Thursday, July 11, 2019

ONLY EVER YOU Excerpt & giveaway



***

After I left her and CJ with Lucinda, I spent the weekly staff meeting wondering if Rachel was the same warrior I’d loved or if she was more the woman who’d held her laptop to her chest as if she needed protection.

I was obsessed.

I had to know.
Her text came in as I was leaving the meeting.
I need to check that we’re kidding
Before I could finish typing a response, I caught her coming out of the bathroom with her laptop under her arm.
Alone. Me and her. Nothing between us but the question of who we were and how we fit.
“Seb, I—”
She didn’t have a chance to finish. I crowded her back into the bathroom and locked the door behind us.
“Kidding about what?” I said.
“About getting married.”
“Why would that even be a question?”
“Our parents have been in negotiations about it.”
My mother couldn’t keep herself from talking if she tried, and I was her favorite subject. 
“It might be a little soon for marriage, but—”
“Soon? I don’t like you seeing what I do for a living while you’re in a glass-walled office overlooking the ocean. I mean, I’m not marriage material, and the odds are that’s never going to change.”
“I don’t see why a date’s off the table.”
“Do you know what’s going to happen if we date?”
The list of possibilities was as long as my arm. I could have counted them off, from “We decide we hate each other” to “We end up in bed.” But I didn’t, because I was still trying to figure her out.
What did she want to hear?
With her wide eyes and parted lips, what did she want? Did she have a fondest wish where I was concerned? Was she leaning forward? Was her expression soft and yielding?
My mind spent too long deciding what to say, so my body spoke for me.
I kissed her hard and was met with teeth and stiff resistance. It was a kiss I’d wanted since I’d had hairless armpits and a voice somewhere in the low soprano range. I’d dreamed about it. Fantasized about it. Thought about it so hard in the middle of the night I could practically feel it.
But never, ever in my fantasies did she push me away so hard I fell back against a towel dispenser, watching her face twist into surprised rage as the machine spit out a ragged rectangle of brown paper.
“That was—”
“Messed up. I know.”
“Then why? What is wrong with you?”
She was livid, just like she would have been. Just like she should have been.
The tiger within Rachel was in there, and my attempt to tease her out had probably alienated her. She’d be right to never speak to me again.
“I’m sorry,” I said with my hand on the door lock. “I misread you. It won’t happen again.”
I started to open the door, but she held it closed.
“If we date, my mother’s going to get her hopes up that I’m going to settle down. And I’m sorry, Seb, but if we break up while she’s in chemo, it’s going to crush her.”
“You don’t even know if she’s sick again.”
“You’re right.” She pointed a rigid finger at me as if I were her mother. “I’m going to make her tell me.”
“You’re really beautiful when you’re telling it like it is.”
She slid her hand off the door. Having been called out, the warrior was sent into hiding.
No. I wouldn’t accept that. I wouldn’t allow it.
“Let’s just go out and catch up,” I said. “Saturday.”
“Can’t. Saturday’s the soonest I can talk to Mom.”
I unlocked the door. “I’m sorry about . . . the thing.”
“Kissing me?”
“No, wasting paper towels. Of course kissing you.”
“Next time, give a girl a little warning.”
Next time? Her eyes darted to the door. Was she calculating the distance to her getaway? Or making sure it was closed?
“How about now?” I asked.
“Now what?”
“Fair warning. Now.”
I stepped a little closer and put my hands on her arms. Not right away. I let them hover an inch away before touching her to give her the chance to move away. A chance I was sure she’d take.
“Seb, really?”
But she didn’t move away.
Not this time. When I laid my hands on her biceps, she leaned in to me just a little. I smelled the floral lotion on her skin and a hint of cool water on her breath.
“Really.” I slid the laptop from her arms and placed it on the counter. “This is your warning.”
You’re doing this. I cannot believe you’re doing this.
“It doesn’t feel like a warning,” she said, and again—I noted—she didn’t move away.
“Flashing red lights.” My lips brushed her cheek, heading for her mouth. She felt better than I ever imagined. “A buzzer, maybe.”
“Just a kiss?” she asked, her lips moving against mine.
Before I could consummate what she was agreeing to, I was smacked by a swinging door.
“Oh!” CJ said. “I’m sorry! I was looking for you.”
Rachel snatched up her laptop and walked out. CJ raised an eyebrow with good reason, since I was in the ladies’ room. I left, and we all gathered in the hall.
Awkward.
“Well,” Rachel said. “Thanks for showing us your tedious financial-sector company.”
“Thank you for coming,” I said and let them walk away. I could have done or said much more, but not without getting her into trouble. She glanced back at me when they turned the corner, as if she wanted to make sure I was still there.
***



a Rafflecopter giveaway


Rachel knew exactly what turning thirty would be like. She had a plan, after all. First college, then a climb up the professional ladder. Love, marriage, children. All of it was on the schedule.
The cheap Hollywood apartment wasn’t on the list. Neither was the string of heartbreaks. Or the effect her mother’s cancer had on her career.
It’s hard to stay practical and on point when everything takes a left turn.
Enter Sebastian, the nerd across the street. The boy she defended when he couldn’t defend himself. The best friend she promised she’d marry if life didn’t go according to plan.
Not only is he successful, confident, and gorgeous, but he also still has their handwritten marriage contract.
No one goes through with childhood wedding pacts.
That’s crazy.
But their families might just be crazy enough to rent a hall and set a date. All Rachel and Sebastian have to do is fall in love.



