Monday, October 21, 2019

Book Tour for A Lady Never Tells by Lynn Winchester (GIVEAWAY)


A woman who’s not what she seems finds herself gaining the attention of a Viscount who’s tired of pomp and circumstance in this exhilarating historical romance that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of A Lady Never Tells by Lynn Winchester, then add it to your bookshelf.  In honor of this first installment in the Women of Daring series make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win a $25 Amazon GC too!

Richard Downing may be a viscount of impeccable character, but he’s bored beyond belief of dancing at balls, faking smiles, and making dull conversation. So when he stumbles upon a housemaid with defiance in her striking blue eyes and a dagger hidden in her skirts...well, color him intrigued.
Raised with a rather...peculiar upbringing, Lady Victoria Daring is full of secrets and surprises. As part of His Majesty’s personal homeland spy network and as a master of disguises, Vic is charged with infiltrating high society to uncover the enemies hiding in plain sight.
But Richard is the first man to see through her disguises––and infiltrate deep into her heart. Too bad his family is at the top of her list of suspects...
EXCERPT:

CHAPTER ONE
Wángguó Manor
Home of Ambassador Gadstoke
Zhejiang, China
October, 1816
Lady Victoria Daring kicked out with her bare foot, sweeping at her brother’s knees to send him toppling onto the bamboo mat behind him. Before he could rise, Vic pressed the tip of her rapier to the bottom of his chin, grinning down at him like the monkey who stole the sweet cakes.
“I thought you said you were faster than me, Love,” she said, her voice carrying a triumph she didn’t bother hiding. “It appears to me, dear brother, that you’ve only gotten clumsier.”
Their sister Honoria giggled from the other side of the training house, or the dàochǎng, her vigorous hand-to-hand practicing paused so she could watch her siblings spar. Dressed as she was in loose-fitting pants and tunic—just as they all were—she looked at ease grimacing playfully at Love, who was glowering up at Vic.
“Dammit, Vic, you know I haven’t fully recovered yet,” he groused, flopping back onto the mat and throwing his arms over his head in a dramatic show of surrender.
“You shouldn’t have eaten so much làzǐ jī; you were warned that all that spice would upset your delicate stomach,” Vic teased, removing the blade point from her brother’s throat and helping him stand. “Next time, opt for the steamed rice and pork rolls.”
“But I love the spicy food,” Love whined, making Vic grin at him.
“I know you do, darling, but your stomach does not.”
Love opened his mouth to argue, and Vic opened her mouth in preparation of arguing back, but the sound of the door opening made them both turn toward it.
“Hallooo,” their other sister, Verity, called from the doorway, her emerald green silk gown a dramatic accent to her pale skin and black hair. Her furrowed brow was telling. Though her lovely sister was stunning in her more elegant attire, Vic knew Verity much preferred breeches and loose shirts—which was in contrast to Honoria’s preferences for big gowns and shiny baubles. The twins were alike yet so different, and it never failed to make Victoria somewhat jealous of their closeness.
“Mother must have been beyond determined to get Verity into a gown this morning, otherwise she would be dressed as you are, Honoria, and much happier.” Vic offered her younger sister an empathetic smile.
A frown appearing on her face, Honoria crossed her arms over her chest, which pulled the fabric of her training costume, or jianshen fu, taut.
“I see you are wearing one of my gowns,” she accused, huffing adorably.
Apparently unbothered by her sister’s displeasure, Verity simply shrugged.
“I haven’t many gowns of my own, and Mother was adamant that I dress in a manner befitting a true lady.”
Love, as usual forgotten among his sisters, snorted, drawing all eyes to him.
“Vic!” Verity exclaimed. “You know better than to challenge Lowell after he’s gorged himself on Ping’s cooking.” She sighed heavily, walking across the room to stand beside Honoria.
Lowell—whom they’d called Love since the time he learned to write his own name but the “W” came out looking like one big “V”—brushed pieces of bamboo mat from his backside. His glare was equal parts menacing and playful. As the only male sibling, he often found himself the butt of jokes or the center of unwanted sisterly affection. He would sneer and grumble about it, but he also didn’t mind the special treatment when it came time to procure sweet treats from the kitchens.
Chuckling, Vic replaced her rapier on the horizontal wall-mounted hooks beside the other five swords. While she was more than proficient with the dao and katana, she preferred the rapier, which was lighter and a little more wicked.
“What brings you to the dàochǎng? I thought Mother was forcing etiquette lessons on you today,” Honoria said, unwinding the linen strips from around her fists. “Lord knows you need them.”
