Tag: Pocket Books

Guest Review: At Close Range by Laura Griffin

Posted January 25, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 8 Comments

Guest Review: At Close Range by Laura GriffinReviewer: Jen
At Close Range (Tracers, #11) by Laura Griffin
Series: Tracers #11
Also in this series: Deep Dark
Published by Pocket Books
Publication Date: January 31st 2017
Genres: Police Procedural, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 368
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

New York Times bestselling author Laura Griffin “delivers the goods” (Publishers Weekly) again with the eleventh title in the gritty, heart-pounding Tracers series.
When a lakeside tryst ends in a double murder, police detective Daniele Harper arrives on the scene determined to get answers. Clues are everywhere, but nothing adds up. Dani turns to the Delphi Center crime lab for help, but soon regrets it when her secret attraction to their chief firearms examiner threatens to distract her from the most important case of her career.
As a ballistics expert and former Navy SEAL, Scott Black knows firearms, and he knows he can help Dani unravel her case. Scott has managed to hide his interest in his best friend’s younger sister for years, but when her investigation brings them together, the sparks between them quickly get out of control. Scott resolves to keep his hands off Dani and his eyes on the goal—identifying a killer. But when that killer zeroes in on Dani, all bets are off. There isn’t a line Scott won’t cross to convince Dani to trust him so that he can help her take down a ruthless murderer who has her in his sights.

Tracers book 11! This time we’re largely back on the police side of investigations, following detective Dani Harper as she investigates a double homicide. She gets forensic help from various experts at the Delphi Center, including Scott Black. Scott is her brother’s friend, a former SEAL, and a guy she’s had a low key crush on for years. Scott too has some pants-feelings for her, but he’s mostly stayed away because of his friend, he’s not good enough, you know the drill. The homicide case quickly gets much more complicated than anyone expected, and both Dani and Scott end up right in the middle of it all. They have to navigate their attraction while trying to put a stop to the killings.

This was the kind of book where I mostly enjoyed it while I was reading it, but after I put it down some things started bothering me. It was fairly fast paced and exciting. The first two murders turn out to be just the tip of the iceberg, and I liked that Griffin kept things interesting and exciting throughout. There’s no “figuring out” for the reader to do, but you do come along for the ride as Dani, Scott, and the rest of the police uncover details. I definitely got hooked and wanted to know how it all would be resolved. It was great to catch up with some past characters, and we get to meet another Delphi Center employee, Brooke, who I assume is going to be a future heroine. I am very intrigued by her so far!

There were quite a few weak points in the book for me, though. Like I said, while I was reading the book I was into the plot, but after I was done I couldn’t help thinking that some of the details were kind of ridiculous or unresolved. The villains have a really complicated plan that didn’t entirely make sense to me – it seemed far fetched.

I also wasn’t entirely feeling the romance. Scott is a really private, stoic guy. He seems to have PTSD or some other mental/emotional issues as a result of his combat experiences, but that’s just kind of glossed over. He and Dani have a lot of sex but do very, very little talking. Dani admits she really hasn’t spent much time with Scott after he came back from combat, so who is she really in love with? The kid/teen version of Scott she knew in the past, or the adult with piles of baggage and severe communication issues? Scott jerks her around a lot, acting like she’s just a fling and and saying some cruel things to her. He knows he’s hurting her but he selfishly continues doing it because he wants to, and I didn’t love that about him. Then the ending was also rushed, and Scott suddenly flips and is Mr. Commitment. It wasn’t entirely unsatisfying, but I would have preferred more build up. Plus, just like the hero in Beyond Limits (book 8), Scott steamrolls Dani and tries to take over her investigation. There was even a near-repeat of the moment I hated from book 8, where Scott grossly violates investigation protocol in a way that could get Dani in serious trouble, and instead of holding him accountable she caves and sleeps with him. I wanted Dani to stand up for herself a bit more, and I wanted Scott to acknowledge he was being a dick, but that didn’t happen.

