Thursday, October 31, 2019

Book Tour for Knox by Brenda Rothert (REVIEW)

A woman betrayed at the altar decides to finally live life for herself when she finds an unexpected attraction to a hockey player while on her honeymoon that leads to something more 14 months later.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of Knox by Brenda Rothert, along with my impressions of it, then add this fourth installment in the Chicago Blaze series to your bookshelf!

I’m done.
Getting ditched at the altar is nothing compared to being humiliated there in front of three hundred shocked guests. Apparently I’m no good at spotting the signs your man’s a cheating liar. So I set off solo on my honeymoon to Hawaii, where I realize I’ve got this life thing down just fine on my own.
Friendships and laughter? Yes.
Adventures? Absolutely.
But relationships? Hell no. Never again.
I’m a man of few words. My reputation as a moody prick is deserved, but only the handful of people who really know me see the man beneath the professional mask.
I’m a protector. A warrior. That part is true. But the world doesn’t get to see the rest of me. And women don’t seem to mind my gruff exterior—my bed’s always warm.
I’m content with life—loving it, even—or so I thought. But when I meet a beautiful pastry chef with a broken heart and a smile that softens me down to my soul, I realize I wasn’t really content at all before her.
I only wish I had the words to let her know.


By the time we all sit down for dinner at the table of the outdoor patio, I’m so hungry I just eat in silence until I’ve thrown back half of my steak. I’m sitting next to Luca’s niece Emerson, who keeps grinning at me.
“What?” I finally ask her.
Her eyes get wide, but still have that mischievous sparkle. “Can I touch your beard?”
A single note of laughter bursts out of me.
“Have at it,” I say, setting down my fork and bending closer to her.
She extends her little hand tentatively, pausing right before she gets to my dark, short beard.
“It doesn’t look like Santa’s,” she whispers.
When her fingertips graze over my beard, her lips part with surprise.
“It’s so…hairy,” she says.
“That’s because he’s part wolf,” Victor says from across the table.
Emerson’s eyes grow as big as saucers as she pulls her hand away.
“If you hear howling tonight,” Vic tells her with a serious look, “it’s him.”
When Emerson turns to me questioningly, I just shrug.
“He scares our opponents on the ice by growling at them,” Vic continues. “One guy pooped his pants when Knox growled at him.”
From beside him, his girlfriend Lindy gives him a look. “Really? While we’re eating?”
I can’t help laughing at the memory. Chris McMorrow did shit himself as I was taking off my gloves to throw down with him on the ice during a game a couple years ago. He gave me a look of horror that made me freeze in place.
“I think I’m sick,” he’d said. “I just shit myself. Can we do this another time?”
Dumbstruck, I’d told him we could and called one of his teammates over to help him off the ice. Poor dude found out he had a nasty infection in his colon. But from then on, I was known as the guy who made another enforcer shit himself at the thought of fighting me.
Emerson now looks terrified of me. I don’t like that. I lean closer to her once again.
“I’m a nice wolf,” I assure her.
She lowers her brows, still looking concerned. “I don’t want to poop my pants.”
“Never. I only do that to the other team’s enforcers on the ice.”
A smile plays on her lips as Abby sets bowls of pineapple on the table for “dessert.”
I speak into Emerson’s ear. “Hey, I snagged some chocolate chip ice cream at the store, what do you say we go get some?”



Ms. Rothert has crafted an entertaining series with the Chicago Blaze hockey team, one full of sexy players with hidden hearts of gold who have found that one woman to complete them.  Knox has those same elements, along with moments of humor, and it captivated me from the main couple’s delightful first meeting to their heartwarming HEA.  By the turn of the final page Knox is another wonderful addition to the series with unforgettable characters and a storyline that ran the gamut when it came to emotions and it has me counting down the days until we can revisit the team.

Knox Deveraux is a legacy in the hockey world as his father was once a star player with Knox now following in his footsteps.  He’s currently at the top of his game, loving his life as a bachelor with short-term interactions with women more than enough.  On a trip to Hawaii with his teammates though he gets a glimpse of the happiness having someone of your own brings his teammates and it starts him thinking differently.  Those thoughts grow bigger once he rescues a woman trapped in the ocean after her top falls off in an unforgettable meeting that changes everything for the both of them.  His time with Reese is short but they spend a lot of time talking with sexual tension increasing with the clock ticking away until they part.  Thinking he won’t see Reese again has him desperate to spend as much time with her as possible in crackling encounters both sensual and humorous.  Fate though has a different plan as after 14 months apart they find themselves face-to-face with their connection just as sizzling as it was in Hawaii.  When readers first meet Knox they see a brooding and quiet man, a commanding one with a sense of honor who lets Reese set the pace of their reunion.  He’s a carefree man too, but when it comes to hockey and his father’s cancer diagnosis he’s very serious and I felt particularly sympathetic when he was with his dad as their scenes brought a tear or two to my eye.  His interactions with Reese had them starting out as friends, getting to know each other’s deepest thoughts, and becoming oh so much more as the story progressed while putting a smile on my face and making me laugh often.  On a whole Knox is a wonderful hero full of heart and soul and I loved watching him work to earn Reese’s love in a slow and steady journey to HEA.

