NEW RELEASE & REVIEW: Second Chances Anthology

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Do you believe in second chances?

Romance Writers of America brings together seventeen of today’s hottest authors in an anthology of never-before-published tales that reveal true love always deserves a happy ending.

Follow New York Times best-selling authors J. Kenner and Christina Lauren back to reader-favorite worlds.

New York Times bestseller Alyssa Day sprinkles djinn magic in her humorous paranormal romance, while Rachel Hauck brings the enchantment of the holidays in her New Year’s Eve contemporary love story.

And Liliana Hart delivers thrills and adventure in her characters’ search for the impossible.

With characters who find love through tough situations, in an elegant 1800s ballroom, with an old friend who shows up when least expected, at a tender age when cliques and homework get in the way of relationships, or after a random encounter in an unlikely setting, Second Chances delivers romance to strike every reader’s fancy.

Plus tales from:
Marilyn Brant
Kerri Carpenter
CiCi Coughlin
Cassandra Dean
Tina Ferraro
Renee Luke
Ariella Moon
Brandi Willis Schreiber
Lizzie Shane
Sharon Sobel
Damon Suede
Tara Wyatt

 

♦4-STAR REVIEW♦

Lovers of second-chance romances will fall in love with Second Chances. There is a story for everyone, from Contemporary to Young Adult to Paranormal to Historical to Romantic Suspense and anywhere in between. Some familiar faces from Christina Lauren’s Wild Seasons series and J. Kenner’s Stark world pop up, and from there, for me, there’s a whole host of authors for the sampling that I’ve never had the chance to read before which is always the best part of an anthology. And RWA did an amazing job at cultivating a fluent narrative with this many authors whose stories all fit together so seamlessly, and into a full-sized novel.

Aside from genre, I loved that each story had its own second-chance elements that tweaked the heart in the best way. That it’s-been-years-but-I’m-still-hot-for-you twinge that each author put their unique spin on, creating wonderful stomach dips and smiles. The greatest part of each one, of course, was experiencing all of these couples overcoming whatever tore them apart (or kept them from trying) in the first place. Each story had something great to offer, to showcase a brilliant love story that was years in the making, and even though we joined them in their stories now, it never felt like we had no know them then to love them now.

With varying heat from story to story, any reader can find their level of romance in more than a handful of these stories, but everyone will enjoy the main subject they each share: love. The Second Chances Anthology is well worth the read and I know everyone who reads it will find at least one new-to-me author they’ll continue to follow past this collection. It has heart and love for the basis of each story, and you can’t go wrong with that.

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NEW & REVIEW: Fraternize by Rachel Van Dyken

Players Game Book One

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New York Times bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken kicks off a brand-new series in which romance is a game and love is a touchdown.

Emerson just made her dream come true as a professional cheerleader for her favorite pro football team. But even though the plus-size athlete is breaking down boundaries, she still has to contend with the massive rulebook. Carbs? Nope. Chocolate? Definitely not. Still, Emerson loves her curves, and she’ll rock the hell out of this job even if it kills her. Except for one mandate that is easier read than done…

No fraternizing with the players.

Problem one is Miller Quinton: Emerson’s first love, first sex, and the guy who still ignites her daydreams and R-rated fantasies. Thrown back together, Miller and Emerson feel the undeniable pull of passion again, even if the conflict that tore them apart seems insurmountable. Then there’s way-too-sexy Grant Sanchez. He has a serious reputation with the ladies, and when it comes to winning someone he wants, he doesn’t let anyone stand in his way.

Now Emerson is breaking every rule in the manual. But what she doesn’t know is that she’s part of a wicked little game—one that could steal both her dream and her heart.

 

♦4-STAR REVIEW♦

Lighthearted and with an angst brought forth by a mild love triangle, Fraternize was unexpectedly fun and unique in the direction it took. Without relying on the usual tools for a love triangle situation, RVD paved her own way in telling the story of a curvy cheerleader, her just-returned first love, and the new footballer. The relationships in the story were unlike anything that was expected, and happily surprised me with the lack of contention and hatred that is always abundant when two men want the same woman.

Fraternize employed two very different men who each played to a different part of Emerson, pulling on the strings of the reader and making it incredibly difficult to choose between them. The pull to each of them was strong, but unique, and yet Emerson never fell through the cracks, instead retaining the center focus of the story–her past, her career, the struggles involved with it, and her future. It became about who could enhance her going forward, and I fully enjoyed watching her find that answer. Can’t say that I was correct on guessing who she ultimately chose, and I admittedly had a moment of not being okay with it, but in seeing where he’s going to go, I’m looking forward to the next story in the series. Anyone who enjoys light and fun contemporary romances with some heat will love this story.

