Tag: St. Martin’s Press

Review: Every Time You Go Away by Beth Harbison

Posted August 7, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Every Time You Go Away by Beth HarbisonReviewer: Rowena
Every Time You Go Away by Beth Harbison
Published by St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: July 25, 2017
Point-of-View: First, Third
Genres: Women's Fiction
Pages: 336
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Goodreads
three-stars

In New York Times bestselling author Beth Harbison's most emotional novel ever, a fractured family must come together at a beach house haunted by the past.

Willa has never fully recovered from the sudden death of her husband, Ben. She became an absent mother to her young son, Jamie, unable to comfort him while reeling from her own grief.

Now, years after Ben’s death, Willa finally decides to return to the beach house where he passed. It’s time to move on and put the Ocean City, Maryland house on the market.

When Willa arrives, the house is in worse shape than she could have imagined, and the memories of her time with Ben are overwhelming. They met at this house and she sees him around every corner. Literally. Ben’s ghost keeps reappearing, trying to start conversations with Willa. And she can’t help talking back.

To protect her sanity, Willa enlists Jamie, her best friend Kristin, and Kristin’s daughter Kelsey to join her for one last summer at the beach. As they explore their old haunts, buried feelings come to the surface, Jamie and Kelsey rekindle their childhood friendship, and Willa searches for the chance to finally say goodbye to her husband and to reconnect with her son.

Every Time You Go Away is a heartfelt, emotional story about healing a tragic loss, letting go, and coming together as a family.

This book was a very emotional book and I was expecting emotion but not the drag me down in the pits of despair kind. I was expecting and really wanting a more romantic story where we see a lot of reflection and growth on Willa’s part but this wasn’t that kind of story and that bummed me out. Actually, it was that kind of story but it was a lot more Debbie Downer than I hoped.

So this story is told through Willa and her son Jamie’s POV’s and Willa’s part of the story is told in first person while Jamie’s is in third. That took some getting used to but it did get easier, the more I read so that wasn’t really an issue for me but my romantic heart wanted some kind of romance for Willa but sadly, this is all Women’s Fiction so none of that.

Willa’s husband died and he was the love of her life. Her life is not the same and she’s kind of wandering from day to day with no real idea of what to do now. She’s trying to hold it together for her son Jamie but she’s so consumed with grief that it’s hard for her. She hasn’t returned to the place where he died and doesn’t really want to until the time comes for her to clean that place up and get it sold off so that she can put the past to rest and finally move on toward the future. She enlists her best friend’s help and Jamie and her best friend’s daughter come through to help as well.

This book reminded me of the movie Ghost because Ben shows up to help Willa move on and while I thought it was sweet, the story moved too slow for my liking. I found myself browsing through chapters before digging in to read and normally, I could just jump right in and fall right in but that wasn’t the case with this one. I’m sure that it was probably a mood thing where I wasn’t in the mood for a really heavy, emotional story but I did finish it so that was something. I enjoyed the way that everything came together and I did like the characters and the small romance that we got for Jamie but because the book moved slow and was so heavy, my grade for this one is firmly set in the 3 out of 5 stars camp.

Grade: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Dark Alpha’s Hunger by Donna Grant

Posted August 5, 2018 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 1 Comment

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

Sunday Spotlight: Dark Alpha’s Hunger by Donna GrantDark Alpha's Hunger (Reapers) by Donna Grant
Series: Reaper #6
Published by St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Paranormal Romance
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Dark Alpha's Hunger is the sixth paranormal romance novel in New York Times bestselling author Donna Grant's Reapers series featuring a brotherhood of elite assassins who wage war on the Fae at Death's behest--and the women who change their hearts.

There is no escaping a Reaper. I am an elite assassin, part of a brotherhood that only answers to Death. And when Death says your time is up, I’m coming for you…

Where Death leads, I follow. Nothing will stop me from my duty – not even the darkness that claims me. It’s the music that leads me from the dark, returning me to my brethren and a new foe that has risen. Learning who hunts Thea could be the key to unraveling what we need to know to defeat our enemy. The Half-Fae’s music stirs a passion within me that I’ve never known. For her, I will break my vow of silence. For her…I will risk everything.

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || KOBO

Excerpt

Chapter Two

The bombardment to his senses slowly pulled Eoghan back to consciousness. He dug his fingers into the cool grass and dirt. The soft rush of a breeze over his face cooled his flesh and caused a strand of hair to tickle his cheek.

He remained on his back and took it all in. The beast that had chased him was gone, left behind on that horrendous realm of darkness. It was the music that had lured Eoghan to freedom.

His eyes snapped open as he recalled the woman. He stared at the stars above him in the night sky as he remembered how she had pulled him through the portal. It was by sheer luck alone that he managed to close the portal before the beast got out.

He sat up and looked around. His gaze clashed with the broken dolmen. There were few portal stones left intact – and for very good reason. They were exactly as they were named. Thanks to a few Half-Fae who used what magic they had, mortals had begun crossing into other realms for centuries.

