Tag: Excerpts

Sunday Spotlight: Tempted by Fate by Cynthia Eden

Posted April 23, 2017 by Holly in Features | 6 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

Today’s spotlight is Tempted by Fate by Cynthia Eden. This is book 6 in her Bad Things series. Eden writes both paranormal and romantic suspense. I’m always entertained by her novels. I’m looking forward to this one.

Sunday Spotlight: Tempted by Fate by Cynthia EdenTempted By Fate (Bad Things, #6) by Cynthia Eden
Series: Bad Things #6
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: April 25th 2017
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 259
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You can't cheat Fate...and for the record, she really doesn't like it when you betray her, either.

Leo is used to having power. After all, he carries the title Lord of the Light for a reason--he's a supernatural powerhouse and his job is protect all of the "light" paranormals in the world. He's used to snapping his fingers and getting anything--or anyone--he wants. 

But when he fell for Fate, Leo learned that power didn't get a man everything. 

In fact, it didn't even get him the one woman he wanted most...

Fate...AKA Mora (that's the name she prefers to use--a lot less weighty on her shoulders) has spent centuries hiding from her supernatural ex-lover, Leo. Most people fear Leo and rightly so. 

He's got immense power and a definite date with an unfortunate end-of-the-world calamity.   

When Leo seduced Mora and promised to put the world at her feet, she actually thought the guy had fallen for her. Too late, she discovered he was just using her in an attempt to change his destiny.

And Leo's destiny? It's not pretty. Some very, very bad things are coming for him. Mora shouldn't care about the danger he faces. She should turn her back on her ex. His heart is ice cold, she knows that, but her own heart...it's still a little weak where Leo is concerned. 

Leo has tried to walk on the side of good for a long time...but his sins are coming back to haunt him. A darkness is trying to consume him, and if Mora can't help him...then it's not just Leo who will pay the price for his past. The whole world will change.

You think you know the Lord of the Light? Think again.

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Excerpt

TEMPTED BY FATE – Excerpt – Cynthia Eden
“I’m not letting you go.” Enough games. “I won’t ever let you go again.”

Her eyelids flickered. “Leo?”

“You hid from me for centuries. I tore this world apart looking for you.” He shook his head. “But you weren’t there. The whole planet went dark, and I nearly lost my sanity…because you weren’t there.”

She paled. “I meant nothing to you, remember? Just insignificant little Fate.”

“There is nothing insignificant about Fate.” He knew that all too well. “You will not leave again. You will not vanish, not even if I have to chain you to my side.”

Her slightly pointed chin shot into the air. “Don’t even think it.”

If she only knew…“Love, I’ve fantasized about it.”

He saw the surprise on her face.

“But I am trying to give you a choice,” he continued doggedly. “I want you with me willingly.”

She laughed, and it was a mocking sound. Once, he’d heard her real laughter. It had sounded like music. Sweet bells. Now her laughter held the ring of bitterness. “Bull,” Mora told him. “You don’t give choices. You take them away. You order your light paranormals about and you try to control the world.” She leaned closer to him, absolutely shocking Leo. “But I’ve got a newsflash for you. You don’t control me. And neither does your brother. I’m not a pawn in your war.”

She’d always been more than a pawn.

“You think you can use me.” Her mouth was inches from him. “Use me up and then walk away again? It’s not going to happen.”

No, it wasn’t. Because he didn’t plan to walk away. Not this time. Never again. “The dark is closing in on me.”

She blinked.

“I’m being hunted. The past is catching up to me. The end will come, and when it does, do you want to just stand there and watch as the world is destroyed around you?”

But she shook her head. “It’s…it’s not time yet.”

Excitement burned inside of him. Mora had always known what the end would be. How could she not know? She was Fate. Only…

He knew that she kept secrets. He knew that she could change the fates of humans and paranormals. For the right price, she would alter lives.

“You need to look into the future again,” he told her grimly. “You need to look into my future. Because that big battle? The one you told everyone would come?”

She shivered. “I told everyone…what I saw. You will fight your brother to the death. Light and Dark will battle, and only one will survive. Then the earth will fall to chaos.”

“Right. Yes. Thanks for that bit of sunshine news.” His fingers were still wrapped around her shoulders. “My time is up. Unless you help me, everyone’s time is up.”


Bad Things

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About the Author

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Award-winning author Cynthia Eden writes dark tales of paranormal romance and romantic suspense. She is a New York Times, USA Today, Digital Book World, and IndieReader best-seller. Cynthia is also a three-time finalist for the prestigious RITA® award . Since she began writing full-time in 2005, Cynthia has written over eighty novels and novellas.

Cynthia is a “hybrid” author. She has published extensively with New York (her New York publishers include Avon, Kensington, Grand Central, and Harlequin), and she has also enjoyed success in her indie writing career.

Cynthia lives along the Alabama Gulf Coast. She loves romance novels, horror movies, and chocolate. Her favorite hobbies including hiking in the mountains (searching for waterfalls) and spelunking.

