Tag Archives: Grand Central Publishing

Tour! Extreme Honor (True Heroes #1) by Piper J. Drake *Review, Excerpt and Giveaway*

HiddenImpact_banner_releaseevent for FB

Extreme Honor (True Heroes #1)
by Piper J. Drake

A Suspenseful Romance
From Forever
Released January 26th 2016

add-to-goodreads-button31

 

Hot military heroes, the women who love them, and the dogs that always have their backs. EXTREME HONOR is the first book in a high adrenaline contemporary suspense series from Piper J. Drake.

HONOR, LOYALTY, LOVE

David Cruz is good at two things: war and training dogs. The ex-soldier’s toughest case is Atlas, a Belgian Malinois whose handler died in combat. Nobody at Hope’s Crossing kennel can break through the animal’s grief. That is, until dog whisperer Evelyn Jones walks into the facility… and into Atlas’s heart. David hates to admit that the curvy blonde’s mesmerizing effect isn’t limited to canines. But when Lyn’s work with Atlas puts her in danger, David will do anything to protect her.

Lyn realizes that David’s own battle scars make him uniquely qualified for his job as a trainer. Tough as nails yet gentle when it counts, he’s gotten closer to Atlas than anyone else-and he’s willing to put his hard-wired suspicion aside to let her do the same. But someone desperate enough to kill doesn’t want Lyn working with Atlas. Now only teamwork, trust, and courage can save two troubled hearts and the dog who loves them both…

 

ExtremeHonor5_RGB300

 Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

 

Review

3-stars

Evelyn Jones arrives at Hope’s Crossing Kennel to assist in the rehabilitation of a military dog who’s having trouble adjusting after his handler’s death. She’s an experienced trainer whose focus is more on the psychological aspects of the dog’s behavior rather than the physical or tactical. She’s excited with the prospect of working with a dog of this type and hopes the success of the case helps to further her career.

David Cruz works as a dog trainer along with his former-military buddies at Hope Crossing’s Kennel. He is Atlas’s primary trainer. He is determined to help Atlas through his funk and get to the bottom of his buddy’s death and doesn’t appreciate having another trainer in the case. Especially a civilian who has never worked with military dogs. However, after witnessing Atlas’ reaction to Lyn he decides to give her a chance to work with the dog. It doesn’t help the case that he’s insanely attracted to the woman or that her presence awakens his every protective instinct.

The very first thing that attracted me to this book was the cover and my anticipation only grew as I read the blurb. The concept of ‘Hot military heroes, the women who love them, and the dogs that always have their backs” sold me on the story and I couldn’t wait to get started. Sadly, the book didn’t fully live up to my expectations.

Don’t get me wrong, the concept was interesting and the author went to great lengths to bring that to the page. I enjoyed Atlas and everything that pertained to him and/or his rehabilitation. I just believe that the romance got lost among the other elements that were introduced.

The premise was intriguing and kept my interest throughout. I enjoyed the added mystery of who was after Lyn and the truth surrounding the death of Atlas’ handler. I admit, I got somewhat lost among the twists and turns the author brought forth, but I enjoyed the process and the added suspense it brought to the page.

Unfortunately, the romance left me wanting and not in a good way. Lyn and David shared an instant attraction, but their chemistry lacked in intensity and their connection never made it fully into the page. I felt like I was just riding along without any chance of investing myself in these characters’ lives. Mainly, I didn’t get a a full picture of who Lyn and David were as individuals. In truth, we mostly got to know Lyn and how her relationship with her stepfather has impacted her life and not much more. And sadly, we got to learn even less about David. This is turn prevented me from connecting with the character’s on a deeper level. It didn’t help that I couldn’t see more than a thread of a connection between them. I would have preferred less self-analysis on Lyn’s side and more personal interaction between Lyn and David.

As the first book in a series, Extreme Honor worked well. The author did a good job of introducing the main players in the series while giving the readers an inside look into Hope Crossing’s Kennel. It also delivered a bit of intrigued and gave the reader an idea of what to expect in books to come.

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

 

Excerpt

Her heart rate had picked up, fluttering at the pulse point under his touch.

“Yeah?” The urge to slide has hands over more delicate areas grew and he couldn’t help running his thumb along the inside of her arm.

Awareness grew in her gaze and she bit her lip as she nodded.

He leaned toward her, focused on her plump lip caught under her teeth.

“What else do you like?”

She opened her mouth to answer but he didn’t plan to let her get a word out. Maybe later. He bent his head to capture her lips.

And seventy five pounds of fur jumped up on his side.

“The hell?”

Lyn gasped. “Atlas!”

Af.” Mindful of the dog’s injury, Cruz gave Atlas a gentle shove.

The dog dropped back to all fours, his tongue lolling. Looking from him to Lyn and back again, Atlas lay back down on his belly.

Jealous. Damn dog was jealous.

***

Be real. Every dog recognizes a fake. And good men can see through it too.

“I’d really like to help.” Honest. Simple. All the other reasons paled in comparison to this.

“Whatever is going on, you know more about it than I do.” She licked her lips, her mouth gone dry.

His gaze dipped, focusing on her mouth. “I might. I know something. I’m not sure it’s related. But this next question is important.”

Can I kiss you?

Doubtful that was the question he was going to ask. But the moment was drawing out and she very much wanted for him to ask it. “Okay.”

“Do you think I would hurt you?”

“No!” It popped out before she had time to think about it. Anger burned up from her chest and spread outward. She scowled. “Of course n—”

He kissed her.

 

7

 

Coming Soon!

Book_2_UltimateCourage
Available July 26, 2016
Ultimate Courage (True Heroes, #2)
Goodreads  | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

 

About the Author

Piper_TH
Piper J. Drake (or “PJ”) began her writing career as “PJ Schnyder” writing sci-fi & paranormal  romance and steampunk. She has recently received the FF&P PRISM award for her work as well as the NJRW Golden Leaf award and Parsec award.

Now, PJ is exploring the complexity of romantic suspense, incorporating her interests in mixed martial arts and the military into her writing.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Google + | GoodReads| Youtube

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sweet New Release! With Every Breath by Lia Riley *Review and Excerpt*

WithEveryBreathBanner

With Every Breath
by Lia Riley

A New Adult Romance
Released December 29th 2015
From Forever

add-to-goodreads-button31

 

BREATHE DEEP … AND JUMP IN

At the ends of the earth, Patagonia is a land where ambition trumps reason and the savage summit of La Aguja lures the most determined climbers. It’s also the last spot a “play-it-safe girl” like Auden Woods expects to find herself. But she’ll lace up her brand-new hiking boots and do whatever it takes to secure a dream job at an adventure magazine . . . even if it kills her. And it just might. When disaster strikes, her only chance at survival comes in the form of the surliest, sexiest mountaineer ever to come out of Scotland.

After a climbing accident cost him his brother, professional mountaineer Rhys MacAskill is at the end of his rope. Redemption is not in his future. That is, until a terrifying storm blows a budding journalist into his tent and it’s up to him to make sure they both survive until morning. Despite the demons weighing on him, Rhys can’t resist the temptation of the charming American and one wild night just isn’t enough.

Auden and Rhys soon learn there are no shortcuts as they navigate their way between life, death, and atonement, and discover something they never expectedlove.

 

Riley_With Every Breath_TP

Amazon | B&N | iBooks |
GooglePlay | Kobo | BAM

 

Review

5-stars

Whenever I start a new book expect her unique style of story-telling, her feisty heroines and her moody yet sexy heroes. And With Every Breath she does it once again!

With witty dialogue, a heavy dose of sizzling chemistry and a vast range in emotions, Lia Riley managed to draw me into the Auden and Rhys’ journey. I admit, I loved every single element she brought to the page. From the flirty banter through the stolen moments along their adventure and even the rampant emotions both Auden and Rhys were dealing. Everything worked together well bringing forth a sweet yet sexy and emotion-driven story.

Of course, it helped tremendously that the story was infused with Lia Riley’s understated humor which helped to move the story along and showcase the unique personality of the characters. While Rhys was appeared carefree and unbothered, he carried a great amount of guilt that weighted him down every day. And while Auden didn’t have major issues to deal with she did come into herself and came out a more confident and assured woman ready to tackle the world.

Auden and Rhys complemented each other in the most basic of ways. They had a great amount of chemistry that jumped off the page, but it was the moments when they found solace in each other when neither expected to find it in the other that truly sold me on the romance. I enjoyed their bickering and easy rapport, but it was the candid moments that showcased how deeply connected they were.

Although I’ve come to enjoy Lia Riley’s more angsty stories, I appreciated the fact that she balanced the emotions brought to the page with humor and camaraderie. The emotions were apparent, yet subtle enough that they didn’t weight down the story. And let me tell you, there were some mighty emotional moments in there!

All in all, a fantastic story. I loved watching Auden and Rhys, two complete strangers, find themselves and love along the way.

