Touch of Red by Laura Griffin #Excerpt #Giveaway

Touch of Red by Laura Griffin #Excerpt #GiveawayTouch of Red on October 31st 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
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When crime scene investigator Brooke Porter arrives at the home of a murdered woman, the only thing more shocking than the carnage is the evidence that someone escaped the scene. But where is this witness now? A thorough search of the area yields more questions than answers, and before Brooke even packs up her evidence kit, she’s made it her goal to find the witness and get them out of harm’s way.

Homicide detective Sean Byrne has seen his share of bloody crime scenes, but this one is particularly disturbing, especially because Brooke Porter is smack in the middle of it. Sean has had his eye on the sexy CSI for months, and he’s determined to help her with her current case—even if it means putting his attraction on hold so he and Brooke can track down a murderer. But as the investigation—and their relationship—heats up, Sean realizes that keeping his work and his personal life separate is more complicated than he ever imagined; especially when the killer sets his sights on Brooke.

Excerpt

Chapter One

It was like any other Wednesday night. Until it wasn’t.

Samantha Bonner had just finished sweeping up. She’d emptied the dustpan and sanitized the sink and wiped down the pastry case. The burnt smell of coffee beans hung thick in the air, overpowering the vinegar solution she’d run through the machines. But it was quiet. She stood for a moment and let the silence surround her, relieved to be free of the acoustic guitar music that had been looping through her head all day.

Sam grabbed her purse and locked up. Crossing the rain-slicked parking lot to her car, she darted a look into all the dark corners. It was a safe neighborhood, but you never knew.

She pulled out of the lot, relieved to be heading home after pulling a double shift. Raindrops pitter-patted on her windshield as she made her way through downtown. She switched the wipers to low, and her phone lit up with an incoming call. Amy.

Sam stared down at the phone a moment. Then she put the call on speaker.

“Sam? Can you talk?”

“What’s up?”

Amy sounded undone. More than usual.

“It’s Jared. He wants to move back in.”

“He called you?” Sam asked.

“He came by to drop off Aiden. I didn’t let him in or anything.”

Sam didn’t respond as she pulled up to a stoplight. In most areas, Amy wasn’t a pushover. But her two-year-old boy missed his daddy, and his daddy knew it. He used the kid as leverage.

“I know what you’re thinking,” Amy said now. “And I just want to talk through it, figure out what I’m going to tell him. Can you come over for a bit? I can make us some coffee.”

The mere thought of coffee made her want to retch.

“Sure,” she said anyway. Amy was sniffling now, and Sam didn’t have the heart to say no.

“Or we could talk on the phone,” Amy said. “You’re probably busy. Tonight’s your night off, isn’t it?”

“No, I closed up tonight.”

Sam slowed for a bend in the road. Stately oak trees and manicured lawns soon gave way to weeds and chain-link fences. Then came the railroad tracks. White-collar to blue in less than a mile. The people in Sam’s neighborhood commuted to work at all hours and didn’t stop for lattes on the way.

“I’ll be over in a little,” Sam said, turning onto her street. “Give me twenty minutes.”

“Are you sure?” Another sniffle.

“I’m sure.”

She pulled into her driveway and rolled to a stop in the glow of her back porch light.

“Thanks, Sam. I mean it. I just need to hash this out. I mean, what if he’s legit this time? I owe it to Aiden to at least think about it.”

Sam kept her skepticism to herself. For now. She slid from her car and noticed the white bike propped against her back deck as she walked up the driveway.

“Sam? You there?”

“I’m here.”

She mounted the steps, and spotted a blur of movement. Pain exploded at the base of her skull.

Sam dropped to her knees and pitched forward. A big arm wrapped around her neck, hauling her back. The smell of tobacco registered in her brain, filling her with bone-deep fear as the arm clamped around her windpipe.

“Sam?” Amy’s voice was far away.

Pain roared through Sam’s skull. She struggled to move, to breathe. A glove-covered hand tipped her head back, exposing her neck.

No.

Sam clawed at the arm, trying desperately to buck, to kick, to scream for help. No, no, no! From the corner of her eye she spied her phone on the ground. She tried to call out but the cries died in her throat.

“Sam, are you there?”

Fear became panic as she saw the glint of a blade.

“Samantha?”

##

Brooke Porter beat the detectives, which surprised her. But then again, she’d made good time. When the message had come in coded 911, she’d dropped what she was doing and rushed straight over.

She parked beside a police unit and grabbed her evidence kit from the trunk as she surveyed the location. It was a small bungalow, like every other house on the block. In contrast to its neighbors, this particular home had a fresh coat of paint and looked to be in decent repair. Potted chrysanthemums lined the front stoop where a uniformed officer stood taking shelter from the cold October drizzle.

Brooke darted up the sidewalk and ducked under the overhang. The officer was big. Huge. Brooke had met him before, but for the life of her, she couldn’t remember his name.

“Jasper Miller,” he provided, handing her a clipboard. “Your photographer just got here.”

So, he knew she was with the Delphi Center. The San Marcos Police Department typically called Brooke’s lab in to help with their big cases.

Brooke scribbled her name into the scene log. “You the first responder?”

“Yes, ma’am.” He nodded at the driveway. “Victim’s around back. Looks like she was coming home from someplace, and he surprised her at the door.”

Brooke eyed the little white Kia parked in the driveway. She wanted to see things for herself and draw her own conclusions.

“Medical examiner’s people got here about five minutes ago,” Jasper added.

“And the detectives?”

“On their way.”

She handed back the clipboard. “Thanks.”

Brooke picked her way across the stepping stones in the grass, trying not to mar anything useful—although the rain had already done a pretty good job of that. A blue Delphi Center tent had been erected at the top of the driveway beside the covered back porch, and several uniforms stood under the cover.

Brooke’s stomach tightened with dread as she lifted the scene tape and walked up the drive. She noted the chain-link fence, the thick shrubbery, the trash cans tucked against the side of the house. Plenty of places for someone to hide.

A camera flashed as she reached the tent. The Delphi Center photographer had already set up lights and started documenting the scene. Brooke unloaded some supplies from her kit. She zipped into coveralls and pulled booties over her shoes, then tugged on thick purple gloves as the uniforms looked on silently.

Beat cops thought she was an oddity. She showed up at death scenes with her tweezers and her flashlights and her big orange goggles. She plucked bits of evidence from obscure places and then scuttled back to the lab to do her thing… whatever that was.

The detectives got her. Well, maybe not totally. But they’d at least learned to appreciate what she could do for them. Which ones had been assigned to this case? And where the hell were they?

Brooke pulled her long dark hair into a ponytail. She picked up her evidence kit and sucked in a deep breath to brace herself before turning around to take her first look.

Blood was everywhere.

“Holy God,” she murmured, easing closer.

A woman lay crumpled at the back door, her neck slashed open. Her hair, her clothes, even the wooden decking beneath her was saturated. Dark rivulets had dripped down the stairs and were now coagulating in little pools on the lower slats.

“Watch your step.”

She glanced up at the ME’s assistant crouched beside the body. He was reading a thermometer and making notes on a pad.

“It’s slippery,” he added.

Brooked walked up the stairs and eased around him, taking care not to step in any puddles. Maddie Callahan stood beside the door, photographing a scarlet arc against the white siding.

Arterial spray.

She lowered her camera and glanced at Brooke. “The detectives here?”

“Not yet.”

The breeze shifted, and Brooke got a whiff of blood, strong and metallic. She glanced again at the gaping wound and stepped back to grab the wooden railing.