You can find Cynthia chatting daily on Twitter or on her Facebook page.

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Sunday Spotlight: Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs

Posted March 19, 2017 by Holly in Features | 4 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

Patricia Briggs is a fabulous talent. I absolutely adore her writing. Silence Fallen brings us back to the world of Mercy Thompson and her mate, Alpha of the Columbia Basin werewolf pack, Adam Hauptman. Silence Fallen is unique because 1) Mercy ends up alone in Europe without any of her allies or friends and 2) we see the story not just from Mercy’s point-of-view, but also that of Adam and another character. There’s a lot of humor, despite the tension, and there was even a surprise character at the end I didn’t recognize.

Sunday Spotlight: Silence Fallen by Patricia BriggsSilence Fallen (Mercy Thompson, #10) by Patricia Briggs
Series: Mercy Thompson, #10
Also in this series: Night Broken, Shifting Shadows, Blood Bound, Fire Touched, Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson, #10)
Published by Ace Books
Publication Date: March 7th 2017
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 371
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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In the #1 New York Times bestselling Mercy Thompson novels, the coyote shapeshifter has found her voice in the werewolf pack. But when Mercy's bond with the pack and her mate is broken, she'll learn what it truly means to be alone...
Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. In coyote form, Mercy escapes only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe...
Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise...

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This excerpt comes from chapter one.

Excerpt

I died first so I made the cookies.

They were popular fare so I needed to make a lot. Darryl had gotten me a jumbo-sized antique mixing bowl last Christmas that probably could have held the water supply for an elephant for a day. I don’t know where he found it. If I ever filled it entirely, I’d have to have one of the werewolves move it. It ate the eighteen cups of flour I dumped into it with room for more, all the while piratical howls rose up the stairway from the bowels of the basement.

My smaller mixing bowl, the one that had been perfectly adequate until I married into a werewolf clan, I filled with softened butter, brown sugar and vanilla. As I mixed them together, I decided that it wasn’t that I was a bad pirate, it was that I had miscalculated. By baking sugar-and-chocolate laden food whenever I died first, I’d succeeded in turning myself into a target.

The stove was at temperature, I found all four cookie sheets in the narrow cabinet that they belonged in–a miracle. I wasn’t the only one who got KP duty in the house, but I seemed to be the only one who could put things in the same place (where they belonged) on a regular basis. The baking pans, in particular, got shoved all sorts of odd places. I had once found one of them in the downstairs bathroom. I didn’t ask–but I washed that motherhumper with bleach before I used it to bake on again.

I thought I was good to go when I found the baking pans. But when I opened the cupboard where there should have been ten bags of chocolate chips, there were only six. I searched the kitchen and came up with another one in the top cupboard behind the spaghetti noodles which made seven. Seven bags of chips was leaner than I liked for a double-quadruple batch, but it would do.

What would not do, was no eggs. And there were no eggs.

I scrounged through the fridge for the second time, checking out the back corners and behind the milk where things liked to hide. But even though I’d gotten four dozen eggs two days ago, there was not an egg to be had.

There were perils in living in the defacto clubhouse of a werewolf pack. Thawing roasts in the fridge required the hiding skills of a WWII French Underground spy working as a secretary in NAZI headquarters.

That same egg-and-roast-stealing werewolf pack was currently downstairs enthralled in games of piracy on the high seas of the computer screen. There was irony in how much they loved the pirate computer game–werewolves are too dense to swim. Coyotes, even coyote shifters like me, can swim just fine–except, apparently in an Instant Spoils: The Dread Pirate’s Booty scenario because I’d drowned four times this month.

I hadn’t drowned this time, though. This time, I’d died with my stepdaughter’s knife in my back.

“I’m headed to the Stop and Rob,” I called downstairs. “Does anyone need anything?”

It wasn’t really called that, of course, it had a perfectly normal name that I couldn’t remember. “Stop and Rob” was more of a general term for a 24-hour gas and convenience store, a sobriquet earned in the days when the night shift clerk had been left on his or her own with a till full of thousands of dollars. Technology–cameras, quick-drop safes that didn’t open until daylight, and silent alarms had made working the night shift safer, but they’d always be Stop and Robs to me.

“Ahrrrr,” said my husband Adam’s voice, traveling up the stairs. “Gold and women and grog!” He didn’t play often, but when he did, he played full-throttle and immersed.

“Gold and women and grog!” echoed a chorus of men’s voices.

“Ah, listen to them,” said Mary Jo scornfully. “Give me a man who knows what to do, instead of these scallywags who run at the first site of a real woman.”

“Ahrrrr,” agreed Auriele while Jesse, my stepdaughter giggled.

“Swab the decks, ye lubbers, lest you slid in the blood and crack your four-pounders,” I called. “And whate’er ye do, don’t trust Jesse at your back.”

There was a roar of general agreement and Jesse giggled again.

“And Adam,” I said, “you can have gold and you can have grog. You go after another woman and you’ll be pulling back a stub.”

