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I have a spotlight for Hot Nights with the Fireman by Lynne Silver this morning.
About Lynne Silver
Romance author, Lynne Silver, writes the popular Coded for Love series and other hot contemporary romance novels, such as Love, Technically. Before writing romance, she wrote fiction of a different sort, drafting press releases for technology corporations. Washington DC is her home (non) state, where she resides with her husband and two sons.
About Hot Nights with the Fireman
Everyone in Washington, DC, knows that when the heat is on, you call Valerie Wainright. This brilliant, brassy PR maven can spin any hot scandal, and she’s never let a client ruffle her feathers. Yet when she agrees to teach DC’s bravest how to handle a media frenzy, she faces an entirely different kind of fire. Keeping things all business and no pleasure is far harder than she expected.
After steamy photos ignite the Internet, firefighter Jason Moore instantly goes from hero to bad boy. While he couldn’t care less about an online rep, he cares a lot about his job and saving lives. If Valerie can help clear his name, he’ll do what she says-even if it means forcing himself to keep his hands off her. But beneath Valerie’s cool cover, Jason feels a smoldering desire that lights his own. And this is one inferno he’ll definitely want to stoke . .
She inched away on her chair and reached for the first thing on the top of the stack ignoring his statement about simply being a client. He knew as well as she did that clients didn’t kiss each other. “Let’s see what we’re dealing with. Why don’t you read out loud?” She’d struggled to find appropriate reading material. An obvious children’s book would’ve been humiliating, but the newspaper may have been too hard. Finally, she’d found a sample paragraph from a literacy website. It was on a fourth grade reading level, but with adult subject matter.
He tensed in the chair beside hers, but gamely pulled the paper closer and started to read. She was relieved to hear he read it fine. He’d never be an orator or college professor, but his reading was perfectly adequate. He’d skipped a few words here and there, but as they hadn’t changed the meaning of the text, she didn’t think it was a big deal.
She showed him how to take a blank piece of paper or an index card and cover the rest of the text so only the line he was reading was visible. She’d read it helped visually, and it seemed to. By the last sentence, he hadn’t missed any words.
“Hey, that’s a good trick,” he said, looking up from the paper and smiling at her. She grinned back, loving the elation soaring within at helping a student. It was a rush she’d rarely felt in her PR job.
“I’m glad that works for you. I’ve also heard that getting an e-reader is easier for some people, because you can make the text really big,” she said.
He looked thoughtful. “I’ll have to try that. Maybe I’ll even read a book.”
She looked at him a long minute before she realized he’d been joking.
“I do read books,” he said quietly. “Did you think I was such an idiot, I couldn’t even do that?”
“No, I never assumed anything,” she said, placing a conciliatory hand on his arm. “You told me you struggled as a student, so I had no idea what you did or didn’t do.”
“I like action books,” he said. “Clive Cussler, that kind of stuff.”
“My dad loves those also.” They sat in smiling accord for a long minute before she realized she was stroking his muscular forearm, and it felt way too good to be touching him. She moved her hand back to her own space. “Let’s move on to writing,” she said. “That’s what has you the most worried for the application process, right?”
“Yeah. I can think of everything I want to say in my head, but then when I go to write it, it comes out differently on paper. I can’t explain it, but I guess that’s the definition of dysgraphia.”
“I think I understand. Let’s try writing a paragraph on why you became a firefighter. Is that an easy question for you to answer?”
He picked up a pen and applied it to the notebook paper she’d left out for this purpose. After five minutes, he slid the sheet over to her. She read it, and then read it again.
“You look worried,” he said.
She looked up from the paper with five sentences punctuated by grammar errors and no compound sentences. “I’m not worried. I’m thinking.”
He scowled. “Shit. I knew it. We shouldn’t have started this. It’s a waste of time. Now you think I’m a stupid idiot.”
She leaned in toward him. “You are not a stupid idiot.”
He lowered his head a fraction. “I’m stupid for doing this.” He closed the distance between them.
May Contain Spoilers
I read His Defiant Desert Queen because it was included in the Harlequin Presents bundle that I borrowed from the library. I randomly checked it out because it also included a Caitlin Crews title. I didn’t read any of the descriptions prior to gobbling them up, and I definitely had mixed success with this collection. I had so many reservations about this title, my first by Jane Porter. Though I ultimately enjoyed it, I had to resist the very strong urge to DNF it at the beginning.
Jemma Copeland is not having a good year. Her father was busted for running the biggest Ponzi scam in history. Instead of paying his dues, he’s high-tailed it with some of his ill-gotten gains (he did get what he deserved), leaving his clueless family behind to deal with the scandal. Jemma’s modeling career was destroyed, her fiancé dumped her, and her friends all turned their backs on her. Now she’s struggling to make ends meet. When she’s offered a modeling job in Saidia, she uses her sister’s passport to secure a visa after being denied entry into the country under her own name. When Sheik Mikael discovers her deception, he’s extremely displeased that Jemma flaunted the laws of his country. He also has a bone to pick with her family after his mother fell victim to her father’s schemes, leading to his mother’s death.
Mikael drags Jemma to his tribal village so the village elder can pass judgment on her. Mikael is given two choices regarding her punishment. Either she spends seven years as a “guest” in the village, or he marries her. Even though he feels nothing but contempt for her, he loads her on a camel, ties her to the saddle, and rides off to his desert palace, all without her consent. That right there almost caused me to stop reading the book. In Mikael’s country, the sheiks have kidnapped their brides for generations, in order to cement tribes together through marriage. I didn’t buy that, and had a hard time dealing with both his contempt for her and his treatment of her.
The story did get much better as it went along, despite my reservations with the premise. As Mikael and Jemma spend their “honeymoon” together in Mikael’s sumptuous home , they slowly get to know each other. Mikael comes to understand that Jemma had no control over her father’s actions, and he slowly realizes that she’s nothing like he thought she’d be. He also begins to put his own guilt over his mother’s death into perspective, and begins to forgive himself for how he acted after his parents divorced. He has a lot of inner turmoil to overcome, and with Jemma’s help, he begins to work through them.
As far as Jemma went, I didn’t like her at first. She is all about Me, Me, Me! She agrees to go through with the farce of a honeymoon, knowing that in eight days she can just tell Mikael that she’s not happy and he’ll send her back home. As the days go by, though, she starts to realize that she is happy, the happiest that she has ever been. She’s no longer lonely. Mikael is a tender and passionate lover, and she genuinely enjoys his company. Before she knows it, she’s fallen in love with him. That turns out to be another point of contention, because Mikael has promised himself that he will never fall in love (this is such an overused trope in romance, and frankly, it is one that I am losing patience with). This opens the door to more conflict, and Mikael’s final realization that he can’t bear to let Jemma go.
By the end of the story, I believed that Jemma was happy, and that Mikael made her feel safe, protected, and cherished. I also believed that Mikael forgave himself, allowing himself to find the love that had eluded him.
Review copy borrowed from my local library
I will not marry you. I will not!
When Sheikh Mikael catches notorious model Jemma Copeland flaunting Saidia’s laws—and her body—in his desert, he knows one thing: revenge against his family’s destruction is within his reach! To achieve it he makes Jemma an offer: imprisonment or marriage.
With her life shattered by the scandal that rocked her family, Jemma needed that modeling job. She didn’t know that she was breaking the law! But Mikael’s outrageous proposal pushes her beyond shock…to utter fury. If he expects her to be a meek, pliable bride, this arrogant sheikh has another think coming!
Please welcome AS Fenichel to the virtual offices this morning!
Top 5 reasons Lilly hates Nobles by AS Fenichel
Thank you for having me here today. I’m so proud of the Deception characters for helping me tell this story in the best possible way. Nothing is ever easy with demon hunters and that is especially true for matters of the heart.
Lillian Dellacourt hates noblemen. Raised in a small village by a seamstress who sold her to the local lord, she’s still overcoming the circumstances of her birth. While The Company sees her as one of the greatest hunters to have ever lived, Lilly has some issues. One of her big problems, she hates Noblemen.
Here are Lilly’s five reasons for hating noblemen.
The man who bought her from her mother was an earl. He kept her locked away and wouldn’t let her visit her mother.
Titled men believe they can have anything they want without consequence. They take without thought and treat everyone below them as chattel.
The Earl of Shafton’s lies and arrogance have driven her to her current mission. She can read his deception, but can’t figure out what secrets he keeps. Plus the infuriating man made some pretty terrible accusations against her and she wants her revenge.
When news arrived that her mother had gone missing, the earl who owned her beat her severely. Close to losing consciousness, she grabbed the earl’s dagger and stabbed him. Unfortunately, the wound was not fatal.
Dorian Lambert has the manners of Marques and the instincts of a demon hunter. It’s confusing. The way he looks at her starts her stomach trembling in a pleasant way. Lilly likes to know exactly what she’s facing. She can take down a demon with her sai blades ripping through flesh and bone like butter. Killing demons makes sense. Nothing about being near Dorian is explainable in words. Only actions will do. It’s maddening!
Thanks again for having me here today. This was fun. I hope you enjoy Deception as much as I loved writing it.
Demon Hunters # 2
By: A.S. Fenichel
Releasing July 7, 2015
When Demons threaten Regency London, only a Lady can stop them.
Lillian Dellacourt is beautiful, refined and absolutely lethal. She’s also the most feared and merciless demon hunter in The Company. She’s come a long way from the penniless seamstress’s daughter sold to the highest bidder, and it wasn’t by trusting a man, let alone an exiled Marquis with more on his mind than slaying the hellspawn . . .
For Dorian Lambert, Marquis de Montalembert, being sent to keep track of Lillian is no mean task. He’s wanted the fiery vixen since he first heard of her five years ago. But wooing the lady while fighting the demon uprising is no easy feat, especially when the lady’s tongue is as sharp as the Japanese sai blades she favors for eviscerating the spawn of hell.
These two will have to learn to trust each other fast, because the demon master is back, and he’s planning to turn Edinburgh into a living hell…
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/03/deception-demon-hunters-2-by-as-fenichel.html
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23432697-deception?from_search=true
Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/135692-the-demon-hunters
Buy Links: Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo | Publisher
A.S. Fenichel gave up a successful career in New York City to follow her husband to Texas and pursue her lifelong dream of being a professional writer. She’s never looked back.
A.S. adores writing stories filled with love, passion, desire, magic and maybe a little mayhem tossed in for good measure. Books have always been her perfect escape and she still relishes diving into one and staying up all night to finish a good story.
Multi-published in erotic paranormal, contemporary and historical romance, A.S. is the author of the Mayan Destiny series, Christmas Bliss and many more. With several books currently contracted to multiple publishers, A.S. will be bringing you her brand of romance for many years to come.
Originally from New York, she grew up in New Jersey, and now lives in the East Texas with her real life hero, her wonderful husband. When not reading or writing she enjoys cooking, travel, history, and puttering in her garden.