Reese Dalton is a successful pastry chef who had been with the same man for years when she discovers, at the altar, his affairs with two of her friends.  That discovery has her running for freedom, rethinking her life while taking a honeymoon for one to Hawaii.  She plans to spend the trip all on her own as she’s done with men and relationships, but after losing her top in the ocean she’s left needing a hero...and luckily Knox is in the right place at the right time in a delightful first encounter that leads to a wonderful pairing that turns into a sizzling one-night stand.  After 14 months apart she finds herself eye to eye with Knox once again with the sizzle still going strong.  Reese is still hesitant to be anything more than a friend to him as she likes her life the way it is now.  She’s no longer living a life of superficiality, now doing things important and meaningful to her, which has her donating her time to a woman’s shelter which made me like her all the more.  Her work there brings a serious tone to the story as well as introducing readers to another wonderful character by the name of Angelia.  Reese’s reunion with Knox has them starting out as friends, oozing sexual tension along the way, in a slow burn to HEA that has Knox charming her (and us) every step of the way.  Reese is a likable heroine who fit in nicely with Knox’s teammates and their wives.  She never pushed for more as she was very comfortable in her own skin, sticking up for herself and her desires.  She did make a misstep or two along the way though, jumping to hurtful conclusions, conclusions which frustrated me but were related to the doubts her ex imbued in her.  Despite her actions late in the story, she and Knox were fun to watch, with flirty interactions and heartfelt talks that had me cheering for them every step of the way.

This was an entertaining journey to HEA in a tale of second chances set in the world of hockey.  With its wonderful hero readers get a man whose sexiness is equal to his kind heart, while also getting a heroine who’s strong-willed and empowered by all that befell her.  They have a crackling connection too full of laughter and a few tears that had me frantically turning the pages in anticipation.  It’s a slow burn for these two but it’s a journey that held me captive, delighting me almost every step of the way.  Surrounding this appealing main couple was an equally likable cast of secondary characters, some who we’ve seen before along with one or two new ones.  I enjoyed seeing past hockey players and their wives and getting an update on their HEAs along with seeing players not yet paired off.  The team’s a boisterous and playful group who are supportive when need be and with a strong familial vibe between them.  Of the other characters in the story I was especially drawn to Angelia who works at a woman’s shelter and carries scars caused by acid thrown by her ex.  She’s strong and sassy and wears her scars like a badge of honor.  The new owner of the team, Olivier Durand, also left me curious to know more as he truly has a kind heart and is protective of his players while being a man of mystery.  From start to finish this was a well-crafted romance with a near-perfect hero who I’m still thinking of as I breathlessly await the next book in this decadently delightful series!

My rating for this is an B+/A-

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


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.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Happy Halloween!

Book Tour for The Christmas Dare by Lori Wilde (GIVEAWAY)

It’s a blast from the past for a woman left at the altar in this heartwarming story of second chances set amidst the joy and magic of the holidays.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of The Christmas Dare by Lori Wilde, then add this contemporary romance to your bookshelf.  In honor of this 10th installment in the Twilight, Texas series make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win a print copy of The Christmas Key by Ms. Wilde too!

A jilted-at-the-altar bride reunites with her high school sweetheart in Lori Wilde’s sensational new Twilight, Texas Christmas novel.
Kelsey James always played by the rules and look where it got her—dumped and half-drunk in a poofy white dress, her Christmas wedding ruined. Then her best friend talks her into going on her “honeymoon” anyway, daring her to a “Christmas of Yes.”  It’s about time she lets loose a little, so Kelsey agrees to say “yes” to fun, to romance, and to adventure! And adventure leads her right smack into the arms of sexy Noah MacGregor.
Noah’s never one to say no to a risk—from leading his NBA team to victory to making Christmas cookies in Twilight, he’s up to the challenge! But a lot has gone on since they were teenagers, and he knows he has to take his time to make Kelsey dare to believe that what they feel is more than just the holiday magic that’s in the air...


