Category: Promotions

Excerpt Spotlight: The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson

Posted December 18, 2018 by Rowena in Promotions | 2 Comments

The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson is out in stores right now and it’s a perfect read for fans of Meg Cabot and Sophie Kinsella. It looks like it would be so much fun and the perfect read to keep you laughing and smiling all day long. We’re happy to feature an excerpt from this book to spotlight the release so please, check it out.

Excerpt Spotlight: The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri WilsonThe Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Gallery Books
Publication Date: December 4, 2018
Format: eBook
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 304
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In this charming romantic comedy perfect for fans of Meg Cabot and Sophie Kinsella, critically acclaimed author Teri Wilson shows us that sometimes being pushed out of your comfort zone leads you to the ultimate prize.

Charlotte Gorman loves her job as an elementary school librarian, and is content to experience life through the pages of her books. Which couldn’t be more opposite from her identical twin sister. Ginny, an Instagram-famous beauty pageant contestant, has been chasing a crown since she was old enough to enunciate the words world peace, and she’s not giving up until she gets the title of Miss American Treasure. And Ginny’s refusing to do it alone this time.

She drags Charlotte to the pageant as a good luck charm, but the winning plan quickly goes awry when Ginny has a terrible, face-altering allergic reaction the night before the pageant, and Charlotte suddenly finds herself in a switcheroo the twins haven’t successfully pulled off in decades.

Woefully unprepared for the glittery world of hair extensions, false eyelashes, and push-up bras, Charlotte is mortified at every unstable step in her sky-high stilettos. But as she discovers there’s more to her fellow contestants than just wanting a sparkly crown, Charlotte realizes she has a whole new motivation for winning.

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Excerpt

My sister has always been the pretty one. The Jane Bennet to my Elizabeth, the Meg March to my Jo.

It’s been this way for so long that I’ve never questioned it. It’s never even bothered me much. It just is.

Ginny is my sister, and I love her, no matter how different our lives are. And trust me, they’re about as opposite as you can imagine. But the chasm between our worlds has never been quite so glaringly obvious as it is now, because instead of restocking books on their respective shelves, I’m standing in an elevator at the posh Huntington Spa Resort in Orlando, Florida, on the first Monday afternoon of summer.

For starters, at five feet seven, I’m by far the shortest person of the half dozen or so on board. This is a rarity for me. As an elementary school librarian, I’m accustomed to towering over people for the majority of my waking hours. I’m also used to sitting in tiny chairs and using tiny, blunt-edged scissors, but that’s beside the point. Five feet seven isn’t short. . . .

Unless you’re riding an elevator packed with beauty queens.

I don’t know what I expected when I signed on to spend a week cheering for my sister at the Miss American Treasure pageant, but it wasn’t this. The preliminary competition doesn’t start for another two days, so why are they all wearing crowns and sashes already? And what is going on with their shoes?

Beauty pageant contestants wear heels. I know this, obviously. I mean, I’ve seen Miss Congeniality at least twenty times over the years, thanks to Ginny. But these are beyond high heels. Gracie Lou Freebush wouldn’t have lasted a minute in them.

No offense to Sandra Bullock. I’m just saying.

I tighten my grip on the handle of my suitcase, suddenly extremely conscious of the state of my hair. Orlando is one of the most humid places on earth, and the half hour ride on the airport shuttle was not kind. For once, I actually feel sorry for Ginny. It’s one thing to be expected to look perfect onstage, but hotel elevators should be a safe space. I, for one, plan to be roaming the halls in a spa bathrobe and complimentary slippers en route to the vending machine for the majority of my stay.

But to each her own.

Besides, Ginny chose this life, just as surely as I chose mine. She also gets paid more for one sponsored Instagram post than I make in a week, and when I remember this, I keep my sympathy in check.

The elevator comes to a stop on the fifth floor, which has clearly been reserved for the pageant, because we all disembark in a glamorous, glittering herd.

Myself being the exception.

No one seems to notice my presence, though. The Hogwarts T-shirt I’m wearing might as well be an invisibility cloak. Fine. I’m not here to make friends. I’m here for the chance to stay in Ginny’s luxury hotel room for a week, for free, and completely nerd out at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

I’m also here for moral support, of course. I plan on being at every single pageant event, cheering like a maniac while inwardly cringing in horror at the very thought of prancing around in only a tiny swimsuit and a crown. But since the competition doesn’t start until 5:00 p.m., that leaves my mornings and afternoons free to hit up the theme park. I’ve emptied my paltry savings account and invested in a five-day unlimited pass. Bring on the butter beer.

But first, I must locate our room amid a sea of glitz and sparkle. According to the text Ginny sent when I landed, we’re in 511. All of my elevator pals are in rooms along the same stretch of corridor. Half the doors on the floor have hangtags on the knobs that read, Do not disturb! This Miss American Treasure contestant needs her beauty sleep!

I roll my eyes mightily.

Dangling from the knob of room 511 is one such tag, but I highly doubt Ginny is actually sleeping because I can hear the television booming through the door. I knock extra hard so she can hear me above the din of whatever reality show she’s probably watching.

Just please God don’t let it be the Kardashians.

