Posted in Giveaway, Historical, romance on August 9, 2017

Celebrate National Book Lovers Day by indulging in a classic Regency romance

or perhaps trying a story from a Proper Romance author you haven’t read before.

Synopsis

Twenty-six-year-old Katie Macauley has placed all her hope in Hope Springs, a small town in the 1870 Wyoming Territory. But if she wants to return home to Ireland to make amends with her estranged family, she’ll need to convince the influential Joseph Archer to hold true to his word and keep her on his payroll as his housekeeper despite her Irish roots. The town is caught in an ongoing feud between the Irish and the “Reds” the frontiersmen who would rather see all the Irish run out of town and the Irish immigrants who are fighting to make a home for themselves in the New World. When Joseph agrees to keep Katie on as his housekeeper, the feud erupts anew, and Katie becomes the reluctant figurehead for the Irish townsfolk. As the violence escalates throughout the town, Katie must choose between the two men who have been vying for her love though only one might be able to restore hope to her heart.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance on August 9, 2017

Synopsis

The rules are simple:

Never speak to outsiders.

Never yearn for something more.

And never, ever seek the pleasure of a stolen kiss…or a whispered promise that with him, she can finally be free.

Abby Merkley has been a member of the Church of the Apocalyptic Faith since she was a child, and there’s no way out…until her darkly handsome, brooding neighbor defies the rules and takes her into the safety of his arms.

He should frighten her, but everything inside Abby thrills at Luc Stanek’s rough manners and shockingly gentle touch. He excites her, ignites her, leaves her shaken and wanting more. But evil men follow in her footsteps, and it may take more than one fierce beauty to defend her loving beast.

Blank Canvas series:

Under Her Skin (Book 1)

By Her Touch (Book 2)

In His Hands (Book 3)

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Excerpt

“You don’t smile,” she said.

He stopped pruning so abruptly that Abby almost ran right into him.

“No?”

Shaking her head, she looked at his face and mirrored his frown before saying a purse-lipped, “Non,” in imitation of his accent.

And there, miracle of miracles, the man did it. His lips curved up. Or almost. One side of his mouth lifted—the side with the scar—and, oh goodness, it was a dimple. What kind of trick was it that this big, burly man had to suffer through the indignity of a dimple?

And much, much worse was her having to suffer through that smile.

She wanted to touch it, the divot in his cheek. Or those lips, or that thick, rough-looking neck, which was more cleanly shaven than the first time she’d come here.

Did he do that for me? she wondered as she turned away, reaching for…anything to stop herself. Branches.

Those would do. Pull, throw, wait—red face averted—and move on.

They’d finished the row without speaking and moved on to the next by the time Abby could breathe normally again. Surprise, surprise, he was the one to finally break the silence.

“Besides no cap, what else do you wish for?”

She didn’t hesitate before saying, “A place of my own.”

“Yes?”

“Nothing big, just a…a room. Where I could listen to music, maybe?”

“You can’t do that there?”

“Oh, we sing all right. Best part of the Church is the singing.”

“What do you sing?”

“Hymns.”

“I don’t know any.”

Without thinking it through, she sang a verse from one of her favorites. “All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful: the Lord God made them all.”

When she met his eye, Luc was…not quite smiling, but close. His eyes were warm, his expression…admiring, maybe? Abby blushed with the realization of what she’d just done.

He said one word: “Pretty.” But something about the way he said it, his eyes eating up her face, made her cheeks burn hotter and breath come faster. To hide it, she turned quickly back to work.

Changing the topic, she cleared her throat and asked, “So, how much is a place to rent?”

“What?”

“A room to live in. How much money do I need for that?”

He shrugged. “Depends. Big cities, it’s a lot, I think. Around here? I don’t know. Maybe a few hundred a month?”

“Good Lord, that is a lot.”

“Life is expensive.” He shrugged and cut, the movement lifting shoulders massive enough to carry the weight of the world.

“Right. So…you have to pay for food, right? And what else you gotta pay for?”

“Electricity. Um, water and gas, things like that.”

“Gas for the car?”

“For your car and for your stove or heat.”

“Oh. So…I’d need a lot. To start a life.”

“A good amount, yes. You need to pay a guarantee as well, I think, if it’s like France. And references for the landlord.” He glanced at her. “This makes you unhappy?”

“Guess I thought… I thought I could work for you for a couple weeks and have enough to start a life.”

“It’s hard, Abby.” His eyes on her were steady and full of a new softness that she wasn’t entirely comfortable with, like he’d taken off a layer of her skin to speak to her insides.

“Blue jeans, too,” she said, forcing a touch of flippancy to her tone.

“What?”

“Jeans. I’d like to wear jeans with snaps and a zipper, like a normal person.”

“Like a slim?” The word came out with two Es in the middle: sleem. She shook her head, not understanding.

“Um, skinny jeans?” he clarified.

“Goodness, no!” She laughed. “I’d need time to adjust to just trousers first, but…” Letting her gaze rest on the valley before them, she thought of the hundreds—no, thousands—of women who walked around every day wearing practical clothing instead of these stiff cotton skirts and modest drawers she had to fight her way out of. “I’d like to look normal when I go into town, to feel free. Just a T-shirt and jeans. Those sneaker shoes to

walk in. Maybe some—”

She stopped, hating how her current thought embarrassed her. It wasn’t the wish so much as the fantasy surrounding it.

