Sure Shot by Sarina Bowen

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Title: Sure Shot

Author: Sarina Bowen

Genre: Sports Romance

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Release Date: May 12th, 2020

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On the eve of her thirtieth birthday, successful sports agent Bess Beringer is ready to make some changes. Armed with a five-year plan—indexed and color coded—she’ll tackle a few goals in her personal life.

A big, tall, ripped hunk of hockey player who’s just been traded to the Brooklyn Bruisers is not a part of that five year plan. Mark “Tank” Tankiewicz has a lot of baggage. He’s a ride-or-die loner. He’s on the rebound. He’s also the sexiest thing on two legs, and for some crazy reason it’s Bess that he wants.

She knows better. But then she falls stupid in love with him anyway. And for a while it seems like maybe he’ll do the same.

Until she asks him for the one thing he can never give her…

 

excerpt

Tank: Did you SEE that beautiful goal???

Bess: Yes baby. That’s why I sent you a text last night that said NICE GOAL BABY in shouty caps. Didn’t it come through?

Tank: It came through. But I just wanted to talk about it some more. Because did you SEE that beautiful goal? When Castro accidentally passed to nowhere but I got my stick on it anyway? And before you could say TANK IS A STUD, I put it in?

Bess: Gorgeous goal, hot stuff! I may have spilled my beer I was so excited.

Tank: Where did you spill it?

Bess: All over my naked breasts.

Tank: Really?

Bess: No. But the purpose of this conversation is stroking your ego, right? So I thought I’d just roll with it.

Tank: LOL! I’ll take it.

Bess: 🙂

Tank: You were right, by the way. After the game, Castro told me I had to get the Brooklyn Bridge tattooed across my ass.

Bess: Well that’s a good sign. If they’re pranking you it means they like you now.

Tank: I got a goal. They like that at least.

Bess: What did you tell Castro about the tattoo?

Tank: I said, sure, buddy!

Tank: And, get this, I told him that if we connect on ten goals this season—in either direction—not only will I put the bridge on one ass cheek, I’ll put his face on the other.

Bess: OMG. What did he say to that?

Tank: “Let’s not get carried away.” Honestly he looked terrified, which was the point. I told him I was just crazy enough to do it. And then I wondered aloud what the blogs would write about that.

Bess: You are an evil man.

Tank: Never bullshit a bullshitter. But enough about me. Let’s talk about you. Specifically, I need to know if you’re naked right now. Please say yes.

Bess: I’m sitting in my office waiting for a conference call. So that would be no.

Tank: Lie to me, baby! I miss you.

Bess: There’s no need to lie. The next time we’re in the same zip code again, you can make your dreams come true.

Tank: Now there’s a plan I can get behind. Literally.

Bess: Indeed. Got to go now! Call starts in two minutes.

Tank: One more thing, hot stuff. Have you seen Henry again? I keep leaving voicemails, asking when I can visit. He texts me back, but I can’t get a phone call. I just want to talk to the old codger.

Bess: Same. I sent him a present but when I asked to visit he shot me down. Now go beat Florida.

Tank: Maybe you should send me a few motivational photographs to improve my game.

Bess: A good workout followed by a protein drink and then a nap would improve it more.

Tank: Says you.

Bess: I am a professional. I know things. Get some rest! I’ll be watching tonight.

 

review

Bess Berringer isn’t where she thought she’d be in life when she turns 30. Sure her career is really taking off, but Bess wants more. She wants love. She wants a family.

Mark “Tank” Tankiewicz isn’t where he thought he’d be in life either. To top it off, he was just traded to a rival hockey team, has to move across the country, oh and his wife wants a divorce.

When Bess and Tank run into each other at a party, they are both shocked to see each other again. Yes, again.

9 years earlier, Bess and Tank how a sizzly hot friends with benefits situation going on. It fizzled out sooner than either of them wanted it to, but Bess was just starting off as a sports agent, and Tank was a hockey player. Those two things don’t mix well in a relationship.

Soon, Tank and Bess slip into old habits. The sparks between them are just as explosive and just as dangerous. Because Bess now has her own sports agency, and Tank is still, well, a hockey player. But more importantly, Bess wants the happily ever after, and Tank wants the happily no strings attached. Or does he?

Ah, I just loved everything about Bess and Tank! I loved their banter, the chemistry, the friendship. I felt for Bess as she struggled between listening to her heart and her head. As she starts to accept she might not get the things she wants most in life. Tank completely surprised me with all his layers. There is so much more to him than meets the eye, and his story tugged on my heart strings a few times.

Sarina Bowen has such a gift for creating these incredible worlds filled with love and pain and in credible friendship. Failure and triumph. Growth and forgiveness. Romance and swoons. Strong, intelligent, vulnerable women. Men who love and respect and encourage these women. And of course, some hockey 😉

Side Note: Sure Shot is the 4th book in the Brooklyn series. While the books in this series are companion novels, they can still be read as a standalone. You also see characters from her Brooklyn Bruisers series and True North series. Again, you do not have to have read these series before hand, but I highly recommend them.

 

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Heartland By Sarina Bowen

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Title: Heartland

Author: Sarina Bowen

Genre: New Adult Romance

Series: True North #7 (Can be read as standalone)

Release Date: January 28th, 2020

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An emotional friends to lovers romance full of risky secrets and late-night lessons in seduction.

 

Dylan is my best friend, and the only person in my life who understands me. He doesn’t mind my social awkwardness or my weird history. The only glitch? He doesn’t know that I’ve been hopelessly, desperately in love with him since the first day we picked apples together in his family’s orchard.

But I know better than to confess.

Now that I’ve joined him at college, I’m seeing a new side of him. This Dylan drinks and has a lot of sex. None of it with me.

Until the moment I foolishly ask him to tutor me in more than algebra…and he actually says yes.

One crazy night sets our friendship on fire. But now my heart lies in ashes, and nothing will ever be the same again.

 

Heartland is a standalone college romance set in the True North world. Expect: a young, broody farmer, a giant crush, tasty caramels, cute goats and late night confessions.

 

excerpt

“So why were you having a bad day, anyway?” Ellie asks. “Man trouble?”

“Not exactly. It’s more like a lack of man trouble. I kissed my hot algebra tutor. And I wasn’t supposed to.”

Her big eyes widen. “Which hot algebra tutor? You never said.”

“He doesn’t work at the lab,” I say hastily. “He’s a friend. And he wants to stay that way.”

“Oh.” She looks deflated. “That is a bummer.”

“Do you have a boyfriend?”

“No.” She makes a face. “It would be nice, though. This year is kind of lonely. My roommate is a total bitch.”

“Oh, I have one of those, too.”

“Yeah?” Ellie’s eyes brighten. “Does yours steal your clothes and then lie about it?”

“Um, no. She wouldn’t want any of my things. We have singles, anyway. Just a common bathroom.”

“Lucky! She must be easier to stand, then.”

“You’d think.” I take a gulp of mint tea.

“My roommate took my brand-new scarf. With the tags still on! And when I called her out on it, she tried to gaslight me.”

“Gaslight?” I feel my cheeks flush like they sometimes do when I don’t understand the idioms that people use.

“You don’t know Gaslight? It’s a movie from the forties.”

“Ingrid Bergman,” says Dylan’s voice. “We haven’t got around to the classics yet.”

