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Results 26 - 50 of 2,394
26. Spotlight and Giveaway: Against the Wall by Jill Sorenson

 
Enter to Win a
$25.00 Amazon eGift Card

 
AGAINST THE WALL
Jill Sorenson
Releasing on February 2, 2016
Loveswept


Fans of Katie McGarry, Simone Elkeles, and Tammara Webber will love Against the Wall! As teenagers, they fell for each other despite the odds. But now that Eric and Meghan are all grown up, they’re reunited by fierce passion and dangerous secrets.

Eric Hernandez is the bad boy of every schoolgirl’s fantasies—and every mother’s nightmares. But after serving time for manslaughter, he’s ready to turn his life around. He just needs a chance to prove himself as a professional tattoo artist. The one thing that keeps him going is the memory of the innocent beauty he loved and left behind.

Meghan Young’s world isn’t as perfect as it looks. The preacher’s daughter is living a lie, especially now that Eric is back. Tougher, harder, and sexier than ever, he might be the only person she can trust. But there’s no telling what he’ll do to protect her if he learns the truth, and that’s a risk Meghan won’t let him take. And yet, back in the arms of the troubled boy with the artist’s soul, Meghan can’t help surrendering to the man he’s become.
 
Excerpt
 

Noah exchanges a glance with April and takes Jenny into the kitchen. It’s awkward, being on his turf. I don’t belong here. I belong in Castle Park, the down-and-out neighborhood where I used to live with my grandma. Now she’s in Mexico with the rest of my family, and I have nowhere else to go. Nowhere safe, that is. I’m supposed to stay in a stable environment, and I can’t leave San Diego. It’s one of the conditions of my parole.

“Let’s get you settled,” April says brightly.

I grab my backpack and follow her. On the phone she told me I could sleep in the den. It looks sort of like an office with a small bed in the corner. I spot a vintage desk and an old-school record player I recognize as Meghan’s.

I’m struck by memories of the last day I spent with her. She had a room upstairs back then. When we first met, it was just Meghan and Noah living here. She put on some music and I laid her down on her bed. I took everything she had to offer and then some. I can’t even bring myself to regret it. That memory, more than any other, has sustained me on lonely nights in my cell. I’ve jerked off to a thousand variations of it.

I know that Meghan moved out a few months ago, but I imagine her lingering presence. The smell of her hair on the pillows.

“This was Meghan’s room?” I say, my voice hoarse.

April opens the closet, which is half-full of girl clothes. “I can ask her to move her stuff.”

“No,” I say. I don’t need the space; everything I own fits inside a backpack.

“Are you sure?”

I sit on the bed, nodding. This arrangement is temporary, anyway. “Which room are you going to use for the nursery?”

April waves her hand in the air. “I want the crib in my room. You can stay here as long as you like.”

I wonder if Noah is on board with this. He can’t be thrilled about having an ex-con under the same roof with his pregnant wife and stepdaughter. He got promoted to the homicide division, but money might be tight. I should cut out as soon as possible. I’m not a charity case, and even though Meghan’s not here, it doesn’t feel right to inhabit her space.

It feels . . . dangerous. Tempting.

I’ll never forget the look on her face when I told her I didn’t want her. She stared at me with soft blue eyes and trembling lips, pale from shock. Hardest fucking lie I ever told—and I’m an accomplished liar. But I couldn’t let her waste three years on me. I couldn’t let myself wish for something that far beyond my reach. I had to be cruel to be kind.

At least, that was how I justified my actions three years ago. Looking back, maybe I just wanted to be a dick. Getting locked up has that effect. It touches every raw nerve and stirs every violent tendency. It stokes prejudices and festers resentments. The only acceptable outlet for male prisoners is rage.

“When you’re ready, come out to the backyard. Noah’s grilling some carne asada.”

My stomach rumbles loud enough for her to hear. Smiling, she slips out the door and down the hall. She looks happy. That’s the difference in her, along with her rounded belly and fuller curves. She’s not exhausted anymore. Noah takes care of her. Or she takes care of him.

They take care of each other.

April hooked up with Noah around the same time I started seeing Meghan. He interviewed her about the murder of one of her coworkers, a waitress at Club Suave. Cops aren’t supposed to date anyone involved in their investigations, but apparently he couldn’t resist. They fell in love before I went to prison and got married shortly after.

Noah has been good to April and Jenny. Much better than Raul was. Even so, my urge to leave grows stronger. I don’t want to cause problems or be a burden to anyone. I’ve never been part of a nice family. I don’t know how to act civilized anymore.

This isn’t my scene.

I glance around, wiping my sweaty palms on my jeans. There’s a nightstand by the bed. I open the first drawer and peer inside. Unlike the closet, it’s empty. I close it in mild disappointment. I’m not sure what I expected to find in there. Some random girl stuff, like makeup and perfume.

I remove the clothes from my backpack and toss them into the empty drawer. I have three shirts, an extra pair of pants, and some basketball shorts. Then I bring out my prized possession: my portfolio.

I like art. I can draw almost anything from memory. My favorite medium is spray paint on a fresh concrete wall, but in prison the materials are limited. Most of my drawings are ink on lined paper.

I also do ink on skin. It’s how I survived in the joint.

I was only twenty when I went in. I’m about five foot ten, not the biggest guy on the block. I’ve got muscles and I’m strong, but I’ll never be huge. I have a lean build and features they call handsome. To say that I needed protection is an understatement. Despite my unlucky size and face, I had three things going for me when I went in. First, I was down for CVL, my local clique. The Chula Vista Locos pay dues to the Mexican Mafia, also known as La Eme. So I was already connected to a powerful prison gang.

The second advantage I had was my best friend, Junior. We both got locked up at the same time and sent to the same prison. It’s not unusual for San Diego criminals to do sentences in Chino or San Quentin—they’re the two largest correctional facilities in the state. Junior wasn’t in my cellblock, but we saw each other in the yard. He became a captain for La Eme. If anyone fucked with me, Junior made them pay.

The third advantage was my talent for art. I can hold my own in a fight, but I didn’t want to earn my keep that way. I didn’t want to be anyone’s bitch, either. Instead of offering those services, I sold drawings and tattoos. I was the best in my block.

Tattooing has been the only bright spot in my life. Without my art, and my best friend, I’d probably be dead.


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Jill Sorenson is the RITA-nominated author of more than a dozen romantic-suspense novels. She has a degree in literature and writing from California State University. Her books have been selected as Red-Hot Reads by Cosmopolitan magazine, and have received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal. Sorenson currently lives in the San Diego area with her family. She’s a soccer mom who loves nature, coffee, reading, Twitter, and reality TV.

 

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27. Review: Illicit Night with the Greek by Susanna Carr

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

This is going to be a rambling review.  The taboo aspects of this story didn’t bother me.   How everybody treated Jodie did. Her parents ignored her and shuttled her from one distant boarding school to the next, eager to rid themselves of her presence so they could selfishly pursue their lives without having a kid around. Stergios and his family treated her horribly, when all she wanted was some place to call home and someone to care for her. She was 15 years old when she first met them, and they couldn’t get rid of her fast enough, either! I’m just thinking what a crappy childhood that would have been, and what a strong person she must be to not be even more messed up than she was.  Jodie had zero positive role models while growing up.   ZERO.  The only reason her dad showed any interest in her at all was to ensure he received his massive child support checks from her mother.  How sad is that?

Jodie’s father is an admitted gold digger.  He married into the Antoniou family for their wealth.  Nobody seemed to have a problem with that.  Jodie, however, was a lonely, emotionally battered girl who acted out for attention.  Everybody had a problem with that.  Stergios’ mother treated her with contempt and distain, never welcoming the teenager into her home.  After an incident with her cousin, Jodie’s father banishes her from the family.  I would have considered that a stoke of good luck, but not Jodie.  She falls in and out of unwise relationships for the next few years, and then, after the sudden death of her mother, decides that she needs to make amends with her father.

Jodie’s determination to make her father love her drove me nuts and it really marred my enjoyment of the story.  Stergios wasn’t a teddy bear by any stretch of the imagination, but at least he came to realize that he was judging Jodie unfairly.  I found it kind of ironic that after taking advantage of her when she was 18, he continued to  hurl insults and judgment about her morality at her.  He also said some pretty hateful things to her during a huge argument at the midway point.  I really questioned what she saw in him, because whenever they were together, they brought out the worst in each other.  That did change later in the story, but Jodie was a lot more forgiving than I would have been.  And the kidnapping?  Just, no.  After what Stergios went through as a child, to even entertain this idea is inconceivable.  While Stergios’ behavior was driven by emotions, Jodie’s father never seemed to show any.  He was a spineless boy toy to the very end, and that infuriated me.

To say that Illicit Night with the Greek brought out lots of mixed emotions in me isn’t an exaggeration.  The supporting characters were vile and unlikable.  The hero was just barely tolerable for most of the story.  The step-sibling angle was kind of a moot point for me because Jodie was never a part of the Antoniou family, and Stergios treated her with contempt and distrust from the very first page.  This was mixed bag for me, one that did trigger several strong emotional responses, though the main response was rage at how everyone treated the heroine.  Because of how angry the Antoniou family made me, I found the backstory more compelling than the romance.  Do I believe in their HEA?  I think that Jodie and Stergios will remain blissfully happy – as long as they stay away from his unwelcoming, judgmental family. 

Grade:  C / C- because the supporting characters infuriated me so much!

Review copy provided by Author

The Greek’s unexpected parting gift…

Stergios Antoniou hasn’t seen his exiled, troublemaking stepsister, Jodie Little, since the night they finally gave in to their forbidden attraction. Learning she’s returned to Athens during a business deal too crucial to jeopardize, he holds her prisoner on his private island until it’s over. 

Jodie wants to rectify the past, but being so close to Stergios’s potent sensuality, she’s once again a slave to their destructive desire. One last illicit night should have put their affair behind them, but Jodie leaves the island with more than scorching-hot memories…

Publisher: Harlequin Presents
Publication Date: February 1
Romance sub-genre: contemporary romance
Book length: 192 pages
Goodreads link:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25897411-illicit-night-with-the-greek
Order links:
Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Illicit-Night-Greek-One-Consequences-ebook/dp/B0111OWG5U/
Barnes & Noble:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/illicit-night-with-the-greek-susanna-carr/1122252493?ean=9781488000621
Google Play:
https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Susanna_Carr_Illicit_Night_with_the_Greek?id=YNkaCgAAQBAJ
iBooks:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/illicit-night-with-the-greek/id1016372376?mt=11
Kobo:
https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/illicit-night-with-the-greek
Author links
Website: http://www.susannacarr.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Author.SusannaCarr
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SusannaCarr
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/22371
Bio:
Readers throughout the world find Susanna Carr’s award-winning contemporary romances a delightful escape that has often helped them through difficult times. Reviewers describe her award-winning stories as “fun”, “sexy” and “a must read”. When she isn’t writing or spending time with her family in the Pacific Northwest, Susanna enjoys reading romance and connecting with readers online.

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28. Spotlight and Giveaway: His Pregnant Princess Bride by Catherine Mann

 
Two Exciting Giveaways to Enter Below!

 
HIS PREGNANT PRINCESS BRIDE
Bayou Billionaires #1
Catherine Mann
Releasing on February 1st, 2016 (Digital)
and February 9th, 2016 (Print)
Harlequin Desire


A princess and a Southern billionaire are expecting twins! Only from USA TODAY bestselling author Catherine Mann!

His focus is on his family’s football dynasty. Louisiana billionaire Gervais Reynaud has no time for romance. But he can’t say no to a tryst with Erika Mitras. True, she’s a princess, but in no way prim…or proper. Their time together is unbelievable…and all too short.

When Erika said goodbye, she meant it. But now she must tell Gervais the truth. He’s about to be a father…to royal twins. After leaving her overbearing family, Erika wants nothing from Gervais. But the tempting tycoon just may charm her into a future she desires all too much.