CD Reiss is a New York Times bestselling author. She still has to chop wood and carry water, which was buried in the fine print. Her lawyer is working it out with God, but in the meantime, if you call and she doesn’t pick up, she’s at the well hauling buckets. Born in New York City, Reiss moved to Hollywood, California, to get her master’s degree in screenwriting from USC. In case you want to know, that went nowhere—but it did give her a big enough ego to write novels.

Reiss is frequently referred to as the Shakespeare of Smut, which is flattering but hasn’t ever gotten her out of chopping that cord of wood. If you meet her in person, you should call her Christine. Text cdreiss to 77948 to get a notification whenever she has a new release.



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Thursday, June 6, 2019

MONTAUK by Nicola Harrison Review & Giveaway

Montauk, Long Island, 1938. 

For three months, this humble fishing village will serve as the playground for New York City’s wealthy elite. Beatrice Bordeaux was looking forward to a summer of reigniting the passion between her and her husband, Harry. Instead, tasked with furthering his investment interest in Montauk as a resort destination, she learns she’ll be spending twelve weeks sequestered with the high society wives at The Montauk Manor—a two-hundred room seaside hotel—while Harry pursues other interests in the city.

College educated, but raised a modest country girl in Pennsylvania, Bea has never felt fully comfortable among these privileged women, whose days are devoted not to their children but to leisure activities and charities that seemingly benefit no one but themselves. She longs to be a mother herself, as well as a loving wife, but after five years of marriage she remains childless while Harry is increasingly remote and distracted. Despite lavish parties at the Manor and the Yacht Club, Bea is lost and lonely and befriends the manor’s laundress whose work ethic and family life stir memories of who she once was.

As she drifts further from the society women and their preoccupations and closer toward Montauk’s natural beauty and community spirit, Bea finds herself drawn to a man nothing like her husband –stoic, plain spoken and enigmatic. Inspiring a strength and courage she had almost forgotten, his presence forces her to face a haunting tragedy of her past and question her future.

Desperate to embrace moments of happiness, no matter how fleeting, she soon discovers that such moments may be all she has, when fates conspire to tear her world apart…

There's a hardback copy giveaway shared with Manic Readers where a feature was posted 6/5/19. Comment on either blog (leave your email so you can be contacted if you win) to be entered. Winners will be chosen by random drawing. Sorry, due to shipping costs giveaway is Continental US only. Contest ends @12am est 6/11/19.

Amazon        Barnes & Noble        Books-a-Million        Indie Bound        Powell's

My Thoughts...3.5 stars

After the death of her brother Beatrice leaves Vassar before graduating and returns home to Pennsylvania try to help her parents cope with the loss. After a time her father encourages her go live her life. Beatrice moves to New York, gets a job, and meets handsome, rich Harry Bordeaux. 
Harry sweeps Bea off her feet, makes the loss of her brother less painful, and gives her a new life of privilege. Now, several years into their marriage they remain childless and are beginning to drift apart. Bea is expected to use her summer in Montauk to help further Harry's ambitions and make nice with the other rich ladies staying at The Manor.  But here's the rub, Bea doesn't really fit anywhere lately.

The loss of her brother and her continued childless state weigh heavily on Bea. The former occasionally felt overplayed and the latter, in keeping with the times, is understandable. She doesn't fit with the "idle" rich wives and soon becomes friends with Dolly. A bit of an outlier herself, but Dolly knows well how to play the game.
While there were times it was easy to empathize with Bea there were also times it was difficult to like her. My favorite characters were actually Dolly and Elizabeth, a young mother and laundress from the village.
Bea's choices, often selfish (but don't we all do that on occasion), and refusal to listen to sound advice have repercussions far beyond anything she could've imagined. The ending dovetails perfectly with those decisions and any other would have been disappointing, at the very least.
MONTAUK does a primo job of reflecting the societal norms and strata of the time. The village of Montauk, The Manor, all of it is brought to life.
If you enjoy history and realistic flawed characters there's a good chance you'll enjoy MONTAUK.
A copy was received from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.





Born in England, Nicola Harrison moved to CA where she received a BA in Literature at UCLA before moving to NYC and earning an MFA in creative writing at Stony Brook. She is a member of The Writers Room, has short stories published in The Southampton Review and Glimmer Train and articles in Los Angeles Magazine and Orange Coast Magazine. She was the fashion and style staff writer for Forbes, had a weekly column at Lucky Magazine and is the founder of a personal styling business, Harrison Style. Montauk is Harrison's debut novel.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Terry Spear's SEAL WOLF SURRENDER excerpt & giveaway