Despite the problems, I still had a good time reading the book! The characters were interesting, the investigation details fascinating, and the plot fast paced. I think other Tracers fans will enjoy it too.

Grade: 3.75 out of 4

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

 

four-stars

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Guest Review: First Step Forward by Liora Blake

Posted January 17, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 3 Comments

Guest Review: First Step Forward by Liora BlakeReviewer: Tracy
First Step Forward by Liora Blake
Series: Grand Valley #1
Also in this series: First Step Forward
Published by Pocket Books
Publication Date: November 29th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
five-stars

Pro-football player Cooper Lowry is off the field and into some trouble—in the form of a very alluring, very free-spirited apple orchard owner named Whitney Reed—in the first installment in Liora Blake’s all new Grand Valley series.

After eight seasons playing pro-football, Cooper Lowry knows all the right answers.

Is he stubborn, short-tempered, and impatient? Yes. Are jersey chasers more trouble than they’re worth? Absolutely. Has he ever imagined a life beyond the game? Nope.

Cooper has built an enviable career—the result of staying focused, working hard, and keeping his head on straight—even as his body takes the brunt. So when a hard hit during a Sunday home game leaves him in a dazed heap on the field, it’s nothing more than another day at the office. The only thing that’s different about this Sunday is a chance encounter with a certain fascinating, beautiful free-spirited woman. And some sternly-worded instructions from his coach to take a little time off and give his body the TLC it craves—before he does lasting damage.

Whitney Reed is a few months away from losing the organic fruit orchard she bought three years ago in the tiny town of Hotchkiss, Colorado. At the time, she was just looking for a place to get lost. Instead, she found a home, somewhere she could finally put down roots. Now foreclosure is knocking on her door—along with a grumpy, gorgeous football player who might be just what she never knew she needed.

Cooper Lowry is a professional football player who is a “veteran” on the team.  He’s been in the NFL for 8 years and while his body is in top shape he’s definitely not as young as he used to be.  At one game he gets tackled and ends up with a concussion.  He is in the drugstore attempting to buy a large bag of Epsom salt but is having difficulty moving his body because his head hurts so badly.  He is assisted by a hippie looking woman who is in old man flannel pajamas and socks – who’s absolutely beautiful.  He pays for both his and her items, as a thank you, and goes on his way.  The next day he runs into her and is even more enthralled with her.

Whitney Reed is a woman on a mission.  She’s driven to Denver to attempt to get a loan that will save her orchard.  She’s in arears and needs to get the money to save her farm before she has nothing left.  She runs into the man who she helped the night before and finds him even more gorgeous in the daylight than he was in the drugstore.  They talk and she offers him a jar of the apple butter she made and goes on her way.  She doesn’t expect him to show up not long afterward at her home. He’s trying to take it easy with his concussion but all she wants to do is jump him.

The pair are hot for each other from the time they meet.  The longer they spend together the closer they get but Whitney is worried about her orchard and Cooper is worried about his career when he gets hurt yet again.  While Cooper is thinking of a future with Whitney he finds that she’s not being completely honest with him and it eventually causes them each to doubt what they have.

This book.  It was so good!  I almost everything about it.  Was it perfect? No, but there was so much love, laughter, romance, and reality to truly be a great book.

Cooper and Whitney had such a fabulous chemistry between them right from the beginning that it grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.  I loved reading about them and their experiences; they were so damned cute together!  Cooper was a fabulous blend of cocky, stubborn, loving man to Whitney’s hippie, organic, tree hugging relaxed self.  Of course she was a bit stressed because of the whole orchard foreclosure issue but other than that she was pretty relaxed.  Despite the differences between the two got along really well and had a great spending time together.

The humor, the love and the wonderful writing by Liora Blake made this a five star read for me.  I recommend that you don’t miss this one.

Rating: 5 out of 5

five-stars

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Retro Review: A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught.