Maddie looked at her. “You okay?”

“Yeah.”

Brooke should be immune to this stuff by now. But that <em>neck</em>.

She steadied herself and looked around. A set of blood-spattered car keys lay near the victim’s hand. Brooke glanced at the woman’s face, partially visible beneath blond, blood-matted hair. Brooke didn’t see a weapon near the body. And any trails the killer might have left as he’d fled the scene had likely been obscured by rain at this point. The back door stood ajar. Had he fled through the house?

She turned to the ME’s assistant. “Was this door open like this when you arrived?”

He glanced up, looking annoyed. “Yes. We haven’t been inside.”

Brooke turned to the victim again. Her head lolled weirdly to the side, and flies were already hovering, despite the cool temperature. Brooke stepped past the ME’s assistant and slipped into the house.

She found herself in a dark utility room that smelled of fabric softener. The room was small but clean, without so much as a scrap of laundry on the floor. She switched on her flashlight and swept it around. No footprints.

She stepped into the kitchen, maneuvering around an open pantry door.

“Was this open, too?” she asked Maddie.

“That’s right. And I haven’t shot the kitchen yet, so don’t move anything.”

Brooke stood still, giving herself a few moments to absorb the scene. She always tried to put herself in the perpetrator’s shoes. Had he been in here? If so, what had he touched?

The kitchen was dim except for a light above the sink. Using the end of her flashlight, Brooke flipped a switch beside the door, and an overhead fixture came on.

No dirty dishes on the counter or food sitting out. Eighties-era appliances. A drying rack beside the sink contained a glass, a plate, and a fork. On the counter beside a microwave was a loose key and a stack of mail. She stepped over to read the name on the top envelope. Samantha Bonner.

Brooke zeroed in on the key. It was bronze. Shiny.

In the breakfast nook, a small wooden table was pushed up against a window. A brown bottle of root beer sat on the table unopened. Just below room temperature, judging from the condensation.

Brooke returned her attention to the pantry. Soup, soup, and more soup, all Campbell’s brand, and she felt like she was looking at an Andy Warhol painting. Chicken. Tomato. Cream of mushroom. The shelf above the soup was stocked with paper goods. The bottom shelf was filled with healthy cereals and gluten-free crackers and a package of those pink and white animal cookies with the colored sprinkles.

“Brooke?”

“Yeah?” She leaned her head out to look at Maddie.

“Just finished shooting the door if you want it.”

“I definitely want it,” she said, moving back into the utility room. She put on her orange goggles and switched her flashlight to ultraviolet, searching the floor for any fluids that might not be visible to the naked eye.

Nothing.

She examined the knob a moment, and then selected a powder from her kit. On the porch outside, the ME’s assistant was busy covering the victim’s hands with paper bags for transport back to the morgue.

Brooke glanced back at the kitchen, her attention drawn to the key again. It looked like a house key, and she wanted to know if it fit this door. But she couldn’t move anything until Maddie finished her photos.

Brooke opened the jar of powder and tapped some into a plastic tray. Using her softest brush, she loaded the bristles and then gently dusted the knob. She worked slowly, methodically. When she finished dusting, she cast her light over the fluorescent powder and was pleased to see a pristine thumbprint on the side of the knob.

“Maddie, can you get this for me?”

“Sure.”

Maddie stepped over and photographed the knob from several angles. When she finished, she moved into the kitchen with her camera.

Brooked took out a strip of clear polyethylene tape and carefully lifted the thumbprint off the curved surface, taking care not to smudge it. She picked out a black card for contrast and gently placed the tape against the card.

One lift done, probably a hundred to go. She closed her eyes a moment and inhaled deeply. When she got laser-focused she sometimes forgot to breathe.

Brooke heard the detectives before she saw them–two low male voices at the front of the house exchanging clipped police jargon.

Sean Byrne and Ric Santos. She’d know them anywhere.

Brooke labeled the card and tucked it into her evidence kit. So, Sean and Ric on this one. They were experienced and observant. Sean noticed everything she did, even if he seemed to be interviewing witnesses or talking to other cops. He observed where she spent her time and how, and if she lingered in a particular spot, he always asked about it later.

Brooke noticed him, too. With his athletic build and sly smile, it was hard not to. But mostly she noticed his attitude. He had an easygoing confidence she found attractive. Nothing ever seemed to rattle him.

Of course, being a cop, he also had an ego.

The voices grew louder as the detectives stepped into the kitchen. Brooke didn’t look up, but she felt a jolt of awareness as Sean’s gaze landed on her.

##

Sean watched Brooke for a moment and then turned to Jasper.

“You say the neighbor found her?”

“That’s right,” the officer said. “Lady let her dog out, and he started barking like crazy, so she went outside to see what was going on and spotted the victim in a pool of blood there on the porch. Name’s Samantha Bonner. She works at a coffee shop.”

Sean raked his hand through his damp hair, scattering water on the floor. “Married? Kids?”

Jasper shook his head. “Neighbor says she lives alone.”

Sean unzipped his SMPD windbreaker and glanced at Brooke again. She was on her knees by the back door, lifting fingerprints. Just beyond her was the victim, and the ME’s people were already unzipping the body bag.

Damn.

Sean was accustomed to seeing Brooke surrounded by blood and gore, but this was bad. He studied the victim, noting the position of the body, the clothing.

Brooke closed her evidence kit and got to her feet as Sean stepped over.

“Hey.”

“Hi,” she said, looking him up and down. “Where were you guys?”

“Got stuck behind an accident near the tracks. Tow truck’s blocking the road, so we had to hoof it.”

“Don’t drip water all over my crime scene.”

Sean smiled. “Yours?”

“That’s right.”

For a moment they just looked at each other, and Sean tried to read her expression. She seemed grimmer than usual.

“Detective? Can we bag her?”

Brooke shot a blistering look at the ME’s assistant, clearly not liking his glib tone.

Sean stepped into the utility room to take a look at the back porch. The whole area was a bloodbath.

“Jesus,” Ric said, coming up beside him. “You get all this, Maddie?”

“Yes, I’m finished with the porch,” the photographer called from the kitchen.

The ME’s guy looked at Sean again. “Detective?”

“Yeah, go ahead.”

Sean turned around. Brooke was watching the scene now, clutching her evidence kit so tightly her knuckles were white. He motioned for her to follow him into the living room.

Brooke was short and slender, with pale skin and a plump pink mouth he’d always wondered about. As she looked up at him he noticed the worry line between her brows.

“What’s wrong?”

Her eyebrows shot up. “You mean besides the fact that this woman was practically decapitated on her doorstep?”

“Yes.”

She took a deep breath and glanced around. “This crime scene bugs me.”

“Why?”

“Look at it. See for yourself.”

Without another word, she stepped around him and went back into the kitchen to crouch beside the pantry door.

Sean pulled some latex gloves from his pocket and tugged them on as he surveyed the kitchen. It was clean and uncluttered, except for a stack of mail on the counter beside a key. He studied the key for a moment, but resisted the urge to pick it up.

He opened the fridge. Yogurt, salad kit, pomegranate juice. On the lower shelf was a six-pack of root beer with a bottle missing from the carton. A bottle sat on the breakfast table—unopened—and Maddie was snapping a picture of it now.

Sean glanced through the open back door as the ME’s people started loading the body bag onto a gurney. The victim’s clothes had been intact, and she’d shown no obvious sign of sexual assault. At first glance, it looked like the killer had grabbed her from behind and slit her throat. Given the lack of blood inside, Sean figured the attacker had fled down the driveway to the street or maybe hopped the back fence.

