Driving Whiskey Wild by Melissa Foster #Excerpt

 “Welcome to the Whiskeys series, where all the men are larger 
than life and sexy as sin!” – RT Book Reviews
DRIVING WHISKEY WILD
The Whiskey’s series
Melissa Foster
Releasing February 21, 2018
World Literary Press

A captivating new sexy standalone romance by New York Times bestselling author Melissa Foster.

Special Forces veteran and Dark Knights Motorcycle Club member Bullet Whiskey lives to protect his family, their bar, and the residents of his small hometown. He’s rough, unapologetic, and haunted by a secret, painful past. He’s also a master at keeping people away, and when his sister hires gorgeous and sweet Finlay Wilson to help expand their biker bar, he knows just how to get rid of her.

After losing her boyfriend and her father, Finlay moves back to her hometown to be closer to the little family she has left. She needs her temporary job at Whiskey Bro’s to get her catering business off the ground, and she’s determined not to let the gruff, arrogant mountain of a man Bullet Whiskey scare her off.

Finlay is everything Bullet has never wanted. She’s afraid of his dog, afraid of motorcycles, and sweet enough to give him cavities, but as she weaves her way into the hearts of everyone around him, he’s powerless to resist her charms. Passion ignites, but trust doesn’t come easily, and when their pasts collide, Bullet finds out the true meaning of protecting those he loves.

 
Don’t miss the other Whiskey’s series titles

Excerpt

“Don’t fuck this up, Bullet, or I swear I’ll make your life a living hell. She’s agreed to work with us for a month, and we need her if we’re going to pull this off. She knows about menus, hiring kitchen staff, and health regulations.”

“She doesn’t belong in a place like this, Dix. She’s not like us.” Finlay looked like a frigging angel with her silky blond hair and innocent blue eyes. It was that innocence that had flipped some switch inside Bullet and made him want to sin her up and protect her at the same time. Fucking Finlay Wilson. The wedding was four weeks ago, and he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her since. If she wasn’t starring in his X-rated fantasies, she was flitting about town in those frilly dresses she wore, spreading smiles like fairy dust.

“You didn’t seem to mind that when you hit on her at the wedding.” She arched a brow. “Or did you think I didn’t notice the way you were watching her every move when Bear and Crystal also decided to tie the knot? Sidling up to her every chance you got during the reception, like a puppy chasing a treat?”

Bullet scoffed. He’d been looking at her long before Crystal and Bear’s impromptu proposal and subsequent wedding the day Tru and Gemma got married. “She’s a hot chick. So what? I didn’t want to marry her—just have a little fun.”

“Then you shouldn’t mind seeing her in here for a few hours a day while we pull things together.”

“It’s a mistake, Dixie.” He moved around the bar and stood beside her. “A pretty little thing like her is just asking for trouble in a place like this. Why are you so hung up on hiring Finlay anyway? Did you even check with our club members to see if anyone needed a job?”

“You know, sometimes I forget that you have so much Dad in you, it’s like beating my head against a brick wall.”

“What the fuck does that mean?”

“That you’re as hesitant to hire outside the family as he is. That you think if someone’s not in the club or one of us, they can’t do shit.”

“Jed’s working here, isn’t he?”

Bear had recently given up bartending and was now designing motorcycles for the elite Silver-Stone Cycles. For the first time in the history of the bar, they’d been forced to hire outside the family and outside their motorcycle club, the Dark Knights, which was as solid as family. Although Jed Moon, who was not only their new part-time bartender but also worked as an auto mechanic for the shop, was Bear’s new brother-in-law. So technically, he was family. Finlay Wilson was not. Finlay Wilson was trouble waiting to happen.

“Give me a break.” He shook his head. “We always hire family first.”

“Yeah? Well, which of our club members do you think knows how to run a restaurant? Gutter, the home repair expert? Or maybe one of the Bando brothers, who pour concrete for a living? Do you realize Finlay went to one of the best culinary schools in Boston? She’s worked in a restaurant, and she’s run her own catering company for years, and soon she’ll be opening a catering company right here in town.”

He didn’t give a rat’s ass about her credentials. If anything, she was overqualified. But the thought of her flouncing around the bar with a bunch of horny, drunk guys going after her made Bullet’s blood boil. The fact that she was not his to worry about did not escape him. “We’re offering sandwiches and fries, not gourmet meals.”

