REVIEW w/ EXCERPT & GIVEAWAY: Undone by Wendy Higgins

Unknown Trilogy Book Three; Not a standalone

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♦BLURB♦

USA Today and New York Times bestselling author, Wendy Higgins, brings you the gripping, sensual conclusion to her apocalyptic trilogy.

Amber Tate never dreamed their heart-wrenching escape from the enemy’s attack would lead them to the most beautiful place she’s ever seen, marred by one ugly fact; it’s under enemy control. Like everywhere else in the world, Elmendorf military base in Alaska has been captured, and it’s time to take it back—all of it—one base, one city at a time. After losing so much, Amber clings to the only precious person she has left, and vows to sacrifice everything to help save the Earth.

Remy Haines is a lover, not a fighter, so when she finds herself in enemy territory, expected to feign allegiance while gathering intel for the rebel cause, she’s never been more out of her element. Tensions only increase when her feelings for Jacob “Tater” Tate won’t go away, and the enemy’s leader takes an interest in her. She’s torn between what her heart wants, and what she knows she should do. As for what her body needs…well, it’s always had a mind of its own.

 

♦5-STAR REVIEW♦

Thrillingly chilling, Undone absolutely nailed it when it came to bringing the anxiety, the danger, and the intrigue to this tale, and gave a satisfying conclusion to the Unknown trilogy. After the unforeseen twist ending in book two, the fear for what it would mean for our beloved characters was palpable, and there was a distressed feeling between its last page and this first one. And it was brilliantly deviant to bring half of our characters into enemy territory and inhabit that world, to bring a side of this war we hadn’t gotten any glimpses of before, almost humanizing the opposition in a time when you thought your mind was already made up.

With so much to fit into a final chapter with this much build-up, it wasn’t surprising that it never lulled and was just as jam-packed as each installment before it. Splitting the story between Amber and Remy, two women so opposite one another, gave such depth to what each character had to offer. Remy has had her challenges on this journey, and to see her finally gain a bit of spotlight, to find her strengths when her confidence had always been so low, and to bring out her inner warrior was amazing to witness. Being scared for her but witnessing her brave shots in the dark was powerful, but altogether stressful. I couldn’t have imagined, back in book one, this would be where both of these women would end up, but it worked. Each chapter played so well with the one after it.

Undone was an edge-of-your-seat read; one that scandalized your own feelings about the enemy, that brought out conflicting wants for bloodshed, and that played with your emotions of the possibility of forever. Sci-fi isn’t a genre most read when thinking of the romance genre, but there was such a payoff for the risks this author took to bring this story to life. For a story about war and a world stripped of its conveniences, it gave a beloved tension-filled romance, a powerful friendship of two women, and a rag-tag group of fighters with heart, all in one riveting series.

 

♦EXCERPT♦

Remy and the Senator

As he neared, I gathered every ounce of bravery to ask, “Senator?”

“Yes, Ms. Haines?” He stopped three feet from me.

“I don’t want to make you uncomfortable or be inappropriate, but I’d like to know.” I swallowed and he waited patiently. “Why don’t the Baelese allow casual touching?”

I could hear my heartbeat in my eardrums.

The Senator put his hands in his pockets, and I tore my eyes away from his forearms.

“That’s a perfectly understandable question. It’s a major difference between our cultures. My people have much thicker skin than humans, over ten times thicker. And in our skin we have more nerves and nerve endings. A simple touch is not so simple. The smallest brush of a hand across our skin can drive us to distraction. It makes us want more. Do you understand?”

Literally, all I could do was nod, because at some point during his explanation, I swear he moved closer. Not close enough to touch, but close enough to make us both overly aware. It wasn’t until my eyes darted in the direction of the doors to check for the guard that the Senator grasped the back of his neck and took a step back, looking away from me and back out at the obstacle course.

“And that is why it is better to leave touching for mating. No other time.”

“Oh.” My heart went crazy inside me.

I heard the little devil of Linette on my shoulder, pushing me to do something or say something seductive. Now, you idiot, while the guard is out of sight! It was hard to be sexy on command.

My voice trembled a little. “I thought maybe it was because it was unpleasant. That you didn’t like being touched.”

“No, Ms. Haines.” He looked straight at me now. “We like it too much.”

 

♦SERIES♦

Unknown Trilogy Book One

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

Unknown Trilogy Book Two; Not a standalone

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

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

Wendy Higgins is a soccer mom and backstage drama mama. Most people in her tiny bayside town don’t know she’s a USA Today and NYT bestselling author of paranormal, fantasy, and science-fiction romances. Wendy is a former high school English teacher who now writes full time in her pajamas, and lives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with her veterinarian husband, daughter, son, and little doggie Rue.

Wendy earned a bachelor’s in Creative Writing from George Mason University and a master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from Radford University.

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♦GIVEAWAY♦

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EXCERPT REVEAL: Bad For You by J. Daniels

I have Chapter One of Bad For You to read! Cannot wait for this book!

Dirty Deeds Book Three; Interconnected standalone

Release Date: January 23, 2018

PreOrder: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Paperback | B&N | KoboiBooks

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He didn’t want to be bad. He just didn’t have a choice…

Shayla Perkins isn’t the kind of girl who makes the same mistake twice, especially when it comes to Sean “Stitch” Molina. So when he gives her the world’s biggest rejection, that’s it–she’s done. Until the sexy, silent, unavailable Sean makes Shay a very personal offer. Of course, it still doesn’t mean he’s interested in her. Or does it?

Sean has done things in life. Bad things. And he’s paid the price. All he wants now is to make up for his past by doing good in the present. And no one deserves more good than Shay. Beautiful on the inside and out, Shay is the kind of woman who should be cared for and protected–especially from a man like Sean. He’s tried to keep his feelings for her in check, but a single, reckless impulse pulls them closer than ever before.

