Monday, February 17, 2020

Book Spotlight on In Search of Truth by Sharon Wray (GIVEAWAY)

Readers will find an exhilarating read amongst the pages as mystery and suspense fuel this tale of secret identities and romance.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of In Search of Truth by Sharon Wray, then count down the days until this book hits shelves on February 25th.  In honor of this third installment in the Deadly Force series make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win one of three bundles of the first two books in this series too!

She manages to surprise him in every way that matters...
Elite Navy SEAL Enrique “Phantom” Ramirez is trained to expect the unexpected, but his growing feelings for brilliant horse trainer Elena Garcia catch him completely off guard. Phantom needs Elena’s help to maintain his SEAL team’s cover—more critical than ever now that they’ve identified a conspiracy of mysterious power brokers in both Mexico and the U.S. But how can he get her to train the ranch’s quarter horses without revealing who he really is? And without revealing his need for this woman whose indomitable spirit has captured his heart...

EXCERPT:

Through the window, Allison watched the lights in the garden flicker on, and then go out again.
Zack came up behind her and rested his chin on top of her head. “No one knows, do they?”
The whispered words struck her heart with the force of a broadsword. She tried to swallow, but her throat was too dry.  She blinked and her face felt hot. The still air had made it hard to breathe.
No. No one knows.
Except she couldn’t get the words out.
“I know how hard it is to carry a secret. To act normal in public, like you’re happy and everything is great, only to know that it’s all a lie.”
She clenched her fists until her nails cut into her palms.
Was he thinking about what happened to his men in Afghanistan?
She felt him swallow and shifted to study his face. Dark stubble lined his jaw, his lips had thinned, and his gaze was fixed out instead of in, as if he were looking for someone.
“When my parents killed themselves at Bayou Saint George, my grandfather was governor of Louisiana. He was obsessed with things like family name and had never been able to accept the fact that my mother refused to marry my father. Or my mother’s mental illness. Grandfather floated the story that they’d gotten married and, after going to Bayou Saint George for their honeymoon, had been murdered by escaped convicts.”
“You never told me that.”
“My grandfather turned Emilie and me into coconspirators. We were kids, terrified and alone, so we went along with the bullshit story. Years later I went to college and met Stuart. While Stuart’s family can be difficult—-“
She snorted.
“—-they were emotionally connected. They had traditions and memories. They’d built a foundation that, while not friendly, seemed honest and true.”
She agreed reluctantly. She didn’t like Stuart’s family, mostly because they’d never accepted her, but they stuck by each other.
“That’s when I decided I wanted a real family—-a real family who lived by the truth instead of falsehoods.” Again, she agreed.
“Then I met you, a beautiful woman who had a family history filled with as much violence as mine. Watching you was like looking in a mirror. I saw the pain and loneliness caused by silence and fear. For the first time, I realized how the weight of secrets and lies could crush a person—-or at the very least, cause a person to make choices out of fear.”
Her shoulders shook. She sank to the floor and struggled to breathe. Zack sat down next to her. “You’re hyperventilating.”
Her breaths came out faster and shorter.
“Allison.” Zack held her face between his hands. “Look at me.”
She closed her eyes and tried to lie down. If she could get to the cooler floor, she’d be okay. “It’s okay.” Zack’s voice softened. “You don’t have to keep this secret anymore. I know.” Besides Zack and Maddie, no one else knew.
Except for Isabel. Her dead husband’s mistress.
“Stuart is dead.” Zack’s voice was so soft, it wouldn’t even be defined as a whisper. “You don’t have to pretend any longer. Stuart had no right to throw you out of this room, no right to shut you out like you were worthless, like your feelings didn’t matter. And he sure as hell had no right to make you feel like this was all your fault or make you believe you were incapable of loving others.”
She hiccupped a few times before saying, “I couldn’t be what he needed.”
Was that her voice? So shaky and low? Trembling like a daisy stripped of its petals?
“No. Stuart couldn’t be what you needed. He failed you. When he realized that, he was so wracked with guilt he had no idea how to handle it. He shut you out, not because he hated you but because he couldn’t bear to hurt you anymore. Not being able to love you the way you needed to be loved was his greatest shame. Not being able to protect you was his greatest failure.”
“How could you possibly know this?”
“Stuart was one of my best friends as well. Before I left for Afghanistan, we used to talk.”
“About what?”
“Things that men talk about.” Zack pulled her onto his lap and held her against his chest.
She turned until she faced him. Nicholas Trott now lay half on her lap, while she was tucked into Zack’s. She was surrounded by the two heartbeats of those she loved the most. Even if one had that wet dog smell.
Her chest tightened, and she closed her eyes again. Did she love Zack? She honestly didn’t know.
“Allison.” Zack trailed tiny kisses along her face and down her neck. “You’re not alone. You no longer have to carry the burden of being the abandoned wife in private and the loving wife in public. You no longer have to be anything other than who you were meant to be.”
“Zack.” She barely recognized her own voice. “I don’t want to be alone anymore.”
“You’re not, sweetheart. The sad truth is you never were alone.”
She was too busy gasping for air to argue. She’d confessed her greatest secret to the man her husband had always been insecure around and felt lighter than she’d ever felt in her life. What kind of woman did that make her? Zack stood, pulled her up as well, and they followed Nicholas Trott to her room. When they got there, the power clicked on again. The AC fans whirred and the outdoor garden lights bathed the room. That’s when she saw,
in the shadows near her bed, a man holding a gun.

