Spotlight – Wooing the Wedding Planner

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The absolutely adorable Amber Leigh Williams not only brings us the last book for today but also a delightfully charming look at her own life and how she draws on it for inspiration.

*****

There’s a scene in the first segment of Wooing the Wedding Planner where the heroine, Roxie, and the hero, Byron, get into a lively…we’ll say “debate.” This “debate” takes place in the kitchen. The subject is knives and how to use the various selection of blades from the butcher block. Trivial, you say? Who fights over something as silly as how to use a knife? However, some might find this passage interesting or, er, familiar. By some, I mean one person, specifically. My spouse. He and I have squabbled over the same subject for years. We’ve had this “debate” over and over for well on a decade. Perhaps because of his repeated instruction on how to use a paring knife versus a boning knife and the multitude of band-aids I’ve gone through as a result of accidental nicks and slices I’ve given myself because I refuse to admit that he is…perhaps…somewhat (arg!) right, that I chose to immortalize this argument in print as well as some other notable kitchen disasters of which I am now fond.

Like Roxie, the wedding planner, I never learned to cook. For years, I planted myself firmly at the writing desk at dinnertime and let the aforementioned spouse cook for both of us. Then something happened, or someone. He was a beautiful, alien creature. Seven pounds; twelve ounces of squalling newborn perfection. When I met my son, something happened to me. There were endorphins. There was panic. There was delight. I learned that you could laugh/cry/snort/sob all at the same time – and often. And there was something else; something the mountains of parenting and birthing books hadn’t warned me of. The sudden overwhelming desire to COOK for this creature. And, weirdly enough, his father. I grew up at my mother’s table where there were delicious home-brewed meals aplenty. The idea of letting my boy grow up eating freezer meals sent me scrambling for the library in haste. I devoured cookbooks. I read Julia Child’s My Life in France again and again, making notes in the margins. I joined Pinterest. And, through years of stops and starts, successes and failures, I became something of a decent cuisinier.

Often as writers, we draw on personal experience to flesh out our characters and bring weight to their experience. While writing the first draft for Wooing the Wedding Planner, I saw Roxie starting a new life after her divorce. I saw her desperately trying to reinvigorate her thirst for independence and learn a new normal. I also saw that she was oh-abouts thirty. “Throw away the take-out menus and buy yourself an apron,” I told her. “You’re in for a foodie adventure!” (Yes, I have conversations with imaginary people. Why do you ask?)

The scene where Byron walks in on Roxie in the first of many cooking disasters as well as the one where she stays up through the night trying to cull the perfect apple pie from her oven is dedicated to the harried bathrobe-clad woman my sleepy and baffled husband has been known to find standing over the stove at 3 a.m. “What are you doing?” he asks me, shaking his head. “I’m cooking,” I respond as I stir the hambone soup I’ll still be standing over at noon the next day. I still don’t know where it comes from. It’s more than the domestic chore or duty of a bygone era of housewives. I adore cooking for my family. I love providing enjoyment over a meal as well as sustenance. In its own way, it’s an expression of love, appreciation, even gratitude for their presence in my life.

Yet, through the years, something else happened. Something funny. For some, cooking comes naturally. For others, it’s like learning a foreign language. For Roxie and me, it was the latter. Why do we persist? Because we grow through it. We improve upon ourselves. Because, believe it or not, we enjoy it for ourselves – the challenge of it. For us, cooking is love, as is food. And the fact that the brave men in our lives spend a few extra minutes exercising everyday so that they may test our various carbo-loaded and dessert-laden wares is the essence of requital. A toast to them both and to us!

For the latest news on Roxie, Byron, and my latest Harlequin Superromance as well as all the latest foodie adventures from yours truly, find me at www.amberleighwilliams.com

*****

Wooing the Wedding Planner

by Amber Leigh Williams

Publisher: Harlequin (Superromance)

Pages: 380

Genre: Series Romance/Contemporary Romance/Superromance

Blurb:

No more wedding marches for her! 

Wedding planner Roxie Honeycutt can make happy-ever-after come true for anyone except herself. Freshly divorced and done with love, she’s okay with watching clients walk down the aisle. What’s not okay? Sharing a charming Victorian house with accountant Byron Strong. He’s frustratingly sexy and determined to keep her confused.

Roxie thought Byron’s expertise was numbers, yet somehow he sees her for who she really is. Somehow he understands the hurt she hides behind a trademark smile. Suddenly romance is tempting again, even if it means risking another heartbreak.

Amazon

*****

Excerpt:

“What was wrong with the old Roxie?”

His words stuck with her. And his kiss.

It was difficult to forget a kiss like that, especially coming from someone…well, someone like Byron. Roxie had spent more time than she’d like to admit trying not to think about the kiss – about how sweet it was. She’d forgotten kisses could be so sweet. She’d tried extra hard to forget how his lips had lingered. And how in lingering he’d awakened starbursts inside her. Starbursts of eternity.

She frowned deeply. Being touched…it had been so long since she had really been touched. The hollowness in her had turned into a resounding ache, and for a few moments she’d thought about bringing Byron’s mouth back down to hers. For a few moments, she’d craved more than his companionship. She’d craved the contact. The promise of heat that came with it.

But had she wanted it – had she wanted him – for the single reason that heat could erode loneliness? There was trust there. There was affection. For those small starbursts of eternity, there had been longing and the promise of flame. It had been too long since she’d felt the sheer, electrical pulse of new chemistry.

Why had Byron’s kiss made it seem like so long since she’d felt the flame? The passion?

*****

Author Info:

Amber Leigh Williams is a Harlequin romance writer who lives on the US Gulf Coast.  She lives for beach days, the smell of real books, and spending time with her husband and their two young children. When she’s not keeping up with rambunctious little ones (and two large dogs), she can usually be found reading a good book or indulging her inner foodie. Amber is represented by the D4EO Literary Agency.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS

*****

Giveaway:

Amber is giving away a $50 B&N Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:

By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.

 

One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive a $50 B&N Gift Card.

This giveaway ends midnight April 28.

Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1a49cf61192/

*****

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Spotlight – Love on Tap

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I love the idea of a woman brewmaster … and the idea of love winning these two over isn’t bad either  🙂

*****

Love on Tap

by Meg Benjamin

Publication Date: April 24, 2017

Genres: Adult, Entangled: Select, Contemporary Romance

Blurb:

Wyatt Montgomery knows a barrel of legendary Zoria imperial stout will help his Denver gastropub stay on top. The only problem is the brewery that made it is no longer in business. When Wyatt hears the brewmaster has only one barrel left, he won’t stop until it’s his. He doesn’t consider what this mythical barrel might cost him. And he certainly doesn’t anticipate his reaction to the heart-stoppingly beautiful brewmaster he needs to convince to sell him the beer.

When Wyatt rushes into Bec Dempsey’s small-town cooperative offering to buy the last barrel of her precious Zoria, she’s thrown for a loop. She’s been burned by city-slickers before, and she’ll be damned if she’ll let it happen again. But when things start heating up between them, Bec decides to make Wyatt a counteroffer. One she hopes he won’t refuse.

B&N: http://bit.ly/2p2C7vQ

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2obIVs3

iTunes: http://apple.co/2pKzI6W

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2oRb1qY

*****

Excerpt:

Bec washed the dishes methodically, piling them in the pan of rinse water so that he could put them in the drainer. The process moved along briskly as long as he didn’t pay any attention to the tension between them that was thick enough to cut with a knife. The whole evening was rapidly drawing to a close. He could walk out of her apartment without causing any more problems—he’d be on his way back to the hotel in a matter of minutes. No harm, no foul.

