Tag: Excerpts

Sunday Spotlight: Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon by Kerrelyn Sparks

Posted April 8, 2018 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

Last year I was introduced to Kerrelyn Sparks. The Embraced follows a group of adopted sisters as they discovered they have elemental or magical powers. I really enjoyed the previous books in the series and I’m looking forward to this one.

Sunday Spotlight: Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon by Kerrelyn SparksEight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon (The Embraced, #3) by Kerrelyn Sparks
Series: The Embraced #3
Also in this series: How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days (The Embraced, #1), So I Married a Sorcerer (The Embraced, #2), So I Married a Sorcerer (The Embraced, #2), Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon (The Embraced, #3)

Publication Date: March 27th 2018
Point-of-View: Historical Romance, Paranormal Romance, Fantasy
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Romance, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 448
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

From the brilliant imagination of Kerrelyn Sparks comes a bold new fantasy romance series in which passion and magic collide. Behold the Embraced…

Gwennore has a talent. An Elf able to track down the cause of an illness and heal it, she’s a valuable asset to her people. But when the kidnapping of a young girl thrusts Gwennore into the very heart of the realm of the dragons, she discovers not only a place of power and magic, but also a haunted land, plagued by an ancient curse that all but ensures extinction to the royal family. But when she meets the smoldering General Silas Dravenko, they strike a bargain—save the country from its cursed illness, and he will return the kidnapped girl. She’s been raised never to trust a dragon, but never did making a deal with the devil feel so good…

Silas has no way of curing the family he’s loyally served for years. But when a beautiful elf, long considered the enemy of the dragons, comes bursting into his world, Silas is awakened to passion and desire in a way he’s never felt before. But can he trust a sworn enemy to save the very existence he holds dear? And can their love survive those that threaten to tear them apart?

Order the Book:

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Excerpt

fluff, she thought about wishing for that magical world where the tall and handsome stranger was waiting for her. But what were the chances of that actually happening? It made more sense to wish for something that could possi- bly come true. A long and happy life for Eviana and Eric.

“I’m weady!” the little girl announced.

“Me, too!” Gwennore took a big breath and started to gently blow.

Eviana huffed and puffed, spitting more than blowing, then giggled as white florets detached from the flower head and floated away on a breeze. “We did it!” She danced about. “Guess what I wished for!”

“Ye shouldn’t say, or it won’t come—”

“I wished you not be sad.”

Gwennore stiffened. Good goddesses, was she so obvious that even a three-year-old could tell? “Ye think I’m sad?”

Eviana nodded. “ ’Cause we get pwesents, and you don’t. But I’ll give you some fwowers, too.”

Gwennore smiled. “That’s very sweet of you, but ye needn’t worry. My birthday will happen in the fall at the Autumn Embrace. I have the same birthday as yer papa. And Brigitta, Maeve, and Brody.”

“Weally?”

“Yes. Really.”

Eviana clapped her hands together. “Then we can have another party?”

Gwennore nodded. “Now let’s get some flowers for Sorcha, so we can head back to camp.”

“All wight!” Eviana skipped away, stopping every now and then to pluck a flower.

A large shadow swept over them, and Gwennore glanced up. Good goddesses! Her heart lurched.

Dragon.

She scrambled to her feet. What was a Norveshki dragon doing here? Was that what had been circling them? Why would it be interested in her? Not me. Icy-cold terror crept into Gwennore’s bones, freezing her for a few seconds. Eviana. Dragons were known for kidnapping small children.

With a shriek, the dragon swooshed down. Fire burst from its mouth and hit the ground, creating a wall of fire between the hill and the encampment. Heavenly god- desses, it was cutting them off!

“Eviana!” Gwennore dashed toward the little girl. She would grab her and run for the nearby forest. There, the larger trees could shelter them from the dragon’s view.

Eviana’s eyes grew wide with terror, and the flowers tumbled from her hand. She turned and ran. Away from the forest.

“Nay!” Gwennore struggled to catch up with her. The dragon swooped down.

Gwennore heard the beating of its wings and its breath huffing just above her head. She reached out a hand to grab Eviana, but the dragon shoved her with its powerful back legs, flattening her facedown on the ground. She barely caught her breath before she saw the talons of the dragon’s forelegs curl around Eviana.

With a squeal, the little girl squirmed.

“Eviana!” Gwennore scooted forward on her elbows while the dragon hovered a few inches above her. She seized its talons and attempted to pull them back. But they only tightened, digging into Eviana’s skin till beads of blood blossomed on the girl’s white dress.

“Stop it!” Gwennore cried. “Ye’re hurting her!”

Whoosh, whoosh. The air around them stirred as the dragon beat its long, black wings.

It was going to take off! Gwennore frantically yanked at its talons, but it enveloped the little girl in its forelegs and pulled her tight against its smooth chest.

A bolt of lightning struck the ground just as the dragon rose in the air. Leo was attacking. The ground beneath Gwennore trembled from the impact, and a booming noise deafened her ears.

The dragon rose high enough for her to gain her foot- ing. A sudden blast of wind shoved the dragon to the side, causing it to collide with her and knock her back down. That had to be Brigitta’s husband, using his wind power to attack.