She took hold of Brock’s free hand and pulled at him. “Come on, honey. We need to get back to the celebration.”
Brock looked down at her and smiled and squeezed her hand.
She felt her face flush with heat. She hadn’t dated in more than two years, and she had to admit Brock was total hotness.
The last guy she’d gotten close to had turned out to be using her. He’d wanted to get insight on her parents’ successful garden nursery in Wichita Falls so that he could start his franchise garden shop and get rid of his competition. After she figured that out, she’d had trouble trusting men’s motives, though she hadn’t met any eligible wolves in Amarillo after their move there. She hated feeling that way, but it only took one lousy rat to prove not everyone could be trusted. She’d felt so bad because her parents had suffered too, not just her.
She heard footsteps behind her and was worried that the wolf was following them.
“Don’t worry about it,” Brock whispered in her ear, then pulled her to a stop and kissed her, turning their bodies so he could see who was following them. Still, he got into the kiss, as if he really was her honey.
Well, she was totally into going along with the game, since she’d started this anyway. She wrapped her arms around his neck and leaned into the kiss, tonguing him as his body pressed against hers. Hard muscle and the stirring of an arousal. She almost laughed at turning him on so quickly, but that would have ruined the ruse.
Their pheromones were zinging all over the place, calling for more, and she was surprised at the intensity of the intrigue between the two of them.
He smiled at her, almost looking a little sheepish, his eyes a bit glazed. Then he pulled her away to walk to the Humvee. She was dying to know if he saw Marek behind them, but if the other wolf was following them, he hadn’t walked past them when they’d stopped to kiss.
Brock slipped his arm around her as they walked to an elevator and got on and pushed the button for the second floor. She didn’t say a word, thinking Brock was going to the wrong floor so the guy wouldn’t learn what he was driving. And what his license plate number was. When the elevator opened on two, Brock punched the button for the third floor. When they reached that floor, he pushed one.
He smiled roguishly down at her. Natalie chuckled. She really didn’t believe it would work, but if the guy was trying to follow them, he’d be running up and down the stairs. When they reached their floor, they headed for their row and soon were in the Humvee and on their way. She was trying to see if the guy had figured out which vehicle Brock was driving. She noticed Brock glancing in his rearview mirror too.
“Do you think he’ll suspect something more since we were trying to evade him?” she asked, worried that it might have been a little obvious.
“He already suspected you took his bag. I was trying to prevent him from learning who I am and where I live. Which would mean he might follow you there too. That’s a lot of money to lose. He wouldn’t know I’m with a pack here or anything about me. So he doesn’t know the kind of danger he could face if he followed us out there. More than anything, I worry about you and when you need to go home. He won’t know your address or name unless he tries to follow you home, and that could be a problem.”
She hadn’t had anyone but her parents to worry about her in a long time, so she really thought the world of Brock for caring. “But I won’t have Marek’s money. Not after we burn it tonight.”
“He won’t know that. And he’d probably figure it would be easier to get the truth out of a lone woman than it would be when you have me at your side. If he didn’t make it to our parking garage level and see my vehicle and the license plate, he might hang around the airport, thinking you’ll be going to Amarillo soon.”
“Great.”
“Well, if he does come after you here, he’ll be one sorry wolf.”
“Maybe we shouldn’t have tried to lose him.”
“Oh, I’ll go after him. He’s made the mistake of coming here. I’ve got his name, his scent, and I’ll run a check on him. As long as that’s his real name, I can run him down. I’ll definitely be escorting you to the airport when you leave and be watching out for the guy.”
“Right. You’re a PI. I keep forgetting. Do you ever do bodyguard work?” She never thought she’d be asking a perfect stranger if she could hire him as her bodyguard until this was resolved. But she didn’t want to bring this business home with her and get her parents into the middle of it without having some additional protection.
Brock smiled at her. “In the line of duty as a SEAL, yeah. As a civilian, not yet. But I’m up for hire for anything you might need.”
Anything? Lighting her fire further? She felt she needed to fan herself.
“God, I can’t believe I just came to a wedding and found I have to hire a bodyguard. I will never, ever again grab a bag at the airport baggage claim without checking the name tag on it first. My concern is when I leave here, he might have people watching for me on my return to Amarillo. They won’t know my name, but he could send a description. Then my parents could be at risk, if the criminal followed me home. I’m not into all this cloak--and--dagger stuff. So I don’t know what to expect.”
For a shifter with no interest in she-wolves...he sure is territorial.

Wolf shifter and former Navy SEAL Brock Greystoke isn't interested in she-wolves. The last one in his life ambushed him with the intent to kill. So when he's tasked with helping his cousin's friend get to a wedding, he has no intention of getting involved with her...

She-wolf Natalie Silverton has inadvertently crossed a group of dangerous criminals, and she's in dire need of a bodyguard. Good thing Brock is there to protect her. At every turn, their work—and play—brings them closer to catching the criminals and to each other, but Brock will have to get them out of this alive if he has any hope of winning Natalie's heart.

SEAL Wolf Series:
A SEAL in Wolf's Clothing (Book 1)
A SEAL Wolf Christmas (Book 2)
SEAL Wolf Hunting (Book 3)
SEAL Wolf In Too Deep (Book 4)
SEAL Wolf Undercover (Book 5)
SEAL Wolf Surrender (Book 6)

What Readers Are Saying About Terry Spear:
"Great paranormal romance with depth and dimension."—Night Owl Reviews for A Billionaire Wolf for Christmas
"Excitement and suspense that will keep readers hanging on tight."—RT Book Reviews for Flight of the White Wolf, 4 Stars
"Striking characters and explosive chemistry."—RT Book Reviews for SEAL Wolf Undercover, 4 Stars

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GIVEAWAY
5 Copies of SEAL Wolf Undercover

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Lucy Gilmore's PUPPY LOVE Excerpt & Giveaway!




No matter the job, no matter the need

These service dogs in training will always fall in love at first bark.

When Sophie Vasquez and her sisters dreamed up Puppy Promise—their service puppy training school—it was supposed to be her chance to bring some good into the world. But how can she expect to do anything when no one will take her seriously?