An explosion of barks answers my knock. I take a deep breath. I’ve somehow forgotten all about my sister’s French bulldog mix, Buttercup. Ginny adopted her a month ago as part of her “platform.” I’m not sure exactly what that means. She’s a pageant queen, not a politician. But according to approximately five million posts on Ginny’s Instagram, she volunteers regularly at her local shelter in support of her animal rescue policy.

If memory serves, last year her platform was anti-bullying. But so many other contestants on the pageant circuit had already thrown themselves into the anti-bullying movement that she felt pressured to switch to something else. In other words, she got bullied into giving up her anti-bullying platform. Oh, the irony.

The door to the hotel room swings open, and Ginny is standing there in a white spa bathrobe with her hair piled on top of her head in a messy-yet-artful twist. She’s got one of those serum-soaked sheet masks stuck to her face—the kind that make regular people look like something straight out of a bad horror movie.

Except Ginny isn’t a regular person. So instead she looks like Gwyneth Paltrow enjoying a quiet day of self-care.

“Charlotte, you’re here!”

“Yep. My flight was right on time.” Thank God. I’m ready to make the most out of day one on my unlimited pass.

“Come on in.” She holds the door open wider.

The room is a double, with side-by-side queen beds and a balcony overlooking a pool flanked by umbrella-covered lounge chairs, a tiki bar, and two perfectly symmetrical rows of palm trees swaying in the balmy Florida breeze. Any spare moments I have this week that don’t include Harry Potter will be spent right there, with my feet up and a piña colada in hand. It’s been so long since I’ve taken an actual vacation that the mental picture I’ve just conjured nearly makes me weep.

“This is gorgeous. Ginny, thanks again for inviting me.”

“Are you kidding? I’m so glad you’re here. Dad and Susan aren’t coming until the finals.” Her smile falters. Behind the face mask, I can see her full lips tip into a frown.

I know exactly what she’s thinking. “You’ll make the finals. I know you will. You’re a shoo-in for the top twenty.”

Ginny always makes the finals. She’s up onstage every year alongside the winner and the runners-up. She’s just never managed to crack the top five.

“This year will be different,” I assure her.

She nods. “It has to be.”

As much as I hate to see my sister devoting her life to chasing a silly crown, and even though I positively loathe the pageant scene, my heart gives a little tug. Sometimes I forget why she got started in all of this. But every once in a while, when Ginny’s composure slips, I remember that this is her way of feeling connected to the mother we barely knew. The crushing sense of loss that inevitably follows always seems to catch me off guard. It’s in those moments— moments like this one—that I understand her dream.

I paste a smile on my face. “It will. I promise.”

I have no right to make that kind of promise. After all, I’m not judging this thing.

Truly, why would anyone want that job?

But it’s so rare to see my sister like this that I can’t stop myself. She’s always been the poster child for confidence.

Which just goes to show how much this particular pageant means to her. More than all the others combined.

“You’re right.” She nods with renewed vigor. “Of course I’ll make the finals. This is my year.”

“Definitely.” Pep talk over for now, I head toward the bed on the far side of the room—the one that’s still neatly made and not covered in anything bedazzled.

Every item on Ginny’s bed shines like a disco ball, including her official Miss American Treasure tote bag. I’m beginning to understand why she uses one of those sleepmask things like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I might need to invest in one myself.

As I cross the room, Buttercup launches herself at my wheeled suitcase, growling and nipping at it as it drags behind me. By the time I’m within a foot of my bed, she’s fully attached herself to it and I’m hauling both luggage and bulldog.

“Is this normal behavior?” I ask. It can’t be, can it?

Ginny waves a dismissive hand.

I give Buttercup a little nudge with the toe of my Adidas sneaker. She backs away, peering up at me with her bulgy little eyes. They almost seem to point in two different directions. Like plastic googly eyes.

We stare each other down for a second, and then she resumes her attack on my luggage.

“Is she always so”—I pause, struggling for an appropriate adjective—“headstrong?”

Buttercup and I have never been properly introduced. I only know her via Ginny’s Instagram, where she’s usually doing something less destructive and far more adorable.

“Buttercup is shy,” Ginny says by way of explanation.

I look down at the snarling dog. “Sorry, I’m not getting shy here.”

“You’re stressing her out. She’s not used to strangers and new experiences. She’s a rescue dog, remember? The poor thing sat in the shelter for four months before I adopted her.”

Ginny checks the position of her sheet mask in the large mirror over the bathroom counter. It’s a double vanity, theoretically big enough for both of us. But Ginny’s massive amount of toiletries take up the entire space. “Did you know that seven million dogs and cats enter shelters every year, and half of them end up being euthanized?”

I did not know that, and it’s a horrible, horrible statistic. But her canned delivery prevents me from absorbing the news with the proper level of emotion.

She’s slipped into pageant mode. She’s rattling off more devastating facts and figures about homeless pets, all the while posing with her hand pressed to her heart and her head tilted just so.

I glance at Buttercup. Something tells me she’s heard the speech before.

“Maybe less euthanasia talk in front of the rescue dog?” I suggest. No wonder the poor thing is stressed.

“Oh my God.” Ginny blinks. “Do you think she understands?”

