Tag: Sunday Spotlight

Sunday Spotlight: Unbreak Me by Michelle Hazen

Posted August 11, 2019 by Holly 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. 🙂

Michelle Hazen is a new-to-me author, but I’m crazy excited for Unbreak Me. The early reviews have been great and the blurb makes me think this is my kind of jam.

Sunday Spotlight: Unbreak Me by Michelle HazenUnbreak Me by Michelle Hazen
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: August 13, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 304
Add It: Goodreads
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A contemporary romance about a New Orleans cowboy battling systemic racism post-Hurricane Katrina and a woman recovering from a public trial following a sexual assault.

What could two troubled souls from different walks of life have in common? Maybe everything.

Andra Lawler lives isolated at her family’s horse ranch, imprisoned by the memories of an assault in college. When she needs help training her foals, she hires a Haitian-Creole cowboy from New Orleans with a laugh as big as the Montana sky.

LJ Delisle can’t stand the idea that Andra might be lonely—or eating frozen TV dinners. He bakes his way into her kitchen with a lemon velvet cake, and offers her cooking lessons that set them on the road to romance. But even their love can’t escape the shadow of what they've been through. Despite their growing friendship and his gentle rapport with the horses, LJ is still an outsider facing small-town suspicions.

Before they can work through their issues, LJ is called home by a family emergency. In the centuries-old, raggedly rebuilt streets of New Orleans, he must confront memories of Hurricane Katrina and familiar discrimination. And Andra must decide if she’s brave enough to leave the shelter of the ranch for an uncertain future with LJ.

Excerpt

She leaned against the refrigerator where it stuck out from the counter, and closed her eyes. She was not imagining the double meaning to his every word. Nobody’s mind was lower in the gutter than LJ’s. He was flirting with her, had probably always been flirting with her, according to her father. It was just a different brand of flirting than she knew what to do with. All possibility, no pressure. And he was certainly doing it on purpose. The man missed nothing. Not the tiniest flick of a horse’s ears, not the morning he brought her coffee because her belt had missed one loop on her jeans and he figured that meant she’d been in a rush that day.

What bothered her was how easy it was. He’d invited himself into her kitchen and her life from virtually his first day on the ranch.

“You took this job for the horses, right?” Her voice came out a little faint, and she opened her eyes to see him frown at her.

“I certainly didn’t take it for the pension plan.”

She bit her lip, hesitating. Watching her, his expression changed.

“Ah.” He laughed. “Don’t flatter yourself, darlin’. You were something else, riding that fancy stallion like you both belonged in the Olympics. But it was Taz who ran away with my heart that first day. That and all this.” He nodded toward the window. “Big sky full of second chances.”

Her stomach twisted, uncertain whether she was relieved or offended he hadn’t taken the job because he wanted to pursue her. Then the second part of his statement caught her, and her eyes narrowed.

“Do you need a second chance?” she asked slowly.

“Doesn’t everybody?” He flicked off both burners and stepped close to her all in one smooth movement. One hand landed on the refrigerator, above her head; one on the counter, next to her hip. He was near enough to let her feel his body heat, but not caging her in. She could step out from under his arm easily, and with a surge of her pulse, she almost wished she couldn’t. LJ stood so close his body was her entire world. Cozy but thrilling. She wanted him pressed against her so she could drown in that bizarre reaction, breathe it in and glory in it.

He ducked his head, his drawl a lower pitch than usual. “What’s on your mind, beautiful?”

She could only blink, as if steam were effervescing out of the air between them and she couldn’t quite see.

“You keep asking all these questions.” He licked his bottom lip, a quick slick of tongue over that mouth of his. “Why don’t you ask me what you’re really wanting to know?”

“The cooking lessons.” Her mouth was so dry she had to swallow before she could continue. “Was that flirting? Is that why you offered in the first place?”

His hand dropped, the inside of his wrist warming her shoulder as he opened the fridge. Taking her other shoulder, he spun her around. “See that?”

She stared, puzzled. Milk, orange juice. Cheese and eggs and containers of leftovers and some lettuce that was starting to go off.

“That’s what a fridge is supposed to look like.” He let the door fall closed. “I like you.”