Most were never seen or heard from again.

Eoghan’s thoughts returned to the woman. His head swiveled as he searched for her. Spotting something shining in the grass, he pushed to his knees and leaned forward to grasp the item. He lifted it, staring in confusion at the black cat face earring.

He stilled as he felt something behind him, a stir in the air that sent a warning through his body. He rose to his feet and spun around, his magic ready to launch at his enemy.

But the petite woman standing before him in a black dress with full skirts halted his movements.

“Eoghan,” she said, a slow smiling pulling at her lips.

He dropped to his knees and bowed his head in deference.

A slim finger lifted his chin so he was staring into her lavender eyes. Her long black hair was pulled over her left shoulder into a fishtail braid. “We’ve been searching everywhere for you. I felt powerful magic and came to investigate. I’m delighted to find you. But how did you return?”

He glanced back at the dolman before returning his gaze to Death. There was something different about her. Almost as if she were…diminished.

Her smile was sad as she dropped her hand, her gaze holding his. “I’m dying. Bran is stealing not just my magic, but my life force as well.”

Fury ripped through Eoghan as he got to his feet. How could he have forgotten about Bran? He had to find the other Reapers so they could finish him once and for all.

Erith’s hand on his arm stopped not just his body, but his thoughts as well. He frowned as he looked at her, waiting to hear what she had to say.

Death blew out a soft breath and released him. “I know it was what happened in your past that made you take a vow of silence. You’ve been an invaluable warrior for me and the other Reapers. I don’t know how much time I have left. I no longer have the energy to keep everything going. I have need of you, Eoghan.”

He frowned, not liking her words or her tone. But he waited for her to continue. He owed Erith much, and serving her for eternity was just a small part of it. After his betrayal and death, she gave him life and a reason to continue.

He nodded, letting her know that he was listening.

“I never pushed you to do more than you were willing,” she said. “You were a general in the Light Fae army. You – just like Cael – were born to lead. And that’s what I need you to do now.”

Eoghan shook his head. There was no way he would push Cael out of being leader of the Reapers. Besides, Eoghan had no desire to lead.

“You misunderstand. Cael’s position isn’t in question.” She briefly closed her eyes. “I allowed you and your team to believe you were my only Reapers. Over the years, I’ve been accumulating more betrayed warriors. They work in the shadows as my spies and to back the seven of you, if needed.”

Eoghan was so shocked that he took a step back.

“These Reapers need a leader. They are very good at what they do, but they lack a cohesiveness to work as a group. What they need is you,” she stated.

It was the first time in years that Eoghan wanted to talk. The words jumbled in his head in a mass as he tried to sort out a way to get them out without speaking.

“Bran is about to win,” Death continued in a harsh tone. “I can’t stop him from taking my magic. He’s going to eventually assume my position. And he’s going to wipe out all the Reapers. For now, he has no idea of the other group. I’ve kept them hidden because of this. He believes you’re gone. With you leading the others, you have an advantage over Bran that could stop him.”

How could Eoghan refuse? But not to return to his brethren was going to kill him. Cael and the others were his brothers, his family.

As if reading his mind, she said, “Find Cael. Tell him what you’re doing.”

Eoghan gawked at her. Him? Why wasn’t Death going to fill Cael in?

Her face fell, a flash of regret passing over her features quickly. “You saved Cael from Bran’s magic, but the battle didn’t end. Bran turned Neve’s brother who betrayed and killed her.”

Eoghan nodded in understanding. Talin had fallen hard for the Light Fae, and with Neve’s betrayal and death, she had taken Eoghan’s spot with the Reapers.

“Your brethren have never stopped looking for you. They need to know you’ve returned.” Death gave him a smile. “I knew you would find your way back.”

In the next instant, Erith was gone. Eoghan stared at the spot she had been in for several minutes thinking over all Death had shared – and wondering what she left out.

He fisted his hand that held the cat earring, the back poking into his palm. There was a deep, profound longing to hear the music that had called him back to Earth. Was it the woman who pulled him through the portal that played the music?

He’d only gotten a quick look at her before passing out. Shoulder length blue hair, sienna brown eyes, and a tiny diamond stud in her nose. But even with that brief glimpse, he’d recognized her as a Halfling.

A frown formed when he recalled that he’d spoken to her. He told her to run. And it appeared as if she had done just that. It was for the best. She was much better off far away from him and the war.

Eoghan began walking. It didn’t take him long to realize he was in Ireland. He briefly thought of going to Inchmickery, the small isle off the coast of
Scotland near Edinburgh that the Reapers used as a base, but he wasn’t ready to be among them just yet.

Instead, he veiled himself and teleported to outside of the Light Castle in a copse of trees. And he watched the castle. At one time it had been a beacon for him, a place that he believed would outshine the Dark Fae in all ways. It didn’t matter if it was the castle on Earth or the one on the Fae Realm that was destroyed.