PRE-ORDER LINKS:  AMAZON  |  BN  |  iBOOKS  |  KOBO  |  INDIEBOUND  |  BOOKSHOP  |  BaM

AUTHOR INFO:

Sharon Wray is a librarian/archivist who studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes stories of adventure, suspense, and love. She’s a three-time Daphne du Maurier® winner and an eight-time RWA Golden Heart® Finalist. Visit her online HERE. Sharon lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, teenage twins, and Donut the Family Dog.

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

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Saturday, February 15, 2020

Book Release Blitz for Earthbound by Melora Johnson


Readers looking for an exhilarating blend of paranormal and fantasy will be drawn to this tale of demons and angels trying to exist together here on Earth.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of Earthbound by Melora Johnson, then add this romance (that I hope will be the first in a series of books) to your bookshelf!

Her healing touch could start a fire.
Ally Reynolds is a veterinarian specializing in raptor rehabilitation in New Hampshire.
Other than one horrific incident in her childhood and a little extra “spark” for healing in her hands, both of which she has kept secret from even her best friend, her life has been singularly boring. It has also been extremely lonely. Ally longs for someone to share her life with, but how can she trust anyone with her secret?
Matthew Blake, an ornithologist at Cornell University, calls Ally, asking for her help with an injured raptor. Matthew grew up in New Zealand and has lived around the world. He has read about Ally’s high success rates in raptor rehabilitation and suspects there is more to it than is generally known.
Matthew has some secrets of his own; he is a demon hunter. He suspects Ally’s healing powers could benefit him. He wants her to join him and thinks they’d make a great team.
Can Ally trust him or is he just using her? Matthew definitely has more secrets, and some of them are about Ally.

EXCERPT:

“Doctor Reynolds,” a male voice called out from across the room, pulling me back to the present. It sounded somewhat familiar.
I looked up, shielding my eyes from the afternoon sun shining in the front window as a male figure strode toward me, blond hair haloed by the light. He stopped in front of me.
Startled, I rose to my feet and looked into a chiseled face, his eyes the indeterminate blue green of sea glass like I’d collected along the shoreline once as a teenager. His dark golden blond hair was short and spiky, his lopsided grin pure perfection. He was gorgeous.
In my experience, gorgeous men were not to be trusted. Well, no men really were. Oh, all right, no one was, period.
“Doctor Allyson Reynolds? I’m Doctor Matthew Scott Blake. I’m honored to have you join us. I’ve read your articles in the Raptor Rehab Newsletter.”
He held out a hand, but when I put out mine to shake it, he simply captured mine in his and placed his other hand over it. His eyes flashed green with golden flecks in the sunlight.
“I’m glad to be here,” I said, not at all sure I was anymore, as my pulse sped up. “Please, call me Ally.”
“All right, Ally it is.”
I want to climb him like a tree. I swallowed, aghast at my own thoughts. I’d only known him a few minutes.
His hands were so warm. My mother’s voice played in my head, Gorgeous men are dangerous, arrogant, and being involved with them will lead to no good. I frowned.
“It’s so good to see you...” he said. At my expression, he faltered and cleared his throat. The wattage of his smile dimmed significantly. “I mean, to meet you. I’ve been following your work since I arrived in the States, in the newsletter.”
He turned, drawing my hand through his arm. “Please, let me show you around the facilities here.”
“Uh, thank you,” I murmured, wondering how to tactfully withdraw my arm. My attraction to him was overwhelming. At the same time, his overly familiar attitude seemed a little odd.
A tall woman, her long, brown hair in a ponytail, appeared at the doorway through which Matt had arrived. She positively glowered at my arm through Matthew’s. She wore work boots, khaki shorts, and a sand colored polo shirt with the university logo, so I assumed she worked there as well. She approached us and stopped several feet away, then turned a bright smile on Matthew. “Hi, Matt. What brings you down from the Ornithology Lab?”
“This is Doctor Allyson Reynolds, the veterinarian and raptor rehabilitation specialist I suggested to Rick we bring in to help with the injured eagle from Sapsucker Woods.”
Shelly took one more look at my arm entwined with Matthew’s then smiled again at him. “Would you like me to show her around?”
He paused a moment before replying. “That’s okay, Shelly. I can handle it, I know my way. No need to take time out of your busy schedule. I’ll just show Doctor Reynolds around, then bring her to meet Rick. He’s the one overseeing the care of the eagle. Oh...” He turned to me. “This is Doctor Shelly Madison, she’s a clinical associate professor in zoo medicine.”
I saw my chance and pulled my arm out of his, ostensibly to shake Shelly’s hand. I murmured hello. She responded stiffly. Her behavior made more sense to me than his. Why treat me like an honored guest? I was just a vet who specialized in raptor rehab. I had been so anxious to get out of town I’d jumped at the chance, but now there was one question paramount in my mind—why had he called me? They were the experts here.
“Now, let’s show you around the animal hospital here.” His hands clenched, his bicep bulging under his short sleeve as he tugged the inner door to the offices open for me.
I fought the urge to retreat a step. Here stood a warrior from medieval legend. It would have been more appropriate for him to be dressed in leather armor than a button-down, short- sleeved khaki shirt, but he grabbed my hand and drew me around Shelly. “We’ll start in the library.”
As we walked, I had a stern conversation with my subconscious. Go to Ithaca, you said. You’ll get away from anyone Jen wants to set you up with, you said.
Matthew squeezed my hand. I looked up to see him beaming at me. My stomach lurched. I was out of the nest and free falling.


