Tag Archives: Loveswept

New Release! Call Me, Maybe by Ellie Cahill *Review*

callmemaybe

Call Me, Maybe
by Ellie Cahill

A New Adult Contemporary Romance
From Loveswept
Released February 9th 2016

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Ellie Cahill is definitely one to watch!” raves bestselling author Cora Carmack, and this steamy, upbeat modern romance about connecting in all the best ways proves it once again.

Clementine Daly knows she’s the black sheep. Her wealthy, powerful family has watched her very closely since she almost got caught in an embarrassing scandal a few years ago. So when Clementine’s sent on a mission to live up to the Daly name, politely declining isn’t an option. Of course, the last thing she does before boarding the plane is to grab a stranger’s phone by mistake—leaving the hunky journalist with her phone. Soon his sexy voice is on the line, but he doesn’t know her real name, or her famous pedigree—which is just the way Clementine likes it.

Despite all the hassles, Justin Mueller is intrigued to realize that the beautiful brown-eyed girl he met at the airport is suddenly at his fingertips. They agree to exchange phones when they’re both back in town, but after a week of flirty texts and wonderfully intimate conversations, Justin doesn’t want to let her go. The only problem? It turns out that Clemetine has been lying to him about, well, everything. Except for the one thing two people can’t fake, the only thing that matters: The heat between them is for real.

 

callmemaybe

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Review

This was a fun, flirty read with an understated yet impressionable range of emotions that rounded up the story nicely.

I thought the author did a fantastic job in bringing forth Clementine and Justin’s connection to the page, even though their romance came about abruptly. I appreciated this immensely, especially since they met in such an unconventional way.

It helped tremendously that their chemistry jumped off the page and that their connection continued to grow and strengthen with their every encounter.

If you enjoy a sweet yet hot romance between interesting characters that are down to earth and fun to get to know, then like me, you’ll come to enjoy this story from beginning to end.

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

About the Author

ellie

Ellie Cahill is a freelance writer and also writes books for young adults under the name Liz Czukas. She lives outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with her husband, son, and the world’s loudest cat.

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New Release! Against the Wall by Jill Sorenson *Excerpt and Giveaway*

Againstthewall

Against the Wall
by Jill Sorenson

A Contemporary Romantic Suspense
From Loveswept
Released February 2nd 2016

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Fans of Katie McGarry, Simone Elkeles, and Tammara Webber will love Against the Wall! As teenagers, they fell for each other despite the odds. But now that Eric and Meghan are all grown up, they’re reunited by fierce passion and dangerous secrets.
 
Eric Hernandez is the bad boy of every schoolgirl’s fantasies—and every mother’s nightmares. But after serving time for manslaughter, he’s ready to turn his life around. He just needs a chance to prove himself as a professional tattoo artist. The one thing that keeps him going is the memory of the innocent beauty he loved and left behind.

Meghan Young’s world isn’t as perfect as it looks. The preacher’s daughter is living a lie, especially now that Eric is back. Tougher, harder, and sexier than ever, he might be the only person she can trust. But there’s no telling what he’ll do to protect her if he learns the truth, and that’s a risk Meghan won’t let him take. And yet, back in the arms of the troubled boy with the artist’s soul, Meghan can’t help surrendering to the man he’s become.

 

againstthewall

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Excerpt

Noah exchanges a glance with April and takes Jenny into the kitchen. It’s awkward, being on his turf. I don’t belong here. I belong in Castle Park, the down-and-out neighborhood where I used to live with my grandma. Now she’s in Mexico with the rest of my family, and I have nowhere else to go. Nowhere safe, that is. I’m supposed to stay in a stable environment, and I can’t leave San Diego. It’s one of the conditions of my parole.

“Let’s get you settled,” April says brightly.

I grab my backpack and follow her. On the phone she told me I could sleep in the den. It looks sort of like an office with a small bed in the corner. I spot a vintage desk and an old-school record player I recognize as Meghan’s.

I’m struck by memories of the last day I spent with her. She had a room upstairs back then. When we first met, it was just Meghan and Noah living here. She put on some music and I laid her down on her bed. I took everything she had to offer and then some. I can’t even bring myself to regret it. That memory, more than any other, has sustained me on lonely nights in my cell. I’ve jerked off to a thousand variations of it.

I know that Meghan moved out a few months ago, but I imagine her lingering presence. The smell of her hair on the pillows.

“This was Meghan’s room?” I say, my voice hoarse.

April opens the closet, which is half-full of girl clothes. “I can ask her to move her stuff.”

“No,” I say. I don’t need the space; everything I own fits inside a backpack.

“Are you sure?”

I sit on the bed, nodding. This arrangement is temporary, anyway. “Which room are you going to use for the nursery?”

April waves her hand in the air. “I want the crib in my room. You can stay here as long as you like.”

I wonder if Noah is on board with this. He can’t be thrilled about having an ex-con under the same roof with his pregnant wife and stepdaughter. He got promoted to the homicide division, but money might be tight. I should cut out as soon as possible. I’m not a charity case, and even though Meghan’s not here, it doesn’t feel right to inhabit her space.

It feels . . . dangerous. Tempting.

I’ll never forget the look on her face when I told her I didn’t want her. She stared at me with soft blue eyes and trembling lips, pale from shock. Hardest fucking lie I ever told—and I’m an accomplished liar. But I couldn’t let her waste three years on me. I couldn’t let myself wish for something that far beyond my reach. I had to be cruel to be kind.

At least, that was how I justified my actions three years ago. Looking back, maybe I just wanted to be a dick. Getting locked up has that effect. It touches every raw nerve and stirs every violent tendency. It stokes prejudices and festers resentments. The only acceptable outlet for male prisoners is rage.

“When you’re ready, come out to the backyard. Noah’s grilling some carne asada.”

My stomach rumbles loud enough for her to hear. Smiling, she slips out the door and down the hall. She looks happy. That’s the difference in her, along with her rounded belly and fuller curves. She’s not exhausted anymore. Noah takes care of her. Or she takes care of him.

They take care of each other.

April hooked up with Noah around the same time I started seeing Meghan. He interviewed her about the murder of one of her coworkers, a waitress at Club Suave. Cops aren’t supposed to date anyone involved in their investigations, but apparently he couldn’t resist. They fell in love before I went to prison and got married shortly after.

Noah has been good to April and Jenny. Much better than Raul was. Even so, my urge to leave grows stronger. I don’t want to cause problems or be a burden to anyone. I’ve never been part of a nice family. I don’t know how to act civilized anymore.

This isn’t my scene.

I glance around, wiping my sweaty palms on my jeans. There’s a nightstand by the bed. I open the first drawer and peer inside. Unlike the closet, it’s empty. I close it in mild disappointment. I’m not sure what I expected to find in there. Some random girl stuff, like makeup and perfume.

I remove the clothes from my backpack and toss them into the empty drawer. I have three shirts, an extra pair of pants, and some basketball shorts. Then I bring out my prized possession: my portfolio.

I like art. I can draw almost anything from memory. My favorite medium is spray paint on a fresh concrete wall, but in prison the materials are limited. Most of my drawings are ink on lined paper.

I also do ink on skin. It’s how I survived in the joint.

