Read an excerpt from Adriana Locke’s upcoming release – Switch!

 

 

Title: Switch
Series: Landry Family #3
Author: Adriana Locke
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: February 20, 2017

 

Blurb

 

Mallory Sims is late for her first day of work.

After spilling her tea, she discovers she has no gas in her car. Add that her arm keeps sticking to her dress from syrup left on the console of her car, flustered feels like an understatement.

Then she sees her new boss.

Graham Landry is the epitome of NSFW in his custom-fit suit, black-rimmed glasses, and a look so stern her libido doesn’t stand a chance. Being flustered is just the start of her problems.

Her punctuality is only the start of his. With a pink slip in hand, he’s been waiting on his new secretary to show up only to let her go. Then she rushes in with her doe eyes and rambling excuses, smelling like bacon and lavender. The termination paper falls to the side as she falls in his arms.

This is a disaster in the making. Not because of his pinpoint exactness or her free spirit, but because when they’re together, the sparks that fly threaten to burn the whole place down.

 

Switch will be available in Kindle Unlimited

on release day

 

 

 

Excerpt
We both know we aren’t just talking about a moved stapler or a mishmash of files. As that really sets in, the air around us gets heavier. Hotter. Hazardous.“Those things always lead to dangerous situations,” he says, his eyes trained on me.

I shift in my seat, the throb between my legs growing stronger by the second. “People do it every day and survive.”

“They may survive, but don’t things get messy?”

“Only if they do it right.”

His chair flies backwards and he’s to his feet and next to me before I know what’s happening. He doesn’t ask that I stand, but he doesn’t have to. It’s implied and my body reacts accordingly to his silent command.

We stand face-to-face, our breathing ragged. Our chests heave with the anticipation, the possibility, of what might come next.

“You are, quite possibly, the most dangerous of them all,” he says, his voice rough.

“Why is that?” I breathe.

“There’s no plan for you.”

“But you’ve already penciled me in, haven’t you, Graham?” I ask, finding the courage to play this little game with him. Being strictly professional is incredibly hard, and this is way too easy.

I can flirt with the best of them in a bar or on a college campus. But here, with him, it’s a game all its own. A level I had no idea I’d ever be a contender in. Maybe I’m not, but I’m going to play the hell out of it while I’m here … even though if I keep it up, I might not be here for long.

“What do you want, Mallory?”

“I want to do all the things you ask of me and do them better than you ever expected they could be done.”

A rumble emits from his throat as his eyes darken. My knees go weak and I grab the table with my left hand to ensure I don’t fall.

He licks his lips and flips his gaze to my mouth. I think I whimper as I lift my chin, waiting to see what he does next. My entire body is on fire for this man, my heart thumping so hard I’m sure he can hear it.

He moves so my back is pressed against the table, our food long forgotten. His hands are on either side of me, caging me in. Our eyes locked together, he leans in, a slow smirk spreading across his gorgeous face.

“Excuse me, Mr. Landry. Ford is here to see you,” Raza chirps through the line.

We exhale simultaneously, a giggle escaping with mine. There’s nothing funny about this, but the energy has to come out in some way.

“Mr. Landry?” she asks again.

“I’ll be right out. Thank you, Raza.”

“Oh, you’re so welcome, sir.” The line clicks off and Graham marches across the room and punches a button. The light on top indicates he’s not to be disturbed.

I busy myself with cleaning up our lunch, and before he’s at my side again, I have everything bundled up.

“Thanks for lunch,” I say like nothing just happened.

“Mallory …” He runs his hand through his hair, leaving one lock sticking up. Knowing what that will look like if we walk out together, I reach up, hesitating for a split second, before smoothing it out.

His hair is silky against my fingers. He jumps when I touch him at first, but doesn’t back away. “What are you doing?”

“Nothing went on in here. I refuse for it to look like something did. That’s the way rumors get spread, Mr. Landry.”

“Mallory, I …”

I get a final look at his face, reach up and straighten his tie as his eyes go wide, then turn towards the door. “I’ll send Ford in.”

“Mallory!”

“Yeah?” I turn to see him over my shoulder. He’s standing by the table, his hands in his pockets looking frazzled. When he doesn’t respond, I place my hand on the knob. “I’ll have that file back to you before I leave today. Thanks again for lunch.”

I walk out before I can change my mind.

Also Available
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited

 

Author Bio

 

USA Today Bestselling author Adriana Locke lives and breathes books. After years of slightly obsessive relationships with the flawed bad boys created by other authors, Adriana has created her own.

She resides in the Midwest with her husband, sons, and two dogs. She spends a large amount of time playing with her kids, drinking coffee, and cooking. You can find her outside if the weather’s nice and there’s always a piece of candy in her pocket.

For sneak peeks, giveaways, and more, please join Adriana’s Facebook Group, Books by Adriana Locke, or her Goodreads group, All Locked Up.

 

Author Links

Blog Tour: Read an excerpt from Jay Crownover’s new release ~ Riveted!

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From the New York Times bestselling author of the Marked Men books comes the next installment in the Saints of Denver series.

 

 

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Everyone else in Dixie Carmichael’s life has made falling in love look easy, and now she is ready for her own chance at some of that happily ever after. Which means she’s done pining for the moody, silent former soldier who works with her at the bar that’s become her home away from home. Nope. No more chasing the hot as heck thundercloud of a man and no more waiting for Mr. Right to find her; she’s going hunting for him…even if she knows her heart is stuck on its stupid infatuation with Dash Churchill.

Denver has always been just a pit stop for Church on his way back to rural Mississippi. It was supposed to be simple, uneventful, but nothing could have prepared him for the bubbly, bouncy redhead with doe eyes and endless curves. Now he knows it’s time to get out of Denver, fast. For a man used to living in the shadows, the idea of spending his days in the sun is nothing short of terrifying.

When Dixie and Church find themselves caught up in a homecoming overshadowed with lies and danger, Dixie realizes that while falling in love is easy, loving takes a whole lot more work…especially when Mr. Right thinks he’s all wrong for you.

 

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Excerpt from Chapter One:

I loved my life. I had a job that I enjoyed going to every day, and I worked with people I adored and admired. I was never going to be a millionaire doing what I did, but I was good at it and most of the time it felt more like spending time with friends than actual work. I loved and was deeply loved back by my family, even if my younger sister was an idiot. I had a cute apartment, an active social life, and great freaking hair. 

There wasn’t a lot I could complain about on a day-to-day basis and things that did get under my skin were things I had a hard time explaining to anyone that didn’t grow up knowing love at first sight was real and that when you found the other half of your heart life was infinitely better.

I was only twenty-six, still plenty of time to live life and settle down, but I felt ancient and overlooked when I compared myself to my younger sister. She’d found the fairy tale our parents had laid out for us when she was still in high school and I got nothing but lonely nights and a string of dates so bad no one believed me when I tried to tell them how awful they really were.

I jolted when there was a knock at the door behind me, making my ears ring since my head was still resting against the wood. Dolly growled low in her throat when she felt me tense up, so I put my hand on the top of her broad head and used the peephole to see who was interrupting my pity party.

My new neighbor, the girl who moved like a ghost and spoke so softly I often had to struggle to hear what she was saying, stood on the other side. Poppy Cruz, quiet, withdrawn, but so sweet and smitten with my dog. I’d totally leveraged that love she had for my pet into a budding friendship that Poppy was obviously reluctant to have.

I knew some of her history through stories from her friends and family who were all regulars at my bar, so I was careful not to push too hard even though all I wanted to do was cuddle her and tell her the clouds have to part on even the darkest of days. She was comfortable enough with me now to knock on my door well past the acceptable visiting hours, so there was no way I was going to leave her standing in the hall, even if that meant my wine and sob-fest were further delayed.

I pulled the door open and Dolly immediately lunged for the visitor on the other side. Poppy was willowy but she had no trouble bracing for the impact from the dog and she seemed just as excited to receive the slobbery kisses as Dolly was to give them.

“I heard you talking out in the hallway and I just wanted to see how your date went. It didn’t sound like it ended on the best note.” Her quiet voice drifted to me as I shook my head and snorted.

“It didn’t start on a great note either. He showed up with his mom, can you believe that? I need a glass of wine, do you want one?”

She wrinkled her delicate nose and wrestled the big dog into the apartment so she could shut the door behind her. “I don’t drink, but thank you.”

She didn’t do much of anything. The product of a very strict and religious upbringing, Poppy was as straight and narrow as one could get. She’d suffered severely at the hands of a man her father had handpicked for her and it was clear that every single day was one more step in the process of healing from that.

“I forgot. I’m in the bar so often I forget that there are humans in this world that can cope without alcohol.” I lifted an eyebrow at her and made my way into the kitchen. “I’m not one of them.”

She laughed lightly like I meant her to and followed me into the tiny galley-style kitchen.

“So his mom?” Her eyes were the color of hot cider and they gleamed with gentle humor. She was impossible not to like and as much as I wanted a different life for myself I also wanted one for her. I hated that her history was so ugly, but I loved that she’d survived it and was pushing herself to live beyond her experiences. That was beautiful and hinted at an inner strength her delicate appearance kept hidden.

I snorted again and rolled my eyes. “I thought the guy that took off halfway through the date with my wallet was as bad as it could get. I was wrong. Really wrong.”

Want to read all of Chapter One from RIVETED? Follow along with the tour here!

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And read Chapter Two of RIVETED here!

 

 

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Jay Crownover continues her Saints of Denver series with Riveted, available February 14th, 2017

Give yourself a Valentine’s Day gift in advance…Preorder and fill out the form here: https://a.pgtb.me/t0JkQX

Pre-order Riveted today and on February 14th, you’ll also receive a glossy Saints of Denver poster and an exclusive first-look at Chapters 1 and 2 of Avenged, her forthcoming Mackenzie Family novella.

Avenged combines the grit of Saints of Denver series with the all-out heat of The Point series with a mind-blowing, mystery, yet-to-be-revealed, couple combining both of these worlds. Be one of the first to find out who it is, pre-order Riveted today.

Posters will be mailed the week of February 14th and Avenged chapters will arrive via email.

 

 

Jay Crownover - headshotAbout Jay Crownover:

Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men, The Point, and the Saints of Denver series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.

 

 

 

 

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Blog Tour: Read an excerpt from Dirty Dealers by Tia Louise – available now!

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Dirty. Sexy. Deadly.
Dirty Dealers by Tia Louise IS LIVE!

