BLOG TOUR w/ REVIEW & EXCERPT: Shade’s Lady by Joanna Wylde

Reapers MC #6.5; Standalone novella

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♦BLURB♦

New York Times bestselling author Joanna Wylde returns to the world of the Reapers Motorcycle Club…

Looking back, none of this would’ve happened if I hadn’t dropped my phone in the toilet. I mean, I could’ve walked away from him if I’d had it with me.
Or maybe not.
Maybe it was all over the first time he saw me, and he would’ve found another way. Probably—if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that Shade always gets what he wants, and apparently he wanted me.
Right from the first.

♦4-STAR REVIEW♦

I have a love/hate relationship with novellas because, a) they’re great for a quick read, but, b) they end too soon. Both are the case with Shade’s Lady because I wanted so much more than what we were given as I’m completely selfish and love being in Wylde’s Reapers world. This novel starts us at the top, with the National President of the Reapers MC and his love story.

Mandy, our heroine, had a palpable quality to her. Her hesitance and raw survivor strength gripped me and endeared me to her. Her unabashed realness and humorous inner dialogue were their own character within this novel and I loved her because of (and for) it. She made no qualms or excuses for who she was and what’s she’s done, but her moral compass was always pointed in the right direction. Shade’s raw attraction to her and the reciprocation she felt, along with the buildup of their sexual tension, created a sexy, but lust-filled novel.

Wylde managed to pack in quite a bit into this novella, giving us two fully rounded characters and their love story, in Shade’s Lady and it felt incredibly good to be back with an MC that I’ve come to know and love. But if I could be greedy, I would want more of these two. As it is, it’s the perfect introduction to the series if you haven’t yet taken the plunge and a great addition to the series if you’re a veteran. Wylde’s writing, as always, pulls you in and carries you through to the last page. I can’t wait for more from this MC.


♦EXCERPT♦

“Nope. That’s not how it works,” Shade said, sliding his hand up into my hair. “It was about a member of a support club lying to the national president of the Reapers. He tried to cheat me out of five hundred bucks by promising something he didn’t own. We can’t let guys like Rebel get away with that shit. Wouldn’t matter what it was about, the principle’s the same.”

“There are so many things wrong with that statement that I don’t even know where to start. I…I literally can’t figure out what I want to argue with you about because it’s all wrong. All of it.”

“It’s how our world works,” he said, rubbing up and down my lower back. He might’ve been trying to soothe me but my thoughts were spinning too fast. “There’s good and bad. Part of the good is that when you belong to someone in a club, it’s not just his job to protect you, it’s the whole club’s. I’d die for Dopey’s old lady and I don’t even like the bitch. He’s my brother, though, and she’s his property. It is what it is.”


♦TRAILER♦


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♦SERIES♦

(All books can be read as standalones)

Reaper's Property #1

Book One

Purchase:  Amazon

 

Reaper's Legacy #2

Book Two

Purchase:  Amazon

 

Devil's Game

Book Three

Purchase:  Amazon

 

Reaper's Stand #4

Book Four

Purchase:  Amazon

 

10 - Reaper's Fall

Book Five

Purchase:  Amazon

 

reaper's fire

Book Six

Purchase:  Amazon


♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

Joanna Wylde started her writing career in journalism, working in two daily newspapers as both a reporter and editor. Her career has included many different jobs, from managing a homeless shelter to running her own freelance writing business, where she took on projects ranging from fundraising to ghostwriting for academics. During 2012 she got her first Kindle reader as a gift and discovered the indie writing revolution taking place online. Not long afterward she started cutting back her client list to work on Reaper’s Property, her breakout book. It was published in January 2013, marking the beginning of a new career writing fiction.

Joanna lives in the mountains of northern Idaho with her family.

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BLOG TOUR w/ EXCERPT & GIVEAWAY: The Coppersmith Farmhouse by Devney Perry

Jamison Valley Book One

Purchase: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | B&N | iBooks | Kobo

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♦BLURB♦

One old farmhouse brought them together. It could also tear them apart.

Gigi has just uprooted her whole world to start a new life. The unexpected gift of a farmhouse in small-town Montana is just what she and her daughter need to escape big-city loneliness. The last thing she needs is attitude from the town’s sheriff, the most perfectly attractive and ruggedly handsome man she’s ever laid eyes on—and a complete jerk.

Jess knows all about women like Gigi. Beautiful. Sexy. Scheming. She’s stolen his sanctuary, the farmhouse that should have been his. But along with a face full of freckles, she’s got a sharp wit and a backbone of steel—something he doesn’t discover until after making a complete fool of himself. If he can earn back her trust and win her heart, he might just find the home he’s always needed.

 

♦EXCERPT♦

“Jess, these are too much,” I said.

“Not too much at all.”

“These were not cheap. Plus everything you bought for Roe . . .” I trailed off, mentally tallying up the sum he had spent on us for Christmas.

“I’ve been waiting thirty-four years to find the right woman. Finally did. Now I get to spoil her, so just get used to it.”

“Why?” I whispered.

“Why, what?”

“Why me? Why’d you pick me as your girl? I mean, I’m just me and you’re . . . well . . . you. Perfect.”

He took in a deep breath and closed his eyes for a few moments. When he opened them, his eyes had changed. They were no longer soft and gentle. They were firm and determined.

“I’m not sure where you got it in that head of yours that I’m too good for you. Because the way I see it, it’s the other way around. And it stops today. No more.”

Jess’s hands framed my face, his thumbs stroking my jaw gently.

“Baby, you’ve got the biggest heart of any person I’ve ever met. I’ve never known a soul who would have taken on an old man just so he wouldn’t be alone. Someone needs help, the first thing you think about is how you can do it. Christ, you offered to move a stranger in with you so he’d have a place to live after his house burned down. And you’ve raised the most precious little girl on the planet. When you look at her, you see beauty, don’t you?”

“Well . . . of course. She’s my daughter.”

He shook his head a couple of times. “She’s you,” he said. “In every way, she’s you. When you look at her and get that feeling of pride in your chest? When you look at her face and into her eyes and it makes your heart hurt she’s so beautiful? Georgia, that’s how I feel when I look at you.”

His words, describing exactly how I felt about my daughter, moved me so deeply that I started crying again, completely unable to stop the emotion.

Swiping the tears as they fell, he whispered, “I love you. Everything. How you don’t back down during an argument. How you take care of Rowen. Take care of me. That you don’t mind including my mother. How you invite my sister over for Christmas minutes after she treats you badly. So let me buy you whatever the fuck I feel like for Christmas, birthdays or just whenever. Okay?”

I nodded and sniffled.

“Okay.”

Jess’s words penetrated deep into my heart.

We’d been together for months and I had always doubted us. But we made sense. I thought he was perfect. He was. But what his words finally made me realize was that he thought I was perfect too. We were perfect together.

Perfect sense.

I sniffled one last time and twisted my head out of his hands to get my necklace. After I put it on, I screwed on my earrings.

He lifted a finger to the jewel at my throat and muttered, “True beauty.”

 

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

Author Picture

Devney lives in Montana with her husband and two children. After working in the technology industry for nearly a decade, she abandoned conference calls and project schedules to enjoy a slower pace at home with her kids. She loves reading and, after consuming hundreds of books, decided to share her own stories.