**I don’t recommend reading the blurb for the second book until after finishing Fraternize because it does give away who does not get the girl**

 

♦SERIES♦

Players Game Book Two

Release Date: January 9, 2018

PreOrder: Kindle | Paperback

 

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

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Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from readers!

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REVIEW & EXCERPT: Play On by Samantha Young

Release Date: September 12, 2017

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Nora O’Brien chased a dream from Indiana to Scotland, so sure it was the right thing to do. Three years later she was left in her adopted country with nothing to her name but guilt and regret.

Until Aidan Lennox entered her life.

Older, worldlier, a music producer and composer, the sexy Scot should never have made sense for Nora. But somehow in each other they found the light they were looking for, the laughter and the passion—the strength to play on despite their past losses.

But when life dealt Aidan another unlucky hand, instead of reaching for her he disappeared. The agonizing loss of him inspired something within Nora. It fired her spirit— the anger and hurt pushing her forward to take control and reach for her dreams.

Finally pursuing a career on stage while she put herself through college, everything is how Nora wants it. She’s avoiding heartbreak and concentrating on her goals.

Sounds easy but it’s not. Because Aidan is back. And for some reason he hates Nora.

He’s determined to be at war with her.

And she has absolutely no idea why.

 

♦4-STAR REVIEW♦

In a labor of love, Play On detailed a woman’s life through rebirth, setbacks, triumphs, love, and tragedy in perfect disharmony. Although I read this as I do most novels by an author that I trust, without reading the blurb first, knowing Young would take us back to Scotland was enough for me, and what she brought was a coming-of-age tale of a young woman finding herself among a new country, new people, and many things left behind in her past.

Multilayered and deeply sensual, there’s a real grittiness and chaotic truth to Nora’s journey. Her leaps and jumps aren’t without consequences thus grounding the reality that she and her circumstances are relatable to the reader. It’s the belief of a fairytale mixed with reality, but a fantastical journey in spite of it. Nora’s inner strength and compassion shine through every page and it’s this dogged nature that keeps her pushing forward, an enviable quality that is magnetic to those around her. And though she seeks companionship, it’s the consequences of her past that prevent her from allowing anyone in. With Young’s ability to flesh out strong female characters, Nora became this wild mix of vulnerable and resilient and thus gave her a beautiful love story, both in loving herself and a man who was worthy of her heart.

There was a real genius to how Young set up the telling of this story, showcasing three different stepping-stone portions of Nora’s life; showing that no journey to happiness is a straight shot or a simple task. Play On was messy and heartbreaking and sexy, filled with adventure and heart and humor. It felt like a biopic of any young woman who is having trouble finding their place in the world and that no matter what has happened, simply play on because there is a reward at the end of that tunnel. There are novels that you read and novels that read to you and Nora and Aidan read beautifully to me.

 

♦EXCERPT♦

From the angle I was sitting, I could only see Aidan’s profile. A rush of feeling flooded over me as I studied his familiar face. Memories flooded me. Smiles. Laughter. Kisses. Soft touches. Tears. Him falling to his knees. Not meeting my eyes and telling me to leave and get rest. The last thing he ever said to me.

I’d never felt such a confusing mix of fury and longing in my entire life. I at once wanted to go to him, make him look at me, hold me, and I also wanted to march up to him, grab his sweater in my fist, and shake him, even though he’d barely budge under my assault.

I remember you, Pixie.

I closed my eyes, in pain at the memory. If he called me by his nickname for me again, I didn’t know whether I’d burst into tears or smack him across the face.

Probably both.

“Viola!” Quentin spun on his heel to look at me. “On stage.”

Nerves hit me in a massive wave and I took a moment to exhale slowly before I stood and walked toward the stage. I hoped I appeared calm and ready to do this because inside, I was under attack.

I joined Eddie up on stage; he gave me a bolstering smile.

In my entrance on performance nights, I would be accompanied by Eddie as Captain and we’d have extras with us as our sailors. “‘What country, friends, is this?’” I said in a faux upper-crust English accent, slowly walking across the stage, looking awed.

“‘This is Illyria, lady,’” Eddie said, following me.

I swiftly turned to look at him. “‘And what should I do in Illyria? My brother he is in Elysium …’”

We fell into the scene and I was feeling pretty good about it when it came to an end, until I looked over at Quentin and Aidan. Finally, I had Aidan’s attention. But I’d take him ignoring me over the scowl he wore.