“I have no idea, but why take the chance?” Besides, I can’t handle Ginny’s platform-level intensity right now. I’ve been up since 4:00 a.m.

“I suppose you’re right.” Ginny scoops Buttercup into her arms.

I take advantage of the cease-fire, lift my suitcase onto the bed, and remove my things, paltry in comparison to the vast wardrobe Ginny has stuffed into the closet and all but one of the dresser drawers. Fortunately, I travel light.

Clotheswise, anyway. Beneath the layers of jeans and T-shirts, four hardback novels line the bottom of my bag. I remove all four and arrange them in a nice, neat stack atop the nightstand closest to my bed.

When I look up, Ginny’s shaking her head. “Are you sure you brought enough reading material?”

“Don’t judge. I’m on vacation, remember?”

“Exactly. You’re a librarian. Your vacation should be book-free.” Ginny makes a zero sign with one of her perfectly manicured hands.

“How are we even related?” It’s not the first time I’ve asked that question, and I know with every fiber of my being that Ginny wonders the same thing sometimes.

How could she not?

“Before you dive into one of those, can you take Buttercup for a quick walk?” She grabs a Barbie-pink leash from her nightstand. And—surprise!—it’s heavily bedazzled. “Pretty please.”

“What? Why me?” My gaze flits toward Buttercup, who’s now positioned on Ginny’s pillow with her plump rear facing me. “She doesn’t even like me. Stranger danger and all that.”

Ginny rolls her eyes. “Stranger danger? You spend too much time with little kids.”

True. She dragged me to yoga once, and I kept referring to easy pose as crisscross applesauce.

Still, Buttercup doesn’t seem any more thrilled by the idea than I am. Also, I’ve already begun typing the address of the theme park into the Uber app on my phone. I’m supposed to be dodging a fire-breathing dragon in Diagon Alley right now, not walking a petulant French bulldog.

“I was kind of hoping to head over to Harry Potter World so I could be back in time for us to have an early dinner. Don’t you have pageant stuff today?” I’m pretty sure she has a date with some spray tanner this afternoon. Her skin tone matches mine right now, and I know from experience that Ginny is usually at least four shades closer to orange when there’s a pageant on the horizon.

“Yes, and of course you can head right over there just as soon as you walk Buttercup. She hasn’t been out since early this morning. I can’t do it—I’m not allowed to leave the room without my sash on.”

I blink. “What?”

“Contestants can’t leave their hotel rooms unless they’re pageant-ready. Outside of this room, I have to wear my sash at all times.”

I don’t even know what to say, but suddenly the army of beauty queens from the elevator makes more sense. “That’s crazypants. It’s like you’re some kind of pageant hostage. Put your sash on, and take her out yourself.”

Ginny sighs. “Dramatic much? This isn’t some tiny regional pageant. Miss American Treasure is the big time. She’s a role model. You know that.”

I do. I probably know more about that than any of those chattering elevator girls.

“I can’t go out there like this,” she says.

“Fine.” I take the leash from her hands. She’s clearly in no condition to leave the room, although I would pay money to see an Instagram post of Ginny wearing the sash and her sheet mask at the same time.

“Thank you.” Her slender shoulders sag with relief. “I owe you one. We’ll have a great dinner tonight, I promise. It’ll be just like old times.”

Old times?

I don’t believe her for a minute. When we were kids, our favorite dinners included sloppy joes and macaroni and cheese. I can’t remember the last time I saw a carb cross Ginny’s lips.

“Come on, Buttercup,” I mutter.

The portly little dog growls the entire time I’m attaching her leash to her sparkly pink collar. This should be lovely.

“We’ll be right back.” I cast a glance over my shoulder as I lead Buttercup out the door, and Ginny catches my gaze in the mirror.

She gives me a little wave. I wave back, and for a moment, I go still. Rooted to the spot. Ginny’s sheet mask is gone, and her face is bare. Clean. It’s been a while since I’ve seen her makeup-free. Without the airbrushed foundation, the contouring and highlighting, the carefully lined lips and the double layers of false eyelashes, she looks a lot like me.

She looks exactly like me, actually. Same nose. Same eyes. Same heart-shaped face.

Same DNA.

Because even though my sister has always been the pretty one, the beauty queen—the Jane Bennet to my Elizabeth, the Meg March to my Jo—she’s also my twin.

About Teri Wilson

Teri Wilson is the author/creator of the Hallmark Channel Original Movies UNLEASHING MR. DARCY, MARRYING MR. DARCY and THE ART OF US, as well as a fourth Hallmark film currently in development. She is a double finalist for the prestigious RITA Award for excellence in romantic fiction for her novels THE PRINCESS PROBLEM and ROYALLY WED. In 2017, she served as a national judge for the Miss United States pageant and has since judged in the Miss America system.


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Excerpt: Once Upon a Cowboy by Stina Lindenblatt

Posted November 20, 2018 by Rowena in Promotions | 0 Comments

Once upon a time, I used to love the heck out of western romances. I haven’t read one in ages but when this book was brought to my attention, I perked right up. This series sounds like a good one and Once Upon a Cowboy, the second book in the Copper Creek series released last week so it can be yours today for the low price of $3.99!!

