Spotlight – Reid

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This one is getting a whole LOT of 5 stars reviews … and I’m looking forward to getting my own copy so I can find out why!

*****

Reid

Vested Interest #4

by Melanie Moreland

Release Date: September 17, 2018

Blurb:

A child, abandoned and unloved.

A teen, adrift and disregarded, using his superior tech skills for the wrong intentions.

A young adult, his future overshadowed by his prison record, his life an endless loop of loneliness.

Until he is given a second chance and a new life emerges.

A career he once thought he could only dream of, surrounded by people who show him that family and home aren’t simply words.

And a girl who shows him the greatest, most complex code he could ever write.

Love.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40600876-reid\

Amazon Universal: http://mybook.to/Reid_VI

Apple, Kobo & Nook: https://books2read.com/ReidVestedInterest

Also available in the Vested Interest series: 

#1 BENTLEY: https://books2read.com/u/m2o2RG

“I loved this book… [it] is everything I want in book 1 of a new series and then some.” – Shh Mom’s Reading

#2 AIDEN: https://books2read.com/AidenVestedInterest

“I just couldn’t put this book down. I became so fascinated by the plot and the characters that my fascination was actually bordering on obsession.” – MammieBabbie

#3 MADDOX: https://books2read.com/MaddoxVestedInterest/

“A 5-star story that made me read for hours . . . A romantic suspense that had me intrigued from the very first page read.” – TDC Book Reviews

*****

Excerpt:

“Oh hey, Reid. Come in. I’m running late.”

Disappointed at her casual greeting, I followed her down the hall. Her ass looked especially pert and full today. I wanted to cup it. To grab her and kiss her, and grind my erection into her so she knew what she was doing to me. To prove how I was feeling was anything but casual. Instead, I set down my bag, trying to appear nonchalant. “Am I interrupting?”

“No, I’m taking my class. Do you need in this area?” She indicated the empty space behind her.

“No, um, I can start anywhere.”

She lifted a bottle of water, taking a long swallow. The action caused her throat to work, and I was fascinated watching the pull of her muscles. When a small river of water escaped the bottle, racing down her neck and disappearing into her neckline, I was certain I whimpered. Her expression never changed.

“How about I start at the door?”

“Sure. I’ll be here.” She pointed behind me. “I poured you water. I know you like ice.”

“Thanks.”

I opened my bag on the counter, making sure I had everything I needed. I carried the control panel to the door, along with the contact and other items I would need. The music started up again, and I glanced down the hall, freezing. My eyes widened when I realized what class she was taking. One, until this moment, I didn’t know existed.

Not yoga or one of the jazzer-whatever classes.

Pole dancing.

Becca was fucking pole dancing in front of me.

I stared as she went through some moves, seemingly forgetting I was even in the area. I knew my mouth hung open. I knew my dick lengthened.

I knew I was fucked.

She was elegant and graceful, a blur of movement as she twirled and arched.

Wicked and tempting as she wrapped her legs around the pole and bent backward. The bow of her back was mesmerizing as she hung upside down with only the strength of her legs holding her in position.

I had to turn away, fumbling with the items in my hands. I shut my eyes, counted to ten, and reached for the drill. I needed to concentrate.

Except my gaze drifted back to her and I stared for endless moments, caught up in her actions. She hung on the pole using only her hands, her legs split and wide, balancing. She transitioned into a spin and moved onto yet another seductive move.

I dropped the control unit, annihilating it when the drill landed on top. Cursing, I picked it up, grateful I always carried a spare. In the kitchen, I dug the other one from my bag, then desperate to cool off, grabbed the glass of water she had for me and drank it down. I leaned against the back counter, watching Becca’s mesmerizing form.

She did a series of moves, ending with a one-legged spin, her arms controlling the motion. When she was done, she bent low, one leg around the pole, her arm locked in position. Her hair dragged on the floor, her other arm stretched back, highlighting her curves. Her face tilted in my direction, and our eyes locked across the room. Her chest heaved, mine matching her breathing without thought. A slow, sexy smirk split her mouth.

“You like that, Reid?” she asked, her voice a throaty purr.

The entire week crashed down on me. The worry, disappointment, and frustration made me react. I didn’t care about her father’s views, her ideas of convicts. I didn’t care we needed to talk. It didn’t matter. All that mattered was touching her. She knew what seeing her would do to me. She did this deliberately to provoke me.

It was my turn. The only thing standing in my way was the counter.

I was going over it.

*****

Author Info:

New York Times/USA Today bestselling author Melanie Moreland, lives a happy and content life in a quiet area of Ontario with her beloved husband of twenty-seven-plus years and their rescue cat, Amber. Nothing means more to her than her friends and family, and she cherishes every moment spent with them.

While seriously addicted to coffee, and highly challenged with all things computer-related and technical, she relishes baking, cooking, and trying new recipes for people to sample. She loves to throw dinner parties, and also enjoys traveling, here and abroad, but finds coming home is always the best part of any trip.

Melanie loves stories, especially paired with a good wine, and enjoys skydiving (free falling over a fleck of dust) extreme snowboarding (falling down stairs) and piloting her own helicopter (tripping over her own feet.) She’s learned happily ever afters, even bumpy ones, are all in how you tell the story.

Melanie is represented by Flavia Viotti at Bookcase Literary Agency. For any questions regarding subsidiary or translation rights please contact her at flavia@bookcaseagency.com.

Facebook: http://bit.ly/2wlWE1z

Reader Group: http://bit.ly/2wOwbdJ

Newsletter: http://www.subscribepage.com/melaniemoreland

BookBub: http://bit.ly/2vrs5oY

Book+Main: http://bit.ly/2AuWp4S

Plus, visit Melanie’s website to learn more about ALL of her books! https://melaniemoreland.com/books/

*****

Giveaway:

$50 Amazon Gift Card & Signed Paperback Copy of Reid

https://gleam.io/VXrkv/reid-vested-interest-book-4-release-giveaway

*****

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Spotlight – Wild On My Mind

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This is Kerr’s debut novel and it is very much a charmer.  I am SO looking forward to finding out what awesomeness she has in store for us next!

*****

Wild On My Mind

Where the Wild Hearts Are

by Laurel Kerr

Blurb:

Love runs wild at the Sagebrush Flats Zoo, where a motley crew of big-hearted animals helps the most unlikely couples find love.

When Katie Underwood discovers a litter of newborn cougar cubs, the last person she expects to come to the rescue is her former crush—and high school nemesis—Bowie Wilson. The worst part? He doesn’t seem to remember the trouble he caused her.

As a single father and owner of a cash-strapped zoo, Bowie struggles to balance budgets while raising his preteen daughter and a host of rascally animals. He considers himself lucky when Katie agrees to lend her talents to a publicity campaign in support of the zoo’s animal rescue programs—until he learns just what she’s planning…

This time, Katie is determined to resist Bowie’s charm. But a lovelorn camel, a matchmaking honey badger, and a nursemaid capybara have different plans. Can they and the rest of the zoo’s menagerie help Bowie break through the barriers surrounding Katie’s heart?

Love can’t be tamed…

Amazon:  amzn.to/2MwJeW0

B&N:  bit.ly/2KucfRt

Apple:  apple.co/2Nianwu

Kobo:  bit.ly/2MLVhT2

IndieBound:  bit.ly/2MNncSp

*****

Excerpt:

“What are you working on?”

Katie tilted the screen in Abby’s direction. “A new website. Do you want to see what I’ve done so far?”

Abby nodded eagerly. As Katie flipped through the unfinished pages, the girl leaned close.

“That looks so awesome!” she said.

A smile spread across Katie’s face. Sharing her work with a tween was completely different from showing her old, grouchy boss. Abby squealed constantly and even clapped her hands twice. She pointed at the screen, excitedly giving suggestions. Some, especially her personal stories about the animals, were great. Katie’s fingers flew across the keyboard as she felt a rekindling of her old excitement for web design. In fact, she and Abby were so engrossed in the website that they didn’t even notice when Bowie woke up.

“How long was I out?” he asked. Katie turned to see him sitting upright on the air mattress, rubbing the back of his head. The gesture caused his already dishev­eled shirt to hike up, revealing several inches of nicely toned abs. It also had the side effect of flexing his right bicep—his very nice, very muscular bicep.

Katie’s stomach flip-flopped. The man was seriously attractive.

Even a model would have trouble pulling off sexy dishabille so effortlessly. Sleep had cured Bowie’s drawn features and dark circles. The fact that he wasn’t fully awake only added an element of intimacy, despite Abby’s presence. His black hair stood up in uneven spikes, making Katie want to smooth it down…and not just because it looked messy.

Bowie wore the sexy look well—too well.

Katie didn’t want to feel that slow, pleasurable tug again. It had muddled her mind in the past, and she didn’t want to start gazing at him with pup­pylike adoration, especially now. She was having enough trouble trying to figure out her career path without adding distraction into the mix—especially distraction of the male variety.

She was an adult. She understood the pull of sexual attraction and knew how to prevent it from turning into infatuation. She certainly knew not to mistake it for love.

“It’s six thirty,” Abby chirped happily, bouncing up from the floor. “I gave your breakfast to Katie. I’ll go grab another bagel.”

She bounded from the room with the energy only someone under the age of thirteen could possess. Bowie yawned and stretched, showing even more of his stomach muscles. Halfway through, he must have realized that his shirt had slid up, because he stopped and yanked it down.

Pity. Although, really, wasn’t that what Katie wanted?

“You should have woken me,” he told her, standing up.

She shrugged. “You looked like you needed the rest, and I was on a roll with the website.”

Bowie shifted uncomfortably and said gruffly, “Thanks, but you didn’t need to do that. I’ve run on little sleep before.”

“No biggie. So have I. And I had plenty of fuel.” Katie gestured to the two empty cans of Red Bull beside her.

“Did the cubs wake up for a feeding?”

She nodded. “They drank like champs.”

“So what were you and Abby looking at when I woke up?”

Katie got up and handed him the laptop. “She was helping me put together information about the animals for the website. What do you think so far? I’ve kept it professional and user-friendly. We can add some flashier features, but I think the portal should be streamlined.”

“This looks great,” Bowie said, the enthusiasm in his voice sounding legitimate. “You accomplished all this last night?”