“Some?”

“Boots. Cowboy boots, you know? The kind you stomp around in.” Except stomping wasn’t what she envisioned when she said it. In her mind’s eye, she pictured herself in jeans by all rights tighter than she should want to wear them; a cute shirt—maybe something sparkly, but not too fancy, since part of her just wanted a plain T-shirt; and those boots with their small heel and slightly pointed toe. And all of this dancing on the arm of a man. This man, truth be told. It was this man in her fantasy, which sent a new wash of heat prickling against

the cold air, from her chest to her forehead and well into her hairline.

“I can’t imagine you stomping.”

“No? I’d be good at it.”

Their eyes met as he said, “I don’t doubt it.” The words, silly and inconsequential as they were, sent blood rushing right down her body to where it didn’t belong. Somehow that blood weighed her down, made her lids heavy, and sent her mouth to drooping in a way she was sure he could see.

And then she knew he could, because his eyes strayed there, lingering before one thick, rough-hewn hand followed.

A single knuckle swiped her bottom lip in a gesture not so much affectionate as…curious? Compulsive?

Like a baby who couldn’t help but touch a ball or stuff it in his mouth. To taste. To feel. To know.

It was over too soon, that swipe. And yet, somehow, it lasted forever. Suspended here on the mountain, in their thick cloud of burning vine and sparks, the cold melted away by more than just the fire.

After that long hitch in time, Abby inhaled and let the air out in hiccups—the shaky kind you couldn’t help making after a good, hard sob. But rather than the release of a big cry, his knuckle to her lip screwed everything up tight, made her insides overflow with whatever this was.

She was sure she’d pop. She had to.

Because Lord only knew what she’d do if this pressure didn’t release sometime soon.

About the Author

Adriana Anders has acted and sung, slung cocktails and corrected copy. She’s worked for start-ups, multinationals and small nonprofits, but it wasn’t until she returned to her first love—writing romance—that she finally felt like she’d come home. Today, she resides with her tall French husband, two small children and fat French cat in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she writes the dark, gritty, emotional love stories of her heart.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Romantic Suspense on August 8, 2017

“A sexy, fun, cat-and-mouse chase that hooked me from page one!” —JENNIFER PROBSTNew York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author of The Marriage Bargain

Synopsis

She’s a famous jewel thief.

He’s FBI.

What’s that saying? Keep your friends close…and your husband closer.

Being a retired jewel thief certainly has its perks.

  1. Oh, wait.
  2. No it doesn’t.

Without the thrill of the chase, life’s been pretty dull. Penelope gardens, drives her gorgeous husband up the wall, and watches as her old world slowly slips away. But what’s that old saying? When one thief closes the door…a copycat jimmies open a window.

And now all fingers at the FBI are pointed at her.

Set up to take the fall for thefts worth millions, Penelope have no choice but to strap on her heels and help her FBI agent husband track the thief. Grant might not think he needs a partner, but this is one case only a true professional can solve. Besides, she’s got to know who’s been taking her bad name in vain.

Let’s just hope curiosity doesn’t kill the cat burglar.

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Excerpt

“I’m sorry,” Grant says. “I don’t mean to be so overbearing, but you have to remember that as much as I love you, you’re not a favorite with everyone at the Bureau.”

“Give me time,” I say. “I’m only one woman. It might take me a few years, but I’ll get there.”

His lips twitch. “Penelope…”

“And it’s not as if he said or did anything bad,” I add, eager to leverage that oh-so-promising break in his exterior. “We mostly talked about you. He seemed nice.”

“That man is not nice. I don’t want you to have anything to do with him or with this case from here on out. Promise me.”

“I’ll do no such thing,” I scoff. “I’m not a child you can order around.”

“Promise me,” he repeats, firmer this time. He also takes an anticipatory step forward, though I’m not sure whether it’s to kiss me or throttle me. “If there’s any self-preservation in that crooked heart of yours, you’ll swear not to have anything to do with Christopher Leon or the Peep-Toe Prowler.”

As if I could promise that now.

“Why? What are you hiding from me?”

“I’m not hiding anything,” he says too quickly, his normally implacable exterior slipping. “Could you please be conciliatory for once in your life and do as I ask?”

I think about it. I really do—for a whole two seconds and everything—but there’s more to this situation than he’s letting on. A man doesn’t grow distant and moody from his loving wife for no reason. He doesn’t throw around sex shoes unless he’s trying to create a distraction. And most importantly, he doesn’t lay down mysterious ultimatums without secretly wanting her to do everything in her power to determine the cause.

That one’s plain common sense.

“I can promise to try not to get in the way,” I hedge. Trying not to do something always makes for a good promise, since there’s no real rubric for measurement. I tried not to steal things for years. I just wasn’t any good at it. “But you can’t ask me to pretend this whole conversation never happened—that these past few months haven’t happened.”

“This has nothing to do with you.”

“Yeah, but I’m emotionally invested in the Peep-Toe Prowler now. I want to catch her as much as you do.”