“Which makes her the perfect person for this job. She knows how to keep costs down, and she’s from Peaceful Harbor. She’s putting down roots here, which means she’ll want to see the business do well—so it doesn’t reflect poorly on her. What do you have against Finlay, anyway?”

Against her? Nothing.” Though he’d like to be buried deep inside her. “But she’ll get eaten alive in a place like this and she’ll go cowering out the door. Then we’ll be left trying to figure shit out anyway. Besides—”

The creak of the front door opening drew their attention. Bullet looked over his shoulder, meeting the innocent blue eyes of the angel peeking in at them.

 About Melissa Foster
Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance and new adult romance with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Melissa’s emotional journeys are lovingly erotic and always family oriented–perfect beach reads for contemporary romance lovers who enjoy reading about wealthy heroes and smart, sassy heroines.
 

 

Love Game by Maggie Wells

Title: Love Game
Author: Maggie Wells
Series: Love Games, #1
Pub Date: February 6, 2018
 
These successful professionals may know something about sex…but discover they’re clueless about love.
 
She’s earned her position
Kate Snyder is at the top of her game. She scored her first national championship at Wolcott University in her undergrad days, and now she’s the coaching legend of the #1 college women’s basketball team. No one knows the meaning of the phrase “work your way up” better than Kate. So when the university hires a football coach trying to escape scandal—paying him a lot more than she earns—Kate is more than annoyed.
He just sailed into his
Danny McMillan had hoped for a smooth transition at Wolcott, but fiery Coach Snyder made that impossible. Every time he and Kate are in a room together, snark and sparks fly. Danny gets her frustration, but her pay grade isn’t his problem, right? When Kate and Danny finally see eye to eye, their sparks turn into something even hotter…and they need to figure out if this is more than just a game.
Excerpt

 “Afternoon, Coach Snyder,” Danny called as Kate crossed to the edge of the practice field. “What brings you here?”

“I was just driving by on my way home, and I saw you boys out here.”

She made one of those flirty, fluttery gestures meant to deflect and distract. It wasn’t until Danny caught himself staring at those graceful fingers that he realized how powerful a weapon it truly was. Giving himself an internal shake, he forced himself to step forward rather than retreat. This was his turf, damn it. Literally.

What little action he had happening on the field ground to a halt. The players who were pulling cell phones out of he didn’t want to know where and snapping photos. As if her appearance marked the start of coffee break time.

He nodded to the milling players and raised his voice. “As you can see, we have our work cut out for us. Don’t we, fellas?”

The phones disappeared, and his team snapped back into action. After all, they had an audience to impress now.

“Nice of you to stop by.” He managed a smile he hoped wasn’t as dorky as it felt. He couldn’t make a bigger fool of himself than the gaggle of man-children showboating up and down the field. “I can’t wait to crash one of your practices.”

A hint of color appeared in her cheeks, and she lowered her gaze, shuttering the flash of annoyance that flared in those mesmerizing eyes. She swayed slightly, and his body followed, leaning into her as if they were connected by an invisible string.

A string their esteemed athletic director seemed to be determined to snap.

Mike executed an expert pivot and inserted his shoulder between them, effectively drawing Danny’s attention. “Other than the Green/Gold game, Coach Snyder doesn’t hold open practice sessions.”

Glancing from the AD to the glorious woman across from him, Danny forced a tight smile. “Yeah, I never did either, but I guess there’s no way to block the lookie-loos out here.”

Kate’s eyebrows rose. “Lookie-loos?” Her smile was syrupy sweet. She leaned in closer and lowered her voice. “If that’s the case, I hope you can find some soon.” She made a point of scanning the nonexistent sidelines for equally nonexistent fans. “Seems kind of…sad out here.”

Kate glanced down, and her smile widened as she backed away. “The Sentinel is looking for an interview,” she announced, darting a glance at Mike.

Danny frowned, confused by the swift change in topic. “The Sentinel? Why are you telling us this? You the new secretary or something?”

Mike nearly cracked one of Danny’s ribs with his pointy elbow. Kate, of course, caught the not-so-subtle warning. Her eyes narrowed, and her jaw tightened. But when she spoke, her drawl was as thick as molasses.