Soon the two are sharing their biggest dreams and satisfying their deepest desires. But what will happen if the only way to truly give each other what they want most…is to let each other go?

 

♦EXCERPT♦

Chapter One

Shayla

I wanted to tell her no. I wanted to lie to Gladys or Dorothy, whatever this sweet old lady’s name was seated in my section, and say we were fresh out of ranch dressing, and the little cup of it that came with her large garden salad was the last drop. If I didn’t and obliged her request, it would mean walking back over to the kitchen window I avoided like the plague and speaking to him—Sean “Stitch” Molina. The keeper of the dressings. The cook at Whitecaps Restaurant. He hoarded the ranch back there, and the only way to get more of it was with words.

And we didn’t do words anymore. Not as of eight months ago.

So, instead of doing my job as a waitress, I contemplated the dishonest route, which could very well get me fired.

Was I willing to roll those dice? Maybe. It might be worth a shot. My boss, Nate, could overlook my wrongdoing. He was understanding enough.

We’re fresh out of ranch, I could tell the lady. And all other dressings, for that matter. I am so sorry. Could I maybe get you another refill? Or something else not located in the kitchen?

I thought on this plan—it could work. Maybe she would believe me. Or maybe she would rethink her request and decide she no longer needed more dressing.

Help a fellow woman out here, Millie. Christ.

“I just need a little bit more,” the lady requested with a gentle smile. “Would you be a dear? I won’t trouble you for anything else, I promise.”

“Of course,” I replied, the response compulsively leaving my tongue. I couldn’t fight it. I couldn’t lie. I’d feel terrible.

Besides, this was my job. If someone requested more ranch dressing, I got them more ranch dressing, even if it meant speaking to the man I was completely and pathetically infatuated with, no matter how badly it hurt me to do so.

I gave the lady a smile in return before moving away.

My steps were slow as I weaved between tables and headed toward the kitchen. I tried to keep my head down, to focus on the tile floor disappearing beneath my feet, but I couldn’t.

I had to look.

Who was I kidding? I wanted to look.

As I approached, Tori was leaning close to the window that separated Sean’s domain from everyone else’s. She slid two plates of food off the ledge, commenting, “Looks good. Thanks, Stitch,” before walking off to deliver her orders, winking at me as she passed.

Sean only went by Stitch when he was here, I was assuming. I wouldn’t know for sure since I’d never spent any time with him outside of work. It was a nickname Tori and I had given him when he’d cut himself a bunch of times during his first week on the job, and he didn’t seem to mind being called that.

Back then, he didn’t seem to mind a lot of things, like listening to me talk and talk about anything and everything, putting my problems on him in between waiting tables, my stresses, my fears, needing a person to vent to and him being the only person I wanted to vent to because of the way he listened and looked at me.

No one had ever seemed so interested in what I had to say before.

Like what I was saying meant everything to them. Like it was a privilege just to listen.

And no one had ever looked at me the way Sean did—glances that only ever lasted a few seconds at a time, but those few seconds of eye contact—holy crap. I thought my skin was going to combust it would tingle and heat up so quickly. The man had a stare unlike any stare. Equal parts intense and intimidating. But his eyes, sweet mother of God, his eyes were unreal, this rich, golden copper color. And when they were on you, you didn’t just see that beauty—you felt it.

It was a two-punch combo that turned me into a puddle. No man had ever affected me that way before.

And that effect wasn’t going away. I was still feeling it.

Even now with us not speaking to each other, or rather, with me not speaking and him not listening, I still couldn’t get Sean out of my head. I missed what we used to have, yes, but it was more than that. It was so much more.

A man I barely knew, who seldom spoke, and who had never showed interest in me in that way had somehow taken hold of my heart and twisted it all up. I didn’t understand how it had happened, I just knew it happened.

Pathetic, right?

I reached the counter silently, which was a miracle considering how loud my heart sounded in my ears. Keeping my breathing quiet, I looked through that window and peered into the kitchen.

Sean had his back to me as he flipped burgers and stirred something in a pot. I allowed my eyes to travel the length of him, something I hardly ever let myself do anymore. We shared quick glances now, that was it.

Sean was well over six feet tall—way taller than me. His back was broad. His hair was long, a beautiful caramel color, and almost always pulled back; his arms were covered in tattoos and roped in muscle; and he had a thick, short beard that hid what I just knew was a strong jaw.

Sean was beautiful. And he was intimidating. Not just how he looked, but how he acted too.

He smoked. He drove a motorcycle. He never smiled. He rarely said a word. Everything about Sean said leave me alone, but eight months ago I couldn’t.

And eight months ago, I didn’t think he wanted me to.

I thought that was why he looked at me the way he did and listened so well. I wasn’t even nervous when I finally asked him out after hearing about a local party. I was excited.

I wanted Sean. I wanted to kiss him and touch him and God, hear his voice more. I had gotten so little of it. I wanted to do everything with him. And I thought we would. I thought we’d go to that party together as friends and leave as something more.

But Sean wasn’t interested in the more I’d been after. He wasn’t interested in me at all.

Now, that was perfectly clear.

Sensing me, or maybe he was finished minding the burgers and whatever he was stirring in the pot—I didn’t know for sure, since I was still letting my eyes wander—Sean spun around and stepped forward, snapping my gaze off his body in a panic. Our eyes met.

Mine widened.

His narrowed angrily, like I’d pissed him off and he hated me for it, and further hated me for catching him pissed off about it.

I didn’t understand that look, but no way was I asking about it. I was doing what I came over here to do, and then, hopefully, staying far away from this window the rest of the day.

Maybe I could convince Tori to put in my orders.