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BLOG TOUR w/ REVIEW, EXCERPT, and GIVEAWAY: Home At Last by Lily Everett

Sanctuary Island Book Six; Interconnected standalone

Purchase: Kindle | Mass MarketB&N | Indiebound | iBooks | Kobo

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♦BLURB♦

Home is where the heart is…

Marcus Beckett left Sanctuary Island after his mother’s funeral, and he hasn’t been back since. Until now. Needing a change from the high-risk, high-stakes life of a bodyguard, Marcus makes a solitary life for himself running the neighborhood bar in his hometown. His only mistake? Seducing and then dumping the town’s sweetheart, Quinn Harper. Marcus knows he did the right thing—a good girl like Quinn has no business with a broken man like him. But now no one will come to his bar, and he’s watching his last chance at a peaceful life go up in smoke. So when Quinn proposes a fake four-week courtship, he can’t refuse…even though he knows it’s a bad idea.

It’s a romantic charade that will buy Quinn time to distract her mother and father from their own martial problems—and will help Marcus welcome back some paying customers besides. But what begins as an engagement of convenience slowly transforms into a deeper connection, one that heals both of their hearts…and ignites the simmering passion between them. Could it be that pretending to be together is just what Quinn and Marcus needed to give their real love a second chance?

 

♦3.5-STAR REVIEW♦

Home at Last is a second-chance romance that features a woman who grew up infatuated by the neighbor’s older son. The small town they live in has subsequently thrown backlash at him after their quick romance ended, leaving his bar hurting for business. So goes her plan…a business proposal that relies on their fake romantic reunion.

I love fake relationships and how they slowly bloom into something real, and I enjoyed seeing Marcus and Quinn’s relationship blossom with a nice, slow burn. I hadn’t read any of the prior books in this series, though I’ve heard their ‘relationship’ is featured a bit in the most recent book, but I can’t speak to how that would’ve helped their story; I didn’t really feel like I was missing anything, or enough of something to make it hard to connect. Marcus’ broody nature mixed well with Quinn’s sweet, helpfulness, and their constant butting of heads kept the pages turning.

I will say, however, that the side story featuring Quinn’s parents was featured too heavily in my opinion. It really detracted from the potency of Quinn and Marcus’ effect on the reader. I found myself skipping those POVs so that I could get back to the real story. I’m sort of impatient that way, so I’m sure not every reader will feel as I did.

Home at Last was a fun story with sexy characters and the right amount of angst-y romance. It was sweet and romantic, and had the kind of second-chance romance readers love to read about. Small towns and their gossiping ways brought back together a couple that were meant for one another, and I enjoyed experiencing it.

 

♦EXCERPT♦

Quinn had taken the floor for exactly the reasons she’d said, in addition to the knowledge that however little she liked to think it mattered, Marcus was ten years older than she was. And he was a secret stress case who carried all his tension in his back and shoul- ders. She should know, since she’d nearly sprained her thumbs trying to dig the knots out during a massage that had started out sexy and turned into a to-the-death battle between Quinn and the long muscles lining Marcus’s spine.

Marcus didn’t need to screw up his back by lying on the floor for eight hours, was her point. Not that she would ever say that to him. She didn’t have a death wish.

But as it turned out, the floor was more uncomfort- able than Quinn had anticipated. And as the hours wore down, so did her resistance to the temptation of the warm, soft bed mere inches from her stiff, aching body.

She stared at Marcus’s sleeping form and wondered if she dared.

Then she wondered what the hell was the matter with her. It was a bed. They were adults. Sleeping next to each other didn’t mean they were automatically going to cross some invisible, arbitrary line. She wasn’t going to roll over in her sleep and accidentally impale herself on his penis. They’d be fine.

This is fine, she told herself, getting up off her shaky knees and creeping around to the other side of the bed. The way her knees popped when she stood up was a deciding factor. Quinn carefully peeled back the cov- ers and slid into the bed beside Marcus.

Quinn held her breath, but he didn’t move. His broad chest rose and fell with his deep, even breaths. He threw off heat like a roaring bonfire; Quinn went from chilled to toasty in seconds.

Letting her body relax into the softness of the mat- tress, she drifted peacefully into sleep.

Quinn’s dreams were chaotic, flashes of memories mixed with totally random people from her past and present. She was aware they were dreams, in that vague way that happens sometimes, even when the dreamer is deeply asleep.

In the dream, she and Marcus were walking through the woods behind her parents’ house, holding hands. Even Dream Quinn couldn’t suspend disbelief quite enough for that. Marcus wasn’t a hand-holding kind of guy. So she knew it was a dream, even as he led her deeper into the pine copse, their footfalls muffled by layers and layers of dried pine needles that released their evergreen scent as they were crushed.

Come here, said Dream Marcus, giving Quinn the smile she’d only glimpsed once or twice—the small, private, completely unguarded smile that made Marcus look like the carefree boy Quinn had first fallen for.

She could never resist that particular smile. Not that she wanted to resist. This was only a dream. She could have whatever she wanted, with no consequences.

Emboldened by her freedom, Quinn followed Marcus down to lie on a bed of springy green moss. He lay back, arms crossed behind his head and more re- laxed than she’d ever seen him in real life. Sunlight dappled his handsome face, patterns of light and shadow that shivered over his cheekbones when wind fluttered through the branches overhead.

Her heart swelled with all the feelings she’d been stuffing down and denying since the day Marcus un- ceremoniously ended their relationship. It wasn’t smart to care about him. She knew that, and Quinn wanted to be smart, she really did.

The trouble was that she’d never learned how to stop caring about someone. Her poor, bruised heart was as optimistic and stubborn as her hungry body was when it came to Marcus Beckett.

Despair teased at Quinn’s mind, but she pushed it away. This is a dream, she said aloud to remind them both. Only a dream.

Beneath her, Marcus smiled again, the smile that promised things like love and forever and the kind of pleasure she could live on. Thighs tensing with need where she was suddenly straddling his hips, Quinn felt the low-down clench of her body around the emptiness only Marcus could fill.

A shudder racked her, sweeping up her frame in a rush that tightened the peaks of her breasts and forced her mouth open on a gasp.

Yes, like that, Marcus murmured, his eyes going hot and feral the way she remembered from their first nights of passion. The grip of his hands at her hips ex- cited Quinn. She squirmed a little, wanting to feel it, hoping it bruised so she could look in the mirror later and see the evidence of Marcus’s desire for her.

With a smooth twist of his massive torso, he flipped them so that Quinn’s back was arching off the cool moss and Marcus was covering her with his body. Her legs fell open, wanton and wanting, and she relished the stretch of her thighs as he fit himself into the cra- dle of her hips.

His hardness slotted against her softness with a series of rhythmic nudges that stoked the fire inside Quinn higher and higher. In the dream, her panties melted away like fog, and he was naked too, and they were pressed together so intimately and perfectly and yet, somehow, there was still something in the way, a barrier to Quinn getting what she really wanted. Frus- tration mounting, she reached down between their hot, straining bodies and felt . . . cotton?

Quinn blinked and suddenly, instead of staring up at the waving pine needles of the Lantern Point woods, she was looking at the familiar starburst pattern of the plaster ceiling in her girlhood bedroom.

Her immediate thought was a dismayed No, let me go back to the dream! But in the next instant, she realized Marcus was still on top of her, his hard chest and strong arms caging her in. Their legs were tangled hopelessly in the sheets and they were both still wear- ing what they’d gone to bed in, but other than that?

