Category: Features

Sunday Spotlight: Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh x2

Posted March 29, 2020 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 3 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Casee and I were discussing the Psy/Changeling series the other day and it reminded me how much I love this book Featured this as a group some time ago, but I’m bringing it back today because I love it so much.

Sunday Spotlight: Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh x2Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh
Series: Psy/Changeling #12
Also in this series: Mine to Possess, Hostage to Pleasure, The Magical Christmas Cat , Kiss of Snow, Tangle of Need, Slave to Sensation , Wild Invitation, Heart of Obsidian, Shield of Winter, Shield of Winter, Visions of Heat, Mine to Possess, Caressed By Ice, Branded by Fire, Blaze of Memory, Mine to Possess, Hostage to Pleasure, Hostage to Pleasure, Shards of Hope, Shards of Hope, Heart of Obsidian, Caressed By Ice, Branded by Fire, Blaze of Memory, Play of Passion, Allegiance of Honor, Kiss of Snow, Tangle of Need, Shield of Winter, Shards of Hope, Allegiance of Honor, Allegiance of Honor, Wild Embrace, Wild Embrace, Wild Embrace, Silver Silence, Silver Silence, Tangle of Need, Ocean Light, Ocean Light , Caressed By Ice, Wolf Rain
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 360
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: five-stars

Step into New York Times bestseller Nalini Singh’s explosive and shockingly passionate Psy-Changeling world…
A dangerous, volatile rebel, hands stained bloodred.
A woman whose very existence has been erased.
A love story so dark, it may shatter the world itself.
A deadly price that must be paid.
The day of reckoning is here.

Excerpt

Kaleb’s priorities and goals were murky in the beginnng of the series, but as time when on we saw there was more to him than we previously thought.

It was the greatest of ironies that the only person who had ever held him as if he mattered was the one person who did not need to hold him at all. If Sahara called, he would come. Always.

Sahara was the most important thing in the world to him, and he never faltered when it came to her.

[..]He rose to his feet and, placing his hands on the table, leaned toward her until she could’ve reached out and run her fingers along his freshly shaven jaw. “You are here,” he said in a tone that made her heart thump wildly against her ribs, “because you belong to me.”

They were both broken, and had issues.

[..]He sat on the edge with his back to her and his arms braced on his knees . . . and he remembered the seven years he had waited for her to come back, the countless days he’d stood on this terrace staring down at the gorge as the rational part of his mind tried to convince the obsessive madness that lived in him of her likely death.

The gorge, deep and without end, hadn’t existed until the first time he’d imagined her erased from existence.

I love how strong Kaleb’s determination to find Sahara was. How he continued to build a life for her, even though she’d been gone for so long.

“Who are you?”

“A caretaker,” he said, and it was a truth, if not everything.

Frown lines on her brow, her fingers flexing and clenching against his chest in a way that challenged his already unsteady control.

“Of this house?”

“Yes.” It was an anchor, a physical symbol of his search, of her.

“Who owns it?”

“You do.” He’d had it built according to specifications she’d outlined at fifteen, watched over it all the years of her captivity, using

On the surface, Kaleb seems to live in perfect Silence, but things are more complex than that.

“That,” Tatiana said, putting down the stylus, “is why we’d make an unbeatable team. Neither one of us has any flaws in our Silence.”

Kaleb thought of the woman who slept in the house he’d built for her, of the man with a broken neck who had burned to ash in a crematorium incinerator hours ago, and knew his Silence was far more complex than Tatiana could imagine.

Psy-Changeling

Psy-Changeling Trinity

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: March 2020

Have you read this series? What’s your favorite novel from the series to date? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Nalini Singh

I've been writing as long as I can remember and all of my stories always held a thread of romance (even when I was writing about a prince who could shoot lasers out of his eyes). I love creating unique characters, love giving them happy endings and I even love the voices in my head. There's no other job I would rather be doing. In September 2002, when I got the call that Silhouette Desire wanted to buy my first book, Desert Warrior, it was a dream come true. I hope to continue living the dream until I keel over of old age on my keyboard.