A part of her thrilled at his words. Even long after Katie should have known better, she’d yearned for his and Sawyer’s respect. Suddenly, her dad’s words from yesterday popped into her mind. Was a part of her still trying to prove herself? Is that why she wanted a flashy job so badly? To have something to brag about? To automatically impress people?

Before Katie could reply, the door opened, and Lou entered. He walked a little stiffly but was still steady on his feet. She wouldn’t call him frail, but he didn’t quite fit the category of robust either. Lou glanced back and forth between her and Bowie, and Katie didn’t like his speculative look. Both the elderly zookeeper and her mother were a little too eager for them to work together. Thankfully, Lou didn’t make any comment. Instead, he just greeted them cheerfully.

“So how are my charges this morning?” he asked.

“They’re good,” Bowie told him. “Katie said they took their bottles well last night.”

Lou turned toward her. “So, you stayed the whole night. Couldn’t tear yourself away from the little critters, could you?”

“Nope, especially when they were curled up in little balls next to Sylvia. Plus, Bowie looked like he was on his last legs, so I thought I’d give him a few extra hours of sleep.”

Lou’s eyes gleamed at her last comment, and Katie nearly winced at her blunder. She did not want to encourage the elderly vet’s matchmaking.

“Would you like to help me weigh the cubs and check them over?” he asked.

Katie nodded eagerly. “I’d love that.”

“I’ll be out feeding the animals,” Bowie said. “Let me know if you’re too tired to drive home, Katie. Lou can watch the cubs, and I’ll give you a lift.”

“I’ll be fine,” she told him, surprised by his offer.

He gave her a close look. “Are you sure? It’s not easy staying awake after an all-nighter.”

“It’s not my first,” Katie said. “I’m wide awake.”

Bowie nodded and was starting to leave when Katie thought of something. “This is most likely nothing, but I thought I heard an animal last night. It was probably just my imagination.”

He immediately turned around, his voice resigned. “What did you hear?”

“A chittering sound,” Katie said, and then, as best as she could, she mimicked it.

Bowie exchanged a look with Lou. Then both men said simultaneously in the same exasperated tone: “Fluffy!”

“Who’s Fluffy?” she asked.

“The zoo’s honey badger, but he isn’t a true badger. He’s more closely related to a weasel or a marten,” Bowie answered.

Katie had never heard of the creature, which surprised her. “What part of the world are honey badgers from?”

“Africa,” Lou answered before he turned to Bowie. “You better get Abby before she leaves for school.”

“Abby?” Katie asked in confusion.

Bowie nodded at Lou before turning to her. “Abby is the only person who can catch Fluffy.”

“Honey badgers are ornery critters,” Lou said, “but Fluffy has a real soft spot for our girl.”

Bowie scowled. “It’s those honey-covered larvae that she sneaks him.”

*****

Review:

I really enjoyed how well Kerr captured Bowie’s growth since school and Katie’s struggles not just coming face to face with him after all these years but also with the long term effects her high school years had on her.

Bowie had his reasons for doing the things he did (in addition to being a stupid teenager) but he didn’t really understand exactly how damaging his actions were.  Now the dad of a preteen daughter it hits home a little too hard exactly what he did.  But the years have also turned him into a stand-up guy and he’s not going to hide from it.  Hopefully, though, he can prove to Katie exactly how much he’s changed.

I can’t imagine how hard it was for Katie to meet Bowie again.  High school can be bad under normal circumstances and truly awful when you find yourself a target.  But she handles it with class.  She doesn’t let him completely off the hook but she keeps her sense of humor about her when she goes about getting her revenge.  Revenge that has her spending time with Bowie and his endearing family, both two legged and four.  Before long she’s finding them all pretty hard to resist.

If the zoo’s misfit animals don’t steal your heart, then Bowie’s cute-as-a-button daughter definitely will.  They provide a little extra charm to be the backdrop of an already delightfully irresistible guy who is trying really hard to prove that he deserves a second chance.  Full of humor and fun, with the right amount of heartfelt moments and even a little suspense mixed in, Kerr delivers an absolutely adorable read that I found pretty darn hard to put down.

*****

Giveaway:

Enter to win one of 5 copies of Wild On My Mind

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/54ca7af7693/

*****

Spotlight – Shameless

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I love a story involving a best friend’s sibling and the potential issues that might come out of it.  I’m super excited to see where Lynn goes with this one.

*****

Shameless

by Cherrie Lynn

Genre Adult Contemporary Romance

Publisher Entangled Amara

Publication Date September 10, 2018

Blurb:

It’s a vacation Meredith Taylor will never forget. A sunny beach, good friends and good times. But when she overhears a couple having a passionate interlude on the balcony above her one night, she can’t get the man’s sultry voice out of her mind. Especially when she figures out exactly who that man is…

Cameron Moore always had an eye on his best friend’s little sister but considered her strictly off limits, choosing to satisfy his lust elsewhere. Now Meri seems to want to annihilate every wall Cam’s put up against her. The beach is hot, the drinks are cold, Meredith is irresistible, and something has to give. Will it only be the walls between them, or their hearts as well?

Amazon https://amzn.to/2wiIux3

Entangled Publishing https://goo.gl/N8jvB7

Barnes & Noble https://goo.gl/igLnmw

Kobo https://goo.gl/8pehDK

iBooks https://apple.co/2Puxs0B

*****

Excerpt:

Chapter One

Meredith Taylor was deep into her third beer when the moaning started.

She narrowly avoided choking on the gulp she’d just taken and wondered if she’d really heard what she thought she’d heard. Seven stories below and perhaps fifty yards in front of her, the Gulf of Mexico was a flat black oblivion in the night, but even with the unrelenting white noise of the waves washing ashore, the sounds of pleasure were unmistakable.

Someone on one of the balconies above her was getting it on. Or they were about to.

Meri set her beer down on the table beside her and stared wide-eyed at the ocean with blind concentration, straining her ears. Ordinarily, she would think of herself as a moral person, one who would, under normal circumstances, discreetly excuse herself and allow the couple above to carry on with their carnal activities without worry for a secret audience. It was after two in the morning, after all—they probably hadn’t counted on anyone being awake and watching waves nearby.

But Meri had muted that inner moral person with more than her usual dose of alcohol. So fuck that. She stood, moved to the railing, and silently cursed the incessant wind for its rushing in her ears. Or maybe that was her buzz. Or whatever.

Even with it, though, she could hear clearly enough.

“Oh God,” a feminine voice purred from above.

Yeah, yeah, Meri thought. You gotta do better than that, honey. Give me something to work with here. She smirked to herself, turning and leaning her back against the railing. Hopefully it wouldn’t give with her weight…she could just see the headlines now: Vacationer Falls to Her Death During Voyeuristic Acrobatics. Were you a voyeur if you could only hear the sexual encounter? She made a mental note to Google that later. God, sexual frustration had turned her into a perv.

More moaning. Male and female. He sounded kind of hot, which was good. The last guy she’d been with—she refused to allow herself to think about how long ago that had been—practically sounded like a woman when he came. That was a thing with her now…she loved manly male voices. Rich, deep, dark, shivery male voices. Since that incident, she judged each and every voice she heard from a potential suitor on its likelihood of sounding like a dying cat in the throes of passion. The one above her now…zero percent chance. In fact, she could close her eyes and imagine that murmuring voice in her own ear, hot breath tickling there, hot fingers trailing down her neck, her breast, to tease her nipple into aching attention, and she didn’t even have a face to put with it.

But that was the beauty of the situation, wasn’t it? He could be anyone she wanted him to be.

Cameron’s face floated through her thoughts, never an image to be muted by alcohol. God forbid she have any respite from that one. Even on this trip, Cameron Moore was an ever-present fixture. As her brother Dane’s lifelong best friend, he’d been that fixture further back than her memory could reach.

She didn’t want to think about him.

Except for a murmur here and there, she couldn’t hear much anymore. What were they doing now? Was he inside her yet? Maybe they were only in the foreplay part of their lovemaking session. Meri imagined clothes being pushed aside for teases and kisses and caresses. The woman still mewled her approval of whatever he was doing to her, but her sounds weren’t the staccato moans of fucking. No, they were still playing, by Meri’s guess, not having made it to the good stuff yet.

Long-term couple or onetime hook-up, they were lucky. Meri swigged her beer and stared sightlessly at the patio door leading into her bedroom. They weren’t out here alone in the middle of the night, letting the waves lull them into a melancholy that really had no place on a fun-filled, friend-packed summer vacation at the beach. But insomnia was a familiar if unwelcome companion of hers, no matter the occasion. And she’d figured it would be better to stare at the waves than the ceiling above her bed. And maybe a little self-medication wouldn’t be unheard of, hence the beer. Who knew she’d have some unsuspecting company?

Despite not wanting to think about Cam, he invaded Meredith’s thoughts anyway. It was a vicious cycle. Having been friends with her brother for so long, her brother with whom she was very close, Cam was simply always there. In just about every conversation, at every get-together, and now, this summer at least, on vacation, too. The man was inescapable.

But who’d want to escape that? He was built like a god. A personal trainer, he all but lived at the gym. Tattoos meandered down his shredded arms and torso. Dear God, she kept up her gym membership just to be able to ogle him, and he often stopped by as she huffed it on the elliptical to chat or give advice or convince her to let him train her.

She always turned him down. He would probably kill her.

Okay, so she had a crush on the guy. It wasn’t a big deal. She’d always kept him at arm’s length, but sometimes gave in to temptation and let her darkest fantasies out to play. Fantasies starring Cameron Moore. He was hot, so who could blame her?

And why did her thoughts keep going to him and not to the goings-on above?

“Yes. Oh yes, baby.” That was distinct. The woman again. Then, two long, loud moans harmonized and stole Meri’s breath away. Oh. If he wasn’t in her before, he’s in her now. Sliding in slowly, by the sounds of it, savoring it, making her feel every inch. And judging by the woman’s little cries of “More, more, oh God, more!” there were many thick inches to feel. Jesus. Meri swiped at a trickle of sweat at her temple, then trailed her cold beer bottle down the side of her neck. It left a shivery trail in the sticky summer heat clinging to her body.