The dream was real.

Eyes still closed, Marcus twisted his hips, grinding wickedly against Quinn’s most sensitive spot and scat- tering her thoughts like dried pine needles before she could figure out what to do. She reacted mindlessly, her body taking over and bowing up hard, her arms going around Marcus’s neck.

Through her haze of heated lust, Quinn saw the exact moment Marcus woke up.

Copyright © 2017 by Lily Everett and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.

 

♦SERIES♦

 

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

LILY EVERETT is the author of the Sanctuary Island series for St. Martin’s Press. She grew up in a small town in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains and now resides in Austin, Texas, where she writes full-time.

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BLOG TOUR w/ REVIEW: What I Need by J. Daniels

Alabama Summer Book Five; Standalone

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♦BLURB♦

Riley Tennyson has made a huge mistake.

At least, that’s what she keeps telling herself.

Showing up to her brother’s wedding pissed off and newly single, Riley seeks comfort in solitude and an open bar, until the gorgeous and irresistibly charming CJ Tully makes her a better offer―a wild night with the master of smooth-talking where nothing is off limits.

Riley does what any single woman would do, and a connection is made. One neither one of them can ignore. But when she comes home to the boyfriend she no longer thought she had, Riley buries her secret and begs CJ to do the same.

Forget about each other. It was a mistake. That’s all it was… right?

Desires are hidden. Distance is kept. Until one night CJ makes the ultimate sacrifice, and Riley can no longer avoid the man she can’t stop thinking about.

Not with him sleeping down the hall…

image1 (2)

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♦4-STAR REVIEW♦

What I Need is the fifth standalone in the Alabama Summer series. I originally fell in love with J. Daniels’ writing from her Dirty Deeds series and this is my first foray into this particular series. Her easy-going and fun writing style is present in the novel and make it easy to jump right into the flow of things, and she doesn’t waste any time at all throwing us right into the story with our two main characters.

I think the main draw for most, even if you haven’t read this series, is CJ Tully. He’s the kind of guy whose mere presence draws you in like a fly to honey. His looks, his charming nature, and his alluring words are all his weapons in drawing his prey in, and all of us are his willing victims. But he’s sweet, too. All of that and he’s sweet. That simple little thing made this entire book what it was. His draw made this book sexy and irresistible.

One thing that kept me from 5-starring this book was Riley, our heroine. Her naivete and lack of conviction, at times, really made falling into her head difficult. Certainly this is my feeling toward her and I don’t suspect everyone will have a hard time connecting with her. She’s young and been taught to accept what she’s handed out from her long-time boyfriend, but I couldn’t help but want more fight from her. I wanted CJ’s pull to be stronger than anything that had been forcefully fed into her mind. But sometimes the most inspiring heroines are the ones we want to shake quite a damn bit.

What I Need had one of my favorite tropes (friend’s little sister) and a fiery instant-romance between two characters who never thought they’d cross paths. Daniels’ writes an addictive hero and entices our hearts to fall for him. I loved him and everything he represented for Riley. It was easy to enjoy every secondary character, ones from prior books, and understand what the draw of the ‘Bama Boys is all about. I really enjoyed their story and I look forward to going to read the rest of the series. I know readers will absolutely love this intimately angst-y and sexy love story.

 

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

J. Daniels is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Sweet Addiction series and the Alabama Summer series. She loves curling up with a good book, drinking a ridiculous amount of coffee, and writing stories her children will never read. Daniels grew up in Baltimore and resides in Maryland with her family.

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BLOG TOUR w/ REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: A Boy Like You by Ginger Scott

Like Us Book One; Contemporary Young Adult Romance

Purchase: Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo

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Tour courtesy of Wordsmith Publicity

 

♦BLURB♦

They say everyone’s a superhero to someone. I’m not sure who I’m supposed to save, but I know who saved me.

We were kids. His name was Christopher. And up until the day he pulled me from death’s grip, he was nothing more than a boy I felt sorry for. In a blink of an eye, he became the only person who made me feel safe.

And then he disappeared.

Now I’m seventeen. I’m not a kid anymore. I haven’t been for years. While death didn’t take me that day, the things that happened left me with scars—the kind that robbed me of everything I once loved and drove me into darkness. But more than anything else, that day—and every day since—has taken away my desire to dream.

I wasn’t going to have hope. I wouldn’t let myself wish. Those things—they weren’t for girls like me. That’s what I believed…until the new boy.

He’s nothing like the old boy. He’s taller and older. His hair is longer, and his body is lean—strong and ready for anything. I don’t feel sorry for him. And sometimes, I hate him. He challenges me. From the moment I first saw him standing there on the baseball field, he pushed me—his eyes constantly questioning, doubting…daring. Still, something about him—it feels…familiar.

He says his name is Wes. But I can’t help but feel like he’s someone else. Someone from my past. Someone who’s come back to save me.

This time, though, he’s too late. Josselyn Winters, the girl he once knew, is gone. I am the threat; I am my worst enemy. And he can’t save me from myself.

Shot of young woman being carried by her boyfriend in grass field. Couple having fun on their summer holiday.

 

♦5-STAR REVIEW♦

A Boy Like You was a wonderfully written novel that captured the angst and romance of a coming-of-age story beautifully. I didn’t expect it to be as angst-y of a read as it was, not just romantically but emotionally as well. The story is about a boy saving a girl, who then disappears, to then possibly reappear years later. But is it him? Scott weaves that mystery throughout, building it with a quiet-like mysteriousness, just as mysterious and brooding as our hero.

There was such beauty and pain in Joss. Her reckless nature that is tied so closely to her sense of abandonment is vivid and palpable at all times. That sort of hurt that she carried throughout pulled at me and ripped apart my insides with each page. With the introduction of her quiet savior, Wes, she finally has arms to fall back on again. But it doesn’t mean she will. Their slow burn romance lit the pages of the story, carrying them through the tango they danced, advancing and then losing ground. It’s the kind of romance that inspires the reader and is absolutely decadent to consume.

One thing I love about Scott is how she can write the subtle nuances of things so very well. She romanticized baseball and its connection to the both of them, making it a great secondary character. How Wes pitched, how he gazed at her, how his sinewy forearms reacted to his hold on the ball…Every word pulls you in and shows you the connection that is floating in the air, something that isn’t read but felt. Something that makes this story great.

A Boy Like You is gut-clenching, heart-wrenching, and amazing love story. Scott plays this tune well–forcing the quick turn of the pages and the angst-driven emotion until the very end. I don’t feel like any of my words speak to the true greatness of this novel, but I hope that you give it a try even if you don’t typically read YA. It’s a book that everyone should experience and I can’t recommend it highly enough. The beauty of it truly speaks for itself. I cannot wait for more.

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

littlemisswrite-5

Ginger Scott is an Amazon-bestselling and Goodreads Choice Award-nominated author of several young and new adult romances, including Waiting on the Sidelines, Going Long, Blindness, How We Deal With Gravity, This Is Falling, You and Everything After, The Girl I Was Before, Wild Reckless, Wicked Restless, In Your Dreams, The Hard Count, and Hold My Breath.

