Dangerous Distractions Book 3
by Samantha Keith
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Even good guys need to be bad sometimes . . .
FBI agent Nate McIver hasn’t been able to get sexy, impetuous Maddie Worth out of his mind since the last time he saw her at a wedding. If only she wasn’t his best friend and colleague’s sister. That’s about the only thing that gave him the strength to back away from the steamy encounter they shared. But now
take-no-prisoners Maddie wants his professional help. And with her life on the line, all bets are off . . .
Maddie’s overprotective brother may have had her blackballed from getting into the FBI, but he can’t stop her from conducting her own undercover operation—whether it’s between the sheets with unforgettable Nate and his abs of steel—or on the streets, trapping a notorious drug lord. And when she combines the two, the result is explosive for everyone involved . . .
A shiver of disgust rippled over Maddie’s skin. Her six-inch heels scuffed across the pavement and her feet throbbed. She scooped her hair off the back of her neck and dropped it over her shoulder. His hands had been all over her tonight—serious progress. But the second she got home, she was going to scrub her skin raw. A horn blared from the dark street ahead and a car whizzed past. The smash of a beer bottled sounded behind her. She didn’t turn around.
She dug her hand in her black shoulder bag that matched her skimpy, black dress and pulled out her keys. She enjoyed dressing sexy every once in a while, but prancing around the club with naked dancers on stage and bringing drinks to sleazy punks was not her cup of tea. But she was almost done. She’d spent two months laying bread crumbs, and the stupid oaf was finally showing interest other than wanting to take her in the back room and screw her senseless. She shuddered. One day, she’d have to sleep with Carlos in order to keep up the charade. Her finger pressed the unlock button and the headlights of her sleek, black Mercedes flashed at her.
She opened the driver’s side door and her bare legs slid over the warm leather. Goosebumps raced over the back of her neck and she slammed the door and locked it. She swallowed and closed her eyes. This assignment had her on pins and needles. It wasn’t like her other investigations in the past. This one was more than just work, more than putting a bad guy behind bars. This one struck a nerve. And if Carlos found out what she was up to…he would kill her.
An arm closed around her throat from behind her, crushing her back against the seat. Her heart slammed against her breastbone and her fingers gripped the black sleeve that surrounded her. Her chest screamed for air, but not a sound left her mouth.
She wouldn’t die like this.
She twisted against the arm, hurling herself forward, but he held her tight. Her fingernails dug into her palm and she shot her fist over her shoulder, connecting with his face. It was enough to loosen his hold. She
yanked his arm forward, gripped his fingers, and bent his wrist back toward his elbow. He yelped.
“Christ, Maddie. It’s me,” he growled.
Her gaze flew to the rear-view mirror. Fiery hazel eyes met hers. Her chest expanded on an exhale and she whipped around in her seat. Her eyebrows snapped down.
“Hey, easy now. I was only trying to help you. What the hell are you thinking getting in your car without checking the back seat? Are you trying to get yourself killed? Because that’s how easily it could have happened.”
Her anger settled to a low simmer. Nate McIver made her blood boil like no one else. He pressed her buttons, teased her, and worst of all, wouldn’t touch her with a ten-foot pole. Oh no. Nate was too noble. Too
good of a friend to give in to the attraction that burned between them like a flashfire. And he wasn’t her friend. Barely, anyway. He was a coward and a jerk… but he was here. He’d shown up when she’d needed him. The
only one she could trust right now.
Samantha Keith resides in Saskatchewan, Canada, with her husband and brilliant daughter, who share her love of literature. Teddy, the family multi-poo, completes her family. Samantha writes steamy, fast-paced, romantic suspense novels in the rare moments she has uninterrupted—even interrupted, she manages to apply words to paper. Aside from her love of writing, her other interests include cooking vegan meals and creating recipes. Abducted, the first book in the Dangerous Distractions series, came in first place in the romantic suspense category for the Heartland Romance Authors’ Show Me the Spark Contest.
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Justice For Breeze
Team Cerberus, Book 5
by Melissa Kay Clarke
Genre: Romantic Suspense
From the moment Asher "Finch" Finchly laid eyes on a Navy Officer when he was a child, his only thought was to become a SEAL. Every action he took was with the single-minded goal of becoming an elite special forces member. He vowed to let nothing get in his way.
Then one night of revelry changed everything.
Two years into realizing his dream, Finch suddenly found himself as a father. Now, there was someone more important than his dreams or duty. Love for his daughter taught him there was something more to life. He would kill for one of Lolly's beautiful smiles - and then the unthinkable happens--she and her mother disappear without a trace.
Raised in an isolated cult, Breeze knows only her simple life - farming, taking care of children, and paying homage to The Mother Gaia. When one of the members escapes with her daughter, Breeze agrees to go along and help, so she leaves her world behind to face the uncertainty of the Outside. Everything is strange in this unknown world, but nothing is more unusual than the feelings she has for the father of the little girl. He stirs feelings in her she's never known and makes her question everything she stood for. Could her entire life be one big lie?
Finch is happy to have his daughter home, but something is not right. Someone is watching her - waiting for him to let down his guard, determined to take away everything he holds dear. He's in for the fight of his life to get back his daughter and the woman who has stolen his heart. Lolly and Breeze are all that matters. No matter what, he will keep them safe or die trying.
"You don't remember me do you?" Her words were soft, and he barely heard them in the racket of forks being dropped and plates slamming onto tables.
Her words stopped him in place. Should he know her? He turned and searched her face. She was pretty, with large coffee-colored eyes, long lashes, a tiny upturned nose, and cupid bow pink lips that she gnawed absently. Her long dark blond hair was captured in some sort of hair thingy high on her head leaving long wisps to caress her face and neck. He saw a small beauty mark on her shoulder next to the expanse of her neck. He had a flash of pressing a kiss to that mark, but it was gone before he could grasp it and figure out what it meant. Drawing in a deep breath, he let it out and winced. "I'm sorry, I feel like I should, but I can't place you."
"It's all right. We were both pretty wasted that night." She threw her hand out. "Sarah Nolan."
"Nice to meet you, Sarah," he shook her hand lightly. "Asher, but you know that."
"Yeah. I do." She dropped his hand. Glancing at the name patch sewn into his uniform she muttered, "Finchly. I never knew your last name." She chewed her lip as she stood next to him saying nothing.
"So, where do I know you?" he prompted.
"Oh, yeah. Sorry, I sort of zoned out there for a minute. We met a couple of years ago at Shimmy. You and a bunch of your friends came in to celebrate passing some sort of test?"
In a flash, it all came back. Finch and the others had finished their BUD/s training and in celebration, had taken over a local bar. Images of Sarah wearing a short blue dress with spaghetti straps and strappy, high heels played through his mind. They had danced, drank and enjoyed each other's company until his memories became foggy. He did have a faint recollection of waking up in an empty bed in a downtown motel room.
"Sarah, oh yeah, I remember now." He pulled her into a careful half hug. "It's good to see you."
"You too. So, I was wondering if we could go somewhere and maybe talk? I've been kind of looking for you for a while, but I didn't know your last name, and you've not been back to Shimmy's when I was there."
Finch shook his head. "I'm sorry. I've been out of town for a while, and it's just not a good night. Maybe some other time? Give me your number, and I'll call you sometime."
She jotted down her number and handed it to him. He took it and stuffed it into his pocket before dismissing her. The truth was, Finch wasn't looking to hook up with anyone. He rarely dated, if ever at all. He knew he was a good looking guy and could probably have his choice of women, but his personal life was on a back burner for now. Instead, he concentrated on the military career he had been dreaming of since he was ten years old.
He was brought out of his musing by his number being called. Stepping forward to grab his food, Finch turned and saw Sarah standing there, wringing her hands and biting her lip anxiously. He gave her a gentle smile and stepped to the side. "It was nice to see you again, Sarah. Stay in touch, yeah?"
"Asher, wait, I need to tell you something."
"I'm sorry, Sarah, but I'm tired right now. Can we catch up another time?" He started to walk off when her next sentence stopped him in his tracks. It only took four words to change his world in an instant.
"You have a daughter."
Melissa was born in Tupelo, Mississippi and raised in Houlka, a small rural town forty-five minutes southwest down the famous Natchez Trace. She found a love of reading very early and quickly devoured everything she could. Told repeatedly that she had a wonderful imagination, she turned to scribbling her musings and wrote her first novel while in college. It was never published and has since vanished. The death of a close friend who aspired to become an author reawakened her own desire resulting in penning her first book, Shattered Dreams, published in 2013.