I startle, sloshing my tea over my hand. And when I look up, Dylan is right there. Clear brown eyes. Tousled hair. Tight, muscular body that’s clothed in a nice sweater and ripped jeans. A handsome face that I finally kissed.

Pain slices through me. Because I’m never going to get over him. There will never be a day when I look at Dylan and don’t wish for more.

“Can I talk to you for a quick second?” he asks, taking the mug and grabbing a napkin off the table. He wipes the tea off my hand.

“Now is not a good time,” I say quickly. Because I don’t want to cry in the coffee shop in front of my only new friend.

Dylan actually rolls his eyes. “Fifteen seconds, Chass. Give a man a break.”

I’d talk to you.” Ellie raises her hand like a school girl. “Pick me.”

And that’s just what I need—another girl in my life who’s swooning for Dylan. Because that always turns out well.

“Fine. Fifteen seconds.” I jump to my feet. Let’s get this over with.

Dylan takes my arm and tows me gently over toward the bulletin board, where nobody is currently reading the flyers for meditation circles and ski equipment sales.

“Look, I’m sorry,” is his opener. “You’re avoiding me. Not that I blame you. I’m sorry things got so out of control.”

“Which things?” I ask warily. Because I don’t want an apology for fooling around with me.

“Pick one!” Dylan raises his hands. “All the things. I shouldn’t have been so inappropriate.”

“But…” I know Dylan was in a serious state of drunken depression when he kissed me. It’s not like I was expecting to hear those kisses made him as happy as they made me. But would it kill him to be a little less patronizing? “Dylan, I’m not twelve years old. It was just a kiss or two. I don’t think I’ll need a full course of therapy to recover.”

He blinks. “Okay. Good?”

“So did you really need to drag me over here to apologize a third time? Did you apologize to all the girls you kissed during Spin the Bottle in seventh grade?”

I heard about Spin the Bottle and Seven Minutes in Heaven only last year, by eavesdropping on Debbie and her buddies at another bonfire. I’d been transfixed by their tales of who’d kissed whom over the years and how often.

At thirteen, Spin the Bottle would have sounded like heaven to me. Seven minutes in a closet with a boy? I would have lobbied for eight. I was always the most inappropriate girl in the bunch.

Yet somehow Dylan sees me as some kind of innocent child.

“No. Good point.” He crosses his delicious arms and smiles at me. “You are in a feisty mood today.”

“Is that so wrong?”

“No.” He shakes his handsome head. “Not at all. Are we going to hug it out?” He opens his big arms wide.

Oh boy. I can’t resist stepping into them. And when he pulls me in, I experience the familiar hormone rush that always happens when I’m close to him. Rapid heartbeat? Check. Goosebumps? Check. My nose lands against his flannel shirt.

My mouth is mere inches from his, of course. But this time he has no interest in kissing me. It takes all my willpower to give him a squeeze and then step back.

“Be well, Chass. I’ll leave you to your tutoring session, even if you’re basically cheating on me right now. But we’re still making caramels this weekend, right? I told Griffin we could use six gallons of goat’s milk. Don’t make a liar out of me.”

“I won’t,” I say quickly. I might be slightly irritated at him, but it will blow over. My capacity to forgive him for not loving me back is basically infinite. “We’ll leave right after Friday classes?”

“You got it. And this is for you. Share it with your friend.” He pulls something out of his pocket. “More market research.”

He puts a little box in my hand and then walks away.

As always, it takes me a second to get over my hormone rush. I stand there blinking for a long moment until I realize Ellie is grinning at me from the sofa. So I go back over to her and sit down.

“Wow…” she says, stealing a glance at Dylan’s retreating backside. “Is that hot hunk of Vermont male your algebra tutor?”

“Yes.” My voice is gravel.

“And your future ex-boyfriend?”

“Nope. I’ll never get that chance. He’s my best friend, but…” There’s no tidy explanation.

“But you want more. I would if it were me.”

I nod, miserable.

 

 

review

I just adore all the books in Sarina Bowen’s True North series and Heartland is no different. There’s a swoony hero, a leading lady you’ll want to be best friends with, descriptions of amazing food that will have your stomach growling, and a love story for the ages.

Dylan, the youngest of the 4 Shipley siblings, is away at college. He is loving his new fond independence, but is still under the stress of responsibility from his family’s farm. And feeling the weight of guilt that might not even be his to carry. So what if Dylan likes to make himself feel better by partying it up with beautiful women?

Chastity hasn’t had the easiest- or most normal- life. She grew up in a religious cult. After finally escaping a few years earlier, Chastity was taken in by Isaac and Leah, and is just starting to live her life. She’s struggling in school, but is fortunate enough to have the support of her best friend, Dylan. Unfortunately, Chastity has been in love with Dylan since she first laid eyes on him. So while she’s loving being closer to him while they are away at college, she also has to watch Dylan drink and smoke and be intimate with girls that are not her.

Because there is no way that Dylan feels the same way. Right?

First and foremost, I LOVE the friendship the two of them have. Dylan is very overprotective about Chastity, and puts her in front of everyone else. They just have this effortless connection. They simply get each other like no one else does. And when they finally cross that line from friends to more- get ready for fireworks. Serious fireworks. It’s a delicious slow burn that is steamy, romantic, angsty and may cause your kindle to melt just a little bit.

And of course, it was great to see everyone else from previous books. Going back to the Shipley farm kind of feels like going home. I particularly love the evolving relationship that Dylan has with his brother, Griffin.

All in all Dylan and Chastity’s book was everything that I hoped it would be, and more!

Note: Every book in this series can be read completely as a standalone, but I highly recommend reading them all!

Cover Reveal & Excerpt: Superfan by Sarina Bowen

Superfan FOR WEB

Title: Superfan

Author: Sarina Bowen

Series: Brooklyn #3 (Can be read as a standalone)

Genre: New Adult, Sports Romance

Release Date: June 25th, 2019

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Sometimes lady luck shakes your hand, and sometimes she smacks your face. Sometimes she does both on the same day.

Three years ago I met the most amazing woman. We were both down on our luck. Then I got that call—the one that tells you to get your buns on a plane to go meet your destiny.

But the girl was left behind. I didn’t have her phone number, and she didn’t know my real name.

While I became a professional hockey player, she became a superstar, with platinum records and legions of fans. And a slick, music producer boyfriend who treated her badly.

But fate wasn’t done with us yet. When Delilah turns up at a hockey game, I can’t resist making contact. The internet swoons when I ask her out on a date.

She might not remember me. But her jerkface ex does. He’ll do anything to keep us apart.

Good thing athletes never give up. This time I’m playing for keeps.

 

excerpt

“Would you like a beer?” the cute bartender asks me.

I glance at the pile of mint leaves on his cutting board and hesitate. “Sure,” I say. But the mint looks so fresh and pretty.

“I could make you something different.”

“Beer is great. A cold…”

“—lager,” he finishes. “No glass, no opener.”

When I look up to flash him a smile, my heart does a little somersault. Those kind eyes are smiling at me, too. “Thank you,” I whisper.

“It’s really no problem.” He turns toward the beer cooler. “You’re an easy customer, trust me.”

But I really meant—thank you for remembering. As he leans down to grab a bottle for me, I find myself admiring the strong muscles in his back. Stop it, I admonish myself. It only gets worse when he turns around and places the bottle in front of me. I’ve never seen hands like his. I didn’t even know wrists could look muscular.

Even so. Ogling him is not why I came here. I pull out my keychain opener and remove the cap from my beer.