“My lady needs more ranch,” I informed Sean, swallowing thickly when my voice came out sounding stressed and distorted. “Could I get a little more for her?”

Sean’s gaze lowered to my mouth like he was waiting for more words, which didn’t make sense to me, until I considered the one word I left off he was most likely waiting for.

“Please?” I added.

His eyes lifted to mine and stayed narrowed. His nostrils flared. His jaw set.

I almost apologized for being polite and for not lying to that woman about our condiment supply. Things were so awkward now, I couldn’t stand it. I missed how easy this used to be.

Memories flooded my mind in an onslaught as I stood there waiting, and my back stiffened. I pictured Sean watching me with care and concern. I remembered the smiles behind his beard I used to catch, and the way his eyes would follow me through the restaurant and brighten when I would wave. We were friends. I wanted to scream at him for ruining that. I wanted to scream at myself for still caring. What was wrong with me? He had completely shut me out. We were nothing now. We were this.

But with a quick hand, Sean snatched a dressing cup off the shelf and ladled some ranch into it before I spoke another word. He sat the cup on the ledge, removing his hand before our fingers touched, and briskly turned back to the grill without giving me another glance.

“Thank you,” I mumbled at his back, turning before I lingered another second.

He shut me out. I needed to do the same to him.

I delivered the cup of ranch to the sweet old lady, picked up a check for a table who didn’t wait for change, and took care of their tab at the register. Then because I didn’t have any other tables needing anything from me at the moment, I moved to a vacant booth far away from that window and busied myself filling ketchup bottles.

The next time anyone needed extra dressing, I’d send Tori.

 

Three Days Later

I am getting one of everything.

Twisting the dial on the radio, I quieted the music I was listening to when the truck ahead of me pulled forward, allowing room for my Civic to squeeze up next to the speaker.

Mouth already salivating, I rolled my window down.

“Welcome to Taco Bell. Can I take your order?”

My stomach growled as I surveyed my choices.

I eyed the fiesta taco salad. The quesarito. The never-ending list of combos and the specialty options. Everything intrigued my taste buds.

I stuck my head out the window and directed my order at the speaker. “Can I have a number six, please? Chicken supreme with a soft taco? And a Mountain Dew.”

“That’ll be six fifty-seven at the second window, please.”

I couldn’t pull forward yet, so I kept my foot on the brake, and just as I was about to roll up my window to keep the cool March air from filling up my car any more, a song I knew and loved began playing low through the speakers.

I had no idea what the name of the song was or who sang it, but I knew every single word. And this was not a song you didn’t crank up and sing along to with your windows down.

Fingers twisting the dial until music poured out of my car, I started moving my hips in time with the beat and smacking the steering wheel, eyes closing and fingers snapping as the lyrics left my mouth.

“Oh oh oh oh oh oh,

You don’t have to go, oh oh oh oh oh

You don’t have to go, oh oh oh oh oh

You don’t have to gooo.”

The drum kicked up. I shook my head and felt pieces of my short, dark hair lash against my cheeks.

The girl giggled through the speaker.

Smiling and not feeling one bit of shy about the audience I was entertaining, I leaned halfway out the window and sang to her as loud as I could, reaching and pointing like she was front row at my concert.

“Ay ay ay ay ay ay

All those tears I cry, ay ay ay ay

All those tears I cry, oh oh ah ay

Baby, please don’t goooo.”

She laughed harder this time, whooping and cheering me on.

“How’s that?” I asked. “Think I got a career in singing if all my other options fall through?”

“You bet!” the girl yelled. “That was sick!”

Giggling at myself, I sat back in the seat and turned the volume down halfway, noticing through the windshield the space between the truck in front of me and the car in front of it.

My eyes narrowed. I beeped twice. I was starving, and this was not the time to be messing around. What was this person doing?

The truck jerked forward, gears grinding over the music, loud enough I actually cringed. It was an old, beat-up Chevy, covered in dirt and rusted all along the back, with most of the paint chipped off and the muffler barely hanging on by a thread. The well loved and very well used vehicle was probably on its last leg, as was the worn smiley-face sticker half peeled from the bumper, leaving only one eye and half a mouth showing.

That thing had definitely seen better days.

Staring at all that rust, I had a moment of panic when I imagined the truck dying on its owner and blocking my path. Come hell or high water, I’d get my chalupas. Though I really didn’t feel like stepping out of my car and walking inside where the lunch rush sat. I was wearing sweats covered in bleach stains, a baggy sweatshirt, zero makeup, and not a lick of dry shampoo. No way was I presentable for the public yet.

This was why God invented drive-throughs and curbside service—so women like me could sleep in on their days off and rush out the door when a hankering hit without even bothering to glance at themselves in a mirror.

But when the truck made it up to the window to pay without a hitch or stall, most of that panic left me.

And when the driver pulled away after collecting their order and turned out onto highway, all of that panic left me.

I rubbed my hands together. Come to Momma.

“Hello!” I greeted the young girl with a smile and a wave, feeling like we had one of those lifelong friendship connections since I’d just serenaded her.

Grabbing my bag off the floor in front of the passenger seat, I dug around for my wallet.

“No need for that!” she said, turning my head and pausing my search. “That guy just totally paid for you. God…I love it when that happens. It doesn’t happen enough. It’s such a treat!”

I sat up and looked at her more fully. “What? What guy?”

“The guy in the truck.”

“Really?”

Nobody had ever done that for me before, and I used drive-throughs a lot. Well, shit on my head. My first random act of kindness, and I had rushed the poor thing along.

I suddenly felt bad for beeping.

“Yep,” the girl said, smacking her gloss-covered lips. “He asked me how much your order was and gave me enough to cover you both. And he wasn’t bad looking either.”

I leaned closer to the window, my interest in this mystery man spiking off the charts. “Yeah?”