Her thighs trembled. Those sounds…the man…his rough, primal groaning, his growling, more groaning, damn, his dirty-sweet sex talk. She couldn’t actually decipher any of his talk, but it had to be dirty and sweet. She would not allow herself to believe otherwise. She caught a few of his guttural curses, though, and her knees grew so weak she dropped into one of the chairs and crushed her thighs together, unsure if she was trying to encourage the building ache between them or fight it. It just seemed so…so wrong, so naughty, to get off on someone else’s pleasure when they didn’t even know she was there.

But she couldn’t leave. Couldn’t stop listening. Had she no damn shame?

Just one time, she thought desperately, be wrong. Be naughty. Her body didn’t need any encouragement, her pussy clenching regardless of her permission. With every sound that guy uttered, it clenched harder.

Hell, it seemed the hottest sex she’d ever had was someone else’s. She didn’t think she’d ever been this responsive, not with the three lovers she’d taken in her life. Not with their flesh-and-blood hands on her. But these hands, these phantom hands she only imagined, that disjointed male voice coming from above…oh God. Her blood felt like thick lava in her veins, and it was pooling, weighing her down in her pussy and her nipples and a few other erogenous zones she hadn’t known she had. Even her mouth felt numb and tingly. She tasted something sweet and forbidden at the back of her throat and swept her tongue across her needy lips.

Her hand trailed down the thin cami she wore, noting how tight and peaked her nipples were, down farther, toward her boxer shorts. Inside, she was so wet.

Should she? No. She shouldn’t.

But she was so wet. So needing to feel what that woman was feeling, even though her hand would be a poor substitute.

She parted her legs.

Would she let someone fuck her out here where anyone could hear? Would she even want that, knowing there were creeps like her around? Listening, invading her and her lover’s privacy, getting hot, getting themselves off to her pleasure…

Would she let Cameron, if he ever decided to show the slightest bit of sexual interest in her?

Meri opened her eyes, not even realizing she’d closed them. Her fingers brushed her thigh and, imagining it was Cam’s fingers, that small contact sent a jolt through her. The waves went on forever out on the beach, oblivious to her moral quagmire. Her sharp arousal. The Gulf was as black as Cameron’s hair. The sky was as dark as his eyes—the sky, yes, because of the stars, because she could swear that his eyes had lights in them…

She’d let him. The more she thought of it, the more certain she was.

The couple fucked on, the woman’s cries sharp and quick. Meri slid her fingers into her drenched panties. Talk to her. Talk to me. Let me hear you.

The rumble of the man’s voice reached her above the cacophony of the waves and her own pleasure, almost as if he had heard her thoughts. “Do you want to come?” A shiver went through Meri. Her pussy clenched helplessly. Yes. I want to come.

“Yes,” the girl pleaded. “Yes, make me come, make me come, make me come…” The chant died out, blown away by the wind. Did he have her against the wall? On the floor?

“The wall,” Meri whispered to herself. That’s how she would want it. Against the wall, because she’d never had it there. Cam was definitely strong enough. Yes, he could put her back to the wall and fuck her silly, that hard, muscular ass pumping into her while she clung helplessly to him. Like a rag doll. Invaded. Overwhelmed. God, she wanted that. With someone who sounded like the man above her, not someone who caterwauled.

Her fingers slipped easily against her slick, swollen clit. Ohhh. Did the guy up there go down on his lady, by any chance? Out here with the wind and the waves and the moon and stars as witnesses, did he spread her open wide and lick and suck her? Was that what Meri had heard earlier? As her finger drew lazy circles on her clit, she dreamed of Cam’s mouth on it. Hot, wet, making her hotter and wetter. She would drip for him before he would take her. Yes.

This was so fucked up. But thinking it only made her burn more brightly. She wanted to bare her skin to the wind. She wanted to taste the salt of the ocean as the dark waters engulfed her naked body. She wanted the moon to cast her skin in silver light and black shadow.

And she wanted someone to share that with, to taste those shadows. It wasn’t so much to ask.

No longer lazy, no longer soft. She worked herself feverishly, building the ache, giving over to it, even allowing a whimper when the woman’s cries were high. Yes, he was getting her there. He was getting Meri there. So close. So close. Her pulse throbbed thickly throughout her entire body. Coming. The wave peaking, cresting, starting to curl deliciously in her belly…

“Cameron, Cameron! Oh yes, yes, yes…”

Meredith Taylor’s eyes shot open. Her orgasm burst inside her, wracking her with cruel, guilty pleasure, but her heart crashed and burned in a fiery death.

Cameron.

She’d been imagining him, but he’d really been there. Only not with her.

*****

Author Info:

NY Times and USA Today bestselling author CHERRIE LYNN has been a CPS caseworker and a juvenile probation officer, but now that she has come to her senses, she writes contemporary and paranormal romance on the steamy side. It’s *much* more fun. She’s also an unabashed rock music enthusiast, and loves letting her passion for romance and metal collide on the page.

When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, listening to music or playing with her favorite gadget of the moment. She’s also fond of hitting the road with her husband to catch their favorite bands live.

Cherrie lives in East Texas with said husband and their two kids, all of whom are the source of much merriment, mischief and mayhem.

Website  https://www.cherrielynn.com/

Facebook http://facebook.com/cherrielynnauthor

Twitter http://twitter.com/cherrielynn

Goodreads https://goo.gl/PHc4df

Amazon https://amzn.to/2PxxLI2

*****

Giveaway:

To celebrate the release of SHAMELESS by Cherrie Lynn, we’re giving away for a $25 Amazon gift card!

http://bit.ly/2N8hCqJ

GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open internationally. One winner will be chosen to receive a $25 Amazon gift card. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Entangled Publishing.  Giveaway ends 9/16/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Entangled Publishing will send one winning prize, Pure Textuality PR will deliver the other. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted.

*****

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Spotlight – The Firefighter’s Pretend Fiancee

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Readers are luh-ving Victoria James’s new story.  If you are in the mood for a second chance romance then this just might be the one for you!

*****

The Firefighter’s Pretend Fiance

Shadow Creek, Montana Series

by Victoria James

Genre Adult Contemporary Romance

Publisher Entangled Bliss

Publication Date September 10, 2018

Blurb:

Leaving Shadow Creek nine years ago was the hardest thing Molly Mayberry’s ever had to do…except maybe returning. She’s never regretted her choice, but a chance of a lifetime position at the local hospital means going home and facing her past, including her shrew of an estranged mother and the fiancé she ran out on. Ben Matthews is still the sexy, sweet man she left behind…and apparently still her fiancé.

Ben has been doggedly pursuing the position of fire chief since he was a teenager. There’s just one problem—he has to show his boss he’s ready to settle down. No matter how silly the condition, Ben will make it happen. And apparently so will his brother when he opens his mouth and decides to tell everyone Ben and Molly are engaged. Now the one woman he never stopped loving is living with him in a fake relationship, driving him crazy. Pretending only reminds him how right they were once, but if Ben gives in to the heat building between them, heartache is sure to follow.

Amazon https://amzn.to/2LxOFDj

Entangled Publishing https://goo.gl/Dm1fMn

Barnes & Noble https://goo.gl/VMQG7H

Kobo https://goo.gl/DnMzDa

iBooks https://apple.co/2wfFYIM

Each book in the Shadow Creek, Montana series is STANDALONE

* Christmas with the Sheriff

* The Baby Bombshell

* The Doctor’s Redemption

* Baby on the Bad Boy’s Doorstep

* The Firefighter’s Pretend Fiance

*****

Excerpt:

Prologue

Molly Mayberry knew she was living her best life.

She was twenty and had just completed her second year of med school. Some called her a genius, but she had always just thought of herself as a hard worker. She’d finished high school by the time she was fifteen and had completed her undergrad by eighteen. Not having a social life helped—except this summer, everything had changed for her. She had met a guy—no, a man—who saw her for more than just some weird, smart girl; he got her on every level.

She was going to marry Ben Matthews. They were going to have two or three children. They were going to buy a ranch house with a view of the mountains. They would raise their family in Shadow Creek, Montana, because it was idyllic, filled with old-school, American values. People greeted each other on the sidewalk, helped a neighbor in need, and believed in community.

Ben and Molly were destined to live happily ever after.

She tucked an errant strand of hair behind her ear and waved to Ben when she spotted him entering the fairgrounds. He was pretty easy to spot, with his height and athletic build. He was one of the town sweethearts. Their small town did like to play favorites, and he and his brother, Finn, were amongst them. Their father was the local fire chief, and both boys were following in their father’s footsteps. That seemed to add to their appeal. She knew full well that half the single female population thought of Ben and Finn as the hottest catches for miles around. She had to agree. But for some reason, gorgeous, sweet, fearless, Ben had sought her out. Though they had only been dating for three months while she was home for the summer, she knew he was her soul mate.

“Hi beautiful,” he said, shooting her that grin that made her giddy and kept her smiling as she fell asleep at night. He leaned down to give her a kiss that was respectable enough for a public display, but hinted at what she knew would come later, in private.

“Hi,” she said, still holding on to him.

He took her hand and they started walking amongst the crowds where all the food vendors had lined up alongside booths with various craft items and local artisan products. They spent the day holding hands and walking and talking and eating. He shared his pumpkin pie, and she shared her fries and gravy. He won her a giant stuffed bear at the ring toss, and they kissed on the Ferris wheel as dusk settled and enveloped them, making everything surreal.

Molly had always wanted to go to the Harvest Festival Twilight Dance, and this would be her first time attending. After many wardrobe changes, with her sisters’ approval, she’d finally settled on a navy sundress with a cropped matching cardigan and sandals. She was pretty sure Ben, who was three years older than her, had attended the dance many times before, but she wasn’t worried or insecure. He made her feel like she was the only woman in the world. He pulled her close on the makeshift dancefloor, under the umbrella of twinkling white lights and starlit sky. He smelled crisp and clean with a hint of citrus. He led them to the corner where they were partially shielded by a grouping of aspen on the outskirts of the grounds.

The teasing sparkle that she was used to seeing in his eyes changed, and he looked serious as he raised his hands to frame her face. She tried not to audibly sigh out loud. She was vaguely aware that she was naive and inexperienced compared to him, but he never made her feel that way. He made her feel like they were both incredibly in awe of each other, of this special love they’d found.

