Review & Excerpt: Folly and Forever (Omega Mu Alpha Brothers #3) – Kimberly Loth

Bethany McAlister loves that house more than life itself and will do anything to keep it. Even if she can’t begin to afford the taxes on it. When a notice arrives informing her that her house is about to go to auction she desperately takes on a roommate, but gets a surprise when the dead sexy Jamie Green shows up on her doorstep to take her spare room. Jamie brings not only much needed cash, but more problems than Bethany cares to take on. But then he presents a proposal that can fix both their problems—get married. Will she say yes and risk her heart or no and risk losing her home that means so much to her?

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I am one of those readers who love a story that is far-fetched from time to time. 98% of this book is unbelievable, but Loth weaves a sweet love story that’s fast-paced and makes you believe that true love doesn’t always take a long time to develop.

WHAT I LIKED: Bethany isn’t your typical female lead character; she’s not described as knock down gorgeous. She’s an averagely pretty girl whose beauty shines from within. She’s painfully shy and is an extreme introvert. None of the characters overshadow her, nor does she overpower anyone else. She could be described as the center in which everyone gravitates towards.

The most important things in her life? Dancing and the house where she grew up with her parents, no matter how expensive the upkeep is.

Jamie is incredibly rich, and somewhat vain, but the most important part of his life is starting a relationship with the son he just found out he had.

I swear that Bethany’s next door neighbor, Bunny, is modeled upon one of my favorite Youtube stars, Grav3yardgirl; if only by name, love for alligators, blonde hair, and loud personality. I think of everyone in this book, Bunny is probably my favorite character as she may be the typical big-breasted, gorgeous blondes that authors favor, but her personality, friendship with Bethany, and her fierce love for animals (even baby alligators!) really stood out to me.

Of course there’s the “evil” characters that we’re not supposed to like: Zoe, Jamie’s ex-girlfriend who has hidden the fact that she delivered his son six years previous. She has bad taste in husbands – Ray, an abusive jackass that pretty much hates Garrett – and a predilection for booze and drugs. Even though she’s a despicable parent, I think deep down she must love her son because she wouldn’t give Jamie an inch. Knowing Jamie could have paid her off to give him their son, instead she chose to fight him in court. Jamie’s lawyer isn’t exactly someone that I would want representing me, but it is what it is.

WHAT I DID NOT LIKE: Jamie through money around like it grew on trees. I loved that he wanted to help Bethany out, but at times it was too much for me.

Garrett warmed up pretty quickly to Bethany and Jamie, even though he had never seen them before. It is rare for a child to take so quickly to finding out that the parent who hadn’t been in their life now is and wants to have them as part of their life. To me it was just too easy. Everything fell neatly into place with very little problems. There were roadblocks, of course, but they were handled quickly and efficiently. Maybe that is actually a plus because there are times when authors drag things out for a very, very long time instead of wrapping them up quickly before the next roadblock springs up.

Like I said in the beginning, this book is pretty far-fetched, but definitely worth reading. I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in this series and other books by Ms. Loth. Quite an enjoyable read, even if it was sometimes a little *too* HEA.

DISCLAIMER: I requested a review copy from the publisher in order to participate in a blog tour. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

PLEASE NOTE: Though this is a mostly clean read, there is some language and sexual tension. No open door love scenes. Suitable for ages 17 and up.

Kimberly Loth can’t decide where she wants to settle down. She’s lived in Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Utah, California, Oregon, and South Carolina.

She finally decided to make the leap and leave the U.S. behind for a few years. After living in Cairo, Egypt for 2 years, she’s decided to go to the Far East and currently calls Shenzhen, China home. She loves romantic movies, chocolate, roses, and crazy adventures.

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Excerpt:
In the backseat his dog, Hexa, whined. She could see the yard. He let her out, and she rolled around in the grass. At least she’d be happy here. He opened his trunk and stared at the house. The waves crashed behind it, and the air smelled of salt. Yeah. He’d love it here.

The house was three stories, painted a soft yellow with green accents. Three porches framed the massive stairway that lead to the front door. Most of the houses on Folly Beach had garages under the house and the front door on the second floor.

Before heading up the stairs, he stepped back and snapped a few pictures with his camera. That would be for him. To document his time here. He hoped this would be a good several months. They’d be hard, but rewarding. He looked down at the paper in hand. Bethany Davis was his new roommate.

He left Hexa in the yard and headed up the stairs to the double glass front doors. No privacy there. He rang the bell and saw a flurry of movement, and the door opened. He found himself face-to-face with a woman who was five foot nothing, with ice blue eyes and a messy brown knot on the back of her head. She must be Bethany. Her wide eyes opened even wider when she looked him up and down and checked out his two suitcases. She was cute, but not his type. Thank goodness. He couldn’t afford distractions, and in spite of his recent efforts, he wasn’t too good at avoiding them.

“Um, come in,” she finally said. “The bedroom is around the corner.” She wouldn’t look him in the eye, and he was instantly curious. Her posture indicated confidence, but the lack of eye contact did not.

He whistled for Hexa and dragged his two suitcases into the house. He waited for his dog and then shut the door. She made a beeline for Bethany, and jumped up on her, putting her paws her shoulders. Dobermans weren’t heavy, forceful dogs, but Hexa was tall. His cheeks flushed with embarrassment. Good way to meet his new roommate. She’d be liable to kick him out now.

He dropped his suitcases to rescue her. To his surprise though, she was laughing, and instead of pushing Hexa away, she got on the ground to play. She didn’t even look up at him.

He glanced down, and without meaning to, right into her shirt. She had nice cleavage, but he closed his eyes. He did not come to Charleston to get involved with another woman. Besides, she totally wasn’t his type. He preferred his women tall and blonde. At least that’s what he told himself. Maybe Miss Bethany would be more distracting than he originally thought.

“Are you okay with her? I’m going to put the suitcases in the bedroom.”

She nodded and pointed to the open door, off the foyer.

The old house had white pinewood floors and light blue walls. It seemed to have a beach theme, with shells scattered on the side tables. An old southern staircase led up to the third floor.
He hauled his suitcases into the bright and spacious bedroom with a balcony. His face fell when he saw the bed though. It was a tiny daybed, clearly meant for a child. There was no way his six-foot-four body would fit on it. He snapped a few pictures of the room and sent a quick text to his assistant. She’d order him something decent to sleep in.

Hexa barked, and he went out to investigate, but both Hexa and Bethany were gone. He walked past the stairs and into a living room. In the kitchen Bethany was sitting on the floor with Hexa, doing tricks for treats.

“She’s well-trained,” Bethany said, keeping her eyes on the dog. This would not do at all. He couldn’t live with her if she wouldn’t even look at him. Well, he could, but it wouldn’t be very fun.

“Yeah, she is.” He crouched down next to Hexa in the hopes that he could at least get another glimpse of Bethany’s eyes.

She kept her hands and gaze on Hexa. “It was nice of you to bring in Jamie’s stuff for her. Is she here yet?”

He creased his eyebrows. “I’m Jamie.”

Bethany continued to pet Hexa and then stood slowly. She opened and closed her mouth. Then she looked him in the eyes for the first time. Her pupils were huge, nearly causing the blue to disappear. “I’m sorry. I told the agency I would only accept females. I think there has been a misunderstanding. You can’t stay here.” She reached around him and reached for her phone.
He grabbed her hand. The one with the phone. He needed to reassure her that he wasn’t dangerous. Her hand was ice cold, and she sucked in a hard breath.

New Release, Excerpt, Giveaway, & Review: In Mistletoe – Tammy L. Bailey

Never make the first move.
Never fall in love.
Never take anyone to Mistletoe’s Christmas Dance.

At twenty-five, Grace Evans is steadily picking up the pieces of everyone else’s life. So, when her younger sister decides to turn into a runaway bride just four weeks before the wedding, Grace, drops everything to chase after her and bring her back home. Only, when the trail leads to Mistletoe, Washington, she finds herself at the mercy of the town’s most handsome and emotionally unavailable bachelor.

Ex-Army officer, Ayden McCabe, has three creeds in life: never make the first move, never fall in love, and never take anyone to Mistletoe’s Christmas Dance.

Wanting nothing more than to keep his matchmaking sister from meddling in his personal life, he agrees to help Grace if she agrees to play his girlfriend. Too brunette and meek for his taste, Ayden believes Grace can’t tempt him enough to break any of his creeds. He could not be more wrong.

ANGIE’S REVIEW: I love books that surround the winter holidays (especially Christmas), and this sweet romance was a great way to start off my winter reading!

I usually don’t read through reviews until after I read the book because no two people are going to exactly feel the same about a book, and I have to say that I don’t agree that Grace was too weak; she may be meek, but that girl has had to take care of herself, her mother, and her sister since she was a wee little girl. She is stronger than she lets on, even if she is rather ignorant (and admittedly so) for taking Rick back time and time again.

Point blank, though she wants change, she is too heavily stuck in one place, afraid to move on to something new.

Ayden, however, has no problem with moving on to greener pastures. I have mixed feelings about him though. He can be a class A jackass, but he also is quick to take care of Grace and instinctively knows when to call her on her BS and when to toe the line.

Ms. Bailey doesn’t heavily rely on a thesaurus to show off her vocabulary; instead she carefully describes feelings, weather, people, etc. as if weaving on a loom. This book flows perfectly and it wasn’t hard to decide to curl up on the couch with my kindle, my sleeping kitten, and a blanket while blocking out the rest of world so that I could figuratively freeze my bum off in Mistletoe, Washington with Grace.

ANGIE’S RATING: **** (rounded up from 3.5)

DISCLAIMER: I requested a review copy to participate in the blog tour. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

PLEASE NOTE: Some language, sexual tension. Suitable for readers over 18. (I wouldn’t categorize it as erotica, but it’s also not a clean read.

Tammy L. Bailey grew up in historical Appomattox, Virginia and moved to Ohio the day after she graduated high school. A third-generation veteran, she joined the Army National Guard in 1988, served five years in the active duty Army, and retired as a Master Sergeant from the Ohio Air National Guard in 2011. She is a wife and a mother of two boys. She is a huge Jane Austen fan and loves watching Jane Austen movie adaptations.

When she’s not writing contemporary or historical romance, she enjoys Star Wars movie night with her 10-year-old son and going to drumming practice with her 13-year-old son. Fall is her favorite season, the B-17 is her favorite plane, and Hawkeye is her favorite Avenger.


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Excerpt:
“Do you like rum cake?” he asked to keep himself from having to reevaluate all the reasons again. He admitted Wilhelmina Hawthorne’s dessert was more alcohol than flour, but anything to keep Grace from leaving him to go check her text messages in case the damn wish somehow made it through…not that he believed in the folklore in the first place.

“Sure, but I’m not very good with liquor.” She tucked a piece of dark hair behind her ear.
He chuckled, imagining her getting wild and disrobing on top of his antique coffee table.

“So, what happens with you and alcohol?”

She smiled. “I don’t take off my clothes, if that what you’re asking.”

“Damn.”

She laughed but lifted a dainty finger as if to give him a warning. “I fall asleep, so I can have some cake, but keep in mind there’s a very good chance my face will fall flat into the plate after my third bite.”

“I’ll take that chance.”

“It’s your call.” She shrugged. He left her to retrieve Wilhelmina’s prized rum cake, deciding to bring the entire Bundt-shaped dessert with two forks resting on each side. When he entered the room, he found Grace sitting in quiet contemplation, her attention focused on the dormant redbrick fireplace. Since he’d installed the gas furnace several years before, he’d not
had any desire to light the fireplace up again, even when his dates hinted several times of how romantic it would be to cuddle before a crackling fire.

“Are you cold?” he asked.