“Oh, yeah. He had that dark, smoldering look about him. Real sexy.”

Nice.

“Did he say anything? Leave his number on a napkin or something?”

“No.” She shrugged. “Just paid for you and left. He acted in a rush.” The girl turned to pack up my order.

Huh.

If he was interested, he would’ve gone beyond just paying for my food. I would think he would’ve at least waited before speeding out of here—at least pulled over and given me opportunity to thank him.

Maybe he was just doing a good deed?

Letting myself think on that, I smiled and took my drink. “I’d like to pay it forward. How much is the person’s order behind me? I’ll take care of them,” I said while blindly digging my wallet out of my bag.

“Really?” The girl clapped her hands together and squealed. “This is awesome! And they say there’s no good people left in the world.”

I laughed and made a face like I was agreeing with her, though I really didn’t. I knew a lot of good people. Dogwood Beach was full of them.

And I was blessed to have a lot of those people in my tribe, supporting me, giving me friendship and love, and others, not necessarily in my tribe, but around me enough I got to see their good.

Still, I understood this girl’s excitement. It wasn’t every day a complete stranger did something out of sheer generosity. And selfless to boot. Who didn’t stick around to take credit when credit was due? That was practically unheard of.

It’s funny how a simple gesture can affect you. But kindness was powerful that way. It not only had the ability to alter moods, but it was also infectious. People wanted to spread that good around once they got it put on themselves.

Hell, I was doing it. Maybe the person behind me would do it too, and so on. We could all pay it forward.

Smiling, I thought about that mystery man in the beat-up truck, wondering if he knew just how inspiring he was. How good he was. I hoped someone was telling him.

After safely securing my bag of deliciousness in the front seat, I got the total of the order from the car behind me, paid, got my change, cranked up my stereo again, and sped off, leaving my window cracked so I could serenade Highway 355.

 

♦SERIES♦

4-four-letter-word

Dirty Deeds Book One; Interconnected standalone

Purchase: Kindle | Audible | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Books-A-Million | Kobo | Google Play | Indiebound

My Review

6-hit-the-spot

Dirty Deeds Book Two; Interconnected standalone

Purchase: Kindle | Paperback | Audible | B&N | BAM | Google | iBooks | Indiebound | Kobo

My Review

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

J.Daniels is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Sweet Addiction series, the Alabama Summer series, and the Dirty Deeds series.

She would rather bake than cook, she listens to music entirely too loud, and loves writing stories her children will never read. Her husband and children are her greatest loves, with cupcakes coming in at a close second.

J grew up in Baltimore and resides in Maryland with her family.

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BLOG TOUR w/ REVIEW & EXCERPT: Villain by Samantha Young

a Hero Companion Novella; Standalone

Release Date: December 5, 2017

Preorder: Kindle US | Kindle UK | Kobo US | Kobo UK (More links to come)

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♦BLURB♦

The sexy and emotional companion novella to the New York Times bestselling romance HERO.

Nadia Ray is not just a broadcast meteorologist. She’s Boston’s morning television It Girl. Successful and independent, she’s put a past she’s ashamed of behind her and is forging a future she can be proud of. However, when her new boss discovers her secret he blackmails her, intent on using Nadia’s popularity to make them the number one morning show in Massachusetts. He wants her to be part of uncovering the city’s biggest scandal – a secret billionaire Caine Carraway is hiding.

Soon Nadia is thrown into the path of Caine’s best friend: sexy, wealthy bachelor Henry Lexington. But she doesn’t encounter the dashing high society gentleman Henry is purported to be. Instead she’s faced with an insulting and defensive villain who misjudges her at every turn.

When Henry finally realizes the truth, and decides to make amends, Nadia wants nothing to do with him. But she underestimates his determination and charm and soon they find themselves embroiled in an intense, passionate affair.

An affair Nadia knows must come to an end before their feelings grow any deeper and he discovers her secrets.

After all, Henry Lexington isn’t the only one who played the part of a villain once…

 

♦4-STAR REVIEW♦

Villain was easily devour-able and erotic, an enjoyable read from start to finish. Nadia’s story was surprisingly current to the climate of the country, and Young easily captured her warring with resistance and willingness to be complicit to everything pushing in on her. The contemptuous attraction between her and Henry was bold and irresistible, and became a nice complement to the story and her growth as a character. His charm and caring heart were representative of the supporting character she needed to come into her own.

More than just a love story, Villain highlighted the everyday struggles of a woman in a man’s world, and how easily it can stifle you. Nadia may appear to have villain-like qualities, but every villain is redeemable. And though it’s been awhile since Hero was released, there was no sense of being lost or needing to reread in order to understand. Young told Nadia’s side of the story as a separate entity, one that simply added an another layer to the original story we’ve all read and loved. And in it, she lifted up a brave and ballsy woman to her expected place in society as a heroine. Sexy, raw, and sweetly romantic, this is a companion story not to be missed.

 

♦EXCERPT♦

Shaking off the memory of yesterday, I grabbed my purse and opened the door to my apartment with every intention of jumping in a cab to the address Joe had given me.

However, a man blocked my way.

He stood in my doorway, his fist raised as if to knock.

Shocked, I stared up at his familiar face.

Why the hell was Henry Lexington standing in my doorway?

His vibrant blue eyes met mine and for a moment, neither of us said a word. Silence stretched thinly between us, and I suddenly realized I was holding my breath.

Lexington quite abruptly broke the silence. “Miss Ray?”

“Yes, what—”

“We need to talk.” He pushed past me and walked into my apartment without an invitation.

For a moment, I stood there with my mouth open, asking myself if that had just happened. Were people really that rude?

I stared after him, watching him disappear out of my hall and into my sitting room.

All my papers on Carraway were in there!