Ric stepped into the kitchen again. “Her purse is on the back porch. Wallet’s inside, but no cell phone.”

“You check the car?” Sean asked.

“Not yet. Let’s walk through the house first.”

“Don’t move anything,” Maddie said. “I haven’t been back there yet.”

Sean led the way. It was a simple layout, with rooms off a central hallway. The bathroom smelled like ammonia. Sean switched on the light.

“House is squeaky clean,” Ric observed.

“Yep.”

The pedestal sink gleamed. Sean opened the medicine cabinet. Toothpaste, cough drops, tampons. Ric eased back the shower curtain to reveal a shiny tub with several bottles of hair products lined up on the side.

They moved on to the bedroom, where they found a neatly made queen bed with a light blue comforter. No decorative pillows, just two in pink pillowcases that matched the sheets.

“Not a lot of pillows,” Sean said.

“What’s that?”

“Pillows. Most women put a lot on the bed, don’t they?”

“I don’t know,” Ric said. “My wife does.”

Sean studied the room. It smelled like vanilla. On the dresser were several plastic trays of makeup and one of those bottles of liquid air freshener with the sticks poking up. Sean spied a sticky note attached to the mirror and leaned closer to read the feminine handwriting: <em>One day, one breath.</em>

Was it a poem? A song lyric? Maybe Samantha’s own words?

The closet door was ajar, and Sean nudged it open. Six pairs of jeans, all on hangers. A couple dozen T-shirts, also hanging.

Ric whistled. “Damn. You know anyone who arranges their T-shirts by color?”

“Nope.”

Sean looked around the bedroom again. “Pretty basic,” he said. “Not a lot here.”

He walked back through the house, noting a conspicuous absence of anything that would indicate a male presence. No razors on the sink or man-size shoes kicking around. No beer in the fridge. The living room was simply furnished with a sofa, a coffee table, and a smallish flat-screen TV.

“Looks to me like she lives alone,” Ric said, turning to Jasper. “You say she works at a restaurant?”

“Coffee shop, according to the neighbor lady.” Jasper took out a spiral pad and consulted his notes. “The one over on Elm Street.”

“I’ve never been in there.” Ric looked at Sean. “You?”

“Nope.”

Sean glanced around the living room, which was devoid of clutter. Maybe the victim didn’t have a lot of money for extras, but even so, most women tended to decorate their homes more than this. Sean hadn’t spotted a single framed photo in the entire place.

The strobe of a camera flash drew his attention into the kitchen again. Brooke was right. This scene seemed odd. Sean had worked a lot of homicides over the years, and most boiled down to money, drugs, or sex.

Sean had seen no sign of sexual assault. No drugs or drug paraphernalia or even alcohol. No hint of illegal activity. No evidence of a boyfriend.

A remote control sat on the coffee table. Sean had watched Brooke in action enough to know it would be one of the first items she collected to dust for prints.

“I don’t see any blood trails or signs of struggle inside,” Ric said. “Doesn’t feel like the assailant was in the house.”

“I’m not getting a read on motive.”

“I know.” Ric shook his head. “Doesn’t look like a rape or a robbery. No cash or drugs around.”

“We need her phone. I want to search her car and the surrounding area.”

“I’ll go check the car,” Ric said.

He exited the front, and Sean returned to the kitchen. Brooke wasn’t there. Maddie knelt in the pantry with her camera, and Sean noticed the pantry door was missing.

“What happened to the door?”

She glanced at him. “Brooke took it.”

“Took it where?”

“Back to the lab.”

Sean stared at her. “You mean she’s gone?”

“She needed to test something. She said it was urgent.”

“Yo, Sean, come here,” Ric called from outside.

Sean walked out the front, glancing at his watch. Why had Brooke left already? This scene would take hours to process and they were just getting started.

Ric was in the driveway near the Kia. Another Delphi CSI in gray coveralls was crouching beside the car.

Ric glanced up at Sean. “Jackpot.”

##

TOUCH OF RED, copyright 2017 by Laura Griffin

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Third Son’s a Charm by Shana Galen #Excerpt

Third Son’s a Charm by Shana Galen #ExcerptThird Son's a Charm Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on November 7th 2017
Pages: 416
Format: eBook
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Ewan Mostyn thinks a job as a duke’s daughter’s bodyguard will be easy—but Lady Lorraine has a few tricks up her sleeve that spark an undeniable passion

Fiercely loyal to his friends and comrades, Ewan Mostyn is the toughest in a group of younger sons of nobility who met as soldiers and are now trying desperately to settle back into peaceful Society. Ewan trusts his brawn more than his brains, but when he’s offered a job watching the Duke of Ridlington’s stubbornly independent daughter, he finds both are challenged.

Lady Lorraine wants none of her father’s high-handed ways, and she’ll do everything in her power to avoid her distressingly attractive bodyguard—until she lands herself in real trouble. Lorraine begins to see Ewan’s protectiveness in a new light, and she can only hope that her stoic guardian will do for her what he’s always done—fight for what he loves.

Excerpt

Lady Lorraine manages to sneak off to meet Francis, her would-be-lover in the garden. Ewan Mostyn tracks them down and interrupts Lady Lorraine trying to convince Francis to kiss her.


“Kiss me,” she said, looking up at Francis with adoring eyes the bastard did not deserve in the least. “I could wait forever if you would but kiss me.”

It was perhaps the silliest speech Ewan had ever heard. It was the sort of thing he expected one of Beaumont’s women to say, and yet despite the melodrama of the sentiment, at that moment Ewan hated Francis more than he ever had when his cousin had been his daily tormentor.

His loathing was so strong and so incomprehensible that Ewan regained control of his body and stepped out from behind the topiary.

Francis saw him first, and he stiffened and stepped back, putting a respectable distance between himself and Lady Lorraine. His expression was wary and, to Ewan’s satisfaction, frightened. The lady spun around as well, but her face showed no fear, only annoyance. She gave a long sigh. “Mr. Mostyn, I believe you know your cousin, Mr. Mostyn.”

“Ewan.” Francis looked him up and down. “We seem to keep meeting. Run along now. Lady Lorraine and I were having a private word.”

Ewan held out his hand to Lady Lorraine. “Come.”

“I see your vocabulary remains much the same,” Francis remarked. “As I’m certain you will use your simple grunts and growls to inform His Grace about this meeting, be sure to mention that I did nothing improper.”

“More’s the pity,” Lady Lorraine muttered. “At least the lecture and scolding would have been worth it.”

Ewan had the urge to laugh. Instead, he beckoned her with his outstretched hand. She did not take it. “I am not a dog, Mr. Mostyn. You needn’t crook your finger at me.”

Francis bowed. “I see I am no longer needed. My lady, sleep well tonight. I will see you…soon.” With what Ewan perceived was to be a meaningful look, Francis marched in the direction of Carlton House.

Since the lady seemed to have such an objection to them, Ewan folded his arms across his chest. He waited for her to speak. He felt he should say something, but he was not certain what that something should be. He had supposed Francis to be taking advantage of the lady, while it appeared she was the one intent on ruination. Francis was no paragon of honor and virtue, and Ewan would have liked little more than to beat the man to a pulp. But he could not fault his cousin for the scene he’d witnessed tonight.

“You won’t tell my father, will you?” Lady Lorraine finally broke the silence.

Ewan let out a breath of surprised air—half laugh, half incredulity.

The lady grasped his forearm. “If you do, it will not only doom me, but it will reflect badly on you as well.”

