Thursday, August 16, 2018

Tara Brown's FLING CLUB excerpt & giveaway




I called my brother. “Hey, Cherry. Look, I can’t talk—”

“Cait’s sleeping with Griffin,” I blurted out, cutting off whatever excuse he was about to make.

“What? Who?” It took him half a second to connect the dots. “Seriously? How do you know?”
“I just caught them.” My words had turned to a whisper. I was ashamed of my former friends for betraying me, and of myself for having been so naive. I knew Andy would call me stupid and tell me I deserved what I got for dating a Griffin, and that I was a sheeple like Mom and Cait, and—

“Oh, Cherry. I’m so sorry. Neither of those asshats deserves you.”

That reaction, I didn’t expect. Andy’s kindness broke me. Angry tears flooded my eyes, and before I could help it, I was blubbering and ranting in front of a platform full of strangers. I’d called Andy because I needed his sarcasm to toughen me up and put me on the defensive. I needed to be strong, like him. But instead he gave me tenderness, something I couldn’t handle at the moment.

“You’re lovely and sweet and kind. And you would never do something like that to anyone. Not even an enemy. I’ll come get you; tell me where you are.”

“I—I’m going home. I’m at the train. I feel sick.” My words were coming out in gasps.

“Screw them both. Let them have each other. I never liked that idiot. He’s like Mom and Cait. He thinks his blue blood earns him the right to everything—clearly. They’re selfish people, Cherry. Selfish and stupid and blind. I’m glad he showed his true colors before you got too invested in him.”

Not wanting Andy to know I was as invested as I could be, I stayed silent while he shouted and ranted all the things big brothers said to sad little sisters. “I should beat the piss outta him! Want me to kick his ass? I’ll go find a couple of friends and we can make sure he doesn’t show up for—”

“No.” I sniffled. “I just—” What did I want?

“Listen. Go home and take a hot bath, drink a bottle of wine, and try to get some sleep. I’ll come get you in a week. We’ll go to New York and get trashed, and you—”

“Sleep!” I snapped, finally losing the hold I had on my ferocity. “You think I could sleep right now? I’m not Mom, Andy. I can’t just take something and coast through shit like this.”

“Okay, don’t sleep. Try eating a whole sheet cake and plotting their deaths. They aren’t worth the energy you’re putting into being pissed off. I’ve never understood how you were friends with her. Or part of her club. Which, by the way, she only started because Wendell cheated on her with that chick from Derby. It’s ironic, because then she turns around and does this to you.”

“Andy, I don’t care why she started it,” I groaned, wiping my eyes. “I don’t care that someone cheated on her in high school. I care that she’s currently sleeping with my boyfriend—”

“Cherry, take a breath. If you’re crying, you’re losing it.”

I heaved, realizing I was blind with rage and tears.

“If you can’t get past this with a simple cake, then I don’t know what to say. If I ever make the mistake of falling in love again, it’ll be with some girl in a different financial bracket. This is why we don’t date our kind.”

“Yeah, great advice now!” I spit my words, feeling the fury building.

“Don’t lose control! You’re in public, and you’re a Kennedy for God’s sake. We don’t lose it in front of strangers. Plus, you’ll be upset you didn’t cry in the shower like a winner.”

“Shut up!” I hated him sometimes.

“Cherry, getting upset and ruining your summer is pointless; you’re the only one who suffers. They’ll win. They’ll ruin your last summer before college is over and the real world hits. Don’t let them do that to you.”

“What should I do then?” I burst again, sobbing.

“I don’t know. Maybe take her down. Get revenge. Just whatever you do, don’t go back to that moron, Chatsworth.”

“I won’t.” I sighed. “I can’t talk about this anymore. I’ll text you later.”

“Trust me, eat the cake. It will make you feel better. Do that before you do anything else. My friend Angela swears by it.” He laughed bitterly and hung up.

But I didn’t focus on the cake or the bath or the wine. My mind was stuck on the one thing Andy had said that was useful, on repeat.

Get revenge.

And I would.





Title: Fling Club
Author: Tara Brown
Release Date: August 14, 2018
Publisher: Skyscape

Summary

For the young, rich, and beautiful, summertime in the Hamptons means one thing: Fling Club. Only this time, Cherry Kennedy won’t be selecting a boy for a fleeting romance. Nope, this season, Cherry is out for revenge. Her target? The Fling Club founder and society darling who slept with Cherry’s now-very-ex-boyfriend. And all Cherry needs is the perfect guy for her plan… Ashley Jardine can’t afford to refuse. He scored almost a full ride to MIT. But that almost still costs a lot. And this is so much money for a little game of revenge and a chance—albeit short—to live the high life. Here, rich girls rule the shore, and everyone has a role to play. Only nothing in the job description warned Ashley that the redhead who’s running the scheme would be so crazy. And cute. Or that he wouldn’t be able to stop thinking about her. Now, everything is going according to plan—until an unexpected attraction raises the stakes. It’s enough to turn the perfect payback into absolute heartbreak.