There was a little silence.

“Argh,” said Adam. “I got me a woman. What do I need with more? The women are for my men!”

“Argh!” roared his men. “Bring us gold, grog and women!”

“Men!” said Auriele sweet-voiced. “Bring us a few good men.”

“Stupidheads,” growled Honey. “Die!”

There was a general outcry because, apparently, someone had.

I took Adam’s SUV. I was going to have to figure out what to do for a daily driver. My precious Vanagon Syncro was getting far too many miles put on her and her transmission was rare and more precious than gold on the secondary market. I’d been driving her ever since my poor Rabbit was totaled, and the van was starting to need more and more repairs. I’d looked at an ‘87 Jetta with a blown engine last week. They wanted too much for it, but maybe I’d just have to pony up.

The SUV purred the couple of miles to the convenience store that was ten miles closer to home than any other store that was open at this hour of the night. The clerk was restocking cigarettes and didn’t look up as I passed him.
I picked up two dozen over-priced eggs and an equally overpriced bag of chocolate chips and set them on the counter. The clerk turned away from the cigarettes, looked at me and froze. He swallowed hard and looked away–scanning the barcodes on the eggs with a hand that shook so much that he might save me the effort of cracking the shells myself.

“You must be new?” I suggested running my ATM card in the reader.

He knew who I was without knowing anything important. I found the limelight disconcerting, but I was slowly getting used to it. My husband was Alpha of the local pack, he’d been a household name in the Tri-Cities since the werewolves first admitted their existence a few years ago. When we’d married, I’d gotten a little of his reflected glory, but after helping to fight a troll on the Cable Bridge a couple of months ago–I was at least as well known as Adam. People reacted differently to the reality of werewolves in the world. Sensible people stayed a certain length back. Others were stupidly friendly or not-so-stupidly afraid. The new guy obviously belonged to the latter group.

“Started last week,” the clerk muttered as he bagged the chocolate chips and eggs as if they might bite him.
“I’m not a werewolf,” I told him. “You don’t have anything to fear from me. And my husband has put a moratorium on killing gas station clerks this week.”

The clerk blinked at me.

“None of the pack will hurt you,” I clarified, reminding myself not to try to be funny around people who were too scared to know I was joking. “If there’s ever any trouble you can call us–” I found the card holder in my purse and gave him one of the pack’s cards, printed on off-white cardstock “-at this number. We’ll take care of it.”
We all carried the cards now that we’d (my fault) taken on the task of policing the supernatural community of the Tri-Cities, protecting the human citizens from things that go bump in the night. We’d also been called in to find lost children, dogs and, once, two calves and their guard llama. Zack had composed a song for that one. I hadn’t even known he could play guitar.

Sometimes the job of protecting the Tri-Cities was more glamorous than others. The livestock call, in addition to being musically commemorated, had actually been something of a PR coup, photos of werewolves herding small lost calves back home had gone viral on Facebook.

The clerk took the card as if it was going to bite him. “Okay,” he lied.

I couldn’t do any better than that, so I left with my cookie making ingredients. I hopped into the SUV and set the bag on the passenger seat as I backed out of the parking space. In retrospect, I wondered if his strong reaction might be due to something that had happened to him–a personal incident. I looked both ways before hopping out onto the road. Maybe I should go talk to him again.

I was still worrying about the clerk when there was a loud noise that robbed my breath. The bag with the eggs in it flew off the seat and hit me with a loud bang and foul smell–and then there was a sharp pain followed by…nothing.

#

I think I woke up several times, for no more than a few minutes that ended abruptly when I moved. I heard people talking, mostly men’s voices but I couldn’t understand what they were saying.

When I finally opened my eyes, I couldn’t see anything. I might not have been a werewolf, but a shapeshifting coyote could still see okay in very dim light. Either I was blind or wherever I was had no light at all.

My head hurt, my nose hurt, and my right shoulder felt bruised. My mouth was dry and tasted bad, as if I’d gone for a week without brushing my teeth. It felt like I’d just been hit by a troll–though the right shoulder pain was more of a seatbelt in a car thing. But I couldn’t remember…even as that thought registered, memories came trickling back.

The run to our local Stop and Rob–the same all night gas station slash convenience store where I’d first met lone and gay werewolf Warren all those years ago. Warren had worked out rather well for the pack…I gathered my wandering thoughts and herded them down a track that might do some good. The difficulty I had doing that–and the nasty headache made me think I might have a concussion.

I considered the loud bang and the eggs and realized that it hadn’t been the eggs that had exploded and smelled bad, but the SUV’s airbags. I was a mechanic. I knew what blown airbags smelled like, I don’t know what odd effect of shock made me think it might have been the eggs. The suddenness of the accident had combined the related events of the groceries hitting me and the airbag hitting me into a cause and effect that didn’t exist.

As my thoughts slowly achieved clearness, I realized that the SUV had been struck from the side. Struck at speed to have such a great effect.