Ewan inclined his head, acknowledging the point. He’d made mistakes before, and he always took his punishment like a man. He was not much of a gentleman, but he had retained enough of his upbringing to know that one did not lie or cheat to avoid trouble. One faced the consequences of his mistakes with head held high. “Then so be it.”

She gaped at him. “You do not even care? You will be dismissed.”

Ewan blew out a breath. He did care. He cared very much, much more than he wanted to admit to.

Her hand on his forearm tightened, and he looked down at her. The damned chit was shivering with cold. Ewan was impervious to all but the coldest temperatures, but she looked almost blue. “Very well. Tell him. Nothing happened anyway.”

“Not for your lack of trying. I should tell your father you don’t need a bodyguard. You need to be locked in a convent.”

Now her eyes narrowed, and she released his arm as though it were filth she could not bear to touch any longer. “So now I am to be censured by you?”

He frowned at her. “Why not me?”

“Are you married?”

The question took him off guard. Conversation with women generally had the effect of unsettling him. He could never predict where their maze-like minds might wander. Conversation with men began at point A and ended at point B. Women often meandered to C then R and back to L before coming to the point.

“It is a simple question, Mr. Mostyn. Are you married?”

He shook his head.

“I didn’t think so. Are you a virgin?”

Ewan gaped at her. The question was so wildly inappropriate that, in his opinion, she had abandoned the points of the alphabet all together.

She waved a hand. “Yes, I know I am not supposed to ask you that, but humor me. I am making a point. Just answer yes or no.”

He shook his head as he did not trust his voice at the moment.

“Of course you are not. And yet no one thinks anything of the fact that you have bedded a woman who is not your wife. If I had to guess, with those eyes and those shoulders and chest”—she looked him up and down, and he actually felt himself heat at her frank perusal—“I imagine you have bedded more than your share of women.”

Ewan’s head was spinning at the rapidity of her speech, but what he did understand was that she had just complimented him. She admired his body, and the thought of her eyes on him caused him to have to take a breath. His chest felt tight and he lifted his hand to loosen the goddamn cravat before he remembered where he was.

“Of course,” she went on, “it is seen as perfectly natural for a man to want to kiss a woman, touch her, undress her, take her to bed, and—”

Ewan cleared his throat, not only because the already inappropriate conversation had descended beyond the pale, but because her description of the intimacies between men and women made him think of doing those things with her. And now the woman had not only fired his blood but stirred his rod. If she continued in this vein, his state of growing arousal would be evident to both of them.

“My point,” she said—and thank God she was finally reaching it—“is that it is considered natural for men to want these things, but when a woman wants them, then we should be locked away.” She gestured wildly with her hand, losing hold of her wrap so it slid to the ground and trailed after her as she paced. “What is so wrong with wanting a man to kiss me?” She gave Ewan a direct look, challenging him to give her an answer.

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Seize Today by Pintip Dunn #Excerpt

Seize Today by Pintip Dunn #ExcerptSeize Today by Pintip Dunn
on October 3rd 2017
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Science Fiction, General, Dystopian, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: eBook
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Seventeen-year-old Olivia Dresden is a precognitive. Since different versions of people’s futures flicker before her eyes, she doesn’t have to believe in human decency. She can see the way for everyone to be their best self-if only they would make the right decisions. No one is more conflicted than her mother, and Olivia can only watch as Chairwoman Dresden chooses the dark, destructive course every time. Yet Olivia remains fiercely loyal to the woman her mother could be.
But when the chairwoman captures Ryder Russell, the striking and strong-willed boy from the rebel Underground, Olivia sees a vision of her own imminent death...at Ryder’s hand. Despite her bleak fate, she rescues Ryder and flees with him, drawing her mother’s fury and sparking a romance as doomed as Olivia herself. As the full extent of Chairwoman Dresden’s gruesome plan is revealed, Olivia must find the courage to live in the present-and stop her mother before she destroys the world.

Find the Author: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram

Excerpt

“Are you sifting through my possible pathways?” he asks, his voice husky.

I freeze. But if I’m a block of ice, his fingers do their job, tracing my lips again and again until I melt. “How…how do you know?”

“Your eyes,” he says. “They dilate when you’re reaching into the future. I’m starting to learn when you’re not here.”

I blink. Nobody’s ever told me that before.

“You…noticed?” I ask.

“I notice everything about you,” he says easily. “So, tell me. What did you see in our possible futures?” His voice is low and liquid, and it reaches inside me and caresses parts I didn’t know existed. “What did I do? More importantly, what did you like?”

Heat floods my face. “What, exactly, are we talking about?”

“I don’t know.” His eyes gleam wickedly. “What do you think we’re talking about?”

“Future pathways,” I snap. If I have to electro-whip my attention back on track, I’ll do it, damn the Fates. “I see everything from me slapping you to…” I trail off, and my cheeks flame even hotter. Oh my. I can’t possibly put into words the images flying through my head like a hailstorm.

“Now I’m really intrigued.” He moves his hand to my hair, tugging slightly. I feel the tension all the way to my toes. “Are you really not going to tell me? Because, you know, then I’ll have to guess.”

“I’m not going to tell you,” I whisper.

His lips curve in a mischievous grin that makes me want to tuck him in my pocket and keep him forever. And then, while I’m still reeling from his cuteness, he leans in.

I’m not ready. My mouth is partway open, and I’m in the middle of a breath. He kisses me anyway. I shut my mouth in a hurry. Lips, so soft. His back and shoulders, so hard. Holy Fates, that was his tongue. His tongue, slipping between my teeth. Sparks. So many sparks, igniting in the air around us.

“How’s this?” he whispers against my mouth. “Did you see this in our future?”

I nod helplessly.

He moves closer, scooping me up and shifting me on the mattress so that he can lie next to me. Our foreheads touch; so do our knees. “And this? Was this in some of our pathways?”

I nod again, but that doesn’t seem to satisfy him anymore. His eyes intent on mine, he catches my lower lip between his teeth. “Do you like it?”

Do I like it? What kind of question is that?

I’ve tasted every emotion in our world. I know the sorrow a mother feels when she clasps her deceased baby to her chest. I know the pride of a gold-star athlete when he stands on a podium and accepts North Amerie’s highest honor. I know the rage that silences the heart of a murderer as he cuts short another’s life.

I even know kisses—hot, frenzied, passionate, fumbling, sweet, aching, innocent kisses. I’ve seen them all in other people’s futures, thousands of kisses, millions of kisses, as varied as the pathways themselves.

And yet…and yet…I’ve felt nothing like kissing Ryder. Even the vision of this moment itself.

So, yeah, I like it. It scares me how much I like it.

 

The Keeping of Secrets by Alice Graysharp #BlogTour #Review

The keeper of family secrets, Patricia Roberts grows up isolated and lonely. Trust no one and you won't be disappointed is her motto. Three men fall in love with her and she learns to trust, only to find that their agendas are not her own. With secrets concealed from her by the ultimate love of her life, and with her own secret to keep, duplicity and deceit threaten their relationship. In a coming of age story set against the sweeping backdrop of the Second World War - evacuation, the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, buzz bombs and secret war work - Patricia ultimately has to decide whether to reveal her deepest held secret for the sake of her future happiness.

