Cassie Gambol is on the run. In what seems like another lifetime, her ex-husband nearly ended her life and effectively ended her successful career as a vascular surgeon. But even though the justice system found him guilty of attempted murder, he fled while awaiting sentencing and Carly Sunderland became Cassie Gambol. Fleeing Los Angeles, she heads to small and off the map Petal, Georgia to start her life again.
Shane Chase, a man whos held himself away from commitment since his fiance dumped him several years before knows the beautiful newcomer is hiding something. He's wildly attracted to her strength and her underlying vulnerability as well. But the last thing Cassie wants is another big, overwhelming man who wants to control her life.
A battle begins between Shane, who knows what he wants and Cassie, who tries to keep a distance between herself and the very handsome sheriff. But Cassies ex is back and he wants her dead.
Warning, this title contains the following: explicit sex, graphic language, some violent situations.
I jumped right into this re-released series and its second book in the series without having any prior knowledge of the series, and I am glad I did because I really enjoyed the story, the romance, the secondary characters, and I appreciated the way the domestic abuse and recovering of it was done.
The story has a great amount of world-building for the series, and reflection to the past events so I didn't feel like I had to read the first book to get what was happening now. The only thing that made me go 'hmm' several times was the continued references to the hero past behavior towards women.
Shane Chase is a protective, in-charge man, who loves his family, his town, and takes care of people around him. I liked him, he was over the top at times, but he was honest, he was caring, so tender and considerate with Cassie, so patience, giving her the room she needed to heal from the past abuse. It was obvious he had learned some hard lessons, it was clear he was falling in love for the very first time and fumbling with it at times, but he was transparent with his past mistakes, and he was sincere with his feelings.
Cassie Gambol is one strong, fierce, survivor. While my heart broke for her, I admired her immensely. She has lived through the ultimate betrayal by her former husband. The one who is suppose to be there for you and support you do everything in their power to break you. The story is such a strong advocate for surviving domestic abuse, and it is done with the utmost respect towards the survivor. The way the escalation of the abuse is told, and how Cassie survived, and what help there is to seek out if needed, and how long it takes to heal from the physical and mental wounds of the abuse, all told with delicately, respectfully, and carefully, the survivor's integrity intact.
I liked that the timeline on the developing romance was stretched long enough for Cassie to truly heal, also mentally, from the past, and find her place in the world again. I loved how well Cassie and Shane fit together, there was sizzling chemistry, absolutely, but there was also sweetness, adoration, caring, protecting each other, and supporting each other when needed. They were equal in more sense than not, and they were challenging each other to be their true selves, to be a better version of themselves, and I just fell in love with them, and with the whole Chase family while at it.
With a great mix of small town living, the crazy of a meddling family, adorable, sweet romance developing, and the suspense from Cassie's ex-husband hunting her, the story was intense entertaining thought-provoking and fear-filled experience that I enjoyed immensely.
~ Four Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
Stand-alone Whisper Lake romance, complete with HEA—and plenty of heat and heart along the way!
There is a thin line between love and hate. For Allison Walsh, that line was a tightrope hanging a hundred feet in the air, with no safety net to catch her if--or when--she fell.
Ali was barely treading water after losing her big brother, who was her hero and best friend. His sudden death left her to raise her twin nephews when the man that was supposed to share the responsibility with her went MIA after the funeral.
Kade’s MMA training made him a champion, but it never equipped him to fight off the one force beyond his control: his feelings for his best friend’s little sister. He’s sure his demons mean he’s not good enough for her, but he’s going to do everything in his power to conquer them.
When the sexy, tattooed fighter shows up on Ali’s doorstep out of the blue with a bag hanging over his shoulder and a smile that would make a nun blush, he seems different. But after all he’s put her through, Ali’s not in a forgive-and-forget kinda mood.
Will Kade prove that he's the man worthy of Ali’s heart and trust, or will his past sins determine their future?
The second chance love stories are so bittersweet because there usually are hurt feelings at the background, but there is also that amazing hope of love conquering it all, and that is what brings so much joy and jubilee into the stories and to the lives and minds of the readers. I absolutely LOVE it when the hero comes back to town, with his feelings already developed towards the heroine, his intent clear, he is willing to do the hard work to win her heart again, and he is willing to grovel if that is required to be together with the love of his life. And Kade, oh my word, he does it all, he is all that, and so so much more.
It is not often that I am so connected to the characters and to the story that I would be in tears from the very start of the story, but Ali and the boys had me sobbing for them. I was a mess for the first three chapters, wishing I could just step in with a six pack of Half Baked, give Ali a big hug and help her around the house.
Ali is resilient, strong, fun, sarcastic, protective, loving, kind-hearted soul, and I admired her and her spunk so much, even though right at the beginning it was missing a bit because life had given her trouble and sorrow with a pallet full instead of a spoon full.
Kade had had his own troubles in life. He had grown up close to Ali and her brother, they shared the same story of parental alcohol abuse and neglect. His life and career at the MMA had taken a downhill spiral, he had failed with his responsibility, but he was here, he was sober, and he wanted to change his life, and be everything Ali would allow him to be to her and to the boys.
Ali and Kade have chemistry between them that is hotter than words can tell. They get each other, they understand each other, they know each other, and they are just perfect for each other. I loved the honesty, the openness, the palpable emotions streaming between them.
The secondary characters in the new spin-off series, the twins, Jess, Ethan, they all contributed to the story and I can already tell, this is going to be another hit series from the author. It is not a secret that I'm in love with the stories Melanie Shawn writes, the romance always has me smiling, sighing, and swooning. The characters speak straight to my heart, they have me laughing, and in tears, the friendships are dear and deep, there's just so many feelings, and deep emotions involved, along with the hottest love scenes you can pen out, and yes, it is not just sex, it is always loving, and there are feelings involved, and those scenes are intricate part of the plot developing.
What an amazingly emotional and entertaining start to the new series. Ali and Kade won my heart over from the very first scene, and I kept rooting for them to find the way to their HEA all through the tale. There were tears, there were smiles, there were deep, profound emotions, there were mistakes, and loss, and loving, and life, and I loved every moment of the story, wishing I could have lingered a little while longer as I can't wait for the next installment of the series...
An unputdownable, poignant story that I finished in one sitting
~ Five Spoons
For the Love of a Centaur
Centaur Agency Book 1
by A.S. McGowan
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Analise woke up in the hospital to find that her parents were dead. Her father’s business partner has inherited the ranch she grew up on. To make matters worse her father’s will stipulates she cannot receive her inheritance until she turns twenty-one. Now penniless and homeless, she agrees to a marriage of convenience with her father’s business partner.
After turning twenty-one and with her inheritance in hand, she no longer wishes to be trapped in a loveless marriage. Moving out she builds a life for herself away from the ranch and her husband. When her husband shows up on her door step asking to give their marriage a chance, she jumps at the idea of a marriage of love. The problem is: everyone has been lying to her, her whole life. Now those lies may very well get her killed.
Analise slowly awoke. Turning her head to the side, she heard the crinkle of a plastic pillow encased in the soft pillowcase beneath her head This was not her pillow. Slowly she took in her surroundings. This did not make sense. Where was she? Turning her head to the other side, she spotted Matt Duclain, sitting in a chair next to where she was laying. Why was her father’s business partner sitting in a chair? Wait, everything looked like a hospital room. Why was she in a hospital room? This had to be a weird dream, right?
“Matt?” she asked.
“You’re awake. How do you feel?”
“Everything feels sore. What happened? Why am I in a hospital room? What are you doing here?” She scanned the room again.
“Analise, there was an accident. The doctors said that you should be just fine. But you have a head injury and a few broken ribs.”
“Matt, where are my parents?” She did not like the look on his face. Something inside her sank, when he just stared at her. “Matt? Where are my parents?”
