REVIEW w/ GIVEAWAY: Hideaway by Penelope Douglas

Devils Night Book Two; Not a standalone

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DEVIL’S NIGHT is returning! Hiding places, chases, and all the games are back…

BANKS

Buried in the shadows of the city, there’s a hotel called The Pope. Ailing, empty, and dark—it sits abandoned and surrounded by a forgotten mystery.

But you think it’s true, don’t you, Kai Mori? The story about the hidden twelfth floor. The mystery of the dark guest who never checked in and never checks out. You think I can help you find that secret hideaway and get to him, don’t you?

You and your friends can try to scare me. You can try to push me. Because even though I struggle to hide everything I feel when you look at me—and have ever since I was a girl—I think that maybe what you seek is so much closer than you’ll ever realize.

I will never betray him.

So sit tight.

On Devil’s Night, the hunt will be coming to you.

KAI

You have no idea what I seek, Little One. You don’t know what I had to become to survive three years in prison for a crime I would gladly commit again.

No one can know what I’ve turned into.

I want that hotel, I want to find him, and I want this over.

I want my life back.

But the more I’m around you, the more I realize this new me is exactly who I was meant to be.

So come on, kid. Don’t chicken out. My house is on the hill. So many ways in, and good luck finding your way out.

I’ve seen your hideaway. Time to see mine.

*Hideaway is a romantic suspense suitable for ages 18+. While the romance is a stand-alone, the plot is a continuation of events that began in CORRUPT (Devil’s Night, #1). It is strongly recommended that you have read Corrupt prior to reading this. It is currently on sale for $0.99.

 

♦3.5-STAR REVIEW♦

A long-awaited second installment in a series that started with such an amazingly dark and tantalizing story, Hideaway continues in the tradition of the one before it. Told in both the past and present with viewpoints from both of our two main characters, we travel back six years ago, before the story of Corrupt ever happened, to when Banks and Kai first met and their twisted story that carries to the present.

With a contentious relationship at best, Banks and Kai have circled one another, constantly pulling the other in while taking steps back, for years. Banks is an enigma to him, a woman so unlike others, but he’s inextricably drawn to her–her strength, her brash attitude, her loyalty. There’s more than an attraction between them as it’s muddled by the hatred of Damon, someone she’s impossibly tied to, so their love-hate is all too real, all too twisted around immovable barriers. And yet, in spite of that, something special grows between the cracks and blossoms into a beautiful and strong love. A love that suffers many setbacks that created delicious emotion and physical tension.

Having adored and been consumed by every prior Penelope Douglas book, I have to admit that I was surprised this book didn’t affect me in the same manner. I couldn’t get myself into the story, constantly placing it down when it wasn’t holding my attention, and I was beyond frustrated because this is Penelope Douglas and I LOVED Corrupt. I knew these characters and had a connection with them from back when, and I just couldn’t immerse myself. I enjoyed the story, don’t get me wrong, but the plot was too long-winded. Too much filler left a loose story that felt like it never got anywhere until suddenly it did to then fall off again. This is the sole reason why it wasn’t a 5-star. I loved the characters, I felt the attraction and the rising tension, it just took way too long to get anywhere with it, and I think the romance suffered a bit with it.

Hideaway was another thrilling installment in a dark storyline that will continue on to the next book (and I assume, the one after that). It was truly a pleasure to see the gang again, to fall back into their strife with Damon and everything that surrounded it, and to fall in love with Kai and Banks. But I think we’re all itching to see what Douglas does with Damon in his story next and how she can possibly redeem the irredeemable (…and we’re not worried because we know she can).

 

♦SERIES♦

Corrupt 500x777

Devils Night Book One

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My Review

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

Penelope D

Penelope Douglas is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Fall Away series.

She dresses for autumn year round, loves anything lemon flavored, and believes there is too much blood in her Coca Cola stream. Or too much Coca Cola in her blood stream. Or…

You know what? It doesn’t matter. She loves Coke. Now you know.

She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and daughter.

Website ⊥ Facebook ⊥ Twitter ⊥ Pinterest ⊥ Instagram ⊥ Goodreads

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REVIEW w/ EXCERPT & GIVEAWAY: Intermediate Thermodynamics by Susannah Nix

Book Two; Standalone

Romantic Comedy

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Aerospace engineer Esther Abbott doesn’t believe in love, but she’s perfectly happy hating her screenwriter neighbor, Jonathan. Until she’s forced to make a devil’s bargain with him: if he distracts her best friend from a mouth-breather ex, Esther will be his science advisor for the sci-fi script he’s writing.