The keeper of family secrets, Patricia Roberts grows up isolated and lonely. Trust no one and you won’t be disappointed is her motto. Three men fall in love with her and she learns to trust, only to find that their agendas are not her own. With secrets concealed from her by the ultimate love of her life, and with her own secret to keep, duplicity and deceit threaten their relationship. In a coming of age story set against the sweeping backdrop of the Second World War – evacuation, the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, buzz bombs and secret war work – Patricia ultimately has to decide whether to reveal her deepest held secret for the sake of her future happiness.

Amazon UK // Barnes & Noble

Excerpt

A few days after witnessing the aftermath of a buzz bomb explosion, Pat visits her dentist:

The world gradually righting itself, by the following Wednesday I allowed the bright midday sun to warm me through as I made my way to the junction of Acre Lane by the Town Hall. My dentist’s was in a Victorian building above a shop next but one down from a rest centre on the opposite corner for bombed out people. I wondered whether any of the survivors of the Beechdale Road bomb were staying there. As I climbed the stairs, the dentist popped his head round the door of his surgery at the front, saying, ‘Oh, good, you’re early and the person before you’s not here so I can get on with it straight away.’

Taking up the dentist’s offer to numb the tooth and gum, I waited about twenty minutes for the injection to take effect, passing the time chatting to the receptionist in the small rear waiting room.

‘Ready now?’ I followed Mr Marshall back into his surgery and settled back, watching a desultory bird swooping outside the window facing the chair.

After a bit of prodding Mr Marshall picked up the drill and started. A moment or two later I thought the drill was developing a fault for it seemed to get gradually louder and even more growly. Mr Marshall stopped drilling but the buzzing didn’t and we looked at each other in consternation. The sound arrived overhead and suddenly cut out. No words were needed. Mr Marshall threw down the drill, grabbing my arm as I hauled myself out of the seat, and we dived for the door, squeezing through together and throwing ourselves to the floor of the corridor as the V1 exploded.

Review

Alice Graysharp is a new to me author and I am impressed. I was drawn in by the premise of this book being set around the Second World War. I am fascinated with this time period and love reading books about it.

The Keeping of Secrets is about Patricia Roberts who has all these family secrets that she hangs onto. We meet her when she is 15 in London and is about to leave to go with the other children to safety. She moved around a lot growing up and was told to trust no one. We see the toll this takes on her and any relationships she forms as she becomes a woman. Three different men fall for her and each one she is unable to trust. Will she be able to tell her deepest secret? Or will it stay buried?

I really enjoyed this book and the writing. The descriptions were incredible and it felt like I was right there with Pat. I look forward to reading more from this author.

Rating: 4 stars

About the author

Born and raised in the Home Counties, Alice Graysharp has enjoyed a varied working life from hospitality to office work and retail. She currently lives in Surrey. This is her first novel, and the first title in a two book series, she is also already working on a seventeenth century trilogy. Published in the anniversary month of the outbreak of the Second World War and the Battle of Britain
Website: https://www.alicegraysharp.com/

Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel #ExcerptReveal

Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel #ExcerptRevealBlack Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel
Published by Entangled Publishing on September 5th 2017
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Romance, Paranormal
Pages: 300
Goodreads

A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.
Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human.
What's more, she knows something most don't. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.

Find the Author: Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, Tumblr

Excerpt

I’m seriously questioning the wisdom of coming here. Who is this boy? Who are these people? I may not want these answers. Whatever illusion I had been weaving about this being a normal family can’t be true. This is a family, yes, but one putting on an elaborate show to appear to be something they are not. “Everyday life can’t be so bad,” I say lightly, eager to change the subject before I start luring myself down a hole. “You have a beautiful home, a nice family. You’re popular at school. Kiera Shaw certainly likes you.”

He turns his gaze to me, slowly. “Kiera Shaw? You think I like her?”

“I don’t know what you like.” I don’t blink. I don’t look away. “I know only what I’ve seen.”

Reece leans close, gently entering my personal space. Close enough to put me on edge, but not close enough to intimidate. His voice is silk on gravel. His narrowed eyes glitter down at me. “And what, exactly, have you seen, Angie?”

Shivers race up my skin. I want to defuse this so badly, but I feel like this is a challenge I can’t lose. “I’ve seen and heard things that don’t make sense. Things I can’t understand.” I shift my gaze to my crow sitting on a branch above my head. It watches me with an intensity that would scare me if I wasn’t accustomed to it. “Tell me about the crows.”

He shakes his head. “Sorry. Either you know about them, or you don’t.”

My jaw tightens, even as I step toward him. I can feel his body heat. His clean, guy scent fills my senses with a unique magnetism that draws me close. Closer still. “I will find out.”

His gaze sweeps my face, lingering on my lips. “I hope not.” His breath warms my temple, sending a shiver under my skin. “There are worse things out there than a few watchful birds.”

“Like what?” I’m breathless, damn him. My words are barely audible.

His lashes fan low over his eyes. The narrow space between us crackles with tension. “Oh Angie, you don’t want to know.”

About Meg Kassel

Meg Kassel is an author of fantasy and speculative books for
young adults. A graduate of Parson's School of Design, she’s
always been creating stories, whether with visuals or words. She
worked as a graphic designer before realizing the thing she did
for pleasure (writing) was something she should do for real. Meg
is a New Jersey native who lives in a log house in the Maine
woods with her husband and daughter. A fan of ’80s cartoons,
Netflix series, and ancient mythology, Meg has always been
fascinated and inspired by the fantastic, the creepy, and the futuristic. When she’s not writing,
Meg is reading, hanging out with her family, hoarding peanut butter cups, or playing video
games. She is a two-time finalist and the 2016 winner of the RWA Golden Heart© contest in YA.

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An Earl by Any Other Name by Lauren Smith #ReleaseBlitz

An Earl by Any Other Name by Lauren Smith #ReleaseBlitzAn Earl by Any Other Name by Lauren Smith
Published by Forever Yours on August 1, 2017
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 164
Format: eBook
Amazon//B&N//iBooks//Google Play//Kobo
Goodreads

An earl in the streets, a rogue in the sheets . . .

Leopold Graham, Lord Hampton, was never a man to let propriety stand in the way of his pursuit of pleasure. Hedonism is his only desire in life---until his father's death saddles him with debts that threaten to bankrupt the entire family. Now the only thing that stands between him and utter ruin is marriage to a proper, and preferably wealthy, young lady.

Ivy Leighton is no sweet English rose. Perhaps it's her gypsy roots, but she would rather make a spectacle of her independent spirit than sit quietly on the sidelines. If that means that the only place she'll ever have in society is firmly on the shelf, then so be it. But when Ivy runs into the handsome, rakish Leo who's looking for a respectable, well-bred wife, she can't stop thinking about the troubles they can get into. Now she just has to convince him that a life with her is really what he needs.

Find the Author: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon

Excerpt

     Without so much as another word, he bent his head. When their mouths were an inch apart, he captured her gaze, and something wild and hot passed between them as he slanted his mouth over hers. All worries and fears were destroyed in the wake of pleasure and fire.

Heat and light burned through at that single kiss, like tender sparks shooting through the night over a healthy fire. A little moan escaped her as he teased her mouth open with his tongue. One of his hands grasped her hip, holding her firm between him and the tree as he pressed against her. The heady aroma of autumn leaves, leather, and sandalwood sent her senses spinning.

With gentle kisses and a wicked tongue, he taught her all the ways she’d longed to kiss. It was the sort of kiss the upstairs maids whispered about, the kind that made a woman lose her head… and her heart.

     This is a terrible idea. I should stop him…but… The will to break the kiss faded like morning mist. Once upon a time, there had been nothing more she had wanted in her life, a kiss from her sunny-haired prince. But she’d changed; she’d grown up and a man’s kiss shouldn’t have been so potent that it cast a spell over her. Yet, Leo’s kiss was exactly that, a spell that bound her to him in a way she feared would break her heart.