“Analise, I am so sorry.” He reached out and held her hand.
Sorry? No, no that did not sound right. Sorry was what you said when the news was bad. Like when someone dies. Her parents could not be dead. No, this could not be happening.
She tried to catch her breath. Her breathing became more rapid and shallow. She felt herself getting dizzy. She could see Matt standing by her bed. He was saying something but she could not hear him. Thoughts began to explode and swirl around inside her head. This was a dream, a terrible dream in which she would awake soon. Fight or flight instincts kicking in, she tried to get up out of bed. She felt hands push her back down. The dizziness increased, and she could feel her heart racing. The sound of her pulse pounding in her ears was the last thing she had heard before the dark oblivion began to pull her under.
When she came to, the reality of the situation sat heavy on her heart. What was she supposed to do? Matt, had to be mistaken, her parents could not be dead. It just did not make sense to her. She carefully wiped her palms on the blanket that covered her.
“I see you are awake again,” a voice next to her said.
Slowly turning her head, she saw Matt sitting beside her. She could not understand why he was still here. He was her father’s business partner, but why was he still here with her?
“Why are you here?”
“Because you are injured. I stayed to make sure you were alright. When you are ready we need to talk.”
“No time like the present. So, what could we possibly need to talk about?” She watched him as he sat there. Did the man really have to always look so good? Self-consciously, she raised the blanket a little higher across her chest.
“I hate to do this right now but things need to be put into place. Luther’s will left the ranch to me. The ranch needs to continue to operate, so I will be moving into the ranch house. Your parents left you a very sizeable inheritance but you cannot access it till you are twenty-one,” he began.
“What are you saying? That I not only lost my parents but that I no longer have a home?” Tears began to run down her cheeks. Angrily she wiped at them.
“No. Of course, you still have a home. I just wanted you to understand that I would be living at the ranch house as well. Geez, Analise, I would never throw you out of your home.”
“But you cannot live there. Matt, you are a single man, and I am a single female. We cannot live under the same roof. It would cause a scandal.”
“I thought about that. There is an alternative. It would prevent a scandal.” He smiled at her in a way that made her feel a little better.
“We could get married,” he started but quickly added, “on paper only.”
She shook her head. “Are you sure you are not the one with a head injury?” This man was out of his mind.
“Think about it Analise, it makes sense. I am moving into the ranch house. You still need your home. It would be the only way to protect your reputation. After all, you just said we couldn’t live under the same roof because it would cause a scandal.” He smiled at her again.
“Matt, please leave. I cannot deal with this right now.” She turned her head, looking away from him.
“OK but I will come back later and check in on you.”
She heard the door to her room close. This could not be happening. She is injured, lost her parents, and got a marriage proposal from her father’s sexy business partner all in one day. Only she could have such a screwed-up day. This would not be the first time she has had such a roller coaster of a day. Only before she always had her parents to turn to. Their sound advice and wisdom always helped guide her decisions. Now they were gone. Who could she turn to for advice on such major decisions as the one Matt, proposed to her?
There was always Stella. She loved their housekeeper just as if she were another mother. She did not want to discuss this with Stella though. In fact, she did not want to discuss this with anyone. She wanted to wake up from this nightmare.
Looking about she took in the room. Countless pieces of medical equipment so common for hospital rooms were in various locations in her room. Hanging from the chrome rail was a curtain that had been washed at least a thousand times. The colors so faded, they were barely there. Looking upward, she tried to distance herself from her thoughts by counting the cracks in the polystyrene tiles. It was no use; she could not shut off her thoughts. Too many of them, running around jumbled inside her brain.
She reached for the button to her pain pump. She could lay here and think about all that has happened, or she could just push the button. In the end, the relief offered by the pain medication won. She pressed the button and waited for the medicine to take over her brain. There could be worse things in life than being married to a sexy man that she already had feelings for, she thought, just before the pain meds pulled her under.
When she awoke later, she saw Matt was back in the chair. Well, she decided, guess it was time to face what life had thrown at me.
“Alright, Matt. I will marry you” she said.
“Good that settles that problem. You do realize this will not be a real marriage? Don’t get me wrong I will financially take care of you. Once you get your inheritance we can end the marriage and go on with our lives.”
“Of course, I understand. This is just something on paper to keep people from gossiping. After all, my mother’s country club friends sure do love to spread gossip.”
“I will take care of everything and we can get married as soon as the doctors release you.” Matt stood and left the room.
Two days later, Matt returned with clothes for Analise to change into. The doctors finally said she was free to go home, as long as she promised to come back in a week for additional tests. Ready to finally be free of the hospital with all its constant sounds and nauseating smell of disinfectants, she dressed as quickly as she could.
The nurse insisted on wheeling her out of the hospital. Sitting in the wheelchair, she took in the hospital with cautious eyes. The walls were the same color as those in her room. The same polystyrene tiles with various cracks made up the ceiling. Bland artwork decorated the walls. Someone must have thought the art would liven the place up. They were wrong. There was no way in which to liven a place up that was intended for the sick and the dying. It was here she was brought to recover. It was also here her parents’ bodies had been brought. There was no way art, framed and hung on a wall could change that.
The Ghosts of a Centaur
Centaur Agency Book 2
Stella left one life behind for another. Finding happiness in a new world, Stella never thought anything could destroy her new life. Until a package arrived containing a severed head. The threat was clear and the stakes were high. Leaving her new life behind, Stella hoped her choice would protect her loved ones.
Now twelve years later, someone had discovered Stella’s identity. People she loves are starting to die at the hands of a very cold and calculated killer. Forced out of hiding, Stella moves fast to protect her family. Can the Centaur Agency discover the identity of the killer in time? Or will Stella lose everyone she has ever loved?
After Analise had calmed down, Stella sent her upstairs for a nap. Alone in the kitchen, she went through the stack of mail that had been needing her attention. She came across a manila envelope simply address to her. No return address and no indication what it was. Opening the envelope, she found a plain disc. Curiosity got to her, and she went upstairs to her bedroom. Sitting at the desk, she turned her laptop on. She could not contain her curiosity over what this disc could contain.
Popping the disc into her laptop, she sat back in her chair. One the screen was a small dark car, that appeared to have crashed into a tree. She watched as someone approached the wrecked car. The angle appeared as if it were filmed on a body camera.
The image of a woman appeared on the screen. Blood streaked her face and she was mouthing something. The video provided no sound and Stella was unable to make out the words.
Leaning forward Stella’s mouth dropped open. Even after all these years, she recognized the woman. It was her sister-in-law, Brenda. In horror, Stella watched as the person wearing the camera raised a metal bar.
Stella’s screams filled the silent room as she watched the figure on the screen begin to bash the metal bar against Brenda’s head. This was cold blooded murder. Whoever did this not only filmed the horrendous act but mailed her a video of it.
Why? How could anyone have discovered who she was? This couldn’t be happening. It was not real. She must have fallen asleep at the kitchen table while drinking tea. Yes, that was it. It was a dream and soon she would wake up. The man from her past was gone. He had died in prison and with him so had her secrets.
Matt came into the room just as the words appeared on the screen.
Your husband and son are next, Emma.
“Stella, what is going on?”
“Is Savannah still in town?”
“She said she was staying until tomorrow.”
“Call her. Get her here now!”
“Just call her, Matt. I will explain everything when she gets here. Hurry.” Reaching out, she turned off the laptop. The ghosts from her past had always haunted her. Now they were about to become a very real part of her present.
The Making of a Centaur
Centaur Agency Book 3
Severely beaten, "Lucky" wakes up with no memory of who she is or where she came from. Rescued by the Centaur Agency, she sets out to discover her identity. Plagued by violent flashbacks, she finds herself afraid of the men around her.
There is one man though that makes her feel safe. However time is running out for all of them. Will "Lucky" get her memories back in time to stop a madman? Or will her past catch up with her, leaving the most important person in her life to pay the price?