FIND AT GOODREADS here.

UNIVERSAL BUY LINK here.


AUTHOR INFO:

Melora Johnson is a poet and novelist living in Upstate New York with her husband, daughter, a black cat, and quite a few chickens. Her most recent published work includes A Sanctuary Built of Words: Poems of Peace, Grief, and Passion, and publication in The Sexuality Poems from Foothills Publishing. She also runs a large and thriving writer's group for adults. Of course, into every life a little rain must fall as well as the occasional tornado, but you'll find that amply covered in her writing. Find out more about Melora and her writing on her WEBSITE and FACEBOOK or follow her on INSTAGRAM or TWITTER.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Book Release Tour for Teacher I Want to Date by Mia Kayla (REVIEW)

Opposites attract in this sensual and chuckle-inducing romance where family is all important.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of Teacher I Want to Date by Mia Kayla, along with my impressions of it, then add this third installment in the Brisken Brothers series to your bookshelf!

Dear V̵e̵r̵y̵ ̵H̵o̵t̵ Crazy Woman,
You didn’t have to call the cops on me.
I was just looking after my niece.
Okay... maybe I shouldn't have been spying on her date. But I know how teenage boys think and what they want.
Did it make you feel good scolding me in front of everyone for just being a good uncle? B̵e̵c̵a̵u̵s̵e̵ ̵d̵a̵m̵n̵,̵ ̵y̵o̵u̵ ̵s̵u̵r̵e̵ ̵l̵o̵o̵k̵e̵d̵ ̵g̵o̵o̵d̵ ̵d̵o̵i̵n̵g̵ ̵i̵t̵.
I’m almost positive you were cussing me out and if I understood a lick of Spanish, I’d have ̵s̵h̵u̵t̵ ̵y̵o̵u̵ ̵u̵p̵ ̵w̵i̵t̵h̵ ̵a̵ ̵k̵i̵s̵s̵ told you exactly what I thought about your meddling, even if you are her teacher.
In fact, I’d like to schedule a d̵a̵t̵e̵ ̵o̵v̵e̵r̵ ̵d̵i̵n̵n̵e̵r̵ ̵a̵n̵d̵ ̵w̵i̵n̵e̵ parent teacher conference to discuss our differing views on raising the youth of today s̵o̵ ̵w̵e̵ ̵a̵r̵e̵ ̵o̵n̵ ̵t̵h̵e̵ ̵s̵a̵m̵e̵ ̵p̵a̵g̵e̵ ̵w̵h̵e̵n̵ ̵w̵e̵ ̵h̵a̵v̵e̵ ̵c̵h̵i̵l̵d̵r̵e̵n̵—̵p̵r̵e̵f̵e̵r̵a̵b̵l̵y̵ ̵t̵o̵g̵e̵t̵h̵e̵r̵.
Y̵o̵u̵r̵ ̵F̵u̵t̵u̵r̵e̵ ̵H̵u̵s̵b̵a̵n̵d̵
Mason Brisken


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


MY IMPRESSIONS OF THIS BOOK:

Fans of romances where opposites attract will find this an enjoyable read that will warm your heart while bringing a smile to your face.  Touching on family interactions while putting your heart on the line in the name of love, readers will enjoy this tale of a loving and loyal man falling for the outspoken teacher of his niece.  While some of the story will feel familiar there’s enough heart and soul here to satisfy readers.

Mason Brisken just broke up with his long-term girlfriend....again.  He may be ready for his HEA but he finally realized she wasn’t the one.  But seeing his brothers become blissfully happy with their other halves has him determined to find his own.  You find love when you least expect it though, and when he spies on his niece while she’s out on her first group date, he ends up in an unforgettable confrontation with the fiery Gabby.  From that moment on he makes it his mission to be around her, pushing every one of her buttons in a combustible connection full of push and pull moments.  Mason’s a man with a big heart, a loyal and protective one too...especially when it comes to his niece.  At times he’s a bit overly protective though in scenes that almost felt soap opera-ish, but then he’d say something charming and I’d forgive him for it.  He might not always think first when it comes to those he cares for, but his love for others is clear and just one appealing facet of the sexy and sincere Mason.  On a whole I found him a delightful hero and I enjoyed his scenes with Gabby as they leapt off the page with both giving as good as they got.

Gabby Cruz is an outspoken woman, a teacher who’s protective of her students and strong in her convictions.  It’s those qualities that led to her unexpected introduction to Mason after his protectiveness leads to her calling the cops and them in a surprising romance between two very strong-willed characters.  Like Mason, Gabby’s very close to her family while living at home and teaching the youth of today.  Growing up without a father strengthened the connection between her, her mother, and her sisters while making her doubt men and HEAs.  Her recent breakup based on her ex’s lies has fueled her mistrust even more and leads to a relationship with Mason full of ups and downs that sometimes frustrated me.  Despite that I liked Gabby’s fire, her strength in standing up for herself, and the more lighthearted side she brings out in Mason too.  They’re crackling together and I found their sparring as they journeyed towards HEA very entertaining.