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

With-Every-Breath-Quote-Graphic-#1

 

Excerpt

Even in my sleeping bag and dry shirt, her teeth chatter. If she balked at my request to undress, she’s going to go ape over this. Fuck it. There isn’t a choice.

“Auden.”

A thin furrow appears between her brows. “Yeah?”

My stomach tightens. “I’m going to warm you.”

“How?” Her eyes widen.

I can’t hold her gaze and say what I must. “Body‑to‑body contact.”

The world outside rips apart, but in the tent, a heavy silence reigns. She shifts to a half sit. “Oh, no, it’s OK. Look, I’ll be better in a few minutes.”

“You said yourself the cold makes your asthma worse.”

“Yes, but—”

“I know you don’t have a reason to trust me. In fact, if this were normal circumstances, I’d no’ recommend it. But here we are.”

“Nothing about today is normal.” She slowly reclines to the mat, folding her arms across her chest like a mummy, eyes screwed shut.

“No harm’s going to come to you.” It sounds like I’m making a solemn oath.

She opens one eye, gives me an unfathomable look, before closing it again. I’m not used to a woman regarding me like something to endure. Uncertainty weaves through me.

I ease beside her. “This’ll go easier if you turn to the side.” Away from me.

“Good idea.” She rolls to face the tent wall. Her features are hidden, but I can hear each uneven breath, the slightly shuddering inhalation followed by a pause before giving way to a raspy exhalation.

She remains still when I reach, warily securing a handhold on her ribs, their sudden rise and fall the only sign of her silent gasp. “This all right?”

She utters no reply only a brief nod and grips the sleeping bag tighter.

“Everything will be fine, I promise you.” I keep my voice cool, aloof. Give no sign that my chest aches, as if instead of a heart, a great wallowing drunk stumbles about. I never cuddle. Prior to my last girlfriend, Sadie, my dealings with the opposite sex were kept to simple and straightforward shags. Occasionally girls tried to compete with the mountains, but they never stood a chance.

Auden gives another tentative nod, and her scent invades my senses, simple and straightforward, a hint of sweat from exertion, combined with the fresh fragrance of rain. She begins to settle, her violent shiver attacks growing fewer and further between, same with her coughing fits. I keep my pose rigid, controlled, resisting the mad urge to relax into her body as blood pounds thickly in my ears. I can’t do this, be with another person, be human. I need to be a machine. A robot with one goal and one goal alone. To conquer a mountain like La Aguja there can be no room left inside me for any other desire.

When my mind quiets and other wants are eliminated, my attention naturally focuses on visualizing the climb. Once on the rock, this single-​minded concentration will translate effortlessly into correct hand- and footholds or gear placements. In order to climb like you are the only person in the world, you can’t care about anything other than living in the moment. There can be no significant other in the mind’s periphery wielding the power to distract.

Outside the wind shakes the nylon, redoubling its assault. Zipped tight, shut away from the world, we could be anywhere. I’d always appreciated that about tents, how once inside, you became the ruler of your own cramped kingdom of cast-​off socks, sleeping bags, and carefully chosen gear. This time in Valle del Frances, away from the scene at the main climbing camp, is meant to be a chance to establish a cease-​fire in the battle with myself. Being in a tent, in the wilderness, far from a world I don’t understand and that sure as hell doesn’t understand me, is calming.

Now Auden Woods has come along and triggered a whole new conflict with her icy blue eyes.

Icy blue eyes? Looks like prolonged abstinence brings out a lad’s poetic side. If she looks back, she’ll see my mouth twisted in a humorless smile.

She doesn’t, though. She’s too busy trembling, and so I gather her closer, an unfamiliar protective sensation welling inside me. “Better?” I whisper, more a hoarse croak than anything gallant.

“Yes,” she says, turning, her full lips slightly parting to offer the word.

We’re two strangers, haven’t even shaken hands, and yet our bodies press flush. Despite every intention, mine starts to react, and Christ, quick, what are unsexy topics to ponder? When in doubt, go for geology. The Andes are the result of which type of plate boundary?

Conquering La Aguja is going to take all my mental resources. The next few days are needed for getting focused, concentrated, and prepared for the challenge ahead. Auden shifts, drawing closer, and my next breath is almost as ragged as hers.

Aye, this girl is just the sort of distraction that could ruin everything.

 

With-Every-Breath-Quote-Graphic-#3

 

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.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Tumblr

New Release in the Ink & Chrome Series by Lauren Dane *Guest Post, Series Review, Excerpt and Giveaway*

Welcome to Twisted Steel–Seattle’s premiere custom hot rod and motorcycle shop where the men are covered in ink, pierced in all the right places and are very, very good with their hands.

Ink-&-Chrome-Series

Ink & Chrome Series
by Lauren Dane

An Erotic Romance Series
From Forever

add-to-goodreads-button31

 

openingupOpening Up (Ink &
Chrome, #1)

The men of the Twisted Steel custom motorcycle shop are great with their hands… and they’re not afraid to get dirty.

PJ is exactly the kind of woman Twisted Steel owner Asa Barrons doesn’t need. The last thing he wants to do is mix business with pleasure, and PJ has some of the best custom detailing he’s ever seen. But the chemistry between them won’t be denied, and soon he’s introducing her to a whole new world in the bedroom, pushing her far beyond anything she’s ever experienced. PJ finds she can’t get enough, but how far is too far before he consumes her completely?

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BAM | iBooks | GooglePlay | Kobo

 

fallingunderFalling Under (Ink &
Chrome, #2)

Duke Bradshaw, co-owner of the custom motorcycle shop Twisted Steel, is great with his hands and not afraid to get dirty . . . especially in his fantasies about his redheaded neighbor Carmella Rossi.

Carmella has been secretly lusting after her hot, tattooed neighbor for the last three years. His gravelly voice combined with the throaty purr of his custom bike never fails to send thrills down her spine. When Duke asks her to join him at the shop, she can’t say no. Soon their days together spill over into nights that bring her pleasure beyond anything she imagined. But Carmella grew up with bikers, and knows how bad a bad boy can be. Can she put herself at risk for someone who has heart-breaker written all over him?

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BAM |  iBooks | GooglePlay | Kobo

 

comingbackComing Back (Ink &
Chrome, #3)

Arriving back in Seattle after five years, Jessilyn Franklin is done pretending she didn’t want two men. She’s done letting anything stop her from being with Adam and Mick, now back from the war and working at Twisted Steel, a custom hot rod and motorcycle shop. One night changes everything, but their relationship must strengthen to weather the storms they’ll face as they make their way back to one another.

Coming-Back-Quote-Graphic-#4

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BAM | iBooks | GooglePlay | Kobo

 

Top 5 ‘Challenges when Writing a Menage’
  1. Pronouns! An extra person in a scene—especially a sex scene—means you have to be creative to identify that extra he or she without using their names over and over.
  2. Body Parts! Like those extra hes or shes, a ménage sex scene involves extra hands, legs, lips—not to mention all the goodies! Choreographing those extra pieces means sometimes I have to bring out the action figures on my desk to be sure there are enough and not too many of anything. (Amy Pond, Michonne and King Leonidas, FYI)
  3. Making sure each character is unique and three dimensional. Sometimes in ménages one of the characters seems less developed than the other two. It’s important to breathe life into all the heroes and heroines in a romance!
  4. Writing a romance that fits three instead of two. By that I mean, I want readers to see not only why all three are together but to believe their happily ever after. I tend to write ménages where all three characters are in love and sexually attracted to and involved with. Any sexual/romantic relationship is in a very real way, a character in and of itself. So I want the reader to see that spark and connection all the way through.
  5. Realism. This is related to many of the things I name above. In a contemporary ménage there are realities I can’t ignore. It may not be central to the storyline, but not everyone would react in a positive way to a family member in any sort of unconventional relationship.
Series Review

The first book in the series is Coming Up and tells Asa and PJ’s story and I loved it from start to finish.

Asa Barron is not exactly Mr. Relationship. He doesn’t want one, he doesn’t have time for one. But that doesn’t mean that when his libido doesn’t perk up at meeting Penelope Jane Colman (PJ). A man who usually doesn’t let an opportunity pass him by, Asa suddenly finds himself conflicted as to how to proceed. Give into his attraction to PJ or keep her at arms length? Soon his attraction to PJ proves to be too much. He wants to make her his, but at what price?

PJ is not one to play by the rules. Considered the black sheep of the family because she didn’t follow the path set out for her, PJ struggles with family relations. She loves her family, but they refuse to ‘see’ her. Dismissing her ideas while they try to pigeon-hole her within the family business. But she’s determined to make a name for herself and the perfect chance for that is to work on the cars at Twisted Steel. But meeting Asa Barron has her struggling to keep her priorities in check. Asa is the type of man she should stay away from, but the very one who ignites all her desires.