As the dragon struggled to regain its equilibrium, she scrambled to her feet and grasped one of the creature’s forelegs to try to keep it from flying away. If the two kings succeeded in frightening the dragon enough that it re- leased Eviana, she would fall, and it would be dangerous for her to fall more than a few feet.

A second lightning strike ripped past them, then an- other one, dangerously close to the dragon’s head. The air sizzled with energy, buzzing in Gwennore’s ears.

With a screech, the dragon shot up into the air. Gwennore gasped as she was pulled off the ground. Her arms strained, and panic threatened to overwhelm her. Should she let go? No! She couldn’t leave Eviana alone.

Higher and higher, the dragon rose. The people below grew smaller, their screams more distant. The Norva River was now a blue ribbon, winding through a minia- ture forest. Luna and Lessa help her! If she lost her grip, she would plummet to her death.

Another bolt of lightning streaked past them, and she cringed. Poor Leo! He had to be frantic, but what could he do? If he hit the dragon directly, the shock would kill his daughter. And if Ulfrid used his wind power to make the dragon crash into the ground, Eviana would die.

“Gwennie,” Eviana whimpered.

“I’m here!” Gwennore’s arms burned. How long would her strength last? How long could she hold on with this fierce grip before her hands began to cramp?

Don’t think about it. She hissed in a breath between clenched teeth. She had no choice. Letting go would mean death. Letting go would leave Eviana unprotected. “I won’t leave you.”

A squawk sounded in the distance, and she spotted an eagle following them. Brody. Thank you. She wasn’t alone.

But could she hold on all the way to Norveshka? If only there was a way to reason—

Of course! If the dragons worked for the Norveshki army, then that meant they were able to follow orders. They had to understand the Norveshki language.

“Can you hear me?” she yelled in Norveshki. “You must return us immediately!”

No answer, but then how could a dragon reply?

She raised her voice. “You have kidnapped a princess! She’s the daughter of the king and queen of Eberon and the niece of the queen of Tourin. Those countries will declare war on Norveshka! They will attack you!”

The dragon made an angry huffing noise.

“Return us now!” Gwennore screamed. “Return us or hundreds of Norveshki will die. Take us back now!”

Do as she says, brother.

Gwennore flinched as a deep male voice reverberated in her head. Who—what was that?

No, another male voice answered.

She gasped. There were voices in her head? And they were arguing? Goddesses help her, she had to be losing her mind. She twisted in the air, looking around.

Another dragon! It was coming from Norveshka and flying straight toward them.

Is it true what the woman says? the deeper voice asked. Have you taken a princess?

The queen needs a princess, the other one replied.

She was hearing the dragons, Gwennore realized with a shock. The voices were speaking Norveshki, and there was no one else around, other than Brody, who was far behind.

This is a mistake, brother. You must return the child, the deeper voice insisted.

That had to be the newcomer. “He’s right!” Gwennore yelled. “It’s a terrible mistake. Take us back now!”

Silence.

Was it just her imagination, or had she felt the muscles in the dragon’s foreleg flinch? The dragon that was carrying her and Eviana had grown tense.

She heard us, he hissed. The damned elf can hear us!

Stay calm, the newcomer urged him.

No! The dragon shot straight up into the sky.

Gwennore cried out, struggling to keep her grip. The wind buffeted against her, threatening to tear her loose. Good goddesses, the dragon was trying to kill her!

“Gwennie,” Eviana whimpered.

“I’m here!” Tears stung Gwennore’s eyes as the ache in her shoulders and hands became more agonizing.

The dragon went into a series of rolls.

As Gwennore was tossed about, one of her hands slipped loose. No! Luna and Lessa, help me! The dragon used his back legs to kick her loose.

Down, down, she was falling. Dear goddesses, am I going to die? The wind rushed past her ears, mingling with the little girl’s screams. Eviana. I wanted to protect you.

Something dark blocked her vision, then bam! She struck something so hard, it knocked the breath out of her. Stunned, she was unable to think for a moment. Then, with a rush, her mind raced. She was still alive. Black,leathery legs held her suspended in the air.

The Embraced

Giveaway Alert

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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Kerrelyn Sparks

WEBSITE | TWITTER | GOODREADS

Apparently, she has issues with reality. After writing 16 books about vampires and shifters, Kerrelyn has now completely gone off the deep end and wound up on another planet.

Although Kerrelyn is best known (so far) for the Love at Stake series, which has hit as high as number 5 on the New York Times list and 22 on the USA Today list, she hopes her readers will love The Embraced as much as they did her merry band of vamps and shifters.

Kerrelyn lives with her family in the Greater Houston area of Texas. You can visit with her on Goodreads or her Facebook page, where she does a monthly contest. On Twitter, she posts as @KerrelynSparks.


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Sunday Spotlight: Hurts to Love You by Alisha Rai

Posted March 11, 2018 by Rowena in Features | 2 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

Hurts to Love You is the third and final book in the Forbidden Hearts series by Alisha Rai. I’m really sad that this book is closing out the series as I have enjoyed each book a great deal. I’m super excited to share an excerpt from this book today because I adored both Gabe and Eve. Their romance was sweet with just the right amount of steam to keep things interesting so you should definitely check this book out when it releases.