 

Excerpt

His dark eyes heated her with memories as he strode toward her. His long legs ate the ground in giant slices, his khakis and sports jacket declaring him in the middle of a work day. He stopped in front of her, his broad shoulders blocking the sun and casting his handsome face in shadows. But she didn’t have to see to know his jaw would be peppered with the stubble that seemed to grow in seconds after he shaved. Her fingers – her body – remembered the texture of that rasp well.

Her breath caught somewhere in her chest.

He folded his arms over his chest, just under the Hurricanes logo stitched on the front of his jacket. “Welcome to the States, Erika. No one mentioned your intention to visit. I thought you don’t like sports.”

“And yet, here I am.” And in need of privacy out of the bright Louisiana sun and the even brighter curious eyes of his team and staff. She needed space and courage to tell him why she’d made this unexpected journey across the Atlantic to this muggy bayou state. “This is not an official royal visit.”

“And you’re not in uniform.” His eyes glided over her wrap around dress.

“I’m out of the service now.” About to return to school to be a nurse, the career field she’d hoped to pursue in the military but they would not allow her such an in-the-field position, instead preferring to dress her up and trot her around as a figure-head translator. “I am here for a conference on homeopathic herbs and scents.” A part of her passion in the nursing field, and a totally made up excuse for being here today.

“Are you here to share specially scented deodorant to my players? Because they could certainly use it.” His mouth tipped with a smile.

“Are you interested in such a line?” Still jet-lagged from the transatlantic flight, she was ill-prepared to exchange pleasantries.

“Is that why you are here? For business?”

She could not just banter with him. She simply could not. “Please, can we go somewhere private to talk?”

He searched her eyes with for a long moment before gesturing over his shoulder. “I’m in the middle of a meeting with sponsors. How about supper?”

“I am not here for seduction,” she stated bluntly.

“Okay.” His eye brows shot upward. “I thought I asked you to join me for gumbo, not sex. But now that we’re talking about sex–”

“We are not.” She cut him short. “Finish your meeting if you must, but I need to speak with you as soon as possible. Privately. Unless you want your personal business and mine overheard by all of your team straining to listen.”

She definitely was not ready for them to hear she was pregnant with the heir to the Reynaud family dynasty.


 

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USA Today bestseller and RITA Award winning author Catherine Mann writes contemporary romance for Berkley, Harlequin, Sourcebooks and Tule. With over sixty books released in more than twenty countries, she has also celebrated six RITA finals, an RT Reviewer’s Award finalist, three Maggie Award of Excellence finals and a Bookseller’s Best win. Catherine and her flyboy husband live on the Florida coast where they brought up their 4 children – and still have 5 four-legged, furry “children” (aka pets). Catherine is an active volunteer with an animal rescue, serving on their Board of Directors and fostering over 200 puppies, ill dogs, and dogs with service/working potential.


 

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29. Spotlight and Giveaway: The Last Riders by Jamie Begley

 
Enter to Win a
Print Set of The Last Riders Books 1-4

 
THE LAST RIDERS: FIRST FOUR VOTES
Razer’s Ride, Viper’s Run, Knox’s Stand & Shade’s Fall
Jamie Begley
Released Feb 1st, 2016
Young Ink Press
 
 
The Last Riders are a Motorcycle Club created by eight ex Navy SEALS, that make no excuses for the life they have chosen to lead. These men fight hard and f**k harder. Get your first four votes from Razer, Viper, Knox and Shade. 

Razer’s Ride: Book One

Beth Cornett is the town good girl, so staying out of the way of the motorcycle club’s dangerous members was a no brainer. Unfortunately, she manages to catch the eye of Razer, who has every intention of tempting her to take him on despite her misgivings. When her worst fears are realized, she is left heartbroken, determined to forget her walk on the wild side.

Razer was not going to change for any woman, not even Beth. Their lifestyles were too different; betrayed she ran. Realizing his mistake too late; she was not about to forgive and forget. It takes a killer intent on targeting Beth to bring her back to him and The Last Riders for protection. Razer may have learned his lesson, but this time, as long as she is at the club, she has to play by their rules.
 
Viper’s Run: Book Two

Winter Simmons received the surprise of her life when she discovered the man she had  been dating for the last two years was actually Viper, president of the Last Riders. A high school principal, Winter has no intention of ruining her reputation in the community to be with a man who betrayed her trust. Unforgiving, she turns her back on him, only to find that Viper is not the gentleman he portrayed.

Determined to find his brother’s killer, Loker James kept his identity as President of The Last Riders a secret from Winter. When the truth comes out, he is determined to make her see the real man who can control not only a group of dangerous bikers, but a woman whose life is a rulebook. Unable to prevent herself from being drawn into the very club she despises, Winter is about to lose everything important to her, unless Viper can prove she’s more than a moonlight run.

Knox’s Stand: Book Three

Knox, a former Navy Seal, has been in several dangerous situations, but nothing compares to dealing with Diamond Richards. Framed for murder, he needs the passionless lawyer to prove his innocence. But when he no longer needs her help, he’s going to show her the passion she’s capable of and walk away a free man.

Diamond plans on earning her huge fee to prove Knox is innocent, but she had no idea the muscled biker could bring out the passion she kept hidden behind her designer clothes. Trying to find a murderer is easier than dealing with The Last Riders and Knox’s sexcapades. He’s going to find out there is one woman worth standing and fighting for, despite his desire for freedom.

Shade’s Fall: Book Four

Shade is everything Lily doesn’t want in a man. He’s rude, obnoxious and he’s definitely not a cowboy. The tattooed enforcer for The Last Riders is a mystery Lily doesn’t want to solve. He’s too much for her to handle, especially with the nightmares from her past constantly threatening her sanity.

Lily is everything Shade wants in a woman. She’s sweet, kind and submissive. When she discovers the truth about The Last Riders, it threatens to tear apart every relationship within the club. Her rebellion causes the predatory instincts to rise in the ex Navy SEAL sniper.

When The Last Riders are threatened by another motorcycle club just as determined to claim Lily, Shade is her only hope of surviving the approaching confrontation. Could their passion be Shade’s downfall?

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Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo
 
 
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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30. Guest Post: Susanna Carr, Author of Illicit Night with the Greek

 

 

Please give a warm welcome to Susanna Carr!  She’s here to discuss a forbidden romance – the stepbrother hero! 

When my readers hear that the hero in Illicit Night with the Greek is the heroine’s stepbrother, the response is mixed. Some adore the story set-up while others avoiding books featuring the stepbrother hero.

Although I have read the occasional stepbrother hero over the years, it’s not a romance story I actively seek out. However, I’ve read more than a few in the past year just by chance because the stepbrother hero is becoming more popular these days in romance fiction. Some think it’s because the stepbrother is one of the last taboos. I’m not so sure. I think many writers prefer telling a story about a couple who already have an established relationship. Why not write about a hero who is part of the family? The conflict, risk factor and emotional angst are already built in!

It’s not unlike the brother’s best friend, another type of hero that has enjoyed a surge of popularity in romances for the past few years. The hero and heroine know each other for years. The brother’s best friend may have stood in as a big brother or saw the heroine as a little sister. And suddenly the relationship changes.

But there is one big difference between the two types of heroes. There’s no “like family” in this equation. They are family. The stepbrother is familiar and yet forbidden. This relationship changes everything and can rock the foundation of the family structure. There is also a risk of censure. It doesn’t matter if the couple is comprised of consenting adults and not related by blood—society still expects that their relationship remains platonic.

What do you think about the stepbrother hero? Do you seek out the stories or do you avoid them?

 

Publisher: Harlequin Presents
Publication Date: February 1
Romance sub-genre: contemporary romance
Book length: 192 pages
Goodreads link:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25897411-illicit-night-with-the-greek

Order links:
Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Illicit-Night-Greek-One-Consequences-ebook/dp/B0111OWG5U/
Barnes & Noble:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/illicit-night-with-the-greek-susanna-carr/1122252493?ean=9781488000621
Google Play:
https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Susanna_Carr_Illicit_Night_with_the_Greek?id=YNkaCgAAQBAJ
iBooks:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/illicit-night-with-the-greek/id1016372376?mt=11
Kobo:
https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/illicit-night-with-the-greek
Author links
Website: http://www.susannacarr.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Author.SusannaCarr
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SusannaCarr
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/22371


Bio:

Readers throughout the world find Susanna Carr’s award-winning contemporary romances a delightful escape that has often helped them through difficult times. Reviewers describe her award-winning stories as “fun”, “sexy” and “a must read”. When she isn’t writing or spending time with her family in the Pacific Northwest, Susanna enjoys reading romance and connecting with readers online.

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31. Spotlight and Giveaway: The Knave of Hearts by Elizabeth Boyle

 
Enter to Win a Print Bundle of
Rhymes with Love Series Books 1-4

 
THE KNAVE OF HEARTS
Rhymes With Love #5
Elizabeth Boyle
Releasing on January 26, 2016
Avon


 
In the fifth novel of the captivating Rhymes with Love series from New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Boyle, a young woman’s hopes of a match encounter a wickedly handsome complication…

Lavinia Tempest has been eagerly anticipating a spectacular Season. But one disastrous pile-up on the Almack’s dance floor derails all her plans. Add to that, the very stunning revelations about her mother’s scandalous past have become the ton’s latest on dits. Lavinia’s future has gone from shining bright to blackest night in one misstep.

Alaster “Tuck” Rowland admits he’s partly to blame for Lavinia’s disastrous debut. But it’s not guilt that compels him to restore her reputation. Rather, he’s placed a wager that he can make Lavinia into of the most sought-after ladies in London. Who better than an unrepentant rake to set Society astir?

Tuck’s motives are hardly noble. But in teaching the lovely Lavinia how to win any man she wants, he suddenly finds himself tangled in the last place he ever imagined: in love.

Excerpt

“Oh, come now, no one is going to leave without you. Besides, do an old woman a favor and tell her the story.” The woman winked with a cheeky glee. “I saw that kiss at the altar. I’d wager my broom there’s a bit of scandal and romance to all of this.” Then she looked at the door as well. “And more to come if I’m not mistaken.”

Lavinia smiled, for Tildie had the right of it. Everything about this wedding and the days leading up to it were filled with scandal … and romance.

Truly, what would a quick recap for a lonely old woman cost her?

So she gathered her thoughts and tried to decide where best to begin.

“I suppose you could say it started,” Lavinia told her rapt audience, “when Louisa and I came to London for our Season. Our godmother, Lady Charleton, had promised to sponsor us, or so we thought.” She paused for a moment. For what had really happened was that they’d arrived in London only to discover that the baroness had passed away over a year earlier, and it was the baron’s secretary who had made all the arrangements—including finding them a suitable chaperone, Lady Aveley.

But all those points hardly mattered. And as their dear friend, Lady Essex, always said when a story got long-winded, “Get to the good part.”

So Lavinia did. “Our fortunes truly changed the night we went to Almack’s and our party was joined by Mr. Rowland—”

At the mention of Lord Charleton’s nephew and heir, the charwoman brightened. “Oh, he’s a handsome one—the one who stood up with His Lordship—isn’t he?” Tildie sighed a little, her smile turning dreamy like a newly arrived debutante’s. “Knavish looking fellow if ever there was one,” the charwoman happily mused. Then, as if thinking better of her choice of words, she added quickly, “Well, that’s what me mum would have said.”

Though Tildie appeared to share that sentiment.

“And right she would be,” Lavinia advised the charwoman in no uncertain terms. For if ever there was a knave, it was Mr. Alaster Rowland. “None of this would have happened if Mr. Rowland hadn’t let go of me in the middle of Almack’s. None of this.” She looked down at the wedding bouquet in her hands before picking up her story again.

For Tildie’s sake, and her own.

For it had all happened so fast, she hardly believed it herself.

 
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ELIZABETH BOYLE has always loved romance and now lives it each and every day by writing adventurous and passionate stories that readers from all around the world have described as “page-turners.” Since her first book was published, she’s seen her romances become New York Times and USA Today bestsellers and win the RWA RITA Award and the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice awards. She resides in Seattle with her family, her garden and always growing collection of yarn. Readers can visit her on the Web at www.elizabethboyle.com.
 