“A gripping story that made my pulse—and other body parts—pound in anticipation of each turn of the page. Ms. Louise delivers on unexpected twists, heart-racing action, and most of all: a delicious hero in Logan Hunt.” ~ K.L. Kreig, USA Today Bestselling Author

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★ BUY NOW

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2kgOrHi
iBooks: http://smarturl.it/DDiB
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“FIVE HOT STARS: What do you get when you mix a hot, strong alpha and a strong-willed, feisty heroine? The perfect mixture in Dirty Dealers! Page-turning, action-packed, panty-melting perfection on every page. I love the way Tia Louise’s weaves the perfect words to convey the emotions, grit, and suspense. She draws you into the story and never lets you go. Highly recommend!!!” –A.D. Justice, USA Today Bestselling Author

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ADD it on Goodreads: https://goo.gl/Z1Y7Rw
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Blurb:

My job is to protect.
I’m the best, the king’s elite.
She’s the only thing strong enough to make me look away.

Logan Hunt is a guard. He’s constantly aware of his surroundings; he knows every angle; he searches and rescues. He’ll take a bullet.

His new assignment is to protect the queen regent, keep his eyes on her at all times. He’s more than up to the task…

Until a face from his past returns, and the one mission he’s sworn to complete becomes his biggest liability.

DIRTY DEALERS is an all-new stand-alone CONTEMPORARY ROMANTIC SUSPENSE coming Jan 24, 2017. It features secrets, lies, double-crosses, angst, a touch of darkness, and panty-melting sexytimes.

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EXCERPT:

© TLM Productions LLC, 2017

Logan

Her ankle turns, and Kass starts to fall. One swift move, and I scoop her up, into my arms.

“Oh!” she cries, gripping my biceps.

Her soft body is pressed against me, and her face is right at my chin. Her breath comes in quick pants, causing her breasts to rise and fall just beneath the thin material of her dress. With her sweater pushed back, I can see she’s not wearing a bra, and all the lust I’ve been fighting shoots straight to my cock.

I know she feels it. Her lids lower, and her eyes are trained on my mouth. Her lips part, and I can just see the tips of her white teeth when she speaks, low and breathless. “Thank you.”

Desire overrules my brain, and I don’t stop myself. I pull her to me, covering her mouth with mine. It’s not a gentle kiss. It’s rough and punishing. It’s all the anger and the hurt and the worry she’s put me through these last days.

She meets me with equal strength. Her mouth moves with mine, and she tastes like mint and cool water. A little noise aches from her throat and fuck me, my dick gets harder. She’s soft in my arms, and my stomach fills with warmth, desire, possession.

How can I still want her so badly? She used me.

Breaking our lips apart, I look up at the sky. It’s thick with grey, swirling clouds. It mirrors the storm in my chest.

Kass’s forehead drops to my neck. She’s panting, and I feel her beaded nipples against my chest. I want to pull them into my mouth and suck them until she moans. I want to lower my pants and lift her skirt. I want to shove her panties aside and fuck her right here on this beach. I want it to be hard and angry. I want her begging me to forgive her, begging me for more.

I can see the whole thing, and it takes all my willpower to step back.

“I’m sorry.” I hold her arms until I’m sure she has her balance, until I’m back in control. “I’ll escort you to the house.”

“Yes.” Her voice is breathless.

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About the Author:

The “Queen of Hot Romance,” Tia Louise is the Award-Winning, International Bestselling author of the ONE TO HOLD series.

From “Readers’ Choice” nominations, to picking up USA Today “Happily Ever After” nods, to winning “Favorite Erotica Author” (2015) and the “Lady Boner Award” (2014) (LOL!), nothing makes her happier than communicating with fans and weaving new tales into the Alexander-Knight world of stories.

A former journalist, Louise lives in the center of the USA with her lovely family and one grumpy cat. There, she dreams up stories she hopes are engaging, hot, and sexy, and that cause readers rethink common public locations…

Connect with Tia!

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon

Blog Tour: Read an excerpt from Heat Wave by Karina Halle – available now!

 

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heat-wave-3d-bookThey say when life closes one door, another one opens.

This door happens to lead to paradise.

And a man I can never, ever have.

Still grieving the loss of her sister who died two years ago, the last thing Veronica “Ronnie” Locke needed was to lose her job at one of Chicago’s finest restaurants and have to move back in with her parents. So when a window of opportunity opens for her – running a kitchen at a small Hawaiian hotel – she’d be crazy not to take it.

The only problem is, the man running the hotel drives her crazy:

Logan Shephard.

It doesn’t matter that he’s got dark brown eyes, a tall, muscular build that’s sculpted from daily surfing sessions, and a deep Australian accent that makes your toes curl.

What does matter is that he’s a grump.

Kind of an asshole, too.

And gets under Ronnie’s skin like no one else.

But the more time Ronnie spends on the island of Kauai, falling in love with the lush land and its carefree lifestyle, the closer she gets to Logan. And the closer she gets to Logan, the more she realizes she may have pegged him all wrong. Maybe it’s the hot, steamy jungles or the invigorating ocean air, but soon their relationship becomes utterly intoxicating.

There’s just one major catch.

The two of them together would incite a scandal neither Ronnie, nor her family, would ever recover from.

Forbidden, Illicit, off-limits – sometimes the heat is worth surrendering to, even if you get burned.

 

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PROLOGUE

I saw him first.

It shamed me to think it then, it shames me to think it now.

But that’s what the truth does to you sometimes. It shames you because it’s only in the truth that you realize how human you really are. What a raw, devastating thing that is, to embrace your humanity and learn to live with all your sharp points, the hollow places, the cracks and the crevices. To be utterly real. To be terribly flawed.

Those cracks had always been forming inside me, slowly making their way to the surface over the years. In my family, there wasn’t much you could do but try and hold yourself together, to stick glue on your wounds, to paste over the imperfections. But the cracks still grew, until all of us were held together by crumbling cement, just statues waiting to collapse.

That was years and years ago. I was just twenty-two at the time. A baby. I’m still a baby in the grand scheme of things, but there’s something precious about your early twenties, where you think you’re so much older, bigger, than you are, where life is just about to deliver the crushing blows that will knock you off your feet for the rest of your days. The small things become the big things and the big things become the small things and you aren’t quite sure when they made the switch.

But in the end, I saw him first. He was mine, even before he knew it. He was mine in some strange way that I still don’t understand. The only way I can think of to explain it is…

You just know.

There are moments in your life, people in your life, that when they cross your path and meet your eye, you know. Maybe it’s all in the chemistry, certain pheromones that react when they mix together, maybe it’s a smell that triggers a memory, maybe it’s a glimpse at a future you don’t recognize or a hint at the past, a life you’ve lived and forgotten. Whatever it is, you know that moment, that person, is going to shape you for the rest of your life.

That’s what it was like when I saw him. Standing over by the windows and staring out Lake Michigan, like he was wishing he could be anywhere but there.

I wished the same. My mother’s the deputy mayor of Chicago and this was another one of her fundraisers I felt obliged to attend. It was tradition in my family, for my father, for me, for my sister, to show up and wave the flag of support. It didn’t seem to matter that the stuffy politicians that surrounded these events never paid me any attention. And if they did, it was the wrong kind of attention, always the sixty-year-old man leering after the young thing with the nice smile.

Luckily I didn’t smile all that often. My resting bitch face took over whenever I was deep in thought, which was pretty much all the time.

But this guy…I felt a kinship with him. I felt like I knew exactly what he was thinking, feeling, and that it was completely wrapped up in and connected to everything that was going through me.

I don’t know where I found the nerve to go over and talk to him. He seemed so much older, not quite the sixty-year-old politicians I was used to seeing, but maybe in his early-thirties. More than that, there was some kind of aura around him. Sounds stupid, I know. Whatever it was, it was like he belonged in some whole other universe than here, a star on earth, permanently grounded and yearning to be in the sky.

It was usually Juliet’s job to go around and make everyone feel warm and comfortable at these events—hell, in every event—but she wasn’t here yet. And though I could have easily stayed in the shadows, I was pulled to him, like he had a wave of gravity whirling around him.

I remember what I was wearing. Strappy flats because I hated wearing heels, a knee-length cocktail dress in emerald green, sleeveless, high-neck. It made me look older and I wore it because my mother always wanted me to look like a lady.

With a glass of champagne in hand, I made my way over to the windows, my heart racing the closer I got to him. He looked taller up close, well over six feet. His shoulders were broad, like a swimmer’s, and suddenly I had a vision of him diving into the lake. The navy blue suit he was wearing looked well-tailored but he seemed uncomfortable in it, like he couldn’t wait to get rid of it.

I stood beside him for a moment, following his gaze out the window. He seemed lost in his thoughts but out of my peripheral his head tilted slightly and he brought his eyes over to me while I kept staring at that wide expanse of water, stretching out to the horizon.

“Can’t wait to get out of here?” I asked, but though my tone was mild, my delivery was bold. It was as if someone else had taken a hold of my body, forcing me to speak. I slowly turned my head to meet his eyes.

I was taken aback for a second. He was staring at me like he knew me, even though I’d never seen him before. Then again, I was sure I’d been staring at him in the same way. That feeling of knowing. He knew me, I knew him, and who the hell knows how that was possible.

His eyes were brown—are brown—dark with currents of gold and amber, giving them beautiful clarity. Slightly almond shaped. His brows were also dark, arched, adding to the intensity of his gaze. He’s the type of guy whose eyes latch onto you, dig deep, trying to sift through the files of your life, see who you really are.

“How did you know?” he asked, a full-on Australian accent rumbling through his gruff voice. It made my stomach flip, my core smolder. How deed you now, is what it sounded like. Funny how I stopped hearing the accent after time.

I gave a half shrug and looked back to the party. More people had flooded the room, mingling around the appetizers. My mother was in the corner, a crowd of politicians around her. She didn’t see me. She never did.

“Because I think I’d rather be in the middle of Lake Michigan too,” I told him, “then be stuck here with all these people.”

“These people,” he repeated. My focus was drawn to his lips, full, wide, tilting up into a smirk. Beneath them was a strong chin and even sharper jaw, dusted with a five o’clock shadow that seemed permanent, like the man couldn’t get a clean shave even if he tried. “How do you know I’m not one of these people?”

“Because you’re over here and not over there. How come you keep answering my questions with more questions?”