Melissa now resides in Meridian, Mississippi with her supportive family – husband, Robert and daughter Rebecca, two cats, and two dogs. When she isn't writing, she spends way too much time with her online friends and feeding her ravenous appetite for the written word.
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Crashing Into Her by Mia Sosa
Series Love On Cue (Each book is a standalone.)
Genre Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher Avon Impulse
Publication Date February 19, 2019
“Mia Sosa delivers wish fulfillment with off-the-charts sparks.”--Entertainment Weekly
Relationships are a thing of the past for Eva Montgomery. Her current motto? You can’t spell “manipulative” without man. But Eva has needs, and a one-night-stand at her best friend’s wedding is the perfect way to kick off her new approach to singledom. Then a job opportunity puts her in the same city with the guy she can’t forget . . .
Anthony Castillo is a perpetual bachelor—no strings, just flings—a status he maintains by being honest about his intentions and never looking back. So why is he still thinking about the firecracker of a woman who rocked his world at his cousin’s wedding? It’s a question he refuses to answer, until she comes crashing back into his life, taking his emotional walls down with her.
When her father doubts her ability to make it in LA, Eva vows to go big and prove him wrong. With her athletic background, she’s an ideal candidate for stunt work. But first she’ll need training, and the instructor is none other than her former hookup, Anthony Castillo. Except he’s not as cocky as she remembers and he’s definitely still sexy as sin. The only problem is . . . Anthony doesn’t want her anywhere near his stunt school—or his heart.
I send a quick update to Tori and Ashley. The latter responds with a combo of thumbs-up and heart-eyes emojis. The former sends a two-word reply: Hang on. In the meantime, I hustle behind a dozen or so people waiting for cabs.
Tori sends a longer text a minute later:
Anthony’s at the airport. He just dropped off my parents and Bianca. They’re heading to NYC for sightseeing. He can pick you up outside the terminal and take you to the hotel. Says he’s coming around again and will look for you. Ok, Carter’s giving me some serious side-eye. Going on airplane mode. Love you.
A heavy weight settles in my belly when I finish reading her message. Shit. Tori’s cousin—I’ve secretly dubbed him the square root of Thor—is the last person I want to see. My hand flies to the unruly strands on my head. Argh. This hair travesty alone is spiking my blood pressure, which doesn’t bode well for him. When I’m not at my personal best, I’m more irritable than usual, and judging by our interaction this weekend, Anthony’s very presence makes me cranky. This should be fun for everyone involved.
It isn’t long before he finds me. In truth, I spot him first and duck my head, giving me a minute to watch him as he rounds his rental car and surveys the line, his eyes hidden behind silver lens aviators that are pure overkill given that sunset is fast approaching. To me, a white T-shirt and jeans typically read basic; on him, they add dimension to his appearance, emphasizing the assured, relaxed way he carries himself. And although I’m aware there’s no correlation between the size of a man’s hands and the girth of his penis, I still glance at his long fingers—for pseudoscience. The man’s an eggplant emoji, for sure.
He shouts to get my attention, his smoky voice pulling my mind out of its permanent residence in the trash bin.
“Eva! Over here!”
The woman in front of me twists her upper body around and meets my gaze. “Dayum. Are you Eva?”
Stifling the urge to laugh, I nod.
“No offense, but I’m considering stealing your identity,” she says.
Ha. Imagine how she’d react if I told her he’s a Hollywood stunt professional. She’d probably shank me. “No offense taken, and yeah, I know what you mean.”
Because yes, there’s no denying the man’s physical gifts: broad shoulders, dark brown wavy hair that’s a smidge too long for my liking, and full lips that probably predispose him to better-than-competent-kisser status. He’s a mishmash of muscles and scruff, but in a refined package, like the construction worker in a music video who struts around with manicured hands, spotless jeans, and a single, perfect streak of dirt across his cheek. All of this means Anthony takes up more than his fair share of physical space in my mind’s eye, not because he’s huge—although he is big considering my five-foot-two frame—but because there’s so much to absorb when I look at him that I trick myself into giving him a larger blueprint. Oddly, no single trait stands out from the rest; rather, it’s the totality of the man that holds my attention hostage. Free me, damn you.
It’s been this way since I met him a few days ago. In that moment, the idea of a hookup planted itself in my brain, an unfortunate and all too common occurrence when a sexually frustrated woman gives up on pricks but still wants dick. But then Tori warned me against pursuing him, explaining that he’s “emotionally unavailable,” whatever that means, and I grudgingly backed away. In short, bitches before itches. Still, the thirst is strong with this one. Until he opens his mouth, that is.
Since I can’t ogle him forever, I step out of line and give him a weak wave, readjusting the strap of my bag across my body.
He saunters over to meet me, a lopsided grin broadcasting that he’s poised to say something annoying. “Philadelphia decided it couldn’t handle you either, huh?”
And this is the crux of the problem: He speaks. What I wouldn’t give for a roll of duct tape. I’d use it on his mouth and anywhere with a surplus of hair. His crotch, probably. “Ahhh, so that’s what happened. You decided you couldn’t handle me.” I scan him from his head to the tops of his derby shoes. “Makes sense. I spy a lightweight.”
Folding his thick arms over his impressive chest, he takes a step back and tilts his head. “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Why the hostility, Eva? I thought we were friends.”
“We’re acquaintances, not friends, and I’m good with that.”
He pouts at me and runs his index finger from his lower eyelid down to the hollow of his cheek. Sad face. I press my lips together, refusing to laugh at his antics even though that’s exactly what I’d do if our roles were reversed. When he gets no reaction from me, he lowers his arm and sighs. “Not interested in being my friend because . . . ?”
I give him a halfhearted shrug. “Not sure, exactly. You just rub me the wrong way.”
He leans in and waggles his eyebrows. “Teach me how to rub you the right way, then.”
The epiphany smacks me upside my head: Anthony’s my male counterpart. As evidenced by the swagger, the self-confidence—in his case, it’s overconfidence—and the mouth that must have the last word, no matter how inappropriate it may be. There’s only room for one of me in my life, however, and if I were looking for someone to balance out my ridiculousness, this man would fail miserably. On one end of the spectrum is a shy, quiet type who’ll cower in the center of my tornado; on the other end of the spectrum is someone like Anthony, who’ll grab the funnel with his bare hands and swing it around in the hopes of wreaking even more havoc. Neither one will do. Well, given my abysmal track record when it comes to men, no one will do.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t extract a little fun from the situation. So I drop my bag, round the front of his rental car, and hop onto the hood, resting my feet on the bumper and spreading my legs wide. Waving him over, I say, “You want to learn how to rub me the right way? Go ahead. Break me off a little something right here and show me what we’re working with.”
I raise my face toward the sky and close my eyes. A woman somewhere in the vicinity cackles. Car horns blare with impatience as drivers try to navigate the airport traffic. Anthony, however, doesn’t say a word. I drop my head and open one eye to sneak a peek at his reaction. But he’s not in my line of sight. Someone else is, though—and the scowl on his face suggests he isn’t friendly at all.
Fuck me sideways twice.
From CRASHING INTO HER. Used with permission of Avon Impulse. Copyright © 2019 by Mia Sosa.
Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of CRASHING INTO HER by Mia Sosa, we’re giving away three paperback copies of the book!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to US shipping addresses only. Three winners will each receive a paperback copy of Crashing Into Her by Mia Sosa. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance. Giveaway ends 3/3/2019 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
About Mia Sosa
MIA SOSA was born and raised in New York City. She attended the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Communications and met her own romance hero (spoiler alert: she married him). Mia once dreamed of being a professional singer, but practical considerations (read: the need to generate income) led her to take the law school admissions test instead.
A graduate of Yale Law School, Mia practiced First Amendment and media law in the nation’s capital for ten years before returning to her creative roots. Now she spends most of her days writing contemporary romances about smart women and the complicated men who love them. Mia lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters and will forever be on the hunt for the perfect karaoke bar.
Cold-Blooded by Kendall Grey
Series Ohana Book Two
Genre Adult Supernatural Suspense
Publisher Howling Mad Press
Publication Date February 19, 2019
As the toughest son with the fewest morals, Manō Alana promised his mother that he’d protect his siblings. Since her death, he’s embraced his role as the family heavy, but killing is the one part of his job he hates. And the awful nightmares driving him to commit violence aren’t doing him any favors—nor is the sinister, ancient magic calling to him from under the slopes of a dormant volcano.
