REVIEW & EXCERPT w/ GIVEAWAY: The Impossible Vastness of Us by Samantha Young

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance

Release Date: June 27, 2017

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♦BLURB♦

“I know how to watch my back. I’m the only one that ever has.”

India Maxwell hasn’t just moved across the country—she’s plummeted to the bottom rung of the social ladder. It’s taken years to cover the mess of her home life with a veneer of popularity. Now she’s living in one of Boston’s wealthiest neighborhoods with her mom’s fiancé and his daughter, Eloise. Thanks to her soon-to-be stepsister’s clique of friends, including Eloise’s gorgeous, arrogant boyfriend Finn, India feels like the one thing she hoped never to be seen as again: trash.

But India’s not alone in struggling to control the secrets of her past. Eloise and Finn, the school’s golden couple, aren’t all they seem to be. In fact, everyone’s life is infinitely more complex than it first appears. And as India grows closer to Finn and befriends Eloise, threatening the facades that hold them together, what’s left are truths that are brutal, beautiful, and big enough to change them forever…

♦4.5-STAR REVIEW♦

The Impossible Vastness of Us is a wide-reaching, hard-hitting Young Adult novel that bravely takes on varying painful topics. It’s moving and powerful and simply told. One that hurts to experience, but the kind that mends your soul in a very romantic, but tough-love kind of way. That feeling will continue to resonate long after the book has closed.

From self-esteem issues to the intricacies of status and the teenage ego, this novel traverses much without feeling overwhelming or shallow on the issues at hand. I’ve yet to read a YA novel like this with such closely-knitted female characters fighting the odds against them in becoming more than what is expected of them as ‘rivals’ or non-equals. Young easily crafted an entire cast of characters who all played their parts perfectly. I usually love novels for their love stories, but I have to say that while I loved the love story here, I fell harder for the bond of family, blood or not, that radiated from this story. Each character brought such depth and vividness to this story, a kind of 3-D nature to it, that it was a joy to experience every aspect of it.

It’s easy to connect with a character like India, even if your experiences were nothing like hers. Young made her tough, but likable, a hardass, but a joyful smartass. She wasn’t a typical YA heroine; her compassion and inherent need for justice never wavered, instead consistently proving her selflessness and rationality even in moments where it benefited her in the least. There’s something powerfully magnetic about that, something we can admire. What made her an outsider radiated strength instead of weakness, and those like Finn and Eloise were drawn to that.

I originally fell for Young with her earlier YA series and have been hoping she’d venture back to the genre one day; I can tell you it came with the perfect story. A beautiful cover that matches the story within, one overflowing with the beauty of love, family, and, most of all, friendship, The Impossible Vastness of Us was a poignantly moving and compassionate tale of acceptance, hope, and self-love. Love comes in many forms as does what one can take away from this novel. I could’ve kept going and I do hope there comes a day when we meet these characters again.

 

♦EXCERPT♦

“Headmaster Vanderbilt would like to introduce himself.”

Headmaster Vanderbilt turned out to be a guy probably only five years or so older than Theo. I expected someone stuffy, pretentious and more than a little condescending, but Headmaster Vanderbilt—a tall, reed-thin man who wore a tiny pair of rimless glasses perched on his big Roman nose—was warm and welcoming.

His welcome, in fact, would be the warmest I’d receive that day.

My first class was Microeconomics and to my horror Eloise, Finn and their whole crew took the class. I hadn’t been expecting to see them all together in one class and while the teacher introduced me I had to quickly put my mask of indifference on.

Eloise didn’t acknowledge my presence as I took a seat on the other side of the classroom. My eyes drifted to Finn but he was staring at the teacher, almost too studiously, like he was trying to avoid my gaze. I shook that suspicion off, knowing Finn thought he was superior to me—I probably wasn’t even on his radar.

Not that I cared if I was on his radar or not.

My Microeconomics teacher was pretty cool and I got through the class not feeling totally out of my depth. I considered that a positive for the day.

Fiction Writing was next and Charlotte was in my class. When I walked in, her eyes lit up and I thought I detected the beginnings of a smile before a thought passed over her expression. Her shoulders slumped, and she looked like she wanted to blend into the background.

I decided to ignore her weirdness and waved at her as the teacher approached to introduce herself. The teacher saw my exchange with Charlotte and insisted I sit with her.

“Hey,” I said as I took the seat beside her.

