior to becoming an author, Lauren worked in e-commerce and web-marketing. In 2011, she and her husband moved from Seattle to New York City, where Lauren decided to pursue a full-time writing career. It took six months to get her first book deal (despite ardent assurances to her husband that it would only take three). Since then, Lauren’s gone on to publish ten books, including the bestselling Stiletto series, with several more on the way in 2015.
Lauren currently lives in Chicago with her husband and spoiled Pomeranian. When not writing, you’ll find her at happy hour, running at a doggedly slow pace, or trying to straighten her naturally curly hair.


 

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14. Interview and Giveaway: The Bride Wore Denim by Lizbeth Selvig

This morning Lizbeth Selvig dropped by to answer a few questions in celebration of the release of The Bride Wore Denim.  Check it out!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Lizbeth Selvig] Friendly, Empathetic, Superchatty, Extraverted, Loyal

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

[Lizbeth Selvig] I never leave home without a notebook and at least five pens in my purse. I don’t know why the pens except that I’m kind of a pen/pencil slut—I love them. Plus, you never know when someone might need one! My notebook is my safety net for ideas or observations since I won’t remember things I think of without writing them down. It’s also right there if I’m somewhere boring and I find I have few minutes to write!

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

[Lizbeth Selvig] An Einstein bobblehead doll. A 30-minute hourglass timer. The business card my son-in-law gave me for a potential contact at our local VA Hospital. I need to call her for research on my current book.

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

[Lizbeth Selvig] Graham crackers and milk. It’s been my go-to comfort snack since I was little! (I figured chocolate kind of went without saying.)

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

[Lizbeth Selvig] I would trade places with my dad. He’s 86 and suffers from dementia. He knows his family members and is aware of his surroundings, but he can’t speak except to answer yes or no, and he is losing control of many basic body functions. I’d like to know exactly what he’s thinking so I could communicate better with him and say the things that would make him know he’s still loved and respected. The things that would make his last years truly happy.

[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?

[Lizbeth Selvig] I have always wanted the power to teleport invisibly. I would use it to 1) get my life totally back on track schedule-wise by adding hours to my weeks by not having to waste time driving, and 2) spy on all the parties during important summit meetings and feed crucial information to the appropriate people—thus potentially saving the world. LOL.

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

[Lizbeth Selvig] I have become a huge fan of audio books! I drive a fair amount and I help out two mornings a week in my daughter’s barn so I have lots of time to listen. I try to “read” the mainstream (non-romance) books I know I’ll never have time to pick up. My last few have been very interesting. “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr just won a Pulitzer prize and it’s a wonderful, slightly different take on WWII. “Anansi Boys” by Neil Gaiman is one of my favorites by him so far. “The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd was super eye-opening, especially in light of the racial issues we’ve been seeing in the news lately. And “The Shell Collector” by Hugh Howey was fascinating—a sci fi/futuristic setting with a plot that read like a romance. Really a fun read!

The Bride Wore Denim
Seven Brides for Seven Cowboys # 1

By: Lizbeth Selvig

Releasing July 21, 2015

Avon Impulse

Blurb

When Harper Lee Crockett returns home to Paradise Ranch, Wyoming, the last thing she expects is to fall head-over-heels in lust for Cole, childhood neighbor and her older sister’s long-time boyfriend. The spirited and artistic Crockett sister has finally learned to resist her craziest impulses, but this latest trip home and Cole’s rough-and-tough appeal might be too much for her fading self-control.

Cole Wainwright has long been fascinated by the sister who’s always stood out from the crowd. His relationship with Amelia, the eldest Crockett sister, isn’t as perfect as it seems, and with Harper back in town, he sees everything he’s been missing. Cole knows they have no future together—he’s tied to the land and she’s created a successful life in the big city—but neither of them can escape their growing attraction or inconvenient feelings.

As Harper struggles to come to grips with new family responsibilities and her forbidden feelings for Cole, she must decide whether to listen to her head or to give her heart what it wants.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/06/the-bride-wore-denim-seven-brides-for.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24331549-the-bride-wore-denim?from_search=true&search_version=service_impr
Goodreads Series Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/147787-seven-brides-for-seven-cowboys

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

Author Info/Links

Lizbeth Selvig writes fun, heartwarming contemporary romantic fiction for Avon books. Her debut novel, The Rancher and the Rock Star, was released in 2012. Her second, Rescued By A Stranger is a 2014 RWA RITA® Award nominee. Liz lives in Minnesota with her best friend (aka her husband), a hyperactive border collie named Magic and a gray Arabian gelding named Jedi. After working as a newspaper journalist and magazine editor, and raising an equine veterinarian daughter and a talented musician son, Lizbeth entered Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart® contest in 2010 with The Rancher and the Rock Star (then titled Songbird) and won the Single Title Contemporary category.

In her spare time, she loves being a brand new grandma to Evelyn Grace as well as to hike, quilt, read, horseback ride, and play with her four-legged grandchildren, of which there are nearly twenty, including a wallaby, an alpaca, a donkey, a pig, a sugar glider, and many dogs, cats and horses (pics of all appear on her website www.lizbethselvig.com). She loves connecting with readers—contact her any time!

Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads


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15. Spotlight and Giveaway: Frisk Me by Lauren Layne

This morning I have a spotlight and giveaway for Frisk Me by Lauren Layne
 
Enter to Win a
$50.00 Amazon eGift Card
 
 
FRISK ME
New York’s Finest #1
Lauren Layne
Releasing July 28th,2015
Forever Romance
 
 
After a photograph of Luc Moretti saving a tourist hits social media, he instantly becomes New York’s most famous and beloved cop. When a major network decides to run a special on the “American Hero,” Luc’s boss gives him no choice but to cooperate in the name of good exposure for the department. Luc doesn’t mind the celebrity status-what he does mind is the gorgeous brunette journalist who’s been assigned to follow his every move. Especially since she also happens to be the same knockout that rejected him rather publicly the week before.
Ava Sims is a woman who gets what she wants. And what she wants is to be CBC’s lead anchor-but to get there, she’ll need to nail the fluff piece on the playboy cop. Luc Moretti is everything Ava knows to stay away from: a stubborn charmer with a hero-complex. But the more Ava gets to know Luc and his oddball family, the more she realizes that beneath the swagger and the blue uniform is a complex man who makes her heart beat too fast. Soon, Ava’s doing the unthinkable, and falling for the best of New York’s finest …


BUY NOW

 

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Lauren Layne is the USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance.
Prior to becoming an author, Lauren worked in e-commerce and web-marketing. In 2011, she and her husband moved from Seattle to New York City, where Lauren decided to pursue a full-time writing career. It took six months to get her first book deal (despite ardent assurances to her husband that it would only take three). Since then, Lauren’s gone on to publish ten books, including the bestselling Stiletto series, with several more on the way in 2015.
Lauren currently lives in Chicago with her husband and spoiled Pomeranian. When not writing, you’ll find her at happy hour, running at a doggedly slow pace, or trying to straighten her naturally curly hair.


 

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16. Monday Mishmash 7/20/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Signing at Books-A-Million  I'll be at Books-A-Million in the Stroud Mall in Stroudsburg, PA on Saturday from noon to 3:00 p.m. If you're in the area, come see me. I'll be signing copies of The Monster Within and The Darkness Within.
  2. News!  I'm most likely going to have news to share with you this week. Stay tuned!
  3. Pepe Maurice Pierre, Poodle Extraordinaire  I got to see the cover and illustrations for my upcoming picture book, Pepe Maurice Pierre, Poodle Extraordinaire this past weekend. Wow! I was blown away. I can't wait to share this book with you soon. (My street team, Kelly's Coven, has already seen it.)
  4. Our Little Secret  I've been busy with edits for my upcoming Ashelyn Drake title, Our Little Secret. I love this story and can't wait for the release, which is happening in September! Tomorrow, I'll be sharing the blurb and tag line all over social media, so stay tuned for that.
  5. Hot Pink in the City Cover Reveal  Check out the cover of Medeia Sharif's upcoming YA title, Hot Pink in the City:
    HOT PINK IN THE CITY, Prizm Books, 2015
Release date: August 19, 2015

Asma Bashir wants two things: a summer fling and her favorite '80s songs. During a trip to New York City to stay with relatives, she messes up in her pursuit of both. She loses track of the hunk she met on her airplane ride, and she does the most terrible thing she could possibly do to her strict uncle…ruin his most prized possession, a rare cassette tape. A wild goose chase around Manhattan and Brooklyn to find a replacement tape yields many adventures—blackmail, theft, a chance to be a TV star, and so much more. Amid all this turmoil, Asma just might be able to find her crush in the busiest, most exciting city in the world.

Find Medeia – YA and MG Author

Blog   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram   |   Amazon

That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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17. Spotlight and Giveaway: Close to Heart by TJ Kline

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for Close to Heart by TJ Kline.

Close to Heart
Healing Harts #3

By: T.J. Kline

Releasing July 14, 2015.

Avon Impulse

Blurb

It only took an instant for her world to come crashing down…but Heart Fire Ranch is a place of new beginnings, even for those who find their way there by accident

As the only veterinarian in town, Justin Hart doesn’t have time to think about romance. So when A-list actress Alyssa Cole crashes her car outside his clinic, it’s entirely unexpected when there’s a spark between them he can’t ignore. Still, she’s a movie star, and he’s just a small town cowboy.

Alyssa has learned the hard way not to believe first impressions, especially not in Hollywood. But, 400 miles from her former life with nowhere to go and no one to turn to, she places her trust in the handsome vet who comes to her rescue.

There’s no denying the connection between them, but when Alyssa’s past shows up at the door, will their new relationship be able to withstand the storm?

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/06/close-to-heart-healing-harts-3-by-tj.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23434072-close-to-heart?ac=1
Goodreads Series Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/146550-healing-harts

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

Author Info

T. J. Kline was raised competing in rodeos and rodeo queen competitions since the age of 14, She has thorough knowledge of the sport as well as the culture involved. She has had several articles about rodeo published in the past in small periodicals as well as a more recent how-to article for RevWriter. She is also an avid reader and book reviewer for both Tyndale and Multnomah.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Excerpt

Alyssa hung up before Franklin could ask any more questions and made her way down the hall to where Justin waited, feeling as if she was carrying too many burdens on her shoulders. Until calling Franklin, she’d been avoiding facing the reality of her situation—her marriage was over and she was on her own. There was no turning back. The only real decision left to make was what she would ask for in the divorce, for her and their child. It was enough to deal with finding out her husband was cheating on her, had been for almost the entirety of their marriage, but to have him cast her and their child aside, to know the apathy he felt for their child, hurt too much to bear.

“Would you like tea or water?” Justin asked as she came into the kitchen. Two sub sandwiches sat on the table as he opened the refrigerator. When she didn’t answer, he looked back at her over his shoulder. “You okay?”

“I’m fine, I just . . .”

She was tired of keeping secrets, but she wasn’t sure how much she could tell Justin. She didn’t know him, not really. He turned toward her as if waiting for her to say more, his eyes seeking hers, and she imagined she could see empathy in them.

“Things sounded a little heated in there for a minute.”

If he thought that was heated, he would have been shocked to hear Elijah when he got started about how she didn’t want him to be successful just because she dared to question his decision to sign on to represent yet another new young actress. She suspected, now, he’d wanted to do far more than “represent” them, but she couldn’t prove it. And, after her last confrontation with him, he’d probably throw it in her face just to hurt her.