She peered up, startled. “No, I’m fine.” She tried to stifle a shiver, and he sat the plate down and ambled away to retrieve some logs from his deck. Despite not using the fireplace, he understood the importance of keeping it ready for emergencies. It took several minutes, but he managed to build a popping fire, the sweet aroma of sizzling sap filling the space with a comforting fragrance. She moved to sit beside him, bringing the blanket his mother made with
her.

“This feels wonderful.” Grace closed her eyes and let the flickering light kiss her cheeks.

“Yes.” He sat captivated by her entranced features, realizing how he’d reminisced about kissing her, every glorious inch of her. “Are you ready for some football…and cake?” He projected his voice above the tone of his own thoughts. Her lids flew open, and he wondered where she’d
been these last few moments, and with whom. The thought unsettled him.

“Are you ready to carry me up a flight of stairs?”

He cocked his head and narrowed his eyes. “Only if you’re fully naked.”

“How did I know you were going to say that?” She sighed and maneuvered around so the cake sat between them on the short coffee table. As he flipped the game on and muted the volume, she lifted a small bite to her lips when he reached out to stop her.

She gave him a quizzical look. “What’s the matter?”

“How about we make this interesting?”

She drew back, and he knew she didn’t trust his motives. “How…interesting?”

New Release, Excerpt, Giveaway, & Review: Real Earls Break the Rules (Infamous Somertons #2) – Tina Gabrielle

As the heat
between them sizzles, 
each encounter becomes a lesson in seduction…
REAL EARLS BREAK THE RULES
Infamous Somertons #2
Tina Gabrielle
Releasing Nov 21st, 2016

Rules are made to be broken…

He’ll break every rule for her…

She’s forbidden in every way…

1816 England

Brandon St. Clair, the Earl of Vale, has never been one to follow the rules. Even though he must marry a wealthy heiress so that he can be rid of the pile of debt he inherited with his title, he can’t stop thinking of another. Amelia Somerton is the daughter of an art forger and is not a suitable wife. But that doesn’t stop Brandon from making Amelia a different offer, the kind that breaks every rule of etiquette…

Sin runs in Amelia’s family. And even though she now rubs elbows with the aristocracy, she knows the truth—she has the ability to forge priceless works of art. She’ll never be seen as an acceptable wife, not that she wants to marry, anyway. So when the earl scandalously offers her the one thing she’s always dreamed of, she can’t help but take it. But what begins as a simple arrangement, soon escalates into much more, and as the heat between them sizzles, each encounter becomes a lesson in seduction…

ANGIE’S REVIEW: Nothing makes me happier than a good historical romance to brighten up my week! This is my favorite genre and Tina Gabrielle has cemented herself as one of my go-to authors with this seductive second book in her Infamous Somertons series.

This reminds me of my beloved Downton Abbey where the heir must marry well in order to save his family’s home. Amelia may not be a suitable match because of her family background, but she is a match for the the Earl of Vale in wit, temperament, and seduction.

I love how Gabrielle paces the storyline magnificently, the character well developed and sizzling attraction between Brandon and Amelia.

I look forward to reading the next book in this series!

ANGIE’S RATING: ****

DISCLAIMER: I requested a review copy of this book in exchange for participating in the blog tour. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

PLEASE NOTE: This book contains moderate language and sexual situations. May not be suitable for those under the age of 18.


Best-selling author Tina Gabrielle is an attorney and former mechanical engineer whose love of reading for pleasure helped her get through years of academia She often picked up a romance and let her fantasies of knights in shining armor and lords and ladies carry her away She is the author of adventurous Regency historical romances. Publisher’s Weekly calls her Regency Barrister’s series, “Well-matched lovers…witty comradely repartee.”
Tina’s books have been Barnes & Noble top picks, and her first book, Lady Of Scandal, was nominated as best first historical by Romantic Times Book Reviews. 


Tina lives in New Jersey and is married to her own hero and is blessed with two daughters. She loves to hear from readers. Visit her website to learn about upcoming releases, join her newsletter, and enter free monthly contests at www.tinagabrielle.com

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Excerpt:
Amelia looked away. This wouldn’t do at all. She hadn’t drawn a single charcoal line and already she was craving the forbidden. She cleared her throat and stood. “I often work on more than one painting at a time and plan on painting the Cuyp landscape and your portrait simultaneously. I thought to start with your portrait tonight. Have you given any thought of how you would like to pose?”
Lord Vale rose to his feet. “What is your professional opinion as an artist?”
A reproduction of Michelangelo’s statue of David she had once seen in a museum rose in her mind. Magnificent in its naked splendor, the statue’s muscles and sinew had portrayed a beautiful male form. Her pulse beat in her throat, and she tried to assume an ease she didn’t feel as she faced him. She had been raised unconventionally in an artist’s household. Her father’s studio contained all types of art, including nude drawings and sketches, and she had studied them in order to sketch realistic people in her works. The print shop also had a vast variety of prints and paintings for sale, some of nudes or half-dressed subjects. But she shouldn’t be thinking of that artwork now. Not when the strikingly handsome Earl of Vale was staring at her and waiting for her response.
Her hands, hidden from sight, twisted nervously in her skirts. “Do you prefer any of the portraits of the prior Earls of Vale you had shown me?”
“I thought I discussed not wanting to look like them.”
Oh, you could never look like them. Not if she was the artist.
She was distracted when he reached up to unbutton and remove his jacket, then drape it across the armchair. Next, he shed his waistcoat and tossed it to join the jacket. Broad shoulders strained against the fabric of his shirt. She could make out muscles and a narrow waist where his shirt tucked into his breeches.
“What are you doing?” she asked, alarmed.
“All my ancestors are dressed formally. I don’t want to be remembered as earlish, remember?”
Had she ever used that term to describe him?
He looked about the room “Hmm. Now how should I pose?”
Her gaze lifted to his, and she searched for some hint that he knew her reaction to his state of undress. All she found was a guiltless concentration, like he was struggling to decide how best to pose for her study.
Heat rushed to her cheeks. She wracked her mind for something to say to distract her from his masculinity.
“You said you are in your study every evening. What do you spend most of your time doing here?” she asked.
“That’s easy.” He motioned to the large desk and the piles of paper upon its surface. “I work.”
“Every night?”
“Long into every night.”
She chewed her lip. She thought that most of the gentlemen of the beau monde spent their nights at their London clubs or, if in the country, drinking with their friends. A house party offered ample opportunity for him to be in the billiard room with Lord Huntingdon. Once the other gentlemen arrived, she imagined they would all drink and play billiards.
“What do you work on?” she asked.
“This and that. The old earl died a year ago. I’m sorting through his affairs.”
It was a vague answer to be sure. It was also none of her concern. He was hiring her to paint him, not delve into his affairs. He may not be paying her in banknotes, but the letter in her skirt pocket promising art lessons from a Royal Academy painter was as good as gold in Amelia’s opinion.
“I have an idea,” she blurted out. “Since you spend so much time at your desk, I’d like to paint you there.”
“Behind the desk?”
“No. In front of it.” She pointed where she wanted him to stand in front of the massive pearwood desk. “Lean back against the desk and place a hand on either side of you for support.” She took one of his hands and showed him. His hand was much larger than hers, the fingers long, tapered, and strong. He wore no gloves and she’d left hers in her room. No sense wearing them when she painted. The simple act of touching his hands was intimate and made her cheeks flush.
He leaned back, his hands on either side as she’d requested. She looked up and met his gaze. They were close…too close. For a heart-stopping moment she read longing in his eyes—pure and undisguised.
She froze. He wasn’t as guiltless or unaffected as she’d thought. Her heart pounded in her chest, beating so hard and loud that she feared he could hear. She took a quick step back.
“Anything else?” he asked.

New Release, Review, & Excerpt: A Date At the Altar (Marrying the Duke #3) – Cathy Maxwell

Twice he has been close to the altar and still no duchess.

A DATE AT THE ALTAR

Marrying the Duke #3

Cathy Maxwell

Released Oct 25th, 2016


New York Times bestselling author Cathy Maxwell’s glittering Marrying the Duke series continues—Twice he has been close to the altar and still no duchess.

Will the third time be the charm? A duke can’t marry just anyone. His wife must be of good family, be fertile, be young. Struggling playwright Sarah Pettijohn is absolutely the last woman Gavin Whitridge, Duke of Baynton, would ever fall in love with.

She is an actress, born on the wrong side of the blanket, and always challenges his ducal authority. She never hesitates to tell him what she thinks.

However, there is something about her that stirs his blood  . . . which makes her perfect for a bargain he has in mind: In exchange for backing her play, he wants Sarah to teach him about love.

And he, in turn, has a few things to teach her about men  . . .

ANGIE’S REVIEW: Lately I have been rather bored with the books that I’ve read. However, I have loved this series from the start and was so excited to dig into Gavin Whitridge, Duke of Baynton’s, book.

Also, I may be in the middle of a Downton Abbey binge on Amazon Prime and am loving all things historical and of the aristocracy (I love all things historical).

Maxwell’s books always flow beautifully, with intriguing storylines and the most entertaining characters.

I definitely feel for Gavin as the poor man has been jilted twice. Sarah’s occupation is not one that I’ve come across before and I found myself intrigued at the uniqueness of her situation. Like the three heroines before, Sarah is resourceful and strong. She doesn’t need a man to take care of, not even Gavin.

I loved the chemistry between them and their back and forth banter.

If there’s another book to come in this steamy series, I can’t wait to read it!

ANGIE’S RATING: ****

DISCLAIMER: I requested a review copy of this book in exchange for participating in the blog tour. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

PLEASE NOTE: This book contains moderate language, as well as sexual content. Not recommended for readers under the age of 18.




New York Times Bestselling Author, Cathy Maxwell spends hours in front of her computer pondering the question, “Why do people fall in love?” It remains for her the great mystery of life and the secret to happiness. She lives in beautiful Virginia with children, horses, dogs, and cats.



Excerpt:
Sarah Pettijohn had vowed she would never play the role of the Siren again . . . and yet here she was, tucked high above the stage behind the proscenium arch so that the audience could not see her, dressed in practically nothing, waiting her turn on stage. From her perch, she watched the teeming mass of male bodies in the audience below and knew they did not bode well for her.
The owners of the theater, Geoff and Charles, were masters at creating a stir. The house was packed with men from every walk of life. The rich, the poor, the old, the young, and the stupid had all paid their four shillings because, as Geoff said, men could never have their fill of “tittie” watching. “No matter how much it costs them, they like to look.” Sarah was not showing her “titties.” She wore a nude shift beneath her diaphanous costume.

Granted there was little beneath the shift, but she was well covered compared to the other women in the company. She’d insisted upon it. She knew from the last time she had been compelled to play the Siren, six years ago, the male imagination could fill in the details, whether seen or not. Keeping her identity a secret was important, just as it had been in the past. To that purpose, Sarah wore a bejeweled mask and mounds of face paint and powder to create a fanciful, feminine creature with long lashes and golden skin. A black wig plaited into a thick braid hid her red hair. She’d also refused to attend rehearsals, preferring to practice her act in secret. She was not proud of what she was doing. She had a reputation to protect. After all, she wasn’t just an actress. She was a playwright. She’d agreed to play the Siren because Geoff and Charles promised to stage her play. Her play. For years, Sarah had rewritten and edited the work of men who used her talent and gave her none of the recognition. This past summer, Colman at the Haymarket Theater where she’d been part of the company for years, had promised to produce one of her plays but when the time came, he’d reneged and put one of his own on the schedule instead. One Sarah had rewritten for him.

