Posted in Book Release, Novella, romance on February 8, 2017

Synopsis

Eve Harris has always had a point to prove: where you come from doesn’t matter, it’s what you aim for that counts. She has it all planned; find the perfect teaching job, live with her best friend, Cherry, and never get dragged back into the destructive world of her youth.

The last thing she expects is to bump into millionaire heir Cameron Wallis on her last day on campus. Nor is she expecting to discover that when she gives him a chance to win her over he’s nothing like the playboy the newspapers paint him to be.

Will Eve be able to let go of her judgements and embrace a spontaneous affair with Cam that isn’t part of her plan? Or will the constraints from both their families prevent Cam and Eve from discovering The Truth About Love?

The Truth About Love Vol.I is the first novella in a serial About finding love even when you’re least expecting it.

**The book is FREE this week!**

 

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Posted in 5 paws, LDS, Novella, Review, romance on August 31, 2016

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Synopsis

One city of two million people and only three months to find her.
What are his chances?

Isabel Antunes is content with her life as director of the English Academy in Lisbon. Then she’s hit by a man on a bike—a man her boss just hired to be her assistant. Despite Simon Ackerley’s repeated assurances to the contrary, Isabel believes he’s after her position, but she won’t hand it over without a fight. As if dealing with him all week is not enough, he shows up at church as well. Her only solace is in writing to the pen pal she knows as “Elliot”.

Simon Ackerley told his father that he was moving to Lisbon for the job. But that isn’t the only reason. Simon is looking for Amélie, the pen pal he’s written for fifteen years. A woman he knows everything about—except her real name and address.

When the biking accident reveals that Simon’s prickly co-worker Isabel is the elusive Amélie, he knows he has to win her trust before he can confess his true identity. If only he could tell her the actual reason why he’s come, he’s sure Isabel would treat him differently. But she’s not ready for the truth.

One Small Chance is a standalone novella of 43,000 words and it’s set in Lisbon, Portugal. It’s a clean and wholesome contemporary LDS romance in the A Love Story from Portugal series.

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Review

This may be a novella but it is not short on character development, has an intriguing story line and inspiring romance. Oh and some delicious food too!

This is also a very clean romance and since the two main characters are of the LDS faith, that is to be expected. But I like that because it makes the author be creative and use other situations and language to reflect emotions.

I like how Isabel and Simon were penpals for 15 years before Simon took a chance to try and find her, and an accident throws them together. It must have been fate.

There is even a little mystery in this book, who is stealing from the school that Isabel directs. Simon is hired to figure it out so that helps him try to woo Isabel before revealing who he truly is, her penpal of 15 years.

I really loved every element of this story and recommend it to everyone!

We give this 5 paws up.

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About the Author

lucinda whitneyLucinda Whitney was born and raised in Portugal, where she received a Master’s degree from the University of Minho in Braga, in Portuguese/English teaching.
She lives in northern Utah with her husband and four children. When she’s not reading and writing, she can be found with a pair of knitting needles, or tending her herb garden.

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Posted in 2 1/2 paws, England, Novella, Review, romance on August 23, 2016

village romance

Synopsis

As a heatwave rolls into Little Perran, so does love. Billy Baxter, the has-been rock star, and Rafe Wylde, the hunky farm worker arrive, both destined to cause havoc as they touch the lives of the villagers. Milly finds a new job and things start to look up for her, but she is unaware that a ghost from her past is looking for her.

Funny, Compassionate and Sizzling Sexy, A Village Romance is a page-turning summer read. A Village Romance is the second book in The Little Perran Romance series by Lynda Renham writing as Amy Perfect.

The Village Romance story continues in the book ‘A Summer Romance’.

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Review

This is the second book in a series and while you don’t have to read the first book, it might help to introduce some of the characters of the town. I didn’t realize it was the 2nd when I agreed to review, but as it is a novella, I don’t think I missed too much other than maybe some more details on the townspeople.

I am not sure if the copy I read was edited. The story has a lot of potential but I felt like there was a lot of back and forth that made it feel disjointed. There is one section that I thought was accidentally put in there twice until I realized it was from another POV. I didn’t quite understand why the author did this other than to understand what each character felt….but don’t think it was totally necessary. There was also a mention of a character wanting to hire a housekeeper for $25 (or 25 pounds) an hour…maybe he was used to London prices? Or maybe because he was rich he could afford it? It just didn’t seem to fit.