Charlotte gave me a half smile, half grimace. “Hi.”

“Don’t worry, I won’t cheat off you.”

Her answer was a tremulous smile.

Encouraged, I nodded at her violet dress. “That color looks awesome on you.”

Appearing almost taken aback, Charlotte glanced down at the dress and ran her fingertips over it. “Really? Bryce said it washed me out. She said I look trash in it.”

Of course she did. I got more than a few mean girl vibes off that girl. “Well, she’s wrong. It’s really cute.”

“Thanks.” Charlotte gave me a shy smile before wariness replaced it and she turned determinedly to face the front.

Her body language told me not to push talking to her, but I felt hope.

Smiling inwardly, I faced forward, too, and listened to the teacher as she started class.

Two classes passed and I already had more homework than I’d ever had back at Fair Oaks High. I wasn’t freaking out about it just yet, considering I had no friends and no extracurricular activities to distract me from all the schoolwork, but once I did I’d have to find a way to juggle it all.

As I was walking toward my next class I noticed the glances and full-on stares from my new schoolmates. Their looks varied from curious to sneering and I felt a tingle of wariness across the back of my neck. Turning a corner on my search for my Modern European History class, I came face-to-face with my stepsister-to-be and her girls. They sashayed down the hall like an ad for a TV show about beautiful popular high school kids, long hair fluttering out behind them like silk, long trim legs on display in their designer dresses and elongated by their Jimmy Choo sandals.

Eloise saw me, looked right through me and kept on walking without a word.

My skin felt hot with embarrassment at her obvious cut.

I watched her disappear around the corner with her best friends before looking around the hallway. That’s when I realized I hadn’t been imagining the sneers of my classmates.

A sick feeling settled in my gut as I wondered what the hell was going on.

 

♦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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♦GIVEAWAY♦

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BLOG TOUR w/ EXCERPT: Tycoon by Katy Evans

Standalone

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♦BLURB♦

He wasn’t always this rich. This hot. This difficult.
Aaric Christos was a guy who protected me. Wanted me. Maybe even loved me.
That man is gone.
In his place is the most powerful real estate tycoon in the city.
He’s a cold, ruthless, aggressive businessman.
The only one who can save me and my startup from ruin.
It takes every ounce of courage to put my pride aside and ask for his help.
I didn’t expect him to offer it easily.
And he doesn’t.
Instead, he vets me harder than he’s vetted anyone.
Don’t invest in what you don’t know, he says.
He’s assessing every piece of me, to the point I’ve never felt so bare.
I yearn for the boy I once knew, whose touch once craved me.
Putting it all on the line will be worth it, I tell myself.
Until I realize—too late—that some risks are not worth taking.

♦EXCERPT♦

I hop off the train and walk several walks to his building.

It’s a brownstone in Park Avenue, one of the most elite of the elite spaces in town.

My lungs feel a little bit overworked from awe as I head up the steps to the double doors, grateful that I came dressed to kill in a little black dress, a jacket, and pumps. Simple, but effective.

See, I may be feeling a little awkward, but at least I don’t look it.

I’m greeted by his maid. She’s dressed in black and white, her hair drawn back in a neat bun, her expression stoic and formal as she leads me down the hall to a gorgeous study.

I catch my breath when I notice all the books and shelves.

It’s like a reader’s paradise in here. There’s a sleek chrome bar, a modern mahogany glass-topped desk, and two huge whiskey-colored leather chairs that almost swallow me up when I’m instructed to wait in one.

I drum my fingers, inhaling the scent of leather and wine, remembering a guy I knew with his mechanic navy-blue uniform, black streaks on his jaw, his big nose always the first thing you’d see, which was a pity because he had beautiful eyes and a really sinful pair of lips.

He’s living in luxury now. Wow. Good for him.

I hear footsteps approaching and the little hair on my arms prick at attention. My head turns as a tall, dark figure steps into the room, and the most intimidating guy I’ve ever seen enters and crosses the room toward the desk. He walks like he’s the shit…his strides proud and composed, elegant and powerful.

Christos, I hear myself breathe in surprise.

He’s so tall now…six three, at least. Dirty-blonde hair, gold-green eyes, chiseled jaw, and a gorgeous profile.

All in black, he looks very much a New Yorker.

He’s wearing a black jacket, black pants, and a black turtleneck beneath the jacket…

I stare at him, my jaw hanging a little bit open. The man is….all man. Testosterone. Muscles. Height. Width. My chest hurts all of a sudden because I realize…

The boy you knew is gone.