Sarah had walked. She’d left his company with her head high, and her pockets empty. That is when Geoff and Charles had approached her. They were talented theater men who had staged the first Naughty Review in order to raise the funds to build the Bishop’s Hill Theater. It had been a one-night event, just as this was. At that time, Sarah had been desperate for money so that she could provide a home for her half-sister’s orphaned daughter. She didn’t expose her “titties” then, either, but she would have done that and more to protect Charlene. What no one had expected was for the Siren to become almost legendary in men’s minds. Even Sarah was astounded and she was thankful that she’d been disguised so no one knew who she was. For months after that first Review, personal notices were run in the papers from men either begging the actress playing the Siren to contact them or looking for information about her. Fortunately, those few people who knew Sarah never betrayed her. Now, after years of running their own theater, Geoff and Charles were deeply in debt. They were in danger of losing the Bishop’s Hill and hoped that if the Review worked once, it would do so again. “Everyone wants the Siren,” Charles had said.
“You do this for us and we will stage your play. We’ll all have what we want.” Sarah had reluctantly agreed. She’d had no choice, really. She didn’t have the means to stage the play herself. Charlene was now happily married and living in Boston, an ocean away. The time had come for Sarah to live her own life. If dancing and singing almost naked would bring her what she wanted, then so be it. A woman alone had to do what she must to survive—and if Sarah was one thing, she was a survivor.

She shifted her weight on the narrow shelf and tightened her hold on the silken rope that would be used to lower her to the stage. The Siren would be the last performance of the evening. She’d secreted herself an hour before the curtain. Below her, two female gladiators with swords shaped like phalluses left the stage. William Millroy, an Irish tenor, came out and began singing about being cuckolded by his wife. The audience wasn’t paying attention. They had come for women. Someone threw a cabbage at Will but he ducked. More vegetables and a few fruits were thrown to the delight of the crowd, especially when they hit their target. William scampered off stage to the sound of cheers.

“Where’s the Siren?” someone called out. A chant began. “Siren! Siren!” Sarah shook her head. Men could be so ridiculous. They had been doing this all evening. Her nerves were frayed.
A group of bare-breasted dancers costumed as sheep came out onto the stage and the men forgot their chanting and roared their approval. One gent leaped from one of the boxes upon the sheep nearest him. Sarah knew the girl. Irene. She screamed and pushed his hands away from her breasts just as the bullyboys Geoff and Charles had hired rushed forward to toss the man into the pit. Laughter and ribald comments met his comeuppance. The music started and the sheep pranced around while a shepherd ran among them poking them in the bum with his staff. Every time he touched a sheep, she’d cry “Baaa” and the audience started mimicking the sound with an obscenity in place of the “Baa.” Sarah had an urge to go down on that stage and lecture the men on manners. If they kept up this rowdiness, her performance would be a short one. In fact, she would make it quick.
She would sing one song, escape this theater without anyone being wiser to who she really was, and then she could start living the rest of her life the way she wished. She’d cast her play, The Fitful Widow: A Light Comedy Concerning the Foolishness of Men, and prove that her talent was equal to any male playwright’s.

Her fierce determination came to an abrupt halt as she recognized one of the men in the very expensive boxes to the side of the stage. Uncertain she could believe her eyes, she leaned forward as far as she dared on the platform for a better view, balancing herself by holding on to the rope. It was him. There was no mistaking the broad shoulders or that arrogantly proud tilt of the head.

The Duke of Baynton, that Pillar of Morality, the Nonesuch, the Maker of Ministries was at the Naughty Review. Sarah sat back, stunned, and then drew a deep breath. Who knew? Baynton was mortal after all. Or perhaps he had wandered in by chance? Oh no, he wouldn’t. She distinctly remembered him coolly informing her that he did not attend the theater. Well, he had added, save for the occasional Shakespeare.

This was no Shakespeare. And it was intriguing to see him here. The duke had once wooed her niece Charlene. When Charlene had run off with another, his twin brother, no less, Baynton had gone after them and Sarah had insisted on accompanying him so that she could protect her beloved niece. In the end, Baynton had not won the lady.

Charlene had married the man she loved and the duke had been somewhat gracious about it—that is, to everyone save Sarah. Apparently he did not appreciate outspoken women. She had little admiration for him as well. Two days of traveling to Scotland with him had convinced her that no other man on earth could be more insufferable or self-righteous than Baynton. At their parting, she had prayed to never set eyes upon him again—except this was good. This was a moment to be relished. Watched only Shakespeare. The hypocrite. If she’d had a shoe on, she would have thrown it down right on his head. Let him think it was the judgment of God Almighty for being in such an immoral place. Sarah would have adored seeing the expression on his handsome face . . . and he was handsome. Sarah was not blind to his looks. It was the words that came out of his mouth she didn’t like.

But gazing at him, well, that was pleasure. In truth, she’d been overjoyed when he’d first called on Charlene. She’d wanted what was best for her niece and the Duke of Baynton was the best London had to offer. He was wealthy, respected, honored, and Char would have made a lovely duchess. Sarah could even recall the last words she’d heard the duke speak. Baynton had paid Sarah’s way home from Scotland by private coach rather than endure more travel time with her. He’d mentioned within her hearing that it had been “money well spent. She is too opinionated by half.” Words that Sarah had found surprisingly hurtful, although she’d had her fill of him as well. The sheep were almost done with their act. It had gone on overlong. The crowd no longer yelled crudities or baaa’ed. They grew restless. That was the problem with this sort of entertainment. It could never capture the imagination—not in the way a well-written play could. The Siren was up next. Had Sarah thought to make her performance quick and be done with it? That had been before spying the Duke of Puffed Up Consequence in her audience. She stood and wrapped the silken rope around her hand, readying herself to step off the platform the moment the dancers on stage finished. She felt strong, powerful, and inspired to give the performance of her lifetime. If Baynton thought his matched set of grays were high flyers, wait until he witnessed the Siren.

New Release, Excerpt, & Giveaway: Consolation Prize (Forbidden Men #9) – Linda Kage

What do you think? Should I give him a try?

CONSOLATION PRIZE
Forbidden Men #9
Linda Kage
Released Nov 17th, 2016



Don’t you just hate it when someone destroys all your carefully made plans?

I mean, I had goals: college to graduate in one semester, a future I was working hard to reach, and an image of myself I wanted the world to see. My life was stacked into these precisely placed blocks. But then Colton Gamble came along and knocked them all askew.

I hated how he messed everything up, how he could hog all my attention whenever he was around, how he made my pulse quicken–but only because he ticked me off…not because I was attracted to him. Oh! And I hated how he knew how attractive he was too, the shallow, full of himself, doesn’t take no for an answer, too-flirty, too cocky, extremely irritating jerk.

The boy had all the qualities that turned me off. Or so I thought.

One night he wasn’t quite the brainless, over-confident jerk I usually took him for.

One night, he took care of me when I was at my lowest. He opened up to me and made me open up to him.

Now I’m learning maybe he’s not what I first thought he was. And maybe I’M not what I first thought I was. Maybe it’s okay to rearrange a couple of my perfectly set blocks. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll stop worrying about what I’m afraid everyone else will think and finally reach for something I really want. It’s possible some of my plans need to be destroyed, and Colton Gamble is exactly the kind of mess I need in my life.

What do you think? Should I give him a try?

Desperately seeking your advice,
Julianna Radcliffe



Linda Kage grew up on a dairy farm in the Midwest as the youngest of eight children. Now she lives in Kansas with her husband, daughter, and nine cuckoo clocks. Her life’s been blessed with lots of people to learn from and love. Writing’s always been a major part of her world, and she is so happy to finally share some of her stories with other romance lovers.


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Excerpt:
“Juli can’t stop staring at you tonight.”
“Juli?” That name perked me to immediate attention. “Julianna’s here?”
I followed Asher’s gaze to a dimly-lit table in the back corner that bordered the dance floor. It was empty save for one individual, one of the loveliest individuals to grace the planet.
I have no clue how she did it, but Julianna Radcliffe always managed to look equal parts disdainfully untouchable and wet-dream sexy.
Tonight, her dress was pure sin. She wore a long, strapless light gray number that had a front slit, exposing a perfectly toned leg most the way up her thigh and a bustier top that hugged proud, ample breasts. The paleness of her dress made the tone of her skin appear even darker than usual, which made my stomach knot with tension because I yearned to investigate all that dark-dark skin, see how it felt under my hands, how it tasted against my tongue, how it trembled when I stroked it.
Yet I knew without a shadow of a doubt there was no way that would ever happen, because that lady right here was a ball breaker. You could tell it by the straight-backed, poised way she held herself, as if she might as well be behind a boardroom table, doling out punishments to her inferior insubordinates, and by the way she had no tolerance for stupidity or players. I swear, her stare alone could shrivel a guy’s family jewels to impotent nothingness. I usually had the itching urge to cover my junk whenever I talked to her.
And yet she was an irresistible challenge to idiots like me. Not just because she was model-worthy stunning, which she was. Nothing on her was ever out of place; it always struck me with the urge to mess her up…in the best ways possible. But because I felt the need to be the exception to the rule, the one who got past her defenses and scaled that impossible mountain.
Brandt groaned.
I glanced at him, forcing my brain back to the problem at hand, that being Julianna and her inability to take her eyes off my newly married brother. “Hasn’t it been months since you and she were over?” I asked, confused.
He sent me a sharp glance. “Over? We never started. There’s nothing to be over. Juli and I didn’t even finish the one date we went on.”
Asher sniffed. “Well, it looks as if she’s still willing to finish it.”
“Dammit.” Brandt glanced toward his wife. “I hope Sarah doesn’t see her watching me. I don’t want anything upsetting her on our wedding day.”
Asher shook his head. “So, why’d you even invite Juli?”
“I work with her.” Brandt moodily tugged at the collar of his tux.
It seemed odd to me that someone so classically beautiful worked in a nightclub as a bartender. To me, Julianna clearly belonged on a runway, displaying the latest fashion, or—
“It would’ve been strange to invite everyone else and leave her out. Besides, we’re still friends. She’s probably my favorite coworker.”
“Hey,” Asher muttered, offended since he occasionally bartended at Forbidden with Brandt too.
Brandt rolled his eyes. “You don’t count.”
But that only seemed to confuse Asher more. “Why don’t I count?”
Ignoring him, Brandt brought his hand up to his mouth so he could chew on his thumbnail. “We need to distract her somehow. Someone needs to…” Trailing off, he turned slowly toward me, and the intent in his gaze was pretty damn clear.
I paused mid-sip. “Wait, what? You can’t possibly want me to distract her?”

New Release, Excerpt, & Giveaway: Folly and Forever (Omega Mu Alpha Brothers #3) – Kimberly Loth

He
presents a proposal that can fix both their problems—get married. 
Will she say
yes?

FOLLY AND FOREVER
Omega Mu Alpha Brothers #3
Kimberly Loth
Releasing Nov 16th, 2016

Bethany McAlister loves that house more than life itself and will do anything to keep it. Even if she can’t begin to afford the taxes on it. When a notice arrives informing her that her house is about to go to auction she desperately takes on a roommate, but gets a surprise when the dead sexy Jamie Green shows up on her doorstep to take her spare room. Jamie brings not only much needed cash, but more problems than Bethany cares to take on. But then he presents a proposal that can fix both their problems—get married. Will she say yes and risk her heart or no and risk losing her home that means so much to her?

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Kimberly Loth can’t decide where she wants to settle down. She’s lived in Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Utah, California, Oregon, and South Carolina.


She finally decided to make the leap and leave the U.S. behind for a few years. After living in Cairo, Egypt for 2 years, she’s decided to go to the Far East and currently calls Shenzhen, China home. She loves romantic movies, chocolate, roses, and crazy adventures.

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Excerpt:
In the backseat his dog, Hexa, whined. She could see the yard. He let her out, and she rolled around in the grass. At least she’d be happy here. He opened his trunk and stared at the house. The waves crashed behind it, and the air smelled of salt. Yeah. He’d love it here.

The house was three stories, painted a soft yellow with green accents. Three porches framed the massive stairway that lead to the front door. Most of the houses on Folly Beach had garages under the house and the front door on the second floor.