I took stock of my situation without moving. My face was sore–a separate and lesser pain than the headache–and diagnosed the situation as with having been hit with an airbag or two that didn’t quite save me from a concussion or its near cousin. The sore right shoulder, was just where the seatbelt would have grabbed me.

Probably all of my pain was from the accident…car wreck, I supposed, because I was pretty sure it hadn’t been an accident. The vehicle that hit me hadn’t had its headlights on–and if it had been a real accident, I’d be in the hospital instead of wherever I was.

My body was convinced it was a room-sized space despite the pitch-darkness. The floor was…odd. Cool–almost cold–and smooth under my cheek. The coolness felt good on my face, but it was robbing my body of warmth. Metal. It didn’t smell familiar–didn’t smell strongly of anything or anybody, as if it had been a long time since it was put to use or it was new.

A door popped open while I was trying to figure out where I was. A light clicked on, making all of my speculations useless because illumination was suddenly effortless. I was in a room that looked like a walk-in freezer–all shiny silver surfaces. I’d jerked when the door opened so it was no good trying to pretend to be unconscious. The next best thing would be to face whoever it was on my own two feet.

I rolled over in preparation for doing that very thing, but before I could do more, I had a sudden and unexpected bout of dry heaves that did my head no good at all. When I lifted my head and wiped my mouth with the back of my hand, I noted that there were two men standing in the doorway frowning at me. Neither had made any move to help–or, at least that I noticed, reacted at all.

I dry heaved a couple of extra times to give myself a chance to examine the invaders of my walk-in freezer cell.
The nearest man was tuxedo-model beautiful, with dark curling hair, liquid brown eyes and a thousand dollar suit that managed to show off the muscles beneath without doing anything so crass as being tight anywhere. There was something predatory in his gaze and he had that spark that made one man more dominant than another without a word being said.

I’d been raised by werewolves, I knew an Alpha personality when I was in its presence.

The other man was at least fifty pounds heavier and three inches taller with a face that belonged to a boxer or a dockworker. His nose had been broken a few times and over his left eye was the sort of scar that you got when someone punched you in the eye and the skin around the socket split.

His eyes were brown, too, but they were ordinary eyes except for the expression in them. Something very cold and hungry looked out at me. He wore worn jeans and a tight fitting Henley-style shirt.

Visually, I could have been dropped into a scene in some Italian gangster movie. There was no mistaking the Mediterranean origins of either one.

My nose told me the real story. Vampires.


Mercy Thompson

Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book CoverBook Cover Book Cover Book Cover
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About the Author

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Patricia Briggs is the author of the New York Times bestselling Mercy Thompson urban fantasy series. She lives in Washington state with her husband, children, and a small herd of horses.

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Excerpt: Bound Together by Christine Feehan

Posted March 13, 2017 by Holly in Giveaways, Promotions | 3 Comments

 

Today we have an excerpt from Christine Feehan’s stunning conclusion to the Sisters of the Heart series. This is bittersweet for me. Sea Haven is one of my favorite fictional places, and I’m sad to see our time with the Prakenskii’s coming to an end. I’m hopeful we haven’t seen the last of them, however.

Excerpt: Bound Together by Christine FeehanBound Together by Christine Feehan
Series: Sisters of the Heart #6, Sea Haven #13
Also in this series: Water Bound, Spirit Bound, Air Bound, Earth Bound, Fire Bound, Bound Together (Sea Haven/Sisters of the Heart, #6), Turbulent Sea, Hidden Currents, Magic in the Wind, The Twilight Before Christmas, Oceans of Fire, Dangerous Tides, Safe Harbor, Turbulent Sea, Hidden Currents
Published by Piatkus
Publication Date: March 21st 2017
Pages: 416
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The Sea Haven series comes to a climactic end as the mysterious man from Blythe Daniels’ past re-enters her life. Don’t miss the final Sea Haven novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling “queen of paranormal romance” (J. R. Ward).
For five years, Viktor Prakenskii has put his life on hold in order to take down the world’s most feared motorcycle club from the inside. But carrying out the insane violence and seeing the club’s exploitation of the innocent has brought his traumatic past roaring back. And there’s only one cure: to see the wife he left behind...
Blythe Daniels thought she’d never see Viktor again after he murdered her stepfather and left without a word. She rebuilt her life without him, becoming a personal trainer and physical therapist...becoming strong enough for others to lean on. But when Viktor comes back to Sea Haven, he’ll make Blythe question everything she thought she knew about good and evil—and the dark desires of the heart...

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Excerpt

Excerpt from BOUND TOGETHER by Christine Feehan

Victor couldn’t help but stare at the tattoos on his fingers, the ones sleeving his arms, going up his neck and disappearing into his shirt. They all had tattoos. Ones that told stories if you knew how to read them. Every single one of them wore the Torpedo Ink tat on their backs—and they wore it with pride.