A sucker for a good romance, Ginger’s other passion is sports, and she often blends the two in her stories. (She’s also a sucker for a hot quarterback, catcher, pitcher, point guard…the list goes on.) Ginger has been writing and editing for newspapers, magazines and blogs for more than 15 years. She has told the stories of Olympians, politicians, actors, scientists, cowboys, criminals and towns.

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REVIEW: If You Were Mine by Melanie Harlow

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MHIfYouWereMineBookCover5x8_BW_MEDIUM

Standalone

Purchase: Amazon US | Amazon UK | iBooks | Nook

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♦BLURB♦

Theo MacLeod wasn’t supposed to be the one.

Tall, dark and handsome suits me just fine, but the cocky grin, know-it-all attitude, and mammoth ego? No thanks. I only hired him so I wouldn’t have to sit at the singles table again. It was just pretend.

He wasn’t supposed to kiss me.

My heart wasn’t supposed to pound.

We weren’t supposed to spend the night together—the hottest night of my life.

One night turns into a snowed-in weekend away, and even the blizzard of the century can’t cool the fire between us. I can’t get enough—of his smile, of his body, of the way he makes me feel.

We’re nothing alike. He’s a daredevil, and I’m a nervous Nellie. He’s a drifter, and I want to put down roots. He’s an opportunist with a checkered past, and I’m a Girl Scout volunteer.

But none of it matters when I’m in his arms.

I know he’s made mistakes. I know his wounds are deep, and he doesn’t trust easily. I know he doesn’t believe he could ever be enough to make me happy, but he could.

All he has to do is stay.

 

♦4-STAR REVIEW♦

Some novels are just all around enjoyable in every way. If You Were Mine had the perfect mix of sexy and sweet with incredible depth into the characterization of both main characters. Harlow included humor in her typical fashion which made the story pop along with the always-present sizzle of the scorching sexual chemistry. All of which created a fast, inhale-able read.

Claire and Theo were polar opposites, but they came together beautifully; both had what the other lacked, most especially when it came to hope. For every downtrodden man comes a woman who can only see his potential–and she was that for him. Her light was inspirational and something he quickly became enamored by. Their playful banter and wild sexual attraction made this novel unputdownable.

It was fun. I love how Harlow makes her stories fun. But under the fun is the beauty of the emotional healing that is always so heartwarming to read. If You Were Mine is a standalone novel (featuring mild spoilers and character crossover for Man Candy and After We Fall) that will both excite and enthrall. Melanie’s writing is, again, something that will do nothing but keep you glued to the pages.

 

♦EXCERPT♦

A guy in a black leather jacket set a coffee cup down on the table and sat opposite me.

I looked over at him, feeling slightly awkward since I’d have to tell him he couldn’t sit there. He was handsome, with warm brown eyes and short dark hair, but he wasn’t Fred. “I’m sorry, I’m waiting for someone,” I said. “But I can move.”

To my surprise, he smiled confidently. “Claire, right? I’m Fred.”

I screwed up my face. “You can’t be. Fred has blond hair and blue eyes. I saw his picture.”

He laughed, almost condescendingly. “I don’t use my real picture, Claire. People are crazy.”

What? This made no sense. “I don’t understand. How can you advertise yourself with someone else’s photo? Don’t women get mad when you show up?”

He shrugged, his grin turning a little cocky. “Haven’t had any complaints so far.”

Actually, he was more attractive than the photo he’d used online—more rugged and masculine, with his scruffy jaw, big shoulders, and brawny chest. Meeting the real Fred was kind of like ordering the chicken piccata and being brought the Porterhouse, which hadn’t even been on the menu.

But that wasn’t the point.

(And I’d described someone completely different to Elyse.)

“So, what, you use a fake photo to lure potential clients and then you set up the coffee meeting to check them out first?” I asked indignantly.

“Wouldn’t you?” He shrugged out of his jacket. “It’s a scary world out there.”

I crossed my arms, sitting up tall. “No! That’s a scam. I don’t like scammers.”

“No, it isn’t. I don’t take any money from them. I don’t even talk to them, I just leave.”

Frowning, I said, “That doesn’t seem right to me. These people are willing to pay you to hang out with them and probably feel bad enough about themselves already, and you just walk out without even giving them a chance?”

He shrugged. “Look, if it makes you feel any better, I’ve only walked off a job once, and that was because I thought I recognized the woman. I prefer to keep my personal and professional identities separate. That’s fair, isn’t it?”

Professional identity? He was a rent-a-date! I shook my head in disbelief. “Is your name even Fred?”

“Does it matter?”

“Yes,” I snapped. “How am I supposed to know what to call you?”

He grinned as he leaned toward me and lowered his voice. “Call me anything you want. You’re the boss.”

Was he flirting with me or making fun of me? I cleared my throat and pressed my knees tighter together. “I’d like to call you by your actual name, please. Bad enough I have to pay someone to play my fake boyfriend. I’d like something to be real, at least.”

He held his eyes steady on mine for a moment. I felt like he was sizing me up, trying to decide if he could trust me, so I stared right back without blinking. If anyone at this table was trustworthy, it was me.

“Theo,” he said quietly, his eyes dropping to my lips for the merest fraction of a second. “My name is Theo.”

There. Was that so hard? I smiled at him before picking up my latte.“Well, it’s nice to meet you, Theo.”

“What, you’re just going to believe me? You’re much too trusting, Claire. I bet people take advantage of you.”

I set the cup back down on the saucer with an angry clank. “Is your name Theo or not?”

“Shhh, it is, it is,” he said, laughing. Then he glanced over his shoulder like he was in the fucking CIA. “But I don’t give that out to just anyone. You should feel special.”

 

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

Harlow Headshot Color

Melanie Harlow likes her martinis dry, her heels high, and her history with the naughty bits left in. When she’s not writing or reading, she gets her kicks from TV series like VEEP, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, and Homeland. She occasionally runs three miles, but only so she can have more gin and steak.

Melanie is the author of the HAPPY CRAZY LOVE series, the FRENCHED series, and the sexy historical SPEAK EASY duet, set in the 1920s. She lifts her glass to romance readers and writers from her home near Detroit, MI, where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and pet rabbit.

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BLOG TOUR w/ REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Blackbird by Molly McAdams

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28 - Blackbird

Dark Romantic Suspense

Redemption Book One

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♦BLURB♦

From New York Times bestselling author Molly McAdams comes a powerhouse romantic suspense that will have you questioning your morals and second guessing your view on love.

I live in a world few know exist. I’ve trained for this. I know what to say, what to do, and how to act. I’ve perfected the lethal calm required for this life.
Now it’s time to buy my first girl. But all it takes is one look at the brave girl who starts singing mid-auction for that calm to slip.
Briar Chapman is going to be the death of me, and I don’t care. I’ll take every day with her until that death comes, and I’ll welcome it when it does.

On the outside, Lucas Holt is what nightmares are made of. A man cloaked in darkness, with sin-filled eyes and an enticing grin. A devil so devastatingly beautiful and cruel that his very presence instills fear.
But beneath his terrifying, ever-calm exterior is an affectionate man haunted by a past that refuses to stay buried. And Lucas looks at me as though he’s finally found the only person who can make it all go away.
We’re a battle of the brightest day and the darkest night–and I want to lie in the wake of our war.