I am a wife and mother, who lives in a small Southeast Missouri town. I am the author of the Centaur Agency series. Currently I am working on book 3 in the series The Making of a Centaur which will publish in July 2017. I also have plans for a vampire trilogy that I am working on. I will be publishing the trilogy after I finish the 4 book Centaur Agency series. From there I also am working on a Werewolf series. So much planned with a little bit for everyone.
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Hitting It by Kathy Lyons
Series The Locker Room Diaries Series
Genre Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher Entangled Brazen (Imprint of Entangled Publishing)
Publication Date May 14, 2018
Making it to the Major Leagues is all rookie ballplayer, Rob Lee, has ever dreamed of. But now, he’s a little overwhelmed with his new celebrity status. Everyone wants a piece of the new heavy hitter for the Indianapolis Bobcats. Still, he’s worked hard for it, and he doesn’t have many regrets. Although there is one…
If journalist Heidi Wong wants to keep her job, she needs to come up with a story—fast! That’s why she tells her boss that she knows the Bobcat’s reclusive new slugger, Rob Lee. And she does...in the Biblical sense. During Spring Break three years ago, she and Rob shared a torrid night on the beach. And she’s wanted him again ever since.
But everyone knows reporters and athletes don’t mix. Rob’s contract doesn’t allow him to talk to the press, and her job depends on it. Which is driving them both just a little crazy…
“One margarita is not a rebellion!”
I stared at my best friend while twisting my hair into a tight spiral against my shoulder. It was hot in Ft. Lauderdale, and my long Chinese hair was acting up. “I never should have told you that,” I groused. One month ago, I’d mentioned that I wish I’d gone through an adolescent rebellion. I was a good Chinese girl who always colored in the lines, studied until my eyes failed me, and never, ever did anything fun. Since we’d been celebrating my twenty-first birthday with endless margaritas at the time, Samantha had taken advantage of my inebriation to bully me into joining her for spring break in Florida. It was, according to her, the perfect place to go wild.
She was right. With all the alcohol everywhere, people were losing their inhibitions left and right. And what was I doing? Wearing a one-piece swimsuit meant for doing laps and a shit-ton of sunscreen because skin cancer was real.
“But you did tell me,” Samantha pressed. She was in a bikini that maximized her ample chest and tight ass. Her underwear covered more of her body than what she was wearing now, and yet she gleefully strutted her stuff in a way I’d never dare to do. There was just so much body there on display, while I felt naked in a short sundress. “And it’s my job as your best friend to make sure your birthday wish comes true.”
“It wasn’t a birthday wish. It was a wistful side comment.”
“Potato, potahto.” She grinned as she shoved a brown bag into my hand. “Happy birthday!”
“You already got me a present.” She’d helped to pay my airfare down here. But I was human enough to open the bag. Inside, I saw a white T-shirt and a flash of bright red. “What—?”
Fifteen feet away, the announcer at the beach bar spoke up, his voice thrumming loudly through the speakers. “Free margaritas for all the contestants in our wet T-shirt contest! Come on, ladies, what would you give for the best tequila on the beach?”
Understanding blossomed along with a full-body blush. “I am not—”
“You like margaritas, right?”
She knew I did.
“And you wanted some rebellion. What would upset your parents more than a wet tee contest?”
“Failing my LSATs?”
Samantha rolled her hazel eyes. “We’re not trying to tank your future. Just cut loose and strut those boobs.”
“I haven’t got any to strut!” It was true. Chinese genetics didn’t lend themselves to full cleavage, but that didn’t stop Sam. She was busy shoving me into a bathroom of less than pleasant odors. I wrinkled my nose at more than the scent. It was the tiny scrap of red lace bikini bottom that I held out with shock. “I can’t wear this! Not in public.”
“Free margaritas,” she repeated. “Come on, this is a tame contest. Everyone has to wear the full tee.” Then she was all business as she physically stripped me out of my swimsuit. You wouldn’t think a curvy, short girl could be so efficient, but Sam worked summers at a nursing home. She could strip an obese octogenarian in less than a minute. My five-foot-four body was nothing compared to that.
“Are you doing it with me?” I asked, my voice muffled as she pulled the T-shirt down over my head.
“I paid for the tee. And that’s my third-favorite bikini bottom, so be grateful.”
“Step in,” she ordered, as she held out the red lace.
I obeyed immediately. It was her tone of voice. I’d been conditioned since birth to follow unquestioningly when a female used that tone. Thankfully, Sam was the only woman outside of my mother and grandmother who’d figured that out. But I had my own weapon to use against Sam.
“You’re going with me or I’m not helping with your term papers.”
She sighed. “You know that’s not how that expression is used, right?”
I folded my arms across my not-so-ample chest and looked as stern as I could in a thin white tee and a scrap of red lace.
“You’ll do it?” she pressed.
“If you do.”
“Great!” Then she grabbed another tee out of her backpack. A moment later, she’d popped off her bikini top and pulled on the thin fabric. Then she proceeded to bunch and knot the tee in a kind of fabric magic that not only managed to support her full breasts, but also allowed them to bounce in a really attractive way.
“You were planning on doing this all along.” It wasn’t a question.
She rolled her eyes at me as she started yanking and knotting my top. “How many times do I have to say it? Free margaritas!”
“It’s just a sales promise until we’re drinking them.” Was I really considering this? Could I stand on a stage in front of hundreds of leering guys and let my nipples pop like beacons? But what could it hurt? I mean, of all the possible teen rebellions, this was pretty tame. And yet it felt like I was throwing off the shackles of my strict Asian upbringing and stepping out into the true American-girl experience. Pert boobies and all.
“I need to drink at least one beforehand,” I said to Sam.
She grinned and gave me a high five. “Then let’s go get it.”
I drank two and tried not to think of the calories. And then I was supposed to get up on the stage. It had been hard enough to walk out of the bathroom in this outfit with bodies pressed all around me. But to climb onto the stage? That took real courage, even if Samantha had blocked me in from behind. No way was she letting me escape.
At least the tequila had set up a warm glow throughout my body. And the music was nice with a good solid beat. We were supposed to pop out through a curtain in the back, get drenched in ice water, and then strut for a bit. Easy-peasy, right?
My nerves had my heartbeat thrumming in my ears. Was I really this brazen? The announcer called my name. “Heidi Va-va-va-voom!”
I shot my roommate an incredulous glare. My last name was Wong. Not a single va-va in it. Sam just gave me a thumbs-up and then pushed me through the curtain.
A roar surrounded me and a couple of wolf whistles. Oh my God, the sound was deafening. And just when I was getting my bearings against that tidal wave of sound, the water hit me. On both sides. Icy wet and straight to the chest.
I gasped as the frigid cold hit me, instinctively hunching against the impact. But then the noise of the crowd started to change. I made out some words, all of them crude. Part of me wanted to turn around and run. How dare they say those things to me? But then I’d asked for it, hadn’t I? What the hell was I doing?
I don’t know what got me past the panic. It could have been the tequila. Or maybe I was just pissed off. Either way, I started to shut out the noise and focus on the music. I’d been a dancer once, back when I was eight and hated the scratchy tutu. Now, I was a mature twenty-one and I’d been moving to the music in my bedroom for years. If I closed my eyes, I could almost be right back there, bebopping for my stuffed-animal audience.
So that’s exactly what I did. I closed my eyes and began to dance. It was a low bump and thump, not really dancing at all, but I still did what I could. It was impossible to forget that this was in front of a zillion people—though mostly guys—all leering at my chest. But after a few moments, I began to enjoy myself.
These guys were looking at me. They were admiring my body in a purely physical way. And they liked it. Better than I liked myself. So maybe I ought to give us all a little shimmy, a little bounce, and a slow, sensuous smile.