Author Links: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads |TSU
Holding up her hand, she pulled the horse to a stop. Dorian slowed, watched, and waited.
Lillian touched her nose, alerting him to the scent of wood burning. The wind came out of the northeast. The almost full moon lit the night well enough. They dismounted, and tied the horses to a low bit of brush along the rocky pass.
Spending the bulk of his time with the hunters behind a desk, he willingly took a step back and allowed Lillian to take the lead. She was far more experienced in the field. The fact that she was a woman meant nothing in The Company.
He wished he was as unaffected by her feminine allure.
To his astonishment, she pulled a string at her waist, which lifted her skirts, and she tucked them into some kind of belt hidden at her hips. Above her high leather boots, he glimpsed her creamy thighs. His gaze dropped to her curvy flesh and an array of weapons cleverly stored insideher skirts instead of focusing on the danger ahead. He met her gaze.
“Try to stay alive, Dorian. Do not get distracted.”
He looked her up and down one more time. “You ask the impossible, Lilly.”
The wicked look she gave him was almost as enticing as the curve of her leg. She turned and climbed up the rock-strewn hill to the right. He followed, making an effort not to admire her bare legs or the throwing knives strapped around her right thigh. When they reached the precipice, flames blazed as high as ten feet in the center of a clearing. Two demons fed the fire, one a small trebox with scaly dark skin and the other a larger, dumber malleus covered in slime. To the far left of the fire, three children huddled together. The smallest girl wept loudly while the other two tried to comfort her.
Alive! A surge of elation followed by a wave of fear assaulted him. Could he and Lillian keep those children alive?
The malleus stood as tall as the flames and sang in a low grating tone. Firelight reflected off its slimy skin as it tore a year old tree from the ground, roots and all. As if it were a twig, the malleus tossed it on the fire. Flames roared higher and his voice grew louder. Dorian knew nothing of the demon language, but the eerie cadence churned his guts.
The trebox slunk around the fire. He used two hands on a sword, carving symbols in the hard ground. This trebox had shed his human clothes, exposing his hunched back and visible ribcage.
A recent report had crossed his desk depicting a similar scene in England. When they completed drawing the runes, the innocents would be sacrificed. “They mean to open a gate. We only have until the song ends.”
Lillian’s eyes widened. She reached into the folds of her underskirt and released a small crossbow from its holster, chocked an arrow, and took aim. “We will need to move fast.”
She let the arrow fly.
It pierced the malleus demon’s left eye, silenced the song mid-word, and dropped the enormous monster to the ground before he even had time to roar.
The trebox screamed in the language only demons understood. He took up the song his comrade had been chanting and wrote faster in the dirt.
Dorian pulled one throwing knife from the belt strapped around Lillian’s smooth skin. He jumped over the hill and ran down, dagger raised in his left hand.
The trebox rushed at him with its eyes focused on the long knife.
When he was within range, he let the smaller blade fly.
It buried deep in the greenish creature’s throat. He crumpled with a whine.
Lillian ran behind him down the hill.
All three children screamed and cried.
She charged past them and kicked dirt on the fire.
“What are you doing?”
“I think he might have gotten the incantation finished. Look at the way the smoke curls in on itself. Evil will find a way in even without the sacrifice. Once opened, I don’t know how to close a gate.”
It was unnatural the way the smoke did not move with the breeze. The ground rumbled. Dorian kicked dirt on the fire and rubbed out the carved runes from the ground.
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Taking the Heat (Jackson: Girls' Night Out) by Victoria Dahl. Harlequin. 2015. Reviewed from ARC.
The Plot: Veronica Chandler is "Dear Veronica" for the Jackson, Wyoming local paper, the voice of wisdom offering funny and on-target advice for young and old, on everything from family relationships to sex.
The thing is, she's hiding something -- she feels like a big fake. Yes, she has common sense, a sense of humor, the research skills and writing skills that make "Dear Veronica" such a success. What she doesn't have, well, is the real-life experience everyone thinks she has.
Everyone thinks that she's the local girl who went to New York City and came back full of wisdom and experience. What they don't know is that NYC was nothing like Veronica had dreamed it would be. What they don't know is she came home because she had no where else to go. What they don't know is she's never been in love. What they don't know is she's a 27 year old virgin.
Gabe MacKenzie is the hot new guy in town. He's the new librarian, and while he's originally from New York City he's not a big-city guy. He loves that his new job allows him plenty of time for rock-climbing and hiking. He doesn't love that it's only for a year: family obligations are pulling him back to New York. He's not looking for anything long term or anything serious. And then he meets Veronica.
The Good: This is the most recent book in Dahl's Girls' Night Out series, and it's the third in that series to feature a librarian. Since it's set in a small town (well, small when it's not tourist season) it makes sense that the library is an important place in the lives of the members of the small town.
Familiar characters from the other books make appearances, but this story is all Veronica's. There are many, many things I enjoy about Dahl's books and this one doesn't disappoint. The characters are interesting, real, and complex. Veronica isn't a virgin for reasons of religion, morality, or desire -- it's just that her timing has never been right. In high school and college she was concentrating on grades so that she could get a job in NYC; and then NYC let her down. She returned home to discover that what she wanted in life was what her home town had to offer.
And the sexytimes are terrific, as well as what leads up to it -- Veronica revealing her big secret to Gabe is one of my favorite scenes.
Gabe, as I said, is in Wyoming for a year; Veronica doesn't know that, and I like that the tension between the two of them was Gabe keeping this secret from her. And that his motivations for this were explored -- how his desire to be a "nice guy" by not bringing up a possible conflict was itself problematic. That "protecting" someone by not mentioning something was not protecting at all.
Also good were both Gabe's and Veronica's family situations. As I said, Gabe's family is the reason he has to return to NYC and his situation was believable and sympathetic with a good resolution. Veronica's father is a gruff, distant, and demanding man -- I need to go back and reread Flirting with Disaster (Jackson: Girls' Night Out Book 2)to remind myself of how others saw and interpreted these two. While at times I wanted to throw things at him, I found his actions, and his daughter's reactions, realistic.
Bottom line: It's Victoria Dahl. If you haven't read her books, start now, and honestly you can start anywhere with any title. The books may be interconnected but they are not dependent on each other. The only problem you'll have is the problem I face: the desire to read them all at once balanced against wanting there to always be a new-to-me Dahl book around when I need one.
What else? It's a Favorite Book of 2015, needless to say. And under "readalikes" I think this one may work for New Adult readers. While Victoria is older than most NA heroines, she is negotiating those things that NA is about: trying to establish her career, not sure what to do about career or life, trying to get independence, and love and sex. It's just, for reasons, those things happen a bit later for her; and, again for reasons, people looking at her think she has her act together when she hasn't. Or, rather, she thinks she doesn't have her act together.
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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
Most Certainly Contains Spoilers
My Harlequin-o-rama continues with Blame it on the Rodeo. I borrowed this because Lexi is a vet, and there’s a horse on the cover. I had no expectations going into it, and truthfully, I didn’t even read the entire synopsis. Sometimes that bites me in the rear, but this time I was pleasantly surprised, and I could not put this book down. I loved it!
I had a great feeling about the story when it started with an equine embryo transfer. That is how my Morgan, Elle, was bred. She’s an embryo transfer, and was carried by a Saddlebred surrogate. I have never encountered this in a story before, and I was really excited to see it here. When I pick up a book featuring a veterinarian, I expect the protagonist to do veterinarian things. I was so pleased with all of the medical procedures in Lexi’s daily activities; Coggins tests, West Nile vacations, helping to with a difficult delivery – these are things I hope to read about, so Amanda Renee gets a double thumbs up for Lexi’s profession feeling authentic.
As the story progressed, I started to get a little apprehensive. When Lexi was an eighteen year old college student, she and her high school sweetheart shared a romantic weekend together, and Lexi wound up pregnant. Home for Thanksgiving, she intended to tell Shane that he’s going to be a father, only to learn that he’s about to marry another woman because he got her pregnant. Heartbroken that he cheated on her, Lexi kept her pregnancy to herself, carried her baby to term, and then, knowing that she’s not ready for motherhood, placed him with an adoption agency. Now, thirteen years later, her secret has come home to roost. Lexi suspects that young Hunter, a student at Shane’s rodeo school, is the son she gave up all those years ago.
Lexi’s anguish is compelling and believable. After hiring a private investigator to confirm her suspicions, she is conflicted. Does she disrupt Hunter’s happy life and let him know that she’s his mother? Does she throw a major wrench in Shane’s life and tell him what happened? She kept her pregnancy a secret from everyone, including her own family, and now she’s afraid of what they will think of her. I was completely sympathetic, and wondered what she was going to do to bring a measure of peace to herself.
Shane, on the other hand…I had issues with Shane. The first major strike against him was his cheating. Sure, he was young, but I expect a romance hero to be faithful. He is urged by his parents to marry the buckle bunny he knocked up, only to learn a year later that the child is not his. Oops! Oh, the irony! His long-time friend is pregnant with his child, and he marries a woman pretending to be pregnant with his child. Ouch! Maybe he should have demanded a paternity test right off the bat. He is devastated when he loses the baby he’s come to love, and he’s spent every day since wondering what happened to him. Is he happy with his father, another rodeo competitor?
Shane’s other problem is Shane’s preoccupation with himself. He lives for the rodeo. He longs to win the world championship, both for his ego and to help get his rodeo school on the map. He’s dated just about every single female in town in an effort to forget about Lexi, but he doesn’t own up to his irresponsibility and his own actions that caused him to lose her. He still loves her, but he won’t tell her. He drove me bonkers! And when he learns the truth about Hunter? Ugh! He comes across as a self-righteous ass and puts all of the blame on Lexi, without accepting that, ultimately, he was the one who screwed up. While I’m still not sure I believe that he will ever be the kind of man Lexi needs, he did change by the end so that I was hopeful that he had learned some valuable life lessons.
I finished Blame it on the Rodeo and immediately wanted to catch up on the other books in the Ramblewood, Texas series, so I’ll call this a successful outing.
Grade: B / B+
Review copy borrowed from my local library
A Secret The Size Of Texas
Veterinarian Lexi Lawson has her hands full–and not just when she’s delivering foals at the Langtry family’s ranch. Working there forces Lexi to confront Shane Langtry, the man who broke her heart. True, he seems different now–more generous, more grounded. But Lexi isn’t fooled: Shane lives for rodeo competition and nothing else. Besides, after what he did to her, there’s no way she’d take him back.
Long ago, when they were in love, Lexi hid a terrible secret from Shane–one she planned to keep forever. But when he learns the truth, she’s forced to choose between the past she left behind…and the future they might still find together.
This morning I have a spotlight and giveaway for The Maddening Lord Montwood by Vivienne Lorret.