He nipped her lips, and she felt his mouth curve into a smile against hers before he finally drew back. His eyes were dark with passion, and his breathing was rough and warm against her face. Their bodies were so close, the intimacy making her feel like there was nothing outside of them in that moment.

“Why do I have the feeling you are going to be trouble, Miss Leighton?” Leo chuckled, suddenly drawing a fingertip down her nose and tapping it lightly, the way he had so often all those years ago.

“Trouble?” she echoed faintly. Still shaken by her first kiss and the shivery warmth spreading through her limbs, she dared not move for fear of falling. Love was dangerous; love ruined a woman’s dreams. And Leo was the one man who could tempt her into falling in love.

“Oh yes. Just when I have everything planned, you come along and remind me of why I used to be so wicked.” He bent, feathered one last kiss to her lips before he took her arm in his and escorted her back to the house.

Ivy did not look at him. She felt changed. Their secret moment had awakened her and melted whatever defenses she’d thought she’d built again his charm. How was she ever going to think clearly when all she wanted to do was relive that kiss? The carefully crafted battlements around her heart quivered, trembled, the walls crumbling.

Oh dear…

About Lauren Smith

LAUREN SMITH, winner of the 2014 Historical International Digital Award, attended Oklahoma State University, where she earned a B.A. in both history and political science. Drawn to paintings and museums, Lauren is obsessed with antiques and satisfies her fascination with history by writing and exploring exotic, ancient lands. She is currently an attorney in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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Enter to win 1 of 15 free ebook downloads of An Earl by Any Other Namehttp://bit.ly/2t56MZl

 

The Forbidden by Jodi Ellen Malpas #ExcerptReveal

The Forbidden by Jodi Ellen Malpas #ExcerptRevealThe Forbidden by Jodi Ellen Malpas
Published by Forever on August 8th 2017
Genres: Romance
Pages: 368
Amazon
Goodreads

A new story of dangerous temptations from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the This Man trilogy.
Annie has never experienced the 'spark' with a guy-that instant chemistry that renders you weak in the knees. That is, until a night out brings her face to face with the dangerously sexy and mysterious Jack. It's not just a spark that ignites between them. It's an explosion. Jack promises to consume Annie, and he fully delivers on that promise.
Overwhelmed by the intensity of their one night together, Annie slips out of their hotel room. She is certain that a man who's had such a powerful impact on her must be dangerous. She has no idea that he belongs to another. That he's forbidden.

Find the Author: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon
Excerpt
     Keeping his eyes on mine, he calls to the barman. “Two tequilas, please.”
     “Tequila,” I muse, looking over my shoulder when the salt and lemon land behind me. “Is that my challenge?”
     “Crying off?” he goads, reaching into his pocket and pulling out some notes.
     “Never,” I scoff, turning into the bar. I don’t know what his game is, but I want to play. With him. “You’re asking me to prove I’m sober by doing a shot?” I narrow my eyes on him, teasing. “Or is your plan to get me drunk and take advantage of me?”
      He smiles to himself as he pays the barman. “You don’t look like the kind of woman who could be taken advantage of.”
     “What kind of a woman do I look like, then?” I challenge quietly.
     He turns into me, watching me for a few moments. “I don’t know, but I think I’d like to find out.”
     I hold his gaze for a few seconds, no retort coming to me. I think I want him to find out, too, just as much as I want to find out what kind of man he is. My eyes drop from his sparkling greys, down his tall, lean frame to his feet. Oh…fuck…
     “Let’s play,” he says, moving in closer and pulling one of the glasses forward. I don’t mean to, but I yank my arm away abruptly when he brushes against me, startled by the tiny stabs of pleasure that pitter-patter all over my skin. The fleeting touch tells me he would feel as good as he looks, and-give me strength-he smells divine, all manly and earthy and fucking edible.
     The sudden lapse in movement and talking from both of us becomes slightly awkward. I can feel him looking down at me.
     “What do I have to do?” I ask again quietly, almost on a breathy gasp.
     He clears his throat. “You’re not drunk?”
     “Not even the slightest bit.” I raise my nose in the air.
     “Good. Then you’ll smash this challenge first time.” He places a finger on the brim of one of the shot glasses. “Brace your palms on the edge of the bar,” he orders, firm but softly. I look at him, finding a serious face. “Go on.”
      Frowning, I place my hands on the edge of the bar. “Okay?”
      He takes my hips. He takes my fucking hips! I freeze from top to toe and swallow hard, waiting. My insides are quickly furling, my mind in chaos. “Move back a bit,” he says, pulling at them a little until I step back.
     Oh, Jesus. I’m on fire. I have a strange man bending me over a bar in public, and me, Annie I’m-immune-to-men Ryan, isn’t fighting him off. It’s like he has me under a spell. What gives? I dare not look behind me. I’m not stupid enough to think Lizzy isn’t currently watching a man manipulate my body to where he wants it.
     “You feel tense,” he observes, releasing me and moving back to my side.
      I don’t deny it; neither do I confirm it. His big hands felt so good resting on my hips, so much so I have to resist not claiming them and putting them back where they were. “What now?” I ask, evidently struggling for air, damn me.
     “Now.” He pucks up his beer and grins. “I get to gloat that I had you bend over a bar within five minutes of meeting you.” He takes a swig, still grinning, and I hear the roar of a man down the bar laughing his head off.
     Oh, the fucker! Part of me has admiration. Another part of me wants to slap him stupid; I don’t care how beautiful he is. And another part of me wants to rip his clothes from his body and ravish the sly bastard.
     I cannot believe I fell for it! How many women has he played like a fiddle? I drop my head, shaking it to myself.
     I knew that smile was dangerous. A man who can bend a woman to his will so easily and so soon couldn’t be anything less than lethal. And the fact that he got me with his wicked game means hats off to him. I can’t possibly take that away from him, and since I’m lacking in the dignity department right now, I decide not to slap him. Nor will I chuck a drink over his head, or fire a load of verbal abuse at him.
     I’ll do what he least expects.
     I push myself up and turn to face him, unable to stop myself from smiling at his half-grin. Holding his gaze, I slowly lick the back of my hand, blindly take the salt off the bar, sprinkle a bit, and take one of the shots of tequila. But as I’m taking my hand to my mouth to lick the salt up, he seizes my wrist and takes the shot from my other hand. My heartbeat accelerates, our eyes glued to each other as he moves into me and slowly brings my hand to his mouth. I watch, gripped, as he lazily licks up the salt from the back of my hand, eyes on mine, and then knocks the tequila back. Kill me now, for I will certainly die a happy woman. His tongue on my skin. His eyes boring into mine. His hold of my wrist. I must look like a statue-unable to talk, move, or think clearly.
     “There’s one more tequila,” he says, cocking his head toward the bar but keeping me in his sights. “And it’s yours.”
      Oh good lord. My heart is speeding up by the second as I watch him lick the back of his hand and sprinkle some salt. The he offers it to me. I stare at his hand, and then slowly look up at him. I could get lost in those grey glittery eyes.
      “I taste good,” he whispers.

About Jodi Ellen Malpas

Jodi Ellen Malpas was born and raised in the Midlands’ town of Northampton, England, where she lives with her two boys. Working for her father’s construction business full-time, she tried to ignore the lingering idea of writing until it became impossible. She wrote in secret for a long time before finally finding the courage to unleash her creative streak, and in October 2012 she released This Man. She took a chance on a story with some intense characters and sparked incredible reactions from women all over the world. Writing powerful love stories and creating addictive characters have become her passion, a passion she now shares with her devoted readers.