There are a couple of celebrities that move into town..one a brash musician and the other a quite author that is hiding from himself. However, several ladies in town see past their gruff exteriors and work their way into the men’s hearts.

The novella just sort of ends and you have to read the next one to pick up the story and where it leaves off because it does just leave you hanging.

I would give this 2 1/2 paws up.

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About the Author

Lynda Renham has been writing for as long as she can remember and had her first work published in a magazine at age nine and has continued writing in various forms since. She has had several poems published as well as articles in numerous magazines and newspapers. Recently she has taken part in radio discussions on the BBC.

She has studied literature and creative writing and has a blog on her web page.

Lynda lives with her second husband and cat in Oxfordshire, England. She is Associate Editor for the online magazine The Scavenger and contributor to many others. When not writing Lynda can usually be found wasting her time on Facebook.

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Posted in Novella, romance, Spotlight on June 16, 2016

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** Romance Collections & Anthologies Bestseller **

** Romantic Comedies Bestseller **

 

THREE contemporary romance novellas with THREE irresistible men by THREE bestselling authors!!

Three stories. Three authors. Three kinds of romance.

Sweet. Sassy. Sexy.

Sweet: Love at First Date by Susan Hatler, New York Times Bestselling Author

Ellen may not believe in storybook love, but it’s about to rewrite her life. . . .

Ellen’s figured out that finding the right guy is all about compatibility. That’s why she signs up for Detailed Dating—the local online dating scene in Sacramento. They ask men the hard questions, compare their answers with hers, then she filters through the profiles of each provided “match.” After numerous email exchanges, she narrows it down to two promising candidates she’s excited to meet in person.

When Ellen’s best friend asks her for a favor, dog-sitting leads to disaster and Ellen ends up at the local vet where she meets a man she can’t get out of her mind. Henry isn’t a logical choice, but she finds herself paying for dog obedience class to spend more time with him.

Ellen knows that in order to have a lasting relationship, she should take the safe route and go for one of the pre-screened guys. But, how can she think with her head when her heart keeps begging her to give Henry a chance?

Sassy: From Fame to Shame by Veronica Blade, Bestselling Author

When good-girl Maddie switches places with her famous bad-girl twin Jackie, she has some pretty high stilettos to fill.

Despite the danger of tabloid drama if their identity swap is discovered, Maddie has to save her sister’s butt. When Jackie’s ex-boyfriend shows up with a rekindled spark for “Jackie,” his deep gray eyes and sweet kisses make Maddie’s heart thumpety thump. But dating the guy who dumped her sister is a no-no. Too bad Dallas isn’t used to girls saying no. What will happen when he discovers Maddie’s deception?

Sexy: Wild For Mr. Wrong by Virna DePaul, New York Times Bestselling Author

Can an uptight prosecutor and a laid-back defense attorney find love despite their opposing agendas?

Bryn Donovon became a prosecutor for a reason and defense attorney Daniel Mays seems to take his job about as seriously as he does his love life. While straight-laced Bryn can’t deny she’s attracted to the southern charmer, she’s determined to keep her distance. Instead, she ends up finding something she’d lost long ago—a willingness to risk all for love.

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Praise

“Love at First Date left me completely satisfied.” — Getting Your Read On

“Veronica Blade is an incredibly talented story teller. ” — Cafe of Dreams Book Reviews

“Virna DePaul is amazing!” — Lori Foster, NYT bestselling author

About the Authors

Susan Hatler

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SUSAN HATLER is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, who writes humorous and emotional contemporary romance and young adult novels. Many of Susan’s books have been translated into German, Spanish, French, and Italian. A natural optimist, she believes life is amazing, people are fascinating, and imagination is endless. She loves spending time with her characters and hopes you do, too.

 

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Veronica Blade

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Veronica Blade lives in Southern California with her husband and children. By day she runs the family business, but each night she slips away to spin her tales. She writes stories about young adults to relive her own childhood and to live vicariously through her characters. Except her heroes and heroines lead far more interesting lives–and they are always way hotter.

 

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Virna DePaul

Virna DePaul

Virna DePaul is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of steamy, suspenseful fiction. Whether it’s vampires, a Para-Ops team, hot cops or swoon-worthy identical twin brothers, her stories center around complex individuals willing to overcome incredible odds for love. Bedding The Wrong Brother, which begins the Bedding the Bachelors Series, is a #1 Bestselling Contemporary Romance and a USA Today Bestseller.