As a fan of Lauren Dane, I could NOT pass up on reading Opening Up. How could I when it had the potential to deliver on all fronts?

  • Sexy, alpha-male hero–check!
  • Feisty, strong-headed heroine–check!
  • HOT New series from Lauren Dane–I was sold!

What I enjoyed the most about this title was how both characters struggled with their attraction for the other. It was wonderful to see these two trying not to give in to their desires. Seeing how they hesitated, analyzed and ultimately gave in to what was brewing between them made for a fantastic read for me.

Of course, it helped tremendously that Lauren Dare infused that sexual tension with some humor and honest interactions. I found PJ and Asa’s stories, the secondary characters and the men camaraderie to be the perfect complements to the romance that was blossoming.

I came to admire Asa’s loyalty and his caring side. It showed whenever he interacted with his family and eventually it transitioned to include PJ too. Likewise, I admired PJ’s independent and care-free heart. She was talented and friendly. I enjoyed watching her come into herself and stand up for what she wanted, not only from her family but from Asa too.

The secondary characters played an integral part of the story. I enjoyed how PJ and Asa’s interaction with other characters showcased the different sides to their personalities that otherwise would have been kept hidden. I especially loved Duke Bradshaw and I’m curious to read his story, which comes in the next book in the series.

As I’ve come to expect from Lauren Dane, ASa and PJ’s chemistry was off the charts hot and completely tantalizing. I loved it whenever these two came together intimately, just as much as I enjoyed their bickering and flirty banter.

As the first in the Ink & Chrome series, Opening Up served its purpose and more. It not only brought forth a fantastic erotic romance but it also set the stage for upcoming books. All in all, an awesome start to a series.

Next we move up to Falling Under, which is Duke Bradshaw’s book. I didn’t know what to expect of the woman who would snag Duke’s attention but it was not Carmella. So you could say I was surprised to see these two together. Of course, Lauren Dane also made theirs a fantastic story and my favorite in the series so far.

Duke is part-owner of Twisted Steel and with the office administrator quitting, he’s in dire need of help. He believes his next door neighbor is the perfect candidate, he’s not expecting however, to find his match in her.

Having worked in his uncle’s shop before and currently unemployed, Carmella Rossi jumps at the opportunity Duke is offering. She’s been lusting for her neighbor from afar, but her focus must stay on her job responsibilities. However, spending her days and even some nights with Duke at the shop has her struggling to keep her attraction for him at bay.

OMG! This story was such a surprising little gem. Especially since I had my doubts about Carmella stepping up to the plate when it came to sexy-as-hell Duke’s way of playing. Not only was I proven wrong, I enjoyed the hell out of it too!

I loved the way Duke and Carmella were brought together and it’s because of this that I consider this my favorite in the series so far. Usually there’s an initial obvious connection to build upon, then the chemistry takes over while that connection is developed. In this story, the chemistry takes center stage from the very beginning and the connection is slow in coming–it is present, but subtle and questionable.

Duke and Carmella had admired one another from afar and their attraction to one another only seemed to increase the more time they spent together. Since Carmella had experienced a bad relationship already, her trust was not easily won. This made it that much harder for their connection to take root. Although it wasn’t an easy feat to accomplish, Duke and Carmella’s connection did grow as the story progressed. I appreciated the author’s efforts to build upon that initial connection by having them share some fantastic candid moments along with honest dialogue about their pasts. It helped that Duke was relentless in his pursuit of Carmella and that they shared a great deal of chemistry. I especially enjoyed the undercurrent of sexual tension that existed between Duke and Carmella–in and out of the shop. Heated looks, whispered dirty words and flirty banter were only some of the elements that helped to showcase Duke and Carmella’s chemistry.

I appreciated the way the author wove Carmella’s story without it taking away from the romance that was building between Carmella and Duke. Especially since I enjoyed watching how their flirty banter and intimate encounters transitioned into something more meaningful but equally intense. The process was slow in coming, but very enjoyable since it provided many amusing moments and showcased how fantastic these two could be.

Which leaves me with the latest release in the series Coming Back, which is Mick’s story. As a fan of the series I couldn’t help but be intrigue by Mick. He had a tendency to keep to himself and whenever prompted to talk about his past relationships he would close off, which of course did nothing to soothe my rising curiosity. But now here’s his story and it was everything I was expecting and more!

Mick and Jess were childhood friends who already shared a deep connection when Adam came into the picture. But Mick’s family and his upbringing made him doubt his place in the relationship and he ultimately ran away and left Jess and Adam to reenlist in the military. Feeling out of control with Mick leaving and with continuing his relationship with Jess, Adam retreated to himself and broke away from Jess leaving her heartbroken and determined to move on.

Mick meets Asa and Duke while serving and eventually moves back home to work in Twisted Steel. He exchanges text and emails with Adam, who’s become a successful architect and has finally found a way to harness his need for control, but Mick hasn’t allowed himself to pursue more with him. All the while, Jess focuses on her work and becomes a successful costume designer and seamstress. Hell, she even attempts to have a relationship with another man. But it’s no use. Mick, Adam and Jess might be living full lives, but there’s an empty place that can only be filled by being together again.

Mick, Adam and Jess have a shared history that left them all with heartache and regrets. Coming together again to celebrate Mick’s success allows them the chance to rebuild bridges and try their hand at a relationship again. Although their love for one another has remained constant, they are not the same people they were back then.

These three are committed to not make the same mistakes that tore them apart, but that’s not to say that their journey is without obstacles, mistakes nor regrets.

What I enjoyed the most about this story was the way Lauren Dare allowed the reader to get to know each character as an individual while still giving them the opportunity to see them relate to one another as part of a triad relationship. I appreciated her effort in bringing forth their past connection while she strengthened and showcased how deeply connected they currently were. Of course, the fact that they shared an amazing chemistry added to my enjoyment, but if I’m being honest it was those candid moments spent talking about their past, their needs and their doubts that ultimately sold me on their relationship.

All in all, an amazing steamy yet romantic series. I’ve come to love the characters and have enjoyed seeing each of the men of Twisted Steel find their happily ever after. Lauren Dane has done a fantastic job with this series and I can’t wait to see what she has in store next for her readers.

*I received a copy of Falling Under and Coming Back in exchange of my honest opinion.

 

Excerpt–Coming Back

“Shirt off, Jess,” Adam whispered in her ear like a fallen angel luring her to temptation.

“Just because it’s off doesn’t mean it has left my custody,” she told Mick as she whipped her shirt up and over her head. If she was expected to give back all the clothing she pilfered, she’d be naked a third of the time. She stole them, they were hers. That was the rule.

Mick’s grin made her tingly and swoony. Honestly, how could she ever have thought happiness was possible without these two people in her life?

“I’d never think to steal my shirts back once you have them.” Mick stepped close enough to slide his upper body against hers.

“Oh!”

Laughing, Mick reached around her to get Adam’s shirt free as well. “You too.”

Jessi turned in their arms so she could get a look at Adam, and holy cow was she glad she had. Tawny skin played over his upper body. No ink but on his inner forearm at his elbow. Jessilyn. In her handwriting. He’d shown it to her the last time she’d seen him.

“I never told you why I put your name there,” Adam said as she slid her fingertips over his skin.

She waited for the telling and when she did, he smiled, grinding his cock into her.

“You’re my addiction. The thing I need more than anything.”

Always so tough. So taciturn and grumpy. And yet, so very tender it broke her heart sometimes. Hell, he’d broken her heart more than once too. It came with loving him, she’d finally accepted.

“Is that why you denied yourself?” She gave in and combed her fingers through his hair. “And denied me too, I might add.”

“I had to work through a lot of shit, and I couldn’t do it with anyone else. I had to do it alone.” His voice was rough, full of guilt and anguish.

“I hear the guilt in your voice. Let it go.” Selfishly, she wanted him to be unfettered when he came to her at long last. So she’d know he was there for good.

“So you don’t hate me?” he asked.

Startled, her eyes widened and she tugged on his hair to get his attention. “I could never hate you, Adam, and if I did, I wouldn’t be here. I’m here because I’ve always been here, just waiting for you to remember that.”

He pressed into her body as Mick gave no quarter at her back. Being squeezed that way kept her immobile.

And it was delicious.

He said nothing else before he bent to kiss her. At first slow, teasing, sexy kisses that heated her belly and made her knees feel like noodles. He licked at her lips, teasing her mouth open until she sighed happily.

Mick played his fingertips up her sides, brushing over the curve of her breasts. “When I saw these tonight I knew you’d worn that dress for me.”

“I admit that when I tried it on and it had all that tasteful side boob I knew you’d appreciate it,” Jessi said as Adam moved away from her mouth.

“Who doesn’t appreciate it?” Adam asked as he stepped back enough to grab the waistband of her pajama bottoms and shove them down her legs, along with her panties. “As far as side boob goes, yours is aces.”

