Tour: Impossible Promise (Unchecked #1) by Sybil Bartel *Review and Giveaway*

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Impossible Promise (Unchecked #1)
by Sybil Bartel

A New Adult Contemporary Romance
From Carina Press
Released March 23rd 2015

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Three years ago, Layna Blair listened in horror over a telephone line as her parents were murdered. When the killer said she was next, Layna panicked and made a deadly deal—his secret in exchange for her life. She’s paid the price every day since, becoming a prisoner in plain sight.

Marine Sergeant Blaze Johnson offers Layna a way out—her freedom, his rules, no questions asked—and she takes it, despite knowing what her keepers do to people who get too close. She doesn’t know Blaze is fighting his own demons or that beneath his warrior façade is a man on the verge of breaking.

Embarking on a wild revenge mission with Blaze and his smooth-talking best friend, Talon, is not what Layna signed on for. But attempting to run when Blaze has made no secret he intends to make her his is a reckless mistake. With the killer closing in, it’s up to Blaze to save them all—and to Layna to realize that she’s risked the one thing she can’t afford to lose.

 

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Review

4 stars

Layna is trying to make the best out of her situation but time is running out and she’s at the end of her rope. She can’t keep living like this, but she can’t risk falling in the hands of the man that killed her parents. Meeting Marine Sergeant Blaze Johnson was not in the cards, but try as she might the man just won’t relent.

Blaze Johnson only came back home to say goodbye to his mother and put her affairs in order. But just one look at Layna and he knew that she was in trouble. Soon he finds himself not only protecting her from the man after her but also wanting her for himself. In an attempt to lay low and gather some more information he heads to his best friends house for safety and reinforcement.

Talon is charming and dangerous. He is loyal and fiercely protective and when Layna is left as his charge he will do anything to keep her face. But how far does his loyalty run?

Phew! Well, this book sure was a doozie. First there’s the whole mess with Layna and her past. She’s on the run from her parents’ killers and suddenly under the watchful eyes of one intense, sexy as hell Marine. Then there’s Layna and Blaze’s chemistry adding fuel to the already blazing mess. But wait for it…in comes Talon with his charismatic personality and his resources to wreck even more havoc on an already messy situation.

You see I loved Blaze and Talon, but I couldn’t stand Layna. Call me catty, but I just could not for the life of me connect to her in any way iitially. Thankfully, Sybil Bartel brought to the page an intriguing plot that kept me riveted to the page regardless of my feelings for the heroine. Did I understand what she was going through? Certainly. The author didn’t miss a beat in bringing that aspect of the story to the page, which ultimately helped me to put aside my feelings for her and move on. If it weren’t for the author’s effort to showcase the growth Layna achieved throughout her journey in the company of Blaze and Talon I don’t think I would have enjoyed the story as much as I did.

It also helped that Blaze and Talon were the kind of characters that you wanted to get to know more of. They were both your alpha-male types to the nth degree, but they also had some more layers to them underneath that tough exterior. I loved seeing them in their elements just as much as I enjoyed seeing their most tender sides.

I do have to say that as friendships go Blaze, Layna and Talon certainly have the right idea of it. It was a treat to see how far they had come in their journey together, now if only I could convince myself that what Blaze and Layna shred was real this story would have been perfection. For me the romance between Layla and Blaze felt incomplete. Yes they had great chemistry, but I just could not see the connection between. I felt that their relationship lacked depth, which I attribute to the fact that didn’t get to spend a lot of time together and what little time they did was spent bickering and keeping their emotions at bay. It wasn’t until the very end that I thought they might have something to built upon but by then this installment was coming to a close so I’m quite divided on how I feel about that element of the story.

As far as I understand, there’s a second book in the series which I’m grateful for. I hope the next installment will help me come to terms with Layla and Blaze’s relationship and give me the chance to read Talon’s story. He was such a great character and I feel much more invested in his story that I thought I would be.

*I received a copy of this title in exchange of my honest opinion.

 

About the Author

I grew up in Northern California with my head in a book and my feet in the sand. I dreamt of becoming a painter but the heady scent of libraries with their shelves full of books drew me into the world of storytelling. I love the New Adult genre, but any story about a love so desperately wrong and impossibly beautiful makes me swoon.

I now live in Southern Florida and while I don’t get to read as much as I like, I still bury my toes in the sand. If I’m not writing or fighting to contain the banana plantation in my backyard, you can find me spending time with my handsomely tattooed husband, my brilliantly practical son and a mischievous miniature boxer…

But Seriously?

Here are ten things you probably really want to know about me.

I grew up a faculty brat. I can swear like a sailor. I love men in uniform. I hate being told what to do. I can do your taxes (but don’t ask). The Bird Market in Hong Kong freaks me out. My favorite word is desperate…or dirty, or both—I can’t decide. I have a thing for muscle cars. But never reply on me for driving directions, ever. And I have a new book boyfriend every week—don’t tell my husband.

Twitter | Website | Facebook | Goodreads

 

 

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Tour: Shaken, Not Stirred (Last Call, #5) by Sawyer Bennett *Review*

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Shaken, Not Stirred (Last Call #5)
by Sawyer Bennett

An Adult Contemporary Romance
Released March 17th 2015

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Casey Markham is a man-eater in a rut. Swearing off relationships may keep her heart safe, but she’s beginning to question if her casual flings will ever leave her satisfied. She’s wondering if it’s finally time to let go of the past and stop letting history control her future.

Bad boy biker, Tenn Jennings can’t get Casey off his mind. A chance encounter with the beautiful blond has left its mark, and now he’s determined to prove her wrong about everything she thought she knew about men.

It’s safe to say… Casey Markham has met her match.

 

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Review

4 stars

As a follower of this series, I’ve always wondered how Casey’s story would play out. I knew it was going to take a very, very special kind of guy to get to her since she appeared so adamant about love. *sigh* Tenn was perfect in every way.

Handsome and sexy with a bad boy attitude, Tenn was what I imagined and more. He was charming, charismatic, a dirty talker alpha male with a sweet and considerate side to him. He was immediately attracted to Casey’s independent personality but he found the challenge of being the one to unravel her fascinating.