He studied me for a moment. My blood pounded in my head and I felt a giddy kind of thrill at how this was progressing. If anything, I was proud for holding my own with this handsome stranger. He was the first man I ever really felt at ease with.

He cleared his throat, offered me a quick smile before he nodded at the lake, his hands sliding into his pockets. “She almost looks like the ocean, doesn’t she?”

“Not quite the same as Australia, I would imagine.”

“No hiding this accent, is there?” He glanced at me and stuck out his hand, which I shook for a moment, warm palm to warm palm. “I’m Logan Shepard. Australian. And the reason I’m here is because I was invited by a friend of mine. I’m only in town for a few days and he didn’t want to go alone. He’s over there.” He nodded at a tall black man in the corner, listening intently to another man.

“Warren Jones,” he said, as if I should know him. Perhaps I should. He probably thought I was one of them. “He’s local and the key piece to my investment.”

I wasn’t one for business talk—I never had anything to contribute other than lamenting student loans—but I wanted him to keep talking. “What’s your investment?”

“Starting my own hotel,” he said. “In Hawaii. Have you ever been there?”

“Once. When I was eight. I think we were in Honolulu. I remember a city, anyway. Waikiki Beach.”

“This hotel is in Kauai. The Garden Isle. Went there once as a teenager and couldn’t get it out of my mind.”

I didn’t know the right things to say. I wanted to ask more about the hotel, what it means when you have an investor, but I didn’t want to appear dumb. I kept my mouth shut.

“You haven’t introduced yourself,” he said. “Protecting a secret identity?”

I smiled, close-lipped. “Not really. I’m Veronica Locke. American. And I unfortunately I don’t have much else to add to that.”

“Locke?” he repeated, eyes darting to my mother. “Are you the daughter of the deputy mayor, Rose Locke?”

“One of them,” I told him.

He nodded quickly. “I see. No wonder you’d rather be in the middle of the bloody lake. I bet you have to do this stuff all the time.”

“It’s not so bad.” I took a sip of my drink so I didn’t have to say anything more and looked away at the crowd. The bubbles teased my nose, making my eyes water.

I could feel his gaze on me as he spoke. “I’m sure you have plenty more to say about yourself though. Where do you work? Student?”

“Culinary arts,” I told him. “I’m one of those crazy people who dream of being a chef one day.”

He frowned. “Why is that crazy?”

I gave him a look, forgetting that most people have no idea how hard it is. “Because it’s a long road, long hours, and nothing is guaranteed. People think being a chef is easy. They see Gordon Ramsey or Nigella Lawson and think it’s all fame and food and money and they have no idea what it’s really like. I’m not even out of school and already I feel half-beaten.”

He was still frowning. He did that a lot, I would soon learn. “Sounds like life to me.” His eyes dropped to my lips and something intensely carnal came over them, like suddenly I was the food, not the wannabe chef. “Did you want to get a drink somewhere. After this? When you’ve done your daughterly duties?”

I swallowed hard. I didn’t know what a drink meant. Just a drink? A date? Was it sex? I started going through my head, trying to think of reasons why it was a bad idea. My legs were shaved, did my bra and underwear match? Did I have a condom? I had taken the pill this morning, even though my last boyfriend and I had broken up months ago. I hadn’t been with a guy, let alone a man, in a long time.

Don’t flatter yourself, I quickly thought. What makes you think he’d be interested in you that way?

“Yes,” I said when I finally found my voice. “Yes, I would like that.”

A spark flashed in his eyes, lighting them up in such a way that made my toes literally curl. Damn. I was in trouble with this man. “Any way you can get out of your duties sooner?” he asked.

I couldn’t help but smile, raising my brow at his presumptuousness, while simultaneously trying to hide the fact that I was freaking out. I looked around the room and tried to judge how likely it was that someone would notice if I was gone. My mom was still surrounded by a wall of people and no one was paying any attention to us, standing by the windows, already removed.

A sad thought hit me, sliding past before I could really dwell on it: no one even notices when I’m here.

“If we’re quick and sneaky,” I told him.

“Being quick isn’t in my repertoire,” he said, “but I could give it a shot.”

Again. Damn. I wasn’t one to blush but I could feel my cheeks heating up and hoped my skin supressed the flush. He was so much older than me in so many ways, the last thing I wanted was to appear the naïve schoolgirl.

And I didn’t know what to say to that. He was staring at me with those dark eyes, a look so intense yet sparkling with charm and something…wicked.

I’d never find out how wicked they could be.

“Ronnie!” A melodic, ultra-feminine voice sliced through the moment like an unwieldy machete, causing me to flinch, my fingers tightening around the stem of the glass.

Oh no, I thought. Not now.

Logan’s head swiveled toward the sound of the voice, like a hound picking up a scent. I didn’t bother looking over, I kept my focus on him, watching his expression intently. It changed, as I knew it would.

She had walked into the room.

He saw her.

And like it was for so many men, that look of lust I had thought was for me, was now for her.

That’s when I knew it was over. Whatever thing I had felt for him, it didn’t matter anymore, not when she was in the room. Nothing ever mattered as long as she was around.

I might have saw him first.

But he was all hers after that.

 

 

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Halle HeadshotKarina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of The Pact, Racing the Sun, Sins & Needles and over 25 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.

Halle is represented by the Waxman Leavell Agency and is both self-published and published by Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.

Hit her up on Instagram at @authorHalle, on Twitter at @MetalBlonde and on Facebook. You can also visit www.authorkarinahalle.com and sign up for the newsletter for news, excerpts, previews, private book signing sales and more.

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New Release! Heat Wave by Karina Halle is now available! Read on for an excerpt!

 

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heat-wave-3d-bookThey say when life closes one door, another one opens.

This door happens to lead to paradise.

And a man I can never, ever have.

Still grieving the loss of her sister who died two years ago, the last thing Veronica “Ronnie” Locke needed was to lose her job at one of Chicago’s finest restaurants and have to move back in with her parents. So when a window of opportunity opens for her – running a kitchen at a small Hawaiian hotel – she’d be crazy not to take it.

The only problem is, the man running the hotel drives her crazy:

Logan Shephard.

It doesn’t matter that he’s got dark brown eyes, a tall, muscular build that’s sculpted from daily surfing sessions, and a deep Australian accent that makes your toes curl.

What does matter is that he’s a grump.

Kind of an asshole, too.

And gets under Ronnie’s skin like no one else.

But the more time Ronnie spends on the island of Kauai, falling in love with the lush land and its carefree lifestyle, the closer she gets to Logan. And the closer she gets to Logan, the more she realizes she may have pegged him all wrong. Maybe it’s the hot, steamy jungles or the invigorating ocean air, but soon their relationship becomes utterly intoxicating.

There’s just one major catch.

The two of them together would incite a scandal neither Ronnie, nor her family, would ever recover from.

Forbidden, Illicit, off-limits – sometimes the heat is worth surrendering to, even if you get burned.

 

AMAZON | Amazon Paperback | iBooks | B&N

 

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PROLOGUE

I saw him first.

It shamed me to think it then, it shames me to think it now.

But that’s what the truth does to you sometimes. It shames you because it’s only in the truth that you realize how human you really are. What a raw, devastating thing that is, to embrace your humanity and learn to live with all your sharp points, the hollow places, the cracks and the crevices. To be utterly real. To be terribly flawed.

Those cracks had always been forming inside me, slowly making their way to the surface over the years. In my family, there wasn’t much you could do but try and hold yourself together, to stick glue on your wounds, to paste over the imperfections. But the cracks still grew, until all of us were held together by crumbling cement, just statues waiting to collapse.

That was years and years ago. I was just twenty-two at the time. A baby. I’m still a baby in the grand scheme of things, but there’s something precious about your early twenties, where you think you’re so much older, bigger, than you are, where life is just about to deliver the crushing blows that will knock you off your feet for the rest of your days. The small things become the big things and the big things become the small things and you aren’t quite sure when they made the switch.

But in the end, I saw him first. He was mine, even before he knew it. He was mine in some strange way that I still don’t understand. The only way I can think of to explain it is…

You just know.

There are moments in your life, people in your life, that when they cross your path and meet your eye, you know. Maybe it’s all in the chemistry, certain pheromones that react when they mix together, maybe it’s a smell that triggers a memory, maybe it’s a glimpse at a future you don’t recognize or a hint at the past, a life you’ve lived and forgotten. Whatever it is, you know that moment, that person, is going to shape you for the rest of your life.

That’s what it was like when I saw him. Standing over by the windows and staring out Lake Michigan, like he was wishing he could be anywhere but there.

I wished the same. My mother’s the deputy mayor of Chicago and this was another one of her fundraisers I felt obliged to attend. It was tradition in my family, for my father, for me, for my sister, to show up and wave the flag of support. It didn’t seem to matter that the stuffy politicians that surrounded these events never paid me any attention. And if they did, it was the wrong kind of attention, always the sixty-year-old man leering after the young thing with the nice smile.

Luckily I didn’t smile all that often. My resting bitch face took over whenever I was deep in thought, which was pretty much all the time.

But this guy…I felt a kinship with him. I felt like I knew exactly what he was thinking, feeling, and that it was completely wrapped up in and connected to everything that was going through me.

I don’t know where I found the nerve to go over and talk to him. He seemed so much older, not quite the sixty-year-old politicians I was used to seeing, but maybe in his early-thirties. More than that, there was some kind of aura around him. Sounds stupid, I know. Whatever it was, it was like he belonged in some whole other universe than here, a star on earth, permanently grounded and yearning to be in the sky.

It was usually Juliet’s job to go around and make everyone feel warm and comfortable at these events—hell, in every event—but she wasn’t here yet. And though I could have easily stayed in the shadows, I was pulled to him, like he had a wave of gravity whirling around him.

I remember what I was wearing. Strappy flats because I hated wearing heels, a knee-length cocktail dress in emerald green, sleeveless, high-neck. It made me look older and I wore it because my mother always wanted me to look like a lady.

With a glass of champagne in hand, I made my way over to the windows, my heart racing the closer I got to him. He looked taller up close, well over six feet. His shoulders were broad, like a swimmer’s, and suddenly I had a vision of him diving into the lake. The navy blue suit he was wearing looked well-tailored but he seemed uncomfortable in it, like he couldn’t wait to get rid of it.

I stood beside him for a moment, following his gaze out the window. He seemed lost in his thoughts but out of my peripheral his head tilted slightly and he brought his eyes over to me while I kept staring at that wide expanse of water, stretching out to the horizon.