“Or something. I’m pretty booked up with the filming for NSN, but I figured I’d mention this to you.” She fixed him with a disconcertingly direct stare. “Hey, they did a profile on you once, didn’t they?”

They did a hatchet job on him just after the debacle, but he saw no need to acknowledge what they all knew.

“Caught it on a replay last week.”

She flashed her championship smile again, but there was no warmth behind it. As a matter of fact, it felt a helluva lot like a shank of cold steel piercing his gut.

“Anyhow, I was thinking maybe you’d want a shot at a more friendly news outlet, so I thought I’d pass it along. I’m nothing if not a team player.”

Message delivered, she turned on her heel and started back toward her car. Ice queen or not, he watched her walk away. He couldn’t help himself. Hell, there wasn’t a man alive who wouldn’t be drawn in by the subtle sway of her hips.

“Don’t even think it, man,” Mike said, his voice low and ominous.

Danny shot him a glance. “Think about what?”

“You know what.”

The edge in Mike’s tone barely registered. Another male voice called, “Hey, Coach! Heads up!”

Danny jerked his head up, but once again, no one was looking at him. They were all focused on Kate.

A young man in a cropped practice jersey cocked his arm and let the ball fly. The high, tight spiral arced nearly the width of the field. A gust of spring wind pinned Kate’s shirt to her lithe frame. She stepped into the pass, her palms open and her fingers spread wide and welcoming. Her low, throaty laugh rippled across the field as she secured the ball and feinted to her left. The players on the field erupted into whoops and catcalls, and she grinned as she brushed the hair from her face. She tossed the ball underhand to a nearby assistant and then waved to the boys before starting for her car.

Danny stood transfixed until she reached the driver’s door, willing her to look up once more. But he got no sneaking peeks or coy smiles from Kate Snyder. No, when she looked up, she stared directly at him, her chin lifted, her hair dancing in the spring breeze. They stood there, locked in silent challenge, and all the sounds of the drills being run on the scrubby field faded away. Then she cupped her hands around her mouth and shouted, “Hey, Coach, get your head in the game!”

Danny had to laugh. At last, he’d met a worthy opponent. And all the warnings in the world couldn’t stop him from getting in the game. He lifted a hand in a half wave.

“Get crossways with her, and there’s nothing I can do to save you,” Mike reminded him.

He spared his friend a glance. “I thought you and your pal Millie wanted us to get crossways.”

“You know what I’m saying.”

Danny nodded once and turned his attention back to the field. “Who threw that?”

“Kilgorn. Wide receiver,” Mike answered without missing a beat.

“He’s our new quarterback.”

About Maggie Wells

By day, MAGGIE WELLS is buried in spreadsheets. At night she pens tales of people tangling up the sheets. The product of a charming rogue and a shameless flirt, you only have to scratch the surface of this mild-mannered married lady to find a naughty streak a mile wide. She has a passion for college football, processed cheese foods, and happy endings. Not necessarily in that order. She lives in Arkansas.
 
Find Maggie Online:
Twitter: @MaggieWells1
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Pretty Dead Girls by Monica Murphy #Review

Pretty Dead Girls by Monica Murphy #ReviewPretty Dead Girls by Monica Murphy
Published by Entangled: Teen on January 2nd 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Romance
Pages: 300
Format: eBook
Amazon//B&N//iBooks//Google Play//Kobo
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Beautiful. Perfect. Dead.

In the peaceful seaside town of Cape Bonita, wicked secrets and lies are hidden just beneath the surface. But all it takes is one tragedy for them to be exposed.

The most popular girls in school are turning up dead, and Penelope Malone is terrified she's next. All the victims so far have been linked to Penelope—and to a boy from her physics class. The one she's never really noticed before, with the rumored dark past and a brooding stare that cuts right through her.

There's something he isn't telling her. But there's something she's not telling him, either.

Everyone has secrets, and theirs might get them killed.

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

Excerpt

“That car is still trailing us.”

Glancing in the side mirror, I see that the car is behind us. Cass chooses that moment to take a curve extra fast, making the tires squeal, and I gasp. “You’re scaring me,” I murmur. It feels like my heart just flew into my throat.

“Just wait. What I really want to do is going to scare you even more,” he says cryptically.