 

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32. Spotlight and Giveaway: Extreme Honor by Piper J Drake

EXTREME HONOR by Piper J. Drake (January 26, 2016; Forever Mass Market; True Heroes #1)

HONOR, LOYALTY, LOVE

David Cruz is good at two things: war and training dogs. The ex-soldier’s toughest case is Atlas, a Belgian Malinois whose handler died in combat. Nobody at Hope’s Crossing kennel can break through the animal’s grief. That is, until dog whisperer Evelyn Jones walks into the facility . . . and into Atlas’s heart. David hates to admit that the curvy blonde’s mesmerizing effect isn’t limited to canines. But when Lyn’s work with Atlas puts her in danger, David will do anything to protect her.

Lyn realizes that David’s own battle scars make him uniquely qualified for his job as a trainer. Tough as nails yet gentle when it counts, he’s gotten closer to Atlas than anyone else-and he’s willing to put his hard-wired suspicion aside to let her do the same. But someone desperate enough to kill doesn’t want Lyn working with Atlas. Now only teamwork, trust, and courage can save two troubled hearts and the dog who loves them both . . .

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And don’t miss the second book in the True Heroes series, ULTIMATE COURAGE, on sale July 26, 2016!

Elisa Hall is good at starting from scratch. Leaving an abusive relationship in her rearview, she packs everything she owns into the trunk of her car and heads for refuge with her friend in Hope’s Crossing, North Carolina.
Alex Rojas returned from his second deployment as a Navy SEAL to find his condo empty and divorce papers on the breakfast table. Now he’s building a life for himself and his daughter at Hope’s Crossing kennels training younger dogs and handlers to search and rescue, struggling to adjust to life back in the States and as a single father. 

When Elisa shows up at the kennels, it’s obvious she’s running from something. Luckily, the dogs and trainers at Hope’s Crossing are more than capable of warding off trouble. And with every minute he spends with Elisa, Alex becomes even more and more determined to protect the woman he’s certain he won’t be able to live without…


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About the author:

Piper J. Drake (or “PJ”) spent her childhood pretending to study for the SATs by reading every interesting novel she could find at the library. After being introduced to the wonderful world of romance by her best friend, she dove into the genre. PJ began her writing career as PJ Schnyder, writing sci-fi & paranormal romance and steampunk, for which she won the FF&P PRISM award as well as the NJRW Golden Leaf award and Parsec award. PJ’s romantic suspense novels incorporate her interests in mixed martial arts and the military. The True Heroes series is inspired by her experience rescuing, owning and training a variety of retired working dogs, including Kaiser, a former guard dog, and Mozart, who was trained to detect explosives.

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EXCERPT:

“How’s Atlas doing?”

“He’s acknowledging her existence.” And didn’t that chafe his ass just a little bit. “She’s out walking the perimeter with him now.”

Speaking of, the pair came into view finally, far out across the grounds. Atlas kept pace with Lyn’s short stride, adjusting to her changes in speed and coming to heel when she paused to check out flowers or whatever.

Dog still maintained an air of disinterest, but he was out there with her and not laying on his belly in the kennel.

“So he’s making progress.” Beckhorn pressed for more.

“Baby steps, my friend.” Cruz chuckled. “Don’t go reporting him as recovered any time soon.”

“This mean you don’t want me to keep digging into who sent her?”

Cruz leaned back in his chair, considering. Her fear had been real the night before. Terror, really. “She was damned shaken up last night. Take a look at the debrief I sent you, off the record. Someone was looking for info she didn’t know she had. Or maybe she didn’t have it yet.”

“She’s a liability.” His friend made a grim noise.

“I had her check out of the hotel and gave her a place to stay here where I can keep an eye on her.” He didn’t entirely trust her yet but he was sure she hadn’t been faking anything the evening before. Her reactions had been genuine.

“You’re going to keep her around?” Beckhorn whistled, low and long. “Is she that hot?”

“It’s not about that and you know better.” Of course, Lyn chose to bend over right about then, checking out a pretty wildflower or weed or something, and he got a faraway view of her shapely rear.

Okay, she was hot.

But he wouldn’t keep a liability around just for that. He had Atlas in mind.

“Yeah, yeah,” Beckhorn continued, oblivious of the view. “What’s the plan now?

“We both know there was something to the way Calhoun died.” It was a big part of the reason Beckhorn had called Cruz so soon for Atlas. He’d needed someone he could trust to oversee the dog’s recovery before something unfortunate occurred. “Accidental friendly fire, my ass.”

“It’s the ‘accidental’ part in question. We both know it wasn’t friendly even if the round did come from one of ours.” Beckhorn’s tone went flat. “What we need to do is both prove it and find out why. Calhoun reached out to you just before he died and whatever drunk text he sent you pointed to Atlas.”

“At the time, the message hadn’t made any sense so I assumed it was a drunk text.” Cruz swallowed hard on the guilt and self-recrimination there. Not sure what he could’ve done from across a damned ocean but he still felt he should’ve realized something was wrong and helped his friend stay alive.

“It still doesn’t make any sense.” A string of curses followed. “Look. No ripping ourselves up for what we would’ve, should’ve, could’ve. We do the right thing now.”

“Yeah.” Cruz nodded even if Beckhorn couldn’t see.

Lyn resumed her stroll and Atlas took up position by her side. Dog might play like he wasn’t interested in the woman but he was engaged and Cruz would take whatever help there was to be had.

Of course, he might have more in common with the dog than he’d prefer to admit.

Last night, she’d suffered a bad scare. Things could have been far worse if he hadn’t shown up when he did. He’d been ready to rip her a new one when he’d come to her door, ajar only because her phone had landed in the entryway. It’d taken seconds to change gears from being angry with her to charging in to help her.

He’d have still gotten through, but it would’ve taken longer for him to realize what was going on and to break down the door. She’d been very lucky.

In those moments, he’d become someone else. The man he used to be. The stranger he’d locked down after he’d returned from deployment. When he’d heard her in danger, he’d gladly embraced the old rage and the cold calm to rush the door. Eliminate the threats.

“You still there, man?” Beckhorn brought him back.

A cold chill passed through Cruz as he realized he’d come to his feet. Maybe he hadn’t completely put the other him to rest yet, but it’d take some time to ease back and he hadn’t been all too relaxed as it was. It’d been why he’d come to spend time at Hope’s Crossing. “Yeah. Here.”

Now. Just a minute ago? Not so much. Seemed like Miss Evelyn Jones had a way of pushing all sorts of buttons with him without even trying to.

“You wanna share what you’re thinking? I can almost hear the gears turning in your head.”

Way across the field, Lyn had come to a halt. It was Atlas’s posture that got Cruz moving. “I’m going to have to call you back.”

 

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33. RULES FOR 50/50 CHANCES by Kate McGovern // Not Really Something I Would Recommend...

Review by Sara... RULES FOR 50/50 CHANCES By Kate McGovern Hardcover: 352 pages Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (November 24, 2015) Language: English Goodreads | Amazon  A heartrending but ultimately uplifting debut novel about learning to accept life's uncertainties; a perfect fit for the current trend in contemporary realistic novels that confront issues about life, death, and

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34. Spotlight and Giveaway: My American Duchess by Eloisa James

 
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MY AMERICAN DUCHESS
Eloisa James
Releasing on January 26, 2016
Avon Books


The arrogant Duke of Trent intends to marry a well-bred Englishwoman. The last woman he would ever consider marrying is the adventuresome Merry Pelford— an American heiress who has infamously jilted two fiancés.

But after one provocative encounter with the captivating Merry, Trent desires her more than any woman he has ever met. He is determined to have her as his wife, no matter what it takes. And Trent is a man who always gets what he wants.



The problem is, Merry is already betrothed, and the former runaway bride has vowed to make it all the way to the altar. As honor clashes with irresistible passion, Trent realizes the stakes are higher than anyone could have imagined. In his battle to save Merry and win her heart, one thing becomes clear:

All is fair in love and war.

Excerpt:

“Happily, I am ignorant about boils,” he said. “Are American ladies typically knowledgeable about such matters?”

“I can’t help recalling facts,” she confessed. “It’s a sad trial to me because it’s hard to remember in time that they ought not to be shared.”

“Why not?”

The corners of the man’s stern mouth had tipped upward in a most beguiling fashion. In fact, she found herself starting to lean toward him before she caught herself.

“There are few acceptable topics of conversation in London. It is quite wearying to try to remember what one is allowed to discuss,” she said with some feeling.

“Bonnets, but not boils?”

He must be something of a rake, Merry decided. The way his eyes laughed was very alluring.

“Exactly,” she said, nodding. “British ladies are discriminating conversationalists.”

“Don’t tell me you have ambitions to master the art of saying nothing.”

Merry laughed. “I fear I shall never become an expert at fashionable bibble-babble. What I truly dislike,” she said, finding herself confiding in him for no reason other than the fact that he seemed genuinely interested, “is that —”

She stopped, realizing that the subject was leading her to insult his countrymen. She was still a guest in this country, at least until she married Cedric; she should keep unfavorable opinions to herself.

The expression in his eyes was intoxicating, if only because no one else she’d met was interested in the impressions that an American had of their country. She loved London, if only for its marvelous public gardens, but there were aspects of polite society that she found tiresome.

“It’s the way people speak to each other,” she explained, choosing her words carefully. “They are clever, but their cleverness so frequently seems to take the form of an insult.”

Merry felt her cheeks growing warm. He must think her a complete simpleton. “It’s not that I don’t appreciate a witticism. But so very many remarks come at someone’s expense.”

He frowned at that. “Such people talk nothing but nonsense, and you should ignore them,” he ordered.

“Indeed, I am learning both to modify my subjects of conversation and to control my temper.”

“Admirable goals. Though I believe I’d like to see you in a passion.”

“You may mock me if you like, sir, but I can tell you that it is perishingly difficult for an American to transform herself into the perfect English lady! You should try it.”

He had a very appealing dent in his cheek when he smiled. “I’m quite sure I would fail. For one thing, I wouldn’t look anywhere near as appealing in a gown as you do.”


 

 
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A New York Times bestselling author, Eloisa James is a professor of English literature who lives with her family in New York, but who can sometimes be found in Paris or Italy. (Her husband is a honest to goodness Italian knight!) Eloisa’s website offers short stories, extra chapters, and even a guide to shopping in Florence. Visit her at www.eloisajames.com.

 

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35. REIGN OF SHADOWS by Sophie Jordan // An Interesting New Take On An Tale As Old As Time With A Side Of Meh...

By Becca... REIGN OF SHADOWS by Sophie Jordan Series: Reign of Shadows #1 Hardcover: 304 pages Publisher: HarperTeen (February 9, 2016) Language: English Ages: 13 and Up Goodreads | Amazon Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has

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36. A Little Less Romance Please

I am a romantic. I love the happily ever after of fairy tales. I want the girl to get the guy or vice versa, and I love reading about a good love story, but there’s way too much of it. I don’t mean that there are too many romance novels. I have no beef with that. I don’t even mind that so many of the YA novels being published are romances. What bothers me is that someone seems to have gotten the idea that all YA has to have at minimum a romance, and often a love triangle.

I confess that I am a long time past my teen years, but I refuse to believe that all teen novels must have a romance. When it’s well-written, regardless of the genre it works. The romance fits seamlessly into the story and it works. On the other hand, when the romance is inserted into the book for no reason other than that someone believes it should be there, it feels forced and out of place, and then it pretty much ruins the book for me. In a Huffington Post article called Lovesick and Tired: Unnecessary Romance in YA, Elizabeth Vail suggests that while there is nothing wrong with a good romance, if it’s unnecessary to the plot, don’t include it. If the romance doesn’t fit, readers will be able to tell, and it takes away from the book.