Jessi laughed and then got nervous because they both still had pants on and there she was naked as a jaybird.

“Mick, why don’t you lead our angel to the bed?” Like a switch had been thrown, Adam took charge. He drew authority around himself like a cloak.

Mick backed her up slowly, caressing her shoulder before pressing kisses across her skin.

It was really happening. After years of going through the motions, here it was, the moment she’d been waiting for since she’d woken up to find out Mick had reenlisted.

Desire made her limbs heavy, left her movements languid as Mick shifted to lay her back on Adam’s big bed.

“I’m naked and neither of you are,” she said, proud she’d remembered all her words. She got snagged up in the details. The muscles and ink. Both men’s gazes roamed her face and her body and there was no mistaking just how happy they were to be right there.

The inner walls of her pussy contracted on nothing, sharpening the ache.

“Patience,” Adam said.

She raised a brow his way. “Are you new here?”

Mick, laughing, bent to kiss her.

A crack sounded and Mick groaned into her mouth as he moved forward. Did Adam just spank Mick? Jeez, they had to hold some of this super hot stuff back or she’d burn to cinder.

She opened her eyes to watch Mick straighten, a flush on his neck. Adam liked it too, getting caught up for a few moments before turning back to Jessi.

“I’m not new here, no. I know you’re impatient and greedy when it comes to orgasms.”

Jessi grinned at Adam, knowing there was a but coming along soon.

“But I’m in charge. You’ll get what you’re begging for. When I’m ready to give it to you.”

One of those sort‑of orgasms, the kind you had in dreams, stole through her as she squeezed her thighs together. He was going to kill her from desire. Or something. She really couldn’t wait.

 

 

About the Author

Lauren Dane

The story goes like this: While on pregnancy bed rest, Lauren Dane had plenty of down time, so her husband took her comments about “giving that writing thing a serious go” to heart and brought home a secondhand laptop. She wrote her first book on it. Today, Lauren is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 60 novels and novellas across several genres.

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hot New Release! Seduction and Surrender (Reckless #2) by C.C. Gibbs *Review, Excerpt and Giveaway*

S&S-Release-Week-Blitz

Seduction and Surrender
by C.C. Gibbs

An Erotic Romance
From Forever
Released December 1st 2015

add-to-goodreads-button31

 

From the peaks of erotic ecstacy—to the point of no return . . .

Power. Passion. Pleasure beyond imagining. Billionaire playboy Rafe Contini offers all this—and more—to the beautiful Nicole Parrish, a young American traveler with a taste for adventure that matches his own. From the private yachts of Monte Carlo to the palatial estates of Geneva to the glittering penthouses of Bangkok, Rafe has shown her a world of unimaginable sensual delights. Now, he is ready to take her to the next daring level. Of danger. Of desire. Of deliciously erotic self-discovery . . .

Nicole has never known a man as sexy, as strong—or as commanding—as Rafe Contini. Night after steamy night, he turns up the heat, tests her boundaries, and pushes the limits of her body and soul to the point of sweetest agony. But when this masterful lover sweeps her away to a secluded island getaway—where anything can and will happen—Nicole must decide just how far she wants to take this game. And just how much she can bend Rafe’s rules . . .

 

Gibbs_Seduction & Surrender_E-Book

Amazon | B&N | iBooks |
GooglePlay | Kobo | BAM

 

Review

3-5 stars

After events in the previous book, Rafe and Nicole relocate to gather their resources and continue their two week arrangement. Although burdened to fight the threat and surrounded by his men, Rafe’s determined to make the most of his time with Nicole. It seems he can’t get enough of her and Nicole appears to feel the same way. But as the danger moves in closer and their time comes to a close, can Rafe and Nicole make something more of their time together?

After reading Power and Possession I was looking forward to seeing how these two would fare in their ‘arrangement’.

Rafe and Nicole continue to have an intense chemistry that jumps of the page every moment they spent together. Rafe was trying to keep Nicole at bay of the threat against his business, which in turn had him pulled in two different directions–work and pleasure. This added to the tension between them, which made for a great read.

I did find that the longer it took Rafe to fight the threat against him, the more distracted he became. This had its advantages and disadvantages too. Like I said, he made every effort to keep Nicole distracted so he upped the ante and their sexual encounters increased in heat. Phew! Those two surely sizzled together. I did miss their candid moments, but the author more than made it up by bringing more emotion to their encounters. So a win-win there for me. 😉

In regards to the threat, I think the author made a great effort of keeping the reader intrigued while still not complicating the plot and overwhelming the reader. I found myself wondering what the hell was happening next and where the hell Zhou and his mistress/child were. I was eager for the threat to be eliminated so that I could finally know where Rafe and Nicole stood in their relationship, but I appreciated that the author didn’t skim on bringing forth the conflict.

As a follow-up book in the Reckless series, Seduction and Surrender, worked very well. Not only does the reader get a continuation on the arrangement started in the previous book, it also gave them an intriguing storyline and a set of fantastic characters that added something to the overall story.

Although I was satisfied by the story the author brought about, the story lost a bit of it luster. I attribute this to my difficulty to follow the multiple third person POV used, however, I can understand why the author felt the need to go this route. Nonetheless, it took me away from the story several times, which resulted in my interest waning from time to time.

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

 

Excerpt

Twenty minutes later, the helicopter banked steeply to the right, the pilot pointed, and Rafe’s private island rose out of the Adriatic Sea, spreading slowly across the horizon—a sizable expanse of mountainous landscape visible through the shimmering mist, a faint silhouette of a distant castle materializing out of the haze.

Nicole’s brows shot up in surprise. “A castle?” Leaning in close to Rafe so he could hear her over the rhythmic thump, thump, thump of the rotors, she felt a shiver run up her spine. “You didn’t mention a castle.” Castles had dungeons! Kink and dungeons were practically a stereotype, her overactive imagination pointed out, even as a flashback of images from way too many horror films suddenly had her heart tripping. Jesus, get a grip! She was on holiday with the most ridiculously beautiful, shamelessly lovable, wet dream of a man; life couldn’t be better. Okay?

“It’s not exactly a castle yet.” Rafe smiled. “It’s closer to a rock pile that’s burning through money. I call it my hobby. My accountant calls it a nightmare. ”

“Speaking of nightmares,” Nicole said, her apprehensions flaring again at the reference to things that go bump in the night. “Reassure me about dungeons. Don’t ask. It’s stupid, I know, but…”

Taking note of Nicole’s trepidation, Rafe chose a marginal lie rather than argue reality versus her wild imagination. “No dungeons. Don’t worry. And you’ll love the room that’s been restored in the tower,” he offered, avoiding further discussion of dungeons. “You can pretend you’re a twelfth-century demoiselle. I’ll pretend I’m the crusader who never reached the Holy Land, built this castle instead, and chose the lucrative life of a pirate.” He grinned. “So wanna play? I’ll make it worth your while.”

A small frown mirrored her lurking anxiety. “I don’t know—maybe, probably, let me think.” Rafe’s unencumbered views on wealth always gave her pause to consider—how he could buy anything and anyone, pleasure and perversion alike, no hassle, no questions. And the words pirate and play weren’t particularly reassuring on this remote island with its spectacular limestone cliffs, wind-swept twisted pines, and medieval ruins.

“Maybe?” A teasing query. “Look, if you must know—and don’t you dare laugh—your castle ruin is kinda creepy. It reminds me of Frankenstein’s monster.”

Rafe’s brows rose. “Seriously? You believe in that shit?”

“I’m trying not to— oh God, is that the tower?” As the distance to the island narrowed, the castle tower loomed, half derelict, dark and gloomy against the blue sky. She squinted, took a small breath, and muttered, “That’s scary.”

He stared at her. “You’re kidding.”

“Okay, how about it makes me a little unsettled?”

“Good.”

His smile was so wide, his goddamned dimples showed. “Meaning?” she said, half guarded, wishing she hadn’t watched so many spooky movies.

“Come on, pussycat, relax,” he said pleasantly. “I promise you’ll have fun.”

Nicole gave him a hard, steady look. “No offense, but I’m in the middle of fucking nowhere. I’m allowed to wuss out.”

He flicked a glance at the passengers behind them. “You’re in the middle of nowhere with beaucoup bodyguards. You’re safe as hell.” A small smile. “If that’s what you want.”

“They’re your bodyguards.” Her eyes grew wide. “Jesus, don’t look at me like that.”

His smile was pure, bad-boy brilliance. “Like what?”

“Like you’re going to eat me alive.”

“As I recall, you like—”

She put her hand over his mouth because the pilot was grinning and she wasn’t anywhere near as blasé as he was.

He licked her palm and she jerked her hand back and tried to glare at him, but he was smiling at her now like she was the best thing that had ever happened to him and her frustration fell away before the flat-out beauty of his smile.