It’s only through sheer force of will that Grant suppresses his smile in time. “Penelope, so help me…”

“Helping you is what I intend to do.” I stand on my tiptoes to graze his jaw, rough in all the right ways. “I can, you know. I might be able to access information that’s closed to you. Thieves talk.”

“You aren’t a thief anymore, remember?” He makes a vague gesture around the room. “The walls have ears.”

“And you did want me to get a hobby…”

“Swimming is a hobby. Interfering in a federal investigation is obstruction.”

“It’s not obstruction if I help you solve the case,” I point out. “Besides, didn’t you just say you wouldn’t arrest your own wife?”

His reluctant and groan-filled laugh is all the confirmation I need to know I’ve won this round. A nice side effect of having an important and busy husband is that he can’t always spend as much time arguing as he’d like. He has a job to get back to.

Unlike me. I, unfortunately, have nothing to do and no one to do it with. I’m not one of the good guys, but I can no longer be one of the bad ones, either. I’m just a housewife with nothing but time on her hands and mischief on her mind.

“To be perfectly honest, my love,” he says with a mock sigh, “the idea of putting you behind bars grows more appealing every day.”

About the Author

Tamara Morgan is a contemporary romance author of humorous, heartfelt stories with flawed heroes and heroines designed to get your hackles up and make your heart melt. Her long-lived affinity for romance novels survived a B.A. degree in English Literature, after which time she discovered it was much more fun to create stories than analyze the life out of them.j

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, Monday, mystery, Review on August 7, 2017

Vangie Vale and the Murdered Macaron (The Matchbaker Mysteries Book 1)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Montana
Hummingbird Books (July 21, 2017)
Paperback: 362 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1548024437
E-Book ASIN: B073ZLKBZT

Synopsis

Small towns and gossip go together like flaky crust and sweet pastry cream. Between the police scanners, social media, and the senior center, it’s like a zombie apocalypse where the undead consume people’s secrets instead of living flesh.

But Vangie Vale wants nothing more than to stay under the radar…especially the police radar.

So when her new bakery becomes linked to a murder investigation, nothing will stop the gossip mill from connecting her to the dead body. Can’t have that.

Forced into the role of investigator, this new-in-town bakery owner has to become the very thing she hates–a nosy, small-town gossip–in order to clear her good name, and keep her face off the front page. But when a dating debacle brings her face-to-face with the Sheriff, Vangie can’t ignore the fact that one of her macarons was involved in a murder. She has to find the who-dun-it.

Book One in a cozy culinary mystery series from USA Today Bestselling Author, R.L. Syme.

Review

I think this was the first time I read a cozy set in Montana and after reading this book (and the author’s notes), I want to visit! It sounds like a calm and peaceful place to visit – assuming you don’t stumble across a murder!

Vangie is a minister that has been sent to Montana as part of a reconciliation. We really don’t know what happened in NC to get her sent to Montana or what the church council has been told. We find a little bit out at the end, but for me that just left me wanting to know more! It is hard to like Pete Mayhew from the church council because he seems to have it in for Vangie and reports her to the bishop for all these minor things – like standing on the corner of her property next to the Sheriff’s land to be able to use her cell phone. Granted the Sheriff is complaining but we don’t know why because she isn’t technically on his property. And then when her store window gets broken, Pete seems to think it is her fault some how. Like I said, not very likable and has way to much time on his hands!

Then there is the Sheriff who doesn’t like her for some reason and we never really find out why. He does seem to soften his attitude towards her in the end when she helps him solve the mystery of who killed Claire, but he doesn’t seem very happy about it! Perhaps because his beliefs were challenged especially when he was wrong.

Then there is the mystery – who killed Claire and why? The author does a great job in leading us down various paths and hinting at suspects…I was very surprised when it was all revealed because it was not a character i was suspecting…I was close but no cigar. And as with most cozies, Vangie finds herself in the middle of the investigation whether she wanted to be there or not!

I read a copy of the book that to my understanding was changed a bit – nothing too substantial but I am waiting to find out how this one incident changes the book. Either way the book was enjoyable and I liked reading the Macaron receipe at the end. I don’t know that I’ll try making any but they sure do sound yummy!

We give it 4 paws up!

About the Author

Rebecca Syme writes small town romance as Becca Boyd and cozy mystery as R.L. Syme. She is a long-time foodie and loves fancy cheese. Becca calls the mountains of Montana her home and draws inspiration from the beautiful vistas and heartwarming people. She is the USA Today bestselling author of the Line of Fire series of sweet romances and part of the Chick Tales series set in Somewhere, TX. You can find her on Twitter talking #fancycheese or #Chopped, and on Facebook with her fans in Becca Nation.

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Posted in Giveaway, Historical, romance on August 6, 2017

Celebrate National Sisters Day with a book about Cassie, whose attempts to play matchmaker go awry when she falls in love with her sister’s potential suitor.

Synopsis

Cassie, the youngest of six daughters in the Wilton family, is bold, bright, and ready to enter society. There’s only one problem: her older sister Lenora, whose extreme shyness prevents her from attending many social events. Lenora is now entering her third season, and since their father has decreed that only one Wilton girl can be out at a time, Cassie has no choice except to wait her turn.

