Tour: Risk Me (Silver Strands #2) by Lexi Scott *Review, Excerpt and Giveaway*

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Risk Me (Silver Strands #2)
by Lexi Scott

A Contemporary Romance
From Entangled–Embrace
Released July 28th 2015

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For Cohen Rodriguez, getting dumped by his girlfriend was bad enough. Being told he’s “not impulsive enough” was just the cheap parting gift. Still, he takes a break from his über responsible ways and dates his way through Silver Strand. Except it’s not exactly turning out the way he thought…

On top of that, there’s Maren Walshe, whose combination of sexy and down-to-earth is everything Cohen wants in a girl. But while they’ve recently been talking on the phone and texting every day, they’ve never actually met. Now Maren wants to meet. In person.

Faced with turning his oh-so-safe fantasy girl into an uncertain reality, Cohen and Maren are both about to dive head first, ready or not.

 

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Review

4 stars

Cohen has just been dumped by his long-time girlfriend. He’s not all that heartbroken for the loss of the relationship, but her parting words did hurt. So determined prove his ex wrong and be impulsive, Cohen starts dating again. Unfortunately for him, all his dates turn out horrible in one way or another. It is during those moments that he reaches out to Maren his co-worker/phone pal for support and entertainment. Soon they’re exchanging text messages on a regular basis.

Maren enjoys talking to Cohen every chance she gets. She knows about him and firmly believes that he’s the perfect man. And that’s where on of her problem lies. She wants to keep Cohen as her fantasy man a little longer and is afraid that getting involved with him will shatter that illusion. Her life has been a series of disappointments and missed opportunities and she doesn’t need to add anything more to her plate at the moment. But curiosity gets the best of her and soon both are taking part on a blind double date where they realize that what they share is much more than either of them thought.

I enjoyed this story very, very much.

Both Cohen and Maren were fantastic characters to get to know. Cohen with his sense of humor, loyalty and understated sexiness won my heart within a couple of pages. I was intrigued by him in the first book so when I picked up his story I was curious to see who he would be paired with.

Mare was the perfect partner for Cohen. She was strong-willed, yet vulnerable with a fun and flirty side. They complemented each other in every way, which made their story a treat to read. I enjoyed their banter just as much as their more candid/serious moments. It helped a lot that they had great chemistry too. But what I appreciated the most was that although the chemistry between them was always present, the author made sure to bringto the forefront Cohen and Maren’s connection in every scene.

Although this is the second book in the Silver Strands series, it can be read as a stand alone. I found the characters to be intriguing and the concept well executed with plenty of humor and emotions to bring it all together. All in all, Risk Me had the right mix of elements for me to consider it fantastic read.

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

 

Excerpt

“It’s going to be fine,” Cohen says, his big, safe hand clutching at mine as we walk up the driveway to his mom’s house. “More than fine. They already love you.”

“They ‘work’ love me. I’m a freaking amazing employee, Cohen, and there’s no doubt that I’m an asset to them, but that doesn’t mean they want me seeing their son.” It still gives me a little thrill when I realize I’m actually, officially dating Cohen Rodriguez.

He wasn’t there when I woke up this morning, but he came back with breakfast burritos, a huge smile, and a hungry look in his eyes I couldn’t resist. Then he had his very, very wicked way with me and convinced me to meet his parents— I guess I was so smitten I forgot to be cautiously nervous. I said yes.

Things are moving fast, but maybe that’s okay. I have to make up for lost time, and I don’t want to waste another second I could spend with Cohen.

“You know what I think about your assets?” he says, raising a dark eyebrow and patting my bum. I lean into him and hope he’s telling the truth. That this is going to be a good day. No complications. But I can’t help but feel nervous about meeting his entire family in one place. “Anyway, Deo and Whit will be here, and they’ll like you for sure. It’ll make up for the sharks that my sisters can be.”

“Cohen!” I swat as his arm with a pleading expression. “You’re not helping.”

“I don’t get why you’re so worried. It’s just my family. You’ve already met some of them. What’s the problem?” We stop on the porch that’s full of plants near death and a massive stone religious statue that I don’t recognize.

I want to explain that I know he’s never brought anyone here but Kensley, and how can I replace her? That sisters never like me. That his family is so close I feel like an intruder. I open my mouth to speak, but he pulls me close and covers my mouth with his. His tongue silences me with its gentle path along the inside of my mouth.

He pulls away, taps my nose with his fingertip, and says, “You’re beautiful. It’s going to be great.” Cohen winks in that adorable, sexy way that makes everything okay in a more personal way than his laugh used to on the other end of the phone. “Ready to get your mexi-kosher on?”

As soon as we walk through the door, it’s pure chaos. Chaos that smells like heaven. There are people everywhere, dishes full of delicious-smelling food on almost every surface.

“This isn’t all for me, is it?” I lean in and whisper to Cohen.

“You’re a big deal. But no, this is every damn week.”

Something in me shifts. I feel enveloped in this warmth. I feel…welcomed. I want this. Every damn week, I want to feel this buzz of love and family. I swallow hard and close my eyes.

You deserve to be surrounded by love.

In the kitchen, a woman with dark, glossy hair leans over the counter to set out yet another dish and catches my eye. I recognize her from photos on the company website. Mrs. Rodriguez, Cohen’s mom. I’ve met his dad before, but never his mother, and I feel a prickle of nerves.

“Maren?” she says, rounding the corner into the living room. She and Cohen share the same nose, down to the adorable little curve in the bone in the middle. She smiles broadly, and it feels like this is actually going to be okay based on that look alone. Mrs. Rodriguez clutches at me the same way Cohen’s grandmother did, and it’s warm, welcoming, and feels like family should. My God, I didn’t realize how starved I’ve been for family. “It’s so nice to finally meet you. I can’t believe it’s taken this long. How long have you worked for us?”

“Ma, she’s not here as an employee,” Cohen says, wrapping a protective, sturdy arm around my waist.

Mrs. Rodriguez pulls the dishtowel that’s slung over her shoulder and swats at Cohen with it. “I know that. I just meant—oh, never mind. Maren knows what I meant.”

I nod politely, smiling like a fool. “It’s really nice to meet you, too, Mrs. Rodriguez.”

“Oh, please, call me Dinah.”

“And call me Daddy,” a male voice pipes in at the same time I feel his arm slip around me and shove Cohen’s away.

“Deo, don’t start off being an asshole,” Cohen says, shaking his head. “Maren, you remember Deo.”

“How can she forget a legend?” he asks.

Cohen rolls his eyes. “Apparently I wasn’t the smartest little kid. I picked this one pretty much before we could walk and haven’t been able to ditch him since.”

“Please. I have the legs of a Rockette. You’d miss them if you ever left me,” Deo says, pulling his board shorts up to expose his lean, tan legs.

 

About the Author

Lexi-Scott-170x200

Lexi Scott is the combined forces of authors and best friends, Liz Reinhardt and Steph Campbell. Together, they write new adult and contemporary romance featuring strong, smart, feisty women and the swoony worthy, good guys who love them. The grew up on opposite coasts- one on the east, one of them on the west, but somehow, both ended up married and raising their families in the Southern U.S.

They love traveling, good food, wine and hoarding books.

 

 

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Tour: Hold Me Close (The O’Learys #6) by Shannyn Schroeder *Review, Excerpt and Giveaway*

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Hold Me Close (The O’Learys #6)
by Shannyn Schroeder

A Contemporary Romance
From Kensington
Releasing July 21, 2015

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Leave it to the O’Learys to make romance a family affair…

 Maggie O’Leary is finally coming home to Chicago. After more than a year in Ireland, she’s ready to make a plan for her future. But first, she’ll have to confront the tragedy that scarred her so deeply. Asking for a job in the family bar is the first step, and it’s one her family isn’t entirely happy about. At least Shane Callahan, her best friend in the world, is behind her a hundred percent. He’s also a hundred percent more lovable than she remembered…

Shane is determined to keep Maggie safe, even if it means working three jobs and giving up sleep to be around during her shifts at the bar. But when Maggie boldly tells him she needs more than a loyal friend now, Shane knows a single night together won’t be possible. The idea of spirited Maggie in his bed is electrifying, but will she believe he wants to give her his heart, too?