What was the worst that could happen?
Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of HITTING IT by Kathy Lyons, we’re giving away for a $25 Amazon gift card and a $15 Amazon gift card!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open internationally. Two winners will be chosen – one will receive a $25 Amazon gift card and one will receive a $15 Amazon gift card (winners chosen at random). This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Entangled Publishing. Giveaway ends 5/18/2018 @ 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 Kathy Lyons
Kathy Lyons is the fun, contemporary side of USA TODAY bestselling author Jade Lee. She loves sassy romance with lots of laughter and sex. Spice is the variety of life, right? Okay, so maybe two kids, two cats, two pennames, and writing over 50 books has messed with her mind, but she still keeps having fun.
Or hang out with her sexy historical half, Jade Lee. Titled heroes with dark secrets are Jade’s passion. Especially when they fall for women who add more than just spice to their lives.
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Hometown Girl at Heart
Hometown Series Book 1
by Kirsten Fullmer
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Tara has always been too engrossed in her work - refurbishing the historical homes in Smithville. She keeps a tight rein on her jobs and her emotions buried, but she’s losing control of both since that ridiculous city boy investor showed up.
New in town, Justin is confident that his ultra modern resorts will bring Smithville into the twenty-first century. If only the local-yokels and their ringleader, the gorgeous and peculiar Tara, would stop interfering.
With her quirky and protective hometown behind her, will Tara confront Justin and the town’s long buried secrets to take on the financial and emotional risk of a lifetime?
The floor sander whirled heavily in large circles. Justin’s upper arms ached as he struggled to control the machine, forcing it in an even pattern across the hardwood floor of his kitchen. Thinking he’d heard a noise, he glanced over his shoulder and was shocked to find Tara standing in the kitchen doorway, waving a set of blueprints.
He flipped off the machine and turned to her, clenching and unclenching his fists, in an attempt to relax his throbbing muscles.
Her eyes bright and prints waving, she shouted, “...and Winnie brought me this!” Her last few words hung awkward and loud in the silence between them.
She didn’t continue so he could only guess she thought he understood. He reached for the water bottle on the counter and gulped, buying time. Finally, he plopped the bottle back down and wiped his sleeve across his forehead. “What’s your problem?”
Startled by his uncharacteristically harsh greeting, Tara was taken aback. “I said, I was working on the furniture and Winnie brought these by.”
“Yeah...” They both waited for the other to break the thorny silence between them. “I can’t believe you had new plans drawn up...” she began.
He cocked his hip against the wall, his expression flat. “And why is that?”
She swallowed once, then again. “I thought we’d talk about it first.”
His lip curled and he snorted. “Well, funny thing is, talking would involve answering the door or the phone, and you didn’t seem capable of either.”
She retreated another step. Her lips moved but nothing came out.
He wiped his arm across his forehead again. “Did you even check your messages?”
She stared at the floor. One shoulder shrugged. “No.”
“Well hell, partner, if you had, you’d know that we are supposed to meet with Muffy and Denny in two days.” He tossed one hand in the air. “Two days!” He stared at the half-sanded floor, then met her eye. “So I take it you were banking on me caving. Backing out, is that it?”
Her head snapped up. “No... I...”
“Why did you come running over here then, if not to yell at me for messing up your resort?” His eyes snapped bitter sparks.
“I...” She cleared her throat. “I was surprised that you changed your whole design.” Her eyes fell and she took another step back. Her arm brushed the wall, startling her, and the blueprints shuffled to the sawdust-covered floor. She scrambled to her knees, gathering the pages with frantic haste.
He bent to help and as he handed her the last page, their eyes met; his bright with anger, hers shimmering with tears.
He shot to his feet in surprise.
She stayed on her knees, clutching the jumbled documents in her lap, her eyes downcast, and her voice a whisper. “It’s beautiful, Justin. These drawings, I mean.” She turned around the top page and smoothed it against her legs, the other drawings sifting back onto the floor. One fingertip touched the paper, to trace the roof outline of the stately wood-shingle-clad house, with two wings added to either side, nine-pane windows, roof dormers, and a long porch sprawling across the front. “I’m sorry. I really...” Her voice broke.
He lurched forward and grabbed her arm, yanking her to her feet. The drawing fluttered and fell between them.
She turned her face away and he gave her a gentle shake to get her attention. “Look at me, Tara.”
She shrugged and sniffed.
“I’m going to stand here until you look at me.”
She glanced up tentatively through her lashes, then back to the
He dropped her arm and took a step back, gesturing with his hands. “This is business, Tara. We are professionals.”
“Okay! Okay. Look, You’ve made it abundantly clear that I’m not—” He scrubbed his hands across the top of his head. “I’m not to touch you. And that’s fine. But I can’t let this deal go. I need it. I’ve spent most of my savings to get set up and I have to succeed. It’s not an option for me to quit.”
She raised her chin and wiped the back of her hand under her nose.
Justin turned away, shook his head, and gulped more water from the bottle. Finally, he swung back to her. “Are you even going to be able to work with me?”
Her chin jutted out and she crossed her arms over her chest. “I promise to pull myself together and be a professional. I apologize for—”
He waved his hand at her. “No, it was my fault. I crossed the line. You kept telling me, but I was an idiot.”
She reached for him, trying to refute his words but he wouldn’t have it.
He pointed his index finger in her face and she froze. His eyes serious, he spoke low and steady. “Tara, I’m sorry I scared you.” His finger wagged. “That was never my intent.”
She opened her mouth and his finger came back up as he continued. “Winnie filled me in on a few things, and I realized I had been acting like an ass. I had no right to touch you, or kiss you, or to assume you wanted anything from me. I was out of line. It won’t happen again.”
She nodded once.
He dropped his hand in surrender and with a frown, turned to stride out the back door.
Tears shimmered hot in Tara’s eyes. She turned her back to hide the devastating disappointment, embarrassment, and misery that threatened to break her heart. Slowly she collected the drawing and let herself out.
Hometown Girl After All
Hometown Series Book 2
Julia lost everything while she was ill. Self-conscious and alone, she’s moved to Smithville, determined to hide away in her rundown Victorian house. Little does she know, she can’t hide anything in a small town, including her interest in the deliveryman.
Resolved to keep his life simple, Chad has his hands full running his delivery business and supporting his adopted family. So why can’t he get that withdrawn city girl, Julia, off his mind?
Will the eccentric but well-meaning Smithville folk push Julia and Chad to open up, or will the emotional toll drive them both back into seclusion?
At the diner, Chad stepped behind Julia and pushed open the door for her, his hand warm on her back to lead her through. Bells chimed, announcing their arrival, and Marge glanced up from behind the counter. Her customary greeting froze on her lips as she did a double take, her conversation with a bald man seated in front of her forgotten.
The song on the jukebox ended and all the diners turned in the suddenly silent room to watch Julia and Chad walk to a table.
As Chad pulled out Julia’s red vinyl and chrome chair, the jukebox clicked and clattered, changing records. The first few words of the song P.S. I LoveYou, drifted across the room, as Julia did the butt-lift and scoot maneuver so Chad could scoot up her chair. The other diners slowly returned their attention back to their plates and conversations.
“It’s the Beatles,” Chad commented distractedly, shifting his chair up to the table, his eyes darting nervously between Julia and the other customers.
She nodded, engrossed in digging through her purse for something. Giving up in frustration, completely for- getting what she’d been looking for, she turned to hang her purse on the back of the chair, inadvertently catching the eye of a man and woman at the next table who sat staring, with their forks still hovering in mid-air.
Chad cleared his throat and lifted two menus from behind the salt and peppershakers. “So, what do you want to eat?” he asked, his voice a bit too loud.
Jumping in her seat, Julia’s gaze flew from the staring couple, back to Chad. “I—I’m not sure. What’s good here?”