With an appealing main couple capable of making you laugh while steaming up the pages, readers will find these opposites utterly perfect together.  With their strong sense of family and need to protect they’re a match made in Heaven who warmed my heart each time they were with their family as the feeling of love permeated each page. Occasionally their actions may have been over-the-top, but the intentions came from the right place and could be moved past quickly. Alongside this likable main couple was an equally entertaining cast of secondary characters, the family of Gabby and Mason’s brothers, and they were an eclectic bunch whose stories I’d like to go back and read or wait impatiently to have written.  As the third book in the Brisken Brothers series this story CAN stand on its own but would be richer for seeing where the foundation between these three men started as their pasts are clearly having an affect on their futures.  While there’s familiarity in much of the action on the page I still found this a satisfying read and recommend it to those looking for an unforgettable main couple with a romance you’ll be rooting for every step of the way.

My rating for this is a B-

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


AUTHOR INFO:

Mia Kayla is a USA Today Bestselling Romance writer who lives in Illinois. She is the wife to the husband of the year, and mommy to three unbelievably cute little girls who have multiplied her grey hairs.
In her free time she loves reading romance novels, jamming to boy bands, catching up on celebrity gossip and designing flowers for weddings.
Most of the time, she can be caught on the train with her nose in a book sporting a cheeky grin because the main characters finally get their happily-ever-after at the end.
She loves reading about happy endings but has more fun writing them.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Book Promo Tour for That Secret Crush by Meghan Quinn


Readers have reason to rejoice with this small town romance of a secret crush that finally becomes public knowledge that hits bookshelves today.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of That Secret Crush by Meghan Quinn, then add this third installment in the Getting Lucky series too!

USA Today bestselling author Meghan Quinn brings more humor and heart with the third novel of her Getting Lucky series: a story about breaking curses and laying your heart on the line.
What happens when your secret crush isn’t so secret anymore?
I’ve had feelings for Eve Roberts for as long as I can remember, but because she also happens to be the twin sister of my best friend, Eric, I’ve never acted on my feelings and long ago resigned myself to keeping my crush under wraps.
But after a terrible falling-out with Eric involving a failed restaurant venture and plenty of blame on both sides, I’m back in Port Snow without my best friend and without any direction. But can you guess who’s here? Eve. And my attraction to her is as strong as ever.
As old feelings rush back, Eve and I find ourselves pulled together, whether we like it or not. Lines are crossed, secrets are kept, and we soon discover that the difference between love and friendship may not be so black and white, after all.
Everyone wants that secret crush to love them back...but will I be ready when she does?

EXCERPT:

Prologue
**REID**
What the fuck was that?
Did I just experience real-life witchcraft? Whatever it was, I’m pretty sure Neptune and Uranus collided in space, because that shit was crazy.
Stunned and nervously laughing at each other, my brothers and I hurry to a more populated part of the city. We’re soon threading our way through crowded cobblestone Bourbon Street toward a partially broken neon sign advertising huge pretzels.
“She was scary as shit,” Brig whispers into my ear, reaching for my hand. I swat the idiot away.
Out of all my brothers, Brig is by far the most sensitive, but holding hands—come on, dude, self- respect.
Although I can’t blame him for quivering in his jeans.
It might be all the alcohol I consumed, but damn...I’m feeling a little uneasy and a whole lot terrified.
Why, you ask?
Because I’m pretty sure an old crone who surfaced from Satan’s lair just cast some weird-as-shit curse on us. She pointed a crooked finger and laid it all out: we’ll have nothing but broken love for life.
And before you scoff at such a blasphemous occurrence, you have to know this: There was fucking wind whipping us in the nuts as she spoke. And on this still, muggy New Orleans night, where the fuck did that wind come from? There were no fans in sight, and there was zero traffic down the narrow cobblestone side road.
Confused? Okay, here are the Cliff Notes.
Baby Brig turned twenty-one, and the four of us Knightly brothers very intelligently chose New Orleans as the place to celebrate because we didn’t want to be cliché and go to Vegas—although I’m kind of wishing we had right about now. We were in the middle of having a great alcohol- fueled night on the town. But, not paying any attention to where our wobbly legs were taking us, we ran into some old palm reader’s table, and Brig’s fat ass broke it. To make up for the destruction, Brig paid her to read his fortune.
Well, she did a shit job.
Oooh...you have brothers. They’re going to get you into trouble one day—thanks, lady, tell us something we don’t know. Her prediction was a load of crock, and because of that, we might have, you know, vocalized our intoxicated opinion on her subpar storytelling. That’s when the crazy shit went down.
Not taking a liking to our constructive criticism, the old bat started flinging her cloak-draped arms around while her evil eyes turned a shade of petrifying yellow, and a huge mole grew on her nose out of nowhere. Pop! Just like that, the mole...with accompanying thick black hair.
Okay, maybe the mole isn’t true, and her eyes didn’t change color, but she did wave her arms around, and she said some pretty traumatizing shit. Things like Your dicks are going to fall off and You’ll forever have sensitive nipples.
Hmm...that doesn’t seem right. Did she say that?
Confused, I break the silence hanging over all of us. “Did she say our dicks were going to fall off?”
Panic rises in Brig’s voice. “Shit, did she? Did I miss that part?” He grabs his crotch with both hands as he continues to walk. “I can’t afford to have my dick drop dead.”
“As if we can?” Rogan, the group pessimist, says, ducking around a rowdy bachelorette party. “Pretty sure we all need our dicks, dude.”
Griffin, the oldest and most sensible despite his alcohol intake tonight, speaks up. “There was no mention of dicks falling off. She just said we’ll be cursed with broken love.”
“Okay, so broken dicks,” I clarify.
“Like, I’ll never be able to get it up again?” Brig steps in front of all of us. “Quick, take me to a strip club. I need to make sure that’s not what she meant.”
“She didn’t mean that, you idiot.” Rogan wraps his arm around Brig’s neck and continues down the street, giant pretzels in sight.
“That lady was a fucking whack job. Clearly she has some kind of mental health issue. It’s best if we just forget about everything and move on,” Griffin says.
Sage advice from the brightest out of all of us.
And even though I’m not as freaked out as Brig—I mean, I’m not clutching my dick and praying to the good Lord right now—I have to admit whatever happened back in that alley didn’t seem entirely kosher.
What did she say again? Something about having broken love, and it won’t be until our minds have matured that the curse will be cured? What the hell does that even mean? Not that I’m looking for love, not when my restaurant is my life right now, but it would be nice to know that I still have the option.
When my best friend, Eric, and I were getting through culinary school, pretty much every instructor told us that we weren’t going to have any time for relationships. The only love of our lives would be our knives.
That’s turned out to be true. Betty, Beverly, and Barbie are my girls. Every night we have a foursome, and weirdly, they’re the best I’ve ever had. They enjoy my hands, and I enjoy their cutting edge—fuck, I’m hilarious.
So even though that lady was weird, I don’t think I have anything to worry about.
Broken love.
Curses.
Yeah, okay, you old crone. Go tickle someone else with your mole hair—we’re not interested.
Together, we step inside the crowded, noisy pretzel bar and take a seat before putting in our order. Brig sits next to me, bouncing his knee and scanning the restaurant, its garage doors tucked up into the ceiling, used for closing time only. Everything about this place—selling giant pretzels in the heart of the French Quarter for all the drunk tourists—is genius. Despite the sticky bar top, peeling walls, and dirt-encrusted floors that probably haven’t seen a mop in a few years, there’s no doubt in my mind that it makes a killing...on just pretzels. Brig leans in and whispers, “I think she followed us; I can feel her here, staring at me.”
“Dude, you’re fucking paranoid right now. Chill, man.”
“Did you not hear her?” Brig seethes with worry. “She said we would never have dicks again.”
Christ.
I drag my hand over my face. We are way too drunk to be dealing with something like this. “She said we would have broken love. Your dick is fine.”
“That’s what you think? Have you looked at yours yet? What if she turned them green or something? And broken love...that’s even worse. You know my goal in life is to be a husband. How can that happen if I’m cursed with broken love?”
Luckily, at that moment, my phone vibrates in my pocket. I reach for it and see Eric’s name flash across the screen. He knows I’m in New Orleans celebrating Brig’s birthday, so this must be important.
I hold up the phone to my sweating, hysterical brother. “Have to take this. Talk to Griff—he’ll hold your hand.”
“Really? You think so?”
I don’t bother to reply and take off toward the hallway that leads to the employee entrance at the back of the bar, trying to gain a little bit of privacy and to get away from the loud, pounding music.
Straight from culinary school—and after working multiple jobs and saving every last penny we ever earned—Eric and I were able to scrape enough money together to start our own restaurant in Boston, which we named Bar 79 after Harbor 79, our favorite place to fish in our hometown, Port Snow.
After six months of tireless menu prep, designing the space, and marketing the hell out of our New England–inspired cuisine with a twist, we opened our doors. And we’re only three months in, but we’re killing it so far. The food blogs love us, and three major articles have been written about our impeccable flavoring and our incredibly close bond.