Or not. He watched Bec for a moment. Her hair frizzed slightly from the warm damp air as she leaned over the dishes. He could see the faint fluff of red against the side of her face. Her milky skin was slightly pink from the heat.

He had a sudden image of milk white breasts with nipples like roses. The hair between her legs would probably be red, too. He’d definitely like to find out for sure.

She looked up suddenly, as if she’d only now become aware that he was watching her. Almost without thinking about it, he raised his hand to her cheek, feeling the warmth of her skin against his palm.

He brought his mouth to hers, breathing in her slight gasp of surprise, his hands dropping to her shoulders. For a moment they stood joined, her hands pressing against his chest, and then her mouth opened beneath his and his tongue darted in to taste. Sweet, so sweet. But something else too, like salted caramel, sweet and savory and unexpected. He moved closer, sliding a hand down her back, and heard her purr of arousal as her arms went around his neck. He cupped her ass, tight with muscle, and his pulse beat hard.

What he’d been wanting all night. What he’d been wanting longer than that if he was honest. Touching, tasting, moving. Yes, yes, yes.

Or not. Bec stepped back, eyes wide, lips slightly open as she gasped in a breath. “No,” she whispered. “This can’t… We can’t… I can’t do this.”

*****

Author Info:

Meg Benjamin is an author of contemporary romance. Her books have won an EPIC Award for Contemporary Romance, the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Holt Medallion, and the Award of Excellence among other honors. Meg lives in Colorado with her DH and two rather large Maine coon kitties (well, partly Maine Coon anyway).

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Newsletter | Amazon Author Profile

*****

Giveaway:

$20 Amazon Gift Card

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/5440a3541144/

*****

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Spotlight – Alpha Squad: Boot Camp

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We’ve got a busy day today and we’re starting with an audiobook full of sexy shifters!

*****

Alpha Squad: Boot Camp

Alpha Squad #1

by Lorelei Moone

Narrated by: Audrey Lusk

Publication Date: March 21, 2017

Genres: Adult, Audio, Paranormal, Romance, Shifters

Blurb:

It has only been a few months since humanity has found out about the shifters that live in their midst. When the New Alliance leadership asks Eric King to join Alpha Squad, a joint taskforce supposed to promote cooperation between the shifters and human authorities, his loyalty to the cause doesn’t give him any choice but to agree. But is the squad actually supposed to be relevant, or is it just an eyewash, set up by the new Secretary for Shifter Affairs to make himself look good? And how is he going to concentrate on his training, when his inner bear is insisting that the squad leader is his true mate?

Major Janine Williams is not at all pleased when she is ordered to set up Alpha Squad. The initiative is just a gimmick, meant to pacify the shifter community, plus none of her male colleagues had wanted the job. But when she starts getting to know her team, especially tough East London bear shifter, Eric, she starts to wonder if perhaps it will be possible to make this task force a success, so long as everyone works together. And so long as she can manage to keep her relationship with Eric strictly professional.

Amazon Audio: http://amzn.to/2oZZuGl

Audible: http://adbl.co/2o6mYso

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2hJrESk

Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2hJyNSF

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2hJqKp3

Smashwords: http://bit.ly/2nNRgxS

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2oHxJTu

B&N: http://bit.ly/2nOhH6i

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2oUyFBw

iTunes: http://apple.co/2oMSXwm

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2gA94vX

*****

Excerpt:

Eric took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He should have just stayed behind at that service station, perhaps tried to strike up more of a conversation with the mysterious woman who had caught his eye there. Or ideally, he should have risked Henry’s disapproval and refused to join the task force. Anything was better than this.

Back to the mystery woman. And what a woman she was. A regal beauty, with a voice that had set his heart alight. His inner bear had tried its best to claw to the surface; he’d hardly been able to control the urge to shift right there in front of her.

How would she have reacted if she’d seen his true form? Things had changed since the New Alliance’s little stunt, coming out to the entire world media, but they hadn’t changed that much for everyone. Humans were still apprehensive, and why wouldn’t they be? Most of their kind were pretty damn scary looking.

Would she have screamed and run away? Or would she have been intrigued?

He would never find out of course, because he’d let that opportunity pass him by when Adam had dragged him back to the restaurant for lunch.

Where was she now? And was she thinking about their little encounter as much as he was?

So many questions he’d never get the answer to…

Instead, he was stuck here in this decrepit old building with a bunch of people, none of whom seemed to want to be here. Except Blackwood the wolf, maybe. He had seemed like the most cheerful person here after Adam.

The sound of the door disturbed his gloomy thoughts, but he tried to ignore the intrusion.

“Attention!” Private Callahan’s voice filled the dorm.

Eric opened his eyes and sat up straight on his bed. The top of his head almost touched the springs underneath Adam’s mattress above.

The private stepped aside and another woman marched into the room.

Was he still daydreaming? He could not believe who had entered—the woman he’d just been fantasizing about.

“Major Williams would like to say a few words,” Private Callahan said.

Major Williams. Eric was speechless. He had expected a grey-haired man, gruff like the SAS guy across the room, but perhaps more polished. Their commander was a woman. His woman.

Major Williams scanned the room, slowly, pausing on each of the other trainees for a moment, then moving on to the next. Until she spotted Eric. She looked away instantly. Of course, she’d recognized him as well, and she did not look pleased to find him here.

“I am Major Janine Williams, your team leader. Welcome and thank you for joining Alpha Squad. Starting tomorrow, I will conduct your training, evaluate you, and report on the progress of this task force with the relevant higher authorities. The first phase of training starts in the morning and will last two weeks, at the end of which you will all be graded on various aspects of your performance. Anyone who is deemed unfit to continue will be asked to leave at that point, before phase two begins. Any questions?”

Questions? Eric had so many of those. He did not speak, though.

“What do you mean, unfit? I was told I was being transferred here permanently,” Ben, the younger of the two humans complained.

“You shall address me as Major Williams or Ma’am, first of all. Secondly, this task force is not a joke. Only those who are worthy will make the cut.” The major glared at him from across the room. Eric couldn’t help but be impressed by her show of authority.

Cooper folded his arms and pressed his lips together.

“Do you understand? What’s your name?”

“Ben Cooper, Ma’am. Yes, I understand.”

Eric had trouble suppressing a smile. She wasn’t going to take any crap from anyone, that much was obvious. It would only be a matter of time before Adam and the major would clash similarly. Amusingly, he found himself rooting not for his brother, but for the woman. Training under her command could get interesting.

She glanced at him for a split second, during which he did his best to hide his reaction. He would play along, fall in line, and do his best to fit into the squad. He owed it to Henry, but that was not the only reason. Fate had handed him a second chance after he recklessly failed to get her details earlier today. No matter what, Eric was not going to waste the opportunity. He’d prove his worth to her one way or another before training was over.

“All right then, at ease, everyone,” the major said, “You have a big day ahead of you and I suggest you take rest.”

Eric nodded, mostly to himself, and lay back on his cot again. Perhaps this whole Alpha Squad nonsense had a couple of silver linings after all.