Author Biography

The international bestselling author of Roommates and the Puck Buddies series, Tara Brown writes in a variety of genres. In addition to her comedic Single Lady Spy series, she has also published popular contemporary and paranormal romances, science fiction, thrillers, and romantic comedies. She especially enjoys writing dark and moody tales, often focusing on strong female characters who are more inclined to vanquish evil than perpetrate it. She shares her home with her husband, two daughters, two cats, an Irish wolfhound, and a Maremma Sheepdog. Find out more about Tara by visiting www.TaraBrownAuthor.com.

Social Media Links




Saturday, August 11, 2018

AN ACCIDENTAL CORPSE REVIEW


40045098

AN ACCIDENTAL CORPSE is a harmonious blending of fact and fiction. Jackson Pollock's drunk driving accident that killed him and Edith Metzger is the basis for the mystery. What if Edith wasn't killed in the accident but was already dead by strangulation? Surely survivor Ruth must know  what happened. A dead girl, your roommate and best friend, doesn't just wind up dead in the back seat of your lover's car and you know nothing.

Vacationing police couple Fitz and Nita, with their son TJ, are witnesses to the wreck and first on the scene.

The mystery of Edith's death was solid and enjoyable. I likewise enjoyed my introduction to the Springs area of the time, it's Bonaker denizens, and the flourishing artistic community that had moved to the area. What a mix of characters.

It took me a while to warm up to Fitz and Nita, not sure why, it just did. For me, the first exchange between Capt. Steele and Nita, where she "set him straight" was unnecessary, awkward, and  interrupted the flow of the story. 

There were numerous references to The Exquisite Corpse, which intrigued me and occasionally made me feel I was missing out on something. I'll definitely be in line to read when it comes out.

If you enjoy seamless blending of fact & fiction mysteries, you will enjoy AN ACCIDENTAL CORPSE. 

3.5 stars

Friday, August 10, 2018

A WOLF APART & giveaeay w/ Maria Vale



Elijah intentionally lost a challenge that would have brought him back to Homelands. He is battered inside and out and turns to Thea, a woman he doesn’t have any claim on. But she takes him in and cares for his injuries (“a fight” is all he tells her) and when a snowstorm moves in, he stays. The peace he had hoped for turns to something else.

“‘The great man’”—I try to remember the quotes and strip away the emendations that John made, altering them to our circumstances; “the great wolf” was what he actually said—“‘is the one who in the midst of the crowd’”—John said “of humans”—“‘keeps with perfect sweetness the stillness of the forest.’”
She stares at her book for a moment and then puts her finger on a passage.
The quote is ‘keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.’ I like yours though.”
My old English teacher loved Emerson. But I learned it a long time ago. Must have mixed it up.”
Of course, I didn’t. The summer before we were to go Offland, Leonora did her best to make sure that those of us who were leaving understood how to appear human in the world they had re-created in their image.
John tried to do something altogether more subtle and difficult. Whatever disguises we were wearing, he wanted to make sure that we preserved the Homelands within us. He wanted us to make sure that there was a place for the wild inside, even if there wasn’t a place for it anywhere else.
You liked your English teacher?”
What? My… Yes. Very much. He was more than an English teacher. He was kind of the…head of our little rural community. We’re very tight-knit, but tempers can run short. He worked hard to keep everyone together.”
...
She dunks the tea bag a few times before fishing it out with a spoon and, wrapping the string around it, squeezes it dry. “Was it worth fighting for?”
I didn’t win, if that’s what you mean.”
Not really. A good fight isn’t about the outcome. It’s about knowing that you’ve made things better by trying.”
Then I hear Victor’s voice. “You will win, Alpha,” he says. My one advocate with his sour, judgmental voice and his sour, judgmental face.
Honestly, I don’t know if it was worth fighting for. I don’t know anything anymore. And no one seems to know who I am.”
When she blows across her tea, she sends the damp-orchid-and-honey scent to my waiting nose.
Do you? Know who you are?”
Of course, I do,” I snap, all the Pack’s skepticism and my own self-doubt suddenly brought to a head by this woman who doesn’t know me from Adam. Then I remember what she is. A woman. A human. “I am a partner in one of the most powerful law firms in the country.”
You’re not just a lawyer, any more than I am just an ECO.”
So what else would you say you are?”
All sorts of things. I’m a woman who doesn’t listen to music in the background, because that’s not actually listening. Who is a vegetarian gun owner. Who makes her living helping people but likes to be alone. Whose ancestors were on this landmass when the people who yell at her to ‘go home’ were sleeping with pigs in Europe. Who likes caffeine and Cheetos. Who was in a sorority for four months. Who is the daughter of dead parents and the sister of a dead brother.”
She lifts her tea to her lips.
What happened to your family?”
You’re changing the subject. I’m saying that I’ve never met anyone who was just one thing. Who was just ‘a lawyer.’ So, Elijah Sorensson,Esquire, what else are you?”
What else am I? I’m an exile. A disappointment. An Alpha without a Pack. A leader no one wants to follow. A flashy vessel hiding something unspeakably sacred and undeniably fragile. I am a monster: neither one thing nor the other, belonging nowhere.
Lost,” I say, staring at the fire until my single working eye begins to dry out. “Just. Fucking. Lost.”
My throat feels achy and full, and I turn back to the page, pretending to read, because I feel her ironwood eyes on me, and I know what she sees: an angry, defensive, broken, defeated man in a human’s castoffs and with a wolf-ravaged, bruised-gourd face.
And then I feel something else. I feel Thea’s hand hanging loose between us. She has returned to her book, but the wordless invitation is there. The cabin being what it is, when I let my hand drape to the side of the bed, I’m close enough to touch her.
In the snow-muffled peace of no expectations, I stare sightless at the pages, every nerve focused on the shared heartbeat between our fingers.
When I finally look up from the blurred pages, the mottled fire is reflected in the warmth and welcome of her eyes. I can’t stop myself. I collapse to my knees, my head at her lap, my arm wrapped around her knees, silently asking if this woman who makes a living finding people can find me too.