“I knew the minute you spilled your coffee on the front of my shirt outside of the library that you were special. I knew by the end of our first date that I loved you. And I know now that I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I know you still have years left of school, and I’m not working full time yet, but I’m yours, if you’ll have me. I haven’t got a ring yet because I want to save enough to get you the one you deserve to have. So I guess what I’m asking is—”

She didn’t wait for him to finish. She jumped into his arms and said yes. She said yes to whatever he was offering because she felt the same way. They were young, and they had their whole lives ahead of them.

He spun her around, and they laughed and kissed.

She held on to him like they would have a thousand tomorrows.

She held on to him with the belief that life would play out exactly as they wanted, like their sheltered world could protect them from the gut-wrenching heartache that the real world could lash out, without any warning.

Molly held on to Ben that night, certain nothing could ever tear them apart, certain that love could conquer all, and that the good guys always won.

*****

Author Info:

VICTORIA JAMES is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance.

Victoria always knew she wanted to be a writer and in grade five, she penned her first story, bound it (with staples and a cardboard cover) and did all the illustrations herself. Luckily, this book will never see the light of day again.

In high school she fell in love with historical romance and then contemporary romance. After graduating University with an English Literature degree, Victoria pursued a degree in Interior Design and then opened her own business. After her first child, Victoria knew it was time to fulfill her dream of writing romantic fiction.

Victoria is a hopeless romantic who is living her dream, penning happily-ever-after’s for her characters in between managing kids and the family business. Writing on a laptop in the middle of the country in a rambling old Victorian house would be ideal, but she’s quite content living in suburbia with her husband, their two young children, and very bad cat.

Sign up for Victoria’s Newsletter to stay up to date on upcoming releases and exclusive giveaways, follow her blog for daily antics and insight into her daily life, and get to know her on twitter and Facebook. She loves hearing from readers!

Newsletter  http://forms.aweber.com/form/53/897084453.htm

Website http://www.victoriajames.ca/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/victoria.james.7146557

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/vicjames101/

Twitter https://twitter.com/VicJames101

Goodreads https://goo.gl/Ua2bJE

Amazon https://amzn.to/2PCvjzU

*****

Giveaway:

To celebrate the release of THE FIREFIGHTER’S PRETEND FIANCE by Victoria James, we’re giving away for a $25 Amazon gift card!

http://bit.ly/2PaFmeG

GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open internationally. One winner will be chosen to receive a $25 Amazon gift card. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Entangled Publishing.  Giveaway ends 9/14/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Entangled Publishing will send one winning prize, Pure Textuality PR will deliver the other. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted.

*****

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Spotlight – Under Control

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If I’m stuck in an elevator, I really hope this firefighter is there with me!

*****

Under Control

Boston Fire series

by Shannon Stacey

Genre Adult, Contemporary Romance

Publisher Carina Press

Publication Date August 28, 2018

Blurb:

From New York Times bestselling author SHANNON STACEY…

Meet the tough, dedicated men of BOSTON FIRE—and the women who turn their lives upside down.

When faced with the opportunity to change shifts while staying in the same house, veteran firefighter Derek Gilman jumps at the chance. His new schedule means not working Saturdays, which means more time to spend with his two kids. His divorce may have been amicable, but being a firefighter and a single dad is a lot to juggle. And when fate brings a gorgeous, wealthy woman into his life, he’s pretty sure he can’t handle more than he already is.

Olivia McGovern loves plans. She planned to start her own business and planned its growth. It’s earning her seven figures now, but her personal life simply doesn’t exist. Getting trapped in a broken elevator figures in exactly nowhere, and freaking out in front of a sexy firefighter definitely isn’t on the agenda. Especially not one with two kids and an ex.

What would have been a random incident with an attractive stranger becomes something more when a charity event brings them back together. They’re from different sides of the tracks, literally—with friends, family and careers to consider. But as Derek and Olivia are discovering, chemistry doesn’t allow for plans, and love doesn’t bother with logistics.

Don’t miss the entire Boston Fire series by Shannon Stacey! Heat Exchange, Controlled Burn, Fully Ignited and Hot Response are available now!

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo  |  Google Play  |  iBooks

*****

Excerpt:

A woman stepped out of an office ahead and turned, walking ahead of him in the same direction. She was notable for two reasons. One, she wasn’t looking at a cell phone. That in itself was enough to make her stand out in this crowd.

But it was her looks that captured Derek’s attention. He only got a glimpse of her profile before she turned, but she had delicate features and dark blond hair drawn up off her neck in a loose bun. Her navy suit looked as if it had been tailored specifically for her body, and the coat flared slightly, accenting the curve of her hips. Her legs were long, and his gaze lingered on her calves before sliding up to the soft spots behind her knees that were playing peekaboo with the hem of her skirt.

And he’d never realized how sexy the click of high heels on a marble tile floor could be. When he was a kid, he’d hated the sound because the high heels usually belonged to an angry teacher he was following down the hallway to the principal’s office. But following this woman as she walked down the hallway with long, confident strides was a hell of a lot more enjoyable.

Of course, she reached the elevator just as the door opened and a man stepped out. Because he’d slowed to leave enough space to appreciate the view, Derek knew there was a good chance the door would close before he reached it and there was no way in hell he was taking the stairs if he didn’t have to.

“Hold the door, please,” he called as the woman stepped in and pushed a button on the panel.

She looked up at him and he saw the hesitation in her body language. She didn’t want to, but he watched the fact he was a firefighter register, plus it would be rude to pretend she hadn’t heard him after making eye contact. He smiled as she hit the button to hold the doors.

“Thank you.” The button for the lobby was already lit, so he stepped back as the doors slid closed.

She only nodded and pulled her phone out of the back pocket of the leather journal she was holding, which was stuffed with notebooks and paper from the looks of it. But Derek could see her reflection in the highly polished metal door and she was looking at him. And not a quick glance to make sure the stranger was staying on his own side, but a lingering look.

He should say something, but he wasn’t sure what to say, since women wearing power suits in the Back Bay were way out of his league. The floors were ticking past like seconds on the clock, though, and he was running out of time.

She was taking a step forward, probably in anticipation of reaching the lobby level soon, when there was a grinding sound and the elevator lurched to a stop. Off-balance, she stumbled and—thanks to good reflexes and maybe some good luck—he ended up with an armful of beautiful woman.

Apparently he was getting an extension.

She tilted her face up to him, and he saw the distress in her pretty greenish-blue eyes. “What’s happening?”

“We stopped,” he said, hoping she’d find the obvious answer funny. In his experience, humor relaxed people. She didn’t even crack a smile, and he cleared his throat before continuing. “There are a few reasons it could happen, but the system probably has a problem or a malfunction somewhere and it shut the elevator down to be safe.”

“This is not safe.” She wasn’t in a full-blown panic, but her anxiety practically crackled around her, and she was clutching his arm so tightly he could feel her grip through the heavy bunker coat. “And what do you mean by a malfunction? So something could be more wrong than the fact we’re not moving anymore?”

“Everything’s fine.” He had to let his arms fall away from her as she backed away, wincing a little. “Are you hurt?”

“No.” He wasn’t reassured by the quick way she said it, as if it was a reflex and maybe not the truth.

He pulled out his phone to send a quick group text to Danny Walsh—Engine 59’s LT—and Rick Gullotti. Elevator’s stuck. Why? Then he peeled off the heavy coat and tossed it on the floor, dropping the helmet on top of it while she sent a text message of her own to somebody. “We’re okay in here. Just try to stay calm and we’ll be out in no time.”

“Stay calm,” she muttered as her phone vibrated and she sent another text. “That’s easy for you to say. Being brave in the face of death is part of your job.”

That was a little dramatic, but she wasn’t totally wrong. About his job, anyway. “You’re not facing death. I promise.”

His phone vibrated with a response from Walsh. Working on it. Stand by.

The woman’s face was slightly flushed. “Shouldn’t you… I don’t know. Go up through the ceiling hatch and climb up the cable or something?”

Derek managed—barely—not to laugh outright at her, but he couldn’t hold back a short chuckle. “I’m a firefighter, not John McClane.”

“Who’s John McClane?”

Oh, she did not just ask that. “The greatest action hero of all time? The guy from Die Hard?”

“I’ve heard of those movies, but I’ve never seen any of them.”

If he’d needed any more of a definitive sign this woman wasn’t his type, that was it. There were six movies, so she had to work at not seeing any of them. “You’re missing out. So, what’s your name?”

“Olivia.”

“Pretty name.” Classic and elegant, and it suited her. “I’m Derek.”

“Can you pry open the doors?” she asked, clearly not in a place to be distracted by small talk.

“With my bare hands?” He held them up, showing off his lack of tools. “I work out a little, but not that much.”

Her gaze flicked over his body, and he stood up straighter and sucked in his gut. Not that there was much to suck in, but he wasn’t in his twenties anymore. Hell, he was barely still in his thirties. “You work out more than a little.”

Her tone of voice made it sound like just an observation, but he didn’t miss her gaze lingering for a second on his chest or the way her eyebrow lifted as her mouth curved into a hint of a smile. She wasn’t flirting, but she liked what she saw and he’d take the win. He’d need all the ego boosting he could get once the other guys started giving him shit for having to rescue him from an elevator.

Then she shifted her weight and, when she winced again, Derek gave her a stern look. “You’re hurt.”

“No, I’m not. I twisted my ankle a little when the elevator stopped.”

“You need to get those shoes off and let me look at it.”

She laughed and shook her head. “I don’t care how nice this elevator is, I am not touching the floor with my bare feet.”

Derek picked up his coat, letting the helmet roll free, and—with a flourish—spread it over the floor in front of her. “Your carpet, milady.”

*****

Author Info:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author SHANNON STACEY lives with her husband and two sons in New England, where her two favorite activities are writing stories of happily ever after and off-roading with her friends and family. You can contact Shannon through her website, www.shannonstacey.com, as well as sign up for her newsletter.

Website http://www.shannonstacey.com/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/shannonstacey.authorpage

Twitter https://twitter.com/shannonstacey

Goodreads https://goo.gl/h4Z1wW

Amazon http://amzn.to/2Fu9RbN

*****

Giveaway:

To celebrate the release of UNDER CONTROL by Shannon Stacey, we’re giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner!

http://bit.ly/2LyyGp5

GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open to internationally. One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Carina Press.  Giveaway ends 9/11/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Limit one entry per reader. Duplicates will be deleted.