Excerpt: Once Upon a Cowboy by Stina LindenblattOnce Upon a Cowboy (Copper Creek, #2) by Stina Lindenblatt
Series: Copper Creek #2
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: November 14, 2018
Format: eBook
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 297
Add It: Goodreads
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Cinderella's fairy godmother just turned hot. And male. Very, very male.

Sexy cowboy Jake Daniels has three priorities in his life: his horse ranch that he manages with his brother, his family, and Sophie West. Sophie is the ranch’s horse trainer and his close friend. The one thing he doesn’t have time for is a girlfriend. And he especially doesn’t have time for a relationship with an employee. Mixing business with pleasure never ends well. Been there. Done that. Had it branded on his ass.

Not a problem—until Sophie asks for his help. She’s tired of being single. She’s ready to find her soul mate—or at least a nice man. The issue? She’s socially awkward around guys she’s interested in. The solution? Recruit Jake to be her “fairy godfather” and help her be more confident, especially around the new veterinarian who just moved into town.

Great plan, except Sophie's no naive Cinderella and Jake realizes if anyone's going to be her Prince Charming, he wants it to be him. If only he didn't have to put his heart on the line to win hers.

We are very fortunate to be sharing an excerpt from the book today so please, check it out!

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Excerpt

“So will you do it?” she asks.

I’m about to say “Hell, yes.” Of course I’d be more than happy to give her all the orgasms she can handle…and then some. But a voice in my head points out that I’m a dumbass. That’s not what she’s talking about.

“Will you be like my fairy godmother? You know, the one who turns Cinderella’s rags into a ball gown and a pumpkin into a sparkly coach?”

Here’s the thing about men. Half the time we have no idea what women are talking about. What might seem highly logical to the woman is miles from there for the man.

This is one of those times.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, Soph. For one, I’m a man. Two—while I might not know anything about the movie, I’m pretty sure the fairy godmother performs some sort of magical spell. Unfortunately, my business degree didn’t include any courses along those lines.”

Chuckling, she pats my arm. “That doesn’t matter. It’s like the Cinderella trope in romances. A friend—sometimes a female and sometimes a gay guy—turns the dull, kind of ugly heroine into a beautiful swan. Then the prince—or whoever the guy might be—falls in love with her.”

“One—you’re already beautiful. You don’t need help with that. And two—are you telling me you think I’m gay?” I slap my hand against my chest, the move as genuine as veneer is to wood.

She laughs. “I’m aware that you’re one hundred percent heterosexual man, which is why I need your help. Who better to teach me to be more comfortable around guys I’m interested in than you?”

Even though the words are coated with syrup to sweeten the blow, they’re a sucker punch to the gut.

One.

Two.

Three…you’re out.

I must have misheard her. That has to be it. There’s no way she just asked me to help her land a boyfriend.

“Please, Jake. You’re my only hope.” The pleading in her voice is like going for another round with a heavyweight champ. You’re already weakened from the first blow and now more likely to go down for the final count.

“Except I have no idea how to teach you something like that. It’s not a skill I’ve ever had to think about.”

She reaches up and kisses my cheek. “I’m sure you’ll figure something out.”

An electrical hum vibrates from the spot where her lips touched me, and I resist the urge to cover it with my fingers.

Remember how I said I would do anything for her?

Now I’m wishing that wasn’t true.

But Ryan is a nice guy. Is he damaged after finding out his fiancée cheated on him?

Possibly.

Sophie deserves to be with someone who makes her happy. She deserves for all her dreams to come true.

Ryan could be that guy…if he gives her a chance.

You really are an idiot, my heart says.

I ignore it.

“All right,” I say. “I’ll help you. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, because I’m guessing this isn’t something I can Google to find the answer. But somehow I’ll help you win your man.”

The bright side?

Once she and Ryan are headed toward their own happily ever after, I can finally move on.

I can finally stop lusting after my best friend.

She flings her arms around my shoulders. Her sweet scent of strawberries and cream teases me. Not helping me, Soph. “Thank you so much, Jake. I owe you big-time.”

My arms automatically go around her and I hold her close. Closer than I should, given we’re just friends and I promised to help her with her love life.

Even with our jackets on, I can feel her heat sinking into my body. It fuels my heart rate,
causing it to kick up a notch.

This isn’t the first time I’ve hugged her.

But it is the first time it’s felt this way. This amazing.

Shit.

Copper Creek

About Stina Lindenblatt

I’m a traditionally and indie published romance author. My traditional books are heavy on heart and emotion. My indie books are on the light and hilarious side of things. But either way, my stories are full of sexy times. I love to travel, and have lived in England, the US, Canada, and Finland. In my free time, I enjoy photography, especially the close-up variety.


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Excerpt Spotlight: Too Far Gone by Allison Brennan

Posted November 19, 2018 by Rowena in Promotions | 1 Comment

Too Far Gone is the fourteenth book in the Lucy Kincaid series by Allison Brennan and it promises to keep your blood pumping with suspense and I’ve been in the mood for more suspense in my novels so I’m mighty interested in this one.