Enter Harrison Parks: a rough, gruff, take-no-bull wildlife firefighter in need of a diabetic service dog. He couldn't be a more unlikely fit for Sophie or Bubbles—the sweet Pomeranian she knows will be his perfect partner—but when Sophie insists he give them both a shot, something unexpected happens: he listens. Even better, he keeps on listening, even as Sophie and Bubbles turn his lonely, uber-masculine world upside-down.

As it turns out, they all have something to prove...and more than enough room in their hearts for a little puppy love.

Service Puppies Series:
Puppy Love (Book 1)
Puppy Christmas (Book 2)

Amazon          B&N          Indiebound          BAM

GIVEAWAY: 3 Copies of Puppy Love

“You know, now that I think about it, you’re a lot like Sleeping Beauty,” she said, the words popping out before she could stop them.
He blinked, the movement so careful and deliberate it was like watching a video in slow motion. “What did you just say?”
“You’re like Sleeping Beauty,” she repeated. “Gorgeous and grumpy, awakening after a long, deep sleep to find everything overtaken by thorns.”
Considering the decay of the barn behind them, it seemed an apt metaphor. The red paint had long since faded to a burnt pink, the roof sunken in several places. The scent of animals and hay had given way to a more general earthiness.
Just like the house, just like the man, it was a kingdom in ruins.
“That would make me the prince, you know,” she said. When he didn’t answer right away, only stared at her like she’d been taken over by body snatchers, she added, “Because I kissed you yesterday.”
That got him to snap to attention. “The devil you did. I was the one doing the kissing.”
She did her best to ignore the force of Harrison’s words—and how forcefully they set off a reaction in her body, setting her pulse thumping in ways that no amount of running could match—but it was no use. There was something so liberating about the way he handled her. Not carefully or delicately, or even like a thing to be cherished, but as a woman of courage.
As a woman of strength.
“They say the Sleeping Beauty story is a metaphor for sexual awakening,” she said, emboldened by this realization. “I wasn’t sure I bought into it at first, but it grew on me after a while. I mean, on top of that whole waking-up-from-a-kiss nonsense, she pricks her finger on a spindle. Have you ever seen a spindle? Like, a real one?”
“Where would I have seen a spindle?” he demanded. “Do you think my dad weaves textiles in his spare time?”
She giggled, unable to picture her second-favorite Parks man going anywhere near a textile. “Well, I’ll save you the trouble. It’s basically ye olde phallus.”
His lips quivered as he fought a smile—the reluctant one, the devastating one, the one she was beginning to realize had the power to change her whole life. “Okay, now you’re just making things up.”
“I’m not!” she protested. “I’m just calling it like I see it. You’re the beauty, I’m the prince, and the spindle is a literary device meant to shame women into chastity.”
“You are no prince, Sophie Vasquez.”
“How dare you? I could totally be the prince.”
“In this story?” He laughed and shook his head. “I don’t think so. Not when you’re so clearly the dragon.”
Her eyes widened in surprise, the laughter in her throat replaced by a sudden swelling of elation. No man—no person, actually—had ever looked at her and seen anything but a petite approximation of her sisters. She was a little less bright, a little less exciting, a little less strong. She didn’t have their confidence or their drive and had long since reconciled herself to a life lived in their shadows.
Until now. Until she squared off against this magnificent, quarrelsome man who looked at her and unhesitatingly drew his sword.
Because I’m so clearly the dragon.
Unable to hold herself back any longer, she launched her whole body at Harrison. She caught him off guard, a fact borne out by his heavy grunt as she hit him with the full force of her weight. He didn’t budge though. He was too much like a rock, too much like a wall. Everywhere her body touched his was hard. He was warmer than he normally was, exertion giving him a heat that almost felt like a glow.
Which was why she didn’t pull away from it. So much of what Harrison said and did was meant to keep her at a distance, but the way his arms came up to catch her worked a number on her senses. For what felt like the first time, he was letting her in.
In was suddenly the only place she wanted to be. Before his reserve could come back up, she cast aside all of her scruples and fears and did the unthinkable.
She kissed him.
She caught him off guard with that too, her lips reaching his while they were still partly open. It was a good thing, because she might not have gone through with the rest of the kiss otherwise. There was something hugely intimidating about attacking a bear of a man with one’s tongue, even if he did look and taste like this one. Besides, he was so much softer than she’d expected.
Oh, his body remained like stone, of course, and his arms were more like a pair of manacles than anything else. Those things were good—those things were great, actually—but nothing could have prepared her for the press of his lips against hers. His mouth was gentle, his tongue, when it slid past hers, like a silken embrace.
It made her yearn to discover the other hidden parts of him, those places where he hadn’t yet turned off against the world. They were all her favorite parts of a man. Not—contrary to popular opinion—the rock-hard abs and rigid cock, but the places were pleasure could be found unexpectedly. The dip of an upper lip, right where the skin began to grow soft. The smooth curve of a well-formed buttock. Any spot where he might let his guard down long enough to admit to being ticklish.
Any part that would cause him to smile.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Katy Evans & MILLION DOLLAR DEVIL's Jimmy Rowan Talks Stunts Feature & Giveaway


H

Hey, girl. Jimmy Rowan here. You might know me from my YouTube channel. Yeah, I’m the guy who nearly gets killed on every video. Say what? You want to know how I got started?

