Saturday, September 14, 2019

Book Spotlight on Claiming Sarah by Susan Stoker (GIVEAWAY)

It’s a sensual and suspenseful tale found within the pages of this contemporary romance between a self-assured hero and a woman with feelings of unworthiness whose secret admirer leaves her life hanging in the balance.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of Claiming Sarah by Susan Stoker, along with Ms. Stoker talking about opposites attracting, then add it to your bookshelf.  In honor of this fifth installment in the Ace Security series make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win a $25 Amazon GC along with a digital copy of this book too!

In Claiming Sarah, Cole Johnson is co-owner of one of his town’s most popular gyms. He’s extremely busy since his partner, Felicity, is out of town. He makes an appointment to meet with Sarah Butler, to arrange for some self defense training for her, but he almost loses his chance when she overhears him telling his secretary he’s too busy and to give her an excuse as to why he can’t meet her. The couple (obviously) works out that awkward first meeting and Sarah begins learning how to defend herself from a creepy man who keeps giving her inappropriate presents. Of course the more time Cole spends with Sarah, the more he likes her and they end up dating. When she disappears it’s up to Cole, and Ace Security, to put together the clues to find her before it’s too late.
Cole Johnson is a man who’s used to plowing through his day and when he needs or wants something, he simply gets it. Sarah Butler is more reserved. As a kid who didn’t feel wanted until she was finally adopted she was used to being in the background. Cole and Sarah compliment each other perfectly. Cole is able to ferret out what Sarah wants and needs and he delivers. And in return Sarah keeps Cole grounded. She smooths out his jagged edges.
I think that’s how good relationships work, at least in my books. The Hero is there to protect and shield his woman from anyone or anything that might want to hurt her, and she’s there to keep him grounded and to support him. It seems to just work.

Sarah Butler isn’t flattered. She’s angry and unnerved. She’s been getting intimate gifts from a man she barely knows. Nothing threatening yet, but there’s just a weird vibe she can’t ignore. Her recourse is Ace Security. Their solution: self-defense lessons at Rock Hard Gym with a personal, hands-on instructor. One look at the bearded, tattooed, green-eyed alpha is enough to take Sarah’s breath away.
Cole Johnson is definitely the man for the job. He’s eager to train her. Eager to get closer. And when it comes to Sarah’s instincts, Cole knows she’s not imagining things. He’s also not imagining the intense attraction between them—and his desire to protect her is growing. But so are Sarah’s fears, the worst of which come true when she disappears.
Enlisting the help of Ace Security, Cole will stop at nothing to find the love of his life...before she vanishes forever.