I accept the call and bring the phone up to my ear. “Hey, man, what’s up?” “Hey, I know you’re out with your brothers, but I, uh...I have a problem.”
“What’s going on? Is it the restaurant, or is it something with Janelle?” Eric has been dating our business manager for the past three months, ever since we opened. I told him it was risky and maybe not the smartest idea he’s ever had, but he was gung ho on making a move, and there was nothing I could say or do to stop him.
“Uh...yeah.”
Still drunk, but not so much that I can’t help out with any restaurant issue, I lean against the wall. “Walk me through it.”
Eric has always been the big picture guy, the dreamer, the extravagant one, while I’m more grounded and work out the fine details. So when he calls with a problem, I’m usually pretty confident in my ability to help him work through whatever it is.
“Uh...” His voice shakes, a crack in his usually even-keeled persona. Cue the worry. This can’t be good. “Did you recently ask Janelle to make a transfer?”
Janelle has been handling our business for the past five months, ever since Eric confronted me about not being able to juggle everything as we were gearing up for the opening. I was dropping the ball on multiple responsibilities, like managing our funds, paying vendors, and getting all our orders in on time while still trying to cook and develop the menu, so he found Janelle and brought her into the mix to help manage everything. With her MBA and businesslike confidence, she was doing a good job, I thought—well, until this very moment.
“A transfer of funds?” “Yeah.”
“No. Why? Did she?” “She did.”
“Okay, so what’s the problem?”
“She, uh...she kind of transferred all the funds.”
I press my hand to my forehead, wishing I wasn’t drunk right now. “Dude, spell it out for me, okay? I’ve been drinking all damn day, I just got my dick turned green, and I’m hungry for a pretzel. What the hell is going on?”
“She took it all, Reid. She fucking took it all.”
“Took what? Our money?” That can’t be right.
“Yeah. Took every last penny and just disappeared.”
“Wait. What?” I pinch the bridge of my nose, trying to comprehend what Eric is telling me. “She took all of our money? Where did she go?”
“No fucking idea.”
“So...we don’t have any money in the joint account?” I think back to how much was in there. After all our expenses and the cost of the opening, we were at about twenty grand, I think. Okay, don’t panic.
“No, man. She took it all, out of all of the accounts.”
My heart seizes in my chest as my breath comes out in gasps. Confusion and understanding collide in my brain, sending my stomach into a nauseous roll.
“What the fuck are you telling me right now?” “The restaurant...fuck, man, it’s broke.”
My head falls back against the wall, my body going limp as I slide to the sticky ground that hasn’t seen a mop in a decade.
Broke.
As in, no funds?
There has to be a solution. The police, lawyers...this shit isn’t legal. “Did you report her?”
“Yeah, but because she’s a partner, there isn’t much we can do. She had access to everything. She fucked us over.”
I rub my hand across my forehead, eyes shut, preparing for the worst. “So what the fuck are you trying to tell me?”
“We were already behind on bills. Janelle apparently wasn’t paying them but was still paying herself. Rent is two months overdue, vendors want their money, contractors still need to be paid. We’re fucked, Reid. Utterly fucked.” He lets out a long breath and says the last thing I ever expected to hear. “We have to close.”
No fucking way.
***
I pace the sealed concrete floor of Bar 79’s kitchen, still trying to comprehend what the hell happened while I was gone.
I told Eric to meet me here in the morning after I got back, but he has yet to show up. I’m seriously starting to worry that he’s stood me up when the back door bangs open. I glance up to see Eric stumble inside, a bottle in his hand, a hitch in his gait. What the ever-living fuck?
“Are you drunk?”
“I can’t believe you’re sober.” He makes his way to a prep table and hoists himself on top of it before taking another swig of what I can only imagine is a bottle of scotch.
“How the hell am I supposed to have a conversation about our restaurant when you’re drunk off your ass?”
“Just a wee bit twisted,” he says, holding his fingers up. “And there’s nothing to talk about. We’re fucked, Reid. She took it all. We put every ounce of our savings into this place, and my parents’ money...” His face twists in grief before he takes another swig.
“We have to be able to find some investors, some partners. We have great reviews; we’re up and coming on the restaurant scene. We have options.”
He shakes his head. “News is already spreading. No one is going to want to work with two idiots who don’t know how to manage a business.”
I run my hands through my hair, tugging at it. “This can’t be it. There has to be something we can do.”
“We owe vendors a shit ton of money, Reid. We are so far in debt that even if an investor likes our talent, they’re not about to scoop up all the debt we owe. Face it, this is over.” He leans back on one hand and takes a sip of his drink.
“Fuck!” I shout and kick a garbage can across the kitchen. “Fuck! I told you not to date her. I told you it was a bad idea.”
Gaining a little clarity, Eric sits tall and jabs at his chest with the hand that’s holding his bottle. “Are you blaming this on me?”
“She worked you, man. She used you and took what she wanted—that was her plan all along. I never should have let you hire her.”
“I never would have had to hire her if you didn’t drop the fucking ball on all the business shit. Don’t blame me, Reid. When we went into this partnership, you said you could handle the business end while I took over the big picture planning. I did my part. You were the one who fucking failed on his end. I stepped in and tried to find the solution.”
“With a pair of tits,” I shoot back. “You hired her because of her tits, not her qualifications.”
“Fuck you.” He slides off the prep table, the slap of his sneakered feet reverberating through the kitchen. “We never would have been in this situation if you didn’t fuck us over to begin with. Don’t blame this shit on me, not when you’re just as much at fault. Face it, Reid, we might be good in the kitchen, but when it comes to running a business...we both just destroyed our careers.”
I don’t want to admit that he’s right, and I don’t want to take blame for this, even though a heavy weight is pressing down on my chest, reminding me over and over that this very well might be my fault.
I should have asked for help.
I should have interviewed Janelle.
I shouldn’t have been so lazy when it came to decisions.
But...
“I trusted you,” I say, hands on my hips, staring at Eric. “I trusted you to make the right decision for the business, and you thought with your dick instead of your head.”
He tosses the bottle to the side, the glass shattering as it hits the floor. “Yeah, well, I trusted you to hold up your end of the bargain, and you didn’t, so looks like we’re both shitheads.” He shakes his head and starts to walk toward the back door. “Good luck with your life, Reid. Just don’t ever try to run a business again. Anything you do is guaranteed to crash and burn, just like Bar 79.”