Justin had been kind to her, rescuing her and giving her a place to stay. She knew he didn’t really need her to work in the clinic and was just using it as a way to help her out. He was more tender than Elijah had ever been with her, treating her like a porcelain doll that might break.

Other than that kiss.

Just the thought of his kiss made her body hum to life. The mere brush of his lips against hers had set her body aflame, making her want to pull him down onto the bed with her. His touch made her forget the years with Elijah, the emotional turmoil he caused, the pain of his rejection, making her wonder how real her marriage to Elijah had actually been, if there had ever been any passion in it. She slid into the chair at the table and buried her face in her palms, trying to stop the tears from burning her eyes.

“Hey.” Justin moved to the chair beside her. “It can’t be that bad.”

Alyssa looked up at him, trying to keep the tears at bay. “Are you kidding?” She couldn’t help the bubble of irrational laughter that fell from her lips. “I’m eight months pregnant and I just found out my husband has been sleeping with every woman in Beverly Hills for over half of our marriage. Not to mention that I have no money, no career, and he kicked me out of our house.” She threw up her hands and rose to pace the kitchen as the truth fell from her lips unbidden. “I have nothing. Even that car is in Elijah’s name.”

She realized she’d just told him far more than she’d intended.

“Was that who you were talking to?”

“No, I called my friend. He’s a lawyer.” She slid her hand over the top of her stomach. “I wanted to find out my options.”

“And?”

“He suggests I ‘divorce the no-good bastard.’ ”

“I have to agree.”

Alyssa faced him, running her hand over the side of her stomach as her baby kicked against her hand. “I wish it were that easy, trust me. But how am I supposed to support us, where are we going to stay? I was on my way to my parents’ house last night after he kicked me out.”

Justin rose and moved toward her. His hands cupped her face gently, tipping her gaze up to meet his eyes. “Your husband is an idiot. He has no idea what he’s giving up.”

Her parched heart soaked up his words. After listening to Elijah’s criticisms for so many years, it was like rain on a desert plain.

“You’re welcome to stay here as long as you need to. That’s probably the only way I can help you.” He smiled and tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear. “Unless you want me to kick his ass? I’d be happy to do that for you.”

She laughed quietly. “I appreciate the offer, but that’s probably not in your best interest. I don’t have the money to bail you out of jail.”

The dimple cut into his cheek as he gave her a lopsided smile. “Then I guess the ass-kicking is going to have to wait.”

Alyssa couldn’t look away from his hypnotic blue gaze. He saw her, really saw the woman inside. He didn’t see her as a movie star. He looked past that to the hurting woman beneath. His nearness seemed to demolish every protective barrier she’d erected over the past six years. He made her feel wanted and worthy.

Alyssa didn’t think about what she was doing as she slid her hands to the nape of his neck, pulling him toward her, their mouths exploring, seeking. Justin’s kiss was tender, far gentler than she wanted him to be. Her fingers dug into the hard muscles of his shoulders and he responded. His hands slid into her hair, while his tongue teased hers, tasting her, his teeth nipping at the corner of her full lips.

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18. Spotlight and Giveaway: Not So New in Town by Michele Summer

This morning I have a spotlight and giveaway for Not So New in Town by Michele Summers. Enjoy!

***

Today we are pleased to sit down with Lucy Doolan and Brogan Reese, the hero and heroine in Michele Summer’s latest, Not So New In Town (July 2015). Lucy and Brogan are going to answer a question about their relationship and tell us a bit more about themselves!

What day of your relationship would you most like to experience again?

Lucy: The night we danced together for the first time at the Rolling Pin…it just felt right.

Brogan: The first day I found Lucy on the side of the highway next to her broken down car. I’d been feeling sorry for myself and she made me smile…it felt like coming home.

Title: Not So New In Town

Author: Michele Summers

Series: Harmony Homecomings

Pubdate: July 7th, 2015

ISBN: 9781402293580

You can’t go back, and you can’t stand still…

Lucy Doolan is a marketing genius. She can sell rain to a frog and snow to a polar bear. Newly single and unemployed, she’s lured back to her hometown of Harmony, North Carolina to help out her pregnant evil stepsister…only to find former crush heartthrob Brogan Reese has returned too, to open a new business in town. To add insult to injury, he’s still hot.

If the thunder don’t get you, then the lightning will…

Brogan never noticed Lucy much when they were young, but seventeen people have recommended her to help him. She’s got his attention now. With her sweet personality, brilliant imagination, and penchant for doing the completely unpredictable, Brogan is finding a whole lot of excuses to spend his days—and nights—with Lucy.

Michele Summers writes about small-town life with a Southern flair and has her own interior design business in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Miami, Florida. Both professions feed her creative appetite and provide a daily dose of humor.

 

An Excerpt

“Let’s dance”—Brogan shoved his chair back, grabbing Lucy’s hand—“and give these two some alone time.”

“I don’t want to dance.”

“Sure you do. They’re playing Trace Adkins.”

Wanda helped by pushing Lucy’s chair from the table with her foot. Brogan tugged Lucy around more dining tables to the middle of the sawdust-covered dance floor, where couples swayed to the band’s rendition of “Every Light in the House.” Slipping his right hand around the small of her back, he pressed her plush curves into his chest. Her smooth hair tickled his chin, and the smell of citrus filled his head. Lucy stood stiff as a telephone pole as he tried maneuvering to the slow beat of the music.

“You gonna dance like a robot all night, or just with me?” He cocked his head and peered into her face, where doubt disappeared and desire took over as her gaze softened. Brogan liked that look as he slightly bent his knees, pulling her closer. “I won’t bite unless you want me to,” he whispered next to her ear.