Pretending to glance over the menu, Chad berated himself for bringing Julia to the diner. Why hadn’t her taken her to Uniontown where they could have cuddled in the corner booth of a crowded restaurant where no one would notice them? Feeling the back of his neck burn, he glanced over to see Marge’s pink tennis shoes on the floor next to the table.
He sighed inwardly and followed the pink uniform up to Marge’s face, which clearly but silently said, “I knew it!”
“Well,” Marge stated, her tone speculative, a wide grin on her face. “What can I get for you two this fine evening?”
Chad glanced at Julia, noting the misery written across her face, and he flinched. “I’d like a Coke. Julia?”
“Water please,” she muttered, not making eye contact with Marge.
Pretending to scribble on her pad, Marge sized up the couple over her reading glasses. “You got it,” she finally replied, turning on her heel.
Julia adjusted the salt and peppershakers into a row with the container of sugar packets and the ketchup, then turned her attention back to her menu.
“I like the meatloaf,” Chad said, glancing up. “Hmm,” she mumbled, turning the page. “And the tuna melt.” Julia nodded.
“Sometimes I get the—”
Marge plopped two large red plastic tumblers on the table, and scooted the one full of water toward Julia. The aging waitress then tugged two paper-wrapped straws from her apron, tossed them on the table, and collected her pad and pencil. With one hip cocked and her glasses balanced on the end of her nose, she glanced between Chad and Julia.
Chad watched as Julia’s neck turned red, the color flooding up over her chin, then her cheeks. “Give us a minute please,” he said, his eyes never leaving Julia, angry at himself for being such a dunce.
Wishing she were invisible, Julia suffered the curious stares of the other diners. Shoving down her discomfort and battling to muster even a dab of confidence, she glanced up at Chad.
He took a long drink of soda, then set down his glass. “Sorry, we should have gone to Uniontown...” he muttered.
Julia straightened in her chair. “No, I’m fine, really.” She lifted her glass. “Have you had time to think about the flower—”The tumbler in her hand shifted in her grip, then fell to the table top, the water and ice pouring across the gleaming white table and directly onto Chad’s lap.
His chair screeched back as he bound to his feet. Wiping at his pants and shaking his hands, Chad danced backward in an effort to miss the torrent, barely managing not to fall into the lap of the woman seated behind him. When he looked up, all he could see was Julia’s stricken expression.
“I’m so sorry,” she gasped, then hurried around the table. Plucking a handful of napkins from the dispenser, she frantically wiped at Chad’s crotch.
“Julia—” he stuttered, still in shock, his hands and shirt drip- ping into the growing puddle.
She continued to press the napkin into his jeans, desperate to help.
“Julia!” he said louder, grasping her wrist in his fist.
She stopped, frozen in horror, finally noticing that everyone in the diner sat staring at her hand pressed to Chad’s crotch. She stood and her hand dropped from Chad’s grip, her face turning so pale he was afraid she would faint.
Hometown Girl Forever
Hometown Series Book 3
Lizzie gave up her stressful job in Boston to embrace her love of all things country in Smithville PA. Her farm, a new job at the spa, and her pet alpacas are a dream come true, if only her meddling, matchmaking, socialite mother would back off.
Elliot, a successful architect from Washington, DC, designed the new spa, but he certainly hadn't envisioned the exotic bohemian style manager or her intriguing, demanding mother. Small town antics and his interest in Lizzie extend his visit to Smithville, but will the allure of country life draw him in for good?
Once again, Smithville’s folk interfere with plans at every turn, forcing Lizzie and Elliot to face their personal dilemmas and each other, head on.
The spa door opened and Elliot tromped in, scuffing his feet on the mat. “Hey there! Looks like today was a success...” He froze in midsentence, his smile fading to concern. “What’s wrong?”
Dashing away her tears, Lizzie jumped up and attempted to hide her sadness. “Nothing, I’m fine. I...” She smoothed her lab coat and offered a limp grin to accompany the false happy tone of her voice. “I think today went well.”
Elliot strode to her side and took her hand, his face filled with concern. He led her gently to sit down on the sofa. “What happened?” he asked as he perched on the edge of the ottoman facing her.
She pulled her hand away and shook her head in an attempt to convince him she was fine, but her mother’s harsh words rang in the back of her mind. Tears gathered at the corners of her eyes and she dabbed at them with her knuckle.
“Did someone have an issue with the spa?”
She shook her head. “No, no, of course not. It was a wonderful day.”
Elliot’s brow puckered. “Then why are you so upset? Something happened.”
Lizzie shrugged. “It’s nothing really. Nothing I don’t deal with every day.”
He waited, his elbows resting on his knees, not wanting to press her to speak.
Finally she sniffed and squared her shoulders. “I’m sorry, here I am all blubbery when the spa was a hit.”
He searched her face, waiting for her to explain.
Fluttering her hands in front of her face, attempting to dry the tears, she continued. “Oh, it’s just—just my mom. She isn’t on board with me being here...” Understatement of the century, she thought grimly.
Perplexed, Elliot sat up straight. “What do you mean? Why would your mother care if you’re here?”
Lizzie snorted. “Oh, she cares all right.” Anger flashed across her face. “I’m not back home letting her run my life and that irks her no end. She has to get her digs in, make me feel like absolute garbage...” She paused, realizing she was emotionally vomiting.
“I take it she’s, what do they call it nowadays, a helicopter mom?”
She stared at him, a question in her eyes. “She hovers...” “Oh!” she said, getting his joke. “Yes, but more than that, she is determined that I live the life she wanted.”
“What do you mean?”
Her hands twisted in her lap. “Oh, you know, I went to the schools she couldn’t get into, wore the expensive clothes that she couldn’t afford before having me ruined her body, took the jobs she couldn’t have because she had to stay home with me. I had to buy the condo in the neighborhood she wanted to live in...”
“I always knew I had to toe the line or things would get ugly, but...”
He waited for her to continue, but the lump in her throat was choking her. “But?” he offered.
She sniffed and shrugged one shoulder. “Today was the straw that broke the camel’s back, I guess. She’s never going to be proud of me. Never.”
Unsure what to say, he stammered, “I’m sorry. You’ve done a great job with the spa.”
Suddenly embarrassed and overwhelmed that she’d fallen to pieces in front of Elliot, Lizzie struggled to collect herself. “Anyway, I’m okay now, really.” She stood, desperate to end the whole emotional scene.
Elliot stood too, putting them face to face. Or her face to his chest, as it were. A moment slipped by without either moving, both held by an invisible magnetic force. Slowly Lizzie’s head tilted back, and Elliot’s chin lowered. Their eyes met, his sizzling with concern and warmth, hers still teary and bright. His fingers skimmed softly up her arm, raising goose bumps that raced up Lizzie’s chest and neck and across her scalp. The backs of his fingers continued on up to brush her cheek, wiping away a shimmering tear trail. Then, ever so slowly, both of his palms framed her cheeks, tilting her face to his.
Lizzie’s hands came up to cover his, her eyes drifting closed as she rose up on tiptoe. A soft sigh escaped her lips as she fell into what she knew would be an epic kiss.
The spa door flew open and Tara clattered in, her arms full of boxes. “Hey guys, I was...” When she saw Lizzie and Elliot she jerked to a halt, nearly dropping the packages in shock.
Elliot and Lizzie jumped in shock, each trying to jolt back but tripping over the sofa and ottoman. Finally Elliot managed to stumble away, momentarily resembling a kid staggering on stilts as he found his balance. Lizzie flopped limply onto the sofa and her eyes rolled toward the ceiling.
Tara cleared her throat. “Well crap. Sorry... I...”
Lizzie shook her head, lamenting the great impression she must be making on her new boss.