Casey’s story wasn’t that unusual. She had suffered some heartbreak and preferred not to get close to guys so she can avoid getting hurt. Try as she might she couldn’t stay away from the handsome stranger. He pushed her every button and gave her as good as she got while still allowing her the chance to maintain her independence and sense of self.

I’ve loved all the books in the series, but I guess that my curiosity over Casey’s story made this book even more of a treat to read. I enjoyed the mix of humor and emotions, the sensual and the tender and the overall connection between Tenn and Casey. Sawyer Bennett did a wonderful job of pointing out the differences between the characters while still highlighting the connection they shared. Their moments ranged from the casual to the sensual all the way through the emotional and intense.

The chemistry Tenn and Casey shared was a force to be reckoned with. Their encounters were always packed-full of sexual tension even when just sharing a meal. I enjoyed their flirty banter, their heated bickering and their passionate scenes. I especially enjoyed how they each gave as good as they got. Tenn had the ability to bring out the softer side of Casey which only made an appearance when she dealt with the family.

Another aspect of the story I enjoyed was Casey’s growth throughout the story. I found her struggle to open herself up to be intriguing, especially since I knew she was capable of sharing herself with others. She treasured her family and loved them deeply, so seeing her so closed off from love had me confused. In any case, I loved that Tenn managed to get Casey to lower her walls enough for him to sneak inside. I admired his determination and his vow that he would make her his without her losing herself.

Keep in mind that although this is the fifth book in the series, it can be read as a stand alone. However, I would recommend you pick up the other books in the series. There you’ll get to meet the people Casey calls family. You will also get to experience Casey in another way, which I think helped me to connect and relate to her more once I started reading her story.

*I received a copy of this title in exchange of my honest opinion.

 

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About the Author

USA Today Best-Selling author, Sawyer Bennett, is a snarky southern woman and reformed trial lawyer who decided to finally start putting on paper all of the stories that were floating in her head. She is married to a mobster (well, a market researcher) and they have two big, furry dogs who hog the bed. Sawyer would like to report she doesn’t have many weaknesses but can be bribed with a nominal amount of milk chocolate.

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Tour: Ever the Same by B.A. Tortuga *Review, Excerpt and Giveaway*

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Ever the Same
by B.A. Tortuga

An M/M Romance
From Dreamspinner Press
Released February 27th 2015

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Audie Barrack is in it up to his elbows with a sick calf when his son’s school calls. Seems Grainger has gotten into yet another fight. When he walks into the principal’s office, he’s shocked to find his son has been fighting with a little girl named Randi.

A little girl with one blind dad and one dad who recently passed away.

Goddammit.

Dixon has lost his sight, his career, and his husband. Thank God for his brothers, Momma and Daddy, and his little girl, or he would simply give up. The last thing he needs is for Randi to start trouble at school, especially trouble that puts him in contact with another dad who might expect him to be a functional human being.

Dixon is struggling to live as a blind man, Audie is terrified someone might see he has a closet to come out of, and everyone from the school to both men’s families is worried for the men and their children. Unless they get themselves together and commit to change, neither of them stands a chance.

 

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Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | ARe

 

Review

5-stars

This…this is the kind of story that I love reading.

Audie is a single father who has lived his life hiding who he really is. His life revolves around his horses and his son–until fate brings Dixon and Randi into his life. Audie can’t stand by to see a little girl with a world of hurt in her eyes, but still he hesitates in approaching the quiet, surly blind man. But once he comes to learn Dixon’s story and the man behind the attitude, he can’t seem to stay away.

Dixon is not looking for love. Hell, he doesn’t even have much desire to keep on living. His days are an endless loop of trying to figure how to move forward, take care of his daughter and learning to be blind. Pain, indecision, confusion and helplessness are some of the constants in his life–until Audie with his charming personality, easy manner and flirty comments slowly but surely urges him to take that one step that will put him back to living a ‘normal’ life. But with change comes challenges, lack of support from the people around him and frustration.

Soon Audie and Dixon must fight not only for their new found love but for the life they want to make for themselves and their family.

I loved this story from beginning to end. Both Audie and Dixon were amazing characters to get to know. Audie with his humble ways, caring nature and desire to love and be loved was adorable. Dixon on the other hand, was more complex. Torn between having lost his partner and his sight and wanting what Audie offered, he was confused and scared as to how to move forward, but regressing to his former self was not an option. Add to that two little kids and of course everything gets a bit more complicated–and interesting too!

For me the addition of the kids made a big difference in my enjoyment of this story. Often times kids are introduced in a story and soon forgotten. But not here. BA Tortuga managed to focused on developing Audie and Dixon’s connection while still allowing the reader to experience the connection between Audie, Dixon, Grainger and Randi. I loved how she took the time to showcase how the characters bonded without it taking away from the romance.

And what a romance it was! Moving slow and steady and making absolutely sure that a connection was established, BA Tortuga didn’t miss a beat in bringing the romance to the page. There was heat and flirty banter, intense emotional moments, doubts and hesitations and like the sap I am I devoured it all!

I loved Audie’s reluctance to make a move and his determination to take things at Dixon’s pace. I especially loved how he came to stand up for himself and what he wanted out of life and never doubting that Dixon was who he wanted. I also enjoyed seeing Dixon letting go bit by bit and letting Audie into his life. A supporting touch, a careful caress…he came to allow it and me? I was grinning like a maniac. (or so I was told!)

I don’t even have to into the chemistry between these two–this is BA Tortuga after all. But I liked that the intensity of their attraction transitioned nicely from hesitant to full-on steam as the story progressed. A treat for sure! There was this one scene….*sigh* perfection!

Ever the Same is one of those stories that have a perfect mix of romance, emotions and conflict. The pace allowed the reader to really get into the story, the characters were complex and showed much growth and the romance was tentative and blooming as the story moved along. All in all, a wonderful romantic story.

*I received a copy of this title in exchange of my honest opinion.

 

Excerpt

“It’s not like him to pick on someone who’s having a hard time.”

“Of course it’s not. Randi’s the one that’s the vicious little bitch, right?”

Damn, Mr. Snooty could snap.

“Dixon!”

“What? She’s had a shit life for the last year. She lost one of her dads, she had to leave Austin and her friends and her school, and suddenly she’s the fucking bad guy?”

“Hey, I never said my boy was perfect,” Audie said, snarling a little himself. “He’s managed to get to six without trying to kill anyone, though, so this is new. Back off.”