A shakeup in power between rival drug lords reveals a half brother Manō didn’t know he had, complicating the Alana family’s plans to take over the marijuana trade on Maui. Not only that, but one wrong move could turn the sexy cop he’s involved with against the family.
When a crime the Alanas fought hard to bury is exposed, their whole cartel is in danger. Now Manō’s blood has him trapped between two clans: the siblings he’s loved since they were kids, and the ruthless, shadowy kin he just learned he has.
Manō can either succumb to the darkness threatening to drag him under or tap in to its power and embrace his role as a cold-blooded killer.
About Kendall Grey
A whale warrior, indie freedom fighter, and vodka martini aficionado, KENDALL GREY is calm like an F-bomb*. She writes about fierce women and the men who love them. Her aliases include Kendall Day (FALLING FOR MR. SLATER) and Seven Slade (COMING OUT).
Kendall lives off a dirt road near Atlanta, Georgia, with three mischievous Demonlings, a dashing geek in cyber armor, a long-haired miniature Dachshund that thinks she’s a cat, and an Aussie shepherd mix whose ice-blue eyes will steal your heart and hold it for ransom.
*Detonation manual not included.
The Montgomery Ink: Colorado Springs series continues with a couple fighting to keep what they thought they had and gain what they didn’t know they needed.
Roxie Montgomery met her soul mate when she least expected it. When he asked her to marry her, she thought her happily ever after was only just beginning. Then, she found that walking into the sunset was much harder than her favorite books made it out to be. After a crushing loss, she feels as though she doesn’t know her husband anymore, or rather…she doesn’t know herself.
Carter Marshall has loved Roxie since the first time he saw her. But as the days pass between them, so does the distance. He doesn’t know how to show her that he’s all in, and honestly doesn’t know if she’s in at all. When an accident changes everything, they’ll have to decide if what they have can be salvaged, or if starting over is the answer. Or even possible.
Without fighting, without a true new beginning, sometimes, the remnants of what was lost can leave anyone jagged, shells of what they were before. It will take more than the idea of forever for Roxie and Carter to find themselves again, but as the Montgomerys know, nothing worth fighting for is easy.
They still had a couple of hours before bed, but neither of them commented on that. They were just going to go their separate ways, a prelude to what would happen as soon as Carter was completely healed.
Roxie gave him a tight nod and then went upstairs. He did his best not to look at her. Because when he looked at her, he ached.
Because he missed his wife. He missed her smile, he missed everything about her.
He missed the way she would laugh at something inane and then bury her face in her hands because she knew that it was silly to laugh at it.
He missed her touch, her taste. Yeah, he missed sex, but it wasn’t like they’d had sex recently. They used to have their hands on each other all the time.
And then she’d stopped talking.
She’d stopped smiling.
And he couldn’t figure out how to make her do either of them again. He’d tried, but it hadn’t worked.
And then, eventually, he’d stopped trying altogether.
And she hadn’t done anything about it.
So, this was his fault. Because he had tried, and he’d failed. It would always be his fault.
About Carrie Ann RyanCarrie Ann Ryan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary and paranormal romance. Her works include the Montgomery Ink, Redwood Pack, Talon Pack, and Gallagher Brothers series, which have sold over 2.0 million books worldwide. She started writing while in graduate school for her advanced degree in chemistry and hasn’t stopped since. Carrie Ann has written over fifty novels and novellas with more in the works. When she’s not writing about bearded tattooed men or alpha wolves that need to find their mates, she’s reading as much as she can and exploring the world of baking and gourmet cooking.
Crazy on You
A Love and Harmony Romance #3
by Crystal B. Bright
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pub Date: 2/12/2018
Worse than a one-hit wonder, Tassia Hogan is a one-line wonder. Infamous for a memorable, extremely provocative verse, her music career is going nowhere. Finding a decent man to date has also proven fruitless . . . they all think she’s as wanton as those lyrics. But now her label is offering Tassia the chance to shine—with a catch. The album is duets. Her partner is a Country Western singer. And he’s just as reluctant to agree as she is.
Hyde Love has been in the music business since he was eleven, and he’s becoming more and more disenchanted with it. Collaborating on an album seems great in theory, but Tassia is an R&B singer. Melding their sounds and personalities will be difficult—though not as tough as keeping things strictly business. Getting involved with his partner could prove career-wrecking, yet discovering the real Tassia could be earth-shattering.
Tassia Hogan sat in a makeshift director’s chair that reminded her of the chairs on the set of the TV show she had done as a pre-teen called the Ratty Rat’s Fun Crew. Fifteen years later and she still liked to sit in the taut cloth seat with her leg draped across the arm, leaned back against the stretched black fabric. Anything that relaxed her before a show fit the bill right now.
Since she sat backstage with Aaron’s back-up singers and dancers, she felt comfortable with this group. She wore black shorts along with her black leather bra until showtime. Then she would swap the shorts for a matching black leather skirt and heels that would kill her feet as she danced around in them for over an hour on stage. Thankfully, tonight would be the last show on the tour.
The limber dancers all stretched in different corners of the room. Even in a room far away from the main arena area, Tassia heard the crowds all chanting Aaron’s name, which sucked for the opening act on stage at the moment. She could relate. Tassia knew full well that the sold-out arena full of people would have their full, undivided attention on the headliner, Aaron. She just happened to sing a hook on his latest hit song. One day she would gain some respect and have fans of her own. Now that enough time had been put between her and that kids’ show, she could start making a name for herself.
Tassia rarely gave her attention to the generally foul-mouthed crew that surrounded her.
Most times the backstage area sounded more like a teenager-filled locker room than a room full of professionals working for one of the highest-paid rappers in the game. When she heard the expletive she didn’t flinch. Like she did at ten years old when she had worked on the show, she swung her leg back and forth. Then she heard her name.
“I can’t believe they still play this show.”
The hairs stood on the back of Tassia’s neck as she dared to bring her attention to the wide-screen TV that hung on the wall. It didn’t take her long to notice the taped opening to Ratty Rat’s Fun Crew where she and five other children danced around a man dressed in a rat costume.
A rat. Why the hell did it have to be a rat of all things?
“Aww, Tassia, you were so cute.” A female dancer put her hand to her chest.
“Yeah, look at those pigtails.” A back-up singer pointed to the screen.
Tassia didn’t need to look. She knew what she looked like. For a year, the show pressed her natural hair using a blow dryer and a hot comb so that she could achieve her straight-hair look. With all the dancing she did on the show, by the end of the day, the sweat that had poured from her reverted her hair back to its naturally wavy pattern.
Thankfully with wigs now, she didn’t worry about her hair, still in its natural state. Pretty soon she would see a stylist to get cornrows in her hair to get ready for her vacation. Fuss-free hair on a drama-free vacation.
Although she fought hard to avoid looking at the screen, her gaze fell on one of her kiddie co-stars. Tassia remembered Hyde Love being shy and quiet.
As though a back-up singer had read her thoughts, the woman said, “I can’t believe that chubby kid turned out to be the biggest star out there.”
She turned to Tassia, who now had to bring her leg down and squeeze them together when that familiar school-girl crush returned. “Did you know he would blow up like he has?”
Tassia shook her head. “We were kids. We didn’t know what would happen in the future.”
Yes, she wouldn’t have known that this man would stab her in the back, not once, but twice. It was too bad because at one time, she completely thought the world of him.
Even angels have their demons
Jordan Reiss is well aware that if she was on fire the entire town of Oak Creek would probably go inside and make a sandwich. She can’t blame them. Her father scammed half the town out of their retirement funds, and then she…
She did so much worse.
She doesn’t expect forgiveness. But she’s back in town with no other options and just wants to be left alone to live on the fierce Wyoming land she’s missed so much during her six years in prison.
Former Navy SEAL Gabriel Collingwood's callsign may have been Angel, but he'll be anything but to protect his sister. Especially from a pretty ex-con who has somehow weaseled her way into a job at his sister’s new bakery.
He doesn't trust Jordan, even with her big gray eyes and quiet smile.
But when someone decides its time for Jordan to leave Oak Creek--preferably in a body bag—Gabe will have to put his distrust aside.
Jordan needs her own guardian angel. And he happens to be one.