Can a human truly make room in her heart for the Wild?

Thea Villalobos has long since given up trying to be what others expect of her. So in Elijah Sorensson she can see through the man of the world to a man who is passionate to the point of heartbreak. But something inside him is dying…

Elijah Sorensson has all kinds of outward success: bespoke suits, designer New York City apartment, women clamoring for his attention. Except Elijah despises the human life he’s forced to endure. He’s Alpha of his generation of the Great North Pack, and the wolf inside him will no longer be restrained…
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Maria Vale is a journalist who has worked for Publishers Weekly, Glamour magazine, Redbook, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. She is a logophile and a bibliovore and a worrier about the world. Trained as a medievalist, she tries to shoehorn the language of Beowulf into things that don't really need it. She currently lives in New York with her husband, two sons and a long line of dead plants. No one will let her have a pet.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Meet the Mountain Mercenaries of DEFENDING ALLYE & giveaway with Susan Stoker




Meet the Mountain Mercenaries by Susan Stoker 

In my new romantic suspense series, the "Mountain Mercenaries" were formed by a mysterious "handler" named Rex. He brought all the men to Colorado Springs for an “interview”, then never showed up, leaving the men to get to know each other on their own. At the end of the night, however, he offered each of them the job. 

Rex is a voice on a phone, and none of the Mercenaries has ever met him face to face. He does the research and sends the men on the missions. He only choses to assist in cases involving women and children. 

Each of the men are former special forces. Grayson “Gray” Rogers and Lowell “Black” Lockard are former Navy SEALs. Ronan “Ro” Cross was a British SAS soldier. Archer “Arrow” Kane was a Marine. Kannon “Ball” Black was in the Coast Guard. And Hunter “Meat” Snow was Delta Force. 

The men all live in the Colorado Springs area now and have “regular” jobs. Their missions with the Mountain Mercenaries aren’t exactly top secret, but no one talks much about the organization because of the nature of the missions they go on and the kind of enemies they make as a result. 

And to whet your appetite for the men…

Gray has a knack for being “invisible” on jobs. 

Ro has a sext British accent that seems to be more pronounced when he’s angry.

Arrow is slightly claustrophobic because of an incident that happened in England (and where he actually saved Ro’s life).

Black is the best interrogator of the group and Ball is the best driver.

Meat is the computer genius of the group and is relied on heavily to gather intel.

And Rex, is a mystery to the men on the team. They don’t know much about him except that his wife disappeared into thin air years ago. 

There’s no real reason why Gray was the first on the team to find his woman in my newest release Defending Allye. Someone had to be first, and who better to find a woman who he was attracted to in the middle of the ocean, than a former Navy SEAL? 




Susan Stoker is a New York TimesUSA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author whose series include Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes, SEAL of Protection, and Delta Force Heroes. Married to a retired army noncommissioned officer, Stoker has lived all over the country—from Missouri to California to Colorado—and currently lives under the big skies of Texas. A true believer in the happily ever after, Stoker enjoys writing novels in which romance turns to love. To learn more about the author and her work, visit her website or find her on Facebook or




Thursday, August 2, 2018

Alyson McLanyne's HIGHLAND BETRAYAL excerpt & giveaway

Laird Callum MacLean vowed to marry Maggie MacDonnell. But when his father’s apparent suicide makes him Laird of his clan, Callum must unmask his father’s killer before bringing Maggie into his dangerous new home.

Maggie’s home isn’t any safer. When Callum fails to return, Maggie does what any resourceful Highland lass would do. She escapes—and finds herself toe-to-toe with Callum, who’s determined to fulfill his promise. Maggie can’t bring herself to trust him with her heart again. But with a traitor still at large, they must rely on each other in every way, or their clans—and their love—will be destroyed.