Ahh, long story. Maybe for another day. Or a night with some tequila Cuervo handy. The short is, I’m a daredevil. And I’m good at it. So…imagine my shock when prim and proper Miss Elizabeth Banks comes up to me at a bar, a really seedy, not-her-damn-type bar, and offers me a hell of a lot of money to be her ‘perfect’ freaking man.

Kind of wild, right?

All I have to do is wear her suits and act “civil” – whatever that means.

And I’m having a great time just raking her with my eyes.

This woman is all long legs, pouty lips, and looking all business in a business suit that’s just begging to get rumpled.

Definitely what Lizzy wants me to do is a walk in a park compared to some of the stunts I do. I mean. I’ve thrown myself off tall buildings and pulled my chute way, way past the moment when I should’ve.

I’ve crashed motorcycles on top of cars when I tried to leap over them.

I’ve broken a rib or two, and sometimes several at a time, and I’ve got a good number of black eyes, with no help at all from anyone but me.

With Sexy little Lizzy here, there’s no physical risk at all. Not one you could see anyway, except the one that I never really saw coming.

Damn her.

Damn her and her little big million dollar contract.

Damn this sexy, smart, closet-crazy perfectionist just waiting for more than just a sweep off her feet. Oh man, this girl needs a flat out toss to the ground. And I’m the man up for the challenge. What? You’re shocked? Lady, they don’t call me devil for nothing.



Heir apparent to her father’s company, Lizzy Banks needs a man. The perfect man. But when the rich “fundbabies” she usually rubs shoulders with prove impossible to hire, she takes a chance on a raw beast of a man salvaged from the wreckage of a bar brawl.
James Rowan earns a modest income as a YouTube daredevil, but he can’t refuse Lizzy’s million dollar deal. As she polishes his rough edges, creating a sophisticated gentleman fit for the highest circles of society, not only does she bring out the perfect man—it’s like she’s making the man of her dreams. How can she resist? Though Lizzy loves seeing James in his clothes—and out of them—he isn’t the kind of man you bring home to Daddy. Her father’s disapproval and the pressure of the campaign have her eyeing the straight and narrow, but Lizzy’s finding it awfully hard to resist the devil on her shoulder . . .


Author Biography
Katy Evans loves family, books, life, and love. She’s married with two children and a dog, and she spends her time baking healthy snacks, taking long walks, and taking care of her family. To learn more about her books in progress, check out www.katyevans.net and sign up for her newsletter. You can also find her on Twitter @authorkatyevans and on Facebook at AuthorKatyEvans.




Website: http://www.katyevans.net




Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Mary Wine's WICKED HIGHLAND WAYS Excerpt & giveaway





Brenda Grant has no desire to marry. Ever since her first, horrible marriage she's made herself into a hellion of a woman to keep men from wanting her. But the Campbells, her previous husband's family, are determined to find her a new husband.

Highland Chief Bothan Gunn is smitten by the woman who won't be tamed. It takes all Brenda's willpower to resist the brawny Highlander who takes her to safety. But as they spend time together—and grow ever closer—Brenda finally finds the freedom she's been longing for all along.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Someone pulled her back, encircling her waist with a hard arm and lifting her right off her feet. It happened in an instant, and Addams was knocked in the jaw with a hard fist as a man grabbed a handful of his doublet front to keep Addams from flying into the wall. His head jerked back and his eyes rolled back in his head before the man who’d laid him flat lowered him to the floor in an unconscious heap.
“He needs a wee nap to think about the tone he was using with ye,” Bothan Gunn informed her firmly.
Brenda didn’t care for the way her heart accelerated. Perhaps if she could have attributed it to fear, it might not have mattered, but she knew that wasn’t the cause. Which only alarmed her more.
She knew the danger of emotions. Aye, she knew it well.
“Chief Bothan Gunn,” she muttered as she caught sight of his captain offering a coin to the cook. The man took it in a blink of an eye before settling down and casting his attention toward the hearth. “Ye should not have followed me.”
Bothan Gunn was a huge man. He’d ducked to make it beneath the roofline and had to stay away from the edges of the kitchen because the roof sloped, preventing him from standing upright. They were still close enough to the border that his kilt did not cause too great a disturbance with the men he’d walked past in the yard. But she knew him for what he was: a Highlander. The English around them might make the mistake of believing all Scots the same, but Brenda knew better, and anyone who took the time to look at Bothan Gunn would see he was far harder than any Lowlander.
Bolder too because he was standing there. Somehow, she wasn’t really surprised. Bothan Gunn had always been a man who wasn’t afraid to reach out and grab what he wanted.
“Did ye think I would no’ come for ye, Brenda?” Bothan asked softly, his lips twitching up into a mocking grin.
She’d hoped…
Brenda stiffened, chastising herself for the stray thought. She couldn’t afford such things as personal ideas.
Especially with regard to Chief Bothan Gunn. It wasn’t his clan the King of Scotland would hold accountable if she didn’t go through with her wedding.
Duty. So very sharp-edged. She felt like the very word left open wounds as it crossed her soul. She drew in a deep breath, looking at Bothan and the freedom he represented and knowing she had to deny herself.
Deny yerself…what?
Brenda had refused his suit and ignored the stirrings inside herself.
And she would not be acknowledging any of them now.
Not now, when she had duty weighing her down like a heavy yoke.
“I didn’t realize ye were one to waste yer time,” she muttered as she reached into the barrel and retrieved the pitcher. Water drained down from her hand as she fought to maintain her composure. Her tone wasn’t as bored as she would have liked. And the way his eyes narrowed suggested he saw through her pose.
Bothan always had affected her oddly. Of course, tonight she was certain her heart was beating faster because she longed to be free of her English escort and her date to be wed. The response was only natural after all.
Yes, that was why she felt so very breathless.
“Keeping ye from being forced to wed a black-hearted bastard is no’ what I’d call a waste of me time,” Bothan informed her.
He eased closer to her. She caught a glimpse of his blue eyes in the dim light and realized she was savoring the moment, putting off answering him because he was correct—she had no liking for her circumstances.
Still, duty was duty. Bothan was not just a man. He was chief of the Gunns. It was somewhat more than laird because he’d been elected by his fellow clansmen. He didn’t just have their loyalty; he’d earned it beside them. She drew in a deep breath and stood firmly in place.
“Me cousin will be branded a traitor if I do not wed Galwell Scrope.” Brenda forced the words past her lips. “I will not shirk from my duty to me family and laird. And ye would not have me if I did. Yer clansmen would vote against ye if ye brought home a woman who turned her back on her kin. Ye should go now, for there is no reason for ye to stay.”