 

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Review

4 stars

3.75 stars

Maggie returns to the US after spending some time in Ireland. Although she has made great strides in moving forward after the event that changed her life, she still has ways to go. So, determined to move on and get it over with, she comes up with a plan for her new life. But as stubborn as she is, she refuses to see that she has people who are willing to help her through it. Shane being of them.

Shane has been in love with Maggie for a while now, but there has always been something preventing him from making his move. First and foremost, the fear of losing his best friend in the world. But putting his feelings and dreams aside is second nature to him by now, so when Maggie returns with her mind made up to make a new life for herself, he doesn’t hesitate in putting her safety and comfort first.

I’ve read all the previous installments and have been looking forward to reading Maggie’s story for a while now. But I admit that after her behavior in the last installment in regards to Liam’s girlfriend Carmen, I just didn’t see her the same way. Maybe that’s why I found her story to be so frustratingly hard to get through.

I truly gave her the benefit of the doubt and went into her story with no expectations. But as the story progressed and her behavior started to border onto being selfish, I could not help myself. That Shane was a saint when it came to her and I just COULD NOT believe that she would be so blind as to not recognize that there was something more behind his feelings for her.

Regardless of the fact that she got on my nerves more than I cared about, I still enjoyed her story. Mostly because I wanted to see how she would react when Shane finally made his feelings known. Granted, it took a hell of a lot more time for him to do it but once he did I did revel in the confusion and frustration Maggie suffered through. I don’t want to seem mean, but she really needed the wake up call.

Other than that, everything else worked well. I liked how Shannyn Schroeder went about having Maggie deal with her past. I appreciated the challenges she put in Maggie’s path and how she made sure that Maggie gained some growth as the story progressed. I also enjoyed Shane and Maggie’s interactions. Some were fun and truly showcased how deeply connected they truly were. While others were honest and candid and had me tearing up for poor old Shane. Then again, sometimes I just ended up screaming at him to ‘JUST TELL HER!!! Arrrrrhhhhggg’. Yep. *facepalm* I know.

I still count Maggie’s story as a success and consider this series one of my favorite family sagas. In the end Maggie redeemed herself in my eyes and all was well. She gave Shane a chance, accepted that she could not go back to who she was before the rape and even apologized for her behavior towards Carmen, which earned her a lot of points in my book.

All in all, a frustrating yet enjoyable read. Yes, I am that weird and easy to please.

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

 

Excerpt

This was what life was supposed to be. Shane settled back into the couch with Maggie curled up next to him to watch TV like they had hundreds of times over the years. For the past few days, he’d been torn up knowing she was angry. Knowing they were in the same city without talking every day felt weird. They’d talked almost every day when she was halfway around the world.

He probably should’ve felt bad for throwing Ryan under the bus, but he didn’t. If Maggie knew this was all Shane’s idea, she might figure out how to stay mad. He needed to be in her corner, and she wouldn’t believe that if she knew the truth.

Maggie finished a second piece of pizza and stood. “You want something? Moira brought beer.”

He twitched. Although he drank, he never did with Maggie. He always figured that if she wasn’t drinking, it made her uncomfortable. “You sure?”

“Yeah, I’m sure she brought it. I put it in the fridge myself.” She looked at him like he was crazy.

“No. Are you sure it won’t bother you?”

“Why would it?”

He shifted forward and put the laptop back on the table. “Because you don’t drink.”

She continued to stare at him and her head tilted. “I choose not to drink because I don’t like to feel out of control.” She bit down on her bottom lip. “The last time I lost control like that, it didn’t end well. But it doesn’t bother me to be around people who drink. Shit. My whole family drinks. I work at a bar.”

Her eyes popped wide and she sank back to the couch. “You never drink around me. Why did I not realize that before?”

“Because it’s not important.”

“Yeah, it is.” She reached out and stroked his jaw. “You gave up drinking so I wouldn’t get upset. You’re the best kind of friend.”

With her hand on his face like that, he had a hard time keeping his thoughts friendly. “Don’t go overboard. I didn’t give up drinking altogether, just in front of you.”

“It’s still sweet.” She rose and went to the kitchen. When she came back, she held out a bottle of beer.

He accepted and said, “Thanks,” as he twisted the cap off.

Maggie sat and watched as he drank from the bottle.

“Ready for another show?”

She nodded and snuggled beside him again. If this was all he’d get out of life, he’d be happy. Maggie was safe and with him. At some point he might even be able to make a move to change their relationship. Every time he considered it, something stood in his way. At first, it was other guys. As a teen, she was rarely without a boyfriend. Then she’d been raped, and his greatest fear was that he would lose her, that she wouldn’t want to be near him because he hadn’t stopped it from happening. And then just as they seemed to be moving in that direction, she took off to Europe.

Part of him wanted to grab her and kiss her and tell her she’d always be safe with him.

But it would freak her out. She was still battling her demons. So he would wait until she was ready. He would have only one shot and he couldn’t afford to blow it.

Maggie was shoving at his shoulder, and he squinted at her. Damn. He’d fallen asleep.

“I would let you stay asleep, but this is my bed.”

He pushed forward. “What?” He rubbed his eyes.

“I don’t have a bed yet. I’m going shopping tomorrow. Until then, this is my bed.” She pointed at the couch.

“Why did you move if you don’t have furniture?”

She lifted a shoulder. “Anxious, I guess.”

He stood and stretched. “Sorry I fell asleep. Guess I was more tired than I thought.” He took his empty beer bottle to the kitchen. “Trash can?”

“On the shopping list for tomorrow.”

He shook his head. The girl hadn’t planned for anything. “I have a queen-sized bed. You’re welcome to share it with me.”

She chewed her lip again. “No, that’s okay. I’ll be fine here.”

He rolled his shoulders. They’d often crashed together, always fully clothed, a safe distance between them. The first time, they’d still been in high school, and he’d thought for sure the O’Learys were going to skin him. He and Maggie had studied late for finals and fell asleep. After that, it had been normal.

In fact, the one thing that told him they were okay after the rape was that she’d asked him to stay with her one night.

“You know where to find me if you change your mind.” He let himself out of her apartment and walked next door.

About the Author

Shannyn

Shannyn Schroeder is the author of the O’Leary series, contemporary romances centered around a large Irish-American family in Chicago and the new Hot & Nerdy series about 3 nerdy friends and their last spring break. When she’s not wrangling her three kids or writing, she watches a ton of TV and loves to bake cookies.

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Now Available in Print! Inside Out (Off the Map, #3) by Lia Riley *Review, Excerpt and Giveaway*

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Inside Out (Off the Map #3)
by Lia Riley

A New Adult Contemporary Romance
From Grand Central — Forever

Released in Print July 28, 2015

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Lia Riley made New Adult readers fall in love with her breakout debut, Upside Down. Sideswiped, the second of her series, made readers clamor for more. Now, with INSIDE OUT, Lia Riley brings her evocative Off the Map series to a stunning conclusion.

When Talia first moved from California to Australia to study abroad, she never dreamed she’d find the love of her life. Bran understands her like no one ever has before. And despite the numerous challenges they’ve faced, they’ve always managed to figure out how to stay together. But this time they’ll face their toughest hurdle yet. Is their love strong enough to keep them together?

 

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Review

5-stars

What I’ve loved about these books is that Bran and Talia have faults–real, honest to goodness faults that the reader can identify with. And it’s in this installment that we get to the nitty-gritty of them and watch as Bran and Talia battle their own demons to make it through as individuals and as a couple.

I’ve followed this couple from the very beginning–I’ve wanted to throttle them for being stubborn about their attraction for one another, comfort them for having to make tough decision and smack some sense into them when they somehow lost their way. By book 2 I had starting thinking that I was emotionally invested in their relationship and this story made it abundantly clear that I was.

Once again, Lia Riley managed to bring forth emotions, light moments and realistic obstacles to the page. I enjoyed their easy camaraderie, their meltdowns and their chemistry. I liked that their story wasn’t wrapped up in a pretty bow, but still was infused with joy and hope of better things to come. Even in the darkest of times, the author didn’t fail to keep that spark of humor and the expectancy that Bran and Talia would find their way. Better yet, I loved that I got to see them grow as a couple while still allowing themselves the chance to grow as individuals. Bran and Talia’s journey hasn’t been easy but to me it has been worthwhile.