Her patience is put to the test when it’s time to fulfill her end of the deal. But the more time she spends with her nemesis, the more hate turns into attraction—and attraction into something much deeper. As Esther’s carefully-constructed defenses start to crumble, will love be her undoing or her salvation?

Intermediate Thermodynamics follows in the tradition of contemporary romantic comedy favorites like Penny Reid, Sally Thorne, and Jennifer Crusie. This sweet, enemies-to-lovers romance is the second in a series of standalone rom-coms featuring geeky heroines who work in STEM fields.

 

♦4.5-STAR REVIEW♦

Lighthearted and smart, Intermediate Thermodynamics was a fresh and fun take on a rom-com. With Nix’s unique characters, both immensely smart and well-tasked in their respective careers, their banter and intelligence played off of one other in a funny and charming way, making it easy to laugh and quickly turn the pages for more. Along with the humor was the slow, but beautiful progression from a love-hate dynamic to more, and the ease with which it was to transition from one to the other without either character noticing.

Nix penned a wonderful, well-rounded female character in Esther. Her practicality and fierce independence were strong personality traits, and yet even when she was blinded by hate flipping into love, she maintained her head while not ignoring heart even if it took everything within her to do so (and many internal swift kicks). I loved the sweetness of Jonathan, both his charm and pull, and how they were so very different from one another, but found so much of a sense of home in each other.

Filled with heart and humor, Intermediate Thermodynamics was a well-rounded story with compelling characters and a beautiful love story. As a new reader to Nix, I enjoyed getting to know her writing style and seeing her spin on romance. Well-written and unbelievably enjoyable, this is a book not to miss.

 

♦EXCERPT♦

“He’s cute,” Jinny whispered when he was out of sight.

Esther gave her a sidelong glance. “Who?”

“Him. Your neighbor. Whatshisname.”

“Jonathan? Ugh. No. He’s not.” Pretentious, beanie-clad, farmer’s-market-shopping hipsters weren’t Esther’s type. Objectively, she supposed he might be considered attractive—so long as he didn’t open his mouth and start talking. He was just so damn annoying, it was impossible to separate his looks from his personality.

Yeah, he is,” Jinny insisted. “He looks like a young Jake Gyllenhaal. Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed.”

“He does not look like Jake Gyllenhaal.” Esther didn’t even like Jake Gyllenhaal, but she felt this was an unfair aspersion against him that required her defense.

“Come on, he’s got that great, thick, wavy dark hair—”

“Which is always covered by those dumb beanies he wears.”

Jinny sniffed. “I like a man in a beanie.”

Of course she does. Stuart wore beanies all the time. So did half the men in LA under thirty, but still. Esther felt justified in her loathing of them.

“Plus, he’s got those soulful blue eyes,” Jinny added.

Soulful? What was she talking about? Esther wrinkled her nose. “You can’t even tell what his eyes look like under those hipster glasses.”

“I love those glasses! Guys in glasses are super hot. Oh!” Jinny reached over and smacked Esther on the arm. “You know who else he looks like? Dev Patel.”

Esther stared at her. “Dev Patel is Indian.”

“I know that. Duh.”

“And looks nothing like Jake Gyllenhaal or Jonathan, both of whom are white.”

Jinny laid her magazine aside and leaned back, crossing her legs. “It’s the hair. Jonathan has the same great hair Dev Patel has. The kind you want to run your fingers through.” She wiggled her fingers for emphasis. “And that beard. God, I love a beard.”

Stuart had a beard. Although his hair was golden brown instead of Jonathan’s darker, almost-black-brown.

Esther’s eyes narrowed as she tried to decide whether Jinny was actually interested in Jonathan or projecting Stuart onto him. “How long have you felt this way about my neighbor?”

Jinny shrugged and reached for her mimosa. “I’ve always thought he was cute.” Her phone vibrated beside her, and she picked it up. “Ugh. I wish Stuart would just leave me alone.”

Esther frowned. “What does he want?”

Jinny set her phone down without replying. “Forgiveness. Reconciliation. More sex. Take your pick.”

“I’m telling you, you should get a restraining order.”

“Thanks, your honor, but I don’t need a restraining order. It’s just Stuart.”