I was only twenty when I went in. I’m about five foot ten, not the biggest guy on the block. I’ve got muscles and I’m strong, but I’ll never be huge. I have a lean build and features they call handsome. To say that I needed protection is an understatement. Despite my unlucky size and face, I had three things going for me when I went in. First, I was down for CVL, my local clique. The Chula Vista Locos pay dues to the Mexican Mafia, also known as La Eme. So I was already connected to a powerful prison gang.

The second advantage I had was my best friend, Junior. We both got locked up at the same time and sent to the same prison. It’s not unusual for San Diego criminals to do sentences in Chino or San Quentin—they’re the two largest correctional facilities in the state. Junior wasn’t in my cellblock, but we saw each other in the yard. He became a captain for La Eme. If anyone fucked with me, Junior made them pay.

The third advantage was my talent for art. I can hold my own in a fight, but I didn’t want to earn my keep that way. I didn’t want to be anyone’s bitch, either. Instead of offering those services, I sold drawings and tattoos. I was the best in my block.

Tattooing has been the only bright spot in my life. Without my art, and my best friend, I’d probably be dead.

 

About the Author

jillsorenson

Jill Sorenson is the RITA-nominated author of more than a dozen romantic-suspense novels. She has a degree in literature and writing from California State University. Her books have been selected as Red-Hot Reads byCosmopolitan magazine, and have received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal. Sorenson currently lives in the San Diego area with her family. She’s a soccer mom who loves nature, coffee, reading, Twitter, and reality TV.

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New Release Tour! Fighting Dirty (Worth the Fight #5) by Sidney Halston *Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway*

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Fighting Dirty (Worth the Fight #5)
by Sidney Halston

A Contemporary Romance
From Loveswept
Released January 5th 2016

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If you love the MMA romances of Vi Kreeland and Kendall Ryan, Sidney Halston’s Worth the Fight series will knock your socks off! In Fighting Dirty, a geek-chic cage fighter proves that appearances can be deceiving . . . and oh-so-tempting.

With his preppy clothes and horn-rimmed glasses, Enzo Silva is the last dude anyone expects to find in a mixed martial arts gym. A wealthy Brazilian banker who never had to fight for anything, Enzo’s stuck in the amateur circuit—but he burns to make the pros. Maybe that explains the heat he feels whenever he’s around Jamie Lynn Calhoun. The pint-size, magenta-haired bartender with the Texas drawl is everything he’s not . . . and everything he craves.

Tough as nails and independent to a fault, Jamie Lynn—JL to her friends—works hard to pay her bills and keep life simple. Enzo is doing his best to complicate that. Even though she likes to bust his balls, he’s got some kind of a nerdy-hot vibe that makes JL wonder if she might finally be able to let her guard down. It might do the boy some good to spend some time in her world, where blood, sweat, and victory are as sweet as the first taste of real love.

Fighting Dirty_cover

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Guest Post–
Meet the staff of Worth the Fight Academy

Worth the Fight Academy, or WtF, is a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) training gym in Tarpon Springs, Florida. It is owned by Slade Martin and Francesca Silva. Slade, a former MMA heavy weight winner who can’t fight anymore because of repeated injuries to the head. It was his lifelong dream to own an MMA gym and as we learn in FULL CONTACT (Worth the Fight Series #2), he is able to buy into the gym and is now half owner. Francesca, the other owner, doesn’t quite feel as blessed to have inherited the Academy.

As we learn in BELOW THE BELT (Worth the Fight Series, #3), Francesca steps slightly away from her ownership responsibility to go to law school and Tony Marino, the overly- confident and hardheaded Cuban takes over management together with Slade.  Tony is a very well-known international heavy weight champion whose arrogance and partying has the media calling him a “has-been”. He has to prove himself against a younger more serious fighter in the final fight of Below the Belt.

Cain, another fighter and trainer, is the hero from LAID OUT (Worth the Fight Series, #4). He is one of their prize fighters but he also helps train some of the newer fighters such as Enzo and Travis. Cain is a stoic ex-military special forces who can be self-destructive, sometimes fighting in dangerous underground bouts.  Cain also helps Slade and Tony train some of the newer fighter such as Enzo, the hero from FIGHTING DIRTY (Worth the Fight Series #5). Enzo is different from all the other fighters in the Academy. He comes from a very privileged family who sees the sport as barbaric and beneath them. However, having grown up in Brazil, where Jiu Jitsu is such a big sport, he is fascinated by it. He has to balance training (something he loves) with his family’s business (something he hates) and sometimes training becomes secondary.

Another fighter, and Enzo’s brother in law is Travis. Travis has been around since book 1. He’s the youngest fighter but the most dedicated. He’s the hero in the final book, STACKED UP (Worth the Fight Series #6). Finally, there’s Jack, the cop by day, fighter by night, the hero from book 1, AGAINST THE CAGE (Worth the Fight Series Book #1).

So, those are the main male characters in the books, even though there are other fighters, such as Iggy, who come around and train when they are in town.

 

Excerpt

JL knew that, short as she was, she often intimidated men with just a look. That’s what confidence did. And she had it in spades. It made you as tall as you wanted to be. As pretty as you wanted to be. As rich as you wanted to be. Because if you had confidence, nothing else mattered. That was a lesson she’d learned a long time ago.

But even with all that confidence, she wasn’t blind to the differences between her and Enzo. He was from a different world, and she could feel the distance between their worlds every time she thought about going out with him. It had all been harmless flirty fun until he’d taken things too far and kissed her a few weeks ago. And what a kiss it had been. He’d kissed her as if he were stuck in a desert and her mouth were the only thing that could quench his thirst. She still felt all sorts of things running through her body when she thought of the way he’d backed her up against a wall, not caring who the hell was around, gripped her neck, and slipped his tongue between her parted lips. She’d embarrassed herself by melting into him and mewling in need. In fact, she might have even dry-humped his leg. It had been that good a kiss. Then he’d let her go and challenged her by saying, “Next time you’ll beg me to kiss you.” Like she’d ever beg a man! But now, with his glorious body on full display . . .

As if he could sense her inappropriate thoughts, his eyes met hers. His stare felt like a warm caress all over her already ignited body. The charcoal fell out of her hand and a shiver ran down her spine. Is it getting hot in here? She shifted uncomfortably on her chair, but he didn’t break eye contact. Then, the ultraconservative man who had been asking her out constantly for almost a year winked at her. It caught her by surprise, and she quickly hid behind her canvas.

 

Worth the Fight Series

againstthecage
Against the Cage (Worth the Fight, #1)
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fullcontact
Full Contact (Worth the Fight, #2)
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belowthebelt
Below the Belt (Worth the Fight, #3)
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laidout
Laid Out (Worth the Fight, #4)
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About The Author

Sidney_Halston

Sidney Halston lives her life by one simple rule: “Just do it.” And that’s exactly what she did. At the age of thirty, having never written anything other than a legal brief, she picked up a pen for the first time to pursue her dream of becoming an author. That first stroke sealed the deal, and she fell in love with writing. Halston lives in South Florida with her husband and children.

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Spotlight: Worth the Fight Series by Sidney Halston *Series Review*

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Worth the Fight Series
by Sidney Halston

A Contemporary Romance Series
From Loveswept

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Love gets way more than a fighting chance in USA Today bestselling author Sidney Halston’s seductive MMA romances! Beginning with Against the Cage and continuing with Full Contact, Below the Belt, Laid Out and the upcoming  Fighting Dirty, the Worth the Fight series features loyal, hard-edged mixed martial arts fighters and the women who fall for them.