From the very beginning, Lia Riley grabbed me and didn’t let go. I cried with Talia as she confronted her current situation, was emotionally drained right along with Bran when he faced the uncertainty of their relationship. I laughed with them and at them. I was right in there with every up and every down and when it all came to be I was grinning like the fool I am.

It’s sad to have reached the end of their journey, but I am glad to see them moving forward together. All in all, a fantastic conclusion to Bran and Talia’s story.

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

 

Excerpt

“See how I want you.” His agonized whisper is barely audible over the water lashing the tiles. His hips lose their slow, lazy tempo. He pounds himself deeper, harder.

An intense ache spreads from my belly through my breasts. I’ve forgotten what it feels like to be turned on. Muscles tighten within my sex. I’m fast remembering.

“Want. You. So. Bloody. Much.” He always sounds like this right before he comes, as if it hurts, like I’m pressing on a wound that’s too much to bear. “Damn it, Talia.”

I can’t look away as he loses himself in a blaze. I’m a prism, refracting his light. His features spin through a kaleidoscope of emotions starting at brutal need and ending with an unexpected vulnerability. My fear about the future disperses so quickly it’s hard to believe only minutes ago it felt inescapable. Bran isn’t some scary what-if. He’s a fact, a truth to hold on to against all life’s uncertainty. Why have I been so afraid he’ll see me as a walking disaster? He knows what it’s like to mess up, to feel like a failure. I need to reframe my question. Rather than asking what if Bran gets sick of me, maybe I should ask, what if we’ve worked our asses off, and finally have a shot at a real forever?

He falls to his knees and grabs me before I can take a breath or do anything but throw my arms around his lean shoulders. Water soaks through the white cotton of my pajama pants until I might as well be naked too.

“Show me the way back to you.” He buries his face in my neck, drags his lips to the place behind my ear, the headwaters for all delicious shivers.

“I want that so much.”

“I’ll do whatever it takes, go off the map.”

“You will?”

“We’re already there.”

He’s right. We’ve been explorers for some time. During the last little while it’s as if a blizzard descended, we were stuck in a whiteout, so close, but the snow made everything indistinguishable. At last, the storm’s abating and he’s right there, and I’m over here. Suddenly, we can see each other.

Within us is the way forward. We each possess half of the compass and must join together to find the right direction.

“You’ve got to know how much I need you.” A lock of his wet hair twists in a boyish curl.

I go to smooth it down, but my fingers tangle in the thick waves, and instead draw him closer.

He bows his head, still panting a little. “You can’t check out on me like that again. I can’t live this bloody life devoid of you—”

I brush my mouth over his lower lip, that reddening mark where his teeth left imprints. “I won’t. I’m so sorry. I-I’m ready to try. Thank you for believing in me.”

“I’ll never stop.”

We rest our foreheads together, holding one another upright. Droplets fall from his hairline onto my cheeks, joining fresh tears. He’s water, I’m water, and our flotsam and jetsam fit in a way that’s strange, yet familiar. I have no idea where we’re going, only that the way out is lined with broken feathers, bloodstains, marrow ash, and the serrated teeth of sharks.

This journey will take all I’ve got, a small price to have everything.

And that’s exactly what this guy in my arms is.

 

The Off The Map Series

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Upside Down (Off the Map, #1)
Sideswiped (Off the Map #2)

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About the Author

Lia Riley_Photo Credit Kitti Homme

Lia Riley writes offbeat New Adult Romance. After studying at the University of Montana-Missoula, she scoured the world armed only with a backpack, overconfidence and a terrible sense of direction. She counts shooting vodka with a Ukranian mechanic in Antarctica, sipping yerba mate with gauchos in Chile and swilling fourex with stationhands in Outback Australia among her accomplishments. A British literature fanatic at heart, Lia considers Mr. Darcy and Edward Rochester as her fictional boyfriends. Her very patient husband doesn’t mind. Much. When not torturing heroes (because c’mon, who doesn’t love a good tortured hero?), Lia herds unruly chickens, camps, beach combs, daydreams about as-of-yet unwritten books, wades through a mile-high TBR pile and schemes yet another trip. She and her family live mostly in Northern California.

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TBR Review: Just A Taste (The O’Learys #5) by Shannyn Schroeder

Just A Taste Book Cover Just A Taste
The O'Learys #5
Shannyn Schroeder
Contemporary Romance
Kensington
January 19th 2014
eGalley
270
NetGalley

 

Grief has brought them together again—will love open the door to their future? When it’s an O’Leary in the picture, finding out is just part of the adventure…

Carmen Delgado is left reeling when her father dies. Taking care of him has been her sole purpose for so long, she’s forgotten what it’s like to have dreams of her own. And with steady, sexy Liam O’Leary inheriting a share in her dad’s successful food truck, Carmen is suddenly free to explore her life’s possibilities. She never expected Liam to provide the kind of temptation she’s not sure she can resist…

A talented chef, Liam O’Leary has been itching to open his own restaurant for years—and the death of his mentor is a reminder that time passes too quickly. Gus’s Taco Taxi isn’t exactly what he dreamed of, but he can’t desert Gus’s daughter. Working side by side is an unexpected pleasure—and grownup Carmen is alluring in all new ways. Is love on the menu—or will old fears and insecurities drive them apart?

Review

4 stars

Liam has been ready to open his own restaurant for a while now. He has proven he has what it takes to make it in the business, but it’s his mentor’s death that truly forces him to see it’s time to set things in motion. Finding out he has s share of his mentor’s successful business helps him to make the transition, but he wasn’t expecting to feel so drawn to Carmen that he second guessed his future plans.

Carmen is feeling a little lost now that she doesn’t have her father to take care of. She knows that the time has come for her to focus on her life, but she can’t seem to find her place. And now that she shares half the business with Liam, she feels like she’s needed again. But working in close quarters with him has her a little overwhelmed. And having her big extended family nosing around her business doesn’t help lessen the stress she’s under.

I loved Liam! I admired his work ethic, his loyalty and his creative recipes. Of course, the fact that he was caring, considerate AND handsome helped his case too! I loved watching come into himself, standing up to his mother and sister. I especially loved how he didn’t hesitate to make his feelings for Carmen known to her and to every one that asked.

Carmen was a great character too. I could truly relate to her in many ways–the overwhelming extended family, the body issues, the uncertain future ahead. I admired her tenacity in dealing with everything that was thrown at her and her determination to make decision for herself. She was smart and showed great strength of character at times when things could have easily gotten out of hand.

But what I truly liked about this story was how the author brought Liam and Carmen together. I enjoyed the concept of the food truck. The different moments that took place while Liam and Carmen worked on said truck were fun ans showcased the connection that was growing between the two. Their coming together was slow in coming but seen a mile away. I enjoyed their banter and flirty exchanges just as much as their bickering over aspects of the business. Their connection felt real and having it grow and strengthen as the story progressed only served to convince me that they had something worth fighting for.

I admit, this time around I was not happy with the interfering of the O’Leary clan. And don’t even get me started on Rosa, Carmen’s cousin. Pffft! I especially wanted to throttle Liam’s mother for her behavior. Double Pffft! The nerve of that woman. At least it helped in cementing my belief that Carmen and Liam were right for each other. It was awesome to see Liam stand up for Carmen when it truly counted.

If you are a follower of the series, you won’t want to miss this installment. It was fun with many heartfelt moments and sexy in an understated way. All in all, a great addition to the series. Team Carmen all the way. Ahhh and Liam was so very yummy!

TBR Review: Catch Your Breath (The O’Learys #4) by Shannyn Schroeder

Catch Your Breath Book Cover Catch Your Breath
The O'Learys #4
Shannyn Schroeder
Contemporary Romance
eKensington
July 3rd 2014
eGalley
292
NetGalley

 

As kids they steered clear of one another--but now a beautiful, well-connected reporter and a sexy, driven detective are all grown-up and on the job. . .

Moira O'Leary's work as a reporter gives her access to some of Chicago's swankiest soirées. She knows how to navigate the jet-set crowd, and her style and confidence help her blend right in. But when her childhood crush starts popping up at posh events, her poise begins to falter--until she realizes she has the upper hand in a high-stakes game of secrets and seduction. . .

Jimmy O'Malley has always tried to avoid his friend Liam's little sister. Something about Moira spelled trouble. But he's out of his element working undercover in Chicago's high society, and Moira is his ticket to the inner circle. As sparks begin to fly--and their chemistry heats up--Moira gets dangerously close to his investigation. Will Jimmy be forced to push her away to keep her safe--or will they surrender to a desire that could leave them breathless?