Evan Glenside, a soft-spoken, East London clerk, has just been named his great-uncle’s heir and, though he is eager to learn all that will be required of him, he struggles to feel accepted in a new town and in his new position.

A chance meeting between Evan and Lenora promises to change everything, but when Lenora proves too shy to pursue the relationship, Cassie begins to write Mr. Glenside letters in the name of her sister. Her good intentions lead to disaster when Cassie realizes she is falling in love with Evan. But then Evan begins to court Lenora, thinking she is the author of the letters.

As secrets are revealed, the hearts of Cassie, Evan, and Lenora are tested. Will the final letter sent by the vicar’s daughter be able to reunite the sisters as well as unite Evan with his true love?

You can read my review here

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Posted in Giveaway, mystery, Spotlight on August 6, 2017

A Margin of Lust (The Seven Deadly Sins) 
1st in Series
Fawkes Press, LLC (May 10, 2017)
Paperback: 346 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1945419218
E-Book ASIN: B0719CMTFF

Synopsis

Gwen Bishop, wife, mother, and struggling real estate agent, has two big fears: claustrophobia and being buried in suburban obscurity. When she signs her dream listing, a multi-million dollar beachfront property in Laguna Beach, California, she’s sure her problems are behind her. And they would be, if it wasn’t for the secret in the basement and the body in an upstairs bedroom.

When the crime scene tape comes down, Gwen enlists the aid of a handsome co-worker with a background in construction to help her ready the house for sale and bolster her flagging courage. But every time they’re ready to put it back on the market, something goes horribly wrong. She must face old fears and new ones, temptations and buried truths. Gwen is determined to sell the dream house—or die trying.

About the Author

Greta Boris is the author of the 2017 releases, A Margin of Lust and The Scent of Wrath, the first two books in her 7 Deadly Sins domestic suspense series. She’s also the Director of O.C. Writers, a community of over 800 published and aspiring authors in Orange County, California.

She’s published articles on culture, health, and entertainment for a variety of national magazines including Victorian Homes, Zombies, 50 Scariest Movies, Exodus, and Women of the Bible. She’s also the author of the Amazon Kindle Bestseller The Wine and Chocolate Workout – Sip, Savor, and Strengthen for a Healthier Life.

You can visit her website where she describes her work (and her life) as an O.C. housewife meets Dante’s Inferno.

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Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery on August 5, 2017

Dadgummit
Series: Dreamwalker Mystery (Book 4)
Publisher: Camel Press (August 1, 2017)
Paperback: 312 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1603815932

Synopsis

Amateur sleuth Baxley Powell is on vacation at Stony Creek Lake in the north Georgia mountains. Her parents, best friend, and ten-year-old daughter are camping with her. Almost immediately, a young man’s body is found beside the lake. Strangely, there’s no apparent cause of death. The local police have heard about Baxley’s skill at closing unusual cases, and at their urging she agrees to help.

Her psychic sleuthing leads the police to a halfway house. There they encounter eight comatose victims and an odd man named Jonas, who also has supernatural abilities. Baxley senses Jonas cruelly drained their life force energy. Jonas escapes, taking the sheriff as a hostage. Deputy Sam Mayes, a Native American, leads the manhunt, and he keeps Baxley close, knowing she’s the key to capturing this powerful criminal.

Baxley’s paranormal talent of dreamwalking, which she uses to traverse the veil of life, draws the unwanted attention of beings believed to be Cherokee folklore. Jonas stole a treasured artifact from them, and they want it back. They hold Baxley’s best friend and two others because they know Baxley can help them. As the clock ticks, Jonas taunts this crime-fighting duo and proves to be a wily adversary.

With the body count rising, Baxley and Mayes realize they are up against an entity who appears to be invincible. Do they have the power to subdue an energy vampire, turn the tide of evil, and save the day?

Guest Post

Am I a scaredy cat?

By Baxley Powell, amateur sleuth

Since I’m a dreamwalker and therefore “different,” people think I don’t have normal reactions. I’m here to tell you that’s a complete falsehood. I cry when I stub my toe. I laugh at puppies frolicking in the park. I weep when a friend dies too young. I get nervous when I see a cop with a radar gun. (I get nervous about their Tasers too, but that’s another story.) I get misty-eyed when I see a couple in the first blush of love.

What I’m trying to say is that I’m as normal in my emotional reactions as everybody else. I’m completely human, but I have a few extras under the hood. I didn’t ask for these unusual talents. They came to me by virtue of my genetic heritage. Long ago I learned that denying what you are doesn’t change a thing. You are what you are.

These days I’ve added police consulting to my resume, along with pet sitting and plant care. Consulting sounds so benign, so office-y and safe, but it never works out that way. When I consult on a case, I use all the resources at my fingertips in this world – and the next. Let me tell you, some of the people and spirits are pretty scary.

As a kid I got trapped in the drift, that’s the limbo between here and there, so every transition I face a remnant of that primal fear. Once on the other side of the veil, I don’t always find the spirit I seek. There are tricksters, bad boy spirits, demons, and I’m sure there are other terrors I haven’t discovered yet. You might say fear keeps me on my toes.