Posted January 11, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 44 Comments

Retro Review: A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught.Reviewer: Rowena
A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught
Series: Westmorelands #1
Published by Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books
Publication Date: July 1st 2003
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 438
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Abducted from her convent school, headstrong Scottish beauty Jennifer Merrick does not easily surrender to Royce Westmoreland, Duke of Claymore. Known as "The Wolf"; his very name strikes terror in the hearts of his enemies. But proud Jennifer will have nothing to do with the fierce English warrior who holds her captive, this handsome rogue who taunts her with his blazing arrogance. Boldly she challenges his will . . . until the night he takes her in his powerful embrace, awakening in her an irresistible hunger. And suddenly Jennifer finds herself ensnared in a bewildering web . . . a seductive, dangerous trap of pride, passion, loyalty, and overwhelming love.

***As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

This week, we’re going back to the author that started my love of romance novels, Judith McNaught. I remember this review and all of the fighting commenting we did in the comments. What a lively bunch we are…ha! Oh man, the memories…***

This review was originally posted on May 29, 2007.

Okay so this weekend, while I was in the midst of reading all these books while waiting to read my book book, I did a reread of this book, A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught.

Now in our little circle of friends, this is the book that brings out the claws. I kid you not, we have gotten into some serious fight emails (in ALL CAPS y’all) about this book and the heroine. While some of us think that Jenny was a stupid beeyatch who deserved all the crap that she got, we still think she was redeemable in the end, there are others who think otherwise. They’re the ones that think Jenny should have died a slow death where she was tortured, hanging over a fire pit, being slow roasted.

LOL.

And as I was reading this book, this past weekend I found myself being just as absorbed in this story as I was the many other times I’ve read this book.

I found myself falling deeper and deeper under the Royce Westmoreland spell and I thought this book was fantastically written. The emotions Judith McNaught envoked in the readers toward the characters, pulled them deep into the story and made them apart of it, made them hate the bad guys (and the good guys) and made them hungry with the thirst of justice (for poor Thor and William) and I’ve got to say that Judith McNaught sure knows what she’s doing when she writes these books.

She’s a master at weaving a world that sparks such interesting topics and discussions. I mean, I’ve never fought with anyone like I did with Izzy and Holly over the whole Jenny thing and I admit to poking fun at them, deliberately provoking them into getting all huffy and puffy about Jenny and her actions.

It’s really fun, to read this book and roll my eyes and get that nervous twitch in my stomach when I knew Jenny was going to do something stupid, like sew the soldiers clothes shut or carve Royce’s face with his own knife, then you know, THE scene where she did what she did to Thor? And then when she hesitated over Royce’s lance when he approached her for her ribbon?

sigh

These are the things that made me so angry at Jenny but I didn’t wish Royce ended up with anyone else. I mean, she was stupid but she was very repentant at the end. Yeah, Royce was nearly dead before she got her wits around her to go and put a stop to the slaughtering of her husband, but she DID do it and she truly showed that she did in fact love him with all that she was…

Royce’s speech when he brought Jenny back to his home and introduced him to the servants, sigh I just love it…so much so that I’m going to type it out for you.

Behold your new mistress, my wife. And know that when she bids you, I have bidden you; what service you render her, you are rendering me, what loyalty you give or withhold from her, you give or withhold from me.

swoon

Man but this was a good book, a fantastic book and even though Jenny was a stupid ass, I still loved this book and I will continue to read it over and over again because it’s just that great.

Go on, bring on the vicious words for Jenny, I know you’re just dying to say them…LOL.

Grade: 4.75 out of 5

This book is available from Pocket Books. You can purchase it here.

four-half-stars

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Review: First Step Forward by Liora Blake

Posted December 23, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: First Step Forward by Liora BlakeReviewer: Rowena
First Step Forward by Liora Blake
Series: Grand Valley #1
Also in this series: First Step Forward
Published by Pocket Books
Publication Date: November 29th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 368
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Pro-football player Cooper Lowry is off the field and into some trouble—in the form of a very alluring, very free-spirited apple orchard owner named Whitney Reed—in the first installment in Liora Blake’s all new Grand Valley series.