*****

Author Info:

Lorelei Moone is an up-and-coming author of paranormal romance based in London. A lover of all things sweet, and caffeinated, when she’s not writing about sexy bear shifters and their strong-willed curvaceous love interests, Lorelei can be found baking cookies or cakes for her family.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter | Goodreads | Bookbub | Amazon Author Profile

*****

Giveaway:

Free audiobook from Lorelei Moone

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*****

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Spotlight – All the King’s Horses

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This one is getting some fantastic reviews!

*****

All the King’s Horses

by Lauren Gallagher

Cover: Lori Witt

Length: 91,000 words

Blurb:

Amy Dover’s dream of training horses has come with a price. The pressures of her career—not to mention an oppressive husband and business partner—have sucked out all the joy the horses used to bring her. After her husband’s sudden death, Amy leaves that world behind and takes a job as a farmhand so she find her passion—and herself.

Dustin King has more than enough on his plate. He’s got a full barn and a packed training roster that includes rescued horses who need more attention than he can spare. The last thing he wants to deal with is a woman who’s unnervingly indifferent toward horses, no matter how attractive she is.

Except Amy isn’t as indifferent as Dustin thought. In fact, working with two traumatized horses might be just what she needs, and as Amy and Dustin bond with the rescued horses, they also bond with each other. Dustin reignites something else Amy thought she’d lost forever. No matter how much they try to resist, the spark that draws them together keeps getting hotter.

But Amy has known from the beginning that she’ll one day go back to her old life. She just didn’t plan on having someone to leave behind this time…

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

*****

Excerpt:

I didn’t go to my husband’s funeral.

It was a closed-casket service, so there’d be no closure from seeing him one last time. I didn’t care to see him again anyway, closure or no. All the tearful sentiments—he was so young, it was so tragic, he was such a wonderful man—would have sent me right into the ground with him. I couldn’t stomach the thought of one more person patting my shoulder and telling me how sorry they were, how horrible it must be for me, and to call if I needed anything at all.

The night before they buried Sam, I quietly packed the few things I couldn’t live without into my truck. Whatever belongings didn’t fit, I left in the too big, too quiet house. The next day, at a little past noon and right around the time my family and friends were probably all dressed in black and filing into the church, I climbed into the cab and drove out of town without looking back.

I didn’t know where I was going.

Well, that wasn’t entirely true. I had an address entered into my GPS. I had a job lined up, a place to stay, a destination in mind. But beyond that? I didn’t know. I didn’t know anything anymore except that I needed to get far, far from here so I could collect my thoughts and

and I didn’t even know. I couldn’t even say I needed to sort out my feelings, because I didn’t feel anything. No pain. No grief. No anger. Nothing but the restlessness reverberating through me and telling me to just get the hell out of here.

So I drove.

I was forty-eight miles from home and two from the county line when my cell phone rang. If the caller ID had showed any other name, I’d have ignored it, but since it was my older sister, I answered.

Cringing, I said, “Hey.”

“Honey, where are you?” Mariah asked in a hushed whisper. Voices murmured in the background as she added, “The service is starting any minute.”

The service. My husband’s memorial service. There should have been a lump in my throat or something, maybe even some hot, seething anger, but I felt absolutely nothing. Even the makeup-concealed mark on my face wasn’t throbbing anymore.

“I’m not coming.” Ugh. Could I have sounded any more like a petulant brat? Stomp, stomp, I’m not coming, and you can’t make me. As if it really was that simple or that petty.

“You’re not coming?” Anyone else would have read me the riot act, but Mariah just lowered her voice a little more and asked, “Why not?”

“I can’t.”

She was quiet for a moment. I thought she might be chewing on what I’d said, thinking of a response, but soft movement on the other end suggested she was relocating to someplace where fewer people might overhear. The voices in the background quieted, and Mariah said, “What’s going on?”

“I can’t do it,” I said. “Look, there’s a lot I can’t explain right now. I just, I need to get away fromeverything. Clear my head, I guess.”

“Get away? Meaning?”

“Meaning I’m—” I paused. “I’m leaving, actually.”

“Where are you going?”

“I need…” I glanced at the rearview, meeting my own eyes for a second before I focused on the road ahead. “I just need to go away. Get myself back together.”

“Okay, but where?”

I gnawed my lower lip. I really didn’t want anyone to know because I didn’t want any of them to try to find me. I just needed to be as alone as I could get for a while. Taking a deep breath, I held the steering wheel tighter. “Just don’t worry about me, okay?”

“You know I will.”

Leaving Snohomish County. The sign whipped past my truck, and I slowly exhaled.

“I’ll be fine,” I said.

“You’re blowing town while we’re burying your husband.” Mariah’s voice was gentle but insistent. “That’s not fine, Amy. That’s going off the deep end.”

“Well, maybe that’s what I need to do, then,” I said quietly. “Maybe I need to go off the deep end.”

My sister was silent for a long moment. “When you get a chance,” she said finally, “could you at least e-mail me and let me know where you’re at with the horses on your training schedule? So I can work with them for you?”

Guilt twisted under my ribs. I’d been in such a hurry to get away, I hadn’t thought about everything else I was leaving behind. “Oh, man, I’m sorry, Mariah. I’m leaving you in a lurch, aren’t I?”

It’s not too late. I can turn around. Hardly anyone even knows I’m gone yet. King’s Ranch probably won’t have any trouble replacing me. Farmhands are a dime a dozen.

“Amy. Honey.” Mariah’s voice was the closest it could be to a reassuring hand on my shoulder. “If this is what you need to do, then I’ll hold down the fort while you’re gone. I’ll bring in an extra pair of hands if I have to, but you just go. We’ll all be here when you come back.”

When I come back.

Am I coming back?

I swallowed. It hadn’t even occurred to me before this point how long I might be gone, or if I might go back at all.

But all I said was, “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, sweetie,” she said. “What should I tell people?”

I gritted my teeth. “Just tell them I’m okay, and I need some time to deal with everything.”

“How much of that is true?”

I rested my elbow beneath the window and rubbed the back of my neck. “Well, the last part at least.”

“That’s what I figured.” Mariah sighed. “Take care of yourself, all right?”

“I will.”

“And you can call me any time. You know that.”

“Thanks.” I paused. “You can call me too. I’ll still have my phone.”

“I’m sure I will,” she said. “I have to go. The service is about to start.”

I exhaled. So I was really doing this. My husband’s funeral was starting, and I was really driving seventy-five miles an hour in the opposite direction and wondering if I could possibly get away any faster.

“Okay,” I said, gripping the steering wheel tighter as I pressed down on the accelerator. “I love you.”

“Love you too.”

Aside from the engine and the hum of the road beneath my tires, the truck’s cab was hollow and silent without my sister’s voice. I flipped on the radio, but the music just annoyed me, so I went back to silence.

And I kept driving.

My chest ached with guilt. Part of me wished I could think that ache away, but part of me was admittedly glad to feel something for the first time since long before Sam died, even if it was just guilt that I’d left my oppressively huge workload in my sister’s lap. Maybe I should have done this sooner. While he was still alive and could have dealt with the fallout of me leaving.

Yeah, right. I wouldn’t have made it past the end of the driveway.

But Sam couldn’t stop me today, and I would find a way to make this up to Mariah, so I drove, and I kept on driving. Mile after mile, city after city, over the ear-popping mountain pass and down into the desert scrubland while the familiar evergreen trees faded in the rearview. An off-ramp took me from the interstate to a rural highway, and that highway wound between cornfields, wheat fields and dry brown hills that lounged across the landscape like lazy Shar Pei dogs.