Jordan Reiss and her destiny shattered my heart. Janie Crouch continues the Linear Tactical series with another strong female lead, Jordan, whom I admired while wanting to hug her, fight for her, defend her, and be her friend. Her life has never been easy, the obstacles and challenges on her way either accidents or fault of others, yet she takes the responsibility for them, makes the liability her own, the goal of her life to make restitution for those her father has wronged.
The way the townfolks treat Jordan had me in tears. All the feels come to the surface and the injustice towards Jordan made me want to take action. But through all the trouble, attacks, and aggression she experiences, she stands strong, tough, humble, and kindhearted.
I adored the joy Gabriel Collingwood brought to Jordan, all the firsts they experience together melted my heart. Their story is filled with passion, adoration, sweetness, and admiration.
Gabriel, the former Navy SEAL, is everything Jordan needs in her life, he is tough, protective, kind, caring, generous, and considerate. The only thing lacking is the one thing Jordan needs the most, being able to trust, blindly, at times. He's in a crossroads in his life, wanting a new direction with the family company, and his own future career, after being ruthlessly betrayed by the people closest to him (read the previous book, Shamrock, in the series), and from that foundation, I could understand and even accept some of his actions and reactions towards the things happening around Jordan. I was able to relate to those deep wounds he has, the lack of faith in the fellow humans, after being so crossly embezzled. But his own experiences pale in the light of what Jordan faces next, and he can only hope they will be able to rescue her, even if she will never be able to forgive him.
When the fierce, detrimental, vehement action and suspense meets the fervent, heartfelt, adorable love story all the feels are in the play, the emotions run rapid, and the tears, laughs, sighs, and even good oldfashioned swooning happen. I loved every aspect of the story, it was easy to immerse into, the characters are likable, relatable, people I wanted to spend time with and invest my emotions in.
Jordan and Gabriel have to go through some rather deep and dark alleys to find the sunny, peaceful meadows in their lives, yet each moment of that journey is worth the growth and development their experience on the way.
A breathtakingly beautiful love story mixed with lethal suspense, a heartbreaking tale of new beginnings and forgiveness.
Linear Tactical is proving to be a must-read series, each installment as strong and powerful read as the last one.
~ Five Spoons
Release Blitz for SEDUCTIVE Anthology by Brea Viragh, Donna Mercer, Jade C. Jamison, Krista Ames, M.C. Cerny, Marlow Kelly, Michelle De Leon, RaeAnne Hadley
SEDUCTIVE Anthology by Various Authors
Series n/a; anthology
Genre Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher Pure Textuality PR
Publication Date February 12, 2019
EIGHT STEAMY ROMANCE READS.
ONE ANTHOLOGY YOU WON'T WANT TO MISS.
Pure Textuality PR is proud to present SEDUCTIVE, an anthology which speaks directly to the romance lover in all of us. Featuring eight of today's best romantic storytellers, this anthology promises to deliver the love stories you crave.
Blitz Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of the SEDUCTIVE anthology, we’re giving away one $100 Amazon gift card and five paperback copies of the anthology!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to internationally. One winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card. Five winners will each be chosen to win a paperback copy of the anthology. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR. Giveaway ends 3/31/2019 @ 11:59pm EST. Limit one entry per reader. Duplicates will be deleted. By entering, you agree to sign up for the newsletters of the eight participating authors and Pure Textuality PR’s reader newsletter. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
SEDUCTIVE Story: Hold My Heart
BREA VIRAGH is a contemporary and paranormal romance writer based in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She is a proud Gryffindor, a graduate of Brakebills, and a member of Fairy Tail. When she isn’t writing and daydreaming about her newest project, her hobbies include binge-watching HGTV, scouring thrift shops for goodies, and maintaining her alpha status among her puppy and three cats.
WEBSITE | AMAZON | NEWSLETTER
SEDUCTIVE Story: Watermelon Spice
Editor’s Note: This story is not featured in the paperback version of the anthology.
DONNA R. MERCER writes romances that she doesn’t like to label but contains bold characters that are not afraid to push the boundaries. She brings her own unique outlook on life to her writing which she shares with her readers. It’s cheaper than therapy. Join her on a journey into the unknown wonders of her mind. Seatbelts are optional.
WEBSITE | AMAZON | NEWSLETTER
SEDUCTIVE Story: My Boyfriend’s Dad
“Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” While you’re more likely to see JADE C. JAMISON headbanging than Dirty Dancing, she—like Baby—won’t be put in a corner…or a box. So even though you can’t really stick her books in one genre, you could say she mostly writes steamy Contemporary Romance—and, while you’re at it, you’ll notice in her stories that Jade freaking loves Colorado, hard music, coffee, bad words, and CHOCOLATE!!! And so do her characters.Oh, and there’s always a glimmer of hope…because if life doesn’t have that, what’s the damn point
WEBSITE | AMAZON
SEDUCTIVE Story: Playing With His Heart, a Breaking the Billionaire Novella
KRISTA AMES is an International #1 best-selling author of contemporary romance, including several sub genres. Western Romance is her failsafe and she loves a man in uniform but Paranormal is starting to be her new go-to.Born and raised in Indiana, she is now a Northern Lower Michigan transplant and married to the love of her life. They have 4 children and a few fur babies. She is a full time stay-at-home mom and pursues her writing career when she’s not running her kids every which way.She finds her inspiration in the love of her family and binge watches romantic and scary movies.
WEBSITE | AMAZON | NEWSLETTER
SEDUCTIVE Story: Love, Doctor, an Inner Harbor Novella
M.C. CERNY fell in love with books after experiencing her first real ugly cry reading, Where The Red Fern Grows. Her debut romantic suspense novel, Flashpoint was written in a series of post-it-note ramblings that would likely make her idol Tom Clancy and her mother blush. She is a post graduate of NYU, and calls rural NJ home with her menagerie of human and fur-babies. When M.C. is not writing, you’ll find her lurking in Starbucks, running stupid marathon, singing Disney show tunes, and searching out the perfect shade of pink nail polish. xoxo
WEBSITE | AMAZON | NEWSLETTER
SEDUCTIVE Story: Disturbance, a Gathering Storm Novella
Editor’s Note: This story is not featured in the paperback version of the anthology.
After being thrown out of England for refusing to drink tea, MARLOW KELLY made her way to Canada where she found love, a home, and a pug named Max. She also discovered her love of storytelling. Encouraged by her husband, children, and let’s not forget Max, she started putting her ideas to paper. She enjoys writing suspenseful, fast-pace romance stories that always feature strong women. Marlow is an award-winning author, and a member of the Romance Writers of America.
WEBSITE | AMAZON
SEDUCTIVE Story: A Couple of Forevers
MICHELLE DE LEON is a native New Yorker living in Metro Atlanta. Her first three novels were published by author Zane’s Strebor Books International/Simon and Schuster. Independently, she released three Inspirational books and published a Christian stage play via JAC Publishing. Currently she is writing a diverse superhero series for Nuff Said Publishing and working on a series of crime and romance stories
WEBSITE | AMAZON
SEDUCTIVE Story: Love’s Everlasting Song
I’m an accidental author as I began writing my first story, Mechanics of Murder, after I had been fired for taking maternity leave. I took a 3rd shift job and trying to keep myself awake, I used my imagination and started creating a story of a female mechanic, which I was, finding a dead body underneath the truck she was working on. My father absolutely loved the story and encouraged me to complete it and get it published. I was almost finished with the first draft when my father had a stroke. Encouraging him to get better, I rushed the book to Lulu Publishing without it being edited. My father was able to hold my first novel but was never able to read it, he passed away 2 days later. But it began a passion for me that has not dwindled!I have continued writing and my list has now grown. With Love; Now & Forever and Shadows, both paranormal romances though with different personalities and twists. The sequel to Mechanics of Murder, A Wrench in the Plan, was completed in January of 2011 and was released in the spring of 2012.I know my Dad would be proud. My contemporary romance, Love’s Everlasting Song, is a sweet tale where hopes,dreams and occasionally fairy tales do come true.I usually have 5-7 novels in the works and plan on writing for many more years! My stories are not sexually graphic because I believe each readers experience and imagination are usually more erotic and more sensual than what I will put into words and I ALWAYS have to have a happy ending! Life is meant to be fun, enjoy the journey!!!
WEBSITE | AMAZON
The California sunshine’s not quite so bright for three sisters who get dumped in the same week…
Finola, a popular LA morning show host, is famously upbeat until she’s blindsided on live TV by news that her husband is sleeping with a young pop sensation who has set their affair to music. While avoiding the tabloids and pretending she’s just fine, she’s crumbling inside, desperate for him to come to his senses and for life to go back to normal.