After eight seasons playing pro-football, Cooper Lowry knows all the right answers.

Is he stubborn, short-tempered, and impatient? Yes. Are jersey chasers more trouble than they’re worth? Absolutely. Has he ever imagined a life beyond the game? Nope.

Cooper has built an enviable career—the result of staying focused, working hard, and keeping his head on straight—even as his body takes the brunt. So when a hard hit during a Sunday home game leaves him in a dazed heap on the field, it’s nothing more than another day at the office. The only thing that’s different about this Sunday is a chance encounter with a certain fascinating, beautiful free-spirited woman. And some sternly-worded instructions from his coach to take a little time off and give his body the TLC it craves—before he does lasting damage.

Whitney Reed is a few months away from losing the organic fruit orchard she bought three years ago in the tiny town of Hotchkiss, Colorado. At the time, she was just looking for a place to get lost. Instead, she found a home, somewhere she could finally put down roots. Now foreclosure is knocking on her door—along with a grumpy, gorgeous football player who might be just what she never knew she needed.

A charming love story for romance and sports fans alike, First Step Forward is a sexy, heartwarming romp perfect for readers of Jennifer Probst, Kristan Higgins, and Julie James.

Liora Blake is a sort of new to me author. I read and enjoyed her True North series so when this book came on to my radar, I knew that I wanted to try it out. I’m happy that I did because Blake wrote a sweet romance between an NFL player and a hippie apple orchard owner that had me smiling throughout the entire book.

Cooper Lowry is a wide receiver in the NFL, playing in Denver and the book opens with him getting wacked pretty hard during a game. He might have a concussion so he’s ordered by the team trainor to take a couple of days and not do a hot damn thing. Get away for a little while and be one with his thoughts before reporting back to work. The time off finds Cooper heading to Hotchkiss, Colorado where he meets up with a quirky woman that he can’t get out of his mind.

Whitney Reed is on the verge of losing her apple orchard. She’s having money troubles but she’s not going down without a fight. She’s going to apply for every loan and try every thing under the sun before she’ll admit defeat. She’s tenacious and she’s strong and she’ll figure something out. When she meets Cooper Lowry in a liquor store, she didn’t really know who he was and he needed help reaching the bottom shelf so she offers her assistance. She is immediately attracted to him because he’s hot stuff and looks strong and he totally does it for her but when she leaves Denver to head home, she doesn’t think she’ll ever see him again so she was prepared to put him behind her. That wasn’t going as well as she’d hope but when he shows up on her doorstep, she’s surprised and also happy because she wants to jump his bones. She’s so glad that he seems to want to jump hers too.

What a great romance this turned out to be. Their problems were real life problems and they fumbled their way through each situation that came their way but what I really liked about this was how once they realized that they had feelings for each other, they didn’t shy away from feeling them. They were grown ups about everything and yeah, they weren’t perfect but they were a charming set of characters anyway.

I’m curious about who will get their story told next because I didn’t really catch on to any story set ups. I’m hoping that Garrett will get his own book but that’s all I can think of, off the top of my head.

This was a sweet romance that really dug its way into my heart and I’m glad that I read it. I’m looking forward to more from this series.

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars

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Sunday Spotlight: First Step Forward by Liora Blake

Posted November 20, 2016 by Rowena 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

I have read and enjoyed a few of Liora Blake’s books so I’m really looking forward to digging into my eARC of this book. First Step Forward is the first book in Blake’s new Grand Valley series. I’m thrilled to be featuring this book on this week’s Sunday Spotlight. It promises to be another good one from Blake. 🙂

first-step-forward

First Step Forward by Liora Blake
Series: Grand Valley #1
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: November 29, 2016
Publisher: Simon Schuster, Pocket Books

Pro-football player Cooper Lowry is off the field and into some trouble—in the form of a very alluring, very free-spirited apple orchard owner named Whitney Reed—in the first installment in Liora Blake’s all new Grand Valley series.