The highway narrowed, and the speed limit inched down from fifty-five to forty-five to thirty-five. It dipped into the twenties as I rolled through a no-name town with dusty pickups parked along the sidewalks in front of places with names like “Mom’s Diner” and “Aunt Edna’s Groceries.” On the other edge of town—the first edge still being visible in my rearview—the speed limit picked up to forty-five again, and I continued weaving and winding my way past the fields and hills.

With every mile, I was less and less sure about this. It wasn’t like me to just drop everything and run, especially without saying a word to anyone until the wheels were already in motion. The more unfamiliar scenery I passed, the more real it all became, and this strange brand of newfound freedom became almost suffocating in its uncertainty.

But I couldn’t turn back. If I’d thought this through before I left, I’d have talked myself out of it, and now that I’d come this far, pride wouldn’t let me face my family yet, not after they’d probably heard what was going on. What I was doing. How badly I was losing my mind.

And anyway, I told myself, I had a job waiting for me out here. A menial one in which I was very, very replaceable, but still one I’d committed to start tomorrow. If I decided to go back to the world I’d just left–and the job to which I should have been way more committed—fine, but not at the last second. I’d left enough people high and dry this week.

And I had to do this. One more second within those familiar walls and fences and I’d have gone even more insane than I was apparently going right now.

Of all things that could have offered me some kind of comfort today, I found relief in the moment I turned off the blacktop and onto a dirt road. When my back tires bumped from the lip of asphalt onto the rough, pothole-littered gravel, I rolled my shoulders like a huge weight had been lifted off them.

I was no longer connected to the never-ending knot of pavement that tangled and twisted together in one giant rat’s nest of streets and highways. I was no longer tied to the loops and straightaways and exits and off-ramps that, no matter how far I’d driven, always bound me to that one blood-stained intersection. As dust kicked up from my tires and I navigated around potholes the size of grain buckets, that intersection no longer haunted my rearview mirror.

I wasn’t free. Not yet. But I was a mile closer to it.

“Next left,” my GPS announced, and I took the turn.

I was in one of the river valleys now, and the dirt road took me past more fields and—thank God—some forested areas. Not as thick and green as on the other side of the state, but not quite so desolate and scrubby as every uncultivated stretch I’d seen for the last few hours. Off and on, between small clusters of trees, white fences surrounded herds of cattle. Then horses. Then cattle again.

And finally, long after the sun had settled behind the distant mountains, I turned down a long, dusty driveway and drove under an arching sign that read King’s Ranch. Twin fences lined the driveway and guided me to the heart of the ranch, where two log houses and a large barn with pale aluminum sides stood in front of a covered arena.

I pulled up beside the barn. When I turned off my headlights, the milky glow of a few mercury vapor lamps kept the night from closing in.

As I got out of the truck, a light came on behind me, and I turned around as an older gentleman in dusty jeans and a cowboy hat stepped off the front porch of the larger house.

“Can I help you, ma’am?” he asked, Texas dripping off every syllable.

“Yeah,” I said. “I’m Amy Dover.”

He stopped, straightening like I’d just shocked the hell out of him. “Are you, now?”

“I am.”

“Well. How about that.” He continued toward me and extended his hand. “I’m John King.”

“Oh, right,” I said. “We spoke via e-mail.”

He smiled, the weathered corners of his eyes crinkling. “We did. Now, Dustin owns the place—I’m mostly retired now—but I can show you where you’ll be staying.”

“Is Dustin here?” I asked as we started walking across the gravel driveway.

“Not tonight,” John said. “He’s down in Oregon picking up a couple new horses. I imagine he’ll be home around noon tomorrow, so that ought to give you some time to settle in.”

In spite of the voice in my head that decided—again—to question everything I was doing, I managed a smile. “Sounds good.”

“You’re a lifesaver, Ms. Dover,” he said. “We’ve been hurtin’ since the last hand left, especially with Dustin being away this past week.” He gestured at himself. “These old bones can’t do all this nonsense anymore, I’ll tell ya.”

“Glad to help,” I said.

You have no idea how much you and Dustin are saving my sanity right now

John led me across the driveway to one of the two log houses. The one he’d come out of a moment ago was two-story, while the one he led me toward was single-story but wider than the other. Almost like two small ranch-style houses pressed up against each other. When I’d agreed to take this job as a live-in farmhand, I’d expected a tiny apartment, maybe a converted loft over the barn or a mother-in-law suite beside the house, but, by the looks of it, this was a full-size duplex.

As we walked onto the porch, John said, “Dustin lives on that side.” He gestured at the door on the far right of the wide porch. As he started toward the left side, he said, “And this side is yours.”

“Interesting setup,” I said.

“Well, we built the duplex so the kids had places to stay,” he said. “It was cheaper, you see, building one instead of two. But our daughter decided she didn’t want to stay on the farm, so we decided to use her half for farmhands. Ain’t a lot of other places for someone to live around here, and it meant we didn’t have to convert the barn office into an apartment, so it worked out nicely.”

He pushed open the door and made an “after you” gesture.

I went inside and looked around.

The cabin was small but cozy. It was pleasantly decorated in a country style that matched the old, probably antique furniture. From what I’d heard about Eastern Washington’s winters, I had a feeling that wood-burning stove would come in handy in a few months.

Not that I planned to be here that long. I didn’t think so, anyway.

“I hope this will do for ya.” John took off his weathered old cowboy hat as he stepped inside. “Ain’t exactly a New York penthouse, but it’s what we’ve got.”

“It’s fine.” I took in my surroundings. In fact, I liked the tiny place. It was small, and it was—more or less—mine. After sharing a house that was simultaneously way too big for two people and entirely too small for Sam and me, this was perfect. Turning to John, I said, “It’ll be just fine. Thank you.”

“Good, good.” He put on his hat and inched toward the door. “Well, I’ll let you get settled in. In the morning, I can show you around the farm.”

“Thank you,” I said.

He went back up to the main house while I grabbed a few things out of the truck. Not a whole lot—I hadn’t brought much anyway—but just the bare minimum to tide me over until tomorrow. Then I went into the tiny, warmly decorated bedroom that was mine for the foreseeable future.

Just the sight of the queen-size bed made me doubly aware of how exhausted I was. Every muscle ached, and my eyes were heavy like I’d just come home from a grueling, weeklong competition. Time to get some sleep. I could deal with thinking and all of that when the sun came up.

I went into the bathroom and, without looking in the narrow mirror above the sink, washed the concealer off my face. It was only when the water swirling down the drain was clear, devoid of even a single trace of color, that I forced myself to look at my reflection.

The bruise had faded, but not by much. The edges had expanded a little, radiating out from the darker center that covered my cheekbone, and the farther they reached down my cheek and up to my eye, the lighter they were. At least it was more of a sickly blue-green today rather than the deep, furious purple it had been the morning after. Another week or so of applying and reapplying concealer—wonderful when I’d be working outside in dusty summer heat—and it would be gone.

My gaze drifted from the bruise to the leather string suspended around my neck and dipping beneath my collar. Swallowing hard, I reached up and pulled it out from under my shirt, and the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end when my gold wedding band caught the light from the single bulb above the mirror. The heavy ball of lead that had taken up residence in my stomach sank a little deeper, and I let my gaze flick back and forth from the ring to the mark on my face.