“Good to know.” She heaved a shaky sigh. “Well, I guess you’re better than Clancy Perry over there looking like he wants to cut in.” Looping her left arm around his neck, she rocked her hips to the beat. Brogan swallowed a groan. Right now nothing else mattered. All he cared about was luscious Lucy filling his arms.

“Let’s look like we mean it so Clancy or his brother, Clinton, won’t get any ideas.” He bent as if to kiss her.

“You don’t mind if I start singing, do you?” she said, smiling as she moved away from his lips.

Brogan’s head jerked back. “Oh, hell no. My ears haven’t recovered from this morning.”

“I know all the words.” Tossing him a saucy look, she started to hum…loudly.

“Shut up and dance.” Brogan tucked her back under his chin and shook with laughter.

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19. Spotlight and Giveaway: The Maddening Lord Montwood by Vivienne Lorret

This morning I have a spotlight and giveaway for The Maddening Lord Montwood by Vivienne Lorret.

The Maddening Lord Montwood
The Rakes of Fallow Hall # 3

By: Vivienne Lorret

Releasing July 14, 2015
Avon Impulse

Blurb

Frances Thorne learned at an early age to rely on herself. Yet, losing her job and her home and watching her father carted off to debtor’s prison all in one day, is too much for her to bear alone. When a generous offer of assistance falls into her lap, she ignores her better instincts and decides to take a chance. The last thing she needs is for the infuriating Lord Lucan Montwood to stand in her way.

The end of the bachelors’ wager is near, and Lucan Montwood can taste victory. Yet, on the precipice of finally gaining freedom from his debts, he’s incensed to learn that the beautiful Frances Thorne has fallen into an insidious trap in the guise of a new position. Lucan can’t deny the way her lips call to him and knows he must risk his own future to ensure her safety.

Convincing her to trust him is the hard part and resisting her is next to impossible. But falling in love with her? That’s far too simple.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/06/the-maddening-lord-montwood-rakes-of.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22962525-the-maddening-lord-montwood?ac=1
Goodreads Series Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/131479-the-rakes-of-fallow-hall

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

Author Info

USA Today bestselling author VIVIENNE LORRET loves romance novels, her pink laptop, her husband, and her two sons (not necessarily in that order … but there are days). Transforming copious amounts of tea into words, she is proud to be an Avon Impulse author of works including: “Tempting Mr. Weatherstone”, The Wallflower Wedding Series, and the Rakes of Fallow Hall series.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

 

Excerpt

Lucan stood. The tails of his coat fell into place. Only then did she realize she’d been staring quite fixedly at the strong lines of his shoulders, the narrowness of his hips, and his backside. Again.

Keeping a hand draped over the dog’s scruff, he gently thrummed his fingers in time with ticking clock stand in the corner. “Miss Thorne, I do not mean to alarm you, but you are about to meet two of the most determined young women of my acquaintance.”

Curious, her gaze locked on the open doorway. “Determined for what, precisely?”

“To see me married by year’s end.” He said the words with such gravity that a streak of alarm did indeed shoot through her. “They will see you here and begin plotting instantly, especially if you continue to ogle my person when my back is turned.”

She started. There was no way he could have known—but then she noticed the reflective glass in the door of the clock stand and felt her cheeks betray her. “I was not ogling you. Not at all. You have a . . . a spot on your coat, and I was debating whether or not to tell you.”

“Is it a large spot or a small spot?” He grinned.

She narrowed her eyes, feeling the tips of her lashes brush against her lenses. “Hideously large, like your ego.”

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20. Review: Blame it on the Rodeo by Amanda Renee

 

Most Certainly Contains Spoilers

Review:

My Harlequin-o-rama continues with Blame it on the Rodeo.  I borrowed this because Lexi is a vet, and there’s a horse on the cover.  I had no expectations going into it, and truthfully, I didn’t even read the entire synopsis.  Sometimes that bites me in the rear, but this time I was pleasantly surprised, and I could not put this book down.  I loved it!

I had a great feeling about the story when it started with an equine embryo transfer.  That is how my Morgan, Elle, was bred.  She’s an embryo transfer, and was carried by a Saddlebred surrogate.  I have never encountered this in a story before, and I was really excited to see it here.  When I pick up a book featuring a veterinarian, I expect the protagonist to do veterinarian things.  I was so pleased with all of the medical procedures in Lexi’s daily activities; Coggins tests, West Nile vacations, helping to with a difficult delivery – these are things I hope to read about, so Amanda Renee gets a double thumbs up for Lexi’s profession feeling authentic.

As the story progressed, I started to get a little apprehensive. When Lexi was an eighteen year old college student, she and her high school sweetheart shared a romantic weekend together, and Lexi wound up pregnant.  Home for Thanksgiving, she intended to tell Shane that he’s going to be a father, only to learn that he’s about to marry another woman because he got her pregnant.  Heartbroken that he cheated on her, Lexi kept her pregnancy to herself, carried her baby to term, and then, knowing that she’s not ready for motherhood, placed him with an adoption agency.  Now, thirteen years later, her secret has come home to roost.  Lexi suspects that young Hunter, a student at Shane’s rodeo school, is the son she gave up all those years ago.

Lexi’s anguish is compelling and believable.  After hiring a private investigator to confirm her suspicions, she is conflicted.  Does she disrupt Hunter’s happy life and let him know that she’s his mother?  Does she throw a major wrench in Shane’s life and tell him what happened?  She kept her pregnancy a secret from everyone, including her own family, and now she’s afraid of what they will think of her.  I was completely sympathetic, and wondered what she was going to do to bring a measure of peace to herself.