Before heading up the stairs, he stepped back and snapped a few pictures with his camera. That would be for him. To document his time here. He hoped this would be a good several months. They’d be hard, but rewarding. He looked down at the paper in hand. Bethany Davis was his new roommate.

He left Hexa in the yard and headed up the stairs to the double glass front doors. No privacy there. He rang the bell and saw a flurry of movement, and the door opened. He found himself face-to-face with a woman who was five foot nothing, with ice blue eyes and a messy brown knot on the back of her head. She must be Bethany. Her wide eyes opened even wider when she looked him up and down and checked out his two suitcases. She was cute, but not his type. Thank goodness. He couldn’t afford distractions, and in spite of his recent efforts, he wasn’t too good at avoiding them.

“Um, come in,” she finally said. “The bedroom is around the corner.” She wouldn’t look him in the eye, and he was instantly curious. Her posture indicated confidence, but the lack of eye contact did not.

He whistled for Hexa and dragged his two suitcases into the house. He waited for his dog and then shut the door. She made a beeline for Bethany, and jumped up on her, putting her paws her shoulders. Dobermans weren’t heavy, forceful dogs, but Hexa was tall. His cheeks flushed with embarrassment. Good way to meet his new roommate. She’d be liable to kick him out now.

He dropped his suitcases to rescue her. To his surprise though, she was laughing, and instead of pushing Hexa away, she got on the ground to play. She didn’t even look up at him.

He glanced down, and without meaning to, right into her shirt. She had nice cleavage, but he closed his eyes. He did not come to Charleston to get involved with another woman. Besides, she totally wasn’t his type. He preferred his women tall and blonde. At least that’s what he told himself. Maybe Miss Bethany would be more distracting than he originally thought.

“Are you okay with her? I’m going to put the suitcases in the bedroom.”

She nodded and pointed to the open door, off the foyer.

The old house had white pinewood floors and light blue walls. It seemed to have a beach theme, with shells scattered on the side tables. An old southern staircase led up to the third floor.
He hauled his suitcases into the bright and spacious bedroom with a balcony. His face fell when he saw the bed though. It was a tiny daybed, clearly meant for a child. There was no way his six-foot-four body would fit on it. He snapped a few pictures of the room and sent a quick text to his assistant. She’d order him something decent to sleep in.

Hexa barked, and he went out to investigate, but both Hexa and Bethany were gone. He walked past the stairs and into a living room. In the kitchen Bethany was sitting on the floor with Hexa, doing tricks for treats.

“She’s well-trained,” Bethany said, keeping her eyes on the dog. This would not do at all. He couldn’t live with her if she wouldn’t even look at him. Well, he could, but it wouldn’t be very fun.

“Yeah, she is.” He crouched down next to Hexa in the hopes that he could at least get another glimpse of Bethany’s eyes.

She kept her hands and gaze on Hexa. “It was nice of you to bring in Jamie’s stuff for her. Is she here yet?”

He creased his eyebrows. “I’m Jamie.”

Bethany continued to pet Hexa and then stood slowly. She opened and closed her mouth. Then she looked him in the eyes for the first time. Her pupils were huge, nearly causing the blue to disappear. “I’m sorry. I told the agency I would only accept females. I think there has been a misunderstanding. You can’t stay here.” She reached around him and reached for her phone.
He grabbed her hand. The one with the phone. He needed to reassure her that he wasn’t dangerous. Her hand was ice cold, and she sucked in a hard breath.

Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway: The Real Winner – KV Rider

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Title: The Real Winner
Author: KV Rider
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Blue Tulip Publishing

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What would you do for your best friend?
What would you do for family?
When the two combine, do you make a choice?
Watch what happens when you combine friendship and family
.

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Casey wins the chance of a lifetime, to learn how to run a ranch of her own. Unfortunately, Jason, the ranch owner, runs it as a men only operation. When Casey shows up to claim her prize, Jason doesn’t want her there. Fearing a lawsuit, he gives in, assigning her busywork that frustrates and infuriates her.

Jason finds he has a protective streak where Casey’s concerned. He does his best to ignore her, but can’t. When a series of suspicious mishaps occur, Jason wants Casey gone, but once Casey gets attacked, Jason can’t let her go. After an unexpected night together, Jason knows he’ll always want Casey in his life. But Casey has no memory of it, leaving Jason feeling used and confused. Had he imagined their night together?

Follow Jason and Casey along their path of mystery, murder and romance as they find their way through their journey. Can Jason protect Casey long enough to convince her to build a life together on their ranch?

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Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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excerpt

As his lips claimed hers, he wanted to consume all of her in the kiss. He realized somewhere in the back of his head that she wasn’t fighting him. She was standing there, stiff against him and the wall, and he softened the hold on her arms, still not wanting to let go, unsure if he was even able to let her go. He wrapped his arms around her, holding her into him, drawing her closer. He caressed her with his fingertips, urging her to come closer toward him, trying not to force anything on her. He wanted her to have a say, but he wasn’t so sure of himself. He wasn’t so sure if he’d be able to let her go if that was what she wanted.

She tasted the way he thought she would, and he lost himself in the kiss.

Suddenly, Casey was kissing him back, and he knew she was there with him when their mouths started dancing the slow seductive dance, testing the angles that would give them more of each other. He sipped the heat from her, transferring his own to her, letting her know that this would end in a fast and wild dance. A dance that only the two of them would share.

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trailer

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author

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I was born in Euclid, Ohio, living in Wickliffe until I was seven. It was then that we moved to a small town in Kentucky. I married young and still live in that small town with my husband. We have three children, a daughter-in-law, and three (almost four now!) grandchildren. Our parents all live close by, as well as our children. I love watching my birds on the deck and having herb gardens and trees. My pinterest account is mostly filled with books I love reading and also on gardening ideas.

 

I’ve always enjoyed writing. It wasn’t until the death of my middle sister, that I found that I could escape my daily life in writing, it was a great way to deal with the mourning process. The only sharing I did during this time was for extra credit in school and for my friends and family.

 

My desire to write took a side-burner when I had children of my own. But with time passing, the stories became more like little movies and I knew I needed to write again. As I worked on this book, I never thought I would do anything with it, but as time passed, I knew I wanted to share it! One of my favorite authors, Susan Mallery was going to be at a convention. She kept posting about the RT convention, and so I ended up going to my first one. I learned a lot there and made some wonderful friends (Monica, Damon, and Stephanie), but most importantly, it gave me direction. The second one I attended, I submitted my book to the company I fell in love with through Monica.

 

I work as a paramedic and love this job also! It’s very rewarding as it is also stressful! EMS does not get the justification as it should, especially when EMS and firefighting are two separate identities as in most smaller communities. Most of my off time is filled with family and getting the time to just stay at home.

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Enter to win ONE of these AMAZING prizes!

2 signed copies of The Real Winner
2 swag gifts from Four Roses Distillery
2 $10 Amazon Gift Cards

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THIS REVIEW CONTAINS A SPOILER. I HAVE MARKED WHERE THE SPOILER BEGINS AND ENDS.

I am not a huge fan of rating books less than three stars; just because *I* don’t like a book doesn’t mean that it won’t be the best book someone else has read.

WHAT I LIKED: The feminist in me was cheering on the fact that a woman had won a coveted spot at Jason’s ranch. I like strong female characters, especially ones who fight back against slimeballs and the alpha males who think women don’t belong somewhere.

I devoured Jackie Collins books when I was a teenager and loved that there was always some mystery/suspense going on amongst all of the romance. The Real Winner reminded me of how much I loved the air of mystery/suspense, even if it was rather easy to figure out who the stalker, etc. were.

I loved the easy friendships between Lynn and Casey, as well as the friendship that Casey built up with Danny, who became like a father figure to her.

WHAT I DID NOT LIKE: The dialogue was stilted and rather embarrassing to read. There were times when I wondered if I was reading about adults or angsty teenagers.

The author’s writing is choppy, all over the place, and there were some rather major mistakes to the plot and sub-plot. I was often confused as I tried to make sense of why this person was with this person when they should have been with that person. Or she should have been here, but she was there. There were also things that happened that were just too bizarre, even for a completely fictional book. I don’t mind stepping out of the box and authors being creative, but {SPOILER}finding out that Casey is pregnant less than a week after they’ve had sex is absolutely ridiculous! And don’t get me started on the fact that the hospital staff volunteered information without Casey’s permission to Jason and Lynn. {END OF SPOILER}

After awhile I found myself skimming through because I was bored and frustrated.

Lastly, I don’t mind cliffhangers, but this book just…stopped! There was no setup for a sequel, it just…ended and that had me throwing my kindle down in disgust, startling my cat and my husband as I muttered angrily under my breath.

I suppose there will *have* to be a sequel in order for the mystery/suspense sub-plot loose ends to be tied up. If not, then the author is doing a disservice to her fans by not tying up all of the loose ends she left behind.

CONCLUSION: I find myself less than likely to be purchasing any sequel to this book.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher at my request. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Please Note: There is some strong language, sexual content, and violent content. May not be suitable for readers under the age of 18.

New Release, Excerpt, & Giveaway: NIC (Rossi Brothers #2) – JM Stewart

The gentle giant slowly awakens her long-dormant passion.
NIC
Rossi Brothers #2
JM Stewart
Released Nov 14th, 2016

Single father Nic Rossi’s only desire is to raise his little girl with the same love and security his grandparents gave him and his siblings. That is, until Anna Thompson and her frightened daughter walk into his family restaurant, looking for employment, and turn his carefully ordered world upside down.

On the run from her abusive ex, Anna wants one thing: a quiet place like Angel Bay to raise her daughter. But she needs a job to pay for that dream, even if her new boss is a man whose sheer size makes her tremble. Yet Nic’s capacity for kindness leaves her feeling safe for the first time in years, and the gentle giant slowly awakens her long-dormant passion.

Then her ex-husband turns up like a bad penny, threatening not only Anna’s safe haven, but Nic’s daughter in the bargain, forcing them to choose between love and family.




J.M. Stewart is a coffee and chocolate addict who lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, two sons and two very spoiled dogs. She’s a hopeless romantic who believes everybody should have their happily ever after and has been devouring romance novels for as long as she can remember. Writing them has become her obsession.


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Excerpt:
Anna Thompson looked up from her plate, peering at the hulking giant sitting in the booth across from her. Nic twirled the last bit of spaghetti on his plate, watching her with careful eyes as he stuffed the bite into his mouth and chewed. After introducing her to his older brother, Luc, who owned half the restaurant and worked as the head chef, Nic had indeed raided the ’fridge. He’d made three heaping plates of spaghetti and meatballs, complete with salad and what smelled like fresh garlic bread sticks.

The man made her insides shake. The resemblance was uncanny at best, terrifying at worst. If it weren’t for the other two waitresses, moving silently around the dining room as they cleaned up for the night, she wouldn’t have stayed. When she’d gotten her first look at Nic after that sweet waitress let her and Lacey in, she’d almost turned around a left. He looked so much like Tony her throat had closed. Both had the same dark brown hair and olive complexion so common in men of Italian decent. Nic’s eyes were different, though. Tony was dark all over, including his midnight eyes. Nic’s were a beautiful shade of amber, and, so far, always seemed to hold a hint of a smile.

She couldn’t deny he was good-looking. Ten years ago, before Tony, she might have flirted with his sexy smile, with those beautiful amber eyes. But he stood a good head and shoulders above her, his body thickly muscled. The power behind his large, muscular frame made her stomach lurch.

Nic set his fork on the side of his plate and folded his hands on the table in front of him. He inclined his head at Lacey. “She was hungry.”

Nic had given her enough pasta for a grown man, but Lacey had cleaned her plate. She’d then curled up in the corner of the booth and fallen asleep sitting up.

“And exhausted.” Anna shook her head, her face warming. “You must think I’m a horrible mother.”

What kind of mother couldn’t provide even a meal and a warm bed for her child?