 

♦4-STAR REVIEW♦

Soooo…how do I even review this book? I’m honestly speechless and a bit…unsettled?…blown away? This is a completely dark romance that has elements that will cause you to hem and haw and oddly feel things for people (well, one in particular) that you really shouldn’t feel, things that you can’t help but feel. It’s reminiscent of the kind of situation or feelings that Tears of Tess or Captive in the Dark provoke, but it’s completely its own devil.

With a heroine sold into sex trafficking and a hero as her new master, things aren’t peaches and rainbows. Our little blackbird isn’t one to acquiesce to any man, certainly not him. His need for control and her unwillingness to relinquish control created a wild electricity between them both that continued to grow and grow to a fever pitch. I know this is a Molly McAdams we’re not used to seeing, but I love that she went for it. It was gripping and twisty and a bit crazy and, yeah, I can’t say much else without giving anything away. Blackbird was a wild, racy ride on the dark side and it was handled with the best of intentions for these characters. It’s one that will surprise you to the very end.

 

♦EXCERPT♦

She closed the distance between us, each step slow and calculated. Once she was close enough, I slid one hand around her waist and the other around the back of her neck, using her hair to tilt her head back so I could study those eyes that captivated me.

“I hate that you have so much money that you buy women. I hate that you bought me at all, but mostly that you bought me because I started singing. I hate the circumstances that brought me to you, but I love you and am thankful I’m here with you all the same.”

My chest ached and filled with warmth. I wanted to kiss her and thank her for trusting me with her past. I wanted to erase every bad memory and replace them with ones of us now, but she didn’t realize what she’d just said . . .

As much as I wanted what she was saying to be true, it wasn’t, and it never would be. It couldn’t.

“You don’t,” I said thickly, forcing the words out through the tightness in my throat.

Confusion covered her face and her brows drew together. “I don’t what?”

“You don’t love me.”

I felt the shock that went through her body, but she didn’t try to pull away from me. Instead, she gripped my shirt in her hands like she was pleading with me in her touch alone.

“Lucas . . .”

My eyes slid shut, and I released a slow, weighted breath. “You don’t, Briar.”

“I know you think you don’t know how to love someone, but you do, you have been. You know what love is, and I have never been more aware of how loved I am by someone than I am by you.”

I ground my jaw and finally looked at her again. Instead of disagreeing with her, I said, “You can’t love me, because you don’t know me.”

I hated the hurt in her eyes. I hated that I was putting it there. I hated everything I was, hated that I would never be enough for the girl I didn’t know how to let go of. Couldn’t let go of.

“Yes, I do,” she choked out. “I’ve seen it, I’ve felt it, I’ve experienced your darkness and your monsters, and I’m still here. Haven’t I proven myself yet? Haven’t I proven I am not going anywhere? That you can’t make me run?” Her gripping hands flattened and moved up to curve around my neck. “I knew to fall in love with you I had to fall in love with the devil, too. I am not as naïve as you think I am.”

“But you have no idea exactly how heartless your devil is,” I said darkly.

“Then let me see—”

“I won’t let you into that part of my world,” I said on a growl. Just the thought of her being in a situation to see me like that—to see that part of my world—chilled me in a way that made me feel sick. “All of thiswill change the minute you see it. Trust me when I say you’ll never be able to look at me the same, and I won’t be able to live with myself if that day ever comes.”

“You can’t know that,” she argued, her words still sounding like a plea.

“Think of your worst memories with me, Blackbird,” I ordered gently. “Think of what I told you about the shootout with my brothers. Think about what William did to you. Now try to grasp that all of that is nothing compared to what I have done, and what I do, without feeling a thing.”

I waited for it to sink in, and after a few moments, it did. And there was that look in her eyes I’d come to dread and hate—fear and uncertainty. But I could still see her love for me.

Unfailing and undeserving.

“Didn’t you hear me the first time?” she finally asked as tears filled her eyes. “The darkest part of your soul terrifies me, but, Lucas, I’m not going anywhere.”

♦PLAYLIST♦

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

MOLLY MCADAMS

Molly grew up in California but now lives in the oh-so-amazing state of Texas with her husband, daughter, and fur babies. When she’s not diving into the world of her characters, some of her hobbies include hiking, snowboarding, traveling, and long walks on the beach … which roughly translates to being a homebody with her hubby and dishing out movie quotes. She has a weakness for crude-humored movies and fried pickles, and loves curling up in a fluffy comforter during a thunderstorm … or under one in a bathtub if there are tornadoes. That way she can pretend they aren’t really happening.

Come be my friend!

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BLOG TOUR w/ REVIEW: Mastering Her Senses by Laura Kaye

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Blasphemy Book Two; Standalone

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♦BLURB♦

12 Masters. Infinite fantasies. Welcome to Blasphemy…

He wants to dominate her senses—and her heart…

Quinton Ross has always been a thrill-seeker—so it’s no surprise that he’s drawn to extremes in the bedroom and at his BDSM club, Blasphemy, where he creates sense-depriving scenarios that blow submissives’ minds. Now if he could just find one who needs the rush as much as him…

When an accident leaves Cassia Locke with a paralyzing fear of the dark, she’ll try anything to get help. Ready to fight, she knows just who to ask for help—the hard-bodied, funny-as-hell Dom she’d always crushed on—and once stood up.

Quinton is shocked and a little leery to see Cassia, but he can’t pass up the chance to dominate the alluring little sub this time. Introducing her to sensory deprivation becomes his new favorite obsession, and watching her fight fear is its own thrill. But when doubt threatens to send her running again, Quinton must find a way to master her senses—and her heart.

 

♦3.5-STAR REVIEW♦

Mastering Her Senses further opens the world of Blasphemy to readers. There’s a sort of inspiring feel to this series mainly because, so far, each novel has focused on helping a heroine overcome something either traumatic or dire and provides her with the tools to see her own strength. This is no different in this second installment.

Cassia and Quinton have a beneficial dynamic with he the thrill seeker and she the one confined by senses. What I enjoy most of Kaye’s portrayal of the Dom/sub relationship is that while Quinton may be the Dom in the relationship, he gains his satisfaction from when she’s empowered and only then. I may not live in the lifestyle, but from what I’ve read and learned, that point hits true in comparison. He’s selfless and serving, regardless of being in a scene or not. They way he cared will pull in any reader.

My one concession is that I never really felt their spark. I couldn’t dive beneath the surface and feel them and their flame. Because of that, the belly tingles weren’t unleashed and that was truly sad for me. I think I’ll be in the minority in this and I figure it was just my headspace during the time of reading–but please experience it for yourself.

It’s truly a beautiful story about overcoming obstacles and the ultimate bond between two people in the BDSM world. It was hot, sensual, and erotic; built on trust and self discovery. I’m greatly looking forward to the next installment of this enticing series and what further there is to explore.

 

♦SERIES♦

28 - Hard to Serve

Blasphemy #0.5; Standalone

Purchase: Kindle | My Review

 

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Blasphemy Book One

Purchase:  Kindle | iBooks | Kobo | B&N  |  My Review

 

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Blasphemy #2.5

Release Date: July 11, 2017

PreOrder: Kindle

 

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

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Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over twenty books in contemporary and paranormal romance and romantic suspense. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

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REVIEW: Mister Wrong by Nicole Williams

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Standalone

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♦BLURB♦

Cora Matthews grew up with the Adams boys, twin brothers and best friends who wouldn’t let anything come between them except for one thing—her. One of them became her best friend, the other, her fiancé.