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“’Tis dangerous here,” Maggie said, and took the reins from Callum to steer Aristotle to the side of the game trail.
Callum wrapped his arms around her waist, and she bit her lip to stop from groaning. Earlier, she’d been brought to the brink of something she’d been craving for years, ever since Callum had first touched her. Then, as now, he’d left her mind a mess and her body in need. And sitting so intimately in front of him on the horse for the last few hours, her legs spread, his fingers rubbing tiny circles over her plaid, his hands touching her but not touching her, was enough to drive her mad.
And she was sure he knew it too, the wee ablach.
He dropped his head beside hers and spoke gravely into her ear. “Maggie.”
“Aye.”
“I figured out what you didn’t tell me. What Irvin could possibly hold over your head to make you marry him.”
She glanced to the side and met his eyes but didn’t say anything.
“When I lay on the cliff, watching the castle, I saw you climb out your window and into Ross’s room. I was sick with worry you’d fall, and I thought, ‘when Maggie and I are married, I’ll get her with bairn immediately, and she’ll have to stop putting herself at risk for the sake of our bairns.’ Because you would do anything for your bairns—the same as your mother did for you, aye?”
Pain stabbed through her at the mention of her mother, and Maggie drew in a sharp breath.
“That’s what Irvin intended too,” he continued, “but in a different way. The blackheart would rape you and then threaten the lives of his own bairns if you didn’t marry him and hand over the lairdship and clan. Is that right?”
She licked her lips and cleared her throat before speaking. Still, her voice sounded thick. “Aye, Irvin would blackmail me with my own bairns, but I doona think he would care who fathered them. He intended to let whoever pleased him have a turn with me until I conceived.”
Callum cursed and crushed her in his embrace. She resisted at first, holding herself stiff, unyielding, but he didn’t relent, and finally, a shuddering breath exhaled from her lungs, and she leaned against him, allowed his warmth, his strength, to comfort her.
He rubbed his cheek against hers. “I’m sorry I left you in such danger, Maggie. I thought you would be safer in your home than in mine. But we’re together now, and I willna let him have you. Say you’ll marry me, love.”
“I doona want to marry you just for safety’s sake, Callum.”
“Then marry me for every other reason that people marry. For intimacy, for children, for companionship. Let’s build a life together.”
She hesitated. “And if I say no? Will you agree to end our betrothal?”
He took his time answering. “Aye, but not immediately. I reserve the right to woo you properly. If, after a certain amount of time, it becomes obvious you are steadfast in your desire to end our betrothal, I will do so. But only if I know you’re safe.”
She rolled her eyes. “I fought off a pack of wolves, outsmarted the most conniving man I know, and successfully shot a cross bolt three hundred paces in the dark so I could ride a rope to freedom. Do you really think I need someone to keep me safe?”
“I think you need someone to stop you from killing yourself in the process,” he growled.
She twisted in his arms and frowned at him. “I take my safety verra seriously. I practiced in the woods for months before I executed my plan. I would think you of all people would appreciate that.”
“I do. And I’m proud of your skills and determination—you’ve done an incredible job surviving all this time. But…”
“But what?”
“Maybe I doona want you to just have to survive. Maybe I want you to be happy…to let me make you happy.”
Her gaze clashed with his. How could he make her happy? She didn’t trust him. Didn’t trust he wouldn’t leave like he’d done before, like her brothers had done, and everyone else in her life.
She dropped her eyes as pain blossomed in her chest. She knew she was being unfair, but the emotions wouldn’t let her go, twisting her up inside and clogging her throat. How could she fix that feeling of being…left behind?
“All right,” she finally whispered, so low she wasn’t sure he’d hear her.
He leaned closer. “All right…what? You’ll marry me? Let me make you happy?”
“Nay. I meant that I’ll agree to your bargain. I’ll let you…woo me…for a while. I willna fight you on it. But if, by the time it comes for us to part, you doona willingly let me go, I’ll…I’ll…”
“You’ll what?” he asked, and she heard the underlying amusement in his question.
She grunted and wedged the sharp point of her dagger beneath his chin. “I’ll sharpen my knives and give you a shave.” She trailed her knife down his chest and over his plaid until the point pressed against his sporran. “Down there.”
He puffed out a laugh, his eyes lighting up like the morning sky around them. “You may shave me there any time you like, lass. ’Tis in much need of my betrothed’s…steady hand.”
Alyson McLayne is a mom of twins and an award-winning writer of contemporary, historical, and paranormal romance. She’s also a dog lover and cat servant with a serious stash of dark chocolate. After getting her degree in theater at the University of Alberta, she promptly moved to the west coast where she worked in film for several years and met her prop master husband.
Her self-published works in contemporary romance include her Santa Barbara Billionaire Bachelor series: How To Catch A Bride, How To Claim An Heiress, and How To Outplay A Player. How To Catch A Bride (formerly The Fabrizio Bride) was recently nominated for a RONE award.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

MURDER, SHE REPORTED Review


38738113

A Park Avenue princess discovers the dark side of 1930s New York when a debutante ball turns deadly in this gripping historical mystery for readers of Victoria Thompson, Anne Perry, and Rhys Bowen.