One would go away on its own. The other, only when I took the initiative and took the damn thing off. And left it off this time.

Sighing, I let the ring drop onto my chest, wondering how a band that thin could be so heavy. One of these days, I’d take it off. Maybe even get rid of it.

But tonight, I just

I couldn’t. Not now. It was too soon.

Too soon? I should have taken this thing off years ago.

Maybe so, but I had my limits. Skipping town and blowing off Sam’s funeral pushed those limits, but taking off the ring? I wasn’t ready for that yet.

I closed my hand around the ring, the metal cool against my skin and the guilt hot in my otherwise numb chest. Closing my eyes, I could still hear the rumble of his motorcycle fading into the distance. I could still taste the venomous whispered prayer that it would be the last time I heard that sound, that he really wasn’t coming back this time.

Guess you should be careful what you wish for.

*****

Author Info:

Lauren Gallagher is an abnormal romance writer who has recently been exiled from the glittering utopia of Omaha, Nebraska, to an undisclosed location in South America. Along with her husband, a harem of concubines, and a phosphorescent porcupine, she remains, as always, in hiding from the Polynesian Mafia. For the moment, she seems to have eluded her nemesis, M/M romance author L.A. Witt, but figures L.A. will eventually become bored with the wilds of Spain and come looking for her. And when that time comes, Lauren will be ready. Assuming L.A. doesn’t have her hands full keeping track of Lori A. Witt and Ann Gallagher, which she probably will.

Website: http://www.gallagherwitt.com

E-mail: gallagherwitt@gmail.com

Twitter: @GallagherWitt

Blog: http://gallagherwitt.blogspot.com

*****

Giveaway:

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*****

Spotlight – Feels Like the First Time

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You’ve seen the first book in this series, now get ready to fall in love all over again!

*****

Feels Like the First Time

Destiny Bay, #2

by Marina Adair

On Sale: April 25, 2017

Publisher: Forever

Mass Market: $7.99 USD

eBook: $5.99 USD

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Series Page on Goodreads

Blurb:

In the tradition of New York Times bestselling authors Rachel Gibson, Kristan Higgins, and Jill Shalvis, comes the second book in a funny and charming new small-town contemporary romance series by Marina Adair.

What’s wrong with a little white lie?

There are a lot of things Ali Marshal doesn’t do: pink anything, a day without chocolate, and Hawk, her sister’s ex-husband. Sure, he’s a sexy former NHL star who can make her pulse pound with just a wink. But he belonged to Bridget first. And no matter how long she’s had a crush on him, how great he’s always been to her dad, or that her sister is engaged to someone else now and Ali needs a date to their engagement party, she can’t give in to temptation. Can she?

It’s been years since his disastrous marriage crashed and burned, and Bradley Hawk has finally moved on. So when Bridget blows back into town with her new fiancé, throwing the engagement party of the year, he could care less . . . until Ali tells one little lie that lands him smack dab in a fake relationship. After one promise to be Ali’s date and two of the hottest kisses he’s ever had, Hawk can’t deny how much he wants her. But what happens when this fauxmance starts to feel very, very real?

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Google Play | iBooks | Indiebound

*****

Excerpt:

Ali nodded because she needed him more than she needed her next breath.

The intensity of her feelings terrified her. They always had. Even at seventeen she knew what she felt went beyond the run-of-the-mill teenage crush. She’d been in love. Sure, it was a young, simple love, but it was love all the same.

Only he’d loved someone else.

So when he married her sister, she did her best to let him go. But no matter how painful it had been for her, and at times the ache was so acute it had been paralyzing, she was never able to set him completely free. Choosing the pain over the loss.

Now he was back, looking at her how she always looked at him, as if he’d never let go, and Ali gave in to the fantasy. Played out the what-ifs she carried with her for over a decade. He’d been hers for so long, she let herself believe that she was his, too.

He was asking for right here, right now—this she knew. Tomorrow, reality would creep in, and everything would go back to the way it was. But tonight, sitting on this beach, overlooking a world bigger than the two of them, Ali wanted to feel what it was like to be loved by the man who owned her heart.

“I want,” she said.

“What do you want, Aliana?” he whispered, the sound of her name on his lips doing crazy things to her. Crazy girly things that made her feel delicate and desirable.

“I want you.” She trailed her hands down his pecs to that flat stomach and lower, loving how his muscles rippled and curled under her touch. “I want you to pamper me so hard I won’t remember how to walk come morning.”

Hawk’s eyes darkened, and his mouth was on hers. Hard and demanding, and just how she’d imagined. There was no warm-up, no testing the waters. He was kissing her as if he knew what he wanted.

And he wanted Aliana.

Their mouths were fused together, her hands gripping his shoulders for purchase, but his fingers were gentle, languidly exploring her face, her neck, the curve of her shoulder, slowly moving down her arm and bringing the wide neckline of her shirt with him.

He never stopped kissing her, but she felt his lashes flutter open, realized that she’d never closed her own. Then his deep brown eyes locked on hers, watching her as they kissed, and it was erotic and unexpected. As she watched him back, she felt his lips curl into a smile. Could feel the dimples on both cheeks come alive under her touch.

“You like to watch,” Hawk growled, and she felt her cheeks flush.

Ali never considered herself a watcher. But Hawk was such a beautiful and commanding man, she’d never been able to look away. Not even now, when her body was begging for release. He was that good—a simple kiss and she was so turned on, she could feel her body shaking.

That smile turned cocky.

“It’s not like I stand there peering through your bedroom window at night,” she said, leaving out that night he was at the bar. His bedroom window during the morning, when he was walking around after a shower. She was more than guilty.

“I’ve peered through yours.”

And to prove he wasn’t the least bit ashamed, he lowered his head and placed an openmouthed kiss on her shoulder, those eyes of his never leaving hers. Not even when he moved lower toward her collarbone, his mouth working her with a softness that took her by surprise and a reverence that made her feel as if she was precious.

Ali wasn’t sure what to do. Hard, challenging, complicated—that was what she was used to. But this was light, simple—too easy to be real. It confused her as much as it terrified her.

*****

Author Info:

Marina Adair is a #1 National bestselling author of romance novels and holds a Master of Fine arts in creative writing. Along with the Destiny Bay series, she is also the author of the Sugar, Georgia series, the St. Helena Vineyard series, and her new Heroes of St. Helena series. She currently lives with her husband, daughter, and two neurotic cats in Northern California.

As a writer, Marina is devoted to giving her readers contemporary romance where the towns are small, the personalities large, and the romance explosive.

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*****

Giveaway:

Ten (10) mass market copies of FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME

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*****

Spotlight – Caught Looking

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This one is definitely pretty high up in my TBR pile!

*****

Caught Looking

by Jody Holford

Releasing April 25, 2017

Penner Publishing

Blurb:

Sometimes loving enough means letting go…

Major league baseball player, Ryan Walker, takes a mandatory leave of absence to escape the paparazzi and the false drug charges against him. All he wants is a little peace of mind out in the middle of nowhere.

Eager to rid herself of the empty socialite life, Frankie Vaughn moves to a rundown home in Minnesota that she inherited from her aunt. But Frankie is shocked at what she discovers inside: three young boys. When Ryan discovers that Frankie, his new neighbor, has taken on the three homeless kids as her own, he has a new hope for humanity.