I force myself to stand. “Thank you for seeing me.”

He heads to the bar to pour two drinks, then he prowls over, takes the whiskey leather chair across from mine and leans forward, pushing a glass of cognac with one finger across a small table, toward me.

And he waits.

In silence.

But my stomach dips as if he’d said something ultra-sexy and decadent.

“You might not remember me, I’m sorry to be reaching out like this,” I say, nervous.

“What do you want?”

There’s a pleasant shiver as he speaks. Recognition of his voice, even though it’s far deeper than I remember.

“I was told you sometimes invest in startups.”

“I’d say more than sometimes.” He raises his eyebrows as if I should’ve done my homework better.

Ugh, Bryn! Focus! Be SMART! Make yourself and your business irresistible! A silence settles as he eyes me, slowly setting his drink down as he leans forward and finally, unexpectedly, smiles. At me.

It’s just a smile.

But the world tilts under its impact.

“Hello, little bit.” Amusement touches his gaze as he tilts his head and watches me. “You know, I’d think you’d have grown up the ten-plus years since I last saw you. At least an inch.” He leans back in his seat, seemingly displeased. Wow, this guy is not the lanky kid I knew once. This guy oozes danger.

Every ounce of “boy” is gone. Oh God. For a moment I wish that we could go back in time and I could discuss my startup with the guy I knew before.

But time travel is not really my talent, and it seems like I have yet to see if I even have any special talents at all—depending on what this guy thinks.

“I grew two in width,” I shock myself saying.

He laughs then, his eyes drinking me in openly.

“Shame on you, you’re not trying to see if it’s true?” I ask him, frowning now.

He shrugs casually, his lips curved at the corners. “I can’t help it. Something has to have changed.”

“Why?”

“Because nothing good ever lasts. Even you, little bit.” A smile touches those unforgettable gold-green eyes.

A shiver runs through me. Because…

Christos recognized me.

“I can tell you’re as incorrigible as ever.” I shake my head, but I’m smiling, truly just relieved that he recognized me.

“I try to be,” he purrs dangerously.

I’m feeling warm all of a sudden. I can’t believe I’m staring at him so much, but it’s like I cannot take my eyes away. He looks achingly familiar, but at the same time, so different I cannot help but stare and track the differences in his features. The way his jaw squared out even more, the way his body filled out with hard, lean muscles that shift and ripple beneath his expensive designer clothes. I cannot believe that this is a guy I knew once.

He seems to silently be taking in my changes too, his keen stare allowing me to see that he seems to approve of it all. Even the dress I’m wearing. “You changed enough for the both of us,” I blurt.

“Really. How so?” he asks.

“You grew into your nose.”

“Really?” He chuckles as if despite himself.

“Width and height too. Quite a bit,” I add.

“Anything else,” he prods, one eyebrow rising.

“You learned how to dress.”

He looks down at his black suit. “This old thing?” He grins, then shifts forward, sobering up. “What can I do for you, Bryn? Considering I’m rather surprised to see you here, I’m eager for you to satiate my curiosity.” His stare becomes keen.

“So am I. I didn’t expect to be here,” I admit, and for a moment when I look into his eyes, all I see is someone I’ve seen before. Someone who belonged in my life long ago. “You know when you had that misplaced crush on me and told me one day I’d know what it felt like to throw pebbles at someone’s window wanting them to open? I’m sort of throwing rocks here.”

“Not to sing me a love song,” he says flatly, his eyes shuttering.

“No. Well, you know that was never….I mean…” Don’t bring up your rejection of him, Bryn! “It’s for something better. Business.”

“Go on.”

“I knew that’d get you.” I smile privately. “So it’s true your love is money now.”

“She gives back what I put in. Though her ass isn’t as juicy as I like,” he says nonchalantly.

“Wow. No matter how polished you look, your mouth is still as crude as ever.”

“Thank you,” he purrs, his eyes grinning at me.

I laugh. Then I sober up and realize he’s waiting for me to speak. “I’m looking for money for my startup,” I say.

“How much.”

“One hundred thousand.”

“I don’t invest less than a million.” He twirls his whiskey in his glass, eyeing the liquid.

“Well then, I’ll ask for a million.”

He raises his brows, setting his glass down. “It’s not how much you want to ask for, it’s how much the company’s worth.” Eyebrows up, he skewers me with a cold, intimidating look.