He discards it, gives me another pleasant smile and then picks up his paring knife again.

I take a sip, wondering when he’s going to mention my show at the Coconut Club. He was there. I saw him.

He separates some mint leaves from their stems and says nothing.

I last about seventeen seconds. “Well?”

“Well?” He looks up. “Sorry?”

“Jesus lord.” I close my eyes and then open them again. This is not going how I’d hoped it would. “What did you think?

“Of…?” His amazing eyes are studying me.

“Forget I asked.” I take a swig of beer.

“Think about what?” He pushes the cutting board aside, and his smile turns knowing.

“My set at the Coconut Club! I saw you holding up that wall in the back. Don’t lie.”

He tips his head back and lets out a sudden laugh. “I’m so busted. I loved your show, but I didn’t expect you to spot me.”

“You loved it so much you weren’t going to say anything?” The sentence sounds crazy to my own ears. I put down the beer. “You know what? Never mind. I’m just being psycho right now. This town is getting into my head.”

“Listen, girly.” He braces both (muscular!) hands on the bar and looks me right in the eye. “I loved it so much that I don’t even know what to say about it. From that moment at the beginning—when you shut that asshole’s maw? To the part where you made a lady cry.” He shakes his head. “I couldn’t look away. And I never wanted it to end.”

I give him a slow blink, just trying to take that in. It’s so much more than I was even hoping to hear.

“Shit, Delilah. If that set doesn’t win you whatever contract you’re looking for, they don’t even deserve you.”

Something warm and unfamiliar settles into the center of my belly. “That might be the nicest thing anyone ever said to me. Which only means you’re still trying to get my phone number.”

He laughs immediately. “Can’t both things be true? Both my musical assessment and my interest in your evening plans?”

“Because you know so much about music.” I flip my hair and take another sip of beer.

“Look. I don’t know shit about music. But I know plenty about talent.” He leans down on a set of forearms I shouldn’t be noticing. “I know that talent sometimes takes a nap at just the wrong moment, but it never stays asleep for long. I also know that luck matters, too. If they don’t give you what you want, it won’t be your fucking fault.”

“Thank you,” I say quietly.

But he’s not done. “I saw something else valuable the other night. You’re good in the clinch. And that counts for double, I swear to God.”

“The clinch?”

“Yeah. You’re not just good at practice.” He pauses, wrinkling up his interesting nose. “What word would a musician use? Okay—you’re not a rehearsal musician. That stage was like your home. Either that or you fake it really well. That’s going to pay your rent someday, I promise.”

“Wow.” It’s like he looked right into my terrified little soul and found the very thing I needed to hear. Those beautiful eyes of his are practically burning me right now, so I have to look away. “Thank you. Really. I really needed that pep talk.”

I make the mistake of looking up at him again, and, for a split second, I see pure yearning. It’s like our souls vibrate at exactly the same frequency. And I have no idea what to do with that.

 

 

ARC Review: BRING DOWN THE STARS by Emma Scott

Bring Down the Stars Cover

Title: Bring Down The Stars

Author: Emma Scott

Genre: New Adult Romance

Series: Beautiful Hearts duet, book one

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I fell for Connor Drake. I didn’t want to; I fought against it, but I fell in love with him anyway. With his words. With his poetry. With him. The gentleness and beauty of his soul that speaks directly to mine. He writes as if he can feel my heart, hear its cadence and compose the exact right lyrics to accompany every beat and flow.

I’m in love with Connor…so why do I feel an inexplicable pull to his best friend, Weston? Grouchy, sullen, brooding Weston Turner, who could cut you down with a look. Fiercely intelligent with a razor sharp wit and acid tongue, he’s the exact opposite of Connor in every way, and yet there’s electricity in the air between us. The thorny barbs Weston wraps around himself can’t keep me away.

But the more time I spend with these men, the more tangled and confused my emotions become. When they both sign up for the Army Reserves during a time of increasing strife in the Middle East, I fear I’ll never unravel my own heart that sometimes feels as if it will tear straight down the middle…for both of them.

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Bring Down the Stars is an emotional, angst-filled novel of unrequited love by bestselling author, Emma Scott, and is inspired by the classic tale, Cyrano de Bergerac. (Roxanne) It is Book I in the Beautiful Hearts Duet, coming this summer. Book II, Long Live the Beautiful Hearts, to be released a few weeks later. #lovetriangle #confusedhearts #notamenage

 

review

First of all, this review WILL BE SPOILER FREE! 😀 This book is kind of hard to review without giving too much away, so I will be more vogue than detailed orientated on this one. 😉

Oh my gosh you guys. I was not fully prepared for the emotional roller-coaster I was about to get on when I started this book. It’s full of angst, heartbreak, and little moments that squeeze your heart until you have no other choice but to swoon. Tragically beautiful. It’s the kind of book that completely consumes you.

There is a love triangle. Kind of. There is a cliffhanger. Even if you’re thinking to yourself that’s not normally your thing, please do yourself a favor and READ THIS BOOK!

These characters are flawed, and sometimes you might want to shake them and tell them what to do. But you can’t help but love them. Connor, Autumn and Weston. Sigh. Of course one hero had my heart from the beginning, but I won’t go into too much details. The thing I loved about them is that they all have flaws, yet they all have parts of themselves that compliment each other.

The friendship Weston and Conner is more like a brotherhood. They are complete opposites, yet make perfect sense together. You first see them both as young boys, and their friendship is everything. It only gets better as they get older, but of course, sometimes it’s not so easy.

The romance in this book is complicated. To put it mildly. I’m not going to go into much details on it, as it will be SO much better to know as little as possible before you start reading. Just know that it will be frustrating at times. It will be bittersweet and heart breaking. It will be romantic and it does deliver all the swoons.

This book was everything. It made me feel everything. It gave me hope and took it away. I can’t wait for book two!! What a ride that should be!

 

 

excerpt

I took the cement stairs into the library and entered the cool, hushed confines of the main reading room. None of the long mahogany desks with green-shaded lamps were empty. One of the university clubs had taken over two-thirds of the space. The rest of the tables were filled with students like me, trying to get a head start their course load.

I finally found an empty seat at the end of a table, opposite a blond guy engrossed in reading. His open backpack spilled books and papers into what I hoped could be my table territory.

“Excuse me,” I whispered. “Can I…?”

He looked up, his expression vaguely hostile. Piercing blue-green eyes set in a stunningly handsome, if angular, face met mine. High cheekbones, sharp chin and long straight nose. He looked chiseled out of smooth stone at first glance, then his features softened for a moment as his gaze swept over me. Something like recognition lit up his eyes, and I could see the gears of his brain turning as he studied, analyzed, and then came to a conclusion. Not a good one, I guessed, because his expression hardened again.

“Yeah, sure,” he muttered. He stood up, leaning his tall, slender frame over the table to corral the books back into his pack.

“Thanks,” I said, thinking if he wasn’t a basketball player or a runner, he was a model.

All right, girl, get a grip.

I sat, cracked my textbook and settled in to read. I wasn’t through two pages when the words blurred to nonsensical gibberish and my skin prickled with the sensation of being watched.

I glanced up, straight into the ocean eyes of the guy across from me. A million thoughts swirled in their soft depths before they quickly glanced down. He slouched lower in his chair, disappearing behind his book—the collected poems of Walt Whitman. Part of me wanted to melt. Good lord, a hot guy reading poetry? I was only human.