Just because a Fae was Light didn’t mean they couldn’t turn Dark. His wife was a prime example. How had he ever been so blind as to not see that she wanted power? His position had given her just that, but it wasn’t enough for her.

The pain of her betrayal no longer cut as deep after so many thousands of years. It was a dull ache now. But it would never leave him.

Perhaps it was time to put aside his silence. He couldn’t lead the Reapers if he didn’t talk. Damn. This was going to be harder than he thought.

He was about to teleport away when he spotted Rhi off to his left hiding in the trees not far from him. The infamous Light Fae who fell in love with a Dragon King was of interest to Death. So much so that Erith had Daire follow Rhi.

Yet, as Eoghan sought a glimpse of his friend, there was no sign of Daire. A Reaper could see any Fae – veiled or not. Without a second’s thought, Eoghan dropped his veil. Immediately, Rhi’s head jerked to him.

“Eoghan,” she said as she released her veil and walked to him. She looked him over, a grin forming, as she tossed back her long black hair. “We didn’t know what happened to you.” Her smile froze when she looked into his eyes.

He frowned, wondering what caused such a reaction.

“Look, hunky, I’m not a mind reader. I know the human adage of ‘silence is golden’, but not in this instance. I need you to talk to me.”

Eoghan hesitated. He swallowed twice before he asked, “What’s…wrong…with…me?”

“You’re eyes. They’re silver but…different.”

He formed a mirror in his hand and looked into it. Rhi was right. His eyes were silver, but no longer did he have a pupil showing. All that he saw was metallic silver staring back at him.

Rhi wrinkled her nose. “You might want to think of using glamour or wearing sunglasses when around humans.”

He made the mirror vanish and gave her a nod.

“Are you going to tell me how you got back? Where were you?”

“Tonight. Not sure.”

Rhi sighed dramatically. “Well, I guess I should be happy that I’m getting answers. Have you seen the others?”

Eoghan shook his head. “Where’s Daire?”

She shrugged indifferently, but she couldn’t quite hide her pain. “I don’t know. One day he was following me, and then he wasn’t.” Rhi suddenly put her hand on his arm. “I’m glad you’re back. Cael and the others have been beside themselves with worry.”

He didn’t get a chance to reply because she teleported away. Eoghan blew out a breath. It was time he spoke with Cael. He teleported to a cliff on the east side of Ireland and said his old friend’s name.

Within moments, Cael was standing before him. Their gazes met. The relief on Cael’s face made emotion well up in Eoghan’s throat. He’d never had a brother, despite wishing for one. The Reapers were his family, but Cael was like a true brother in every sense of the word.

They embraced before Cael grabbed his shoulders and stepped away to look at him. There was a slight frown when Cael saw his eyes. “Where have you been? How did you get back? When did you get back?”

“One at a time.”

Cael’s smile vanished as he dropped his arms and stared in shock. “You’re speaking?”

“Death said I must.”

All emotion was wiped from Cael’s face. “She spoke with you?”

Copyright © 2018 by Donna Grant in Dark Alpha’s Hunger and reprinted by permission of Swerve.

Reaper

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.

Sunday Spotlight: August 2018

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

Donna Grant Author Photo

Donna Grant

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

Donna is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over forty-five novels. Her most popular series is the breathtaking Dark King (aka Dragon King) series featuring dragons, immortal Highlanders, and the Fae.

In addition to her novels, Donna has written over forty short stories, novellas, and novelettes for digital-first and print release. She has been dubbed as giving the “paranormal genre a burst of fresh air” by the San Francisco Book Review. Her work has been hailed as having “deft plotting and expert characterization” by Publisher’s Weekly and “sizzling” by RT Book Reviews.

She has been recognized with awards from both bookseller and reader contests including the National Reader’s Choice Award, Booksellers Best Award, as well as the coveted K.I.S.S. Award from RT Book Reviews.

Donna travels often for various speaking engagements, conferences, and book signings. She is also a frequent workshop presenter at national conferences such as RT Book Lovers Convention and Thrillerfest, as well as local chapters.

Born and raised in Texas, she also has ties across the border in Louisiana. Growing up with two such vibrant cultures, her Cajun side of the family taught her the “spicy” side of life while her Texas roots gave her two-steppin’ and bareback riding. She is never far from her faithful 80 pound dog, Sisko, or her three cats. She can often be found at the movies or bookstore with her children. Or buying makeup. And shoes.


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Throwback Thursday Review: Fantasy Lover by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Posted May 24, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Fantasy Lover by Sherrilyn KenyonReviewer: Rowena
Fantasy Lover by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Series: Hunter Legends #1
Published by St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: February 18, 2002
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 337
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Goodreads
three-half-stars
Dear Reader,

Being trapped in a bedroom with a woman is a grand thing. Being trapped in hundreds of bedrooms over two thousand years isn't. And being cursed into a book as a love-slave for eternity can ruin even a Spartan warrior's day.