I was born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand. I also spent three years living and working in Japan, during which time I took the chance to travel around Asia. I’m back in New Zealand now, but I’m always plotting new trips. If you’d like to see some of my travel snapshots, have a look at the Travel Diary page (updated every month).

So far, I've worked as a lawyer, a librarian, a candy factory general hand, a bank temp and an English teacher and not necessarily in that order. Some might call that inconsistency but I call it grist for the writer's mill.


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What Are You Reading? (521)

Posted March 27, 2020 by Rowena in Features | 4 Comments

Casee: It’s self-quarantine Friday! I’m working hard trying to read, but I still have to do my actual job. I finished Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh and have started Alpha Night. I’m also still reading Lethal Game by Christine Feehan. I really need to finish that one up.

I’m listening to Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews, but I haven’t been in the car much so my listening time has been limited. I am really enjoying Andrea and am looking forward to getting back to it.

Holly: I’m working remotely as much as possible right now. I thought I’d be reading a ton, but it turns out it’s actually more time consuming to work from home. Who knew? I reread Fairytale Come Alive and Complicated by Kristen Ashley, and Wildfire by Ilona Andrews (yes, again..don’t judge me). That’s it. I really want to read Dragon Unleashed by Grace Draven, so I think I’m going to reread Phoenix Unbound, the first book, as a refresher. Wish me luck? I feel like I need it.

Rowena: Happy Friday, everyone! I hope you’re all well and that you have toilet paper and water. With everything going on, not being able to leave the house and what not, you’d think that I would have read hella books but nope. I haven’t finished reading a damn thing this week. I’m watching movies and working from home. I’m also sending Ames and Holly funny memes and TikTok videos. But that’s it. I’ve started Love Hard by Nalini Singh but I’ve only read bits and pieces of it, in short spurts. My mind won’t slow down long enough to retain what I’m reading so I’m not even paying attention to what is going on. I hope this goes away because I want to read again. Wish me luck.

What are you reading this week? Any new favorites or books that drove you crazy? If you aren’t reading, what are you doing to stay sane during the quarantine? Share!


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Sunday Spotlight: The Sinner by J.R. Ward

Posted March 22, 2020 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 3 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight: The Sinner by J.R. WardThe Sinner by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #19
Also in this series: Lover Unbound, Lover Avenged, Lover Unleashed, Lover at Last, Lover at Last, The King, The Shadows, The Beast, Lover Enshrined, The Chosen, Lover Mine, The Thief, The Savior, Where Winter Finds You
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: March 24, 2020
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 512
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: three-stars

A sinner’s only hope is true love in this passionate new novel in J.R. Ward’s #1 New York Times bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

Syn has kept his side hustle as a mercenary a secret from the Black Dagger Brotherhood. When he takes another hit job, he not only crosses the path of the vampire race’s new enemy, but also that of a half-breed in danger of dying during her transition. Jo Early has no idea what her true nature is, and when a mysterious man appears out of the darkness, she is torn between their erotic connection and the sense that something is very wrong.

Fate anointed Butch O’Neal as the Dhestroyer, the fulfiller of the prophecy that foresees the end of the Omega. As the war with the Lessening Society comes to a head, Butch gets an unexpected ally in Syn. But can he trust the male—or is the warrior with the bad past a deadly complication?

With time running out, Jo gets swept up in the fighting and must join with Syn and the Brotherhood against true evil. In the end, will love true prevail...or was the prophecy wrong all along?

Excerpt

Route 149
Caldwell, New York

Behind the wheel of her ten-year-old car, Jo Early bit into the Slim Jim and chewed like it was her last meal. She hated the fake-smoke taste and the boat-rope texture, and when she swallowed the last piece, she got another one out of her bag. Ripping the wrapper with her teeth, she peeled the taxidermied tube free and littered into the wheel well of her passenger side. There were so many spent casings like it down there, you couldn’t see the floor mat.