Nic leaned back in the booth, studying her with shrewd eyes, as if he could see too much and had already figured her out. “Actually, I don’t. It takes guts to admit to a complete stranger you have nowhere to sleep.”

Regret twisted in Anna’s stomach. She shouldn’t have pushed them so hard this time. She should have stopped in Oregon, when Lacey begged her to camp on the beach again. Then at least they could have started tomorrow with a full belly, and with any luck, she might have found another job where she could work for a while to earn more money before they pushed on.

She’d been desperate to come here, to this tiny little town on an island in the middle of the Puget Sound. Tony had gotten too close this last time, and she’d run again, terrified he’d find them. Hope and sheer, stubborn determination were the only things keeping her going anymore.

New Release, Excerpt, & Giveaway: Tru Blue – Melissa Foster

He wore the skin of a killer, and bore the heart of a lover…

TRU BLUE
A Sexy Standalone Romance
Melissa Foster
Releasing Nov 9th, 2016

He wore the skin of a killer, and bore the heart of a lover…

There’s nothing Truman
Gritt won’t do to protect his family–Including spending years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. When he’s finally released, the life he knew is turned upside down by his mother’s overdose, and Truman steps in to raise the children she’s left behind. Truman’s hard, he’s secretive, and he’s trying to save a brother who’s even more broken than he is. He’s never needed help in his life, and when beautiful Gemma Wright tries to step in, he’s less than accepting. But Gemma has a way of slithering into people’s lives and eventually she pierces through his ironclad heart. When Truman’s dark past collides with his future, his loyalties will be tested, and he’ll be faced with his toughest decision yet.




Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance, new adult romance, and women’s fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Melissa’s emotional journeys are lovingly erotic, perfect beach reads, and always family oriented.


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The following excerpt contains strong language.

Chapter One

TRUMAN GRITT LOCKED the door to Whiskey Automotive and stepped into the stormy September night. Sheets of rain blurred his vision, instantly drenching his jeans and T-shirt. A slow smile crept across his face as he tipped his chin up, soaking in the shower of freedom. He made his way around the dark building and climbed the wooden stairs to the deck outside his apartment. He could have used the interior door, but after being behind bars for six long years, Truman took advantage of the small pleasures he’d missed out on, like determining his own schedule, deciding when to eat and drink, and standing in the fucking rain if he wanted to. He leaned on the rough wooden railing, ignoring the splinters of wood piercing his tattooed forearms, squinted against the wetness, and scanned the cars in the junkyard they used for parts—and he used to rid himself of frustrations. He rested his leather boot on the metal box where he kept his painting supplies. Truman didn’t have much—his old extended-cab truck, which his friend Bear Whiskey had held on to for him while he was in prison, this apartment, and a solid job, both of which were compliments of the Whiskey family. The only family he had anymore.

Emotions he didn’t want to deal with burned in his gut, causing his chest to constrict. He turned to go inside, hoping to outrun thoughts of his own fucked-up family, whom he’d tried—and failed—to save. His cell phone rang with his brother’s ringtone, “A Beautiful Lie” by 30 Seconds to Mars.

“Fuck,” he muttered, debating letting the call go to voicemail, but six months of silence from his brother was a long time. Rain pelleted his back as he pressed his palm to the door to steady himself. The ringing stopped, and he blew out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d trapped inside. The phone rang again, and he froze.

He’d just freed himself from the dredges of hell that he’d been thrown into in an effort to save his brother. He didn’t need to get wrapped up in whatever mess the drug-addicted fool had gotten himself into. The call went to voicemail, and Truman eyed the metal box containing his painting supplies. Breathing like he’d been in a fight, he wished he could paint the frustration out of his head. When the phone rang for the third time in as many minutes, the third time since he was released from prison six months ago, he reluctantly answered.

“Quincy.” He hated the way his brother’s name came out sounding like the enemy. Quincy had been just a kid when Truman went to prison. Heavy breathing filled the airwaves. The hairs on Truman’s forearms and neck stood on end. He knew fear when he heard it. He could practically taste it as he ground his teeth together.

“I need you,” his brother’s tortured voice implored.

Need me? Truman had hunted down his brother after he was released from prison, and when he’d finally found him, Quincy was so high on crack he was nearly incoherent—but it didn’t take much for fuck off to come through loud and clear. What Quincy needed was rehab, but Truman knew from his tone that wasn’t the point of the call.

Before he could respond, his brother croaked out, “It’s Mom. She’s really bad.”

Fuck. He hadn’t had a mother since she turned her back on him more than six years ago, and he wasn’t about to throw away the stability he’d finally found for the woman who’d sent him to prison and never looked back.

He scrubbed a hand down his rain-soaked face. “Take her to the hospital.”

“No cops. No hospitals. Please, man.”

A painful, high-pitched wail sounded through the phone.

“What have you done?” Truman growled, the pit of his stomach plummeting as memories of another dark night years earlier came rushing in. He paced the deck as thunder rumbled overhead like a warning. “Where are you?”

Quincy rattled off the address of a seedy area about thirty minutes outside of Peaceful Harbor, and then the line went dead.

Truman’s thumb hovered over the cell phone screen. Three little numbers—9-1-1— would extricate him from whatever mess Quincy and their mother had gotten into. Images of his mother spewing lies that would send him away and of Quincy, a frightened boy of thirteen, looking devastated and childlike despite his near six-foot stature, assailed him.

Push the buttons.

Push the fucking buttons.

He remembered Quincy’s wide blue eyes screaming silent apologies as Truman’s sentence was revealed. It was those pleading eyes he saw now, fucked up or not, that had him trudging through the rain to his truck and driving over the bridge, leaving Peaceful Harbor and his safe, stable world behind.

New Release, Excerpt, & Giveaway: Welcome Home for Christmas (A Hero’s Welcome #4) – Annie Rains

TITLE: Welcome Home For Christmas
SERIES: A Hero’s Welcome #4
AUTHOR: Annie Rains
RELEASE DATE: Nov 8th, 2016

The bestselling Hero’s Welcomes series continues with a juicy Christmas romance set in Seaside, North Carolina, where a bustling military base keeps this small town stocked with dedicated, lovable heroes.

Three-hundred-and-sixty-four days a year, Allison Carmichael doesn’t mind being single. It sure beats dating another loser, and it keeps her heart safe. Then there’s that three-hundred-and-sixty-fifth day: Christmas Eve, the traditional time her entire family gathers together—and gangs up on her, demanding to know when she’s going to get married. This year, she swears, is going be different. And that’s why, at a charity auction she’s throwing on-base, she buys herself a man.

Sergeant Troy Matthews insists that he’s not for sale. His time is, though, and he’s happy to donate it. Happier still when he learns the identity of the winning bidder: the redhead with the killer good looks and smart mouth who runs the veteran’s center. Allison needs Troy’s help to fool her family into believing they’re an item, and he’s all too happy to indulge her. But by the time Christmas Eve rolls around, their little charade is working a little too well . . .

because Troy’s falling head over heels.


USA Today Bestselling Author, Annie Rains, is a contemporary romance author who writes small town love stories set in fictional towns on the coast of North Carolina. Raised in one of America’s largest military communities, Annie often features heroes who fight for their countries, while also fighting for a place to call home and a good woman to love. When Annie isn’t writing, she’s spending time with her husband and 3 children, or reading a book by one of her favorite authors.




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Excerpt:
“So there’s one thing I now know about you. You’re a good liar.” Allison folded her arms at her chest.

“Good, maybe. But I value honesty. Sometimes lying to someone is for their own good, though. A little white lie never really hurt anyone. Here’s one for you,” he leaned in closer and lowered his voice, “I have absolutely no interest in dating you, either.”

Her cheeks flushed.

“And I don’t think you’re the most beautiful woman in this room, and the thought of taking you out does not appeal to me whatsoever.” He shook his head. “Nope, not one little bit.”

She smiled. “Now I know two things about you. You lie well and you’re a smooth talker. So, do you agree to my proposal?”

Troy could just say yes, but he was enjoying engaging her in a conversation. “You know, when I was kid, Christmas was always magical. I’d sit with the toy catalog and create this huge, mile-long list of the things I wanted. I never got so excited about a pencil and paper.”

“Did you get everything on the list?” she asked.

“Usually.”

“So your family had money?”

He nodded. His family practically owned the town he’d grown up in. He didn’t know what it felt like to want for something until his cousin Dale had died in 9-11, the deciding factor in him joining the military. “I figure the more money raised for those kids, the better their Christmas will be.”

“That’s my goal. I want this to be the best Christmas Mercy’s kids have ever had.”

“So, if I have to take you out . . .” He trailed off, smiling at her.

“We’re just going to talk. Have a meal or something together. No kissing, no handholding.”
Troy held up his hands. “I’m an honorable guy. I don’t force myself on women. Truth is, I usually have to fight them off.” He winked again.

“And you can’t act like that when you meet my mother.”

“Like what?” he asked.

“All flirty and charming. She’ll never believe that I’d fall for someone like that.”

He tried not to take offense because no matter what she was saying, she was attracted to him. He could see it in her dilated pupils and the way her chest rose just slightly under her racing pulse. “No? What kind of guy exactly would you fall for?”

Allison looked around the room. There was still a nice-sized crowd laughing and mingling. Christmas music filled the merry air. “I wouldn’t fall for any kind of guy right now. That’s why I’m pretending with you.”

Review, Excerpts, & Charity Sale: Run Away Charlotte & Ask Me Again (The Courting of Charlotte Cooper 1 & 2) – H.M. Shander

For the first two weeks of November, all PROFITS from the sales of ASK ME AGAIN are being donated to SAIF – Stop Abuse in Families – Society. (www.stopabuse.ca).  

This not-for-profit organization provides services and counselling to its clients (and families) who are experiencing abuse. They also have support groups, and have partnered with schools and community groups to provide education and prevention. Locally run and operated, they are an organization near and dear to H.M.’s heart.
ASK ME AGAIN
The Courting of Charlotte Cooper #2
H.M. Shander

After years of feeling alone and unwanted in her unhappy marriage, Charlotte longs for a time when she was happy and truly loved. When her world is turned upside down by a broken water main, the true loneliness of her life becomes overbearing.

When Andrew shows up on her doorstep as Project Manager in charge of repairing her home, Charlotte’s heart come alive after years of it slowly tapping along.

It’s been more than 13 years since they broke up, she’s married and he’s engaged, but that doesn’t mean the past is forgotten. The more time they spend together repairing the house, the harder it becomes to resist their intoxicating chemistry.

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Start the Series from the Beginning
RUN AWAY CHARLOTTE
The Courting of Charlotte Cooper #1
H.M. Shander

Trusting and depending on others has never suited nineteen-year-old Charlotte Cooper, who believes she’s unworthy of a happily ever after. She’s fiercely loyal to one – her BFF Joe. Afterall, Joe’s the only one who knows everything about Charlotte and he’s sworn to protect her heart, and her deep dark secrets.

Until Andrew Wagner walks into her life.

Despite his attempts to court Charlotte, she pushes him away, believing he can’t handle her past shadows. After a horrible accident, she slowly learns to trust and depend on him. As she shares her darkest secrets, he falls in love with her. Several incidents thrust the young lovers together, and Charlotte falls hard, giving her whole being to Andrew. While trying to be everything he can for Charlotte, he struggles to find the balance between family, school, love and commitment.

However, their different definitions of love and what it means to love unconditionally come to a head after Andrew spends a summer abroad and Charlotte crosses a line. His reaction sends a devastated Charlotte into the arms of Jack, an older man who can successfully balance what Andrew failed to do. He puts Charlotte first, treating her like a princess while capitalizing on her vulnerability. He gives her everything her heart desires… except Andrew.

When it comes to matters of the heart and mind, which direction do you follow? Love or Logic?

