Thursday, July 18, 2019

Blog Tour for Only Between Us by Sarah Fine (Review & GIVEAWAY)


It’s a gritty and romantic tale as two people with painful pasts continue to struggle while finding support in each other’s arms.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of Only Between Us by Sarah Fine, along with my impressions of it, then add it to your bookshelf while it’s priced at 99 cents.  In honor of this first installment in the Starving Artists series make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win 1 of 4 print sets of the three books in this series too!

Bestselling author Sarah Fine presents an emotional standalone novel sure to thrill new adult romance readers everywhere.
Will they be strong enough to hold on?
Last semester, Romy escaped from an abusive relationship with the guy she’d thought was the man of her dreams. This semester she’s putting herself back together, determined to reclaim her passion for art and for life. When she signs up for a painting class at the local art co-op, the possibility of passion becomes very real — in the form of her teacher, Caleb. Both mysterious and seriously hot, Caleb bares his soul on his canvases, and Romy’s fascinated by what she sees.
Caleb is just trying to keep his head above water. Caring for his traumatized, unstable sister is getting harder every day, and his paintings are so dark and bleak that no one is buying. Teaching classes at the co-op is no longer enough, and now he’s going to have to sell more than just his art to the wealthy, sex-starved women in his classes. But when Romy comes along, she makes everything more complicated. She sees the truth in his paintings — a truth no one else has realized, until now.
Romy and Caleb might have a real shot together — one that could heal them both. But when ghosts from their pasts re-emerge, determined to keep them apart, will they be strong enough to hold on to each other?
EXCERPT:

Romy
Last year, I was broken. Dismantled bit by bit, day by day, until all that was left was a brittle shell. I wasn’t even aware it was happening until it was almost too late. I thought I was in love. I thought I could change—be prettier, more attentive—and that would make it better. It took a black eye and a fat lip to wake me up.
This semester, I’m reclaiming myself piece by piece.
Jude slips his arm through mine. The early fall breeze ruffles his wavy black hair, and the corners of his eyes crinkle as he smiles. He’s wearing a worn flannel over a ratty t-shirt, so different from his usual impeccable style. I link my fingers with his and squeeze. “You’re the best friend ever,” I whisper as we head up the sidewalk toward our destination. My toolbox feels unwieldy and foreign in my grasp, and my palm is sweaty around the handle.
“I know,” he says with gentle humor. “I’m glad you decided to do this. I think it’s exactly what you need.”
I might have stayed home if it wasn’t for him. When I got back into town a few days ago after two months spent rattling around my parents’ huge summer “cottage,” I called Jude to give him the address to my new apartment. He and Eric were at my place within an hour, helping me get settled. Like two mother hens, they clucked about how I’ve lost weight and squawked about my drastically short haircut (then told me I looked fabulous). But their cheery enthusiasm couldn’t fool me—they kept exchanging worried glances as they unpacked my water glasses and plates, more like parents than my actual parents, who had simply hired me a moving service, put a few thousand dollars into my bank account, and told me they’d see me at Christmas. Jude was the one who noticed my laptop screen, where I’d been researching painting classes at the local artists’ co-op. I’d done it on a whim, not sure if I would follow through, but as soon as Jude saw it, he made up my mind for me—by signing both of us up for a class that fit with the course schedule for our graduate program.
As we approach the entrance to the co-op, this multi-story old building three blocks off quaint Main Street with its heated sidewalks and funky boutiques, I push away Alex’s mocking voice as it whispers You’re wasting your time…that looks like something a five-year-old would draw...
I escaped from him at the end of January, but he’s still in my head sometimes.
Jude holds the door and leads me into the building, taking in the cracked linoleum flooring and the line of coat hooks and cubbies along the wall. On either side of this hallway are numbered classrooms, and ahead of us is a staircase. A sign tells us the artists’ studios are upstairs. The smell of mineral spirits is in the air, and I inhale it greedily while Jude wrinkles his nose. “I can feel my brain cells dying,” he mutters, then glances nervously into the classroom, where several people have already claimed easels and are waiting for the teacher to arrive. “I haven’t painted since my art class in middle school.”
I smile at his sudden uncertainty. “This is a beginner’s class, so I think you’ll be in good company.”
The stairs creak and we look up to see a guy coming down the steps. He looks to be in his mid-twenties, maybe a few years older than I am, and he moves with the careless grace of an athlete.
“Holy hotness,” breathes Jude, mimicking my thoughts perfectly. It’s not that I’m on the prowl, but in this life, there are a few objective truths, and this guy’s attractiveness is one of them. His jeans hang from his lean hips and are stained with paint. A similarly decorated t-shirt clings to his frame, and there’s a smear of blue on his tanned, muscular forearm. He has chin-length, chocolate brown hair, but he’s pulled some of it away from his face in a partial ponytail high on the back of his head. And that gives us a perfect view of his wolf-gray eyes, which skate over us with mild interest as he descends the stairs and walks toward us.
“You guys here for my class?” he asks, nodding toward the classroom. Oh my God. He’s the teacher.
“Absolutely,” Jude says quickly, newly enthusiastic, and I can’t hold in my laugh.
“Head on in and grab an easel. We’ll start in a few minutes. I’m Caleb,” he says, holding his hand out to Jude, who shakes it and introduces himself.
Caleb turns his gaze to me and offers his hand. “Romy,” I say as I take it, my heart beating a little faster as my skin touches his.
He lets go first. “Have you painted before?” he asks softly, giving my toolbox a questioning glance.
“A little.” That’s a lie. I minored in art in college, and painting was my passion. Until last year. I was passionate about a lot of things until last year, actually.
He smiles, and it’s as warm as his skin and steals my breath. “You look nervous, Romy. You don’t have to be. This is supposed to be fun.”
Jude throws his arm over my shoulder. “Come on, girl. Let’s go have fun.” He pulls me toward the classroom, and I am acutely aware of Caleb behind me as I walk in. Jude drags me over to two easels in the corner of the back row; every easel in the front two rows is taken. I set my box down and look around, realizing for the first time that we’re the youngest students in the room—and that Jude is the only guy. Most of the rest of the spots are occupied by middle-aged women, rings glittering on their fingers, hair sprayed into place, wearing spotless aprons over their tailored slacks and blouses. They look like women my mom would be friends with.
Jude leans over and whispers, “What do you bet these cougars are hot for teacher? I know I am.”
“Shut up.” I bow my head as Caleb reaches the front of the room, knowing Jude is right but refusing to acknowledge that I’m feeling the same way. This was the last thing I expected or wanted out of this evening. I came here to reclaim myself, not to focus on someone else … but I’m having trouble keeping my eyes off Caleb.
“Hey, everyone, welcome,” he says. “This is the first meeting of our twelve-class session, and I’m glad to see you guys.” He nods at a few of the women, and I wonder if they’ve taken the class before. “We’ll be focusing on basic technique with acrylics, including color-blending, basic washes and watercolor effects, layering, and texturing. We’re going to start with paper for the next several weeks, and then we’ll do some work on canvas. For those of you who have your own supplies—” His eyes rest on me for a moment, and his eyebrow arches. “—you might want to pick up some glazing medium and flow improver, or feel free to use what we have here. And for those of you who don’t have supplies, you can find brushes and sample paints over there, along with paper. My only request is that you wash the brushes thoroughly at the end of class so that I don’t get in trouble.” His grin is easy and mischievous, and I find myself smiling with him even though I’m not sure why.
After Caleb tells us that we’ll spend today discussing and experimenting with composition, the other students get supplies out of their art boxes while a few, including Jude, head over to grab brushes and paints from the shelves. I sit on the cold cement floor and skim my fingers over my dented toolbox. I’ve had it since high school. My dad let me have his old one to put all my supplies in … and I haven’t opened it in what feels like a lifetime. It used to hold my entire imagination. It used to be the way I could free whatever was inside me. But all of that got twisted up somehow, and it became another symbol of how trapped I was. With a deep breath, I flick the latch and open the lid. My eyes sting as I look down at my brushes and half-used tubes of paint, acrylics and oils, gesso, pencils, varnish, frozen and waiting for me to return.
A hand closes over my shoulder and my head jerks up. “You okay?” Jude asks, and in his worried expression I see his memories, of me showing up at his door that horrible night, of all the months after when I was too miserable to get up off the couch.
“Yeah, sure,” I say with a rasp in my voice. To my horror, I notice Caleb watching me. But as soon as our eyes meet, he looks away and starts to address the class, drawing attention to the front of the room. I slowly climb onto my stool as he instructs everyone how much paint to put on the palette and talks about the qualities of acrylic paints. I’d rather be using my oils, but I’m just getting back into this, so I sit and listen and drift a little, enjoying the sound of Caleb’s deep voice.