Despite how easily and lovingly Ryan takes to Frankie and the boys, his past just might be the reason Frankie can’t adopt the boys. Now, Ryan must choose between loving them or letting them go. Can he walk away from what he’s been looking for all along?

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31836320-caught-looking

Buy Links:     AMAZON | B & N | GOOGLE | ITUNES | KOBO

*****

Excerpt:

As he edged near the property line, he caught sight of toned, shapely legs swinging from the branch of a tree. His neighbor was doing pull-ups. On a tree.

“What the hell are you doing?” Ryan said the words to himself, his finger sliding off of the trigger. Frankie hadn’t heard him. Her earbuds’ cord was connected to the iPod strapped to her arm. He repeated his question, louder, and she startled, dropping from the limb she’d been holding. Pulling her earphones out, she smiled and gave a surprised laugh. Lust curled tight in his stomach at the sound. Which pissed him off since he didn’t need more complications in his life.

“Hey. Didn’t see you there, neighbor.”

She wiped the sweat off her brow with the back of her hand. Strands of hair were escaping the ponytail sitting high on her head. She put her hands on her hips, gulping in air, still smiling. His eyes roamed over the tone and definition of her arms. Arms weren’t supposed to be a turn on. They were just something to have wrapped around you. Along with legs. But legs were a turn on. Still, he couldn’t take his eyes off of her arms. They led up to sleek shoulders and a graceful collarbone. When his eyes met hers, she was grinning and he knew he’d been caught looking.

“You’re doing pull-ups on a goddamn tree?”

“Um, it’s my tree,” she said, looking back and forth between him and the tree. Small as she was, the tree didn’t look like it could hold its own branches, never mind a person’s weight.

“Actually, it’s smack in the middle of our property line. So stay the hell off it and get a pull-up bar.”

She rested a hand on the bark and smiled at him with something like fire flashing in those blue eyes. Her breath was a bit uneven, but firm. “I’ve never shared a tree with anyone. It feels like a big step.”

He bit back a smile. “Funny. This tree needs to be cut down. It’s rotted.” He kicked at the trunk to show her what he meant.

“Don’t kick our tree,” she said, not even trying to hide her smirk.

“It’s not safe.” Jesus. She was hard to be irritated with. Which, oddly, only irritated him more.

“And as much as I appreciate your neighborly concern, Ryan, I can take care of myself. And our tree. See, my home gym isn’t quite set up yet so I’m using what’s available. If you want, we can work out a schedule for tree use.”

There was as much sarcasm in her stance as in her tone. This time, the grin spread before he could stop it.

“You’re feisty.”

“You’re a jerk.”

“Yeah. But it’s still not safe. I have an extra pull-up bar in my garage. You put it in the frame of a doorway. I’ll grab it and bring it over,” he said, hoping the gesture served as an apology.

Which he was man enough to admit she deserved from him.

Frankie’s eyes widened and she took a step back, wariness overshadowing her amusement.

“No thanks. I’m not ready for visitors.”

He arched an eyebrow. “I wasn’t planning on coming for tea.”

She gave a rough laugh. “I don’t need anything from you, Ryan. I’ll pick another tree. Or do push-ups.”

She backed away, the unease in her eyes fascinating the hell out of him. She didn’t want him over. And not because he was a jerk. She waved one perfectly shaped arm over her head as she went back to her house.

He turned the weed trimmer back on, purposely turning his body in the other direction. He wasn’t going to stand around and watch her go, even across her yard. He’d never watch a woman leave again. Once was enough.

*****

Author Info:

Jody Holford is a multi-published author who has a soft spot for happily ever after. So much so, she tattooed the words on her arm. She’s a mom and a wife, a friend, sister, daughter, teacher, and book-lover. Her stories have a little bit of heat and a lot of heart. And maybe, some swoon-worthy moments that will make you smile.

Author Links:   WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS

*****

Giveaway:

Win a $15.00 Amazon eGift Card and a backlist ebook of winners choosing

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*****

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Book Review – A Charmed Little LIe

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Let’s kick off the week with a little fun – Sharla Lovelace is here to answer a few fun questions and then give us a look at her newest series!

*****

Describe yourself in five words or less.

  1. Snarky (Might be kind of scary that this was the first one that came to mind.)
  2. Introverted
  3. Sneaky
  4. People-watcher (notice how I hyphenated to get an extra word? Yeah, see #3)
  5. Dog-lover (it worked last time)

Can you tell us a little about your book?

It’s about lying! LOL. Truly, it’s about when all your little white lies catch up to you, and what the hell do you do then? You make up a gargantuan sized one to cover them, and then hope it doesn’t swallow you whole. Unless it’s in the form of a hot sexy get-under-your-skin man….then by all means swallow!  (I did not just say that.)

Lanie and Nick’s story was honestly one of my favorite books to write—EVER. It was so much fun, and such a runaway train ride with no hands!  I loved literally watching them fall for each other, I loved Lanie’s spunk! I loved every second of it, and it birthed the town of Charmed, so I hope you will love it as much as I do.

If you had a theme song, what would it be?

I Hope You Dance

Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

My phone and a hair tie on my wrist. (That’s 2. Damn I have trouble following rules.)

What types of scenes are your most favorite to write?

I adore writing intense scenes with either sexy-smexy chemistry burning up the page or fast snappy dialogue. Sex scenes before the sex…with the tease and the tension and the snarky back and forth talking…I love that.  Also fights are a blast with all that emotion churning around.  Dialogue is always the most fun. I groan to write description…

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Everyone says this, but seriously, never give up. I met Sandra Brown at a writer’s conference, and she was behind a table signing for a line of hundreds, and when I got up there I said “Everyone in this line wants to be you one day.” She looked at me and said, “You’re here. You’re already halfway there. Don’t ever stop learning and don’t ever stop writing. You’ll get here. One day, maybe I’ll be in your line.” I never forgot that. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing by any means, but my first book was published almost exactly 5 years ago, and now A CHARMED LITTLE LIE is my 10th published book, and I’ve just finished writing my 12th.  Don’t give up on your dream. Also, remember that you write about life, and to do that you have to live. There are times (deadline evil times) that you have to stay in a cave and pound out words, but outside of that, find a balance and enjoy your life. It will show in your writing when you do…and when you don’t. If you write romance, kiss your husband every day. And if you are writing about hot sex and he is one of your readers, you’d better be prepared to give up the goods. Saying you aren’t in the mood after penning being banged against a wall—doesn’t cut it honey. 😉

Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?

I wouldn’t be here without you, and I love and adore you so much for taking the time to buy my books and give my stories a try. And when you email or message me to tell me about it…oh my God you just don’t know the rainbows and unicorns that fill me up. Nothing is more important in this job than readers. When I make you happy…when I make you laugh or cry or feel something that you are moved enough to tell me about…my God, ice cream isn’t even as good as that. It’s close. But not quite. 😉

*****

A Charmed Little Lie

Charmed in Texas #1

by Sharla Lovelace

Releasing April 18, 2017

Lyrical Shine

Blurb:

Lanie Barrett didn’t mean to lie. Spinning a story of a joyous marriage to make a dying woman happy is forgivable, isn’t it? Lanie thinks so, especially since her beloved Aunt Ruby would have been heartbroken to know the truth of her niece’s sadly loveless, short-of-sparkling existence. Trouble is, according to the will, Ruby didn’t quite buy Lanie’s tale. And to inherit the only house Lanie ever really considered a home, she’ll have to bring her “husband” back to Charmed, Texas for three whole months—or watch Aunt Ruby’s cozy nest go to her weasel cousin, who will sell it to a condo developer.