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I have been writing since I was fourteen – I’m not going to tell you how many years that’s been (haha) but it’s a few. (wink wink) My original stories were handwritten on loose-leaf paper tied together with yarn, and each story has its own custom cover courtesy of whatever magazine I had around. I’d cut out the main character and tape her onto the cover, and decorate around her with the title and other pictures. Oh, the days before photoshop and awesome cover designers… Anyways. I developed a deep love of romance books, as I always loved it when the heroine overcame the odds to get the man of her dreams.

That early love has developed into a passion – I continue to write contemporary romance novels. Now, as an adult who has experienced reality (not like my wildly naïve fourteen-year-old self) my characters still overcome those tough odds, but their obstacles are also very real, and sometimes very dark. However, the rewards are even sweeter.

My heroes who are swoon-worthy and handsome and gentle, who have their own issues. No domineering alpha-males from me – I’ll leave those to many other wonderful authors I know and adore. My heroines are those women who are less than perfect, with a very select few she’ll call friends. She is neither popular nor outgoing but deeply loved by those lucky enough to know her.

Right now I am hard at work on a sequel to Duly Noted as well as a second-chance romance story. I’m also tinkering on a novella which follows after Ask Me Again as many emails have come in from readers saying they hope for more from Charlotte and Company.

It’s because of wonderful readers that I continue to write and develop my stories. I absolutely adore it when fans connect with me on twitter (@HM_Shander) because I’m very chatty on there, more so than my Facebook page (hmshander). Regardless of the way you contact me, I’m sure to respond.


ANGIE’S REVIEWS: It is hard to write a review for not just one, but two extremely emotional books that would be so easy to spoil, but I will do my best not to!

Ms. Shander’s writing is compelling. All of the characters were well developed layer upon layer, heartbreak upon heartbreak. I felt the full range of emotions as I devoted sleepless nights to reading them both, a pile of tissues beside me.

There were times when I just wanted to rage at Charlotte for her bad mistakes, her eagerness to be loved, and the injustices she suffered through foolish decisions. Her husband is such a jerk and it amazed me that she would stay in a horrible marriage as long as she did.

Then again, all she ever wanted was to be loved and be a part of a family.

The author is writing a novella and I’m eager to see what emotion she can pull from me with that!

ANGIE’S RATING: **** (each)

DISCLAIMER: I requested review copies of both books so that I could participate in the blog tour. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Excerpt from RUNAWAY CHARLOTTE:
He gathered up some papers and shoved them into his backpack. “So that’s it. That’s why you’re acting this way. But I want you know something. I’m here to help you. That’s all. I’d never hurt you. You don’t need to put on a brave face for me.”
Her voice softened. “Thank you.” She reached out her hand to him.
“Don’t hide from me. If nothing else, tell me what you’re thinking. Promise me you’ll try.”
“I’ll try.”
“Okay,” Andrew said as he squeezed her hand. He continued to hold it, rumours be damned, as they walked out the main doors into the January air. “I could get used to this.” He stared down at the bond between them. “Holding your hand all the time.”
Charlotte’s cheeks warmed. “I could too, but we’re just friends, okay? You understand why, right?”
“No, but I’m willing to play along.” He smiled at her as they walked the snow-covered, curving path to his car. The cold air nipped at their exposed skin.
“My walls aren’t ready to come down yet. It’s a scary world behind them and I don’t want you to see me like that.”
“Whatever you’re protecting, I can handle.”
Cheeks warming from the flood of heat, she tried to hide her blush. In a serious tone she said, “It’s my heart I’m protecting, and I can’t let you into that yet.”
“I do understand. Joe told me it was a dark place.”
Her eyes popped.
Andrew raced to cover. “But he told me nothing, I swear! Ask him. He just told me that it was a dark place, and said it wasn’t his story to tell.”
“Well, that does sound like something Joe would say.” She looked at him, her eyes returning to a normal size as her suspicion faded.

Excerpt from ASK ME AGAIN:
She reached for her phone and as he slid it into her hands, he wrapped his around hers. It was warm and soft, and for a moment made her forget where she was.
Slowly and gently, he turned her left hand over and stroked the inside of her wrist with his thumb. “What happened to your tattoo?”
A white scar looked burned into her skin, hiding the blue and red blood lines that ran beneath. She closed her eyes. “I had it removed.”
“You did, or Jack did?” He released her hand gently although his stubble covered face had disgust written all over it.
“Stop painting him in such a negative light. You don’t know anything.”
“Please, enlighten me then? Everything that I’ve seen, as of late, has not been the picture of romantic bliss.”
Charlotte swallowed hard. “We’re having a dry spell right now. There’s a lot going on, Drew. Between the house and his caseload, and work functions, and galas and hobnobbing, there’s barely time to breathe. He’s even at work today – it’s a Saturday for crying out loud.”
Andrew sat and stared at her.
She lifted the cup to her lips, and allowed the warm fluid to wet her parched throat.
“What’s happened to you?” His voice warm with concern.
“Nothing.”
“Your spirit, that amazing spirit, seems pushed down, far away.”
“It’s called life, Drew. You might want to look into getting one.” She sneered at him.
“Cat.” His voice was hushed and soft, emotion ringing through it.
“What?” she said joylessly.
“When was the last time you two went dancing, just for yourselves?” She said nothing. “When was the last time you watched the sunset? I remember how much you loved doing that. It was almost like the highlight of your day – those fifteen minutes of serenity.”
Charlotte closed her eyes, trying to visually block out the look of sadness Andrew mirrored. She didn’t want to see it. She knew what her life had become, and she felt helpless to do anything about it.
“I’ve got it.” Andrew snapped his fingers, springing open Charlotte’s eyes. “I’m going to make you feel alive again.”
Many thoughts crossed her mind, unsure of Andrew’s plan. Some were dirty, some were clean, but almost every thought made her shudder with excitement.
“Come with me.” His smile was contagious, but she crossed her arms.
“Why? What are you going to do?” Sitting firmly in her place, she refused to move.
“Not just me, us.” He rose. “Do you trust me?” He extended his hand to her.
She placed a trembling hand into his, and stood.
“Let’s go.”

Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway: Suddenly Dating (Lake Haven #2) – Julia London

 The ruse is starting to feel real—and romantic. 

SUDDENLY DATING
Lake Haven #2
Julia London
Releasing Nov 8th, 2016
Montlake

If only Lola Dunne had the time—and the courage—she’d write her novel, and maybe even start dating again. When her friend offers the use of her summer home overlooking Lake Haven, Lola sees the chance to focus on herself for a change, and she eagerly accepts.

Engineer Harry Westbrook is waiting for his ship to come in. But it’s not happening soon enough for his girlfriend, who’s left him for good…again. To nurse Harry’s heartache, his pal extends an invite to his lake house in East Beach.

When it turns out that Harry’s and Lola’s friends are a divorcing, not-on-speaking-terms couple sparring over the same house, the strangers find themselves accidental (and reluctant) roommates for the summer. They agree to make the best of it, even posing as a couple to mingle among East Beach’s well-heeled crowd. But the ruse is starting to feel real—and romantic. Are they brave enough to reveal their feelings before the summer nights turn cold?


ANGIE’S REVIEW: This is my first contemporary romance novel by Ms. London and most likely will not be my last.

One of my favorite tropes are when strangers are thrown together and need to make the best of a sticky situation…such as when Harry and Lola have both been given the keys to their soon-to-be-divorced friend’s lakehouse without their ex-spouse knowing that they’d handed over the key to someone.

There is real chemistry between Harry and Lola and I enjoyed their bickering probably more than I should admit. I also could connect with Lola when it comes to being clumsy (I’m not the only one who trips over air, right?!) and wanting to write, but being hesitant.

I do love romance novels, but the trend of writing about millionaires and billionaires who are spoiled rotten has oversaturated the market. To read about a white collar man who does not have to work but chooses to work – especially with his hands? Thanks for that bold move, Ms. London!

I haven’t read the first book in the series, but did read that you don’t have to read them in order as they’re stand alones.

If there is one complaint I have, it’s about the use of God’s name in a way that is not exactly complimentary. I’ve never understood the need to use such language, but did enjoy the book regardless.

DISCLAIMER: I requested a review copy in order to participate in the blog tour. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

ANGIE’S RATING:****

PLEASE NOTE: This book contains strong language and sexual situations. Not recommended for readers under the age of 18.

Julia London is the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of more than thirty romance novels. Her historical titles include the popular Desperate Debutantes series, the Secrets of Hadley Green series, and the Cabot Sisters series; her contemporary works include the Lake Haven, Pine River, and Cedar Springs series. She has won the RT Bookclub Award for Best Historical Romance and has been a six-time finalist for the prestigious RITA Award for excellence in romantic fiction. She lives in Austin, Texas.

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Chapter One Excerpt

New York City, April

The first-time Melissa broke up with Harry was on a Wednesday night, because Harry had come home later than he’d said he would. Okay, a lot later. Late-late. But he couldn’t help it—his crew had run into a problem installing a support beam under a bridge and it had taken a colossal effort by dozens of men to right that sinking ship.

When he walked into their little apartment, he knew he was in trouble. Melissa was sitting at the bistro table with an empty wine bottle before her and the dregs of said bottle in her glass. There was a plate of food in Harry’s spot: congealed spaghetti and something else he didn’t want to examine too closely. “I’m sorry—”

“I don’t want to hear it,” she snapped with a queenly flick of her wrist. “I’m done.”

Done. What did that mean, exactly? For the evening? With him? Harry wanted to ask, but as he was a veteran of this relationship, he knew better than to seek clarification when that much wine obviously had been drunk.

Melissa’s blue eyes narrowed; she knew he didn’t know what she meant. She came to her feet. Clumsily. And swaying a little when she pushed her long dark hair back over her shoulder. She had on a very short skirt and heels that made her look hot, and, God, Harry wished he’d made it home on time.

“I’ve had it with you, Harry. You’re always late. You come in looking like some Game of Thrones character with your shaggy hair and your dirty clothes,” she said, gesturing wildly in his direction.

“Well . . . I work in bridge construction,” he said calmly. “It’s kind of a dirty job. I apologize for my hair, but you know that I wear a hard hat most of the day.”

“So you can’t get a haircut?” she cried, and pitched forward, catching herself on the table.

This was the first he knew that his hair was an issue. He dug in his pocket for a hair band and pulled it back into a short tail.

“Oh, yeah, that works,” she snapped. “Here’s the thing, Harry. You do whatever you want,” she sang, casting her arm wide. “and then you expect me to sit here and wait with a dinner I slaved over.”

Here they went with the same sort of argument they’d been having a lot lately. “I don’t expect you to wait, Melissa. That’s why I told you to go ahead without me,” he reminded her. “And, to be fair, it’s spaghetti.”

Fire leapt into her blue eyes.

“Not that I don’t appreciate it,” he hastily added. He didn’t want to do this right now. He was tired, he was hungry, and that damn support beam was going to cost him more money he didn’t have.

Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway: Paper Love (A Chicago Christmas Romance #2) – Aubrey Wynne

It’s her extraordinary inner beauty that captures his heart. 
PAPER LOVE
Chicago Christmas #2
Aubrey Wynne
Released Oct 18th, 2016

Growing up in a Papua New Guinea mission, Joss Palmateer is a gentle soul with a unique view of life. Still adjusting to a new home in the U.S and the sudden loss of her mother, love is the last thing on her mind.

Sexy physical therapist, Ben Montgomery, meets his sister’s friend and the sparks fly. He takes it as a challenge when she ignores his advances, but it’s her extraordinary inner beauty that captures his heart. With the help of a stray homing pigeon and an old origami legend, Ben sets an unwavering course of romance to win her love.

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ANGIE’S REVIEW: What a sweet love story! I’ve never read any of Ms. Wynne’s books, but will be checking them out shortly. Her writing flows effortlessly, is full of humor, low on angst, and her characters are easy to relate to.