On a Christmas-scented Saturday morning in early December, Dallas’s newly elected mayor, Filomena James, walked her only surviving daughter, Kelsey, down the pew-packed aisle of the lavishly decorated Highland Park United Methodist Church.
She slipped her arm through her daughter’s, and off they went to the instrumental score of “Let Me Tell You About My Boat.” Filomena had insisted on music hipper than “The Wedding March” for her child’s big day.
Bucking the old guard.
That was how she won her mayoral seat. Filomena was innovative, clever, and resourceful. Never mind that Kelsey was a traditionalist. After all, Filomena was the one shelling out the big bucks for this shindig, and to quote her campaign buttons, she was the “rebel with a cause.”
She’d insisted on the December wedding date, so as not to conflict with her mayoral bid. In mild protest, Kelsey put up a feeble fuss. Her daughter was not a fan of December in general or Christmas in particular. But as always, Filomena had prevailed.
“Lucky” for Kelsey, Mama knew best.
Everything was going as Filomena had planned. That is, until the groom hightailed it for the exit, elbows locked with his best man.
Fifteen minutes later, back in the bridal room of the church, Kelsey sat as calm as a statue, ankles crossed demurely, feet tucked underneath the bench, expression mild. Her waist-length hair twisted high in an elegant braided chignon. A bouquet of white roses and a crumpled, handwritten Dear Jane letter were lying in her lap.
Sounds of car doors slamming and hushed voices stirring gossip drifted in through the partially opened window.
The poor thing.
Do you think Kelsey suspected Clive was gay?
How does Filomena recover from this?
Exhaling deeply, Kelsey hid her smile as relief poured through her. Okay, sprinkle in a dab of sadness, a jigger of regret, and a dollop of I-do-not-want-to-face-my-mother, but other than that, Clive’s abrupt adios hadn’t peeled her back too far.
Hey, it wasn’t the most embarrassing thing that had ever happened to her. She’d get through this.
Filomena paced. As if struck by a hundred flyswatters all slapping at once, her cheeks flushed scarlet. Black Joan Crawford eyebrows pulled into a hard V. “Do you have any idea how humiliated am?” she howled.
“I’m sorry, Mother,” Kelsey said by rote.
“This is your fault. If you’d slept with Clive, as I told you to, instead of sticking to that wait-until-the-wedding nonsense, I would not be on the hook for this nightmare.”
“Yes, Mother. You’re right. You’re always right.”
Filomena’s scowl lessened. “Well, at least you admit it.”
Kelsey’s best friend, Tasha Williams, who’d been standing by the door, lifted the hem of her emerald green, charmeuse maid of honor dress and strode across the small room to toe off with the mayor-elect.
“Are you frigging kidding me?” Tasha’s deep brown eyes narrowed and she planted her hands onto her hips, head bobbing as she spoke. “Kels got stood up, not you.”
Yay, you. Grateful, Kelsey sent her friend a thank-you smile.
“The media will eat me for dinner over this.” Through flinty eyes, Filomena’s glower could wither houseplants to dust.
Uh-oh, Kelsey knew the look far too well. A clear signal to give her mother a Grand Canyon–sized berth.
“Have an inch of compassion, you witch.” Tasha glared lasers at Filomena.
Proud that her bestie had not called her mother a “bitch” when she knew the word was searing the end of Tasha’s tongue, Kelsey cleared her throat. Long ago, she’d learned not to throw emotional gasoline on her mother’s fits of pique. Courting head-to-toe, third-degree burns was not her favorite pastime.
“What did you say to me?” A sharp, cutting tone curdled her mother’s voice. Her icy stare could quell Katniss Everdeen.
Gulping, Tasha couldn’t quite meet Filomena’s eyes. “Just . . . just . . . have a heart, dammit. She’s your daughter.”
“Don’t you lecture me, you little upstart.” Filomena shoved her face in front of Tasha’s nose.
In a soothing, even tone, Kelsey pressed her palms downward. “Mom, I’m fine here. Please, go do damage control. You’ll find a way to turn this to your advantage. You’re a master at spinning gold from straw.”
“Excellent idea.” With stiff-legged movements, Filomena shifted her attention off Tasha. Finger pinching the ruching at the waist of her snug-fitting mother-of-the-bride dress, she straightened herself, dusted off her shoulders, and stalked toward the door. “Clive’s father owes me big-time.”
Filomena’s exit left Kelsey and Tasha exhaling simultaneously.
“Ah, gotta love how she turns every disaster into a political stepping stone,” Tasha muttered.
“It’s her superpower,” Kelsey said.
“What’s her kryptonite?”
Rereading Clive’s scrawled letter, Kelsey didn’t answer. Before Clive fled with Kevin, he’d pressed the note into the minister’s hand.
Dear Kelsey,