Verity arched a single raven eyebrow. “If anyone needs etiquette lessons, it’s Faith. She’s been running around with Mai all morning—I tell you, that monkey is going to get her into trouble.” Verity huffed, which was her usual reaction to anything their youngest sister did. At only twelve, Faith was the most rambunctious and feckless of the lot. “This morning, the creature stole one of my stockings.”
Honoria snickered. “Which one, Faith or the monkey?”
The room erupted with hearty laughter, and Vic embraced the moment of welcome levity. Unlike her typical five-hour training schedule, she’d been training ten hours every day for the last two months, and she was tired. Tired of the bruises, the missed meals with her family, and the constant strain on her body. But there was naught she could do or say about it. Her father had pushed her, telling her she needed to be faster, fiercer, tougher. And it had been a rather difficult two months, but she knew she would only be better for it.
She reflected on the frightened six-year-old girl she had been eighteen years ago, facing down the hard expression of the man who would be her “master.” She’d nearly run from the dàochǎng screaming. Now, though, she had to admit, her confidence had grown by leaps and bounds over the years. She knew her own limits…and she tested them each and every day. She was the oldest and the strongest of her father’s children.
“You are becoming what you need to be, dearest. I promise it will all be worth it. You’ll see,” her father had said the evening before when she’d dragged herself into his study after a rather strenuous kung fu lesson from Master Lao-Nang. Her father, a very respected diplomat, had wanted his children—all six of them—to learn something “useful.” And so, once they were old enough, he employed masters in various specialties to instruct them on everything from languages to acting to throwing daggers.
And their poor, long-suffering mother was forced to teach them all about being men and women of bearing, grace, and good manners.
Her younger siblings often lamented the need for lessons at all, but Victoria understood that their time in China was only temporary. She’d be a fool to think that her father, an earl, would never return home to see about his estate, an estate he would eventually leave to his son. And while said son’s thoughts were often on athletic pursuits and spicy foods, Victoria’s thoughts were often on the country across the world.
The country where all the noble ladies and gentlemen made the news. The country where being a lady of twenty-four would make her a spinster—something her mother despaired of almost continually.
“If your father does not send you to England this Season, you will die alone.” Her mother had taken it upon herself to remind Vic of that nearly every day for the last week. Living as they were in China, there were so few proper British gentlemen to court, and so her mother had often despaired of ever marrying off her progeny. At least once a quarter, her mother would ask her father if it were possible to visit England for the purpose of marrying off the eldest daughters. Her father always refused, stating that there would be plenty of time for that. Later.
Her mother never liked putting off what could be done now, but it wasn’t until recently that her mother had seemed…single-minded about it. It was grating—and not only because her mother was incessant. It was also because…well…Vic was curious about what it would be like to have a Season. To attend balls and don elegant dresses. To meet new people who led lives different from hers. To dance with someone other than Love. To flirt with handsome men who didn’t know she could kill them with her bare hands.
She longed to experience life outside of China and the grinding day-to-day she lived, but also to do something with all she’d been learning for the last eighteen years.
You seem ungrateful. But she wasn’t—she loved her life in Zhejiang. She enjoyed spending time with her siblings and learning things she would have never learned in some haughty British all-girls school. But that enjoyment didn’t stop the ache that appeared more often as of late: a painful hollowness that pressed on her chest.
Angry at the trail of her thoughts, she cast Verity an impatient gaze. “Well? What was it you came in here for?”
“Father wants us all to meet him in his study. He has news for us,” Verity announced, and Vic’s heart dropped to her bare toes. Her father rarely called them all together if it weren’t time for a meal...
“Do you know what the news is?” Love asked, soft blue eyes rimmed with concern. For a lad of nineteen, Love had grown from a smiling scamp to a world-weary leader. As the only son, he was being groomed to take over for their father one day. And it showed in the loss of laughter, the thinning of his lips, and the stiffening of his spine. Yes, he’d be a good leader one day…or a terrible bore, though he did have many moments of levity and lightheartedness—but only ever with his sisters.
Verity shook her head. “But Grace and Mother are already there.”
“I wonder if this is about all the moping and furtive glances between him and Mama,” Honoria remarked, reminding Vic of Honoria’s ability to perceive more than anyone else. She could see the same image everyone saw, but she was the one who picked out all the details and insights no one else did. It was disconcerting, really—to have the ability to see through all the distractions to the very truth. Together with Verity’s ability to see codes and clues in any document, the twins were nearly impossible to fool.