The Maddening Lord Montwood
The Rakes of Fallow Hall # 3
By: Vivienne Lorret
Releasing July 14, 2015
Frances Thorne learned at an early age to rely on herself. Yet, losing her job and her home and watching her father carted off to debtor’s prison all in one day, is too much for her to bear alone. When a generous offer of assistance falls into her lap, she ignores her better instincts and decides to take a chance. The last thing she needs is for the infuriating Lord Lucan Montwood to stand in her way.
The end of the bachelors’ wager is near, and Lucan Montwood can taste victory. Yet, on the precipice of finally gaining freedom from his debts, he’s incensed to learn that the beautiful Frances Thorne has fallen into an insidious trap in the guise of a new position. Lucan can’t deny the way her lips call to him and knows he must risk his own future to ensure her safety.
Convincing her to trust him is the hard part and resisting her is next to impossible. But falling in love with her? That’s far too simple.
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/06/the-maddening-lord-montwood-rakes-of.html
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22962525-the-maddening-lord-montwood?ac=1
Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/131479-the-rakes-of-fallow-hall
Buy Links: Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo
USA Today bestselling author VIVIENNE LORRET loves romance novels, her pink laptop, her husband, and her two sons (not necessarily in that order … but there are days). Transforming copious amounts of tea into words, she is proud to be an Avon Impulse author of works including: “Tempting Mr. Weatherstone”, The Wallflower Wedding Series, and the Rakes of Fallow Hall series.
Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Lucan stood. The tails of his coat fell into place. Only then did she realize she’d been staring quite fixedly at the strong lines of his shoulders, the narrowness of his hips, and his backside. Again.
Keeping a hand draped over the dog’s scruff, he gently thrummed his fingers in time with ticking clock stand in the corner. “Miss Thorne, I do not mean to alarm you, but you are about to meet two of the most determined young women of my acquaintance.”
Curious, her gaze locked on the open doorway. “Determined for what, precisely?”
“To see me married by year’s end.” He said the words with such gravity that a streak of alarm did indeed shoot through her. “They will see you here and begin plotting instantly, especially if you continue to ogle my person when my back is turned.”
She started. There was no way he could have known—but then she noticed the reflective glass in the door of the clock stand and felt her cheeks betray her. “I was not ogling you. Not at all. You have a . . . a spot on your coat, and I was debating whether or not to tell you.”
“Is it a large spot or a small spot?” He grinned.
She narrowed her eyes, feeling the tips of her lashes brush against her lenses. “Hideously large, like your ego.”
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Blog: The Children's Book Review
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Sabaa Tahir’s heart-wrenchingly fierce debut novel will draw you deep into the hearts and minds of Laia and Elias as you join them on their battle for freedom.
E-book subscription site Scribd has been making changes to its catalog to help maintain its business model, which pays publishers a retail-like model for books every time they are read.
The company revealed last week that it is cutting down the number of romance and erotica titles available in its all-you-can-read subscription service. Trip Adler, Scribd CEO, told WIRED, \"In general, the model has worked well, but in some genres, particularly the romance genre, it hasn’t worked out with a huge number of titles.”
Mark Coker, the CEO of Smashwords, a massive self-publishing site which supplies many romance titles to Scribd lamented the decision. In a blog post, Coker suggested that Scribd adopt a tiered pricing model to support these avid romance readers.
In the meantime, Scribd is continuing to expand its list. This week, Scribd revealed that it has doubled its inventory of Macmillan titles from 1,000 to 2,000 books in the catalog.
May Contain Spoilers
I am having a love-hate relationship with Crews’ books. I love the raw emotion of her writing, but gosh darn! Her heroes can be such douche bags! Since At the Count’s Bidding features the revenge trope, I was expecting Giancarlo to not be the nicest guy at first, but I had a hard time wrapping my head around how awful he could be. It was hard for me to accept him as heroic or romantic, and I wondered what Paige saw in him. I started to think that the only reason she was allowing him to treat her like that was because of all of that guilt she carried. For what? For something she did ten years ago, when she was just barely out of her teens.
At first I was upset with Paige for allowing Giancarlo to treat her like a doormat, but what else did she expect? Every adult in her life treated her terribly, especially her mother, so why would she expect her lover to take an active interest in her and find out why she did what she did? Instead, he rejects her cold, disappears from her life for ten years, and then – poof! He’s back. That was completely Paige’s fault. How she thought working for his superstar mother could possibly be a good decision is beyond me. But wait! I’ve gotten ahead of myself.
Ten years ago, Giancarlo fancied himself a director. With his mother’s connections and his own personal wealth, playing out his fantasy of making movies was quickly a reality. On the set, he saw Paige, and it was as if the earth stood still. The two were drawn to each other like moths to flame, and soon were burning with passion. Then Paige’s past caught up with her, she betrayed Giancarlo by selling pictures of them getting naughty to a tabloid, and Giancarlo thought the world had come to an end. Now, don’t get me wrong, but most people craving privacy don’t get caught up in the movie biz, and most people in the movie biz would love a scandal like that to set their stars aflame. There are several celebrities whose careers are built on little more than a sex tape here or there, so would he really get all bent out of shape about a couple of stills showing him in action? He made the wrong career choice.
After they are reunited at his mother’s house after ten long and bitter years (for him), Giancarlo threatens to spill the beans on Paige’s past and get her fired. Would his mother really allow her to stay employed after Paige betrayed him like that? I was thinking that, yes, she probably would, because if his mother had thought of it first, she would have done the same thing! She thrived on attention and the adulation of the press and her fans, so a little scandal would have gotten her what she craved without too much effort. Heck, if she could have used their pictures again to get herself some press, she would have cheerfully done that, too!
But Paige, terrified that she’ll lose her job and Violet’s friendship, agrees to jump every time he snaps his fingers. She’s to be there for him when ever he wants, where ever he wants, so he can finally achieve his revenge. This, I did not like so much . At first he starts to degrade and minimize her, until he realizes what a dick move that would be. I had a hard time with his behavior in the beginning of the book, because after treating someone like that, it’s hard to come back from that and look noble and romantic.
I had so many issues with this book, when Giancarlo treated Paige horribly, and she acted like a doormat and accepted it. When Giancarlo blamed Paige for getting pregnant because he THOUGHT she was on birth control, I thought, That’s it! He can never recover in my mind from that! What a jerk! He didn’t even care enough to ASK Paige about it, or better yet, take responsibility in his own hands and make sure that he didn’t get her pregnant. A guy with that much money, who didn’t ever want to get trapped in marriage, would have not left something that important to chance! Giancarlo was so selfish he didn’t even think that there might be more to what happened in the past than Paige wanting money. Ugh!
Even when I wanted to chuck my Kindle against the wall in utter frustration, I kept reading. Why??? I know you are asking. Because the strength of the writing kept me turning the pages. It is so emotional and melodramatic, and I really like Crews’ writing style. I might not like what her characters do, but all of those words she uses to make them do it? Those I like! She even made Giancarlo grovel before Paige took him back, and somehow let him redeem himself, even when I didn’t think that could ever be possible. I have to keep reading her books to see if all of her heroes are douche bags.
Grade: Story: C (Because of my reservations)
Hero: D for DOUCHBAG!
Writing: B+ for why else would I have finished this if I hated the hero that much???
Review copy obtained from my local library
“It’s the surrender. It’s all about the surrender.”
Paige Fielding has waited ten years for Giancarlo Alessi to walk back into her life. But the man she was once forced to betray isn’t interested in asking questions, or hearing apologies…
Shocked to discover Paige working as his mother’s PA, Giancarlo sees his thirst for vengeance reignite. So he lures her to Tuscany, where she will bow to his every pleasurable command.
But the lines between payback and passion quickly blur. And when Giancarlo discovers Paige is pregnant he must ask himself: Is it really revenge he so desperately craves—or her?
Samantha Grace dropped by the virtual offices to celebrate the release of The Best of Both Rogues!
Hi, everyone. I’m Samantha Grace, RITA-nominated author of the historical romance series, Rival Rogues. Today I’m very happy to be joined by Benjamin Hillary, the hero of my latest novel, THE BEST OF BOTH ROGUES, and his rival for Miss Eve Thorne’s affections, Sir Jonathan Hackberry. In a moment, we’ll have Miss Thorne join us for a quick round of The Regency Dating Game.
Sir Jonathan: Dating? As in determining the age of archaeological specimens?
Samantha: Uh, not exactly. Dating is similar to courting. Miss Thorne will ask each of you the same questions, and your answers will help her determine which gentleman she would like to take her for an ice at Gunter’s.
Ben stands, smiling broadly as Eve enters the room: Let the games begin.
Eve lowers to a chair and situates her skirts before shaking out a piece of foolscap. She looks back and forth between the gentlemen: Well, this is a bit awkward.
Ben: Not any more than it was the day you twisted your ankle, and I had to step in to teach Sir Jonathan to waltz.
A rosy blush dusts Eve’s cheeks: That was quite a sight. I should probably begin the questions. Ben, if there were a book written about your life, what would it be titled?
Ben: Coincidentally, there is a book about my life on the market right now. It’s called The Best Rogue.
Sir Jonathan: I believe the correct title is The Best of BOTH Rogues.
Ben: Last minute change. You know how those things go in the publishing world.
Sir Jonathan: But the book is about me, too.
Ben: About that, Samantha’s editor called and… (He draws his finger across his neck in a slicing motion.)
Sir Jonathan: She had my head lobbed off?!?
Ben: No! You’ve been cut from the story.
Sir Jonathan: Cut? Why? I add interest, intrigue, and comedic relief.
Ben crosses his arms: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you’re not that funny. We think someone else is better for the part, so you should probably run along. You’re no longer needed.
Sir Jonathan narrows his eyes: Wait, are you trying to get rid of me?
Ben: Only from the moment I learned of your existence.
Eve bites her bottom lip and looks uncertainly at the men: Perhaps Ms. Grace and I should go for an ice while you two work out your differences.
Samantha: That sounds wonderful. I’ve never tried an ice from Gunter’s.
Eve and Samantha chatter about what flavors Samantha should try as they walk out on the gentlemen.
Ben glowers at Sir Jonathan: Fantastic. They’ve left. Why won’t you go away?
Sir Jonathan: I’m the comedic relief, remember?
Title: The Best of Both Rogues
Author: Samantha Grace
Series: Rival Rogues, Book 3
Pubdate: July 7th, 2015
Genre: Historical Regency Romance
The worst thing Mr. Benjamin Hillary ever did was abandon his bride-to-be on their wedding day.
The hardest thing he will ever have to do is watch her marry another man.
After two long years abroad, Ben finds Eve every bit as captivating as she was the first time he saw her, and he vows to set things right.