“Hey!” I called, shutting the door and hurrying after him. “What do you think you’re doing?”

Lexington stood in the middle of my small sitting room, his back, thankfully, to my desk. His expression was sullen, cool, and calculating. This was not the charming, hedonistic millionaire I’d read about. “I could ask you the same thing, Miss Ray.”

“Excuse me?” Cold sweat prickled under my arms. Did he know? How did he know? If he didn’t know, why the hell else would he be here? Why was he here and not Carraway?

I waited anxiously for Lexington to stop boring through my face with his hard eyes. “I assume you know who I am.”

“You’re Henry Lexington.”

“And you, Miss Ray,” he turned and strode over to my desk, fingering my papers, “are going to let a certain story die.”

My belly flipped unpleasantly.

Goddammit. “What?” I said.

Lexington raised an unimpressed eyebrow. “Imelda Worthington.”

Fuck.

“That blank expression isn’t fooling anyone, Miss Ray. I know she said a few unfortunate things to Richard Peters, your boss, and I know you’ve been calling her ever since.”

Despite my guilt, despite knowing I was in the wrong here, this privileged asshole had burst into my apartment to intimidate me. Like hell! “You do, do you?”

His eyes narrowed. “Imelda informed me of what’s been going on and asked me to kindly give you a message.” He prowled toward me and I suddenly felt real fear. I didn’t know this man and he was here to shut me up. How far would he go? I steeled myself, not wanting him to see my fear. If my expression gave me away, however, I didn’t know; all I did know was that Henry Lexington stopped a good foot from me. It still wasn’t enough. He stood at over six feet, his broad shoulders fitted into a perfectly tailored three-piece suit. He had big, masculine hands, one hidden in his pocket, the other resting on his flat stomach over a suit button. Henry Lexington had a swimmer’s build—sleek but powerful—and I could only guess at the strength beneath his suit. I struggled not to feel overwhelmed by his large, magnetic presence, as much as I struggled not to feel fear.

“You’ll leave her alone,” he demanded.

Guessing there was no point in being coy considering he’d seen my desk, I asked, “Why are you here instead of Carraway?”

Lexington flashed me a wolfish grin that didn’t reach his eyes. “Because I’m the nice one. Caine scares Imelda. He scares most people. Not you, though.” He took another step toward me, seeming to be cataloging every little nuance of my face. “And if you’re not careful, that lack of fear could ruin you, Miss Ray.”

 

♦SERIES♦

Hero Book One

Purchase:  Kindle | Paperback | My Review

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

Samantha Young is the New York Times,  USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of adult contemporary romances, including the On Dublin Street series and Hero, as well as the New Adult duology Into the Deep and Out of the Shallows.  Every Little Thing, the second book in her new Hart’s Boardwalk series, will be published by Berkley in March 2017. Before turning to contemporary fiction, she wrote several young adult paranormal and fantasy series, including the amazon bestselling Tale of Lunarmorte trilogy. Samantha’s debut YA contemporary novel The Impossible Vastness of Us will be published by Harlequin TEEN in ebook & hardback June 2017.

Samantha has been nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award 2012 for Best Author and Best Romance for On Dublin Street, Best Romance 2014 for Before Jamaica Lane, and Best Romance 2015 for HeroOn Dublin Street, a #1 bestseller in Germany, was the Bronze Award Winner in the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2013, Before Jamaica Lane the Gold Medal Winner for the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2014 and Echoes of Scotland Street the Bronze Medal Winner for the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2015.

Samantha is currently published in 30 countries and is a #1 international bestselling author.

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EXCERPT & GIVEAWAY: Exposure by Sylvie Parizeau

Incandescent Series Book Three; Standalone

Release Date: November 22, 2017

Preorder: Kindle | Paperback | B&N | Kobo

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♦BLURB♦

PHILIPPE-OLIVIER TISSEROT’s caffeine addiction is about to land him in uncharted territory and one hell of a ride. One that’s about to go viral.

Current status: Computer whiz to hacker to penpal.

Upgrade status: Lover.

Well, I’m still working on the lover part.

I’m just a computer geek studying at MIT. And now I’m in two places at once – the geek and the lover battling it out to get the girl.

The only problem is, my dream girl doesn’t know she knows me in either one of them.

Now I have to win her in both.

Please wait. Upgrade in progress.

 

♦EXCERPT♦

P.O.

Leo keeps pace with me as I round the house at a fast clip, headed for the woodshed and the parked Volvo fleet. He spreads his arms wide, breathing in the decisive nip in the late-morning air. I can see his breath fan out in front of me. “It’s Sunday.”

“That’s a total non sequitur, man.” I give him a look that says poor sod, the gates are down and the lights are flashing but the train isn’t coming. “What’s that got to do with coffee and hurrying the hell up?”

I roll my eyes behind his back before turning to Yann slouched against Leo’s car. “Zac and Magali left already?” I ask him accusingly, hands on my hips. Zac’s Jeep is nowhere to be seen.

Great. Should have sent Yann to corral down Leo. I’d probably be sitting at the café by now.

“They went ahead to get us a table for five,” Yann says distractedly, typing an entry into his phone’s agenda in all likelihood. He tosses it back into his messenger bag and tucks the strap over his chest before bending his tall frame, buckling up in the front passenger seat.

“Awesome,” I grit through my teeth. Not only is Yann riding shotgun, but now I won’t even have a say in choosing tables, and odds are I won’t have a good enough, unobtrusive angle to spy on Aurèle.

The corner of Leo’s mouth twitches as if a smile is trying to form, but he’s doing his best to suppress it. “Like I said, it’s Sunday.” He fucking starts singing, Don’t worry, be happy.

If looks could kill, Leo would be dead by now.