“Do you ask out every woman you train at your gym? It just”
Cole stared at her for a long moment, and when he frowned, Sarah felt as if she’d somehow disappointed him.
“No, I don’t ask out every woman I train. Not even close. It’s been a long time since I’ve asked anyone out. And believe me, Sarah, I’m looking at you—and I like what I see. A lot. You’ve got an air of innocence about you that I find fascinating. You’ve had a tough life, but haven’t let it harden you. I respect you, and I . . . I’d like to get to know you better.”
She bit her lip and took a deep breath, but didn’t immediately protest, so he went on. “I have a feeling simply being around you will make me a better person.”
Sarah shook her head. “Don’t do that. Don’t put me on a pedestal. I’m not some paragon walking around sprinkling glitter throughout the world.”
Cole laughed. Threw his head back and laughed as if she’d said the funniest thing he’d ever heard.
Sarah tugged on her hand again, somewhat offended, but he still refused to let go.
When he got himself under control, he said, “I know you’re not perfect. You’re too trusting. You see the good in everyone, even when there isn’t any there. You probably neglect your own health in order to do something good for someone else.”
“You make me sound like an idiot,” Sarah grumbled, despite being secretly kind of flattered.
“You’re not an idiot. You’re refreshing. And I’m not. I’ve got more than my share of flaws that I’m sure you’ll discover sooner rather than later. But as I said, if you let me get to know you, go out on a few dates with me, I’m hoping you’ll find that you like me back...just a little.”
Sarah frowned. “I already like you, Cole, but I don’t understand you. You don’t know anything about me. I could totally be lying to you right now, and you just bought my lies hook, line, and sinker.”
He smiled again. “You’re not lying.”
“How do you know?”
“Because I’m an expert at reading body language. I’ve been around some bad people in my life, angel. You are who you say you are. What you see is what you get.”
Sarah licked her lips nervously, and his gaze immediately followed the movement.
Cole persisted. “Say you’ll go out with me, Sarah.”
“I thought I was here to figure out how to defend myself.”
“You are. And we’ll get to that. Agreeing to go out with me in no way affects whether or not I’ll teach you some basic moves that will allow you to get away from someone and get to safety.”
“But if I say no, things could get weird.”
“Then say yes,” Cole cajoled. “I swear you’ve got nothing to fear from me. I’ll even get references if that will make you feel safer.”
“It’s not that. I think I feel safer with you than anyone I’ve ever been around...” She
“I’m afraid once you get to know me, you’ll decide I’m annoying. Too much work or something. I work odd hours, weird shifts. And I looked you up online. I know about your friend and what happened to her. And about the Andersons. The last thing I want is my stalker getting upset when he sees us together—because he will—and taking out any anger on you and your friends.”
“Breathe, angel. Take a breath. Nothing is going to happen to them.”
“You can’t control people, Cole,” Sarah pressed. “They’re unpredictable.”
“Fine. Then we’ll meet with Logan, Blake, Nathan, and Ryder, and make sure they know everything about this Owen guy. We’ll let them investigate and figure out what will make him back off. In the meantime, we’ll hang out at my place. Or here. Or your house. We won’t shove our relationship down Owen’s throat. We’ll be discreet. How’s that sound?”
Sarah could only gape at him. “How’d we go from me wanting some tips on protecting myself to having Ace Security investigating Owen and you and me hanging out at each other’s houses?”
He smiled at her again, but didn’t answer her question.
She took a deep breath and gave him the only answer she could. “Okay.”
He beamed. “Okay,” he said quietly. Then he finally let go of her hand and stood, before immediately reaching the same hand down to her again. “Time for your first lesson.”
Automatically, she reached up and let him help her off the floor. She wasn’t sure what she was expecting. A kiss to seal the deal. A hug. A discussion about when and where their first date would be. But so far, Cole hadn’t done anything the way she expected him to.
“First lesson for today will be how to get a guy to let go of your hand if he’s been holding on too long and you’re uncomfortable.”
Sarah knew he was referring to her feeble attempts to pull her hand out of his, and blushed. But he was right, this was something she should know. It would come in handy at the hospital too, just in case one of the patients or family members got a little too familiar, as they’d done in the past.
Concentrating on his instruction, she did her best to put her nerves about dating Cole behind her.



Susan Stoker is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Claiming Felicity, Claiming Bailey, Claiming Grace, and Claiming Alexis in the Ace Security series. A lover of alpha heroes, Susan is also the author of the Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes, SEAL of Protection, and Delta Force Heroes series. Married to a retired Army noncommissioned officer, Stoker has lived all over the country—from Missouri and California to Colorado and Texas—and currently lives under the big skies of Tennessee. She is a true believer in happily ever after and enjoys writing novels in which romance turns to love. To learn more about the author and her work, visit here.


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Friday, September 13, 2019

Book Spotlight on The Wonder of Now by Jamie Beck (GIVEAWAY)

A woman telling her story about cancer recovery finds herself in a romantic tug of war with a man trying to succeed in the publishing world while they travel the world on a book tour that has her revisiting her painful past.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of The Wonder of Now by Jamie Beck, along with Ms. Beck’s discussion of this memorable heroine, then add it to your bookshelf.  In honor of this second installment in the Sanctuary Sound series make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win a $25 Amazon GC along with a digital copy of this book!