***
Excerpted from Wicked Highland Ways by Mary Wine. © 2019 by Mary Wine. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

MURDER IN THE CITY OF LIBERTY Review

Hamish DeLuca and Regina “Reggie” Van Buren have a new case—and this one could demand a price they’re not willing to pay.

Determined to make a life for herself, Reggie Van Buren bid goodbye to fine china and the man her parents expected her to marry and escaped to Boston. What she never expected to discover was that an unknown talent for sleuthing would develop into a business partnership with the handsome, yet shy, Hamish DeLuca.
Their latest case arrives when Errol Parker, the leading base stealer in the Boston farm leagues, hires Hamish and Reggie to investigate what the Boston police shove off as a series of harmless pranks. Errol believes these are hate crimes linked to the outbreak of war in Europe, and he’s afraid for his life. Hamish and Reggie quickly find themselves in the midst of an escalating series of crimes.
When Hamish has his carefully constructed life disrupted by a figure from his past, he is driven to a decision that may sever him from Reggie forever . . . even more than her engagement to wealthy architect Vaughan Vanderlaan.
(Synopsis from Amazon)


My thoughts 4.5 stars

Hamish DeLuca, Regina Van Buren, and Nate Reis are complex characters in a world on the brink. Their relationships mirror the complexity of the times and the characters themselves. 

1940's Boston as the world surrounding the United States is at war is vividly depicted.  Hamish, Reggie, and Nate feel it inching closer as the ideologies behind the war loudly rear their ugly heads in their adopted neighborhood. 
These ideas and the hatefulness they spawn combine with the cold hard practicalities of war to create a case that leads Hamish, Reggie, and Nate to the brink.

While Ms. McMillan did a good job picking up the threads and explaining events in the prior (first) book in the Van Buren and DeLuca Mystery series, I was still occasionally frustrated by not having experienced the progression myself. 
This is due to the depth of the characters and their "lives", and is my own fault. My mistake will be remedied in the near future.

MURDER IN THE CITY OF LIBERTY isn't what I'd call a light read; it requires concentration. It's for those times you want to time travel, immersing yourself in another world by becoming someone else, tuning out the here & now completely; live dangerously even if it's only vicariously. 

MURDER IN THE CITY OF LIBERTY is for those times.

I received a review copy from Thomas Nelson via Netgalley. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Laurel Kerr's SWEET WILD OF MINE Excerpt & giveaway




Love runs wild at the Sagebrush Flats Zoo...

In a bid to revitalize his career, bestselling author Magnus Gray has come to Sagebrush Flats to write about the local zoo's latest rescue—an orphaned baby polar bear. But Magnus dreads the drama of small towns and is bullishly determined to keep to himself.

June Winters is a people person, and delights in welcoming Magnus to Sagebrush Flats, though it seems unlikely she can get the handsome stranger to crack a smile. Then a mishap with an open gate forces Magnus and June to deal with a stampeding flock of fainting goats, an adorable but clingy polar bear cub, a cranky pregnant camel, and two star-crossed honey badgers. Never mind small town drama—the lively animals may just convince these two that opposites really do attract...

Where the Wild Hearts Are Series:
Wild On My Mind (Book 1)
Sweet Wild of Mine (Book 2)

Praise for Wild on My Mind:
"Hilarious...a truly touching contemporary romance about the power of love and family."—Night Owl Reviews Top Pick 
"Clever, fun, and poignant...with wit and heart."—Kirkus Reviews
"Outstanding...sure to delight."—Publishers Weekly Starred Review