Lady Eve Thorne has a new man in her life, and Ben is nothing but trouble. She is no longer a starry-eyed young woman, and now that he’s back, he can go hang for all she cares. At least that’s what she keeps telling herself…
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IndieBound – bit.ly/1BEe8oG
Historical romance author Samantha Grace discovered the appeal of a great love story when she was just a young girl, thanks to Disney’s Robin Hood. She didn’t care that Robin Hood and Maid Marian were cartoon animals. It was her first happily-ever-after experience and she didn’t want the warm fuzzies to end. Now Samantha enjoys creating her own happy endings for characters that spring from her imagination. Publishers Weekly describes her stories as “fresh and romantic” with subtle humor and charm. Samantha describes romance writing as the best job ever.
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Excerpt from THE BEST OF BOTH ROGUES by Samantha Grace
Ben made a slow circle of the brightly lit ballroom, stopping occasionally to study the couples as they sashayed past, their cheeks pink from exertion. After several moments, he was satisfied Lord Wellham wasn’t among the dancers, not that Ben was surprised. If his memory served, the earl favored gambling over gamboling.
Reaching a secluded corner near a dark alcove, he paused to check once more for his quarry before he sought out the card room.
“What are you doing here?” a voice hissed. “You are not on the guest list.”
“Pardon?” Ben spun toward the speaker and came up short. His eyebrows veered toward each other. “How do you know?” he whispered back to the mass of green palm fronds.
“Because I helped make the list.” The plant’s fronds parted, and Eve Thorne’s stern glare greeted him. What the devil was she doing?
Her frown deepened when he simply stared, at a loss for words. “Do you have a death wish, Mr. Hillary?”
The corners of his mouth twitched. “Let me guess, you’ve been attacked by a man-eating plant. Are you in need of rescue, Kitten?”
She growled softly and the fronds snapped back into place. Ben checked the surrounding area to be certain they hadn’t earned any unwanted attention, then peered around the massive greenery. Eve was wedged against the wall, her yellow chiffon skirts crushed against the large pot. Her chest rose and fell in rapid movements, drawing his attention to the modest swell of her breasts peeking above her lacy neckline. A rosy glow infused her ivory skin, making the sprinkling of freckles across her cheeks almost unnoticeable.
God, he had missed her – her freckles, her pouty lips, her soulful brown eyes. He had been smitten from the moment he had spied her at the theater during the little Season, and two years on a faraway continent had done nothing to cool his ardor.
“What are you doing back there, Miss Thorne, and shouldn’t you have a chaperone?”
She crossed her arms as if erecting a wall between them. “God only knows why, but I am trying to save your skin, Benjamin James Arran Hillary.”
Damnation. He had almost forgotten he’d been burdened with so many names, and that she had a habit of invoking every one when she was perturbed. His smile expanded. Despite her pretense of indifference, she was worried for him. “Am I to conclude your skulking about means you still care?”
“I care about Lady Eldridge, and I do not want to see her ball ruined by you and Sebastian coming to fisticuffs. You really must leave before he sees you and demands another meeting on the field.”
Crossing paths with Sebastian Thorne didn’t concern Ben. Her brother’s need to defend her reputation after Ben jilted her had been satisfied three weeks earlier in a duel, and Thorne would not issue a second challenge for fear of losing. Ben suspected neither of them wanted to risk looking like fools again either. Instead of dueling with pistols or swords as any other normal men would do, they had allowed Eve to choose the weapons. She had chosen gloves.
He scowled. “Do you have any idea how ridiculous it looked for two men to engage in a slapping match?” The gents at Brooks’s hadn’t stopped talking about the duel for days, and Ben had endured the brunt of the teasing since he’d followed his youngest brother’s advice and allowed Thorne to win.
Eve’s smile radiated with self-satisfaction. “Since no one died, I would say I made an excellent choice.”
H grudgingly admitted her cleverness had managed to resolve the conflict without bloodshed – or much, anyway. Ben had walked away with a cut on his cheek and a nasty bruise, thanks to her brother filling his glove with pebbles. But bruised pride and a bruised mug were small prices to pay to see Eve’s position in Society restored.
3 Signed copies of In Bed with a Rogue open 6/24/2015 – 7/31/2015
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Neighbors with Benefits (Anderson Brothers #2)
by Marissa Clarke
About the Book: CEO Michael Anderson might be something of a “control freak.” Still, he’s not quite sure why his therapist thinks dogsitting will fix anything?especially since he and the canine share a kind of mutual loathing. And to make matters worse, a house sitter moves in next door disrupting his peace—and his dates—with the worst possible music at the worst possible time… every time.
Free-spirited artist Mia Argaropolis has settled into the perfect gig—housesitting in NYC’s Upper West Side while working as an art therapist. Too bad she’s stuck living next door to a bossy control freak with a penchant for calling building security when she blasts music to drown out the noises coming through his bedroom wall.
Post-apocalyptic dinner rolls that nearly take her kitchen with them, a douchebag ex, and a Shih Tzu with the personality of Godzilla attack Mia in one day, and her unlikely neighbor comes to the rescue. Like it was her fault. And now, somehow, they find themselves engaged? Both agree, this neighborly feud just got taken to a whole new level.
Goodreads * Amazon * Barnes & Noble Entangled
About the Author: Marissa Clarke lives in Texas, where everything is bigger, especially the mosquitoes.
When not writing, she wrangles her rowdy pack of three teens, husband, and a Cairn Terrier named Annabel, who rules the house (and Marissa’s heart) with an iron paw.
Prior to attending University of Houston Law School, she received a B.A. in English Literature with a minor in Drama from the University of Houston. She has taught drama and playwriting in a large public high school and English in a private school.
Currently, she serves as Vice-President of Programming for the West Houston RWA Chapter, and is a founding member of Houston YA/MG Writers, and the QueryTracker.net Blog.
Marissa also writes young adult novels for Penguin USA under the name Mary Lindsey. She is represented by Kevan Lyon of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.
Marissa Clarke’s conference, signing, & event schedule can be found here: APPEARANCES
Website *Blog * Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads * Newsletter
Giveaway: $100 Amazon gift card
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“You look beautiful,” he said, leaning against the
support beam of the porch, looking all but edible in his suit and a tie with tiny red specks that matched her dress. He’d planned that out, not doubt. Always the planner.
“It’s all about the dress,” she said.
He caught her elbow and turned her to face him. “It’s about the woman in the dress. The woman I want out of the dress. The woman who is beautiful no matter what she wears,” he added, releasing her arm. “Stop selling yourself short. No pretense. No masks, remember?”
The specks on his tie blurred and she blinked rapidly until her vision cleared. “Yes.” Up this close, she realized the red on the tie wasn’t specks, but the fins on tiny, geometric, interlocking fish—like an Escher painting. Complex and organized, just like the man. Something completely different when observed from a distance than when up close.
May Contain Spoilers
I was more than annoyed when I learned that Scribd was drastically cutting back on their romance catalog. I signed up for an annual subscription shortly after they acquired 15,000 backlist Harlequins. Harlequins are my crack, so I’ve been dismayed that my favorite authors will no longer be available there, after they took my money and still haven’t emailed their customer base about their actions. So, I decided to spend most of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday reading manga on the website. I haven’t been a power user until this weekend. I was more than content to know that that huge library of Harlequins was there, waiting for me when I had time for them. Now, I am going to be a power reading, and get my money’s worth from the subscription. I figure I have about 4 months of minimal reading to make up for.
I had no real reason for picking Personal Relations to read. The cover is kind of cute, and it was one of the first titles on the recommendation page, so what the heck. I went for it. This is a cute read!
When Brooke’s sister and Chase’s step-brother announce their engagement, the high school students don’t get the happy reaction they expected. Both Brooke and Chase are upset and want their wards to have a better future than getting married as teens. As they try to convince Courtney and Jeff that they have plenty of time to get married, and that college is more important, Brooke and Chase can’t fight their growing attraction.
This is a cute read, with very fast pacing. Both Brooke and Chase are desperate for their siblings to change their minds and wait, so that they don’t turn out to be unhappy like their parents. Chase’s parents weren’t compatible, and they both moved on after their divorce, leaving the brothers to fend for themselves. An unwise decision by Brooke costs Brooke’s parents their savings, and driven by her sense of guilt, she takes guardianship of Courtney when they leave for a job overseas. Hoping to be the voice of reason, the two adult implore the teens to stop and think before making the biggest mistake of their lives.
After a rough introduction, which starts with Chase trying to buy off her sister and ends with Brooke soundly slapping Chase on the cheek, the two adults agree to put aside their animosity for the sake of Courtney and Jeff. They think that if they join forces, the kids won’t stand a chance against them. They quickly realize that they underestimated how stubborn the teens can be, and are soon pulling out their hair in frustration. Every argument and attempt to make them see the folly of their behavior is ignored or thrown back at them.
While the romance was just a little too much of a whirlwind, the story was humorous and fun. Brooke and Chase are sent on a merry chase after the teenagers, which leads to an unexpected visit to Vegas, as well as a surprise declaration from Chase. The art was clean and the style fit the story well.
Review copy read at Scribd
Brook is shocked when one day her younger sister, Courtney, announces that she will be getting married to her boyfriend, Jeff. However, the two of them are still in high school. “As her older sister, I must put a stop to this reckless marriage!” When Brook consults with Jeff’s cool and handsome older stepbrother, Chase, he throws her a $10,000 check, saying bluntly that “I’d like to pretend none of this ever happened”! Shaking with anger that he has insulted her sister by saying she’s only after money, she ends up slapping him in a burst of outrage!
This morning I have a giveaway for Kim Karr’s Toxic. Check out the excerpt and enter for your chance to win!
Synopsis: New York Times bestselling author Kim Karr turns up the heat in a smoking hot, emotionally compelling romance that takes you into the world of Manhattan’s elite.
Meet Jeremy McQueen, a sexy, intense, brooding entrepreneur who goes after what he wants, and Phoebe St. Claire, a socialite-turned-CEO who’s been drifting through life searching for something she thought she’d never find again—the right man to share her future.
Phoebe St. Claire has devoted herself to saving her family’s hotel empire—but her best efforts have not been good enough. With her whole world in turmoil, the tenacious go-getter turns to the once love of her life. Far from innocent, Jeremy McQueen was a guy from the wrong side of the tracks and her parents would never have approved. Their years apart have only made the sexy bad boy more irresistible than ever—and their reunion is explosive.
When she asks Jeremy to help her salvage her family business, he agrees immediately, with only one condition—he wants her in his bed.
But soon surprising circumstances leave Phoebe reeling. Was this fairy tale romance just too good to be true? Will Jeremy’s secrets pull them apart all over again?
Kim Karr is the New York Times bestselling author of the Connections series, including Connected, Frayed, Mended, and Torn. She lives in Florida with her husband and four kids. She’s always had a love for books and recently decided to embrace one of her biggest passions—writing.
Buy links: Kindle: http://amzn.to/1yb3rGY
Amazon Paperback: http://tinyurl.com/q6saca2
B&N Paperback: http://tinyurl.com/nld4foq
Excerpt: Feeling a bit drunk and overwhelmed with so many and so few choices at the same time, I needed some time alone and snuck off toward the beach path.