Recognizing her capitulation, he leaned in, tucked a dark curl behind her ear, and kissed her cheek softly. “Consider me your guardian angel,” he murmured, and at her skeptical look, amended it to “Personal guardian—how about that? And we’ll have privacy once we land.” He flicked a glance toward the pilot. “Just you and me. No one else.”

“Except for those people down there.” She pointed at a small village of whitewashed, blue-roofed houses spilling down the hillside from the castle gates. “And the staff required for that.” A sprawling peach-colored Venetian palazzo surrounded by gardens came into view beyond the castle walls.

Rafe touched her ear with his lips. “Everyone will keep their distance. I’ve given orders. So you’re free to scream as loud as you like, wherever and whenever you like.”

She turned, grinning. “Appreciate your foresight and planning.”

“I’m here to make you happy, Tiger.”

 

 

Reckless series

See how Rafe and Nicole’s story begins in book one in the Reckless series, POWER AND POSSESSION

gibbs_powerandpossession_tr12Power and Possession (Reckless, #1)

add-to-goodreads-button31

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks

 

About the Author

C.C. Gibbs is the pen name of a New York Times bestselling author. She lives in the Midwest, at times in Northern California, is married with three children and considers the life of a writer the best of all possible worlds. Bringing characters to life allows her imagination full rein, while the creative process offers fascinating glimpses into the machinery of the mind. And last but not least, researching anything, but particularly a book like ALL HE DESIRES—thank you Google—is great fun!

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Intriguing New Release! Steal Me (New York’s Finest #2) by Lauren Layne *Review, Excerpt and Giveaway*

Steal-Me-Release-Week-Blitz

Steal Me (New York’s Finest #2)
by Lauren Layne

A Contemporary Romance
From Forever
Released November 24th 2015

add-to-goodreads-button31

Being a cop might be in Anthony Moretti’s blood, but protecting and serving the city of New York has always been more than just the family business. If that means his love life stays locked up, well then that’s just another sacrifice made in the line of duty. That is, until he sets eyes on the gorgeous new waitress at The Darby Diner and suddenly Anthony’s morning coffee is leaving him a whole lot more hot and bothered than usual.

Though waitressing at The Darby isn’t exactly Maggie Walker’s dream job, it pays the bills and gives her time to work on her novel. Now if only she could stop fantasizing about gorgeous Anthony Moretti every time he sits down at her table, she’d really be in great shape. But when he needs her help identifying a criminal threatening The Darby-and Maggie recognizes her ex-husband-she fears her fresh start might be a pipe dream. Faster than a New York minute, Maggie and Anthony find themselves in one perilous pursuit that only gets hotter with each and every rule-breaking kiss.

 

Layne_Steal Me_MM

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo
| BAM! | GooglePlay

 

Review

4 stars

Anthony Moretti is settling into his Captain position and is having difficulties closing a case. He has no time to waste, especially on the adorable but clumsy waitress that serves him and his family every Sunday morning. Having Maggie involved in his case it’s not helping his frustration nor is it decreasing her allure.

Maggie Walker is making a new life for herself in New York. She spends most of her days working as a waitress and all her spare time writing her book. The last thing on her mind is getting romantically involved, considering she got divorced not too long ago. But exploring the attraction between her and the Captain can’t be helped, especially since he makes it obvious that it won’t lead to any sort of relationship.

This story was such an unexpected surprise! Lauren Layne has been in my radar lately, especially because of her Redemption series which I’ve come to love. So of course, it came as no surprise that I would find this story so enjoyable.

I loved the many sides to Anthony–loving son, loyal cop and alpha male streak. He was tough and closed off emotionally, but there was a part of him that wanted what his parents had and what his brother recently found. He just didn’t believe it was in the cards for him. Maggie, on the other hand, wore her heart on her sleeve. Although she had given up on ever finding love, she yearned to find the type of romance she wrote about in her books. She was smart, strong-headed and the perfect match for Anthony.

Both Anthony and Maggie were great characters to get to know, especially since they tried so hard to fight their attraction for each other. The constant bickering, the stolen looks and heated exchanges all added to my enjoyment of these two getting together. I loved how the author made it a point to bring forth their connection while still delivering on the intrigue surrounding the case and the family drama these two dealt with.

Although this is the second book in the New York’s Finest series, it can be read as a stand alone. The story focuses on Anthony and Maggie’s relationship and the case they were involved in. I did enjoy meeting Anthony’s family and the couple from the previous book, so I’m hoping to start Frisk Me in the near future.

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

 

Excerpt

Something shifted then. The balance of power. And this time it was in Maggie’s favor.

For as long as she’d known Anthony Moretti, she’d been trying to measure up. Trying not to embarrass herself, trying not to spill on him, embarrassed by her small apartment, embarrassed by her family, even her dog …

But something was shifting

This time, Maggie understood that maybe his life wasn’t any easier than hers. That he had his own demons to fight.

Only … he wasn’t fighting. He was giving up.

She felt an unfamiliar spark of anger.

She could sympathize about what had happened with his ex-girlfriend certainly, but did that really excuse the fact that he was letting external circumstances to dictate his life?

The fact was, he was being a coward. By shutting himself off from risk, he was also shutting out the chance for something more.

“I can’t do complicated,” he said when the silence stretched on.

Maggie nodded. Pursed her lips. Picked up her beer and took one less sip before setting it back on the counter.

She started to move past him towards the front door. Stopped when their shoulders were even, although she didn’t glance at up at him. “That’s too bad. Because this is one time when ‘complicated’ would have been really good.”

Her hand was on the doorknob before he stopped her, pulling her around so hard she slammed up against his chest.

His fingers were rough as they plunged into her hair, but she welcomed the slight pull. Welcomed even more the possessive pull of his lips on her when he claimed her mouth, sinking his tongue into the depths of her mouth without preamble or apology.

Maggie’s fingers were equally greedy as she held onto his hair, her mouth moving restlessly against his. Anthony tilted his head to bring take the kiss even deeper and Maggie moaned.

This is what kissing was supposed to be like.

He pulled back, just slightly, his breath hot and heavy against her face. “Say you want this.”

Her own breath was ragged. “I already told you that.”

His lips found the underside of her jaw. “Say it again.”

Maggie closed her eyes. “I want this.”

I want you.

Anthony lifted her then, as though it were nothing. Just wrapped his arms around her, and swooped her up, southern belle style.

“A girl could swoon with moves like this,” she said, lifting her face up so her lips could nuzzle his neck.

He growled. “I hope a girl will do a lot more than that when I’m done with her.”

Anthony kicked open his bedroom door, and she had the vague sense of a Spartan room, a perfectly made bed, a small dresser, not the tiniest bit of clutter before he set her on the bed.

Maggie started to scoot back to make room from him, but his hand found her knee, stopping her. “I’m in charge.”

 

About Lauren Layne

A long-time romance reader, Lauren Layne thinks the only thing better than reading about happy endings is writing them. She now pursues a full-time career in Happily Ever After, a job she’s naturally suited for after marrying her high school sweetheart. A bit of a nomad, Lauren’s lived everywhere from Orange County to Manhattan, and currently lives in the Seattle-area. Her hobbies include coffee by day, wine by night, and lots of writing in between. She’s also a total website nerd and insists you check out laurenlayne.com!

Website | Twitter | Facebook

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

New Release! Where the Heart Leads (What the Heart Wants, #2) by Jeanell Bolton *Excerpt*

Where-the-Heart-Leads-Launch-Day-Blitz

Where the Heart Leads (What the Heart Wants, #2)
by Jeanell Bolton

A Contemporary Romance
From Forever Yours
Released November 17th 2015

add-to-goodreads-button31

 

A woman’s past…

A new beginning. It’s the only thing former child star Moira Farrar wants. Putting her painful Hollywood memories in the rearview mirror, she’s headed to Texas and to an exciting new job directing a small-town theater group. But it’s the sinfully sexy smile of red-headed rancher Rafe McAllister that makes Moira really dream of starting over-even though she knows that anything more than a fling would set the stage for heartbreak.

A cowboy’s future…

When Rafe buried his wife three years ago, he buried his heart along with her. Now, the only woman in his life is his daughter . . . and all of the women in Bosque Bend know that. But from the moment he lays eyes on Moira, he feels alive again. Maybe it’s her quick wit and clear-eyed compassion. Whatever it is, Rafe wants Moira, body and soul. So why is she so skittish? Rafe aims to find out-before his second chance at happiness rides off into the sunset…

 

Bolton_Where the Heart Leads_E-Book

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | GooglePlay | BAM

 

Excerpt

Moira followed Sarge through the barn door.  No rain had fallen yet, but navy blue clouds had gathered at the edge of the sky and the air smelled of ozone  She looked around the barnRocky was nowhere in sight, but Astrid was leaning against Dakota’s stall, waiting for them.