Amazon          B&N          Apple          Indiebound          BAM


There was nothing like witnessing new life, Magnus thought as he watched the wee calf make another attempt to stand. Her mother hovered anxiously nearby, using her head to nudge and guide the peedie camel. The bairn managed to get her front legs up, but as soon as she tried to raise her hind ones, her forelegs folded at the knees. Her rear stuck in the air, her hooves splayed out to keep her back half upright.
“I think we should call her Knobby,” Abby proclaimed, her voice bright with the unabashed joy that only a child could display so freely.
Lulubelle chose that moment to snort. Loudly. Abby giggled. “I don’t think Mama likes that one. I guess it isn’t dignified enough. You haven’t named an animal yet, Miss Winters. Would you like to?”
“Do you want a good southern belle name?” June asked.
“Why not?” Bowie said with a shrug. Like Magnus, he’d sneaked off briefly to take a shower, and his wet hair stuck to his head. He must have been just as tired as Magnus, but his face shone with the same energy as his daughter’s. It wasn’t difficult to see the source of the lassie’s love for animals.
“Savannah,” June suggested. No sooner had the word crossed June’s lips than the wee bairn finally stood. She held her position for several seconds before her wobbly legs collapsed. The whole group chuckled softly, not wanting to frighten the calf.
“I think she likes it,” Abby said.
“Savannah it is,” Lou pronounced, and the wee camel struggled to her feet for a second time.
They stood in silence for a little longer before the group started to drift away. Bowie left first to check on Sorcha. Katie then nudged Abby, reminding her that she hadn’t started her homework. Abby made a couple protests, but Katie held firm. The preteen relented and followed her stepmother from the barn. After they left, Lou creakily walked back into the birthing stall. Magnus debated about helping the older man crouch down to check on the camels, but he didn’t want to embarrass him. June made a move to assist, but she must have thought better of it too. Lou managed well enough on his own. When he was satisfied that mother and calf were doing well, he said his goodbyes and headed back to the house.
June lingered, obviously as enthralled with the peedie calf as Magnus. As she stood beside him, he noticed her sway slightly and then yawn. Magnus narrowed his eyes. It was not terribly late in the evening, but the lass must get up early in the morn to start the baking for her cafĂ©, and she’d been standing on her feet for over two hours watching Savannah’s birth.
“You all right, hen?” Magnus asked.
June nodded as she smothered another yawn. “Four o’clock in the morning is showing on me, that’s all. I’d better go soon and pick up Nan, but I want to stay just five more minutes.”
She looked so tired standing there that Magnus acted without thinking. He stepped next to her and pulled her close, so she could lean her weight against him. She nestled into his body like it was the most natural thing. Pressing the back of her head against his chest, she gazed up at him. “Thanks.”
“’Tis nothing, lass. You’re a slight thing.”
Her mouth curved into a soft smile tinged with affection. Magnus almost dipped his head and captured her bonny pink lips with his own, but June returned her gaze to the camels. She sighed and wiggled closer. Tenderness whispered through Magnus like gentle snowflakes after a blizzard’s end. He only felt this content when sitting by a fire sipping whiskey and reading a good book. And he’d never experienced peace like this while in the company of another person. It was the kind of quiet that seeped into a man’s soul and slowly washed away the day’s worries.
Neither of them spoke as they watched Lulubelle fuss over her baby. Savannah managed to nurse on unsteady legs. Despite her wobbliness, she greedily drank the colostrum, the nutrient-rich milk that would help ensure her health and survival.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” June said, her voice full of wonder.
“Aye. A m-m-man can never grow weary of a sight like this.”
“You must have witnessed a lot of births growing up on a farm.”
“Aye, but it never stops being m-miraculous,” Magnus said.
June shifted. Although she still kept her body pressed close to his, she tilted her head to gaze at him. A smile drifted across her lips. Slow. Sweet. Tempting.
A huge sigh from Lulubelle broke the spell the lass was weaving. Magnus turned with June to watch the camel settle down with her calf. Within minutes, the pair drifted off to sleep. June yawned and pushed herself upright. “I’d better head out now. Nan will be wondering where I am. She’s having a good day, but I don’t want her getting scared.”
Magnus nodded. “All right, lass.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Aye, see you in the m-m-morn.”
Magnus followed June with his eyes until she disappeared from sight. Although it wasn’t too baltic tonight, his body instantly missed her warmth. Aw, baws. Truth be told, he craved her presence. And Magnus didn’t like that. He didn’t want to feel this incessant need for another.
And it wasn’t just sexual. It went deeper than that.
He’d lived his whole life independently. He dreaded ending up like his da, a permanently beelin’ arse because a hen left him. But June? June made him want. Made him long. Made him feel things he didn’t wish to.
Magnus knew he should stay away from the lass. But he couldn’t. It wasn’t just that she kept popping up everywhere like a mole in a vegetable patch. He didn’t want to avoid June anymore. Which wasn’t like him. At all.

***
Excerpted from Sweet Wild of Mine by Laurel Kerr. © 2019 by Erin Laurel O’Brien. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Marie Harte's SMOOTH MOVES Excerpt & giveaway!



He may be all brawn

But when it really counts... His heart is all gold

Former Marine Cash Griffith is a brawny beacon for trouble, always finishing a fight that someone else starts. Working at his family's moving company, he does his best to keep a low profile, but he can't help but tangle with the newest employee, Jordan Fleming.

When Jordan joins Vets on the Go! she has her hands full with her new job and her rebellious teenage brother, not to mention going toe to toe with the obnoxious, arrogant, incredibly hot Marine at work. Soon their battles turn to camaraderie, and one kiss leads to a connection neither of them expected. But when dark secrets come to light, will their bond break...or strengthen into a happily-ever-after they desperately desire?