Shane, on the other hand…I had issues with Shane.  The first major strike against him was his cheating.  Sure, he was young, but I expect a romance hero to be faithful.  He is urged by his parents to marry the buckle bunny he knocked up, only to learn a year later that the child is not his.  Oops! Oh, the irony!  His long-time friend is pregnant with his child, and he marries a woman pretending to be pregnant with his child. Ouch!   Maybe he should have demanded a paternity test right off the bat.  He is devastated when he loses the baby he’s come to love, and he’s spent every day since wondering what happened to him.  Is he happy with his father, another rodeo competitor? 

Shane’s other problem is Shane’s preoccupation with himself.  He lives for the rodeo.  He longs to win the world championship, both for his ego and to help get his rodeo school on the map.  He’s dated just about every single female in town in an effort to forget about Lexi, but he doesn’t own up to his irresponsibility and his own actions that caused him to lose her.  He still loves her, but he won’t tell her.  He drove me bonkers!  And when he learns the truth about Hunter?  Ugh!  He comes across as a self-righteous ass and puts all of the blame on Lexi, without accepting that, ultimately, he was the one who screwed up.  While I’m still not sure I believe that he will ever be the kind of man Lexi needs, he did change by the end so that I was hopeful that he had learned some valuable life lessons.

I finished Blame it on the Rodeo and immediately wanted to catch up on the other books in the Ramblewood, Texas series, so I’ll call this a successful outing.

Grade:  B / B+

Review copy borrowed from my local library

From Amazon:

A Secret The Size Of Texas

Veterinarian Lexi Lawson has her hands full–and not just when she’s delivering foals at the Langtry family’s ranch. Working there forces Lexi to confront Shane Langtry, the man who broke her heart. True, he seems different now–more generous, more grounded. But Lexi isn’t fooled: Shane lives for rodeo competition and nothing else. Besides, after what he did to her, there’s no way she’d take him back.

Long ago, when they were in love, Lexi hid a terrible secret from Shane–one she planned to keep forever. But when he learns the truth, she’s forced to choose between the past she left behind…and the future they might still find together.

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21. Review: Taking The Heat

Taking the Heat (Jackson: Girls' Night Out) by Victoria Dahl. Harlequin. 2015. Reviewed from ARC.

Taking the HeatThe Plot: Veronica Chandler is "Dear Veronica" for the Jackson, Wyoming local paper, the voice of wisdom offering funny and on-target advice for young and old, on everything from family relationships to sex.

The thing is, she's hiding something -- she feels like a big fake. Yes, she has common sense, a sense of humor, the research skills and writing skills that make "Dear Veronica" such a success. What she doesn't have, well, is the real-life experience everyone thinks she has.

Everyone thinks that she's the local girl who went to New York City and came back full of wisdom and experience. What they don't know is that NYC was nothing like Veronica had dreamed it would be. What they don't know is she came home because she had no where else to go. What they don't know is she's never been in love. What they don't know is she's a 27 year old virgin.

Gabe MacKenzie is the hot new guy in town. He's the new librarian, and while he's originally from New York City he's not a big-city guy. He loves that his new job allows him plenty of time for rock-climbing and hiking. He doesn't love that it's only for a year: family obligations are pulling him back to New York. He's not looking for anything long term or anything serious. And then he meets Veronica.

The Good: This is the most recent book in Dahl's Girls' Night Out series, and it's the third in that series to feature a librarian. Since it's set in a small town (well, small when it's not tourist season) it makes sense that the library is an important place in the lives of the members of the small town.

Familiar characters from the other books make appearances, but this story is all Veronica's. There are many, many things I enjoy about Dahl's books and this one doesn't disappoint. The characters are interesting, real, and complex. Veronica isn't a virgin for reasons of religion, morality, or desire -- it's just that her timing has never been right. In high school and college she was concentrating on grades so that she could get a job in NYC; and then NYC let her down. She returned home to discover that what she wanted in life was what her home town had to offer.

And the sexytimes are terrific, as well as what leads up to it -- Veronica revealing her big secret to Gabe is one of my favorite scenes.

Gabe, as I said, is in Wyoming for a year; Veronica doesn't know that, and I like that the tension between the two of them was Gabe keeping this secret from her. And that his motivations for this were explored -- how his desire to be a "nice guy" by not bringing up a possible conflict was itself problematic. That "protecting" someone by not mentioning something was not protecting at all.

Also good were both Gabe's and Veronica's family situations. As I said, Gabe's family is the reason he has to return to NYC and his situation was believable and sympathetic with a good resolution. Veronica's father is a gruff, distant, and demanding man -- I need to go back and reread Flirting with Disaster (Jackson: Girls' Night Out Book 2)to remind myself of how others saw and interpreted these two. While at times I wanted to throw things at him, I found his actions, and his daughter's reactions, realistic.

Bottom line: It's Victoria Dahl. If you haven't read her books, start now, and honestly you can start anywhere with any title. The books may be interconnected but they are not dependent on each other. The only problem you'll have is the problem I face: the desire to read them all at once balanced against wanting there to always be a new-to-me Dahl book around when I need one.

What else? It's a Favorite Book of 2015, needless to say. And under "readalikes" I think this one may work for New Adult readers. While Victoria is older than most NA heroines, she is negotiating those things that NA is about: trying to establish her career, not sure what to do about career or life, trying to get independence, and love and sex. It's just, for reasons, those things happen a bit later for her; and, again for reasons, people looking at her think she has her act together when she hasn't. Or, rather, she thinks she doesn't have her act together.




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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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22. Guest Post and Giveaway: Deception by A S Fenichel

 

Please welcome AS Fenichel to the virtual offices this morning!

Top 5 reasons Lilly hates Nobles by AS Fenichel

Thank you for having me here today. I’m so proud of the Deception characters for helping me tell this story in the best possible way. Nothing is ever easy with demon hunters and that is especially true for matters of the heart.