I don’t read too many romantic suspense books but after reading the blurb for this book, I was curious. Allison Brennan must be doing something right if she’s writing the fourteenth book in this series and it sounds like a good one so I’m thrilled to be spotlighting it here on Book Binge.

Excerpt Spotlight: Too Far Gone by Allison BrennanToo Far Gone (Lucy Kincaid, #14) by Allison Brennan
Series: Lucy Kincaid #14
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: October 30, 2018
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 496
Add It: Goodreads
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The next intense installment in Allison Brennan's New York Times bestselling Lucy Kincaid series.

Things finally seem to be going well for FBI Agent Lucy Kincaid. She's just finished training for Hostage Rescue, her husband's relationship with his son is back on track, and her tense relationship with her boss, Rachel Vaughn, has become much more bearable. That is, until her first hostage case throws everything off track.

When a man who appears under the influence and mentally unstable holds a group of people hostage and dies in a shootout with the FBI, Lucy is assigned to investigate what happened. His descent doesn't make any sense - he was an upstanding citizen a year ago and only started declining after a series of blackouts and strange occurrences. Even his autopsy seems suspicious, and the body has been cremated without the proper approval. As Lucy investigates, she realizes that this story may be more complicated than she thinks, and that her own life might be in danger.

 

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Excerpt

CHAPTER TWO

FBI Special Agent Lucy Kincaid geared up in the back of the SWAT van and followed team leader Leo Proctor to the staging area kitty-corner to the coffeehouse that was currently under control of a gunman. Lucy wasn’t part of the SWAT team. She was the newest trained hostage negotiator, though she would be second to Proctor for a minimum of six months. She wouldn’t be talking to the suspect today; she was tagging along on her first official outing after completing Hostage and Crisis Response Training at Quantico.

As soon as she stepped out of the air-conditioned van and into the hot Texas humidity, she began to sweat. Fortunately, she wasn’t decked out with an extra twenty- five pounds of SWAT gear; she was only required to wear her Kevlar vest and sidearm.

The FBI was here to back up the SAPD, who were taking lead in the hostage situation at Java Antonio, a small but popular independent coffee shop in downtown San Antonio.

Lucy followed Leo from the van while the rest of the team checked their weapons and gear.

“Lieutenant, sit-rep?” Leo said to the man clearly in charge who was directing personnel from the back of a police communications van. There were a dozen city and county vehicles filling all four streets that led to the intersection, which now held a tactical truck. Each street had been blocked off, and all businesses in a two-block radius evacuated or locked down.

“Proctor. Glad you’re here.” He glanced at Lucy. “Agent Kincaid, hostage negotiator. Kincaid, Lieutenant Jordan Young.”

They shook hands. Young was forty and had the aura of former military officer, and it was clear by how his officers spoke to him that he garnered respect from his men and women.

“I need you to negotiate, Leo—I’ve already set up a command, I’m the highest-ranking officer here.”

“My people are your people,” Proctor said. “Kincaid’s my second.”

Being second essentially meant backing up the primary negotiator. Listening to all communication, taking notes, passing along information between the negotiator and command and vice versa.

Generally, the individual in charge of the scene was not the same person negotiating with the suspect. That SAPD and the SA-FBI worked well together was a testament to the men and women who led each department and the teams who cross-trained together.

“I have two snipers, one on each corner building,” Young said, gesturing. “Two men in the back. If you can spare a pair I’d like to have them tag up with my team in the alley, and if you have a sniper we can use one back there. The rear is the only exit other than the front door.” Proctor said in his radio, “Dunning, take your team and secure the back with SAPD; Ramirez, find a roost with clear line of sight to the emergency exit. From here on out, Lieutenant Young is in command of this operation and you’ll take direction from him, primary emergency channel.”

“Roger,” the team leader said over the radio. “Suspect?” Proctor asked.

Young shook his head. “Working on an ID. No cameras inside, but we have a description from one of the hostages who escaped during the initial confusion. In fact, a dozen people got out before the shooter locked down. From preliminary statements, the guy was talking to himself and acting ‘off’—weird was the word most used. He was wearing a thick windbreaker and it’s over ninety degrees and humid as hell. When the manager confronted him, he snapped—per a witness. Another witness said he acted like he was quote, ‘off his meds.’”

Unfortunately, Lucy knew that mental illness was one of the leading causes of spontaneous hostage situations. But generally, if the individual was mentally ill, they took people they knew hostage—family or friends—in a residence. This situation was distinctly different.

Young continued. “He fired two shots. Per witnesses, they both went into the ceiling. No one saw anyone injured inside. There are conflicting statements as to how many guns he has and what kind, though I’m going with one of the witnesses who stated he’s a gun owner and identified a nine-millimeter in the shooter’s hand, standard-capacity magazine, and a second handgun in his waistband, also a semi-auto—either a nine-mil or a forty-five.”

“Number of hostages?”

“Best guess is fourteen. Do you have thermal imaging in your truck? Fire can set up as well, but they’re still en route.”

“We got it,” Proctor said. “My tech just needs a minute.”

“Good. We need to know where he is, get some sense as to what’s going on in there.”

“Is this personal?” Proctor asked. “Target an employee? Customer?”