Stuart, who’d been gaslighting Jinny for the better part of six months. Who had her convinced she was dating above her level and should be grateful for his half-assed attentions. Who steered her around like a child.

Esther eyed her suspiciously. “You’re considering it, aren’t you? Taking him back.”

Jinny didn’t say anything.

Jonathan reappeared in the courtyard with a forty-pound bag of mulch balanced on his shoulder. He skirted around the edge of the pool and dumped it onto the ground by Esther’s chair, next to a bed of freshly planted begonias.

“What are you doing?” she asked, peering at him over her sunglasses.

“Mrs. Boorstein asked me to pick up some mulch for the new plantings.” He wiped his hands on his jeans and headed back toward the carport.

Jinny leaned over and smacked Esther on the arm again. “He helps little old ladies with gardening? That is so sweet!”

Esther wasn’t sure Mrs. Boorstein would appreciate being called a little old lady, but she had to agree it was kind of sweet.

They heard the sound of a trunk slamming, and Jonathan reappeared with another bag of mulch hoisted on his shoulder. He dropped it next to the first one, then bent over to slide it a few feet to the left, spacing them out at either end of the bed.

His backside was right in Esther’s eyeline, and she had to admit it wasn’t the worst view she’d ever seen. Fine. So he had a decent body. He irritates the hell out of you, remember?

Jinny smacked her on the arm a third time and Esther jerked her gaze away, flushing slightly.

“Nice ass,” Jinny mouthed silently, tilting her head in Jonathan’s direction.

 

♦SERIES♦

Book One; Standalone

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♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

Susannah Nix lives in Texas with her husband, two ornery cats, and a flatulent pit bull. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, knitting, watching stupid amounts of television, and getting distracted by Tumblr. She is also a powerlifter who can deadlift as much as Captain America weighs.

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NEW RELEASE w/ GIVEAWAY: Show Me the Way by A.L. Jackson

Fight For Me Book One; Standalone

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The first sexy, captivating, stand-alone novel in the brand-new FIGHT FOR ME series from NYT & USA Today Bestselling Author A.L. Jackson . . .
Rex Gunner. As bitter as he is beautiful.
The owner of the largest construction company in Gingham Lakes has been burned one too many times. His wife leaving him to raise their daughter was the last blow this single dad could take. The only woman he’ll let into his heart is his little girl.
Rynna Dayne. As vulnerable as she is tempting.
She ran from Gingham Lakes when she was seventeen. She swore to herself she would never return. Then her grandmother passed away and left her the deed to the diner that she once loved.
When Rex meets his new neighbor, he knows he’s in trouble.
She’s gorgeous and sweet and everything he can’t trust.
Until she becomes the one thing he can’t resist.
One kiss sends them tumbling toward ecstasy.
But in a town this size, pasts are bound to collide. Caught in a web of lies, betrayal, and disloyalty, Rex must make a choice.
Will he hide behind his walls or will he take the chance . . .

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

A.L. Jackson is the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance. She writes emotional, sexy, heart-filled stories about boys who usually like to be a little bit bad.

Her bestselling series include THE REGRET SERIES, CLOSER TO YOU, as well as the newest BLEEDING STARS novels. Watch for the next installment STAND, coming Spring 2017.

If she’s not writing, you can find her hanging out by the pool with her family, sipping cocktails with her friends, or of course with her nose buried in a book.

Be sure not to miss new releases and sales from A.L. Jackson – Sign up to receive her newsletter http://smarturl.it/NewsFromALJackson or text “aljackson” to 24587 to receive short but sweet updates on all the important news.

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NEW RELEASE & REVIEW w/ GIVEAWAY: Too Beautiful to Break by Tessa Bailey

Romancing the Clarksons Book Four; Interconnected Standalone

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A love of a lifetime . . .

Leaving Belmont Clarkson is the hardest thing Sage Alexander has ever done. From the moment they met, she knew Belmont was the one, and getting up close and personal with him on his family’s epic road trip has taken her desire to a new, even hotter level. But there’s no way she can go there—not without revealing secrets that could devastate them both.

Losing Sage is not an option. Belmont’s heart is hers, has always been hers. He knows she’s hiding something from him, but nothing will stand in his way of telling her just how much she means to him. Finding her is easy—saving her from her past could cost him everything.