“Can’t wait to get out of here?” I asked, but though my tone was mild, my delivery was bold. It was as if someone else had taken a hold of my body, forcing me to speak. I slowly turned my head to meet his eyes.

I was taken aback for a second. He was staring at me like he knew me, even though I’d never seen him before. Then again, I was sure I’d been staring at him in the same way. That feeling of knowing. He knew me, I knew him, and who the hell knows how that was possible.

His eyes were brown—are brown—dark with currents of gold and amber, giving them beautiful clarity. Slightly almond shaped. His brows were also dark, arched, adding to the intensity of his gaze. He’s the type of guy whose eyes latch onto you, dig deep, trying to sift through the files of your life, see who you really are.

“How did you know?” he asked, a full-on Australian accent rumbling through his gruff voice. It made my stomach flip, my core smolder. How deed you now, is what it sounded like. Funny how I stopped hearing the accent after time.

I gave a half shrug and looked back to the party. More people had flooded the room, mingling around the appetizers. My mother was in the corner, a crowd of politicians around her. She didn’t see me. She never did.

“Because I think I’d rather be in the middle of Lake Michigan too,” I told him, “then be stuck here with all these people.”

“These people,” he repeated. My focus was drawn to his lips, full, wide, tilting up into a smirk. Beneath them was a strong chin and even sharper jaw, dusted with a five o’clock shadow that seemed permanent, like the man couldn’t get a clean shave even if he tried. “How do you know I’m not one of these people?”

“Because you’re over here and not over there. How come you keep answering my questions with more questions?”

He studied me for a moment. My blood pounded in my head and I felt a giddy kind of thrill at how this was progressing. If anything, I was proud for holding my own with this handsome stranger. He was the first man I ever really felt at ease with.

He cleared his throat, offered me a quick smile before he nodded at the lake, his hands sliding into his pockets. “She almost looks like the ocean, doesn’t she?”

“Not quite the same as Australia, I would imagine.”

“No hiding this accent, is there?” He glanced at me and stuck out his hand, which I shook for a moment, warm palm to warm palm. “I’m Logan Shepard. Australian. And the reason I’m here is because I was invited by a friend of mine. I’m only in town for a few days and he didn’t want to go alone. He’s over there.” He nodded at a tall black man in the corner, listening intently to another man.

“Warren Jones,” he said, as if I should know him. Perhaps I should. He probably thought I was one of them. “He’s local and the key piece to my investment.”

I wasn’t one for business talk—I never had anything to contribute other than lamenting student loans—but I wanted him to keep talking. “What’s your investment?”

“Starting my own hotel,” he said. “In Hawaii. Have you ever been there?”

“Once. When I was eight. I think we were in Honolulu. I remember a city, anyway. Waikiki Beach.”

“This hotel is in Kauai. The Garden Isle. Went there once as a teenager and couldn’t get it out of my mind.”

I didn’t know the right things to say. I wanted to ask more about the hotel, what it means when you have an investor, but I didn’t want to appear dumb. I kept my mouth shut.

“You haven’t introduced yourself,” he said. “Protecting a secret identity?”

I smiled, close-lipped. “Not really. I’m Veronica Locke. American. And I unfortunately I don’t have much else to add to that.”

“Locke?” he repeated, eyes darting to my mother. “Are you the daughter of the deputy mayor, Rose Locke?”

“One of them,” I told him.

He nodded quickly. “I see. No wonder you’d rather be in the middle of the bloody lake. I bet you have to do this stuff all the time.”

“It’s not so bad.” I took a sip of my drink so I didn’t have to say anything more and looked away at the crowd. The bubbles teased my nose, making my eyes water.

I could feel his gaze on me as he spoke. “I’m sure you have plenty more to say about yourself though. Where do you work? Student?”

“Culinary arts,” I told him. “I’m one of those crazy people who dream of being a chef one day.”

He frowned. “Why is that crazy?”

I gave him a look, forgetting that most people have no idea how hard it is. “Because it’s a long road, long hours, and nothing is guaranteed. People think being a chef is easy. They see Gordon Ramsey or Nigella Lawson and think it’s all fame and food and money and they have no idea what it’s really like. I’m not even out of school and already I feel half-beaten.”

He was still frowning. He did that a lot, I would soon learn. “Sounds like life to me.” His eyes dropped to my lips and something intensely carnal came over them, like suddenly I was the food, not the wannabe chef. “Did you want to get a drink somewhere. After this? When you’ve done your daughterly duties?”

I swallowed hard. I didn’t know what a drink meant. Just a drink? A date? Was it sex? I started going through my head, trying to think of reasons why it was a bad idea. My legs were shaved, did my bra and underwear match? Did I have a condom? I had taken the pill this morning, even though my last boyfriend and I had broken up months ago. I hadn’t been with a guy, let alone a man, in a long time.

Don’t flatter yourself, I quickly thought. What makes you think he’d be interested in you that way?

“Yes,” I said when I finally found my voice. “Yes, I would like that.”

A spark flashed in his eyes, lighting them up in such a way that made my toes literally curl. Damn. I was in trouble with this man. “Any way you can get out of your duties sooner?” he asked.

I couldn’t help but smile, raising my brow at his presumptuousness, while simultaneously trying to hide the fact that I was freaking out. I looked around the room and tried to judge how likely it was that someone would notice if I was gone. My mom was still surrounded by a wall of people and no one was paying any attention to us, standing by the windows, already removed.

A sad thought hit me, sliding past before I could really dwell on it: no one even notices when I’m here.

“If we’re quick and sneaky,” I told him.

“Being quick isn’t in my repertoire,” he said, “but I could give it a shot.”

Again. Damn. I wasn’t one to blush but I could feel my cheeks heating up and hoped my skin supressed the flush. He was so much older than me in so many ways, the last thing I wanted was to appear the naïve schoolgirl.

And I didn’t know what to say to that. He was staring at me with those dark eyes, a look so intense yet sparkling with charm and something…wicked.

I’d never find out how wicked they could be.

“Ronnie!” A melodic, ultra-feminine voice sliced through the moment like an unwieldy machete, causing me to flinch, my fingers tightening around the stem of the glass.

Oh no, I thought. Not now.

Logan’s head swiveled toward the sound of the voice, like a hound picking up a scent. I didn’t bother looking over, I kept my focus on him, watching his expression intently. It changed, as I knew it would.

She had walked into the room.

He saw her.

And like it was for so many men, that look of lust I had thought was for me, was now for her.

That’s when I knew it was over. Whatever thing I had felt for him, it didn’t matter anymore, not when she was in the room. Nothing ever mattered as long as she was around.

I might have saw him first.

But he was all hers after that.

 

 

 

 

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Halle HeadshotKarina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of The Pact, Racing the Sun, Sins & Needles and over 25 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.

Halle is represented by the Waxman Leavell Agency and is both self-published and published by Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.

Hit her up on Instagram at @authorHalle, on Twitter at @MetalBlonde and on Facebook. You can also visit www.authorkarinahalle.com and sign up for the newsletter for news, excerpts, previews, private book signing sales and more.

FACEBOOK TWITTER GOODREADS AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

 

Read an excerpt from the upcoming Unbreakable by Kallie Ross!

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She thought her story was over.

Little did she realize, it had just begun.

From Young Adult author Kallie Ross, comes the first full-length novel in The Cupid Chronicles

UNBREAKABLE!

Filled with action, romance, and an adventure that will keep readers on the edge of their seat…What will the fate of the world be as it balances on the tip of one girl’s arrow? Get ready to fly and fall in love with UNBREAKABLE on November 14th!

 

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About UNBREAKABLE (The Cupids Chronicles #1):

Dying for the love of your life…

Evelyn Bowden thought her story was over. Little did she realize, it had just begun.

The heavens made her a Cupid– a supernatural with the rarest ability. One that allows her to pierce both mortals and immortals with arrows possessing everlasting love. But Evelyn soon discovers Cupids fight a battle in a long fought war.

A duty to protect the purest form of love…

As Evelyn embarks on her first mission, helping a Gargoyle find his true love, she is exposed to the blurred battle lines between light and darkness. While an unknown threat proves it’s willing to do anything to get their hands on Evelyn and her arrows, the heavens send AndelLambros to help protect her. She finds herself at risk of being distracted by her former mentor, Andel, a stunning Cupid with dimples hard to ignore.

Missing her mark could lead to a supernatural war…

Having no idea how powerful she is, Evelyn is forced to put everything on the line as she balances the fate of the world on the tip of her arrow. But will love conquer all once she hits her mark, or will all be lost in the end?

Pre-order your copy today!
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EXCERPT:

 

Chapter 1

 

Heaven should be the end-all-be-all, most epic finale of your life. At least that’s what Evelyn Bowden had assumed.

Evelyn, with her favorite jeans and green T-shirt, rushed across the heavens. She looked like a mall-walker trying to keep up the pace during peak Christmas Eve shopping hours. Inspecting the fluffy clouds she traversed was tempting, but she wouldn’t allow her curiosity to distract her. She had appeared in the heavens once before but was still bewildered by the transparency of the somehow solid air beneath her feet. Clouds weren’t easy to trust, but she was coming to terms with being more than a mere mortal, with being a Cupid.

Flexing her supernatural powers, Evelyn’s gold tattoo glinted along the inside of her forearm. The arrow had appeared on her skin after she had marked her first couple, but it looked different than her mentor’s tattoo. She didn’t know why her tattoo was so much more embellished. Her brilliant arrow donned delicate vines like a maypole wrapped in ribbons.

Around her, Cupids paraded through the gleaming city set on air. Some armed themselves with their bow and arrows as if on a mission. Others strolled along the sidewalks, enjoying the perfect weather. One man passed by her in a pinstriped three-piece suit, leaving Evelyn wondering if she should turn around and change. Her nineteen-year-old college student attire didn’t seem to measure up to the heavenly dress code.

Evelyn had a meeting with the Elders. She didn’t know if the invitation required a more formal Cupid look, so she summoned her bow and quiver full of arrows with a simple thought. Her weapons appeared strapped across her torso. Evelyn grinned, pleased with herself.

“You can put those away. And you can also slow down. The Elders are not going anywhere,” Andel suggested. He’d been following her. As her mentor, he should have been leading the way, but Evelyn’s nervous energy had her bouncing ahead. Her feet stuttered, but Evelyn found herself distracted by the different buildings and Cupids they passed. Each one resembled a different era that Evelyn recognized.