Throughout my career, I’ve loved the challenge of redeeming a character that might be hard to like, much less love. In Peyton, the heroine from The Wonder of Now, I took on a particular challenge, because most of my readers are women, and most women don’t forgive a friend who betrays them for a man. This setup made redeeming Peyton a singular challenge and begs two questions: who is Peyton, and why should you care about what happens to her?Peyton Prescott is part of a legendary literary family owing to her great-grandfather’s prolific career as a celebrated novelist. The casual observer would say she’s grown up in a mansion by the sea and enjoyed every privilege (wealth, beauty, wit). But life in Arcadia House wasn’t as picture-perfect as her family would have the public believe, and emotionally distant parents didn’t exactly model warmth or instill a sense of deep love and acceptance. She spent her twenties living out of suitcases and blogging about her travels, then had the misfortune of falling for her childhood friend’s boyfriend, who dumped that friend for Peyton…until she got diagnosed with breast cancer, at which point he dumped her, too.
Facing her mortality alone forced her to take a hard look at her life and her choices, spurring a sincere desire to become a better person, and to make amends with the friend she betrayed. Although she gets diagnosed in the first book in this series, and begins to make amends in the second, this final book is when all the threads come together. She and her famed-photographer brother recorded her journey from diagnosis through her final surgeries, collaborating on a memoir that is about to release (the proceeds of which will be donated to cancer research). Of course, at this point in time she’s more interested in moving on with her life than with reliving the experience with cancer and sharing those intimacies in public forums. Her attitude puts her in direct opposition to the publicist, Mitch, who is counting on her becoming his fledgling company’s big hit.
Despite Peyton’s flaws, of which she is well-aware, she also has strengths that draw people to her. She’s self-deprecating, witty, brave, beautiful, and empathetic. She now also has a heightened appreciation for living in the moment and not taking any day for granted—something the goal-oriented Mitch must learn to do. Although he has very good reasons for being disciplined and focused on his ambitions, he is instantly drawn to her energetic spirit and zest for life.
I confess that I struggled while writing this book, but it ended up becoming my favorite to date. Not just because I loved rising to the challenge I’d set up, but also because Peyton’s musings, fears, and hopes go to the heart of what connects us all, and because I think I gave her the perfect man to help her complete her much-needed personal growth arc. But you can be the judge!

Peyton Prescott would give anything for the carefree life she knew before breast cancer changed everything. But instead of using her second chance to move forward, she’s stuck promoting the memoir her brother convinced her to write, thus reliving the very battle she wants to forget. If she hopes her European book tour will allow her to enjoy revisiting her favorite travel-writing destinations, she’s wrong: her PR whiz is too consumed with his own goals to consider her needs.
Mitch Mathis has relied on discipline to achieve his goals, and with his new firm’s success riding on Peyton’s book launch, he must keep her on task. They’re here for business, not pleasure. And Mitch won’t let unbridled desire harm his professional reputation—not again.
When frustrated expectations and attraction throw the tour into chaos, it challenges everything Mitch and Peyton believe about themselves, life, and love, forcing these opposites to consider whether they can embrace the change they need to grow.