 

againstthecageAgainst the Cage (Worth the Fight, #1)

In her Loveswept debut, Sidney Halston turns up the heat as a sexy cage fighter shows a former bookworm how delicious a few rounds between the sheets can be.

For Chrissy Martin, returning to her Florida hometown always seems to bring bad luck. The day starts with a breakup text, followed by a jailhouse phone call from her troublemaker brother. Now a routine traffic stop has ended with her accidentally punching an officer . . . in a delicate place. Then Chrissy realizes that the hot cop on the receiving end of her right hook is none other than the man from her teenage fantasies.

Jack Daniels knows how to take a hit. After all, when he’s not chasing reckless drivers, he’s kicking ass in a mixed martial arts ring. So what takes his breath away isn’t the low blow, but the woman who dealt it: a gorgeous knockout with legs Jack wouldn’t mind being pinned under—who just so happens to be his best friend’s nerdy little sister, all grown up. Soon their instant chemistry leads to a sizzling affair, but Jack and Chrissy are fighting an uphill battle if they want to make love last beyond the final bell.

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fullcontactFull Contact (Worth the Fight, #2)

Sidney Halston returns to steamy Tarpon Springs, Florida, where a hell-raising bad boy prepares to get down and dirty for the woman he loves.

How could she have been so stupid? When Jessica Cross decides to give her violently jealous boyfriend—the otherwise influential and charming Dennis Stavros—a second chance, she very nearly becomes a statistic. After weeks of healing from a broken rib and collapsed lung, and with Dennis behind bars, Jessica finally feels ready to come out of hiding. But will she ever be able to take a chance on love again with someone new?

Mixed martial arts fighter Slade Martin knows he has a bad reputation. Hell, he’s probably earned it. So it won’t be easy to convince beautiful, vulnerable Jessica that she can trust him—that from the moment she walked into his life, she’s been the only one he’s wanted. Powerful and confident, Slade knows he can honor his vow to protect Jessica body and soul. Winning her heart will be another matter . . . but a woman like Jessica is worth the fight.

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belowthebeltBelow the Belt (Worth the Fight, #3)

In Sidney Halston’s latest sizzling MMA romance, a former title contender turns the tables on his knockout trainer with a lesson in seduction.

Once one of the most sought-after names on the mixed martial arts circuit, Antonio “Scarface” Marino watched his career go down for the count as he chased skirts and made tabloid headlines. Now he’s finally making a comeback, and it’s all thanks to Francesca Silva, a Brazilian bombshell as tough as any of her fighters. But who’s the real Francesca: the trash-talking trainer who rides him hard, or the vulnerable woman who blushes at his touch?

Francesca went to the mat to sign Tony because she believes he still has the potential to bring big success to her gym—if she can keep his head in the cage and out of her personal life. After a short-lived marriage soured her on love, a one-night stand is all she can handle. Now Tony’s kisses are stirring up complicated feelings—especially when he agrees to face her ex in the ring. Francesca’s used to freezing guys out. But Tony’s tempting her to give in to the heat.

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laidoutLaid Out (Worth the Fight, #4)

Perfect for fans of Monica Murphy and Cecy Robson, Sidney Halston’s scorching new MMA romance proves there are no holds barred when it comes to seduction.

Growing up an Army brat, Violet Channing could never meet her dad’s high expectations. But in the eyes of her best friend, she could do no wrong. He even insisted that he should be her first kiss. Now Cain Sorensen is all grown up, hardened by years in special ops and always looking for a good fight. Tall, with striking blue eyes and impossibly blond hair, he’s a modern-day Viking warrior. Of course, Violet’s all grown up, too, and she’s ready to surrender to his every command.

Cain knows he’s bad for Violet. His work is dangerous, and his hobbies are downright deadly. As a private mercenary and a mixed martial arts fighter, he could never let such an innocent soul into his world. And yet his most grueling combat training is no match for Violet’s killer curves, hot touch, and suggestive glances. Now all of Cain’s most explosive fantasies are coming true—but once they cross the line between friends and lovers, there’s no turning back.

Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo

Fighting Dirty_coverFighting Dirty (Worth the Fight, #5)

If you love the MMA romances of Vi Kreeland and Kendall Ryan, Sidney Halston’s Worth the Fight series will knock your socks off! In Fighting Dirty, a geek-chic cage fighter proves that appearances can be deceiving . . . and oh-so-tempting.

With his preppy clothes and horn-rimmed glasses, Enzo Silva is the last dude anyone expects to find in a mixed martial arts gym. A wealthy Brazilian banker who never had to fight for anything, Enzo’s stuck in the amateur circuit—but he burns to make the pros. Maybe that explains the heat he feels whenever he’s around Jamie Lynn Calhoun. The pint-size, magenta-haired bartender with the Texas drawl is everything he’s not . . . and everything he craves.

Tough as nails and independent to a fault, Jamie Lynn—JL to her friends—works hard to pay her bills and keep life simple. Enzo is doing his best to complicate that. Even though she likes to bust his balls, he’s got some kind of a nerdy-hot vibe that makes JL wonder if she might finally be able to let her guard down. It might do the boy some good to spend some time in her world, where blood, sweat, and victory are as sweet as the first taste of real love.

Amazon | B & N | Google Play | iTunes | Kobo

 

Series Review

4 stars

I’ve read my share of MMA Romances and what it comes down to for me to enjoy them is that perfect balance between the sport, the romance and the characters. Not too much drama but enough emotion to make me invested in the characters. Not too much fighting but enough sports talk to fell like a team member. And finally, an intense chemistry that while potent doesn’t overwhelm the other aspects of the relationship–mainly the connection between the hero and heroine.

This is what Sidney Halston has brought to the page in every single one of the books in the Worth The Fight series thus far.

With humor, sexual tension and subtle emotions Against the Cage paved the way for other books in the series. I loved Jack and Chrissy! Jack is a cop by day and an amateur MMA fighter in his spare time. He enjoys the rush of stepping into the cage and the camaraderie of being a part of a team. He has known Chrissy since childhood and although he never acknowledge it, he always felt protective of her. Was it brotherly love or attraction? He never gave it much thought–at least not until Chrissy came back to town to bail her brother out of jail.

Chrissy has always been straight-laced and has harbored an unrequited crush on his brother’s best friend. And although distance has kept her from being near, years later she still gets all tingly in his presence. He also infuriates her to no end, which only makes the sparks between them that much more intense. The fact that they meet again when she’s having one hell of a day doesn’t help their first meeting none, but it sure made for some entertaining reading.

What I loved the most about this story was the fact that I got to see Jack and Chrissy reconnecting on the page. It was great to see how Jack’s perception of Chrissy shifts from annoying little sister to potential lover. I also enjoyed their bickering, flirty banter and candid moments spent together. These moments served to make their intimate encounters that much more real and intense. That first kiss alone was worth all the anticipation! Of course, the addition of interesting characters, subtle emotions and a vicious little dog just amped my experience that much more.