“Let’s get this show on the road,” I mutter sullenly. Opening the rear passenger door, I shove aside three bags of soil and an impressive number of brand-new seed trays—thank God for small favors or I would have been left holding Leo’s sprouts— buckle in, and slam it shut.

“Chill, man,” Leo says, giving me an amused look in the rearview mirror as he cranks the engine. “I’ll make it quick and painless. Caffeine injection coming in ten.”

“Make it five. You’re not the one who’ll be sitting next to him on the longest forty-nine minutes flight from Tremblant to Boston in recent history,” Yann says with a smirk in his voice. “I’d like to keep all of my fingers if you don’t mind.”

“Hilarious,” I grumble. I may or may not have snapped shut the lid of his laptop over his hands to reach a cup offered to him by a stewardess on a long-ago flight from Zurich. In my defense, I’d been deprived of my elixir of choice for thirteen hours straight at the time, due to unforeseen delays and missed connections and nary a coffee shop opened in the dead of night. Very uncivilized. Them. Not me.

I check my phone, but still no Harry. Bloody hell.

I’m out the door before Leo even cuts the engine and take C’est la Vie’s stairs two at a time. My glance flits around the terrace, but I can’t readily spot any strawberry-blonde heads. Then again, everyone’s bundled up in heavy coats, wearing woolen hats and gloves. And everyone’s sitting outside, enjoying cups, nevertheless. I shake my head. Only in Les Laurentides would anyone take a sunny day as balmy weather.

I spin in a slow circle searching. It’s the weekend, and with the weekly invasion of day-trippers and chalet owners, the place is more crowded than usual. Over the sea of heads, Magali waves me over before I can do a more thorough search. Unlike yesterday, Aurèle could be sitting inside like she did on Friday.

Zac motions with his head for me to join them, brandishing a metal carafe like a prized possession. Giving him a disgusted look, I put my index finger in my open mouth, fake gagging. The whole point of being here is supposedly to savor one last cup of this particular café’s specialty espresso. I made such a fuss, I’m not about to ruin my perfectly good excuse with a regular-blend coffee industrially brewed. I thumb in the general direction of the front counter. He rolls his eyes and waves me off as Yann and Leo make their way over to them.

A quick sweep through confirms that fuck, she’s not inside, either. I check my phone again while waiting for my order. Yes! Harry’s now connected to this WiFi, and she’s surfing the net.

Where the hell are you, Aurèle? I’d like to ask but quickly type in one big-ass pop-up bloom, instead: Hi! Are you and Harry having a good time?

Olivier! Bonjour to you too. Harry and I are now having a lovely time together, thanks to you. What are you doing all over my screen (not sure if it’s creepy or not, having you drop in on us out of nowhere)?

I check out the terrace through the bay windows, looking for someone on a hot date with a computer. There is a god after all. I locate her four tables down in a straight line from ours, her back to us, facing the park. She wears an oversized black woolen hat pulled low over her ears and a glacier-blue fleece scarf wrapped a few times around her neck, but the long strands of hair escaping from underneath are definitely strawberry-blonde.

And already, I breathe easier.

I open our regular private chat window.

I’m not out of nowhere. I’m from somewhere. Big difference.

Clément hands over my alibi and I step out, cup in one hand, phone in the other, hard pressed not to detour and stare at her, face to face.

Better the back of her head than nothing at all, I suppose.

“Would one of you mind switching places?” I ask Magali and Zac, sitting side by side. That is, if we can call arms and other body parts all over each other sitting.

I almost feel sorry. Almost. But not quite. Desperation will do that to me.

Zac raises a brow in disbelief. “Why?”

Bloody hell. Why, indeed. I’d scratch my jaw but my hands are full.

“I’d like to face forward and drink in the view. You know, before I’m cooped up in a flying can of sardines hurtling through the sky at three hundred fifty kilometers per hour.” Brilliant, convincing, and somewhat truthful, if I do say so myself.

“This should be interesting,” Leo mutters into his mug, and Yann’s green eyes widen behind his lenses.

“Never bothered you before,” Zac argues, unmoving.

“Sure,” Magali says, talking over him while trying to wiggle out from under his arm, but Zac keeps her firmly by his side, effectively putting a stop to her efforts.

“You’re not going anywhere,” he says to her. “Don’t mind him. It’s just his caffeine withdrawal symptoms talking. Besides, his eyes are always glued to a screen anyway, so he can’t possibly miss any view.”

Well, shit. He has a point. My eyes beseech Magali in a last-ditch effort.

“But look at those sad puppy eyes,” Magali says, her head darting between the two of us. I knew she’d bite. She’s my new favorite person.

Zac shoots me a glare all Theo-like over Magali’s head. Ask me if I care, I’m ready to beg if I have to. I stare, unflinching.

Leo puffs out his cheeks in exasperation. “He’s been a pain in the arse all morning.” He rolls his eyes, crossing his arms over his chest. “Want mine?” he asks me pointedly from his perch at one end of the two little round bistro tables tucked together. Sandwiched as Leo is, in between three tables full, I won’t see a thing.

“Nope. Same difference.” I slide my tiny cup of dark ambrosia onto the table and tip my chin towards Zac. “So?”

“Here,” Yann offers them, getting up with alacrity before Zac can open his mouth and tell me to shove it where the sun never shines. “Take both our seats. Problem solved.”

Magali beams a smile, pulling Zac up by the hand. “See? Everyone’s happy,” she says to him and he follows without a single complaint, shaking his head at her before dropping a kiss on her temple.

I fist bump Yann before plopping down on the bistro chair vacated by Zac. “Thanks, man.”

Yann snorts, pushing his tortoise-shell glasses up his nose. “No need. I should be the one thanking Zac.”

“Really? If I didn’t mention today that you guys are weird, consider it done,” Magali deadpans.