 

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Giveaway

Giveaway Info:

1 Winner – $25 Amazon Gift Card

1 Winner – Susan Hatler Book of Choice (digital)

1 Winner – Veronica Blade Book of Choice (digital)

1 Winner – Virna DePaul Book of Choice (digital)
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Posted in 5 paws, Historical, Novella, romance on December 24, 2015

matchmaker

Synopsis

A prequel novella to the POWER OF THE MATCHMAKER Series

Mystical . . . Beautiful . . . Romantic . . .

12 novels by 12 bestselling authors.  Released once a month in 2016

Read the matchmaker’s story to find out where it all starts . . .

Mae Li has been in love with Chen Zhu for years, and he with her. But when the matchmaker arrives at the Zhu family home, she recommends another village girl for Chen.

Heartbroken, Mae Li watches as Chen does his duty by marrying another. Mae flees her village with the clothes on her back and her only possession—a pearl embedded comb, given to her as a goodbye gift from Chen Zhu.

Upon Mae’s arrival in Shanghai, she quickly learns that she’ll starve within days unless she sells her prized comb or joins a courtesan house. She goes to the Huangpu River and promises the River God that she’ll always be selfless if he will save her from becoming a prostitute . . . Her wish is granted when Ms. Tan, the matchmaker of Shanghai, finds Mae. But Mae must completely change her future and her name if she is to become the next matchmaker.

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Review

This is a novella so a very fast read but it sets you up for 12 books coming out next year featuring the matchmaker Pearl. She loved a man from her town, but the matchmaker matched him with a rival, so Mae Li (aka Pearl) leaves her town to avoid marrying who she was matched with.

I don’t know what time frame this was but am guessing late 1800’s or early 1900’s since there weren’t cars yet. Also there were not a lot of jobs for women other than prostitution.

The book was enjoyable and I look forward to checking out the other books featuring Mae Li aka Pearl.

We give this 5 paws up

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Posted in Book Blast, excerpt, Free, Novella, romance on December 18, 2015

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Synopsis

When the five Trask brothers and their wives gather together for Christmas, they’re all looking forward to relaxing and celebrating the holidays.

But when the Trask brothers decide to cook the Christmas dinner, it’s one disaster after another, until they realize that love and family is what Christmas is all about.

This is a short holiday story of approximately 7,500 words and can be read as a stand-alone.

SNIPPET 1:

“This is going to be a great Christmas,” Garrett said. He unzipped a suitcase and rummaged through it. “I’m going to be Santa.” He held up a new red Santa suit.

“You mean I’m going to be Santa.” Alex raked a hand through his hair. “I thought it would be fun to pretend to be him. Dad usually does it for the kids when we spend Christmas there, so I thought I’d take over this year. I brought my own suit.”

Cole, Logan and Mitch looked at each other in dismay.

“I was going to be Santa.” Mitch frowned.

“Hell, I was too,” Cole growled.

“So was I.” Logan crossed his arms in front of his chest.

“What are we going to do?” Alex quirked an eyebrow. “We can’t all be Santa, can we?”

SNIPPET 2:

Sophie slipped into her silk and lace nightgown, trying to hide a smile at her husband’s disgruntled tone.

“And we all brought Santa costumes,” Mitch grumbled.

“So who’s going to be Santa?” she inquired, tugging him toward the bed.

“All of us.”

“That will be fun.” She kissed him softly on the lips. “Next year you can be Santa for him or her.” She placed his hand on her stomach.

“I can’t believe we’re going to be parents.” Wonder, passion and tenderness gleamed in his eyes. “You know I’ll be the best dad I can possibly be.” His tone was fierce.

“I know.” She cupped his cheek. “And I’ll be the best mother I can be.”

“I know.” He kissed her deeply, his love for her shining through the touch of his lips on hers, his tender caresses, and the soft murmur of his voice as he made love to her.

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About the Author

Jenn Roseton believes in love, romance, and gourmet chocolate.

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Posted in 5 paws, Novella, Review, suspense, Thriller on August 30, 2015

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Fiction / Thriller / Suspense
Date Published: 8/18/2015
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Synopsis

A beautiful young girl was walking down the street―when suddenly

Julia Carroll knows that too many stories start that way. Beautiful, intelligent, a nineteen-year-old college freshman, she should be carefree. But instead she is frightened. Because girls are disappearing.