As a love-slave, I know everything about women. How to touch them, how to savor them, and most of all, how to pleasure them. But when I was summoned to fulfill Grace Alexander's sexual fantasies, I found the first woman in history who saw me as a man with a tormented past. She alone bothered to take me out of the bedroom and onto the world. She taught me to love again.

But I was not born to love. I was cursed to walk eternity alone. As a general, I had long ago accepted my sentence. Yet now I have found Grace--the one thing my wounded heart cannot survive without. Sure, love can heal all wounds, but can it break a two-thousand-year-old curse?

Julian of Macedon

See original cover edition: here

Every Thursday in 2018, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books.

This review was originally posted on March 8, 2010.

This book is a nacho kind of book. Full of cheese and yet you crave these kinds of books from time to time. When I was trying to figure out what books I was going to read for the Author Spotlight, I wanted to take the Kinley MacGregor route but ended up picking this book up instead. It’s been years since I read this book and I had forgotten all of the little reasons why I enjoyed this book but reading it again, I could see why.

It’s one of those escape reality, leave all the realness of the world behind you and just read kind of books. I mean, look at the blurb…an older than dirt man cursed and stuck in a book, only able to come out to pleasure women who summon him. He’s a demi-god and he’s stuck forever in a book because he’s a love slave. Are you kidding me?

As cheesy as this book was, SK made it work for me. I enjoyed reading this book but it made me giggle at how obsessed I used to be over this series. I used to be utterly obsessed, stalking the SK website for updates on the books and this is the book that started all of that madness for me. Julian was a too good to be true heroes which SK is popular for. Her heroes are those troubled heroes that you want to hold close to your heart and never let go.

Grace was one of the more memorable heroines from this series. To be honest, a lot of the heroines from this series I don’t remember now outside of their names. But I remembered Grace and seeing her try to help Julian out and introduce him to the modern day world was a treat that I enjoyed more than I thought I would. She was a stand up heroine and when Julian makes her ex boyfriend look like the tool that he was, I rejoiced and I loved Julian all the more.

Being introduced to characters that will show up later in the books was a treat that I enjoyed. This book is kind of fluffy and even though Julian isn’t a Dark Hunter, I liked this book. Would I recommend this book? Yep, I don’t think it’s a must read first for the Dark Hunter series but it would be good to read this book first because Julian shows up in future books and well, he’s a hottie so duh!

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: I Flipping Love You by Helena Hunting

Posted May 20, 2018 by Rowena in Features, Giveaways | 3 Comments

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

Sunday Spotlight

I Flipping Love You is the third book in the Shacking Up series by Helena Hunting and it’s a book that looks like it is right up my alley. I’ve read one book in this series and have the other books on my radar but this house flipping romance has me hooked since I love house flipping tv shows. Sign me up!

Sunday Spotlight: I Flipping Love You by Helena HuntingI Flipping Love You (Shacking Up, #3) by Helena Hunting
Series: Shacking Up #3
Also in this series: I Flipping Love You (Shacking Up, #3)
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: May 29, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads

A new kind of love story about flipping houses, taking risks, and landing that special someone who’s move-in ready…

SHE’S GOT CURB APPEAL

Rian Sutter grew up with the finer things in life. Spending summers in The Hamptons was a normal occurrence for her until her parents lost everything years ago. Now Rian and her sister are getting their life, and finances, back on track through real estate. Not only do they buy and sell houses to the rich and famous, but they finally have the capital to flip their very own beachfront property. But when she inadvertently catches the attention of a sexy stranger who snaps up every house from under her, all bets are off…

HE’S A FIXER UPPER

Pierce Whitfield doesn’t normally demo kitchens, install dry wall, or tear apart a beautiful woman’s dreams. He’s just a down-on-his-luck lawyer who needed a break from the city and agreed to help his brother work on a few homes in the Hamptons. When he first meets Rian, the attraction is undeniable. But when they start competing for the same pieces of prime real estate, the early sparks turn into full-blown fireworks. Can these passionate rivals turn up the heat on their budding romance — without burning down the house?

I FLIPPING LOVE YOU, set in the Shacking Up world, follows two people, both working in real estate, who find themselves vying for the same properties in the Hamptons, leading to a sometimes-not-so-friendly competition.

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || KOBO

Excerpt

CHAPTER 1
ANGRY HOT GUY

RIAN

I flip through my stack of flyers, checking for a sale on the jumbo box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal so I can price match it. I’m a conscientious price matcher. I mark the sale with a big circle before tucking the red Sharpie into the front of my shirt. If I’m going to wheel and deal at the cash register, I want to make it as easy as possible for the cashier and the people in line behind me. Nothing is worse than getting stuck behind an unorganized price matcher.

I shimmy a little to the song playing over the store intercom as I toss boxes of my most favorite, unhealthy cereal in my cart. A prickly feeling climbs the back of my neck, and I shiver, glancing over my shoulder. A mom rushes past me down the aisle, her toddler leaning precariously out of the cart in an attempt to grab a box of Fruit Roll-Ups. I can’t blame him. They are artificially delicious.