Up ahead, her anemic headlights swung around a curve, illuminating pine trees that had been limbed up three-quarters of the way, the puff y tops making toothpicks out of the trunks. She hit a pothole and bad-swallowed, and she was coughing as she reached her destination.

The abandoned Adirondack Outlets was yet another commentary on the pervasiveness of Amazon Prime. The one-story strip mall was a horseshoe without a hoof, the storefronts along the two long sides bearing the remnants of their brands, faded laminations and off -kilter signs with names like Van Heusen/Izod, and Nike, and Dansk the ghosts of commerce past. Behind dusty glass, there was no merchandise available for purchase anymore, and no one had been on the property with a charge card for at least a year, only hardscrabble weeds in the cracks of the promenade and barn swallows in the eaves inhabiting the site. Likewise, the food court that united the eastern and western arms was no longer offering soft serve or Starbucks or lunch.

As a hot flash cranked her internal temperature up, she cracked the window. And then put the thing all the way down. March in Caldwell, New York, was like winter in a lot of places still considered northerly in latitude, and thank God for it. Breathing in the cold, damp air, she told herself this was not a bad idea.

Nah, not at all. Here she was, alone at midnight, chasing down the lead on a story she wasn’t writing for her employer, the Caldwell Courier Journal. Without anyone at her new apartment waiting up for her. Without anyone on the planet who would claim her mangled corpse when it was found from the smell in a ditch a week from now.

Letting the car roll to a stop, she killed the headlights and stayed where she was. No moon out tonight so she’d dressed right. All black. But without any illumination from the heavens, her eyes strained at the darkness, and not because she was greedy to see the details on the decaying structure.

Nope. At the moment, she was worried she was about to provide fodder for True Crime Garage. As unease tickled her nape, like someone was trying to get her attention by running the point of a carving knife over her skin—

Her stomach let out a howl and she jumped. Without any debate, she went diving into her purse again. Passing by the three Slim Jims she had left, she went straight-up Hershey this time, and the efficiency with which she stripped that mass-produced chocolate of its clothing was a sad commentary on her diet. When she was finished, she was still hungry and not because there wasn’t food in her belly. As always, the only two things she could eat failed to satisfy her gnawing craving, to say nothing of her nutritional needs.

Putting up her window, she took her backpack and got out. The crackling sound of the treads of her running shoes on the shoulder of the road seemed loud as a concert, and she wished she wasn’t getting over a cold. Like her sense of smell could be helpful, though? And when was the last time she’d considered that possibility outside of a milk carton check.

She really needed to give these wild-goose chases up.

Two-strapping her backpack, she locked the car and pulled the hood of her windbreaker up over her red hair. No heel toeing. She leftright-left’d it, keeping the soles of her Brooks flat to quiet her footfalls. As her eyes adjusted, all she saw were the shadows around her, the hidey-holes in corners and nooks formed by the mall’s doorways and the benches pockets of gotcha with which mashers could play a grown‑up’s game of keep away until they were ready to attack.

When she got to a heavy chain that was strung across the entry to the promenade, she looked around. There was nobody in the parking lots that ran down the outside of the flanks. No one in the center area formed by the open-ended rectangle. Not a soul on the road that she had taken up to this rise above Rt. 149.

Jo told herself that this was good. It meant no one was going to jump her.

Her adrenal glands, on the other hand, informed her that this actually meant no one was around to hear her scream for help.

Refocusing on the chain, she had some thought that if she swung her leg over it and proceeded on the other side, she would not come back the same.

“Stop it,” she said, kicking her foot up.

She chose the right side of the stores, and as rain started to fall, she was glad the architect had thought to cover the walkways overhead. What had been not so smart was anyone thinking a shopping center with no interior corridors could survive in a zip code this close to Canada. Saving ten bucks on a pair of candlesticks or a bathing suit was not going to keep anybody warm enough to shop outside October to April, and that was true even before you factored in the current era of free next-day shipping.