The writer from the Barcelona Review swaggered in and sat down. Medium height, trim, with coal-black hair worn a bit shaggy. The guy’s eyes lit up when he got his first good look at Peyton’s smile, making Mitch’s gut tighten.
“Hello, Miss Prescott. I’m Javier Molina, but friends call me Javi.” He reached across the table to shake her hand.
“Nice to meet you, Javi. Please call me Peyton.”
The little knot in Mitch’s stomach screwed tighter when he thought she was flirting. She’s only smiling, stupid.
Javi set up his phone recorder and then slouched back, feet planted wide apart on the ground, pen in hand. That cocky bastard was trying to intimidate Peyton with his domineering position. “First, let me say I enjoyed the book, although I suspect some of the caustic humor was meant to keep us at a distance.”
“Not exactly,” she muttered.
Javi hesitated but would be disappointed if he expected his silence would force her to elaborate. Mitch had watched her operate with interviewers in Rome. She’d make an excellent trial witness, answering only those questions asked—nothing more or less. Even this spare utterance seemed to have slipped through her fortress wall.
Javi prodded again. “In certain cases, the photographs are more raw than the narrative, although they blend seamlessly together. All but the cover photo, which has no explanation or accompanying exposition. It’s a spectacular, harsh image...Can you tell our readers what was going through your mind when it was taken?”
“You mean aside from ‘I’m going to kill you, Logan’?” She chuckled, buying herself a precious moment to compose her thoughts, Mitch guessed.
Meanwhile, Javi raised his index finger with a sly nod, as if she’d proved the point he’d made a moment ago about her defense mechanism. Rather than venture another attempt to flirt his way past Peyton’s defenses, Javi simply stared at her this time, waiting for a real answer.
Her gaze drifted, eyes cloudy. If she’d wanted to discuss whatever happened at the time of that photo, she would’ve put it in the memoir.
Mitch loosened his fist and wiggled his fingers. She needed to do this for herself, and it might be easier on her if he left the room. It would certainly be easier on him not to listen to the story behind the photo that had captivated yet haunted him for weeks.
He wrestled with his internal debate until she sighed.
Without looking at Javi, she picked up the pen and began doodling on the pad in front of her while she spoke. “Forty-five minutes before Logan shot that photo, I’d used the magic mouthwash to help with my mouth ulcers. After the waiting period, I went to the kitchen to get some water. It was predawn, so I’d assumed Logan was sleeping. I took a few sips and then wandered to the living room window. Outside, the street was already coming to life, all shadows and movement and secrets. Garbage men emptying bins, night-shift workers heading home, a stray woman dashing toward the subway on an obvious walk of shame...ordinary people living their lives. Probably worrying about the electric bill, or looking forward to a sporting event, or maybe daydreaming about a new love. Things that had once occupied my thoughts but, in that moment, meant less than nothing to me.”
When she paused, Mitch stole a look at her notepad. Daisies?
Her expression shifted to something self-deprecating. “And yet I envied them and those small worries...envied their health. Their nonchalance about another new day. I was so separated from it all—and not only by the glass. I swallowed a scream because I knew they, like me before my diagnosis, were taking everything for granted. I watched them, resentment festering because I might not exist long enough to even see those people months later. Worse, they’d never know. Life everywhere would go on without me, and very, very few people would care. Just like that”—she snapped her fingers—“it hit me that my whole life never mattered much. No spouse. No children. No impressive legacy from my Globejotter days. What, of value, had I done with my time?”
The room remained silent while she resumed her doodling. “I don’t know what woke Logan. All I remember is that I turned when I heard the camera click, and then he kept snapping.” She finally looked at Javi and tapped the book jacket with the back end of her pen. “That was his favorite of the bunch.”
Javi straightened his posture while finishing his notes. Peyton shot Mitch a quick glance punctuated by a half shrug. What a strange, intriguing woman. Drawing flowers while relaying her existential crisis to a total stranger.
Mitch offered a sharp nod of approval when what he wanted was to gather her in his arms like a bouquet of delicate flowers and tell her that he would care very much if she didn’t exist tomorrow or the next day or the one after.



National bestselling author Jamie Beck’s realistic and heartwarming stories have sold more than two million copies. She’s a Booksellers’ Best Award and National Readers’ Choice Award finalist, and critics at KirkusPublishers Weekly, and Booklist have respectively called her work “smart,” “uplifting,” and “entertaining.” In addition to writing, the author of the Cabot novels, the Sterling Canyon novels, and the St. James series enjoys dancing around the kitchen while cooking and hitting the slopes in Vermont and Utah. Above all, she is a grateful wife and mother to a very patient, supportive family.
Fans can learn more about her on her WEBSITE, which includes a fun “Extras” page with photos, videos, and playlists. She also loves interacting with everyone on FACEBOOK.