She pushed off the stall and walked over to them.  “Rocky had to take care of her car so I rubbed down both horses and put them in their stalls.  Rafe, that Bella horse tried to bite me.  I’ve never had a horse do that before.”

Rafe shook his head.  “Bella’s vicious—bad to the bone.  I’m surprised you could handle

her at all.”

He swung off his horse and reached up for Delilah. As he lowered her to the ground, a

thunderclap shook the barn, and she buried her face against his leg.

Astrid stepped forward.   “Rafe, how about I run Delilah into the house right quick before the rain starts while you take care of Star?” 

“Good idea.”  Rafe knelt down to his daughter’s level.  “Miss Astrid is going to get your to the house before the rain starts, sugar.  She’ll take care of you till the pretty lady and I come in.”

As Astrid and Delilah started up the road, Moira swung her leg over Star’s back, but before she could reach the ground, Rafe’s arms were at her waist and he was turning her to face him.

Her heart pounded, and she grasped his shoulders.  She wasn’t expecting this.  And she didnt want it—or maybe she did.

He slid her slowly down his body, tight against his hardness, and she felt the heat rise in her cheeks.  Her breathing turned to a soft pant and the barn was suddenly much too warm.

Oh God, she did want it. 

He kissed her—softly, gently, lingeringly.

She felt faint.  She felt happy.  Her ears rang.  She could live in this moment forever.

His voice was a whisper in her ear.  “Have lunch with me tomorrow in town.”

Moira nodded, so full of wonder she could hardly speak.  One syllable was all she could get out, but it was enough.

“Yes.”

*

The rain came in spits and spatters, first a polite pitter-pat, and the next minute, a windshield-blinding maelstrom, then back to the droplets again.  Moira gazed out the window of the car at the sodden landscape, but didn’t really see a thing.

Good thing Astrid had volunteered to drive.  She’d have run them off into a ditch.

What had Rafe McAllister done to her?   Her pulse was thumping and her nerves humming and she felt like she was floating on air.  God help her, that was exactly what it had been like when Colin kissed her the first time.

Remember that, Moira, and dont let yourself get caught in another spider web. Forget about love.  The windshield wipers backed her up with each swish–sex only, sex only, sex only.

Astrid shot her a quick look.  “Okay—spill.  What happened with you and the cowboy?  You’ve been in another universe ever since I left you two alone in the barn.”

 

 

About Jeanell Bolton

Award-winning author Jeanell Bolton is an active member of the Austin chapter of Romance Writers of America. She has three children, one husband, and one dog. She lives on five glorious wooded acres in the boondocks of Georgetown, Texas. In past lives, she has been a teacher, an activist, an artist, a journalist, and a chorus director, but she is now settled into writing about deep, dark romances which end up happily ever after, which is how it always should be.

Facebook | Website

Now Available in Paperback! Power and Possession (Reckless #1) by C.C. Gibbs *Review, Excerpt and Giveaway*

P&P-Launch-Day-Blitz

Power and Possession (Reckless #1)
by C.C. Gibbs

An Erotic Romance
From Forever
Available in Paperback September 1st 2015

add-to-goodreads-button31

 

The ultimate pleasure lies in sweet surrender…

Brash. Brilliant. Devastatingly handsome. Billionaire playboy Rafe Contini can have any woman he wants-no strings, no commitments, no promises. But when American graduate student Nicole Parrish crashes his private party in Monte Carlo, he wants more than a casual one-night stand. He wants to possess this beautiful stranger-body, mind, and soul.

Nicole isn’t interested in being possessed by any man-especially one as powerful as Rafe. But with a seductive smile and enigmatic charm, he lures her into his private world of erotic discovery and pushes her to the brink of ecstasy. In the summer days-and nights-that follow, they explore every forbidden fantasy, every willful desire, every wild, dizzying sensation. And come dangerously close to crossing the line-between love and lust, pleasure and pain, power and possession…

 

gibbs_powerandpossession_tr12

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | GooglePlay | Kobo | BAM

 

Review

4 stars

Isn’t awesome when a book surprises you? That’s what happened to me with Power and Possession. Here I was expecting the same old, same old I’ve come to expect from this type of story, but C.C. Gibbs kept surprising me at every turn!

Rafe Contini is a sexy billionaire with a trail of women left behind. He does what he wants, when he wants it. And that concept applies to his sex life too. He struggles with some demons and trust is not something he gives out lightly. Rafe only trusts a close group of people and he likes it that way. So when he meets Nicole Parrish, he’s utterly confused by his need to get to know her, make her his and keep her at his side.

Nicole Parrish is on holiday and having the time of her life. Her M.O. is to have fun and keep entanglements at bay. She knows of Rafe Contini’s reputation, so she’s not surprised when he makes a move on her. What does surprise her is her need to give in and let him have her.

I’ve read plenty of ‘billionaire romances’ so when I read the blurb for this story I thought I had an idea of what to expect. What I didn’t expect was how deeply drawn I would be into it. I admit, I was fascinated by Rafe and Nicole’s instant connection. Yeah, yeah I’ve read it before–the insta-lust. But C.C. Gibbs made it different when she paired two stubborn, hard-headed individuals and made them each crazy in lust. Like flabbergasted-in-lust! I loved it!

I liked that Nicole was strong and independent. She gave as good as she got, which made for some very entertaining banter between her and Rafe. That’s not to say that Rafe made it any less interesting. I loved watching him struggle with what Nicole’s presence brought to the surface. He was rattled by his need to not only have her, but keep her too. Something he never felt before her.

Needless to say that Rafe and Nicole’s chemistry was off-the-charts HOT! That chemistry sizzled from their initial interaction all through the end of the book. OMG! The sexual frustration alone was something I enjoyed thoroughly. It jumped off the page scorching my tablet along the way. Slowly but surely, things started getting a bit more intimate. Soon it wasn’t about the conquest alone, but something more. Both Rafe and Nicole were surprised by it, both were reluctant to give in. Yep, very enticing indeed!

As the first book in the Reckless series, this book was spot-on. It not only brought about Rafe and Nicole’s relationship, but also set the tone for the coming books. I enjoyed the secondary characters and what they added to the story. Especially Dominic, Nicole’s uncle. He’s the sexy billionaire in All He Wants, the first book in the All or Nothing series by C.C. Gibbs. It was a treat to see how he and Kate were holding up and how he’s still that same ‘take charge’ man I grew to love.

If you enjoy your romance with a bit of attitude and a whole lot of steam then this story is right up your alley. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series. I can’t wait to see these two giving into their emotions. I have a feeling it would be like pulling teeth, but so very epic.

All in all, a fantastic first book in a series. Sexy, fun and thoroughly enjoyable!

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

 

Excerpt

“Where are you staying?”

“At my uncle’s apartment.”

“Come to my place.” He folded his hands on the table, leaned forward a little, his gaze focused, her appeal powerful as a riptide, ignoring the fact that what he was about to say was messing with his head. “I’ll kick out everyone else.”

“Everyone else? Meaning?” She didn’t lack confidence, and he was notorious for his casual sexual encounters.

For some reason he didn’t mind her impertinence. “Only male friends. I never allow women to stay with me.” He smiled. “Until now. So how about it?”

“Sure, I’d like that.” And suddenly the summer takes an interesting turn. So far the boys of summer had been only mildly interesting. “But not for long.” She wrinkled her nose. “I have to go back to school in a couple of weeks.”

Rafe suddenly went still; her little nose twitch reminded him of a child. “Just for the record,” he murmured, “how old are you?” People graduated college at any age; he had at nineteen.

“Worried?” Nicole flashed him a grin. “How much does it matter?”

He scowled. “It matters.”

“Or?”

“Or you’re gone.”

“Now neither of us wants that,” she said, amusement in the blue of her eyes. “Do we?”

He didn’t move a muscle, even his breathing quieted. “Don’t,” he said, very softly. “No games.”

Nicole’s voice was lush with provocation. “Really? I’ve heard you like games.”

“You heard wrong.” He held her gaze for a moment, then sighed. “Tell me your age or get the fuck out.” Hand of fate or not, he didn’t do stupid.

“Twenty-two.” Her brows rose in perfect arcs.

“So, are we seeing blue skies and rainbows once again?” Honeyed sarcasm dripped from each word. “Or do I find someone else at this party to entertain me?”

Rafe’s smile slowly unfurled and his eyes took on a predatory glow. “You could try, I suppose. But you wouldn’t get out the door.”

“Oh dear, oh my, I do declare,” she lamented in playful parody. “Am I your captive?”

“You are.” Smoothly rising from his chair, he strode toward the door. “Now I’m going to lock the door, then fuck you till morning.”

“And then what?”

Whoa. The unmistakable note of demand in her voice brought him to a stop. He turned. “I’m sorry, did you say something?”

She met his insolent gaze and smiled. “I said—and then what?… As in afterward.”

Audacious or foolhardy? Fascinating certainly. He winked. “Afterward, you can tell me your name. How’s that?”