Hurts to Love You comes out on Tuesday, March 27th so be sure to pre-order your copy now or enter our giveaway below for a chance to win your own copy on us.

Sunday Spotlight: Hurts to Love You by Alisha RaiHurts to Love You (Forbidden Hearts, #3) by Alisha Rai
Series: Forbidden Hearts #3
Also in this series: Wrong to Need You (Forbidden Hearts, #2), Hurts to Love You (Forbidden Hearts, #3)
Published by Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: March 27th 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

Being bad never felt so good, in the third novel in Alisha Rai’s sexy Forbidden Hearts series!

Well-behaved women don’t lust after men who love to misbehave.

Heiress Evangeline Chandler knows how to keep a secret . . . like her life-long crush on the tattooed hottie who just happens to be her big brother’s friend. She’s a Chandler, after all, and Chandlers don’t hook up with the help. Then again, they also don’t disobey their fathers and quit their respectable jobs, so good-girl rules may no longer apply.

Gabriel Hunter hides the pain of his past behind a smile, but he can’t hide his sudden attraction to his friend’s sheltered little sister. Eve is far too sweet to accept anything less than forever and there’s no chance of a future between the son of a housekeeper and the town’s resident princess.

When a wedding party forces Eve and Gabe into tight quarters, keeping their hands off each other will be as hard as keeping their clothes on. The need that draws them together is stronger than the forces that should shove them apart . . . but their sparks may not survive the explosion when long-buried secrets are finally unearthed.

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || KOBO

Excerpt

Gabe placed his napkin on the table, relieved he wouldn’t have to choke down any more sweets. Give him bags of potato chips any day. “No thanks necessary, kiddo.”

“No one’s given you grief over my canceling today’s appointments, have they?”

One girl had yelled at him this morning. Gabe didn’t blame her—Livvy’s specialty was watercolor tattoos, and people traveled from all over to see her. But he wasn’t about to tell the overwhelmed bride that now. “Nope. We have it handled. Feel better.”

Gabe and Eve gathered their belongings, Eve shrugging on a light jacket that blessedly covered her lush arms.

Gabe squinted at the spring sunshine when they came outside. The last frost had passed, and the days were growing longer. The perfect weather for a hike, Paul would have said.

Gabe shoved the pang of grief aside. After almost two years, Paul Kane’s death shouldn’t still feel so sharp, but reminders of his old friend often came when he least expected it. They’d grown especially strong since Livvy and Jackson had moved back home. Paul’s younger siblings were nothing like him, but occasionally Livvy would smile or Jackson would roll his eyes, and Gabe would feel a need to excuse himself for a minute or so.

Eve finished typing something on her phone. “I can’t believe we managed to get Chef Jose on such short notice.”

“Is Jackson peeved he doesn’t get to make the cake?” Jackson had a strong aversion to crowds, which was why Gabe was taking his place at Liv- vy’s side in the wedding party. One of her brides- people, as Livvy called them. A world-renowned chef, Jackson was instead handling the food for the event.

“I think between taking care of his café and his mother and making sure Sadia doesn’t wear herself out with wedding planning, Jackson has his hands more than full. He was the one who asked me if we could outsource this. He’d prefer to concentrate on the wedding dinner menu.” Eve tucked her phone into her purse. “Thanks for coming with. I know this task isn’t in your wheelhouse.”

“Is picking cake in your wheelhouse?” It was a genuine question. Prying details out of Eve about her life was like chipping away at a stone tablet. Time-consuming and a little hypnotic.

He might have been raised on the estate that neighbored the Chandlers, had even been best friends with Nicholas, but he’d been so much older than Eve she’d barely registered on his consciousness when they’d been young.

And then the split between the two rich families had happened. Though they’d lived in the same town, his interactions with the Chandlers had been sporadic at best. He’d seen Eve twice over the years—once when she’d come into his shop with a friend, and a second time when she’d been a drunken coed in a bar. He hadn’t viewed her as anything more than a kid either of those times. A lost, shy, vaguely lonely-looking kid.

When grown-up Eve had been reintroduced into his life a month ago, at a lunch Livvy and Nicholas had hosted, that kid was long gone. Her body was curvy, her face innocent yet erotic, with full lips and sleepy eyes. She was buttoned up inside and out, not a single emotion or spare inch of skin visible.

Lust and desire had hit him instantly, but he was a grown-ass man, and he’d tamped it down. Slowly, over the past few weeks, that desire had grown. And now here he was, salivating at the sight of her bare arms.

Good thing you can’t see her ankles. You might straight up die on the spot from lust.

“I do eat a lot of cake.”

He looked down at Eve. She was so sweetly rounded but so much smaller than him. He’d never been particularly attracted to short women, but he imagined she would fit perfectly under his arm.

Imagine is all you’ll ever do. He made his tone deliberately light. “I eat a lot of burgers. Is there a wedding burger that needs to be chosen?”