I ran toward the ocean and twirled in the sand as the wind blew around me. Once I started to feel dizzy from twirling, I still wasn’t ready to head back to the party, so I took the path that would lead me to the large Olympic-sized pool. I tugged my sandals off with thoughts of putting my feet in the water to rinse the mud and sand away. As I approached the pool, I noticed how it glowed like it was lit by small pale fires. Lost in the enchantment of it, the sudden movement beneath the surface startled me.
A fair-haired boy emerged from the water. He pulled himself up and out so quickly that I was momentarily stunned. And then when he drank me in with his eyes, I shuddered.
I couldn’t help it, the way he looked at me just made me shiver. No one had ever looked at me like that before and I found myself gazing back into his intense eyes.
He was utterly beautiful. His bare chest was sculpted but not overly bulky like Danny or Jamie. They worked out every day pumping obnoxious amounts of iron to look the way they did. In contrast, the boy standing before me had a swimmer’s build.
He stood stoic and a cautious look crossed his face. He was long and lean in a pair of bright green neon swim trunks.
Right away I could tell he didn’t care what anyone thought about him.
I loved the idea of that.
So I smiled at him.
He shook his head and his hair fell into his eyes.
I wanted to reach out and push it away. It wasn’t long, but it wasn’t short. It was perfect.
“Hey,” he said, grabbing a towel off the ground.
It didn’t belong to the club. It was small, beige, and a bit worn—not the large hunter-green fluffy ones monogrammed in white I’d always gotten when I used to come here to swim as a kid.
“Hey,” I said back, swinging my sandals nervously.
He grabbed a pair of jeans that lay next to where the towel had been and walked right by me.
I turned to watch him as he strode into one of the cabanas and dropped his trunks. I froze and squeezed my eyes shut, thinking I shouldn’t be watching him but then opened them quickly when I couldn’t resist maybe catching a glimpse.
“Didn’t your parents ever tell you it isn’t polite to stare?” His voice was low and sexy, and it tugged me out of my own head.
I put my hands on my hips. “Didn’t your parents ever teach you not to get dressed in mixed company?”
He pulled his jeans on and laughed. “My mother might have mentioned that once or twice but I’ve never been good at following the rules.”
And it didn’t escape my notice that he didn’t put any underwear on first.
Hot. Totally and completely hot.
I didn’t see anything I shouldn’t have seen, it was too dark, but something inside me electrified at the thought of seeing him naked and I stepped closer. That’s when I noticed the scuffed-up black work boots on one of the lounges with a T-shirt thrown next to them.
I raised a brow. “Is this your changing room?”
He laughed again but this time added a smile and put his hands up. “Okay you caught me. I better get out of here before anyone else does.”
He was adorable and charming and my heart skipped a beat or two.
Then I stepped even closer and entered the cabana entrance, effectively blocking his way. “Why? You’re not doing anything wrong.”
He shrugged but he didn’t try to move around me. “I usually swim in the ocean but when the water is too rough, like tonight, I come here.”
I bit my lip in contemplation before speaking. “Does it really matter if you get caught?”
He crossed his arms over his bare chest. “Let’s just say it’s not just the swimming. It’s more that I’ve been caught doing a few too many things that I shouldn’t have been doing in the past.”
A bad boy.
The thought made my pulse thunder. “So you’re not a member at this club?”
He cleared his throat and shifted from foot to foot. “No,” he laughed but his laugh was anything but genuine. “Are you?”
I hesitated as I considered my answer. “No, I was just walking the beach and wanted to rinse my feet. I’m Phoebe,” I said extending my hand. Technically, I wasn’t lying. I wasn’t a member, my parents were. I hadn’t even been here in years. And I was out for a walk.
Amusement danced in his blue eyes. “Jeremy,” he said back.
When I chewed on my lower lip, I noticed how his eyes focused on it.
Mine focused on the entirety of his mouth—his strong, firm jaw, his sensuous lips, and his tongue that had snuck out to lick his lips.
It was almost too much.
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This morning I have a spotlight and giveaway for Chasing Jillian.
Love and Football # 5
By: Julie Brannagh
Releasing July 7, 2015
Jillian Miller likes her job working in the front office for the Seattle Sharks, but lately being surrounded by a constant parade of perfection only seems to make her own imperfections all the more obvious. She needs a change, which takes her into foreign territory: the Sharks’ workout facility after hours. The last thing she expects is a hot, grumbly god among men to be there as witness.
Star linebacker Seth Taylor had a bad day-well, a series of them recently. When he hits the Sharks’ gym to work out his frustration, he’s startled to find someone there-and even more surprised that it’s Jillian, the team owner’s administrative assistant. When he learns of Jillian’s mission to revamp her lifestyle, he finds himself volunteering to help. Something about Jillian’s beautiful smile and quick wit makes him want to stick around. She may not be like the swimsuit models he usually has on his arm, but the more time Seth spends with Jillian the harder he falls.
And as Jillian discovers that the new her is about so much more than she sees in the mirror, can she discover that happiness and love are oh-so-much better than perfect?
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/06/chasing-jillian-love-and-football-5-by.html
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22608144-chasing-jillian?ac=1
Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/112833-love-and-football
Buy Links: Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo
USA Today Bestselling Author, Julie Brannagh has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. She lives in a small town near Seattle, where she once served as a city council member and owned a yarn shop. She shares her home with a wonderful husband, two uncivilized Maine Coons and a rambunctious chocolate Lab.
When she’s not writing, she’s reading, or armchair-quarterbacking her favorite NFL team from the comfort of the family room couch. Julie is a Golden Heart finalist and the author of contemporary sports romances.
Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
She hurried over to the laptop on the little desk in the kitchen, pulled up Google, and searched on Seth’s name. She sank into a chair while she read. He was six foot four, and she practically weighed as much as he did. Well, not quite, but still. She let out a long sigh. He was two years younger than she was. It also seemed Seth had been busy: He was single. “Very single,” according to one of the most recent fan websites she looked at. In Google Images, she found a series of photos of him with multiple tall, dark-haired women, each more gorgeous than the last.
Jillian shut the laptop lid with an irritated “click”, got up from her chair, and hurried into the bathroom. She’d stood in front of a full-length mirror so many times, but it always showed her the same thing. She wasn’t unattractive, but she could use a little more self-confidence and a lot more toning. She wasn’t asking for physical perfection, but she’d like to make some changes. If she made a plan, started slowly and kept at it, she’d see a difference. The biggest changes needed to start on the inside, though. Maybe if she got out a little more, she might meet a guy that was interested in her. Seth was gorgeous, but he wasn’t really in her universe. Jillian went into the kitchen, grabbed a frozen low-calorie dinner out of the freezer, ripped the cardboard lid off, and shoved it into the microwave. Dinner would taste a whole lot better if it was accompanied by half a bag of chips and some Ranch dip. But that wasn’t an option right now. She opened the refrigerator door to look for a fresh vegetable of some type.
She pushed the fridge door shut after a fruitless search and rummaged around in her apartment’s tiny pantry. She located a can of peas. Peas were good. Plus, there weren’t many calories in peas. Maybe she could fill up on them if the diet dinner didn’t cut it.
Jillian’s love-hate relationship with her body and food had started when she was little. Most of the time, there wasn’t enough to eat. She ended up in a foster home at three years old after her mother died in a car wreck, and she was moved a few times before she entered elementary school. Things got a little better for Jillian when she was placed in a more permanent foster home, but she was still so hungry. No matter how much she ate, she wanted more. When she was old enough to make her own money, she made sure there was more than enough, and that’s when the problems began. Even more than a diet or a new workout regime, she needed to focus on the great things in her life. She’d build a healthier lifestyle as a result. Even more than a diet or a new workout regime, change from the inside would last a lot longer. She wanted to build on the goals she’d already achieved and reach out for more of the things she wanted in life: A husband. A family. To belong.
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MAKING A COMEBACK
More Than a Game #3
Releasing July 7th, 2015
Lyrical Press: Shine
With a divorce in the works, Annabelle Jones heads out to Southern California, the land of sun and starting over. She wants to prove to herself and her young daughters that she still has what it takes to turn heads as a swimsuit model—that she doesn’t need a man to take care of her. Until an accident forces her to rely on the hunky, yet mysterious man next door…
Nathan Cooper is trying to revive his own career. Once a top left-handed relief pitcher, he tried to get over a hidden injury with the aid of banned substances. Not only was he caught and suspended, he was traded and missed out on winning the championship. Now he’s a free agent without a contract, and that means life is ready to play ball…
Today was a good day. A glorious day. Sitting at the stoplight in the Southern California sunshine, Annabelle Jones did a drum solo on the steering wheel of her convertible Mercedes. She didn’t care if people stared at her singing along to “Don’t Stop Believing.” She hadn’t stopped believing, and look at her now, fresh off her first modeling job since filing for divorce. So it wasn’t the cover of Sports Illustrated, still, it was a job. Something she could be proud of. Her daughters could be proud of her.
It wasn’t about the money. The income she earned from this modeling job was more about pride. Having something to offer the world, even if it was just her face.
Annabelle wanted to show her daughters that a woman didn’t need a man to take care of her. She could stand on her own two feet, and return to the career she’d given up when she married Clayton Barry. She might not fly off to exotic locations or work with the world’s most famous photographers, but she was working.
She lifted her face to the sun, soaking in its warmth. It was as if the fog of the last few years had finally lifted. Nothing but blue skies ahead for her and her six-year-old twin daughters.
Today’s shoot was just the beginning. Her agent had two more jobs lined up for her before the end of the month. He’d also scheduled her to attend the televised celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. She hadn’t been able to make the photo shoot last fall in New York for the magazine, but he thought making an appearance on the live show would give her plenty of exposure.
Hopefully, she’d be able to juggle it all. Part of what appealed to her about today’s job was that it was close enough that she’d be able to shoot for a few hours and still get home in time to meet her daughters when they got off the school bus.
Annabelle glanced at the clock. If the light didn’t change soon, she wasn’t going to make it to the bus stop in time.
The song ended and Annabelle turned down the volume. She’d started listening to Journey during the Goliaths’ World Series run. So the song was five years older than she was, the message still rang true. It was about hope. Starting over. Believing.
The traffic light turned green, and she pulled into the intersection. A flash of yellow appeared out of the corner of her eye. She turned in time to see an SUV blow through the stoplight. Before she could react, the vehicle struck her Mercedes just behind the driver’s side door.
Her head slammed into the side window. Glass shattered and she looked down at the blood on her blouse. A thousand black pixels danced before her eyes.
And then nothing.