There are unwritten rules about spiritual encounters I’ve learned through practical experience. For instance, spirits can’t tell me straight out who killed them, but they are allowed to show me scenes from their lives which may be relevant to their demise. Most of the time, they aren’t allowed to talk to me or answer my questions.

I think of my forays into the afterlife as tactical missions: get in, do my job, and get out. That’s more of a goal because dreamwalks rarely go that smoothly. In addition to spirits that don’t want to be found, spirits that are uncooperative, and harmful spirits, there’s also my Other World guide and mentor, Rose.

Mentor makes one think of a kindly, helpful person. Perhaps one who is older and wants to share the benefit of their experience. Rose is nothing like that. She’s got an agenda, and she’ll use whoever she wants to achieve it. Allegedly, Rose is undercover in the demon world and she’s an angel, but I’ve begun to doubt her story.

Three times now I’ve reached out to Rose during life or death situations. Three times she’s helped, but she demanded an hour of my life in return for each favor.

The thought of Rose being in charge of my body for three hours scares the tar out of me. However, since either I or a loved one would be dead otherwise, I believe the decision to accept Rose’s help was the only decision I could make. Now I’m stuck with fear of when she’ll collect the debt, and where it will happen, in my world or hers.

To try to regain some semblance of balance and normalcy in my life, my family is headed to the Georgia Mountains for a camping getaway before school starts again. Far as I know, Rose will still know where I am, thanks to her cross-worlds tattoo tracking system, but I’m not inviting her to join us for any of our revelry. Rose can party on her own time, with her own friends, thank you very much.

Because whatever we are, we are not friends. I am flat-out scared of her.

[For more about Baxley’s vacation in the Georgia Mountains, check out her latest appearance in Dadgummit by Maggie Toussaint]

About The Author

Southern author Maggie Toussaint writes mystery, suspense, and dystopian fiction. Her work won the Silver Falchion Award for best mystery, the Readers’ Choice Award, and the EPIC Award. She’s published seventeen novels as well as several short stories and novellas. The next book in her paranormal mystery series, Dadgummit, releases August 2017. Maggie serves on the national board for Mystery Writers of America, is President of Southeast Mystery Writers of America, and is Co-VP of Low Country Sisters In Crime.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Young Adult on August 3, 2017

Title: The Way It Hurts

Author: Patty Blount

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Release Date: August 1, 2017

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Pages: 352 pages

Format: Paperback and Digital

Print ISBN: 978-1-492632-788

Digital ASIN: B06XR172ZD

 

Synopsis

There may be two sides to every story, but sometimes there’s only one way to set things right…

Music is Elijah’s life. His band plays loud and hard, and he’ll do anything to get them a big break. He needs that success to help take care of his sister, who has special needs. So he’d rather be practicing when his friends drag him to a musical in the next town…until the lead starts to sing.

Kristen dreams of a career on stage like her grandmother’s. She knows she needs an edge to get into a competitive theater program–and being the star in her high school musical isn’t going to cut it. The applause and the attention only encourage her to work harder.

Elijah can’t take his eyes off of Kristen’s performance, and snaps a photo of her in costume that he posts online with a comment that everybody misunderstands. It goes viral. Suddenly, Elijah and Kristen are in a new spotlight as the online backlash spins out of control. And the consequences are bigger than they both could have ever imagined because these threats don’t stay online…they follow them into real life.

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Advanced Praise for The Way It Hurts

“Blount writes authentically; both protagonists’ voices are distinct. The author explores the rapidly consuming world of social media and how it affects relationships online and in real life. A relevant read and must-have for all YA collections.” – School Library Journal

“THE WAY IT HURTS draws our attention to the joy, heartache and confusing contradictions that arise as we try to find our place in the real world and the virtual one.” – Kimberly Sabatini

Elijah and Kristen’s personal evolutions through the novel, along with their chemistry, feel as authentic as the conflicts they face. A genuine plot filled with steady tension that will keep readers hooked.” RT Book Reviews

“This book sensitively covers topics such as sexism, handicapping conditions, communication, and ageism. Agency is also shown when Kristen says she wants to pursue studying in a conservatory rather than continue in the band and the three young men acknowledge her wish. Talking about what bothers us rather than trying to guess another person’s feelings is demonstrated through the actions of the characters. The characters’ issues are eventually resolved through hard work and understanding, making this an interesting and informative read. School Library Connection

Excerpt

Elijah took my hands. “Okay, look. Maybe you’re right. Maybe these people are taking this whole battle thing way too seriously. If you’re scared, then we’ll stop. No more posts except for appearance information.”

“So no more battle of the sexes, no more make Kris scream?”

He held up his hand. “Swear to God.”

“Okay.” I sighed in relief. “You’d really do that?”

He leaned closer and repeated the vow. “I promise, Kris.”

And just like that, I forgot why I was mad at him. I couldn’t talk, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t even blink because I was afraid he’d let go. This was the part of him I adored. I clung to him for a long moment, and when his gaze drifted to my mouth, I wondered if—hoped—prayed—he’d finally kiss me.