“Enough. No one is saying either of these children are bad. Randi has a huge number of hurdles to overcome, and Grainger is a shy little boy with a tendency to follow the crowd. Neither of these children have mothers at home, and I was hoping we could brainstorm some ways to help Randi feel included with the others.”

This was ridiculous. It wasn’t his fucking job to make sure this asshole’s little brat felt like she didn’t need to punch his son anymore.

“That’s her teacher’s job, Shannon.” Audie was through with this shit. “I’ll tell my boy to stay away from her. Can we go now?”

“Yes. Yes, of course. Mr. White….”

“I’ll talk to her. If it happens again, I’ll… shit, I don’t know what I’ll do. I’ll make it up as I go along.” The guy stood, and his mom handed him a cane. A white cane.

Oh, Jesus fucking Christ. Seriously? Seriously, Grainger picked the kid with a blind dad and a dead….

Wait.

Her other dad was dead. Jesus. This guy was blind, had lost his man, and his kid was a shit? That sucked hugely. “I can try to get Grainger to help. I promise.” He had no idea why that popped out, except this guy’s life had to suck, and because it had been a long time since Audie had met anyone who would openly admit to being queer like he was.

“Take us home, Mom. Please.” Now that he could see the White guy, he kind of wanted to wince. Lean, tattooed—this guy wasn’t made to be here, and obviously he wasn’t a local. Hell, his parents weren’t that local; Audie didn’t know them.

“Of course, Son.” She stood and offered Audie a frosty smile. “Thank you for being so, er, understanding.” She put a hand on her son’s arm, and he turned her way, the cane tapping as they left the room.

Audie glared at Shannon Shields as soon as they were out of earshot. “You couldn’t’ve had Miz Laws warn me?”

 

About the Author

Texan to the bone and an unrepentant Daddy’s Girl, BA Tortuga spends her days with her basset hounds, getting tattooed, texting her sisters, and eating Mexican food. When she’s not doing that, she’s writing. She spends her days off watching rodeo, knitting and surfing porn sites in the name of research. BA’s personal saviors include her wife, Julia Talbot, her best friend, Sean Michael, and coffee. Lots of coffee. Really good coffee.
Having written everything from fist-fighting rednecks to hard-core cowboys to werewolves, BA does her damnedest to tell the stories of her heart, which was raised in Northeast Texas, but has headed to the high desert mountains. With books ranging from hard-hitting GLBT romance, to fiery menages, to the most traditional of love stories, BA refuses to be pigeon-holed by anyone but the voices in her head.

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New Release: Driven by Fire (Firehouse Six, #4) by Draven St. James *Excerpt and Giveaway*

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Driven by Fire (Firehouse Six, #4)
by Draven St. James

An M/M Contemporary Romance
From LooseId
Released March 24th 2015

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Taber Delane is lucky to be alive, but his career as a firefighter ended the day a beam snapped, resulting in a crushing spinal injury. Most of his friends are willing to give him space, everyone except paramedic, Deacon Hall.

Deacon hasn’t met a challenge he couldn’t tackle and he knows Taber needs someone in his corner who isn’t afraid to stand up to the big bad fireman. The longer he’s around Taber, the more the sexy vulnerability of the man comes through. Deacon finds he doesn’t just want to be Taber’s live-in caregiver, he wants a chance at the passionate man beneath the stubborn shell.

A shell that is cracking, no matter how Taber tries to hold it together. Deacon being in his home starts to open him up—and open his eyes to the man Deacon hides from the rest of the world. Without seeing it coming, Taber soon craves more. A lot more.

Now if only Deacon can get Taber to see that it isn’t so bad having him there to assist. Even if and maybe especially when Taber is naked, dripping wet, and angry as hell.

 

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Loose Id | ARe | Amazon

 

Excerpt

“You’re not giving me a sponge bath,” Taber snapped and glowered at Deacon as he wheeled himself into the locker bay. The sweat ran down his temples, his shirt soaked through with it. He took in his motionless legs and grimaced before shooting Deacon another irritated look.

Deacon sat with his feet on one of the peeling dark blue benches, his back reclined against a bank of gray lockers along the far wall in the physical therapy building. A book was balanced on his knees, and black-rimmed glasses perched on his nose. His shaggy auburn hair fell to curl around his ears in disarray.

Deacon peered at him with pale green eyes. “There go my dreams of rubbing you down and tweeting the pics.”

 

 

Firehouse Six series

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Grey’s Hidden Fire (Firehouse Six, #1)
LooseId | Amazon | ARe

 

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Fire and Mistletoe (Firehouse Six, #2)
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Fused by Fire (Firehouse Six #3)
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About the Author

Draven St. James is a born and raised Oregonian. She has traveled extensively in search of mischief and mayhem to fill her books. Her ventures have been quite successful in inspiring a wealth of stories. Of course at the end of the day, coffee within reach, laptop at the ready is where she finds her peace.

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Spotlight: The Other Side of Winter (Santuario #2) by G.B. Gordon *Exclusive Scene and Giveaway*

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Hi everyone,

I’m thrilled to be here and especially thrilled about the reason I’m here: Bengt and Alex are back with The Other Side of Winter. Some of you wanted to know a bit more about what happens between the two books, so I’m taking the opportunity to give you some glimpses into that year the guys spent apart from each other in a series of intermezzos over the course of this booktour.

SPOILER ALERT! A warning for those of you who’ve NOT yet read Santuario: since these scenes are set after the first book, there will, of course, be spoilers.

Thank you for having me,
G

 

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The Other Side of Winter (Santuario #2)
by G.B. Gordon

A Sci-fi M/M Romance
From Riptide Publishing
Released March 23rd 2015

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Not all wounds are visible.

Skanian investigator Bengt fell in love with fellow policeman Alex Rukow in a week. But that was a year ago, and they’ve been apart ever since. Then Alex escapes the corrupt and destitute island nation of Santuario and comes to live with Bengt. Happy ever after…?

Alex’s lifelong dream of leaving Santuario has come true at last. But he finds himself adrift in a society he doesn’t understand. Worse, past nightmares come back to haunt him, and after so many years of suspicion and self-reliance, it’s harder than he imagined to trust someone else.