And this is how you wound up with a broken heart in the first place.

I must’ve been frowning at the book because the guy held it up and said, “Not a fan?”

I blinked back to reality. “No,” I said. “I mean, yes. I love Whitman. And poetry in general. I just… Never mind.”

He regarded me a long moment, then slowly closed Whitman and picked up Atlas Shrugged from his short stack of books.

“Ugh, that’s even worse,” I muttered without thinking, and then shook my head. “God, sorry, I left my filter at home. Don’t listen to me.”

His lip curled. “Is there anything in my collection you approve of?”

A hot, smart asshole, I thought. Game on.

“Sorry,” I said. “I’m not in a good mood today and it’s making me forget my manners. I’ll leave you to read your capitalist propaganda in peace.”

The guy’s eyebrows shot up, disappearing under the blond hair that fell across his brow. “Not a fan of Rand either?” He smirked knowingly. “No, of course you aren’t.”

My blood heated at his flippant tone. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

The guy nodded at my textbook—Global Responsibility and the Third-World Hunger Epidemic—and shrugged, as if that answered everything.

“Oh.” I frowned. “Well… yes. I mean, Rand’s point of view is purely capitalist and mine isn’t. Not by a long shot.”

The student sitting to my right exchanged glances with the girl sitting across from him. Then both packed up their books and left.

“We’re being disruptive,” I said to my across-table neighbor. “We need to stop talking now.”

He leaned back in his chair, his eyes intent on me. “So what’s your point of view?”

“My what?”

“You said your point of view isn’t capitalist.” He raised a brow. “So what is it?”

“Humanist, I suppose. Since you asked. I think everyone, regardless of race, creed, income-level, or sex should be granted the same shot as anyone else.” I raised a brow at him. “But you don’t?”

“Are you asking me or telling me?” he said with a slight chuckle. “Since we’re tossing labels around, I’m a realist.” He held up his book. “And not a fan of Rand either.”

“You’re not?” I leaned back too, crossing my arms. “Are you just messing with me or what?”

“Maybe,” he said. “What do you care what I think anyway?”

My mouth fell slack. “I don’t. Thanks for reminding me.”

“No problem.”

“Wow, you’re rude.”

“That’s the word on the street.”

“I can see why.” I lifted my own book up to signal conversation over, but my eyes wouldn’t focus. I could feel the hum of his presence like a field of electrical wires, getting under my skin and infiltrating my thoughts. The buzz went beyond distraction. It felt like a challenge had been laid down.

And I never walked away from a challenge.

I lowered my book to see the guy’s glance hide behind his book again.

“Well?” I demanded.

“Well what?”

Why are you watching me?

“Why are you reading Ayn Rand if you don’t like her either?”

“Required reading for an English Lit minor.”

“And your major? Let me guess, pre-law.”

“God, no,” he said.

I raised my eyebrows but he offered nothing more. “Are you going to make me run through Amherst’s list of majors until I guess which one is yours?”

“Yes,” he said. “Alphabetically, please.”

A laugh burst out of me against my will, and the guy almost smiled. Every one of his hard angles softened.

“Economics,” he said. “But I don’t know what I’m doing with it.”

“That feels like the most honest thing you’ve said to me so far,” I said.

“And that’s important to you?”

“Yes,” I said, my laughter dying away as I remembered Mark and that girl, naked in the bed I’d slept in just the night before. “Honesty is very important.”

He lifted one shoulder.

“You don’t agree?” I asked.

“Being honest is sometimes mistaken for being rude.”

“You must be really honest,” I said.

Again, he almost smiled. “Must be.”

Satisfied that I’d held my own against this beautiful but hostile member of the opposite sex, I went back to my book…for eight entire seconds before my skin started prickling again. The electric hum of his attention was impossible to ignore.

When I looked up this time, he didn’t look away but cleared his throat.

“I’m Weston Turner.”

 

Attractive woman dancing in the field with her boyfriend

 

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EXCERPT REVEAL: THE LEFT SIDE OF PERFECT by Meghan Quinn

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Title: The Left Side of Perfect

Author: Meghan Quinn

Release date: August 30th!

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Read Chapter One!

 

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For better or for worse,’til death do us part . . .

The better captured me; she’s who stole my heart.

And made me realize I couldn’t live without this woman.

The worse of her took my breath away–kicked me when I was down and twisted me into a million knots.

When I first met her, I thought she was someone I would never see again.

The second time I ran into her, it was a random coincidence.

The third?

I didn’t know it at the time, but she was the girl I was going to marry.

But life isn’t always perfect. You have to take the better and the worse–even if it means giving her up, having her slip between your fingers, and letting her walk away.

I’m getting married.

This is forever, ’til death do us part.

 

excerpt

Her hands rest on her hips, the navy-blue Grecian-style dress draped down the length of her body, a small slit on the side that barely reaches her knee. “You’re really fixated on this, aren’t you?”

“Nah, didn’t care too much. A homemade dinner would have been nice, though.”

“I can’t cook.”

“Neither can I,” I answer honestly. I either eat out, or I make myself scrambled eggs, and that’s about it. Rory taught me how to make meatballs once but hell if I can remember how to do that. All I know is that I enjoyed crushing the beef between my fingers. I get by with limited knowledge in the kitchen.

She chuckles. “Well, aren’t we a pair?” She turns to watch Stryder and Rory together. Apparently not giving a shit about the even bigger elephant in the room, Ryan asks, “Is this weird for you?”

“I have a flask in my jacket pocket, so you tell me.”

She lifts her bouquet and pulls out a mini bottle of alcohol. She wiggles her eyebrows at me. “Thought maybe we’d both need this since we have to sit through having all these pictures taken with them.”

“Smirnoff? That’s what you brought with you?”

“It was all I had. Don’t judge me.”

“I’m judging.”

Playfully she whacks my arm. “You shouldn’t be judging me. It was innovative. I carved out a little space in my bouquet for this bottle. If anything, you should congratulate me on this genius idea.”

“Was it your idea?”

“I mean”—she toes the ground—“I might have seen the idea on Pinterest along with a recipe for beer cookies that tasted like vomit.”

“Beer cookies?” I shake my head and take the little bottle from her. Twist the cap, tilt the bottle back, and swig. I hand it back to her, leaving half the bottle. “Even I know better than to think beer cookies would taste good.”

“They were for a boyfriend I was trying to impress.”

“Impress or poison?”

“Impress.” She laughs. “Although after our breakup, I should probably say poison. Teach all future suitors: if you mess with me, you get poisoned.”

“It’d keep me away, that’s for damn sure.”

She finishes the rest of the little bottle and returns it to her bouquet. She pats it and says, “I can recycle it later.”

“Get drunk and save the earth. Sounds like a good combination to me.”

“Ryan and Colby, can we get you over here for a few pictures?” the photographer calls out.

“That’s our cue.” Ryan pokes my cheek with her index finger, looking sincerely at me. “Don’t forget to smile, because these pictures will last forever.”

“Scowling not in the job description of best man?”

As we walk over, she says, “I would normally say no, but given the bride is your ex-girlfriend, one scowl is allowed.”

“One scowl? Damn, better make it a good one.”