“What do you want to do?”

“You’ll have to trust me on this.”

“Okay.” I clamp my lips shut. I shouldn’t automatically agree, right? I’m still having trust issues, even though I’d never say that out loud. This entire day has been confusing. I don’t know who to believe anymore.

“No demanding we back out once we commit,” he says, his gaze never wavering from the road. “That’s a surefire way to get ourselves hurt.”

His words are ominous. Like a warning. “Fine. I’m all in.”

He eases up on the gas pedal, just the slightest bit. The car slows, the vehicle behind us drawing closer. So close I swear it looks like it’s going to eat the back bumper. “I don’t want you to freak out.”

“Oh my God, Cass.” Why is he slowing down? “Just tell me.”

“You have to promise me one thing first.” His gaze meets mine, lingering a moment too long. He should be watching the road, not staring at me. “Say you’ll promise.”

“I promise,” I readily agree, frowning. “But what am I promising?”

He’s staring straight ahead once more, his fingers sliding over the steering wheel, almost like a caress. “You can’t scream.”

What?

“I mean it. No screaming. No yelling. You must remain quiet. I need you to trust me, Pen.” He hesitates, his voice dropping lower. “Do you trust me?”

Do I? He’s already asked me once and I said yes, but the doubt still creeps in. He scares me a little. He also—God, I am so ridiculous thinking this, but—he turns me on. He does. There’s something about him. He has this edge that other boys don’t have. And when he touches me, kisses me…

I’d probably do just about anything he asks me to.

So how can I doubt him when we’ve already gone this far together?

“I won’t scream,” I tell him quietly. “And I won’t yell. I promise.”

“Okay.” He nods once, then hisses out a breath between his teeth. I chance a glance at him, the way his dark hair falls over his forehead, how he’s squinting his eyes. What he’s about to do, what’s about to happen, feels…dangerous. “Here it goes.”

With a flick of his wrist he turns the car’s headlights off. Like, completely off. The road goes dark. I suck in a breath, hold it until I feel like it’s choking me. He hits the gas pedal hard, the SUV roaring to life as he flies down the road. A dangerous, winding road where multiple car crashes occur every year. The windows are down, the wind blows through my hair, blasts against my face, and I close my eyes.

I’m scared, and I can’t make a sound. Not a peep. I hold onto the handle right above the window, gripping it with both hands as Cass takes the twisty road with ease. My gaze is trained on the side mirror and I watch for the car lights behind us.

They’re still there.

Review

Monica Murphy has written another great book! Pretty Dead Girls is full of suspense and pettiness. It’s like a mix of Pretty Little Liars and Mean Girls. It’s the first thriller Ms. Murphy has written and I really hope it will not be the last. I was hooked from the beginning and I had a hard time putting it down to do adult things.

All of Penelope’s friends are dying and no one has a clue who is doing it. The police have listed her as a suspect. The mysterious Cass enters her life and makes her question her attitude towards people and the way her friends and her act. Could he be the killer? Is she the next target?

This book will keep you guessing on who the killer truly is until the end. I would definitely recommend it.

About Monica Murphy

Monica Murphy is the New York Times, USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of the One Week Girlfriend series, the Billionaire Bachelors and The Rules series. Her books have been translated in almost a dozen languages and has sold over one million copies worldwide. She is both self-published and published by Random House/Bantam and Harper Collins/Avon. She writes new adult, young adult and contemporary romance.

She is a wife and a mother of three who lives in central California on fourteen acres in the middle of nowhere along with their one dog and too many cats. A self-confessed workaholic, when she's not writing, she's reading or hanging out with her husband and kids. She's a firm believer in happy endings, though she will admit to putting her characters through angst-filled moments before they finally get that hard won HEA.

four-half-stars

Always You by Denise Grover Swank #ReleaseBlitz #Review

Always You by Denise Grover Swank #ReleaseBlitz #Review

Always You by Denise Grover Swank
Series: Bachelor Brotherhood #3
Published by Forever on November 28th 2017
Pages: 353
Format: Paperback
Amazon//B&N//iBooks//Google Play//Kobo
Goodreads
five-stars

"Swank's fluffy, feel-good storytelling proclaims the primacy of love as a force to which everyone should surrender-the bachelors destined to star in future installments haven't got a chance." --- Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Only You

First love is better the second time around.