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Kristina Mathews doesn’t remember a time when she didn’t have a book in her hand. Or in her head. But it wasn’t until she turned forty that she confessed the reason the laundry never made it out of the dryer was because she was busy writing. While she resigned from teaching with the arrival of her second son, she’s remained an educator in some form. As a volunteer, parent club member or para educator, she finds the most satisfaction working with emergent and developing readers, helping foster confidence and a lifelong love of books. Kristina lives in Northern California with her husband of more than twenty years, two sons and a black lab. A veteran road tripper, amateur renovator and sports fanatic. She hopes to one day travel all 3,073 miles of Highway 50 from Sacramento, CA to Ocean City, MD, replace her carpet with hardwood floors and serve as a “Ball Dudette” for the San Francisco Giants.
Sometimes, I'm reading for outside reasons (right now, I'm reading YA for the Edwards Award, and New Adult for various articles and webinars) - and sometimes I read for me.
Don't get me wrong, I love YA and New Adult, but the truth is, I like to mix up what I'm reading. And after months reading about teens or young twentysomethings, I want a change -- I want to read about characters that, well, are closer to my age. (This desire is one of the reasons I'm sympathetic to the reader-driven aspect of New Adult, of people wanting to read about those in their own age group.)
So that's the long introduction to me asking you for recommendations.
I want romances featuring women over forty. I prefer contemporary or historical.
Last year, via twitter, I asked for older women/younger men recommendations, leading me to Victoria Dahl. (Alas, I didn't keep that list here -- it's lost in a old tweets.) I'm reading my way through all her books, but the one that introduced me to her was Bad Boys Do(older woman/younger man, with the woman in her mid-30s). Dahl's newest series starts with a novella (Fanning the Flames: A Girls' Night Out novella ) featuring two forty-somethings (a librarian and a firefighter.)
I also began my over-40 request on twitter Sunday morning, and got the following recommendations. Please chime in with your opinions on these titles or other suggestions!
Pleasure Rush (New York Sabers Football Book 4) by Farrah Rochon
The Trouble With Harry by Katie MacAlister
Anyone But You by Jennifer Crusie
Fast Women by Jennifer Crusie
Books by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
A Bad Day for Sorry: A Crime Novel (Stella Hardesty Crime Series Book 1) by Sophie Littlefield
Apples Should Be Red by Penny Watson
Any other suggestions? Thanks!
Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.
© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
This morning I have a spotlight and giveaway for How to Marry a Royal Highlander by Vanessa Kelly!
How to Marry a Royal Highlander
The Renegade Royals # 4
By: Vanessa Kelly
Releasing June 30, 2015
Illegitimate yet thoroughly irresistible, the Renegade Royals are leaving behind their careers as daring spies for the greatest adventure of all…
At sixteen, Alasdair Gilbride, heir to a Scottish earldom, fled the Highlands and an arranged betrothal. Ten years later, Alasdair must travel home to face his responsibilities. It’s a task that would be much easier without the distracting presence of the most enticing woman he’s ever met…
After one escapade too many, Eden Whitney has been snubbed by the ton. The solution: rusticating in the Scottish wilderness, miles from all temptation. Except, of course, for brawny, charming Alasdair. The man is so exasperating she’d likely kill him before they reach the border—if someone else weren’t trying to do just that. Now Eden and Alasdair are plunging into a scandalous affair with his life and her reputation at stake—and their hearts already irreparably lost…
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/03/how-to-marry-royal-highlander-renegade.html
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22891461-how-to-marry-a-royal-highlander?from_search=true
Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/102630-the-renegade-royals
Buy Links: Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo | Publisher
Vanessa Kelly is an award-winning author who was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.” Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. Her current series, The Renegade Royals is a national bestseller. Vanessa also writes USA Today bestselling contemporary romance with her husband, under the pen name of VK Sykes.
Author Links: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
As she came down the elegant cantilevered staircase, one of the doors off the entrance hall opened and Gilbride strode out. When he looked up and smiled, Edie almost missed a step. That charming smile did something peculiar to her insides, something fluttery and warm. It was an unfamiliar sensation and her mental jury had yet to rule on whether she approved of it or not.
“Good morning, Miss Whitney,” he said in a friendly voice. Much too friendly considering that the last time they’d exchanged more than two words she’d called him a great Scottish oaf. She still winced thinking about it.
His smoky gray gaze drifted over her figure, lingering with an appreciation that made her blink in surprise.
“You’re looking particularly lovely today,” he said as he handed her down the final step. “I count myself fortunate to have you join me this morning. It’s been an age since we spent any time together.”
And now he was back to teasing her, drat him. He knew very well she’d been avoiding him, and he clearly wanted her to realize that he knew. But she refused to play that game.
“Mamma hasn’t been well, the poor dear. She simply wouldn’t let me leave her side for a moment.” She punctuated that canard with a melancholy smile meant to communicate how trying the last few days had been. With any of her suitors, it would have brought them to their knees with abject apologies.
Gilbride, however, was made of sterner stuff.
He leaned in close, towering over her, and his eyes gleamed with a wicked intent that promised things she couldn’t even begin to name. Edie resisted the impulse to retreat because she never took a step back from any man. To do so would be a fatal show of weakness.
Besides, he was only pretending to flirt so as to annoy her.
“Ah, lassie, you can’t fool me,” he said, that seductive Scottish burr roughening his voice. It dragged across her nerves, making her shiver. “I’m not one of those man- milliners you lead around by the nose like docile geldings. I know very well you’ve been avoiding me.”
She placed a hand on his brawny chest and gave him a shove. He stepped back, not because she could move him on her own—the man was a proverbial mountain—but because she’d obviously surprised him.
“I do not lead anybody around by the nose, and please desist using that absurd brogue. It makes you sound like an actor in a second-rate touring company performance of Macbeth.”
He looked stunned for a second then let out a deep laugh. If the brogue made her shiver, the laugh was even worse. She almost hoped she was coming down with her mother’s cold.
“Miss Whitney, if you think my brogue is heavy, I doubt you’ll be able to understand anyone at Blairgal.”
“That will be something to look forward to, won’t it? Although I must say that so far I haven’t had any trouble understanding the staff here at Breadie Manor.”
He took her elbow and led her across the entrance hall to the front door, where a footman in livery sprang to open it. Even though Edie had teased her mother about the kilts and the bearskins, she’d been a tad surprised to encounter such superbly trained servants, decked out in the finest livery. They wouldn’t be out of place at Carlton House.
Truthfully, she’d been rather hoping for kilts and tartans, or someone who spouted at least a few lines from Marmion or The Lady of the Lake.
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Normally I'd gush about this being a great summer read to tuck into your bag for the beach, but I kind of hate the term "beach reads" and the relentless marketing campaigns and lists surrounding them. For me a beach read is a book I can get through... Read the rest of this post
Maggie McGinnis dropped by the virtual offices to celebrate the release of Once Upon a Cowboy. Check it out!
Why I Stick to the Sweet Side by Maggie McGinnis
Thanks so much for hosting me today! I’m so excited to celebrate the release of Once Upon a Cowboy with you!
When I first started writing romance, I was pretty secretive about it. After all, I had children … and a mother … and a mother-in-LAW, for God’s sake. What if I was lucky enough to get published? They might—gasp—read my books. And then they’d look at me differently, right? Seriously, we’re talking native New Englanders here. We did not talk of such things as romance in my house, even though clearly, something had happened there at least three times, since I had two brothers.
When I wrote my first sex scene, I immediately chopped it out of the manuscript and saved it in a new file that I named “grocery list.” I mean, what if I keeled over from some mystery illness and my mother ended up in charge of sorting out the files on my laptop? If she came across that scene, the poor woman would be rinsing her eyes for weeks!
Weeks later, I tried again. Chopped it again. Filed it again.
Clearly, my sex scenes were destined to live life undercover … as grocery lists.
Luckily, I found my niche in the world of sweet romance. There’s a whole world of hotness implicit in creating gorgeous sexual tension, and when it comes time for Tab A and Slot B, I can close the proverbial door and let your own imagination take over. There are a gazillion authors out there who write sex really, really well, and I’m happy to recommend them. I’m just … not them.
That said, my grocery list file has become a folder, and I have quite a collection of … lists in there right now. Who knows? Maybe Maggie McGinnis has a hot-hot twin who might someday be able to pull off the whole hot-writing gig.
Just please don’t tell my mother.
How about you? Do you prefer your romances to be on the sweet side? Or super-steamy?
PS: Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter below to win fabulous Loveswept swag! And psst! I’m giving away sparkly prizes on my website (www.maggiemcginnis.com) and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/MaggieMcGinnisAuthor), so go check ’em out!
Once Upon a Cowboy
Whisper Creek # 1
By: Maggie McGinnis
Releasing June 30, 2015
In this sexy Whisper Creek romance for readers of Kristan Higgins, Susan Mallery, and Molly O’Keefe, a red-hot cowboy uses some Montana magic to give a reclusive beauty her happily ever after.
Yoga instructor Jessalyn Alcott radiates peace, calm, and serenity—on the outside. Inside, she still feels like the broken, desperate girl from the trailer park. She’s got dark secrets she can’t share, which is why she never lets her relationships go beyond the third date. But when she travels to the Whisper Creek dude ranch for a friend’s wedding, Jess is enchanted by a cowboy whose deep blue eyes, dimpled smile, and rock-hard body make it tough to remember why she keeps running scared.
Cole Driscoll has struggled to find his place on a family ranch where he’s always played second fiddle. His future might be uncertain, but he’s sure of one thing: He wants Jess by his side. Easier said than done. When it comes to getting close, she’s full of excuses, and he longs to fix the hurt he sees in her eyes. Now that she’s at Whisper Creek, there’s nothing he wants more than to break down the walls around her heart and heal her pain with the power of love.
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/03/once-upon-cowboywhisper-creek-3-by.html
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23395415-once-upon-a-cowboy?ac=1
Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/145426-whisper-creek
Buy Links: Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo | Publisher
Maggie McGinnis, USA Today Bestselling Author of Accidental Cowgirl and Driving Without a License, which was a finalist for Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award is a former high school English teacher, an accomplished musician, and a certified black belt, who lives in New England with her family.
Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
“No. I will not pose for some crazy beefcake calendar. Not happening.” Cole put one hand up, palm toward his sister-in-law as he reached into the fridge for a bottled water. He’d just finished leading a trail ride out to the cliffs, and had stopped by the main lodge for a quick drink.
Kyla smiled sweetly. “It’s not a beefcake calendar. It’s a Men-of-Whisper-Creek memento.”
“Cole! You know it would be a great moneymaker. Every woman who stays here at the ranch would take one home with her.”
Cole shivered dramatically. “That doesn’t make me feel better.” He pointed out the window. “Go take pictures of the scenery! Look! Blue skies, rolling grasslands, big snow-capped mountains in the distance. Make that calendar.”
“Come on. We’ll just take a few pictures. You’d have final say over what shots I use.”
“No.” Cole sighed. He loved Kyla like a sister, and her ideas had been bringing in more money than they’d ever made before she came along, but a calendar? That was putting things over the top.