Another twitch of her lips. “Please don’t give Livvy any ideas. We’re at capacity on what we can whip together in the next week or so.” Her voice was low and throaty. It skimmed over all of his nerves and senses, promising rough and lusty delights.

“I’ll try not to.”

They stopped at her car, a nicely maintained Acura. It was bland and personality-less. As were her clothes, a brown silk shirt and wine pants. She was like a painting framed with the most mundane of wood, but she’d shine no matter what she wore.

You sound like a smitten fool. You’re too old for this.

Was he? No, probably not. But he was definitely too smart for this.

Forbidden Hearts Series

Giveaway Alert

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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Alisha Rai

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

Alisha Rai has been enthralled with romances since she smuggled her first tattered novel home from the library as a teenager. She writes hot and emotionally complex contemporary romance novels and is frequently sought as a speaker on topics such as love in the digital age, sex positivity, and inclusive representation in romance and media.

She is the first author to have an indie-published book appear on Washington Post’s annual Best Books list. Her books have also won the RT Reviewers Choice Award and have received critical attention and rave reviews from sources such as Library Journal, USA Today, BookRiot, Washington Post, Bitter Empire, NPR, and Smart Bitches Trashy Books. Alisha spends most of her time traveling, reading, dreaming up sexy heroes and heroines, and tweeting.

Alisha adores hearing from readers! Feel free to send an email or @ her on Twitter.


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Release Week Spotlight: Lady be Reckless by Megan Frampton

Posted February 26, 2018 by Rowena in Promotions | 11 Comments

Release Week Spotlight: Lady be Reckless by Megan FramptonLady Be Reckless (Duke's Daughters, #2) by Megan Frampton
Series: Duke's Daughters #2
Published by Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: February 27th 2018
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

The Duke’s five daughters have beauty, breeding, and impeccable reputations. Or at least, they did. Now that two have chosen to follow their hearts, can the others be far behind?

Lady Olivia refuses to repeat her siblings’ scandalous mistakes. Instead, she will marry the lord rejected by her sister and help with his good works. When he resists, Olivia forms another plan: win his lordship’s admiration by helping his illegitimate best friend find a bride. How difficult can it be to transform the rakish Edward Wolcott into a gentleman? To ignore his virile good looks? To not kiss him in a moment of impulsive madness? Apparently, very difficult indeed.

Edward Wolcott promised his ailing father he would marry well, and it appears Lady Olivia wishes to assist him. The sparkling firebrand intends to smooth his way through London’s ballrooms, parlors, and eligible ladies, while all Edward’s thoughts suddenly revolve around bedrooms . . . and Lady Olivia herself.  Only a scoundrel would seduce the duke’s most dutiful daughter. And only a truly reckless lady would risk everything to be in his arms . . .

Megan Frampton’s Lady Be Reckless, the second book in her Duke’s Daughters series releases tomorrow and we’re thrilled to be sharing an excerpt from the book with you lovely readers today.

Excerpt

She was kissing him again. And this time, she didn’t have any excuse except that she wanted to. He froze for a moment, and she had a sudden anxious feeling that he would draw away, an embarrassed expression on his face, and inform her that kissing her was not what he actually wanted to do. That he’d done it the other evening because he’d felt sympathy for her.

But then she felt his hands grasp her waist firmly, and he drew her to him just as firmly so their bodies were pressed up against one another. And he was kissing her passionately, ruthlessly, as though she were a woman who was able to withstand the force of him.

And she was. What was more, she inhaled the force of him, wanting to participate just as fully in this kiss as he was. Learning the taste of his mouth with her tongue, sliding her hands over his shoulders and down his back, flexing her fingers so she could make out his impressive musculature.

Even his back was strong. That shouldn’t surprise her, but it did.

Eventually, her hands returned to the front of his body, and she found her palms running over his chest, wishing she could reach underneath his clothing to touch his skin. Nice though his clothing felt, she imagined he would feel even nicer.

His hands were still at her waist, but his fingers had tightened, and she wondered if he was struggling with the urge to touch her as she was touching him. If she weren’t so intent on kissing him so thoroughly, she’d draw back for a moment and tell him, Yes, please, do touch me in those places that suddenly seem to be clamoring for your fingers. But she wouldn’t, because if she withdrew, he would stop kissing her, and what was more important, she would stop kissing him, and she didn’t want that. Not at all.

The fact that he was leaving shouldn’t make her feel so alone. But it did. And kissing him helped, at least for right now, at this moment.

Then she heard a noise and leapt back from him, glancing around guiltily, hoping nobody had seen them.

“I—” he began, then took one of the hands that had been at her waist and pushed the curls off his forehead. “I did not mean to allow that to happen again.”

“You did not mean for this to happen again?” She rolled her eyes at him, wondering how she’d missed that he was such a dolt. A handsome, curly-haired dolt, but a dolt nonetheless.