It came as no surprise that by the end of Against the Cage I was excited to get to the next book. Full Contact tells Jessica and Slade’s story. I knew of Jessica and Slade from the previous book where Slade went to jail because he got into a fight because of Jessica. Acquaintances who shared a mutual attraction, Jessica and Slade were nothing more than strangers but after Jessica left her abusive boyfriend after a bad beating, it was Slade who took care of her while she recovered.

Although I also enjoyed this story, I couldn’t help but be a bit disappointed that I didn’t get to see Jessica and Slade’s connection growing from the very beginning. The story picks up several weeks after Jessica got out of the hospital, so the reader doesn’t get a first-hand look of that time spent together. However, the author does a great job of bringing their connection to the page. Enough to satisfy my need to see it on the page.

It helped a lot that the story centered around them and their time spent together afterwards. What began as a friendship soon became something more, where their mutual attraction was explored while emotions were kept under the surface. Soon enough the emotions came into play right along with Jessica’s ex bringing forth a whole set of problems.

Unlike Against the Cage, I didn’t feel that light-hearted vibe from this story but I came to enjoy it nonetheless. The humor was present, if understated, but thankfully the chemistry, candid moments and the growth of Jessica and Slade’s connection made up for it.

Since the stories in the series overlap in places, I thought I knew what to expect from Below the Belt. In Full Contact Slade became a partner in WtF with Francesca Silva, the owner’s daughter, who is now running the gym. With the new partnership in place, Francesca decided to bring in Antonio “Scarface” Marino. Below the Belt tells their story. And what a story it was!

Francesca and Tony’s interactions stole the show for me in this story. I loved their bickering and heated exchanges–both the vocal and the physical. Francesca was strong-headed and completely unfazed by the eye candy in the gym–until Tony came into the picture. The man pushed her very button and try as she might she couldn’t help but give in to the attraction that simmered between them. Both stubborn and both with a hell of a temper, these two coming together made for an entertaining read.

Of course, it helped tremendously that their chemistry was as intense as their bickering. They butted heads just as much as they kissed, which only made the unraveling of their emotions that much more intense. And I have to say that their candid moments did it for me too. The unrelenting ‘cubanito’ with the ‘tough as nails’ Brazilian beauty hid their vulnerabilities well, but when they let their guard down it was worth all the posturing I endured from them.

Below the Belt definitively made it to my favorites’ shelf, so I was hesitant to start Laid Out because I didn’t know what to expect from Cain’s story. In the previous stories, Cain seemed so closed-off that I thought his story would be overwhelming angsty. Thankfully, although there were plenty of intense emotional moments, Sidney Halston managed to bring in some of the humor, camaraderie and care-free vibe I’ve come to expect.

Cain is troubled and uses fighting to ‘deal’ when he feels weighted down by his emotions. His friendship with Violet goes back to their childhood and now that she has moved to town, he can’t seem to get a handle on himself. He’s rude, short-tempered and downright unbearable to be near. Violet, however, takes it all in stride. She’s determined to make a new start for herself now that she’s not under her father’s watchful eye. But having Cain near only brings to the surface the attraction she tried to put behind her when she decided to marry their best friend. Soon Cain and Violet find themselves fighting rampant emotions, troublesome libidos, their pasts and a their present.

What I enjoyed the most about this story was the way the author went about bringing the friends to lovers concept to the page. Yes, the concept has been done before, especially the part of having the friends coming together to ‘prepare’ the other to undertake the ‘dating world’. But what made this story different was the way the author didn’t wrap it up all pretty-like and called it happily ever after. Sidney Halston didn’t make it easy on these two, which was what ultimately upped my enjoyment of this story.

Cain and Violet both dealt with different emotions and issues that in the end allowed them to come together as a couple, and it was their journey what truly kept me engaged throughout. There were the fierce moments that showcased how stubborn they were, the tender moments when their guards were down and the intimate moments when their lust overtook them and their chemistry shined through. It also helped that I got a chance to glimpse how deeply connected they were as teenagers and that the author developed their connection as the story progressed.

Although not as upbeat a story as I’ve come to expect, Laid Out had a mix of well-balanced elements that made Cain and Violet’s story worthwhile throughout.

I admit that Fighting Dirty was a surprise for me, since I was expecting Travis’ story. I didn’t really know much about Enzo Silva–other than he was Francesca’s cousin–but thankfully, I had come to know a bit more about Jamie Lynn Calhoun. In the end, I decided to give it a shot, because after reading the blurb I became curious about how these two would come together.

Jamie Lynn is Travis’ twin sister and Violet’s best friend. She leads a simple life centered on her friends, her job at the bar and her art. However, her art is a secret she has kept from her friends and family. So of course it comes as a surprise to her when she attends her art class and finds her brother and his team members there. More surprising, however, was seeing clean-cut rich boy Enzo as the nude model for the class.

Enzo is finally free of his wife and mostly leading the life he wants since moving to the US. He’s an amateur MMA fighter trying his best to fit in his love for the sport with his work responsibilities while attempting to land a date with the ever-elusive Jamie Lynn. Who knew it would only take a lost bet for him to have his chance at her?

Initially disappointed that I wasn’t getting Travis’ story next, I was glad I came across Fighting Dirty because in the end it was a pleasant surprise. I especially enjoyed how the author played out a ‘first date’ for a couple of days and allowed me the chance to get to know Enzo and Jamie Lynn along the way as well. I enjoyed how Enzo and Jamie Lynn connected over the simplest of things and the undercurrent of attraction they shared throughout their time together.

Of course, once that ‘first date’ was over and they returned to the real world was when the story truly picked up. With Jamie Lynn pursuing her passion for urban art and Enzo’s role in its success coupled with both of them dealing with issues from their personal lives, it was bound for emotions to make their appearance.

Enzo’s struggles with his dad’s expectations showed a whole different side to his personality. His caring protective side came to the surface, which added to the conflicting emotions he was experiencing. Jamie Lynn also showed another side to her through her struggles with dealing with her Mom. There was more to her flighty persona and she didn’t allow a lot of people to see it. It was a treat to learn that she was a strong independent woman hiding many vulnerabilities.

Needless to say that these two shared a great deal of chemistry. How could a first date last as long if there wasn’t a spark between them? Although I enjoyed those moments thoroughly, it was the unguarded moments that defined the relationship for me. I loved their flirty banter and good-natured bickering just as much as their honest confessions and candid moments of conversation. I also loved watching Enzo come fully into himself and fight for what he wanted and I was glad that Jamie Lynn got some closure with her relationship with her mother in the end.

As you can see, this series has a varied collection of stories that range from the fun and flirty to the more emotion-driven. But what these stories all have in common and what I’ve come to love about the series is the great cast of characters, the fantastic sense of camaraderie between the characters and the perfect balance of romance and heat.

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

 

About The Author

Sidney_Halston
Sidney Halston lives her life by one simple rule: “Just do it.” And that’s exactly what she did. At the age of thirty, having never written anything other than a legal brief, she picked up a pen for the first time to pursue her dream of becoming an author. That first stroke sealed the deal, and she fell in love with writing. Halston lives in South Florida with her husband and children.