And then, Etta’s voice suddenly spoke inside my head. “Well, my God, darling, it’s the twenty-first century. What on earth are you waiting for? You can kiss him.”

I could. Yes. Yes, I could just lift my head and lean in and kiss Elijah Hamilton like it was a normal, ordinary occurrence.

Right. Like kissing Elijah Hamilton would ever be ordinary?

I’d watched him kiss that girl at the mall and was sure I’d memorized all the steps in his routine. He’d move in, grip my face between his hands, run his thumb along my jaw, and finally, glide his arm down around my body, pulling me against his own, all the while, peeking through his lashes to see if I enjoyed it.

I wasn’t sure when I decided—even what made me decide. I just touched my lips to his and waited.

It took a second or two. But then there was a sudden, tiny squeak from him, and I felt the pulse in his wrist leap under my fingertips.

And then, his hands were in my hair, angling my head just the way he liked it, his tongue brushing against mine, so soft it might have been my imagination…except imaginary kisses were never so intense. He kissed me like I was a song he wrote, lips wrapped around every word until it hummed with hidden meaning and promise, and his hands held me the way they held his guitar—like the music would stop if he let me go.

Copyright © The Way It Hurts by Patty Blount 2017

About the Author

Native New Yorker Patty Blount is the award-winning author of several critically acclaimed internet issues novels for teens as well as a few adult contemporary romances. She is inspired to write by such greats as Judy Blume, JK Rowling, and Gayle Forman. In fact, Judy Blume is the reason Patty elected to write under her real name…so she’d appear on shelves next to her idol. Patty adores writing; she’s written everything from technical manuals to song lyrics (see THE WAY IT HURTS, coming August 2017). Patty wants you to know she loves chocolate…really, really loves chocolate.

When not crushing on actors Gilles Marini or Sam Heughan, Patty can be found sitting in traffic somewhere on the Long Island Expressway, listening to audio books or talking wildly to herself about plots and characters. Prone to falling madly in love with fictional characters, Patty suffers frequent broken hearts when they all invariably prefer the heroine to her… go figure. When she’s not writing, Patty loves to watch bad sci-fi movies and live tweet the hilarity, and scour Pinterest for ideas on awesome bookcases. Patty lives on Long Island with her family in a house that, sadly, lacks bookcases.

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Giveaway

Patty Blount is offering one (1) lucky winner a $50 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below:

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, paranormal, romance on August 2, 2017

Third in Ashlyn Chase’s light paranormal romance series featuring hot dragon shifters. No one would believe that lovely Lt. Kristine Scott of the NY Fire Department is an actual dragon, but there’s no denying the flames that ignite when she meets firefighting phoenix shifter Jayce Fierro.

Synopsis

One Boston Phoenix + One New York Dragon = Scorching Heat

You think it’s tough being a dragon? It’s a piece of cake compared to being a phoenix shifter. Dragon shifters just have to worry about accidentally setting their stuff (or a loved one) on fire. A phoenix can rise from the ashes, but then they have to start over…as if growing up once wasn’t tough enough..

Meet Lt. Jayce Fierro of the Boston Fire Department, and Kristine Scott of the FDNY. A long distance relationship could never work—especially not with the secrets they’re keeping. But when Kristine lands herself in a blaze of trouble, she’s in no position to turn down Jayce’s help. Even if it means letting down their guards…and giving in to their sizzling attraction.

Boston Dragons:

I Dream of Dragons (Book 1)

My Wild Irish Dragon (Book 2)

Never Dare a Dragon (Book 3)

AmazonB&NiBooksBAM

Excerpt

The rest of the dinner went well. In fact, Kristine was surprised by how well it was going. She hadn’t dated a guy like Jayce in a long time. Their connection seemed to be almost instantaneous. It was just too bad he was a firefighter—and lived three hours away as the Acela train flies. Actually, a quick plane ride would reduce the commute to only an hour and a half, but the hassle and time it took to go through security would make the trip even longer.

Walking down the wide sidewalks of Times Square, hand in hand, sure made her feel as if the trip might be worth the hassle. His hand was warm and rough. For once she wasn’t concerned that hers were the same way. No hand cream could stand up to a firefighters’ routine. Wet gloves, rough weather, unbearable heat… All of that detracted from the soft, supple skin she longed for.

They had decided over dinner to visit the top of the Empire State Building. Jayce had never been there before, and Kristine had only visited with friends—never a date. It was supposed to be romantic. She’d never understood why. Probably because her cynical ex-boyfriend thought it was hokey. As she glanced over at Jayce, he glanced back, and they smiled. One thing she wasn’t seeing in him was a city dweller’s pessimism. Its absence was a refreshing change.

Eventually, they arrived at their destination, and as luck—or the stars aligning at the right moment—would have it, they stepped into an elevator with no one right behind them. The doors whooshed closed while they were still alone.

She spun toward Jayce with a hand over her mouth. “I guess that wasn’t very nice of me. I probably should have waited.”

He stepped right into her space. “I’m glad you didn’t.”

As the elevator began to ascend, he leaned in and captured her mouth with his firm lips. She looped her arms around his neck, and he pulled her close. She immediately opened her mouth, and their tongues found each other and swirled together. Kristine wasn’t at all sure her light-headed feeling was due to the elevator traveling so fast. Unfortunately, she felt as if she were falling instead.