A fellow student, Beatrice Oliver, is missing. A homeless woman called Mona-No-Name is missing. Both taken off the street. Both gone without a trace.

Julia is determined to find out the reasons behind their disappearances. And she doesn’t want to be next…

Praise

Michael Connelly calls Karin Slaughter “unrivaled among thriller writers.” This gripping, unforgettable short story proves why. And be sure to order Karin’s new novel, Pretty Girls, on sale September 29, 2015.

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Review

This may be considered a prologue to Pretty Girls, but this short story packs a punch. It sets up what I suspect will be the full story in Pretty Girls – what happens to Julia Carroll. I think that this short story gives us an insight into Julia and who she is and what her life is like before she is abducted. Others may have gone missing in her area that aren’t noticed or really looked for, but I have a feeling it will be a different story with Julia.

I will be picking up Pretty Girls soon because I need to know the rest of the story (as Paul Harvey would say)

I give this 5 paws up

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About the Author

karin slaughterKarin Slaughter is the #1 internationally bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including the Will Trent and Grant County series and the instant New York Times bestseller Cop Town. There are more than 35 million copies of her books in print around the world.

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Posted in Novella, paranormal, Spotlight on August 25, 2015

AnniesDefiance

Author: Nicole Pouchet
Series Name: Elemental Myths
# in the Series: 3
Date of Publication: August 25, 2015
Publisher: Nicole Pouchet
Cover Artist: Ann Alger

Synopsis

D.C. lawyer, Annie Birch, believes her life is one logical assessment after another. That changes, however, on the day she accidentally teleports during a high-profile negotiation. Knowing her new power must be a side effect after miraculously getting healed by the Incan Mother Earth goddess doesn’t help matters. Annie has already seen how emerging powers like hers also come with psycho villains that are bent on destroying her, as well as the corporeal world.

The icing on the cupcake of her ridiculous day is two gorgeous men who show up on her doorstep, both vying for her attention. Now, her choices involve much more than her oft-neglected libido. Annie is tasked to play a role in the Incan prophecy, which she prefers to watch from the sidelines. Will she stick to her safe, legal path? Or will she defy all logic to experience the decidedly more fun adventures being thrust her way?

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Excerpt

Rubbing the smooth marble surface, she peered down over President Lincoln’s leg to the ground beneath her. Opening her arms, she decided to fly the twenty feet that separated her from the bottom of the statue. Why not? She might as well enjoy her dream.

“I see you’re awake,” a deep voice rumbled from the stone.

“Abraham?” Her dream was taking a weird turn, and she instantly regretted caressing the statue’s leg. Doing the deed with a giant stone replica of Honest Abe was never on her list of fantasies.

Laughter followed as Stone appeared on the ground beneath her. His eyes crinkled with mirth, brightening every feature of his chiseled face. “No, the monument dedicated to your country’s beloved leader has not come to life.”

“Of course not,” Annie snapped, wishing he hadn’t witnessed her little mix-up. Perhaps she could blame it on having just woken up. “What’re you doing here anyway?”

“I told you I would help you whenever you’re in need. Can you think of a more needy time than this?”

Needy? Yes! This dream was a great time to unleash her hidden Harlequin persona. “How about you showing up in my bedroom next time I’m reaching for my vibrator,” she baited him in her sultriest voice. “That’s a needy moment.”

“Do you mean that?” His amusement vanished, replaced by a lust-filled gaze so intense, she could feel her body responding without her permission.

Maybe she should insist he join her on top of the statue… but even in fantasy, the cold marble was decidedly uncomfortable.

“Yes. I’ll fly down and show you how much I mean it.”

He frowned. “I wasn’t aware you possessed the power of flight.”

“We all do, in our dreams.” Saying that, she launched herself off the statue.

No wind supported her newly weightless body. On the contrary, Annie plummeted as fast as an anvil, despite flapping her arms like a featherless chicken.

“By the goddess,” grunted Stone when he caught her, despite receiving a blow to the head from one of her flailing limbs. “You still think you’re deep in slumber?”

“Aren’t I?” Annie stammered before trying to right herself while in his firm grasp. At last, her feet dangled above the ground and her face was inches from his. “Could there be any other explanation?”