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Thursday, September 12, 2019

Book Cover Reveal for A Game Changer by Nikky Kaye

Readers have reason to rejoice with the upcoming release of this charming and sensual tale of a star quarterback and single dad and his burgeoning relationship with the nanny trying to keep her attraction to him to herself.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of A Game Changer by Nikky Kaye, then start counting down the days until this book hits shelves on September 26th!

It’s always a bad sign at an interview when your would-be employer orders you to strip—especially if the job is as the nanny to a grieving little girl. It’s even worse if you’re tempted to do it.
Zach Pennington is a star quarterback and now, suddenly, a single dad to a niece he barely knows. He’s also the most arrogant, clueless, vulnerable, sexy, stubborn, big-hearted man I’ve ever met, but Payton needs me, and I know what it feels like to be orphaned.
I just have to remember Rule Number One. Zach might be a great player, on the field and off, but I know better than to fall for your boss.
By the way, I’m proud to say that I didn’t strip for him—then.



Nikky Kaye likes to read and write feverish, fearless books for your funny boner, such as A Model FiancĂ© and the Billionaire Book Club series. A former college professor, she has worked with movie stars and the United Nations—but prefers happy endings. She has young twin boys, loves living where there are four distinct seasons but loathes getting out of bed, has a terrible addiction to diet cola, and hates talking about herself in the third person.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Book Spotlight on Code Name: Sentinel by Sawyer Bennett (Review & GIVEAWAY)

A man with a close connection to the President takes on the job of protecting the man’s niece with danger and romance the result.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of Code Name: Sentinel by Sawyer Bennett then add it to your bookshelf.  In honor of this second installment in the Jameson Force Security series make sure to fill out the form below, and visit the link below, for the chance to win a signed print copy of this book and for the chance to win a $100 Amazon GC along with a signed print copy of this book too!

As a former member of the United States Secret Service, I’m no stranger to putting my life on the line in the name of duty. Having left the nation’s capital to re-settle in Pittsburgh, the skills I acquired during my tenure in Washington have made me a valued member of the team at Jameson Force Security. But when the President comes seeking a favor to protect his niece, I find myself on the fast track back to the Oval Office.
Simply put… she’s beyond brilliant. A nationally renowned energy scientist, Barrett Alexander is on the verge of a breakthrough that will change the world. Unfortunately, that has also made her the target of a suspected terrorist cell. And while Barrett doesn’t believe she’s in any real danger, the President isn’t willing to take chances with her life.
As the threats against Barrett become more calculated, I decide taking her on the run is her best chance of survival. Danger, isolation, and attraction ensure we grow closer than I’d ever thought possible. When I realize I want to keep her safe for reasons that have nothing to do with my job and everything to do with the woman I’ve fallen in love with, no one is safe from the hell I’ll rain down on those that threaten her.

BUY LINKS:  AMAZON (Kindle)  |  AMAZON (Print)  |  BN (Nook)  |  BN (Print)  |  iBOOKS  |  GOOGLE PLAY  |  KOBO  |  AUDIBLE


As the second book in the Jameson Force Security series readers are once again introduced to the engaging and colorful members of the group.  Like the previous installment, this one kept me on edge from the first page to the last watching two very different people find a connection while running from heart-pounding danger.