She winked back. “I’ll think about it.”

He went very still. “Is this a contest?”

“I hope not,” she murmured, gazing at him from under her long, dark lashes. “I hope I get what I want.”

“Which is?”

“Do you need a list?”

“Do you know what you’re doing?” Unsure whether it was anger or lust igniting his senses, his voice took on a raspy edge and his golden gaze turned cold.

“I can’t answer that definitively, but right now it looks like your dick knows what it’s doing,” she noted, with a languid lift of her hand.

He looked at her for a moment. A woman had never taunted him before and he wanted to pick her up and shove his dick so far up her pussy he’d need a road map to get out.

“Don’t,” she said, very, very softly. “This could be really good… mind-blowing in fact. You have to know that.”

“Fuck you,” he whispered, shifting his stance enough to ease the pressure on his erection.

“Anytime… Just not that way, okay?”

He dragged in a ragged breath. “Don’t tell me what to do.”

She held his gaze, unflinching. “Nor you me.”

A smile slowly overcame his discontent as he held her contentious stare. “Why don’t we see?” he said very gently. “You might like it after all.” Then he reached back, turned the key in the lock, slid it into his pocket, and moved toward her.”

 

Pre-order your digital copy of
Seduction and Surrender (Reckless, #2) today!

Gibbs_Seduction & Surrender_E-Book

Rafe and Nicole’s tempestuous affair continues in the second book in the Reckless series, on sale December 1, 2015!
Amazon | B&N | iBooks | GooglePlay | Kobo | BAM

 

About the Author

C.C. Gibbs is the pen name of a New York Times bestselling author. She lives in the Midwest, at times in Northern California, is married with three children and considers the life of a writer the best of all possible worlds. Bringing characters to life allows her imagination full rein, while the creative process offers fascinating glimpses into the machinery of the mind. And last but not least, researching anything, but particularly a book like ALL HE DESIRES—thank you Google—is great fun!

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Related articles:

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

Inside-Out-Print-Release-Blitz

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

A New Adult Contemporary Romance
From Grand Central — Forever

Released in Print July 28, 2015

add-to-goodreads-button31

 

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?

 

Riley_InsideOut_ebook

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | GooglePlay | Kobo

 

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

upside downRiley_SideSwiped_ebook

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

add-to-goodreads-button31

Amazon | B&N | BAM! | Kobo | iBooks

 

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.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Tumblr

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Related Articles:

Now Available in Print! Sideswiped (Off the Map #2) by Lia Riley *Review, Excerpt and Giveaway*

Sideswiped-Print-Release-Blitz

Sideswiped (Off the Map #2)
by Lia Riley

A New Adult Contemporary Romance
From Grand Central Publishing – Forever
Print Release June 30th 2015

add-to-goodreads-button31

 

It was only meant to last the summer…

Talia Stolfi has seen more than her share of loss in her twenty-one years. But then fate brought her Bran Lockhart, and her dark world was suddenly and spectacularly illuminated. So if being with Bran means leaving her colorless SoCal life for rugged and wild Australia, then that’s what she’ll do. But as much as Talia longs to give herself over completely to a new beginning, the fears of her past are still lurking in the shadows.

Bran Lockhart knows that living without the beautiful girl who stole his heart will be torment, so he’ll take whatever time with her he can. But even though she has packed up her life in California and is back in his arms for the time being, she can’t stay forever. And the remaining time they have together is ticking by way too fast. Though fate seems determined to tear them apart, they won’t give up without a fight-because while time may have limits, their love is infinite . . .

 

Riley_Sideswiped_TP
Amazon | B&N | iBooks | GooglePlay | Kobo | BAM

 

Review

5-stars

Sideswiped picks up right where Upside Down left off with Talia back in the States and getting ready to return to Australia to move in with Bran.

The honeymoon is set to continue with Talia and Bran living together and working on their careers, but real life is a bit more complicated and worries, insecurities and ghosts from the past threaten to tear Talia and Bran apart.

As with the first installment in the series, I loved this story because of the range in emotions the author brought to the page. However, I was a bit disappointed that some of Talia and Bran’s camaraderie–that thing that made Upside Down such an enjoyable read for me–was lacking.

I understand that this was more of an exploration of how hard it is to make a relationship work. It dealt with the ups and down of a relationship and how real life can get in the middle of it. So yes, I understood that the funny moments and the banter would be kept to a minimum. But for me, that easy camaraderie, the bickering and the easy way Talia and Bran related to each other was what made their relationship so strong. They could deal with the emotional and the obstacles thrown their way and still keep their easy-going rapport.

That said, I still enjoyed this story. Lia Riley didn’t hold any punches in bringing the emotions to the page or in challenging Talia and Bran’s relationship from all sides.

This time around Talia struggles with the uncertainty of her future in terms of her career and how her decision will affect her relationship with Bran. Thankfully, she has matured enough to recognize that she must follow her own path and has grown confident that what she and Bran share is more than a passing emotion. But her struggle is made more complicated as she tries to get a handle on her disorder and when her biggest obstacle becomes the man she loves.

Bran is stubborn and refuses to compromise. His fear of abandonment, coupled with his previous experience in a relationship, make him reluctant to accept his dream position. A man used to going for what he wants, he struggles with being with Talia completely or pursuing his dream assignment.

As the story progresses, Their love continues to grow but the obstacles thrown their way take their toll on their will to make their relationship work. Talia and Bran confront their demons, withdraw from one another but ultimately decide to go for what they truly want.

Sideswiped is the second book in the Off the Map series and recounts Talia and Bran’s the journey of trying to find their place in the world–as individuals and as a couple. Although it can be read as a stand alone, I wouldn’t recommend it. This story would not have been as satisfying or heart-warming if I couldn’t have experienced how these two came to be together.

All in all, a wonderful story of how two individuals find themselves while still holding on to one another.

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

 

Excerpt

Talia passes out hard from the travel and epic reunion sex. I’m too amped for sleep, so I lie in the dark and trace her spine. Can you love someone too much? No point being afraid, might as well jump in it with both feet. I press my mouth to her neck and she undulates, responsive even from her dreams. If miracles were real, I’d swear we were designed to fit together.

I loop my arm around her waist and hold fast, until our breathing syncs. I’m drifting off when she jerks—hard—once, twice. Her body recoils as she unleashes a lung-tearing scream.

“Talia, wake up. Come on, sweetheart, talk to me.” I clamber over her, hunching protectively. “Open your eyes. It’s Bran. I’ve got you. I’m not letting go.” I keep talking while she flays my chest like she’s drowning under ice, desperate to find a break in the surface.

“Can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I…where am…oh God. Bran.”

“I’m right here.” I cradle her while she draws another unsteady gasp. Her hair plasters her forehead in sweaty wisps.

“Give me a minute. I’ll be fine.” She pushes herself to a half-sit and sways with disorientation. “This…this happens sometimes…panic attacks or night terrors…whatever. They seem to come when I drop my guard. Or, I don’t know, maybe it’s the meds. Those pills make me feel like a toxic waste dump.”

“Have you been bad this summer?” The muscles in my neck cord. It shreds my guts to see her hurting. I’d do anything, any fucking thing, to carry her pain. I don’t fully understand the inner workings of OCD but she’s explained that for her, the condition comes in waves. Everything will be rolling along fine, more or less, and then bang—a giant squid grips her brain. She fights hard for recovery, a warrior even when she believes she’s nothing but a coward.

“No, not really.” She grinds her eyes with the backs of her hands. “I kinda danced around the edge of the rabbit hole a few times but never fell inside.”

My muscles release some tension. “Try to go back to sleep. You need the rest. Don’t worry, I’ll keep watch, okay?”

“I’m sorry to be such a psych job. It’s totally shaming.”

“Shhhhhh.”

Her chin tips down. “Can you talk to me for a little while? Get me out of my fuckball head?”

“Hey now, I got mad love for that head, Captain.” I kiss her brow, acting chill even though I’m scared. How can I get her to settle? Then it hits me. “I want to take you surfing again.”

“Mmmm, that’d be nice.”

“Picture yourself out there, in the water, on a board, under the shooting stars.”

“With sharks eyeballing me from the depths?”

“Nah, they’re all busy hunting sea lions or some bloody mischief. This is you, the sea, and the sky. A set rolls in. You can’t make out the wave. The board lifts and you feel the momentum building. There’s fear deep in your belly, sensible, because you can’t see what’s coming or where you’re going. You fight the self-protective instincts, give yourself over, and the next thing you know—you’re having the ride of your life.”

“Thank you.” She flips in my arms so we’re belly to belly. “I mean it. That was beautiful, really, really beautiful. I’m so excited to be here, for right now—to live in the moment. But it’s like I have this…this weird mental stutter. My thoughts keep skipping over the same annoying question like a scratch on vinyl: What will we do?” Tears spill from the corners of her eyes, course silently toward her chin. “My visa.”