Zennie’s breakup is no big loss. Although the world insists she pair up, she’d rather be surfing. So agreeing to be the surrogate for her best friend is a no-brainer—after all, she has an available womb and no other attachments to worry about. Except…when everyone else, including her big sister, thinks she’s making a huge mistake, being pregnant is a lot lonelier—and more complicated—than she imagined.
Never the tallest, thinnest or prettiest sister, Ali is used to being overlooked, but when her fiancé sends his disapproving brother to call off the wedding, it’s a new low. And yet Daniel continues to turn up “for support,” making Ali wonder if maybe—for once—someone sees her in a way no one ever has.
But side by side by side, these sisters will start over and rebuild their lives with all the affection, charm and laugh-out-loud humor that is classic Susan Mallery.
Finola could only stare at her, even as her mind rejected the words. This isn’t happening, she thought desperately. It can’t be. Nothing the other woman was telling her could be true. Before she could react in any way, Treasure released her and walked away. Finola pressed a hand to her stomach, hoping to slow the bleeding just enough to not die that very moment.
She had to run, she told herself. She had to get out of here. She had to--
Melody’s voice competed with the very loud buzzing in her head.
“Finola, you need to get on set now.”
The show. She had to do the show. It was live, so there was no second chance. She had to walk out there and face the two hundred people in the audience, not to mention the million or so in their homes. AM SoCal was hugely popular. She was well liked in the community and today they had on a massive star. Ratings would be huge.
She drew in a breath and dug as deep as she could for every ounce of professionalism, not to mention self-preservation, she’d managed to accumulate in her life. She had to survive sixty minutes. Just sixty minutes and then she would be able to collapse. Just the next hour. That was all.
She walked out to face her audience. They immediately burst into applause. She waved and smiled at them, focusing only on the people in the first few rows. Near the center aisle were what looked like three generations—grandmother, daughter and granddaughter, all clapping happily. There were a few of her regulars—those who always came to tapings, but the rest of the audience was filled with teenagers.
The Treasure fans, she thought grimly. How was she going to survive? She glanced at the teleprompter and breathed a sigh of relief. Thank God.
Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the show. We have something very special in store for you today, although based on the demographics of my audience, word has already spread—Pause for laughter.
She stepped into place and waited for the countdown to live. Normally she would have chatted with the audience a little, but not only wasn’t there time, she couldn’t have done it. Not today.
“Five, four, three.” She watched the fingers indicate the silent “Two, one,” then thought of puppies and kittens playing and how drunk she was going to get later. When the red light on the camera illuminated, she was fairly confident her smile was something close to genuine.
“Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the show.”
Finola worked the introduction. She never fully felt like herself, but the shock and pain faded just enough that she could inhale. She consciously relaxed her body and focused on what she had to get through.
“Here she is, and I’ll confess I’m a little star struck myself. Treasure!”
Finola turned to where the singer would enter. Treasure sauntered across the set, her familiar coltish walk and easy smile bringing the audience to their feet. There were plenty of screams and whistles. Treasure waved at everyone, then looked at Finola. For a second something dark and evil seemed to turn her face into a sinister mask, but then it was gone, leaving Finola to wonder if she was imagining things or if, in fact, the superstar was about to discuss her affair on television.
They sat angled toward each other. Finola was grateful her overly efficient team had loaded questions into the teleprompter. She didn’t have to think, she reminded herself. She simply had to look engaged and ask the prewritten questions.
“Your new album is doing incredibly well,” she began. “Congratulations.”
“Thanks. I’m really happy with the way my fans are responding. Especially to the first single.” She flashed the audience a smile. “‘That Way.’”
“It is a provocative song.”
Treasure leaned toward her and lowered her voice. “It’s about sex.”
The audience laughed.
Finola couldn’t tell if she was blushing or if she’d gone totally white. She was light-headed and hoped she wasn’t swaying in her seat. The potential for disaster was massive and if Treasure said anything...
With more than 25 million books sold worldwide, #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery is known for creating characters who feel as real as the folks next door, and for putting them into emotional, often funny situations readers recognize from their own lives. Susan’s books have made Booklist’s Top 10 Romances list in four out of five consecutive years. RT Book Reviews says, “When it comes to heartfelt contemporary romance, Mallery is in a class by herself.” With her popular, ongoing Fool’s Gold series, Susan has reached new heights on the bestsellers lists and has won the hearts of countless new fans.
Susan grew up in southern California, moved so many times that her friends stopped writing her address in pen, and now has settled in Seattle with her husband and the most delightfully spoiled little dog who ever lived.
Two exes reunite as danger rocks the family ranch.
A Coltons of Roaring Springs romance
Years after ending her relationship with her husband, Wyatt Colton, Bailey Norton shows up on his doorstep with an unexpected request: to father her child. Unresolved passion sets off sparks between them, but Bailey must resist Wyatt’s undiminished allure—and show her true grit when the Colton ranch is mysteriously sabotaged. Can this Colton cowboy lasso the culprit and a forever family?
An intriguing set up in the story, with the ex-wife approaching the ex-husband with a proposal that blew me away.
Wyatt Colton had his heart shattered by Bailey Norton when she walked away from him and their home, their marriage without an explanation. Now, out of the blue, she's back, with an outrageous request.
I admit, at first, I could not understand how Wyatt let Bailey even inside into his home, not to mention let her present the request she did. I wasn't sure if I admired him for it or not. But I got over that quickly, and I was looking forward to a deep, edgy, emotional reconciliation, completely forgetting that this was romantic suspense by the halfway to the book, when the mystery of a dead woman was brought into the picture and all the marital and relationship problems were forgotten.
I wish the story would have stuck into the romance, and not tried to dip into the suspense that felt flat and unnecessary. Because with Wyatt and Bailey, there was a chance to built the emotions and angst, making it into a great, passionate love story. Now the reconciliation between the exes felt rushed, almost as an afterthought, to get to the end. And the different aspects of the suspense and mystery -- it felt discrete, like two stories put together to make one ensemble.
A love story with great potential to be made into an epic romance tale interrupted by murder, mayhem, family drama, and vindictive townspeople.
~ Three Spoons
Marie swears she was born writing, "which must have made the delivery especially hard for my mother." From an early age, Marie's parents would find her watching television or tucked away in some private place, writing at a furious pace. "Initially, I began writing myself into my favourite shows. I was a detective on '77 Sunset Strip,' the missing Cartwright sibling they never talked about on 'Bonanza' and the 'Girl from U.N.C.L.E.' before there was a 'Girl from U.N.C.L.E.,' not to mention an active participant in the serialized stories of 'The Mickey Mouse Club.'" Marie began to write her first romance novel when she was 11 years old, although she claims that, at the time, she didn't even realize it was a romance! She scribbled off and on, while dreaming of a career as an actress.
Marie was only 14 when she first laid eyes on the man she would marry, truly her first love, Charles Ferrarella. During her days at Queens College, New York, acting started to lose its glamour as Marie spent more and more time writing. After receiving her English degree, specialising in Shakespearean comedy, Marie and her family moved to Southern California, where she still resides today.
After an interminable seven weeks apart, Charles decided he couldn't live without her and came out to California to marry his childhood sweetheart. Ever practical, Marie was married in a wash-and-wear wedding dress that she sewed herself, appliqués and all. "'Be prepared' has always been my motto,"the author jokes. This motto has been stretched considerably by her two children, Nikky and Jessi, "but basically, it still applies," she says.
In November of 1981, she sold her first novel for Harlequin. Marie, who now has written over 150 novels, has one goal: to entertain, to make people laugh and feel good. "That's what makes me happy," she confesses. "That, and a really good romantic evening with my husband." She's keeping her fingers crossed that her reader's enjoy reading her books as much as she enjoyed writing them.
Bad Breed by Amanda Heartley
Series n/a; standalone
Genre Adult Contemporary Romance & Biker Romance
Publisher Cheeky Books Ltd.
Publication Date February 2, 2019
If you love dirty-talking, bike-riding, gun-toting hotties, Bad Breed is a full-length, standalone MC romance with no cheating, no cliffhangers, and a happy-ever-after!
About Amanda Heartley
USA Today bestselling author, AMANDA HEARTLEY, writes heart-warming steamy romance, featuring strong, sexy bad boys and feisty, sensual women.
Her stories take you on an emotional ride of enduring love and steamy sex that always end with a happy-ever-after, and her evocative characters will stay with you long after you’ve finished the book.