After eight seasons playing pro-football, Cooper Lowry knows all the right answers.

Is he stubborn, short-tempered, and impatient? Yes. Are jersey chasers more trouble than they’re worth? Absolutely. Has he ever imagined a life beyond the game? Nope.

Cooper has built an enviable career—the result of staying focused, working hard, and keeping his head on straight—even as his body takes the brunt. So when a hard hit during a Sunday home game leaves him in a dazed heap on the field, it’s nothing more than another day at the office. The only thing that’s different about this Sunday is a chance encounter with a certain fascinating, beautiful free-spirited woman. And some sternly-worded instructions from his coach to take a little time off and give his body the TLC it craves—before he does lasting damage.

Whitney Reed is a few months away from losing the organic fruit orchard she bought three years ago in the tiny town of Hotchkiss, Colorado. At the time, she was just looking for a place to get lost. Instead, she found a home, somewhere she could finally put down roots. Now foreclosure is knocking on her door—along with a grumpy, gorgeous football player who might be just what she never knew she needed.

A charming love story for romance and sports fans alike, First Step Forward is a sexy, heartwarming romp perfect for readers of Jennifer Probst, Kristan Higgins, and Julie James.

Pre-Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || KOBO

Excerpt

In Whitney’s bedroom, the space feels claustrophobic. Between my keyed-up state and the actual small dimensions of the room, a nervy energy permeates the air.

A dark, hulking, ornately carved bureau is pushed against one wall and a matching dressing table is along the opposite wall, both of them crowding the space. A queen bed sits in the middle and it’s the only thing that doesn’t look ten decades old; it’s just a box spring and mattress set on a flimsy metal frame, covered by a light blue comforter—the kind of setup your parents send you off to college with, cheap and basic. Le’s hope that the stark contrast between this economy bed and the rest of the furniture means we aren’t sleeping on the dead old lady’s bed.

Whitney is sitting cross-legged in the middle of the bed, facing me, her hands clasped loosely as she toys with her fingers. The sight of her, looking just the smallest bit nervous but still self-assured, adds to the sensation that the walls are slowly collapsing the room in on us. Closer and closer, until we inevitably land on top of each other.

I make it to the edge of the bed and stop. She draws back the comforter on one side of the bed, a wordless encouragement for me to take that spot. I take a deep breath.

“I can’t sleep in my clothes.”

“OK.”

“I won’t be able to sleep.”

“OK.” Whitney stretches her arms out behind her and leans back, lazily. “Naked? Is that what you’re driving at?”

When her expression becomes a playful mix of goading and hopeful, my entire body turns toward high alert.
“Not naked. Just boxers.”

She nods and continues to sit there, waiting for the show, it seems. My heart lurches into my throat because I suddenly feel like it’s my first day on the job as a male stripper and I’ve just realized I’m going to suck at this job. Even if I spend every Sunday on national television, this display, in front of this woman, is entirely nerve-racking. If we were going at it, stripping and tugging and wrestling each other’s clothes off, Id be in my comfort zone. But Whitney’s scrutiny, the odd self-consciousness it brings on, is new to me.

She wets her lips with a dart and sweep of her tongue. Instinct takes over, and I yank the button on my jeans open, pull the zipper down, and manage to tug my socks off at the same time that I shuck the jeans. I latch on to the back of my shirt, grasping the neckline to pull it off.

Then it’s just me, standing here in my dark gray boxer briefs, waiting for what’s next. All I can think about is this line from a movie my high school girlfriend insisted we watch on repeat.

I’m also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.

Fucking Hugh Grant movies. They’re like the earworms of romantic comedies. I’m stuck in place, half-hard, and all I can think is: I’m just a boy, standing in front of a girl, asking her to do something, anything, to make his cock stop hurting.

Seriously. Fuck off, Hugh Grant.

I suck in a deep breath and hold it for a moment. Whitney lazes her head to one side as she runs her gaze over me.