Lillian Dellacourt hates noblemen. Raised in a small village by a seamstress who sold her to the local lord, she’s still overcoming the circumstances of her birth. While The Company sees her as one of the greatest hunters to have ever lived, Lilly has some issues. One of her big problems, she hates Noblemen.

Here are Lilly’s five reasons for hating noblemen.

  1. The man who bought her from her mother was an earl. He kept her locked away and wouldn’t let her visit her mother.

  2. Titled men believe they can have anything they want without consequence. They take without thought and treat everyone below them as chattel.

  3. The Earl of Shafton’s lies and arrogance have driven her to her current mission. She can read his deception, but can’t figure out what secrets he keeps. Plus the infuriating man made some pretty terrible accusations against her and she wants her revenge.

  4. When news arrived that her mother had gone missing, the earl who owned her beat her severely. Close to losing consciousness, she grabbed the earl’s dagger and stabbed him. Unfortunately, the wound was not fatal.

  5. Dorian Lambert has the manners of Marques and the instincts of a demon hunter. It’s confusing. The way he looks at her starts her stomach trembling in a pleasant way. Lilly likes to know exactly what she’s facing. She can take down a demon with her sai blades ripping through flesh and bone like butter. Killing demons makes sense. Nothing about being near Dorian is explainable in words. Only actions will do. It’s maddening!

Thanks again for having me here today. This was fun. I hope you enjoy Deception as much as I loved writing it.

A.S.

Deception
Demon Hunters # 2

By: A.S. Fenichel

Releasing July 7, 2015

Lyrical

Blurb

When Demons threaten Regency London, only a Lady can stop them.

Lillian Dellacourt is beautiful, refined and absolutely lethal. She’s also the most feared and merciless demon hunter in The Company. She’s come a long way from the penniless seamstress’s daughter sold to the highest bidder, and it wasn’t by trusting a man, let alone an exiled Marquis with more on his mind than slaying the hellspawn . . .

For Dorian Lambert, Marquis de Montalembert, being sent to keep track of Lillian is no mean task. He’s wanted the fiery vixen since he first heard of her five years ago. But wooing the lady while fighting the demon uprising is no easy feat, especially when the lady’s tongue is as sharp as the Japanese sai blades she favors for eviscerating the spawn of hell.

These two will have to learn to trust each other fast, because the demon master is back, and he’s planning to turn Edinburgh into a living hell…

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/03/deception-demon-hunters-2-by-as-fenichel.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23432697-deception?from_search=true
Goodreads Series Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/135692-the-demon-hunters

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

Author Info

A.S. Fenichel gave up a successful career in New York City to follow her husband to Texas and pursue her lifelong dream of being a professional writer. She’s never looked back.

A.S. adores writing stories filled with love, passion, desire, magic and maybe a little mayhem tossed in for good measure. Books have always been her perfect escape and she still relishes diving into one and staying up all night to finish a good story.

Multi-published in erotic paranormal, contemporary and historical romance, A.S. is the author of the Mayan Destiny series, Christmas Bliss and many more. With several books currently contracted to multiple publishers, A.S. will be bringing you her brand of romance for many years to come.

Originally from New York, she grew up in New Jersey, and now lives in the East Texas with her real life hero, her wonderful husband. When not reading or writing she enjoys cooking, travel, history, and puttering in her garden.

Author Links: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads |TSU

 

Excerpt

Holding up her hand, she pulled the horse to a stop. Dorian slowed, watched, and waited.

Lillian touched her nose, alerting him to the scent of wood burning. The wind came out of the northeast. The almost full moon lit the night well enough. They dismounted, and tied the horses to a low bit of brush along the rocky pass.

Spending the bulk of his time with the hunters behind a desk, he willingly took a step back and allowed Lillian to take the lead. She was far more experienced in the field. The fact that she was a woman meant nothing in The Company.

He wished he was as unaffected by her feminine allure.

To his astonishment, she pulled a string at her waist, which lifted her skirts, and she tucked them into some kind of belt hidden at her hips. Above her high leather boots, he glimpsed her creamy thighs. His gaze dropped to her curvy flesh and an array of weapons cleverly stored insideher skirts instead of focusing on the danger ahead. He met her gaze.

“Try to stay alive, Dorian. Do not get distracted.”

He looked her up and down one more time. “You ask the impossible, Lilly.”

The wicked look she gave him was almost as enticing as the curve of her leg. She turned and climbed up the rock-strewn hill to the right. He followed, making an effort not to admire her bare legs or the throwing knives strapped around her right thigh. When they reached the precipice, flames blazed as high as ten feet in the center of a clearing. Two demons fed the fire, one a small trebox with scaly dark skin and the other a larger, dumber malleus covered in slime. To the far left of the fire, three children huddled together. The smallest girl wept loudly while the other two tried to comfort her.

Alive! A surge of elation followed by a wave of fear assaulted him. Could he and Lillian keep those children alive?

The malleus stood as tall as the flames and sang in a low grating tone. Firelight reflected off its slimy skin as it tore a year old tree from the ground, roots and all. As if it were a twig, the malleus tossed it on the fire. Flames roared higher and his voice grew louder. Dorian knew nothing of the demon language, but the eerie cadence churned his guts.

The trebox slunk around the fire. He used two hands on a sword, carving symbols in the hard ground. This trebox had shed his human clothes, exposing his hunched back and visible ribcage.

A recent report had crossed his desk depicting a similar scene in England. When they completed drawing the runes, the innocents would be sacrificed. “They mean to open a gate. We only have until the song ends.”

Lillian’s eyes widened. She reached into the folds of her underskirt and released a small crossbow from its holster, chocked an arrow, and took aim. “We will need to move fast.”

“Ready.”

She let the arrow fly.

It pierced the malleus demon’s left eye, silenced the song mid-word, and dropped the enormous monster to the ground before he even had time to roar.