Down at the far end, she stopped at what had to have been the ice cream place because there was a faded stencil of a cow holding a triple decker cone by its hoof on the window. She got out her phone.

Her call was answered on the first ring.

“Are you okay?” Bill said.

“Where am I going?” she whispered. “I don’t see anything.”

“It’s in the back. I told you that you have to go around back, remember?”

“Damn it.” Maybe the nitrates had fried her brain. “Hold on, I think I found a staircase.”

“I should come out there.”

Jo started walking again and shook her head even though he couldn’t see her. “I’m fine—yup, I’ve got the cut through to the rear. I’ll call you if I need you—”

“You shouldn’t be doing this alone!”

Ending the connection, she jogged down the concrete steps, her pack bouncing like it was doing push-ups on her back. As she bottomed out on the lower level, she scanned the empty parking lot—

The stench that stabbed into her nose was the kind of thing that triggered her gag reflex. Roadkill . . . and baby powder?

She looked to the source. The maintenance building by the tree line had a corrugated metal roof and metal walls that would not survive long in tornado alley. Half the size of a football field, with garage doors locked to the ground, she imagined it could have housed paving equipment as well as blowers, mowers, and snowplows.

The sole person-sized door was loose, and as a stiff gust from the rainstorm caught it, the creak was straight out of a George Romero movie—and then the panel immediately slammed shut with a clap, as if Mother Nature didn’t like the stink any more than Jo did.

Taking out her phone, she texted Bill: This smell is nasty.

Aware that her heart rate just tripled, she walked across the asphalt, the rain hitting the hood of her windbreaker in a disorganized staccato. Ducking her hand under the loose nylon of the jacket, she felt for her holstered gun and kept her hand on the butt.

The door creaked open and slammed shut again, another puff of that smell releasing out of the pitch-black interior. Swallowing through throat spasms, she had to fight to keep going and not because there was wind in her face.

When she stopped in front of the door, the opening and closing ceased, as if now that she was on the verge of entering, it didn’t need to catch her attention and draw her in.

So help her God, if Pennywise was on the other side . . .

Glancing around to check there were no red balloons lolling in the area, she reached out for the door.

I just have to know, she thought as she opened the way in. I need to . . . know.

Leaning around the jamb, she saw absolutely nothing, and yet was frozen by all that she confronted. Pure evil, the kind of thing that abducted and murdered children, that slaughtered the innocent, that enjoyed the suffering of the just and merciful, pushed at her body and then penetrated it, radiation that was toxic passing through to her bones.

Coughing, she stepped back and covered her mouth and nose with the crook of her elbow. After a couple of deep breaths into her sleeve, she fumbled with her phone.

Before Bill could say anything over the whirring in his background, she bit out, “You need to come—”

“I’m already halfway to you.”

“Good.”

“What’s going on—”

Jo ended the call again and got out her flashlight, triggering the beam. Stepping forward again, she shouldered the door open and trained the spear of illumination into the space.

The light was consumed.

Sure as if she were shining it into a bolt of thick fabric, the fragile glowing shaft was no match for what she was about to enter.
The threshold she stepped over was nothing more than weather stripping, but the inch-high lip was a barrier that felt like an obstacle course she could barely surmount—and then there was the stickiness on the floor. Pointing the flashlight to the ground, she picked up one of her feet. Something like old motor oil dripped off her running shoe, the sound of it finding home echoing in the empty space.

As Jo walked forward, she found the first of the buckets on the left. Home Depot. With an orange-and-white logo smudged by a rusty, translucent substance that turned her stomach.

The beam wobbled as she looked into the cylinder, her hand shaking. Inside there was a gallon of glossy, gleaming . . . red . . . liquid. And in the back of her throat, she tasted copper—

Jo wheeled around with the flashlight.