She didn’t move. He was right behind her, the closed fridge giving them no excuse to keep looking in its direction. They were too close for anything except hugging, her bottom so near the front of his jeans that she couldn’t even shift her weight without touching him. This was the point where she should pull away.
He tapped one finger against the fridge door. “I would have done that much even for somebody I didn’t like. As for the rest?” His knuckles skimmed down the back of her arm so lightly that the rough yarn of her sweater woke up her entire body, her skin rippling with goose bumps. “Now that might be flirting.”

“Might be?” she asked breathlessly.

His breath stirred her hair, as if he’d bent a little closer. “Depends on if you want it to be.”

Giveaway Alert

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

Sunday Spotlight: August 2019

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 Michelle Hazen

Michelle Hazen is a nomad with a writing problem. Years ago, she and her husband ducked out of the 9 to 5 world and moved into their truck. She found her voice with the support of the online fanfiction community, and once she started typing, she never looked back.

She has written most of her books in odd places, including a bus in Thailand, an off-the-grid cabin in the Sawtooth Mountains, a golf cart in a sandstorm, a rental car during a heat wave in the Mohave Desert and a beach in Honduras. Even when she’s climbing rocks, riding horses, or getting lost someplace wild and beautiful, there are stories spooling out inside her head, until she finally heeds their call and returns to her laptop and solar panels.


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Sunday Spotlight: Diamond Bay by Linda Howard

Posted August 4, 2019 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 8 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. 🙂

This is an oldie, but goody. Kell Sabin is smokin’ hot and Rachel is a strong, capable heroine. This book has everything. Romance, suspense, hot sex. If y’all haven’t read this book, what are you waiting for? It’s a gem that you don’t want to miss out on!

Sunday Spotlight: Diamond Bay by Linda HowardDiamond Bay by Linda Howard
Series: Rescues #2
Also in this series: Heartbreaker, Midnight Rainbow (Rescues #1)
Publisher: MIRA
Publication Date: November 24, 1997
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 247
Add It: Goodreads
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Series Rating: four-stars

Rachel Jones wasn't looking for trouble, much less a man, but in Kell Sabin she found both. On a hot summer's night Kell is washed up - barely alive - on a Florida beach and into Rachel's life. Her instincts tell her to help him, and their love blossoms as he recovers from his injuries. But by falling in love with Kell, Rachel has put her own life in danger from the forces that want him dead. Once fate has brought them together, can they learn to live apart?


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Excerpt

“Have we been sleeping together?”

Her breasts had tightened painfully, begging for that touch to be transferred to them, for him to claim them as he had before.His question destroyed what little concentration she had left.”This… there’s only this one bed. I don’t have a couch, only the love seats – ”

“So we’ve been in the same bed for four days,” he interrupted, stopping a flow of words that she had felt edging toward incoherency. His eyes were glittering again, but this time with a different fire, and she couldn’t look away. “You’ve been taking care of me.”

She drew a deep, shuddering breath. “Yes.”

“All alone?”

“Yes.”

“You’ve been feeding me.”

“Yes.”

“Bathing me.”

“Yes. Your fever – I had to sponge you with cool water to keep it down.”

“You did everything that had to be done, took care of me like a baby.”She didn’t know what to say, what to do. His hand was still on her, his palm warm and hard against the softness of her flesh.

“You touched me,” he said. “All over.”

She swallowed. “It was necessary.”

“I remember your hands on me. I liked it, but when I woke up this morning I thought it was a dream.”

“You did dream,” she said.

“Have I seen you naked?”

“No!”

“Then how do I know what your breasts look like? How they feel in my hands? It wasn’t all a dream, Rachel. Was it?”

A hot, wild blush colored her face, giving him an answer even before she spoke. Her voice was stifled, and she looked away from him, her embarrassment at last freeing her from his gaze.

“Twice, when you woke up, you… uh…grabbed me.”

“Helped myself to the goodies?”

“Something like that.”

“And I saw you?”

She made a helpless gesture toward her neck. “My nightgown drooped when I bent over you. The neckline was hanging open….”

“Was I rough?”