The trebox screamed in the language only demons understood. He took up the song his comrade had been chanting and wrote faster in the dirt.

Dorian pulled one throwing knife from the belt strapped around Lillian’s smooth skin. He jumped over the hill and ran down, dagger raised in his left hand.

The trebox rushed at him with its eyes focused on the long knife.

When he was within range, he let the smaller blade fly.

It buried deep in the greenish creature’s throat. He crumpled with a whine.

Lillian ran behind him down the hill.

All three children screamed and cried.

She charged past them and kicked dirt on the fire.

“What are you doing?”

“I think he might have gotten the incantation finished. Look at the way the smoke curls in on itself. Evil will find a way in even without the sacrifice. Once opened, I don’t know how to close a gate.”

It was unnatural the way the smoke did not move with the breeze. The ground rumbled. Dorian kicked dirt on the fire and rubbed out the carved runes from the ground.

 

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23. Review: His Defiant Desert Queen by Jane Porter

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I read His Defiant Desert Queen because it was included in the Harlequin Presents bundle that I borrowed from the library.  I randomly checked it out because it also included a Caitlin Crews title.  I didn’t read any of the descriptions prior to  gobbling them up, and I definitely had mixed success with this collection.  I had so many reservations about this title, my first by Jane Porter.  Though I ultimately enjoyed it, I had to resist the very strong urge to DNF it at the beginning.

Jemma Copeland is not having a good year.  Her father was busted for running the biggest Ponzi scam in history.  Instead of   paying his dues, he’s high-tailed it with some of his ill-gotten gains (he did get what he deserved), leaving his clueless family behind to deal with the scandal.  Jemma’s modeling career was destroyed, her fiancé dumped her, and her friends all turned their backs on her.  Now she’s struggling to make ends meet.  When she’s offered a modeling job in Saidia, she uses her sister’s passport to secure a visa after being denied entry into the country under her own name.  When Sheik Mikael  discovers her deception, he’s extremely displeased that Jemma  flaunted the laws of his country.  He also has a bone to pick with her family after his mother fell victim to her father’s schemes, leading to his mother’s death.

Mikael drags Jemma to his tribal village so the village elder can pass judgment on her.  Mikael is given two choices regarding her punishment.  Either she spends seven years as a “guest” in the village, or he marries her.  Even though he feels nothing but contempt for her, he loads her on a camel, ties her to the saddle, and rides off to his desert palace, all without her consent.  That right there almost caused me to stop reading the book.  In Mikael’s country, the sheiks have kidnapped their brides for generations, in order to cement tribes together through marriage.  I didn’t buy that, and had a hard time dealing with both his contempt for her and his treatment of her.

The story did get much better as it went along, despite my reservations with the premise. As Mikael and Jemma spend their “honeymoon” together in Mikael’s sumptuous home , they slowly get to know each other.  Mikael comes to understand that Jemma had no control over her father’s actions, and he slowly realizes that she’s nothing like he thought she’d be.  He also begins to put his own guilt over his mother’s death into perspective, and begins to forgive himself for how he acted after his parents divorced.  He has a lot of inner turmoil to overcome, and with Jemma’s help, he begins to work through them.

As far as Jemma went, I didn’t like her at first.  She is all about Me, Me, Me!  She agrees to go through with the farce of a honeymoon, knowing that in eight days she can just tell Mikael that she’s not happy and he’ll send her back home.  As the days go by, though, she starts to realize that she is happy, the happiest that she has ever been. She’s no longer lonely.   Mikael is a tender and passionate lover, and she genuinely enjoys his company.  Before she knows it, she’s fallen in love with him.  That turns out to be another point of contention, because Mikael has promised himself that he will never fall in love (this is such an overused trope in romance, and frankly, it is one that I am losing patience with).  This opens the door to more conflict, and Mikael’s final realization that he can’t bear to let Jemma go.

By the end of the story, I believed that Jemma was happy, and  that Mikael made her feel safe, protected, and cherished.  I also believed that Mikael forgave himself, allowing himself to find the love that had eluded him.

Grade:  B-

Review copy borrowed from my local library

I will not marry you. I will not!

When Sheikh Mikael catches notorious model Jemma Copeland flaunting Saidia’s laws—and her body—in his desert, he knows one thing: revenge against his family’s destruction is within his reach! To achieve it he makes Jemma an offer: imprisonment or marriage.

With her life shattered by the scandal that rocked her family, Jemma needed that modeling job. She didn’t know that she was breaking the law! But Mikael’s outrageous proposal pushes her beyond shock…to utter fury. If he expects her to be a meek, pliable bride, this arrogant sheikh has another think coming!

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24. Review: The Real Romero by Cathy Williams

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

Milly isn’t having a good day.  Her refuge for the next two weeks has been yanked out from under her, and instead of working as a chalet girl for a rich couple and their kids, she’ll be heading back home to face her friends’ pitying glances.  After catching her fiancé doing the nasty with her best friend, she’s lost a lot of confidence in herself, as well as her dreams for the future.  The temporary position in France was going to get her out of London long enough for her loser ex, Robbie, and her former BFF to clear out of her place, and allow her to squeeze in a little ski time, too.   Convincing her boss to let her stay in the chalet overnight to get some sleep before heading back home, Milly meets Lucas, a guy she assumes is a ski instructor.

Lucas is really a handsome young billionaire, and he owns the chalet.  When his mother’s friends can’t keep their vacation plans due to a family illness, Lucas pulls some strings and gets them to pay for Milly’s time anyway.  He’s annoyed that they didn’t let her know about their change of plans, and he finds her amusing and refreshing.  Milly doesn’t know who he is, and she treats him like a person, not a bank account.  He thinks that he’ll decompress for a few days, go skiing with Milly, and amuse himself at the same time.  When the cat gets out of the bag, he has an irate Milly to deal with.  She’s angry that Lucas wasn’t upfront about his identity, and she feels like a fool for jumping to conclusions.  He offers to help her out financially, if she’ll go to Madrid and pretend to be his fiancée.   His mother is not well, and he wants to her to stop worrying about him finding himself a wife.