*****

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Spotlight – Love Like Ours

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I absolutely LOVE Melissa Foster’s books.  And if you haven’t read this series, you can enter to win a copy of book 1, The Real Thing, below and book 2, Only You, is ON SALE for $0.99 (KINDLE | PAPERBACK)!

*****

Love Like Ours

Sugar Lake #3

by Melissa Foster

Releasing September 11, 2018

Montlake

Blurb:

One wrong move, and she meets a guy with all the right ones…

Talia Dalton lives her life on cruise control. Despite her successful career as a professor, she prefers protecting her broken heart to taking chances. She’s calm, cool, collected, and steady. Until the morning she takes her eyes off that familiar road and almost runs over the sexiest man she’s ever seen. It may not be the best way to start the day, but it might be the type of shake-up she needs.

Male dancer Derek Grant has goals, and nothing is going to get in the way of achieving them. As a graduate student and the sole caretaker of his ailing father, he hasn’t much time for relationships. Then Talia crashes into his life. Sweet, pretty—and so buttoned-up that he can’t wait to help her cut loose.

For Derek, falling in love was a beautiful accident waiting to happen. And it might be exactly what Talia needs—if she’s willing to let go of the past and embrace every surprise Derek has to offer.

LOVE LIKE OURS is being published by Montlake (an Amazon imprint) and won’t be available on other ebook retailers, but you can download a FREE Kindle ereader app to read it here, or order the paperback.

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39330581-love-like-ours

Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/203560-sugar-lake

LOVE LIKE OURS Buy Links:  KINDLE | PAPERBACK

*****

Excerpt:

“You’re in for it now!”

She shrieked and ran across the snow. He darted after her, but she dashed through the gazebo, scooped up a handful of snow, and tossed it at him. It hit him square in the face, and she gasped.

“Sorry!”

He teasingly growled and made a huge snowball, lightly packed so as not to hurt her, and stalked toward her.

She stumbled backward, waving her hands. “No, please!” she said between laughs.

Her killer smile was almost enough to stop him in his tracks. “Oh yes, Parking Lot Princess. You are mine!”

She grabbed another handful of snow and lobbed it at him, missing by a mile. Then she sprinted away. He took off after her and she turned, tripping over her own feet. He lunged, catching her in his arms, but their momentum sent them both to the snow. She landed on top of him, both of them laughing. Molly whined and licked their faces.

Her teeth chattered. “Sorry!”

“Hell, Talia. I’m not.”

Her eyes widened, then brimmed with heat again, dark and alluring as they skimmed over his face and lingered on his lips. Her body sank exquisitely into his. Even separated by coats and clothing, she felt incredible. Molly lay in the snow, watching them as if she felt the unbelievable moment, too. When Talia’s eyes found his again, they were like windows to her soul. Every sexy thought was right there on the surface, so tempting he was about to lean up and take a kiss, when she suddenly schooled her expression, as if she’d just realized she’d shown her true emotions, and rolled off him.

She lay on her back beside him, staring up at the sky, breathing heavily.

He leaned over her and gazed deeply into her troubled, beautiful eyes. Whatever this was between them was magnificent and stronger than anything he’d ever felt, but the caution in her eyes won again. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to cross a line. It’s been a long time since I’ve”—wanted to kiss a woman—“felt whatever this is between us.”

She pressed her lips together, and as he backed off, she grabbed his sleeve and said, “Me too. It’s been a long time.”

Man, she was so close, her desire evident in her tight grasp on his sleeve and the longing look in her eyes, but the tentativeness was still there, brimming before him. He swallowed his desires and went for levity.

“Do you have an ailing family member you’re caring for, too?”

She shook her head. “I have fear of the unknown, trust issues, and a full life.”

“Is that all?” He helped her to her feet, both of them smiling with his tease.

Molly got up, wagging her tail.

Talia’s teeth were still chattering. He put his hands on her arms and rubbed them, itching to pull her against him and heat her up with a scorching-hot kiss. Instead he took her hand and said, “I’ve got something to warm you up.”

“Um . . . ?” Her cheeks pinked up again.

He chuckled. “Yeah, that, but since we’ve already tabled the good stuff . . .” With Molly in tow, he led her to where his backpack lay in the snow. He dug out the thermoses he’d brought and handed her one. “It’s not as fun, but this should do the trick.”

She pulled her hat a little lower on her ears. “What is it?”

“Tuxedo mocha. Have you ever had one?”

She shook her head, wrapping both hands around the warm thermos. “Thank you for not making me an alcoholic drink the other night, by the way. That was really nice of you to remember.”

“You’re hard to forget, Talia.” He loved the sultry look that earned him and had to distract himself before he made the mistake of tasting that look. “I shouldn’t have waited so long to give this to you. The whipped cream and chocolate curls are probably melted.”

“You had me at whipped cream.” She took a sip and closed her eyes, moaning appreciatively. “Holy cow,” she said breathlessly. “This is heaven in a cup.”

He clenched his jaw as his mind chased that moan down an X-rated path. “It’ll be even better next time, when I make it fresh for you.”

“Next time?” she asked, and took another sip.

The tip of her tongue swept over her lips, seriously testing his ability to hold his tongue. He shouldered his backpack and took Molly’s leash from where it dangled out of Talia’s pocket. As he hooked it onto Molly’s collar, he said, “How can I help you step out of your comfort zone and get over all your hurdles if we don’t see each other again?”

*****

Author Info:

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 with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Melissa’s emotional journeys are lovingly erotic and always family oriented–perfect beach reads for contemporary romance lovers who enjoy reading about wealthy heroes and smart, sassy heroines.

Author Links:   WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS

*****

Giveaway:

Win a Paperback Copy of THE REAL THING

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/521ac4c81382/

*****

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Spotlight – The Elusive Earl

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I really enjoyed The Devilish Duke and it looks like Michaels is on a roll!

*****

The Elusive Earl

Saints & Sinners Series

by Maddison Michaels

Genre Adult Historical Romance

Publisher Entangled Amara

Publication Date August 27, 2018

Blurb:

Brianna Penderley has a knack for getting into precarious situations, especially when it comes to her love for archaeology. In the heart of Naples, her terrible Italian has her accidentally becoming engaged to two men at the same time. Of course, Daniel Wolcott—the Earl of Thornton and the only man ever able to vex her—shows up to rescue her.

Daniel has spent the majority of his life exercising rigid control over his emotions, determined never to become the rake his father was. But when he goes to aid his mentor’s danger-prone niece once again, he finds himself struggling to control his attraction to a woman who is his complete opposite.

When their situation goes from bad to worse, Daniel and Brianna find themselves swept up into a perilous adventure, and they must work together to set things right. Now, if they can just avoid killing each other in the process.

Amazon https://amzn.to/2wow5rk

Entangled Publishing https://goo.gl/qbpWYd

Barnes & Noble https://goo.gl/6mkmM7

Kobo https://goo.gl/LG3vY4

iBooks https://apple.co/2LlcRsr

*****

Excerpt:

Prologue

Mendicino, Calabria, Italy—1833

“It was the most glorious treasure the world had ever seen. Gold, silver, rubies, diamonds bigger than a man’s fist, priceless statues and urns, all carried on the backs of the loyal army of the great Visigoth king: plunders and spoils from King Aleric’s successful sacking of Rome.”

Isabella Maria Penderley stopped short with a start, hovering just outside the slightly ajar door of her baby daughter’s bedroom. A calm and melodic voice was recounting the tale of the fabled lost treasure. It was the voice of a man she had dreaded ever hearing again.

Slowly, she pushed open the door until the entirety of the room came into view. She exhaled a sharp breath and her chest constricted at the sight that greeted her.

Her husband Edward was lying deathly still in a pool of blood in the middle of the floor, the crimson of it trickling from a jagged gash across his throat.

A broken sob wrenched from her lips, but she couldn’t move; all she could do was drag her gaze up from his still form to the man sitting beside her daughter’s cot.

“Principessa Isabella, it is good to see you again, my dear.” His words were at odds with the steel in his eyes. “I am just regaling your daughter with the ancient tale of King Aleric and the great treasure he was buried with. The treasure you and your husband tried to cheat me of.”

“Calogero, please, I beg you,” Isabella said. “We did no—”

“Enough.” His voice was calm and even, though there was no mistaking the authority in his tone. “I believe I warned you what would happen if you and your husband double-crossed me, did I not?”

“Please, you must not do this,” she implored, stepping into the room.

“You’ve given me no choice.” He lifted his right hand. Clenched in his grip was a dagger, its blade dripping with blood. “Stay there, my dear. I don’t wish to use this on you, but I shall if I must.”

Isabella felt her heart lurch, but she kept her attention steadily fixed on Calogero. She could not let herself look back down again at Edward, or she would be lost.

Calogero glanced at the toddler, who, sitting in her cot, regarded him with innocent eyes. He turned back to Isabella and smiled, the smile that had always repulsed her with its merciless intent. “Clearly, she was destined to be a beauty like her mamma. A shame she will not grow old enough to do so. But do not fret. You shall have even more beautiful children with me.”

“No, please, Calogero. I beg you, leave her alone. She has nothing to do with this.”

“She has everything to do with this, Isabella.” His sharp gaze pierced into her own. “What is the little bastarda’sname?”

Isabella squared her shoulders and raised her chin. “She is no bastarda. She is Brianna Elizabeta Maria Penderley, born within the sanctity of marriage. And though her surname may be Penderley, she is still my daughter and therefore of the house of Bartelli, heir to the kingdom of Cosenza.”

The man gently laughed and casually stood. “Your father all but disowned you when you broke off your betrothal and ran off with this Englishman.” He took a step toward Edward’s still form and then kicked him in the ribs.

Edward did not move. Isabella’s body clenched, but she had to block out the pain. Her daughter’s life depended on it. “My father is quick to anger but will recognize his grand-daughter.”

The man shrugged. “I doubt it. But it won’t matter after you tell me the location of the final resting place of King Aleric and his riches. Then I will have no need of your father and his wealth.”

“I do not know,” she implored. “You must believe me. Edward and I were close to finding the location, but we were not successful.”