Her breath hitched as she stared into perfection. His blue eyes flashed, and she felt him growing hard against her thighs. His hands squeezed her closer and he held her firmly against his body. She prayed her alarm clock wouldn’t wake her from this perfect fantasy as she leaned in for the kiss.

Stone lowered her onto her bare feet and rested his forehead on hers. “You will learn soon enough. But, for now, I must stop this before we do something you may regret.”

“Oh, come on,” she protested. “I can’t even get laid in my dreams? I’ve got to be responsible now, too?”

“Believe me, Nature’s girl, when we finally come together in unbridled passion, you’ll forget every responsible thought you ever had. You’ll think of nothing else, but my cock fucking you over and over until you’re lost in an alternate reality of carnal pleasure. There will be no room for responsibility, or apprehension, for either of us, only the essences of you, and me.”

About the Author

Nicole Pouchet is a memoirist and a paranormal romance novelist. Books from her Elemental Myths paranormal romance series have enjoyed spots on Amazon’s Bestseller lists. Layla’s Gale, A Paranormal Romance won second prize in the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest.

Still amazed to be an adult, Nicole has managed to center her life around raising her two small sons and being true to her family (including husband and friends). She resides in Leesburg, Virginia where she owns a marketing agency. Happiest near the water, Nicole spends her free hours plotting her next escape, writing, and staring at the ceiling.

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Posted in e-books, excerpt, Novella, romance, Sale, Spotlight on June 10, 2015

ODAAW Banner Sale

Title: One Day At A Wedding Series
Author: Kelly Rae
Sale Blitz: June 8-10
Hosted by: SBB Promotions

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Once Upon a Wedding Story Synopsis

Cassie Anderson, bridesmaid extraordinaire, is tired of attending her friend’s weddings either solo, or with her best friend, Thad. Finding a real date is simply too much work. Especially when she sees an old acquaintance from high school, Dan, at her friend Shelley’s wedding. After the spark shared between them, Dan has become the object of her affection. Too bad he has a nasty habit of having a date on his arm at every turn. Stealing another woman’s date is against the rules, but if she could just catch him alone…well, that would be fair game! Unfortunately, timing is everything, and she and Dan seem to have the worst. Always the bridesmaid, walking away with nothing more than a dreadful dress,

Cassie is committed to changing her luck and getting her man.

Once Upon a Wedding

Every Other Wedding Synopsis

Cassie Anderson has been the girl of Dan’s dreams since high school. Unfortunately, her return to his life comes at the worst time possible. As he tries to put his life back together, he keeps an eye on her, hoping to find her single at the right time. A time when it all hurts a bit less. A time when he can offer her all of the love she deserves. After three weddings of happenstance meetings, Dan finds himself to be a little more ready for everything that is Cassie. Putting himself out there, he can only hope she is everything he thinks she might be — his forever girl.

Anything but a Wedding

Thad never expected to find anyone who meant more to him than his best friend, Cassie. She was the one woman he loved enough not to sleep with. He was a player, but an honest one. Unfortunately, not everyone felt that balanced out his love ’em and leave ’em ways. He just didn’t see a need to settle down — yet. Then, he met Brianna, who made him think about the future — a future with her — which was a new experience for Thad. Brianna is also a new kind of woman and convincing her that they have a future might just be the challenge of his life.

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Not One More Wedding

Brianna works through men like she works through her closet — seasonally. Any other way has always been trouble. When she meets Thad, she is thrilled. Not only does he intrigue and excite her, but he is just like her — noncommittal. He sets her on fire with his smooth talk and honest approach to dating. Even without being physical beyond a kiss, the thought of him makes her entire body hum. Except, Thad has gone and gotten attached to her in a way neither of them expected; attached in a way she simply cannot allow. Unfortunately, he won’t allow their relationship to become physical until she surrenders her heart to him, which is a battle she isn’t sure she can win. The longer it lasts, the less sure she becomes of wanting it to.

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Bonus Story! When Cassie Met Thad

Were you curious about how Cassie and Thad met? Read all about their story in this bonus story exclusive to this version.

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Excerpt from Once Upon a Wedding Book One:

“Cassie. Cassie, did you see who’s here?” Shelley tugged at her skirt, trying to get her attention directed toward the back of the church.

“What’s the matter with you?” she asked Shelley and then turned to face the back of the church. “Ohh, now I see what you mean.”

“And yet, you ignored me,” Thad said from the other side.