Through the doorway, the two men who had come up behind her without a sound loomed as if they had risen out of the pavement itself, wraiths conjured from her nightmares, fed by the cold spring rain, clothed in the night. One of them had a goatee and tattoos at one of his temples, a cigarette between his lips and a downright nasty expression on his hard face. The other wore a Boston Red Sox hat and a long camel-colored coat, the tails of which blew in slow motion even though the wind was choppy. Both had long black blades holstered handles down on their chest, and she knew there were more weapons where she couldn’t see them.

They had come to kill her. Tracked her as she’d moved away from her car. Seen her as she had not seen them.

Jo stumbled back and tried to get out her gun, but her sweaty palms had her dropping her phone and struggling to keep the flashlight—

And then she couldn’t move.

Even as her brain ordered her feet to run, her legs to run, her body to run, nothing obeyed the panic-commands, her muscles twitching under the lockdown of some invisible force of will, her bones aching, her breath turning into a pant. Pain firework’d her brain, a headache sizzling through her mind.

Opening her mouth, she screamed—

Black Dagger Brotherhood

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: March 2020

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About J.R. Ward

Author J.R. Ward wearing sunglasses

J.R. Ward is the author of over thirty novels, including those in her #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling series, The Black Dagger Brotherhood. There are more than 15 million copies of Ward’s novels in print worldwide and they have been published in 25 different countries around the world.

After graduating from law school, Ward began working in healthcare in Boston and spent many years as Chief of Staff of one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation. She lives in the south with her incredibly supportive husband and her beloved golden retriever. Writing has always been her passion and her idea of heaven is a whole day of nothing but her computer, her dog and her coffee pot.


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What Are You Reading? (520)

Posted March 20, 2020 by Casee in Features | 8 Comments

Casee: If anything good is coming out of this self-quarantine I’m in, it’s that I have an abundance of reading time. I’ve actually read two books in one week and am almost done with the third. I’m currently reading Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh. I don’t know why I didn’t read this book when it first came out. It’s a conundrum. I’m going to read Alpha Night next.

I’m also listening to Gunmetal Magic while working at home. Not sure how I feel about it yet. It’s about Kate’s best friend, Andrea. I’m sure it’ll come through because it’s Ilona Andrews.

Holly: I’ve been working my way through the Kate Daniels series. It’s been awhile since I read the series and Rowena has me binge-reading it. I read Magic Bleeds, Magic Slays, Magic Rises, Magic Breaks, Magic Shifts, Magic Binds and Magic Triumphs. I’m currently reading Iron and Magic.

Now that I’m working from home and things have slowed down, I hope to have more reading time. We’ll see how it goes.

Rowena: It’s been a slow reading week for me because I’m in self-quarantine and instead of reading, I’ve been kicking my family’s ass in Sequence and Five Crowns and getting my ass kicked in Take Two. There’s a lot of family board game nights and staying home and washing hands but I did manage to finish Smoke Bitten by Patricia Briggs and will start The Orchid Thorne by Jeffe Kennedy. That’s about it for me. I plan on finishing up some review books before jumping back into the Kate Daniels series. I already miss my Kate Daniels friends. Haha.

What are you reading this week? Any new favorites or books that drove you crazy? Share!


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Sunday Spotlight: Love Hard by Nalini Singh

Posted March 15, 2020 by Rowena in Features, Giveaways | 5 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

I have been waiting for this book for ages now. I’m so stoked to finally be getting a Samoan romance. A sexy Samoan rugby player? Yes, please! Jake and Juliet sound like all kinds of fun so I’m all in. We’re pretty stoked to be sharing an excerpt from Love Hard so check it out!