Bengt just wants Alex to share his comfortable life. But the more he tries to give, the more Alex pulls away. Their physical connection couldn’t be better, but Bengt can’t seem to get through to his difficult, taciturn lover outside the bedroom. Meanwhile, he has his own demons to confront—not to mention a serial killer on the loose.

Bengt and Alex must dig deep for the courage to face their pasts, but it may be too late to save their relationship or their lives.

 

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Exclusive Scene
II. Raid, pt.2

The bedding and wooden bunks burned like tinder where the makeshift fire bombs had hit. But even if he could to run through the flames, he was sure he’d be picked off as soon as he cleared the building.

As before, his only way out was up. He stepped into his boots, tore his kitbag out from under the bunk, fished for the canteen inside and allowed himself a brief swallow to clear his throat. Then he stripped and wet his shirt and tied it over mouth and nose. Kitbag on his back, he climbed on the upper bunk and kicked away the roof slats that held the palm and banana leaf cover. He was on the side opposite the window, but someone guarding the door might still see him come up through the roof. He didn’t have any illusions about his chances of dodging another bullet if he was seen, but between that and burning alive, he’d take the bullet. He crawled towards the edge on his belly, as much to stay low as to spread his weight out over the thin slats, then dropped to the ground, the impact jarring his teeth and sending him sprawling. No shots, and he didn’t stop to wait for any. He half crawled, half stumbled into the underbrush, weaving his way through the rain soaked foliage until he felt reasonably safe.

He yanked the shirt off his face and gulped in the thick, fragrant night air. Keep it together. Calm down. You’re fine. He stood there until his heart stopped pounding and the sounds of the jungle around him picked back up. When his hands stopped shaking he bent down to lace up his boots and gasped at the searing pain in his side. The bullet hadn’t just tugged at his clothes, but cut a deep groove just below his ribs. If it was still bleeding, though, it was sluggish at most. Hard to tell in the dark. He tied the damp shirt around his waist and pulled out the spare from his bag. He thought he could still smell smoke on the air, but that could’ve just been hanging in his hair and clothes as well.

Tempting to go back to check for survivors, but the securitas was probably doing the same thing. Anyone who’d gotten out would try to make it to one of the other meeting places, to get the word out that this one had been compromised. At least anyone who could walk. Best to get moving again, if only for an hour or so. That would get him far enough away to feel safer, but not so far that he would veer off his trajectory too much. He could still come back at daybreak. Not much he could do right now, anyway.

He couldn’t see shit, but he had a lot of practice feeling his way through the woods in the dark.

 

About the Author

G.B.Gordon worked as a packer, landscaper, waiter, and coach before going back to school to major in linguistics and, at 35, switch to less backbreaking monetary pursuits like translating, editing, and writing.

Having lived in various parts of the world, Gordon is now happily ensconced in suburban Ontario with the best of all husbands. Santuario is G.B. Gordon’s first published work, but many more stories are just waiting to hit the keyboard.

Connect with Gordon:
•Website and blog: gordon.kontext.ca
•Twitter: @gb_gordon
•Goodreads: goodreads.com/gbgordon

 

Giveaway

Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a draw for a $15 Riptide gift card.
Entries close at 12AM, Eastern time, on March 27.
Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.
Don’t forget to add your email so we can contact you if you win!

 

 

 

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New Release: Feeding the Fire (Rosewood #2) by Andrea Laurence *Excerpt and Giveaway*

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Feeding the Fire (Rosewood #2)
by Andrea Laurence

A Contemporary Romance
From Simon & Schuster
Released March 16, 2015

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Pepper has no interest in Grant Chamberlain…until she accidentally wins him at a school auction and finds the mega-hot firefighter impossible to ignore. Find out what happens next in the second playful and sexy ebook romance in the Rosewood series!

Living in the small town of Rosewood, Alabama, hairdresser Pepper Anthony has one rule—never date a Chamberlain. She’s always said, “the only thing worse than being ignored by a Chamberlain is being dumped by one.” But Grant Chamberlain, town fireman, isn’t used to rejection, and Pepper has consistently turned him down since high school. She isn’t intimidated by his family; she’s one of the few who refuses to take their crap.

When Grant volunteers at the charity bachelor auction, to his surprise, Pepper buys him. She hadn’t meant to, but Adelia Chamberlain dropped a cold drink in her lap, sending her leaping into the air at precisely the wrong moment. Suddenly she had a massive bill to the town and Grant at her disposal. Since the money has to come from her “restore the house” fund, she decides to use Grant for manual labor instead of romantic dinners. Grant is happy to help, sweaty and shirtless, because one way or another, he’s going to get Pepper to admit she’s attracted to him. All it takes is a small spark, and soon they’ll be fanning the flames.

 

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Excerpt

Grant stepped out from behind the curtain to a roar of applause. The minute the lights hit him, Pepper felt her heart skip a beat in her chest like she’d been hit with paddles of a defibrillator. He was wearing a black, slim-fit suit with a black shirt and tie. Even though he was indoors and it was nighttime, he was wearing his trademark Ray-Ban sunglasses. The glasses always seemed to accent the square line of his jaw and the sharp angle of his nose.

His full lips curled into his charming smile, with the slightest hint of a dimple visible on his cheek. It reminded her of him looking at her, just like that, from between her trembling thighs.

Damn him for being so sexy. His confidence made him that much more attractive. And frustrating. And irritating. Her fingers itched to reach for her paddle, but she resisted. She wasn’t going to pay for his time, even when he smiled at her that way.

“The lucky lady with the winning bid will go with Grant to a romantic dinner at Brio’s in Birmingham and if she likes, he’ll take her on an exhilarating ride down a windy country road on the back of his motorcycle.”

Pepper could almost see all the wild fantasies rushing through the heads of every woman in the room. It was a nice thought—hair blowing in the wind, thighs clamped around Grant’s narrow hips, arms wrapped around his waist. Even she could imagine the hard feel of his abs beneath the thin cotton of his T-shirt and the vibration of the engine against her most sensitive parts. There was a rumble of approval as they readied their paddles and sized up their competition.

Good luck to them, Pepper thought.

Like a beach ball bouncing around the room, the bids flew fast and furious. Before long, they’d topped three thousand.