Shabby of me to ditch you this way, but please believe me when I say I wanted to marry you. You are the kindest, most loving person I’ve ever met and my deep affection for you has gotten me this far. But no more cowering in the closet, praying to turn into something I’m not. You deserve better. I deserve better. I’ve been a coward, and you were safe. Time to stop running. Kevin and I love each other. We have for a long time. Last night after the bachelor party...well...let’s just say everything changed forever. Out there somewhere is the real love of your life. Please, cash in the honeymoon tickets and spoil yourself with a trip of your own.
Best wishes,
Your friend always, Clive
Floating off the page, three words stood tall above the others, accusing her of her most glaring shortcoming.
You were safe.
Yes, she played it safe.
Without question.
Guilty as charged.
While Clive’s betrayal stung, the loss and embarrassment didn’t equal the pain of the truth. If she hadn’t been playing it safe, going for the most accommodating, least challenging man around, she wouldn’t have ended up here.
Once again, her mother was right, and this was her fault.  To avoid a major war that she stood no chance of winning, Kelsey had kept her own wants and needs suppressed.  Filomena pushed the union because Clive’s father was Texas Supreme Court Justice Owen Patterson.  Kelsey had meekly accepted the union.
And it was a major red flag she’d blown right past.
“‘Sweet’ is code for boring,” Tasha had warned when Kelsey broke the news that she and Clive weren’t having sex. “Who buys a car without test driving it first?”
Now she understood why Clive avoided having sex with her. Not because she was special as he’d claimed. Nope, because he wasn’t really interested. She was gullible and had taken him at his word.
What a dumbass. Wadding the letter in her fist, Kelsey tossed it into the wicker wastebasket.
“Good start.” Tasha gave a gleeful grin. “Let’s cash in those tickets and get this party started. You need a wild night with a hot guy. How long has it been since you’ve had sex?”
Well over eighteen months. Since long before she’d started dating Clive. “I don’t know if I’m ready for that.”
“Will you stop? You gotta get back out there. Time’s a-wastin’.” Tasha reached for her clutch purse, popped it open, and took out a fifth of Fireball whiskey. “I brought this for the wedding reception, but we need it ASAP.”
“Believe me.” Kelsey held up a palm. “I’m mad at myself for letting things get this far. I should have stopped the wedding, but my mother started the steamroller, and I just climbed aboard the way I always do.”
“Reason enough to take a shot.” Tasha chugged a mouthful of hooch, let loose with a satisfied burp, and pressed the whiskey into Kelsey’s hand.
“I don’t—“
“Drink,” Tasha commanded.
“Good gravy, I’m not wrecked. I promise.”
“But you should get wrecked. Get mad. Howl at the moon. Let loose.” Tasha stuck her arms out at her sides as if she was an airplane. “Wing woman at your service. Never fear, Tasha is here.”
Sighing, Kelsey wondered if her friend had a point. Who would judge her for getting drunk after being jilted at the altar?
With a toss of her head, she took a short swallow. The cinnamon-flavored whiskey burned and lit a warm liquid fire in the pit of her stomach.
“Take another,” Tasha coached.
Opening her mouth to say no, three words flashed vivid neon in Kelsey’s mind. You were safe.
Clive nailed it. Since her twin sister, Chelsea, drowned on Possum Kingdom Lake when they were ten, she’d been playing it safe. Honestly, even before then. “Safe” was her factory default setting.
Chelsea’s death only compounded her natural peacemaking tendency. No adventuresome twin around to balance her out.
With a snort, Kelsey took another drink. Longer this time, and she felt her insides unspool.
“Good girl.” Tasha patted Kelsey’s shoulder.
After the third shot, Kelsey felt warm and woozy and ten times better than she had half an hour ago.
“Okay, okay.” With a worried expression, Tasha took the bottle away from her. “All things in moderation. I don’t want to hold your hair while you puke before we ever get out of the church.”
Snapping her fingers, Kelsey reached for the bottle. “Gimme, I’m done playing by the rules.”
Ninja quick, Tasha hid the whiskey behind her back. “I’ve created a monster. I’ll return it when we’re in the limo.”
“Bye-bye limo.” Kelsey hiccupped. “Clive and Kevin took it.”
“How do you know?”
“Peek at the curb.”
Poking her head out the window, Tasha said, “Oh well. Uber here we come.”
“Where are we going?”
“Wherever you want. In place of a honeymoon, we’ll spend the next two weeks doing something wild and crazy. Funfunfun are our buzzwords.”
“Don’t you have a job?”
Spinning her finger in the air helicopter-blade style, Tasha said, “I quit last week.”
“Wait. What? Why?”
“Had a fight with my boss. He pinched my ass and I slapped his face, yada, yada, he wins.”
“Oh Tash, I’m so sorry. Did you consult a lawyer?”
“No need. Handled it on social media.” Buffing her knuckles against her shirt, Tasha grinned.