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New Release Tour: Welcome to Forever (Hero’s Welcome #1) by Annie Rains *Review, Excerpt and Giveaway*

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Welcome to Forever (Hero’s Welcome #1)
by Annie Rains

A Contemporary Romance
From Loveswept
Releasing December 1, 2015

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If you love Kristan Higgins, Susan Mallery, or Jill Shalvis, you won’t want to miss the Hero’s Welcome military romance series! Welcome to Forever introduces a small coastal town where America’s best and brightest risk everything for love.

In Seaside, North Carolina, there are two kinds of people: Marines, and kids of Marines. Then there’s Kat Chandler. Recently hired as the principal of Seaside Elementary, Kat makes it her mission to turn the school into a place of peace and calm. That’s not going to be easy with hard-liner parents like Micah Peterson storming in, telling her how to do her job—and then kissing her with those gorgeous lips of his and turning her brain into mush.

As a Marine Sergeant and a single dad, Micah Peterson has just two priorities: doing his job better than anyone else, and getting the absolute best for his son, Ben. But when he meets Ben’s beautiful new principal, a different yearning shifts into focus. He wants her, sure, but he’s also moved by the connection Kat forges with her students. So after learning that she refuses to date Marines, Micah sets two more objectives: convincing Kat to give him a chance . . . and then holding on to her forever.

 

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Review

3-5 stars

Kat Chandler is trying to move on in her life after the death of her Marine fiancee. Her first priority is to be the best principal for Seaside Elementary and prove wrong all those who think she too young or inexperienced to be the head of the school. Her first test appears on the first day of the school year when a student’s dad marches into her office to tell her how she should deal with his son. Nevermind that he’s the groundskeeper and the very man she was admiring earlier in the morning.

Micah Peterson is determined to do right by his son. After his son’s experience with bullies in his previous school, Micah has vowed to keep an eye out for any problems his son could experience because of his muscular dystrophy. Having to scold the principal the first day of school wasn’t on his plan of action, but then again, his plan didn’t include being attracted to the principal either.

I liked this story very much, especially because the characters and their story felt so real.

Micah and Kat are both trying to make the most of their situation and both have Ben’s best interest in heart. I enjoyed watching how thei tentative friendship developed into something more and how both opened themselves to the chance of something more. I especially enjoyed their candid conversations, their flirty banter and stolen moments. I liked together and looked forward to seeing their story move to the next step.

Although I understood perfectly well where each was coming from, I did find that the story dragged in places simply because they just could not move on. Those first moments, I overlooked easily since the author made every effort to show that both Micah and Kat were trying to work their issues out. My main problem came towards the end when their relationship was truly put to the test. In my opinion, Kat’s reaction to Micah’s deployment was extreme. I could understand why would react that way, but thought it a bit ridiculous that she hadn’t prepared herself for the possibility when he still had time to serve. It didn’t help that Micah was way too stubborn to give her the chance to apologize when she came to her senses.

All that said, I still think that Welcome to Forever was a sweet, romantic read with intriguing characters. All in all, a good start to a series.

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

 

Excerpt

“Have you thought about that kiss?” she asked, as he leaned in close to fasten her seatbelt. She couldn’t control what was coming out of her mouth. “Because I have. A little.” She started laughing again. Val had warned her that she was a horrible drunk, and evidently, it was true.

“What have you thought about it?” he asked, his voice low and bristly. Her buckle snapped into place with a loud click. He could step back now, but he didn’t.

And she didn’t want him to. What was the point of being drunk if you couldn’t say and do what you wanted, and then apologize for it in the morning? No one blamed a drunk, they blamed the drink. “I thought that I liked it. The kiss. It was amazing.” She held her breath as he lingered in front of her, his hand still resting on the seat’s buckle.

“I thought the same thing.”

“You did?” She swallowed thickly, as her heart rode up her throat.

His brow lifted. “You sound surprised.”

“I’m out of practice.” She nibbled on her lower lip, drawing his gaze there. Then his gaze flicked back to her ring. Just the thought squashed the flutterings in her chest, leaving a deep ache that vibrated with the alcohol. “He’s been gone for two years,” she said.

Micah’s brows pinched together softly.

Explaining about John in her state wasn’t a good idea, though. She might start crying, which she didn’t do in front of others anymore, and right now all she wanted to do was forget everything but their kiss. That she wanted to remember. “You could kiss me again,” she said softly.

His smile deepened and, damn, he smelled good.

Leaning in closer to her ear, his hot breath melted her as he whispered, “Kat, you’ve had too much to drink. I’m taking you home now.”

Before she could process what he’d said, he stepped back and shut the Jeep’s door, the sound as offensive as if someone had crashed cymbals in her ears. A moment later, he reappeared on the driver’s side and cranked the engine, another sound that made her wince.

She closed her eyes, unsure of what to do with her drunken emotions.

“If I kiss you again, I want to be one hundred percent sure it’s what you want. Not because my almost ex is walking up and you want to help me out. Not because you’ve had too much to drink and want to escape.”

She suddenly felt very tired, as the Jeep Cherokee headed out of the parking lot. “So, you are going to kiss me again?” she asked. Before she could hear his answer, though, her eyes closed and the sounds of the road and his voice, and the blood thundering in her head, blurred together. She remembered their kiss, the feel of his stubble roughly brushing against her cheek, and the way he had smelled like pine and fudge brownies.

No, wait. His eyes reminded her of fudge brownies. He didn’t smell like them.

Her eyes fluttered open. Yeah, she was definitely going to regret tonight in the morning.

 

About the Author

Annie Rains bio picture

Annie Rains is a contemporary romance author who writes small town love stories set in fictional towns on the coast of North Carolina. Raised in one of America’s largest military communities, Annie often features heroes who fight for their countries, while also fighting for a place to call home and a good woman to love. When Annie isn’t writing, she’s spending time with her husband and 3 children, or reading a book by one of her favorite authors. Represented by Sarah Younger at Nancy Yost Literary Agency (NYLA).

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New Release! Morrison (Caldwell Brothers #2) by Chelsea Camaron, M.J. Fields

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Morrison (Caldwell Brothers #2)
by Chelsea Camaron, M.J. Fields

A New Adult Contemporary Romance
From Loveswept
Released December 1, 2015

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The sizzling-hot Caldwell Brothers series—perfect for readers of J. S. Scott and Emma Chase—hits the Vegas strip as a bad-boy gambler from Detroit Rock City shows a single mom what it means to play for keeps.
 
For Morrison Caldwell, life is a game of chance. A high roller with a legendary poker face, he’s the wild card of the family, always chasing the next thrill and never staying put for long. The one place that always lures him back is Las Vegas, with its hot tables and even hotter women. He’s perfectly content to live his life as a series of one-night stands. But when a parking lot confrontation with a cocktail waitress takes a naughty turn, she leaves Morrison aching for another round.

After a long losing streak in Sin City, Hailey Poe is ready to get lucky. A steamy tryst with a cocky, mysterious stranger is the kind of no-strings encounter she’s been craving . . . until Morrison Caldwell asks for more than she’s willing to offer. But when Hailey’s controlling, soon-to-be ex-husband tries to take her daughter away, she can’t afford to turn down a helping hand. In this winner-takes-all game, Morrison is gambling with Hailey’s life—and her heart.