The man sighed and walked over to the crib. “It pains me to hear you lie straight to my face. I know you found the chamber, my dear. One of my spies heard you and that English husband of yours talking about it.”

Isabella slowly began moving toward them, but he held up his knife in warning.

“I will not warn you again, Principessa.”

She stopped and could only watch as he leaned into the crib and ran his free hand lightly through her daughter’s short, chestnut curls. If she’d had her pistol on her, she would have killed the fiend then and there.

“Your mamma interrupted my story, did she not, little one?” he cooed to the baby. “Now, where were we…? Ah yes, after King Aleric had sacked Rome and plundered its treasure, he led his army for miles, deep into the heart of Italy and through Naples. He was determined to continue to conquer each city his army swept through, but alas, when he stopped in the province of what is now known as Cosenza, he become ill with a fever and perished. His army, loyal to the very last, had workers in the region dig a burial chamber, and in it, they buried their king and all of the stolen treasures of Rome with him.”

He glanced up at Isabella. “That is the legend, yes?”

She nodded reluctantly.

“And what happens next?” he asked. “You must tell your daughter.”

Isabella fisted her hands by her side, an unholy rage beginning to consume her. If only she could get him away from the crib, she might be able to wrestle his knife away. “His army killed the workers who had built the burial chamber, so they would not be able to reveal the King’s secret resting place. Then, all but one of the soldiers, loyal to their much-beloved ruler to the very last, fell upon their own swords within their King’s tomb, determined to guard him in the afterlife. The last soldier, though, took a sacred oath to seal and protect the tomb, to ensure the King and his army would never be disturbed. Since then, the location has been forever lost, yet it is believed to be eternally protected by the ghosts of the King’s soldiers.”

His eyes glittered with greed before turning back to assess the baby. “Until your mamma and papà found it, that is.”

“We did not find it!”

“Stop lying,” he growled, his normally smooth veneer slipping for an instant. “You will tell me the location, or you will watch as your daughter dies.”

“I cannot tell you what I do not know,” Isabella tried to placate him.

He looked past her shoulder. “Take the child and drown it. We shall come and watch.”

Isabella spun around and saw one of Calogero’s burly henchman standing in the doorway behind her. “No, you cannot! Please, I beg you. She is only a baby!”

The big man slowly lumbered past her toward the crib.

NO!” Isabella’s scream tore through the night as she lunged at Calogero.

The look of surprise on his face was suddenly replaced with frustration as she launched herself upon him. She clawed at his eyes and jerked her knee toward his midsection.

He roared in displeasure, then pushed her away. A hot, sharp pain lanced through her as something plunged deep into her stomach.

She stumbled back a step and looked down to see his dagger lodged in her abdomen. Suddenly, her legs wobbled, and her head felt light.

“No. No. No,” he cried, rushing toward her and catching her from falling to the floor. “Dannazione!” he swore in Italian. “This is not what I planned. You were not meant to die. Why did you do such a stupid thing?” He shook her. “You must tell me where the treasure is! Where is it? Where?” He shook her more vigorously. “You cannot let the find of the century be lost forever.”

Her eyelids fluttered, and she looked across to the crib, where Brianna was gripping the railing with her chubby fingers, a keen wail coming from the baby’s lungs. A tear slid down her cheek as she slowly lifted her hand toward her daughter. “I am sorry, my darling girl,” she whispered. “Mamma is so sorry.”

“Tell me where the treasure is!” Calogero shouted.

She felt a moment of satisfaction, seeing him lose control for the first time in all the years she’d known him. With all the strength she had left, she motioned him closer to her.

He leaned his ear in toward her mouth. “Where is it?”

“I would rather go to Hell than tell you anything.”

He slapped her hard. “You little bitch.”

She managed to smile weakly at him. “It is you, though, Calogero, who will be going to Hell for all you have done,” she took pleasure in telling him. “Il Diavolo will be coming for you. You cannot hide your true nature from God as you do everyone else.”

She felt her strength start to leave her, but then she looked up to the ceiling and saw the most beautiful golden light beckoning to her. And there in the distance was her beloved Edward, smiling and holding out his hand to her. She reached for it and was at peace.

“Damn it, Fabrizio, silence that infernal baby,” Calogero barked out to his servant. “I cannot think with her wailing. They must have left something here. Some clue as to the whereabouts of the treasure. It cannot simply slip through my grasp again.”

Fabrizio watched his master stalk around the room, pulling out cupboards and clothing, frantically searching for any hint of the fabled treasure. This behavior was going far beyond what Fabrizio was used to normally dealing with. His master was always calm and methodical, to the point where most thought the man had ice in his veins. That was until last week, when they’d received word that the Principessa and her husband had found the treasure. Since then, Calogero had been like a man possessed.

He’d been having mad rants and tantrums, which were so at odds with his normally cold and exacting nature, all in this crazed obsession of his to find this lost treasure. To the point of murder. A sense of shame was filling Fabrizio to have even played a small part in such a thing.

Abruptly, Calogero stopped and walked to where the woman’s lifeless body lay. He bent down and tenderly brushed the chestnut hair from her face. “I knew you would be trouble the very first time I laid eyes on you,” Calogero crooned to the dead woman. “But you were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.”

The baby let out a loud screech.

“I told you to silence her!” Calogero whirled around to face Fabrizio. “I am saying goodbye to Isabella.”

“What do you want me to do with her?” Fabrizio asked slowly as he began treading over to the cot. He stopped at the railing and glanced down at the little one. She had the biggest blue eyes he’d seen, with brown ringlets framing a heart-shaped face. Tears streamed down her chubby cheeks, and her face was red from the exertion of her fervent cries. She was a beautiful child and couldn’t have been any older than his bambini, Bella.

“I told you to drown her, didn’t I?” Calogero’s voice was harsh. “Her death will herald an end to the Bartelli family line. Probably the only good thing to come from this disaster. Not that the Prince would have claimed her. No, Isabella ensured that when she ran off and married her untitled Englishman.”

Fabrizio leaned down into the crib and picked up the child, who was clutching a rag doll tightly to her chest. Her cries ceased abruptly, and she regarded him for a moment before a smile slowly spread across her face, little dimples appearing under the apples of her cheeks.

He snuck a quick look over at his master, who was placing a kiss on the woman’s forehead. There was something terribly wrong with Calogero, Fabrizio knew. But not until now did he realize how truly insane his master was. Certainly, in the past, his master had cared little for others, often ordering his men to evict villagers from their farms if they were even so much as a day late with their rent. Yes, Calogero had always been ruthless when it came to money and promises not being kept. But as far as Fabrizio knew, he’d never gone beyond the bounds of the law of the land. Although, Fabrizio had sometimes wondered over the last few years if that was, in fact, the case or not.

Calogero rose and strode over to a chest of drawers, beginning to rummage inside. “They must have left some notes about the location of the treasure. Something we can use to find it.”

“I doubt it would be hidden in the baby’s room. Not something that important,” Fabrizio mused aloud.

Calogero stopped his foraging, his eyes narrowing dangerously upon Fabrizio before he gave a reluctant nod. “Get rid of that.” His head motioned to the baby. “And then you can finish searching this room. I will explore their study.”

And just as Fabrizio hoped, his master turned on his heel, stepped over the two bodies lying silent on the floor, and strode through the door, the clip of his boots growing softer as he made his way down the corridor.

“There, there, now,” Fabrizio crooned to the baby as he surveyed the room. Spotting an empty leather satchel in the corner, he scooped it up with his free hand and draped it across his spare shoulder. He quickly gathered up some rags for her bottom, picked up the quilt she had been sitting on, and stuffed them into the bag.

He noticed that some leather-bound books had been hidden under the quilt. He lifted one and awkwardly shifted the baby more firmly across his hip, whilst thumbing through the pages. They looked to be journals of some sort, penned in a feminine hand. Probably her mother’s.

Fabrizio peeked down beside him at the lady lying dead on the floor. She had been beautiful, and even in death, she looked like an angel. He quickly twisted the baby around, so she couldn’t see the sight.

Poor tiny thing. No parents to help her now. With a nod to himself, he snatched up the journals and put them in the satchel, too. Everyone deserved to know their parents, and unfortunately, the journals were probably going to be the girl’s only way to do so.

Because, of course, he would have to disobey his master’s instructions. He couldn’t kill a child, let alone a girl that reminded him so much of his own daughter.

*****

Author Info:

Indoctrinated into a world of dashing rogues and feisty heroines when she was 14 years old, MADDISON MICHAELS is a prolific reader and writer of romantic suspense and historical fiction. She gets her daily dose of suspense from prosecuting real life villains in the Courts.

A member of the RWA and RWA Australia, Maddison is as passionate about her writing as she is about her other two loves; her family and her cups of tea. Luckily she gets a healthy dash of romance married to her wonderful husband and her exercise regime is kept on track by her six-year-old daughter, who ensures Maddison is kept very busy chasing her around.

Maddison’s historical novels are her way of time traveling back to Victorian London to experience a cornucopia of intrigue, romance and debauchery all from the comfort of her living room! Her next novel ‘The Elusive Earl’ is the second book in her ‘Saints and Scoundrels’ series, and is set in the same world as her first book ‘The Devilish Duke’.

Website  http://www.maddisonmichaels.com

Facebook https://facebook.com/maddisonmichaelsauthor/

Twitter https://twitter.com/mmichaelsauthor/

Goodreads https://goo.gl/YQnZpo

Amazon https://amzn.to/2o67MuU

*****

Giveaway:

To celebrate the release of THE ELUSIVE EARL by Maddison Michaels, we’re giving away for a $25 Amazon gift card!

http://bit.ly/2BH1N9l

GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open internationally. One winner will be chosen to receive a $25 Amazon gift card. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Entangled Publishing.  Giveaway ends 9/9/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Entangled Publishing will send one winning prize, Pure Textuality PR will deliver the other. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted.

*****

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Spotlight – The Real You

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I love a good romantic suspense story, don’t you?

*****

The Real You

Only You Book 1

by RM Alexander

Gender – Romantic Suspense

Blurb:

“Movie Star Romance on a whole other level!” 

Reeling from a nasty divorce, Paige Reed wants to move forward, and leave the past where it belongs – behind her. A spontaneous decision leads her to a location set for a movie where she meets sexy Hollywood insider, Kellen Richards.