Sunday Spotlight: Love Hard by Nalini SinghLove Hard by Nalini Singh
Series: Hard Play #3
Also in this series: Cherish Hard, Cherish Hard (Hard Play, #1), Cherish Hard (Hard Play, #1), Rebel Hard (Hard Play, #2), Cherish Hard (Hard Play, #1)
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: March 10, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh brings you the next sizzling story in her Hard Play contemporary romance series…

Jacob Esera, star rugby player and young single father, has worked hard to create a joyous life for his six-year-old daughter. After the death of his childhood sweetheart soon after their daughter’s birth, all Jake wants is safety and stability. No risks. No wild chances. And especially no Juliet Nelisi, former classmate, scandal magnet, and a woman who is a thorn in his side.

As a lonely teenager, Juliet embraced her bad-girl reputation as a shield against loneliness and rejection. Years later, having kicked a cheating sports-star ex to the curb, she has a prestigious job and loyal friends—and wants nothing to do with sportsmen. The last thing she expects is the fire that ignites between her and the stuffed-shirt golden boy who once loved her best friend.

Straitlaced Jacob Esera versus wild-at-heart Juliet Nelisi? Place your bets.

Excerpt

Jake checked on Esme—who was having a grand old time running wild with the other children—then went hunting Jules.

He was starting to think she’d ditched the reception when he finally saw her seated in a hidden alcove with a giant slice of wedding cake on a saucer. She cut into it with a fork as he watched, slipped the tines into her mouth. Her lashes drifted shut, her lips pursed; he could almost hear her moan of pleasure.

His cock twitched.

No, no, no. He couldn’t twitch for Juliet.

Yet he haphazardly grabbed a slice of cake for himself before going over to join her in the alcove.

She glared at him. “This is my spot. Go. Away.”

“I don’t see your name on it,” he said and took a seat. The alcove wasn’t that big, and his shoulder brushed hers, his hip pressing into a lush feminine curve. He was crowding her on purpose. Because the thing was… he wanted to fight with Juliet. Dangerous as it was, he hadn’t felt this alive in a long, long time.

Her eyes flashed. Then she elbowed him under the guise of getting comfortable.

“Oof.” He rubbed his ribs.

“Oh, did that hurt?” She pointed her fork in his direction. “So, so sorry.”

Jake was grinning when his father appeared nearby.

“Son,” he said. “Sorry to interrupt, but Uncle Tama wants to get home and his car isn’t starting.”

“I’ll have a look.” Jake took the keys his father held out… before he turned to Juliet and said, “It’s dark out. Mind coming and holding the torch for me?”

Joseph Esera broke in. “Oh, I can do that.”

“No, Mr. Esera.” Juliet’s smile was warm and generous. “It’s your son’s wedding. Stay, enjoy. I’m sure it won’t take Jake long to fix things.” She kept up that smile as Joseph patted her on the shoulder and told her she was a good girl before he walked away to tug Alison into a dance.

At which point Jake got the death glare magnified.

Driven to antagonize her by a madness he couldn’t shake, he took a bite of cake before rising to put his plate down on the alcove seat. “Cake’s gonna have to wait, Jules.”

“Where’s the damn torch?” She put down her own cake and stood.

“In my car,” Jake said automatically before realizing they’d come here in a limo. “On second thought—we’ll have to use our phones.”

Juliet took his phone when he handed it to her, then swung by the head table to pick up hers too. They’d just stepped outside when his phone flashed with light, a message popping onto the front screen.

Shuddering, Juliet handed it over. “I think it’s one of your groupies. Take it before I gag.”

The text was from a Trixi Kitten. “For your information,” he muttered after quickly scanning it, “that’s the name of my great-aunt’s cat.”

Juliet stared at him. “Do I look like I was born yesterday?”

“Read the message.” He held it out.

Folding her arms, she tilted her head to the side, just daring him to continue.

He held it up right in front of her face so she couldn’t miss the message: Jake, dear, are you checking your uncle’s car? Can you come look at Great-auntie’s in the next week? It’s making a strange noise and it scares me. Meow – Trixi Pussy

A kind of strangled sound erupting in her throat, Juliet nudged aside his phone. “Does she always…”

“Write messages as if it’s her cat?” He nodded. “She’s a perfectly sane human otherwise. Last week she beat everyone in her local pub quiz so she could win a nodding-cat thing.”