Cruce Britton is the newest addition to the highly secretive Jameson Force Security team and from the very start I enjoyed his impressions of his co-workers and boss.  It made him instantly endearing and easily likable as he balanced a bit of arrogance with easy humor as well as displaying a brotherly bond with the rest of the team.  He has a strong bond from his previous work with the President too which has him responding to the man’s call immediately which puts him in close quarters with a woman very different from him.  While she’s all about work, he takes time to smell the roses.  He’s serious about his work too but hasn’t let it consume him like she has.  Despite their differences he’ll protect her with his life.  Their connection crackles from the very beginning and when danger gets closer they go into hiding.  During this time is when they grow much closer and I enjoyed watching their romance evolve.  Cruce is an immensely appealing hero, a bit snarky, self-assured, and extremely protective.  His actions throughout this story were the epitome of heroic and I’d definitely want him to protect my body.

Barrett Alexander is a niece to the President and well-known for her scientific work as an energy scientist.  Her latest project could change the world and it leaves her vulnerable to those looking to acquire her work for themselves.  Keeping her safe soon becomes the job of Cruce once the President intervenes and as danger comes knocking on their door.  Through heart-pounding action, and a burgeoning romance, this couple grew closer as their story raced to an exhilarating conclusion.  Through it all Barrett’s very likable, a genius, and devoted to her work.  She doesn’t take time to truly live though which is what Cruce is there for.  From the outside they may seem different but watching them grow closer shows how good they are together.

This was a thoroughly entertaining read from the first page to the last.  It was a tale full of exciting action and suspense that kept me on the edge of my seat.  Alongside the exhilarating action was a sweet and sexy romance that captivated me as I rooted for this couple every step of the way.  Alongside this likable main couple was an equally likable cast of secondary characters, a cast full of colorful characters with strong protective instincts.  I enjoyed getting an update on Kynan and Joslyn and am waiting with bated breath for Saint, Dozer, Cage, and Malik.  These are a sexy group of men and I look forward to them taking center stage.  On a whole Ms. Bennett has crafted another winner that kept me glued to the pages in a tale that I highly recommend!

My rating for this book is an A.

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


Since the release of her debut contemporary romance novel, Off Sides, in January 2013, Sawyer Bennett has released multiple books, many of which have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists.
A reformed trial lawyer from North Carolina, Sawyer uses real life experience to create relatable, sexy stories that appeal to a wide array of readers. From new adult to erotic contemporary romance, Sawyer writes something for just about everyone.
Sawyer likes her Bloody Marys strong, her martinis dirty, and her heroes a combination of the two. When not bringing fictional romance to life, Sawyer is a chauffeur, stylist, chef, maid, and personal assistant to a very active daughter, as well as full-time servant to her adorably naughty dogs. She believes in the good of others, and that a bad day can be cured with a great work-out, cake, or even better, both.
Sawyer also writes general and women’s fiction under the pen name S. Bennett and sweet romance under the name Juliette Poe.



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Monday, September 9, 2019

Book Spotlight on Anyone But Rich by Penelope Bloom (GIVEAWAY)

Past loves find themselves drawn to each other once more in this contemporary romance of second chances.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of Anyone But Rich by Penelope Bloom, along with the author giving greater insight into the characters driving this series, then add this title to your bookshelf.  In honor of this first installment in the Anyone But.... series make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win a $25 Amazon GC and a digital copy of this book too!