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The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean #BlogTour #Excerpt

A love that neither can deny…
 THE DAY OF THE DUCHESS
Scandal & Scoundrel #3
Sarah MacLean
Releasing June 27, 2017
Avon Books

 

The one woman he will never forget…

Malcolm Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven, has lived the last three years in
self-imposed solitude, paying the price for a mistake he can never reverse and a love he lost forever. The dukedom does not wait, however, and Haven requires an heir, which means he must find himself a wife by summer’s end. There is only one problem—he already has one.

The one man she will never forgive…

After years in exile, Seraphina, Duchess of Haven, returns to London with a single goal—to reclaim the life she left and find happiness, unencumbered by the man who broke her heart. Haven offers her a deal; Sera can have her freedom, just as soon as she finds her replacement…which requires her to spend the summer in close quarters with the husband she does not want, but somehow cannot resist.

A love that neither can deny…

The duke has a single summer to woo his wife and convince her that, despite their broken past, he can give her forever, making every day…

 

Chapter 1

DESERTED DUKE DISAVOWED!

August 19, 1836

House of Lords, Parliament

 She’d left him two years, seven months ago, exactly.

Malcolm Marcus Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven looked to the tiny wooden calendar wheels inlaid into the blotter on his desk in his private office above the House of Lords.

August the nineteenth, 1836. The last day of the parliamentary session, filled with pomp and idle. And lingering memory. He spun the wheel with the six embossed upon it. Five. Four. He took a deep breath.

Get out. He heard his own words, cold and angry with betrayal, echoing with quiet menace. Don’t ever return.

He touched the wheel again. August became July. May. March.

January the nineteenth, 1834. The day she left.

His fingers moved without thought, finding comfort in the familiar click of the wheels.

April the seventeenth, 1833.

The way I feel about you . . . Her words now—soft and full of temptation. I’ve never felt anything like this.

He hadn’t, either. As though light and breath and hope had flooded the room, filling all the dark spaces. Filling his lungs and heart. And all because of her.

Until he’d discovered the truth. The truth, which had mattered so much until it hadn’t mattered at all.

Where had she gone?

The clock in the corner of the room ticked and tocked, counting the seconds until Haven was due in his seat in the hallowed main chamber of the House of Lords, where men of higher purpose and passion had sat before him for generations. His fingers played the little calendar like a virtuoso, as though they’d done this dance a hundred times before. A thousand.

And they had.

March the first, 1833. The day they met.

So, they let simply anyone become a duke, do they? No deference. Teasing and charm and pure, unadulterated beauty.

If you think dukes are bad, imagine what they accept from duchesses?

That smile. As though she’d never met another man. As though she’d never wanted to. He’d been hers the moment he’d seen that smile. Before that. Imagine, indeed.

And then it had fallen apart. He’d lost everything, and then lost her. Or perhaps it had been the reverse. Or perhaps it was all the same.

Would there ever be a time when he stopped thinking of her? Ever a date that did not remind him of her? Of the time that had stretched like an eternity since she’d left?

Where had she gone?

The clock struck eleven, heavy chimes sounding in the room, echoed by a dozen others sounding down the long, oaken corridor beyond, summoning men of longstanding name to the duty that had been theirs before they drew breath.

Haven spun the calendar wheels with force, leaving them as they lay. November the thirty-seventh, 3842. A fine date—one on which he had absolutely no chance of thinking of her.

New York Times, Washington Post & USA Today bestseller Sarah MacLean is the author of historical romance novels that have been translated into more than twenty languages, and winner of back-to-back RITA Awards for best historical romance from the Romance Writers of America.

Sarah is a leading advocate for the romance genre, speaking widely on its place at the nexus of gender and cultural studies. She is the author of a monthly column celebrating the best of the genre for the Washington Post. Her work in support of romance and the women who read it earned her a place on Jezebel.com’s Sheroes list of 2014 and led Entertainment Weekly to call her “gracefully furious.” A graduate of Smith College &
Harvard University, Sarah now lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

The Cajun Doctor by Sandra Hill #Excerpt

The Cajun Doctor by Sandra Hill #ExcerptThe Cajun Doctor by Sandra Hill
on May 30th 2017
Pages: 416
Amazon//B&N//iBooks//Google Play
Goodreads

Back by popular and fan demand, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Sandra Hill returns to the steamy Louisiana Bayou with THE CAJUN DOCTOR. With her hallmark humor, Hill dives right back into the crazy Cajun hijinks readers have come to love and expect of the LeDeux clan.

After the ties keeping them in the wilds of Alaska are severed, twins Daniel and Aaron LeDeux decide to head to the lower forty-eight to explore their Southern roots. Their journey takes them deep into Louisiana, where they find themselves tentatively reconnecting with their loud, voracious and quirky Cajun family. The usually stoic Daniel, a burned-out pediatric oncologist, is especially startled by the interfering LeDeux matriarch, Tante Lulu—bless her crazy heart—who wastes no time in setting him up with local rich girl Samantha Starr.

Scarred by a nasty divorce from a philandering New Orleans physician, Samantha has sworn off men, especially doctors. But when Samantha’s step-brother gets into serious trouble, she must ask Daniel for help. And when it rains it pours, as Samantha finds herself in even more trouble when the handsome doctor casts his smoldering Cajun eyes her way.

The steamy heat of the bayou, along with the wacky matchmaking efforts of Tante Lulu, a herd of animal rescue rejects, including a depressed pot belly pig, and some world-class sexual fantasies create enough heat and humor to make both Daniel and Samantha realize that love and laughter can mend even the most broken heart.

Sparkling with witty banter, colorful side-characters, and swoon-worthy moments, Hill has outdone herself with THE CAJUN DOCTOR. And as FreshFiction so aptly puts it, "This wacky, wonderful family will make you wish you lived on the bayou!"

Find the Author: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads
Excerpt

She smiled at him as he stood to follow her. There were no longer any tears in her eyes. Forget about sparkling emeralds, he decided then. Her eyes were murky green pools designed to lure a guy in and make him do things he didn’t even know he wanted to do. And he was the dumb trout who’d taken her bait. Hooked, lined and hot damn sinkered!

It was probably some Southern voodoo kind of crap. Maybe he should ask Tante Lulu for a spell to ward off Samantha’s allure. He could only imagine the old bat’s reaction. She’d be calling for a fais do do, a party down on the bayou, and the theme would be, “Daniel LeDeux Ain’t Gay, hallelejuah!”

But then he watched Samantha’s buttocks move in the red silky pants as she walked out of the room. Was there anything prettier than a heart-shaped ass on a woman? And he decided, maybe not. And those long limbs . . . man, what a creative male could do with those!

Hot damn hell! He decided he could live with the spell or whatever the hell it was, thank you very much!

Any lewd thoughts he might have been entertaining were interrupted abruptly by a loud pounding on the front door. They looked at each other in question.

He arched his brows.

She shrugged.

The dog halted in its tracks toward the kitchen.

The cougar cat stopped mid stretch.

The pig raised its head and sniffed the air.

Then they all erupted with their respective sounds of alert. Barking, growling, meowing, and oinking. A female squeak of dismay, as in, “Oh, Rhett, the Yankees are comin’!” A male grunt of disgust, as in “What next?” All of which alerted the bird to voice its opinion, and the puppies and other cats to join in the chorus.