But the mom-toddler combo isn’t the reason for the prickly feeling. Halfway down the aisle is a suit. A big suit. Well over six feet of man wrapped in expensive charcoal-gray fabric. He doesn’t have a cart or a basket. And he’s staring at me. Weird. I can’t look at him long enough to decide if he’s familiar or not without making it obvious that I’m staring back.

I have the urge to check my appearance, worried I have his attention because my hair is a mess, or there’s a sweat stain down the center of my back. I’m not particularly appealing at the moment. I’ve just come from a boot camp class at this new gym my twin sister forced me to try out.

Marley bought an online two-for-one coupon for forty bucks, so now I have to attend six of these stupid classes with her. I managed to get out of last week’s class, but she wouldn’t let me escape two weeks in a row. My tank is still dewy, post-exertion, I have terrible under-boob sweat, and my thong is all wonky. If I were alone in this aisle, I’d for sure fix the last issue, but suit guy is here so I must leave the thong where it is for now, wedged uncomfortably between my vagina lips.

The suit quickly shifts his attention to the shelves and picks up the jar directly in front of him, which happens to contain prunes. He inspects it, then maybe realizes what it is, because he rushes to return it, exchanging it for another item. I bite back a smile, pleased that even in my disgusting state I’m being checked out.

As suit man gives the shelf in front of him his full attention, I return the checkout favor. His attire and his posture scream money and a twinge of something like longing combined with jealousy makes my throat momentarily tight. At one time, price matching was a practice I would’ve laughed at—like an entitled jerk—now it’s a necessity.

Suit man must be warm, considering it’s late April and we’re experiencing temperatures far above average for this time of year. Based on the tapered fit of his suit, I’m guessing it’s a high-end brand. He’s complemented it with black patent leather shoes. Very impractical for this weather and location. Does he realize he’s in the Hamptons?

He’s wearing a watch, and from his profile, he can’t be much beyond his early thirties. I have to assume the only reason for the watch is because it’s expensive and he wants to show it off. In my head, I’ve already profiled him as a pretentious, rich prick who probably commutes to NYC a few times a week where he bones his secretary and has a penthouse with the barest of furniture. The rest of the time he works from home.

I return to shopping and continue down the aisle, in the opposite direction of the suit—it’s my way of finding out if he’s actually creeping on me or not. I keep tabs on him in my peripheral vision as I scope out more sales and more delicious, unhealthy food items. My job is to balance out all the fruit and vegetables my sister, Marley, is currently picking out in the produce section.

I grab a jar of the no-name peanut butter since we’re out and the good stuff isn’t on sale, dropping it in the cart. My phone keeps buzzing in my purse. It’s distracting, so I give up ignoring it and check my messages.

It’s my sister.

We’re in the same store. It’s not particularly huge, so I don’t know what could be so pressing that she needs to text four thousand times instead of finding me.

ABORT SHOPPING

LEAVE NOW

Meet me in parking lot

RIAN??????

Jeez. What the heck is going on? Maybe the grocery store is being robbed. Holy Hot Pockets. What if there is a grocery store heist going down? I’m about to abandon my cart in a bid to find Marley and escape the mayhem I’ve created in my head. It’s all very dramatic. As I turn, I come face-to-face with the suit.

I suck in a breath and slap my hand over my chest. The tank is still damp, and my skin’s a little gritty with salt-sweat, so I drop it quickly, because ew.

“Hi.” His expression is hard to read. He seems … smug.

“Hi, hey. Uh…” I wave a hand around in the air, a little flustered, and conflicted, because it’s not often I get approached by a guy this hot—and in a grocery store of all places. Maybe he’ll be here again next week. “I’m sorry, I’d like to stare at your pretty face, I mean…” Crap, why are words so hard? “I have to go.”

I try to step around him, but he mirrors the movement, taking a linebacker stance, as if he’s considering tackling me. Which is an odd way to stage an introduction.

“Recognize me?” he asks, one perfect eyebrow arched.

As I take him in, I wrack my brain for a time or place I might’ve run into him before. I don’t think so, though. His light brown hair is neatly styled, and the cut of his suit highlights all of his assets. Well, the visible PG ones, anyway.

He widens his stance and crosses his arms over his chest. His very broad chest. The sleeves of his suit jacket pull tight, biceps bulging and flexing. He’s a bit intimidating based on his size alone, but we’re in a public grocery store, so I feel relatively safe. And he’s just so gorgeous. Which is a silly reason not to be concerned, some of the most notorious serial killers are attractive men. Also, I need to find my sister, in case the grocery store is really under attack—although maybe this suit could save us.

I adopt his crossed arm pose, but I don’t think I look intimidating. All I succeed in doing is awkwardly squeezing my boobs together inside my damp sports bra and jabbing the right one with the Sharpie. “Should I?”