“The whole… er… pussy thing?”

“She’s eighty-nine. As far as she’s concerned, it means cat.” Jake rubbed his face. “She stood next to me while I was inputting her number and kept asking me why I didn’t list her as Trixi Pussy.”

Juliet’s laughter sounded like it was torn out of her. And the cock twitching got worse.

That didn’t make sense. Why was her laughter turning him on? Or maybe it was the way she looked when she laughed, so open and warm and… as if she’d make him that way. Not this staid, solid stranger he sometimes felt he’d become.

Shaking off the thought because his solid and staid nature was what made him a good dad, he pointed to a pale blue VW Bug. “That’s it.”

The two of them walked across the parking lot, which was empty of all other signs of life. Just rows of cars—some bedecked with flowers and streamers in honor of the wedding—and a few standing lamps that cast just enough light so people could find their vehicles.

Useless, however, for looking at an engine.

The land sloped down on the other side of the car, the old theater surrounded by manicured grounds that often hosted outdoor plays. Maybe he’d bring Esme to one of those, he thought absently as he unlocked his uncle’s car, then tried to start it to see what sounds it made, if any.

Juliet stood outside, tapping her toe on the tarmac and looking like a fantasy straight out of the midnight hours, times when Jake’s brain went its own merry way. Sex dreams weren’t exactly a surprise for a single male who had a sex drive he hadn’t been feeding, but the dreams had always been amorphous and erotic. No faces, nothing but sensations that led to frustrated arousal.

He had a feeling that was about to change.

When the hell had Juliet grown those curves?

Wishing he hadn’t left his jacket in the event space, he popped the hood before getting out of the driver’s seat; hopefully the dim lighting would conceal the interest in his pants.

“Here.” He handed her his phone. “I think I know the problem,” he said, propping the hood open.

The scent of Juliet washed over him as she stepped close enough to shine the torchlight from both phones into the engine.

“Tell me where you want it,” she said, and his brain decided to put those words in a totally different—and dirty —context.

Gritting his teeth, Jake said, “Where you have it is good.”

*

Not responding to Jake’s comment because she’d become fascinated by the way his muscles moved under the fine white fabric of his formal shirt as he bent over the engine, Juliet told herself to breathe. She also reminded herself that she’d already had this conversation with herself and decided the physical attraction was pure nonsense.

But jeez, did the universe have to make him so gorgeous?

There, fine, she’d admitted it. The gearhead jock had grown up into a panty-melting adult who adored his daughter, loved his family, and was kind to his elders. Even a great-aunt who liked to text using her cat alter ego. He might have a stick up his butt, but Juliet would still like to see that butt.

Juliet Nelisi, you stop checking out Jake’s butt. STOP.

But the man was muscled everywhere. It was hard not to eat up the eye candy when it was right in front of her. Also, since a visual was all it would ever be, she might as well enjoy… except, this wasn’t just a random hot guy.

This was Jake.

Hard Play

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Sunday Spotlight: March 2020

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About Nalini Singh

I've been writing as long as I can remember and all of my stories always held a thread of romance (even when I was writing about a prince who could shoot lasers out of his eyes). I love creating unique characters, love giving them happy endings and I even love the voices in my head. There's no other job I would rather be doing. In September 2002, when I got the call that Silhouette Desire wanted to buy my first book, Desert Warrior, it was a dream come true. I hope to continue living the dream until I keel over of old age on my keyboard.

I was born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand. I also spent three years living and working in Japan, during which time I took the chance to travel around Asia. I’m back in New Zealand now, but I’m always plotting new trips. If you’d like to see some of my travel snapshots, have a look at the Travel Diary page (updated every month).

So far, I've worked as a lawyer, a librarian, a candy factory general hand, a bank temp and an English teacher and not necessarily in that order. Some might call that inconsistency but I call it grist for the writer's mill.


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