You can join in the fun in Amanda’s reader group to talk about love, life, books, and share a little man-candy.
Actress Lauren Marie Woods just witnessed her agent’s murder. Now his killer is after her and the police are sure she pulled the trigger. More alone than ever in Hollywood, Lauren needs the kind of help only the elite Guardian Agency can provide.
Mike Stone is beyond jaded when it comes to actresses and Hollywood. But one thing is immediately clear: rising star Lauren Marie Woods will end up dead without his help. The real question is whether or not the former Navy SEAL can guard his heart from the beautiful actress.
Lauren must give the performance of her life to survive and help Mike catch the killer. But what will it take to crack the tough shell of the man who makes her want far more than his protection?
Author note: Previously published as Too Far Gone, this novel has been updated and revised for your enjoyment.
With an energetic, fast-paced plot with constant twists this story of Mike and Lauren Marie flows effortlessly off the pages, with such smooth ease, it was a pleasure to read.
I absolutely adored Mike and Lauren Marie. They had this tangible sizzling chemistry between them from the start, but not only the physical attraction, they genuinely seemed to like each other, respect and admire each other's gifts and talents, smarts and personality.
And Lauren Marie is a delightful heroine, making a difference with her intelligence and bravery. She jumps in, to help to capture the villains, yet there is not one single TSTL moment -- she listens to the experts, she does what she is told to do, keeping herself safe without compromising the case.
Mike has a bit of a chip on his shoulder from his military days, yet it is a tiny chip, nothing that he will let come on the way of the case, nor does it put Lauren Marie into a harms way. He is a good guy, a true alpha with highly protective, commanding side, but he has a good heart, he has a sense of humor, he is smart, kind, loyal, and capable.
The attraction and romance are moving on lightning speed, even though they do not have that many opportunities to get to truly know each other. Yet somehow it is believable, or should I say suitable, for Mike and Lauren Marie.
The dialog is brilliant, the banter between Mike and Lauren Marie is filled with puns and humor, flirting and play. It managed to make me smile in spite of the heinous, dreadful crimes, and the fact that Mike and Lauren Marie are doing everything they can just to stay a step ahead of the criminals - and alive.
The vivid, intense, constant danger present in the story is alluring, making the book unputdownable. Add to that the enticing attraction between the hero and the heroine, that burst into an all-consuming inferno, and you get the best kind of entertaining romantic suspense.
~ Four Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
The Bear Bottom Guardians MC Book 6
By Lani Lynn Vale
Release Day: Feb 12th
Zee + Annmarie and Tan + Jubilee.
Forever. No exceptions.
They were to have the picture-perfect life together. Everything was all planned out.
Jubilee was to marry Eitan and Ezekiel was to marry Annmarie. That’s how it was always supposed to be from the moment that they met. Textbook, right?
Eitan and Annmarie die in a freak accident that never should have happened, leaving the two survivors reeling.
Sixteen years later, Jubilee and Zee can’t even be in the same room with each other before things begin to deteriorate. Too many memories. Too much pain. Not enough forgiveness.
They’re like hellfire and holy water, and neither one of them is willing to admit that they’re wrong.
Then one day things change, and all of a sudden, they’re looking at each other like maybe they aren’t each other’s enemies after all.
Lani Lynn Vale is a USA Today Bestselling Author of over thirty titles. She is married with three children, two dogs, two cats, a donkey, and a couple (a couple also meaning over twenty) chickens.
When she’s not writing, you can find her curled up in her favorite chair reading.
Lani is married with three children and lives in the Great State of Texas.
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Romancing His Rival by Jennifer Shirk
Series Accidentally Yours Book Three
Genre Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher Entangled Bliss
Publication Date February 11, 2019
Hopeless romantic Elena Mason doesn’t often hate people, but she hates her ex-fiancé’s insufferable best man, Lucas Albright III. She just knows Lucas is the one who talked her ex out of getting married—so Lucas is clearly the cause of all her problems.
And now she’s expected to work with him? Oh, heck no.
Lucas Albright wants nothing more than to make partner at his advertising firm, and he knows he works best alone. But then Elena ends up as his partner on an account that could win him a promotion. He had a great reason to end her engagement, not that she’d ever believe him. Still, he’s willing to try working as a team.
Unfortunately, his new “partner” wants him dead.
Elena knows she’s going to have to give in and work with her nemesis, though nobody said it had to be easy for him. But what happens when fighting starts feeling a whole lot like falling in love?
After dashing through the snow in a three-hour car ride up the mountains with “Feliz Navidad” playing in what seemed like a continuous loop on the radio, Elena Mason was officially done with Christmas.
And it was only December first.
She finally pulled into the condo parking lot, and of course, there were no spots near her unit. The lot was most likely jam-packed with would-be skiers, so she had to park two rows away. Good thing she planned ahead and wore her snow boots.
Her good friend and wedding planner, Arden Roberts, had just organized a wedding for a woman who was on her way to Aruba this week on her honeymoon. In thanks, she had given Arden full access to her condo in the Pennsylvania Pocono Mountains. Arden had meant well, granting Elena the use of the condo because she knew she needed a getaway. Or at least, she’d insisted Elena needed one. Elena wasn’t so sure. Right now, she was ready to just go home.
But then again, she wasn’t the type to look a gift condo in the mouth, so she pulled on her mittens and readied herself for a hike through the snow.
At least Elena had brought her sketch pad to help her relax. Arden had suggested she try ice skating (not likely) or do some skiing (even less likely) or just simply relax to get her mind off her canceled wedding, which would have been December twenty-first (still working on that one).
Seven months and fifteen days ago, her fiancé, Scott, had suddenly called off their wedding. It still tore Elena up to think about it. She and Scott were so good together. She’d been so happy. And why wouldn’t she have been happy? She was finally going to have the kind of perfect marriage her parents had. Scott was handsome, caring, and a financial planner just like her dad had been. He even proposed in the same way her dad had proposed to her mom: on top of the Empire State Building.
Coincidence? She thought not.
Scott was the perfect man. Actually, everything had been perfect. Right down to her dress, reception, and home they were going to buy together. Until the best man—Lucas Albright III—and his big fat opinionated mouth had to go and ruin her life. The cad. If she never saw him again in her lifetime, it’d be way too soon.
Lucas had planted some kind of crazy notion in Scott’s head that she wouldn’t make a good “executive wife.” He trusted Lucas more than anyone, which was why Lucas had Scott all of a sudden questioning their compatibility and then eventually their engagement. So what if she didn’t have a college degree or couldn’t talk finance?
The wind stung her cheeks as she lugged her belongings across the parking lot and up to the icy doorstep. Snow was still falling pretty hard, which made the trek all the more precarious with her hands full. Once she reached the door, she set down her bags and pulled the house keys from her pocket, double-checking the address written on the keychain.
This was the place all right.
Hmm…not bad. But based on the “Happy Easter” wreath adorning the door, she assumed the condo hadn’t been used in quite a while. She prayed the heater worked. Not quite the vacation getaway she or her friends envisioned, but a lot of her money was still tied up in down payments she’d placed for her wedding, so she didn’t have a lot of options as far as vacations went this year. Unfortunately, she still held onto hope that Scott would realize how much he couldn’t live without her, which was why she hadn’t been fighting too hard yet to get her money back.
She took a deep breath then nudged the door open, bracing herself for what she’d find inside. Whew. At least it didn’t smell funky. Tossing her belongings into the foyer, she then shook the snow from her boots before walking into the living room and having a look around. And for the first time in almost eight months, Elena actually wanted to smile.
The place was charming. A large comfy-looking sectional with lots of furry throw pillows filled the sitting area. A wall of windows offered a lovely view of the snow-covered ski slopes and—bonus!—there were two built-in bookshelves overflowing with books. Elena quickly noted a few written by Nora Roberts on the shelf and decided that maybe this little getaway was turning out much better than she’d anticipated.
Before she could check out the other rooms, her cell phone rang and she raced to the foyer to answer it. Maybe Scott has finally changed his mind!
No such luck. But she still smiled when she saw Arden’s picture pop up on the screen.
“Oh, I’m so glad you answered,” Arden rushed out. “Kinsley and I have been worried sick about you traveling in this weather. We heard there’s a winter storm warning in effect.”
Elena unwound the scarf from around her neck as she spoke. “Aw, you two are so sweet. I’m perfectly fine, but it sure is nice to be worried about nowadays.”