Veteran Movers series:
The Whole Package (Book 1)
Smooth Moves (Book 2)
Handle with Care (Book 3)

Praise for Marie Harte:
"A blazing hot, emotionally intense love story." —Kirkus Reviews for A Sure Thing
"This is truly a must-read!" —Night Owl Reviews Top Pick for Roadside Assistance
"Sexy, sweet, and thoroughly satisfying."—LAUREN LAYNE, New York Times bestselling author for The Whole Package

Amazon          B&N          Apple          Indiebound          BAM


GIVEAWAY
5 Copies of The Whole Package   

a Rafflecopter giveaway

In the front yard, away from the mess, the boys and their dog played. Thank God at least the kids stayed away, frolicking in the growing wet.
Cash swore and slicked his hair back, and Jordan tried really hard not to ogle the man. But the rain made it difficult to ignore the crew’s fine physiques—at least, that was her excuse.
He was part owner of the company, yet he worked alongside the guys as if just another employee. All too easily she imagined former Gunnery Sergeant Cash Griffith in uniform. Sadly, she’d noticed everything about the man from day one. Cash exuded leadership. Though what normally came out of his mouth was either crass, obnoxious, or rude, he made people laugh and somehow want to follow him. Hell, he annoyed her to no end, but she could see his natural fit for command.
He had legs like tree trunks, a broad chest, and thickly muscled arms she’d dreamed of holding her more than once. His short, dark hair spoke of time in the military, kept trim but not buzzed short. And that stubborn jaw had temped her more than once to punch it then kiss it better.
Cash’s bright-green eyes seemed to be constantly on her, filling her with heat.
As they were now.
She pretended she hadn’t been staring at him so hard, and he snorted. The big, bad man who intimidated most others didn’t frighten her in the slightest. Because Cash was a protector at heart. He might swear, act gruff, and loom over everyone with that condescending smirk, but he was always the first in line to offer to help.
And he hadn’t lashed out at the kids all day, when he’d had plenty of opportunity to do so. Especially now. She groaned. “Judy, am I seeing things, or did the boys just go inside the truck?”
Judy frowned. “They were told not to do that.”
Several times today. “Hey, Cash. The boys are—”
“I see them,” he snarled. Apparently, he’d reached his limit. He stalked inside the truck, and she heard, “That’s it! You two, out, now. And take your dog with you. This is no place for kids.”
Silence reigned for a moment.
“You can get hurt if—”
Something crashed, the dog bolted, and the boys screamed. Not a we’re-having-fun yell but the scared kind.
Everyone rushed to the truck, and Hector, closest to the ramp, hurried inside first.
“My babies!” Judy cried, but Heidi held her back from entering.
Jordan gasped. Inside, Cash looked like Atlas, crouched and holding the weight of a large grandfather clock on his broad shoulders and upper back while one of the boys lay under him, frozen in fear.
The other twin stood on a couch behind the overturned furniture, staring in shock.
Hector rushed to pull the boys out while Jordan helped a visibly straining Cash edge the clock off his shoulder.
“Why did the kids have to tip this thing over? Why not the lamp that weighs ten pounds? Oh my God. This is heavy.” She couldn’t believe he’d been holding it, crouched as he was, off the boy.
“No shit, Sherlock,” he said through gritted teeth.
Her own shoulders ached as she laughed. “Okay, okay. Don’t be so dramatic.” She paused then added the ultimate insult, “Nancy.”
He laughed. “You’re such a pain in my ass.”
“Ditto.”
Then Hector and Heidi were there, easing the furniture and a few other skewed pieces back into place.
Once everyone had exited the truck back into the shelter of the garage, Heidi glared at the twins, her accent growing thicker the madder she became. “I told you not to play in there. Nothing is strapped down yet. You could have been hurt.”
The boys looked a lot more sulky than sorry, reminding Jordan of her own brother. Rafi, who’d taken money from her wallet. Rafi, who’d involved himself with a questionable bunch of teens. Rafi, who seemed to be on the verge of throwing his entire future away. Rafi, who needed a firm kick in his teenage ass.
Sorry, Judy. This has to be done. Jordan stepped forward and grabbed each boy by the neck of his T-shirt, yanking him forward. She glared into their beady little eyes. “That. Is. It! If Cash hadn’t been there, one of you might have been seriously hurt. Or crushed.”
“Or dead,” Cash said bluntly. “That clock weighs a ton, enough to crush a tiny little skull for sure. You ever seen brains leak out of your head, kid? It’s gross.”
Ja. And messy,” Heidi added, her face stiff.
Hector pinched the bridge of his nose, and Jordan felt for him, sensing her own headache coming on.
The twins flinched. Finally.
She dragged them closer. “You will now thank Cash for saving your sorry little asses.”
They stared at her with wide eyes. Judy blinked at her through tears.
“And you will apologize to your mother for worrying her. She just lost your nana; she doesn’t want to lose you too. Look at her.” She shook them, not hard but enough to get their attention. “She’s worried about you.”
Judy had been silently crying.
The boys lowered their heads in shame. Jordan heard sniffles. If only it were that easy to get her brother in line.
“We’re sorry, Mom.”
“Yeah. We’re sorry.”
Jordan nudged them toward Judy. “Now you go give her a hug. Then you stay with her. Because if you don’t, Cash is going to paddle your butts until you can’t sit for a week. And your mom won’t even mind.”
Cash flexed his huge hands, and Jordan saw the boys’ fright. Heck, she wouldn’t want to be spanked by a hand that large either.
Well… No. No I wouldn’t.

***
Excerpted from Smooth Moves by Marie Harte. © 2019 by Marie Harte. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.