 

♦5-STAR REVIEW♦

In a series where it had been building up to this fourth book and its characters since book one, and where the entire premise of the series as a whole was to conclude in it, it meant that there was a lot of ground to cover in Too Beautiful to Break. The ‘torture’ of waiting until the end was worth it in every sense of the word. And while the story can stand on its own, I would highly recommend starting from the beginning because each Clarkson family member is so complex, their family as a whole so functionally dysfunctional, that it would be a shame to miss their growth to this point as siblings as well as in learning the beauty of who Belmont was from the start of the road trip to now.

Belmont and Sage were pivotal characters from the get-go; two people so in-tune with each other that the rest was just noise. He was an enigma of a man, someone so affected by a defining moment in his past that his reliance on sheltering himself from anything and anyone was crucial to his mental stability. Bailey captured the essence of him from the very beginning, growing the perplexity of him as the stories went on with apparent ease. Belmont’s connection with Sage had been visceral and larger than the box of a descriptive word from the start, but it was so much more powerful here–the kind that carried butterflies from page one until the final page was reluctantly turned. But the wonderful nature of their relationship wasn’t on the ‘crutch’ they formed with one another, but in how that closeness helped the two of them find the strength they needed to overcome their individual hurdles on their own.

With many moments of truly gripping emotions as well as the original Bailey Hotness we love, Too Beautiful to Break was a fantastically written love story and conclusion to a series that has been very dear to my heart. The most powerful thing to take away was that the support of a person, your person, can be life-changing in helping to allow yourself to be in a place of vulnerability in order to overcome any powerful issues you’re facing, and Sage was the embodiment of that for Belmont–his safe place to fall and to get back up. They were enchanting together, but still shone when apart and had the kind of soul-deep love we all search for in our books and in real life. Then to see their reason for road-tripping finally play out? Breathtaking. Powerful. And I can’t help feeling bereft at letting them go, but I find solace in knowing there are always re-reads. It was the best way to end a series and to somehow find a new way to showcase unique characters and an all-consuming love.

 

♦SERIES♦


My Review

My Review

My Review

My Review

♦EXCERPT♦

“You don’t have to leave right away,” Sage said when Belmont turned, watching her from beneath his eyebrows. “Can you wait here while I take a quick shower?”

Maybe that hadn’t been the right thing to say. His big back heaved and the touch of his tongue in her mouth came crashing in like a behemoth wave. They had crossed an unspoken boundary on the train platform. There was no going back to before, to when they stopped at rough, crushing embraces. As if that hadn’t been…more than sexual somehow.

“Yes, I’ll wait,” he said, his voice sounding like serrated metal. “I can light the fire for you.”

I’ll say. God, why did everything sound like an innuendo now? If her body weren’t flush and sweating beneath the jumpsuit, she would have laughed about it. But there was nothing funny about having Belmont looming mere yards away, looking like one word of encouragement would snap his chain and send him barreling toward her. “That would be perfect. I’ll just be…a few minutes.”

Sage all but dove into the itty-bitty bathroom, pressing her back up against the door and willing her racing heart to calm down. Why had she asked him to stay? Her resolve would weaken with every passing second. Biting down on her lower lip, she began the excruciating task of lowering the zipper of her jumpsuit, which kicked up a protest in her triceps and shoulder muscles. When she finally got it down, she gripped the hem of her T-shirt and attempted to lift it over her head.

Her arms wouldn’t cooperate. They flat out wouldn’t rise any higher than her ribs, leaving the T-shirt suspended in midair. Her muscles burned like someone had doused them in lighter fluid and held them above a flame. Sage’s agony must have escaped in the form of a whimper, because Belmont’s boots scraped just outside the door. And her stomach hollowed with awareness, lightning racing all over her skin.

“Sage.” His voice was deep, urgent. “Do you need help?”

No. Say no. She’d only gotten finished reminding him she didn’t need him. But in this case, it would be a lie and she’d done so much of that lately. With Belmont. The most truthful person she knew. “I can’t get my shirt off.” Her nose started to ache, the tip probably turning red. “My arms hurt.”

His growl was short and broken. A beat passed before the door opened and she felt Belmont filling the doorway behind her. She flicked a glance up to the ancient mirror and confirmed what she’d seen in her mind’s eyes. Belmont towering over her like an avenging angel, outlined by candlelight. He’d taken off his coat, leaving him in a black long-sleeved shirt, which he’d rolled up to the elbows. Every inch of visible skin was shot through with strained cords of muscle, as if his frustration were written on him like a road map.