While fiction is to some extent a heightened and exaggerated version of reality, many of these romances go beyond exaggerated to ridiculous. In the Sci-Fi novel I’m reading right now, the heroine is smart, capable, a little bit arrogant, and pretty kick-butt. She makes money by retrieving teens from a virtual reality world if they’ve exceeded their permitted time in the game. In the virtual world, she can outfit herself with whatever kinds of weapons she needs, and she knows how to use them. At the start of the novel, she is contracted by the game’s creator to retrieve his son who is seemingly attempting to remain permanently in the game. They’ve never met. They don’t know anything about one another, and within 24 hours, she’s “seriously making out with him” as she puts it. The book is pretty exciting on its own. The virtual reality world is rich and complex. There is action and danger and tons of suspense to keep me turning the pages, which makes me wonder- why did they hook up? They are in a life-or-death situation. They are trapped in the virtual reality world where somebody or something might be trying to kill their real world selves, and yet they have time to take walks on the virtual beach and fall in love? Despite what we think, teens don’t automatically buy into the “insta-love” trope that has become all too common. Love at first sight is a wonderful and romantic idea, and it’s a device that can make a good romance novel seem even more romantic. But when the world is being taken over by aliens, or you’re in a life-or-death battle against rogue robots for example, how does that insta-love fit?

Perhaps even more overdone than insta-love are love triangles. I know that it’s fun to imagine two different guys fighting over you, and that it’s possible to legitimately have feelings for more than one guy at the same time. In Kiera Kass’ Selection series, the triangle made sense. America already had a guy that she felt something for before she entered the Selection. As she got to know the prince, she developed feelings for him too, but that didn’t mean she automatically stopped feeling something for her childhood love Aspen. Both characters were well-developed and interesting, and it wasn’t a given who she would choose.

On the other hand, in Zodiac by Romina Russell, the love triangle drove me nuts. The world she created was interesting, the story was solid and exciting, and I liked the main character Rhoma. As with the previous Sci-Fi I mentioned, the triangle just didn’t make sense. Rhoma’s world has been destroyed. The rest of the world is under threat, and Rhoma seems to be the only one who can save the entire universe from destruction. It would seem like she has more pressing problems than trying to figure out how to juggle two different guys.

in her article, Elizabeth Vail says that authors shouldn’t write multi-genre novels if they only respect one of the genres, and I highly agree. To quote Gloria Steinem, “If the shoe doesn’t fit, must we change the foot?” In other words, you shouldn’t try to force a romance into a story where it doesn’t fit. Accept that it doesn’t fit into that particular story and work with what does. There will always be another foot for that shoe.

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37. #Zombies Review: Waking Up Alive by Emma Shortt

 

Contains Spoilers!

Polly Parker has things good in deadly chaos after the zombie apocalypse.  She’s snug as a bug in a secure building in Chicago, just waiting for the wakers to die.  She occasionally ventures outside to give herself something to do, and when the mathematician runs into Tye LeBow, she turns her cushy life on end.  Letting Tye into her home, and her life, is a huge risk for Polly, one that she’s very careful about making.  The last time she tried to help someone, she was viciously assaulted, proving that the zombies aren’t the only monsters prowling the streets.

Tye is just looking for his partner, Jackson (you can read about her adventures in Waking Up Dead – highly recommended!) when he runs into Polly and almost gets himself blown to bits in the process.  The two form an uneasy alliance after escaping from a mob of zombies.  Impressed by Polly’s bravery, as well as how she’s been able to hide for the past two years, he is still apprehensive that her luck won’t hold out forever.  When her safe haven is overrun, the two head south to the refuge camp in Laredo, dodging danger and death every step of the way.

I really liked Polly.  She’s a nerd, but she’s a bomb-making, sharp-shooter kind of a nerd.  She has believable fears about being eaten by zombies, but when it comes time to save someone, she’s there with her gun and her grit.  She was a nice match for Tye, but I thought he was just a little too good to be true.  He’s ruthless with his ax, but he’s kind, gentle, and possesses a positive attitude that I would be hard pressed to match in the middle of a zombie apocalypse.

I really enjoyed this up until the point Polly was bitten, and then it didn’t hold my attention as well.  The secondary characters weren’t appealing either.  Seb’s character was inconsistent, and I didn’t buy into his mistake that allowed the zombies to escape from his lab.  Jackson just grated here, while I loved her in Waking Up Dead, and Luke was completely under-utilized here.  He was pretty much just Jackson’s arm candy, which was disappointing. 

The action up to Tye and Polly reaching Laredo was blistering, and what I enjoy best about zombie books.  They were constantly on the run, dodging from evermore cunning monsters that want nothing more than to eat them.  Their flight from Chicago is tense and nerve-wracking, and kept me turning the pages.

Then they get to Laredo and everything came to a screeching halt.  If you are more interested in the possible recovery from a devastating zombie virus, than this will be right up your alley.  Seb, a scientist, believes he finally has the key to manufacturing a cure for the plague that has brought a bloody and violent end to the world.  I found the lab time tedious and wasn’t as engaged in that aspect of the story.

Grade: B-

Review copy provided by publisher

About the book:

After surviving the zombie apocalypse for two years, Tye LeBow never expected to be saved from a hungry gang of zombies by a geek with a bad attitude and a penchant for explosives. Tye can’t quite work out why scientist Polly Parker saved him. She doesn’t want his protection, and she certainly doesn’t want his company. But Tye has no intention of leaving the beguiling geek behind.

Polly doesn’t want to leave her home, but when the wakers begin to show signs of a burgeoning intelligence, heading south is the only option. With a car packed full of homemade explosives, and Tye’s very large axe, they are ready for the road trip of their lives.

Bombs and blades aren’t the only keys to survival–they’ll need to rely on each other, in a way that neither could have imagined…

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38. Spotlight and Giveaway: A Duchess in Name by Amanda Weaver

 
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A DUCHESS IN NAME
The Grantham Girls #1
Amanda Weaver
Releasing on January 18, 2016.
Carina Press
 


Victoria Carson never expected love. An American heiress and graduate of Lady Grantham’s finishing school, she’s been groomed since birth to marry an English title—the grander the better. So when the man chosen for her, the forbidding Earl of Dunnley, seems to hate her on sight, she understands that it can’t matter. Love can have no place in this arrangement.

Andrew Hargrave has little use for his title and even less for his cold, disinterested parents. Determined to make his own way, he’s devoted to his life in Italy working as an archaeologist. Until the collapse of his family’s fortune drags him back to England to a marriage he never wanted and a woman he doesn’t care to know.



Wild attraction is an unwanted complication for them both, though it forms the most fragile of bonds. Their marriage of convenience isn’t so intolerable after all—but it may not be enough when the deception that bound them is finally revealed.

Excerpt:

She cleared her throat and leaned forward to set her untouched sherry on the table, but his hand shot out to close around her wrist. Her breath stalled as he slid his fingers down to cover hers, gently plucking the glass from her hand. He set it down for her, and his own as well, but he didn’t lean back. The scent of his bay rum tickled her nose, and she was close enough to see the faint dark stubble beginning to form on his jaw. Surely, this close to her, he could hear her heart pounding.

His hand found her wrist again and he traced his way up to her elbow, curling his fingers around her upper arm. She burned everywhere he touched. She should get up and leave. His intentions were clear and the longer she sat here, the more awkward it would become. The moment for decision was past as he slid his hand back into her hair, holding her head gently between his palms. She wanted to push him away and flee, but she couldn’t seem to make herself move, not when he was so close, staring into her eyes this way.

“Victoria, we’ve had a bad start, you and I.” His thumb caressed her cheekbone and slowly, inexorably, he drew her face closer to his. “I’m not returning to Italy this summer. I’m staying here. And I’d like us to start again. As a real husband and wife.”

She was stunned into silence, absorbing his words. Staying. Invading. This was her place and he was forcing his way into it, asking her for the impossible.

The implications of it were still reverberating in her heart when he caught her off guard and kissed her. The shock of it all made her slow to respond, and she didn’t push him away when she should have. She held still long enough to notice how different this was from the other kisses they shared. He wasn’t drunk, there was no anger. This wasn’t a kiss to punish, this was a kiss to seduce—

And that was when she finally found the wherewithal to move.

“No, please don’t.”


 

 
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Amanda Weaver has loved romance since she read that very first Kathleen E. Woodiwiss novel at fifteen. After a long detour into a career as a costume designer in theatre, she’s found her way back to romance, this time as a writer.

A native Floridian, Amanda transplanted to New York City many years ago and now considers Brooklyn home, along with her husband, daughter, two cats, and nowhere near enough space.


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39. Mini Review: Nightfall by Ellen Conner

May Contain Spoilers

I loved the action, but struggled with the protagonists. They aren’t particularly likable, or rational, which made me doubt they would, indeed, survive the end of the world.  Jenna, in particular, behaves with extreme immaturity, which both grated and made me wish, even for a moment, that she would be the next victim of the demon dogs.  She is more upset that Mason freezes her out emotionally than she’s mad that he kidnapped her, tying her up and tossing her in the trunk of her car before driving her to his isolated cabin in the woods.  He only does it to “save” her from the end of the world, but since she doesn’t believe that the end of the world is nigh, she should have been a lot more pissed at him than she was about that incident.

There’s a lot of sexual tension, but Mason and Jenna’s relationship never seemed to grow from sex and lust to love. Maybe in a scary new world that’s all you need, but as a reader, I was disappointed at their lack of emotional development. They both act like 10 year olds, sniping and even physically fighting with each other. I’m not sure that I’m ever going to buy into a relationship between them, should they ever start to actually communicate, which they really didn’t until the very end of the book.  It’s all mine, mine, mine, and I don’t consider feelings of possession to equate to feelings of love and tenderness, but maybe I’m weird that way.

This book rocked when the characters were hiding or running away from the monsters that relentlessly tried to eat them. The interactions between the protagonists, however, wasn’t exactly my cup of tea.  I did like Tru and Penny, two of the younger supporting characters, and I’m looking forward to  reading their story.

Grade: B/B-

Review copy purchased from Amazon

About the book:

First in a stunning new post-apocalyptic paranormal romance trilogy.

Growing up with an unstable, often absent father who preached about the end of the world, Jenna never thought in her wildest nightmares that his predictions would come true. Or that he would have a plan in place to save her-one that includes the strong, stoic man who kidnaps and takes her to a remote cabin in the Pacific Northwest.

The mysterious ex-Marine named Mason owes a life-debt to Jenna’s father. Skilled and steadfast, he’s ready for the prophesied Change, but Jenna proves tough to convince. Until the power grid collapses and mutant dogs attack-vicious things that reek of nature gone wrong.

When five strangers appear, desperate to escape the bloodthirsty packs, Jenna defies her protector and rescues them. As technology fails and the old world falls away, Jenna changes too, forever altered by supernatural forces. To fight for their future, she and Mason must learn to trust their instinctive passion-a flame that will see them through the bitter winter, the endless nights, and the violence of a new Dark Age.

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40. Spotlight and Giveaway: The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean

 
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THE ROGUE NOT TAKEN
Scandal & Scoundrel #1
Sarah MacLean
Releasing December 29th, 2015
Avon Books
 
 
Lady Sophie’s Society Splash

When Sophie, the least interesting of the Talbot sisters, lands her philandering brother-in-law backside-first in a goldfish pond in front of all society, she becomes the target of very public aristocratic scorn. Her only choice is to flee London, vowing to start a new life far from the aristocracy. Unfortunately, the carriage in which she stows away isn’t saving her from ruin . . . it’s filled with it.
 
Rogue’s Reign of Ravishment!

Kingscote, “King,” the Marquess of Eversley, has never met a woman he couldn’t charm, resulting in a reputation far worse than the truth, a general sense that he’s more pretty face than proper gentleman, and an irate summons home to the Scottish border. When King discovers stowaway Sophie, however, the journey becomes anything but boring.
 
War? Or More?

He thinks she’s trying to trick him into marriage. She wouldn’t have him if he were the last man on earth. But carriages bring close quarters, dark secrets, and unbearable temptation, making opposites altogether too attractive . . .
 