The cypress tree spread out with seventeen branches. Roots tangled at the bottom with piles of skulls buried among them. Crows flying away from the tree or picking through the skulls at the roots. Each skull represented a kill. Reaper’s tat was alarmingly full. The others were quickly catching up with this last assignment. He hoped to slow them all down. To find reasons not to do what they did, but Reaper was so right when he said they’d never be able to stop. He’d never be able to stop.

What would Blythe think about their inability to stop what they did best? Could he get away with not telling her? Women, as a rule, didn’t know club business. That was the way it was. They didn’t sit in on the meetings, and they were expected to do what their old men told them to do.

Blythe wasn’t going to like that. She was all about women’s rights and women being strong. He liked strong women, especially her, but he wanted her to trust him enough to follow his lead. He was a leader. He’d been put in that position at age ten and he was still in that position. He couldn’t be anything else. He glanced over at Reaper, who was still sitting on his bike, taking a careful look around. The man was right. Either she loved him for who he really was, or she didn’t.

“Your woman knows how to deal with trauma?” Absinthe prompted.

His woman walked on water. “She can do just about anything. She’ll love Alena and Lana, and they need a little love.”

“They have us,” Absinthe reminded quietly. “We love them, and they still aren’t better.”

Viktor raised his head and looked his brother in the eye. “Are you?”

Because none of them were. Not a single one, especially him. Viktor was as screwed up as the rest of them. He suffered the same nightmares and had all kinds of issues he didn’t want to talk about—especially with someone as sweet and innocent as Blythe. He sighed and shoved his hand through his hair. “You’re right, Absinthe, they aren’t better.”

Alena came out of the women’s room walking toward them with her long, confident strides, her glossy platinum hair flowing around her. She always wrapped her hair in some kind of intricate knot when she was riding, but took it down the moment she was off the bike. He knew that was a leftover from when one of the instructors had beat her senseless and shaved her head. She’d been six and it had taken all of them to console her. But then, she’d never really gotten over it.

“What is it?” Reaper asked.

The man was creepy silent even in motorcycle boots. Viktor heard everything, but he never heard Reaper or Savage. The two were a force to be reckoned with. He didn’t know which was worse, Reaper, the older brother, or Savage, the younger. Most likely Reaper. Had any of Viktor’s birth brothers been in that place of horror, he would have lost his mind.

“We’re all pretty fucked-up, aren’t we, Reaper?” What if Blythe didn’t take him back? That question had haunted him for too long now. He woke up in the middle of the night numerous times, sweat pouring off of him, his heart pounding at the possibility. He had never once considered she wouldn’t want him, not in the first year or two, but then as time stretched out and he couldn’t see or hear from her, that fear had begun to take hold.

“Some of us more than others. You, not so much. You were older than the rest of us and figured out a way to fight back. You kept us human when we would have all been animals.” Reaper gazed out at the shimmering water. “You gave us a life, Czar. Stop beating yourself up. I’ve never seen you like this. She’s either the one or she’s not.”

Viktor pressed his thumb to the center of his left palm and held it there. Prakenskiis didn’t make mistakes when it came to choosing their women. Blythe was the one. She was his wife. His partner. His only. He touched his chest, the lock tattooed over his heart. She had the key tattooed on her body. “She’s the one.” He turned toward the ocean, and strode away from Reaper. The man saw too much.

Posted by arrangement with Berkley, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Christine Feehan, 2017.

Series

Water Bound
Spirit Bound
Air Bound
Earth Bound
Fire Bound
Bound Together

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About the Author

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Christine Feehan is a #1 New York Times bestselling author multiple times over with her portfolio including over 40 published novels, including five series; Leopard Series, Dark Series, Ghostwalker Series, Drake Sisters Series, & the Sisters of the Heart Series. All five series hit the #1 spot on the New York Times bestselling list as well. Her debut novel Dark Prince received 3 of the 9 Paranormal Excellence Awards in Romantic Literature (PEARL) in 1999. Since then she has been published by various publishing houses including Leisure Books, Pocket Books, and currently is writing for Berkley/Jove. She also has earned 7 more PEARL awards since Dark Prince.

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Blog Tour: Somebody Like You by Donna Alward

Posted February 8, 2017 by Rowena in Giveaways, Promotions | 2 Comments

Somebody Like You by Donna Alward
Series: Darling, VT #1
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Genres: Contemporary, Romance

A kiss to last a lifetime

Aiden Gallagher was only five years old when he appeared in a photograph on the Kissing Bridge. The town of Darling, Vermont, has used Aiden’s image on the famed bridge—local legend has it that a kiss there results in everlasting love—as part of its tourism campaign. Now, twenty years later, Aiden is asked to recreate the moment with the woman he once kissed: Laurel Stone.

Recently divorced, there’s nothing Laurel wants less than to pretend happily-ever-after with Aiden. As teenagers, their romance was no fairy tale—and Laurel has never quite forgiven Aiden for breaking her heart. But now that she is back in her hometown, and keeps bumping into police officer Aiden, Laurel can’t deny that there’s still a strong flicker between her and her old flame. Could it be that the Kissing Bridge is working its magic on Laurel and Aiden—and that all true love ever needed was a second chance?