Matt Osborn had no idea coaching his five-year-old nephew's soccer team would get him so much attention from the mothers-attention he doesn't want now that he's given up on love and having a family of his own. Yep, Matt's the last of his bachelor buddies, and plans on staying that way. That is, until he finds himself face-to-face with the woman who broke his heart.

Single mom Anna paused her life in England to help her father recover from an illness. She can't afford complications, and too-hot-for-his-own-good Matt Osborn-her almost former fiancé-is definitely a complication. He's a reminder of what might have been-or should have been. That irresistible pull between them isn't over. Not even close. But if she's not careful, she'll break both their hearts . . . again.

Find the Author: Website, Facebook, Amazon
Also in this series: Until You

Review

Always You is the third book in the Bachelor Brotherhood by Denise Grover Swank. It is the final book in this series and though you can technically read them as standalones, you won’t want to.

Matt is the last of his bachelor buddies and he has no plans to change that anytime soon. Little did he know that he was about to come face to face with the woman who broke his heart twelve years ago when he became the coach for his 5-year-old nephew’s soccer team. Anna is back in town to help care for her father. She signs her son up for soccer and runs into none other than Matt. She turned down his proposal all those years ago to pursue a career in international finance. She is still obligated to return overseas and her ex wants a second chance but she has always loved Matt. Will they be able to make it work now?

I absolutely love second chance romances and Denise Grover Swank does an excellent job of delivering a sweet story that is heartwarming a little humorous. I really enjoyed these characters especially the kids! I am sad to see this series come to an end but I look forward to reading more from this author in the near future.

About Denise Grover Swank

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Denise Grover Swank was born in Kansas City, Missouri and lived in the area until she was nineteen. Then she became a nomadic gypsy, living in five cities, four states and ten houses over the course of ten years before she moved back to her roots. She speaks English and smattering of Spanish and Chinese, which she learned through an intensive Nick Jr. immersion period. Her hobbies include witty (in her own mind) Facebook comments and dancing in her kitchen with her children. (Quite badly if you believe her offspring.) Hidden talents include the gift of justification and the ability to drink massive amounts of caffeine and still fall asleep within two minutes. Her lack of the sense of smell allows her to perform many unspeakable tasks. She has six children and hasn't lost her sanity. Or so she leads you to believe

Giveaway

five-stars

Perfect Gravity by Vivien Jackson

Perfect Gravity by Vivien JacksonPerfect Gravity by Vivien Jackson
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on November 7th 2017
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction
Format: eBook
Amazon//B&N//iBooks//Kobo
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Second in a snarky, sexy sci-fi romance series with the perfect balance of humor, heart, and heat. When someone tries to kill powerful continental senator Angela Neko, Texan outlaw and old flame Kellen Hockley is the only man who can keep her safe...and help her save the world.

Kellen Hockley usually keeps quiet about his past, but once upon a time he loved a girl named Angela. He hasn't seen her in a decade, but now he has to break the news to her that his team of rogue treasure hunters accidentally killed her husband. He's had better days...

It's not the news that's delivered to Angela Neko that breaks her apart--it's the rumbly, Texas drawl delivering it. She can't believe she's hearing Kellen's voice again. But there's no time for distractions. When Angela's own life is threatened, yielding up all of her lies and secrets, she and Kellen must figure out how to reverse the geopolitical firestorm she lit to save the world, to save Kellen's cat...and just maybe to save each other.

Find the Author: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Excerpt

Angela pressed the emergency stop, and their carriage paused. It was glass on the rear, but this far up, there wasn’t anything to see other than a painted elevator shaft. They were alone.

And she stood right in front of him, burning a look upward. Holy fuck, that look.

“What you—”

She put two hands on his chest and pushed him against the elevator wall.

He was stunned for the first half second, surprised enough that she got the jump on him, but he couldn’t let her win. Not without giving a little of his own back.

She was a little thing—he had forgotten how slight—and when his arms went around her and he cradled her ass, it was the easiest thing to lift her. Her legs came up, wrapping around his waist. Something in her tidy wool skirt tore, and she oomphed a breath against his teeth when he turned their bodies, still locked together, and pushed her back up against the elevator wall.