Christmas in Smithville
The Hometown Series Book 4
Even though Gloria is determined to change her reputation, most of the women in town still think she’s a tramp. Sure, she may have dressed a little flashy and dated pretty much every single guy in town, but that’s the past. Now that she wants to make a fresh start, will Smithville give her a second chance?
Ned has heard all the gossip, but being the Sheriff’s Deputy, he sees all the kind things Gloria does behind the scenes for the folks of Smithville. It looks like the upcoming Christmas Pageant will offer him the opportunity to spend time with her, but can he overcome a frustrating stutter and talk to her, face to face?
Your favorite characters from the Hometown Series bring craziness, love, and Smithville Christmas style, to a whole new romance about overcoming your past and sharing your deepest secrets. Fall in love and be swept away with the Christmas Eve celebration of your dreams.
Gloria could practically hear Ned’s heart beating; he was standing so close. What was he thinking? They’d formed a solid friendship, and now, if her instincts we right, he appeared to be crossing the friendship line. Had that been his intention all along? Was she so stupid that she’d let her guard slip and hadn’t seen that he just wanted to get her in bed? What was it about her that made men think she was fair game?
Scrubbing at a stubborn piece of food on a plate, she frowned.
Ned backed up half a step, picking up on her discomfort. “What’s wrong?”
The plate was clean, but she kept scrubbing anyway.
“Gloria?” He said her name more like a quiet demand than a question. She quit scrubbing the dish but didn’t look up.
He waited, and the silence in the small kitchen was deafening. Finally, Gloria met his eye. Ned grinned an easy smile. “I’ll dry.” With that, he snatched up the dishtowel hanging on the oven door and reached for the plate.
She regarded him through narrowed eyes, trying to read his intent. He felt like the same old Ned; maybe she’d been wrong. With a shrug, she rinsed the plate and handed it to him. Her instincts had led her astray before. Crap, she’d never been able to tell when a man cared about her.
Ned dried the plate and reached up to put it in the cupboard. Glancing back to Gloria, he caught her watching him, so he offered a reassuring, friendly grin.
“Damn,” she thought, turning her attention back to the dishes. The man really was dangerously good looking. Yet, here she stood with him in Nadine’s kitchen. The one woman she wanted to show she had changed. She had to prove to Nadine, and the other wives in town, that she wasn’t out to get a man. She needed to remember that, no matter how gorgeous Ned was. Besides, she valued his friendship far too much to mess it up. If she was capable of managing any type of relationship with a man, she wanted to be Ned’s friend.
Rinsing a plastic cup, she handed it off to him, and her eye caught his. Something in the depths of his gaze snagged her attention, and she couldn’t look away. What was he trying to tell her?
“I’m firsty,” Christi’s tiny voice said from the doorway.
The cup dropped to the sink as both Ned and Gloria jerked their hands apart, both jumping back as they turned toward the little girl.
Christi stood in her pajamas, her eyes wide. “I need a dwink.”
Ned was the first to spring into action. “I’ll get you a d—drink, sweetheart. Do you want water or milk?”
“Miwk,” she said. Her little face was serious as her eyes bounced from Ned to Gloria and back.
Reaching into the cupboard by the sink, he retrieved a child’s sippy-cup and lid, then headed toward the fridge. For a moment he juggled the cup and lid to open the door and take out the milk, but he managed to make it to the table and fill the cup half full. Tossing a grin to Gloria, as if to say ‘I got this’, he twisted the cap onto the cup.
Christi padded across the room and reached for the cup.
Ned squatted down to eye level and offered her his trademark grin. “Here you go d—darlin’.”
The child gave him a serious once over as she took the cup, then tipped it up to drink. Unfortunately, when the cup reached her mouth, the lid came off, and milk spilled all down the front of the little girl’s chin, neck, and footy pajamas.
Ned gasped and jumped back to miss the torrent of milk splashing across the floor.
“Oh dear!” Gloria cried, grabbing the towel off the counter and hurrying to the little girl’s side. “Did the lid come off?” Her eyes sprung to Ned’s, and she felt instantly silly for asking the obvious, so she turned back to the little girl. “Of course, it did. Let’s get you cleaned up.”
Ned floundered, “I didn’t m—mean to… I’m so s—sorry…”
Little Christi glared up at him, her expression clearly stating that she considered the man to be a complete jerk. Milk dripped onto the floor as she stood in a widening puddle. Her fuzzy pink pajamas and even her hair were soaked in milk.
Trying not to laugh, Gloria stripped off the sodden pajamas, soothing and assuring Christi that the deputy didn’t mean to spill her milk. After dabbing up all the milk she could with the now-soaked towel, she hefted the child up onto her hip and turned to Ned. The miserable look on his face gave her pause. “Don’t worry,” she assured both parties. “Nothing a bath won’t fix.”
As she headed across the room, Ned found his voice. “I’ll m—mop up…” but Gloria was gone, along with his chance to tell her how he felt.
Kirsten grew up in the Western US and graduated from high school in 1984. She married soon there after and quickly built a family. With three young children and number four on the way, she returned to college in 1992. Her career as a draftsman included many settings ranging from a steel fabrication shops to prestigious engineering firms. Balancing family life with the workplace forced her to become the queen of multitasking. In 2001, bored with the cubical life, she moved on to teach drafting in technical college, then to opening her own consulting firm teaching 3D engineering software. Due to health problems, Kirsten retired in 2012 to travel with her husband for his job. She now works writing romance novels and enjoys spoiling her three grandchildren. Since 2017 Kirsten has lived and worked full time in a 40' travel trailer with her husband and her little dog Bingo.
Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!
May 14th 2018 by Entangled Publishing, LLC (Bliss)
Grace Harper is a pro at handling the unexpected—which comes in handy when she inherits the ranch she ran away from years ago…along with a young, autistic stepbrother she’s never met. And because nothing ever goes easy for her, Grace finds her frustrating, sexy ex-flame, Noah, taking care of JJ. But if she’s getting out of this nowhere town, she’ll have to find a way to keep from throttling Noah—without kissing him first.
Noah Taylor may be enemy number one to Grace, but she needs his help. He knows the girl he used to love is still there, beneath the heels and fancy clothes, so he’ll help her—and keep his distance like she says she wants. Only the more time they spend together, the closer he wants to get. Graci has no intention of staying, but she belongs in his arms—he just has to prove it to her.
She looked around at the bareness, her gaze eventually shifting up to the loft, still filled with hay. And memories. Memories she wanted to forget but couldn’t, like the bittersweet memories of Noah. Her friend, her knight, her once-upon-a-time everything. Goose bumps ran up her spine. This loft had been their kingdom, where they’d dreamed big when they were small. Later, it became a refuge, where they experimented with alcohol. And each other. A place where they planned their escape, where they--
She whirled around at the sound of his voice, as familiar as if she’d heard it hours—not years—ago. But the man standing in front of her wasn’t the boy she’d left behind. Dark stubble had replaced peach fuzz. The lanky, thin frame she remembered had morphed into broad shoulders and hard muscle. Hard-work-earned muscle, not gym-sculpted. His stance was confident, proud. Imposing.
He stared up to the loft and then shifted his focus to her. “Remembering old times?” The mischievous glint in his eyes hadn’t changed, nor had other things. His hair was still thick and black, one random curl hanging over his forehead. His dark blue eyes were still as deep as Lake Tahoe. His lips? Firm, full… Were they still totally kissable? Her mouth dried at the thought, and heat sprawled through her stomach, then lower.
What was wrong with her? She wasn’t a teenager anymore. This was the guy who’d broken her heart, pulverized it. And it wasn’t like she was Celibate Celia in New York, pining over him. Noah Taylor shouldn’t affect her body, shouldn’t affect her anymore.
And he shouldn’t be here.
This trip was supposed to be in and out, nice and easy. Sell the ranch, scoop up JJ, and skedaddle.