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Excerpt

By the time they were through, it was nine o’clock and time to open. Being a Saturday, business was brisk. Her dad dropped off the supplies and offered to stay to help cover the tagging, but with the heavy shopping traffic, Laurel decided to wait until things died down. For now the tarps covered the tags, and she’d focus on her customers. Otherwise her anger would get the best of her and that was bad for business. By six p.m., things had slowed considerably.

Laurel had been going flat out for ten hours, stopping for only fifteen minutes to run to The Purple Pig for a sandwich. Her stomach growled, her feet hurt, there was dirt beneath her nails and she really, really wanted a shower and a glass of wine—in that order. Laurel had just dragged out the hose to water the fruit trees when a half- ton truck drove into the lot and parked in an empty space.

The driver hopped out, and her heart slammed against her ribs as she immediately realized how she must look. Dirty jeans, mannish golf shirt that did nothing for her figure, scrubby ponytail through a Ladybug Garden Center ball cap, and probably smudges of dirt on her face and arms. Not that she was trying to look nice for Aiden or anything, but it was him getting out of the truck, looking sexy as hell in faded jeans and a T- shirt that stretched across his chest and shoulders.

She could pretend she hadn’t seen him. Resolutely she turned on the hose and started watering the apple trees.

“Hey, Laurel,” he called out, and that erased any hope of avoiding him.

She turned off the hose and faced him. “Aiden. What brings you by? Looking for a shrub or tree or something?”

Keep it businesslike, she reminded herself. The last thing she needed was for him to know that he had the ability to fluster her.

“I heard about what happened.”

Of course he had.

“Don’t even. I’m still pissed.”

“I know it’s not what you needed. Did Crystal tell you that you weren’t the only one hit?”

Crystal must be the offi cer from this morning. “She did.”

“Well, that must make you feel better.”

She stared at him. “Better? Seriously? Since I opened a month ago, I’ve had to have the driveway re- graded, I’ve had to replace shrubs that were stolen from out front, deal with a break-in and vandalism, and now tagging. Trust me, Aiden, the only thing that would feel better is if you actually did your job and found out who was doing this.”

She turned the hose back on.

He waited. He waited a long time. Several seconds, maybe thirty. Which was really not that long at all but definitely felt that way. She was watering the third tree when he sighed. “ You’re upset.”

“No shit, Sherlock.”

He met her gaze, and his eyes were soft, even though she’d basically just accused him of not doing his job. The understanding she saw there made her stomach churn. She didn’t want to lash out, but that was what she did when she was hurt. Angry.

Stopping by was kind and thoughtful. She kept trying to make him out to be a bad guy, and he kept being nice. It definitely made it difficult for her to hate him. Particularly since her biochemistry betrayed her at every turn. Even now, when she was utterly preoccupied with the day’s events, she seemed to notice everything. His hair, his eyes, the breadth of his chest, the armband tattoo that looked like some sort of Celtic braid, peeking just below the hem of his T- shirt sleeve. The shape of his lips . . .
He muttered something that was as creative a curse as she’d ever heard, and sounded suspiciously Irish. She couldn’t help but laugh, and tried to clamp her lips shut again. But not before he saw and heard, and his eyes took on an impish gleam.

“You’re not fine. You’re tired and upset and rightfully so. You’re also just as stubborn as you always were.” He put his hands on his hips. “I take it you’re not adverse to help, just help from me in particular.”

Her face heated. Dammit.

“Maybe this could be my penance,” he suggested, giving her a quick grin. And she wished she could take him seriously, but he always seemed to be teasing. It was one of the things she’d really liked about him and hated at the same time. Particularly now, when she wanted to be, if not mad, completely unaffected. And she wasn’t. He was trying to cajole her out of her mood and it was working.

“It’s Saturday night. Don’t you have a hot date or something?” She turned on the hose again. Focused on the large plastic pot holding a cherry tree.

“Nope. Free as a bird.”

Dammit again.

“Come on, Laurel. Peace offering. Manual labor for you to stop hating me.”

She glanced over at him. “Why do you care so much?”

He was quiet for a moment, and to her surprise the teasing expression left his face. After a while he answered, his voice a little lower. “I don’t know why I care what people think so much. I always have. I don’t like anyone to be mad at me. Maybe it has something with being one of the younger siblings in the family. I don’t know. I just know that I don’t like it that you’re still so angry.” His intense blue gaze locked with hers. “It’s starting to become a personal mission to win you over. To atone for past sins.”

“Good luck,” she said dryly, more touched than she wanted to admit.

His boyish grin was back. “Come on, Laurel. You know you can’t hold out forever. You think I’m hot.” He had the audacity to wink at her.

She rolled her eyes.

“You do. You have a thing for gingers. And you have to admit, I grew up kinda good.” His hands were still on his hips and he tensed his muscles so that his shoulders and chest tightened beneath the thin T- shirt.