Suddenly Pepper felt awkward. Even though she and Grant weren’t dating, she didn’t exactly want to sit around and watch other women battle for him. Looking around the room, she spied Adelia Chamberlain coming back to her table with a glass of ice water. Maybe another drink would help. Or perhaps it was the right time for a restroom break. She could beat all the other women that would rush the ladies’ room when the auction ended.

Pepper slipped her purse onto her shoulder and picked up her paddle so she could dump it in the bathroom trash can. “I’m going to get some air,” she whispered to Ivy, then started to get up.

The ambush was sudden and unexpected. When they first came in Pepper had noticed the cable that the A/V people had taped to the floor, but the room was much darker now. Adelia didn’t see it and caught the toe of her shoe on it. She didn’t fall, thank goodness, but she did stumble, slinging her full glass of ice water into Pepper’s lap.

With a cry of surprise and alarm, Pepper leapt out of her chair, holding her arms high to avoid the water that practically covered her from neck to knees.

“Four thousand!” Allison Price announced from the stage.

The MC’s words were an even larger shock to Pepper than the water. She turned her head toward Grant and the action onstage. He was looking straight at her with a wide smile of confidence across his face. He winked at her, and Pepper felt her stomach sink into her boot. Allison was pointing in Pepper’s direction, trying to coax a higher bid out of the audience.

Yes, please, she screamed in her head. Make it forty-five hundred. Hell, make it four thousand and one penny. Just outbid her. She was answered with deafening silence. The only one in the room making a sound was Allison up on stage. It seemed that suddenly, all the battling women seemed to give up. Even Grant wasn’t worth that much, it seemed, and she agreed.

“No!” Pepper shouted, but there was no stopping it.

“Going once . . . going twice . . .”

“I didn’t mean to—”

“Sold! To the lady in the blue sweaterdress, paddle twenty-two!”

Pepper looked down at her dark blue sweater, suddenly made even darker by the spreading water mark. Her damned paddle, the one she never wanted to begin with, was still in her hand. She watched as it slipped from her fingers, clattering to the ground in slow motion as the gravity of the situation caught up with her. Four thousand dollars. She’d just bid four thousand dollars. Because of well-aimed ice water.

“Oh, Pepper,” Miss Adelia fussed, dabbing her with an inadequate cocktail napkin and shaking off the well-meaning hands of the folks that were more concerned about the older woman nearly falling. “I am so sorry. I didn’t even see that silly cord,” she said. “Is your dress okay?”

She couldn’t respond. All Pepper could do was close her eyes and try to keep the tears of frustration and aggravation from rushing down her cheeks.

She had just paid four thousand dollars for a date with Grant Chamberlain.

 

Rosewood Series

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Facing the Music (Rosewood #1)
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About the Author

AndreaLaurence

Andrea Laurence has been a lover of reading and writing stories since she learned to read at a young age. She always dreamed of seeing her work in print and is thrilled to finally be able to share her special blend of sensuality and dry, sarcastic humor with the world. A dedicated West Coast girl transplanted into the Deep South, she’s working on her own “happily ever after” with her boyfriend and their collection of animals including a Siberian Husky that sheds like nobody’s business.

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New Release: Cowboy Heaven (Cowboy Heaven #1) by Cheryl Brooks *Excerpt and Giveaway*

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Cowboy Heaven (Cowboy Heaven #1)
by Cheryl Brooks

An Erotic Western Romance
From Soucebook Casablanca
Released March 3rd 2015

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When you find yourself in cowboy heaven…

When lonely widow Angela McClure hires a gorgeous hitchhiking cowboy with an affair in mind, she knows they’ll have to be discreet: her old-fashioned father and the stern ranch foreman adamantly discourage any interaction between her and the ranch hands.

Things can get hot as hell…

Despite their attempts at secrecy, the heat between them is undeniable. To divert suspicion, Angela forms a new plan: she’ll flirt with all of the ranch hands. Suddenly Angela has a whole stable full of sexy-as-sin cowboys to play with, but only one can win her heart.

 

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Excerpt

There he was again. That same cowboy I’d seen on the drive into town, still walking, still carrying a big green duffel bag on one shoulder and a saddle slung over the other. He’d been traveling in the opposite direction and hadn’t bothered to look up as I’d passed him earlier. I’d barely glimpsed his face then, but I saw it quite clearly now. A glance over his shoulder revealed his bleak, exhausted expression. He might have been near the point of collapse, but he obviously wasn’t prepared to admit defeat.

Not yet, anyway.

I couldn’t believe no one had picked him up in the three hours since I’d last seen him. He hadn’t looked very fresh even then. I had no idea where he was headed, but in the middle of Wyoming, there wasn’t much within walking distance, no matter where you were going.

He turned toward me, sticking out a halfhearted thumb as I came closer, his face streaked with dirt and sweat and what might have been tears. A black Stetson shadowed his eyes, and his boots and jeans were dusty and worn. His sweat-soaked denim shirt clung to his chest, unbuttoned halfway to his waist, the sleeves ripped out. He probably wasn’t trying to look cool, even though he did. No, he was likely trying to get cool, in any way he possibly could. My truck was air-conditioned and comfortable, and there was plenty of room for him and his meager belongings. I could no more have left him there than I could have ignored a starving child.

As I pulled over to stop, his eyes closed and his lips moved as though uttering a prayer of thanks. His knees buckled slightly, and for a moment, I thought he truly would collapse. Instead, he took a deep breath and stood up straight. Lifting his chin, he aimed luminous blue eyes at me and flashed a dazzling smile. His silver belt buckle suggested this man was no ordinary ranch hand but a down-on-his-luck rodeo cowboy who, unless I missed my guess, was heading for Jackson Hole.

A real heartbreaker of a rodeo cowboy, too. Up close, he was even more handsome than he’d been from a distance. Long and lean with tanned, muscular arms, dimples creased his cheeks and black hair curled enticingly from the open edges of his shirt. Several days’ growth of dark beard surrounded full, sensuous lips, darkening a jaw that my fingertips ached to caress. More ebony curls peeked from beneath his hat, making me long to yank off that Stetson to discover what else it was hiding. Oh yes, there was enough gorgeous cowboy to sway a much stronger woman than I ever claimed to be. Tears stung my eyes as something in his expression reminded me of Cody.