Don’t think about it. Whatever happens happens… She seemed to have found a new mantra. She heard the ding of the elevator doors opening, and they were greeted by chuckles and a wolf whistle.

“Yeah, yeah…” Jayce said, but he was grinning and holding Kristine’s hand as they made their way off the elevator.

When they spotted a space at the building’s edge that was fairly deserted, they walked over to it with no hesitation.

“You’re not afraid of heights, I guess…” Jayce said to her.

She laughed. “I’d be in deep trouble if I were.” Not only was she a firefighter in a company that specialized in high-rises, but she was a full-fledged, fire-breathing, wing-soaring dragon. She could hover at this height and enjoy the view.

Speaking of enjoying the view…

Jayce turned his back on the dazzling city lights and kissed her knuckles as he stared into her eyes. She felt as if her insides were melting. A deep shimmer in his eyes must have been reflecting the lights. Or not. His eyes seemed to glow for a moment, and then he quickly turned back toward the city.

She took her first good look at the city lights as well. Dear Lord. At last she realized why people thought this place was romantic. At night, so many lights against the velvet black sky were more beautiful than Christmas. Some even seemed to twinkle like stars. Below, white headlights and red taillights trailed through the landscape, but the sounds of the city were far away.

A chilly breeze ruffled her hair. Jayce enveloped her in a side hug. If she felt a chill, it was forgotten in favor of his warm, strong body alongside hers. Everywhere they touched, merging heat radiated through her. Wow. How she’d missed this! Or had she ever had this feeling?

Good Lord, Kristine… Get ahold of yourself!

“So, Jayce… What do you think of the view from up here?”

He turned her toward him and said, “I think the view right in front of me is as beautiful as it gets.” Leaning in, he delivered another toe-curling kiss, and she realized she was a goner.

About the Author

Ashlyn Chase describes herself as an Almond Joy bar. A little nutty, a little flaky, but basically sweet, wanting only to give her readers a scrumptious, satisfying, experience.

She holds a degree in behavioral sciences, worked as a psychiatric RN for several years and spent a few more years working for the Red Cross. She credits her sense of humor to her former careers since comedy helped preserve whatever was left of her sanity. She is a multi-published, award-winning author of hot, humorous paranormal and contemporary romantic comedies.

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Giveaway

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance, Western on August 1, 2017

Title: Tougher in Texas

Series: Texas Rodeo #2

Author: Kari Lynn Dell

Pub Date: August 1, 2017

ISBN: 9781492632009

Synopsis

He’s got five rules

And she’s aiming to break them all

Rodeo producer Cole Jacobs has his hands full running Jacobs Livestock. He can’t afford to lose a single cowboy, so when Cousin Violet offers to send along a more-than-capable replacement, he’s got no choice but to accept. He expects a grizzled Texas good ol’ boy.

He gets Shawnee Pickett.

Wild and outspoken, ruthlessly self-reliant, Shawnee’s not looking for anything but a good time. It doesn’t matter how quickly the tall, dark and intense cowboy gets under her skin—Cole deserves something real, and Shawnee can’t promise him forever. Life’s got a way of kicking her in the teeth, and she’s got her bags packed before tragedy can knock her down. Too bad Cole’s not the type to give up when the going gets tough…

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My Favorite Fictional Cowboys – Serving Up the Eye Candy

You won’t find a lot of classically beautiful women or men in my books, and even when they are (I’m looking at you Delon, in Tangled in Texas) I shy away from putting a huge amount of emphasis on looks as the basis of attraction. Sure, we all get our heads turned by a pretty face, and my characters definitely notice the fit of a good pair of jeans, but lasting love comes from being irresistibly compelled by who a person is, down deep in their bones, and shared interests and values that are expressed in actions, not just sweet words.

However, I am not averse to an occasional heaping helping of eye candy, which is exactly what you get in the king of country music’s one and only shot at acting, the movie Pure Country. Yes, I know. There’s a reason directors weren’t beating George Strait’s door down afterward—as he’s happy to admit—and the plot is a wee bit thin in spots. But the music is outstanding and the roping scenes are absolutely true to life, including the fact that George is a roper so that was him on that really nice sorrel horse. Who cares if he can act? I’m happy to just settle in with my popcorn and pretend he’s aiming those Aw, shucks smiles at me.

And then there’s Maverick, either the 1950’s television series starring James Garner or the 90’s movie with Mel Gibson. Talk about some killer smiles, and both versions are a boatload of fun as card shark Bret Maverick finagles himself into and out of constant trouble. I know we’re not supposed to swoon over Mel Gibson anymore but I’m giving this one a pre-implosion exemption because it also stars my favorite Native American actor, Graham Greene, who steals every scene as the chief whose tribe survives by conning white men who want a taste of the older, wilder west, and Jody Foster as a charming, faithless, conniving woman who I want to be when I grow up.

And now an excerpt from Tougher in Texas, in which Shawnee inadvertently gives Cole a real eyeful.