Andel stopped in his tracks, but she kept walking just a few paces more before fully processing what he was saying. “Remember, they called us in for the meeting.”

“Should I be wearing something else?” Evelyn asked with the hint of a Southern accent. She took in Andel’s six-foot-and-change frame. He wore jeans, but they were tailored to fit him perfectly. His boots and belt matched, and his white T-shirt was somehow classic and trendy the way he had the hem tucked in at his hip.

“Of course not. I’m practically wearing the same thing. Our appearance is usually determined by our assignment, but while we are in the heavens, you should feel comfortable being yourself. We are heavenly warriors, not supermodels.” Andel’s constant voice of reason grated on her nerves. Technically they both sported jeans and a T-shirt, but Andel looked like he could grace the cover of GQ magazine.

“Thanks.” Evelyn rolled her eyes.

“What I meant—”

“It’s okay,” Evelyn waved off Andel’s backpedaling. She knew she wasn’t a Kardashi-whoever, and she also knew Andel didn’t really mean anything by it. As her mentor, he had always been focused on the job at hand. He’d welcomed Evelyn when she first woke up in this afterlife and he had never left her side.

She had died. It was still hard to believe.

And while taking a deathly blow for her boyfriend had seemed like a good idea at the time, Evelyn had lingered in the second stage of loss: anger. She spent the first few months of her immortality fighting Andel, even though his job was to teach her how to fight. Andel had trained and encouraged her during the process of becoming a Cupid, despite her lack of enthusiasm. Every person chosen to be a Cupid died for someone they loved, and those chosen always had a choice: move on or commit to being a Cupid. The promise of immortality could only be sealed with a perfect shot through two hearts. The only problem was Evelyn had marked an immortal unknowingly, and in the process, found out she had a power distinctly different than any other Cupid.

“You need to keep up,” Evelyn said over her shoulder to Andel. She continued to walk as fast as her legs would take her in the direction of the Elder’s headquarters. Evelyn’s face was new to the meandering Cupids around them, so some staggered and stared like she had two heads. She caught a white-haired Cupid with a combover double take in her direction and didn’t know if she should be more surprised that he wouldn’t need a neck brace or that she’d gotten used to the feeling of shocking others. Unaffected, she hurried right on by the Armory building; its medieval turrets and brick outer walls looked a lot like Dover Castle. And as she passed the Placement Office, she noted it resembled the Parthenon.

The Cupids moved with purpose. As their arms swung at their sides, Evelyn caught a glimpse of a few golden tattoos, but none of them looked like hers. Not even Andel’s incandescent arrow-ink looked similar to hers. In fact, they all looked as if they differed in one way or another. The only thing they all had in common was the point of the arrowhead touched their wrist and the end reached to the inside of everyone’s elbow. The feathers making up Andel’s fletching had hundreds of lines. The other tattoos she caught a glimpse of had fewer lines, but every tattoo was structured and streamlined. Evelyn’s feathers were more chaotic and looser, swirling as if they’d been caught in a breeze.

“The sooner we get there, the sooner I get answers,” Evelyn said, hoping the Elders could tell her why she was different. But she also wanted to get her next assignment, so she could get back to the mortal realm. The staring and glaring she’d gotten from every Cupid up here, excluding Andel, was worse than being the girl who dropped her tray of food in the cafeteria. She had experience being the new kid, even the new foster kid, but the wide berths the other Cupids gave her as they walked around her were starting to make her wonder if they were threatened by her.

“Evelyn, stop.” Andel used his entire six feet and four inches to catch up to his protégé. Grabbing hold of her elbow, Andel forced Evelyn to face him, super-soft cotton T-shirt first. She considered the awkwardness for a moment before being sidetracked by the muscles underneath. There was nothing soft about those.

“Excuse me, but”—Evelyn regained her composure, straightening her smooth, shoulder-length brown hair—“why?” She was fed up with not knowing the truth, and she wanted answers. She was different now. She’d accepted the terms of her immortality, but the agreement felt more like a compromise. Evelyn needed to know why she, of all Cupids, could pierce immortals with love.

“For one thing, I believe we will be better received if we arrive calmly. You are not calm,” Andel said through gritted teeth. He never lost his cool, but it didn’t stop Evelyn from trying to push his buttons.

“And by calm, you mean we should take our orders and be on our way? No fritter way!” Evelyn’s twang emphasized each word with an extra syllable.

Language was yet another change Evelyn was coping with. Evelyn’s fists clenched, sending her nails digging into her palms. You’d think after helping the Cupids out and saving the world, or whatever it was she’d done in her last stint, she’d be allowed to express herself more explicitly. The transformation she had undergone, from human to Cupid, however, required sacrifice. A whole lot of sacrifice. In this case, language. She couldn’t cuss! Ever. “Donut!”

“Thank you for considering my advice.” Andel placed his hands on his hips. “You have definitely captured calm.”

Evelyn tugged at one of her earlobes, trying to relax and keep herself from returning Andel’s sarcasm. She could have sworn it was a reflexology technique, but it didn’t seem to help. “Fine. I’ll channel my inner comatose state.”

“There is no way you could ever stay quiet long enough to be considered comatose. You even talk in your sleep.” Andel’s smile was a scarce addition to their banter, and it hinted that Andel was attempting to joke with her. Everything Andel did, he did perfectly. Evelyn thought everything about the Grecian archer was annoying when they had first met, but his attempt at humor had since been slowly making up for his weird way of speaking and impeccable posture.

A shrill soprano voice sang from behind Evelyn’s personal life-sized action figure. “Andel!”

Evelyn peeked around Andel and spotted a statuesque woman with long silky black curls approaching. The closer she came, the higher pitched her voice got. Her skin was the color of cinnamon, and she wore a red blouse with a sultry, black pencil skirt and stilettos.

“Wowzers,” Evelyn let slip. She wondered what kind of assignment this Cupid had in order to dress that way. After all, weren’t Cupids supposed to wear clothes to blend into their surroundings? But this woman would have stood out in any place she went.

Andel put a hand out to keep Evelyn tucked behind him. “Let me handle this,” he whispered.

“How have you been, Darling?” The Cupid asked Andel. “I’m glad to see you’re still standing after your last assignment. I heard it was…challenging.”

The woman patted Andel’s arm, either choosing to ignore Evelyn’s presence or being completely drawn in by Andel.

“The word ‘challenging’ does not begin to cover it,” Andel said with a grin. Evelyn poked a finger at Andel’s side, and he jumped, revealing his charge.

Evelyn smiled widely, while the woman’s face contorted. First, her eyebrows furrowed in thought, and she pressed her lips together, taking Evelyn in. Then, the corner of her mouth quirked up at one corner.

“Well, hello.” The Cupid stuck her hand out to shake Evelyn’s. “I’m Zora. I’m sure Andel’s mentioned me. We go way back.”

Evelyn slipped her hands into her pockets. “Hi.”

When Evelyn didn’t offer her own hand, Zora waved it off. “Evelyn, right?”

“Right.”

“So, is it true you pierced a witch during your induction?” Zora asked, getting right to the point. “I heard your arrows turn—”

“Zora, hold off,” Andel interrupted.

“Red, yes,” Evelyn finished, ignoring Andel’s interruption. “Yes, it’s true. If your friends really want something juicy, you can tell them I talk in my sleep. At least, that’s what Andel tells me.”

“So our gold arrows turn red when you point them at supernaturals?” Zora’s smirk tightened. “Interesting.”

Andel looked back and forth between the two women. Gossip tantalized Cupids the same way riddles tasted sweet on the lips of Faeries.

“What’s so interesting about me?” Evelyn asked.

Zora squinted as if searching Evelyn for the answer. “You’re young, new. A sparkly thing that will dull with time.”

“That’s enough, Zora.” Andel reached for Evelyn’s hand and pulled her in the direction of the Elders’ headquarters. “We’ll be late.”

Evelyn turned to look back at Zora, and her smirk had shifted into a grimace. Zora’s eyes honed in on Evelyn’s hand in Andel’s, and Evelyn debated how far she wanted to take the stunt. It only took a few more steps before she felt guilty. She pulled her hand out of Andel’s grip to create some space between them, but she still felt a pang of shame at being so petty.

“What was that all about?” Evelyn asked once she was sure Zora couldn’t overhear her.

“Nothing.”

Evelyn rolled her eyes. “That wasn’t nothing. Zora doesn’t like me, and I’ve never met her before. How’s that even possible?”

“It has nothing to do with disliking you. It is a fear of the unknown.” Andel’s straight forward approach to communicating with Evelyn left her hungry for more emotional explanations. It baffled her that a Cupid like Andel who felt every mortal emotion around him couldn’t express one sentiment verbally.

“That Cupid is jealous. Did you mentor her, too?”

“No, and there is no reason for her to be jealous.”

“Well, it’s not like I was going to shoot her with one of my arrows. And, even if I did, it wouldn’t do anything unless I caught another person in the crossfire.”

“But you are different, and the unknown evokes apprehension,” Andel’s voice grew serious.

“Did you read that off a fortune in a cookie?”

Andel tilted his head to the side, raising his eyebrows. “No, but it would make a good one. You know the fortune I would give you? Welcome the change coming into your life.”

“Whatever. Patience is a virtue unless it’s against a brick wall.”

Andel let out a laugh that caught the attention of a few Cupids passing them. “Speaking of brick walls—” Andel eyed Evelyn and pointed toward an ancient red-brick hall. It reminded Evelyn of places she wished she’d gotten a chance to visit while she was still alive. Growing up in Louisiana, there were some historical sites, but nothing like touring Westminster Abbey or Windsor Castle.

Evelyn sighed. “The Elders could choose to send me out on my own.”

“They might.” Andel slowed his pace. “If they do, you are ready. But I think they will take your request for me to join you seriously.”

Evelyn let hope fill her lungs. “Oh, really?”

She knew Andel wouldn’t give anything away, even if he knew something. He respected the chain of command too much. “Yes, but we must show a united front…and arrive on time.” He had promised to help Evelyn find out if there were more Cupids with her ability to pierce immortals. She didn’t know how long it would take or if the Elders would allow either of them the time they needed.

“You know, I wouldn’t blame you if you’d prefer another partner.” Evelyn used her thumb to point back in Zora’s direction. “She looks like a less complicated candidate. I could even use one of my trusty red arrows to seal the deal.” Evelyn waggled her eyebrows.