My dear, sweet Cody… He’d been gone for two years now, but I hadn’t forgotten that look, and I doubted I ever would.

Determined to mask my roiling emotions, I searched for something amusing to say as I rolled down my window. “Lost your horse?”

My clever tongue was rewarded with another heart-stopping smile. Cody used to say funny things just to make me giggle—which wasn’t difficult since I tend to find humor in nearly any situation—but brushing up on my own repertoire of one-liners to keep this guy smiling seemed like an excellent idea.

His grin was sheepish as he tipped up the brim of his hat. “He sort of drove off without me.”

“Drove off?” I scoffed. “Somehow I doubt that. Seems like he would’ve needed help.”

My handsome cowboy gave me a grim nod. “Oh, he had help all right. My girlfriend dumped me on the highway and took off with the truck, the trailer, and the horse—all of which were actually hers, by the way. She was kind enough to leave me my saddle and my clothes, although a cell phone would’ve been nice.”

I shook my head. “Nice, yes. Helpful, no. They don’t work very well around here. Which kinda makes me mad—I mean, where would you need a phone more than if you were stranded out in the middle of nowhere?”

He glanced around at the vast expanse of sunbaked rangeland. “Is that the name of this place? Nowhere?”

“Sure is.” I couldn’t help giggling. “Want to get out of nowhere?”

“Yes, please,” he replied. “And as quickly as possible.”

“Throw your stuff in the back and hop in,” I said. “We’ll leave nowhere and go…somewhere.”

He did as I suggested, and suddenly the interior of my truck was filled with the pungent aroma of hot, sweaty, dusty—but cologned—cowboy. He’d most likely showered that morning, but it had been one helluva day. The forecast called for the upper nineties—quite a heat wave even for mid-August—and though the humidity was low, some temperatures are best avoided no matter how dry the air.

“You’re a lifesaver,” he said. “I thought that sun was gonna roast me alive.”

“As hot as it gets in these parts, I never go anywhere without water, enough food for a couple of meals, and an umbrella in case I’m ever forced to hike. Want a sandwich?”

“You bet.”

I tossed a nod over my shoulder. “The cooler’s on the backseat. Help yourself. There’s plenty of water.” Although, at that point, a cold beer probably would have been his first choice.

He pulled out two bottles of water and a sandwich, downing the first bottle in three swallows.

“Better now?”

“Much.”

“Let’s see now…” I said as he unwrapped the sandwich. “A cowboy dumped in the middle of nowhere with a saddle and no horse. There’s got to be a country song in that.”

“If you mean a song about a guy bein’ picked up by a girl in a flatbed Ford, I think the Eagles already did that one.”

“I love that song,” I said wistfully. “Guess I always wanted to be that girl.”

“Well, now you are.” He took a bite of the sandwich, chewing it quickly. “How does it feel?”

“Not much different.” This wasn’t entirely true. I wasn’t in the habit of picking up gorgeous cowboys—and this particular cowboy’s presence had me feeling strangely excited. Oh yes, I was very aware of him, and if my brain hadn’t noticed him, my erogenous zones were there to remind me. “For one thing, this isn’t a flatbed Ford, and I’m not what anyone would call a girl anymore.”

He paused in mid-bite. “Why? Have you had a sex-change operation?”

“Nope,” I replied with another giggle. “You can’t call a forty-two-year-old a girl. Well, maybe you could if you happened to be eighty-two yourself, but I’m pretty sure I outgrew the girl category a long time ago—about the time that song was popular.”

Despite the fact that I never once took my eyes off the road, I was aware of his prolonged scrutiny—an assessing gaze that left delightful tingles in its wake.

“Some things improve with age.” He turned toward the window. “You don’t seem like the type to dump a guy in the middle of nowhere.”

Having heard the catch in his voice, I did my best to keep my tone light. Bursting into tears in front of a perfect stranger probably wasn’t on his bucket list. “True—unless he was really obnoxious.”

This particular cowboy would have to have been homicidal or, at the very least, abusive for me to throw him out. He was the most adorable cowboy I’d ever laid eyes on, including the one I’d married.

“I wasn’t being obnoxious.” He fairly bristled with indignation, which seemed to have won out over heartbreak. “I was asleep. I thought she was stopping for gas when I felt the truck slow down. She asked me to take a look at the tires on the trailer, said she thought one had gone flat. While I was checking the tires, she dumped my saddle and duffel bag on the side of the road and drove off. I found this tucked into the saddle.” Reaching into his shirt pocket, he handed me a torn, sweat-soaked scrap of paper.

It’s not working out. Sorry.

“Ouch,” I said with a sympathetic wince. “That’s pretty hard.”

“Yeah.” With an absent nod, he stuffed the note back into his pocket. “I don’t even know what I did wrong. Don’t guess I ever will.”

He seemed nice enough, and he certainly wasn’t ugly. Maybe his girl had breakup issues. As irresistible as he was, I couldn’t imagine breaking his heart while gazing into those eyes of his, and I didn’t even know his name.

She’d probably gone about it the best way possible—a quick, clean break before losing her nerve completely. One glance, one smile, and she’d have forgotten why their relationship wasn’t working. I wasn’t looking forward to dropping him off at the crossroad to the ranch, myself. I had a sudden, overwhelming urge to take him home and wash him, feed him, and tuck him into bed—my bed, to be precise.

I had my doubts about that part. He couldn’t have been more than thirty, and young men generally didn’t seek solace from older women—not that kind of solace, anyway. Consoling him seemed impossible, so I changed the subject.

“Where were you headed?”

“The rodeo in Jackson Hole,” he replied. “I’m a rodeo cowboy.”

“No shit,” I drawled. “I’d never have guessed that. I don’t suppose your girl left you with any money, did she? I mean, I’m not going to charge you for the ride or the lunch, but I’m not going all the way to Jackson Hole, either.”

“I didn’t figure you were.” His downcast expression suggested his hope that he’d been wrong about that. “But at the time, I didn’t really care.”

“Neither did I. I wouldn’t have left you there no matter where you were going. It was…well, let’s just say it was something I couldn’t bring myself to do.”

“Pick up lots of strays, do you?” Turning sideways, he leaned back against the door, a move that not only drew my eye, but also gave me a full-frontal view that made my breath catch in my throat. Oh yes, I’d taken in lots of strays, but none that were anywhere near as attractive.