Nick McKane is out of work, out of luck, and the spitting image of the man Lanie described. He needs money for his daughter’s art school tuition, and Lanie needs a convenient spouse. It’s a match made . . . well, not quite in heaven, but for a temporary arrangement, it couldn’t be better. Except the longer Lanie and Nick spend as husband and wife, the more the connection between them begins to seem real. Maybe this modern fairy tale really could come true . . .

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31189320-a-charmed-little-lie

Buy Links:      AMAZON | B & N | GOOGLE | ITUNES | KOBO

*****

Excerpt:

There are things a girl hopes to hear in her lifetime, and a marriage proposal definitely tops that list. A proposal offered as a business deal, probably thrown out in desperation to stop my meltdown and pending dehydration, however, was not what most women have in mind.

“Don’t, Nick,” I said, hiccupping through my sobs, trying to make it stop. “Don’t play with that. Don’t make fun.”

“I’m not,” he said, still facing Ralph, the dog’s face in his hands as if it were all addressed to him. “I’m dead serious.”

I waited for more and it didn’t come. Um, I needed more explanation than that.

Wiping at my face in vain, I leaned against the post and looked down at possibly the hottest man I’d ever met. Sitting on my porch in a black-on-black suit, asking me to marry him by proxy of Ralph.

“Why?”

Finally, he let go of Ralph’s large head and stood, turning to face me as though it was with his last dying breath.

“You need this house,” he said, his words slow and precise. His dark eyes didn’t blink, didn’t look away uncomfortably, didn’t falter. “You may or may not need the money, I don’t know. I don’t see you getting all emotional about that, but you’re hugging the house, so I’m guessing the money’s not an important factor.”

“I didn’t even know about that money.”

“Which brings it to me,” he said, closing his eyes briefly. “I need a job.”

“Are you saying—”

“I’m saying I just got in a car with a stranger for five hundred dollars,” he said. “That’s how far I’ve fallen. Three months of my life—what would that be worth?”

My tongue felt as swollen and stuck as my eyelids.

That sentence, along with the glazed over look his eyes got and the hard set of his jaw, was possibly the saddest thing I’d ever witnessed. To be followed closely by the strong possibility of my saying yes.

*****

Review:

Early on I didn’t think I was going to like Lanie.  I kinda get the whole lying to her aunt thing to make a sick woman feel better but you start to understand that she made up stuff as a young girl too.  That kind of bad character trait tends to be off-putting but Lovelace does an amazing job of making her likable.  She’s sassy, funny, and a bit of a disaster, but she has a huge heart and means well (most of the time  🙂 ).

The story is all from Lanie’s POV so we don’t get the inner-workings for Nick, but his actions speak pretty loudly.  While it is a bit of a hit to his pride, once he decides to help her out he definitely gives Lanie 100%.  He does everything he can to sell their relationship but still respect that getting involved is not a good idea for either of them.  He’s a stand up guy, doing this for his daughter, and he also has a healthy sense of fun.  If I had to have a fake husband I would definitely be willing to share my inheritance with him!

~~spoiler alert~~

Buuuuut, I do wish we’d been given some details about Nick’s side of things, especially at the end.  We get the kiss and make-up and live happily ever after moment, but I had so many questions – about where he went, what he did while he was gone, what he felt, why is he back in charmed, especially if he thought she’d gone to California … we really don’t get much from his side but what we do get is text-book Nick and fantastic!

~~End Spoiler~~

With a lively writing style, full of humor and fun, Lovelace gives her readers a delightful, comical and still heartfelt journey of two people who don’t trust in love but find themselves falling anyway.  You might know going in that it all ends with a HEA but that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to screw it up a few times along the way!

*****

Author Info:

Sharla Lovelace is the bestselling, award-winning author of sexy small-town love stories. Being a Texas girl through and through, she’s proud to say she lives in Southeast Texas with her retired husband, a tricked-out golf cart, and two crazy dogs.  She is the author of five stand-alone novels including the bestselling Don’t Let Go, the exciting Heart Of The Storm series, and the fun and sexy new Charmed in Texas series.

For more about Sharla’s books, visit http://www.sharlalovelace.com, and keep up with all her new book releases easily by subscribing to her newsletter.  She loves keeping up with her readers, and you can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Author Links:   WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS

*****

Giveaway:

a $25 Visa Gift Card

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*****

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Book Review – Forbidden Kisses

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Hopefully you are already familiar with the Hero’s Welcome series and are just as thrilled as I am to know that Annie Rains is introducing us to a new group in a new city!

*****

Forbidden Kisses

Blushing Bay #1

by Annie Rains

Releasing April 11, 2017

Loveswept

Blurb:

For years, Jack Sawyer’s family has been running their upscale seafood business like a finely tuned machine. But every machine breaks down eventually, and suddenly Jack needs a new office manager, a new kayak launch, and a new lease on life. Then Grace Donner shows up again. She’s smart, motivated, and perfect for the manager position, but if she’s anything like her mom, she can’t be trusted. And Jack has never been able to trust himself around Grace.

Grace hasn’t seen her former stepbrothers since their parents’ messy divorce, but she never forgot them—especially Jack. She misses being part of the big rambunctious Sawyer clan, and if there’s an opportunity to set things right, she means to do it. But she can’t ignore Jack’s irresistibly kissable lips, or the searing way he looks at her when he thinks she’s not looking. Their chemistry is more explosive than ever. And if the Sawyers can forgive and forget, anything is possible.

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32717694-forbidden-kisses

Goodreads Series Link
https://www.goodreads.com/series/196464-blushing-bay

Buy Links:      AMAZON | B & N | GOOGLE | ITUNES | KOBO

*****

Excerpt:

Jack reached for a folded blanket beside the cooler and laid it down on the open floor of the boat. “I know it’s not the most comfortable surface for lying back, but I thought we could look at the stars. It’s a favorite pastime of fishermen, you know.”

“Oh yeah?”

He reached for her hand to help her lower to the floor. She held on to his tightly, surprised at how off balanced she felt. Then they lay back together, close enough that they touched. The soft hair on Jack’s arm resting against hers aroused her senses.

Were they really just going to look at the stars?

Yes, it was all very romantic, but so was doing other things under the stars. Things she’d been thinking about since stepping aboard.

Jack pointed up at the sky and started to speak. Grace was tired of talking, though. Tired of resisting what she wanted, and right now all she wanted was Jack.

Unable to help herself, uninhibited by the wine and the romantic environment, she rolled on top of him and crushed her mouth over his.

Judging by the stiff protrusion that met her inner thigh, he wanted her just as much.

“Well, hello there,” he said, smiling against her mouth.

“I’m sorry,” she said, even though she didn’t mean it.

His hand slid down her back and settled on her bottom, pulling her snug against him. “I’m not. I’d decided tonight was for romance only, but I can’t think of anything more romantic than making love to you on this boat.”

White-hot heat tore through her. She was so hot that maybe it was time to start stripping.