“I think you’re a bit taken with yourself, to be honest,” she replied. And tried not to smile. She didn’t want to be charmed, but he was incorrigible.

“Laurel.”

Damn, his voice was all silky- smooth now. “Yes, Mr. Narcissist?”

“You know damn well you want to hate me and you can’t. Besides, I saw your face just now. Maybe if I took off my shirt . . .”

“Would you like to go somewhere private to be with yourself?” she asked, biting the inside of her lip. She shouldn’t be enjoying this so much. And she wouldn’t be, if she thought he was serious. But he was teasing her.

Like he used to do when they were friends. And today . . . she swallowed against a ball of emotion. Today she needed a friend, and all she’d had were well- meaning customers.

She looked over at him. “Jeez, Aiden. You’re looking a little flushed. I think you could stand to cool off.” And before he could reply, she flicked her wrist and aimed the spray of the hose right at the center of his chest.

The abrupt shock on his face was gratifi cation enough, but then he grinned and reached to take away the hose. She danced away, still spraying him, admiring how the shirt now clung to his skin and the little droplets lit up his face and hair. A laugh bubbled up through her chest and out her mouth as she darted around the trees, dragging the hose with her. But there were too many pots and not enough room to maneuver and within seconds he caught her, wrapped one strong arm around her and wrenched the hose away with the other, spraying her in the process.

Cold water dripped from her nose, down her neck, over her bare arms. Aiden held her close against his body, close enough she could feel the hardness of his muscles, and thrilled at it. Their breaths came fast, their chests rising and falling with both laughter and the exertion of the struggle over the hose. But it was the way he was looking down at her right now that made her feel as if the lack of air was strangling her lungs. All it would take was the tiniest move and he’d be kissing her. Her gaze dropped to his lips— he’d always had fine lips— and she swallowed, nervous and scared at her reaction and turned on as hell.

She looked up, which was a mistake. Because he was staring at her lips. And his arm tightened just a little bit at the hollow of her back. Oh God . . .

A car horn honked and Laurel jumped back. He let her go, but the gravity of the moment remained.

Copyright © 2017 by Donna Alward and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

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About the Author

Donna Alward

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

While bestselling author Donna Alward was busy studying Austen, Eliot and Shakespeare, she was also losing herself in the breathtaking stories created by romance novelists like LaVyrle Spencer, Judith McNaught, and Nora Roberts. Several years after completing her degree she decided to write a romance of her own and it was true love! Five years and ten manuscripts later she sold her first book and launched a new career. While her heartwarming stories of love, hope, and homecoming have been translated into several languages, hit bestseller lists and won awards, her very favorite thing is when she hears from happy readers!

Donna lives on Canada’s east coast with her family which includes a husband, a couple of kids, a senior dog and two crazy cats. When she’s not writing she enjoys reading (of course!), knitting, gardening, cooking…and is a Masterpiece Theater addict.

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Sunday Spotlight: Rules of Contact by Jaci Burton

Posted December 4, 2016 by Holly in Features | 5 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we’re running in 2016. Each week, we will spotlight a release we’re excited about. We’ll be posting excerpts and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

Today we’re spotlighting Rules of Contact by Jaci Burton, book 12 in the Play by Play series. Don’t let this discourage you from reading it, however, as it stands alone nicely. I read it, and I’m about 7 books behind in the series.

rules-of-contact

Rules of Contact by Jaci Burton
Series: Play by Play
Also in this Series: Play by Play
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: December 6, 2016
Publisher: Berkley

In the new Play-By-Play novel by the New York Times bestselling author of Unexpected Rush, a football player who knows how to win on the field needs a better game plan for his love life.

A defensive end for the San Francisco Sabers, Flynn Cassidy is used to being in the spotlight—he just doesn’t enjoy it. But if getting in front of the cameras will help his new restaurant succeed, he’s willing. Now if he could just meet a woman who loved him and not his fame…

After her divorce, Amelia Lawrence is thrilled to start over as head chef at Ninety-Two. It’s just the opportunity she needs to heat up her career—if only she wasn’t wildly attracted to her sexy new boss. Their chemistry might be sizzling hot, but Amelia has no intention of being burned again.

Flynn can’t get enough of Amelia, and Amelia loves every second she spends with the tough yet tender Flynn. But trust is a hard-fought battle for both. Breaking the rules of contact and surrendering to their passion was the easy part. Are they willing to risk their hearts to win at the game of love?

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Excerpt

RULES OF CONTACT by Jaci Burton
Book Binge – Sunday Spotlight

She let her fingers map a trail over his shoulders and down his arms, as if she were reading a treasure map. There were scrolling patterns and sharp points, but no words.

“What do they mean?”

“Nothing, really. I just like the ink. At some point I might think about putting some literature on here. Maybe something that inspires me.”

“They’re beautiful.”

“Thanks.”

She sat back and looked at him. “So nothing like ‘Mom’ or some ex-girlfriend’s name on here?”