She always knew she’d wind up marrying one of them, and Jacob Adams is the very epitome of Mister Right. At least he is up until he fails to show up for their wedding day. Not that Cora realizes it. At first.

As Jacob’s best man, and identical twin, Matt makes a split second decision, but one that will affect the three of their lives forever—he steps in to take his brother’s place. In front of the altar, exchanging vows with the woman he’s secretly been in love with for years.

Cora eventually finds out about the groom swap. The morning after the wedding. As if realizing she just slept with her fiance’s brother wasn’t disturbing enough, she’s forced to confront her feelings for Matt Adams she thought she’d buried years ago.

Matt’s wrong for her. In every way. But through the course of her real honeymoon with her fake husband, she starts to uncover truths both Adams brothers were hoping to keep hidden, for opposite reasons. One to protect himself, the other to protect her.

She married the wrong brother, but what if he’s been the right one all along?

 

♦4-STAR REVIEW♦

Mister Wrong carries with it the rightness of an emotion-filled story that’s written with both care and love. With a dicey subject involving a woman and her long-time connection with twin brothers, Williams’ managed to finesse a 20-year history into their current predicament. Their connections were felt without needing any flashbacks to tell us a thing; instead we were shown throughout the story how their relationships have ebbed and flowed, how they’ve gotten to where they are now.

I love stories that go into a territory that comes with conflicted feelings and Williams’ did it beautifully. I felt how each character was torn against what they wanted versus what was right. Over a short period of time, these characters became living, breathing beings that had the ability to pull at a reader’s every emotion. The romanticism of it was far too enjoyable. I wanted moremoremore of them. The forbidden pull was sexy and oddly so very right. I read this story quickly and easily, enjoying every moment of it, and I didn’t want it to end.

 

♦EXCERPT♦

“So?” I crossed my arms and leaned into the banister behind me. “Did you? Like my brother?”
She sighed, turning toward the open door. “Jacob . . .”
“What? It’s a fair question.” I shoved off the banister, feeling hope and heat tangling in my veins from the look on her face, from the sound of her voice. She’d felt something for me, whether it be the most passing of crushes or something much deeper. Realizing that had me feeling drunk from something other than alcohol. “Besides, you’re stuck with me now. Won’t matter what you ’fess up to.”
Cora started through the doorway. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
Grabbing the suitcases, I followed her. I wasn’t letting this go. Never. Not if she threatened death or castration or anything else. “Why not?”
She broke to a sudden stop a few feet inside the room. “Because I don’t want to focus on the past. I want to concentrate on the future. That’s not going to work if you keep asking me questions about Matt.”
There was a sharpness in her voice—one she didn’t use too often. She didn’t want to keep talking about me, which only made me want to continue talking about me. I’d struck a nerve, but I wasn’t sure how deep that nerve went.
I needed to know how deep it went. I had to know. My whole life, I’d been under the impression that Cora saw me as nothing more than a good friend and substitute brother. She cared for me, but not in the same way I cared for her.
Or did she?
“This thing with Matt . . .”
Her back stiffened.
“Was it a thing? Like ancient history? Or is it still a thing?” I closed the door and wondered why I could feel my heartbeat in my eardrums.
She kept her back to me, standing in the middle of the dark room like a lone ship on a vast ocean. “I married you.”
Yeah, she did marry me.
“But if he’d made a play for you, way back before all of this”—I waved my finger between the two of us, not that she could see it—“would you have given him a chance?”
“He never made a play for me.” Her voice sounded faraway, like she was out of reach when she was less than an arm’s length away.
“That doesn’t answer my question.” I stepped closer. “If he had? Would you have?”
Her back was moving faster from her quickened breathing. This conversation was making her uncomfortable. Why was that?
“Stop, Jacob. Enough.” She spun on me, swaying in place just enough that I reached out to steady her. She shook my hand away like it was white-hot. “I’m not going to get into another fight with you over Matt. I’m done. I picked you. I married you. What else do I have to prove?”
“That you don’t—”
“I don’t love Matt!” Her arms flung out at her sides as her voice spilled across the room. ‘There. I said it. Are you happy now? Are you happy we’ve managed to get into another argument over this infatuation you’re convinced I have for your brother? On our wedding night of all times?” She glared at me with bleary eyes. I couldn’t tell if that was from tears or from alcohol. Maybe both.
“Cora, I’m sorry.” I ran my hands through my hair, wondering what in the hell I was doing—for the millionth time that day. Deceiving her, betraying her, and now accusing and angering her. Maybe I didn’t know the first fucking thing about love. Maybe Jacob knew more about it than I did, because I wasn’t sure love was supposed to hurt as badly as this did.
“Just . . . enough already.” As she shouldered past me, I reached for her, but she shook me off. “I need to be alone.”
She slammed the front door behind her a moment later, leaving me alone with my idiocy.
“Cora,” I called to an empty room. I wasn’t thinking when I rushed toward the door after her. “Cora!”
The moment I pulled the door open, something crashed into me. It made a sharp breath rush out of my mouth as I staggered back a few steps.
My arms barely had time to wrap around her before Cora’s mouth was on mine, moving in such a way that made staying upright next to impossible. Before I had a chance to catch up to the fact that I was kissing Cora in an entirely different way than we’d kissed at the wedding and reception, her fingers were working at my belt. Quickly.
I didn’t know she’d already gotten it undone before she’d moved on to my zipper. The sounds she was making as she kissed me, the way her body felt aligned against mine, the way her mouth knew the intricate balance of submission and domination . . . one moment at a time, Cora was crushing the last remnants of my resolve. Destroying the final pieces of my views of right and wrong.

Mister Wrong Nicole Williams Teaser 5

 

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.

Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.

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BLOG TOUR w/ EXCERPT: Lost in Between by K.L. Kreig

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Finding Me Book One

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♦BLURB♦

We all have one.

A price.

That magic number that will get us to agree to do anything, be anything.

Don’t sit on your gold-plated high horse and say you don’t because you do. Everyone does. Each of us has something we covet enough that we’d sell ourselves to have it.

What’s my tipping point, you ask? Apparently a cool quarter mil will do the trick.

What does one do for 250 large, you wonder? Anything the infamous, gorgeous playboy of Seattle wants. For the next four months I’ll be Shaw Mercer’s arm candy, his beck and call girl, his faux girlfriend. I’ll be his to command, mold, push and pull in any direction he sees fit.

I’ll fight falling into bed with him. I’ll fight falling in love with him even harder. I’ll fail at both. And when my past and present collide in the most unexpected of ways, I’ll learn that while one man’s love for me has never died, the only man’s love I really want will never be mine.

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♦EXCERPT♦

As long as Noah and I have known one another and as close as we are, he’s far from an open book. He holds some of life’s secrets so close to the vest, he’ll likely take them to his grave. So how he knows Ms. Randi Deveraux of La Dolce Vita is still a mystery he won’t divulge.

When he told me his plan and showed me the picture of the woman who’d play my love interest for the next several months, I was immediately drawn to the her, but it took me a few seconds to realize why.

It was her.

My spicy little Goldilocks.

The one I haven’t heard from.

The one I haven’t been able to get out of my fucking head for the past eight days.

The one my cock involuntarily gets hard for in the dark of night.