Review

4 stars

Moira O’Leary’s work as a reporter gives her access to some of Chicago’s swankiest soirées. She knows how to navigate the jet-set crowd, and her style and confidence help her blend right in. But when her childhood crush starts popping up at posh events, her poise begins to falter–until she realizes she has the upper hand in a high-stakes game of secrets and seduction. . .

Jimmy O’Malley has been assigned to work undercover befriending a close-knit group of Chicago’s high society. On his first try he runs into Moira O’Leary, his friend Liam’s little sister– a woman he tries his best to avoid.

But Moira doesn’t let him get away so easily. As a reporter, her instincts hone in on Jimmy’s reasons for being at the event. Sure, she likes her job reporting high society’s happenings but she will not miss the opportunity for some investigative work to further her career.

The opportunity shows itself when Jimmy, feeling out of his element, seeks Moira out to help him navigate and blend into his role. But soon sparks start flying and emotions start getting in the way of both their jobs. Will these two give in or go their separate ways when all’s said and done?

Oh Jimmy! Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy! I lost count of how many times I wanted to smack him upside the head with my tablet! Stubborn man, but how I cheered for him too. Pffft!

Jimmy moved back home and has been acting as head of the household and taking care of his father ever since is return. He has many things going on and no time to deal with a hard-headed talkative woman who pushes all his buttons. His struggle to come to terms with the emotions Moira brought out in him sure made for an entertaining read. Especially when said emotions started to interfere with his assignment.

Jimmy was a proud, loyal man. And having his loyalties tested in such a way really mess him up. He became even more withdrawn, more stubborn and even a little bit mean. Yep, that tablet o’ mine was ready to do some damage! Thankfully, Shannyn Schroeder made it harder for me to go along with my plan by having me learn more about his history and how everything in his life had shaped him to be the man he was.

Moira helped a lot too. She was a great character to get to know. She had a crush on Jimmy since she could remember and working so closely with him brought all those emotions to the surface. I admired her determination to make their “partnership” work even when she felt like he was behaving like an @ss.

As you can well imagine, all this head-butting between two stubborn people only served to bring a great amount of tension to the story. Awesome, lusty tension that had me anticipating that first moment when either Jimmy or Moira finally succumbed to their attraction to each other. Ohhh yes, it was well worth the wait, my friends. Jimmy sure surprised the hell out of me! Oh Jimmy!
*sigh*

And of course, as with every book in the series, we get to visit with the O’Leary’s clan. I was glad to see them happy and interfering in their family’s lives. 😉

All in all, a sexy tantalizing read that will certainly have you catching your breath a time or three.

Tour: Making a Comeback (More Than A Game #3) by Kristina Mathews *Review, Excerpt and Giveaway*

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Making a Comeback (More Than A Game #3)
by Kristina Mathews

A Contemporary Romance
From Lyrical Shine
Released July 7th 2015

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With a divorce in the works, Annabelle Jones heads out to Southern California, the land of sun and starting over. She wants to prove to herself and her young daughters that she still has what it takes to turn heads as a swimsuit model—that she doesn’t need a man to take care of her. Until an accident forces her to rely on the hunky, yet mysterious man next door…

Nathan Cooper is trying to revive his own career. Once a top left-handed relief pitcher, he tried to get over a hidden injury with the aid of banned substances. Not only was he caught and suspended, he was traded and missed out on winning the championship. Now he’s a free agent without a contract, and that means life is ready to play ball…

 

Portrait of baseball player with bare chest holding bat

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Review

Annabelle Jones is feeling confident in her new life. Her girls are taken care of and have adjusted to a new place and she’s gone back to modeling after years away from the business. She’s excited her new life is working out and can’t wait to see what life has in store for her next. And then she get into an accident–one that can end her career and her life forever.

Nathan Cooper is trying to put his life back on track. Unable to play the game he loves after being suspended for steroid use, Nathan goes about his day working out, keeping to himself and thinking of what to do next. He still doesn’t have a set plan for his next move. He’s trying his best to move forward, but regret and insecurity are waging a war against him.

Nathan and Annabelle are neighbors and although Annabelle has starred in some of Nathan’s fantasies throughout the years, their relationship is no more than passing acquaintances. That is, until Annabelle accident leaves her in need of help. Soon Nathan finds himself immerse in a life he never planned for himself and falling in love with his fantasy girl.

What drew me into the story was the fact that Annabelle was a divorced mother of two girls starting a new life. As a divorced mother of three girls attempting to start a new, I found myself curious as to how the author would spin Annabelle’s story.

What I liked most about this story was seeing the way Nathan, Annabelle and the girls related to each other. I enjoyed watching as Nathan came to care for the two little girls and I especially loved their interactions. The girls were a great addition to the story and I don’t think I would have enjoyed the story as much if the author had kept them in the background and not made them an integral part of the book.

Annabelle and Cooper were great characters too. I liked seeing how these two stubborn individuals came together. Annabelle wanted to be independent and to have to rely on Cooper while she was recuperating made for some frustrating times. Especially since Cooper seemed to fit in so easily with her and the girls. Cooper didn’t want to get involved, but he wanted to help. He knew he should focus on his career, but he just couldn’t walk away from them. It was like this between these two, which made me interested in seeing how it would all turned out.

I confess that although Annabelle and Cooper had an easy rapport and some heavy-duty chemistry, their romance just didn’t do it for me. It felt too insta-love for me. I would have loved to see more dialog, more of them getting to know each other instead of having them being in their heads so much. For me a connection between the couple is a must and although I did see a semblance of one brought to the page, I can’t help but think that it could have been developed more. It helped a lot that their chemistry was always present. It added to my enjoyment and convinced me to give them a chance.

All in all, a fun sexy romance about new beginnings.

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

Excerpt

“Hi.” Annabelle stood on his doorstep with a smile and the bottle of healing lotion. “I tried this stuff on my shoulder and it works. It really works.”

“Good. I’m glad.” He was also relieved she wasn’t here for an emergency. “It’s all-natural. Really, not just as an advertising claim. It’s made by a little old lady from—”

“Pasadena?” She interrupted him with a wide grin and a twinkle in her beautiful blue eyes.

“No. Mendocino.” Why did she have to be so great? Funny and sweet and appreciative. Why couldn’t she be more like her ex? A spoiled, rich asshole.

“And have you met this little old lady personally?” She still had a smile on her face. Or most of her face, the left side didn’t quite go up as much as her right, with the giant gash on her face.

He clenched his fists to keep from reaching for her. “Yes. I have. She was at a farmer’s market and she charmed me into buying a whole case of the stuff.”

“Well, I’m glad you did, because it really does help.” Annabelle moved toward him, as if she wanted to come in. Or tell him a secret. “But I can’t reach my back. Would you mind?”

Oh hell.

He stepped back so she could come in. She smelled of lavender and rosemary and eucalyptus and something even sweeter.

A hard rock song blasted from his weight room speakers.

“Let me go turn that off.” He moved down the hallway and she followed.

Annabelle stopped in the doorway of the dining room he’d converted to a home gym and laughed. “Is that me? I don’t remember them doing a poster of that cover.”

They didn’t. I had it done.” It had been ten years ago and he still hung the framed picture in every place he lived. “A buddy of mine worked at this place that could turn anything into a poster for twenty bucks.”

“Twenty bucks, huh?” She gave him a look that might have been disapproving, if not for the way her eyes crinkled at the corners and her lips twitched trying to hold back a smile. “That’s some pretty expensive artwork.”

“I paid another thirty for the frame.” He stood there feeling every bit the twenty-one-year-old who’d been so obsessed with Annabelle he’d convinced his friend to risk his job in making the poster when he didn’t have the rights to the photo.

“Fifty bucks, huh. Quite an investment.”

“I was young. I wanted to class up my first apartment.” He wondered briefly if she would have been interested in him back then. Would she have even looked twice at an up-and-coming ballplayer who thought he was the next hot prospect?

“I was even younger.” She approached the poster he had hanging over his weight bench. There was something almost wistful in her tone. “I was so young.”

He watched her study herself and wondered what she must be thinking. Probably that he was some kind of stalker and she would be calling her lawyer when she got home.

“So you really do use me.” She laughed, turning around to show an amused grin on her face. “Does that help you add cardio to your workouts?”