Excerpt

Intro from Sarah MacLean

Being shot on the Great North Road isn’t exactly a thing people expect to happen, and Lady Sophie Talbot finds herself in the rooms above The Warbling Wren pub, under the welcome care of a rather mad doctor and the watchful eye of the rather infuriating (and infuriatingly handsome) Kingscote, Marquess of Eversley. There are worse things, she supposes. Or are there? Not for King.)

“If you want a bath, you’ll have to accept my help,” he said.

She pursed her lips at that, her gaze settling longingly on the steaming bath. “You mustn’t look.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it.” It might have been the most obvious lie he’d ever told.

Somehow, she believed it, nodding and throwing back the coverlet to step out of the bed. She came to her feet, the top of her head at his chin, and he resisted the urge to help her across the room. “How do you feel?” he asked, hearing the gravel in his words. He cleared his throat.

“As though I’ve been shot, I’d imagine.”

He raised a brow. “Clever. There’s food when you’ve bathed.” The words summoned a low growl from her, and her hands flew to her stomach. Her cheeks turned red, and he smiled. “I take it you are hungry.”

“It seems so,” she said.

“Food after the bath. And then sleep.”

She met his gaze. “You’re very domineering.”

“It’s a particular talent.”

“What with you being called King.”

“Name is destiny.”

She moved past him to the high copper bathtub. He resumed his place against the wall, arms crossed, watching her carefully as she reached down, her long fingers trailing in the hot water as she sighed her anticipation. The sound was like gunfire in the room—pure, unadulterated pleasure. It was delicious.

King stiffened. He was not interested in the lady’s pleasure.

If only someone would tell his body that.


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(Being shot on the Great North Road isn’t exactly a thing people expect to happen, and Lady Sophie Talbot finds herself in the rooms above The Warbling Wren pub, under the welcome care of a rather mad doctor and the watchful eye of the rather infuriating (and infuriatingly handsome) Kingscote, Marquess of Eversley. There are worse things, she supposes. Or are there? Not for King.)



“If you want a bath, you’ll have to accept my help,” he said.

She pursed her lips at that, her gaze settling longingly on the steaming bath. “You mustn’t look.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it.” It might have been the most obvious lie he’d ever told.

Somehow, she believed it, nodding and throwing back the coverlet to step out of the bed. She came to her feet, the top of her head at his chin, and he resisted the urge to help her across the room. “How do you feel?” he asked, hearing the gravel in his words. He cleared his throat.

“As though I’ve been shot, I’d imagine.”

He raised a brow. “Clever. There’s food when you’ve bathed.” The words summoned a low growl from her, and her hands flew to her stomach. Her cheeks turned red, and he smiled. “I take it you are hungry.”

“It seems so,” she said.

“Food after the bath. And then sleep.”

She met his gaze. “You’re very domineering.”

“It’s a particular talent.”

“What with you being called King.”

“Name is destiny.”

She moved past him to the high copper bathtub. He resumed his place against the wall, arms crossed, watching her carefully as she reached down, her long fingers trailing in the hot water as she sighed her anticipation. The sound was like gunfire in the room—pure, unadulterated pleasure. It was delicious.

King stiffened. He was not interested in the lady’s pleasure.

If only someone would tell his body that.


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Sarah MacLean grew up in Rhode Island, obsessed with historical romance and bemoaning the fact that she was born far too late for her own season. Her love of all things historical helped to earn her degrees from Smith College and Harvard University before she finally set pen to paper and wrote her first book.

Sarah now lives in New York City with her husband, baby daughter, their dog, and a ridiculously large collection of romance novels. She loves to hear from readers. Please visit her at www.macleanspace.com


 

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41. Spotlight and Giveaway: Of Flame and Promise by Cecy Robson

 
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OF FLAME AND PROMISE
Weird Girls #6
Cecy Robson
Releasing on January 12, 2016
Loveswept
 


Perfect for fans of Keri Arthur and Bella Forrest, this short novel kicks off a sizzling new series in the award-winning Weird Girls saga as Celia’s sister Taran fights to have it all: independence, hot romance, and enough firepower to torch an army of blood-thirsty supernaturals.

Cursed by a spell meant to destroy them, Taran Wird and her sisters instead developed unique magical talents. With the power of fire and lightning literally at her fingertips, Taran doesn’t fear much. Demons, vamps, whatever—bring ’em on! Only one thing terrifies her: commitment.

Taran is crazy about her boyfriend, Gemini, a sexy were with the incredible ability to split into two separate wolves. But after watching her sister go through heartbreak with the pack’s Alpha, Taran knows not to count on happily ever after—despite Gemini’s desire to claim her as his mate. Reluctantly, she agrees to meet his very traditional and conservative parents. Taran’s a badass with a mouth to match, and Gemini loves her for it. She’s just not positive these attributes will please Mom and Dad.



Unsurprisingly, every attempt by Taran to bond with Gemini’s folks proves disastrous. But in the end, Taran finds that winning them over means unleashing her powers . . . and proving that this foul-mouthed fire-starter is a force to be reckoned with.

Excerpt

I’d woken only about an hour ago, Gemini’s warm, naked body curled against mine firing a need that required some serious quenching. So I buried my face in his lap to stir him from sleep.

Most women would have just said good morning, or nudged their partners ever so lovingly.

But I wasn’t most women.

Yeah, and you’re welcome, baby.

Gemini slowed his deep thrusts, grunting hard as he finished, his face scrunched in what appeared to be pain. But that wasn’t pain, was it? Nope, not at all. He was simply reacting to how good it felt to join his body with mine. I nibbled my way along his neck, leaving marks that faded from one bite to the next until I reached his earlobe and tugged. “Mornin’, sexy,” I whispered.

He growled something I didn’t quite understand. I didn’t speak a word of wolf, yet that deep snarl was as good as the dirty talk we’d exchanged during sex.

I laughed. Okay, maybe it wasn’t as good as those naughty words. Yet a growl from a werewolf in his human form was a rare kind of hot few women would know.

I continued to straddle Gemini as he effortlessly carried us from the center of the room, where we’d made love standing up, and back to our bed. The gentle way in which he kissed me was in direct contrast to our wicked sex, and to the male most saw.

My lover was the second in command of the Tahoe region’s Squaw Valley Den Pack—intelligent, fierce, capable of crushing skulls, quietly confident, and with fighting skills few weres possessed.

Not to mention he was hotter than the power I generated with my magic.

All large anatomical parts and good looks aside, Gemini was . . . kind. When you trash-talked, and entered a room like you owned it like I did, it attracted a certain caliber of men. The kind that made me grateful I could protect myself with fire and lightning.

Men could be cruel, and dangerous. I knew that better than most. But unlike those men I’ve known in my past, I trusted Gemini.


 

 
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CECY ROBSON is the New Adult and Contemporary author of the Shattered Past series, the O’Brien Family novels, and the award winning author of the Weird Girls Urban Fantasy Romance series. A self-proclaimed professional napper, Cecy counts among her talents a jaw-dropping knowledge of useless trivia, the ability to make her hair big, and a knack for breaking into song, despi4e her family’s vehement protests. A full-time writer, registered nurse, wife, and mother living in the South, Cecy enjoys spending time with her family and silencing the yappy characters in her head by telling their stories.

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42. Spotlight and Giveaway: Cinderella Busted by Petie McCarty

 
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CINDERELLA BUSTED
The Cinderella Romances #1
Petie McCarty
Released December 16th, 2015
Soul Mate Publishing

 
Cinderella’s fairy tale moves to Jupiter Island, Florida where Lily Foster, owner of an eclectic landscape nursery, is mistaken for a wealthy socialite by billionaire resort developer Rhett Buchanan. Overdue for a little romance in her life, Lily is anxious for one fabulous date with her handsome prince, so she cultivates her inadvertent masquerade.
 
Rhett Buchanan has become jaded with the Palm Beach social scene, dominated by scheming women desperate for more money — his money. Rhett falls hard when he meets Lily Foster. She is a breath of fresh air after the smog of gold diggers constantly surrounding him.
 
For Rhett and Lily, it’s love at first sight until her deception comes to light and pitches their relationship into a disastrous tailspin. Well-meaning friends are determined to intercede and resort to inept high jinks to reunite the estranged couple while a wicked ex-girlfriend plays dirty to keep the couple apart.
 

Excerpt

The front door of the quaint, shake-roofed office stood open when Rhett Buchanan drove into the parking area. Like he had time for this foolishness. Whoever heard of the CEO of a billion-dollar development firm approving a truckload of trees, even if they were species no other nursery could grow?

He peered through the windshield at the overhead sign. Evidently, a small-time nursery called Bloom & Grow had heard of such nonsense. He tugged his tie loose and rolled up the sleeves on his white dress shirt before angling out of his black SUV. At least a nice breeze was whipping off the Intracoastal Waterway.

Rhett had argued with Garrett over lunch about doing this inspection alone. Apparently, this eccentric nursery insisted on a final inspection conducted only by the actual owner—no substitutes. Sounded more like an interview. He let out a resigned sigh. Garrett Tucker made Rhett’s new resort developments stand out like diamonds in the rough and accomplished the feat with specialty landscape materials. The man had a gift, but only Garrett could find an oddball place like this to buy trees.

“Better just to get this over with,” he muttered and started up the stairs to the porch.

At the threshold, he froze. His gaze slowly took in a pair of perfect slender legs, then inched up to a spectacular yellow sundress with a cleavage that made his mouth water.

Damn.

A flawless complexion, shoulder-length blond hair, and delicate features finished the marvelous package who appeared to be perusing some sort of plant brochure. At that moment, Rhett wished he owned this oddball nursery, so he could spend all day selling plants to the beauty in the yellow sundress.

Wait a minute. Single women don’t buy plants. Married women buy plants.

His eyes flashed to her left hand.

No ring. Hmm. Things just got interesting.

He cleared his throat.

The beauty started and turned a pair of sapphires the color of the Gulf Stream in his direction.

“Sorry,” he said, then smiled. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”

The beauty smiled back—a dazzling smile with perfect straight white teeth.

His mouth went dry. The woman was drop-dead gorgeous.

“It’s okay,” she said softly. “I was daydreaming and didn’t hear you come in.”

He nodded, started to reply, then didn’t. He just wanted to stare a while longer. Quickly realizing he’d look like an idiot if he did, he cleared his throat and began again. “Sorry, I’m being rude. My name is Rhett Buchanan.”

She took the hand he extended. He felt a spark, and her eyes widened almost imperceptibly. If he hadn’t been staring at her eyes, he might have missed it. Had she felt the spark, too?

“I’m Lily Foster.”

“I’m, uh, h-here to inspect some plants. T-Trees actually. An order for BDC.”

Great. He just stuttered like a bashful high-school boy. This from a man who bought and sold corporations over lunch. What the hell was wrong with him today?

“I see.” She stared for a long moment, then glanced down.

Good Lord, was he still holding her hand?

“Sorry.” He let her go.

She smiled again. “The sales manager will be right back.”

“Are you here to inspect trees, too?” At least he didn’t stutter this time. He was getting his wind back.

“No, I’m here to look over the new interiors line.” She held up the brochure.

He nodded. He wanted to keep her talking. Her voice sounded sexy as hell.

“Do you spend a lot of time here?” He glanced around the tidy office made cozy with a half-dozen plants and palms of some sort.

“Not really.”

He nodded again. He was getting real good at nodding. “Are you pretty good with landscaping?”

She eyed him warily. “Yeah?”

He dusted off what he hoped was his most charming smile. “Maybe you could help me with my inspection. It’s too many trees for me, and I could sure use some help.”

“Well, Tammy will be there to answer any questions.”

“Tammy?”

“Tammy Waynette, the sales manager.”

He narrowed his eyes. “You’re kidding me, right?”

“About what?” The sapphires looked wide and innocent.

“The name—Waynette.”

She laughed, a musical sound like delicate wind chimes. “I’m not kidding. Tammy says her mother loved the country western singer.”