As if reading her mind, Jack tugged the hem of her shirt up on her back and then over her head. The rest of her clothes fell away in the wake of his needy hands until she was tipsy and naked on the floor of his pontoon boat—on a boat ride to nowhere in particular, except his body was promising to shoot her to the low-hanging full moon.

*****

Review:

I loved, loved, loved Rains’ Hero’s Welcome series and I was very happy that many of the things that made those books great translated well to a new series.  I enjoyed the relationship that develops between Jack and Grace.  The whole former step-sibling thing isn’t icky at all and I think their friendship from years ago helps to give them a good basis for something new.  The bond among the Sawyers is great and Grace befriends a couple of women that are definitely getting their own story soon.  Characters and connections are a couple of things that Rains does so well – they feel  real and work together in a natural way – and I was thrilled that they show so strongly here.

I did have a couple of issues that were specific to this story (and have nothing at all to what a fantastic storyteller Rains is) – the death of Jack’s friend and the dealings with Grace’s mother.

We know that Chris and Jack were out on a boat fishing together and that he … disappeared, I guess?  Did they actually find a body?  As I understand it Jack doesn’t know when or how he went overboard, that he never heard him cry out or any kind of impact.  Everything is so vague about what happened to Chris that I never really figured it out.  I don’t know if it is intentional and will come into play more later on or if we’re just supposed to make assumptions.  But I really wanted some kind of closure to it  🙂

The other is all tied up with Grace’s mom and how she treated the Sawyer’s all those years ago.  Grace has had years living with her mom and can see that she’s not the woman she was then but the two families have been avoiding each other all this time.  To expect that the guys will just forgive and forget in about two minutes isn’t realistic.  They’ve been nursing their wounds for a while and it is going to take them a bit to get over them, even if Jack is sleeping with Grace.  I see her side of it but I also understand his and it’s not a good situation for either of them so a little patience on everyone’s part is needed.  It adds some extra drama to what is already a pretty troublesome situation.

Like with her other series, there are a lot of secondary characters that help drag you in and keep you turning pages.  I’m definitely looking forward to what comes next for Jack’s brothers.  I’m pretty sure those two are going to have some more hardship to deal with before they can find their own happy ending.

*****

Author Info:

Annie Rains is a USA Today bestselling author who writes small-town love stories set in fictional towns on the coast of North Carolina. Raised in one of America’s largest military communities, Annie often features heroes who fight for their countries, while also fighting for a place to call home and a good woman to love. When Annie isn’t writing, she’s spending time with her husband and three children, or reading a book by one of her favorite authors.

Author Links:   WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS

*****

Giveaway:

$25.00 Amazon eGift Card

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/521ac4c81269/

*****

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Book Review – Lost in You

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Lost In You

The Monroes series

by Jules Bennett

The only thing that could bring Liam Monroe back to Haven, Georgia, is his loyalty to his late sister–so he’s agreed to serve as a chef at the resort his brothers have built in her honor. But he’s not staying. At least that’s the plan. . .

Macy Hayward always admired the Monroes. Adopting four kids—including the brooding, mysterious Liam—they were an example of the loving family she wanted for herself someday. Now, ironically, Macy’s got an unexpected new tenant in the apartment above her hardware store: none other than Liam.

Most of Liam’s furniture consists of weightlifting equipment, since he has no intention of settling in. He can’t wait to run away again, from his brothers and his bitter memories—and from Macy, with her relentlessly seductive curves. Still, while he’s around, he should do the poor woman a favor and teach her to cook, before she poisons someone. . .

Soon, their sessions in the kitchen are getting spicy. But Macy has roots in Haven, and she wants to plant more, including taking in a little girl who needs a home. Meanwhile, Liam has an opportunity for his own restaurant in Atlanta. Will choosing love mean giving up their separate dreams? Or will the heart find a way?. . .

Liam is the most closed off of the brothers and I think lots of returning readers are really looking forward to discovering what makes him tick.  He’s struggling with a lot of things, leaving him moody and sometimes erratic.  Proximity to his brothers and working on his sister’s dream is doing a lot to bridge some old hurts and forge a better relationship with his family.  But it doesn’t help that one of those things he’s having trouble with is an attraction to his sexy landlord and close family friend.

Macy seems like such a well put together person that you wouldn’t realize that she’s got some pretty big secrets.  She’s funny, energetic and friendly – the perfect girl next door.  Or in this case, girl downstairs.  And she’s had a thing for Liam for AGES so if she could only get behind his walls it might lead somewhere fantastic.  Whew, he has walls though!

I think that Bennett’s superb writing and fun characters will help keep the attention of readers who aren’t all that thrilled with the on/off of this relationship.  Because Liam definitely waffles.  A lot.  I kinda get where he’s coming from, because small town living makes it hard to get away from anything in your past.  Especially something as big as the car wreck that left him with a scar on his face.  And he’s has an idea of what his future would be, which doesn’t include life in said small town.  But things are starting to come together with the brothers and their business, so when you throw in a girl that he has trouble resisting… well, I think he resists a little too much  🙂  It takes him some time to work out what he really wants and where he needs to be.  But of course, he gets there in the end.   (There’s quite a bit of angst though before then so make sure you are prepared.)

 

Spotlight – Never Be Tamed

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This one is getting some great reviews – people are just loving Jenna!

*****

Never Be Tamed

A Standalone Enemy-to-Lovers Romance

by Clare James

April 10, 2017

Blurb:

Falling for your sister’s nemesis?

Only a low-life dog would do something like that, right? And that ain’t me, not anymore. I mean here I am, trying to be a stand-up guy for once in my freaking life—I’m finally making smart decisions, helping my little sister, and getting my shit together.

For once, things are finally going my way…until Jenna shows up.

As soon as I meet her, I know she’s the enemy. I’ve heard enough to understand that she’s off limits. Banned. Forbidden. Not for me!

She’s the bad girl I have to stay away from if I want to keep my family intact. So I try. Trust me, I REALLY try. But it’s not as easy as you’d think, and surprisingly, I discover that she’s not as bad as everyone says.

Of course, she’s difficult, selfish, and a royal pain in the ass, but she’s also gorgeous, smart, kind, and…well, let’s just say I am that low-life dog. Traitor. Turncoat. And the world’s shittiest brother.

Woof. Woof.

Never Be Tamed is a hot and hilarious full-length stand-alone that can be read on its own or as part of The Impossible Love Series.

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2jZaWvP

B&N Nook: http://bit.ly/2kox9a9

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2kJQB1V

iBooks: http://apple.co/2kEkTkh

*****

Author Info:

Clare James writes contemporary romance and new adult novels with spunky heroines and sexier-than-sin heroes. Her books have made several best-selling lists including the tender love stories in the Impossible Love series; the steamy romantic comedy Dirty Little Lies; and the touching family drama Two-Hour Truce.

Caught, the first in a series about the women of Elite PR and their very naughty clients, published with Entangled Publishing’s Brazen line, is a #1 Amazon Best-Selling Romance Series. Book two in the series, PLAYED, is out now!

A former dancer, Clare still loves to get her groove on – mostly to work off her beloved cupcakes and red wine. She lives in Minneapolis with her two leading men – her husband and young son – and is always on social media chatting with readers.

Website: http://clarejamesbooks.com/books/

Newsletter: http://clarejamesbooks.com/about/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5495009.Clare_James

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Clare-James/e/B00C4G8OQA/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/clarejamesbooks

*****

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Reviews – Never Be Tamed

Reviews – Before You Go