“Huh?” He was surprised at how lightly she was taking this.

“You know, getting your heart rate up?” Her gaze drew over him, settling just below his waist. “Among other things.”

 

 

About the Author

Kristina Mathews doesn’t remember a time when she didn’t have a book in her hand. Or in her head. But it wasn’t until she turned forty that she confessed the reason the laundry never made it out of the dryer was because she was busy writing.

While she resigned from teaching with the arrival of her second son, she’s remained an educator in some form. As a volunteer, parent club member or para educator, she finds the most satisfaction working with emergent and developing readers, helping foster confidence and a lifelong love of books.

Kristina lives in Northern California with her husband of more than twenty years, two sons and a black lab. A veteran road tripper, amateur renovator and sports fanatic. She hopes to one day travel all 3,073 miles of Highway 50 from Sacramento, CA to Ocean City, MD, replace her carpet with hardwood floors and serve as a “Ball Dudette” for the San Francisco Giants.

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Tour: Commanded (Club Sin #6) by Stacey Kennedy *Review, Excerpt and Giveaway*

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Commanded (Club Sin #6)
by Stacey Kennedy

An Erotic Romance
From Loveswept
Released July 7th 2015

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A dedicated cop, Sawyer Quinn blows off steam by immersing himself in his role as a Master at the hottest club in Las Vegas. But when Sawyer goes after the perp who brutally beat his sister, he teams up with Chloe Nash, a sexy private investigator who awakens a sweet new need: to keep her to himself, away from the dungeon of Club Sin. Chloe is beautiful, smart, and too innocent for the BDSM lifestyle. Sawyer’s never wanted a woman like this before. Is her love worth swearing off the one thing that keeps him sane?

There’s something different about Sawyer: a commanding strength that pulls Chloe into a vortex of heady desire. But when she learns about his double life as a Dom, she’s shocked—and afraid she could never complete him. Then he saves her life, and just like that, Chloe knows she will be able to give him anything he desires. She is his—wherever and however he wants to take her.

 

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Review

3-stars

Sawyer knows that he follow procedure when he decides to after the man who hurt his sister. But he also knows that he must act fast if he has any chance of making the man pay for his actions. So he heads to Porter’s agency to employ Chloe Nash’s investigative services.

Chloe feels like there’s something missing in her life. She’s been in a long-term relationship with her boyfriend, but recognizes that she needs more. And she has a feeling that Sawyer Quinn is the perfect man to give it to her given that she gets all hot and bothered just thinking about him. So when he hires her to find his sister’s boyfriend, she fears her days are numbered because he is everything she wants and more.

I loved Sawyer. He was protective and sexy as hell. As the story moved on and I got to see him interacting with Chloe I came to see a different side of him. He was sure of his attraction to Chloe yet conflicted about pursuing her. His struggle to give up the lifestyle for a relationship with her revealed he loved deeply and unconditionally. he achieved a lot of growth which only led me to admire him further.

But I can’t help but feel like the process was rushed through on the page. I understood his way of thinking and why he decided to make the decision, but I didn’t see much to justify his actions. If I’m being honest, I just could not see him with Chloe.

Now don’t get me wrong Chloe was an okay character, she just didn’t inspire much in me. For whatever reason I could not connect to her which didn’t help her case when it came to imagining her and Sawyer together. Did they have chemistry? Hell yes, they did! But for me to fully accept Sawyer’s decision to leave the lifestyle, I needed to see more of the connection between them. Although the connection was there, for me it wasn’t substantial. What made it to the page wasn’t enough to convince me that their relationship went beyond the physical. Thankfully, the conflict kept me intrigued enough to finish the story even if the romance was a no-go for me.

Although I might have not enjoyed this story as much as I have the others, I still believe it is a great addition to the series. I just love my Club Sin Masters too much to let them go without a fight. 😉

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

Excerpt

“Come here,” she said. “I found something.”

“Whatcha got?” Sawyer sat next to her, draping his arm across the back of the couch.

He smelled like nature, Chloe thought—woodsy and fresh. And so very masculine. She cleared her throat. “I take it this is Travis’s email address.” Sawyer’s thick, strong leg pressed against her slender one, carrying warmth into her veins. “It’s not a great lead, but at least it’s something.”

“At this point, anything is good.” Sawyer pulled out his phone and typed the email address into his notepad. “I don’t suppose you know how to break passwords?”

“I’m not that good.” She smiled, shutting the laptop. “But I do have a friend who might be able to help.”

One brow rose. “A friend?”

“His name is Shane. He’s a computer whiz I met in high school.” She rose, holding the laptop to her chest. “He does some freelance work for Porter on difficult cases.”

Sawyer hesitated, brows pinched together. “The force has its own computer team. I should take it there.”

“Yes, I’m sure that makes sense in your cop brain. But what if we have to dig deeper than just breaking a password? Will your people on the force do that, or do they have to get warrants and such? Using my guy saves time.”

His hesitation lasted a little longer this time, the conflict clear on his face. He finally bobbed his head, resolved. “We’ll do this your way for now.” He lifted his hand to her arm in an appreciative touch, but the feel of his strong fingers on her bare skin was like an arrow of desire hitting her straight between her thighs.

He’d never touched her before. That, she now realized, had been a good thing. Under the heat of his fingers, her mind went blank. Her only focus was the burning of his touch. Every inch of her hummed in a blaze of need, clenching her sex. She needed space from all his intensity, but she couldn’t find the strength to force her feet to move.

She dared herself to look up into his shadowy eyes. His curious gaze moved from his hand to her face; then he shifted his fingers toward her chin. Chloe melted as she became aware of his hands on her face—the soft, tempting strokes of his fingers as they caressed her jaw.

He tipped her head up, studying her in a way no man had ever done. He really looked at her—straight into the center of her being. As if, for the first time in her life, she was being seen. Her soul felt naked under his gaze. The slight jump in her heart rate matched the nerves rattling through her.

All the same, her mind recoiled. She hastily reminded herself she’d just broken up with Josh. “Please don’t” was all she could manage.

The corner of Sawyer’s mouth curved. “I’m not stopping you from backing away from me. If you don’t want me close, move.”

He clearly didn’t intend to step away—she could tell from his knowing smile. She couldn’t, either. My God, she wanted him. Right now. Right in his little sister’s condo. But that little voice in her head, though it was growing weaker by the moment, reminded her that strong and smart women didn’t jump into bed with someone the day after breaking up with a long-term boyfriend.

The satisfaction in his eyes deepened when she remained still. “There’s something here,” he murmured in a voice as soft as silk. “I feel it. You feel it. Why ignore it?”

“I broke up with Josh yesterday,” she reminded him.

“So you keep telling me.” Frustration appeared in his eyes. “Since you seem so determined to keep talking about your ex, then tell me, why did you break up?”

Her cheeks burned with embarrassment. There was no way she was going to tell him.

His eyes began to twinkle. “Because of me? Because of this peculiar-but-ever-so-interesting connection between us?”

She swallowed the lump in her throat. “I’ve never . . .”

“Felt something so intense? So unexplainable? So tempting? Neither have I.”

Then he kissed her, and she couldn’t remember the reason she didn’t want him kissing her. She only wanted him kissing her.

He moved his hands to caress her shoulders, holding her in place as his tongue invaded her mouth. He pressed his body against hers, as if daring her not to realize how incredible it felt to have his body right up against hers. He set every inch of her on fire.

Jesus. H. Christ, did she realize it.

And she wanted more.

Many minutes later, when he stopped kissing her, they were both breathless. His eyes were so full of lust it was mind-blowing. He dragged his thumb across her bottom lip. “I’ve waited thirty-three years to find this sort of real connection that defies logic. I won’t ignore that, Chloe. I can’t.” She couldn’t look away from his mouth. God, she wanted more of that. “Don’t ask me to,” he added, “because you won’t like my answer.”

She forced her eyes up to his. “I’ve been single for a day,” she reminded him again. Dammit! “I can’t be with you, no matter how fun that sounds. It wouldn’t feel right. I need time.”

“Fair argument. But I don’t care how long you’ve been single. I only care that you are.” As if he hadn’t rocked her fucking world, he left her standing there as he walked toward the door. “Come on. We need to get moving.”