“Since he owns his own business, he can’t get fired, but you can bet he got a lot of angry comments and people saying they won’t be using his catering company.”
“Why didn’t I know about this?” Kelsey asked as guilt gnawed. She’d been a shitty friend. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Wedding prep and getting your mother elected mayor of Dallas kept you snowed. When did you have time for my drama?”
“What are friends for? I need to make it up to you.”
“Then kick up your heels.”
“Shouldn’t you be scouting another job instead of holding my hand?”
“No worries. Already got a new one.”
“When? Where?”
“You’re looking at the new executive chef for La Fonda’s, and I start the Monday after the New Year.”
“That’s awesome! I mean about the executive chef job, not getting your ass pinched. Congrats.”
“Let’s do this thing.” With one palm raised in the air as if she was a waiter balancing a tray, Tasha pumped her hand. “Celebrate my new job and your freedom at the same time. We’ll have an epic adventure.”
“No doubt.” She mulled over Tasha’s proposition. Why not? Time to break out of her bubble.
“Where should we go? New Orleans? Eat gumbo, drink hurricanes, and get inked?” Tasha wriggled her eyebrows. “What do you think about me getting a spider tattoo on my neck?”
Wincing, Kelsey sucked in a breath through clenched teeth. “Hmm, Cajun food upsets my stomach.”
“Vegas? Blow through our mad money, pick up male strippers?”
“Um, I want something more—“
Sedate was the word that had popped into her head. Sedate. Sedative. She’d been comatose too long. “Where would you prefer to go, Tasha? Whatever you decide, I’m good with it.”
Tasha gave an exaggerated eye roll. “Girl, you got dumped on your wedding day, and I can find a party wherever I go, even in your white bread world.”
She adored Tasha’s spunkiness. Spunk was also the reason Filomena wasn’t a big Tasha fan.
Five years earlier, Tasha and Kelsey had met when Kelsey was organizing a fundraiser during her mother’s bid for a city council seat. In charge of hiring the caterers for the event at the Dallas Museum of Art, Kelsey had gone to interview Tasha’s boss, Tony, the ass pincher, without knowing of course that he was the kind of person who sexually harassed his employees.
When Tasha popped a mini quiche into Kelsey’s mouth, and it was the best damn thing she’d ever eaten, she’d hired the caterer on the spot, based solely on Tasha’s cooking skills. After hitting it off, Kelsey stuck around to help Tasha clean up after the gala, and the rest belonged in the annals of BFF history.
“Wherever we go there must be scads of hot straight guys,” Tasha said. “How does a dude ranch sound?”
“Good heavens, I have no idea how to ride a horse.”
“Yeah, me neither.”
“Wherever you want, I’ll go.”
“Don’t make me pick. I always pick, this is for you. My mind is lassoed onto hot cowboys. Yum. Ropes, spurs, yeehaw.”
“Let the sex stuff go, will you? I don’t need to have sex.”
“Oh, but you do! Great sex is exactly what you need.”
“If my libido were a car on the freeway I’d putter along in the slow lane.”
“Because you’ve never had great sex.” Tasha chuckled. “And for eighteen months, you’ve been in a deep freeze. Ticktock, time to climb down from your ivory tower, Rapunzel, and reclaim your sexuality.”
“I dunno...” Kelsey fiddled with the hem on the wedding gown that had cost as much as a new compact car. Could Filomena get a refund?
“C’mon, you gotta have hot fantasies.” Tasha’s voice took on a sultry quality. “What are they? A little BDM? Role playing? Booty call in scandalous places? A park bench, a pool, a carnival carousel?”
“A carousel?”
“Hey, it happens.”
“Tasha, did you have sex on a carousel?”
Her friend smirked. “Maybe. Once. I’ll never tell.”
Lowering her eyelashes, Kelsey tossed the rose bouquet into the trash on top of Clive’s crumpled letter.
You were safe.
“Quit playing coy and cough ’em up,” Tasha said. “Name your fantasies. Scottish Highlander in a short kilt and no undies? Or a football player wearing those skintight pants? Fireman? Doctor? Construction worker?”
“The YMCA players...”
Tasha hee-hawed. “No more gay guys for you!”
“Hmm, there is one fantasy...” Kelsey mumbled.
“Just one?” Waving her hand, Tasha said, “Never mind, not judging. One is enough. What is it?”
Not what, who. “Forget it.”
“Is he a real person?” Leaning in, Tasha’s breath quickened. “A celebrity? Or...” Her voice dropped even lower. “Someone you’ve met in real life?”
Unbidden, Noah MacGregor’s face popped into Kelsey’s head.
In her mind’s eye, Noah looked as he had the last time she’d seen him. Seventeen years old, the same age she’d been, and six-foot-five. Broad shoulders, narrow waist, lean hips. His muscular chest bare, hard abs taut. Her lipstick imprinted on his skin. Unsnapped, unzipped jeans.
Wild hair.
Wilder heart.
Rattled and rocked, her safe little world had tilted. Noah was so big, so tall, and he had a wicked glint in his eyes. An honest man, independent and sexy. One hot look from him had sent her heart scrambling.