***

Shawnee hauled the gray horse around to face her yet again and they both paused to take a few heaving breaths. Sweat dripped from her eyebrows, soaked the strands of hair that escaped the wad on top of her head, and ran down to make muddy tracks in the dust coating her neck and arms. She was puffing like a freight train from alternately chasing and dragging the colt.

Then something caught his eye and he tried to stampede.

Shawnee swore, dragged him to a stop, and shot a glare over her shoulder. Cole Jacobs stood, arms folded on the top rail of the gate, his canine minion planted beside his feet.

“What?” she snapped.

“It’s almost eight o’clock.”

“So?”

“We run tonight’s stock through the arena at eight.”

The gray whinnied and sidled toward where his buddy was dozing on the other side of the fence. Shawnee yanked him around to face her. “I’ll get out of your way as soon as Butthead here settles down and pays attention.”

“It’s almost eight o’clock,” Cole repeated, his voice sharpening with impatience.

“You can’t wait half an hour?” She scrubbed at her sweaty forehead with the back of one grungy hand. “It’s not like it’ll get that much hotter.”

His face took on the obstinate, ain’t-gonna-budge look that invariably goaded her into saying something rude so he’d get all stiff-necked and walk away. Yeah, she knew Cole had legitimate issues. Join the worldwide club.

“We always work the stock at eight,” he said.

“And what, they turn into four-legged pumpkins at the stroke of nine?”

He scowled so ferociously his brows pulled into a single dark line. “I have a schedule. I like to stick to it.”

“I’ll be sure I’m out of your way in the future.”

He just stood there, glaring at her. The dog glared, too.

Shawnee matched their heat and turned it up a few kilowatts. “I’m not leaving this arena until I’m done.”

The furrows around his mouth deepened. “We can’t work around you.”

“Then wait.” The gray tried to take advantage of her distraction. She jerked on the line to set him straight, then turned her glare back to Cole. “You of all people should know that when a horse picks a fight, you can’t quit until you win. Otherwise, you’re just teaching him to be an asshole. If you want to speed things up, take Butthead over there to the trailer where this mothered-up son of a bitch can’t see him.”

“I thought that one was Butthead.”

She blew out a loud, exasperated breath. “They’re all buttheads when I get them. As soon as they stop being buttheads I sell them, so there’s no sense wasting time with names.”

Cole frowned, probably debating whether to bodily remove her from the arena. No doubt he could, but she’d get in a few shots in the process. Finally he gave a single, curt nod and turned to untie the other horse and lead it away, Katie marching along beside him. Christ. Even his dog had a stick up her ass.

Shawnee glared after them for a couple of beats, then gave the gray her undivided attention. “It’s just you and me, fleabag, and you don’t even want to know how long I can keep this up.”

By the time Cole came back, she had sweated out another gallon of fluids, but she had the horse trotting passable circles. She stepped out and flicked the line. The gray paused, then swung around to circle the other way. Intensely aware that Cole was watching every move, she worked the horse back and forth, made him stop, face, back a few steps, then start again.

Showing off, just a little.

Satisfied, she stopped the gray, brought him around to face, then walked up to rub his dripping forelock. She could feel sweat running down the crack of her ass, soaking the seat of her jeans. “Next time, you’ll know better.”

The gray dropped his head and whuffled as if in agreement.

She turned toward the gate and found Cole staring at her as if he’d never seen the likes of it. His eyes remained glued to her as he stepped back and swung open the gate.

“Thank you for your patience,” she said sweetly, tossing him a mocking smile as she passed.

“Shawnee?”

“Yeah?”

“You should change shirts before you run into anybody else,” he said, then strolled into the arena, closing the gate behind him.

She glanced down. Her white T-shirt was soaked through with sweat, her nipples clearly visible through equally soggy white spandex. Damn bargain rack sports bra. She considered being embarrassed, then shrugged. Wasn’t like it was the first time someone had seen her in a wet T-shirt, and she wasn’t even dancing on a bar.

Then another thought struck and she huffed out a self-deprecating laugh. She’d been so sure Cole was in awe of her mad horse-training skills, and the whole time he was just staring at her tits.

She laughed again and started for her trailer, keeping the horse between her and a trio of committeemen chatting in the shade of the grandstand in the interests of public decency. Then again, they were good tits. They’d put a smile on more than one face. She should probably share the joy whenever possible, while she still had them. That shoe could drop at any time, especially now that she’d made it past thirty.

Cole, though—she shook her head. She’d figured him for the kind to toss her a towel and order her to cover up instead of hanging around to enjoy the view.

Huh. He might be human after all.

 

About the Author

Kari Lynn Dell is a ranch-raised Montana cowgirl who attended her first rodeo at two weeks old and has existed in a state of horse-induced poverty ever since. She lives on the Blackfeet Reservation in her parents’ bunkhouse along with her husband, her son, and Max the Cowdog, with a tipi on her lawn, Glacier National Park on her doorstep and Canada within spitting distance. Her debut novel, The Long Ride Home, was published in 2015. She also writes a ranch and rodeo humor column for several regional newspapers and a national agricultural publication.

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Giveaway

Three bundles of the first three Texas Rodeo books (Reckless in Texas, Tangled in Texas, Tougher in Texas)
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