I loved getting to know Joss and that she didn’t immediately fall for Ben, no matter how attracted she was to him. Ben is not use to being told no, and sets his sights on wooing Joss.

…with the help of his pet homing pigeon. Hilarious!

Having been to Chicago a few times in the past, the author’s depiction of the chaotic, but fun atmosphere was spot on. Her descriptions of Papua New Guinea were beautiful and it was easy to envision myself there.

Need a lighthearted, fun book to read this weekend? Definitely grab this book!

DISCLAIMER: I requested a copy of this book so that I could take part in the review tour. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

ANGIE’S RATING: ****

Bestselling and award-winning author Aubrey Wynne resides in the Midwest with her husband, dogs, horses, mule and barn cats. She is an elementary teacher by trade, champion of children and animals by conscience, and author by night. Obsessions include history, travel, trailriding and all things Christmas.

Her short stories, Merry Christmas, Henry and Pete’s Mighty Purty Privies have won Readers Choice Awards and Dante’s Gift received the 2016 Golden Quill and Heart of Excellence award, as well as being a Maggie and Aspen Gold finalist.

Besides her Chicago Christmas novellas, Aubrey will release “A Vintage Romance” series inspired by tales of her stepfather, who served for the British Air Force in WWII. The stories will be set in the 40s & 50s. Her medieval fantasy series will launch in 2017 with Rolf’s Quest.

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Excerpt:
“I categorize, I don’t judge. We’re all different. We all have a role in life.” He mirrored her pose. “So you’re argumentative.”

“Not usually, but you bring out the best in me.”

His laugh was so loud that it drew the attention of the others in the room. Joss’ face turned red. “And intelligent and beautiful.” His bright green eyes pinned hers and turned a smoky jade. “Go out with me. You won’t regret it.”

“Said the lion to the mouse.” But she couldn’t keep the smile from her face. He was arrogant but witty. Her mind craved the challenge he would provide if her body didn’t betray her first. Step away from the charming, to-die-for handsomeness of this man.

A brunette came up behind the couch, put her head between them and said in a breathy tone, “Don’t forget about the rest of your guests. You promised us a dance.”

“Indeed I did.” He stood up and held out a hand to Joss. “Would you care to dance?”

Joss shook her head. “No, I don’t dance.”
“Never?”
“Never.”
“The gauntlet has been thrown. I’ll ask again,” he said and turned to the blonde. “C’mon Jackie. Let’s swing.”
Ben grabbed the girl’s hand and moved through the crowd. A whistle pierced the air. “Swing time,” someone yelled and bodies started moving toward the large porch.

“Easy Breezy,” Becky called out as she swept past Joss. Interest piqued, she stood and moved toward the back of the house. An old tune, sounding like something from the thirties or forties filled the house. Four couples were on the dance floor, including Becky. She recognized two more of the Montgomery siblings, and then it was a blur of movement.

The crowd started to clap and sing along as if this was an expected part of the evening’s entertainment. Joss watched the couples twist, turn, shoot out in spins, and come back together. They bent and stretched, flapped their hands yet never stopped smiling. The pure delight on Becky’s face was contagious, and Joss began clapping along with the rest of the audience.

And then her eyes landed on Ben. His tall, muscular frame moved as gracefully as a cat but with the power of a bull. She couldn’t take her eyes from him. He spun the girl out and pulled her into his side, bent and moved forward, their feet pivoting back and forth in unison as they moved across the room. After another twirl, he pulled her into his chest, her face looking up at him with a huge expectant smile. His shirtsleeves strained against his muscled arms as he swung her up like a rag doll and tossed her against his hip, down against him for a brief moment as their eyes met, and back up on his other side.

When the song ended, she was as breathless as the dancers. He turned and searched the guests. His gaze latched onto her, traveling from her face to her heaving chest and back up to her eyes. That smile, those full lips, sent heat through her and dared her to come closer. The girl tugged at his arm, caught his attention for just a moment, and the spell was broken.

Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway: Rules for a Rogue (Romancing the Rules #1) – Christy Carlyle

A sparkling new series
about a rogue who must learn how to follow the 
rules and a woman who wants to
break all of them.

RULES FOR A ROGUE
Romancing the Rules #1
Christy Carlyle
Releasing Nov 1st, 2016
Avon Impulse

From the USA Today bestselling author of ONE DANGEROUS DESIRE comes a sparkling new series about a rogue who must learn how to follow the rules and a woman who wants to break all of them, perfect for fans of Maya Rodale and Lorraine Heath.

Kit Ruthven’s Rules (for Rogues)
#1 Love freely but guard your heart, no matter how tempting the invader.
#2 Embrace temptation, indulge your sensual impulses, and never apologize.
#3 Scorn rules and do as you please. You are a rogue, after all.

Following the rules never brought anything but misery for Christopher “Kit” Ruthven. After rebelling against his controlling father and leaving the family’s Ruthven Rules etiquette book empire behind, Kit has been breaking every one imaginable for the past six years. He’s enjoyed London’s sensual pleasures and secured his reputation as a Rogue, but he’s failed to achieve success. When he inherits his father’s publishing business, Kit is forced back into the life he never wanted. Worse, he must face Ophelia Marsden, the woman he jilted but never forgot.

After losing her father and refusing a loveless marriage proposal, Ophelia has learned to rely on herself. To maintain the family home and support her younger brother, she tutors young girls in deportment and decorum. But her pupils would be scandalized if they knew their imminently proper teacher was also the author of a guidebook encouraging ladies to embrace their independence and overthrow outdated notions of etiquette like the Ruthven Rules.

As Kit rediscovers the life, and the woman, he left behind, Ophelia must choose between the practicalities she never truly believed in, or the love she’s never been able to extinguish.

ANGIE’S REVIEW: I’ve been in a bit of reading slump and this book is exactly what I needed to break it.

This is my first book by Carlyle, but it definitely won’t be my last. Her writing flows smoothly, her characters are well developed, and she wove the perfect amount of sarcasm, humour, strife, and romance in this first installment of her Romancing the Rules series.

Ophelia is a delightfully headstrong young woman whose sole focus is to keep her family home and provide for her sister and aunt. Kit, who walked away from Ophelia and his family to not have to deal with an oppressive, abusive father, shows a vulnerability that you don’t often see in rakes/rogues, but Carlyle pulls this off beautifully.

Even though his father was cruel, we learn that he wasn’t what he seemed.

I also enjoyed all of the secondary characters and can’t wait to see what is in store for them in this promising series.

DISCLAIMER: I requested a copy of this book for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

ANGIE’S RATING: ****

Please Note: Language and sensual situations.

Fueled by Pacific Northwest coffee and inspired by multiple viewings of every British costume drama she can get her hands on, Christy Carlyle writes sensual historical romance set in the Victorian era. She loves heroes who struggle against all odds and heroines who are ahead of their time. A former teacher with a degree in history, she finds there’s nothing better than being able to combine her love of the past with a die-hard belief in happy endings.

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Excerpt:
Before Ophelia could gather her sister and head back to the kitchen, a knock sounded at the front door. Juliet clutched her notebook to her chest and bolted back into the library.
Slipping Guidelines behind her back with one hand, Ophelia grasped the doorknob with the other. She schooled her features into a pleasant expression in case it was Mrs. Raybourn or, heaven forbid, Mr. Raybourn, in need of more reassurance their girls weren’t on the high road to ruin because of the book no one knew she’d written.

When she pulled the door open, all the breath whooshed from her body.

Their visitor wasn’t any member of the Raybourn family.

“Kit Ruthven.”

“You remember me, then?” He grinned as he loomed on the threshold, his shoulders nearly as wide as the frame. Eyes bright and intense, he took her in from head to toe, and then let his gaze settle on her mouth. When he finally looked into her eyes, the cocksure tilt of his grin had softened. She read a wariness in his gaze that matched her own.

She’d spent years trying to forget those dark, deep-set eyes.

“I remember you.” Her book slipped, skidding across her backside and clattering to the floor as her throat tightened on sentiments she’d been waiting years to express. None of them would come. Not a single word. Instead, in outright rebellion, her whole body did its best to melt into a boneless puddle. Gritting her teeth, Phee fought the urge to swoon or, worse, rush into his long, muscled arms.

“I’m relieved to hear it.” He had the audacity to kick his grin into a smile, a rakish slash that cut deep divots into his clean-shaven cheeks. Then he took a step through her door. “I worried that—”

“No.” She lifted a hand to stop him. Looking at the man was difficult enough. Hearing his voice—deeper now but achingly familiar—was too much. If he came closer, she might give in to some rogue impulse. And that wouldn’t do. That wouldn’t do at all.

Ophelia swallowed hard. She needed a moment to gather her wits. To rebuild her walls.

“You dropped something.” He moved toward her, so close his sleeve brushed hers.

She lowered her hand to avoid touching him and jerked back when he bent to retrieve her book, watching as he turned the volume to read its title.

“Miss Gilroy’s Guidelines for Young Ladies. How intriguing. Looks as though Ruthven Publishing has some competition.”

Seeing him again was worse than she’d imagined. And she had imagined this moment aplenty. Far too many times. Not just on her infrequent jaunts to London but most days since they’d parted. The man had lingered in her thoughts, despite every effort to expel him.

Taking a shaky breath, she braced herself and faced him.

He’d always been tall. When they were children, she’d looked up to him. Literally. But he’d never used his size to bully others. More often he’d born teasing about his physique. Ungainly, his father had called him, and Kit repeated the word when referring to himself.

Now he offered no apologetic hunch in his stance. He didn’t cross his arms to narrow his body. More than embracing his size, he wielded his generous dimensions with a virile grace that made Phee’s mouth water. He stood with his long legs planted wide, shoulders thrown back. His chest was so broad that she itched to touch it.

Stop being a ninny, she chided herself. The most essential observation was that he did not look like a man who’d pined for her. Not a hint of guilt shadowed his gaze.

He thrust his hands behind his back, and the buttons above his waistcoat strained against the fabric on either side, as if the muscles beneath were too sizable to contain. Phee’s gaze riveted to the spot, waiting to see which would win—the pearly buttons or the dove gray fabric. When sense finally wound its way into her boggled mind, she glanced up into gilded brown eyes. He was the winner, judging by the satisfied smirk cresting his mouth.

Kit stood too near, close enough for her to smell his scent. A familiar green, like fresh-cut grass, but mingled now with an aromatic spice. Each breath held his spice scent heightened by the warmth of his body. The heat of him radiated against her chest.

His eyes were too intense, too hungry. He perused her brazenly, studying the hem of her outdated gown before his gaze roved up her legs, paused at her waist, lingered on her bosom, and caught for a moment on her lips. Finally, he met her eyes, and his mouth flicked up in a shameless grin.

She looked anywhere but at his eyes. On his neck, she noted the scar from a childhood adventure in the blackberry briar. Then she got stuck admiring his hair. Apparently his scandalous London lifestyle—if the rumors she’d heard were true—called for allowing his jet black hair to grow long and ripple in careless waves. Strands licked at his neck, curled up near his shoulders.
Time had been truly unfair. The years hadn’t weathered Kit at all. If anything, his features were sharper and more appealing. His Roman nose contrasted with the sensual fullness of his lips and those high Ruthven cheekbones. And his eyes. Gold and amber and chocolate hues chased each other around a pinwheel, all shadowed by enviably thick ebony lashes. One theater reviewer had written of the “power of his penetrating gaze.”

Ophelia only knew he’d once been able to see straight to her heart.

Retreating from his magnetic pull, she dipped her head and stared at his polished black boots, the neatly tailored cuffs of his trousers. Black as pitch, his clothing reminded her why he was here. He’d come to the village to bury his father. He was no doubt as eager to return to London as she was to close her eyes and make the too tempting sight of him disappear. But why had he come to her home?