“Huh.” Her brow furrows, perplexed.

That’s not the reaction I usually get when I strip down. I mean, let’s be honest, I work out for a living. I consume thirty-fie hundred quality, clean, lean calories a day and have eight percent body fat. I’ve made the pages of the ESPN The magazine’s Body Issue three times. I’m definitely not a couch potato and Whitney sounding disappointed isn’t the response I was hoping for.

She rights her head and rises up on her knees, then starts toward me, shuffling forward until she’s at the edge of the bed and resting back on her heels.One of her hands starts to trace a meandering pattern across my abs, using just the pads of her fingers. My cock reacts, going thick and heavy, until I’m fully erect so quickly it’s embarrassing. She has to have noticed, unless she somehow happens to be hopelessly farsighted— but I’m guessing there’s not much luck of that. Probably looked like some lame nature documentary, those time lapse sequences of flowers and caterpillars growing to full size in five seconds.

Her fingers dip low enough to tick the top edge of my boxers and if she isn’t careful, she’s going to end up sweeping across the tip of my dick, because I’m nearly escaping the upper band. She stops tracing and looks up, then taps a spot in the center of my stomach with her index finger.

“I was convinced that when you took your shirt off, I’d find a little blue thundercloud with raindrops,” she taps again, “right here.”

I let out a grunt. “What the hell are you talking about?”

“Like Grumpy Bear. The grouchy Care Bear.” She sighs and presses her open hand to my stomach. “I guess these abs will have to do.”

My pelvis tips forward, almost unconsciously, because I want her to start using her fingers again.

“I’m not always grouchy.”

Probably doesn’t help my argument that my tone is closer to a snarl than necessary. Her hand barely moves, heating the spot where she’s letting her palm rest.

She laughs softly. “Of course not. Sometimes you’re a little ray of sunshine, I bet.”

I push my hips out again and ball my hands into fists at my sides. She begins grazing each individual ab, using both hands and all her fingers now, snaking a lazy trail to what currently feels like the center of the entire fricking universe.

“Tell me one thing that makes you happy, Cooper. Turns you inside out from liking it so much. Always makes you smile like a little kid. And you can’t say football—that’s too eas—”

I grab her hands, because she just mentioned football and she’s a hairsbreadth away from my cock and I have to stop her before she closes the gap. Should have slept in my goddam truck. I knew this would happen, that the two of us in this house together would lead to wandering hands—but the restless, greedy parts of my mind wanted it too much to let rational reasoning win out.

But on Friday, I have to show up at team headquarters and prove to Hunt that I’m ready. I need a decent night’s sleep and a safe drive home tomorrow. Anything that might derail those objectives is off the table. Right now, no matter how much I want her, the big picture of my career takes priority.

Whitney takes a long breath in and I realize that her body has gone rigid, so edgy that I can feel the tension radiating from her hands. She’s nervous or scared, I can’t tell which, but if I don’t explain myself, I’m bound to make it worse.

“I have a concussion,” I blurt out, a hell of a lot louder than the acoustics of this tiny room require.
Her hands flex in mine for a moment, then go so limp that I have to tighten my grip to keep ahold of her.

“Excuse me?”

She moves to pull away and I let her go, even when I hate the way she creeps back just enough that it’s clear she wants more space between us and all I want is less of it. I push out a short, gusting breath.

“A guy named Stinger knocked me on my ass in Sun-day’s game and I ended up with a concussion from it. That call I got earlier was my team trainer, checking in. He told me to get out of town and take it easy because if I don’t get some rest and prove that my stupid brain is healed, I’ll have to sit out the next game.”

Whitney’s body slumps and her mouth drops open like she’s not sure what to say. I have to add one more piece of information, just in case she thinks taking it “easy”’ is my way of setting up a slow round of sex, all lovemaking style with a light jazz soundtrack to suit, a little Kenny G to set the right mood.

“So, I can’t—I can’t do anything . . . vigorous.”

That sounded stupid. Vigorous. Straightforward probably would have been a better approach.