That final night, they’d been making out on the dock at Camp Hope, a grief camp for children on Lake Twilight. That year they were both junior counselors, after having attended every summer since they were eleven as campers.
On the dock a blanket and candles and flowers. Courtesy of her romantic boyfriend.
Fever-pitch kisses.
They were ready to have sex—finally—when he’d jumped up, breathing hard. His angular mouth, which had tasted of peppermint and something darkly mysterious, was pressed into a wary line. Noah’s thick chocolate-colored locks curling around his ears and his deep brown eyes enigmatic.
In her bikini, she’d blinked up at him, her mind a haze of teenage lust and longing. “What’s wrong?”
“Did you hear something?” Noah peered into the shadows.
Propped up on her elbows, Kelsey cocked her head. Heard the croak of bullfrogs and the splash of fish breaking the surface of the water as they jumped up to catch bugs in the moonlight. “No.”
Doubled fists, pricked ears, Noah remained standing, ready for a fight if one came his way.
Prepared to protect her.
Her pulse sprinted.
Proud and brave and strong, he looked as if he were a hero from the cover of the romance novels that she enjoyed reading.
She’d fallen deeper in love with him at that moment. Head right over heels. Over banana splits at Rinky-Tink’s ice cream parlor the week before, they had shyly said the words to each other. I love you. Then again when he’d carved their names in the Sweetheart Tree in Sweetheart Park near the Twilight town square. Several nights that summer they’d sneaked off for trysts after their charges were asleep.
They’d kissed and hugged and petted but hadn’t yet gone past third base. Tonight was the night. She was on the pill. He brought a box of condoms. They were ready and eager. Kelsey reached for him, grabbed hold of his wrist, and tugged him to his knees. Their first time. Both eager virgins who’d dreamed of this for weeks.
Souls wide open. Hearts overflowing. Bodies eager and ready.
“Come...” she coaxed. “Don’t worry, it’s after midnight. Everyone is snug in their cabins.”
Allowing her to draw him back beside her, Noah branded her with his mouth and covered her trembling body with his own.
Hot hands.
Electric touch.
The night was sticky. Raw with heat and hunger. Calloused fingertips stroked velvet skin. The boards of the dock creaked and swayed beneath their movements as he untied her bikini top.
Solid. Quick. Determined. Immediately, Kelsey recognized those footsteps.
From nowhere, her mother was on the dock beside them, grabbing a fistful of Kelsey’s hair in her hand, and yanking her to her feet. Kelsey’s bikini top flew into the lake.
Angry shouts.
Ugly accusations.
Regular life stuff with her mother when things didn’t go Filomena’s way.
Mom, dragging her to the car parked on the road. She must have driven up with the headlights off. How had her mother known they would be there? Blindsided by the realization that Filomena must have been keeping tabs by tracking her every move via her cell phone, Kelsey’s fears ratcheted up into her throat.
A hard shove and Filomena stuffed Kelsey into the car’s backseat and shook an angry fist at Noah, who’d followed them. Warned him to stay away. Promised litigation and other dire consequences if he dared to contact Kelsey ever again.
“Noah!” Kelsey had cried as her mother hit the door locks to prevent him from opening the door and springing her free.
Pounding on the car window, Noah demanded her mother get out and have a rational conversation with him.
Stone-faced, Filomena started the car.
“I’ll come for you,” Noah yelled to Kelsey. “I’ll find you, and we will be together. We won’t let her win.”
Kelsey clung to that flimsy promise. Took it to mean something. Fervent hopes. Girlish dreams.
“Over my dead body,” Filomena yelled.
“Please Noah, just go,” Kelsey had said, half-afraid her mother would run over him. “We were just a summer fling.”
All the fight had drained out of him then, and he’d stood in the darkness, fists clenched, face gone pale, shaking from head to toe.
Sobbing and shivering, Kelsey sat nearly naked in the backseat of her mother’s Cadillac as Filomena sped all the way back to Dallas.
And Kelsey never saw Noah again.
Years later, out of curiosity, Kelsey searched for Noah and found him on social media, learning that he was a successful point guard in the NBA and married to a drop-dead gorgeous model—something she’d have already known if she had any interest in basketball. She did not friend him.
It was far too late to rekindle childhood flames.
Lost hopes.
Empty dreams.
Ancient history.
Soon afterward, she’d met Clive, and that was that. But now, here she was, dumped and half-drunk, with nothing to look forward to but her mother’s predictable holiday harangue. Plenty of reasons to hate the holidays. This year, she had little choice but to review her life’s mistakes.
Ho, ho, ho. Merry freaking Christmas.


A fifth-generation Texan, LORI WILDE is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 82 works of fiction. She’s a three-time nominee of the Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA award and has won numerous other awards. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Texas Christian University and a certificate in forensics.
She is also a certified Hatha yoga instructor and runs a yoga/creativity retreat for artists at Epiphany Orchards in Weatherford, Texas, the Cutting Horse Capital of the World.


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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Book Spotlight on Trick or Treat Collaboration....

It’s that time of the year my fellow book lovers, a time where sexy costumes and secrets abound......

Trick or treat! We have something sweet for you to devour this Halloween!
These sexy heroes are about to put you under their spell...
But watch out for twists and turns as these new books will have you lusting for more!

Readers, it’s time to go trick-or-treating!  Visit HERE to get a tempting taste of this collection, then add these books to your bookshelf for an evening full of sensual storytelling.
Get a comfy chair, along with all your favorite Halloween candy, and enjoy 10 new books ready to be devoured by C.M. Steele, MA Foster, Tracie Douglas, KL Donn, Terra Kelly, Regina Frame, Mayra Statham, Tory Baker, Kat M. Masen, and Elle Christensen!

Monday, October 28, 2019

Book Tour for Hold on to Hope by A.L. Jackson (Review & GIVEAWAY)

Readers will be charmed by this tale of friends-to-lovers that introduces us to two people who bonded as children but who are now trying to find their way back to each other.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of Hold on to Hope by A.L. Jackson, along with my impressions of it.  In honor of this off-shoot of the Fight For Me series make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win a $100 Amazon GC too!

Evan Bryant wasn't your typical hero.
But he was mine.
Broken by the worlds’ standards, he was still the strongest boy I would ever know.
My best friend. The boy I’d given everything to. My heart, my body, and the promise of forever.
The day I’d needed him most, he walked away.
He left me shattered and questioning the love I’d thought we’d shared.
Three years later, I wasn’t prepared for him to return to Gingham Lakes.
It wouldn’t have mattered if he wasn’t the most beautiful man I’d ever seen.
My fingers still would have ached to caress his skin.
My body still would have begged to get lost in his touch.
And my would have always sung his name.
But time changes things. With it, secrets that could ruin everything.
Can we find a way to love again, or have the fears of our past stolen the hope of our forever...

Moonlight poured in through the window where I leaned over the desk, soul twisted in two as I struggled with the decision that had to be made.
Memories spun through my mind in the most violent storm.
Battering and bruising.
I felt chained by them. Forever tied to the past where I’d been condemned.
I’d tried to change it. Tried to fix it. But I’d already caused more pain than one person should have to bear.
The only thing I could do now was sever the ties.
End this before it was too late.
Loving her had been the easiest thing in the world.
Letting her go the most brutal.
Every cell in my body wept with the sorrow of it as I leaned over the piece of paper.
The words flowed over the page.
Bitterness and regret and the little bit of hope she’d left me with.
Before I could do something selfish like change my mind, I stood, grabbed my bag from the floor, and tossed it over my shoulder.
Then I walked out the door and I didn’t look back.
Because I knew there was no atonement for this sin.
No amends that could rewrite what had been written in stone.
Nothing that could change who I was...



I’m not normally a fan of children in romance books, but while reading the Fight For Me series I found two youngsters who left an indelible mark on my heart.  Learning that they were going to take center stage in a story of their own had me counting down the days until today when we discover what’s happened since we last saw them.  What’s happened is years of friendship becoming something more before self-doubts tore them apart.  From the first page to the last readers go on an angst-filled journey with a bit of suspense, and a lot of forgiveness, in a story of second chances.

Evan’s early years were difficult with genetic defects that left him needing a heart transplant as well as deaf.  His health was always fragile, leaving those around him constantly on pins and needles, and him in and out of hospitals.  The one bright spot throughout it all was Frankie Leigh, a young girl who accepted him unconditionally and brought him endless joy courtesy of her smiles and their deepening connection that had her seeing him as a hero.  As he got older though he started feeling like a burden.  He wanted to be his own man and release his family from the constant fear of what might happen to him.  He didn’t want to be treated as a child in need of protection, with his life a ticking time bomb, so he made a choice that made sense at the time but ends up hurting him and those around him.  He’s back home now though and ready to make amends, as well as win back Frankie’s heart, but secrets from the past will add a roadblock or two along the way to a hard-fought HEA.  Evan is a hero with imperfections, but those imperfections make him a hero worth rooting for as he’s survived all that befell him before.  He has a kind and caring heart that had him determined to right the wrongs his leaving caused.  Evan doesn’t return home alone though in an unexpected twist that adds a suspenseful element to a story that will already have you on edge.  His time away has definitely matured him and he’s definitely all man now, a man ready to do right by his friends and family.  Winning over Frankie is the most important thing to him in a journey that moves at a slow and steady pace that has him employing all sorts of sweet and sexy actions that endeared him to me all the more.

Frankie Leigh has always been a sweet and bubbly young lady, full of smiles and a kind heart.  She was drawn to Evan from the moment they met and from there they were never apart.  As Forrest Gump would say, they were like peas and carrots.  Going from friends to something more just felt natural to her and as she looked towards the future all she saw was her and Evan.  Despite his disabilities she saw him as her hero which brought out all her protective instincts, not because she saw him as weak but because she couldn’t see herself with anyone else but him.  Evan’s leaving broke her heart though, blindsided her, and has left her leery of ever opening her heart again.  His leaving was a betrayal to her considering their closeness and it will take a lot of work on his part to win her back, especially with her own secrets from the past that need to be dealt with.  On a whole Frankie’s an immensely appealing heroine who’s close to her family as well as those close to Evan.  Being close to them throughout the years made her feel close to him too as she could never truly let him go despite her feelings of betrayal.  Frankie is a young woman of strong will whose secret was painful to hear while drawing me to her all the more for surviving it on her own.  I enjoyed Frankie as a child and found myself cheering her on as an adult as she’s more than worthy of HEA.

This was an emotionally intense read that ran the gamut in its feelings of highs and lows between two unforgettable characters.  As children Evan and Frankie were heartwarming and funny, while as adults they became more strong-willed but never forgot the importance of family. The connection between these two is quite obvious, the sexual tension surrounding them crackling, and despite the pain Evan’s leaving caused it’s more than clear that they’re destined to be together forever. Surrounding this likable main couple is a cast of characters readers have seen before from the Fight For Me series.  I loved getting reacquainted with these characters and seeing where life has taken them after they found their HEAs.  I was drawn to these characters from the very start and being so involved in their lives has me feeling like a member of the family.  I hurt when they hurt and celebrated with them when Evan returned as everyone had a hand in helping Evan and Frankie find their way back to each other.  From the first page to the last it’s an angsty journey to HEA for this delightful pairing, an endearing couple whose connection put a smile on my face.  The extra bit of suspense that Evan brought home with him kept me glued to the pages even more in a near-perfect story that sometimes becomes a bit too flowery.  Despite that small quibble Ms. Jackson is a master of familial connections and stories of friends-to-lovers and it’s what makes this story so unforgettable.

My rating for this is an A-

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


A.L. Jackson is the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance. She writes emotional, sexy, heart-filled stories about boys who usually like to be a little bit bad.
Her bestselling series include THE REGRET SERIES, CLOSER TO YOU, and BLEEDING STARS novels. Watch for A.L. Jackson’s upcoming novel, FOLLOW ME BACK, the second stand-alone novel in her brand-new FIGHT FOR ME SERIES.
If she’s not writing, you can find her hanging out by the pool with her family, sipping cocktails with her friends, or of course with her nose buried in a book.
Be sure not to miss new releases and sales from A.L. Jackson - Sign up to receive her newsletter HERE or text “aljackson” to 33222 to receive short but sweet updates on all the important news.



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