Manhattan, 1938. Tired of being trapped in the gilded cage of her family’s expectations, Elizabeth Adams has done what no self-respecting socialite would think to do: She’s gotten herself a job. Although Elizabeth’s dream is to one day see her photographs on the front page of the Daily Trumpet, for now she’s working her way up as the newsroom’s gal Friday.

But fetching coffee isn’t exactly her idea of fun. So when veteran reporter Ralph Kaminsky needs a photographer to fill in for a last-minute assignment, Elizabeth jumps at the chance. At the Waldorf Hotel, Elizabeth is tasked with tracking down the season’s “It girl,” Gloria DeWitt, who will be making her society debut. Working her own connections to New York’s upper crust, Elizabeth manages to land an exclusive interview with Gloria.

Then Gloria’s stepmother is shot dead in a Waldorf bathroom, placing Elizabeth at the scene of a headline-worthy scandal: “Murder of a Society Dame.” Now Elizabeth will have to get the scoop on the killer before her good name gets dragged through the gossip columns—or worse. . . .(synopsis from Amazon

MURDER, SHE REPORTED is the promising start, hopefully, to a new cozy mystery series set in NY City before WWII. Ms. Cochran brings the melting pot city and it's iconic locations to vivid life.
Elizabeth is a spirited protagonist determined to have a job rather than "marrying well", hosting charity do's, and lunching. Thanks to her photography skills and a murder at "IT" girl Gloria DeWitt's debut, Elizabeth may rise above the Girl Friday position she's managed to secure at the Daily Trumpet.
The supporting cast hold their own. In regards to Kaminsky, reporter and source of "Biz's" break, and Marino, NYPD detective, there are definitely hidden depths I'm looking forward to exploring.
There were a few kinks, but those are often found in the start of a series and are ironed out quickly.
The characters, period, mystery, and location held my interest and made me want more.This was a time when it still felt as if innumerable possibilities abounded. I'm excited to see what Elizabeth, Kaminsky, Marino, Irene, and Rose do with those possibilities and where their choices lead them.
Sign me up for future installments.

4 stars

BRAVE NEW EARL & giveaway w/ Jane Ashford

 An Earl mired in melancholy is no match for a determined woman…

Widower Benjamin Romilly, Earl of Furness, has given up hope of finding happiness. His wife died in childbirth five years ago, leaving him with a broken heart and a child who only reminds him of his loss.

Miss Jean Saunders is a cousin by marriage. She doted on Benjamin’s late Countess, and can’t bear it when she hears rumors that the Earl is too bereaved to care for his young son. She arrives on the scene to evaluate his fitness as a father, and if necessary, to take his son away.

Jean’s sudden eruption into the Earl’s household simultaneously infuriates and invigorates him. She may be the only person who can breathe life into his neglected home—and his aching heart…