 

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The Caldwell Brothers Series

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Hendrix (Caldwell Brothers, #1)
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About the Authors

 USA Today bestselling author Chelsea Camaron grew up turning wrenches alongside her father, which just so happened to inspire her Love and Repair and The Hellions Ride series. When she’s not writing, you can find her playing with her kids, attending car shows, going on motorcycle rides on the back of her husband’s Harley, snuggling down with her new favorite book, or watching any movie that Vin Diesel might happen to be in. She lives in Louisiana with her husband and two children.

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MJ Fields is the USA Today bestselling author of the Love series, the Wrapped series, the Burning Souls series, the Men of Steel series, and the Norfolk series. A former small-business owner who recently became a full-time writer, Fields lives in central New York, surrounded by family and friends. Her house is full of pets, friends, and noise ninety percent of the time, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

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New Release! Welcome to Forever (Hero’s Welcome #1) by Annie Rains

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Welcome to Forever (Hero’s Welcome #1)
by Annie Rains

A Contemporary Romance
From Loveswept
Releasing December 1, 2015

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If you love Kristan Higgins, Susan Mallery, or Jill Shalvis, you won’t want to miss the Hero’s Welcome military romance series! Welcome to Forever introduces a small coastal town where America’s best and brightest risk everything for love.

In Seaside, North Carolina, there are two kinds of people: Marines, and kids of Marines. Then there’s Kat Chandler. Recently hired as the principal of Seaside Elementary, Kat makes it her mission to turn the school into a place of peace and calm. That’s not going to be easy with hard-liner parents like Micah Peterson storming in, telling her how to do her job—and then kissing her with those gorgeous lips of his and turning her brain into mush.

As a Marine Sergeant and a single dad, Micah Peterson has just two priorities: doing his job better than anyone else, and getting the absolute best for his son, Ben. But when he meets Ben’s beautiful new principal, a different yearning shifts into focus. He wants her, sure, but he’s also moved by the connection Kat forges with her students. So after learning that she refuses to date Marines, Micah sets two more objectives: convincing Kat to give him a chance . . . and then holding on to her forever.

 

Welcome to Forever_cover

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About the Author

Annie Rains bio picture

Annie Rains is a contemporary romance author who writes small town love stories set in fictional towns on the coast of North Carolina. Raised in one of America’s largest military communities, Annie often features heroes who fight for their countries, while also fighting for a place to call home and a good woman to love. When Annie isn’t writing, she’s spending time with her husband and 3 children, or reading a book by one of her favorite authors. Represented by Sarah Younger at Nancy Yost Literary Agency (NYLA).

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Hot New Series! Accelerate (Hotwired #1) by Tracy Wolff *Review*

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Accelerate (Hotwired #1)
by Tracy Wolff

A New Adult Contemporary Romance
From Loveswept
Released November 24th 2015

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A sexy carjacker takes a would-be starlet for the ride of her life as a pulse-pounding new series from New York Times bestselling author Tracy Wolff begins.

Once the brains behind a car-boosting ring, Nic Medina has spent the last three years playing it straight. Now drag racers flock to his L.A. auto shop, Hotwired, for a shot at going head-to-head with the man himself. But when a crooked cop gives Nic a treacherous ultimatum—steal ten high-end cars or watch his nephew disappear into the system—he makes the only choice he can, one that puts the life he’s worked so hard for at risk. No sooner does Nic agree than he spots some nasty competition—and a gorgeous bystander in harm’s way.

A small-town girl with Hollywood dreams, Jordan Bass never expected to be swept up in a real-life drama. But that’s exactly what happens when she witnesses a violent crime. And when a smoldering stranger takes the wheel and practically kidnaps her in a desperate bid to keep her safe, she’s not sure whether to scream . . . or kiss him. Nic’s bad news—but the real bad guys aren’t above silencing a witness. On a collision course with danger, Jordan finds herself falling for the man whose street smarts are keeping her alive . . . and whose touch puts her in high gear.

 

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Review

4 stars

Tracy Wolff has done it again!

In the last year or so, Tracy Wolff has become one of my favorite authors simply because her stories are compelling with complex characters, romance and that added touch of heat. This time around she brought those elements and much more. Intrigue, car chases and drama are some of the added elements that rounded up this first story in what appears to be another fantastic series.

Jordan Bass is finally settling in a new life, focusing on her studies and healing old wounds. None of her plans involve falling for a bad boy, but once she sets eyes on Nic Medina she’s a goner.

Nic Medina has not had an easy life, but he’s working on making it better for him and his family. He’s made a name for himself and his business, but people and mistakes from his past keep haunting him and soon he finds himself deeply involved with a ring of dirty cops. All this while he is fighting his attraction to Jordan, the woman he kidnapped and stole a car from.

What made this story so enjoyable to me was the way the author brought the romance and the conflict together without taking away from either of the elements.

Not a fan of insta-love scenarios, I was cautious about Nic and Jordan’s relationship in the beginning. But once introduced, I found I was curious to see how the author would bring them together in a viable way.

I loved Jordan and Nic together. Of course, their chemistry was instant but I loved that the author took the time to build upon that chemistry. Their connection was slow in coming, but soon it was evident that Jordan and Nic complemented each other in every way. I enjoyed the bickering, their flirty banter and their honest dialogue. I found myself enjoying their candid moments just as much as their heated ones and soon was cheering them on so they could be together.

I liked that once the story started, was unable to put it down. Having an intriguing plot that not only brought about uncertainty but also rampant emotions, increased my enjoyment of this story. It was a treat to see different sides to Jordan and Nic when they realized the situation they were facing. I also loved how, because of that situation, they grew closer together and allowed themselves the chance to explore their connection. Jordan became more confident in herself and lowered some of her walls, while Nic finally realized he deserved to have a life for himself even if he couldn’t save every one he loved.

As the first book in the series, Accelerate delivered in all fronts. Not only did it deliver a great romance between two intriguing individuals that never thought love was in the cards for them, it also set the stage for upcoming books while giving us a glimpse into the characters that most likely will be starring in those books.

All in all, a fantastic start to a series. I especially enjoyed getting to know the cast of characters–main and secondary–that were introduced and the conflict that surrounded them.

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

 

About the Author

Tracy Wolff Author Photo

Tracy Wolff collects books, English degrees and lipsticks and has been known to forget where—and sometimes who—she is when immersed in a great novel. At six she wrote her first short story—something with a rainbow and a prince—and at seven she forayed into the wonderful world of girls lit with her first Judy Blume novel. By ten she’d read everything in the young adult and classics sections of her local bookstore, so in desperation her mom started her on romance novels. And from the first page of the first book, Tracy knew she’d found her life-long love. Now an English professor at her local community college, she writes romances that run the gamut from contemporary to paranormal to erotic suspense.

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New Release! Butterfly Dreams by A. Meredith Walters *Review and Excerpt*

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Butterfly Dreams
by A. Meredith Walters

A Contemporary Romance
From Loveswept
Released November 24th 2015

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In a powerful romance hailed as “heartbreaking, real, and breathtakingly beautiful” by Stacey Lynn, New York Times bestselling author A. Meredith Walters tells the story of a troubled young woman and the unforgettable guy who teaches her to live—and love—to the fullest.

She’s waiting to die. . . . Corin Thompson is paralyzed by her obsession with mortality. Having lost both of her parents, she is terrified by the idea that she too will die young, and she loses control at any sign of illness. But when Corin connects with someone who has survived a very real brush with death, she begins to see the world in a whole new way.