“If you shoot her with your arrow, I will—”

“You’ll what?” Evelyn countered, narrowing her eyes.

Andel folded his arms across his chest, creating a barrier to block Evelyn’s implication. “You know Cupids do not technically work in pairs.” As Evelyn’s grin faltered, Andel moved forward. “I am strictly an advisor,” he clarified.

“Why is that? That chick over there is gorgeous. I could send an arrow flying, and you two could have supermodel Cupid-babies.”

Andel’s mouth drooped into a deep frown. “How about a deal?”

Evelyn nodded, curious.

“I will explain why Cupids avoid shooting and consorting with each other, but only after you keep your cool in this meeting.”

“Consorting?” Evelyn slowed down and wrinkled her nose as if the word smelled like souring milk. “Fine, but I want the lowdown on Zora, too.”

Andel moved past Evelyn and she fell into step behind him. Consumed with her thoughts and questions, she tripped over the front steps of the building. Andel caught hold of her shoulder before she bit the dust—or clouds. From afar, the set of structures had resembled those standing on a prestigious, ancient college campus: tall columns, intricate leaded windows, and oversized doors. But the scale was off. These columns made earthly structures look like Lego sets. The brick walls were held together with gold, and the doors were decorated with metallic arrows in a criss-cross pattern.

“I might have believed you sooner about being a Cupid if you’d brought me to see this place. It’s awesome,” Evelyn said. Her mouth fell open and her eyes grew wider as she took two steps at a time to catch up to Andel.

“That is exactly why I avoided bringing you here. You would have gotten the wrong idea. This is not Heaven. It is the heavens. There is a big difference.”

“Close enough for me, for now.” Evelyn didn’t wait for another lecture. Andel had explained when they first arrived that the heavens served as a realm for the Cupids before they eventually moved on to Heaven if they chose to.

She reached for the golden door handles, but the entrance opened before she could take hold. A cozy room, a library, revealed itself. Three walls were lined with dark wooden shelves, and each ledge was covered in leather-bound books. Four overstuffed chairs sat at the center of the room, surrounded by a few tables and chairs. But Evelyn couldn’t quite place the farthest wall. The shelves appeared to stretch infinitely.

It was her dream library.

“Whoa! This is definitely my kind of Heaven.”

“It is a magnificent feature, isn’t it?” A woman with a loose gray bun on top of her head stepped out from behind one of the never-ending bookshelves. Her smile pushed past heavy wrinkles and lit the room. “I do appreciate your idea of the perfect place. I’d like to spend time curled up here, reading each book. Is this room somewhere you’ve been or is it a conjured dream?”

“Wha—? Um…I think a mixture of both.” Evelyn twisted her lips, trying to remember. Time had started to erase some of the pain of letting go of her mortal existence, but it also endangered her most precious memories.

The elderly woman walked across the room with ease, grazing her fingers over the books and rich, stained shelves. Her simple gray dress fell to the floor and created the illusion that she floated over the area rug positioned under the chairs at the center of the room. She wore a blue cardigan that Evelyn envied as it appeared to be as cozy and inviting as the room. But then, the feeling may have been emanating from the woman herself.

Evelyn had never known her grandparents, and if this room created her perfect place, she wondered if it included the perfect grandmother.

“It’s nice to finally meet you, Evelyn.” The older woman stopped a few feet shy of the doorway. “My name is Neomi. I’m one of the Elders you’ve been eager to interrogate.”

Evelyn’s eyebrows lifted, anticipating a lecture. Andel was so good at them, she figured it was one of the Cupids’ supernatural powers. Neomi waved her in, and Evelyn caught Neomi nodding to Andel. Evelyn sank into one of the chairs and picked up a stack of books. Perusing the titles, she expected the other two Cupids to get comfortable as well.

“I’ll give you two some privacy.” Andel’s voice had softened in the presence of Neomi.

“Wait!” Evelyn popped up out of her seat as the books on her lap tumbled onto the floor. “Why are you leaving? We need to find out if they’re going to let you help me.”

Andel’s mouth flattened into a line and he dodged eye contact with Evelyn. “I will wait for you outside.”

Before Evelyn could reach him, Neomi placed a hand on her shoulder. Not exactly a Vulcan nerve pinch, but the Elder’s hand suspended Evelyn in place both emotionally and physically. Andel pulled the doors closed behind him. After the snick of the latch catching, Neomi let her hand fall to her side. She moved to the chair closest to Evelyn and sat down.

Evelyn remained standing in a stubborn display of her immortal youth.

“Dear girl, you can relay to Andel what you want after our discussion. Now, please, sit.” Neomi patted the chair Evelyn had vacated.

Evelyn complied and sat, crossing her legs. “Why won’t you tell us if you plan to let Andel keep mentoring me?”

“I have informed Andel, and I’ll be happy to let you know our decision if you will relax.”

“But how? When?”

Evelyn and Andel hadn’t spent much time apart since they’d arrived in the heavens, and at no point had Neomi addressed Andel or the topic at hand while he was still in the room. Evelyn hadn’t heard a whisper, even with her super-Cupid-hearing.

“I will explain if you’ll let me.” Neomi pushed herself back into the cushion of her chair while Evelyn leaned forward to pick up the books strewn on the floor in front of her.

“I’m listening,” Evelyn said.

“As Cupids, we’re able to communicate telepathically.” Neomi grinned as Evelyn attempted to comprehend her. “It is not mind reading, and the communication is allowed with permission.”

“Are you sure you’re not mind melding with me? Because I’m pretty sure you read my thoughts just then,” Evelyn pointed out, and Neomi’s smile grew. “So, why didn’t Andel teach me this earlier?”

“It’s not an ability that shows itself before the full acceptance and commitment of becoming a Cupid.”

“Oh.” It was all Evelyn could bring herself to utter.

Neomi nodded to Evelyn. “May I?”

Evelyn half-nodded, unsure of what to expect. She stilled the moment she felt Neomi’s soft voice tiptoe through her mind. Hello,Evelyn.

Evelyn smiled. The invading thoughts tickled. She thought, Hi, in response. Evelyn stared at Neomi as if her eyes could push the greeting.

Very good, but the more forcefully you press your thoughts, the louder they are in my head. Neomi turned away from Evelyn and walked over to a shelf lining the wall. She appeared to be reading the spines of a row of books. Try it more gently.

Which book is your favorite? Evelyn thumbed through one of the novels in her lap. Shakespeare’s sonnets filled the pages.

Better.Neomi thought. Hmm… It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed a good story, but I always go back to War and Peace.

“Really?” Evelyn thought and said aloud with a frown. “But it’s so tragic. And the droning on and on about the war. I’m not too sure where the peace comes in.”

Neomi broke out into a bubbling laughter. The airy sound filled the room with joy that could practically be inhaled. “Good point. I hope that you’ve been able to get Andel to laugh like this.”

“Speaking of Andel—” Evelyn shifted in her chair. “Is he going to be able to help me on my next assignment?”

Yes.Neomi’s lips quirked to one side.

Evelyn had a feeling the Elder thought more but held her tongue. She ignored the curiosity bubbling up in her gut because she was flooded with relief at knowing Andel could continue working with her. She had hoped the Elders could also fill in a few blanks about her Cupid status. Was she a Cupid or something else? Evelyn wanted to find out if there was really another Cupid like her.

Someone cleared their throat behind one of the bookshelves, and a child revealed himself at the back of the room. He couldn’t be older than seven or eight years old. The boy wore a white kimono with a blue belt, and his black hair was cut close to his scalp.

“Sheng, I’m so glad you made it.” Neomi nodded to the boy, and they both made their way to two chairs across from Evelyn.

“Neomi.” Sheng dipped his head low in greeting and repeated the action in Evelyn’s direction. “Evelyn, at last, we meet. I would like to express my gratitude. Your selflessness in New Orleans, choosing to let go of your earthly life and serve in love, is an example Cupids will aspire to for centuries.”

“To be honest, there wasn’t much to choose from. Anyone would have done it.”

“Honestly. I don’t believe they would,” Neomi interjected. “You come from a culture that rivals the Golden Age in both material wealth and moral poverty.”

“Oh. Well, thank you.” Evelyn wasn’t quite sure how to respond, to Sheng or Neomi or the Elizabethan Era, but she hadn’t left her Southern manners back on Earth. A list of questions reeled through her brain, so she started with something simple. “Why did you ask me to meet you here if you could have just mind melded with me?”

“Our telepathic abilities have a tendency to unhinge new Cupids.” Neomi leaned forward and placed a hand over Evelyn’s. “We also realize your unique circumstances warrant some special attention.”

“I simply want some answers.” Evelyn slid her hand away from Neomi.

“What kind of answers?” Sheng asked.

Evelyn had to remind herself that this Elder was likely older than Andel. Her mentor looked 24, but he was actually a couple hundred years old.

“Hmmm… Let me think.” Evelyn rubbed her chin. “How about we start with why I’m different than every other Cupid in the heavens?”

“We are not sure,” Sheng replied.

“What?! Why don’t you know?” Evelyn fired back.

Sheng’s eyes darted to Neomi, and she fidgeted, crossing her legs toward the boy-Elder. Evelyn had taken a communications class in college and knew exactly what the two Elders’ nonverbal cues meant. She wouldn’t be getting anything out of them.

“This is baklava!” Evelyn attempted to cuss, but her sweet tooth got in the way. After piercing her first couple with an arrow full of love, Evelyn had transformed fully into a Cupid. Andel had explained their immortality and described their abilities. Cupids can poof anywhere on Earth, cloak themselves or glamour the way they look, and they had super speed, hearing, and sight. But not once had he mentioned that their human vices would bounce back and bite them in the ambrosia. “Good Lord! Just tell me why I’m here!”

Both Cupid Elders froze in their seats. Evelyn couldn’t tell if they were stunned by her use of Lord or by her outburst. One thing she was sure of was that they were having a telepathic conversation about her. The eerie silence threatened to push Evelyn over the edge.

“Since your transformation”—Neomi carefully began. She’d obviously lost a mental match of Rock, Paper, Scissors—“the Cupids have received several threats from other immortal races.”

“What does that have to do with me?” Evelyn threw her arms out in question.

“At first, many supernatural races requested your assistance.” Neomi winced at the words. “Then, as rumors spread about your ability, some Nox started bullying other Cupids for answers. They wanted to find out if the rumors were true—if you really gave a witch eternal love.”