She just blew him off with a wave. He would get over it in two seconds or less anyway.

There he stood, looking as dapper as a GQ cover. His suit was a very nice shade of blue, with a white shirt and what appeared to be a pinstripe tie. By the time Shelley had gotten her attention, he had already selected a pew and scooted by people for a seat. The most important thing Cassie noticed was his lack of a date.

Who doesn’t take their fiancée to a wedding?

This could be a good sign. Of course, she would have to do some more investigating before she determined whether he had a single status at this point, or remained affianced. It then dawned on her that she, herself, had brought a date to the wedding. She took her eyes off Dan long enough to glance over at Thad, currently very busy staring at the legs of the woman next to him.

Boy, can I pick ‘em. Even my pretend boyfriends are losers.

“Thad, do you think you could be a little more discrete about your appreciation for our neighbor there?” she asked through gritted teeth, trying to keep her disdain to a low roar.

“Oh, shit, I’m sorry Cassie. But did you see her calves? I swear, it’s just a professional thing,” he said this with the gigolo grin, his specialty, one that hardly ever worked on Cassie. Hardly ever.

“If this is where you tell me how you’re a critic and you were just admiring her legs in a professional manner, don’t bother,” Cassie uttered in her most stern, yet quiet, voice. “You critique the arts, Thad, her legs are not performing.”

“I could argue that point, but seeing how your face is scrunching up at me, I won’t. You’re right, I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”

Thad did his best to appear remorseful and even went so far as to kiss her forehead and squeeze her hand. She did not squeeze back.

To Cassie’s way of thinking, the fact that he had been holding her hand the whole time, including while checking out the lady’s legs next to them, made it a little worse. What could she say, though, considering she had been waiting and hoping for the appearance of another man?

She turned her head and caught Dan glancing in her direction. His mouth immediately curved up into a smile and he waved in Cassie’s direction. Cassie returned the smile and raised her left hand to reciprocate the wave, realizing she’d brought Thad’s hand along with her. Making it obvious that she had brought a date to the wedding, she immediately dropped Thad’s hand. Too late. She knew Dan had seen already.

Damn it!

 

 

Kelly Rae is mom to an amazing young man. Everything else is just a way to keep busy between laughs with her son, or a way to pay for his sports equipment and growing feet. When she was twelve years old, she hit the big leagues by winning a Young Authors Award (okay, okay, it was only within her school district. Shh.) Although she has been unable to duplicate this success in her adult writing, she is giving it her best shot. Kelly, her son, and their chocolate lab, live in the Pacific Northwest where they enjoy the sun when it shines and the snow when it falls. When they aren’t dancing in the rain or singing at the top of their lungs in the car, they are planning their dream vacations…which they might even get to take some day.

Kelly Rae

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Posted in e-books, excerpt, Free, Giveaway, Novella, romance, Spotlight on April 2, 2015

Going Viral LKB

 

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Blurb:

Meet Abbie, cubicle dweller by day, blogger by night. Acting as her online diary, the blog feature a no-holds-barred, true life, gritty account of her sometimes funny, sometimes painful, often dirty love life. Oh, and she doesn’t always change the names to protect the innocent.

After a date with coworker, Toby, she has a new reason to hate Mondays. When the post goes viral, Toby seeks revenge and enlists the help of his buddy Parker to do it. Both guys soon realize when she isn’t bad -mouthing men, she’s pretty likable, maybe even lovable. All may be fair in love and war, but what happens next will rock the internet and her world.

She’s in love with not one, but two men. What’s a girl to do?

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Excerpt 1:

The Office Eye Candy: Fun to Look at, Painful to Date

Abbie Baker | On March 21, 2015

If you had asked me a year ago just what I thought about office romances, I would have told you that nobody in their right mind would ever have one. Nothing good could happen from one, right? If you had asked me that a year ago, though, I would have taken inventory of all the men I worked with and would have come up with Nathan, 47, balding and wheezy; Derek, 59, a happily married father and grandfather; and Tyler, who while the right age, is gay. When you have the male coworkers I had then, it is easy to be judgmental about workplace romances.

When your elderly fellow employee retires and is replaced with a young, good-looking, single, straight guy, however, it becomes a whole lot easier to decide that nothing is just black or white. I am here to tell you, though, that your first instincts are correct: do not cross the line. Because if you do, you could end up right where I am now: loveless, mad, and with yet another reason to hate Mondays.