He grinned back, couldn’t help himself. “Poor girl.”

“I don’t think she minds.”

He nodded. Again. “Do you know if she went to the laydown yard? My assistant said the trees would be staged in the laydown yard. We could meet her there and get started.”

Her eyebrows rose to twin peaks. “We?”

“Yeah, well, Tammy’s here to sell trees, and I’m looking for an objective second opinion on what I should keep or exchange. I could sure use your help since you’re pretty good with landscaping and all.”

Not that he had any intention of exchanging anything. He couldn’t tell a diseased tree from a healthy one, but he’d look at every single tree if it meant spending more time with Lily Foster.

She hesitated. “I suppose I could tag along.”

“Great! Shall we go?”

Lily led Buchanan outside where they grabbed the customer golf cart parked in front of the office. Rhett climbed behind the wheel and headed for the center drive Lily indicated. The man was tall; she guessed at least four inches over six feet. Riding passenger gave her an excuse to stare at him and wonder how she’d gotten so lucky. To actually be dressed up on the day a gorgeous hunk came in to inspect trees? What were the odds? A successful hunk, too, since he owned his own corporation, and Tammy said the BDC order was a big one.

Rhett Buchanan certainly didn’t fit her impression of a corporate CEO, powerfully built and handsome enough she had gone completely tongue-tied back in the office. She could get lost in those amazing green eyes. And that slow, sexy smile he’d given her had made her toes curl.

Yikes!

“You’re smiling,” he said. “What’s so funny?”

“Nothing. I’m just enjoying a pretty day.”

She would do much better out here in the nursery with plant material to talk about rather than forcing conversation in the office. For the first time in her life, she wished she had spent more time flirting with boys in high school like all the other girls. Instead, she had studied her heart out to get good grades and make Hank proud since she was all he had.

Buchanan pulled the cart up at the laydown yard, but there was no sign of Tammy’s fiery-red curls among the rows of trees. An errant customer had probably waylaid her somewhere in the nursery.

Lily and Buchanan got out and ambled over to the first row of trees, a dozen dwarf magnolias. The containers were well-chosen, some of their best product. Hands on his hips, he gazed at the trees and back at her, then raised his brows in question.

“They’re perfectly matched, disease-free,” she said.

“I thought so, too.” He winked.

She felt her neck flush, and her gaze strayed to the dusting of dark hair on his tanned forearms. “Where are you going to use all this stock?”

“A new condominium and shopping district in Boca. These trees are for Phase I, and I suspect Garrett will be ordering more.”

“Garrett?”

“He’s the vice-president of real estate development for our company, BDC. He’s also a frustrated landscape architect—that was his bachelor’s degree—but his subsequent MBA pushed him up the corporate ladder.”

“You like him,” she said simply.

His gaze sharpened. “I do. How did—”

“The sound of your voice when you talk about him.”

“Wow, beautiful and perceptive.”

She felt her cheeks grow warm and glanced away.

“Sorry,” he said softly, “I didn’t mean to embarrass you.”

“You didn’t.”

A dark brow went up.

“Okay, maybe a little.”

Actually a whole lot. Rhett Buchanan seemed so confident, so sure of himself. She was out of her league, and she knew it, but she still wanted to play for just a little while longer.

“Garrett and I were fraternity brothers in college,” Rhett was saying. “Been together ever since.”

“Ah, I see. So who likes the plants, you or Garrett?”

“Mostly Garrett, but I do appreciate their value. He’s convinced me that installing—and more importantly, maintaining—specialty landscapes can double the exterior value of architectural designs.”

“Good for him! He’s right.”

“Another plant lover,” he said, grinning.

“Of course I am.”

“You’re gorgeous when you smile,” he said suddenly.

Okay, that had nothing to do with inspecting trees. Was Mr. Buchanan flirting with her? He’d complimented her twice in five minutes. She jerked her gaze away. She was heating up—all over.

“I’ve embarrassed you again.”

“You didn’t,” she assured him, lying through her teeth. “You just took me by surprise is all.”

“I would think you hear that a lot,” he said softly.

“Oh. No. I don’t.”

He stepped closer, and she feared her cheeks and neck would turn bright pink. She quickly moved toward the next row of trees. The first six containers were perfectly manicured weeping mulberry trees. This Garrett guy sure knew his plant material. She guessed he had selected their best specimens.

“What do you think?” she asked, gesturing toward the mulberries and staring straight ahead. Safer that way.

“Gorgeous, like I said.”

She glanced back.

He wasn’t looking at the mulberries. He was staring at her. Her cheeks just had to be pink. Lord knew they felt hot enough.

“You’re supposed to be inspecting trees,” she scolded with a smile.

He laughed. “Oh yeah, that’s right.”

By the time they made it through the third row of containers populated with an assortment of Helliconia and Callistemon, she grew more comfortable and even tried flirting back. They laughed and joked about the perfect places to plant the gnarly and exceedingly crooked Corylus, and Lily had the time of her life. Until the bottom dropped out about halfway down the fourth row at the gray Bismarchia palms.

“Do you buy a lot of plants here?” Buchanan suddenly asked.

Her head snapped up from examining a bent gray frond. She swallowed. “Buy?”

“You must be one of the nursery’s best customers as well as you know the stock and know your way around here.” He gave her that slow, sexy smile again. “Are you buying landscaping for business or pleasure?”

Oh good grief! He thinks I’m a customer.

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Petie spent a large part of her career working as a biologist at Walt Disney World — “The Most Magical Place on Earth” — where she enjoyed working in the land of fairy tales by day and creating her own romantic fairy tales by night. She eventually said good-bye to her “day” job to write her stories full-time.

Petie shares her home on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee with her horticulturist husband, a spoiled-rotten English Springer spaniel addicted to pimento-stuffed green olives, and a noisy Nanday conure named Sassy who made a cameo appearance in Angel to the Rescue.

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43. ENDURE by Sara B. Larson // The RIGHT Way To End An Amazing Series...

Review by Krista  ENDURE by Sara B. Larson Series: Defy #3 Hardcover: 320 Publisher: Scholastic Press (December 29, 2015) Language: English Goodreads | Amazon The remarkable third novel in Sara B. Larson's bestselling Defy series!At last, Alexa and King Damian are engaged to be married. But their lives are far from safe. The kingdom of Antion is under siege, and Rylan is a prisoner of the

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44. Release Blast and Giveaway: Till Death Us Do Part by Cristina Slough

 
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TILL DEATH US DO PART
Cristina Slough
Releasing Dec 29th, 2015
Limitless Publishing
 
 
The fateful day Mimi Marcus has dreaded begins with a phone call…
 
The wife of a U.S. Marine, Mimi spent countless nights worried that her husband Joel would fall in the line of duty. He had fought valiantly and served his country with honor. That’s exactly what they tell her when they deliver the news—Joel was taken by the enemy in Afghanistan. Her husband is dead.
 
In desperate need of closure, Mimi travels to the one place Joel still has ties—The Marcus Ranch in Texas, inherited by his handsome younger brother Austin.
 
New beginnings are only an illusion…
 
The closer Mimi grows to the Marcus family, the more she considers it home. But when suspicions of Joel’s past surface, Austin refuses to disclose family secrets—even to his brother’s widow. It’s only by accident she uncovers evidence of Joel’s tainted past. Devastated by his lies and betrayal, she slowly opens up to Austin, and together they unfold layers of pain and grief.
 
Mimi is sure she’ll never love again, but is Austin the man to prove her wrong? Then the unthinkable happens…
 
Just as Mimi finds new hope in a future with Austin, Joel returns home from war. Enraged, traumatized, and teetering on the edge of insanity, Joel confesses to a history of deception, revealing yet another secret—this one too terrible to forgive.
 
In an awful twist of fate, Joel proves marriage vows are made to be honored.

No matter what.

Excerpt

He watched her, his eyes sad. They appeared to gleam in the flash of simultaneous lightning; he appeared to reach out to her, his body bloody and wet.

Mimi remembered a dream that she had, a few months before, the night before she had been informed that Joel had been killed. Only, this wasn’t a dream. She was awake and he was standing in front of her.

She felt the blood drain from her face.

“What is it?” Austin asked.

“It’s Joel. He’s…he’s outside.” Her voice trembled.

Austin leapt out of bed. He saw his brother standing out in the pouring rain. He felt a wave of anger, followed by fear. Joel looked like a ghost, lost, broken, but the way his body stood rigid told him he needed to worry.

“I’ll go talk to him,” he said, pulling on his jeans that were draped over a chair sitting in the corner of the room.

“No, don’t. He looks crazy,” Mimi said, her voice high-pitched.

She’d never ever been fearful of her husband; he had never given her reason to, never any doubt, but in the darkness of this stormy night, something inside was telling her she had cause to panic.

“Just stay here, alright.”

“Austin, please don’t go out there,” she pleaded “Let me go…I’ll talk to him; it’s me he’s come for.”

Austin swallowed hard. “Actually Mimi, I think it’s me he’s come for.”


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Novelist, movie addict, and animal lover, Cristina Slough is the author of Till Death Us Do Part, her debut novel.

Cristina has always been a bookworm, rarely seen without a pen and paper in her hand, she loves delving into a literacy fictional world of her own.

At the age of 11, her junior school teacher told her mother that she would be wasting her life if she didn’t become an author. Throughout her teenage years and beyond, her parents spurred her on to keep writing. She later began a career in commercial real estate, working in London’s West End, a corporate bubble where she was unable to fuel her passion to write.

It was on her Californian honeymoon in 2012 that the bug to write was becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. After visiting Yosemite National Park she was inspired by the natural beauty of the land that surrounded her. Holding a special place in her heart, Yosemite would later be written into her debut novel.

She finally gave up the ‘big smoke’ when her son, Lucas, was born in October 2013.

When Lucas was a newborn, Cristina was told to sleep when the baby sleeps. She never could. There was a calling inside her to write. After getting to grips with her new role as a mother, she began working a psychological thriller, but she couldn’t fully connect to the characters she created. She ditched the manuscript and started Till Death Us Do Part (Limitless Publishing, 2015).

Cristina is married to Adam, who runs a successful business; together they share their Bedfordshire home with their son, crazy white German Shepherd and three spoiled cats. They can be found trekking through woodlands, or around the many shops Cristina loves to explore. As a family, they love to travel frequently, the United States being a firm favorite.

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45. UNDERWATER by Marisa Reichardt // A Book With A Character You Can Root For!!

Review by Rachel  UNDERWATER by Marisa Reichardt Hardcover: 288 pages Publisher: Macmillan (January 12, 2016) Language: English Goodreads | Amazon Morgan didn’t mean to do anything wrong that day. Actually, she meant to do something right. But her kind act inadvertently played a role in a deadly tragedy. In order to move on, Morgan must learn to forgive—first someone who did something that

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46. Spotlight and Giveaway: Dukes Prefer Blondes by Loretta Chase

 
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DUKES PREFER BLONDES
The Dressmakers #4
Loretta Chase
Releasing December 29th,2015
Avon Books
 
 
Lady Clara, the fan-favorite character from Loretta Chase’s New York Times and USA Today bestselling Dressmakers series, finally gets her own happily ever after!
 
Convenient marriages are rarely so…exciting. Can society’s most adored heiress and London’s most difficult bachelor fall victim to their own unruly desires?
 
Biweekly marriage proposals from men who can’t see beyond her (admittedly breathtaking) looks are starting to get on Lady Clara Fairfax’s nerves. Desperate to be something more than ornamental, she escapes to her favorite charity. When a child goes missing, she turns to Oliver Radford—a handsome, brilliant, excessively conceited barrister.
 
Having unexpectedly found himself in line to inherit a dukedom, Radford needs a bride who can navigate the Society he’s never been part of. If he can find one without having to set foot in a ballroom, so much the better. Clara—blonde, blue-eyed, and he must admit, not entirely bereft of brains—will do. As long as he can woo her, wed her—and not, like every other sapskull in London, lose his head over her…
 

Excerpt

“My lady?”