Evelyn sat dumbfounded. She didn’t know which Nox were involved, but it couldn’t be good since Neomi looked like she swallowed a bag of Sour Patch Kids. “What kind of Nox?”

“Small factions of dark supernaturals are planning attacks. We understand the groups include Fairies, Witches, Shifters, and Vampires.” Sheng explained. “Even Lux, our allies, are threatening to withdraw from peace treaties.”

“And, what am I supposed to do about it? I don’t know why I am the way I am, and I don’t know what my crazed red arrows will do if I shoot again. What if I can only use them on certain immortals? Or what if I pierce a werewolf-couple and it kills them?”

“One step at a time, my dear.” Neomi’s soft voice had a calming effect on Evelyn’s racing heart. “We have an important assignment for you. Your mark will include a Gargoyle named Roscoe.”

Evelyn stood to her feet and placed her hands on her hips. “Wait a Ding Dong minute!”

 

 

 

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Meet Evelyn in EVELYN, a Cupid Chronicles Novella now FREE

iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Evelyn Bowden, at nineteen, sacrificed herself for the love of her life. Her act inspired the heavens to deem her immortal as a Cupid. Piercing two hearts with true love takes more than a bow and some arrows. That’s where AndelLambros comes in, he’s a handsome, experienced Cupid in charge of her training. While trying to prove herself worthy, Evelyn is challenged to deliver her first arrow, let go of her first love, and trust her mentor with her existence.

 

 

 

kallie-ross-headshotABOUT KALLIE ROSS:

Writing unique adventures with heart.

Kallie Ross has a passion for writing that has become an adventure in itself. She desires to create unique young adult fiction that incorporates legend, conjecture, fantasy, and conviction.

In addition to loving her life as a writer, Kallie adores being a wife, mother, friend, and teacher. She began her creative journey with books, a blog, podcast, and lots of caffeine. Ross never imagined her own adventure would be filled with so many wonderful people or words!

 

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Goodreads

 

 

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New Release! The Bound by K. A. Linde! Read an excerpt below…

 

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tb-amazonCyrene Strohm is a Queen’s Affiliate, a high-ranking official of the court of Byern, with power and privilege to spare. But she’s also a keeper of dangerous secrets: like the fact that she holds the heart of the King, and that she possesses magic in a world where magic no longer exists.

Determined to discover what this means and how to use her newfound abilities, Cyrene sets off for the distant land of Eleysia. An island nation where Affiliates are strictly forbidden from entering.

But the journey is perilous, and the destination may mean utter ruin, as Cyrene comes to learn that everything she’s been told her whole life – about her court, her homeland, and even herself—are bound in a beautiful lie.

 

 

 

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Staggering down the hallway, she didn’t even look up when she heard her name.

“Hmm?” she asked.

“Cyrene, there you are!”

Someone grabbed her shoulders, and she tipped her head to look up into the most beautiful face. She smiled and felt a renewed burst of energy flow through her.

“Hey,” she whispered.

“Hey,” he said, threading his fingers through hers. A shiver ran up her back. He glanced around the empty hallway and then tugged her away from the main corridors. She turned a corner, and he pressed her back into a darkened alcove. His mouth was only inches from hers.

Her exhaustion was wearing off from the excitement of being with him.

“I was really worried about you,” he breathed.

“You don’t have to worry about me,” she said, trapped in his gaze. She teetered on her tiptoes and nearly brushed their lips together. Her heart was racing ahead of her. This felt almost better than reaching for her magic. Definitely better than moving one drop of water at a time all day.

“You’re wrong.” Then, he softly dropped his mouth down on hers. His lips were tender and slow as they caressed hers. “I will always worry for your safety.”

Cyrene’s cheeks heated, and she sighed, leaning back against the hard stone of the alcove. “I didn’t mean to worry you.”

His hands pushed up through her hair and tilted her head back up to look at him. She closed her eyes and sighed. She was so tired, and just the feel of his fingers was lulling her to sleep.

“That feels good.”

His mouth found hers, and despite her exhaustion, she pushed back against his lips with more force. She refused to let the fact that she was tired get in the way of her time with him.

“Whoa,” he said, pulling back from her. He rested his forehead against hers, and she could tell he was breathing heavily. “As much as I want this, and I do, I want to make sure you’re okay. This didn’t scare you away?”

She shook her head. “This, most certainly, does not scare me.” Then, she kissed him again for good measure.

He laughed. “Good. Because I’ve been wanting to kiss you since I first met you.”

“You have not!” she insisted.

“Are you kidding? A gorgeous, feisty woman who wasn’t afraid to put me in my place the first time she met me? I mostly certainly have.”

 

 

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ta-amazonThe Affiliate: Book 1

“With rich romance and twisty political intrigue, THE AFFILIATE is a breakneck fantasy ride that’s perfect for fans of THE SELECTION or THRONE OF GLASS.” –Susan Dennard, NYT bestselling author of TRUTHWITCH

On the day of her Presenting, in front of the entire Byern Court, seventeen-year-old Cyrene Strohm’s lifelong plans come to fruition when she’s chosen for one of the most prestigious positions in her homeland–an Affiliate to the Queen.

Or so she thinks.

When Cyrene receives a mysterious letter and an unreadable book, she finds nothing is as it seems. Thrust into a world of dangerous political intrigue and deadly magic, Cyrene’s position only grows more treacherous when she finds herself drawn to the one man she can never have…

King Edric himself.

Cyrene must decide if love is truly worth the price of freedom. Find out in this first book in USA Today bestselling author K.A. Linde’s new Ascension series. Great for fans of Game of Thrones, Tudors, and Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series.

 

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editkylaK.A. Linde grew up as a military brat and created fantastical stories based off of her love for Disney movies, fairy tales, and Star Wars. In her spare time, she is an avid traveler, loves reading young adult novels, and dancing. Additionally, K.A. has written more than a dozen adult novels and is a USA Today bestselling author. She lives in Lubbock, TX with her husband and two super adorable puppies.

K.A. Linde loves to hear from her readers!

You can contact her at kalinde45@gmail.com or visit her online at one of the following sites:

www.kalinde.com

www.facebook.com/authorkalinde

@authorkalinde

 

 

New Release! 4 Star review + Read an excerpt from Crushing on Love by Melissa Foster

Today we have the release week blitz by Crushing on Love by Melissa Foster! Check out the excerpt and grab your copy today!

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About Crushing on Love:

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The Bradens are a series of stand alone novels that may also be enjoyed as part of the larger series.

 

“You can always rely on Melissa Foster to deliver a story that’s fresh, emotional and entertaining. Make sure you have all night, because once you start you won’t want to stop reading. Every book’s a winner!” NYT Bestselling Author Brenda Novak

 

“With her wonderful characters and resonating emotions, Melissa Foster is a must-read author!” New York Times Bestseller Julie Kenner

 

“Melissa Foster is synonymous with sexy, swoony, heartfelt romance!” New York Times Bestseller Lauren Blakely

 

In CRUSHING ON LOVE…

Steve Johnson is living his life’s passion watching over the Colorado Mountains as a ranger and wildlife consultant. But his peaceful life is upended when overzealous and insanely beautiful Shannon Braden flits back into his life after returning from a brief trip home to Maryland. He thought his attraction to her was under control—after all, she’s only in Colorado temporarily, and he doesn’t do casual affairs.

 

Shannon’s return to Colorado has as much to do with the game of cat and mouse she and Steve have been playing as it does the data she’s been hired to collect. But despite her efforts to explore the undeniable heat simmering between them, Steve’s intent on keeping his distance.

 

When a ranch abutting the national park goes up for sale, Steve will do whatever it takes to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. And when all his attempts fail, he’s left with no alternative but to follow Shannon’s guidance into the online world he abhors in order to raise the funds. The more time they spend together, the deeper their attraction becomes, and a game of cat and mouse turns into an unstoppable connection. But when Shannon’s assignment comes to an end, will it mean an end to them, too?

***

WANT MORE BRADENS? All Braden books can be read as stand-alone novels or as part of the series:

 

THE BRADENS (Peaceful Harbor, MD)

Healed by Love (Nate)

Surrender My Love (Cole)

River of Love (Sam)

Crushing on Love (Shannon)

Whisper of Love (Tempest)

Thrill of Love (Ty)

***

The Bradens are part of the Love in Bloom big family romance collection. Characters from each sub-series appear in future books.

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Grab Your Copy Today!!

Amazon | Nook | Kobo | GPLAY | Ibooks | Smashwords | Paperback: Amazon US

My Review:

4/5 Stars!

**happy sigh**

I love Melissa Foster’s books! She writes real characters with real issues. I was super excited to read the next in The Braden’s series.

Steve and Shannon are such an unlikely couple. Complete opposites. Steve prefers his solitude and Shannon is the epitome of a people person. They met in the past and Shannon has never really forgotten him. She’s at a crossroads in her life and decides to take some time to figure things out. She moves back and decides to see if something can happen with Steve. Unfortunately for Shannon, Steve is not a casual kind of guy. Shocker in this day and age of books, right?! However, Steve finds he needs her help.

I rooted for these two from from opening pages of the book. I these two characters. They are some of my favorite of all Melissa’s characters.

I hope you read this and love it as much as I do!

Exclusive Excerpt:

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SHANNON WATCHED STEVE swing his ax. He was built like the very mountains he loved: strong and stable, with layers of hard-earned muscles born from honest, hard work. Pure perfection. And that hair? Lord. What would it be like to fist her hands in his hair and kiss him? To touch all those hard planes of muscle? To discover the man behind the walls? She told herself those were wants not needs, no matter how much they felt like it. The kind of unrelenting wants that bring a girl to reach beneath the sheets and satisfy her fantasies.

Down, girl.

Shannon had been surprised by how much she’d missed Steve when she’d gone home for her eldest brother Cole’s wedding. She and Steve hadn’t spent more than a few stolen moments together during the weeks she was here for her first assignment. Usually she’d catch him working on equipment, or in his yard, before she returned to her uncle’s ranch in the evenings. He’d captivated her with his passion for, and endless knowledge about, all things wilderness related. And he was different from most of the guys she knew. He wasn’t hung up on his looks or material things. He was real, with a strong set of values and priorities. Somehow, between their almost daily conversations and weeks of hoping she’d see him, she’d become completely and utterly taken with him.