“And I owe you two a solid.” Yann salutes them with his cup. “Otherwise, I’d have been stuck on a regional flight from Hell with his grouchy arse.”

“Nothing caffeine can’t cure.” Leo practically shoves my cup up under my nose. “Come on, man. Do us a solid and be done with it.”

“Appreciate your concern.” I salute them before swallowing my first sip, smacking my lips to a chorus of relieved sighs. Go figure. But then again, my addiction has been such a catchall excuse, you won’t see me complaining.

I stretch my legs out diagonal to the table, sighing contentedly, the view so much better from where I sit. Now if only Zac could move his newly appointed seat six inches or so to the left, it’d be a perfect one. As he’s whispering something in Magali’s ear with a wolfish grin tacked on his face, I wisely decide not to push the issue.

I crane my neck to the side instead and take a discreet peek at Aurèle. Hunched over Harry, she’s totally focused on her screen, as usual, unaware of her surroundings. And to be perfectly honest, I love that, for now, I’m the only one seemingly having an in with her… I pick up my phone, a slow grin crawling up my face as I read her latest comment.

I’ve been here for ages. Lost somewhere at the lab?

Nope. Not in the lab today. A lazy Sunday is to blame.

“With a little help from my friends,” I mumble under my breath, totally ignoring Zac pointing out to Magali that, as predicted, I don’t give a shit about the view.

Will wonders never cease? =) If not holed up in your lab, what are you up to on this lazy Sunday? Writing a letter, perhaps, like someone you know?

Writing a letter… It explains her lateness in booting up Harry, my only direct link to her, but not the electrifying flood of warmth those three little words of hers light up in me. I swallow back the smile that threatens.

Nope. Just chilling on a café’s terrace with some of my mates.

Cool! With a side order of (much too) early frost in the air, I’m chilling myself on a café’s terrace. But like any good natives, loving it. How’s the weather in Boston?

I have abso-fucking-lutely no idea. Christ. That really makes me wish to be over there already, if only to stop fudging around the truth at the drop of a dime, giving me less rope to hang myself with. Not taking any chances, I open a browser to go check on the weather channel but it takes forever, the café’s internet slower than slow right fucking now. My phone, unfortunately, doesn’t pack Lucie’s giga power and Lucie, unfortunately, doesn’t do compact like my phone and had to stay put in the car. I curse under my breath as I stare at my frozen screen, my palms growing sweaty. I should be typing a fluid reply to this innocuous question, like I’d normally do if I were in Boston.

“Hey, Yann? What’s the temp in Boston right now?” I ask him with some urgency, talking over their convo about Porter Airline and the fifteen-passenger regional jets used for our direct flight.

“Overcast and a balmy twenty-two degrees Celsius, or seventy-one point six degrees Fahrenheit, with a sixteen percent probability of precipitation upon time of landing.”

“Thanks, man. I owe you,” I say with heartfelt relief, my thumbs already flying over the keys.

“Since when does he need reassuring?” Zac says, completely misreading the reason for my question, but I don’t look up, too busy typing my reply.

“Since you’re not flying us back,” Yann deadpans.

With that one, Yann singlehandedly launches a discussion they all get engrossed into without requiring any input from me. I owe him another one. At this rate, I’ll owe him a kidney by the time we land.

Zac pilots his own twin-engine Piper Comanche, which is a pretty damn cool six-seater plane, and he used to fly us all over. But now, he’s more often than not talking house plans and home decor with Magali, both feet firmly on the ground.

Twenty-two Celsius, Olivier?!! They’ve let you out of the lab on such a gorgeous day to boot!!!!!! Program not responding… Get out from behind your screen this instant and get back to your other friends. And whatever is your sujet de l’heure under discussion. Enjoy the tropics for me! Ctrl-Alt-Del. @ bientôt.

Ctrl-Alt-Del? Shit. With her program not responding comment, using that chain of command means she’s forcing the program to close up, or in other words, she’s signing off. I type as fast as I can in case she disconnects completely.

Don’t go yet. Truth? I’d rather chat with you. Thanks to three of my mates, you can now ask me anything about wood screws versus nails. Even things you never knew you wanted to know.

lol. One too many screws loose between you?

Ha! You nailed it. One is living in a disaster waiting to happen, holding everything up with duct tape. One is building deep into the woods halfway through a two-year project using a wheelbarrow and a shovel. And the other is building a home as fast as he can get away with.

Building a home…

My mind goes a mile a minute in a quantum leap to next summer. And wood screws and nails no longer sound as boring as I wrote, all of a sudden. I sigh longingly, looking at the tip of Aurèle’s cute hat covered head over Zac’s shoulder. Sign me up on the Domesticated List, please. I sigh once more, deflating a bit. For now, I’ll have to be content to stay put on the Waiting List.

See anything of interest?” Zac asks me drily.

I jerk back, wrenching my attention from Aurèle. “Nope,” I’m quick to deny, straightening from my slump. “I just thought someone looked familiar, that’s all.” A rush of heat spreads like wildfire on my cheeks that the wind chaffing at my skin has nothing to do with. Great. Just great.

Leo and Zac share a knowing look.

Oh, joy. Here it comes.

I fiddle with my cup and brace myself for a merciless ribbing that might even alert Aurèle. The guys can be kind of loud when it suits them. I should know. I’m one of them. Not to say, they’re not above walking up to her table to invite her over on my behalf, charmingly insistent.

They’ve done it before.

Bloody hell.

“Wow. You normally would have flown them back to Boston if you weren’t on call today?” Magali asks Zac, distracting his enquiring gaze away from me, wanting to confirm whatever Yann said to her just now, saving me in the nick of time. There goes my other kidney.