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Toward the far end of the attic, Jean came upon a row of leather trunks bound in brass. Resettling her lamp securely, she opened the first. The scent of camphor wafted out at her. Pushing aside a layer of tissue paper, she unearthed a swath of satin brocade in an exquisite shade of peach. Although the fashion of another era, it was one of the loveliest gowns she’d ever seen.
There was no one around, and she was so tired of the few outfits she had with her. She couldn’t resist. She slipped off her much plainer gown, placing it out of the dust on a sheet of tissue, and slithered her way into the peach creation.
The dress was a bit large on her. Fortunately, it laced up the side so she could reach to pull it tighter, but the shoulders still threatened to slip off. Her shift and stays showed above the low neckline, and without the elaborate underpinnings such a garment required, the skirt sagged around her in heavy folds. Even so, she felt very grand.
Very elegant,” said an appreciative male voice.
Jean whirled and nearly lost the dress. She frowned at Lord Furness, who stood near the head of the attic stair, as she pushed the shoulders back into place. “What are you doing here?”
This is my house.”
Yes, but you went riding.”
And I returned.” Benjamin strolled toward his disheveled houseguest. In his ancestress’s gown, Miss Saunders was an unsettling combination of little girl playing dress-up and lush courtesan, with her clothes falling off and her curling hair making a determined break for freedom.
She gathered the heavy skirts and retreated to a rank of trunks a little distance away. “I was just… I’ll put on my own gown.”
Benjamin walked a bit closer.
If you will go away.”
But I came up to help you look for toys for Geoffrey.” It was an increasing delight to tease her. There was something so charming about the look she got, which said she knew precisely what he was up to and refused to stoop to acknowledge it. And yet she couldn’t help but react.
I haven’t found any.”
Only a hoard of finery.” Benjamin walked along the row of trunks and glanced inside them. He picked up a satin coat. “I think I remember my grandfather wearing something like this, with lots of lace at his shirtfront. Perhaps it was this very coat.” He held it up and looked closer. “I’m not sure. He died when I was around Geoffrey’s age.” He smiled at his disheveled companion. “Grandpapa didn’t care much for change at the last. Or for what people thought of his appearance. He wore what he liked.” Geoffrey would have appreciated that attitude, Benjamin thought. “He had a dueling scar across his cheek.” His hand went to his own face to demonstrate. “A bit puckered and quite frightening, as I recall. They don’t seem to go together—all this frippery and bloody sword work.”
I imagine gentlemen took off their coats when dueling,” replied Miss Saunders.
Benjamin laughed.
You should try it on,” she added in an odd tone.
He looked at her, hands clutching the brocade bodice to keep it from sliding off, a beam of sunlight shining through the uninhibited glory of her hair. Holding her gaze, Benjamin slowly took off his coat. “No wigs,” he said. “I draw the line there.”
I haven’t found any,” she answered breathily.
He donned the bright satin garment. It fit well enough, only a little tight in the shoulders. It felt strange to have wide skirts around his legs. He made an elaborate bow. “Pon rep, my lady, I am so pleased to see you. I hope I find you in better health?”
What do you mean, better?”
Benjamin straightened. “I’ve been concerned about you since—”
I’m fine,” she interrupted. “My…outburst in the library was quite uncharacteristic, I assure you. It won’t happen again.”
No apology is necessary.”
I wasn’t apologizing.” Coppery glints snapped in the depths of her eyes. “Only informing you that all is well.”
He didn’t believe her, though he couldn’t have said why. Her bearing and expression were calm, her manner quelling. Clearly, she didn’t want to talk about the bout of weeping, and he had no right to press her. Why should he wish to? “I don’t know how ladies moved about in those gowns.” He indicated the sweep of peach brocade trailing over the floorboards.
With stately elegance,” she replied.
That is to say, very slowly. Have you seen the sort of shoes they wore? Teetering along on four-inch heels must have made it hard to run away.”
From what?” she asked with a quizzical glance.
Anything.” Benjamin had spoken randomly. All his attention was on her, leaving his tongue unsupervised. “Bears.”
Bears?” She laughed.
It was a delightful sound. Benjamin realized he hadn’t heard it nearly often enough. Irresistibly drawn, he stepped closer. “Or impertinent admirers.”
The gentlemen wore heels, too,” Miss Saunders said. “So it would have been an equal race, mincing along the cobblestones in a satin-draped procession.”
She looked up at him, still smiling. Her eyes were suffused with warmth now, her lips a little parted, and Benjamin couldn’t help himself. He moved closer still and kissed her.
Just a brush of his mouth on hers, an errant impulse. He pulled back at once.
She leaned forward and returned the favor, as if purely in the spirit of experiment. Benjamin felt a startling shudder of desire.
In the next moment, she’d twined her arms around his neck, and they were kissing as if their lives depended on it. He buried his fingers in her hair, as he’d been longing to do for days. It sprang free and tumbled over his hands, a glorious profusion of curls. Hairpins rained onto the attic floor.
Then she pulled back and blinked at him, her eyes wide, dark pools. Her arms dropped to her sides. She took a step away, and another. “Oh.”
The small sound was a breath, a worry, an astonishment. Benjamin struggled with his arousal, glad now of the long, concealing coat.
Miss Saunders put her hands to her wild crown of hair. The lovely lines of her body were outlined in peach brocade and sunlight. “Oh dear.”
I could help pin it up, if you like.” Benjamin bent and gathered a handful of hairpins.
No, you couldn’t.”
He gave her the pins. “I have a deft hand,” he said.
My hair is beyond deftness. It has to be wrestled into submission.”
He nearly lost his careful control at the phrase and the thoughts it elicited. “I have strong fingers.”
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Monday, July 30, 2018

Stephanie London's BAD REPUTATION excerpt & giveaway

It’s true, Wes is well-endowed.
But everything else is a huge misunderstanding…

Wes Evans, son of Broadway royalty, just wants to achieve something without riding his family’s coattails. Too bad the whole world is talking about his sex life after the notorious Bad Bachelors app dubs him “The Anaconda”. But when he sees a talented ballet dancer, he knows she is exactly what he needs to make his show a success.

Remi Drysdale only had one thought when she fled Australia for New York—never mix business with pleasure again. Ever. Working with Wes is the perfect chance to reclaim her career. Remi promises herself not to tangle with the guy who holds her career in his hands…no matter how enticing his reviews are on the Bad Bachelors app.