He looks me over, a slight smirk tipping his mouth. His gaze gets stuck on the Sharpie for a few seconds before they come back up to my eyes.

It’s possible I met him in a bar, but I swear I’d remember his face if I did. The bar scene is also more my sister’s speed than it is mine. Oh God. It’s also possible he’s mistaking me for her. It’s happened before.

While we look nearly identical at first to most people, we’re actually fraternal twins. After a few interactions, most people can tell us apart. I have a distinctive Marilyn Monroe mole on the right side above my lip, and my eyes are amber, where Marley’s are closer to green. My mouth is too big for my face, my lips a little too full and my nose too small. At least that’s my perception. Marley’s also the more outgoing of the two of us and an inch taller. And about ten pounds lighter.

Marley is a little less cautious than I am with men, so there have been a few uncomfortable occasions where her previous hookups have approached me, asking why I haven’t returned their calls. It’s too bad if this is the case, because this guy is inordinately attractive and it would be nice if he wasn’t one of my sister’s castoffs.

His face is a masterpiece of masculine perfection; straight nose, high cheekbones, an angular jawline that could cut glass, full lips. Especially the bottom one. The kind of full that makes me think of kissing, with tongue, of course. He’s all-American handsome with a shot of alpha hotness. It’s a lethal combination for the state of my already damp panties.

“I recognize you.” He has a low, rough voice, like the delicious scrape of fine grit sandpaper.

He breaks me out of my ogle daze. He must think I’m Marley. I’m actually rather disappointed. “I think maybe you’ve mistaken me for someone else.”

“Oh no, sweetheart.” His gaze rakes over me again. I feel very naked all of a sudden. And hot. It’s really hot in here. “You drive a powder-blue Buick.”

“How the heck—”

“I knew it!” he shouts, eyes alight with some kind of weird, victorious satisfaction as he points a long finger with a blue-black nail at me. Maybe he slammed it in a door or something. Or based on the way he’s rudely pointing, maybe someone slammed it for him. “I fucking knew it! You hit my car.”

I definitely would’ve remembered hitting someone’s car, especially if a guy this good looking was driving it. He should probably come with a warning, like: Panties may combust if you get too close, or something. I take a step back since he’s all up in my grill and clearly he’s not looking to flirt like I originally thought. “I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Don’t play dumb with me! You think you can flip your ponytail”—he reaches out and flicks the end, which is rather startling—“flash a smile and some cleavage, and it’s going to get you out of this. Well, think again, sweetheart. I guarantee my paint is still all over your bumper.” He’s leaning over me, face way too close to mine. So close I can see tiny gold flecks in his deep green eyes. They’re an unusual shade. Dark like pine tree needles.

And he’s chewing gum. Juicy Fruit. I can smell it when he breathes in my face. I would’ve expected a man like him to chew something more along the lines of Polar Ice, or Arctic Ice—strong mint.

I put a hand on his chest and take one deliberate step backward as he opens his mouth to resume his tangent. It’s a solid chest. Extremely hard. His gaze darts down, brows furrowed. I use his distracted state to my advantage. “First of all…” I point my finger in his face, like he did to me. “Don’t ‘sweetheart’ me. That’s condescending. Secondly, I’m sure I would’ve noticed if I’d hit another car. Thirdly, there are literally hundreds of powder-blue Buicks in this stupid city. It’s not an uncommon car. And I’d like to point out, that the cleavage comment was completely unnecessary and unwarranted and actually, pretty damn sexist.”

He blinks a couple of times, possibly taken aback. That expression doesn’t last long. His lip curls in a sneer and that pretty all-American handsomeness morphs into downright malevolent hotness. “Nice try, sweetheart. But there’s no way I’d forget you.” His gaze sweeps over me—it’s not in an unappreciative way either.

I poke his hard chest. “Stop leering at me, you pervert. I don’t know what kind of drugs you’ve been snorting, but I assure you, you’ve got the wrong person.”

“Oh shit!” my sister’s voice comes from behind me.

I turn to find Marley doing an about-face, and then she breaks into a little grapevine step as she moves back toward me. Her eyes are wide, mouth contorted into some kind of grimace as she grabs my wrist.

“What the fuck? There are two of you?” hot-crazy guy asks, eyes bouncing between us.

“We gotta go.” Marley latches onto my hand and drags me down the aisle, away from crazy-hot suit.

“Whoa! Wait a damn second!”

Hot suit makes a grab for me, but Marley yanks me out of the way and shoves my shopping cart at him—hard. He’s not quite quick enough to get out of the way, and the corner of the cart slams right into his crotch. He doubles over with a groan and aggressively pushes the cart aside. It ricochets into a display of canned peaches, which spill into the aisle with a deafening crash.

“What the heck, Mar?”

“Come the fuck on!” She sprints down the aisle, dragging me behind her. I’d protest, but I don’t think I have much choice in the matter, considering the death grip she has on my hand, or the fact that she’s assaulted the sexy-crazy suit with my shopping cart.