She blinked, pulling her mind from the gutter and placing it back on the investigation. Her emotions were in a whirl; if there were such a thing as a female case of blue balls, she had ’em.

 

About the Author

Stacey Kennedy is the USA Today bestselling author of the Club Sin series. Growing up, Stacey’s mind wandered the path less traveled, and that path most often led to love. She has always broken rules, and she continues to feed off emotion—always staying true to her heart. Those traits are now the bones of her stories. She lives in southwestern Ontario with her husband, who puts any of the heroes in her books to shame, and their two young children. If she’s not on Mom duty or plugging away at a new story, you’ll find Stacey camping in the summer, hibernating in the winter, and obsessing over Penny Dreadful, Game of Thrones, and Outlander.

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My Reviews:

TBR Review: Something to Prove (The O’Learys, #3) by Shannyn Schroeder

Something to Prove Book Cover Something to Prove
The O'Learys, #3
Shannyn Schroeder
Contemporary Romance
Kensington
January 16th 2014
ebook
178
NetGalley

 

Two ambitious people team up to prove themselves to their families—and find there may be more to their partnership than just business. . .

Elizabeth Brannigan is determined to show her father she's capable of running the family business. Saving his struggling Chicago bar seems like the perfect project. But she'll need a little help dealing with the rough crowd. Who better to assist her than the handsome co-owner of a thriving Irish pub? Of course, with so much work to do, there are bound to be a few late nights. . .

Colin O'Leary's father passed away before he could prove to him that he wasn't a screw-up. Now he wants to show his brother he's responsible enough to own a bar of his own—and Elizabeth may be able to help him. But when their professional aspirations clash, tempers—and passions—flare. Are they mature enough to mix business with pleasure—or will they have to choose between the two?

Review

5-stars

Elizabeth has always been trying to one-up her brother and gain her father’s approval. She has worked her @ss off trying to make him see she’s just as capable as her brother when it comes to taking over the business, but she still feels like she needs to do more. So when the opportunity arises for her to ‘save’ his father’s bar in Chicago, she’s determined to do it on her own. But determination can only take her so far, so she seeks someone experienced to help her through it.

In comes Colin O’ Leary. Colin returned to town after spending years away from the family business. He spends his days and nights working at the bar now that his brother is busy starting a family. But still, he feels he needs to prove to his family that he’s ready to take the reins of the business without constant supervision. Tired of being shut down and eager to prove he’s not a screw-up, he jumps at the chance at a partnership with Elizabeth and is determined to make their new business a success.

But can these two stubborn, hard-working individuals slow down and recognize what’s right in front of them?

I admit, I had my doubts with this one simply because I could not see Colin and Elizabeth together. Both were strong-headed, independent and too focused on their goals to dedicate any time to a relationship. So how was the author going to work though it to make this pairing believable?

Kudos to Shanny Shroeder for making it happen! Through flirty banter, good-natured (and not so good-natured) bickering and honest interactions, she managed to bring to the forefront Elizabeth and Colin’s connection every chance she could. I loved watching them together. Be it fighting over the duties each was going to take over or just sharing a meal at the end of a hard day at work, Elizabeth and Colin’s connection always shined through.

Of course, it helped tremendously that they had an awesome chemistry that never failed to make it through the page. Stolen glances, barely there touches and heated arguments always served to showcase it. Which I loved! And when the emotions started to make their appearance it made for even a more enjoyable read. All those conflicting emotions mixed with the undercurrent of sexual tension between these two had me completely sold that Elizabeth and Colin had a chance at something more.

Something to Prove is the third book in the series and can be read as a stand alone. I’ve read the previous two books and enjoyed them too, but I have to say this is my favorite so far.

All in all, a sexy romance between two very stubborn individuals that finally allowed themselves a chance to truly live their lives for themselves.

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

 

Tour: Never Loved (Dark Obsession #1) by Charlotte Stein *Review, Excerpt and Giveaway*

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Never Loved (Dark Obsession #1)
by Charlotte Stein

A New Adult Romance
From Loveswept
Releasing July 21st, 2015

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Perfect for fans of Abbi Glines, the first novel in the Dark Obsession series tells the story of a beautiful wallflower who falls for a chiseled street fighter—and learns just how dangerous love can be.

Beatrix Becker spent most of her life under the thumb of her controlling, abusive father. And now that she’s free and attending her dream college, she has no idea how to act like the normal crowd: partying, going on dates, even having a conversation. Then she meets Serge Sorensen. Big and surly with a whole host of riotous tattoos, Serge is supposed to scare the hell out of her. But beneath his harsh exterior, Beatrix discovers a kindred spirit who knows what it’s like to be a misfit. Most exhilarating—and terrifying—is what he does for a living: illegal street fighting.

There’s nothing like the rush Serge gets from the intense athleticism and brutal glory of combat—though his chemistry with Beatrix comes close. Slowly at first, he introduces her to his world, where he lives by instinct, passion, and desire. He even helps her out with her equally traumatized brother. But when Serge gets in too deep with the wrong people, he ends up paying in blood. And suddenly, just as Beatrix has been drawn into Serge’s perfectly sculpted arms, she’s thrown once and for all into the fight of his life.

 

NeverLoved_Cover

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Review

Beatrix is adjusting to living her life on her terms. As a result of being under her father’s thumb, she’s a little shy, a lot innocent and abundantly inexperienced when it comes to men. So of course, she meets the very embodiment of the male species–Serge Sorensen. A huge, tattooed street-fighter that would probably scare every other woman, Serge is the very man that has piqued Beatrix interest and the one who can help her find her brother before it’s too late.

First, how hot is that cover? I admit between the blurb and the cover, I was more than anticipating starting this book. Especially since I find the whole opposite-attract/good girl-bad boy concept so enjoyable. And although I did enjoy some aspects of this story, I wouldn’t say I loved it.

My biggest problem with the story is the lack of dialogue/interactions. Unfortunately, I’m the kind of reader that loves (LOVES!!) dialogue. I immerse myself in it and in most cases it is through it that the characters make their impression on me. Sadly, this story is heavy on inner dialogue. And taking considering that Beatrix is not your typical twenty-something woman, it came to be too much for me. She had moments of immaturity, silly moments that had me rolling my eyes and seriously considering if she was even apt to be Serge’s equal in any capacity.

Thankfully, I liked her witty humor and the courage she showed in her determination to move on from who she was. It also helped that I was curious as hell about Serge. I really would have loved to know more about him. He was quiet and unassuming but very complex which only served to increase my desire to see where the author would take him and Beatrix as the story progressed.

One of the aspects I enjoyed the most was that although opposites at first glance, both Serge and Beatrix shared a deeper bond in respect of how their past shaped them. As the story progressed I came to understand how one complemented the other and how their relationship could come to work out in the future.

Although Never Loved was not the story I was anticipating, I did enjoy the story as a whole. It was funny in places, emotional in others and intriguing throughout.

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

 

Excerpt

I know they are the ones I have to speak to. I recognize the guy with the tattoo of a hammer on his biceps, and some of the others look familiar from that bar on Maple Street. I’m pretty sure that’s the guy who pointed Tommy out to me, yet still I hesitate. Of course I hesitate.

They look like such an insane rabble. As I watch through the windscreen of my car, three of them start fighting. One of them pushes another one; the third guy grabs the first by his dirty tank top. Harsh words are exchanged, so fierce and forceful I can almost make out the spittle flying.

Then suddenly there’s a knife. I see its edge gleam in the bright sunlight, about a second before something red appears across the chest of the guy who started it. Blood, I think dizzily. That’s blood. He’s bleeding all over his own T-shirt, and though it isn’t anywhere close to a mortal wound, it doesn’t encourage me to get out of the car.

Nor does the way the fight ends. The one with the knife goes to slash at the other guy again, and I’m just about to cover my eyes with my hand when this enormous man comes out of nowhere. He lashes out with a hand like a shovel, and somehow the knife is on the ground. The brawling men are scattering, as though they were never there at all.

And I understand why.

The big one is pretty terrifying. And obviously everyone else thinks so, too, because they part like butter under a knife before him. He goes back to his bike without anyone so much as brushing his arms, and once there he sits down in a way that gets my attention in a fucking chokehold. I mean, he had it before, but watching the machine balk beneath his weight is something else. It actually seems to sag. I can almost hear its sound of protest.