Release Blitz + Excerpt: BRING DOWN THE STARS by Emma Scott

Bring Down the Stars Cover

Author: Emma Scott

Title: Bring Down The Stars

Genre: New Adult, Romance

Release Date: August 20th, 2018

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I fell for Connor Drake. I didn’t want to; I fought against it, but I fell in love with him anyway. With his words. With his poetry. With him. The gentleness and beauty of his soul that speaks directly to mine. He writes as if he can feel my heart, hear its cadence and compose the exact right lyrics to accompany every beat and flow.

I’m in love with Connor…so why do I feel an inexplicable pull to his best friend, Weston? Grouchy, sullen, brooding Weston Turner, who could cut you down with a look. Fiercely intelligent with a razor sharp wit and acid tongue, he’s the exact opposite of Connor in every way, and yet there’s electricity in the air between us. The thorny barbs Weston wraps around himself can’t keep me away.

But the more time I spend with these men, the more tangled and confused my emotions become. When they both sign up for the Army Reserves during a time of increasing strife in the Middle East, I fear I’ll never unravel my own heart that sometimes feels as if it will tear straight down the middle…for both of them.

**********
Bring Down the Stars is an emotional, angst-filled novel of unrequited love by bestselling author, Emma Scott, and is inspired by the classic tale, Cyrano de Bergerac. (Roxanne) It is Book I in the Beautiful Hearts Duet, coming this summer. Book II, Long Live the Beautiful Hearts, to be released a few weeks later. #lovetriangle #confusedhearts #notamenage

 

excerpt

Later that night, Connor lay sprawled on the couch with SportsCenter blaring, scrolling his phone. I sat at the kitchen table, tapping my pen against an empty page in my notebook and contemplating running as my Object of Devotion. I couldn’t muster the blood and guts to put it to paper. I liked running. It served a purpose, but did I want to make it my life?

“Oh shit,” Connor cried from behind me.

“What is it?”

“I accidentally texted her.”

“Who?” I said, knowing damn well who.

“Autumn. I was fucking messing around and I hit that stupid predictive text thing, then panicked and hit send.”

“So what?”

“I don’t text or call a girl until at least three days have passed.”

I set down my pen and turned around. “Are you serious?”

“Of course I’m serious. It looks desperate to text her the same day.

I hid a smile. “What did you text?”

“Just ‘yes’.” His eyes widened. “Shit. She’s texting me back.”

Connor jumped up from the couch and came to where I sat, standing next to my chair as we both watched his phone.

Yes…?

Connor typed, Hey.

I smirked. “Really?”

“Yeah, so?”

A pause, then a new text bubbled up. What’s up?

“Now she’s annoyed,” I said. “Or impatient.”

Connor looked to me. “What do I say?”

“Why are you asking me?”

“You’re good at this shit. How many papers did you write for me at Sinclair?”

“This is not the same thing.”

“Ballpark.” Connor made a face. “Dude, she’s waiting.”

I frowned, thought for a moment. “Tell her the truth.”

“Hell no—”

“Tell her the truth but make it better. Tell her you were messing with your phone while thinking about her. Tell her that you wanted to talk to her so badly, your subconscious made it happen.”

“Oh, that’s good.”

Connor’s fingers flew, and then he hit send.

There was a pause and no answer.

Connor frowned. “What’s this mean?”

“It’s good. I mean she’s thinking about what you said.”

The rolling dots of Autumn’s reply came in.

The old ‘accidental text’ move? I feel like I’ve seen that before…;-)

“She’s not letting you off the hook so easily,” I said, smiling despite myself. “Don’t deny. Tell her she’s one hundred percent right. You’ll make any excuse to talk to her.”

“That’s perfect, man.”

Connor typed and hit send.

I like your honesty, came the reply.

“Hey, it’s working.” Connor beamed. “Now what?”

It was working, and I didn’t like what it was.

“I don’t know, man,” I said, waving a hand. “Type something. Whatever you’re thinking.”

“I want her to go out with me.”

“Then ask.”

With a horrible fascination, I watched Connor type, So, dinner?

“Jesus, dude,” I said.

“What? That’s exactly what you told me to do.”

“Not like that,” I said. “I told you she needs romance.”

I don’t know, she wrote. I have so much work to do already.

“Fuck,” Connor said. He nudged me with his phone. “Wes, man, you do it.”

I blinked. “Do what now?”

“Ask her out for me. The right way.”

I stared.

“Look, this girl is special. I’m not too proud to admit I need back-up getting things rolling with her.” He grinned that winning smile. “C’mon. Just this once.”

“But…”

Connor shoved his phone into my hand. “Come on, man. Do what you do. Write something witty and poetic. Something that’ll impress her enough to get me another text. Another…anything.” He clapped me on the shoulder. “Write something that knocks her on her ass and gets me in the door. That’s all I ask.”

I looked at Connor’s phone in my hand and Autumn Caldwell’s text, waiting for an answer. I felt my best friend’s expectations literally breathing down my neck as he leaned over me.

Ignoring the small ache in my heart, I thought about what I would’ve said to Autumn had it been my phone in my hand, and began to type.

 

Attractive woman dancing in the field with her boyfriend

 

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ARC Review & Excerpt: Boy Toy by Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby

BT

Authors: Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby

Title: Boy Toy

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Release Date: August 14th, 2018

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Liam

The moment Sadie Matthews walks through the daycare center door, I feel my world tilt in her direction. Again. I fell for her when I was fourteen, and I’m still not over her. Problem: she still thinks of me as a teen she used to babysit. But I’ve learned a few things about pleasing a woman in the last fifteen years. I can’t wait to show her how good it could be. I need to move quickly before I lose her again. This is more than a game to me, but I still plan to win.

Sadie

I’ve just survived the worst year of my life. As a single mom of twin toddlers, I don’t have time for a man. I barely have time to finish a thought. Who knew that Liam McAllister would grow up to be so devastating? He’s everything my husband was not: tall, built, and willing to have a tea party with my girls.

I can’t possibly get involved with him. He’s too young for me. Too handsome. But he’s so persuasive…

 

excerpt

I messed up. Big time.

These are my thoughts as I rush into the bathroom for the world’s fastest shower. The hot spray of water judges me as I hastily wash Liam off my thighs.

A better mother wouldn’t let this happen. I shouldn’t have a younger lover. If I didn’t, he wouldn’t be so deliciously appealing. I couldn’t lose my mind, wake him up out of a sound sleep to ride him like a pony. And then collapse beside him in peaceful, sated slumber.

Seriously, how did I let that happen?

You know how, my hormones scold me. Because he’s the hottest thing you’ve ever tasted.

Oh yeah. That.

After showering I get dressed at top speed. Poor Liam is currently shouldering all my parental responsibilities. Throwing on yesterday’s sundress, I pause for a moment to pop a birth control pill, because that’s one thing I won’t goof up.

Then I hurry downstairs.

The sight in the kitchen gives me heart palpitations. But not because there’s flour dusting much of the countertop. Rather, it’s the hot, shirtless guy holding my toddler and making a dump truck sound as Amy tips the measuring spoon over a bowl.

“Yes! Well done, little miss,” he says, relieving her of the spoon. “Batter up!” he says, easing her to the floor and catching Kate, who’s trying to climb him like a tree.

Aren’t we all.

Liam easily rests Kate on one of his perfect arms, measures a half teaspoon of baking powder one-handed and then hands the spoon to Kate. “Beep beep beep,” he says, making the sound of a truck backing up. “Look out below!”

Kate dumps the spoonful into the bowl and giggles.

“Awesome. Who wants to add the milk?”