The class time flies by, and an hour later, we’re packing up, washing our brushes and tossing our papers in the recycling bins. There’s a cluster of women around Caleb, touching his arm and laughing with trilling voices at almost everything he says. He doesn’t look like he minds the attention. I take Jude’s hand and tug him into the hallway, toward the staircase. “I want to take a peek at the studios,” I tell him.
“Are we allowed to go up there?”
I shrug. “Why wouldn’t we be? It’s not private space, and art is meant to be looked at.” When I first moved here last year to start a graduate program in counseling, I fantasized about renting one of the spaces here, and came to look at it a time or two, but then I got wrapped up in my relationship with Alex and the plan went by the wayside along with everything else.
The space at the top of the stairs is cavernous, and I shiver at the cool air—all the windows are open to let out the fumes. I have to wonder how they handle it when the wind turns frigid and the snow falls. We’re in Michigan, after all, right by the lake. Winter is no joke here. It’s the beginning of September, and the evenings are already cool enough to call for long sleeves.
The center of the huge room is cluttered with tables of supplies, half-stretched canvases and tools, broken palette knives and palettes, wire and glue and canvas stretchers. There’s a kiln near the back windows. Large stalls line the edges of the room, each one about ten by ten feet, each one a different world. One contains a potter’s wheel and boxes of clay and half-finished pots and sculptures. Another is plastered with still lifes and nude figures, charcoal and pastel and pencil drawings. Jude and I walk around slowly. Some of the stalls are occupied, and a few of the artists look up when we go by and say hi. None of them look surprised to see us, which tells me they’re used to spectators. Some of them ignore us completely.
Jude squeezes my arm. “Why didn’t you tell me this place was full of hotties?” he hisses in my ear.
I look up and see that he’s talking about a guy in one of the stalls across the room, who’s stretching a canvas over a huge frame. The muscles of his arms stand out as he uses pliers to pull the canvas tight, and his blond hair falls over his forehead as he staples the fabric into place. A tribal tattoo winds up his neck from beneath his shirt. Jude stares at him with rapt interest, and I roll my eyes. “How would Eric feel if he saw you now?”
Jude gives me this are-you-kidding look. “He’d be appreciating the view right along with me, darling. We don’t do jealous.”
“Whatever,” I mutter right as the blond guy raises his head and realizes he has an audience. He looks me up and down, and then a seductive smile brightens his face.
As the blond sets his stuff down and brushes his palms on his cargo pants, Jude lets out this little giggle. “He’s coming over here! Shall I leave you two alone?”
My eyes go wide. “No!” I say, laughing. “If you leave my side, you can forget me helping you study.”
He holds up his hands. “It was only a suggestion!”
“You moving in?” the blond guy asks as he walks toward us, his focus on me.
“What?” I ask.
He nods toward the empty stall next to his and then down at my toolbox. “Are you taking the space?”
“Oh. No. We were taking a class downstairs and came up here to take a look.”
His blue eyes flash playfully. “See anything you like?”
“Maybe,” Jude says, and his tone is so heated that the blond guy’s smile falters. But then he offers his hand.
“Daniel. I teach classes here, too. Lots of us do. A good way to help pay for the space we use.”
We introduce ourselves, and Jude and Daniel get to talking about the cost of renting the space. Jude is obviously attracted to this guy, but Daniel’s gaze keeps sliding over to me. He’s cute, but again, I’m not really…available. I wander over to one of the studios in the back of the room. There’s a spotted drop cloth on the floor and a table cluttered with oils, brushes, and jars of all sorts of oil mediums. There’s a metal canister of turpentine on the floor, along with an open toolbox containing scissors, a staple gun, a t-square, and a measuring tape. A roll of canvas and several narrow pieces of lumber are leaning against the flimsy metal wall. This particular artist is a do-it-yourself type and stretches his own canvas. Builds his own frames, too, by the look of it. There’s a stack of completed paintings against the wall, and I slip over and take a peek.
Each one feels like a punch in the chest. Many of them are dark, but not all of them. One is a close-up of a girl in profile, what someone would see if he were standing behind her shoulder, looking down. She looks so vulnerable, staring at the ground. But the way the artist has rendered her is harsh, using reds and greens to contour her face in bold smears and strokes. Somehow, it all comes together, but the impression is brutal, dangerous. I flip to the next painting, and it’s in a similar unforgiving style. Another close-up, this one a profile of a boy standing before a closed door. That’s it, a very simple composition, but it’s like the artist has peeled away the bland outer layer and exposed the raw, pulsing mess underneath. The colors are all off, sick, like there’s a wash of dread over the whole thing, making the boy’s skin pale green and sallow yellow, his eyes solid black with faint red streaks through them. I shuffle my feet. My heart thumps unsteadily. These paintings are one part accusation, one part caress. I don’t know how to understand them, but I can’t stop staring.
At the back of the studio is a huge primed canvas, five by five at least, with a thin layer of gray wash on it. The artist has begun to paint over it, thick smears of paint applied with a palette knife instead of a brush. It’s so intense that I’m drawn forward, needing to see it beneath the light. I flip on the overhead lamp and lean in, admiring the thin threads of yellow and red and purple in the blackish-blue squares of paint. And right through all that inky midnight is a deep red gash, a harsh V carved into the overwhelming darkness, revealing how artist has taken the time to build the layers, each one with a different dominant color.  It’s both inviting and repellant, despair trying to devour a hope that won’t die. It looks edible and painful and I want to touch it but am afraid I’d sink in and get lost.
“You shouldn’t really be in there.”
I gasp at the sound of Caleb’s voice and spin around. He’s leaning against the steel wall of the studio, his wolf-gray eyes on mine. “Some of these guys are really possessive about their space, but they’re okay unless you actually invade it.” He looks pointedly at the painting and then at my fingers, which are hovering only a foot from the canvas.
I yank my hand back and jam it in the pocket of my pants, then skip over a few discarded brushes and tubes of paint, joining him outside the stall. “Sorry. I was fascinated by those paintings. That one in particular.”
He grimaces as he looks at it. “Why? It’s ugly.”
I shrug. “I know, but it’s also kind of hypnotic. I love that style, the way the artist used the palette knife instead of a brush. It’s so sculptural.”
His eyes narrow as he looks me over. “Yeah, but there’s no subtlety to it.”
“Maybe that’s the point. Maybe the artist wants to push this in the viewer’s face. Maybe he wants to share that pain.”
“How do you know the artist is a guy?”
I swallow and look back at the painting. There’s a barely restrained violence to those paintings that feels very masculine to me. “I guess I don’t. That was only my first impression.”
Caleb crosses his arms over his chest. “The guy’s a hack.”
My mouth drops open. “I think he’s really talented. How can you talk about one of your colleagues like that?”
“Well, we’re pretty close,” he says, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips. “I know him well.”
“What, is he your boyfriend or something?” I hope he’s not. Because if Caleb’s talking like this about someone he’s supposed to love…that’s how Alex used to talk to me. The last thing I want to do is be around a guy who thinks like that.
I’m mentally quitting Caleb’s class when he puts his hands up and laughs. “No, definitely not my boyfriend. First, I’m straight, and second, I’m single.” He’s looking at me in this funny way. “Seriously, you don’t have to defend this guy.” He waves his hand at the painting. “He’s going to chuck this and start over anyway.”
“Why?” I ask, forgetting to be mad for a moment as I look with longing at the painting.
Daniel walks up and slaps Caleb on the back. He gestures toward the canvas. “It’s lookin’ good, bro. You’re onto something.”
Caleb gives me a sidelong glance and grins, showing off his white teeth as realization strikes me between the eyes. “Nah. I think I can do better.”