God knows how he rides the thing. God knows about anything going on here. I try to make a list in my head of all the shenanigans that might be ensuing, but all I can come up with is drug ring. And I’ve got to be honest—I don’t think drug ring is a real thing. It sounds like something my father would have ranted about whenever I asked if I could go anywhere, or do anything, or be out past five in the afternoon.

The drug ring will get you, I think, which would probably be funny if I couldn’t feel his ghost pressing down on my shoulders at the same time. Or if I understood any of this on any level whatsoever. I mean, even if they’re not dealing meth to kids, or about to snatch me and put me in a van, a ton of this stuff is disturbing.

For a start:

Why are they all congregating outside an abandoned convenience store? It’s not even a nice one, with those signs people like to collect and stick up on their walls, or some remnant of civilization still hanging around. It’s an ugly rotten tooth of a place, striped all over with rust streaks and half sagging in the middle.

Yet here they are, milling around in this big odd jumble. Some of them have bikes; some of them have battered cars. Some are dressed in leather and denim; others wander around in mismatched tracksuits. In a couple of cases I spy business-wear, as though the wearers came straight here from an early-morning meeting. This is secretly the abandoned-convenience-store branch of GE, and in a second they’re all going to start funneling funds through accounts in the Caymans.

Or maybe I just hope that’s the case, because now I have to get out of the car.

I have to if I want to find my brother, yet somehow I’m still not doing it. Instead I take out my phone and call the only person who might be able to help me, even if I suspect she won’t be able to help me at all. When I left our dorm room, she was trying to decide if scarves are in or out now, which seems pretty far from this.

I’m not even sure if I should say. But I do anyway.

“Do you know anything about gangs that hang around outside convenience stores?” I ask, bracing myself for all kinds of answers. One time I tried to tell her about my brother and his problems, and she suggested I change my name so I won’t be bothered anymore.

Of course, I couldn’t explain to her why that was ridiculous. Whenever I try, I start doing something silly, like crying uncontrollably. I get this urge to start spilling all my secrets, and most of them barely make any sense. Sometimes I look back on them, and it almost seems as if they happened to another person—one who never had to hide a magazine with a man’s naked chest on it under her mattress, or push every clock in the house back by two minutes so Tommy would be home on time, or fear enclosed spaces in case the next time we never get let out at all.

Those things were just a dream.

This is the reality, where I am a cool and very normal—if slightly older than most freshman—college girl.

Or at least, I will be one soon. All I have to do is get through this latest disaster, and onward to the other side. On the other side is the possibility of being a proper person, a person who is successful at doing the things that everyone else does. I could be more interested in parties and hairstyles and dating, to the point where Sam might actually approve and maybe even remember me.

At the moment, that isn’t happening.

 

About the Author

Charlotte Stein has written over thirty short stories, novellas and novels, including entries in The Mammoth Book of Hot Romance and Best New Erotica 10. Her latest work, Run To You, was recently a DABWAHA finalist. When not writing deeply emotional and intensely sexy books, she can be found eating jelly turtles, watching terrible sitcoms and occasionally lusting after hunks. For more on Charlotte, visit: www.charlottestein.net

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Tour: On the Clock (Market Garden #8) by L.A. Witt, Aleksandr Voinov *Review and Contest*

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On the Clock (Market Garden #8)
by L.A. Witt, Aleksandr Voinov

An M/M Romance
From Riptide Publishing
Released on July 13th 2015

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When Blake Raleigh’s favorite rentboys retire from Market Garden, they’re sure their friend Jason will be a perfect replacement. Though Tristan and Jared are a tough act to follow, Blake returns to London to test out their recommendation.

Jason is right on the money. Negotiations turn him on. Getting paid turns him on. The higher the stakes, the hotter things get. Each trip to London is more expensive than the last, and the webcam sessions don’t run cheap, but Jason is well worth the sticker shock.

The more time they spend together, the more Blake wants, and not just sex and transactions. But Jason’s been burned before by men who thought they were in love with him, and he’s not making that mistake again. When the lines between personal and professional start to blur, it’s going to take more than money, jewelry, and sports cars to keep Jason from clocking out and walking away.

 

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Review

5-stars

As a follower of the series and a fan of the Market Garden guys I could not, in good conscience, miss Rolex’s story. My TBR is not happy that I skipped a couple dozen books to get to it. But screw it! It was worth my sleepless night and some rowdy kids banging at my door.

Rolex. Blake. Love him! There was just something about him that called to me. I loved that he didn’t make excuses for his use of Market Garden or for his admiration of the rentboys there. I especially loved that he didn’t hesitate in admitting he missed Tristan and Jared and was happy for them for what they found in each other. But mostly I loved that underneath the expensive suits and extravagant toys was a man who was aware of his beginnings, who didn’t judge based on social status and who loved deeply and without second thought.

Now Jason, he took a while to understand. Mostly because I could not understand what drove him. I gave him the benefit of the doubt, because if not I would only have seen him as a man who only cared about the material things in life. But true to Team VoinWitt’s work, they proved me wrong and made me a believer! I came to love his wicked grin and the way is arousal spiked when Blake didn’t hesitate to up the ante when negotiating. And I won’t even mention that EPIC sex scenes in the garage…*sigh*

But all the hotness aside I do have to say that the story was also great. I appreciated the way the authors worked the story to bring Jason and Blake together. I liked that I got the chance to get to know them and that their connection wasn’t solely physical. Hell yeah! That aspect was fantastic, but there was also a lot more to them than that. They were funny and shared a great rapport that kept me grinning throughout. I loved their flirty banter and enjoyed their candid moments just as much as I loved the few unguarded moments they shared. The touches, the looks, the shared silence, the gasps, grunts and moans. Every little thing worked for me! And when the emotions came into play? I was sold!

Although this is the eighth book in the series, it can certainly be read as a stand alone. But why would you miss out on all the goodness that is the Market Garden? I wouldn’t. Especially if you like your story steamy hot with a sprinkle of humor and a side of emotions.

All in all, a fantastic story that left me wanting more. Let’s just say that another visit to the Market Garden would not be frowned upon.

*I received a copy of this title (which I devoured in a night!) in exchange of my honest opinion.

 

Excerpt

Jason’s grin would’ve fucked with Blake’s blood pressure if it hadn’t already been screwed up. He leaned closer, laying one arm on the table in that neutral space between their drinks. “I can see why Jared and Tristan referred you to me, then.”

“Is that right?”

“Mm-hmm.” Jason’s eyes flicked toward the table. Toward his own arm, specifically, and when he met Blake’s gaze again, he lifted his arm and reached all the way across. He trailed his fingertips along the side of Blake’s hand, a finger catching on his cuff, then his watch. “They said you’d come looking for me. To be honest, I was starting to wonder if you would.”

“Well, I’m . . .” Blake gulped. “I’m not always in town. Business. I live—”

“In America, I know.” Jason’s grin turned playful. His fingertip traced the edge of the gold Rolex, dangerously close to running across the skin of Blake’s wrist. “But I’ve been intrigued. They told me a lot about you.”

“Did they, now?” Blake watched Jason’s fingers, watched goose bumps rising on his arm as if his skin were trying its damnedest to close that minute distance. “All good things, I hope?”

“Well.” Something in Jason’s tone prompted Blake to lift his gaze, and when their eyes met, the blue-eyed rentboy said, “They said you’re a high roller.”

“Isn’t everyone who comes in here?”

“Some more than others. But as they say, you get what you pay for.” Jason’s fingers left the watch and slid onto the back of Blake’s hand. “And as far as I’m concerned, if a man is willing to pay, I’m definitely willing to play.”

Blake’s body temperature was soaring now, and it wasn’t only from the warm fingertips currently exploring the grooves and contours of his hand. “So you’re saying you’re expensive?”

Jason laughed, the sound soft and mischievous at the same time. “Let’s just say that if they sold me in a department store, I’d be in the ‘if you have to ask, you can’t afford it’ section.”

Oh dear sweet mother of God. Blake’s pulse was out of control. How many men had taken out second mortgages, sold their cars, and lived on ramen noodles to pay whatever price Jason commanded? Money wasn’t an issue for Blake, but damn, sitting across from Jason now while that scorching point of contact drove him insane, he was already cataloguing assets that could be, if the situation warranted, jettisoned.

“So that brings us to the next question.” Jason drew swirls on the back of Blake’s hand because, hell, Blake wasn’t already losing his mind. “What are you looking for tonight?”