“Don’t know. We asked the witnesses for the basics, everyone said that he was alone and didn’t appear to know anyone. They are all sequestered down the street, my people are working to get more information. He hasn’t called out or made demands, but this whole thing started less than an hour ago. I need you to make contact, develop a rapport as we gather additional information. We need to de-escalate this as fast as possible.”

Proctor listened to his com then said, “Roger, hold positions.” He said to Young, “My team is in place, Ramirez has one hundred percent visual of the rear door.”

“Excellent.” Young handed him the bullhorn. “Work your magic, Leo. Godspeed.”

Proctor took a breath, visibly relaxed, then turned on the bullhorn.

“This is Leo Proctor of the FBI. I will be calling into the coffee shop. I’d like you to answer, just to talk. Just see how you’re doing, how the other people are doing.”

He then nodded to Young’s assistant, a uniform by the name of Jones, who handed him a phone already set to dial into the Java Antonio main number and record the conversation.

They let the phone ring more than thirty times. There was no answer and Proctor ended the call.

“Lieutenant,” Jones said after listening to his radio, “we have an ID. Charles James McMahon, forty-six, address in Helotes per DMV. Two deputies are on their way now.”

“Married? Kids? Employer?” “Unknown, we’re working on it.”

“Work faster. Something triggered him, we need to know what so no one gets hurt.”

“Yes, sir,” Jones said, already on his phone.

Proctor got on the bullhorn again. “Mr. McMahon— Charles—this is Leo Proctor. I really need you to pick up the phone. I know you don’t want to hurt anyone. We need to talk. You and me. We can work this out, but I’m sure you don’t like shouting through a bullhorn any more than I do.”

He dialed again, waited. No answer. He hung up. He didn’t show any frustration, any rush. “As long as he’s calm, we can get out of this,” he said almost to himself. “Lucy, get Yancey out here. We need eyes in.”

Lucy briskly walked to the tactical van. Tim Yancey was a technology analyst in their office and in charge of the equipment during tactical operations. He was a bit high-strung, skinny, and sharp on his feet.

“I know, I know,” Tim said before Lucy could speak. “It’s almost calibrated. Okay, okay,” he said to himself and followed Lucy over to the staging area which had a direct line of sight to the coffee shop.

“I need to expand the range,” he said as he walked up and put the thermal imaging camera on a table next to the SAPD tactical van. “Okay, okay,” he mumbled again and pressed a few buttons to expand the field.

A blob of orange quickly took on distinct human shapes. Most were on the floor. Young immediately pointed to one on the left that was moving and had another shape close to him. “That’s our guy. He’s holding a hostage. I count . . . fifteen plus the gunman?”

“I concur,” Proctor said.

Young asked Tim, “Why are these three shapes faded?”

“They’re in another room,” Tim said. “Probably the storage room, a bathroom—I don’t have the exact lay- out.”

Young motioned at one of his men. “Where are the blueprints I asked for?”

“Coming.”

“I needed them five minutes ago.” “He didn’t plan this,” Lucy said.

Everyone looked at her. She didn’t realize she’d spoken out loud.

“If he did,” she continued, “he would have made sure that everyone was in the main room. Those three had time to hide in the back and he didn’t notice? Others es- caped? A dozen people ran out before he locked the place down. I think he would notice if he had a room full of customers and no employees.”

“Point taken,” Young said. “Don’t know if that makes him more or less dangerous. Get him talking, Leo, I’m going to push my people to get us more intel.”

Leo used the bullhorn. “Charles, this is Leo Proctor again. I’m calling you now. Please pick up the phone.”

He hit redial.

Lucy adjusted her earpiece and heard the ringing phone. She watched Tim’s thermal imaging system and saw the suspect cross the room—with a hostage in tow—and stand next to what she presumed was the phone on the wall behind the counter.

“Answer it, buddy,” Leo mumbled. “Pick it up, you want to.”

The man put a hand on his head—more like he was banging the side of his head with his gun hand, as if flustered or frustrated. He walked away a couple of feet. Leo hung up. He counted to ten. Then he hit redial.

McMahon went back to the phone. He answered.

Lucy Kincaid

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About Allison Brennan

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Allison Brennan believes that life is too short to be bored, so she had five children and writes three books a year.

Allison has penned more than two dozen thrillers and many short stories. RT Book Reviews calls Allison “a master of suspense” and her books “haunting,” “mesmerizing,” “pulse-pounding” and “emotionally complex.” RT also said that "The Lucy Kincaid/Sean Rogan books are getting better and better!"

COLD SNAP, was a finalist for Best Thriller in the Thriller Awards (ITW) and FEAR NO EVIL (2007) and COMPULSION (2015) won the Daphne du Maurier award. Allison has been nominated multiple times for RWA's Best Romantic Suspense award, and the Kiss of Death's Daphne award.

Allison lives in Northern California with her husband, five children, and assorted pets. Her current release is THE LOST GIRLS, a romantic thriller. MAKE THEM PAY will be out in March, 2017.


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Excerpt Spotlight: The Boy I Grew Up With by Tijan (+ Giveaway)

Posted November 5, 2018 by Rowena in Promotions | 7 Comments

The Boy I Grew Up With by Tijan came out on October 29th and it’s gotten great early reviews so I’m pretty stoked to be featuring this book on the blog today. We’re also giving away an e-copy of the book so you definitely don’t want to miss out. This seems to be a second chance romance between two people with a connection that’s too strong to ignore. Count me in!