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He leaned back in his chair, legs spread slightly apart. The pose was unabashedly male, and Remi shifted her gaze away from him, turning back to face the empty rows of seats representing the audience. The last thing she needed was the “Anaconda” staring back at her while she tried to nail these steps.
“Three, two, one.” She counted herself in and rose up into relevĂ©.
Her toes protested, but she gritted her teeth. She couldn’t let Wes see she was struggling. Not when he’d placed so much faith in her.
She stepped up onto the chair, her floaty, chiffon skirt swirling around her thighs. Swish, swish, kick. Her foot sailed over his lap, missing him easily and she tried not to be distracted by the blue eyes trained intently on her. Swish, swish, kick. She turned, stepping into an arabesque, facing him, her back leg extended away from the chairs. Her ankle wobbled, the chair uneven enough that if she didn’t rise up in exactly the right spot, she couldn’t get a flat surface to balance on.
She wobbled again and fell forward, her hand coming down on Wes’s shoulder.
“Whoa.” He grabbed her easily, steadying her so she could bring her other foot down to the chair.
Humiliation burned in her cheeks. The other dancers seemed so much more at ease, so much more professional. They weren’t scared by the strangeness of the moves or the challenge of working with these props.
“I wanted to practice alone tonight,” she bit out. She was annoyed at herself for feeling so far behind, rather than at him for turning up unannounced. After all, he had every right to be there. “I’ll get it, I promise.”
“I know you will.” He stood, his hands still on her.
Her chest rose and fell, the deep breaths threatening more emotion that she desperately tamped down. Wes moved in front of her, his other hand coming up to smooth over her hip. He settled it on the other side of the waist.
“I’m going to hold you,” he said. “Go back into arabesque.”
Swallowing, she rose onto pointe and stretched into the position. Her back leg extended behind her, pulling up to create a perfect, elongated shape. Her arms floated in front, one slightly higher than the other as she looked out over her fingertips, concentrating on the crack in the beige wall on the other side of the studio.
She held the position, feeling safe with his hands holding her steady. It’d been so long since she’d had a partner to give her a safety net. To make sure she didn’t fall.
Remi didn’t dare look down, fearing that staring into Wes’s eyes might bring the most painful memories rushing back. She’d fallen in love once before in this very predicament—frightened of a new challenge, but with a strong, charming man holding her steady.
His touch burned through the fabric, sending sparks showering over her. The frayed edges of her nerves left her open, susceptible. They made her an easy target, like a rabbit caught in the glare of headlights. Ready to be flattened. Her breath hitched in the back of her throat, her heart slamming against her rib cage.
This wasn’t the effects of a memory.
It was the very real chemistry she’d walked away from the night they’d met at the bar. The kind of chemistry that was often imitated, rarely experienced. She knew choreographed chemistry, orchestrated chemistry. But this…this would burn her alive if she let it.
“Did you prove your point?” Her voice wobbled. Traitorous thing.
“What do you think my point was?” he asked.
Gone was the easy, humorous crinkles that normally bracketed his blue eyes. Gone was the cheeky smirk that lifted his lips, the one that always made her tummy flutter. Instead, he stared at her intently. Studying. Assessing. Like he could see a hell of a lot more than she wanted him to.
“To show me I can conquer my fears and all that. Was it meant to be a teachable moment?” She hated herself for trying to tarnish the flickering connection between them by being a sarcastic bitch. But Remi didn’t do vulnerable. She didn’t do open. Not anymore.
“I’m here to help you,” he said, frustration giving his tone a sharp edge. “Call it a ‘teachable moment’ if you like. Call it whatever the hell you want. But the reason I’m here is because I want this show to be a resounding success, and in order for that to happen, I need to make sure you slay whatever demon is lurking in your head.”
Yeah, he saw way too much.
“No demons,” she lied. “Just a fear of props.”
“Bullshit. We both know there’s more to it than that.”
He was still touching her, and she was still letting him. His strong hands made her waist look fragile. Made her look fragile.
You don’t want to be bloody fragile. You want to be a strong, badass ballerina who doesn’t need a man to save her.
But she was failing miserably.
“Help me down?” she asked, forcing a smile. She needed to break this spell. ASAP.
“Only if you stop feeding me bullshit,” he replied. “I know you probably come from a place where keeping your mouth shut is the only way to get ahead. I’ve been there too. But I can’t help you if you’re acting like I’m the enemy.”
“What if you can’t help me at all?” she whispered.
He tightened his hands around her and helped her down from the chair, the change in angle casting shadows across his face. Remi wasn’t short by any means, but Wes towered over her. He leaned forward, his dark hair flopping across his forehead. Without thinking, she reached up and brushed it back.
“I will keep pushing, Remi. I will poke and shove and I will make you angry enough to get out of your own head.” He pinned her with his stare. “I won’t let this show fail.”
Disappointment stabbed at her chest. Of course it was all about the show—she was doing the same stupid thing that she’d done before. Misinterpreting signs. Reading too much into things. Hearing what she wanted to hear.
Wasn’t that what Alex had said to her? If you thought I loved you, it was because you wanted to think that. Not because I meant it.
“I won’t let you fail.” Wes’s voice had turned rough. Gritty.
Don’t fall for it. Don’t fall for him.


Stefanie London is the USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance and romantic comedy. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Stefanie now lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband. She loves to read, collect lipsticks, watch zombie movies and drink coffee. Her bestselling book, Pretend It's Love, was a 2016 Romantic Book of the Year finalist with the Romance Writers of Australia. You can visit her at www.stefanie-london.com

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Nancy Herkness' SECOND TIME AROUND excerpt & giveaway

“Speaking of my family, I came here with an ulterior motive.”

“Oh?” What on earth could Will want from her?

“My mother throws an annual spring garden party—she calls it her Spring Fling—in Connecticut, on the family farm. She invites the whole extended family, all her friends, and my father’s business associates. I wondered if you might be willing to come with me. Next Sunday. Short notice, I know.”

His gaze didn’t waver from her face, which made it hard to respond, since she had to concentrate on not letting her mouth fall open in astonishment.

“I, um, well, that sounds like fun.” Total lie. It sounded terrifying. But she had Sunday off from work, so she had no commitments to stop her.

“Fun?” He shook his head. “It’s stuffy and tense and boring. My family all snap at each other when no one else is listening. That’s why I’m asking you to come as a buffer.”

“When you put it that way, how can I refuse?” She would be like a fish that didn’t even know which way the ocean was. But the chance to see Will in his childhood environment was irresistible. In college, he’d dropped casual comments about racing his sailboat on Long Island Sound, or his sister getting thrown from her horse in a cross-country event, or his mother winning the club’s tennis championship. It sounded like The Great Gatsby come to life. She had to experience it just once. “I’d be happy to go with you.”

The expression that crossed his face was hard to read, except for relief. “That’s the best news I’ve had all day,” he said.

“What’s the dress code?”

“Casual. It’s outdoors. There are tents in case it rains. Although even the weather rarely dares to displease my mother.”

“‘Casual’ covers a lot of territory for women,” she said. “Not jeans, I assume.”

He thought for a minute. “Dresses, sort of colorful. Flat shoes because of the grass. Straw hats, if it’s sunny.”

“What are you wearing?” That might help.

“My uniform. Khakis and a button-down shirt. Loafers.”

“No tie?”

“Hell, no!” he said. “Shirtsleeves rolled up, too.”

She got the picture, and she had nothing appropriate to wear. She sighed inwardly. This was going to cost her more money than she could afford. However, she couldn’t resist the opportunity to journey into the exotic country of upper-crust Connecticut. Not to mention, spending time with her college crush, who was even more crushworthy now.

“Okay, a rolled-up shirtsleeves kind of dress.” She took a gulp of her club soda as she debated where to find a dress that looked expensive but was bargain priced.

“I’ll pick you up at noon. We’ll make a fashionably late entrance. Which means we won’t have to endure the party as long.”

“This sounds more and more delightful all the time.”

Will finally smiled, albeit with an edge. “It won’t be as bad for you. They’re not your family.”

“I hear you.” But at least he still had his mother and father. As complicated as her parents had made her life, she sometimes felt terribly alone without them.

He sat back against the banquette. “Now I’m looking forward to the party.”

“You don’t have to flatter me. I’ve agreed to go.” But she couldn’t stop a smile of gratification from curling the corners of her mouth.

“You might begin to have second thoughts.” He pulled out his cell phone. “May I get your number so I don’t have to track you down?”

He tapped at the phone’s screen as she rattled off her phone number.

“Do you still have my cell number or did you chuck my card?” he asked with that self-deprecating smile that always charmed her.

“Just text me and I’ll have it on my phone.”

“So you chucked it.”

The disappointment in his tone surprised her.

“No, it’s at my apartment.”

His fingers flew over the keys of his phone.

A ping sounded from her back pocket, indicating she’d gotten his text, and she started to reach for her phone.

“Read it later,” he said with a roguish glint in his eyes. He placed his empty glass on the tray. “My apologies, but I have to go. Overseas business makes for odd working hours.”
***





About the Book
Title: Second Time Around
Author: Nancy Herkness
Release Date: July 24, 2018
Publisher: Montlake Romance

  Kyra Dixon, a blue-collar girl from the boondocks, is dedicated to her job at a community center that matches underprivileged kids with rescue dogs. When she runs into Will Chase—Connecticut blue blood, billionaire CEO, and her old college crush—she’s surprised that he asks a favor from her: to be his date for his uptight family’s dreaded annual garden party. If his parents don’t approve, all the better. Kyra’s not about to say no. It’ll give her a chance to be oh-so-close to her unrequited love. What begins as a little fling turns so mad hot, so fast, that Kyra finds herself falling all over again for a fantasy that won’t come true. How can it? She doesn’t belong in Will’s world. She doesn’t want to. But Will does want to belong in hers. All he has to do now is prove it. Will is prepared to give up whatever is necessary to get what his heart most desires.  
Nancy Herkness is the award-winning author of the Wager of Hearts, Whisper Horse, and Second Glances series, as well as several other contemporary romance novels. With degrees in English literature and creative writing from Princeton University, she has earned the New England Readers’ Choice award, the Book Buyers Best Top Pick honor, and the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, and she is a two-time nominee for the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award.

 Nancy is a native of West Virginia but now lives in suburban New Jersey with a goofy golden retriever.
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