Clara looked up. Her lady’s maid, Davis, had been standing in the corridor by the door during the marriage proposal. Though the door stood open, though any number of large footmen lurked in Warford House’s corridors, and though none of Clara’s infatuated swains would dream of uttering a cross word to her, let alone attempt to harm her, Davis remained ever vigilant. People said Davis looked like a bulldog, but looks, Clara very well knew, weren’t everything. Not many years older than her charge, Davis had been hired immediately after one of

Clara’s many childhood contretemps, this time at Vauxhall. She protected Clara from fractures, concussions, drowning, and—most important to Mama—Clara’s becoming A Complete Hoyden.

“Where is Mama?”

Her mother usually entered close on the heels of rejected swains to wonder Where She’d Gone Wrong with her eldest daughter.

“Her ladyship is in bed with a sick headache,” Davis said.

This was probably because she’d had a visit earlier from her poisonous friend Lady Bartham.

“Let’s go out,” Clara said.

“Yes, my lady.”

“To the girls,” Clara said. A visit to the Milliners’ Society for the Education of Indigent Females would give her a chance to do some good instead of brooding about men. “Please order my cabriolet.”

Clara drove herself whenever possible, partly to reduce servants’ spying and tattling, but mainly to feel she was in command of something, even if it was one horse pulling a small, two-wheeled vehicle. At least it was a dashing vehicle. Her eldest brother, Harry, the Earl of Longmore, had bought it for her.

“We’ll stop on the way and buy some trinkets for the girls.” She glanced down at herself. “But I can’t go in this. They must see me in my finest finery.”

When a proposal could not be avoided, she dressed as unflatteringly as she dared, to make her rejection sting less.

The girls were another matter. The Milliners’ Society’s founders were London’s premier modistes, the proprietresses of Maison Noirot. They made Lady Clara’s clothes, and they had taught her that dress was a form of art and a form of manipulation and a language in itself.

Twice they had saved her from what would have been catastrophic marriages.

And so, for their girls, she dressed to inspire.

 
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Loretta Chase has worked in academe, retail, and the visual arts, as well as on the streets-as a meter maid-and in video, as a scriptwriter. She might have developed an excitingly checkered career had her spouse not nagged her into writing fiction. Her bestselling historical romances, set in the Regency and Romantic eras of the early 19th century, have won a number of awards, including the Romance Writers of America’s Rita. For more about her past, her books, and what she does and doesn’t do on social media, please visit her website www.LorettaChase.com.
 
 

 

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47. Interview and Giveaway: Special Forces Savior by Janie Crouch

 
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SPECIAL FORCES SAVIOR
Omega Sector: Critical Response #1
Janie Crouch
Released Dec 15th, 2015 (Print)
Released Jan 1st, 2016 (Digital)
Harlequin Intrigue
 
 

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

[Janie Crouch] Adventurous sassy mom

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

[Janie Crouch] I live as an American citizen in Germany (for my husband’s Department of Defense job with the U.S. Military) so I never leave without my international driver’s license (if I’m out and about in Germany without it and something happens, I can get in real trouble)

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

[Janie Crouch] 1. The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi. (Highly recommended for anyone who writes or is thinking about writing!)

2. Large sheet of sketchpad paper filled with brainstorming and flow charts for the current Omega Sector: Critical Response book I’m writing. I like to have an outline (I’m definitely a plotter not a pantser) but the visual representation of the story really helps me too. I keep it nearby until the book is finished.

3. A picture of my entire extended family. We just celebrated my grandparents 70th (70th!!!!!) wedding anniversary and had a picture made of the entire family.

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

[Janie Crouch] German chocolate. Particularly, dark chocolate by Ritter Sport – a local brand that’s absolutely delicious. And I somehow have it in my mind that dark chocolate is somehow good for you.

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

[Janie Crouch] Someone on vacation on a tropical island.

[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?

[Janie Crouch] Definitely teleportation! I sometimes feel very far from my family who are spread out all over the United States (from Georgia to Virginia to Oregon). Being in Germany seems so far! If I could take a week and pop in on all of them, I would love it.

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

[Janie Crouch] The Martian by Andy Weir – not the normal type of book I read (I generally stick to romance or romantic suspense), but I loved it. I wanted to read it before I saw the movie. I thought the movie was excellent, but, as always, a lot more happens in the book.

I’m also loving The Profiler series by Elizabeth Heiter. Her first two books in the series were fantastic (HUNTED & VANISHED) and the third one, SEIZED, just released last week. I’m devouring that one right now.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Janie Crouch] I love to hear from readers! There are multiple ways to connect with me.

Website (with contact info): http://www.janiecrouch.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/janiecrouch

Twitter: https://twitter.com/janiecrouch

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/kjcrouch/

About the book:

He has to shut down the terrorists or lose everything. Including the woman who’s become a target.

Omega Sector: Critical Response agent Derek Waterman is hunting the architects of a lethal terrorist bombing. After weeks of chasing cold leads, he has finally found the evidence that could expose the perpetrators. But in order to take them down, he needs help from Dr. Molly Humphries, Omega’s lead forensic scientist.
 
Shy Molly works to retrieve the data–and overcome her debilitating crush on the sexy agent. Derek carefully suppresses his mutual smoldering attraction, sure that his dark past will drive Molly away if she knows. But when Molly is kidnapped, he will stop at nothing to save her. Even if a lethal enemy will do everything to keep him from doing so.
 
 
EXCERPT:

Pinned down behind his car with someone shooting at him from across the street was not how Omega Sector agent Derek Waterman had planned to spend his afternoon. He wasn’t exactly sure how he had planned to spend his afternoon, but this was definitely not it.

Derek slid closer to the ground as a bullet whizzed past his head and shattered the concrete behind him.

Whoa. Too close.

The saving grace in this situation was at least the entire block was empty of any innocent bystanders. No upstanding citizen had much reason to be in this section of West Philly. The less upstanding citizens had exited when Derek and his team had shown up, obviously law enforcement, and the shooting had started.

“Uh, what exactly was the intel you got on this place again, Derek?” Jon Hatton asked from where he was also pinned down a few feet away. Although highly trained in weapons and combat as all Omega Sector’s Critical Response agents were, Jon was primarily a behavior analyst in the Crisis Management Unit.

“What’s the matter? You having problems remembering how to use your weapon, Jon? Too much analyzing, not enough action in your life?” Liam Goetz, the other team member, smacked his gum and grinned. As a member of Omega’s Hostage Rescue team, no one ever asked Liam if he remembered how to use a weapon. Liam had pretty much been born with one in his hand.

“I’m just asking to see if there is any sort of plan here besides hide behind the car until the bad guys run out of ammo,” Jon responded. “Which, at the rate they’re shooting, should be sometime next week.”

True, the number of shots being fired at them seemed to be dwindling. The people in the building obviously weren’t trying to kill Derek and his team, just keep them pinned. But damned if this entire situation wasn’t starting to piss Derek off.

The empty apartment building across the street gave the enemy the tactical advantage. That advantage wasn’t something Derek, as the lead tactical team specialist of Omega’s SWAT generally gave up.

But the intel they’d received on this location had required an immediate response. Time for tactical analysis hadn’t been available. Thus, the taking cover behind their SUV as the bullets flew by their heads.

Derek had moved in on this location so quickly because it had been the first substantial lead pertaining to a terrorist attack on Chicago two weeks earlier. A bombing that had killed or injured over five hundred people.

None of the leads Omega had followed up on until now—and there had been hundreds of them—had provided any useful intel. Each location had been totally cold.

Another bullet flew by. This location definitely wasn’t cold.

“All right, to hell with this.” Derek looked over at Liam, “Jon and I will lay down cover-fire. You head around to the back of the building.”

Liam was grinning like an idiot. He loved this sort of thing, danger be damned. “Now you’re talking.”

Derek nodded. “Remember, we need them alive, if at all possible.”

“Hey, it’s me!” Liam actually winked at them. “I wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

Derek rolled his eyes and heard Jon groan under his breath as Liam made his way down the line of abandoned cars parked on the street. Still using their SUV for as much cover as possible, Derek and Jon began firing their weapons toward the abandoned building, hoping to draw any return-fire back at them and away from Liam.

But there were no shots at all coming at them from the house.

Derek looked over at Jon. “Again.”

Using the hood to brace his arm, Derek fired three shots at the house while Jon did the same from the rear of the vehicle. Still no return fire. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Liam make it across the street at the side of the building. No shots were fired at him either.

The bad guys weren’t in the building anymore; they must be on the run. Whoever had been shooting at them just a few moments ago was Omega’s best lead in Chicago’s terrorist attack. They were the only lead. And now they were about to get away.

“Move in, but be careful,” Derek said to Jon as they made their way forward, weapons still raised.

Derek was reaching for the knob of the door, Jon covering him from a cross angle when they heard a rapid burst of gunfire from the back of the building where Liam had been heading.

Both men backed out of the doorway and sprinted around the building without a word. Each of them knew that getting inside was secondary to helping Liam if he was under fire. As they rounded the building, Derek was relieved to see Liam unharmed, chasing a suspect farther down the road behind the apartment building. Derek and Jon continued running to catch up with them. Helping capture a known suspect was better than sticking around for what may or may not be in the house.

“Stay with them,” Derek told Jon, then made a sharp turn. He would run down a parallel side street and try to cut off the runner. He forced more speed out of his legs.

As he made a sharp turn around the next group of buildings, Derek saw the perp slowing down with Liam only a few yards behind him, Jon just beyond that.

It was obvious Liam was going to catch the guy at any moment, and the perp knew it, too. He fired his weapon at the Omega agents behind his back in some haphazard fashion without even stopping his run, but the bullets didn’t come anywhere near either of them.

Derek turned again and began running toward them.

“Stop!” he called out to the man, and saw distress wash over his face. The man stopped running altogether, sliding to an awkward stop.

“You’re under arrest,” Derek continued between breaths. “Place the gun on the ground and put your hands on your head.”

The man turned around, frantically looking for another way out, but didn’t put his gun down. All the Omega agents gripped their weapons tighter. Nobody wanted to shoot this suspect, he was too important. But they would if necessary. Especially if he turned his weapon on them rather than where it currently lay in his hand pointing at the ground.

“Put your weapon down,” Derek repeated. He nodded toward the ground with his forehead, as the man turned back in his direction. “Do you understand? All we want to do is ask you some questions.”

That wasn’t entirely true, but Derek just wanted to get the man’s gun out of his hand.

The man nodded and Derek eased his finger off the trigger just the slightest bit. But then, almost as if it was in slow motion, and before any of them could react, the guy brought his gun up to his own temple and fired. He crumpled to the ground, dead instantly.

Derek’s curse was vile. Jon rushed up to the man and crouched down to take his pulse at the wrist, but Derek knew it was too late.

Their best lead—their only lead—had just blown his brains out rather than be taken into custody.

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Janie Crouch loves to read – almost exclusively romance – and has been doing so since middle school. She cut her teeth on Harlequin (Mills & Boon) Romances when she lived in Wales, UK as a preteen, then moved on to a passion for romantic suspense as an adult. Her favorite authors include: Linda Howard, Nora Roberts, and Elizabeth Lowell.

Janie recently relocated with her husband and four children to Germany (due to her husband’s job as support for the U.S. Military), after living in Virginia for nearly 20 years.  When she’s not listening to the voices in her head (and even when she is), she enjoys traveling, long-distance running, movie-watching, knitting and adventure (obstacle) racing. Janie completed an Ironman Triathlon in 2014.
Most of all, she loves to laugh and smile and count her blessings. And her blessings are many.
 
 

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48. Spotlight and Giveaway: Rebel Cowboy by Nicole Helm

Nicole Helm’s Favorite Scene from REBEL COWBOY

I don’t always find it difficult to pick a favorite scene from my book, but sometimes a book is made up of so many different parts it’s hard to pick just one scene or moment that stands out. REBEL COWBOY is one of those books for me. I love Mel and Dan’s first kiss, I love when Dan and Mel go ice skating, and when Mel confronts her brother’s failures.