He’s learning to live. . . . As Corin struggles under the weight of her neuroses, Beckett Kingsley is attempting to rebuild a life that feels all too temporary. With the ever-present threat of heart failure never far from his mind, he just wants to make the most of whatever time he has left. And that means pursuing the girl he never expected to find.

Together, Corin and Beckett finally learn to let go of their fears and take solace in everyday pleasures. Who knows what the future holds? After all, nothing lasts forever—the only promise they have is right now.

 

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Advance praise for Butterfly Dreams

“All the feels: poignant, funny, sad, beautiful, and inspiring! Your own belly butterflies will take flight.”New York Times bestselling author Katy Evans

“A. Meredith Walters is the author I turn to when I want to get sucked into a beautiful story that packs an emotional punch.”New York Times bestselling author Sawyer Bennett

Butterfly Dreams is one of the most poignant books I’ve read all year. It’s heartbreaking, real, and breathtakingly beautiful. A. Meredith Walters weaves a story that draws you in from the very first page and refuses to let you go even once it’s finished.”—Stacey Lynn, author of the Nordic Lords series

“The ending nearly killed me, but I survived. I read this book in one sitting, and what a roller coaster of a story. The author did an amazing job. . . . I found myself unable to put the book down.”—The Book Hookup

 

Review

5-stars

This was my first book by this author and I’m very glad that I gave it a shot. I laughed, I cried, I swooned!!! So many emotions, all there for the taking and I devoured it all.

Corin has her life somewhat together, if not for those pesky thoughts that lead her to believe her death is eminent. She struggles with panic attacks and is convinced that she has a bad heart, especially after a particularly bad incident she experienced on a sidewalk where a stranger came to her aide. It is this incident that leads her to attand a support group for people dealing or healing from heart conditions.

Beckett had it all–a good job that kept him financially sound, a live-in girlfriend, friends and his love of sports. But all comes crashing down around him after he suffers a heart attack during his morning run. Kept from any type of physical activity and dealing with the baggage his new-found condition brought about, Beckett’s trying to get his life back on track and attending a support group and keeping a positive outlook helps him deal.

Neither Corin nor Beckett are looking for a relationship, but when they find themselves spending time in and out of the support group, falling for each other is inevitable.

Whew, this story was such an emotional roller coaster ride that I’m still reeling from it!

I admit, Corin was not what I expected. But as I learned more about her story, I came to understand where she was coming from and my heart couldn’t help but feel for her. I appreciated the fact that the author didn’t portray her as Debbie-downer ALL the time. She was funny, sarcastic and quirky, which I loved. She had her angsty moments but these were few and far between, especially once she started spending time with Beckett. *sigh* Beckett. I loved him from the very start. He was sweet, funny and trying so very hard to be positive and move on. I couldn’t help but admire him for his determination to make the most out of his dire situation.

I especially enjoyed him with Corin, especially since they both had a way of bringing out the playful and flirty side from the other. I loved watching them flirt and bicker while they cemented their connection. I appreciated that A. Meredith Walters took her time to bring these two together romantically, focusing instead in establishing and developing their connection. Don’t get me wrong, the chemistry was always there under the surface, but it was the connection between them that sold me on the romance. I don’t think I would have enjoyed the story as much if their romance had moved faster, especially since Corin had issues she needed to deal with before she could allow herself to fully love someone else.

Although this was an emotion-driven story, it never once felt weighted down. There were moments of intense emotions and moments when the emotions were light and infused with happiness. For me, it was the way the author managed to bring that range in emotions–without taking away from the romance or making the story feel overwhelming–that ultimately made this such a fantastic story.

All in all, Corin and Beckett’s story was poignant, emotional, romantic and so very worthwhile. An amazing read!

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

 

Butterfly Dreams graphic #2

 

Excerpt

My doorbell rang.

What?

I looked at the clock and realized it was already 7:30.

So that meant it was Beckett on the other side of the door.

Shit.

I looked down at my half-naked body.

Shit!

And then I started freaking out.

“I’ll be right there!” I yelled.

Should I let him in?

But I was practically naked!

I couldn’t let him see me like this!

Maybe I should own it. Shake my hips and let him get a look at the goods.

Like that would ever happen.

Crap, what was I going to wear?

I grabbed a pair of jeans from my floor and wiggled them on, not really paying attention to which ones they were.

I reached into my closet and pulled the closest shirt off the rack. I tied my hair into a ponytail and slipped on a comfortable pair of ballet flats.

I hoped Beckett hadn’t planned on five-star dining because I was dressed more for a McDonalds milkshake before hanging with the bowling league.

“Sorry,” I said, out of breath, opening the door and letting Beckett inside.

“I was starting to think I needed to break in and make sure you hadn’t gotten stuck in the toilet or something.” Beckett looked damn near perfect in a dark pair of jeans and button-up blue shirt the same color as his eyes.

He had even gotten a haircut. Way to make me feel like a total underachiever in the getting ready department, buddy.

“Looks like you cut yourself,” I said, indicating the piece of toilet paper stuck to his chin.

“Fuck. I forgot about that,” he muttered, pulling it off, looking embarrassed.

“You should have left it there. It’s cute,” I teased, putting on my black wool coat.

“You ready?” he asked.

“As I’ll ever be.” I gave him a wide smile and he laughed.

“I’m not taking you to your death by firing squad. You could act a bit more excited.”

I jumped up and down, clapping my hands together. “OMG, Beck! I can’t wait!” I gasped.

“Is that better?” I asked, closing my apartment door behind me and locking it.

“Much.” Beckett leaned down and I swear he was checking out my ass.

“Excuse me, but what in the hell are you doing?” I demanded.

“Are you aware that the Cheshire cat is on your right butt cheek?”

I craned my body to get a look at what he was talking about. And sure enough, there was a bright purple patch with the damn Cheshire cat on my derriere.

“I must have picked up the wrong jeans,” I groaned. These were my hanging-out-doing-laundry jeans. Not meant to be seen by anyone but myself and the cat.

“I was in a rush. I couldn’t figure out what to wear. It was stressful,” I tried to explain, pulling my coat down over my feline-covered bum.

“The last thing I want is to stress you out, Cor-Cor.”

I smacked his arm. “I thought I warned you about using that damn nickname,” I threatened.

“I show up with toilet paper stuck to my face and you have a cat on your butt. I think we make a pretty awesome pair,” Beckett snickered, unlocking his car.

 

Butterfly Dreams graphic #1

 

About the Author

The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary and Paranormal romance including The Find You in the Dark and Bad Rep series as well as the upcoming stand alone romance, Reclaiming the Sand, and a dark new adult series for Gallery Books.

A. Meredith spent ten years as a counselor for at risk teens and children. First working at a Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault program and then later a program for children with severe emotional and mental health issues. Her former clients and their stories continue to influence every aspect of her writing.

When not writing (or being tortured with all manner of beauty products at the hand of her very imaginative and extremely girly daughter), she is eating chocolate, watching reality television that could rot your brain and reading a smutty novel or two.

A. Meredith is represented by Michelle Johnson with the Inklings Literary Agency.

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New Release! Rolling in the Deep by Rebecca Rogers Maher *Excerpt*

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Rolling in the Deep
by Rebecca Rogers Maher

A Contemporary Romance
From Loveswept
Released November 10th 2015

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In this raw, moving novel for readers of Jill Shalvis, Molly O’Keefe, and Karina Halle, two kindred spirits share a winning lottery ticket—and discover what it really means to get lucky.