Sage still had the shirt halfway lifted, so her lower back was visible. Not a big deal to most people. But Belmont had never seen anything below her neck. Or above her knees. With the jumpsuit peeled halfway down, the band of her underwear might even be peeking out.

Breathing grew difficult as Belmont took one step closer and took hold of the T-shirt, his knuckles grazing the small of her back. “You’re wearing”—his breath ghosted down her neck—“my shirt.”

Sage only realized she’d closed her eyes when they popped open. Oh God. In the shock of Belmont arriving, she’d forgotten. “I am?” Her mouth was parched. “L-look at that.”

“I am looking.” She jumped when Belmont reached over her shoulder with his left hand and turned on the shower, the sound of spray filling the room. Then the roughness of his knuckles returned, sliding up her spine along with the shirt. “I like knowing there was a layer of me standing between you and the earth.”

Her legs took on the consistency of Jell-O. His touch was a drug, making her languid, although it was different than the way he usually touched her. There was sex this time. So much of it. And it was that major difference that allowed Sage to accept the skimming of his fingers. Accept the part of herself that lusted. They were in a dark room and time had surely suspended anywhere outside this little plot of square footage. Words ached to leave her mouth, words that wouldn’t be suitable in the sunlight. This man, so warm and brave and large at her back, knew things about her no one else did. What was one more secret? “I stole it out of your suitcase. I broke a commandment and everything.”

“Why?” He breathed into her hair, sinking heat like an anchor in her belly. The shirt came off, her arms dropped to her sides, and she was left in nothing but a bra from the waist up. Inches from Belmont. “Why, sweetest girl?”

A light steam had begun curling in the air like beckoning fingers. Maybe this is a dream. It felt like one of the fevered fantasies she woke from on occasion, sweat slicking her breasts and neck. “Because I like the way you smell and it hadn’t been washed.”

His exhale was gravelly. “Sage.

“Yes.”

She thought he might not respond, but finally he asked a question that made her nipples turn to hard points. “Can you manage”—a long, windy inhale—“the bra?”

Sage tried. She really, truly did. Her arms felt as though they might break off and hit the floor, but she reached back until her muscles locked up, refusing to move farther. But Belmont was already there, pushing them back down, holding them at her hips.

Jesus. Please, stop. I can’t watch it.” His touch disappeared only for a second and then the cotton material of the bra tightened over her breasts. She could feel him working the back clasp with fingers she knew so well. They’d tunneled through her hair so many times, twisted in her clothing, but had never, ever, touched her with any kind of…intent. Intent to seduce. And that’s what he was doing, intentional or not. The inhibitions she’d held close forever, circled the drain, along with the shower water. “Your back is so beautiful.” A ghost of a fingertip traced down her spine. “But I need to leave before I—”

“What?”

“Before I turn you around.” They weren’t touching, but she could sense the shudder that ran through him. “Or look in that mirror.”

Right or wrong, the mine, their codependency aside, Sage knew if she let him leave just then, she would regret it for all time. Her body had been woken up. By one man. He’d kept her on the razor’s edge for thousands of miles, surrounding her with his power and taking it away. Over and over. And this fever wrapping around them in the tiny bathroom was completely different from easing his anxiety. Finally, she felt like a woman standing in front of him, instead of a calming device. This was mutual and alive and she couldn’t stand it to end. Tomorrow might be a different story, but this moment was the culmination of a thousand dreams and she could no more deny herself than she could forget his face.

“Belmont, do you think of the kiss?”

I never stop,” he groaned into her hair. “Never.”

She took a deep breath for courage. “Will you shower with me?”

 

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

tessa bailey bio

Tessa Bailey is originally from Carlsbad, California. The day after high school graduation, she packed her yearbook, ripped jeans and laptop, driving cross-country to New York City in under four days.

Her most valuable life experiences were learned thereafter while waitressing at K-Dees, a Manhattan pub owned by her uncle. Inside those four walls, she met her husband, best friend and discovered the magic of classic rock, managing to put herself through Kingsborough Community College and the English program at Pace University at the same time. Several stunted attempts to enter the work force as a journalist followed, but romance writing continued to demand her attention.

She now lives in Long Island, New York with her husband of eight years and four-year-old daughter. Although she is severely sleep-deprived, she is incredibly happy to be living her dream of writing about people falling in love.

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