Excerpt Spotlight: The Boy I Grew Up With by Tijan (+ Giveaway)The Boy I Grew Up with by Tijan
Publisher: Tijan
Publication Date: October 29, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 426
Add It: Goodreads
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I have loved Channing Monroe all my life.

In first grade, he asked for my Trapper Keeper. I hit him in the head with it. Third grade, we were best friends. We kissed in seventh grade. Eighth grade, he turned into a bad boy and the rest was a tumultuous storm.

Growing up, the problem was never love for us. Bad times. Good times. There were times when I felt our love in every inch of my body, vibrating, making me feel like it could bring me back to life.

The problem was us.

The problem is that we’re living in two different worlds now. Fallen Crest and its millionaires for me. Roussou and their criminals for him. I was thriving in mine and he was running his.

But…

But there were nights I felt we couldn’t be further apart than we were, and there were nights I felt we shared the same heartbeat.

When was it time? When was it time to either sacrifice, make a change, or walk away from the boy I grew up with?

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Excerpt

I had to get back to Manny’s.

But once in my car, I realized the gas was nearing empty, so I pulled into the one of two gas stations in Roussou. Channing was sitting on the front of my truck when I came out, an energy drink in hand.

His feet dangled off the hood, and he flashed a cocky grin at the sight of me.

I faltered for a step, glad to see the cockiness, not the turmoil I had unleashed two nights ago.

I tightened my hold on my drink before going over. “Hey.”

“Hey.” He was mocking me, giving me the same tight-lipped response.

I fought against rolling my eyes. “What are you doing here?”

He didn’t answer that. “You just coming from the house?”

“Yeah, I slept in.”

We fell silent, but we both knew what was happening next.

He was cocky. He was smirking. That meant we were going surface. We weren’t going deep.

But Channing would wait for me to make the first move—if I wanted to touch him, or if I didn’t. I would set the tone. He usually let me unless his hunger was too much. Then he’d prowl for me, and I could either say yes or no. But not like this, when his hunger was sated, when we were in broad daylight and there were people watching us like I knew there were. Everyone watched us, especially Channing.

He was revered here. They loved him, and they watched me because they knew he loved me.

The decision was mine right now. I didn’t know what I wanted myself, so I played it safe.

I forced out a fake laugh. It made me cringe. “I was heading back to Manny’s.”

He nodded, still watching me, still not saying anything. His gaze took on a knowing look, like he was reading inside of me.

“Okay,” he said.

I shot him a look. “What?”

His grin spread, slowly. “What?”

“‘Okay’,” I mocked him. “What’s that mean? ‘Okay’?”

“I’m not saying it in any way. I’m just agreeing with you.”

“Come on.”

“Come on?” His eyes danced, and he lowered his head. “Come on what?”

He was flirting.

I couldn’t hold my grin back. “Okay.” I said it exactly the way he had.

He let out a laugh, reaching for me and pulling me in front of him. He slid his hands through my hair, bringing some of it to cover my face until I couldn’t see anything. “This is how you should wear your hair. It’s very Cousin Itt. You can start a trend, call it Heather’s Itt.”

“Really?” I was eating my own hair, but I couldn’t dim my smile. He had that effect on me.

“Oh yeah.” His voice fell soft, growing intimate, and he leaned down, his hand trailing over my back. “And then I can do this all I want.”

His hand was on my ass. He grabbed a good chunk, but it wasn’t an offensive grab. It was a possessive claim, and I felt his breath on my neck. His lips grazed my skin. He held me close, almost draped over me. I moved into him, my arms sliding up his legs and around his waist. It was an intimate touch. It probably looked uncomfortable as hell from the outside, but they were on the outside. They weren’t standing where I was, and they weren’t feeling how I was feeling with Channing at that moment.

I didn’t want to move back.

He sheltered me, and I felt like everything would work out. All the bad shit would be fixed, and I wouldn’t have to face any of it. But that wasn’t the truth, and I groaned as I stepped away.

His hand left my ass, though he didn’t let me go far. His legs tightened around me, holding me in place, and he closed his arms around my shoulders. He was hugging me, in an almost chaste way. His head rested against mine.

I felt his tension then, and I knew this hug was for him.

He needed me, and momentarily surprised, I stayed there.

I sank back into him.

“Aren’t you two sweet?”

Dex Richter!

The question wasn’t even fully asked before Channing whipped up and jumped down beside me. His body went rigid, and I turned. I knew whose voice that was, and I knew what Channing would want me to do.

He went forward to deal with Richter as I slipped into my vehicle. I was reversing out of there as I counted how many Demons there were with their leader.

Richter motioned to me, but I ignored him, spinning my tires to speed a block away before pulling over.

I called Moose.

“Heather?”

“Channing’s at a gas station in Roussou with Richter.”

There was no hesitation. “Which one?”

“Miller’s.”

“On it. Go to Manny’s.”

“He had four others with him,” I added.