While I enjoyed the author’s writing style, as well as Milly’s down to earth personality, there was a distinct lack of chemistry between the protagonists.  This was another story featuring a hero who has convinced himself he can never fall in love, due to an unpleasant experience when he was nineteen.  He’s in his thirties now.  I would hope that he would get over the unpleasantness after more than ten years!

Even though this story didn’t work for me, I would like to read more by the author.  I liked her easy-going writing style and the heroine’s inner monologs.

Grade:  C+

Review copy borrowed from my local library

The Secret Billionaire

Billionaire Lucas Romero is many things—brooding, talented and a consummate womanizer. The one thing he’s not? The “ski instructor” beautiful, innocent Milly Mayfield thought she was giving herself to in a sumptuous, secluded French ski chalet! And now she’s livid!

Arrogant playboy Lucas is bewildered by Milly’s decidedly unusual reaction to the revelation of his substantial wealth—he’s never had complaints before! But even Milly cannot ignore the sexual chemistry between them. So when a family emergency means he needs a willing woman by his side, Milly suddenly finds herself whisked away to Spain…and engaged!

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25. Spotlight: Hot Nights with the Fireman by Lynne Silver

I have a spotlight for Hot Nights with the Fireman by Lynne Silver this morning.

About Lynne Silver

Romance author, Lynne Silver, writes the popular Coded for Love series and other hot contemporary romance novels, such as Love, Technically.  Before writing romance, she wrote fiction of a different sort, drafting press releases for technology corporations. Washington DC is her home (non) state, where she resides with her husband and two sons.

http://www.lynnesilver.com/

https://twitter.com/LynneSilver

https://www.facebook.com/LynneSilverAuthor


About Hot Nights with the Fireman

Everyone in Washington, DC, knows that when the heat is on, you call Valerie Wainright. This brilliant, brassy PR maven can spin any hot scandal, and she’s never let a client ruffle her feathers. Yet when she agrees to teach DC’s bravest how to handle a media frenzy, she faces an entirely different kind of fire. Keeping things all business and no pleasure is far harder than she expected.
After steamy photos ignite the Internet, firefighter Jason Moore instantly goes from hero to bad boy. While he couldn’t care less about an online rep, he cares a lot about his job and saving lives. If Valerie can help clear his name, he’ll do what she says-even if it means forcing himself to keep his hands off her. But beneath Valerie’s cool cover, Jason feels a smoldering desire that lights his own. And this is one inferno he’ll definitely want to stoke . .

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1HORRW7
B&N: http://bit.ly/1dMT9EJ
iTunes: http://apple.co/1Ieqkh7
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1HNZJJ4

Excerpt:

She inched away on her chair and reached for the first thing on the top of the stack ignoring his statement about simply being a client. He knew as well as she did that clients didn’t kiss each other. “Let’s see what we’re dealing with. Why don’t you read out loud?” She’d struggled to find appropriate reading material. An obvious children’s book would’ve been humiliating, but the newspaper may have been too hard. Finally, she’d found a sample paragraph from a literacy website. It was on a fourth grade reading level, but with adult subject matter.

He tensed in the chair beside hers, but gamely pulled the paper closer and started to read. She was relieved to hear he read it fine. He’d never be an orator or college professor, but his reading was perfectly adequate. He’d skipped a few words here and there, but as they hadn’t changed the meaning of the text, she didn’t think it was a big deal.

She showed him how to take a blank piece of paper or an index card and cover the rest of the text so only the line he was reading was visible. She’d read it helped visually, and it seemed to. By the last sentence, he hadn’t missed any words.

“Hey, that’s a good trick,” he said, looking up from the paper and smiling at her. She grinned back, loving the elation soaring within at helping a student. It was a rush she’d rarely felt in her PR job.

“I’m glad that works for you. I’ve also heard that getting an e-reader is easier for some people, because you can make the text really big,” she said.

He looked thoughtful. “I’ll have to try that. Maybe I’ll even read a book.”

She looked at him a long minute before she realized he’d been joking.

“I do read books,” he said quietly. “Did you think I was such an idiot, I couldn’t even do that?”

“No, I never assumed anything,” she said, placing a conciliatory hand on his arm. “You told me you struggled as a student, so I had no idea what you did or didn’t do.”

“I like action books,” he said. “Clive Cussler, that kind of stuff.”

“My dad loves those also.” They sat in smiling accord for a long minute before she realized she was stroking his muscular forearm, and it felt way too good to be touching him. She moved her hand back to her own space. “Let’s move on to writing,” she said. “That’s what has you the most worried for the application process, right?”

“Yeah. I can think of everything I want to say in my head, but then when I go to write it, it comes out differently on paper. I can’t explain it, but I guess that’s the definition of dysgraphia.”

“I think I understand. Let’s try writing a paragraph on why you became a firefighter. Is that an easy question for you to answer?”

He picked up a pen and applied it to the notebook paper she’d left out for this purpose. After five minutes, he slid the sheet over to her. She read it, and then read it again.

“You look worried,” he said.

She looked up from the paper with five sentences punctuated by grammar errors and no compound sentences. “I’m not worried. I’m thinking.”

He scowled. “Shit. I knew it. We shouldn’t have started this. It’s a waste of time. Now you think I’m a stupid idiot.”

She leaned in toward him. “You are not a stupid idiot.”

He lowered his head a fraction. “I’m stupid for doing this.” He closed the distance between them.

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