“No,” she whispered.

“Did you like it?”

Rescues

Giveaway Alert

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

Sunday Spotlight: August 2019

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 Linda Howard

Linda Howard is the award-winning author of many New York Times bestsellers, including Up Close and Dangerous, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Cover of Night, Killing Time, To Die For, Kiss Me While I Sleep, Cry No More, and Dying to Please. She lives in Alabama with her husband and two golden retrievers.


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Sunday Spotlight: Lies by Kylie Scott

Posted July 28, 2019 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 7 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. 🙂

Holly, Rowena, and I all reviewed Repeat and loved it. Repeat was my first book by Kylie. When I saw that Lies was going to be coming out this month, I immediately put in on my TBR list. It sounds much different than Repeat, but if it’s even half as good then I know it will be a winner.

Sunday Spotlight: Lies by Kylie ScottLies by Kylie Scott
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: July 21, 2019
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 242
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

Betty Dawsey knows that breaking things off with Thom Lange is for the best. He’s nice, but boring, and their relationship has lost its spark. But steady and predictable Thom, suddenly doesn’t seem so steady and predictable when their condo explodes and she’s kidnapped by a couple of crazies claiming that Thom isn’t who he says he is.

Thom is having a hellish week. Not only is he hunting a double agent, but his fiancé dumped him, and thanks to his undercover life, she’s been kidnapped.

Turns out Thom is Operative Thom and he’s got more than a few secrets to share with Betty if he’s going to keep her alive. With both their lives on the line, their lackluster connection is suddenly replaced by an intense one. But in his line of work, feelings aren’t wanted or desired. Because feelings can be a lethal distraction.


 
 

Exclusive Excerpt

“How do you get used to people wanting to kill you all the time?”

His brows lift slightly. “Well…usually it’s not all the time. But yeah, it’s not easy.”

“No kidding.” I rub at my chest with the heel of my hand. “I feel like I’m constantly on the verge of having a heart attack.”

“And it’s all my fault. I dragged you into this mess and I’m sorry.” His face is deadly serious. “You’re going to be fine, Betty. I’m going to make sure you’re fine.”

I attempt a smile, but it doesn’t quite work. It’s a delicate balance, blaming him for this situation, while still being glad he’s here beside me to help deal with things.

Thom picks up my hand, lacing his fingers with mine. Without asking or anything. And I let him. That’s the kick of it—I just let him. Not because I need comfort. Hell no. But it seems only polite after he agreed to give me a gun. One of the flimsiest and oddest pretexts for letting a guy hold my hand ever. I should take a stand and insist on a little space between us. Affectionate gestures like this just confuse things. My speech should probably also include a request for him to remain fully clothed in my presence.

But I digress. We both need to be focusing on staying alive as opposed to sorting out the eternal mystery that is our relationship. I don’t want to die. I also don’t want him to die. And killers are on our trail. Before I can attempt to extract myself, however, his hold slightly tightens while his breathing evens out. He’s either fast asleep or on his way there.

I can’t disturb him now. No. I’ll just have to hold his hand.

Giveaway Alert

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

Sunday Spotlight: July 2019

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 Kylie Scott

Author Kylie Scott headshot

Kylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013, 2014 & 2018, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet.


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Sunday Spotlight: Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean

Posted July 21, 2019 by Rowena in Features | 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. 🙂

Brazen and the Beast is the second book in Sarah MacLean’s Bareknuckle Bastards series and it promises to be just as bomb as the first book was. I really enjoyed Wicked and the Wallflower so I’m really looking forward to jumping into this book to see what magic Sarah MacLean brings for Hattie and Whit.

Sunday Spotlight: Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLeanBrazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean
Series: The Bareknuckle Bastards #2
Also in this series: Wicked and the Wallflower
Publisher: Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: July 30, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

The Lady’s Plan

When Lady Henrietta Sedley declares her twenty-ninth year her own, she has plans to inherit her father’s business, to make her own fortune, and to live her own life. But first, she intends to experience a taste of the pleasure she’ll forgo as a confirmed spinster. Everything is going perfectly…until she discovers the most beautiful man she’s ever seen tied up in her carriage and threatening to ruin the Year of Hattie before it’s even begun.