More pounding on the door.

“Let’s just ignore it,” she whispered.

The German Shepherd let loose with a wild howl that could probably be heard a block away, definitely through a measly door. Then the old dog lay down on the floor, its muzzle between its front paws, all tired out from the effort.

“I doubt whoever is there will just go away. Let me handle it,” he offered, also in a whisper. I gotta get my Rhett on once in a while, he joked with himself. Then, he added, “Do you have a gun?”

“No. Damn, I knew I should have bought a gun. Just this evening I decided to ask Tante Lulu if she had an extra one. But I didn’t have a chance to call her yet.”

He gave her a glance of surprise; he hadn’t been serious.

That’s all he . . . she . . . needed. Southern belle with a pistol. She’d probably shoot her eye out. At the least, everyone up and down the bayou would know about it, thanks to the Mouth of the South.

Daniel was beginning to feel like Alice in Wonderland . . . or rather, Alex in Wonderland . . . and he’d fallen down some crazy-ass Southern rabbit hole. Forget Scarlett O’Hara. His Alice would be wearing some silky red short shorts. And high heels. And nothing on top. And “Pretty Woman” would be playing in the background.

He could hear Aaron laughing in his head. Twins were like that sometimes. They shared long-distance thoughts and feelings. In fact, some scientists claimed that even during sex . . . well, never mind! Suffice it to say, it gave new meaning to multiple orgasms.

To the Aaron in his head, Daniel said, Hey, it’s my fantasy. If I want bimbo Alice, I get bimbo Alice.

More Aaron laughter.

Daniel and Samantha walked softly toward the front door where Samantha peeked through the security hole and declared in a whisper, “I think it’s the mafia.”

“How can you tell?”

“Well, it’s not Nick. And there are two of them. And they look . . . mafia-ish.”

He pushed her aside to look for himself. What he saw was two men, their faces distorted through the fisheye lens in the peephole. They were scowling with impatience at their knocking not being answered. Definitely not Welcome Wagon, or Jehovah’s Witnesses, or a passing traveler in need of directions. No Gone with the Wind Yankees, either. The short one wore a tight “Sleep With the Fishes, Motherfucker” T-shirt over a muscular chest and bulging biceps; there were tattoos on his neck and forearms. The other dude . . . taller, but equally muscular. . . wore a T-shirt with the logo “Pit Bulls Rule” under an open denim shirt. There was a livid scar on his cheek that lifted one side of his mouth in a perpetual grin. The Mutt and Jeff of creeps!

Daniel could swear he saw the shine of a pistol under the denim shirt. He amended his assessment to “the Mutt and Jeff of dangerous creeps.”

Okay, definitely mafia-ish.

“Samantha Starr! You in dere, chère. We doan want no trouble here. Jist open the door, yes.” This from Mutt, the short one.

Okay, definitely Dixie Mafia-ish.

“Call 911,” Daniel advised Samantha.

She shook her head.

Daniel wasn’t convinced that her way was the best way, but there was no time to argue. He kicked off his shoes, toed off his socks, and used both hands to mess up his hair. He tugged out his T-shirt that had been tucked inside the waistband of his jeans. As an added touch, he undid the button on the fly of his pants and zipped down halfway.

What are you doing?” she asked in an undertone.

“Pretending I was in bed.”

“Why would you be . . . oh!” Her cheeks bloomed with color.

He put a forefinger to his lips, signaling silence, then put the security chain on the door and opened it several inches. “Yeah? What do you guys want?” he snarled at the two figures on the doorstep.

Surprised, they backed up a step. They had to have seen him enter a short time ago, but apparently they hadn’t been expecting a man to answer the door, or him in particular, as evidenced by Mutt’s remark, “You ain’t Angus Starr.”

“No shit, Dick Tracey,” Daniel countered, starting to close the door.

But the taller, scar-faced dude, Jeff, stuck his booted foot into the opening. “Wait a fuckin’ minute. Where’s Samantha Starr? Bet she knows where that stupid-ass brother of hers is, guar-an-teed.”

“Angus isn’t her brother, exactly,” Daniel commented, as if that mattered. “He’s actually the son of one of her father’s—”

Scar-face made a growling noise.

“Why do you want Angus anyway?”

“None of yer damn bizness, you!” Mutt said, putting his hand inside his pants pocket, as if reaching for a weapon.

“Hold on. I’ll go get her,” Daniel said.

Stepping behind the door, he acted quickly. Messing Samantha’s hair into a sexy mess, he pressed her up against the wall and, before she could yell or kick him in the nuts, he leaned down to kiss her, hard and deep, even nipping at her bottom lip so that she would open for him.

Then he forgot why he’d made a move on her.

About Sandra Hill

Sandra Hill is a graduate of Penn State and worked for more than ten years as a features writer and education editor for publications in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Writing about serious issues taught her the merits of seeking the lighter side of even the darkest stories.

 

Starstruck by Kalli Lanford #BlogTour #Excerpt

Starstruck_500
Starstruck by Kalli Lanford
Published April 24th 2017
Entangled: Select Otherworld

My father, the king, has condemned my friend Lestra to death for treason, and I’ve joined with her brother Slaine, the most beautiful male Enestian I’ve ever seen, to save her. Although even being seen with him is forbidden, for Lestra and the promise I made to my brother, I’m willing to take the risk. But time is short, and if we’re caught, we’ll be labeled traitors and executed.

To enlist help for our daring rescue, Slaine leads me into a dark, dangerous underworld where an uprising against the crown is brewing. And if the rebels discover I’m Princess Murelle, even Slaine’s status as a commander and vow to protect me with his life might not save me.

Find it online:

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Goodreads | Entangled

Excerpt

Every part of my body wanted him, and his eyes sparkled with the same fury they had when he was in my quarters the day before.

My next breath spread a soft shiver through my chest. Slaine would never make the first move—not with me being a princess. It had to be me. With that realization, I inhaled, my heart beating strong and hard. Leaning forward, and under the power of urges I couldn’t control, I kissed him, not feeling like an amateur but letting my desire play out every move. It was natural and smooth, every touch of my fingers upon him an extension of that passion as they gripped, traced, and worked upon his body in a fervor I had only experienced in my dreams.

Every fantasy I’d ever had involving Slaine became real. His lips sealed against mine, his tongue soft and engaging. His hands ran along me, cupping my glutes, sending me into a fit of longing for him as I became weightless in his arms.

I closed my eyes, enjoying the soft sensations of his kisses. His hand slid up my arm and across my back, and I brought my palm to the fabric against his chest, my fingers exploring every plate where they overlapped above the hard muscle underneath his shell.

His kisses became more fervent, and I threw back my head as his lips and tongue trailed down my neck. Lower he went, until his mouth met the top of my exposed breasts. The powder I’d applied hours before was long gone, but mine continued to glow, my ecru breasts in contrast to Slaine’s beige physique as his hands joined his lips to touch me there.

About the Author

A native of San Diego, California, I grew up hanging out at the beach, playing sports, and eventually attending San Diego State University where I earned my bachelor’s degree in English and master’s degree in education. When I’m not nerding out at San Diego Comic-Con or watching Star Wars and The Lord of the Ring’s movies for the umpteenth time, I can be seen doing normal people stuff like cooking delicious meals for my family (I attribute all of my culinary skills to the Food Network) and attending my son’s football games. In my spare time, I write new adult fiction, my biggest passion, and love listening to hard rock music and going to concerts. I hope to live long and prosper, and that you will, too.

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