“My do it!” Amy yells.

Boy, I need another minute of alone time to compose myself. Because I love this picture a little too much. I love Liam’s ease with my girls. I love how calm he is at the center of toddler-induced mayhem.

It causes a little pain in my heart as I allow myself one more comparison to my former life. The truth is I never once saw Decker elbows-deep in kitchen chaos with a kid on one arm. Starting breakfast with twins in tow? He was more likely to captain a NASA expedition to Mars than he was to do this simple Saturday morning thing.

I feel like crying for no reason at all. Clearly I’m on some kind of emotional overload. Maybe coffee will help.

Sliding into the kitchen, I go right for the coffee grounds.

“Mama!” Amy says. “Wiam making pancakes.”

“That is amazing,” I say in a wobbly voice. “What a lucky girl you are.”

“Sorry about the mess,” he says, casting a glance in my direction. And I know he doesn’t just mean the flour on the counter, but the bigger mess of waking up naked in my bed.

“You know,” I say with a small sigh. “Messes shouldn’t scare me so much. It’s going to be fine.”

Liam’s smile is so filled with relief, that I now feel like an ogre. This man wants to make pancakes with us on Saturday morning, and I said no to that before? I’m clearly insane.

“Which frying pan should I use?” he asks, casting an eye on the cookware hanging from the rack over the sink.

“Oh, no. You want this.” I pull a double-burner griddle out of a lower cabinet.

“Oooh,” he says. “Mommy has the fancy pancake griddle.”

Kate giggles. She’s gazing at Liam as if he invented fun.

And in my life, I guess he did.

Here’s the tricky thing about being a shrink—sometimes you notice that you’re doing something that’s exactly contrary to the advice you’d give your patients.

I’m having one of those moments right now.

If I had a single mom in my office telling me there was a lovely guy in her life who was kind to her kids—and yet she was giving him the stiff arm? I’d tell her: “Be kind to yourself. Don’t push away the good people in your life, especially if you think you don’t deserve them. Let people surprise you.”

I’m such a hypocrite.

Also, I need caffeine.

Ten minutes later I’m sipping from a mug of coffee, but Liam’s is cooling on the countertop. The man has his hands full right now as he puts pancakes on the griddle with “help” from my daughters.

“How about a few of these?” he asks, holding up a bag of chocolate chips. Meanwhile, Kate waves the spatula around like a ninja. “A guy needs to make smiley faces in his pancakes sometimes.”

Good. Lord. It’s a miracle I’m not just a puddle of my former self right now. This is some serious mommy porn I’m watching. Shirtless guy feeds toddlers before eight a.m. I walk over to the high cabinet where I keep the ramekins. “We could make smiley faces with dried organic currants,” I say, just to be a pain in the ass.

Liam makes a face of disgust as I take the chocolate chips from his hand and pour some into a ramekin. “Joking! Here.”

He gives me a big, hot smile. Okay, it probably wasn’t meant to be hot, but I feel flutters down below.

“Choc-it!” Kate yells, grabbing for the ramekin.

“Easy,” Liam says with a laugh. “That’s for my artwork. Come here and I’ll show you.”

I set the table and pour the sippy cups of milk. And Liam manages to serve up two smiley pancakes—one for each girl—at exactly the same moment, in exactly the same size. This is a man who knows his way around toddlers.

“Not cut it!” Amy yells when I approach her plate with a knife. She picks up the pancake in two hands and takes a bite right out of the side of its face.

“Okay, right.” I back away. Forks are optional today, then. No big deal.

Liam takes advantage of this moment of quiet to quickly pour six more pancakes onto the griddle. He leans over his work, dotting them with chocolate chips.

I step closer to him and put a hand on his lower back. “Thank you,” I whisper.

“For trashing your kitchen?”

“No.” He glances at me and I give him a shy smile. “For being so amazing all the time.”

His eyes get very warm, and I just want to stay right here in that blue-eyed gaze as long as I can. “This might be a good time to confess that I didn’t make smiley faces on my own pancakes.”

“No?” I look down at the griddle. Side by side, two of them have a different design—little bullseyes in their centers. “Those are…?”

“Boobs,” he whispers. “My inner fourteen-year-old has a dirty mind. He can’t shut it off sometimes.”

“Drink your coffee,” I whisper, handing him the mug. “Sit down. Let me finish these for you. Or go put on a shirt because my inner fourteen-year-old has her tongue hanging out all the time, too.”

He gives me a wicked, wicked smile and then runs upstairs to find his shirt.

 

review

I am so in love with Boy Toy! The very definition of a feel good read, I was either laughing or grinning ear to ear as I devoured this book. It’s so witty, hilarious, sexy and heartwarming. And don’t even get me started on how romantic and swoony it is.

Sadie is a newly single mom to twin girls. When she decides to go back to work, she enrolls the toddlers into a daycare. There she meets their teacher, Liam, who is looking VERY different from the last time she saw him. She had been his babysitter, and she had been his teenage dream. And while Liam is now very much a man, he still has that crush on Sadie.

Sigh. I can’t say enough good things about Liam. I wish I could reach my hands into my kindle screen and pull him into real life. He is charming, caring, and has a heart of gold. There are some serious ovaries exploding cuteness scenes with Liam and Sadie’s little girls.

Sadie and Liam have the kind of chemistry and connection that makes you forget they are only characters, and not real live people. Their friendship/relationship is pure perfection filled with some not so perfect moments. I don’t just mean the ups and downs of a relationship, I mean the deliciously awkward, second hand embarrassing moments. The kind that make you laugh so hard, all the while being thankful it isn’t happening to you.

If you are on the fence about a single parent plot, let me tell you this book was nothing like other books with a similar plot. It was romantic comedy gold.

This is the third book in the Man Hands series, but can be read as a standalone. Characters from the two previous books are mentions, but you absolutely do not need to read them in order to fully enjoy Boy Toy.

 

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Blog Tour: Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas

Birthday-Girl-EBOOK

Title: Birthday Girl

Author: Penelope Douglas

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: April 17, 2018

My Rating: 5+++ Stars

Add on Goodreads!

Check out the Birthday Girl pinterest board!

Find on Amazon! (FREE on Kindle Unlimited!)

 

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JORDAN

He took me in when I had nowhere else to go.

He doesn’t use me, hurt me, or forget about me. He doesn’t treat me like I’m nothing, take me for granted, or make me feel unsafe.

He remembers me, laughs with me, and looks at me. He listens to me, protects me, and sees me. I can feel his eyes on me over the breakfast table, and my heart pumps so hard when I hear him pull in the driveway after work.

I have to stop this. It can’t happen.

My sister once told me there are no good men, and if you find one, he’s probably unavailable.

Only Pike Lawson isn’t the unavailable one.

I am.

 

PIKE

I took her in, because I thought I was helping.

She’d cook a few meals and clean up a little. It was an easy arrangement.

As the days go by, though, it’s becoming anything but easy. I have to stop my mind from drifting to her and stop holding my breath every time I bump into her in the house. I can’t touch her, and I shouldn’t want to.

The more I find my path crossing hers, though, the more she’s becoming a part of me.

But we’re not free to give into this. She’s nineteen, and I’m thirty-eight.

And her boyfriend’s father.

Unfortunately, they both just moved into my house.

 

*BIRTHDAY GIRL is a stand-alone, contemporary romance suitable for ages 18+.