I shook my head. “Actually picking them up usually isn’t necessary. They all seem to know where I live.”

“If you don’t mind my asking, where do you live? I mean, are we close?”

Obviously, he hoped I lived somewhere near Jackson Hole. I hated to disappoint him. “It’s about another twenty miles—most of which are not on the main highway. I’ll let you out at the turnoff, if that’s okay with you.”

His face fell, but he nodded, apparently resigned to the fact that this ride wasn’t going to be more than a brief respite. “Not much choice, is there?” He gave a fatalistic shrug. “I don’t have enough money on me to pay you to take me to Jackson Hole. I really should pay you for what you’ve already done.”

I caught myself wishing that he did have enough money—or that he would ask me to run off with him and follow the rodeo circuit, never going home at all. I would have loved to throw caution to the wind and do just that, but I had too many responsibilities. Not only did I have a ranch to run, but I also had my father and my kids to look after.

No, scratch that. Chris and Will were both in college. I had a hard time remembering that except when confronted with the sight of their empty rooms as I passed by them every day. Out on the highway I could pretend they were both there at home waiting for me—and Cody, too.

No, regardless of how much money this man might offer to pay me, I couldn’t shirk my duties and simply up and disappear. Nor would I accept his money. He obviously needed to hold on to what little he had stashed in those jeans.

“I couldn’t possibly take money from you,” I protested. “I wouldn’t be much of a Good Samaritan if I did, would I?”

“I suppose not.”

He shrugged again and we drove on in silence. Remaining slouched against the door, he draped his left arm across the headrest and bent up one knee, stretching his legs apart enough that my eyes were continually landing on that section of blue jeans due south of that big, silver belt buckle. From time to time he shifted his hips as though my glances made him uncomfortable, and while I did try to keep my eyes on the road, every once in a while they would stray back to him—and that enticing bulge in his jeans…

“What would it take to get you to drive me all the way to Jackson Hole?” The hint of suggestion in his voice startled me almost as much as the abrupt nature of his query.

Suddenly, my mouth was as dry as a gulch. Reaching for my bottle of water, I took a sip and stole another peek at him. Those luminous eyes peered at me from beneath lids that were heavy with sensuous intent.

His lips curled into a provocative smile. “I’d be willing to bet there’s something I could do for you that would pay you back—or at least make it worth your while.”

 

Cowboy Heaven series

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Cowboy Delight (Cowboy Heaven 0.5)
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Praise for Cheryl Brooks

“Really sexy. Sizzling kind of sexy. Honestly, only Cheryl Brooks can deliver a line like, ‘I can give you joy unlike any you have ever known’ and make you want to melt.”

Bitten by Books

“Ms. Brooks delivers plenty of sexual tension, suspense, and pleasure in simply being alive.”—Romance Junkies

“Incredibly sexy and wonderful to read all around.”—Night Owl Romance

“Fun…unique…and wicked sexy! Cheryl Brooks knows how to keep the heat on and the reader turning pages!” —Sydney Croft

 

About the Author

Cheryl Brooks is a former critical care nurse turned romance writer. Her Cat Star Chronicles series includes Slave, Warrior, Rogue, Outcast, Fugitive, Hero, Virgin, Stud, Wildcat, and the newest release, Rebel. She is a member of the RWA and IRWA and lives with her husband and sons near Bloomfield, Indiana.

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New Release: Mind Games Series by Rachel Dunning *Giveaway*

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Mind Games Series
by Rachel Dunning

A New Adult PNR
Released March 20th 2015

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Shira Naiman is the most powerful witch Crystal knows. Crystal needs her help to fight the war, a war for their minds, a war waged by parasitic demons who suck on their powers and turn witches into demons themselves.

But Shira has a weakness. As do all witches. And only through their weakness can demons bring witches under their control.

Shira’s weakness soon pulls Crystal down into a world of abject deceit, betrayal, sex, passion and a madness so vicious that it finally brings her into the hands of the one they call Jack, the most powerful demon the hunters have ever met.

And the demon wants Crystal. Only Crystal.

And he’ll stop at nothing to get her.

CONTENT WARNING: Contains explicit sexual content, violence and strong language. Only appropriate for readers aged 17 and older.

 

His Mind Games - Mind Games Book 1 - Rachel DunningHis Mind Games (Mind Games #1)

An inner world of magic and power.
A lover. A night together—their first night.
And then—disaster. He lost his mind, but she knew the truth. She knew.
And so she ran, all the way down to Marfa Texas where she met…the man they call Jack.
A demon.
And now he has her.
And he’s playing Mind Games with her.

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* FREE!

 

Her Mind Games - Mind Games Book 2 - Rachel DunningHer Mind Games (Mind Games #2)

An inner world of magic and power, ruled over by witches who are by nature conniving, deceitful, … lustful.

A hunter. Built and powerful and godly…obligated by duty to protect the witches from parasitic demons who suck on their minds and destroy their inner worlds using tools of war.

The key. Crystal Loradeen, a witch who fights against her true nature but who falls deeper into it by the merciless hands of Fate.

And him, the boy, the man, the demon hunter, Lucien Dresner, the lover in her dreams who captures her desires and fills her mind with passion and need. She yearns for him, lusts for him.

And he for her.

The war is on.

Witches are being recruited.

And their innate weaknesses threaten to destroy them all.

PRE-ORDER~Release Date March 22

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About the Author

Rachel Dunning hit the scene in August 2013 and, fifteen months later, has published nearly a million words of romantic fiction.
A prolific writer, she sticks to stories where Alpha Males aren’t pricks and where women have guts.
She’s lived on two different continents (Africa being one of them), speaks three different languages, and met the love of her life on the internet. In other words, romance is in her blood.

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Tour: Uncross the Stars by Janell Rhiannon *Review and Giveaway*

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Uncross the Stars
by Janell Rhiannon

A Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Released December 15th, 2014

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Fiona Lavender is the new girl at school. She has a chip on her shoulder and a pension for poetry. Dario Martinez is the star quarterback, and the most unattainable guy on campus. Their stars cross when they are paired to study Romeo and Juliet for a senior English project. Their connection is fragile and undeniable. But, Dario is afraid of what love will do; and Fiona is waiting for love to claim her. Will they uncross the stars and find the love they both need to heal their pasts?