Holly Ward is stretched to the breaking point, raising her young son alone and working long hours for minimum wage at a local superstore. Sure, she’s noticed the new guy with the easy grin and warm brown eyes, but she’s learned the hard way that relationships aren’t worth the pain. Still, when he invites her to split a lottery ticket, she figures a little innocent fun couldn’t hurt. The last thing she expects is to score big, which is exactly what happens . . . in more ways than one.

From the moment he meets Holly, Ray Lopez is drawn to her quiet dignity and openhearted beauty. And when they hit the jackpot together, he’s thrilled that the single mom can give her kid a better life. The only problem is the chaos surrounding them: lawyers and reporters swarming, friends and family angling to get their cut. In all the chaos, Ray discovers an oasis of calm and passion in Holly. But with the stakes higher than ever, winning her trust could cost him everything.

 

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 Excerpt

I don’t usually give much time to the new people, although I try to be friendly. You never know how long someone’s going to stay at Cogmans since turnover is so high. They could easily be leaving as soon as they’ve arrived. But I know how disorienting the first few weeks on a job can be. I help out when I can.

The trouble is, Ray here might be interpreting that the wrong way. Like I’m interested in him. Like I’m putting the feelers out.

I’m not putting out any feelers. My feelers long ago shriveled up and fell over dead. I’d tell him so straight out but I think that would embarrass us both.

Anyway, he’s a nice enough guy. If compelled in a court of law I might even admit he’s good-looking. But I’m far too tired for man-hunting, even if the dead zone of Cogmans were conducive to romance. Which it most certainly is not. Fortunately, that makes conversation with male coworkers and customers fairly easy. I have no energy for worrying about whether they find me attractive. So I can just be myself.

“How’s it going, Ray? You having a good day?”

“Oh yeah. It’s great.” He takes some packs of gum and starts arranging them on the opposite shelf. “No place I’d rather be than stocking candy at Cogmans on a Friday afternoon. Sun shining outside? Who cares? Got me some Phil Collins playing on the intercom, got a cart full of Juicy Fruit. What more could a man want?”

I snort and pick up a stack of candy bars. “A polyester uniform vest? You could have that.”

“Got it.” He does a little sidestep and adds gum to the shelf. “A matching tie?”

“Oh, look.” I point to his chest. “You’ve got that, too.” Then I turn back to my candy shelf, because when Ray smiles, a dimple creases out on his right cheek.

Okay, maybe he’s a little more than good-looking. With his brown eyes and thick hair, his strong hands. At the moment he’s a bit too close and I realize I can smell him. His aftershave, I guess, which is kind of smoky and sweet.

Like barbecue potato chips. That is what I just compared this poor man to. I realize that in all the hubbub this morning I forgot to make myself breakfast.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Ray continues behind me. “Working at Cogmans is great and all that. What with the nonstop buzzing of track lighting over our heads. And the cranky customers. And the total lack of health insurance. But after work I’m thinking I’ll hop down to my private plane and jet on over to the Vineyard for a round of golf.”

“Martha’s Vineyard?” I line up boxes of candy one after another, so that all of their corners match.

“Naturally. Where else does one go on the weekend?” He’s got a bit of a New York City accent usually, and mixed with the faux-British he’s trying hard to tackle, it’s doing something weird to my midsection. His voice is too deep, I think. Even joking around, it vibrates.

“Martha’s Vineyard is definitely where I’m gonna go,” I say. “Soon as I win the lottery. Maybe the Cape while I’m at it.”

“Or the Hamptons.” Ray turns and leans against his cart. “We’d fit right in, you know, you and me. All the golfers wear large buttons like ours that say, ‘How may I help you?’ ”

“Oh, for sure. Alongside their name tags that identify them by first name only.” I crack a smile and face him, and immediately wish I hadn’t. There’s the dimple again, and his eyes, which crinkle at the corners.

“You know there’s a Powerball drawing coming up,” he says. “Nobody’s won in ages. It’s over four hundred million.”

“Yeah,” I say. “Let’s definitely play the lottery. Because that’s not rigged at all. We’ll totally win.”

He edges his cart closer to mine. “Why not? You never know.”

“Seriously? You don’t actually play, do you?”

“Sure I do. Don’t you? Can’t win if you don’t play and all that.”

“Yeah, but it’s like a zillion-to-one chance.” I cross my arms over my chest, and then drop them when Ray’s gaze almost imperceptibly follows the resulting pushing-up of my boobs. He looks back to my face so quickly you’d barely know he’d wavered. Except for the slight color in his cheeks. I press on to rescue both of us. “It’s a waste of money.”

“Maybe. But it’s only two dollars. I spend two dollars on a soda if I’m real thirsty. Don’t mind wasting that much for the sake of a little dreaming.”

I tilt my head at him. “You make it sound reasonable. When in fact it’s completely insane and illogical.”

“See, but that’s how I draw you in.” He smiles. “With my rakish charm and unerring man-logic. Right here in the candy aisle I lay my trap. First it’s a little light gambling. And then before you know it, it’s the drinkin’. And the druggin’.”

“Next thing you know I’m driving the getaway car to Toronto.”

“Exactly.” He holds out his hand. His nails are neatly trimmed, his fingers broad. “Give me a dollar.”

“What? Why?” I’d take a tiny step back, but my cart’s in the way. Its piles of candy bars stare up at me accusingly. Any minute our manager will pop his head around the corner and chastise us for slacking off on the job.

“Powerball ticket’s two bucks. We’ll go in on one. See what happens.” His hand waits, open and extended out to me. I want to place my own hand against it, palm to palm, and feel the warmth there. He’s not kidding about the charm.

“You want me to give you a dollar and we’ll split a Powerball ticket.”

He nods. “Yup.”

“How does it even work?”

“Drawing is tomorrow night. You can watch it on TV at like eight o’clock. I’ll go to the store after work, give them our two bucks, they print out a ticket, and that’s our shot. Wait, how do you want to do it? You want to pick the numbers? It’s five numbers plus a bonus one, the Powerball one. You can pick your own or the computer generates one for you.”

“Let’s do the computer.” It’s out of my mouth before I even realize I’m in. But I’m in, I guess. Like Ray says, why not? It’s no worse a distraction than eating a bag of donuts, and significantly better for my blood sugar. Maybe it will actually take my mind off my worries for five minutes, which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. “Might as well use the computer numbers and be totally random about the whole thing.”

“Sure, yeah.” Ray’s teeth are very white. He has a good mouth, a soft mouth.

I shouldn’t be looking at his mouth.

“Random,” he says. “I like that.”

I dig in my pocket for a dollar. When I hand it over, his fingers brush mine. I pretend not to notice the zing that races through me.

But I fail.

I’ve been doing a lot of that lately.

 

 

About the Author

Rebecca Rogers Maher writes realistic stories that push the boundaries of contemporary romance—uniting the genre’s love scenes and happy endings with the crisp, layered prose of literary fiction. In past lives, she’s been a teenage metalhead, a cleaner of lab rat cages, a community organizer, and an urban schoolteacher. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and children.

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