Blake swallowed. “Well, um . . .”

Get it together, Raleigh. This is a business negotiation. This is what you do. Close the fucking deal without getting screwed. Err, without getting fucked. Err . . . crap.

He took a deep breath and pushed his shoulders back, channeling the professional side of him that had earned the money that would be going into Jason’s wallet tonight. “You ever driven a Lamborghini?”

Jason squirmed. “Not yet.”

“I have one.” Blake grinned. “Had two for a while, but now I have one.”

“Yeah?” Jason held his gaze, and Blake wondered how close the guy was to licking his chops.

Blake turned his hand over and, with a single fingertip, teased the soft skin on the inside of Jason’s wrist. “Car like that fetches a lot of money. A lot.”

“Yeah, it does.” Jason shifted, as if he were trying not to squirm again, but failing miserably.

What’s that, Jason? Is that a button of yours?

Blake leaned closer, mirroring Jason’s advance from earlier. “So you can imagine that you’d want to be very careful where you invest your money with a car like that. Make sure it’s exactly the right model.” He drew his nail along the side Jason’s hand, and was rewarded with a subtle gasp and some goose bumps. “Make sure the seats are good and comfortable. High-quality leather. Smooth transmission.” He grinned. “Right?”

Jason’s Adam’s apple jumped. He didn’t speak, but nodded slightly.

“So I’m sure you understand”—Blake slid his hand free and laid it over the top of Jason’s—“the necessity of a test drive.”

Jason’s eyes met his, and from his wide pupils to his parted lips, the deal was most definitely struck. “Are you here with your own car?”

“Limo driver.”

“What about this: you’ll take me to your hotel, and if you like what you’re getting in the car, I’ll join you in your room and you pay full price.”

Blake was definitely too interested to haggle about the specifics. Jason struck him as exactly the kind of rentboy to get him over his jet lag and rev his engine, as it were. Settling on anything less was out of the question. “Deal. Let me text the driver.” He fished the cell phone from his pocket and told the driver to be at the curb.

Jason half finished his mojito, and they got up and headed toward the exit. The guard—Brandon—gave them a good-natured I told you so smile, and then they were in the alley behind Market Garden.

The driver pulled up, and Blake didn’t wait for him to open the door—he simply held it for Jason and then slid in beside him. “Back to the hotel, please.”

Jason raised the privacy screen before he turned to face him. Then he took Blake’s hand and pushed it against his stomach, right above the belt buckle, and lifted his hips up to make the invitation doubly clear.

Blake couldn’t decide where to touch him first, how far Jason would let him go and how to make the most of the maybe ten minutes they had until they arrived at the hotel. They were brushing, Jason’s legs wide open, and Blake slid his hand over the very hard cock straining against those leather pants. Long and thick too, and, mingled with the scent of the leather—he couldn’t wait to see it, taste it, feel every inch of it.

“No clothes off.” Jason’s eyes were heavy-lidded, but focused. “No orgasm.”

“You’re too much in control for that to happen after a little touching.”

Jason grinned and grabbed his tie. “Not so sure about you.” He pulled the tie knot a bit tighter. “Italian silk?”

“Uh.”

“Milan, I reckon.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever met a man who can analyze a tie while he’s that hard.”

Jason tugged the tie, drawing Blake to him. “Wait till you see what I can do when I’m naked.”

Oh fuck . . .

Jason groaned, his lips nearly touching Blake’s, and Blake realized that he’d squeezed Jason’s cock harder. And obviously Jason liked it, so he did it again, which brought a string of profanity from Jason’s lips. Before Blake could comment—maybe ask how colorful his vocabulary would get when he was naked—Jason kissed him.

Well. That answered the question of whether Jason was okay with kissing on the mouth. Some of the rentboys weren’t, but Jason was . . .

Holy . . .

None of them kissed like he did. None of them. Maybe he was only making sure the test drive was good and impressive, or maybe he really was that turned on, but all the maybes and the possibilities added up to Blake nearly falling to pieces on the limo seat. Jason walked that fine line between aggressive and overbearing, inching just close enough to the latter to be hot as hell. He kept a firm grip on Blake’s tie, as if he knew exactly how much of a turn-on that was, and demanded access to Blake’s mouth. All the while, he rubbed his hard-on against Blake’s palm, as if to remind him that his hand was still on top of the clothed erection that would be his entertainment for the evening.

Jason’s palm warmed the inside of Blake’s thigh, his body heat radiating through Blake’s trousers as if they weren’t even there.

Panic rippled through Blake.

No clothes off? No orgasms?

He opened his eyes and looked past Jason at their surroundings beyond the heavily tinted windows. They were still a few minutes away from the hotel. Still a few minutes away from moving their negotiations into the lobby, the lift, the room, the bed.

And Jason’s hand was slowly—and not very subtly—sliding higher.

Yeah, Jason was controlled enough to keep himself from coming or tearing off some clothing, but Blake’s certainty about his own control was waning rapidly as Jason’s fingertips traced the inseam of his trousers.

Jason ran his whole hand over Blake’s clothed cock and balls. Blake groaned, and he couldn’t help breaking the kiss as he did. He couldn’t concentrate on things like kissing and being kissed and being halfway decent at kissing when those slender fingers were running along every inch of his uncomfortably hard dick.

“Jared and Tristan weren’t lying,” Jason whispered.

“Yeah?” Blake panted. “What . . . what did they say?”

“They raved about you.” Jason’s lips grazed Blake’s at the same time his fingertips traced the head of Blake’s cock through his fly. “They were certainly”—he squeezed Blake firmly enough to make him gasp—“fans.”

“Any specifics?”

“Oh yes.” Jason’s smile was audible. “So far, it’s all true.”

Blake was too turned on to worry a great deal about whether the prostitutes of Market Garden had their own forum where they rated johns. “Such as?”

“Well, what do you think?”

Blake squirmed. “Good personal hygiene?”

Jason rolled his eyes. “That’s a low bottom line.”

“I was trying for self-deprecating.”

“You must be the only guy out there who can be self-deprecating while he’s this hard.” He grinned at Blake, baring all teeth. “It doesn’t really suit you.”

Yeah. Jason was most definitely rattling his cage, and rattling it thoroughly. But it was hard to care with Jason this close, and them both being this turned on. “G-good taste in music?”

“That was one.” Jason sinuously, fluidly pushed against Blake’s hand. “Any other guesses?”

“Rich.”

Jason grinned and nodded. “But we already ticked that off the list. They mentioned your good taste in watches. Actually, your good taste generally.” Jason kissed him again, as if to drive home every meaning of the word taste, and it made Blake desperate to feel those lips around his cock. But—no clothes off, and no orgasm. He sure as hell hoped he’d last longer than it would take them to reach his hotel.

Blake broke the kiss and kissed Jason’s neck, caught a whiff of aftershave or shower gel—whatever it was exactly, it made Jason smell delicious. He couldn’t wait to get him into bed and get down and dirty with him.

The car pulled up outside the hotel, and Blake separated from Jason, reluctantly. No need to scandalize the driver with particulars. The man had probably seen worse, but Blake didn’t quite know where the lines of sexual harassment in the workplace started in the UK. “Nearly there.”

Jason sat up. At some point, he’d let Blake’s tie go, and Blake pushed a finger into the space between throat and the knot to loosen it again.

“So, how did you like the test drive?” Jason adjusted himself in his pants.

“I think we’d better go in my office and discuss price.”

 

About the Authors

EPIC Award winner and Lambda Award finalist Aleksandr Voinov is an emigrant German author living near London, where he works as a financial editor. His genres range from science fiction and fantasy to thriller, historical, contemporary, thriller, and erotica. His books were/are published by Random House Germany, Samhain Publishing, Riptide Publishing, and others.

If he isn’t writing, he studies hypnotherapy, explores historical sites, and meets other writers. He single-handedly sustains three London bookstores with his ever-changing research projects. His current interests include special forces operations during World War II, the history of chess, European magical traditions, and how to destroy the world and plunge it into a nuclear winter without having the benefit of nuclear weapons.

Website | Blog | Twitter | Goodreads

 

L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren. And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut . . .

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Contest!

Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of one eBook off each of our backlists (excluding On The Clock) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 18th, and winners will be announced on July 19th.  Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Please include your email so we can contact you if you win!