Marley fast-walks to the exit, glancing over her shoulder. “Act natural.”

“Will you tell me what’s going on? Who is that guy?”

She flips her hair over her shoulder and smiles as we pass the cashiers and the automatic doors open. Marley fast-walks down the sidewalk toward our car. “I may have tapped that guy’s car last Saturday when I was shopping.”

I stop walking, which brings her to a jarring halt. She yanks on my arm. “Seriously, come on. I’ll explain when we’re in the car.”

“Nope. No way. You explain now.”

Her eyes are bouncing all over the place. “It’s not a big deal. I just grazed his bumper.” Marley spin and tries to push me forward from behind. “Now let’s get out of here before he finds us again. We should probably shop somewhere else for a while.”

I stumble forward a step and then spin away from her. “You hit that guy’s car?”

“It was more of a graze. At least I think it was.” She wrings her hands and makes her oh crap face.
Now crazy-hot suit guy seems a lot less crazy and much more justified in his reaction. Except for the cleavage comment. That was still unnecessary. “It sure didn’t seem like nothing with the way he freaked out in there.”

“He’s probably overreacting. Where are your keys?” She’s still wringing her hands.

I pat my hip with the intention of keeping my purse safe and away from my sister. Except all I end up patting is my actual hip. I look down, running my hands over my stomach, searching for the cheap, faux-leather knockoff. “Oh fudge.”

“What?”

“My purse. It’s in the cart. I have to go back and get it.”

Marley grabs the back of my tank. “You can’t! What if he’s still in there?”

“It has my identification in it, Marley. And my bankcards, and my money, and keys to the car and the apartment. I can’t leave it in there!”

Marley flails and paces around in a circle. “What if he’s waiting for us to come back and get it?”

“You can stay here if you want, but I’m going back for it. I’m not leaving my purse behind because you hit some guy’s car in a parking lot. I can’t believe you just drove away!”

“I thought I tapped it, and then I panicked.” Her fingers are at her mouth now. “I didn’t want to drive up our insurance premiums over some guy and his Tesla.”

“You hit a Tesla?” This keeps getting worse.

“Anyone who has the money to buy a Tesla has the money to fix it, right?” Marley says.

“So you drove off! Jeez, Marley. What were you thinking?” I shake my head. I’d like to say I’m surprised by this, but sadly I’m not. Marley doesn’t always use common sense in day-to-day life.

“I don’t know. I wasn’t thinking. That’s the problem, I guess.

I’m about to go back into the store, but stop short at the sight of the suit leaning against the side of my car, one ankle crossed over the other, all calm like. Dangling from a single finger is my knockoff, hot-pink Coach purse. “Forget something?”

Copyright © 2018 by Helena Hunting in I Flipping Love You and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

HA!! This sounds like a riot and I’m so here for it so you should definitely put this on your watch list because it promises to be a great one.

Shacking Up

Giveaway Alert

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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

Helena Hunting

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | GOODREADS

NTY and USA Today Bestselling author of The PUCKED Series, Helena Hunting lives outside of Toronto with her amazing family and her two awesome cats, who think the best place to sleep is her keyboard. Helena writes everything from contemporary romance to romance comedy, sports romance and angsty new adult romance.


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Sunday Spotlight: Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope

Posted May 6, 2018 by Holly in Features | 3 Comments

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

Sunday Spotlight

I’ve been hearing a lot about Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope lately. It sounds amazing. I’m excited to share an excerpt with you today.

Sunday Spotlight: Song of Blood and Stone by L. PenelopeSong of Blood & Stone (Earthsinger Chronicles, #1) by L. Penelope
Series: Earthsinger Chronicles #1
Published by St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 384
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads

A treacherous, thrilling, epic fantasy about an outcast drawn into a war between two powerful rulers.

Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive--an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart.

Jack's mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagamiri is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and it's people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda's Earthsong to do it. They escape their ruthless captors and together they embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps.

Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation.

The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.

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Excerpt

 

CHAPTER TWO

Jackal and Monkey stood at the edge of a wide canyon. Monkey asked, If I leap and make it to the other side, was that my destiny or merely my good luck?

Jackal replied, Our destiny can be taken in hand, molded, and shaped, while chance makes foolishness out of whatever attempts to control it. Does this make destiny the master of luck?

—collected folktales

Jack had found himself in a great many hopeless situations in his life, but this one was the grand champion—a twenty­two­year rec­ ord for dire occurrences. He only hoped this wouldn’t be the last occurrence and sent up yet another prayer that he might live to see his twenty­third year.

The temperature had dropped precipitously. His spine was as­ saulted by the rocky ground on which he lay, but really that was the least of his discomforts.