“Kyla, remember when you thought we should get goats?”
“Mm-hmm. I was right, right?”
“You were right. Kids love them.” He put up one finger, then raised a second one. “And remember when you thought we should add a spa package?”
She nodded. “Right about that, too.”
“Yes.” He put up the rest of the fingers on his right hand. “Also right about the wedding gazebo and the Shetlands and the fishing excursions.”
“Sounds like I’m five for five.” She raised an eyebrow in challenge.
“Exactly. So let’s not mess with your perfect record by pimping out the cowboys for a calendar, okay?”
“Not all of the cowboys. Just a select few. Like, twelve.”
He shook his head. “Not happening.”
“Cole, we have the hottest cowboys in Montana. It makes business sense to capitalize on that and you know it.”
Before he could formulate an answer, Ma blew into the huge country kitchen with a laundry basket full of towels.
“What’s all this jawing about in here?”
Cole raised his eyebrows at Kyla, silently daring her to tell Ma she wanted to put together a cowboy calendar. No way would Ma go for it, and they both knew it.
With a flick of her head, Kyla turned to Ma. “I was just telling Cole I think we should do a Whisper Creek calendar.”
Ma pursed her lips, nodding carefully. “Cowboys?”
Ma smiled benignly as she picked up a towel, folding carefully. “I think it’s a great idea. Is he campaigning to be Mr. February?”
Kyla shot a superior look his way, huge grin on her face, and Cole could do nothing but sigh, slap on his Stetson, and head for the door. Great. Outnumbered once again.
“I’ll let you know when we need you for the photo shoot,” Kyla called.
He opened the door. “And I’ll let you know when I’m headed to Alaska.”
As he walked toward the stable, he saw his brother working one of their new ponies on a long lead in the corral. He approached slowly so he wouldn’t startle them, settling his arms on the top rail as he watched.
Decker spotted him out of the corner of his eye. “How are things up in the henhouse?”
“Your wife is planning a beefcake calendar.”
“Oh, really?” Decker’s eyebrows went upward. “And who does she plan to use for the—beefcakes? Is that a word?”
“Who do you think?”
Decker shook his head. “No way. Not happening.”
“That’s what I told her. But don’t think Ma’s going to save us. She just stamped her approval. I think you need to get some control over your woman, Decker.”
Decker smiled. “Right. You go ahead and tell her that.”
“It’d help if she wasn’t so damn right all the time.” Cole sighed. “Now she’s got attitude.”
“She came with that.” He motioned Cole into the corral. “You want to take the pony for a bit? I need to get ready for that open house up at Boulder Creek.”
Decker might play a cowboy while he was working at the family ranch, but he was also an architect, and phase three of his new housing development on Whisper Creek’s western border was set to open this fall.
“Another fun afternoon sitting around a model home with your fancy suit and shoes on? God, I’m envious.”
Cole stepped into the corral and took the rope from Decker, ducking as Decker tried to cuff him in the head.
“Lot of ways to make a living, buddy. Lot of ways.”
Cole nodded. “Yup. I’m just glad my ways don’t involve suits.”
Decker shook his head. “I’d much rather be here this afternoon, believe me.”
“It’s okay, Decker. I’ve got cowboy-duty nailed down. Even have my best Stetson on in case anybody shows up early. We’re covered.”
“Are you being an ass?”
“Nope. But if you start scheduling these open houses for every Sunday afternoon, I might turn into one.”
“Well, once we sell all the lots, we won’t need to do any more open houses, right?”
“Not till you start on phase four, anyway.” Cole tried to keep the bitter edge out of his voice, but he figured Decker heard it anyway.
They’d both been raised right here at Whisper Creek, but after their little sister’s death, Decker’d been kicked off the ranch by their despondent father, who’d needed to blame someone. He’d spent ten long years out in California honing his architect chops while Cole and Ma had struggled to keep the ranch from going under completely, but two years ago when Dad died, Decker had finally come back.
And at first, it had been great. He and Cole had poured buckets of sweat into reviving Whisper Creek. They’d worked together, cussed together, drunk beers at the end of the day together, got to know each other again.
But now? It’d been two years since Decker had driven back up the long driveway and into their lives, but they still hadn’t quite worked out the who-does-what equation yet, and Cole was getting itchy.
While he mucked stalls and led trail rides and fed those damn goats Kyla had insisted on, Decker spent half his time up at the new development, or at town council meetings, or glad- handing the guys who would be voting at the next council meeting.
Leaving Whisper Creek certainly hadn’t been Decker’s choice, but Cole just wished now that he was back, he’d be—back. Back in the stables, back on the trails, back in the corrals for more than a passing lesson or two before heading out in his truck for yet another meeting or business lunch.
Decker was working his ass off, no doubt about it. And the Boulder Creek development had been responsible for Whisper Creek’s bank account finally moving into the black, but there didn’t seem to be any end in sight, and Cole was getting a little tired of feeling like he was carrying the ranch on his shoulders.
Especially since he wasn’t one hundred percent sure he even wanted to play cowboy anymore.
He sighed and headed for the stables with the pony. Yep. To the outside world, Decker was saving the ranch with his money, his valedictorian brain, and his housing project, and Cole was—well, Cole was being asked to pose for the ranch calendar.
And that kind of said it all.
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Ask and You Shall Receive…
The Last Riders #7
Releasing July 29th, 2015
Young Ink Press
Life dealt him a dead man’s hand.
Lucky had always led a life of service, always putting his life on the line for someone else, managing to survive by pure luck and skill. After bringing an end to a multi-state drug ring, he was finally able to live the life he had wanted as a Last Rider.
A good man would walk away and not touch the curvy woman who had been tugging on his heartstrings. Lucky wasn’t a good man. Therefore, the bad-ass biker in him had a choice: once again become the man he had pretended to be and stake his claim or take the devil’s highway.
Some girls had all the luck.
Willa wasn’t one of them. All she wanted to do was give a home to the children she had made orphans. Instead, she found herself needing help from the man who had left the pulpit behind to embrace a life of sin.
Painfully shy and withdrawn, she wanted a quiet life, a simple man, and well-behaved children. The last thing she had ever expected was for Lucky to want her size twenty body and show her a passion that would lead her straight to hell.
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“I was born in a small town in Kentucky. My family began poor, but worked their way to owning a restaurant. My mother was one of the best cooks I have ever known, and she instilled in all her children the value of hard work, and education. Taking after my mother, I’ve always love to cook, and became pretty good if I do say so myself. I love to experiment and my unfortunate family has suffered through many. They now have learned to steer clear of those dishes. I absolutely love the holidays and my family puts up with my zany decorations. For now, my days are spent writing, writing, and writing. I have two children who both graduated this year from college. My daughter does my book covers, and my son just tries not to blush when someone asks him about my books. Currently I am writing five series of books- The Last Riders, The VIP Room, Predators MC, Biker Bitches, and The Dark Souls. All my books are written for one purpose- the enjoyment others find in them, and the expectations of my fans that inspire me to give it my best.”
This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for A Promise of Forever by Marilyn Pappano!
A PROMISE OF FOREVER by Marilyn Pappano (June 30, 2015; Forever Mass Market; A Tallgrass Novel)
Sergeant First Class Avi Grant’s return to Tallgrass, Oklahoma is a long-deferred wish come true. With her final tour in Afghanistan over, Avi can focus on her future-a job here at home and a family of her own. There’s just one thing she has to do first: visit her beloved commanding officer’s widow and share her grief. The last thing she expected was to feel an instant attraction to the woman’s son. Too bad the sexy surgeon is impossible to ignore . . . and even harder to resist.
The sting of his parents’ divorce still niggles at Ben Noble. So when a warm, funny, and beautiful young sergeant arrives, mourning his stepfather’s loss as strongly as his mother does, Ben can’t help but feel conflicted. If his parents taught him anything, it’s that love doesn’t last-especially with a career soldier. But try as he might to keep his distance, Ben begins to see that Avi-and the spark she brings to his life-is the stuff forever is made of. As Avi’s leave ticks away, can Ben convince her to take a chance on forever with him?
Buy the book!
About the author:
Known for her intensely emotional stories, Marilyn Pappano is the USA Today bestselling author of nearly eighty books. She has made regular appearances on bestseller lists and has received recognition for her work in the form of numerous awards. Though her husband’s Navy career took them across the United States, he and Ms. Pappano now live in Oklahoma high on a hill that overlooks her hometown. They have one son and daughter-in-law, an adorable grandson, and a pack of mischievous dogs.
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Outside, the sounds of children playing were louder, the splashes indicating that the kids across the street were enjoying one of the last swims of the summer. Avi and Ben walked silently to her car, parked in the driveway.
She nestled the pie plate into the passenger seat, tucked her purse around to hold it in place, then closed the door before turning to him.
So . . . Would he ask for her cell number? Offer his? Make firm plans to see her again before driving away?
For the first time in a long time, the answers mattered.
Linking his fingers with hers, he pulled her to the driver’s side of the car, then stood, invading her personal She liked it.
“Do you have any plans for tomorrow night?”
Yes! “Not a single one.”
He combed his fingers through his hair. “Would you like to go out to dinner?”
She wanted to blurt out the affirmative as quickly as it had echoed in her head, but he went on. “You would have to drive to Tulsa. Tuesday is surgery day, so if I come here, I can’t get here before seven, and I’ll have to head back before nine.”
Drive to Tulsa? An hour or less. No big deal. She’d had commutes between apartments and forts that took longer, and that was just to work. An evening with Ben was such a nicer payoff. “I don’t mind.”
“I usually get out of clinic around six. We could meet at my house around six thirty?”
A smile spread across her face. “I can handle that.”
“Good.” He wasn’t smiling, but his eyes showed something just as encouraging. Relief, maybe, or satisfaction. Hmm. She could show him satisfaction.
He leaned closer, just slightly, and lowered his voice. “I’d kiss you good night, but we have an audience.”
Glancing over her shoulder toward the house, she caught just a glimpse of Patricia before the blinds at the living room window settled. Looking back at Ben, she smiled. “Kiss me anyway.”
He closed the last of the distance between them, lowering his mouth to hers, giving her a sweet, gentle, tender kiss that set her blood on fire. It was impressive and surprising and just a bit scary, considering she’d had tons of kisses that were a whole lot more passionate and evoked a whole lot less of a response.
When he lifted his head, her fingers curled, wanting to wrap around the back of his neck and pull him down again. Her heart skipped a beat or two, and something deep inside her felt deprived.
In the dim light, Ben looked impressed and surprised and a bit scared, too. For a moment, he stared at her, all intense and searching, then he gave a rueful shake of his head. Stepping back, he asked for her cell phone, input his number, and texted it to himself to get her number.
“Six thirty,” he said when he handed it back, his voice rough-edged. “I’ll send you the address.”
“I’ll be there.”