Better. The angle. She slotted snug against him, mouth to mouth, heartbeat to wild heartbeat. Her hands clamped the back of his head, crushing him into her kiss. Oh yeah, this was the Angela he knew, the girl only he knew. And he had missed this—had missed her—so fucking much.

Her teeth skidded against his, sharp and bright. He nibbled, drawing salt from her lip, and she groaned into his mouth. That count for consent? He thought it might, or maybe the fact that she’d all but attacked him in an elevator. Still, the gentleman in him needed to be sure.

“We gonna do this right here, then?” he rasped.

“At least once,” she breathed against his jaw. “Please tell me those jeans aren’t held together with a goddamn button fly.”

“Press seam,” he said.

“Thank all the made-up gods.” Her magic fingers found the seam and undid it, but the movement stole some of her concentration. Angela, the great multitasker, apparently couldn’t undress a man and pour kisses down his throat at the same time.

Kellen reared his head back and watched her.

Wild thing, his gal. He remembered so many times they’d been at this business, and always, always, it had been the death of him. A thousand deaths, a million surrenders. He’d never minded. He’d have given her anything, willingly, as often as she wanted.

But the man she was taking down that road right now wasn’t her nineteen-year-old toy. And he didn’t have a hankering to play the role for her again. He’d fought to become his own person. And that person couldn’t do this.

“Think we might pause here for a second, princess?”

She’d made quick work of his pants, and she had him out, clasped in her hot little fist. He couldn’t even process what that felt like. Heaven was too small a word.

“Angela.” Didn’t sound like his own voice, but he had things that needed saying.

She looked up, neither moving nor removing her hand. His arms were holding her up against the wall, and he couldn’t very well shift weight without dropping her unceremoniously on the floor. There was no way to make space between them, not at this point. Heat roiled in the interstice between their bodies. She never had liked the feel of knickers on her nethers.

“What?” Confusion broke through the naked desire on her face.

“That emergency call button only pauses us for three minutes,” he said, trying so hard to be gentle about this.

Her grin got sly instead. “You clearly have no idea how ready I am.” She squeezed, and his throat compressed in synch. “Why are we wasting all this time chitchatting?”

“Maybe what we need, actually, is a bit more chitchat. And a bit less fucking.” He shifted his weight, lowering her slightly, like he was about to disconnect them. She flicked the pad of her thumb over the head of his cock, and he damn near came on her hand. Shitfuckgoddamn. But he inhaled, slammed his eyes shut, and worked the hell through it. Took a few seconds, but he got steady.

Disbelief froze her mouth into an O, then she snapped, “Impossible to do less of a thing you aren’t doing. Or not yet doing. Who are you, and what have you done with my Kellen?”

“That’s kind of what I’ve been telling you, sweetheart. I ain’t that guy.” You sent him away, or did you forget? “You want my dick in your drawers and my mouth on your sweet spot, princess, I will require some wooing.”

“I distinctly heard you tell all those people at the table—the people you call family—that you were taking me to bed.” She stroked. Jesus. “I believe this is what you would call lying like a rug.”

“I said I was takin’ you to your bedroom.” Temptation shaved pieces off his will.

“That’s exactly what you said, and your intentions could not have been clearer.”

“Well, but after that, Yoink and your husband decided to come along to watch. Gotta say that damped my want-to some.”

She huffed a breath against his throat. “Look. I kicked them out into the corridor. Pressed the emergency stop. Problem solved.”

“It ain’t that easy.”

“Yes, it is.”

“I ain’t that easy.”

She tested her tongue against her upper lip then drew it back inside. “Are you saying you don’t want me?”

No, you insufferable woman. I will want you as long as there’s breath in this body, blood in these veins. And then I will love you longer still. “I’m saying we need to slow this down.”

About Vivien Jackson

VIVIEN JACKSON is still waiting for her Hogwarts letter. In the meantime, she writes, mostly fantastical or futuristic or kissing-related stories. When she isn’t writing, she’s performing a sacred duty nurturing the next generation of Whovian Browncoat Sindarin Jedi gamers, and their little dogs too. With her similarly geeky partner, she lives in Austin, Texas, and watches a lot of football.

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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
Amazon//B&N//iBooks//Google Play//Kobo
Goodreads

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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