But as much as I love complex and sometimes dark stories of love and acceptance, I can never resist a laugh. So, my favorite scene is probably when Dan finds a llama on his property, and panics a little. It was fun to write both Dan and Mel’s reactions—to the llama and to each other, and to build a little bit of a foundation for their friendship, and the love that they soon find themselves in.

So, without further ado, here it is: the surprise llama scene.

——

There was a thing. A not-small furry animal thing standing at the fence, staring at him expectantly.

He stared back at the animal, then helplessly at his phone. Hey, cell service. He googled random animal names he thought the thing could be until he found a picture that looked mostly right.

A llama.

How did he have a llama on his property? How had Buck not mentioned he had a llama, period? Surely the guy had been taking care of it. Llamas didn’t take care of themselves, did they? There weren’t packs of wild llamas running about Montana.

Were there?

“So, hi.” The llama didn’t respond at all. It stood there and stared at him. The thing was probably hungry. Maybe he should find it something to eat. “I don’t suppose you’d like to tell me what you’d want to eat?”

The llama stared. Didn’t move. Dan gingerly held out his hand, but when the creature nipped toward him, he pulled back. “Okay, so either you’re very unfriendly or you’re very hungry. We have a word for that in human speak—hangry.”

He needed to feed it, and he needed to stop talking to it like it was going to talk back, because he was sounding crazy even to himself.

He backed away, then jogged down to the house. Of course when he got to his kitchen, he had no cell service to look up what llamas ate. Shit. When was Mel supposed to get here?

He poked around in his fridge before pulling out a container of lunchmeat ham. Grabbed a few pieces of bread and a bottle of water and a bowl.

Worst he could do was offer random food it wouldn’t eat. Surely he couldn’t kill a llama with a sandwich.

He trudged back out to the barn where the llama still stood against the fence. Watching him. Still. Dan slowed his pace. That thing was motherfucking creepy.

“Hey, fella, want some ham?”

It moved around, and he figured that was sign enough. He peeled back a few pieces of the lunch meat and tossed them in the llama’s direction.

“What the hell is that?”

Dan glanced to where Mel was hiking up the hill. Thank Christ she was here. “According to my research, it’s a llama.”

“Why do you have a llama?” She approached, hands on her hips, wrinkling her nose at the creature before them.

“I don’t know. It was just here.”

“What are you feeding it?”

“Ham.”

“Ham? Ham? You can’t feed a llama ham.”

“Well, then what do I feed it?”

“Hell if I know, but not ham!” She made her way to the fence, then gingerly pulled the pieces of ham out of the grass at the llama’s feet. “Grain. Straw. Bread. Something remotely sensible.”

“I maybe panicked a little bit.”

“I see that.”

“I know you’re a genius cowgirl and all, but tell me you wouldn’t panic if you got the crap scared out of you by a llama.”

“My panic rarely involves ham,” she said drily.

“Fair enough.”

She stared at the creature, and Dan couldn’t help noticing she looked a little more haggard than she had yesterday. Her hat was pulled down low, but he could see circles under her eyes, and she looked pale. Even the way she stood was different. Slumpy instead of that ramrod straight “I’ve got this shit covered” posture she’d walked around with all day yesterday.

“You okay?”

She gave him an are-you-crazy look, all scrunched- up nose and drawn-together eyebrows. She seemed to give him that look a lot for only knowing each other about twenty-four hours.

“You look…” He tried to think of a diplomatic way of telling her she looked like death warmed over. But he didn’t have much practice being diplomatic, so he came up empty.

“I look what?”

“I don’t know. Like you had a crappy night of sleep.”

“Perceptive for a man with his head so far up his ass he feeds a llama processed meat.”

“It wasn’t because of me, was it?” He didn’t like the sudden guilty weight in his gut. Sure, he was paying her a shitload of money to be here, but he didn’t want to be making her life miserable in the process.

“Don’t flatter yourself, wannabe cowboy.”

“I meant because you hate me, not because you were up all night fantasizing about me—but if we want to pretend it was the latter, I’m all for it.”

She let out a gusty sigh. “Believe it or not, I have bigger problems in my life than you.”

“Like what?”

“What do you care?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. We’re going to be spending a lot of time together. Maybe we should be friends.”

She snorted. “You don’t need me to be your friend. You need someone to kick your ass every morning. And you need someone to figure out what the hell to do with your llama.”

“That almost sounds dirty.”

“Buck didn’t tell you about this?”

Dan shook his head. “Didn’t mention it to you either?”

“No.”

“No chance it’s a wild llama?”

“Yes, Sharpe. It’s a wild llama that hopped a fence, went into a stall, and is desperate to eat your ham.”

“That also sounds dirty.”

“You are giving me a headache.” She pinched the bridge of her nose. Her plaid shirt was green and blue today, and while the serviceable work shirts she wore didn’t do much to show off her figure, the jeans did admirable things for her—

“Stop staring at my ass, Sharpe.”

“Sorry.” Sort of.

“Let’s figure out how to take care of this llama, huh?”

“You can’t tell me taking care of llama problems together isn’t friendship.”

Title: Rebel Cowboy

Author: Nicole Helm

Series: Big Sky Cowboys, #1

Pubdate: January 5th, 2016

ISBN: 9781492621249

UNDER A BIG SKY

For hotshot NHL star Dan Sharpe, hockey isn’t just his job—it’s his everything. But when claims of cheating get him bounced from the ice, he finds himself feeling lost. Everyone thinks he’s crazy for taking on his grandfather’s ramshackle Montana ranch, but hey, he’s Dan Sharpe: how hard can it be?

As it turns out? Plenty hard.

Mel Shaw has been fighting tooth and nail to keep her family from falling apart. The last thing she needs is a distraction, but taking a job as some city slicker’s consultant may be her only chance to save the land she loves. But she never expected someone like Dan to come roaring into her life, and it doesn’t take long for Mel to realize this hockey-star-turned-cowboy has the power to upend her carefully ordered world—and heart—for good.

Nicole Helm writes down-to-earth contemporary romance specializing in people who don’t live close enough to neighbors for them to be a problem. When she’s not writing, she spends her time dreaming about someday owning a barn. She lives with her husband and two young sons in O’Fallon, Missouri.

Buy Links:

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49. TURNING PAGES: SORCERER TO THE CROWN by ZEN CHO

This is my favorite book so far this year. Seriously.Though this novel isn't marketed to YA or as YA, this is a crossover I need you to read. If you like Regency novels, tales of the fey, Jane Austen, or 19th century anything, you want this. Buy it... Read the rest of this post

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50. Spotlight and Giveaway: How to Rescue a Rake by Jayne Fresina

How to Rescue a Rake, the third in Jayne Fresina’s Austen-inspired Book Club Belles series, comes out this January! For all of you Jane Austen fans, this fun new release is based on Persuasion and it’s a book you don’t want to miss. To celebrate this latest release, the heroine is here to give our readers a tip on how to rescue their own rake and to share an excerpt with us.

Tips for Capturing a Rake’s Attention: By Diana Makepiece (Or How to Stay Calm and Capture a Rake)

A tongue-in-cheek guide by one old maid, who has lost her bloom, has let her last chance for happiness pass her by and is now, at twenty-seven, half way to death (according to the parson’s wife)… and not at all bitter about it, thank you very much.

Reinvent oneself in a new town. Warning: this may involve the discarding of a modest lace tuck, but a little rearrangement and sprucing of one’s dress can do wonders.

Title: How to Rescue a Rake

Author: Jayne Fresina

Series: The Book Club Belles Society, #3

Pubdate: January 5th, 2016

ISBN: 9781402287824

Nathaniel Sherringham has returned to Hawcombe Prior a changed man. Gone is the reckless rake who went out on a limb to propose to Diana Makepiece three years ago. Now Nate’s mysterious new wealth has the town’s rumor mill spinning. To stir things up (and get Diana’s attention), Nate boldly announces his plans to marry “any suitable girl” under the age of 25.

Diana, now 27 and still single, is acutely aware of Nate’s return. When her mother suggests a trip to visit a cousin in Bath, Diana leaps at the chance to escape the heartbreak and regret she can’t help but feel in Nate’s presence…and avoid his irritating charade to find a bride.

But for Nate, Diana has always been the one. He might just have to follow her to Bath and once again lay his heart on the line to win her attention—and her heart.

Jayne Fresina sprouted up in England. Entertained by her father’s colorful tales of growing up in the countryside, and surrounded by opinionated sisters, she’s always had inspiration for her beleaguered heroes and unstoppable heroines. She lives in upstate New York. Learn more about the author at www.jaynefresinaromanceauthor.blogspot.com.

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1P3M7JV

Apple: http://apple.co/1P3h9U5

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***

An Excerpt:

“I sent you a message the morning I left, Diana,” he said. “I fired it myself through your bedchamber window with a sling.”

“You did what?”

He ran a hand over his face, flattening rain-drenched spears of hair to his brow. “I climbed that damnable oak behind your mother’s cottage. I didn’t want to leave without giving us another chance.”

She tried to think, but her mind wouldn’t cooperate. Don’t believe him, Diana. This is another of his practical jokes, no doubt. Any moment now he will burst his seams with laughter.

Diana sniffed. “What did this supposed note say?”

He frowned.

“And don’t bother making something up, Captain, for I will know you’re fibbing. It comes naturally to you and always did. But I never fell for it, did I?”

The frown broke with exasperation and then reformed with scorn. “Oh, you know me. It was childish nonsense. Just what you would expect. Good thing you never read it.”

“Don’t tell me then,” she grumbled into her handkerchief. “It hardly matters now anyway. The years have passed, and we are both too old for climbing trees.”

“Quite,” he snapped. “Three years is an eternity.”

For me it has been, she longed to say.

Suddenly Nathaniel seized her hand. “We should start again, Miss Diana Makepiece, and put the past behind us.”

“And why, pray, would we do that?”

He lifted her gloved fingers and pressed his lips against her knuckles.

“Captain?” she demanded.

He met her frown with a narrow-eyed, somewhat menacing appraisal. “Your opinion of me might improve.”

“Well, it could hardly get any worse.”

Nathaniel’s hand tightened around hers and tugged her closer. “I am not all bad. We may become friends.”

Skeptical, Diana tried to retrieve her hand, but his grip was too strong. “I wouldn’t hope too hard, Captain.” She admired his spirit; she envied his lively manners and his fearlessness. But to feel more for such a capricious man would be a mistake. “I think you should—” A dark, devious twinkle sizzled in his blue eyes and made her draw an anxious breath. “Do not think of it!”

He blinked, but the wicked sparkle remained. “Do not think of what?”

That. It is not proper!”

“I’m afraid not. It is, however, necessary.”

“Captain Sherringham, if you dare—”

The words were stolen away as his mouth lowered to hers, claimed her lips. She’d said the wrong thing, of course. In his case, saying “if you dare” was like waving a red rag at a bull.

Diana was almost lifted off her feet, left to hover on her toes as he took his kiss. His tongue touched hers and stroked it gently. A raindrop that fell from his eyelashes to her cheek was warm and soft, tickling her skin as it trickled down the curve like a tear and finally gathered on the ridge of her jaw. Until the tip of his tongue followed it and then licked it away.

She was stunned speechless.

“If you don’t believe me about the note,” he whispered, his lips warm against her ear, “ask Jamie Bridges. It was his sling I used.”

Every inch of his hard body was pressed against her, and in her wet clothes she had little defense. He must feel her heartbeat. She might as well be naked. The wicked thought flashed through her mind as if he had put it there with his kiss.

“Ask him,” he repeated. “Unless you’re afraid.” A flare of white teeth showed as he smiled. Oh, that lethal charm. He would never lose it. “The world might tip upside down if I was proven honest for once.”

Nathaniel’s eyes shone down at her and she was caught up in their brilliance, like a fly trapped in a spider’s web.

“I once fell out of a tree for you,” he whispered, sounding bewildered.

“That would explain these bouts of madness,” she reasoned.

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