“You are not the one who did all this,” she said, gesturing to the space between them. “Let me tell you once and forever, Mr. Wolcott,” she continued, emphasizing his name with a raise of her eyebrow, “there is no one who is in control of me. I chose to kiss you, not the other way around. And may I say, I regret my action, if you were going to claim responsibility for it. But it was my action, not yours.” She drew herself up to her full height, which was still, unfortunately for her, many inches shorter than he, and planted her hands on her hips. Her mother would be appalled at how common Olivia appeared right now, but that didn’t matter. Not when he thought that he had bestowed a kiss on her, as though she were some pitiful supplicant. Was that how he saw her?

“I see I’ve annoyed you, Olivia.” His voice was amused, and of course that irked her further. “I merely wished to draw the blame onto myself, since I know you do not truly wish to kiss me. Because you wish—” And he stopped, a pained expression on his face.

Because you wish you were kissing Bennett, her mind supplied. Even though Bennett—Lord Carson—hadn’t crossed her mind once, and she would need to examine that more thoroughly later. But meanwhile . . .

“Draw the blame onto yourself?” She stepped forward, raising one hand to point a finger at his chest. The chest that had been so intriguing to her just a few minutes ago. “As though I am not responsible for what I do? As though someone might accuse me of something untoward, and you would have to take the blame because of who you are? A man?”

She accompanied the last word with a poke to his body, making him stumble back, likely from surprise since the poke wasn’t that hard.

“A bastard.” He spoke in a quiet tone, and she felt the whoosh of shame flow through her on hearing his words. Hearing the pain and guilt, yes, of his acknowledging what he was—in his own eyes, as well as Society’s.

She dropped her hand as though she had been touching a red-hot poker, twisting her hands together in front of her so she wouldn’t do anything more foolish like touch him comfortingly or, God forbid, kiss him again.

“You are not that,” she said in a furious whisper. “You should not and will not be defined by your birth. And your saying something like that just deflects from what it is that you were saying in the first place—that I was not responsible for my actions because I was not in control. Let me assure you, Mr. Wolcott—Edward—that I am entirely in control.”

“Are you?” he asked, a dangerous tone in his voice. A tone that nonetheless made her shudder in an entirely good way.

“Are you in control when I do this?” and he accompanied his words by drawing her forward back into his arms, and she couldn’t help herself, she raised her arms and wrapped her hands around his neck, stepping closer to him still.

“Or when I do this?” he said in a whisper, his breath on her cheek, his mouth lowering to hers.

“Or this?” he finished as he pressed his lips against hers in a firm, intense, and yes, completely controlling manner.

Dear lord, she might swoon. Or be discovered.

Or lose control.

She wished she were horrified at any of the ideas. But she was absolutely not.

Holy cow, what a scene…what a fantastic scene. I do love when the hero and heroine are wicked with each other. Teasing one another. So good.

This is me right now…

I do hope that you’ve put this book on your wishlist for tomorrow’s release because it promises to be extra good. I can’t wait!

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || GOOGLE || KOBO

Duke’s Daughters Series

Giveaway Alert

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Megan Frampton

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | GOODREADS

Megan Frampton’s love affair with books began when her parents moved her to a remote town in New Hampshire where there was only one television station. And then the TV broke. She devoured every book of fiction in her well-read parents’ library, finding special joy in Georgette Heyer and the fairy tales collected and translated by Andrew Lang. Megan majored in English literature at Barnard College and worked in teh music industry for fifteen years. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband (her former intern) and her kid. (Book jacket, “A Singular Lady”)


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Sunday Spotlight: Maybe This Time by Nicole McLaughlin

Posted February 18, 2018 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 2 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 we’re bringing you an excerpt from Maybe This Time by Nicole McLaughlin. Y’all, the series is called Whiskey and Weddings. How can I resist?

Sunday Spotlight: Maybe This Time by Nicole McLaughlinMaybe This Time (Whiskey and Weddings, #2) by Nicole McLaughlin
Series: Whiskey and Weddings #2
Published by St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: February 27th 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 300
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

Jen Mackenzie has been knocked down more than a few times, but she always gets up and makes sure she has the last word. It’s the reason she now considers herself equal parts self-sufficient and free-spirit. But since losing her job and trying to help her mother beat cancer, real life―and her occasional careless choices―have begun to catch up with her. Her one saving grace: The Stag, a boutique distillery that has become Kansas City’s go-to wedding venue. The only catch: One of the owners, TJ Laughlin, happens to be the one man who somehow manages to make Jen feel inadequate.

TJ has secretly had a thing for Jen since high school. Now, as her new boss, it’s a daily struggle between revealing his feelings and wringing her beautiful neck. Only one thing is for certain: he can’t stand idly by and watch the woman he cares for struggle. She may be convinced that accepting TJ’s help is a weakness. But all he sees in Jen is beauty and strength, inside and out. As things finally heat up between them, can TJ find a way to convince Jen that love is about give and take―and having it all, together?

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || KOBO || iBOOKS || GOOGLE PLAY BOOKS

Excerpt

One

Twelve years earlier

Apparently, blondes did have more fun. Or at least got more attention, Jen Mackenzie thought as she made her way down the main hall of her high school. Three guys had already made lewd comments, she’d received one request for her number, and several girls had given her dirty looks.

And the day was only half over.

The first tardy bell sounded as she took a left toward the history and social sciences wing of Green Hills High School.