Noah’s gaze rolled down her body, lingered on her too-high heels, then climbed back up. “The City’s treated you well,” he said.
Bronzed abs peeked through the rip in his dirty T-shirt. Reno had treated him well. Very well. Not that she’d ever admit it, especially to him.
JoAnn Sky writes adult contemporary romance and young adult romance with a magical twist. As J.A. Sky, she writes children's books. For more information about her children's stories, go to: www.dogsandbooks.com.
JoAnn is a member of Romance Writers of America and its YARWA and Golden Network chapters. Her manuscripts have seen success in various RWA-sponsored contests, including as a Golden Heart® finalist in 2014 (YA category) and 2017 (Contemporary Short category). Originally from the Midwest, JoAnn currently lives in northern Nevada with her husband a.k.a. love of her life, three teenage children, and three crazy rescue dogs.
JoAnn is represented by the fabulous Nicole Resciniti of The Seymour Agency.
In a place where a city can be lost hundreds of years . . . they can still find each other.
Lily saw the temple of Agulinta on television: a vast stone structure swallowed by the Yucatan jungle, rediscovered only now after hundreds of years. So why did the papers she found after her father’s death show the same mysterious carvings that puzzled archaeologists at Agulinta? Her search for answers pulls her to Mexico’s southern border, where the journey to the lost temple will take her through jungle and mountain, over waters home to crocodiles and drug runners, and into uncomfortably close quarters with a man whose need to wander has become a way of life . . .
Australian Carter Logan’s work as a nature photographer has given him the excuse he needs to roam wherever his restless feet take him. But in all the time he’s traveled, he’s never been drawn to anyone the way he is to this determined, cagey young American. Lily’s perseverance through dirt, sweat, and danger to the heart of the ancient temple fires through him. But when the two of them are left alone and stranded in a vicious wilderness, their connection might prove the difference between life and death . . . if the secrets of the past don’t come between them first.
An amazing, breathtaking, life-dangering adventure to find what the truth was about her father's past.
I have never had the pleasure to visit Mexico - or a true jungle for that matter - but with the images the author draws to my mind's eyes, they were vivid, colorful, precise, like watching through the camera lens. The waterfalls, the out of control river, the monkeys, the roosters in the morning, and the dangers lurking just around the next push, it was the best. I loved it, the tension, the possible hazards, the risk of each step they took, and the great adversary and provider - at the same time - the woods surrounding them were.
The human threat they face, the constant feeling of being hunted, trying to survive, the fight for their lives, it was intense, it was powerful, mixed with the jungle, it was giving an unique energy and atmosphere to the tale.
Lily was an amazing survival expert, both physically and mentally strong young woman who was not afraid to face a challenge, no matter what the challenge was. She had such positive outlook, can-do attitude, an endurance to be envied. She is determined to find out about her father's past, and there is nothing that will step on her way or stop her from getting to the truth.
Carter Logan has been traveling the world for years. His troubled youth left permanent consequences into his life. He is an adventurer, he is a thrill seeker, he is a loner and prefaces to spend his life alone. He is considerably older than Lily, he actually thinks at one point that Lily looked like his daughter and was the same age the daughter as well.
I liked both Carter and Lily, a lot actually. I think they had an amazing perspective on life and to the situation, they were in. I believe they had chemistry between them, as a team, as friends, as people working towards an important goal together. For several reasons, mainly from the inner thoughts of Carter and the fact that Lily didn't seem to be attracted to him, just thankful he saved her in so many situations, I actually wish that the romance would have left out of the story, without it, it would have been five spoon read for me. Or maybe an epilogue into the future could have saved the romance for me.
Two very different yet likable characters conquering their fears, the jungle, and the life-threatening danger during an amazing, thrilling adventure through the Mexican primeval forest while fighting for the survival and to find the truth about the past.
An exciting and hair-raising experience
~ Four Spoons
Stripped by Tara Wyatt
Series The Blue HEAT Series
Genre Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher Avon Impulse
Publication Date May 15, 2018
The first in a sexy new series from Tara Wyatt!
Detective Sawyer Matthews isn’t just having a bad day—he’s having the worst day. His hunt for the criminal who killed his team member has stalled and now… he’s got to play nice with his new, totally unwanted partner. It’s not that she isn’t qualified, or that he doesn’t like her—it’s because he knows what she looks like naked. So very, very naked.
Brooke Simmons finally landed her dream job working for H.E.A.T, an elite undercover detective squad, and she’s not giving up simply because she had a one-night-stand with her sullen—but undeniably sexy—new partner. They’ll just have to keep it professional. Easier said than done, considering their first case requires Sawyer to infiltrate a drug cartel operating out of a male strip show. Watching him do his best Magic Mike impression every night isn’t just hot—it’s torture.
Sawyer doesn’t need any distractions, yet his attraction to Brooke is explosive and he can’t resist going for round two. Or three. Or four. But as their investigation progresses and danger mounts, they’ll have to put their jobs, hearts, and lives on the line to fight… for each other, for survival, and for justice.
The elevator doors slid closed and Sawyer tugged Brooke against him, wanting to drown in her mouth, in her body. To feel something good. To forget about the near constant ache in his chest, just for a few hours. Drinking, punishing workouts, burying himself in cases, nothing worked. So it was time for a new plan. He was going to fuck this woman’s brains out and make her lose her damn mind in the hopes of shutting his off. A night of distraction and relief. Exactly what he’d been hoping to find. After the night she’d had, he was confident that she needed this—wanted this, deserved this—just as much as he did.
As he crushed his mouth to hers again, she moaned, her tongue stroking against his, sending more blood rushing to his already hard cock. He trailed his hands down her back and to her ass, giving her cheeks a firm squeeze. With a soft chime, the elevator doors opened onto her floor, and she broke the kiss. Threading her long, slender fingers through his, she led him down the hall. Her blond hair fell in styled waves around her shoulders, and when she glanced back at him over her shoulder, her warm brown eyes sparkled at him as she smiled. God, she was pretty. High cheekbones, delicate features, killer smile. She was tall, at least five-foot-ten, with slender arms and long, toned legs. Clearly fit, she moved with an athletic grace that he’d found appealing the second he’d laid eyes on her. Small, perky breasts, and what had felt like an equally perky ass, but he wouldn’t know for sure until he got her out of that dress.
As far as distractions went, he could’ve done far, far worse. She’d come across as funny and confident despite her horrible night. She’d exuded a warmth that he’d found immensely appealing. He’d tried so hard to stay numb in the weeks since his best friend’s death, but she’d melted that hard knot in his chest so easily, reminding him of what it was like to feel good.
The ripped strap of her dress slid down her shoulder, and he reached forward, pushing it back into place, letting his fingers linger on her soft, warm skin. She turned suddenly and fisted her hands in his shirt, pulling his mouth back to hers, kissing him hungrily, catching him off guard. A low, gruff moan rumbled from somewhere deep in his chest and he slid his arms around her, pulling her tight against him. Her body fit perfectly against his and a surge of something hot and sweet curled through him, and he knew he’d made the right decision to try to pick her up. Vaguely, he wondered where she was from, what her last name was, what she did for a living, but none of that mattered for tonight. This wasn’t a date. This was sex.
Not that he dated, in the traditional sense. Hadn’t since the divorce. No, it was always just sex, and he liked it that way. Simple. Easy. Painless.
He deepened the kiss, claiming her mouth as images flashed through his mind. Everything he wanted to do with Brooke. To her. Have her do to him. Given the deliciously greedy way she was kissing him, she seemed to be up for what he liked, what he needed, but he had to be sure. Something was coiling tight inside him, and he knew it was only a matter of time—minutes, probably, with how damn good her mouth felt—before it snapped free and he gave in to the hot oblivion that came with hard, dirty fucking. He broke the kiss and spoke low, urgent words against her throat. “Tell me if I get too rough with you.”