“What furtive glances?” Love asked, replacing his own sword and peeling the linen from around his hands. “I haven’t noticed anything.”
Honoria huffed. “Of course you wouldn’t, Love. You barely notice your own nose on your face.”
Love grunted, rolling his eyes at his older sister.
Pursing her lips in annoyance, Honoria snipped, “It isn’t as though I haven’t told you this before. As a matter of fact, I’ve mentioned it at least twice in the last three days. It isn’t my fault no one has been listening to me.”
Her wariness piqued, Vic inquired, “What exactly did you mention, and why?”
“Father received an important missive last week,” Honoria continued, “and just after that, he and Mama began glancing at each other with this…wariness on their faces. Almost as though they were dreading telling us something.”
“That is troubling,” Verity agreed, her face pinching in alarm.
“Let us go, then. We should not keep Father waiting,” Vic exclaimed, starting for the door, as both excitement and fear surged within her.
Allowing the sense of urgency to reign, she took off at a run, sprinting from the dàochǎng, across the courtyard, and through the back door leading to the kitchens. She was up the stairs and dashing down the hallway when she saw her mother float through the door to her father’s study and into the corridor, stopping Vic with a pinched, displeased expression.
“You know better than to run in the house,” she snapped. “You aren’t a horse.”
Honoria, close on her heels, stopped short and let out a snort of laughter.
“And you, young lady—both of you know better than to come into my house in those ridiculous outfits. You might as well be wearing nothing but your underclothes,” their mother intoned, her piercing blue eyes—much like Vic’s own—shooting from one daughter to the other. “And yet, you continue to disregard my tender disposition.” Mary Daring, Countess Gadstoke, sniffed as if grievously injured by her daughters wearing breeches.
The urge to giggle at her mother’s feigned discomfiture was difficult to ignore, but Vic did so, and instead, she offered her mother the appropriate—and well-practiced—pout.
“We’re sorry, Mama,” Vic said. Madam LaMagre would be proud of my performance...
Verity then Love then Faith arrived, filling the wide corridor with curious and anxious Darings.
“Come along, then, your father is waiting.” With that, their mother turned on her heel and entered the study, Vic and the others following after.
.....
“What do you mean, leaving?” Verity exclaimed, shooting up from the settee where she and Honoria had been sitting.
Her father, Devon Daring, Earl of Gadstoke, cleared his throat, clearly uncomfortable with the level of disapproval his news had produced. “The Prince Regent, acting on behalf of his father, has ordered it,” he remarked, holding the official letter aloft so they all could see the royal seal emblazoned into the top of the paper. “We’re to return to England before the end of the year and report to Lord Leavenson at the Home Office.”
Home Office? That sounded ominous and yet…intriguing.
Her heart threatened to beat out of her chest, but she willed it to slow down. And her mind clamored with thoughts and emotions and questions and worries...
“It is a great honor to be given this new…appointment,” their father said, rising slowly to allow his rickety knees a chance to bend without popping. “We will finally be able to put your training to use.”
“Is that what we’ve been doing all these years? Preparing to be ‘put to use’ by the Crown?” Love asked, taking the words right out of Vic’s thoughts. Had that been their father’s true purpose in requiring their extensive and exhausting—and sometimes downright strange—training?
“In a way, yes,” Father replied, lifting his cleft chin into the air, which caused a lock of thinning black hair to dislodge and then fall over his broad forehead. “I knew our time in China was at the grace of the King. I also knew that, eventually, my work with the embassy would come to an end. But I wanted to make sure that each one of you had something that no other debutante and gentleman in England had…”
“And what is that?” Grace asked, her pixie-like features drawn and her cheeks pink from holding back her anger. The fiercest of the lot of them, Grace—unlike her name—was the first to lash out when frustrated. Which she was, a lot. A skilled martial artist, Grace was a formidable opponent when she was amiable, but she transformed into a veritable dragon when provoked. As it was, Vic was shocked Grace hadn’t already voiced her rage at their father’s announcement.
“A life,” her father answered simply, but his answer was anything but simple.
And it struck Vic, deep in the pit of her belly. A life? Is that what she’d been doing? Living?
Had the training and the learning and the practicing and the aches and pains and bloody fists been some form of living? What of the women and men she’d read about in the long-out-of-date newspapers and fashion catalogs? Weren’t they living?
“I don’t understand,” Victoria finally said. “What will we be doing for the Home Office, specifically?”
At her father’s furrowed brows, Vic hurried to finish her thought, if only to assuage some of the worry she saw there. “It isn’t that I am unwilling to do as ordered, Father, but I do not see how my dao form will be of any use at high tea.”
Lord Gadstoke nodded, understanding softening his features. “The missive provided little information regarding the grander plan, only that our…positioning in the ton will be of use.”
“And our training? What’s that to do with the ton?” Love asked, his tone one of curious frustration. “Are we to spar at balls for sport?”
Honoria snickered, breaking off a tiny piece of the tension weighing on the room. “I would pay to see that, I think.”
“Certainly not.” Mother sniffed. “But do think of all the parties, the luncheons, the visits to all the shops along Bond Street—it will be like finding heaven after being lost in Hades for twenty-four years.” Their mother sighed wistfully, making Vic smile at the usually austere woman.
Honoria fairly glowed. “Oh, that does sound fabulous, don’t you think, Faith?” she asked, and all eyes turned to the youngest, who was playing with the ribbon on her skirt.
“I suppose it would be fun to visit the private zoo I’ve read about,” Faith murmured, out of character for one who often chattered like a wren in spring.
“Of course the private zoo would appeal to you, but what about Mai? You’ll have to leave her behind. A monkey will not do well in a large city,” Love said, his voice wary. Vic knew Faith loved that troublesome monkey, but Faith loved all animals; she could be easily persuaded to leave China with a mere promise of a menagerie to enjoy.
“I know…” Faith said, a heavy sigh lifting and then drooping her shoulders.
“Now, see here. You have only ever known Zhejiang. Think of it as the chance to learn something new. Love,”—their father smiled at his only son—“there are shooting parties, gunsmiths, and a market of the best horseflesh in the world.”
Love’s eyes widened, and Vic swore she saw a flickering of awe in those depths. A deft hand at shooting and a novice gunsmith himself, Love would no doubt find a treasure trove of gunmetal delights.
Father continued, “And it goes without saying, Love, that, as the future Earl of Gadstoke, there are things you must observe and learn firsthand, and people you must meet. You will be ready to take the helm when the time comes for me to shuffle off.”
The room grew heavy at their father’s words, all of them uneasy at the thought of Devon Daring’s passing. As if knowing the weight of his comments, Lord Gadstoke broke the silence.
“And, Honoria, you’ll have all the gowns and fripperies and ribbons and bags and shoes—and parties to wear it all to.” Honoria, a lover of all things pretty and costly, gasped, her face lighting.
Their father turned to Verity, who was now sitting on the arm of the couch, her face pinched and her arms crossed.
“Verity, my dear, think of the Royal Academy, where the world’s greatest mathematical and scientific minds come together for lectures and symposiums.” Verity, a genius with numbers and chemical compounds, actually cracked a sort of half smile.
“Well, that does sound…not terrible.”
“Grace, my darling, think of all the other young ladies you could meet and befriend. You’re of age to have your own guests and excursions. Aren’t you tired of tea parties and such with Ping-Na?” Their cook, while amazing at her skill, was an awkward and rather silent tea party guest. Never having children of her own, Ping-Na was a motherly sort when she wanted to be, fussing over the younger Darings and scolding the older ones. But despite their insistence that she was one of their family, Ping-Na always held herself apart from them, using their titles, never accepting gifts, and rarely taking tea with them. She insisted that she made the tea sandwiches and tea for the “masters” and not for her, because she’d rather eat fresh-caught silver carp and drink rice wine.
Finally, he turned to face Victoria, his expression hopeful.
“And you, Victoria? What interests you about your new home across the globe?”
Victoria knew her father was silently asking for her support in convincing her siblings, and so she offered him a smile.
“Oh, Father, you needn’t worry about me. I am exceedingly eager to learn more about this business with the Home Office.”
His shoulders losing some of their tension, her father remarked, “To answer your earlier question, Love, the Prince Regent has asked that each of you make yourselves available for Crown business, whenever he may need it. He has need of your skills in matters of the utmost importance—Imperial espionage, I believe he called it.”
“Crown business? Imperial espionage? Like…spying?” Vic asked, her heart racing. Why did the thought of something so ludicrous thrill her?
“Yes.” Her father’s answer shattered something deep within her, and she found that the shards didn’t make her bleed as she thought they might. Instead they pieced themselves together into something new.
This is it—the chance at an experience, one where I can actually make use of all I’ve learned. All of the long days, the bloody knuckles, the aches and pains would be worth it.
Taking a deep breath, Victoria Daring, eldest daughter of the Earl of Gadstoke, stood and squared her shoulders.
“When do we leave?”


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AUTHOR INFO:

LYNN WINCHESTER is the pseudonym of a hardworking California-born conservative, now living in the wilds of Northeast Pennsylvania. Lynn has been writing fiction since the 5th grade, and enjoys creating worlds, characters, and stories for her readers.



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Book Reveal for Bene by Bethany-Kris (GIVEAWAY)

It’s a complicated romance between two people who have no business being together in this sensual and suspenseful tale set in the mafia world.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of Bene by Bethany-Kris, then start counting down the days until this book hits shelves on November 11th.  In honor of this fifth installment in The Guzzi Legacy series make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win a surprise signed book too!

A vendetta can change everything...
Bene Guzzi is walking a fine line. In his family, the mafia, and even with his own twin. Being a Guzzi principe means he doesn't have time to be a screw up, so he needs to fix it and fast.
Vanna Falco is nothing that she seems. Her angel's face hides a past filled with pain and her secrets might be enough to finally take the Guzzi family down for good. That is, if no one finds out the truth.
But everything gets trickier when people who shouldn't be together, start to fall hard. And no one is more dangerous than a Guzzi in love.
The lies between them, though?
Well, they might ruin it all.

EXCERPT:

Until, of course, she heard someone mutter, “If you’re gonna do that, could you fucking move it outside to the alley like every other bitch that’ll get on her knees does, and give someone else the table?”
Vanna stiffened the second Bene’s lips stilled against her own. She physically felt the change in his posture, and sensed it, too. Like his playful, sexiness had left him just like that, and the heat in his gaze suddenly burned with more rage than it did lust when his stare met hers.
She didn’t know why she thought to speak to defuse the situation, but she still did. Or at least, she tried. “It’s fine. Just ignore him. It’s o—“
That was all Vanna managed to say before Bene pushed away from her. He spun sideways, as though he had just known the asshole came up to his right without even looking that way when he had been distracted with her. His fist was already flying, crashing into the face of the man before Vanna even had time to think about what was happening.
And then as fast as it happened, it was over. Bene spun on his heels, a dark grin tugging at his lips when her wide—slightly amused, but also terrified—gaze met his. Yes, she’d seen a man hit another man over her before. But no, she had never quite liked it the way she did right then.
The man hadn’t even hit the floor before Bene’s hand found hers, and he pulled her off the pool table, grabbing her bag from the floor at the same time, and moved them toward the back entrance of the bar. She peeked over her shoulder in just enough time, right before they darted out the back doors, to see the bartender coming around the bar.
They were already gone.
It was over.
That’s how fast it happened.
Her hand stayed tucked tightly with Bene’s as he pulled her through the back alley behind the bar, and through the maze of another three. He didn’t stop until they were one block down, and she recognized the familiar brick design of his building. Except it was the side, and not the front. Not that it mattered to her when he pressed her into the brick, his body crowding hers in the best way, leg slipping between her thighs to give her pussy something to grind on while he kissed her harder than ever.
Until her lungs burned.
And all she saw was him.
His hands skimmed over the front of her jeans, unsnapping the button and pulling down the zipper before sliding underneath. She stared down the alley to the busy street where people bustled on by. Not to mention, all the windows around them. What were the chances that this alley would be empty at this time of night? And still, anyone could see them there, if they just thought to look.
Vanna still didn’t care.
“That was crazy,” she breathed against his mouth.
Bene chuckled, lips curving with hers. “Worth it.”
“Shouldn’t make a woman run in heels, Bene.”
“Can I fuck one in them?”
Vanna groaned. “Yes.”


FIND AT GOODREADS here.

BUY LINKS:  AMAZON (US)  |  AMAZON (UK)  |  AMAZON (CA)  |  AMAZON (AU)  |  iBOOKS  |  BN


AUTHOR INFO:

Bethany-Kris is a Canadian author, lover of much, and mother to four young sons, one cat, and two dogs. A small town in Eastern Canada where she was born and raised is where she has always called home. With her boys under her feet, snuggling cat, barking dogs, and a hubby calling over his shoulder, she is nearly always writing something...when she can find the time.


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Friday, October 18, 2019

Book Teaser Reveal for The Edge of Reason by J. Saman (GIVEAWAY)


The close relationship between two best friends turns awkward after they can no longer ignore their burgeoning romance growing between them in this story full of sexual tension and a bit of humor.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of The Edge of Reason by J. Saman, then start counting down the days until this book releases on November 4th.  In honor of this third installment in The Edge Series make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win a collection of swag items as well as two print sets of the three books in The Edge Series too!

I have a certain set of rules I try to live by. Rules that have always served me well. Until now...
Rule one: Don’t have sex with someone you work with.
Rule two: Don’t have sex with your friend’s ex-boyfriend.
Rule three: Don’t have sex with your best friend who also happens to be the same ex-boyfriend of your friend.
Rule four: Don’t ever, under any circumstances, fall in love with your best friend.
I guess it’s safe to say, I officially broke all four of my rules.
Doctor Andrew Albright. Sexy, arrogant, insanely gorgeous, and eternally off-limits.
Not only is he still in love with my friend, his ex, but he’s my rock. My perfect best friend.
The one person I cannot lose under any circumstances.
Especially when my life has a habit of falling apart on a regular basis.
But one mercy kiss later, to save me from an awkward situation, and suddenly everything changes. He flirts relentlessly. Corners me in dark hallways. Throws me panty-melting stares that render me helpless.
I crossed the uncrossable line. Broke every damn rule.
Now our perfect friendship is falling apart.
And he’s doing everything he can to keep it that way…

EXCERPT:

I watch Margot stir on the sleep sofa in my office, which she affectionately refers to as her bedroom. In a way, I guess it is. I don’t do a whole lot of work in here and other than housing a desk and my laptop, it’s not much of an office. I shouldn’t be standing here. I shouldn’t be hovering on the precipice of the French doors, sipping coffee and watching my friend sleep.
First, it’s fucking creepy. I know that.
Second, it’s wrong. She’s not mine to watch.
Last night at Jonah’s party, I lost control. I became a jealous, mindless fool. I watched as Margot laughed and smiled and flirted with that Rex asshole. I tried to give her space. I tried to continue to maintain the friends-only boundaries she created between us all week. I was all for it after running from her apartment last week.
But the shots threw me.
I assumed she’d flirt. Margot does that, whether she’s conscious of it or not. But I hadn’t anticipated the shots. Especially after I made the point to give her the glass of wine. Margot wolfing down shots used to equal meaningless one-night stands with awful random men. That was her standard. How she operated.
And it sent me into a fucking panic.
It’s one thing if she’s not yet ready to push past our friends-only zone. It’s another if she takes a guy like Rex home when she could have me. Maybe that makes me selfish. Maybe that makes me a cock-blocking dick. Either way, I don’t care enough to stop. I was protecting her as far as I’m concerned. That guy wasn’t nearly good enough for her. He doesn’t know her. Doesn’t know what she needs. How her mind works.
What makes her smile…like she is now. Busted.
“How long have you been watching me sleep, pervy mc-pervster?”
“I wasn’t watching you sleep,” I lie. “I was bringing you coffee.”
“You mean the one you’ve been drinking?”
“I had to make sure it wasn’t too hot.”
She laughs, shifting on the bed, stretching out like a cat as she opens her eyes. The morning sun shines in through the window and across her face. Her dark hair is wild and sexy, her cheeks still stained pink, her thin tee riding high up her smooth stomach as her arms reach above her head. My heart stops dead in my chest, and I have to look away before I climb on top of her and enter her body without a second thought.
Sitting up, she draws her knees up to her chest, and I can finally take a breath again. She makes grabby hands towards my mug, and I slowly enter the room, sitting on the edge of the bed and handing it to her.
“Perfect temperature,” she teases after taking a sip.
I grin, running a hand across my stubbled jaw. “Sleep okay?”
“Yeah. I always do when I’m here.”
“But not so much at home?” I push because it sounded like there was something else to that.
“No. I do. But I…,” she trails off, glancing toward the thin shade covering the window. “I guess I just sleep better knowing you’re here.”
Christ, does she have to say things like that? It’s not only sexy and provocative, but it makes the man in me who wants to protect her endlessly pound his goddamn chest like a mindless barbarian.
“What about you? You don’t look like you got a lot of sleep.”
I chuckle. “Thanks. Is that your way of telling me I look like shit?”
She smiles as she takes another sip of my coffee, her eyes locked on mine. “You always look good. I know you know that. I was talking about these.” Her warm fingertips glide along the purple bruises beneath my eyes.
“I have a lot on my mind lately,” I admit.
I’ve been hovering on the edge with her for a few weeks now. Stuck in the purgatory between friends and more. I know what I want, and I know what she wants, so yeah, we’re stuck. Doesn’t make for the most restful sleep.
“Would you relax if you were on an island?”
“What?” I laugh the word.
“Is there a place where your mind isn’t always running incessantly. Where you could shut it off.”
“Maybe Everest,” I tease.
She rolls her eyes. “Because you’ll have reached the top of the world. How clever. I’m being serious.”
“I know. And I’ll let you know when I find that place.”
“Nothing is ever complete, Drew. There is always something else you’re going to want to accomplish. You need to find a calm place otherwise you’ll drive yourself insane.”
I lay back on her bed, my hands intertwined behind my head, my elbows butterflied out. I stare up at the ceiling and let out a silent breath.
“I have that with you,” I whisper, slightly afraid of the result of that truth, but it’s there and I won’t take it back.
She’s home. She’s always been home.


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AUTHOR INFO:

J. Saman loves all types of novels, but finds herself always going back to writing/reading romances. She's addicted to Diet Coke and sour candy, and swears way too much. She's an admitted lover of picking at old wounds, second chance romances, love triangles and the perfect amount of angst . She writes smart, strong women and sexy alpha (slightly nerdy) men who have a softer side.


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Book Spotlight on A Lie For a Lie by Helena Hunting (GIVEAWAY)


It’s a charming and sensual romance between a star hockey player who’s gotten lost in the excesses of groupies and partying and a strong-willed young woman who’s overcome a painful past that will captivate readers.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of A Lie For a Lie by Helena Hunting, along with getting a more in-depth look into the main characters courtesy of Ms. Hunting, then add it to your bookshelf.  In honor of this first installment in the All In 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!

Lainey vs. Puck Bunnies in A Lie for a Lie...
A Lie for a Lie is a heartwarming, sexy, emotional romantic comedy. It’s a second chance romance, filled with secrets and there are definitely some exciting, fun twists. It’s also a story of empowerment, self-discovery, and independence.
Rook Bowman, aka RJ or Rookie as he has been known as previously, has recently taken on the role as captain of Chicago’s NHL team, and with that role comes big responsibility and more fame than he sometimes knows how to handle. As with any professional sport, the NHL lifestyle can often be full of excess and decadence; money, fame and an endless stream of women who will do just about anything to get into bed with them, and it’s not always easy to avoid that kind of temptation.
When we meet Rook in A Lie for a Lie we learn that he has a less than shiny past when it comes to the excess and the puck bunnies (hockey groupies). NHL players are often drafted quite young—just watch a game and you’ll notice that the rookies can often barely grown peach fuzz, let alone a full beard. They’re still teenagers when they start their careers, and Rook was no different. Having grown up on an alpaca farm in rural New York, his focus was mainly hockey and the family farm, but once he hit the pros he found himself surrounded by women who literally threw themselves at him. And being young, attractive and full of testosterone, he fell headfirst down that rabbit hole. At least until the drama found him in the form of a fake pregnancy and a social media firestorm. Because of that, and the impact it had on his relationship with his family, Rook swears off the bunnies and refocuses on his career, rather than extracurricular activities.
He meets Lainey on the way to Alaska, where he’s gone every summer since he was a teenager with his dad and his brother. He lost his father a few years earlier, but kept the tradition with his brother because he craves the escape from the demands of his life as an NHL superstar. Lainey encapsulates everything he misses about being a “normal guy.” She doesn’t recognize him or seem to even know anything about hockey, and that makes her even more alluring. For once, he can just be himself. He doesn’t have to worry about ulterior motives or being used. Lainey is refreshingly innocent, incredibly smart, genuine and overwhelmingly sweet and Rook finds himself enamored with her sense of adventure. As they get to know each other, Rook learns about her traumatic past and realizes that despite the challenges she’s faced, Lainey possesses a quiet strength and resilience. Add some insane chemistry and you’ve got a recipe for love. Unfortunately for Rook, he built their entire fragile relationship on lie he can’t take back.

Sometimes I need an escape from the demands, the puck bunnies, and the notoriety that come with being an NHL team captain. I just want to be a normal guy for a few weeks. So when I leave Chicago for some peace and quiet, the last thing I expect is for a gorgeous woman to literally fall into my lap on a flight to Alaska. Even better, she has absolutely no idea who I am.
Lainey is the perfect escape from my life. My plan for seclusion becomes a month long sex fest punctuated with domestic bliss. But it ends just as abruptly as it began. When I’m called away on a family emergency, I realize too late that I have no way to contact Lainey.
A year later, a chance encounter throws Lainey and me together again. But I still have a lie hanging over my head, and Lainey’s keeping secrets of her own. With more than lust at stake, the truth may be our game changer.

EXCERPT:

When Lainey excuses herself to the bathroom, I rush upstairs and throw on a T-shirt. I know she said whatever makes me comfortable, but sitting around shirtless is such a douche move.
I make it back to the kitchen and pour her a fresh drink before she returns from the bathroom.
“How can I help with dinner?” Lainey drapes her sweater over the back of a chair.
And my mouth goes dry. Like I ate an entire sleeve of saltines and chased it with a tablespoon of salt. So far I’ve only seen Lainey in a giant parka or an oversize sweater. Under all that bulky fabric is one hell of a body. She’s wearing a simple white waffle shirt that conforms to her curves. A pair of dark-wash skinny jeans encase her toned legs.
I’m used to bunnies throwing themselves at me, often in questionable states of undress. I stopped getting excited about miniskirts and revealing tops a long time ago. There’s something infinitely sexier about a woman who can show off her body without actually showing it off at all.
Lainey tips her head to the side. Her teeth press into her full bottom lip. I want to do that. Suck that pouty, full lip between my teeth and bite it. I want to do a lot of other, far more explicit things than that, but a kiss seems like a good place to start.
“RJ? Is everything okay?” Her eyes dip down to my chest. I’m wearing a shirt from one of my endorsement campaigns. It afforded me the extensive renovations on this cabin a few years ago.
“Huh?” I give my head a shake. “Oh. Yeah. Everything’s good. Sorry, zoned out there for a second.”
She smiles and pushes up on her toes, her eyes twinkling—like, they legit light up, and her excitement makes her entire body vibrate. It also makes her boobs jiggle. I try to keep my eyes glued to her face. It’s not easy, though.
“I do that all the time! Sometimes my brain is busy with so many thoughts I miss entire conversations. Does that happen to you too?”
I grin. I love that she seems to say whatever is on her mind. “All the time.”
“It’s actually a helpful skill when you’re being lectured, because I can sort through stuff in my head, but it’s not so great when your supervising professor is telling you what’s wrong with your thesis.”
She pulls her hair over her shoulder and finger combs it.
“I take it that’s happened to you.”
“It did. Thankfully he also emailed all his criticisms, so missing out on it the first time wasn’t that big of a deal.” She divides her hair into three sections and deftly braids it without looking at what she’s doing even once. It’s pretty damn impressive. I almost want to pull it apart so I can watch her do it all over again. “Anyway, enough about that. Let’s get started on dinner!” She nudges me out of the way so she can wash her hands. She dries them on her jeans and moves over to the fridge, opening it to check out the contents.
I kind of like that she makes herself at home. I’m used to women who expect to be catered to. It’s refreshing to meet someone who doesn’t want me to pander to her.
I start pulling things out of the fridge as she starts naming items she’ll need and set them on the counter. I manage to locate most of what she asks for.
“What about garlic? Do you have any of that?” She leans over, peering into the fridge beside me. Her braid slips over her shoulder, skimming my arm.
“Uh, maybe we could forgo the garlic?”
“Are you allergic? My oldest brother gets bloated when he eats it. It took us forever to figure out what was causing it. Sometimes I’ll still put some in when he’s coming for dinner, because it’s funny to see him look like he’s expecting.” She tips her head to the side. “Or you just don’t like garlic?”
“I like it sometimes, but it depends.”
Her brows pinch together. “On what?”
“Who I’m eating with. I mean, if I’m going out with buddies, you bet I’m gonna order the honey garlic wings, or the cheesy garlic bread, or the pasta Alfredo. But if I’m eating dinner with a pretty girl, I’m gonna pass on the garlic.”
“Oh.” She twists the end of her braid around her finger.
I hope I’m not reading things wrong and making her uncomfortable.
“Does that mean you think I’m pretty?”
That she sounds genuinely curious as to my answer is unexpected. “You see yourself in the mirror every day—what do you think?”
She averts her gaze, still playing with the end of her braid. “My eyes are too big, so I always look like I’m surprised. My nose is small, and my lips are too full, so my mouth doesn’t really fit the rest of my face.”
“Wow. I think you need a new mirror, because all I see is a whole lot of gorgeous.”
She snorts a laugh and waves me off. “Once, I took a portrait class, and we learned all about proportion and symmetry of the face. Those are just my flaws based on what I was taught.”
“Well, I’m a big fan of all your flaws, and I think they make you more beautiful, not less.”
“Thanks. I think you’re beautiful too.” She cringes. “I mean handsome. You’re very nice to look at, with or without a shirt on. When I fell in your lap on the airplane, I remember thinking, At least I fell on someone nice looking.”
“Is that so?”
“Mm-hmm.” She opens a drawer, maybe to avoid looking at me. “And as much as I was mortified when you sat beside me on the Cessna, I couldn’t complain about the view, inside or outside of the plane. That you turned out to be really nice, and just so helpful, was a great bonus.” She hands me a roll of foil. “Why don’t you wrap the potatoes? They take the longest, so we should get started on those first.”
I put the potatoes on the barbecue and let Lainey order me around. She definitely knows her way around a kitchen. When I was growing up, my mom did most of the cooking, but my dad could make a mean Saturday-morning brunch. He also made great bread, which I miss a lot.
An hour later we’re seated at the table, plates full of steak, twice-baked potatoes, and crispy brussels sprouts cooked in bacon fat. I open a bottle of red wine and offer Lainey a glass.
“Just a little bit? I’m not sure I like red wine.”
“Maybe you just haven’t had the right red wine.” I pour a little into her glass.
She picks it up and gives it a swirl, then sniffs it. “I’ve seen people do this in the movies, but I don’t really know what the point is,” she admits, then tips the glass back and takes a tentative sip. Her expression turns thoughtful; then she takes another, slightly more robust sip. “This is actually really nice. I like it. Maybe the red wine I had before was bad.”
“Maybe. Some of the cheap stuff tastes pretty awful.” I pour more into her glass before filling mine. I hold up my glass and wait for her to raise hers.
“To chance meetings.”
“To new adventures and great company to share them with.” We toast and take a sip, each smiling behind the rim.


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AUTHOR INFO:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. Helena writes everything from contemporary romance with all the feels to romantic comedies that will have you laughing until you cry.



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