As my director opened his mouth to speak, Aidan called up to me, “You need to work on that accent.”

I flushed, turning expectantly to Quentin. He looked a little taken aback by Aidan’s input but he nodded at me. “If one person thinks it’s not great, others might. Practice it. It’s not a huge concern yet.”

“The way she’s wandering around the stage like a bewildered child is,” Aidan said, like he hadn’t insulted the hell out of me. “Viola is bold enough to dress as a man in order to find her brother. She wouldn’t be wild-eyed and frightened.”

Wild-eyed and frightened?

I hadn’t been acting wild-eyed and frightened!

Quentin quirked an brow at his friend and then smirked up at me. “Play it a little less vulnerable in your next scene.”

Seething, I could only nod. Completely unable to look at Aidan, I turned to Eddie. He gave me a sympathetic smile and we left the stage together. The actors playing Maria, Sir Toby, and Sir Andrew took the stage.

Ignoring Aidan, I strode farther down the aisle to get away from him, and Amanda gave me a smug smile from her seat next to Hamish. “You’ll get better with practice,” she said.

I returned her smile with a tight one of my own and flopped down on a seat near the back.

It wasn’t long later, however, that Quentin was calling me up to stage again with Will and Jack. After Aidan’s criticism—something he did not dole out to anyone else—I was on edge but fighting the feeling because I didn’t want it to affect my performance.

We were halfway through the scene when Quentin called up for us to stop. Dread filled me as we looked down at him.

But it was Aidan who spoke. “You’re doing it again. All doe-eyed while he’s talking.” He gestured to Jack.

Anger flared out of me. “I’m supposed to be in love with him,” I argued.

“And you’re masquerading as a man. You’re good at deception,” he bit out, and I couldn’t miss the hiss of anger in his words. Were we still talking about the play? “At this point in the play, you can control your feelings for this man.”

Reeling from his words, I couldn’t argue this time. In fact, the whole atmosphere in the theater had changed, as if everyone else had heard the underlying fury in his words and were confused by them.

As confused as I was.

Why the hell was Aidan mad at me?

 

♦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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NEW RELEASE & REVIEW: Cover of Night by Laura Griffin

Alpha Crew Book Three; Standalone Novella

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Sparks fly when a journalist and a Navy SEAL cross paths in Thailand in this third entry in the thrilling and sexy Alpha Crew series from New York Times bestselling author Laura Griffin.

Journalist Karly Bonham is on her first overseas mission, covering the new United States ambassador to Thailand, when she is taken hostage by terrorists, with only her wits and courage to keep her alive–until help arrives in the form of Navy SEAL Ethan Dunn.

As part of an elite SEAL team called Alpha Crew, Ethan has been on countless harrowing missions, but he knows this one is different the instant he meets Karly—the sexy young reporter who somehow managed to escape the terrorists’ clutches. Ethan is impressed by her, especially when he learns she has intel that could be the key to a successful rescue op. Ethan knows working with a civilian raises the stakes on an already dangerous mission. But with the clock ticking down, he enlists Karly’s help to thwart a vicious plot and bring a terrorist mastermind to justice.

 

♦4-STAR REVIEW♦

Fast-paced and thrilling, Cover of Night quickly jumped into its suspense with fully formed characters and brought the intensity from the get-go. Even as a novella, both Ethan and Karly were strong, present characters that felt fleshed out even without any back story or build-up, and then Griffin brought the two together in a live-or-die situation and allowed them the space to catch a foothold with one another.

Outside of the action, Griffin didn’t shy away from the effects of a traumatic situation, allowing Karly to experience the consequences of how a deadly experience such as that can affect her mental health. And still, her character was incredibly brave and resilient, both during and after, which was admirable, but it didn’t act as if the issues had a quick fix either–something of which I loved. The romantic connection between the two was fast but potent–and shone some truth to how an experience can tie two people together in the most instinctive of ways.

Cover of Night was a great love story with the perfect blend of romance and suspense. Each character felt real and there was a wonderfully organic connection between them that grew into a believable romance. The ending felt a bit rushed, not as expertly paced as the rest of the book, but aside from that, I fell in love with it from the beginning. If you’re looking for an exciting novel to devour in one sitting, this is it.

 

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author LAURA GRIFFIN started her career in journalism before venturing into the world of romantic suspense. She is a two-time RITA Award winner (for the books Scorched and Whisper of Warning) as well as the recipient of the Daphne du Maurier Award (for Untraceable). Laura currently lives in Austin where she is working on her next book.

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