The glossy-colored print I stared at for long minutes was a complete contradiction to the fiery woman I’d met.

On paper her exterior was flawless. Not one sculpted eyebrow out of place. Striking blue eyes rimmed with the right amount of shadow, liner, and mascara that made them alluring but not slutty. Pouty lips painted a deep shade of maroon, lined impeccably so the stain didn’t seep, then glossed enough in the middle to draw your attention to their fullness. Hair curled into loose ribbons that fell over her shoulders and down her slim back.

But while the outside was practiced perfection, the inside screamed dead. Not damaged, not broken or bruised, but lifeless. This beautiful creature went through the motions. She moved through life without living. I don’t know how I saw it, or why, but I know it wasn’t a product of my overactive imagination. This woman’s pain was rooted deep but she put on an award-winning façade that told the outside world otherwise.

I saw the same thing when I stared into her fierce eyes under the cover of my sunglasses days ago, but I also saw something else. Smoking embers buried under piles of ash. God help me, but for some reason I want to be the man who stokes those smoldering cinders until they spark into a burning inferno, bringing her roaring back to life.

Standing before her now, I’ve no doubt I’m the igniter, the single match needed to wake her from the living dead.

“Summer, is it?” I close the door behind me and move to the couch, gesturing for her to sit.

She doesn’t. She just blinks rapidly like she’s seeing a ghost. That makes me smile for some reason.

I know the name she’s using is fake. I hate it. Not the name, per se, but the fact that I don’t know her real one. I told Ms. Deveraux my circumstances and my concern around using a fake name. The press will eventually find out and it’s best if we’re up front in the beginning rather than if they dig, thinking we’re hiding something. That would be disastrous. She agreed but told me the decision was up to Summer. If she agreed to my terms, I could plead my case. If not, then her anonymity was still protected.

“You don’t look like a Summer,” I say casually as I take a seat and cross my legs.

Although in a way she does. She’s hot and sultry and I’ve no doubt she’s nice and moist in the place I’m dying to drive my cock. Jesus, she is absolutely mouthwatering. And she has the sexiest fucking voice I have ever heard. It’s no wonder I can’t stop thinking about her.

She crosses her arms and cocks a hip in irritation. “Is that so? What do I look like then?”

Mine.

Why that disturbing word pops into my head, I haven’t a clue. She is yours temporarily, though. If she agrees.

“How is your neck by the way?”

That seems to catch her off guard because her cocky bravado falters. “Uh…fine. It’s fine.” She unconsciously reaches up to palm it. My fingers itch, wishing they were on her skin instead. I still remember the electricity that ran down my arm when I touched her before. It set my cock on fire and it hasn’t stopped burning since. “You’re lucky, you know. I could be wearing a neck brace right now and be lawyered up.”

“And you’d still be just as beautiful.” I ignore the lawyer comment. I know it’s just a dig. When she blushes and looks away, my grin gets wider and I allow myself a few seconds to absorb her, head to toe. I find myself zeroing in on that tiny diamond stud in her nose, now catching the light. I first noticed it when she pounded on the window of my Rover calling me names. I generally find them childish, yet on her, I find myself incredibly turned on by it.

“Why don’t you take a seat?” On my lap would be preferable.

Defiant eyes snap back to mine. “Hit and run anyone else lately?”

“Hit and run?” I chuckle. “I didn’t hit and run you. I took accountability.”

“Yeah. After I dumped car parts into your lap, it was pretty hard to deny it any longer.”

Hell. This woman is full of restrained passion. She just needs someone to help her unleash it in a very controlled manner.

“Why haven’t you called about your car? Change your mind on whose fault it was?” I’m goading her, but Hot. Damn. The sparks firing from her are overly addictive.

“Oh, it was your fault, all right,” she snaps. “And I’ve been…busy.”

“Yes, I can imagine you have a very full schedule.” I sound more sarcastic than I intend, but the thought of her with other men makes me feel exactly the way I felt when I thought of Noah with her.

Her lips thin. She’s madder than a hornet. I’m harder than a two by four.

“Why are you here, Drive By?”

Drive By? I laugh at her feisty spirit. God, I want to kiss her. Feel her tongue sparring eagerly with mine. See if she tastes of rage and raw energy.

“I was under the impression you were agreeable to meeting with me.”

When Noah set this up, I insisted on three things.

One: it take place in Ms. Deveraux’s private home with her alone. There’s no way in hell I will be caught on film coming and going from her “business.”

Two: I meet with Ms. Deveraux in advance and work through the contractual details to my satisfaction. Let’s just say I now feel comfortable we have a mutual interest in keeping this arrangement buried deep.

And three: I be allowed to personally meet with “Summer” before she signs the contract. Surprisingly, that was the toughest piece to negotiate. Seems Ms. Deveraux is very protective of her, or maybe she’s that way with all of her employees.

Everything I have done to secure her has deviated from Ms. Deveraux’s normal course of business, but this situation is far from normal. It’s reckless at worst. Precarious at best.

“How did you find me?”

Sheer, dumb luck.

“I’m very resourceful.”

Her forehead creases. “This is a mistake.”

She turns to leave and I panic. True blistering panic sears through me at the thought she’s about to walk through that door and I may never see her again. I don’t know her real name. I don’t know how to contact her and if this meeting goes south, I know I won’t get anything further about her from Randi Deveraux. If she walks out on me now, I highly doubt she’ll give me the time of day when she finally does call Dane about her car.

I don’t know why I care that I spend the next few months with her and only her so damn much. I just do.

“Wait,” I plead.

She stops but doesn’t turn. I have no idea what possesses me, but I close the distance between us until I’m a whisper away. Our body heat plays off each other, growing hotter by the second.

“You haven’t even listened to my proposal,” I say against her ear.

Her breath kicks up. Good. She’s not unaffected by me, and that will play into my hand nicely.

“You can get someone else,” she replies softly, without conviction.

Drawing her long hair off her shoulder, I let my finger feather across her bare flesh. It’s soft and silky. She shivers. I suppress a moan. Fuck, I want her so much. It makes no sense.

“I don’t want anyone else,” I tell her truthfully, keeping my voice low.

“Why?” she breathes.

I don’t know why. I have no idea what it is about her that draws me in. I wish I did. I need to stop it. I should end this right now—look at a dozen other pictures and pick a woman whose very presence doesn’t twist me into knots and make me have thoughts I’ve never had before. Thoughts that make me uncomfortable. It’s unnerving.

But, fuck me. I can’t. There is just something different about this woman and I won’t rest until I find out what it is.

“Have a seat. Just hear me out. Please,” I tack on sincerely.

She stands motionless and I wonder what her next move will be. My hands curl into fists as I restrain myself from throwing her over my shoulder and hauling her to my house. I think she could benefit greatly from a hard hand and a red ass. I have a feeling she might even enjoy it.

When she floats effortlessly to one of the velvet-covered chairs, I release a veiled breath. Picking up the contract from the edge of Ms. Deveraux’s desk, I make myself comfortable across from her and place the paperwork on the table separating us. Her eyes drop to it but she makes no move to pick it up.

“So what’s your proposal, Mr. Knowles?”

“Mr. Knowles?”

“That’s your name, right? Dane Knowles. Wildemer & Company?”

Amused, I rest my elbows on my knees and grin at her. “No. Dane is my assistant. I told you to call him and he’d take care of the damage to your death box.”