BUY AT AMAZON here.


MY IMPRESSIONS OF THIS BOOK:

Some books take hold of your heart, making you feel invested in the outcome despite all the emotional pain along the way, and this book does just that.  From the very start I felt every hurt, felt every frustration, but by the turn of the final page I was left cheering.  It was a bumpy journey to HEA, one that I felt exhausted (but immensely satisfied) by, in this New Adult romance set in the art world.

Caleb’s childhood was a rough one as he had to helplessly stand by while his young sister was being molested by their step-father.  Fear held him silent for months before his ultimately telling the truth ripped their family apart and led to him being blamed for it all.  He’s carried the weight of guilt ever since, has sacrificed everything to make amends and help his very damaged sister Katie live out in the world, and it made for very difficult reading at times.  When readers first meet him he’s barely hanging on financially as an artist.  He teaches classes, occasionally gets money from his mother and older sister (who belittle his artistic dreams before handing it over), but it’s clear that he needs more money for his sister’s therapy which means giving “private” lessons to the cougars taking his art classes.  While his fellow artists see the cougars as harmless fun and beneficial to their careers, Caleb’s sickened by the thought of sacrificing the only things he has left...his body and its free will.  He’s in a very dark place at the start, made to feel responsible for every bad thing that befell his family, and those negative thoughts permeated his art and the images he created spoke more than words did at times.  Meeting Romy is the lone bright spot for him and as they grow closer together their hearts quickly became entwined.  He senses she’s just as damaged as him in some ways and together they become each other’s port in the storm, blocking out all the other hurtful things surrounding them.  When they grow so close that they don’t see a future without the other though is when hard truths about his obligations and her issues with her ex come to the forefront as their HEA hangs in the balance.  I adored Caleb, he’s sweet and sexy, and I wanted to hug him repeatedly as he went above and beyond for his sister.  His family had no shame in using his guilt and kind heart to keep him chained to Katie, no matter how emotionally cruel and manipulative she and they were to him.  It took a lot for him to finally go after Romy as he never felt worthy enough, not in matters of the heart or when it came to his art.  Any small victory he achieved was quickly marred by his family and led to lots of frustrations for me while reading.  True happiness for him was being with Romy as she believed in him wholeheartedly and her encouragement and acceptance of him made me like her all the more which had me cheering his finally standing up for their future late in the story.