The Bastard’s Proposal

When he wakes in a carriage at Hattie’s feet, Whit, a king of Covent Garden known to all the world as Beast, can’t help but wonder about the strange woman who frees him—especially when he discovers she’s headed for a night of pleasure . . . on his turf. He is more than happy to offer Hattie all she desires…for a price.

An Unexpected Passion

Soon, Hattie and Whit find themselves rivals in business and pleasure. She won’t give up her plans; he won’t give up his power . . . and neither of them sees that if they’re not careful, they’ll have no choice but to give up everything . . . including their hearts.

I’m super excited to be featuring this book on this week’s Sunday Spotlight, so check out a sneak peak into Brazen and the Beast, which comes out next week!

Excerpt

Chapter One

September 1837
Mayfair

In twenty-eight years and three hundred sixty-four days, Lady Henrietta Sedley liked to think that she’d learned a few things.

She’d learned, for example, that if a lady could not get away with wearing trousers (an unfortunate reality for the daughter of an earl, even one who had begun life without title or fortune), then she should absolutely ensure that her skirts included pockets. A woman never knew when she might require a bit of rope, or a knife to cut it, after all.

She’d also learned that any decent escape from her Mayfair home required the cover of darkness and a carriage driven by an ally. Coachmen tended to talk a fine game when it came to keeping secrets, but were ultimately beholden to those who paid their salaries. An important addendum to that particular lesson was this: The best of allies was often the best of friends.

And perhaps first on the list of things she had learned in her lifetime was how to tie a Bosun knot. She’d been able to do that for as long as she could remember.

With such an obscure and uncommon collection of knowledge, one might imagine that Henrietta Sedley would have known precisely what to do in the likelihood she discovered a human male bound and unconscious in her carriage.

One would be incorrect.

In point of fact, Henrietta Sedley would never have described such a scenario as a likelihood. After all, she might have been more comfortable on London’s docks than in its ballrooms, but Hattie’s impressive collection of life experience lacked anything close to a criminal element.

And yet, here she was, pockets full, dearest friend at her side, standing in the pitch dark on the night before her twenty-ninth birthday, about to steal away from Mayfair for a night of best-laid plans, and…

Lady Eleanora Madewell whistled, low and unladylike at Hattie’s ear. Daughter of a duke and the Irish actress he loved so much he’d made her a duchess, Nora had the kind of brashness that was allowed in those with impervious titles and scads of money. “There’s a bloke in the gig, Hattie.”

Hattie did not look away from the bloke in question. “Yes, I see that.”

“There wasn’t a bloke in the gig when we hitched the horses.”

“No, there wasn’t.” They’d left the hitched—and most definitely empty—carriage in the dark rear drive of Sedley House not three-quarters of an hour earlier, before hiking upstairs to exchange carriage-hitching dresses for attire more appropriate for their evening plans.

At some point between corset and kohl, someone had left her an extraordinarily unwelcome package.

“Seems we would’ve noticed a bloke in the gig,”

“I should think we would have,” came Hattie’s distracted reply. “This is really just awful timing.”

Nora cut her a look. “Is there a good time for a man to be bound in one’s carriage?”

Hattie imagined there wasn’t, but, “He could have selected a different evening. What a terrible birthday gift.” She squinted into the dark interior of the carriage. “Do you think he’s dead?”
Please, don’t let him be dead.

Silence. Then, a thoughtful, “Does one store dead men in carriages?” Nora reached forward, her coachman’s coat pulling tight over her shoulders, and poked the dead man in question. He did not move. “He’s not moving,” she added. “Could be dead.”

Hattie sighed, removing a glove and leaning into the carriage to place two fingers to the man’s neck. “I’m sure he’s not dead.”

“What are you doing?” Nora whispered, urgently. “If he’s not dead, you’ll wake him!”

“That wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world,” Hattie pointed out. “Then we could ask him to kindly exit our conveyance and we could be on our way.”

“Oh, yes. This brute seems like precisely the kind of man who would immediately do just that and not immediately take his revenge. He’d no doubt doff his cap and wish us a fine good evening.”