“Death box?” She sounds offended.

“Do you know what the safety rating is on that little tin can you drive?” When she opens her mouth to respond, I talk over her. “Five point seven out of ten. You’re basically driving around in your own steel coffin.”

I expect a hot retort or for her to leave in a huff. What I don’t expect is a genuine, breathtaking smile that lights up her face like summer and makes my cock knock uncomfortably on my zipper in a futile attempt to reach her. My God, she’s trying to kill me already.

“Are you a walking Kelly Blue Book of safety ratings, Mr.…?”

“I have a vast array of useless Trivial Pursuit knowledge up here,” I retort with a smirk, finger pointing to my temple. I’ll never admit that I looked it up after our little accident. She could be seriously hurt in that ridiculous miniature box on wheels that somehow passes for a fucking car. Hell, had I hit her any harder, she would be in the hospital. “And I’m Shaw. Shaw Mercer.”

“Shaw Mercer,” she repeats slowly like she’s tasting my name for the first time. Savoring every consonant and every vowel. Fuck. I sit back and cross one leg over the other to hide my rock-hard erection.

“Any relation to Preston Mercer?”

I nod, impressed that she tied me back to my father instead of referring to me as one of Seattle’s most eligible bachelors. She’s intelligent and up on politics. I like that. Immensely. If you ask three-fourths of the residents of Seattle, they wouldn’t be able to tell you how many branches of government there are, something that’s taught in middle school, let alone who the mayor of Seattle is.

“So why is the mayor’s son…here?”

Her eyes are locked on mine, waiting on an answer.

When she swallows I follow the delicate line of her neck down to the swell of her breasts that peek out from the light pink strapless flowing dress she’s wearing like a fucking Greek goddess. One flick of my finger and I could find out the color of her areolas and the size of her nipples before I draw one into my mouth for a sample. My mouth waters at the thought.

The conversation that Ms. Deveraux and I had earlier about expectations sits hard in the pit of my stomach. On one hand, I was relieved to get confirmation she doesn’t sell herself, only her “time,” but now that I’m sitting here in front of her, I won’t rest until she lets me explore every square inch of not only her perfect body, but her complex mind. I want to know her like no one else has.

When our gazes connect again I’m sure mine is full of unmistakable heat. Hers definitely is.

She clears her throat and straightens her back. “I think you have the wrong idea about what it is I do.”

“I don’t,” I state plainly.

“I don’t sleep with my clients, Mr. Mercer.”

Oh, but you will. We both know our ingredients are explosive.

“Women would pay to have sex with me, not the other way around.”

She huffs a laugh as a wry look crosses her face. “Then what is it you need if not a good fuck?”

I chuckle and when I lean forward she straightens her spine. I love that even the simplest of movements I make in her direction affect her, just like she does to me. “Is that what I’ll be missing with you? A good fuck?” I won’t be missing a damn thing. She will be mine in every conceivable way. I know it and so does she.

“Not just good. Life altering,” she banters smoothly.

Now it’s my turn to smile slowly. What I wouldn’t give to throw her up against the wall and show her just what a life-altering fuck really is. For what seems like forever we stare at each other in some sort of weird silent challenge where we’re waiting to see what move the other will make.

Shaking myself out of her spell, I pick up the papers and hand them to her.

“What’s this?”

“Your employment contract.”

“All the paperwork is handled through Randi.”

“I want a little extra insurance.”

She quickly flips through the five-page document before lifting her eyes. “Nondisclosure agreement? This is sounding very fifty shades-ish. And just so you know, if I find any mention of hard limits or safe words, that’s a deal breaker.”

I can’t help but laugh loudly.

“I’m not kidding,” she says, her voice stern.

“Trust me, Goldilocks, if I could have gotten that past your warrior she-devil, I would have.”

Her eyes narrow, but I see a little twitch at the corner of her mouth so I forge ahead, making a mental note to invest in handcuffs and a flogger. Or six.

“The duration is for approximately the next four months. Ten hours a week, maybe more, maybe less, depending on my schedule. You may be required to travel and you will be available at all times when I need you, day or night. You will attend social events, fundraisers, business dinners, and family functions. You will be photographed and it’s only fair to warn you, you will likely be hounded by the press but I’ll try to shield you as much as possible.”

She regards me quietly. I wish I could tell what’s spinning around in that pretty little head of hers. A corner of my mouth tips when she says, “Reelection is just around the corner.”

Not a question and I don’t answer, but score another point for her.

For not the first time I wonder if this little plan of Noah’s will backfire, taking us all down in a curl of hot flames. She figured out what I was doing within two minutes. Lianna would be a far safer, more believable choice. But there’s also an undeniable, powerfully charged connection between us that will be hard for people to refute.

“And what is my role, specifically?”

Deciding I don’t care if this entire thing blows up in my face because that means I won’t get what I want—which is her—I stand and step around the table, holding out my hand.

When she tentatively sets hers in mine, I help her up and wrap one arm around her waist.

Pulling her close, I relish in the hitch of her breath. Cupping her cheek, I savor the baby-fine skin under the pad of my thumb. I take a deep breath, drinking in her delicately floral scent. She’s intoxicating and my head is already spinning.

“What are you doing?” she whispers, her small hands going to my chest.

Dipping my head, I trail my nose along her jaw, stopping so my lips brush her ear. “Making sure we have chemistry.”

She mutters a curse under her breath I know I’m not meant to hear before stuttering, “Wh…why?”

Fuck, if she only knew the dirty things running through my head right now.

“Because, my wide-eyed little pretty, you’re going to play my new love interest. My girlfriend. My serious girlfriend.” I emphasize the word so she understands what she’s getting herself into. I won’t pay her to be in my bed but that doesn’t mean she won’t end up there anyway.

“I…I haven’t agreed to anything yet.” Her breathlessness is testing me and she’s only about half an inch away from finding out exactly how much.

Walking into this meeting, I had already agreed to what I thought was a generous offer with her boss, madam, keeper, whatever she’s called. But after the last fifteen minutes, I’ve decided I will pay whatever it takes to have her. To own her. I think I would give away my own soul.

Framing her face with both hands now, I lean in until my mouth is a hairsbreadth from hers. Her eyes fall to my lips. I feel her wariness, but I also feel her hunger. She parts her lips and I watch with a deep ache in my groin as her tongue darts out to moisten them in anticipation of my kiss.

I restrain from slamming my mouth to hers, taking what I want. What she wants me to take, regardless of how she’s trying to refute me.

“But you will. Everyone has a price, Summer. What’s yours?”

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

I’m just a regular ol’ Midwest girl who likes Game of Thrones and am obsessed with Modern Family and The Goldbergs. I run, I eat, I run, I eat. It’s a vicous cycle. I love carbs, but there’s love-hate relationship with my ass and thighs. Mostly hate. I like a good cocktail (oh hell…who am I kidding? I love any cocktail). I’m a huge creature of habit, but I’ll tell you I’m flexible. I read every single day and if I don’t get a chance…watch the hell out, I’m a raving bitch. My iPad and me: BFFs. I’m direct and I make no apologies for it. I swear too much. I love alternative music and in my next life I want to be a bad-ass female rocker. I hate, hate, hate spiders, telemarketers, liver, acne, winter and loose hairs that fall down my shirt (don’t ask, it’s a thing).

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