 

 

excerpt

Pike and his son’s girlfriend are in the kitchen, chopping watermelon as a party rages by the pool outside.

 

PIKE

 

The remnants of the party run around the back yard, some kid catching a squealing girl who’s half-naked, and I drop my eyes again, feeling fucking stupid like this isn’t my house, and I’m some seventy-year-old pervert spying on teens gone wild running around my own damn yard.

I see Jordan glance through the window in front of us and then quickly to me, probably gauging my annoyance. There are topless women in my backyard, after all, and I freaked out over her wet T-shirt mowing the lawn the other day.

But instead, I resort to sarcasm this time. “Do you think Cramer next door is enjoying the view?”

She snorts, faltering in her chopping, and follows it with a laugh.

After a moment, though, I hear her taunting voice. “Are you?” she replies.

I widen my eyes a little, surprised, and look down at her. She casts me a cocky little smirk.

“You’re still young,” she points out, joking with me. “Still look energetic. Why don’t you go out more?”

Who says I don’t go out? My bar-hopping days are over, but I had friends over tonight, too. Granted that’s not ‘going out’, but I’m not a hermit.

“You’re not gay, are you?”

I shoot her a look. Excuse me? Didn’t we talk about my dating habits the other night?

But she shakes her head right away, clearing it. “Yeah, never mind. Didn’t think so.”

Jesus.

Granted, I don’t have as much of a social life as I could. I know that. I’m not even forty yet, and my downtime resembles my grandfather’s retirement.

I pause a moment, searching for the easiest words to explain it to her. “I like my boring life,” I tell her, my voice kind of sounding like an apology. “Most women don’t.”

“Maybe girls don’t,” she replies, a light humor in her voice that I appreciate. “I find you far from boring. You should go out more. There’s a shortage of men in this town. Too many boys.”

I smile to myself. She sees me as a man, not just someone’s father. I shouldn’t like that as much as I do.

And yes, there may be lots of boys, but there are also lots of women, and none of them are for me. Believe me, if my future wife lived in this town, I would’ve found her by now.

She slices one of her sections in half and turns it sideways to cut triangles in twos. I follow suit.

Outside, a young woman with a long brown ponytail scurries across the pool deck, her orange bikini making her tanned skin look darker.

I jerk my chin. “Should I go after her?”

Jordan glances up at the girl outside the window and drops her eyes again, continuing to slice the fruit. “She’s too hot for you.”

“You think I can’t keep up?” I joke, cutting off two more triangles. “I’ve been around the block, you know?”

“Several times by your age, I’m sure. Need a nap yet?”

Why, you little—

I slice through the fruit, and the knife comes down, its point jabbing me right on the inside of my middle finger on my left hand.

“Shit!” I drop the knife and bring my hand up, the ache sinking down to the bone. I suck in air through my teeth. Dammit.

“Oh,” Jordan gasps and drops her knife, too, wiping off her hands. “I’m sorry.” She offers a regretful little laugh. “Here, come here.”

I suck the blood off my finger, barely taking notice that she’s pushed me down onto a bar stool at the island as she retrieves bandages from the cabinet.

Did I put those there? I didn’t put those there.

Rushing over to me, she peels a package open, and I see it’s a wet wipe, probably “anti-bacterial” something or other.

“I can do it.” I hold out my hand.

But she moves in anyway, inspecting the pea-size drop of blood balling on my finger again. “I know,” she says, “I just feel bad. I didn’t mean to piss you off and distract you. I was just teasing.”

I hiss as whatever’s on the wipe hits my open wound. “You didn’t piss me off,” I tell her, but it comes out as a growl. “Well, you did, I guess. You always do, but it’s in a good way.”

“In a good way?” Her brows furrow.

Yeah, like, you know, fun. You’re fun. And kind of funny. And pretty interesting. I don’t know how she makes my temper rise so quickly, and over stupid, petty shit, and I can’t explain why, but I like it.

I don’t know how to tell her that, though. It sounds weird.

When I don’t answer the question, she continues, her voice quiet and serious. “You know,” she says, not looking at me. “If you are interested in her, I can bring her around more. If you want.”

The girl in the orange bikini?

“Bring her around?”

She nods, wiping my finger still. “A sleepover or something maybe? You won’t have to make a move. She’ll jump you.”

She won’t look at me, but I stare down at her nevertheless. She wants to get me laid?

I feel a warm, light sweat cover my spine as I become aware of the heat of her body standing between my legs. I watch as she blows hair out of her face only for it to fall back into the same spot again.

Orange Bikini isn’t the one I want jumping me.

Absently, I reach up and brush the hair out of her eye, grazing her forehead as I tuck it behind her ear for her. Her gaze rises, meeting mine as I let my hand fall down the strands of her smooth hair, and my heart skips a beat as we both stand there, locked.

I can almost feel her face in my hands. The urge is so strong to know what it’s like to hold just a part of her.

Jesus Christ. I drop my hand, looking down at the small wound on my middle finger.

“So do you want me to?” she broaches quietly, almost like she’s afraid of what I’m about to say.

I shake my head. “No,” I finally tell her. “She’s not bad, but she’s not what I like.”

She unwraps a Band-Aid and fastens it to my finger, slowing smoothening over the bandage again and again.

My fingers tingle where she holds them, and I watch her face, her focus still not leaving my hand.

And then suddenly, she nearly whispers, “Well, what do you like?”

I watch as she licks her lips, her breathing shallow, and there’s a jolt to my cock, making me feel damn near ready to tear something apart with my teeth.

What is she doing to me?

 

Teaser-1

 

 

ATAs

Penelope Douglas is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Her books have been translated into thirteen languages and include The Fall Away Series, The Devil’s Night Series, and the standalones, Misconduct, Punk 57, and now Birthday Girl. Please look for Kill Switch (Devil’s Night #3), coming later this year, and the standalone, Motel, coming in 2019.

She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and their daughter.

Find Penelope:

Blog | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads

 

 

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Excerpt Reveal: Only You by Melanie Harlow

MHOnlyYouBookCover5x8_MEDIUM

Title: Only You

Author: Melanie Harlow

Genre: contemporary Romance

Release Date: March 12th, 2018

Pre-Order on iBooks

Add on Goodreads

 

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Nate Pearson is ridiculously handsome and wears the hell out of a suit and tie, but I’ve seen the parade of beautiful women leaving his apartment across the hall—a different one every time—and I want no part of it. When it comes to romance, I’m looking for something real, something that will last: the happily ever after.

As a divorce attorney, he loves to tell me there’s no such thing.

As a wedding planner, I choose to disagree.

We disagree on almost everything, in fact. Everything except James Bond. The only time we really get along is when we’re watching 007 flicks together, and I’ll admit—he has rescued me from a disaster or five. So when one of the baton twirlers from his parade leaves a baby girl at his door with a note that says “I’ll come back for her” and he begs me for help, I can’t turn him down.

But it’s a mistake.

Because watching him with his daughter, I start to see another side of Nate, a side that has my breath coming faster, my body craving his, my heart longing for him to change his mind about love and tell me there’s a chance for us.

I don’t want to be just another girl leaving his apartment in the morning.

I want to be the one he asks to stay.

 

excerpt

“You know, even an alpha male can have feelings occasionally.”

“Oh?”

She crossed her arms and leaned back against the counter, giving me the evil eye. “Yes. He doesn’t have to be hard as granite all the way through, all the time.”