Heat flared in her eyes and she rocked her hips against him, letting out a shuddery breath when his erection slid against her hip. She bit at his bottom lip, tugging and then releasing him with a slow smile. “I like rough.”
She scraped her nails down his chest, just enough to sting even through the cotton of his T-shirt, and he smiled. For the first time in weeks, luck was on his side, because he had a feeling that this woman was exactly what he needed tonight. He kissed her again, deep and bruising and she sighed against his mouth. Blood rushed through his veins, and his cock throbbed against his zipper. The temptation to back her up against the wall and fuck her in the hallway was strong, despite the likely indecent exposure charge they’d both get when caught. Something was building between them, an explosive need, each kiss, every touch fueling the fire. He needed this woman with an intensity that ripped through him like nothing he’d ever felt before.
With a growl, he broke the kiss. “Which room?”
Her hands trembled a little as she fumbled for her key card in her bag, and a sense of pure, masculine satisfaction cascaded over him. He’d done that to her, with his mouth, his hands, the few words he’d said. And he couldn’t wait to do more. She led him two doors down from where they’d stopped and slipped the card into the slot. The lock released with a click, the little green light flashing.
Green light. Go.
About Tara Wyatt
Tara Wyatt is an award-winning romantic suspense and contemporary romance author known for her fast-paced writing, humor, and sexy love scenes. She lives in Hamilton, Ontario with the cutest dog in the world and a husband who makes all of her heroes look like chumps.
Where there’s smoke . . .
Growing up as the privileged daughter of two doctors, Jasmine Kingford always thought the housekeeper’s son was hot—and the feeling was mutual. But back then there were lines they couldn’t cross. Good thing they’re all grown up now—and in the same wedding party . . .
As best man for a fellow firefighter, Leo Trask is floored to discover the maid-of-honor is a blast from his past. One that ignites fireworks that have been brewing for years. Soon enough, he and Jasmine are having a very private, all-night-long celebration of their own—and it’s clear neither wants it to end there . . .
Jasmine’s all too happy to finally shed her pampered princess demeanor with Leo. What she finds is a connection—and a complication—she didn’t expect. Leo’s the opposite of the nine-to-five guy she planned on. She wants a nursing career, kids, and a man who’s home by dinnertime. Leo’s an irresistible bad boy with a dangerous, unpredictable job. And he’s everything she never knew she wanted, and more . . .
Oh my word, I loved this story!
I absolutely adored every moment and word of this hilarious, emotional, sweet, steamy - oh so so steamy - inspiring, love filled, poignant tale. The author is new to me, and I am immensely glad that I found this title on NetGalley and requested to read it for a review. What an interesting, fun, realistic, and intriguing world she has created!
Leo Trask with the rest of the firefighters creates a group of men who are just lovable. They are rowdy, they are lively, they are sexy, caring, wild, and daring, they love to serve the community, and they are dedicated to their careers.
And Leo... I am in love. His honesty, his straightforwardness, his caring, loving, stubborn, sexy self just won me over with the first scene. He knows what he wants, he is willing to fight for it, and he is not ashamed to announce his feelings and intentions to the whole world if that's what it takes. He faces the challenges with no fear, he is bold, daring, and tough, but also sweet, tender, thoughtful, generous, loyal, and faithful...
Jasmine Kingford might have grown with privileges, yet she is down to earth, kind, cordial, generous person who loves to take care of people around her. Her parents have neglected her, made demands towards her, have ruled her life as much as she has allowed. Yet she does know what she wants, she does go after her own dreams, and she does finally stand up for herself when her back is against the wall. I love that she was no 'model type of a perfect women', but a woman with curves and owning it.
I enjoyed the banter and bond between the friends. Jazz has a heart of gold, and it shows in all her relations. With Jazz and Leo, the bond comes from their childhood, the attraction from their teenage years, so it is no wonder that when they meet again, it is like a divine intervention and lightning hitting at the same time. The heat is immediate, sizzling hot, so sensual and dirty and rough and delightful it took my breath away.
But as scorching hot the chemistry is between Leo and Jazz, the emotions are as deep, profound, and meaningful. I laughed out loud, I swooned and sighed, I was even in tears, the emotional connection that I had with these characters was marvelous.
If you enjoy ardent, humorous, passionate romance with deep emotions, inspiring characters with incredible chemistry between them, family drama, and danger at the job site, check out Simmering Heat cause I am sure you are going to fall in love with it as much as I did...
~ Five Spoons!
Seven romances featuring amazing moms
In 1994, Brenda Jackson’s first novel, Tonight and Forever, was released. Since then she has had more than 100 novels and novellas published (the first African-American author to accomplish such a feat) and has over 3 million books in print.
A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Brenda is the first African-American author to have a book published by Harlequin Desire and the first African-American romance author to make the New York Times and USA TODAY bestseller lists within the series romance genre.
In 2012, Brenda received the Romance Writers of America’s Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award—one of the highest literary awards a romance author can receive. In 2013, she was recognized by the mayor and the city of Jacksonville as being a Trailblazer in the literary field.
In 2010, she collaborated with Five Alive Films to turn her Truly Everlasting title into a feature film. Brenda’s 2011 novel A Silken Thread is scheduled to be filmed with Debbie Allen attached as director in 2015.
Series n/a; anthology
Genre Adult Contemporary Romance
Publication Date May 1, 2018
Grab your passport and get ready to explore the city of Paris and all the romance it has to offer, in From Paris with Love.
Anthology Authors: Taylor Dawn, Erin Trejo, S.L. Stacker, Stacey Lewis, MJ Carnal, Esther E. Schmidt, Kerri Ann, Elaine Marie, Brandy Dorsch, Ashlee Shades, Allysa Hart, Wendy C. Garfinkle, Erica Locke, Jade Royal, Rebekah Dodson, Natalie-Nicole Bates
As the seams of the group friendship slowly unravel, neighbor Nicole Westerhof finds herself drawn further into the life of the adopted girl, forcing Nicole to re-examine the deceptive nature of her own family ties, and her complicity in the events unfolding around her.
The story is told from the first person point of view by one of the neighbors the inner clique of the cul-de-sac. The writing style is unique, like bulleting points directed to the mind of the reader, building up images, and getting to be rather addictive after you get into the story.
Nicole herself is struggling with her relationship with her mother and an alcoholic sister. She has anger issues and problems with impulse control when it comes to taking her frustration into her boys, the older son, in particular, having the constant battle in her mind not to physically punish him for not being exactly like she wanted him to be.
To shadow her own behavior as a parent, she starts to pick apart every moment of interaction the neighbors have with their new adoptive daughter, finding and focusing on the negative images created by the busy minds. Not saying nothing is wrong, and everything is fine with the Edwards, but the neighbors are determined to be the judge and the jury, to claim them bad parents from the very start of Winnie's arrival to the house.
This story took me by surprise. The raw honesty of the wicked human mind, the way people judge each other, the fakeness of pretend-friendships, the constant critique of others in a negative way, it ate my mind. Are we really that brutal towards each other? Do we really see so much negative aspects, in other people's lives around us? Is there real feelings. caring, friends, families out there at all? Is this something that happens 'only in America' or can this be an international, western world epidemic of the downfall of the human condition?
Yes, this story definitely made me think, and celebrate my own choices in life of never ending up in the suburbs. I think this story could be a great conversation starter in a book club if people dared to be open and honest about the thoughts and revelations the story wakes up in them.
A compelling story that awoke my mind with curiosity. It is provocative, it is engaging, and most definitely an interesting story, something I have to digest for a little while to really grasp the depth of the tale.
~ Four Spoons
Joanne Serling’s fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in New Ohio Review and North American Review. She is a graduate of Cornell University and studied and taught fiction at The Writers Studio in New York City. She lives outside of New York with her husband and children and is at work on her second book.