“Looking good, Jen,” the best friend of the most popular guy in school said. Did that make him the second-most popular guy? Jen didn’t hang around with—or give two shits about—popularity. It wasn’t for her, so she just gave him the finger and kept on walking.

He laughed in response. “Anytime you want.”

She rolled her eyes, but smirked. She could appreciate a guy that could take it as well as he gave it. Jen was no stranger to male attention. However, she wasn’t used to it being so blatant. Not at school anyway, where she was normally an outcast. Or the kind of girl guys propositioned in secret. But the previous week she’d performed the role of Sandy in her high school’s musical rendition of Grease. Apparently dyeing your normally dark hair blonde, proving you could act and sing, and donning tight-as-hell pants, could turn an obscure emo girl into an overnight sensation. Now the catcalls were loud and proud. Who’d have thought?

Although she was smart enough to know none of it was genuine, not even a jaded and bitter soul such as herself could deny the instinctive pleasure this new attention brought her. It wasn’t that she’d wanted to be a nobody … necessarily. It was just so much easier to not care. Case in point: She was already feeling the pressure from this newfound attention. The blonde hair had to be part of the appeal, and yet, there was no way her mother would give her the money to maintain it. The director’s sister did hair, and so she’d let Jen come to her shop and get a head full of platinum highlights for free. But a few weeks from now she’d be the girl with the nasty dark roots—a clear reminder to her peers that she was not one of them. With a sigh, she picked up her pace as her stomach gave a tiny moan of protest. Don’t you dare humiliate me, stomach.

She’d purposely not eaten lunch for two reasons. One, she didn’t want to risk spilling anything on her top, and two, to ensure she didn’t have bad breath for this hour. And okay, probably a little bit because her lunch account was negative nine dollars. At ten, they held the right to refuse you, depending on the mood of the cashier, and Jen wasn’t willing to risk suffering that humiliation. Not again. Asking her mom for lunch money was only successful when she was in a good mood. Otherwise she’d get the “if you want to eat lunch every day, then get a job” speech. But a job would not allow her to attend rehearsals. A dilemma, but they didn’t call them starving artists for nothing. Someday her talent would pay off.

As Jen approached the door to her fifth-hour Government class, she slowed, trying not to appear overeager. Normally, that would have come naturally. She hated this class. Mr. Timmons was a bore, and she hated the texture of his hair, which looked like a toupee but supposedly wasn’t. All she could do was stare at it all hour to try to see if it moved in conjunction with his head. Incredibly distracting, and several times she considered just raising her hand and asking if he’d just give it a good tug so everyone could finally focus on the three branches of government.

Today, however, she was nervous and excited. Popping a piece of gum in her mouth, she entered the class as the second bell rang, the reason for her anxiety staring back at her from the far row.

TJ Laughlin.

Just the sight of him made her nauseous and tingly. And did he just shift in his seat and look away in disgust? Was he annoyed? The seating arrangement had just changed at the end of class yesterday. Maybe he wasn’t happy, considering he used to sit next to a group of his friends.

“Hey, Jen,” a second-tier popular girl named Renee said from her seat. “Cool hair.”

Jen glanced at her, trying to analyze if it was a sincere compliment. Unable to tell, she replied, “Thanks.” No smile. Better to play it safe and not look foolish.

Making her way to the table she was now sharing with TJ, she pulled out her chair and sat down. He said nothing, but his left leg was bouncing nervously beneath the desk. Her first instincts must have been right.

“Feel free to request to move to another seat,” she said under her breath.

His leg froze as he looked at her. “Why would I do that?”

He almost looked pissed off. She glanced down at his leg. “Either you have to take a piss, or I make you uncomfortable.”

He let out a huff of a laugh and shook his head. “You have no idea.”

That was a vague answer. Before she could demand he clarify, Mr. Timmons was beginning his droll lecture. TJ, having always been a perfect student, wouldn’t appreciate her talking to him during class. Nerd. Except he was a hot, rich nerd. The kind of guy who would never want anything from Jen but what she could give him in fifteen minutes in his car. She was no prude, but she wouldn’t give any guy the satisfaction of looking down on her any more than he already did.

Mr. Timmons went on about Congress, and it wasn’t long before Jen was leaning back in her chair and doodling in her notebook. Anything to take her mind off how good TJ smelled, or how his forearm muscles constricted as he furiously took notes. He was left-handed, and she liked watching the way his wrist curled in as he used his pen. Almost like he was writing upside down.

“The way you write looks messed up,” she whispered.

His hand stilled as he turned to look at her. “I’m left-handed.”

She gave him a long look. “No shit.” She sat up, scooted her chair forward, and leaned on the table, looking at him. She whispered. “Does that mean you jerk off with your left hand?”

“What the…” He turned away, as if to be sure no one overhead her. Redness bloomed on his cheeks and down his neck.

Jen smiled, biting her bottom lip as he faced her once more.

“Why would you ask me that?”

She shrugged. “Just curious. There’s no shame in jacking off, TJ.”

He gave her a side-eye. “I didn’t say there was.”