Meet the Kings of North Carolina with Author Penelope Bloom
Anyone But Rich is the first book of my new, three book "Anyone But..." series. Every book is a true romantic comedy and is full of moments that I hope will have you laughing out loud, if not at least breathing out a little puff of air from your nose.
Anyone But Rich follows the oldest King brother, Richard King, and his love interest, Kira Summerland. Seven years ago, the King brothers left behind a trail of scorched earth as far as Kira and her best friends, Iris and Miranda were concerned. The three women swore an oath that they’d never date the King brothers again, even if they wound up becoming mega-famous billionaires and came back on their knees, begging for forgiveness.
But that’s exactly what happened. Now, Kira isn’t so sure she’ll be able to hold herself to a vow she made seven years ago, even if breaking it could drive a rift between her and her best friends.
Rich and the King brothers are global phenomenons. Each of them takes their own, unique approach to melting hearts. Rich is the kind of guy who puts business first and relentlessly pursues his goals, even if it means ruffling feathers along the way. That’s what makes Kira so special for him. She’s the one person who can bring out a softer side of Rich, and at times, even a funny side. But Kira or not, he’s generally seen as the face of the company, and he’s easily the biggest name to ever land in a place like West Valley.
Cade is Rich’s twin brother, but the two men couldn’t be more different. Cade is a somewhat strange blend of intelligence, goofiness, and unbearable cockiness. He can turn any situation into a joke, but behind the laughs and crude comments, he still wonders if his high school crush, Iris, would ever look beyond their past.
Nick is the youngest of the trio and generally thought of as the quiet genius of the group. He’s not as in-your-face as Rich can appear, but Nick commands respect in his own way. He also has the closest relationship with Cade, partly because Nick is the only one who ever seemed up to the task of keeping his wild, older brother alive.
All in all, the three brothers are like the riders of the apocalypse, if apocalypses were caused by melted panties and broken hearts, at least.
But the King brothers all share one thing in common. Whether they’ll ever admit it or not, they all came back to West Valley for the girls they left behind. Anyone But Rich is the story of Richard King and his attempts to win the forgiveness of Kira Summerland, his old high school flame. The question for Rich is how long he can pretend forgiveness is all he wants. For Kira, it’s a question of whether she can look past the mountain’s worth of warning signs telling her to stay as far away from Rich as possible.
There are endless obstacles between the King brothers and their West Valley girls, but the King brothers aren’t the type to shy away from a challenge. They’ve just never faced one this great.

Seven years ago, my best friends and I made a promise: No matter what, we would never date one of the King brothers. Even if they grew up to become megafamous, gorgeous, heart-stopping billionaires. Even if they crawled on their knees and begged for forgiveness.
But guess who just flew back into our lives in a private jet? And guess who just showed up to my job on my first day? Richard. King. Fortunately, it takes two seconds for Richard to reveal he hasn’t changed. Conceited. Cocky. Rude. Unfortunately, he’s also the kind of gorgeous that’s borderline offensive—with a jawline to make statues self-conscious and a grin that short-circuits my brain.
He’s spent years taking what he wants. I doubt he’s hungry for anything else—except me, apparently. There’s no way I’ll let him maneuver his way back into my life. My friends would never forgive me. I would never forgive me. But did I mention his jawline?