FIND IT AT GOODREADS here.


UNIVERSAL LINK here.


AUTHOR INFO:

USA Today Bestselling Author, wife, adoptive mother, and peanut butter lover. Author of romantic comedies and contemporary romance, Meghan Quinn brings readers the perfect combination of heart, humor, and heat in every book.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Book Excerpt Teaser Tour for Kiss the Stars by A.L. Jackson


Readers mark this book down on your calendar as a single mom finds herself drawn to the rockstar next door, a drummer with a dark past that has him longing for revenge, in this emotionally intense romance of opposites attracting.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of Kiss the Stars by A.L. Jackson, then start counting down the days until this book hits the shelves on March 5th!

A Falling Stars STAND-ALONE NOVEL from NYT & USA Today Bestselling Author, A.L. Jackson...
A single mother.
An up-and-coming drummer with a sordid past.
Their paths never should have crossed.
But when a senseless crime rocks Mia West’s entire world, she agrees to spend the summer hiding out at her rock-star brother’s mansion in Savannah until the storm blows over.
What she never expected was the gorgeous, brooding drummer living in the guest house.
His darkness a lure.
His gaze a trap.
She knows better than to go after what will hurt her most.
Leif Godwin has two focuses in his life: his band, Carolina George, and seeking retribution for what was stolen from him.
Mia was never supposed to be a part of the equation.
Her eyes an appeal.
Her body a temptation.
Touching her is nothing but a sin.
But will loving her destroy them all...

EXCERPT:

“You don’t even know what you’re asking for, princess.”
She let go of a soft, cynical laugh. “I’m no princess, Leif.”
No rational thought remaining, I edged up behind her like I had some kind of right.
Pretending in that singular second that I wasn’t committing a thousand wrongs.
Tension bound the room. Leaving me in shackles I couldn’t bear.
Consequences be damned, I leaned in and murmured at her ear, “You’re right. You’re an angel. So sweet you’re unreal.”
My fingertips grazed her hip.
A shock raced up my arm.
Need and lust and gluttony.
I gulped, breathing her in.
Cocoa and cream.
She peeked back at me, everything in her demeanor shifting in a flash.
Sadness flooding in.
“Then why am I the one being condemned?”


FIND AT GOODREADS here.


AMAZON LIVE ALERT here.

FIND AT AUDIBLE here.


MEET THE MEN OF SUNDER BEFORE LEIF’S STORY HITS BOOKSHELVES & GET IT FOR FREE here FROM FEBRUARY 10TH-14TH.

AUTHOR INFO:

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, BLEEDING STARS, FIGHT FOR ME, and CONFESSIONS OF THE HEART novels. Watch out for her upcoming stand-alone, KISS THE STARS, releasing March 5th.
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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Book Release Blitz for Alexei by Brenda Rothert (REVIEW)


A hockey star who likes to live on the edge finds his career, and his life, in shambles after driving drunk in this hockey-fueled romance that depicts the emotional journey to sobriety.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of Alexei by Brenda Rothert, along with my impressions of it, then add this fifth installment in the Chicago Blaze series to your bookshelf!

Alexei
I guess the party’s over—for now.
When I wake up in the hospital after a DUI car crash, my new NHL team owner gives me an ultimatum – get sober or get packed for the minor leagues. So I talk the talk and go to rehab. I plan to breeze through, get sprung in 30 days or less and hit the road with my new team, the Chicago Blaze. All I have to do is charm my attractive, uptight rehab group leader into thinking I’ve changed—how hard could it be?
Graysen
I see right through Alexei Petrov.
My calling to save addicts from themselves before they self-destruct is deeply personal. Alexei’s hot and successful, sure. But he’s not okay, and he’s got a lot of work to do before graduating from my group. No one’s ever tested my boundaries like he does, though. I fight my desire and keep things professional, because the stakes couldn’t be higher—it’s not just my job that’s on the line, but also his life. The deeper we fall, though, the more he makes me question the mantra I live by: never trust your heart to an addict.

EXCERPT:

I must have one hell of a hangover. My alarm sounds like it’s underwater and my eyelids feel like they’re covered in concrete.
I try to tune out the alarm blaring from my phone. When it doesn’t work, I try to reach over to my nightstand and grab the phone, but my arm won’t move any easier than my eyelids.
Maybe it’s not a hangover. Am I knocked out on the ice right now? They may have to cart me off with a stretcher because there’s no way I’m gonna be able to stand up. If Mason McAllister knocked me out, I’ll jump that fucker’s ass as soon as I can stand, though. He’s a winger for Toronto, and he’s had it out for me since he found out his sister took me home after a game up there last year.
“I volunteer to give him a bath,” a female voice says.
There’s a chuckle and another woman says, “Get in line.”
Well shit. Two female voices means this is the morning after a threesome, and from the way my head’s pounding right now, that’s two more women than I feel like dealing with right now.
open my mouth to speak, but all I can get out is a grunt. And then, finally, after what feels like a fucking year, my eyes slowly crack open. The bright light shining in my face makes me squeeze them closed immediately.
“Well, hi there,” a woman says. “It’s good to see you awake.”
I force my eyelids open again, squinting at her. She’s middle-aged, with graying hair and a warm smile. I mean…she’s not un attractive, but she’s quite a bit older than I usually go for.
Fuck. I must’ve gotten really hammered last night. I hope I was good in bed.
When I try to sit up, I can hardly move. This is the worst hangover I’ve ever had. Maybe it’s alcohol poisoning. Or maybe someone slipped something in my drink and fucked me up. Whatever’s going on, I just want to get the hell out of here and go sleep this off at home. There’s no way I can make it to practice this morning.
“Go get Dr. Harvey,” the middle-aged woman says to the one next to her.
I notice they’re both wearing pale green pajama tops and pants, kind of like scrubs. It hits me all at once—I’m in a hospital. The beeping wasn’t from my alarm, but from the machines I’m hooked up to.
That’s all I can make out so far. And since I can’t remember how I got here, my first instinct is to frantically check and see if all my body parts are still attached. But I’m still so groggy and slow that nothing’s moving as fast as I want it to.
“Alexei, you’re at Austin Memorial Medical Center,” the woman left in the room says to me. “My name is Sherrie and I’m a nurse here.”
When I try to speak, my throat is so dry I can’t make the words come out. Sherrie holds a cup with a straw up to my mouth and I take a sip, clearing my throat.
“You were in a car accident,” Sherrie says. “You’ve been in a medically-induced coma for around seventy-two hours now. The doctors wanted to give your body time to rest.”
I clear my throat again, using all my energy to get two words out. “How…bad?”
Sherrie smiles. “I’ll let the doctor talk to you about that. Just try to relax for now.”
My hospital bed is stationed at a slight upward incline, and I turn my head to survey my surroundings. It’s a regular old hospital room, almost every surface either beige or white. There’s a dry erase board with my name written on the top in blue marker, and the date scrawled beneath it is four days after the last day I remember.
A tall doctor with short dark hair comes into the room. “Alexei, I’m Dr. Harvey. How are you feeling?” “Tired,” I admit.

FIND AT GOODREADS here.

BUY LINKS:  AMAZON  |  BN  |  iBOOKS  |  KOBO


MY IMPRESSIONS OF THIS BOOK:

After meeting Alexei Petrov in his brother Anton’s book I knew his story was going to be intense...and it definitely was.  In dealing with his sex and alcohol addictions some hard truths were revealed throughout the story that kept readers on a rollercoaster ride of emotions.  Alexei may start off with a carefree attitude about his kind of fun, but when his career and his future are put in jeopardy he knows he must put in some hard work to truly reach HEA.  Along the way he has his strong-willed counselor Greyson giving him the strength to deal with his past while keeping their burgeoning attraction on the back burner.

Alexei is always the life of the party...and getting more and more out of control.  The night he crashes into a barn, discovers he’s way over the legal limit, and loses his place on his hockey team because of severe injuries is an eye-opening experience that means the party’s over.  It’s off to rehab for him, rehab for his body and mind, and while there he learns things about himself that make him a better man in the end.  It’s a journey that’s difficult, and Alexei doesn’t always sound heroic, but by the end he’s accepted his imperfections and made amends to those who needed it.  Alexei is clearly a charmer at the start but has used those charms for far too long to keep his real feelings at bay, with him facing the truth about himself though I found him at his most attractive and he slowly endeared himself to me with each turn of the page.

Greyson Wells is a cool, calm, collected heroine who’s a great support to others which leaves her heart open to pain.  After a childhood dealing with her father’s issues, and now her mothers, she’s closed herself off.  She may not be interested in relationships right now, but the moment she meets Alexei her heart starts to race.  She knows it’s wrong though and early on set boundaries to keep his recovery in the forefront of their actions.  They lean on each other as friends, but nothing more is acted on until months later which left me counting down the chapters until they finally crossed that line...and at times it slowed the story down to a crawl.  Despite that small quibble I liked this heroine.  She was smart, honest, and didn’t take crap from Alexei, she made him think and forced him to stop laughing off life.  She pushed him and I was cheering her on as she helped him become a better man.

The issue of addiction takes up a large part of this story and the author definitely didn’t sugarcoat things.  She depicted characters with vivid realism, imperfections and all.  Alexei’s therapy group were an intriguing blend with some individuals you’re clearly meant to like and know will succeed while some will stay stuck in a dangerous cycle.  These scenes are intense at times and it’s where a lot of interactions occur between Alexei and Greyson as they slowly become friends.  They both open up their hearts and it’s a sweet foundation for their much later romance.  It’s a romance that’s ultimately a slow burn, one that I wished had progressed faster, but one that was steeped in realism and that needed to move slowly in order to flourish.  I enjoyed seeing Anton, and Mia again too, and how much he clearly loves his brother and their reconnection warmed my heart.  From the first page to the last this was a book that captivated me while introducing readers to a man made all the more admirable for embracing his imperfections.  It’s about acceptance and unconditional love, and though not much hockey is played, it’s a fine addition to the Chicago Blaze series!

My rating for this is an A-

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

PREVIOUS BOOKS IN THE CHICAGO BLAZE SERIES:

BUY LINKS FOR ANTON:  AMAZON  |  BN  |  KOBO  |  iBOOKS

BUY LINKS FOR VICTOR:  AMAZON  |  iBOOKS  |  BN  |  KOBO

BUY LINKS FOR LUCA:  AMAZON  |  BN  |  KOBO  |  iBOOKS

BUY LINKS FOR KNOX:  AMAZON  |  iBOOKS  |  BN  |  KOBO

AUTHOR INFO:

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

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