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I am a sucker for cowboys and veterinarians, so when I saw that The Heart of a Cowboy had both, I instantly borrowed it from my local library. While parts of the story had me rolling my eyes, overall, I thought this was a good read. Lots of soul searching from both protagonists, a dark secret that’s been entrusted to Natalie, and genuinely likable supporting characters had me finishing this off in less than an afternoon.
Natalie’s alcoholic father reveals the terrible secret he’s been hiding for twenty years, and a death bed promise has her driving from Kansas to the small town in Texas where her family used to live. When she was a young girl, her parents uprooted the family, packing them into the family car and moving all the way to Kansas, all without an explanation. When Natalie learns the reason for her family’s flight, she is sickened and ashamed. Her father got behind the wheel when he was drunk and killed Natalie’s best friend’s mother. Now it’s Natalie’s duty to let the Brody’s know what really happened that awful night, all those years ago.
Natalie is understandably struggling with her promise. She doesn’t want to tell the Brody’s what happened, afraid of how it will alter their feelings for her. With her father dead, there’s only her mother left to turn in for her crime of silence. She’s also afraid that by bringing up the past, the Brody’s happiness will be destroyed. Being a person of her word, though, she reluctantly heads back to Blue Falls to face the ugly past that her father left shattered behind him.
Garrett, now the only unwed Brody sibling, wonders why he hasn’t found a woman to settle down with. All he wants is the love of a good woman, a family of his own, and the satisfaction of improving the cattle ranch that has been in the family for generations. When Natalie comes back to town, he’s drawn to her beauty and kind nature. He senses that she’s troubled and hiding something, but he can’t figure out what it might be. When he finally learns the truth she’s been burdened with, he doesn’t think he can ever forgive her for lying by omission.
I enjoyed The Heart of a Cowboy. While I wondered at the work comp issues behind her injuries after helping out the small town vet (as well as who was going to foot the medical bills), and found her discharge from the hospital so soon after being trampled by a bull (I know, I know – NITPICKING, but after all my insurance issues and the medical crisis in my family, it made my eyebrows raise)questionable, but it did earn her a guest room at the Brody ranch, so she could feel even more emotional turmoil about the secret she just doesn’t have the courage to divulge. With a father more attached to the bottle than his children, and a stressed out, distracted mother, Natalie felt more at home with the Brodys than her own family, making her task even more difficult. Mr. Brody is so kind to her that I could easily understand her reluctance to tell him the truth about his wife’s death. Natalie’s father really was a coward, and I had a hard time accepting her loyalty to him.
The romance is sweet and developed convincingly. Even when Garrett’s anger and sense of betrayal at Natalie boils over, he’s easy to forgive because it is a shocking and heartbreaking revelation. I enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to reading more books in the Blue Falls, Texas series.
Grade: B / B-
Review copy obtained from my local library
WHAT IS SHE HIDING?
Of all the Brody boys, Garrett would have been voted most likely to settle down. But somehow, the right woman never came along. Until now. Veterinarian Natalie Todd left Blue Falls when she was a kid, but she seems to fit right in. Her old friends are there and she has a job with the local vet if she wants it. Every kiss tells Garrett she feels the same way he does. So what’s holding her back?
Natalie can’t say, and every kiss just makes it harder. She came back to fulfill her father’s dying wish, and found a happiness even greater than she remembered. The secret she carries will destroy everything, plain and simple. That’s why she can’t tell him. Not yet. Maybe not ever.
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, Earth & Life Sciences
, Science & Medicine
, The Double Helix with Dawn Field
, Dawn Field
, DNA design
, DNA of kissing
, DNA studies
, double helix
, earth sciences
, international day of kissing
, life sciences
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Another ‘Awareness Day’, International Kissing Day, is coming up on July 6. It might not seem obvious but kissing, like most subjects can now be easily linked to the science of DNA. Thus, there could be no more perfect opener for my Double Helix column, given the elegance and beauty of a kiss. To start, there is the obvious biological link between kissing and DNA: propagation of the species. Kissing is not only pleasurable but seems to be a solid way to assess the quality and suitability of a mate.
The post International Kissing Day and DNA appeared first on OUPblog.
Jill Shalvis dropped by the virtual offices to answer a few questions in celebration of her upcoming release, Second Chance Summer.
What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?
My Kindle!!!!! I’m always on the run and when there’s any downtime at all, I whip that baby out and have my choice of hundreds of books right in my purse.
Name three things on your desk right now.
I don’t have a desk. I work on a laptop. So I’ll tell you three things on my “desk top”. A hot guy file full of pics for writing inspiration. A pics of my kids wrestling on the couch. And the manuscript I’m writing…
What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?
COOKIES. Any kind. All kinds.
If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?
My cat. She has the life…
You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week. Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?
I’d want to be able to transport. I’d go to a deserted island with my Kindle. And cookies.
SECOND CHANCE SUMMER by Jill Shalvis (June 30, 2015; Grand Central Publishing Mass Market; Cedar Ridge #1)
Cedar Ridge, Colorado, is famous for crisp mountain air, clear blue skies, and pine-scented breezes. And it’s the last place Lily Danville wants to be. But she needs a job, and there’s an opening at the hottest resort in her hometown. What has her concerned is the other hot property in Cedar Ridge: Aidan Kincaid-firefighter, rescue worker, and heartbreaker. She never could resist that devastating smile . . .
The Kincaid brothers are as rough and rugged as the Rocky Mountains they call home. Aidan has always done things his own way, by his own rules. And never has he regretted anything more than letting Lily walk out of his life ten years ago. If anyone has ever been in need of rescuing, she has. What she needs more than anything are long hikes, slow dances, and sizzling kisses. But that can only happen if he can get her to give Cedar Ridge-and this bad boy-a second chance . . .
Buy the book!
About the author:
New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.
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“So you going to tell me what’s wrong?”
“Other than I hate snakes and you saw me in my PJs? Nothing.” She lifted her chin and defied him to contradict her.
She should have known better. Like Ashley, he’d never met a challenge he didn’t face head-on.
He moved toward her, right into her personal space.
She took a step back and came up against the wall.
This didn’t stop him. He kept his forward momentum until they were toe to toe. And then while she was still standing there a little dumbfounded and also something else, something that felt uncomfortably close to sheer, unadulterated lust, he put his hands on the wall on either side of her head.
This both escalated her heart rate and stopped her lungs from operating. “Um—”
“You had your chance to tell me what’s wrong with you,” he said. “You passed. Now I’m going to tell you what’s wrong with me.”
Oh, God. Talking would be a bad idea. As for a good idea, she had only one, and before she could consider the consequences, she gripped his shirt, hauled him down, and kissed him.
He stilled for a single beat and then got on board quick, pulling her in, sinking a hand into her hair to tilt her head to the angle he wanted, and taking over the kiss.
The next thing she was aware of was the sound of her own aroused moan, and she jerked free.
The corner of his mouth quirked. “Did you just kiss me to shut me up?” he asked.
She blew out a sigh. “It made a lot more sense in my head.”
He grinned, one of those really great grins that made something low in her belly quiver. Needing some space, she pushed him, even though her instincts were telling her
to pull him in tighter instead of pushing him away.
“Back to what’s wrong with me,” he said, still looking amused. “It’s you.”
She opened her mouth to say something, but he set a finger against her lips. “My turn,” he said, and lowered his head and kissed her.
And oh. Oh, damn… There were some men who just knew how to kiss, the kind of kiss that could send a woman reeling. The kind of kiss that could take away problems and awareness and…and everything. The kind of kiss that could shatter her into a trillion little pieces. The kind of kiss that somehow both calmed her body and soul even as it wound her up for more.
Aidan was that kind of kisser. Shocking, really, to also realize that in between their first kiss all those years ago and now, that there’d been nothing like it for her.
Aidan pulled back a fraction of an inch, opened his eyes, and stared into hers.
She stared back because wow. Good. So damn good, and for one glorious moment there she’d let her lips cling to his, let the memories of him and all that he’d meant to
her wash over her.
And those memories had all been…epic.
Until the end.
Finding her sanity, she pushed him again. For a beat he didn’t move, just looked into her eyes.
And then, on his own terms, he stepped back.
She pointed at him. “That was…”
He arched a brow.
“Never mind what it was,” she said. “We aren’t going there.”
His smile was grim and utterly without mockery.
“Agreed.” But then he hauled her up to her toes and kissed her again.
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[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Tiffany! What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?
[Tiffany Snow] I’d say my cell phone, but that’s probably everyone’s answer. So I’ll change it up a bit and add that I won’t leave the house without putting on my eyebrow gel (don’t ask—it’s a weird makeup thing that I feel naked without).
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.
[Tiffany Snow] My peacock lamp, a birthday card from my best friend, and a copy of my book POINT OF NO RETURN signed by Ian Somerhalder.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?
[Tiffany Snow] Doritos (Cool Ranch). Leaves the nastiest aftertaste but they’re like crack.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?
[Tiffany Snow] Kade Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge. She’s beautiful, married to a prince, AND she’s a duchess. Plus, I’d have a posh British accent for a day which would be very cool.
[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?
[Tiffany Snow] I’d choose to be able to travel backwards in time—not forwards—and I’d go back in time and eyewitness historical events such as the Gettysburg Address, Washington’s crossing of the Potomac, the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the building of the pyramids, the painting of the Sistine Chapel, and anything else I could think of.
About Tiffany Snow
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Tiffany Snow earned degrees in Education and History from the University of Missouri-Columbia, before launching a career in Information Technology. After over a decade in IT, she switched careers to what she always dreamed of doing – writing. Tiffany is the author of romantic suspense novels such as the Kathleen Turner Series, which includes No Turning Back, Turn to Me and Turning Point. Since she’s drawn to character-driven books herself, that’s what she loves to write, and the guy always gets his girl. She feeds her love of books with avid reading, yet she manages to spare time and considerable affection for trivia, eighties hair bands, the St. Louis Cardinals, and Elvis. She and her husband have two daughters and one dog.
About Power Play
THIS KIND OF BUSINESS CAN ONLY BE PERSONAL
Sage Reese lives for her job. More precisely, she lives for her debonair boss, Parker Andersen. Sage handles everything for Parker, even as she fantasizes about the one thing that isn’t in her job description: him. But when a high-stakes account crosses the line from shady to deadly, a tough cop starts giving Sage the attention she wishes Parker would . . .
Detective Dean Ryker couldn’t be more different from Parker. While Parker wears expensive suits like a second skin and drives a BMW, Ryker’s uniform is leather jackets and jeans . . . and his ride of choice is a Harley. While Parker’s sexiness is a reserved, slow burn, Ryker is completely upfront about what-and who-he’s after. And Sage tops his list.
Now, as Ryker digs deeper into the dark side of Parker’s business, Sage finds herself caught between two men: the one she’s always wanted-and the one who makes her feel wanted like never before . . .
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