Sad, but true. At this point in her life, she’d never felt so alone. With both her parents gone, being an only child, no fiancé, and now the holidays rolling in, getting through the month that should have been her honeymoon was going to be a complete bear. Thank goodness she had her friends.
“Hush, girl. We’re always concerned about you. And not just because of what Scott did. You’re a wonderful, beautiful person who will find love again. You just need to be patient.”
Mm-hmm. Says the woman who recently married her high school crush.
Elena shook her head, even though she knew her newly married and completely over-the-moon-in-love friend was trying to be supportive and upbeat. “I don’t want to find love again. I already found love. And quite frankly, I just want it back.”
Oops. She’d said it out loud.
Yes, poor, pathetic Elena was still in love with and wanted the man back who, without warning, had broken her heart along with their engagement. But it was the truth. She desperately wanted Scott back. She wanted that part of her life back. She hadn’t been truly happy since.
Arden let out a sigh. “Honey, it’s been a while. I don’t think you and Scott—”
“Anyway, I don’t really want to talk about it right now,” she said, carrying the grocery bag of food she’d brought with her into the kitchen. It was depressing to hear the pitying tone in her friend’s voice. But the truth was, Arden didn’t understand. None of her friends did. They hadn’t grown up in a household of love like hers with such wonderful and nurturing parents.
Was it wrong to want that kind of life for herself?
She hadn’t realized how happy her life had been—until they’d been in a terrible parasailing accident while they were on vacation. She was left utterly alone at the young age of twenty-two, and her life had begun to head in a downward spiral of depression and emptiness.
Until six months later, when she’d met Scott. A time in her life when she needed him most, so because of that, she’d always think of him as her savior.
Scott Coban had come to town for a coworker’s anniversary party. And he just so happened to be staying the weekend at the Harbor Light where she worked. Before that moment, love at first sight was just something she’d read about in her romance books. But it was real. She had experienced it firsthand.
Scott had charmed her and asked for her number right away. That night he’d ended up leaving the party early and immediately called her to meet him for a drink which she’d readily accepted. And the rest was history.
Until she became history.
No thanks to Scott’s friend and would-be best man, Lucas Albright.
“I’m sorry,” Arden said, breaking into Elena’s morose thoughts. “I just don’t want you getting your hopes up for no real tangible reason, that’s all.”
“I’m not getting my hopes up.” My hopes are already up.
“I mean, sure, I guess it’s possible you two could get back together. But, honey, the reason we wanted you to take this vacation was to get your mind off Scott. You know, like a Scottcation.”
Elena pulled out a bottle of red wine, then another for good measure, and nodded. If that failed, she had plenty of chocolate and tequila as a backup. “I will try my best.”
“Great! And while you’re at it, try not to think of that Lucas Albright either.”
The wine almost slipped from Elena’s hand. “Now why on earth did you have to go and mention his name?”
“Oops, sorry. It’s just that…well, I didn’t want to mention this before, but the condo you’re staying in kind of belongs to his sister, Michelle.”
Elena sat on the nearest chair, fearing her legs would give way. Of all the places she could have gone, it would have to be tied to a man she wanted nothing to do with ever again in her life. “You were smart not to mention that to me before. I would have never come.”
“Before you go torching the place in a fit of vengeance,” Arden lectured, “please just try to remember that his sister happens to be a very good client of mine and a sweet person.”
She snorted. “Yeah, too bad she’s related to the Spawn of Voldemort,” she grumbled back.
“Honestly, Elena, I’ve met Lucas, too, at her wedding, and I have to say, I can’t imagine him being the kind of person to break up anyone’s engagement.”
“Well, he did. Scott told me so himself. And whose side are you on anyway?”
“Yours! Always yours. I’m just playing devil’s advocate.”
“Are you finished playing?”
“I suppose so.”
“Good,” she said, ripping open the bag of marshmallows she’d brought and popping one in her mouth. “Because let me tell you something about Lucas Albright III. I don’t know what kind of snow job he laid on you, but I know for a fact that he is a cold, insensitive man and a liar—not to mention a terrible friend. And you can rest assured that nothing and no one could ever possibly change my opinion about him.”
Lucas’s life motto could easily be summed up like this: when a person gets stressed, that person gets to skiing. Which was how he found himself traveling late at night in the middle of a snowstorm to his sister’s condo up in the mountains.
Although the weather wasn’t doing anything to calm his nerves, it did manage to make him forget he was past due on his marketing deadline at work. The advertising campaign he’d been assigned was supposed to have been completed before Halloween. Two extensions later and they were still way behind on the Christmas ad season. His only saving grace was that a bulk of the marketing could be done online and would be rolled out rather quickly once he had the design and slogan down.
The problem was he had nothing yet. Nada. Zilch. And if he didn’t come up with an idea fast, he’d also have no job.
Lucas turned up the heater in his SUV and breathed in slowly. He could do this. He had to do this. Relax and focus. Once he got to the condo, he’d start a fire, grab a beer, and get to work. His sister’s place had always been like a balm to him. Even after his divorce, he found a lot of comfort in the brisk mountain air and its remoteness. A man could do a lot of life thinking and prioritizing up there.
And now, he hoped, a lot of creating.
He pulled into the parking lot and noted that most of ski buffs already had the same idea as him, knowing there were going to be great conditions with all the new snow predicted to fall. It was accumulating quickly, and it looked as if the snow plows couldn’t keep up, since the snow already reached his shins as he made his way across the street.
Just a few lights were on in the buildings. It was late. Almost eleven o’clock, but he was wired enough from the drive to be able to fit in a few hours of work. He couldn’t spare the time anyway. He had to bring something to his clients by Monday.
Lugging his two bags, he reached the doorstep. He stuck his spare key into the door, but realized rather quickly that it wasn’t necessary. The door was already unlocked.
Weird. And very unlike Michelle. His senses went on alert. Had someone broken in? He carefully turned the knob and nudged the door open, but waited a few beats before taking a step in.
One light in the living room was on, and everything appeared neat and tidy. He quietly placed his bags on the floor and glanced around. No evidence of a robbery or a break-in. But something seemed off. He took a step forward and sniffed the air, smelling something that resembled…burnt marshmallows? Again, weird. His sister was on her honeymoon, and his parents were still in Cape Harmony. That’s when it hit him.
He stumbled back as something spongey yet firm smacked up against his face again. His head shot back and it slammed against the wall. Pain shot through his skull. He raised his arms to protect himself and cracked one eye open, then caught a glimpse of his assailant.
Surprise and relief struck him at once. Thank God. Not exactly a friendly face, but much better than a robber.
“Elena,” he said, holding his palms up in surrender, “it’s me, Lucas Albright.”
Before he could regain his balance, he was hit with another swipe to the face.
“Hey!” He rubbed his jaw. Damn, that hit packed an even stronger punch. What kind of woman knew how to use a pillow as a weapon? “Elena, stop. I said it’s me, Lucas.”
Unsmiling, Elena slowly lowered the pillow. “I heard you.”
“Jeez, then why’d you still hit me?” he asked, moving his jaw and checking for loose teeth. Did she have a crowbar wedged in the stuffing?
She gave a small shrug. “Sorry. My hands must have slipped.”
He narrowed his eyes. Yeah. Right. Obviously, Elena Mason held a small grudge against him. Not that he totally blamed her.
“What are you doing here?” he asked, hiding a grin as he took in her pink pajama bottoms that had pictures of chocolate chip cookies and the words “Tough Cookie” all over them. Otherwise, she would have made an intimidating figure for sure with her long brown hair spilling over her shoulders, cheeks flushed, and brown eyes blazing.
“I was invited.” She walked back into the living room and tossed the pillow onto the couch. “What are you doing here? You gave me a heart attack, sneaking in like you did.”
“I didn’t sneak in. The door was open and I walked in. And--you were invited?”
Elena whipped her hair off her shoulders like a regal debutante and nodded. “That’s right. Invited. And I was specifically told I would be alone. So you better run along now.”
He cracked a half smile as he began unbuttoning his coat. He didn’t remember Elena being this feisty when she was engaged to Scott. But damn, if she didn’t wear her temper extremely well. And damn, if that didn’t make him want to stir it even more.
“I’m not running along anywhere,” he told her matter-of-factly.
“What? But you can’t stay here. Not with me, anyway.”
“I can and I will. With you. This is my sister’s condo, and she lets me use it whenever I choose. And I happen to choose now.”