Don’t think about being hard. Don’t think about being hard. Don’t think about being hard. I leaned back against the opposite counter and sort of held my glass in front of my crotch. “Why are you even concerned with alpha males? You’re never attracted to them.”

“What? Yes, I am!”

“No, you’re not.” I knew her type well. “You’re always saying how you don’t want to be rescued, you want someone willing to show affection and talk about feelings, you don’t like arrogant or competitive guys or guys who always have to win, you like guys who get along with everyone—”

“What’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing. But that’s not an alpha male.”

She chewed her bottom lip. “But look at Bond. Who is he so worried about protecting? Why is he so driven to kill the bad guys? There must be people he cares about more than himself to put himself in harm’s way so often.”

“Maybe he just likes the thrill of the chase.”

“Maybe he’s more selfless than you think.”

“In this case, I think we’re going to have to disagree.”

She sighed heavily, and I knew I had disappointed her by ending the argument in a draw instead of winning or losing it. Any other night, I might have kept it going, but there was something odd going on with me, something that had me wanting to close the distance between us, set her up on the counter, slip my hands beneath that fuzzy white sweater she had on, see what her legs felt like wrapped around my hips. But I knew better.

Get her out of here before you do something stupid.

“Hey, you got fortune cookies? I didn’t see those.” She reached for the little cellophane bag.

“I forgot about them.”

“Can I have one?”

“You can have them both.”

She took one out and cracked it open. “A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not why ships are built.”

“Very deep.”

She ignored me and went on to the next one. “You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens.” Her lips pursed. “Hm. I don’t want a dangerous ship or a broken heart.”

I laughed at the anguish in her tone and expression.

“It’s not funny,” she said, shoving pieces of cookie in her mouth. “It means I’m doomed to be unhappy. And then I’m going to die in a shipwreck.”

“It means you take things way too seriously.” I tipped back the last of the bourbon in my glass, and set it in the sink. “Well, I’ve got an early morning at the gym tomorrow.”

She popped the rest of one cookie in her mouth and brushed off her hands. “I’m going. What time is it anyway?”

I checked the digital clock on the microwave. “It’s 11:11.”

Her face lit up. “Ooh! Make a wish!”

“What?”

“It’s 11:11, you have to make a wish.” She closed her eyes for a couple seconds, her lips moving as if saying a silent prayer. Then she opened them. “Did you do it?”

I laughed. “No.”

“Nate! Hurry up! Make a wish.” She glanced at the clock and flapped her hands agitatedly.

“I don’t have a wish to make.”

“So make one for me, then. And do it fast, before it’s 11:12.”

This time it was my turn to roll my eyes, but secretly I wished that the next guy she fell in love with would love her back the way she deserved, and she’d be happy. But I didn’t close my eyes, and I didn’t move my lips, so she had no idea whether I’d made a wish or not.

“Did you do it?” She looked concerned.

“Yes.”

“For me?”

“Yes.”

Her mouth fell open for a second. “What was it? What did you wish for me?”

I started to laugh as I left the kitchen. “Nice try, Calamity. Even I know you don’t tell a wish if you want it to come true.” The credits were still rolling on the television, and I picked up the remote to turn everything off.

“Oh, now you believe in wishes?” She sat down on the couch and tugged on her fluffy boots.

No, I wanted to tell her. I don’t, because I learned a long time ago that wishes and prayers and hopes don’t mean anything. No one is listening. But I didn’t tell her that, not only because she was looking up at me with my favorite expression of hers, the one daring me to fight back, but because at that very moment, I heard a noise in the hall.

A strange and oddly terrifying noise.

I looked over my shoulder toward the door, thinking I must have imagined the sound.

Then I heard it again—the unmistakable, ball-shrinking, cringe-inducing sound of a baby’s wail.

Cover Reveal + Excerpt: Studly Period by Sarina Bowen

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She’s a brilliant writing tutor. Too bad she’s tongue-tied every time he sits down in front of her…

There are 1016 people in the freshman class at Harkness College. I can’t be the only socially awkward nerd girl virgin among them. Right?

It’s time I learn to talk to guys without blushing and stammering. So I take a confidence-building job at the student tutoring center. Twelve bucks an hour, plus human interaction. What could go wrong?

A fun-loving French Canadian hockey hunk, that’s what.

When Pepe St. George sits down at my tutoring table, my brain shuts off and my mouth goes right into hyperdrive. Even the sound of my name on his lips—Josephine—gives me a mini orgasm.

I want to hand him my V-card. But all I manage to hand him is…my thesaurus. And my dignity. All seems lost, until I hatch a plan to get him alone…

 

 

excerpt

“Bonjour.” The deep voice—from right above me—startles me so badly that I jump. My phone goes clattering to the desktop as I whip my chin upward to see whomever snuck up on me.

Désolé!” he says. “I should come back later?”

“No,” I say, fumbling my phone back into my bag. “Please sit down.”

My heart is banging against my ribs, and not only because he startled me. If possible, I’m even more awkward with men than with women. It’s worse if they’re attractive.

And this guy? Very attractive. Wow. He has a wide, handsome face and coal-dark eyes ringed by impressively thick lashes, and a broad face. Broad shoulders.

Broad everything. Wow. He must eat a lot of protein. And now I’m staring as he arranges himself in the chair opposite me and draws out a folder. He’s really handsome. One of the BPs, for sure.

I can’t stop staring. There’s something rugged about him that’s hard to describe. There’s color in his cheeks—at least the part that’s not covered with dark scruff. And his biceps bulge from the sleeves of his T-shirt. He reminds me of a superhero going incognito, concealing his identity among the ordinary college students.

Though the muscles can probably be explained by the logo on his T-shirt—Harkness Hockey.

It’s always the jocks who need tutoring. I swear. Nadia I have a disagreement about this. She says that jocks are used to coaching, and thus accept tutoring help more readily than the general population.

“I think they’re just not as smart,” I always tell her.

She just shakes her head. “You say that, but you’re still intimidated by them. So which is it?”

Indeed.

“How can I help you,” I whisper up at this handsome giant.

He frowns, and then folds massive hands onto the desk between us. “Excusez-moi?”

People always tell me my voice is soft. That I’m hard to hear. He must agree, because he leans forward, those big, dark eyes blinking in close proximity. It doesn’t help the knee-knocking, teeth-rattling nerves that overtake me whenever a beautiful man looks at me.

Get a grip, Josie. “How can I help you today,” I ask carefully.

Bon. I have the paper due for English. And my English is not so excellent. So I hope you will help me find all the places I fuck it up. I bring it…” He opens a folder and rifles through some papers.

For a long moment I just blink at him. “Your English…” Did he just say that he didn’t speak the language?

“When I come to Harkness last year? I don’t speak much English at all,” he says, dropping a rough draft of an essay on the table between us. “Please help me find zhe places where I fuck up the grammar.”

His honesty has stunned me. The Harkness students I’ve met so far would never admit to any kind of weakness. In fact, they tell me that most students wait until their grades are in jeopardy to find the tutoring center at all.

And I don’t blame them. Struggling? That’s shameful. Harkness is a top-notch school where everyone worships at the alter of intellectual exceptionalism. With an admissions rate that hovered around nine percent, having a big brain is the only way to get in.

Or at least I thought it was. Every year, something like a thousand valedictorians get rejections from Harkness. Who would dream of implying that he isn’t as qualified as the next student?

This guy.

 

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