They stared at each other for a long moment until his eyes finally roamed over the blonde waves framing her face. “You gonna dye it back?” he asked, surprising her.

“I don’t know. Should I?”

He lifted an eyebrow. “Doesn’t really matter. But the blonde isn’t you.”

She wasn’t sure what he meant by that, but she assumed it was because her normal dark brown hair was drab. Just like her. Jen wasn’t meant to be a sweet, beautiful, upbeat, Sandy kind of woman. In fact she’d auditioned for Rizzo, thinking she was a shoo-in. She felt like she was made for the role. But the minute she’d got done singing, the director had stood up, clapped, and said, “I did not expect that voice to come out of you. But I think we have our Sandy.” Nobody had been more shocked than Jen, and probably most of the student body. And she still hadn’t decided if his initial reaction was a compliment or not. She was leaning toward him being a stereotyping jerk, but she did appreciate the part.

Jen looked away, trying to convince herself that TJ’s comment about her hair didn’t sting. From anyone else, it probably wouldn’t. There was no explaining her thing for him, but she knew it went beyond the fact that he was beautiful to look at. They had four classes together this semester, and she often found his eyes glancing away from her, which made her look at him more, always hoping to catch him staring back. It made her feel a little insane and obsessed.

Maybe she was tired of his judgment and subconsciously wanted to convince him that she could make him want her. Stupid her should realize that boys didn’t want girlfriends who talked about pissing and jacking off. They wanted a lady. If only they could see those “ladies” in the locker room. They were all crude, even the popular ones. In fact they might be the worst.

Mr. Timmons stopped in front of their table and handed them each a worksheet titled FROM BILL TO LAW. “Feel free to work together,” he said. He probably thought Jen couldn’t handle the work on her own. Jerk.

“Don’t feel obligated,” she muttered, pulling a pen out of her purse.

TJ scooted his seat to face her a little more. “I don’t, but it would be stupid not to work together and get this finished faster. It’s front and back.”

Jen sighed, covering up her relief. “Fine.”

It didn’t even take them fifteen minutes to get through the entire thing, and she had to admit, he was a good partner. Didn’t try and answer all the questions first. That surprised her.

“You really know this stuff,” TJ said, stuffing his pen into the backpack on the floor at his side.

“I’m not stupid.”

He gave her a long look. “Will you cut it out with the attitude? I never said you were stupid. But considering you drew pictures of fairies all through the lecture, it surprised me how much you knew.”

She stared at him, wondering how he’d managed to see what she’d been drawing. Wondering why he’d been interested. Shrugging, she put her supplies away. “I find government fascinating and also infuriating enough to hold my attention. I read the chapter last night.”

When he didn’t respond, she glanced up at him. God, he was so handsome, his green eyes sparkling, light-brown hair sweeping over his forehead just right. Even his eyebrows were perfectly placed and groomed. Was that natural or did he maintain them? She wanted to ask, but didn’t, because his lopsided smirk was suddenly throwing her off.

“What?” she asked.

He opened his mouth to speak, but they were interrupted by Evan Peterson, Green Hill South football star and ladies’ man. “Hey, you two.”

Jen looked up to find him leaning on their table. It was only a few minutes until the bell rang and Mr. Timmons was busy with something at his desk, so several students had left their seats to socialize.

“What’s up, Peterson?” TJ said dryly. Jen knew the two guys were friends, so TJ’s irritated greeting surprised her. Evan was kind of cute in the rugged jock kind of way, but sooo not her type. Or in her league. He’d recently broke up with Adeline, a varsity cheerleader and total rich bitch. Could anything be more cliché?

Evan smiled at Jen. “Great job last week. I think you had every guy dreaming of you in those tight pants this weekend. You should wear them to school.”

“Jesus, dude. Shut up,” TJ said.

Evan looked at him, confused. “What for? That’s a compliment.” He turned to Jen. “Right? Shit, I never even go to the musicals, but after I heard about how amazing you were, I had to. Didn’t disappoint.”

Jen wouldn’t mind slapping the dickhead in the face, but for some reason she just gave him a tight-lipped smile.

He took her silence as agreement and leaned in closer. “I was kind of wondering. How would you like to go to the dance together next Saturday?”

Jen’s shock was further intensified by the way TJ froze beside her. His bouncing leg once again halted. And had she seriously just been asked out by one of the most popular guys in school? Why did it make her feel a little excited? Maybe because she’d been watching these handsome yet self-absorbed asshats walk these halls for almost four years, looking straight through her the entire time? Probably also because in those four years she’d never been invited to a dance. Which reminded her.

“Isn’t this a Sadie Hawkins dance?”

“Yes. It is.” TJ’s voice was low and stern beside her. She glanced at him, but his eyes were glued to Evan. “Which is why this is stupid.”

Jen looked at her potential date. He just shrugged. “Didn’t want to take the chance. After last week, you’re a hot commodity. Feel free to ask me instead. Laughlin can keep a secret.”

Jen glanced back at TJ, who finally met her eyes. Why did he look mad? Maybe they were all going as a group and he didn’t want her around? The thought pissed her off. No, she was not popular or rich, but she had every right to hang out with whomever the hell she pleased.