“He’s not wearing a cap,” Hattie pointed out, unable to refute any of the rest of the assessment of the mysterious, possibly dead man. He was very broad, and very solid, and even in the darkness she could tell that this wasn’t a man with whom one took a turn about a ballroom.

This was the kind of man who ransacked a ballroom.

“What do you feel?” Nora pressed.

“No pulse.” Though she wasn’t precisely certain of the location one would find a pulse. “But he’s—”

Warm.

Dead men were not warm, and this man was very warm. Like a fire in winter. The kind of warm that made someone realize how cold she might be.

Ignoring the silly thought, Hattie moved her fingers down the column of his neck, to the place where it disappeared beneath the collar of his shirt, where the curve of his shoulder and the slope of…the rest of him… met in a fascinating indentation.

“Anything now?”

“Quiet.” Hattie held her breath. Nothing. She shook her head.

“Christ.” It wasn’t a prayer.

Hattie couldn’t have agreed more. But then…

There. A small flutter. She pressed a touch more firmly. The flutter became firm. Slow. Even. “I feel it. She said. “He’s alive.” She repeated herself. “He’s alive.” She exhaled, long and relieved. “He’s not dead.”

“Excellent. But it doesn’t change the fact that he’s unconscious in the carriage, and you have somewhere to be.” She paused. “We should leave him and take the curricle.”

Hattie had been planning for this particular excursion on this particular night for a full three months. This was the night that would begin her twenty-ninth year. The year her life would become her own. The year she would become her own. And she had a very specific plan for a very specific location at a very specific hour, for which she had donned a very specific frock. And yet, as she stared at the man in her carriage, specifics seemed not at all important.

What seemed important was seeing his face.

Clinging to the handle at the edge of the door, Hattie collected the lantern from the upper rear corner of the carriage before swinging back out to face Nora, whose gaze flickered immediately to the unlit container.

Nora tilted her head. “Hattie. Leave him. Let’s take the curricle.”

“Just a peek,” Hattie replied.

The tilt became a shake. “If you peek, you’ll regret it.”

“I have to peek,” Hattie insisted, casting about for a decent reason—ignoring the odd fact that she was unable to tell her friend the truth. “I have to untie him.”

“Not necessarily,” Nora pointed out. “Someone thought he was best left tied up, and who are we to disagree?” Hattie was already reaching into the pocket of the carriage door for a flint. “What of your plans?”

There was plenty of time for her plans. “Just a peek,” she repeated, the oil in the lantern catching fire. She closed the door and turned to face the carriage, lifting the light high, casting a lovely golden glow over—

“Oh, my,” she said.

Nora choked back a laugh. “Not such a bad gift after all, perhaps.”

The man had the most beautiful face Hattie had ever seen. The most beautiful face anyone had ever seen, she imagined. She leaned closer, taking in his warm, bronze skin, the high cheekbones, the long, straight nose, the dark slashes of his brows and the impossibly long lashes that lay like feathers against his cheeks.

“What kind of man…” she trailed off. Shook her head.

What kind of man looked like this?

What kind of man looked like this and somehow landed in the carriage of Hattie?

The Bareknuckle Bastards

Giveaway Alert

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

Sunday Spotlight: July 2019

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 Sarah MacLean

"Romance novelist Sarah MacLean has reignited the genre with a bolder edge." - The New Yorker

New York Times, Washington Post & USA Today bestseller Sarah MacLean is the author of historical romance novels that have been translated into more than twenty languages, and winner of back-to-back RITA Awards for best historical romance from the Romance Writers of America.

A columnist for The Washington Post, Sarah is a leading advocate for the romance genre, speaking widely on its place at the nexus of gender and cultural studies. Her work in support of romance and the women who read it earned her a place on Jezebel.com's Sheroes list of 2014 and led Entertainment Weekly to call her "gracefully furious." A graduate of Smith College & Harvard University, Sarah now lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.