Kellen’s southern charm sweeps Paige off her feet, despite the hungry paparazzi watching in the background. But when a tragedy proves to be anything but accidental, he vows to protect Paige with every resource at his beck and call.

While Paige fights to find her place in his world, Kellen must engage in a lethal game of chess, their lives and blossoming love at stake.

What Readers are saying:

“Emotional roller coaster that took me along for the ride!”

“Heartbreaking yet uplifting!”

Nominated for 2017 Reader’s Choice Award and 2018 Author Academy Award

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~

The Determined You

Only You Book 2

by RM Alexander

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Blurb:

Heroes paint the big screen, but a violent opponent interferes with true love, driving one actor to prove he’s more than a script.
Easy-going Lil Reed is like every red-blooded female would be: excited to meet her first Hollywood A-lister. After all, Grey Richards is the talk of the town. And she’s the lucky one; his brother is marrying into her family. But Lil quickly learns an age-old lesson: be careful what you wish for. Grey is nothing like the charismatic and charming characters he portrays. This heartthrob is surly, arrogant, and completely closed off.

With no patience for gossip-reading fan girls, Grey is far from interested in the youngest Reed sister. And a guy like Grey would never date outside the elite Hollywood circles. That would be career suicide.

However, when there’s a threat against the Reed sisters, Grey feels compelled to protect the spunky and adorable woman who somehow wiggled her way into his heart. With danger closing in, Grey must save the sisters and prove to Lil that there’s more behind the glamour and glitz. But will she ignore the fake tabloids for a chance at real love?

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~

The Perfect You

Only You Book 3

by RM Alexander

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Blurb:

When Texas oil mixes with Hollywood wine, love must prove it’s thicker than blood before a murderous adversary calls checkmate.

Determined to prove herself, Trinity Richards goes against her family’s wishes and finally makes the move to Los Angeles. Knowing her brothers monitor every move gives Trinity the courage to fulfill her dreams. But now, her brothers’ enemies have a new target: Her.

Finding solace at the bottom of a bottle, Tim Rhodes is still struggling with his wife’s death. Encountering the beautiful and assertive Trinity puts him on edge. After all, he has no intentions of ever falling in love again. Love only breeds pain–and too much of it. The last thing he needs is another woman in his life.

When Trinity’s life is threatened, Tim’s torn between his past and what could possibly be his future. Now, it’s up to him to confront his demons and fight for the woman he wants. Can he bury his pain and save Trinity before it’s too late?

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*****

Excerpt:

Paige sauntered past tables of clinking silverware, murmurs and crunching fresh bread. Her stomach rolled. Full or not, she may have to indulge further. It’d been awhile since she had a dinner that tasted this good.

She edged to a long table dressed in flowers and several punch bowls full of pretty pink liquid. Picking a glass from the far end, Paige reached for the ladle of the closest crystal bowl.

“Please, allow me.”

She glanced up, hand hovering above the silver ladle. “I, uh, thank you.”

Paige held a cup as Grey Richards poured the punch. “You and your friend were at the shoot today, right?”

She nodded. “Yes, for a little while. During the car chase.”

“I remember. That’s great. I love meeting my biggest fans.”

A soft smile dressed her lips. “I can’t say I’m your biggest fan. I mean … I … I enjoy your movies, but … I …” The heat in her cheeks burned her flustered nerves. “I’m sorry, I … ” She took a sip of the punch. A polite retreat was all she needed.

Grey laughed and tucked a hand in the tuxedo pants. The material flowed and hung, obviously not a rental.

A man like him probably has a closet full of top of the line tuxedos, she thought. She didn’t want to venture a guess at the price tag that came with each one. It was likely to be more than she’d make in a lifetime at her job.

“Honesty. I like that. Don’t get a lot of it where I come from.”

Paige kept her gaze trained on the cup, heat spreading like wildfire.

He leaned back a little, gaze traveling up and down Paige’s body, feet to head, and back again. Paige shifted her weight to one foot, then the other.

“You’re uncomfortable around me.”

She met the trademark gray-charcoal eyes. “I imagine you get that a lot.”

Steady in his stare, she felt like he was drinking her in. “What’s your name?”

She drew in a steadying breath. “Paige Reed.”

“Paige Reed.” He watched her. “Paige Reed.” He turned her name in the smooth steely voice every fan knew well. “Pretty name for a pretty lady.”

What a line. But he doesn’t need practice with lines, she bet. She took a sip of punch, thankful the trumpeting thought didn’t pass through her lips. “Thank you.”

“So,” he said, taking a drink of punch, “what kind of movies do you enjoy if you’re not my biggest fan?”

She swallowed hard and coughed. “I didn’t say I didn’t like your movies.”

“No, of course, you didn’t.” He turned to the punch and poured a second cup, took a drink. “You wouldn’t admit that much, would you? I ask again, what are your favorite movies? I bet you’re a romance fan.”

“And if I am?”

He chuckled, hand held up in retreat. “Nothing wrong with romance. I’ve been looking at a couple scripts myself, but nothing’s come my way that has caught my

attention. What’s your favorite, if you had to choose?”

Pride and Prejudice. The one with Keira Knightley.”

He nodded. “Historical romance, huh?”

Her turn to nod.

“Good film. Good cast. And I bet you’re wondering what the actors are like in real life?”

She smiled and shrugged. “No. You wouldn’t tell me even if I were, and really, I’m not a National Inquiry kind of girl anyway. They’re just people, who happen to make good movies. And you, you’re just another person who happens to make good movies.”

His smile widened. “I like that. And yet, when I first came over here, you struggled to talk to me. If I’m just another person, why was that?”

She glanced over her shoulder to the table, where Lil stood, frozen and slackjawed. Paige giggled.

“Something funny?” He glanced over her shoulder. “You’re friend looks like she might be a National Inquiry kind of girl.”

Paige gritted her teeth. “My sister. She’s a good person, who just might be one of your biggest fans. Are you that callous towards all your biggest fans?”

“Oh, no. I didn’t mean any offense.” He shifted his weight. “I should let you get back to your sister. It’s been interesting talking to you, Ms. Reed.” He held out a hand.

“Nice talking to you, Mr. Richards.” Paige shook his hand, eyes widening as he brought the back of her hand to waiting lips, eyes trained on her.

Wait. Men still do that?

A quick goodbye and he disappeared into the crowd at the front of the room.

Paige stood, hand hanging in the air, staring at his retreating figure

*****

Author Info:

RM Alexander is an author of romantic suspense. With driven characters who suffer the worst kinds of betrayals, RM’s novels promise a good read with unexpected twists and turns.

When she’s not writing, RM spends time with her husband and two children. She loves to travel, especially to Walt Disney World, and is addicted to orange juice and Ghiradelli chocolate. She is often found on Twitter and Facebook chatting with other authors and readers.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Pinterest * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

*****

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Spotlight – Until We’re More

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I’m about halfway thru this one and I am loving how well Madsen captures Chelsea & Liam’s struggle over giving into their feelings when faced with the fear about what it could mean to their friendship, which is SO vital to both of them.  I know it’ll work out but I’m anxious to see how she makes it happen 🙂

*****

Until We’re More

Fighting For Her series

by Cindi Madsen

Genre New Adult Contemporary Romance

Publisher Entangled Embrace

Publication Date August 27, 2018

Blurb:

Chelsea is smart, funny, gorgeous, and the best friend I’ve ever had. Ever since she left, I’ve been a wreck. I’ve been focused on keeping my family’s MMA gym afloat while I train and coach fighters, anything to not miss her more. But now she’s finally back, along with her grumpy, possessive cat, and things are weird between us.

By weird, I mean I can’t stop thinking about her in that way. She’s in the room next door, and it takes all my control not to storm in there, sweep her up, and bring her back to my bed. Even stranger, I’m pretty sure she’d be into it.

And this time, I’m not going to stop fighting until we’re more.

Amazon https://amzn.to/2o2Q5w6

Entangled Publishing https://goo.gl/vDBDhW

Barnes & Noble https://goo.gl/g5iMnk

Kobo https://goo.gl/11E39P

iBooks https://apple.co/2o2ohrS

Each book in the Fighting for Her series is STANDALONE:

* Until You’re Mine

* Until We’re More

*****

Excerpt:

Chapter One

Chelsea

He’s my best friend; he’s my best friend; he’s my best friend…

I inhaled another gulp of the ocean-scented air that’d welcomed me home and pushed inside the MMA gym where I’d spent countless hours sitting on the sidelines, forever suspended between whatever literary world I’d escaped into and a world of striking drills, sparring, and ripped guys talking about past or upcoming mixed martial arts fights. That beautiful junction used to be my home base, but thanks to a whole mess of complications involving one of the guys who ran the gym, I hadn’t been here in way too long. Liam Roth was a light heavyweight contender, coach and fighter for Team Domination, and he also happened to be my stoic, laconic best friend.

My breath leaked out of me like a balloon that hadn’t been tied, complete with the screechy noise. Liam stood in the middle of the caged-in area with no shirt on, the sweaty sheen coating his body accentuating all the muscles upon muscles. Really, universe? Couldn’t you at least hook a girl up and help make my goal a little attainable?

I hadn’t been back to San Diego in six months, and goal number two—right after proving I was upper management material—was to only think of Liam in the most platonic of ways. No more having romantic-type feelings for him. Nope, I was over that. Done being a slave to unrequited love. Of course, it was much easier to stay on track from hundreds of miles away.

The scent of rubber and worn leather invaded my senses and the familiar tap, tap, tap of gloved fists made me yearn to settle into my usual chair and turn into the girl I used to be. The one who avoided her actual home by watching her best friend train for hours. Past Chelsea hadn’t had much of a social life besides that, but since it meant being around Liam, that version of me hadn’t cared.

Current Chelsea was working on grabbing life by the balls, although she still preferred nights in, and there hadn’t been much ball grabbing, which was a whole different issue. I’ve been doing so well, though. I went out on that date a month and a half ago.

For the record, I knew better than to grab the balls. Not that I’d gotten near enough to do that, and not that I wanted to do that. The point was to put myself out there and engage in life instead of letting it pass me by, which included dating with the intention of bedding. Eventually. When I found the right person. If that ever happened.

Full disclosure: I’d accidentally compared my last date to Liam, and naturally the guy fell short, but again, I was trying.