 

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Review

3-5 stars

This was short and sweet but with quite a bit of drama and intense emotions thrown into the mix to keep me interested throughout.

Fiona has returned to the town she once called home. She’s a loner and plans to keep it that way when she starts her new school year, but of course she’s paired off with the star football player for a rendition of Romeo and Juliet.

Dario is not your typical high school star athlete. Every one loves him but nobody truly knows him. He’s smart, caring and troubled–and unequivocally attracted to Fiona. But he has demons in his past he has to deal with and an enemy that will do his best to ruin him.

I loved Dario. He was so conflicted over his past and his attraction to Fiona. He doesn’t usually let anyone in, but Fiona had a way of making him open up about his troubled past. And my sympathy for him after learning his story only served to endear him to me more.

In Fiona’s case it was a bit more challenging for me to connect to her. I understood where she was coming from but she made it difficult for me to like her. Ultimately, she won me over. Mostly because she seemed to bring out the best out of Dario. I soon found myself cheering them on and wanting to see them together.

I do have to say that the romance felt a bit rushed to me. But I guess the length of the story made it work that way. Thankfully the author made an effort to develop the connection between Fiona and Dario. This helped to convince me that the relationship was a viable thing and that their emotions were true. The use of honest dialogue and tender, stolen moments while they were ‘studying’ helped a lot in that regards.

Now, Meghan and Ryan. I understand that they played an important part in the story, but I could have done without being in their heads. It only served to annoy me. Ryan because his reasons for revenge were childish and his actions a bit over the top. And Meghan because really, how can she be so naive? I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it and I could have done without having to read their POVs. Yep, they were that annoying.

In any case, the conflict and its resolution was well written and paced accordingly. I enjoyed the emotions that were portrayed by the main characters. Of course, there was a bit of teenage angst which was expected. But otherwise I found the main characters to be interesting, showing their maturity and acting according to their age.

All in all, a sweet yet emotion-driven story.

*I received a copy of this title in exchange of my honest opinion.

 

Uncross the Stars Teaser 1

 

About the Author

Janell
Janell has been writing since she was in grade school. In high school, her 9th grade English teacher suggested she consider a career in writing. After a decade in college and a Master’s degree in history, she settled into teaching.

Writing never stopped. Stories never stopped. READING fiction never stopped. Now, she writes and publishes on-line. Invisible Wings is her first YA novel, a compilation of short stories centered on teenage life triumphs and tragedies. She believes being a teenager is difficult and wrote Invisible Wings to let teens know they aren’t alone. That they matter. That even though life is rough, they can still find beauty and love.

Beside the YA stories close to her heart, she adores Mythology and Fairy tales. Anything magical and mystical. And dragons. And gargoyles.

She currently lives in CA.

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Tour: Before He Was A Secret (Starstruck #3) by Becky Wicks *Review and Giveaway*

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Before He Was A Secret (Starstruck #3)
by Becky Wicks

A New Adult Contemporary Romance
Released February 24, 2015

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“What if we can’t choose
Every battle we win and lose
What if we decided years before, to live this life, to fight these wars
And all the dreams we ever thought were ours
Were written in the stars”

Waiting tables isn’t exactly what singer/songwriter Stephanie has in mind for her move to Nashville, but memories of the past and a case of writer’s block mean inspiration isn’t coming easy. When brooding pianist Conor Judge opens his mouth in a smoky bar he proves music can heal, and even help you re-write your story, but a history of his own means the one thing he starts to want most is always just out of reach. Stephanie.

Enter Travis Flynn – an upcoming star who won’t take no for an answer, and a record label intent on helping Stephanie shine, without Conor. As fame comes knocking as hard as the ghosts of their pasts, it soon becomes clear that no matter how hard you might fall in love, having the perfect songs doesn’t always mean perfect harmony.

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Review

4 stars

I love it when a book takes me by surprise and makes my heart all melty-like. This is one of them.

We met Stephanie on Before He Was Gone, where she was a participant in alongside Alyssa. Since then she’s moved to Nashville to follow her dream and earn more money to send back home. But soon life gets in her way and she finds she’s working less on her music and more in trying to make ends meet. Thankfully, her new roommate takes her out for a night where she’ll end up meeting the man who will become her world.

Conor has always tried to please everyone, especially his dad. He works in his father’s shop during the day and pursues he dream during the night. It is during one of his performances at open mic night that they meet. Instantly drawn to each other–her by his music, him by her beauty–soon they find themselves making more than music together.

I loved this story. I especially liked the mix of elements the author brought to the page. There was humor, emotions and music. Yep, the music definitely was a plus. I loved the lyrics and the moments they spent song writing. The whole process served to show how right Conor and Stephanie were to each other and how deeply their connection had become. I also loved the performances. Those scenes were described vividly and made me yearn to visit Nashville to soak it all up.

The romance was great too. From the beginning I could feel the attraction between the two but was glad to see that what they shared was more than just the physical. Through flirty banter, honest interactions and tender moments between Conor and Stephanie the author made sure to strengthen and develop that initial connection that flared between them. Their chemistry was palpable and an ever-present thing which only added to the anticipation of these two finally getting together. *sigh* It was worth the wait. Sweet, fun and pretty damn hot!

Although this is the third book in the Starstruck series it can be read as a stand alone. Noah and Chloe from Before He Was Famous made an appearance as well as Noah’s manager Denzel. That man has no scruples…I just wanted to throttle him. Anyway, he plays an intricate part in the story along with Travis Flynn. Winner of Nashville Songwriter of the Year competition, a drunk and womanizer Travis is another person I wanted to smack upside the head!

All in all, a sweet romantic read with interesting characters, a bit of emotions and music–lots of lovely music!

*I received these titles in exchange of my honest opinion.

 

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Starstruck Series

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About the Author

Becky Wicks lives in Bali and scribbles books, and she’s mostly powered by coffee. Her first book in the Starstruck Series, Before He Was Famous recently reached #1 in Amazon’s Coming of Age and New Adult & College categories, and her three travel books, published by HarperCollins are online to make feet nice and itchy. Mostly though, she loves to write love stories. She blogs most days at beckywicks.com and always welcomes distractions on Twitter @bex_wicks. Especially if you have photos of cats.

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