Romy has her own painful past she’s still dealing with after becoming involved with an abusive yet charming man who her parents adored but who battered her self-esteem, isolated her from her friends, before taking out his anger on her physically.  She thought she’d left him behind, cut him out of her life in order to regain her own life again, but as the story progresses it’s clear that he won’t let her get away so easily.  Though she’s still leery of men, and hesitant to start any new relationship, she can’t help but be attracted to Caleb.  His art calls to her as she sees her own feelings reflected back at her through his work and this is the foundation to their angsty journey to HEA.  Being with him brings out a protective side in her and her care and defense of him had me rooting for them every step of the way.  Through all the emotional highs and lows I found her a likable heroine, one with a big heart who’s still learning to stand up for herself.  When it comes to Caleb though she will do anything to bring happiness to his life and be a strong support to him as he needs it now more than ever.  Her scenes with her ex were very tense too, kept me on the edge of my seat, and the process of bringing him to justice was vividly depicted to show how slow the road to justice can be.

On a whole this was an intense read, a darkly-toned tale that pulled at my heartstrings, one where I quickly came to adore the hero and admire the heroine despite how bleak things felt at times.  Caleb was put through the wringer courtesy of his manipulative family and his sister’s mental illness and I found him easy to relate to as my own family is currently dealing with this too.  My heart ached for him, for how low his family let him fall, and even though they tried to redeem themselves late in the story I never bought into their apology and assume that they’ll go back to their past actions before long.  The older wealthy women in this story also enraged me and didn’t care how manipulative they were being either.  They didn’t care about these young artists at all and their actions left a bad taste in my mouth.  Despite these frustrations I still enjoyed this story and the near-perfect romance between Caleb and Romy as they were a strong support to each other, making sacrifices every step of the way to prove their love.  I found their relationship a mature one where they actually talked through things.  Through his art and his deeds he showed how much he cared for Romy, while she was the one more likely to use words in a nicely balanced romance full of sensuality.  Surrounding this immensely appealing main couple was an equally entertaining cast of secondary characters that captured my attention.  Romy had a strong support system courtesy of her gay friend Jude and his boyfriend Eric, a relationship where they unwaveringly defended her and that brought a smile to my face.  Caleb too had a small but supportive group of friends, fellow artists like Daniel and Markus, who were sexy and showed surprising insight when it was most needed.  Daniel especially captured my attention as he was flirty and carefree in how he lived his life, but when helping Caleb he could show a serious side that spoke volumes.  Fans of New Adult romances will find this an entertaining and rewarding read, heavy at times in its depiction of mental illness, but full of heart and soul to have me more than ready to pick up the next installment in this series!

My rating for this is a B+/A-

*I got this book from the author for review in exchange for my honest opinion.

AUTHOR INFO:

SARAH FINE is the author of several books for teens, including Of Metal and Wishes (McElderry/Simon & Schuster) and its sequel, Of Dreams and Rust, the bestselling Guards of the Shadowlands YA urban fantasy series (Skyscape/Amazon Children’s Publishing), and The Impostor Queen (McElderry, January 2016).
She is also the co-author (with Walter Jury) of two YA sci-fi thrillers published by Putnam/Penguin: Scan and its sequel Burn. Her bestselling adult urban fantasy romance series, Servants of Fate, includes Marked, Claimed, and Fated, and was published by 47North in 2015, and her second adult UF series —Reliquary (and its sequels Splinter and Mosaic) was published 2016. When she’s not writing, she’s psychologizing. Sometimes she does both at the same time. The results are unpredictable.


**********GIVEAWAY**********

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Book Tour for Victor by Brenda Rothert (REVIEW)


Unexpected friendship leads to more in this charming sports-fueled romance between an average woman and a star hockey player.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of Victor by Brenda Rothert, along with my impressions of it, then add this third installment in the Chicago Blaze series to your bookshelf!