“It’ll be worth more than a million, trust me,” I bluff.

“Good for you. Except…” he leans back with a rustle of clothes, every athletic inch of his black-clad body flowing sinuously like a feline with the move, “considering that has yet to happen and I’ll need to trust you on that, my trust needs to be earned.”

This version of Christos is even more intimidating than the old one, unfortunately.

I try to hide it, keeping my voice as level as possible. “How does one earn your trust?”

“I’d tell you if I were interested, but I’m not exactly sure that I am.” He eyes me as if debating in silence.

This guy is the only guy in the world that unnerves me in this way, and I can’t seem to slow the fast pounding of my heart in my chest as I try to remember what I came here to say.

“I have a full presentation for you. I’m not taking no for an answer.” I reach into my briefcase.

“Darling. Are you ready?”

I start at the female voice and glance at a gorgeous woman striding into the study. Christos continues looking at me as he stands and reaches for the cell phone the woman extends out.

“We’re done here,” he answers her as he pockets the phone, his gaze remaining on me.

“I’ll wait for you in the car.” She leans up and kisses his jaw, her hands proprietary on his chest, then sends me a woman-to-woman claiming look, before she swishes away, all glittering jewels and lean body.

There’s a silence as he approaches, and for a second all I can hear is the sound of a toilet flushing, taking my only opportunity with a possible investor away.

“I’ll think about it,” he says.

“Christos.”

“I said I’ll think about it,” he says from the door.

“Please do,” I say as he exits the room.  I cup the sides of my mouth, “I’ll be back tomorrow. Same time?” I say jokingly.

I’m surprised when I hear footsteps returning. He pauses when our eyes meet. “I’ll make contact,” he says, raising his eyebrows meaningfully, “If I’m interested in hearing more.” He nods. “Nice to see you, Bryn.”

“Nice to see you. Christos.”

Well, that went sort of awful.

 

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

Katy Evans is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Her debut REAL shot to the top of the bestselling lists in 2013 and since then 9 of her titles have been New York Times bestsellers. Her books have been translated into nearly a dozen languages across the world.

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COVER REVEAL: The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Release Date: February 6th, 2018

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♦BLURB♦

When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron.

Growing up in the southern Kingdom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her for such a life. While some are born with an innate talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she belatedly chose to study knowledge. However, despite all her preparations, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true—the solstice does not go according to plan and she is left without a patron.

Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, and with no other choices, she accepts. But there is much more to his story, and Brienna soon discovers that he has sought her out for his own vengeful gain. For there is a dangerous plot being planned to overthrow the king of Maevana—the archrival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. And others are involved—some closer to Brienna than she realizes.

With war brewing between the two lands, Brienna must choose whose side she will remain loyal to—passion or blood. Because a queen is destined to rise and lead the battle to reclaim the crown. The ultimate decision Brienna must determine is: Who will be that queen?

 

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

Rebecca Ross received her Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Georgia. In the past, she has worked at a Colorado dude ranch, as a school librarian, and as a live-time captionist for a college. She resides in Northeast Georgia with her husband and her dog. THE QUEEN’S RISING is her debut novel.

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COVER REVEAL: The Time in Between by Kristen Ashley

The third and final book in the Magdalene series has a cover and it’s stunning!

Magdalene Series Book Three; Standalone

Release Date: August 29, 2017

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♦BLURB♦

After a painful loss, Cady Moreland is coming to Magdalene to start the next chapter of her life. A chapter that began eighteen years ago but had a heartbreaking ending. The time in between was full of family and friendship, but Cady could never get the man she fell in love with all those years ago out of her heart.

Coert Yeager has learned to live without the girl who entered his life right when she shouldn’t and exited delivering a crippling blow he never would have suspected. The time in between was full of failing to find what he was missing…and life-altering betrayal.

But when that girl shows up in Magdalene and buys the town’s beloved lighthouse, even if Coert wants to avoid her, he can’t. A fire in town sparks a different kind of flame that won’t be ignored.

As Cady and Coert question the actions of the two young adults they once were thrown into earth-shattering circumstances, can they learn from what came in between and find each other again?

 

♦SERIES♦

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

kristen-ashley-headshot

Kristen Ashley grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana, and has lived in Denver, Colorado, and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.

Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multigenerational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland, and Kristen grew up listening to the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon, and Whitesnake.

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music and love was a good way to grow up.

And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

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