If at first you don’t succeed, jump on a dating app and swipe, swipe again.

Vaguely I noticed no one was seated behind the front desk. Prying information from Liam—especially over the phone—was like convincing a baby to release their death-grip on a sucker, but I’d gleaned that nowadays, Liam’s sister only occasionally worked at the gym yet still came in often, since her newish boyfriend was also part of Team Domination. As much as I wanted to see Brooklyn, I was sorta glad no one manned the desk right now because it made it easier to hang back and soak in the action. Aka, ogle the fighters, and I had my eyes on one in particular. The very same guy I’d watched strike and hit more times than I could count through the years, and my pulse skipped to the rhythm of his motions.

A digital clock on the wall ticked down the time the fighters had left in this training round—three minutes to go, which meant they’d started these drills two minutes ago.

Three minutes to figure out what to say to him, which felt so foreign and…icky. After a few long months of hardly any contact when I’d almost given up on him, Liam had actually started picking up the phone once in a while. Things were still more stilted than they used to be, and thanks to that, a combination of missed calls on both sides, and then deciding it’d be fun to surprise him, he had no idea I was coming. Maybe part of that also stemmed from my worry that he wouldn’t be as excited as I was, and I definitely didn’t want to hear him tell me I should stay put, several states away.

My heart dropped and tightened at the same time, which left the organ struggling to function properly. Things hadn’t been the same between us since shortly before I left. For years we’d fended off assumptions and accusations of being more than friends. Again and again we’d explain that we were just friends and why was that so hard to believe? Back then I’d even meant it, and I had no doubt he did, too.

Then, about a year ago, my feelings went rogue on me. I’d tried to stop them. But, hello, he was tall and buff and he had this longish, forever-tousled blond hair that made him look like a certain Norse god who wielded a hammer. While I’d always noticed Liam was hot, suddenly I couldn’t notice anything but that.

I didn’t have many friendships, and I couldn’t risk messing up ours unless he felt the same. Problem was, Liam had never been what you’d call forthcoming with the emotions, and I debated the best way to test the waters, while also being terrified of what I’d discover if I actually got brave enough to dip in a toe.

One night he went to give me a goodbye peck on the cheek, the way he’d done dozens of times through the years. (Back in high school, I was the sole proprietor of the mushy farewells, but eventually he began reciprocating.) My daydreams got tangled up with real life, and in an uncharacteristic moment of impulsivity, I turned my head so that our mouths would line up instead. Last second, I came to my senses—with a side of chickening out—and he caught the corner of my lips.

I froze, my heart bruising my ribs with every too-strong, too-fast beat.

Visions of him pulling me closer for a purposeful, square-on-the-mouth kiss flashed through my brain as a sizzle worked its way through my veins.

He shook his head, a hint of confusion in his features. Then he gestured to the swollen, purplish-blue eye he’d gotten from a sparring session gone too far. “Sorry, my depth perception must be off.”

He backed away, as if he needed to ensure no more accidental brushing ensued, and I pretended that my squashed hope wasn’t twitching like a dying bug.

In order to keep myself from screwing up our relationship, I’d resorted to drastic measures. Not that I was testing him or anything, because an amazing job opportunity had come up, and in a lot of ways, it seemed like the escape I’d been looking for. If it hadn’t been for Liam, I would’ve probably put more space between my toxic family and me the second I graduated high school. So when I’d mentioned the job and told him it included having to relocate to Denver, I’d watched his face, hoping to see anything that might lead me to believe his feelings ran deeper. I could stay for more, but I couldn’t keep waiting and hoping and wrecking my career goals and social life on something that’d never happen.

Seriously, do you have any idea how hard it is to date when you have a ginormous, overprotective best friend? The few guys who’d actually hit on me ran in the other direction once they met Liam.

Instead of saying he didn’t want me living that far away, Liam told me a fresh start would be good for me and that the job sounded perfect, and the fact that he was so blasé about it made it clear I needed some space before I went and did something that’d ruin everything. And the time away had been good for me. I’d grown a lot over the last six months. I’d learned how to be bolder—although I was still working on that, particularly when it came to my job—and how to make new friends.

It gave me a chance to attempt to date and experience what it was like to spend time with people other than Liam.

Naturally, the move wasn’t without a downside or two. I occasionally missed the beach and the MMA gym and even my dysfunctional family, although that was a slippery, complicated slope. While the distance erected a natural barrier, I’d feel bad I wasn’t there for my mom the way I should be, tell myself that maybe things would be better now that we’d had space, and finally answer one of her calls. Before I could fully get out the words “Hi, Mom,” I’d be wrapped up in her net and end up sending money to placate her, as well as my guilt.

As for the number one con, though, the one that surpassed them all…?

He was standing in the center of the caged-off rectangle, still hammering out fighting drills.

What if he’s not excited? What if he’s moved on and is Mr. Popular now, so many friends he doesn’t have time for me? Even in my head that didn’t seem right, not because he couldn’t be a local celebrity with a nonstop social life but because it so wasn’t him.

For the first time since I’d asked—i.e. practically begged—for my boss to add me to the team that would be opening a branch here, doubt over my decision crept in. Not great, since I already had enough doubt I could pull off showing the marketing firm I worked for that I was managerial material.

I have six weeks to prove that I’d be a great manager, and that I’m an asset to whatever team I’m on.

Six weeks to enjoy San Diego and spend as much time as possible with Liam—without falling for him all over again and making things weird. Again.

No big deal. I’m the picture of self-control.

Just ask that box of doughnuts I plowed through on my drive halfway across the country. Okay, so I’d meant to only eat a couple, but that was different. Doughnuts obviously loved me back.

First things first, I needed to summon some of that boldness I claimed to have gained over the past several months and see where Liam and I were even starting from.

My gaze returned to my guy—er, my guy friend—and blood rushed through my head in that way that made it hard to think straight, and I just… Well, I was right there with every girl who’d ever swooned in Liam’s presence, which was a lot. I used to watch in amusement as they would turn into babbling idiots around him, and I’d even teased him about his groupies, but right now, it didn’t strike me as very funny. I had all the empathy for any girl who went and fell for Liam Roth. Especially since he was so damn hard to get over.

The five-minute buzzer sounded, Liam’s unwavering focus on his training broke, and slowly—like that serious slow-motion-type shit you see in romance movies—his eyes scanned the area and landed right on me. My heart stopped for one second. Two seconds…

A grin curved his lips, and then my feet were propelling me forward, and he was rushing down from the caged-in training area, and a floaty, fuzzy sensation took over my body.

Just when the hugging I desperately wanted to commence was finally within my reach, Liam stopped short, his arms dropping to his sides.

Oh no. My worst fears have come true. We don’t even know how to act around each other anymore.

He frowned as he glanced down at himself—since he was looking at his muscles, I figured that made it okay for me to follow suit. You know, in case he had any questions. Why, yes, your abs do look crazy-amazing and I have imagined licking them.

So much for my thoughts behaving themselves. Self-control was…a process.

“I’m all sweaty from training.” Liam glanced over his shoulder, in the direction of the locker room. “I’ll hit the showers real quick and then—”

I flung myself at him, not caring. Needing my arms around him and his arms around me, because conflicted feelings or not, I’d missed him with a nearly consuming longing that begged to be appeased. “You look… I mean, training is obviously… And I’m so happy to be…”

Great. Now I was the babbling idiot in his presence, something I hadn’t been since I was twelve. Guess that was karma, paying me back. In addition to being a bit flustered by his hotness, it went deeper than that. This was my Liam, my rock, my friend who’d always been there for me. The guy I could have fun doing absolutely nothing with.

He tightened his grip, hugging me so vigorously my toes left the ground. “Damn, I missed you.” His deep voice rumbled through me, unfurling heat in my gut, and just like that, my goals turned hazy all over again.

He’s my best friend; he’s my best friend; he’s my best friend…

*****

Author Info:

CINDI MADSEN is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance and young adult novels. She sits at her computer every chance she gets, plotting, revising, and falling in love with her characters. Sometimes it makes her a crazy person. Without it, she’d be even crazier. She has way too many shoes, but can always find a reason to buy a pretty new pair, especially if they’re sparkly, colorful, or super tall. She loves music and dancing and wishes summer lasted all year long. She lives in Colorado (where summer is most definitely NOT all year long) with her husband, three children, an overly-dramatic tomcat, & an adorable one-eyed kitty named Agent Fury.

Website  http://cindimadsen.com/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CindiMadsenBooks/

Instagram http://instagram.com/cindimadsenbooks

Twitter http://www.twitter.com/cindimadsen

Goodreads https://goo.gl/D6R5vm

Amazon https://amzn.to/2LjYRih

*****

Giveaway:

To celebrate the release of UNTIL WE’RE MORE by Cindi Madsen, we’re giving away for a $25 Amazon gift card!

https://www.subscribepage.com/UntilWereMore

GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open internationally. One winner will be chosen to receive a $25 Amazon gift card. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Entangled Publishing.  Giveaway ends 9/6/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Entangled Publishing will send one winning prize, Pure Textuality PR will deliver the other. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted.

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Spotlight – To Love

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I am SO looking forward to this book!!!

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To Love

The McNally Series, Book 1

by Laura Scott

Contemporary Romance

Date Published: September 4, 2018

Publisher: Readscape Publishing

Blurb:

Meet the McNallys, an Irish family who learn to move on from their individual personal tragedies to fall in love.

Eager for a fresh start, Jazz McNally throws herself into renovating her grandparents’ mansion in time for the grand opening of the McNally Bed and Breakfast. When vandals strike, she accepts help from drifter Dalton O’Brien. Dalton is willing to lend a hand, until it’s time to move on. But when danger escalates, Dalton soon realizes that protecting Jazz is a threat—to his heart.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2N9EFVt

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/to-love-laura-scott/1128900668?ean=2940161992845

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/to-love-7

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/to-love/id1397031679?ls=1&mt=11

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Author Info:

A nurse by day and an author by night, Laura Scott has written 50 books for Harlequin. To Love is the launch book in her new family series, The McNallys releasing on Sept. 4, 2018.

Website: https://www.laurascottbooks.com/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/laurascottbooks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/LauraScottBooks

Promo Link: http://bookbuzz.net/blog/contemporary-romance-2/

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