He’s a hockey star with a headboard full of notches. She’s a shy NHL concession worker at who’s never been kissed.
Lindy
They don’t call me Belinda Boring for nothing. It’s my name, after all. And for a 23-year-old with plain brown hair who still lives at home and gets tongue tied over nothing, it’s a fitting one. I’m not even one of those quiet girls with a hidden talent, unless making a mean order of nachos at the NHL arena I work at counts. My life consists of working, reading and harboring a secret crush on a hockey player who doesn’t know I exist. At least, until we accidentally meet and become unlikely friends.
Victor
I’m living the dream. A poor kid who worked his way into the NHL, I’ll never forget where I came from, though I try to. My past follows me, a nagging reminder that I’ll never be what everyone thinks I am. As the threat of my secret being exposed looms closer, my game slips, leaving me in danger of being cut from my team--the only family I have. I’m losing my hold on everything when a new friend helps me find hope. She’s nothing like the women I’m used to, but by the time I figure out that’s exactly why she’s right for me, I’ve lost my chance with her. Somehow, I have to convince a woman who thinks she’s invisible that she’s the only one I see.

BUY LINKS:  AMAZON  |  iBOOKS  |  BN  |  KOBO


MY IMPRESSIONS OF THIS BOOK:

Readers looking for a sweet and carefree read will get just that with the unexpected romance between star hockey player Victor and the easily forgettable Lindy.  They start out as friends in a slow and steady journey to become more in a tale that warmed my heart and put a smile on my face as Ms. Rothert took her time in making them a couple, letting their connection grow organically with very little angst along the way.  Along the way readers get an update on past couples while being introduced to new players that promise to melt the ice as I greedily count down the days until we revisit this team.

Victor Lane came from humble beginnings with a past he’d like to keep in the past.  He’s reached the top of his sport and should be thrilled, but there’s something clearly missing.  There’s something affecting his game that’s bringing his past back to haunt him while he desperately tries to keep it hidden. Threatened with losing his starting position he finds an unexpected ally in the one woman everyone ignores and as they spend more time together he finds himself unable to forget her in a sweet and sensual connection.  On a whole Victor’s an immensely appealing hero, one that’s down-to-earth, and who’s a great match for Lindy as the two of them find much common ground.  He enjoys being with her though and doesn’t want to jeopardize their friendship, but with their time together empowering her he’ll have to step up to keep her by his side.

Lindy Boring is easily forgettable, at least to others.  Her life doesn’t lend itself to boldness as she lives at home, works behind the counter at the arena, and doesn’t speak out...and oh yeah, she’s a virgin.  She’s the exact opposite of Victor but one late night at the arena has her words of wisdom helping his game and from there their connection only grows.  Lindy’s a delightful heroine who’s had a crush on Victor for years but never felt able to do anything about it.  For now she’s content with just being friends as their unwavering support of each other drives their connection and gives her the courage to go out with someone else.  It’s a choice which leads to an endearing decision by Victor that warmed my heart and wrapped this story up with a bow.

Much about this book is familiar, many of the interactions and the overall storyline readers have seen before, but what’s here is well-crafted with charming encounters and endearing banter.  Victor and Lindy are a delightful duo with a slow-burn connection that drew me in completely.  Action on the ice was nicely balanced with time off the ice too to make fans of sports romances and contemporary romances both happy.  Surrounding this likable main couple was an equally likable cast of secondary characters to keep me turning the pages with delight.  Lindy’s father was a true gem and their interactions warmed my heart while making me laugh a time or two.  I also loved seeing the other Chicago Blaze players, loved getting an update on Anton and Luca, and look forward to seeing new players in the future in a series that continues to satisfy!

My rating for this is an B+

*I got this book from the author for review in exchange for my honest opinion.

AUTHOR INFO:

Brenda Rothert is an Illinois native who was a print journalist for nine years. She made the jump from fact to fiction in 2013 and never looked back. From new adult to steamy contemporary romance, Brenda creates fresh characters in every story she tells. She’s a lover of Diet Coke, chocolate, lazy weekends and happily ever afters.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Book Cover Reveal for Wild Tendy by Toni Aleo


Until now a sexy and fun-loving hockey player has been content with only showing his “player” side, until the moment he meets a serious-minded and hard working woman who he wants to prove himself worthy of.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of Wild Tendy by Toni Aleo, then start counting down the days until this second installment in the IcaCats series hits shelves on August 27th!