She turned back to Evan. “Maybe I will ask you. Better stay on your toes.”

He gave an awkward and obviously stunned laugh. “Alright then, I will. Can’t wait,” he said before walking back to his seat.

Jen and TJ were both quiet in his absence, so she finally picked up her backpack. The bell would ring any second, and she’d be off to Acting 2. Her favorite class. Drama Club and the performances were the only reason she didn’t just drop out of school already.

“You really gonna ask him?”

She glanced over to find TJ staring at her, his own backpack over his shoulder.

“Do you have a problem with that?” Maybe he’d be honest. Her theory was that she was hyperaware of his constant judgement because she herself was so focused on him. He must sense that she had a ridiculous crush on him, and he was trying to subconsciously send her “no fucking way” signals. She knew other students looked down their nose on the weird poor girl, too, but TJ was the one she felt it from. It must be annoying for his friends to be asking her to join their social events.

“Yeah. It does bother me,” he said, his eyes narrowed, brow furrowed. He breathed in hard and blew it out through his nose before glancing up at the clock.

Jen stood there fuming. Screw this guy. There was no point in being attracted to such an asshole any longer. She would be asking Evan to the dance. Maybe it would finally send hot rich boy the message that she was not beneath him.

Yep. Blondes totally had more fun.

Copyright © 2018 by Nicole McLaughlin in Maybe This Time and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

Whiskey and Weddings

Giveaway Alert

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

Nicole McLaughlin

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | GOODREADS

Nicole wrote her first full length book (6 pages) about the birth of her baby sister, when she was eight years old. She only finished it because her mother bribed her with a Rick Astley cassette tape. Sad, but true. Now her characters are what keep her writing and her subject matter has gotten a little bit deeper and a lot more romantic. She resides in a small town outside of Kansas City with her husband and three sons. When she isn’t writing, she’s a wedding and portrait photographer, loves to cook, and watch historical dramas or documentaries.


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Sunday Spotlight: Beyond Scandal and Desire by Lorraine Heath

Posted February 11, 2018 by Rowena in Features, Giveaways | 11 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

Lorraine Heath is a favorite historical romance author of mine so every time that she’s got a release coming out, I’m excited. So many of her books have made me cry or rejoice. They’ve made me feel something and this latest release is no different. Beyond Scandal and Desire tells the story of Mick Trewlove and Lady Aslyn Hastings and it’s a story that will stay with you long after you’ve finished the book.

Sunday Spotlight: Beyond Scandal and Desire by Lorraine HeathBeyond Scandal and Desire (Sins for All Seasons, #1) by Lorraine Heath
Series: Sins for All Seasons #1
Also in this series: Beyond Scandal and Desire, Beyond Scandal and Desire (Sins for All Seasons, #1)
Published by Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: January 30th 2018
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

At birth, Mick Trewlove, the illegitimate son of a duke, was handed over to a commoner. Despite his lowly upbringing, Mick has become a successful businessman, but all his wealth hasn’t satisfied his need for revenge against the man who still won’t acknowledge him. What else can Mick do but destroy the duke’s legitimate son—and woo the heir’s betrothed into his own unloving arms . . .

Orphaned and sheltered, Lady Aslyn Hastings longs for a bit of adventure. With her intended often preoccupied, Aslyn finds herself drawn to a darkly handsome entrepreneur who seems to understand her so well. Surely a lady of her station should avoid Mick Trewlove. If only he weren’t so irresistible . . .

As secrets are about to be exposed, Mick must decide if his plan for vengeance is worth risking what his heart truly desires.

Holly and I are reviewing this book together so you’ll be reading that on the blog soon but you should know that we both…loved it.

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || KOBO

Excerpt

“Sometimes I yearn to rebel against proper behavior . . .”

“Why don’t you?” Mick asked.

“Scandal would serve me no good. Lord Kipwick would be disappointed in me.”

“Why is he not here?”

“The park bores him.”

“I would suffer through any dull activity to be at the side of a woman who interests me.”

That blush again, accompanied by a fluttering of her eyelashes that he suspected had nothing at all to do with flirtation.

“Is there not some part of you, some deep dark part of you, that longs for scandal?” Mick asked, watching in fascination as she swallowed.

Giveaway Alert

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

Lorraine Heath

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

Lorraine Heath has always had a soft spot for emotional love stories. No doubt because growing up, watching movies with her mom, she was taught that the best movies “won’t half make you cry.”

She is the daughter of a British beauty (her mom won second place in a beauty contest sponsored by Max Factor® during which she received a kiss from Caesar Romero–Joker on the original Batman TV series) and a Texan who was stationed at Bovingdon while serving in the air force. Lorraine was born in Watford, Hertfordshire, England, but soon after moved to Texas. Her “dual” nationality has given her a love for all things British and Texan, and she enjoys weaving both heritages through her stories.

When she received her BA degree in psychology from the University of Texas, she had no idea she had gained a foundation that would help her to create believable characters—characters that are often described as “real people.” Her novels have appeared on bestseller lists, including USA Today, Waldenbooks, and most recently, the New York Times.


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