Her mouth dropped open. “Oh my gosh, after everything you’ve done to me, I can’t believe you have the nerve.”
“Everything I’ve done?”
“Don’t play dumb, Lucas. Scott told me everything you said about me.” Her breath caught and she paused. “You know, just because I don’t have a college degree doesn’t mean I’m not executive wife material. I…I have a lot going for myself.”
Although her words lacked the confidence to be effective, Lucas still didn’t doubt that for one minute, which was why he had never said a single one of those things to Scott about her. Scott had created that reasoning all by himself.
Truthfully, from the several times Lucas had spent in her company while she’d been engaged to his friend, he’d found her to be smart, engaging, trusting, and loyal. Not to mention incredibly pretty. And, if he were being even more honest, incredibly sexy.
Not that Scott or Elena would appreciate hearing that last bit.
He hung up his coat and slipped out of his snow boots. “Look, Elena—”
“Oh, no, don’t get comfortable,” she said, pointing to his socked feet. “You’re not staying.”
He sighed. “I know you’re not thrilled to see me right now. I get that. But I only pointed out things to Scott about my own marriage that he already knew. As his best man, I owed him that. If Scott happened to take that information and form his own opinions on what does or doesn’t make a great relationship, well, I can’t be held responsible. Maybe what it comes down to is that you and Scott really weren’t meant for each other.”
She gasped. “How can you say that? Who made you the Be-All-End-All Relationship Guru? Just because your marriage didn’t end well doesn’t mean my and Scott’s marriage would have ended poorly too. He loves me.”
“I don’t doubt that he cares for you or even loved you, but that doesn’t always hold a marriage together. Trust me, I know.”
He sure did know. Once upon a time he’d thought his marriage to Catherine was one for the romance textbooks. Everything he’d thought a good, loving relationship should be. At least on paper. They even had the house in the suburbs of North Jersey with the yard meant for a dog and several children. But after a few years, Catherine missed city living and the entertainment New York could bring and often traveled into the city to shop or meet friends for lunch. He’d learned later that one of her friends had been a male coworker from her old job—and more importantly, that they weren’t just meeting for lunch.
It was his own fault, he knew now. He wasn’t meant for marriage. In fact, when he was born, he should have been slapped with a “does not play well with others” label.
Still, failures hurt, which was why succeeding in his career felt like a balm for his soul. He could “win” at something, at least.
“Save it, Lucas,” Elena spat, folding her arms defiantly. “Don’t even try to pretend you had my best interests at heart when you convinced Scott not to marry me. You’re… You’re… You’re deplorable.”
He banked down his own frustration. He’d hardly convinced anyone to do anything. But he’d admit he was glad of the outcome. She and Scott never really made sense to him. She obviously was hurting, though, and Scott still seemed confused about his feelings. So, better she think Lucas was the villain in this situation. After all, he’d probably never see her again after this weekend anyway.
“I am sorry,” he offered. He truly was. Sort of. Scott was a decent guy, but a little selfish in the relationship department. While Elena deserved… She needed a man like…
Hell, what did he know what kind of man she should be with? But to be honest, he really couldn’t picture her with anyone specific.
She turned away, but not before he’d seen the tears in her eyes. “Just go. If you are sorry, then the best thing you could do for me is leave. Please.”
As soon as he saw the tears, his chest felt as if a gorilla had collapsed on it. But the whispered please she’d tacked on at the end nearly brought him to his knees. The last thing he wanted to do was make her cry. In fact, he’d been trying to save her from heartbreak. How did this get so complicated? “I…I can’t go anywhere.”
Her shoulders stiffened, then she glanced back. “Well, then I’ll leave.”
But before she could storm away, he took hold of her arm. It was a knee-jerk reaction. He wasn’t thinking beyond the fact that he couldn’t let her go out there alone in that weather. But touching her like that had him immediately pulling back and standing stock-still as if his fingers had been seared.
He cleared his throat. “I don’t think you understand. You’re not going anywhere either.”
He guided her to the nearest window and raised the shade. “That’s why.”
“Oh my gosh!” She pressed her nose up against the glass and blinked at the thick white flakes swirling from the night sky like a shaken snow globe.
“Yeah, it’s really coming down,” he told her. “I was lucky to make it here when I did. There’s no way you’d go fifty yards before getting stuck in that mess. I heard on the radio there’s a special storm warning in effect from midnight until five in the morning.”
Elena backed away from the window and looked at him in horror. “So, what are you saying?”
“I’m saying what you’re not willing to hear. Like it or not, sweetheart, it seems we’re stuck with each other for the night.”
Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of ROMANCING HIS RIVAL by Jennifer Shirk, we’re giving away for a $25 Amazon gift card!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open internationally. One winner will be chosen to receive a $25 Amazon gift card. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Entangled Publishing. Giveaway ends 2/15/2019 @ 11:59pm EST. Entangled Publishing will send one winning prize, Pure Textuality PR will deliver the other. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
About Jennifer Shirk
USA TODAY bestselling author, JENNIFER SHIRK, has a bachelor degree in pharmacy-which has in NO WAY at all helped her with her writing career. But she likes to point it out, since it shows romantic-at-hearts come in all shapes, sizes, and mind-numbing educations. She writes sweet romances (some even funny!) and won third place in the RWA 2006 NYC’s Kathryn Hayes Love and Laughter Contest with her first book, The Role of a Lifetime. Recently, her novel Sunny Days for Sam won the 2013 Golden Quill Published Authors Contest for Best Traditional Romance. She’s a board member for Straight Ahead Ministries, an organization involved in helping spread the gospel and aiding medical and pharmacy students in Russia. She’s also a board member of the Ocean City Library Board of Trustees. She resides in a beach resort in NJ, and when she’s not involved in all the above, she’s taking care of her most treasured possessions: her husband, daughter, guinea pig (Rocco), puppy (Sox) and four hermit crabs.
Her mother lied about her identity and her husband wasn’t who she thought he was—can Bailey even trust herself anymore?
Running for her life in the wake of her mother’s murder, Bailey Fleming escapes to the only place she can think of—a remote, dilapidated cabin in Lavender Tides. Intending to finally get to the truth behind the lies of her past, Bailey only finds more questions when bodies are discovered near her cabin hideout along with traces of a dangerous human trafficking ring. In an unlikely partnership with FBI agent Lance Phoenix, Bailey races to understand the mystery surrounding her life and circumstances before the murderer tracks her down.
Meanwhile, Lance is determined to rescue his sister, Ava, who was abducted after running away from home as a teenager. An unexpected lead brings him to the remote cabin, and he wonders if Bailey—with her suspicious past and strange connections to his sister’s case—is really who she claims to be and if she can somehow lead him to Ava.
With the third full-length novel to the intriguing series, the author untangles the web of lies, crimes, secrets, and consequences of choices made, delivering a story that allured the mind, and was difficult put down until the destiny of the cast of characters were revealed.
With several subplots going on simultaneously, and all the characters, from the heroes to the culprits, getting their chance to tell their side of the story, it took an effort to keep all the lines untwined. As some of the points of the plot have been following the series from the beginning and for the number of people introduced in the tale, I would highly recommend reading the previous books before starting this one. Yes, it is mentioned in the blurb that this is a stand-alone novel, but I dare to disagree with that after reading the three books.
Even though some twist of the plot left me wondering and questioning the relatability, human trafficking comes across as very realistic, the way they hunt the prey, the way they treat them, and how they sell them, it is cruel, horrid, and brutal, giving me chills as I read through the experience of Ava and the other victims of the traffickers.
Bailey Fleming and Lance Phoenix were likable characters, who I grew to care for and cheer for as the story progress. Some of the past and current events in Bailey's life were on the edge of my imagination and understanding and even after finished reading the book I was left wondering with some questions. But the growing attraction between Lance and Bailey was not one of the questions in my mind, it seemed authentic and tangible, something that had future potential as well. The romance between them doesn't have a major part in the tale, but it clear that the feelings in their hearts taking root were more than just friendship.
There is so much going on in the book, both on the human interest aspect and on the criminal, suspense aspect, that the only way for me to read the story was completely immersing into it, and get lost in the pages of the tale of forgiveness, family loyalty, and finding your true self and staying true to it. The folks at Lavender Tides will solve another tangled web of crimes while trying to move on with their own lives.
With thrilling suspense and piquant lives, loves, and destinies of the protagonists the author tell an arresting and alluring tale, part of a series, that I can highly recommend.
~ Four Spoons