Nico Merryweather loves women—all women. Sure, they’re sexy and fun. But “Player” is an easy reputation to hide behind, a way to keep the good times rolling and reality at bay. He’s loud, he’s cocky, he says exactly what he’s thinking, and people just laugh it off because they think they know him. But Nico makes sure no one is close enough to know the truth. With a new season starting, he is ready to play the game he can control. They’ll all be watching Nico, the goalie, but they’ll never know the man behind the mask who is just trying to breathe. He hasn’t ever wanted anyone close enough to him to see the truth, until Aviva rams herself into his ass. Literally.
Aviva Pearce’s life is a collection of bad days all wrapped up without a bow. If it can go wrong, it will. All she wants is to run her business, take care of her sister, and keep her head above water. But with a father who is out to ruin her like he has himself and debt trying to drown her, it’s hard to stay afloat. Aviva isn’t the type to waste time dwelling on her misfortunes or to give up, though. She’s got too much fight in her. And she definitely doesn’t have time to waste on the wildly sexy, rich, showboating goaltender everyone wants. She’s got goals.
What she doesn’t know is that Nico has goals of his own.
And she’s number one on his list.


PRE-ORDER LINKS:  AMAZON  |  iBOOKS  |  BN  |  KOBO


AUTHOR INFO:

My name is Toni Aleo and I’m a total dork.
I am a wife, mother of two and a bulldog, and also a hopeless romantic.
I am the biggest Shea Weber fan ever, and can be found during hockey season with my nose pressed against the Bridgestone Arena’s glass, watching my Nashville Predators play!
When my nose isn’t pressed against the glass, I enjoy going to my husband and son’s hockey games, my daughter’s dance competition, hanging with my best friends, taking pictures, scrapbooking, and reading the latest romance novel.
I have a slight Disney and Harry Potter obsession, I love things that sparkle, I love the color pink, I might have been a Disney Princess in a past life…probably Belle.
...and did I mention I love hockey?

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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Book Blast for Ki’s Redemption by Keri Kruspe (GIVEAWAY)


It’s a sexy and thrilling read for a woman who once had it all and the dragon shifter with his own painful past in this final tale in an entertaining sci-fi series.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of Ki’s Redemption by Keri Kruspe, then learn even more about this book by visiting the other sites hosting this tour.  In honor of this third installment in An Alien Exchange Trilogy make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win a $15 bookstore GC too!

Sexy Aliens/Sassy Dragons
Earth’s fate rests in the hands of shape-shifting dragons, studly aliens, and a determined woman who demands a say in her own fate. In this exciting finale of the An Alien Exchange trilogy, follow their adventures across the galaxy to a tale that features mounting action, stimulating passion, and heart-pounding emotions.
Sherrilyn Marie Cantor firmly believes success doesn’t come to those who sit around and wait for it to show up; it takes determination, discipline, and hard work. At thirty-four, she has it all – a successful business and more money than she can spend until a jealous partner sets her up and frames her for stealing trade secrets. She loses everything and faces a twenty-year federal prison sentence. When an unexpected offer to find “love among the stars” comes her way, she doesn’t hesitate to escape her unjust fate and leaves Earth forever.
A Zerin descended from a secretive line of dragon shapeshifters, M’alalu (Ki) Ki E’eur ignores the fact he’s living a half-life. Broken from childhood guilt for the murder of his parents and six year-old sister, he silently goes through the motions of everyday life. A former mercenary and friend of the crown prince of Zerin, Ki absorbs a debt his prince intended to take. He’s expendable; the prince isn’t. Now he’s in the crosshairs of a power-hungry despot determined to overthrow the current democratic galactic government.

EXCERPT:

“Don’t do that.”
The masculine whisper feathered against her neck. His massive arms tightened around her. Wisps of warm breath fanned her sensitive skin. The clean musk of his mesmerizing scent sent a thrill down her spine. In reaction, she grasped a steel forearm, not sure if she wanted to get loose or pull them closer.
“Do what?” A scratchy rasp came out before she cleared the lump from her throat. But really, her nightly fantasy personified held her close, how could she not move? Her stomach tensed as a large palm encircled her waist while the other hand rubbed the top of her thigh. She shivered, eager for more. Maybe being stuck in the small space was a good thing.
“Stop moving.” His wicked whisper accompanied his tightened grip. “It’s hard for me to think when you do that.”
“Is that so?” She ran a tongue across dry lips before giving him a coy smile over her shoulder. Yeah, something was hard, all right. She turned around to hide her smirk. Mr. Prickly might not like being seduced. What? Since when did she want to pursue the attraction between them? But then again why not? He triggered something inside.
Every time she came near him a jolt zapped her hands and feet straight to her gut. Then her stomach drops like she’s in a car going over a hill quickly. Yeah, the tension between them was hot.
Hot enough to for her to go up in flames and take him with her. Definitely time to get the man on board with the program. She slid backward to rub against his erect cock. The movement sent a sizzle of lust down her spine. Damn, she liked being a girl.
His nose caressed the sensitive area behind her ear.
“Naughty girl.”
A rough, slick tongue suckled her lobe.
“It’s like that, is it?”