He laughed. “No. I’m not a momma’s boy, and so far no woman has inspired me enough to ink her name on my body.”
“So far.”

“Yeah. Maybe when I get married I’ll do something permanent like that.”

“You do realize that fifty percent of marriages end up in divorce.”

He frowned. “Mine won’t.”

“So sure of that, are you?”

“Yes.”

She leaned back and he shifted, moving down the bed so he could pick up her foot to massage it. He really did have great hands. She thought about what he’d said about marriage.

“While I admire your confidence, I can assure you that everyone goes into marriage thinking it’s forever. It doesn’t always work out that way.”

He lifted his focus from her foot onto her face. “While I can appreciate you’re coming from a point of cynicism since you’ve gone through a divorce, I only intend to get married one time. And I intend for it to be forever.”

“I’m sure the guy who had ‘I love Patty for All Time’ tattooed on his body and then had to have a giant Chevy truck tattooed over it thought his tattoo would last forever, too.”

He arched a brow. “You know this guy?”

She laughed. “No. I made it up. I’m just using it as a random example.”

He picked up her other foot, and she couldn’t resist a moan when he dug his thumb into her sore arch.

“I think your ex made you lose faith in love.”

“Maybe. I’d think all those women who prefer camera time over their interest in you would make you lose faith.”

He shrugged. “They just weren’t the right one.”

“And you still think the right one is out there for you.”

He wasn’t focusing on her foot. He was looking at her. “Yes, I do.”

His gaze was warm. Intense. And she had to admit, she felt relaxed with him, all that tension and after-sex weirdness completely gone.

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why do you believe in love, Flynn?”

“Because I’ve seen it in action with my parents. They’ve had difficult times and through it all, their love for each other has never once wavered. I’ve seen it with my brothers, who’ve all found amazing, smart, beautiful women who love them unconditionally. And believe me, my brothers aren’t easy guys to love. If they can find it, so can I.”

This was a new side to him. She’d seen the business side of him and the sports side of him. In both, he was driven. She’d seen him be funny and fun. But she’d never seen this serious side. This was a man ready to fall in love.

Too bad she wasn’t the woman for him. Because she was never going to give her heart over to a man again. She’d had it crushed once by someone she trusted, and it had hurt horribly.

Flynn was a nice guy, and she liked him. She was sure there was a woman out there who deserved him. It was really too bad it couldn’t be her.

Unfortunately, tonight was just that. Just this one night. Because a man like Flynn could be habit forming. She’d fallen down that rabbit hole once before, and she’d never allow that to happen again.

She gently extricated her foot from his grip. “It’s probably a good idea for you to take me home.”

He gave her a quizzical look. “You don’t want to stay tonight?”

She wanted to. And that was the problem. She shook her head and slid off the bed to stand.

“I have a lot of things to do tomorrow. Early.”

He got up and came over to where she stood, sliding his arms around her. “I get up pretty early.”

His body was warm and she was tempted to turn around and curl into him, let him coax her back into his big bed.
But he was dangerous to her mind and her body, and most especially her heart. So she stepped away, turned around, and smiled at him. “I had fun tonight. But no. I need to get home.”

Fortunately, he read her signals and nodded. “Sure. I’ll throw on some clothes and drive you home.”

She got dressed and grabbed her things. They got into his SUV and he drove her the short distance to her house. When he got out and walked her to her door, for a split second she thought about inviting him in. But that would defeat the purpose of putting an end to their night together.

She pulled her keys out of her purse, unlocked the door, then turned to him. “Tonight was amazing.”

He tugged her against him. “I thought so, too. I’ll see you soon.”

Before she could walk inside, he tugged her close and kissed her. She fell into the kiss, making her wish they were still naked and in his bed.

One time with Flynn was definitely not enough. Her body curved into his and wanted more. So much more. She finally had to break the kiss with her heart and pulse pounding and everything within her trembling with desire.

“Good night, Flynn.”


You guys. He’s so adorable.
he's adorable gif

Play by Play

 

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

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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 the Author

jaciburton1_800px_300dpi
WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | TUMBLR | GOODREADS

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Jaci Burton is happy to be living her dream of writing passionate contemporary romance. She has written over seventy-five novels to date. Jaci has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business that she is delighted not to be using in her previous life of corporate management. She grew up in Missouri, migrated to California, but has been happily making her home in Oklahoma for the past fifteen years with her husband and dogs. She enjoys being outdoors in the summer and she and her husband are avid Harley riders.

Jaci was honored with the RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award as well as their Reviewers Choice Award. She has been a finalist in the Bookseller’s Best and National Reader’s Choice Awards, and has won The Romance Studio’s CAPA Award four times.

Jaci is a member of Romance Writers of America.

You can find Jaci on the web at the following locations:

Website: jaciburton.com

Facebook: facebook.com/AuthorJaciBurton
Twitter: twitter.com/jaciburton
Instagram: instagram.com/jaciburton

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