If you have been following the dating drama that is my life, you know that tonight was my much-anticipated date with Toby, my heart-stopping, next-cubicle neighbor. We bonded over a jammed printer, shared dismay when we thought the company was being closed, and laughed together in relief when we found out that we were only changing buildings. All in all, we were clearly destined for couple greatness.

In preparation for the big event, I was waxed, polished, and tweezed. I spent a week’s salary on a form-flattering outfit, and I spent an hour on my hair. But I didn’t mind. It was an investment in my future position as Mrs. Toby Lockland.

Is there someone you can sue when a fool-proof investment falls flat?

That’s right, ladies. Toby was an epic failure, and you guys are all going to reap the rewards of my humiliating ordeal.

Excerpt 2:

Sometimes the gentlemen’s guide to living right sucked. Like how you always had to repay your debts. Normally, repaying a debt was something that Parker Bryant would do without flinching. He hated owing someone; he loved finally being debt-free. Not this time, though. If these were his choices, he would much rather just keep owing Toby.

“I need you to meet Abbie and pretend to date her.”

Toby had said this seriously, but Parker still hoped it was a joke. “What do you mean? Why?”

“I need you to make her fall in love with you. I need you to become her perfect man. I need you to do this for me. And then I need you to break up with her, and break her heart.”

“WHAT? NO! No way, Toby. No. I know you are upset. But I can’t do that for you. No.”

“You have to. Just listen. It’s the only way. It’s the only way to get revenge. She needs awful material? She needs stories to fuel her hate-filled fans? She needs men to treat her badly in order to get attention and please her followers? Then let’s give her something real to write about.”

“Listen, Toby. I get it. I get why you want payback. And I support it. I just cannot do this.”

“But you don’t get it, do you? You don’t have a choice. You owe me, remember? And I am calling in the favor now.”

Parker sighed because he could not deny it was true. It happened the year before when Parker’s girlfriend at the time, Becky, had cheated on him. He was not in a good place and he had done some things he was not proud of as a result of her treachery. Namely, he had stolen her most valuable possession – the ring she had gotten from her mother, who had gotten it from her mother, who had gotten it from her mother, who had received it on her 25th wedding anniversary. It was the only sure fire way he knew to emotionally ruin her like she had done for him.

Becky had called him in a panic when she realized it was missing. “Please, Parker,” she had begged. “I know you hate me right now, but you have to help me! Have you seen it? I think it was stolen, but maybe I dropped it somewhere? I .. I’m not sure. Please. Would you look around your place for me?”

He told her he didn’t see it and asked her not to call him anymore. A month later, the shock and initial anger having worn off, it finally hit him just what he had done. He knew he had to return the ring but certainly didn’t want her to know he had stolen it. So he asked Toby for advice.

“Give me the ring, Park, and let me take care of it.”

“What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to return it. I’ll think of a reason for having it, I promise.”

Parker handed over the ring, and Toby left. And returned a few hours later with a black eye.
“What happened?”

“I gave her the ring, and she asked how I had it. I told her I found it in my car and said it must have fallen off when I was giving her a ride home at some point. She didn’t believe me. Neither did the guy she was with. They knew they couldn’t prove it, though, so he gave me a little vigilante justice and roughed me up a bit before I could leave. You know. Just in case I wasn’t saying everything I knew.”

By this point, Toby had taken a bag of peas out of the freezer and placed it on his eye.
“I’m sorry, Toby! That should’ve been me. How could I let you take the fall, dude?”

Toby looked at him as if he were crazy.

“Are you kidding me? If it had been you, they would have really caused some damage. She definitely wouldn’t have believed you were innocent, and he would have loved to prove his worth by defending her from her lying, stealing ex. I’ll be alright. I’ve gotten a lot worse, you know. Relax. It’s over now, but just remember you owe me.”

They had both laughed at the time because they knew that it was unlikely Toby would ever call in the favor.

But neither of them was laughing now. So Parker did not want to have to pay his debt, or at least he did not want to pay it in this way, but Toby was right. He didn’t have a choice. He owed Toby, and he would do whatever it took to pay him back.

“Alright,” he asked his waiting friend, “how exactly are we going to do this?”

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Amelie Stephens is a twenty-something wife and mother who loves to tell sweet and funny romantic stories, often those that have come from her own life. When she’s not changing diapers or cooking meals for her family, she’s writing.

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