When she’d been offered the assignment and the cabin, she’d accepted without hesitation. She’d missed Steve too much to deny the attraction, and she wanted to see if something might come of it.

Now that she was here, her body was thrumming at the mere sight of him. Given that she’d actually asked him about his sex life—and nearly died on the spot when the question slipped out—she desperately needed to rein herself in.

He wiped sweat from his brow, his tanned skin glistening in the morning sun. “Need anything from town?” he asked, setting another log on the stump.

She couldn’t pry her eyes from his rippling abs and his bulbous biceps flexing with every move. “Town?”

He cocked a smile and hoisted the ax again. “Town. You know, the place where people who like Pinterest live?”

She forced her eyes away, glancing at the trees swaying in the breeze, the rocks at her feet, anywhere but at him.

“I know what town is. I’m just surprised you’re going there.” Everyone knew Steve hated to leave his precious mountain.

“Gotta take care of some business.”

Going into town was a big deal. Unlike a quick trip to the store from her apartment in Peaceful Harbor, the drive into town took at least thirty to forty-five minutes, depending on which town he was going to. She’d realized last night she’d forgotten two very important supplies. Pop-Tarts and toilet paper. She could probably live with the single roll of toilet paper she had in the cabin for another few days if she needed to, but Pop-Tarts were pretty much a necessity. Besides, maybe she could convince Steve to help her scout gray-fox habitats at dusk. Perfect!

“Can I come with you?” she asked hopefully. “I need to pick up a few things.”

“I’ll get them for you. What do you need?”

She bit her lower lip, willing herself not to fib. But if she asked him to pick up what she really needed, he’d leave and she’d have to go searching for habitats by herself. Now that she’d thought about going later with her yummy mountain man, she’d already settled on it in her mind.

“It’s girl stuff. You won’t want to get it.” So much for not fibbing. “Can I please go with you?” She gave him her best pleading look. “I promise not to talk your ear off.” Fib, fib, fib! She had no control over what came out of her mouth, especially around him.

He muttered under his breath and set the ax against the stump. “I’m not making a hundred stops.”

She leapt with delight and ran over to hug him. Her heel slipped out of her boot and she stumbled into him in a half hug, half full-body-draped-over-Steve embrace. His skin was hot, his body was hard, and getting harder by the second. He smelled like man and musk, and…she was still plastered against him.

She cleared her throat and managed, “Thank you.” Using his chest for leverage—yum, yum—she found her footing and pressed her heel back into her boot. “One stop. That’s it. Promise.”

“You’re excited to get those supplies.” He picked up the logs he’d chopped and piled them on his forearm like they were toothpicks.

“I’m just excited to be back. Maybe at dusk you can help me map out the habitats? It’ll be fun to scope them out together.”

He gave her a curious look. “Haven’t heard anyone describe hanging out with me as fun in a long time.”

“Then you’re hanging out with losers, and I’m taking that as a yes.” She grabbed the coffee mugs, unable to stop smiling.

“I’m leaving in twenty minutes.”

“I’ll be back lickety-split.” With a bounce in her step, she headed toward her cabin and heard him mutter, “Lickety-split,” followed by a chuckle.

 

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About Melissa Foster:

melissa-author-photoo

Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance and new adult romance, contemporary women’s fiction, suspense, and historical fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the World Literary Café and Fostering Success. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on Fostering Success. Melissa has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine.

Melissa hosts an Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.

Visit Melissa on social media. Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.

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Connect with Melissa:

NEWSLETTER:

http://www.melissafoster.com/newsletter

CONNECT WITH MELISSA

FACEBOOK:

https://www.facebook.com/MelissaFosterAuthor

TWITTER:

https://twitter.com/Melissa_Foster

WEBSITE:

http://www.MelissaFoster.com

STREET TEAM:

http://www.facebook.com/groups/melissafosterfans

 

Enter Melissa’s Blog Tour:
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Release Wee Blitz:

September 21st

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Machine by Normandie Alleman Excerpt Reveal!

 

 

 

Title: Machine: A Bad Boy Romance
Series: Barnes Family #2
Author: Normandie Alleman
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 19, 2016

 

Blurb
The Queen of Reality TV meets the Kingpin of Porn



She’s trying to clean up her act.

He’ s a purveyor of filth.
It will never work.
But don’t tell them that.



Dynassy Barnes isn’t known for her big heart.



She is, however, known for her heart-shaped ass and the selfies she shares with her army of social media followers. So when she meets a handsome former SEAL, she thinks she may have scored a love connection and a way to redeem her reputation with fans.



Bridger Thompson is a man of many secrets.



When an explosion in Iraq damaged his ability to satisfy his then-fiance, he never dreamed the machine he built to carry out his husbandly duties would turn into a business featuring women pleasuring themselves with it on camera. A business that could never be associated with The Barnes’ Family, the darlings of reality TV.



But Dynassy stirs a desire Bridger hasn’t felt in years, and he’s dead set on laying claim to the famous beauty—even though he fears he won’t be able to love her the way she deserves.



For that, he’d need to become a MACHINE.

 

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AMAZON US / UK

 

Excerpt
“So, I’m not a stranger?” Bridger teased.When he held me in his arms like that, the last thing he felt like was a stranger.

“No,” I managed shyly. I couldn’t believe how comfortable I was around him. He and I came from different worlds, but his embrace seemed like the safest place in the world. I suspected those big strong arms that just pulled me around the dance floor could protect me better than any man I’d ever met.

“Want to dance some more?” he asked.

“Yes.” I nodded enthusiastically.

We whirled across the floor, his hand on the small of my back guiding me, the muscles on the back of his neck pulsing under my fingertips. He smelled better than I would have dreamed—a combination of sandalwood and leather that spurred a sense of longing that made me imagine kissing his earlobe.

But before I could summon the courage to do it, the band stopped playing, and Bridger grabbed my hand. “Ready?”

I was ready for anything he wanted, so I said, “Sure.”

He walked me out to the parking lot and stood by an old gray pickup truck. That didn’t surprise me, but when he opened the passenger door to the eggplant-colored Dodge Viper next to it, I was caught off guard.

“I thought—” I started, but then tried to stop myself before I said something stupid, or worse, insulting.

He chuckled. “That the pickup was mine?”

I smiled, but didn’t answer.

“I get it.” Then he mumbled something about an inheritance and got behind the wheel. So, the mechanic, who’d been wounded in combat and was a SEAL no less, was also an heir of some sort. The better I got to know Bridger, the more I realized he was much more complicated than I’d originally thought.

There was a lot more to him than that deliciously curly brown hair and those piercing green eyes.

 

Also Available

 

AMAZON US / UK

 

 Author Bio
A former psychologist, Normandie has always been fascinated by human behavior. She loves writing quirky characters that are all too human. Fiber arts, baking, and Pinterest are a few of her favorite pastimes. A shamelessly proud basketball mom, Normandie lives on a farm with a passel of kids, an adorable husband, and a pet pig who’s crazy for Red Bull. If you’d like up to the minute new release info on Normandie’s books text RACYREADS to 24587 (Use all CAPS).
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Excerpt Reveal! Royally Screwed by Emma Chase – coming 10/18/16

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royally-screwed-for-webEmma Chase, New York Times bestselling author of the Tangled Series & Legal Briefs Series, returns with the first of three sizzling standalone books about a family of racy, irresistible Royals.

Nicholas Arthur Frederick Edward Pembrook, Crowned Prince of Wessco, aka “His Royal Hotness”, is wickedly charming, devastatingly handsome, and unabashedly arrogant—hard not to be when people are constantly bowing down to you.

Then, one snowy night in Manhattan, the prince meets a dark haired beauty who doesn’t bow down. Instead, she throws a pie in his face.

Nicholas wants to find out if she tastes as good as her pie, and this heir apparent is used to getting what he wants.

***

Dating a prince isn’t what waitress Olivia Hammond ever imagined it would be.

There’s a disapproving queen, a wildly inappropriate spare heir, relentless paparazzi, and brutal public scrutiny. While they’ve traded in horse drawn carriages for Rolls Royces and haven’t chopped anyone’s head off lately—the royals are far from accepting of this commoner.

But to Olivia—Nicholas is worth it.

***

Nicholas grew up with the whole world watching, and now Marriage Watch is in full force. In the end, Nicholas has to decide who he is, but more importantly, who he wants to be: a King… or the man who gets to love Olivia forever.

 

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The next week is blissfully uneventful. I address Palace business during the day, and spend my nights with Olivia—which are so much more than blissful.

While I work, she relaxes like I want her to. She walks the grounds and has found a friend in Franny. They’ve had lunch together a few times, which doesn’t exactly thrill me, but at the very least, I know she’s safe with Simon’s wife.

Franny, and her forked tongue, will protect Olivia from the Lucy-types looking to wound her with their half-truths.

On the rare occasions my brother is sober, he becomes increasingly agitated—like he’s unable to sit still, to stand his own company, or any sound that resembles silence. Finally, he decides to throw a welcome home party for himself.

I’m in my bathroom preparing for his royal yacht party, just showered with a towel around my hips, scraping the last of the shaving cream off my jaw, when Olivia appears in the doorway.

I thought she was lovely from the first moment I saw her. But here, now—her bare, soft skin wrapped in a pink silk robe, her face glowing with well-rested happiness…she’s magnificent.

“So…do you guys have like a gift shop or a convenience store around here?”

I laugh. “A gift shop?”

She holds up a light blue disposable razor. “I’m out of razors. This one’s so dull I could run it over my tongue without drawing blood.”

“Let’s not test that theory. I like your tongue too much.” I wipe my chin with a towel. “I can have the staff bring one to your room.”

The devil on my shoulder—and the angel too—smack me upside the head. And they whisper a much better idea.

“Or…I could help you out.”

Her brows draw together. “Help me out? I can’t use your razor.”

“No, definitely not—you’d cut yourself to ribbons.” I finger the sharp, heavy straight blade. “What I mean is…I could shave for you.”

Her eyes darken, the way they do when she’s right on the edge—right before she comes. And she moves closer to me.

“Do you…want to do that?”

My gaze drags down, down, over every sumptuous inch of her body.

“Oh, yes.”

 

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Emma Chase is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the hot and hilarious Tangled series and The Legal Briefs series. Emma lives in New Jersey with her husband, two children and two naughty (but really cute) dogs. She has a long-standing love/hate relationship with caffeine.

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