Look, you can clearly see that my dick is so hard I could fell one of your apple trees with it. I want you. But I think that you and I aren’t going to be very good at keeping it mellow and gentle. We’re bound to break some furniture, bruise each other in some amazing ways, and turn my concussion into a full-blown aneurysm. Can’t risk it. Please put some pants on. I’ll just go sleep in the root cellar.

“I can’t fucking believe you.” Whitney drops the weakest, most pathetic punch ever, to my stomach.
“What don’t you understand about ‘I have a concussion’? Then ou go and punch me?”

“Exactly. You should have said something about that—oh, I don’t know—eight flipping hours ago! Instead, you spend all this time giving me a bunch of hot, smoldering looks while manspreading your way around my house, and I’m thinking there’s going to be some wocka-wocka action between us. But the whole time you knew nothing could happen.”

She lands another gnat-like swing. “Which makes you a tease, Cooper Lowry.” She gives a side-glance at nothing in particular, merely a moment for her to regroup, it seems, because she starts in again.

“And I let you carry in a bunch of heavy boxes when you shouldn’t be doing anything vigorous. We walked around in the cold for an hour, a teenage boy was this close to injuring you with a wily handsaw, you didn’t eat any-thing but an apple until an hour ago, and I don’t think I saw you drink any water today. Now you’re probably de-hydrated, and that’s just peachy for a head injury. You’re a bullheaded, stupid pain in the ass.”

She has to take a deep breath to recover. I wait for her to calm down, lest I risk another pitiful punch from her.

“You done?”

“No. Who is this ‘Stinger’ person? I’m pretty sure I hate him. I’ll give him a concussion.”

Her expression is the best combination of pissed off, indignant, sad, and worried. Even if I’m still hard and doing this might make it worse, I just want to lie on top of her and see if I can get her entire body wrapped up in mine, close enough to hold her in a full-body bear grip. Because hating on Stinger is her gut-check reaction to my revelation, not caring if I can’t play, not worrying that the pro ball player standing in front of her is on the receding edge of his career. I’m not a meal ticket or a bankroll; I’m not my contract or my jersey. She just thinks I’m a pain in the ass. God, she’s fucking fantastic.

“I’m not a big fan of him, either. But I love that you’re getting all wound up to defend my honor. Good thing the big bruise he left on my back is almost gone.”

She scrunches up her face and leaps off the bed to inspect my back. A gasp is followed by a snarl, when she finds the remaining evidence of where Stinger’s knee nearly burst my appendix. Then her hands are on my ass, but not in a particularly good way, because she’s primarily just shoving on me. I lurch forward a bit, taken off guard for a second, but find my balance enough to shoot a look over my shoulder.

“If you aren’t in that bed, under the covers with your eyes closed, in the next fie seconds, Cooper, I’m going to put you there.”

I let out a huge laugh. “I’d love to see you try.”

“Five, four, three . . .” She stops when I pull back the top sheet and slip under the covers. Hands on her hips, she gives a short nod. “Good boy.”

That shit would normally find her flat on her back, me on top and wrestling her hands above her head so I can prove that I’m no boy. I settle for reaching out and grabbing a fistful of her pj top and giving it a yank. She half-stumbles onto the mattress and lands in an awkward straddle over me.

Her face is right next to mine and I can tell that her top is shoved up enough to leave her uncovered in the best places. I put both of my hands to work, one snaked up through her hair to rest at her neck, the other sliding across her hip until I’ve got my fingers tucked under the top edge of her panties.

Text copyright © 2016 by Liora Blake. Published by Pocket Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Printed with permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.


Well alrighty then. This sounds like my kind of story. I’m so definitely in for this one.

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About the Author

liora-blake

Liora Blake

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Liora Blake is a contemporary romance author living in Colorado. When she isn’t writing, she’s likely baking cookies she shouldn’t eat, inventing elaborate excuses to avoid going for a run, or asking the nice barista to sell her another quad-shot Americano.

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