BUY LINKS:  AMAZON  |  BN

AUTHOR INFO:

A native Nevadan, Keri resides with her family in the wilds of Northwest Michigan where she enjoys the stark change in seasons and the pleasures each one brings. An avid reader, Keri loves an enjoyable bottle of red wine, a variety of delicious foods and watching action/adventure movies…usually at the same time. You can find her most days immersed in her fantasy world on her latest novel while foot tappin’ to classic rock. When not absorbed in her writing, Keri works alongside her husband in building their dream home or discovering intelligent life in America in their RV.


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Friday, July 12, 2019

Book Blast for Good Trouble by L. Simpson (GIVEAWAY)


Readers will find themselves quickly drawn to this contemporary romance of second chances as former friends-with-benefits-turned-lovers reunite with the hero doing all he can to reclaim the heroine’s heart.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of Good Trouble by L. Simpson then learn even more about this book by visiting the other sites hosting this tour.  In honor of this second installment in the Alpine Valleys series make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win a $10 Boroughs Bucks GC along with a digital copy of Beyond Today too!

WRONG BEFORE IT'S RIGHT
Annie Clarke knew fairy tales were only in books, and love was a disaster. Nothing could convince her to go down that road again. But local football hero, Erik Strathmore, wore her down. Too cocky by half, and too damn good-looking for his own good, when he suggested they give friends with benefits a try, she relented. At first, it worked. Erik was a great friend, and a fantastic lover. But then their hearts entered the field of play, and Erik betrayed her. Annie cursed herself for allowing it to happen again, she'd loved and lost for the last time. After realizing his mistake, Erik couldn't have agreed more. Annie would never love anyone else again. She was his, and he intended to keep her by his side forever.

EXCERPT:

“That’s enough for today, you can put your shoes on.” Her words confirmed that the door was firmly shut. I set about doing as I was told, trying to find a way to get that warm look back in her eyes. I felt like today was the day to push it. She had let down her defences, if only for a moment, and I’d had enough waiting.
“So,” I said, moving in to stand close enough I could smell her. Shit. That sexy aroma would stay with me all day.
“The answer is no, again,” she muttered, not looking up from her device.
“You don’t know what I was going to ask.”
“Yes I do. You are going to ask me out for a drink or dinner. Again. And I am going to blow you off. Again.”
“And what if I have a different sort of proposal?”
“Will it end up with you asking me out?” she asked on a sigh but looked up at me with her big eyes partially hidden by her dark hair dancing across her brow and falling at her cheek. This look, the dancing spitfire eyes, a smirk on her mouth, head tilted to the side exposing her neck and shoulder as she waited to pounce on my next words, was one of my favourites. It’s what I conjured when I took care of myself lying in bed, in the shower… Enough.
“Well, that would be up to you. If you want to go out after, then sure, but I don’t do relationships,” I told her, unable to hide my grin as her brows furrowed.
“After what?” she asked, trying to look bored and failing. I could see the heat in her cheeks as she figured it out. I stepped closer, forcing her back, and she ended up against the shelves.

BUY AT AMAZON here.

AUTHOR INFO:

As a girl growing up in Australia, Laura was lost in the world of Anne of Green Gables and Little Women. During high school, volleyball dominated her life. There had to be something positive about being 6’1” with red hair. Representing Australia from a young age she eventually took a scholarship at the University of Iowa. Living in America and being a full time athlete in a college town was an eye-opening experience and lots of fun (from what she can remember). #gohawkeyes
Returning from the States, her career took a different turn as she started working at the Red Cross and completed her Masters of Law in Human Rights. As one of the few non-lawyers in the class, her essays were far more floral than the rest, something that caused the discerning professors to shake their heads. Through working and studying, she realised there are other ways to win hearts and minds.
While she’s spent the last 14 years as an advocate against poverty and homelessness, the desire to change the world through storytelling has only got stronger. She now lives in the Alpine Valleys of North East Victoria, Australia with her husband, daughter, son, two dogs and seven chooks. When she’s not doing the whole mum thing, working at a homelessness agency, renovating her farmhouse, or trying to do laundry bleary-eyed at midnight, she is writing.

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