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Sunday Spotlight: Once Upon a Bad Boy by Melonie Johnson

Posted July 14, 2019 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 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. 🙂

Once Upon a Bad Boy is the third book in Melonie Johnson’s Sometimes in Love series and it’s a second chance romance that you won’t want to miss. We’re super excited to be featuring this book on our Sunday Spotlight so check it out…

Sunday Spotlight: Once Upon a Bad Boy by Melonie JohnsonOnce Upon a Bad Boy by Melonie Johnson
Series: Sometimes in Love #3
Also in this series: Getting Hot with the Scot
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

NEVER SAY NEVERSadie Gold is ready to take her career to the next level with the role of a lifetime. Finally, she can shake her reputation as a pretty face with more wealth and connections than talent. But Sadie is not prepared for the wild turn her own life is about to take. The man in charge of training Sadie for her most demanding role yet is none other than her first real boyfriend—the one who took her heart and ran away.

WHEN IT COMES TO LOVEBo Ibarra is as good-looking and irresistible as ever. Maybe even more so, now that everything once worked against them—Sadie’s pampered and privileged upbringing and Bo’s childhood in a family struggling to make ends meet—is in the past. But the future is still unwritten…and getting there, together, means coming clean about painful secrets and slashing through nasty tabloid rumors while trying to control the attraction that crackles between them. Maybe it’s finally time for them to walk off into the sunset and into a true and lasting love?

Excerpt

“This looks cozy.” Someone observed from behind them, the low male voice tinged with a hint of mockery.

Sadie froze. No way. She hadn’t heard that voice in more than ten years. But she recognized it immediately. No freaking way.

Maybe she was wrong. She was probably wrong. She had to be wrong.

Beside her, Ryan turned toward the voice. “Bo! Hey, man, what’s up?”

Bo. The name slammed into her gut, as if someone had written it on a piece of paper, tied it to a boulder, and hurled it straight at her.

Oblivious to her sudden discomfort, Ryan stood, shaking hands with the person behind them. Sadie remained frozen. She had not been mistaken. How did this happen? What was he doing here?

“Sadie?” Tugging on her elbow, Ryan provided the answer. “Say hi to our stunt coordinator, Bo Ibarra.”

Not trusting her ability to stand, Sadie, glanced over her shoulder. “Hi.” She smiled weakly then forced herself to look up, meeting his gaze. “Stunt coordinator, huh?”

“That’s right,” Bo said. His light brown eyes were exactly the same. Still, that unique tawny shade that reminded her of an Irish halfpenny she’d once found in her nana’s coin collection, still framed with the most incredibly long and ridiculously thick eyelashes she’d ever seen. His hair was darker, only streaks of the golden blond she remembered glinting here and there. And shorter, much shorter. Last time she’d seen him, it had brushed his shoulders. But what hair Bo had chopped off on top of his head, he’d made up for on his face.

A full beard covered his lean cheeks, hiding the cleft she knew dimpled the center of his chin. The fact she was aware of that feature despite it being hidden from the world felt . . . intimate. Sadie squirmed in her seat, recalling all the times she’d pressed her lips to that dimple. Dragging her attention away from that spot, she noted the beginnings of laugh lines creasing the corners of his eyes. She wondered if, besides the cleft, the beard hid more laugh lines around his mouth.

Had there been much laughter in his life? She hoped so. “Bo-dacious is one of the best in the biz,” Ryan continued, patting Bo on the back. “Soon as my agent told me we’d be filming in Chicago, I got on the horn and insisted they hire you, man.” Ryan turned to Sadie. “Ain’t nobody better to have your back than Bo-dacious here.”

“Dude, come on, I told you to knock it off with that Bo-dacious crap,” Bo said, taking the sting out of his words with a light punch at Ryan’s arm.

“You have a stunt company?” Sadie asked, unable to mask the surprise in her voice.

“I do,” he said. “Windy City Stunts.”

“I’ve heard of it.” Sadie nodded. “But I didn’t . . .” She hesitated. “I didn’t know it was your company.”

“It is.” His mouth twisted.

The answer was spoken softly, but his words were sharp. Biting. An accusation. An acknowledgment of the fact she’d not bothered to stay up to date on what he’d been doing in the years since . . . well, in the years since she’d last seen him.