I caught the slight swear before Moose hung up, and though everything in me wanted to go back and stand with my man, I went to Manny’s. That was my home. Dealing with Richter, that’s where Channing ruled.

I went to work and tried not to think about what I’d driven away from.

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving away one e-copy of The Boy I Grew Up With by Tijan. Use the Gleam widget below to enter to winner.

The Boy I Grew Up With by Tijan

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About Tijan

Tijan is a New York Times Bestselling author that writes suspenseful and unpredictable novels. Her characters are strong, intense, and gut-wrenchingly real with a little bit of sass on the side. Tijan began writing later in life and once she started, she was hooked. She’s written multi-bestsellers including the Carter Reed Series, the Fallen Crest Series, and the Broken and Screwed Series among others. She is currently writing a new YA series along with so many more from north Minnesota where she lives with a man she couldn’t be without and an English Cocker she adores.


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Exclusive Excerpt: Archangel’s Prophecy by Nalini Singh (+Giveaway)

Posted October 30, 2018 by Holly in Promotions | 3 Comments

Although I adore Nalini Singh as an author the Guild Hunter series is my favorite of everything she writes. It’s such a dark, gritty world and Elena is such a badass, I live for each new release. Archangel’s Prophecy returns to Elena and Raphael, with Elena growing more mortal each day. Things are getting more violent for our favorite power couple and I can’t wait to see where Singh takes us next.

Exclusive Excerpt: Archangel’s Prophecy by Nalini Singh (+Giveaway)Archangel's Prophecy (Guild Hunter, #11) by Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter #11
Also in this series: Archangel's Kiss, Archangel's Consort, Archangel's Storm (Guild Hunter #5), Archangel's Legion, Archangel's Legion (Guild Hunter #6), Archangel's Shadows, Archangel's Shadows, Archangel's Enigma (Guild Hunter, #8), Angels' Blood (Guild Hunter #1), Archangel's Heart, Archangel's Heart, Archangel's Heart (Guild Hunter, #9), Archangel's Kiss, Angels' Blood, Archangel's Viper (Guild Hunter, #10), Archangel's Viper, Archangel's Prophecy (Guild Hunter, #11), Archangel's Consort (Guild Hunter, #3), Archangel's Prophecy (Guild Hunter, #11)
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: October 30, 2018
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 368
Add It: Goodreads
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Series Rating: four-stars

Return to New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s darkly passionate Guild Hunter world, where human-turned-angel Elena Deveraux, consort to Archangel Raphael, is thrust center stage into an eons-old prophecy....

Midnight and dawn, Elena’s wings are unique among angelkind…and now they’re failing. The first mortal to be turned into an immortal in angelic memory, she’s regressing. Becoming more and more human. Easier to hurt. Easier to kill.

Elena and Raphael must unearth the reason for the regression before it’s too late and Elena falls out of the sky. Yet even as they fight a furious battle for Elena’s very survival, violent forces are gathering in New York and across the world.

In China, the Archangel Favashi is showing the first signs of madness. In New York, a mysterious sinkhole filled with lava swallows a man whole. In Africa, torrential monsoon rains flood rolling deserts. And in Elena’s mind whispers a haunting voice that isn’t her own.

This time, survival may not be possible…not even for the consort of an archangel.

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Excerpt

Excerpt from ARCHANGEL’S PROPHECY
By Nalini Singh

Her blade safely stored, Elena’s sister took the jacket that Jeffrey had retrieved for her. It was a puffy thing, dark green in color and with fake brown fur around the hood that suited Eve’s face with its soft layer of baby fat that was already being honed to adult sharpness by age and the strenuous training regime at Guild Academy.

Jeffrey’s coat couldn’t have been more different; tailored black, it reached halfway down his calves.

He held out something to Elena.

Startled, she took it, unraveling the soft gray fabric to realize he’d handed her a scarf. She knew it was his the instant she put it around her neck. The scent of his aftershave lingered in the woven strands, bringing with it a thousand childhood memories.

Of being held against his chest when she got too tired to walk.

Of laughing wildly with him as they played a game of tag.

Of watching him dance with Belle and Marguerite in the living room while Ari took photographs on her new camera and Beth played with her dolls.

Of walking in on a kiss in the kitchen between Jeffrey and Marguerite and feeling her heart squeeze so hard in happiness.

Shattered pieces of a mirror with jagged edges, memories of a life forever destroyed.

Part of her wanted to tear off the scarf, tear off this resonance of yesterday, but she didn’t reject the offer. With her and Jeffrey, it was a tightrope, a fragile balance that could be upended with a single word.

They began to walk the five blocks to Majda and Jean-Baptiste’s home.

It was three minutes later that Eve said, “Ellie, psst.”

Following her sister’s gaze, Elena saw that Eve was pointing to where Elena’s left wing dragged through the snow. A chill filled Elena’s blood, and it had nothing to do with the winter white that blanketed the world and made her breath create small, icy clouds as it left her mouth.

She hadn’t felt the slack in her wing muscles.

Neither had she felt the wet cold of the snow.

Posted by arrangement with Berkley, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Nalini Singh, 2018.

Guild Hunter Series

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Print Giveaway: Archangel’s Prophecy by Nalini Singh

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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