His vision had begun to swim about an hour ago, and so at first he thought the girl looming above him was a mirage. She peered down at his hiding spot behind a cluster of coarse shrubbery, her head cocked at an angle. Jack went to stand, years of breeding kick­ ing in, his muscle memory ofended at the idea of not standing in the presence of a lady, but apparently his muscles had forgotten the bullet currently lodged within them. And the girl was Lagrimari— not strictly a lady, but a woman nonetheless—and a beautiful one, he noticed as he squinted into the dying light. Wild, midnight curls floated carelessly around her head, and piercing dark eyes regarded him. Her dress was drab and tattered, but her smooth skin was a confectioner’s delight. His stomach growled. When was the last time he’d eaten?

Her presence meant he was still on the Lagrimari side of the mountain range bordering the two lands and had yet to cross the other, more powerful barrier keeping him from his home of Elsira: the Mantle.

The girl frowned down at him, taking in his bedraggled appear­ ance. From his position lying on the ground, he tried his best to smooth his ripped uniform, the green fatigues of the Lagrimari army. Her confusion was apparent. Jack was obviously Elsiran; aside from his skin tone, the ginger hair and golden honey­colored eyes were a dead giveaway. And yet he wore the uniform of his enemy.

“Please don’t be scared,” he said in Lagrimari. Her brows rose toward her hairline as she scanned his supine and bloodied body. Well, that was rather a ridiculous thing to say. “I only meant that I mean you no harm. I . . .” He struggled with how to explain him­ self.

There were two possibilities. She could be a nationalist who would turn him in to the squad of soldiers currently combing the mountain for him, perhaps to gain favor with the government, or

she could be like so many Lagrimari citizens, beaten down by the war with no real loyalty to their dictator or his thugs. If she was the former, he was already dead, so he took a chance with the truth.

“You see, I was undercover, spying from within the Lagrimari army. But now there are men looking for me, they’re not far, but . . .” He paused to take a breath; the efort of speaking was draining. He suspected he had several cracked or broken ribs in addition to the gunshot wound. His vision swirled again, and the girl turned into two. Two beautiful girls. If these were his last moments before traveling to the World After, then at least he had something pleas­ ant to look at.

He blinked rapidly and took another strained breath. His mis­ sion was not complete; he could not die yet. “Can you help me? Please. I’ve got to get back to Elsira.”

She stole an anxious glance skyward before kneeling next to him. Her cool hand moved to his forehead. The simple touch was soothing, and a wave of tension rolled of him.

“You must be delirious.” Her voice was rich, deeper than he’d expected. It eased the harsh consonants of the Lagrimari language, for the first time making it sound like something he could imagine being pleasant to listen to. She worked at the remaining buttons of his shirt, pulling the fabric apart to reveal his ruined chest. Her expression was appraising as she viewed the damage, then sat back on her haunches, pensive.

“It probably looks worse than it is,” he said. “I doubt that.”

Jack’s chuckle sounded deranged to his own ears, so it was no surprise that the girl looked at him askance. He winced—laughing was a bad idea at this point—and struggled for breath again. “The soldiers . . . they’re after me. I have to get back through the Mantle.”

“Shh,” she said, peering closely at him. “Hush all that foolish­ ness; you’re not in your right mind. Though I’ll admit, you speak Lagrimari surprisingly well. I’m not sure what happened to you, but you should save your strength.”

She closed her eyes, and suddenly his whole body grew warmer, lighter. The odd sensation of Earthsong pulsated through him. He had only experienced it once before, and it hadn’t been quite like this. The touch of her magic stroked him intimately, like a brush of fingers across his skin. The soft vibration cascaded over his entire body, leaving him feeling weightless.

He gasped, pulling in a breath, and it was very nearly an easy thing to accomplish. Tears pricked his eyes. “Sovereign bless you.”

Her expression was grave as she dug around in her bag. “It’s just a patch. You must have ticked someone of real good. It’d take quite a while to fix you up properly, and the storm’s coming. You need to find shelter.”

She retrieved a jar filled with a sweet­smelling substance and began spreading it over his wounds. The Earthsong had turned down the volume of his pain, and the cream soothed him even more.

“What is that?”

“Just a balm. Helps with burns, cuts.” Her hand paused for a moment. “Never gunshot wounds, but it’s worth a try.”

He laid his head back on the ground, closing his eyes to savor the ability to breathe deeply again. “A quick rest and I’ll be back on my way. Need to keep moving, though. Need to get back.”

“Back through the Mantle?” Her tone vibrated with skepticism. “And away from the Lagrimari soldiers chasing you?”

“Yes.” Her palm met his forehead again. She thought he was delusional. He wished he was. Wished the last few weeks had been nothing but the imaginings of an impaired mind.

EarthSinger Chronicles

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

L. Penelope

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK |

Leslye Penelope has been writing since she could hold a pen and loves getting lost in the worlds in her head. She is an award-winning author of new adult, fantasy, and paranormal romance. She lives in Maryland with her husband and their furry dependents: an eighty-pound lap dog and an aspiring feral cat.


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