She hadn’t. She’d been afraid to. And she never thought she’d see him again. Certainly not here. Not now. Not like this.

Digging deep, Sadie got to her feet and turned to face Bo. He seemed bigger than she remembered. Not in size exactly, not taller or thicker, but sturdier. More substantial. The last time she’d seen him, they’d been teenagers. A man stood before her now.

“That’s great,” she managed.

“Yeah, I started with some freelance gigs. Did that for a couple of years before helping form WCS. Now it’s become the number one source for stunt performers in Chicago.”

The pride in his voice was unmistakable, and well- deserved. The company had an excellent reputation— even she knew they were the go-to company to hire in this city.

“Wow. I’m happy for you,” Sadie said, and meant it too. Despite everything that lay between them, everything that had happened, she was truly glad to see him doing so well.

“Hold up.” Ryan glanced between her and Bo. “Do you two know each other?”

For a moment, neither of them answered.

“Yeah.” Always the braver one, Bo spoke first. “We were friends as kids.”

“Yep,” Sadie agreed brightly. Too brightly. “Friends.” Throat tight, eyes stinging, she added, “Although it’s been a long time. Ten years, I think?”

“Eleven,” Bo said, eyes never leaving her face. “But who’s counting.”

Sadie’s heart began to beat faster, wild and fluttery, thumping against her sternum like a bird trying to escape its cage. She knew exactly how many years it had been. Despite her best efforts, she’d never been able to stop keeping track.

“Small world, huh?” Ryan chuckled, either completely oblivious to the tension zipping around him or a better actor than she’d realized. “I met Bo last year when I guest-starred on an episode of Chicago Rescue. He set up this amazing stunt, right? An explosion that sent me flying out a twelfth-story window.” Ryan brushed one palm over the other, pumping a hand skyward, as if to demonstrate his airborne body.

Sadie’s skin crawled at the thought.

“Got any cool stuff like that planned for us, man?” Ryan asked, eager as a kid about to ride a roller coaster.

Sadie hated roller coasters. Hated heights of all kinds, actually. She didn’t even do well with escalators. Bo, of course, knew this.

Fuck. She jerked her head toward him. Would he use that knowledge against her? He could. Easily.

“I have some ideas,” Bo answered Ryan, but kept his gaze on her, his tawny eyes giving away nothing.

“Do stunt coordinators usually come to first reads?” Sadie asked, struggling to hide the wave of anxiety crashing through her.

“Occasionally.” Bo shrugged, the thick line of his shoulders rising and falling. “Depending on the complexity of the stunts, directors will sometimes ask me to sit in on a read, so I can get a feel for things. Identify potential problems.”

As he talked, he’d begun rolling up the sleeves of his shirt. Sadie tried not to stare as the strong masculine lines of his forearms were revealed. What was it about a man rolling up his sleeves that immediately upped his hotness factor? And with a guy like Bo, whose hotness level was already off the charts, it simply wasn’t fair. “Is that what you’re doing today? Identifying potential problems?” Because she could think of a few.

Bo looked at her, a knowing twinkle in his eye as if he was aware of how discombobulated she was. “For one, I’ll decide which stunts I think are suitable for the actors to perform themselves.”

“Oh?” Sadie rubbed her palms on her jeans.

A grin curved one corner of his mouth as he nodded. “Don’t worry, I’m not here to make anyone do anything that makes them uncomfortable.” The teasing edge of his smile eased the vise around Sadie’s heart.

Sometimes in Love

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Sunday Spotlight: July 2019

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About Melonie Johnson

A Star Wars junkie and Shakespeare groupie who quotes both Yoda and the Bard with equal aplomb, she met her future husband in that most romantic of places—the mall—when they were teenagers working in stores across the hall from each other. Today, they live happily ever after in the magical land midway between Chicago and Milwaukee with their two redhead daughters, a dog that’s more like a small horse, and a pair of hermit crabs. After earning her Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude from Loyola University Chicago, Melonie taught high school English and Theatre in the northern Chicago suburbs for several years. Now she writes smart and funny contemporary romance and moonlights as an audiobook narrator under the pseudonym, Evelyn Eibhlin.


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