“My condolences to you and your sisters,” she offered, and almost added Mr. Ruthven. That’s what everyone in the village would call him now, and they would expect him to live up to the name. Just as his father had.

“You didn’t attend the funeral.”

“Would your father have wished me to?” They both knew Kit’s father had never welcomed her presence in his life. She didn’t bother mentioning that Ruthven’s rule book explicitly instructed ladies to avoid funerals.

He shrugged. “I only know what I wished.”

There it was. The heart of all that had passed between them spelled out in six words. Kit had never doubted what he wanted—freedom, fame as a playwright, financial success on his own terms. Unfortunately, she’d never made it high enough on his list.

“Forgive me for missing your father’s funeral. I promise to call on your sisters soon.” Ophelia slid the door toward him, forcing him to retreat as she eased it closed. “Thank you for your visit.”

Pushing his sizable booted foot forward, he wedged it between the door and its frame. “I don’t think we can count this as a visit until you invite me in.”

Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway: Home Free (Sierra Legacy #3) – Claire McEwen

His first taste of freedom was only the beginning…

Arch Hoffman has paid for his crimes. All he wants is to come home to rural California and start over. He’s not looking to be a hero when he rescues a wedding cake from hitting the dirt at the ranch next door. But culinary artist Mandy Allen’s irresistible smile makes him glad to save the day–and thankful that they’re neighbors.

Mandy’s just the distraction Arch needs. Her sweet voice quiets the memories that threaten his chance to be a better man, and he’s determined to help her confront her fears. But the past is its own prison, and even love might not be enough to set them free.

Claire McEwen lives by the ocean in Northern California with her husband, son, and a scruffy, mischievous terrier. When not dreaming up new stories, she can be found digging in her garden with a lot of enthusiasm but, unfortunately, no green thumb. She loves discovering flea-market treasures, walking on the beach, dancing, traveling and reading, of course!

ANGIE’S REVIEW: Though I wasn’t too sure how I would like this series after not having a strong reaction the first book in the Sierra Legacy series, I’m glad that I stuck with it as this book is the best of the three.

I was hoping that we would get Arch’s story after reading Wild Horses, where he was mentioned a few times by his siblings and former girlfriend.

I am ridiculously happy that he’s met his match in the ever so sweet Mandy, sister to Lori whom we met in Return to Marker Ranch (book two).

McEwen is a great storyteller with strong characters, great chemistry, and strong lessons to be learned. This isn’t just a romance, this is the story of redemption, grace, and the power of forgiveness. Of the three books so far, this is by far my favorite. Arch and Mandy complement each other so perfectly and I didn’t want this book to end.

Disclaimer: I requested a review copy in order to participate in a blog tour. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Angie’s Rating: ****

Please Note: Strong language and sexual content. Not recommended for readers under the age of 18.

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Excerpt:
A flicker of motion across the black backs of the cattle caught Mandy’s eye. Dark hair under a brown cowboy hat. Long legs in faded jeans. Shoulders wide under his padded canvas jacket. Arch Hoffman.

He was standing on the rail of the fence, waving with both arms to get her attention. She rolled down the window. “Hey,” she called, knowing that it didn’t matter what she said. There was no way she was getting out of this situation without looking like an idiot.

“What’s going on?” He shouted the words, but it was still hard to hear him over the indignant mooing. The steers wanted breakfast, and they were confused and frustrated. Well, boys, welcome to the club. She’d been confused and frustrated for years now.

“Not much,” she called back in a lame attempt at nonchalance. “What’s up with you?”

She could see the confusion on Arch’s face even from this distance. He probably hadn’t been expecting small talk. “Um, not much. You need a little help there?”

She forced a breezy voice. “I’m okay…just need to get out of this truck and get feeding.”
“Oh.” He paused for a moment, as if trying to come up with the right words. “It’s just that…you fell into the cab.”

How long had he been there, watching her make a fool of herself? “Oh, ya know, just lost my balance for a minute.” It was almost impossible to sound casual while yelling over the ruckus of forty upset steers.

Arch jumped off the fence and Mandy lost sight of him. She had a tiny moment to hope that he’d decided she was fine and was gone on his way. Then she saw him swing up on the back of a big black gelding and guide it along the fence to the gate. Leaning gracefully from the saddle, he let himself into the pasture, closing the gate behind him.

Mandy reached for the door handle, but her hand was shaking so hard she couldn’t grasp it. She wanted to get out and face Arch while tossing hay out of the truck like a pro. But fear had its cold claws sunk in deep.

With a wave of his rope, Arch cleared the steers easily from his path. He took their place at her truck window, looking down at her from his relaxed perch in the saddle. “Do you want me to feed them?”

His voice was a balm of gentle concern that almost brought out the tears fizzing hot beneath her eyes. She felt her cheeks heat, too, and knew her usually pale skin had gone scarlet. She couldn’t answer. But she nodded.

“Okay,” he said. “Just sit tight.”

She watched him in the side mirror as he guided his horse alongside the vehicle and leaned over, grabbing a few flakes of the hay she’d stacked there. He threw them to his right and several of the steers trotted toward the pile. Quickly he grabbed more hay and tossed it out behind the truck, creating another feeding area. Soon the pasture was littered with piles of hay surrounded by happy cattle. Mandy buried her face in her hands. He made it look so simple.

Excerpt, Giveaway, & Interview: Saved by the Firefighter (Templeton Cove #6) – Rachel Brimble

How can she forgive him for what he didn’t do?

Photographer Izzy Cooper feels as frozen as her pictures. Trent Palmer might be the hottest firefighter in Templeton Cove, but she can never face him again. Not after he failed to save her brother. But when they’re forced together by a calendar shoot, the sparks between them are undeniable.

Izzy knows it’s not fair to blame Trent for the tragedy, but opening herself up to loss again isn’t something she’s prepared to do, no matter how determined Trent is to show her that pain is part of life and that love—their love—can make any suffering bearable.

Rachel lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. After having several novels published by small US presses, she secured agent representation in 2011. Since 2013, she has had six books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and recently signed a contract for two more. She also has four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical Press.Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!

1. When did you know that writing was what you wanted to do? From a very young age. I was about eight or nine and had fallen in love with books by Enid Blyton, especially The Secret Seven series. I started writing stories and binding them with ribbon and never really stopped until my early teens. I then wanted to be a journalist, but unfortunately had to go straight out to work at sixteen.

My writing stopped then having gotten a ‘real job’, but when my youngest daughter started school full-time, I had a ‘now or never’ moment and embarked on my first novel. The Wild Rose Press published Searching For Sophie in 2007.

2. Do you have any special “rituals” (music, ear plugs, couch, etc.) when you’re writing? Nothing! I literally need my laptop and silence, that’s it. I can edit, plan and revise with any amount of noise going on, but when it comes to actually creating I need silence. I’m like an animal when my creative time is disturbed, lol!

3. Do you create playlists when you’re writing? I don’t, but know a lot of authors do – the most famous is Elizabeth Chadwick who actually sends a disc of her playlist to her agent along with her completed manuscript so her agent has the full experience of Elizabeth’s imagination. Fabulous!

4. Why did you choose to write about firefighters? Who doesn’t love the fantasy of a sexy, kind and loving firefighter? I had to write this story. It was on my mind for a long time and Trent, my hero, was talking for me for months before I found Izzy, his heroine. I adore this two and I hope they add a new and explosive element to the Templeton Cove series.

5. Who is your favorite author? I have many, but the author who has influenced and inspired the most is Nora Roberts. I adore her books, especially her trilogies. I was lucky enough to meet and talk with her at a signing in Ireland a couple of years ago. She was lovely and really encouraging about my work, insisting I visit the US some day and come along to a Romance Writers of America conference. I will get there one day!

6. What one book have you re-read at least twice? Gone With The Wind – I adore this book and find something new between the pages every time I read it. I first read it at 15, then 25, then 35…and will again at 45, lol!

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Excerpt:
The security alarm chimed. Someone had stepped inside the studio. Exhaling a heavy breath, Izzy pulled back her shoulders, lifted her head and forced a smile.
“Hi, how can I…” Her heart stopped. Trent Palmer stood just inside the door. “Why are you here?”
His dark green gaze bored relentlessly into hers, his strong jaw set as he reached behind him and shut the door. “I came by to see how you’re doing.”
Traitorous attraction skittered over the surface of her skin before Izzy turned and strode toward the corner she used for staging portrait shots. The fluffy bunnies, huge furry dice and toys she’d used to relax a toddler earlier now felt macabre.
She spun around, clutching a teddy bear. “The same as I was doing yesterday and the day before. I told you I don’t want to see you. I don’t ever want to see you. Why do you keep coming back?”
He came closer, his gaze locked on hers. “You have to talk to me. I was Robbie’s friend. There was nothing—”
“You could do. Fine. I get it, but why do you feel the need to keep coming in here and checking up on me? What do you want me to do? Dance in the street? Kick up my heels at the fairground? God, just leave me alone.”
“There’s a beach party tonight. I want you to come with me.”
She stared. Why him? Why would a man she really liked—a damn firefighter¬¬—have to pursue her like she was someone worth pursuing? “No.”
He looked at the equipment covering the desk alongside him. He lifted and replaced a camera, the hunch of his wide shoulders indicating his discomfort. Izzy hated that she drew no satisfaction from that…only sadness.
He turned. “I want you to come and show your face to the people who care about you. Kate said¬¬—”
“Kate had no right to say anything to you.” She lifted her chin. “I’m fine.”
“Then come to the beach.”
“No.”
He crossed his arms. “Why not? What good is it doing you, hiding away in here twenty-four-seven?”
“I’m not hiding.” Liar. “My work is better than it’s ever been. I have lots to keep me busy, and I don’t need you or a damn beach party to make me feel better.”
“This isn’t who you are, Iz. You’ve always worked, always been ambitious, but everyone is used to you taking pictures while you play as well as work. Where have you gone? Don’t you think Robbie would’ve wanted you to step out into the sunlight now and then?”
The sound of her brother’s name on Trent’s lips brought the sting of tears to her eyes. “Don’t talk to me about Robbie. He would want me to do whatever I wanted and right now the last thing I want to do is talk to you.” She turned her back to him and tossed the bear into a plastic crate of other props. She sighed. “Please, Trent. Just get out of here.”
“You know as well as I do that Robbie wanted us together. He actively encouraged it.”
“Yeah, he did and look how that turned out.”
His jaw tightened. “Are you saying it was no good? That we were no good? God, Iz, Robbie would’ve loved knowing we finally got together.”
Loss wrapped around her heart making it ache. “Maybe, but he would’ve also seen we were a bad idea together too.”
Hurt flashed in his eyes, before he exhaled heavily. “Look, you might not want to talk to me, but there’s someone else we have to think about.”
She planted her hands on her hips, her body humming with irritation and the urge the grip him by his stupidly large biceps and march him out of her studio. Didn’t he realize he was invading her only place of peace? “Who?”
“Maya Jackson. We have to do this calendar, Iz. We promised. If we don’t set up the shoot soon, it won’t be ready for Christmas. That little girl, her family and Kate are relying on you…us…to do this.”
She tipped her head back and glared at the ceiling. There was no way she’d let down Maya, suffering so acutely with leukemia, any more than she would continue in a relationship with date the firefighter who’d failed to respond quick enough to save her brother. No matter how the results of the ensuing investigation had confirmed it had been a falling beam that killed Robbie at the garage, she had to blame someone or she’d go insane.
The safest person to blame was strong, reliable Trent. A man she’d grown to deeply care for and admire during the four years before Robbie died. A man who knew her and her brother. Knew her home and her life…and who, damn it, still wanted to know her.
He didn’t deserve her derision; he didn’t deserve everything she threw at him, yet time and again, he became her target. She had to keep his interest at bay. Better still—stop it altogether.

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