We would have flown them back,” he says to her. One arm draped casually over the top of her mustard-yellow bistro chair, Zac crosses his ankles. “And that’s a big maybe. I want to be there for groundbreaking at the home site early tomorrow. Nice try, man.” He smirks at Yann over his mug, taking a sip of his no-frills, regular black coffee while the fingers of his other hand brush Magali’s arm in a slow back and forth, keeping her nestled to his side.

Upon witnessing their quiet intimacy, another shit load of envy hits me in the chest. In that moment, it’s not so much that I want Aurèle to be mine but that I want to be hers. Leo arches a questioning brow at me that I ignore by fiddling some more with my cup, watching my coffee swirl.

Don’t look at her.

Don’t look at her.

Don’t look at her.

I will my eyes to stay focused on the rich, dark color of what’s left of my espresso. “You’re pulling the plug now that we’re used to being chauffeured around?” Yann grumbles to Zac.

“Porter Airline has a direct flight from Tremblant to Boston, I’m sure you’ll recover well enough.” Zac rolls his eyes at Yann.

My gaze keeps straying in Aurèle’s general direction as I listen absently to the guys.

“Hell, I’ll drink to Porter,” Leo, our designated driver, says. “Saves me a trip to Montréal on the end of the weekend rush hour.” Leo and Magali clink their white and blue earthenware coffee mugs in complete accord. I’ve never been to Montréal yet, but according to them, pretty atrocious road conditions prevail in and around the city, so much so as to be the stuff of legends among the locals.

I take another slow sip of coffee. My phone wiggles on the table, buzzing with an incoming reply. My chest pings right along, and a goofy grin spreads on my lips as I pick it up. Yann gives me a sidelong glance, quirking a surprised brow that says, who’s this guy?

Can’t blame him. I usually scowl darkly and curse at my phone, in no hurry to pick it up. But then again, the only texts I get usually spell trouble with a capital T, or in my case, in binary codes gone haywire. When test running a program, the code that is hardest to debug is the code that you know cannot possibly be wrong and finding it fucking kills me every time.

I put my phone back down, unwilling to give myself away by my eagerness.

My fingers itch to unlock the screen, but I scratch my scruff instead, willing Yann’s attention away from me.

Resist. Resist. Resist. I repeat like a mantra.

“It’s really a neat city but you need to go there without a specific timetable, otherwise you’ll curse up and down,” Magali concurs with Leo. Fuck resistance. Resistance is futile. I nod in silent agreement like I know the fuck what they’re talking about, while discreetly sweeping my thumb over my screen, inching my phone away from the table and onto my thigh.

I look down.

“But, Yann, you really should come earlier next summer. The Montreal Jazz Fest starts at the end of June. You’d love it—”

Are you guys optioning for a remake of the Three Little Pigs?

I blame it on too much caffeine and not enough sleep, but I’m imagining them wearing pig suits and the resulting look on their faces. I slap my hand on the table, howling out an uncontainable bark of laughter loud enough that the conversation around me abruptly dies. I look up from my phone. All eyes are glued to mine.

Busted.

“Uh… Email. Inside joke,” I mumble.

No one answers.

I slam back the remains of my espresso for countenance. I sit still, committing to not touching my phone for the next five minutes. Or, at the very least, until enough time has passed for me to go get a legitimate refill without raising suspicion. But instead, I fumble with the damn thing, sending it into orbit. Thankfully, Magali catches my phone just before it hits the floor deck and crashes to its untimely death.

I wipe my palms on my jeans before pocketing it with a sheepish look. “Good catch, thanks.”

“You like her like her, don’t you?” Magali asks me knowingly.

Is it that evident?

“Who?” I ask warily. If my ears had warmed earlier, now they’re on fucking fire.

She cups her hands over her mouth and stage whispers, “The girl behind me you keep peeking at.”

Shit, guess it is.

“No! Yes. Never mind.” I rub the back of my neck. Is the sun getting warmer?

Zac checks behind his shoulder for the most likely suspect, making no bones about his intentions, and zeroes in on Aurèle right away. Great. I’m ready to jump him if he so much as moves a toe in her direction.

“Go and say hi,” Magali encourages me.

“No way.” I send her a quick, panicked look. Been there, done that. Anyway, if Aurèle gives me any real crumb of attention this time around, I think I’ll be jealous of myself; the one who’s here, not the one who’s in Boston. How fucked up is that? Worse yet, knowing me, it’s more than likely I’ll give myself away in five seconds flat by tripping all over my tongue, saying something I shouldn’t, letting on that I know more than I should. Might as well come out and be done with it. Hi, I’m Olivier. But hey, don’t mind me. I’m not really here. I’m in Boston right now having a private chat with you under—almost, but not quite—false pretenses. Yeah, like that would go over well.

“Hey, maybe I know her. Do you want me to pass a note?” Magali says, her silver eyes flashing with a playful glint.

The cold wind buffeting the terrace does nothing to cool down my flaming cheeks. Hoping to disappear from sight, I promptly pull my charcoal-grey beanie down so low it now hides half my face.

“Shit,” I mutter, slouching low in my chair. “Magali, do you really know her?” I whisper anxiously.

 

♦SERIES♦

Incandescent Series Book One; Standalone

Purchase: Kindle0.99

Incandescent Book Two; Standalone

Purchase: Kindle

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

A paralegal by day and incurable romantic by night, Sylvie is a cross-genre, and she takes Happily Ever After very seriously. The End just isn’t in her vocabulary.

An incorrigible daydreamer, she now feeds her obsession with epilogues by concocting stories in which heroes deal with the happy from the get-go. Ready, or not. And she confesses under oath to loving every minute of it.

Sylvie lives her own Happily Ever After in the beautiful mountains of Les Laurentides in Northern Quebec, alongside her whole set of characters.

In between treks in their backyard wilderness, you can find them hanging out at www.sylvieparizeau.com

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