Principal Lockett.
He was shorter than most of the freshmen, but the shiny patch of bald skin on his crown and the drooping bags under his eyes meant there was no mistaking him for a student. “Just wanted to say good luck on your first day, Kira.”
“Thank you,” I said. I hoped my smile looked genuine. I’d expected to need to try very hard to make a good impression on my new boss, but from the first day of preplanning two weeks ago, it seemed like he was the one sucking up. It wasn’t the first time being the mayor’s daughter had given me some unwanted advantage. No matter how much I protested, some people in West Valley were dead set on the idea that getting in my good graces was the same as getting in my father’s good graces. Unfortunately, my objections went unnoticed, and people had never been quick to believe that favoritism wasn’t something I secretly encouraged.
So I did what I always did. I pretended I still needed to bust my ass to make a good impression. I refused to sit back and let my father be an easy pass, and I hoped for the best.
“Is everything okay?” I asked when he was still standing there with a smile plastered on his face. From the corner of my eye, I saw students start pouring into my room from the back door.
“There is just one thing. A slight hiccup, really. Nothing that you would need to worry your father about,” he said. “There’s a very influential businessman in town. He got on the phone with the right people a few minutes ago, made some very interesting promises, and...well...”
“Well, what?” My eyes were darting between Principal Lockett and my rapidly filling classroom.
“He’s apparently an old friend of yours. Said he’d like to be able to stop by today and say hello. He promised it would be quick.”
“It’s my first day,” I said slowly, hoping I wouldn’t need to explain any further.
“And you’ll do great!” Principal Lockett seemed to sense my inevitable eruption, so he ducked back into the hallway and flashed me a quick thumbs-up before the door snicked closed.
I turned my eyes toward my students and made a weak attempt to mentally rally. I can do this. They’re just children in bodies that have grown faster than their brains. They aren’t as mature as they look.
“Do you see how red her face is?” whispered a girl in the front row. I wasn’t sure if it was intentional, but I was pretty sure I would’ve been able to make out every word of the “whisper” from the parking lot.
The boy beside her smiled cruelly. “Maybe she’s PMSing.”
The girl frowned at him and slapped his arm. “That’s not how it works, you idiot.”
“What do you mean? There’s all the blood issues. Some of it must end up in their heads.”
The girl rolled her eyes, crossed her arms, and gave up on him.
I cleared my throat. “I’m Miss Summerland.” I paused, swallowed, and willed my windpipe to grow a little bigger. “This is—“
The bell signaling the start of first period rang deafeningly, cutting me off and making me realize I was already showing what a rookie I was.
I cleared my throat again. “This is—“
The announcements began, instructing the students to stand for the Pledge and the anthem.
I turned my back to face the flag and pretended I didn’t hear the snickering students behind me. I also pretended I didn’t remember being a high schooler not so long ago, and how quickly I would’ve decided a teacher like me was the kind students were going to eat for breakfast.
A few minutes later, the announcements ended, and I finally turned to face the students again. “Okay. This is—“
The door to my room opened. I spun, hands balled into fists. All the frustration of the last few minutes boiled over into an embarrassingly squeaky outburst. “I would love to finish my sentence!”
And that was when I saw my visitor.
Richard King.
Distantly, I heard the excited whispers of every girl in my classroom.
“Is that him?”
“Oh my God, is my hair okay?”
“This is going on my Snapchat!”
Their voices faded into background noise as I looked at him in person for the first time in so many years.
“Please,” he said. His voice was so deep and rich I could feel it rumble through my chest. “Finish your sentence. I’ll wait.”
He knew damn well there was no way I could think about anything else with him standing there. The corner of his mouth had twitched up into the suggestion of a smirk, and his eyes were locked predatorily on me. He knew exactly what was happening to me, and he was enjoying it.
I tried to picture a normal human being in his place. I tried and failed to unsee the broad, powerful shoulders and long legs, to unmake every cruel and perfect line of his face, from the sharp jaw to the dark eyebrows and burning green eyes. His nearly black hair was cut short and neat. He wore a suit that would’ve made most men look overdressed, but he seemed perfectly at ease. Here I was with my legs spread out like I was trying not to step in a puddle, pretending I was in control. Meanwhile, Rich’s pinkie toe projected more confidence than my entire body.
I wanted him and his obnoxiously cocky pinkie toe out of my classroom and out of my life. I was perfectly happy seeing him in a dirty dream every few weeks, where he couldn’t screw up my reality any more, thank you very much.
“Out,” I said.
“That was the end of your sentence? ‘This is...out’?”
The students acted like his sitcom laugh track, and I already wanted to give them all detentions for being traitors.
I turned, annoyed, and gestured to my students. “This is English Four Honors.” I looked back at Richard. “Out.”



Penelope Bloom is a USA Today, Amazon, and Washington Post bestselling author whose books have been translated into seven languages. Her popular romances include His Banana, Her Cherry, Savage, and Punished.
Her writing career started when she left her job as a high school teacher to pursue her dream. She loves taking her imagination for a spin and writing romances she’d want to live. She likes a man with a mind as dirty as sin and a heart of gold he keeps hidden away. Her favorite things include getting to wear socks all day—pants optional—and being a positive example for her girls. Showing her daughters that no dream is too big, no matter what anyone tells them, is worth all the late nights, doubts, and fears that come with being a writer.
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