Talia’s been granted a three-month student visa to complete her senior thesis in history. In all its benevolent generosity, the Australian government expanded her time in the country by an extra month.

Four months—the sum of our allotted time.

“They’ll make me leave.”

“Don’t believe everything you think.” I wipe her damp cheeks.

“Can you tattoo that on my forehead?”

Maybe it’s my imagination, but the brass alarm clock on the dresser clicks louder.

Another second gone.

Another second gone.

“I’m not losing you to some shithouse immigration policy, Captain. We will be all right in the end.” I’ve no idea how the hell I’m going to solve this drama but I will figure it out. “We have to hope, otherwise we’re sunk.”

She jerks with surprised laughter.

“What?”

She hiccups and covers her mouth with her hand, shoulders shaking. It takes me a second to realize she’s giggling.

“I’m funny to you right now?” This girl drives me every sort of crazy.

“I’m not laughing at you.” She works her lips together and unsuccessfully smothers the smile. “It’s—”

“Forget it.” I instinctively stiffen.

“Bran the Optimist.” She grabs my wrists, lifts my palms to her face, and plants a kiss in the center of each one. “I like this side of you.”

“Never mind. I was being dumb.”

“You were awesome.” She pecks the tip of my nose. “And for the record, I love your stupid face.”

I give her a begrudging kiss back. “I love yours too.”

Love isn’t enough of a word.

I wasted almost an entire year of my life implementing a scorched earth policy, not caring who I left burned and broken in my path.

Talia was my oasis. My salvation.

“Don’t give the visa a second thought.” I nestle her against me, rubbing her lower back in easy circles. “I’ll sort this out, I swear to you.”

Even if I don’t have the first fucking clue.

 

 

The Off The Map Series

upside downUpside Down (Off the Map, #1)

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | BAM! | iBooks | GooglePlay

 

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.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Tumblr

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Related Articles:

Now Available in Print! Upside Down (Off the Map #1) by Lia Riley *Review, Excerpt and Giveaway*

UpsideDown-Print-Release-Blitz

Upside Down (Off the Map #1)
by Lia Riley

A New Adult Contemporary Romance
From Grand Central Publishing – Forever
Print Release May 12, 2015

add-to-goodreads-button31

 

If You Never Get Lost, You’ll Never Be Found

Twenty-one-year-old Natalia Stolfi is saying goodbye to painful memories—and turning her life upside down with a trip to the land down under. For the next six months, she’ll pretend to be a carefree exchange student. Everything is going to plan until she meets a surly surfer with hypnotic green eyes, and the troubling ability to see straight through her act.

Bran Lockhart is having the worst year on record. After the girl of his dreams turned into a nightmare, he slunk back to Melbourne to piece his life together. Yet no amount of disappointment could blind him to the pretty California girl who gets past all his defenses. He’s never wanted anyone the way he wants Talia. A single semester abroad won’t cover something this serious. But when Bran gets a stark reminder of why he stopped believing in love, he and Talia must decide if what they have is once-in-a-lifetime… or if there’s a plane to California with her name on it.

 

upside down

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | BAM! | iBooks | GooglePlay

 

Review

5-stars

Talia is moving to Australia for a semester abroad. She’s conscious that what she’s really doing is running away from her problems, but after all she’s been through she just needs to get away–from the memories, the pain, the routine. Everything is going accordingly until she meets Bran.

A brooding, sexy stranger Bran manages to ‘see’ her as others have failed to do before. He’s been burned before and has vowed not to get his heart involved in any type of relationship, but there’s something about the American girl that calls to him.

I loved this story because it had a unique mix of fun and emotional with conflicted characters and realistic circumstances. Talia can be any college girl out there dealing with loss and a widely misunderstood disorder. And Bran is the mysterious handsome guy who’s had a lonely childhood and a broken heart.

Lia Riley did an amazing job in bringing these characters’ complexities to the page. I could easily understand where Talia and Bran were coming from and relate to them in other levels too. Who hasn’t been confronted with the uncertainty of life after college? Who hasn’t endured a broken heart and been afraid of risking being hurt again? But most of all, who hasn’t felt the pain of losing a loved one and struggled to find their way in life?

All of these real-life scenarios were delved upon in this story, but what made it unique for me was that the author went the extra mile in bringing the emotions these events would bring about while still bringing in funny and entertaining moments.

I loved Talia and Bran’s serious moments where they left their emotions come to the surface and I admired the way they eventually let their walls down to let the other in. But I also loved their candid moments, their banter and their flirty exchanges. Their connection shined through even as they fought their attraction and feelings for each other. This was what truly made this story such an enjoyable read for me.

Excerpt

“Is it true you have no regrets, not even one?” Hopefully he has no idea how dead serious I am in his response.

“There’s no point.” His fingers tighten infinitesimally on the wheel. “The past is the past. That’s it.”

“Like whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?”

“No, that’s a dumb-ass cliché. I mean there’s no meaning to life, despite what people pretend. Once I figured that out, everything got easier.”

“Has anyone ever said you are intense?”

“Since the day I was born.” He checks the rearview mirror. “So I got to ask you something. Maybe I’m presuming but—”

“If that’s your lead-in, then you’re probably correct.”

“You don’t fool me.”

He’s right. No matter how hard I try to hide and pretend away my crazy, Bran sees too much.

“But you try to fool everyone, don’t you?” He turns and catches me staring. “With the act. You, all breezy, cute as hell, always smiling like we’re at some big-deal party. You know what I think—”

“No, actually.” Wait, I’m cute? He thinks I’m cute?

“Not sure what your issue is, but—”

“I’m fine,” I mutter tightly. Reality wanders back, as unwelcome as a drunk uncle at a family picnic. Let’s face it, no one wants to be around a girl with issues. “Really, I’m all good.” Right, I sound like a five-year-old watching worms die in puddles.

“Whatever you say, Miss OCD.” He glances from the open atlas on my lap to my pursed mouth with a thoughtful look.

“I…I…” Anxiety locks me in an invisible chokehold while my abdomen spasms. But Bran’s gaze isn’t mocking. There’s an unexpected sweetness there that’s coaxing me from my familiar fortification. “I guess maybe it’s something like that.” My whispered words rise above my head like a toxic balloon.

“Must kinda suck.”

People don’t kid if they think you’re crazy, right?

“Sucks donkey balls.”

He grins. “An unpleasant flavor.”

Suddenly I can breathe again. “And you’d know how?”

A second crawls past. He keeps his veiled eyes trained on the road.

“Bran?” Finally, I can’t take it. I need to say something. “You acting nice is unfamiliar, and, frankly, uncomfortable, territory.”

“Is being interested a crime?” He kneads the back of his neck. The deep, massaging rhythm is mesmerizing. His thumb is a little wide. He keeps his nails neatly cut.

“You’re interested?” I’m off-kilter, like I’ve taken back-to-back rides on the Tilt-A-Whirl at the boardwalk.

“In your quirks. Let’s hear another one.”

“One more. That’s it. Then we’re done for the day.” I kick off my flip-flops and cross my ankles. “I can’t fall asleep without reciting this long poem, Paul Revere’s Ride.”

How is this even possible? We’re talking about my most shameful secrets like it’s just another thing. Why isn’t he pointing a judgmental finger at me, crying, Shun her, shun the freak?

“And you call me kinky? What do your boyfriends say when they sleep over?”

“I repeat the words in my head, not out loud. And I’ve never had a boyfriend.”

“Wait, how is that even possible?”

“What? The no-boyfriend situation?” The words make me sound like a bigger loser when spoken aloud. There’s a very good reason. Too busy obsessing over my sister’s big love. But I don’t say that. Even in this sharing mood, some words strangle. Still, I’ve hinted at my blackest secret and wasn’t smote down, laughed at, or ridiculed.

A new song starts that’s all angsty and instrumental—dramatic violins, slow guitar riffs, and measured drumbeats. I don’t want to go dark, not right now, when everything almost glows.

I spy Bran’s iPod up on the dash and reach forward. “We need different music—”

“But we haven’t finished talking about— Wait! Hold up.” His hand darts but I’m quicker.

“What?” I dangle the iPod out of reach. “Cool guy like you have something to hide?

Maybe a secret Beyoncé playlist or…” I flick on the screen. “Oh to the Em Gee.”

“Go on.” He heaves an exaggerated sigh. “Don’t hold back.”

“Justin Bieber?”

“I watched my nieces yesterday. They have a dance recital to the song next week. I helped them practice their routine.”

“You? That’s so normal.” And sweet.

“Yep. I broke it down to the Biebs.”

“Please, tell me there’s a video.”

“I’m secure in my manhood, Captain.”

 

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. Right now, Icelandic hot springs and Scottish castles sound mighty fine.

She and her family live mostly in Northern California.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Tumblr

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Related Posts — My Reviews: