Tag: Sunday Spotlight

Sunday Spotlight: Say No More by Karen Rose

Posted August 2, 2020 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 2 Comments

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

Say No More is the second book in KR’s Sacramento series. I really enjoyed the first book, so I’m looking forward to this one. Karen Rose is literally the master of romantic suspense. If you haven’t read her yet, I highly suggest that you do.

Sunday Spotlight: Say No More by Karen RoseSay No More by Karen Rose
Series: Sacramento #2
Also in this series: Say You're Sorry (Sacramento, #1)
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: August 11, 2020
Format: Hardcover
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 544
Length: 24 hours
Add It: Goodreads
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Series Rating: five-stars

Mercy Callahan thought she'd escaped the cult decades ago, but its long fingers are reaching out for her again in this electrifying novel in the Sacramento series...
Seventeen years ago. That was the last time Mercy Callahan saw Ephraim Burton, the leader of the twisted Eden cult where she was raised. But even though she escaped the abuse and terror, they continue to haunt her.
When her brother Gideon discovers new evidence of the cult's—and their victims'—whereabouts, Mercy goes to Sacramento to reconnect with him. There, she meets Gideon's closest friend—homicide detective Rafe Sokolov. From Rafe, she receives an offer she never knew she needed: to track down Ephraim and make him pay for everything.
But Ephraim, who had thought Mercy long dead, discovers she is in fact alive and that she is digging around for the cult's secrets. And now he'll do anything to take her back to Eden—dead or alive.


 

Excerpt

Amos Terrill rubbed his thumb over the lines of the script he’d just carved into the lid of the hope chest. He was almost finished with it, this special project on which he’d been laboring for the past five months, mostly in secret. He’d made countless hope chests, coffee tables, kitchen cabinets, armoires, and jewelry boxes over the thirty years he’d lived in Eden. All of them had been gifts for the membership or items to be sold to bring money into the community coffers.

This was the first time he’d ever made something for himself. Something he didn’t intend to share with anyone.

No one except his Abigail. His heart.

A splinter caught at his thumb and he pulled it out, sucking at the small wound before returning to his task. He could sand the hope chest later. He didn’t have much more time to himself. Everyone knew he stopped working at suppertime, and then people would start dropping by.

Amos, can you fix this? Amos, a minute of your time? Amos, need a pair of strong hands to help with… It didn’t matter what. It was all the same after thirty years.

He picked up the detail blade, his favorite of all of his carving tools. He’d brought it with him to Eden, when he was young and full of hope, ready to change the world.

Now he knew the truth and every day had become a struggle, each harder than the day before.

He had to stay positive. Had to keep smiling. Had to stay patient. Had to nod and pleasantly reply that all was well when he was greeted in passing.

In other words, he had to lie.

He finished carving the last word and took a look at his work. It had become something of a trademark, a personal signature he’d added to all the larger pieces of cabinetry he created.

The words were carved in a scrolling, old‑fashioned script: Surely Goodness And Mercy Shall Follow Me All The Days Of My Life. Psalms 23:6. Anyone in the community would think it simply a beautiful Bible verse, one that matched the song that used to be in his heart.

But it wasn’t. It was a tribute. Penance, even. His way of trying to make it up to a beautiful little girl whom he’d failed. So utterly.

Mercy. He thought of her often, especially after the birth of his Abigail, whose name meant father’s joy. As with most things in his life, Abigail’s birth had been bittersweet, losing her mother just minutes after they’d held their baby for the first time.

He’d thought he’d lose them both. Like he’d lost his first family. Mercy. Gideon. Rhoda. Dammit, Rhoda, I’m so sorry. You tried to tell me, but I wouldn’t listen.

He hadn’t wanted to listen.

But now he knew the truth and he needed to get Abigail out. To safety. To freedom.

He wouldn’t fail her like he’d failed Mercy, Rhoda, and Gideon.

He picked up the hope chest and turned it over effortlessly, a lifetime of woodworking giving him more strength than most men. He began to carve his true signature into the base of the chest, no larger than a dime. A small olive tree with twelve branches. It was exacting, but, at the same time, something he could do with his eyes closed, he’d done it so many times.

“Papa!”

Amos startled, the knife in his hand skipping over the wood, and pain ripped into his finger. “Ugh!” he cried, unable to stifle the sound. “Papa?” Abigail bounded into his workshop, with the same energy with which she tackled everything else in her life. “Tackled” being the operative term. Abigail never walked when she could run, never sat when she could stand. Never whispered. Ever.
His lips curved up into a smile even as he grabbed a clean rag to press to his finger.

“Abi‑girl,” he said with genuine warmth. Abigail was the only one who could summon anything close to happiness for him. She was the only thing that was real and had been for the past six months. Ever since Amos had witnessed Brother Ephraim calmly breaking the necks of Sister Dorcas, her husband, and their sixteen‑year‑old son, three of the dearest people in the world. Amos’s throat burned every time he remembered Brother Ephraim so carelessly tossing their bodies into an unmarked grave.

After which Ephraim had returned to tell the membership that Dorcas and her family had chosen to return to the world after the untimely death of their dear Miriam.

Miriam, who’d walked around with shadows in her eyes. Who, the last time Amos had seen her, had been bruised and bloody and begging to die.

Sister Dorcas had begged Amos for his help. Please help us get her out of here. Please.

Amos had done his best, or he’d thought so at the time, working through the night to fashion a hope chest similar to the one he was now building for Abigail. It wasn’t ornate and hadn’t had a false bottom, but it had been large enough that Miriam had been able to hide inside. Her father and brother had hoisted the hope chest into the bed of Brother DJ’s truck when no one was around to see their muscles strain under the added weight. Miriam was supposed to have climbed from the back of the truck and run for freedom the moment that Brother DJ had slowed enough to make it possible.
But it had all been for naught. Miriam must have been attacked by an animal because her body had been returned to them, too damaged to be identified. And, as punishment for their part in her escape, Sister Dorcas, Brother Stephen, and their son, Ezra, had been murdered in cold blood.

I failed them, too.

But he would not fail again. He would not fail his Abigail.

Sacramento

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 2020

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 Karen Rose

Internationally bestselling, RITA-award winning, author Karen Rose was born and raised in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC. She met her husband, Martin, on a blind date when they were seventeen and after they both graduated from the University of Maryland, (Karen with a degree in Chemical Engineering) they moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. Karen worked as an engineer for a large consumer goods company, earning two patents, but as Karen says, “scenes were roiling in my head and I couldn't concentrate on my job so I started writing them down. I started out writing for fun, and soon found I was hooked.”

Her debut suspense novel, DON'T TELL, was released in July, 2003. Since then, she has published more than fifteen novels and two novellas. Her twenty-second novel, SAY YOU'RE SORRY, will be released in 2019.

Karen's books have appeared on the bestseller lists of the New York Times, USA Today, London's Sunday Times, and Germany's der Spiegel (#1), and the Irish Times, as well as lists in South Africa(#1) and Australia!
​​
Her novels, I'M WATCHING YOU and SILENT SCREAM, received the Romance Writers of America's RITA award for Best Romantic Suspense for 2005 and 2011. Five of her other books have been RITA finalists. To date, her books have been translated into more than twenty languages.

A former high school teacher of chemistry and physics, Karen lives in Florida with her husband of more than twenty years, two dogs, and a cat.


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Sunday Spotlight: The Unseen by Thea Harrison

Posted July 26, 2020 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. 🙂

I love Pia and Dragos. The Unseen is the start of another trilogy featuring the couple and I’m super excited for it.

Sunday Spotlight: The Unseen by Thea HarrisonThe Unseen by Thea Harrison
Series: Elder Races #9.9
Also in this series: Dragon Bound (Elder Races, #1), Storm's Heart (Elder Races, #2), Serpent's Kiss (Elder Races, #3), Oracle's Moon (Elder Races, #4), Oracle's Moon (Elder Races, #4), True Colors (Elder Races, #3.5), Lord's Fall (Elder Races, #5), Kinked, Lord's Fall, Kinked (Elder Races, #6), Pia Saves the Day & Peanut Goes to School, Dragos Takes a Holiday, Night's Honor, Night's Honor, Dragon Bound, Midnight's Kiss, Midnight's Kiss, Dragos Goes to Washington, Shadow's End, Pia Does Hollywood, Liam Takes Manhattan, Pia Does Hollywood, The Chosen: A Novella of the Elder Races, Planet Dragos (Elder Races, #9.8), Planet Dragos (Elder Races, #9.8), Lionheart (Moonshadow, #3), Spellbinder
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: July 13, 2020
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 150
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Series Rating: four-stars

Saying goodbye to their old life in the Wyr demesne in New York may be hard, but Dragos and Pia are determined to create a new life in the Other land of Rhyacia.

At first, everything seems idyllic. Rhyacia is paradisiacal. Accompanied by old friends and new allies, the future looks safe and bright for Dragos, Pia, and baby Niall.

But strange things are happening beneath the picturesque façade. Items move unaccompanied, buildings collapse without justifiable cause, and even the most Powerful residents of Rhyacia can provide no logical explanation for the events transpiring. Whispered rumors point to something called the unseen.

As Dragos and Pia investigate, they uncover a greater mystery than they could have imagined, and they realize the startling truth…

They’re not alone in Rhyacia. The land Dragos had thought was uninhabited hides many secrets, a shocking history that’s not quite ready to be buried, and something more.

Something ancient, evil, and hungry. Something that wants to consume Dragos and take everything he holds dear.
Something that just may be powerful enough to overcome the dragon…

Excerpt

“I think this is the nicest thing you’ve ever done for me.”

He looked faintly mystified as he stroked along Pia’s cheek with his thumb. “I’ve bought you plenty of jewelry that cost a hundred or a thousand times what this makeup box cost.”

Amusement curved her lips. Yes, he had, and it was a measure of his love for her that he was able to actually give the jewelry to her after he had acquired it. But as much as she loved that the dragon gave her jewels, those outrageously expensive pieces never meant as much to her as they did to him.

This, however, was purely about her. He had seen her struggling to let go of something that was pretty minor in the grand scheme of life, and he had taken steps to make sure she didn’t have to. He could have had the makeup inserted into disposable cardboard shapes, and that would have been astonishing and thoughtful enough, but, being Dragos, he had to turn the whole project into treasure.

“Thank you. I love it with all my heart,” she said. Hooking an arm around his neck, she drew his head down to hers.

“That’s all that matters, then,” he said against her lips. His voice had turned husky.

She had told him what she could of the things she struggled with, but there were some things she could never tell him. Never. Savoring his mouth and every sensual detail of his long, hard body pressed against her, she locked down those secrets tight in the deepest, most private part of her soul.

After all, they had already discussed it, two months ago after Pia and Rune’s mate Carling had been kidnapped. The kidnapping had been a ploy by a crazed and embittered Elf to trap and destroy Dragos Cuelebre, who was known throughout the Elder Races as the Great Beast. During that nightmare, Pia had been forced to give birth to Niall in a cave and had met Dragos’s brother, Lord Azrael, the god of Death.
Once, she had just been a New York girl who wore makeup from Target and got freaked out over having feelings for a dragon. She was an herbivore who had to keep her Wyr nature secret, while he was the ultimate predator. Falling in love and mating with him had felt earthshaking and immense all on its own.

But coping long term with the reality of mating with Dragos was like opening an infinity of nesting puzzle boxes. As soon as she opened one and thought she had a grasp on things, she found another box to open, another reality even more immense than the one before.

She remembered the conversation they’d had after the kidnapping as if it had happened yesterday. How many Primal Powers are there? she had asked. The Elder Races only have seven in their pantheon.

You got me, Dragos had said with a shrug. I don’t really have anything to do with them, except I used to have a…let’s call it a certain rapport with Azrael.

He hadn’t been lying, exactly; her truthsense was deeply attuned to him and she was certain of that. But his gold gaze had slid away from hers when he had said it.

And Azrael had said to her, You, of all people, should know how closely related death and the dragon are.

She did, or at least she had thought she had. But there were consequences to that close relation that she had never before queried, until then.

When she’d talked to Dragos, she’d tried to make light of it. To make it safe, as she’d asked him, We’re not going to talk about the pressures of godhood or anything like that?

And he’d brushed the whole thing off. Pia, what does godhood mean? Tiago is a thunderbird. More than half my sentinels have been worshipped as gods in Egypt. Look at the Djinn and what they can do. Hell, look at yourself in the mirror—look at yourself when you’re in your Wyr form. Unless something or someone kills you, you are going to live indefinitely, and your blood heals any wound. That’s pretty damn miraculous in my book. There are many of the Elder Races who have been called gods at one point or other in history, and just as many who have been called demons.

His logic had been unassailable. He was right, but….

But.

Dragos was her husband, her mate, her dedicated lover, and most fierce protector, and yet in many ways he was still a total mystery to her. Some days, she couldn’t help but run that conversation through her mind again. Some days, she felt just like a New York girl who had gotten lost on a lonely road in a country so foreign she didn’t even know its name.
And the only thing that brought her home again was this: his mouth, his hands, his scent. Her body knew every exciting detail of his and craved it. She craved him.

When he shut the door to his office and turned back to her, his movements were tight with the hunger that drove him. She was already moving, stripping off her shirt and wriggling out of her jeans.

As she kicked out of them, he wound one hard arm underneath her hips and lifted her onto the desk. They often took their time with foreplay and teasing, laughing together under the velvet cloak of an indulgent midnight, but this was not one of those times.
He yanked off her underwear, and she eagerly wound her legs around his hips while she pulled his T-shirt over his head to reveal the heavy musculature of his tremendous chest. When he eased the thick, broad head of his erection against her opening, she was wet and ready. Her head fell back, eyes closed, as he entered her.

They fit together like the oldest, truest magic: yin and yang; female and male; dark and light.

It was only during times like these when she felt relief from the doubts and insecurities that plagued her. When all her doubts were vaporized in the heat of passion, and the deepest, most private part of her soul said to him, I don’t care who or what you are. You’re mine.

You’re mine.

Elder Races

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 2020

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 Thea Harrison

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Thea Harrison resides in Colorado. She wrote her first book, a romance, when she was nineteen, and had sixteen romances published under the name Amanda Carpenter. She took a break from writing to collect a couple of graduate degrees and a grown child.

Thea writes in a variety of genres, including the award-winning paranormal Elder Races series and the Game of Shadows novels, and is currently at work on various new projects in sci-fi fantasy, paranormal and contemporary romance.

She adores animals and currently resides with two small dogs that have very large personalities.


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Sunday Spotlight: The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon

Posted July 19, 2020 by Casee 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. 🙂

I’ve known Farrah forever. I met her way back when the Judith McNaught Bulletin Board (JMBB) was a thing. I’ve followed her writing career since its inception, though I am ashamed to say I haven’t read more than two or three of her books. I’m determined to change that with The Boyfriend Project. This book sounds like my cuppa and I’m really excited to try it.

Sunday Spotlight: The Boyfriend Project by Farrah RochonThe Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon
Series: The Boyfriend Project #1
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: June 9, 2020
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 368
Add It: Goodreads
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USA Today bestselling author Farrah Rochon launches a new series about three young women who become friends when the live Tweeting of a disastrous date leads them to discover they've all been duped by the same man.
Samiah Brooks never thought she would be "that" girl. But a live tweet of a horrific date just revealed the painful truth: she's been catfished by a three-timing jerk of a boyfriend. Suddenly Samiah-along with his two other "girlfriends," London and Taylor-have gone viral online. Now the three new besties are making a pact to spend the next six months investing in themselves. No men, no dating, and no worrying about their relationship status . . .
For once Samiah is putting herself first, and that includes finally developing the app she's always dreamed of creating. Which is the exact moment she meets the deliciously sexy, honey-eyed Daniel Collins at work. What are the chances? When it comes to love, there's no such thing as a coincidence. But is Daniel really boyfriend material or is he maybe just a little too good to be true?


 
 

Excerpt

Chapter One

“Alexa, play Drake.”

Releasing an intentionally loud, dramatic sigh, Samiah Brooks lolled her head toward the opened bathroom door and called out, “Don’t just tell it to play a certain artist, Denise. Tell it what song you want it to play.”

Muffled footfalls shuffled across the bedroom’s alder hardwood floors. A moment later her sister appeared in the doorway.

“I don’t know any Drake songs. That’s why I asked the damn Alexa thingy.” Denise lumbered into the bathroom, plopped onto the toilet’s closed lid, and palmed her substantial belly. The opening bars of Drake’s “Best I Ever Had” began streaming through the HD speakers discreetly positioned throughout the condo. Denise pointed upward. “Is that him? Is that Drake?”

“Yes.” Samiah sighed again. She capped her Fenty Beauty 410 foundation and traded it for the liquid eyeliner. Tugging her lower lid downward, she muttered as she swiped the thin brush along the rim of her eye. “You know you can’t fake this kind of thing, right? Your students will see right through it.”

“Shows how much you know. I’ve been faking it for years. No one’s caught on yet.”

Samiah glanced over her shoulder and grinned. “Make sure you don’t say that around your husband.”

“Oh please.” Denise batted the air as she adjusted her position on the toilet seat cover. “He knows I sometimes have to fake it with him too.”

“Dammit!” Samiah nearly poked herself in the eye with the eyeliner brush. She swung around and glared at her sister. “You said that shit on purpose.”

“What?” Denise asked with wide, guileless eyes. Her knowing smirk nullified her weak attempt at innocence.

“If I gouge myself in the eye with this thing, I’m telling Mama it was your fault.”

“She’d never believe you.” Her sister gestured to the array of palettes scattered across the leathered granite vanity. “Why didn’t you get all dolled up before you went out with me? You wait until we get back to pull out the heavy artillery?”

“Jealous?”

“As if. I can barely remember to pack lip balm in my purse.”

Samiah tsked as she used the smudger brush to blend the shadow into the crease of her eye. “Master the smoky eye and you can conquer the world.”

“Is that your new motto?” Denise said with a snort.

She cocked one perfect brow as she peered at her sister through the mirror. “As someone who hasn’t worn a fully made-up face since cassette tapes were still a thing, you can’t grasp just how difficult it is to achieve this look.” She turned, closed her eyes, and pointed at her eyelids. “Girl, do you see this blending? I honestly just want to stare at myself in the mirror all night.”

Samiah dodged the incoming bath puff, pitched with precision by her National College Softball Championship–winning older sister.

“Hey, help me pick out something else to wear. I’m not feeling the silver dress anymore. It’s too dressy for the club Craig and I are going to tonight.” She pushed down on Denise’s shoulders when her sister tried to rise. “You stay here. I’ll bring the outfits to you.”

Samiah made her way to the bedroom’s huge walk-in closet and slid the knotted pine barn door—the deciding factor in buying this condo—to the side. She stepped in and thumbed through her dresses.

“What about that blue one you wore to your classmate’s wedding a few months ago?” Denise called. “What was her name? Tabatha?”

“Tamyra.” Samiah grimaced, recalling that night. She’d spent much of the wedding reception getting hit on by Tamyra’s sexagenarian uncle, whose fake silk shirt seemed to lose more buttons as the night dragged on. She’d spent the next morning scrubbing a stain from the bustline after he’d sloshed her with his Jack and Coke while pressing her to dance to an Isley Brothers tune from the midseventies. Samiah doubted she’d ever wear that dress again.

“Not that one,” she said. In fact, if Denise wanted it, she could have it.

She settled on dark blue skinny jeans and a red cowl-neck sweater, which seemed more appropriate for this evening’s amended plans and the unseasonable nip in the air on this mid-August night. Austin usually felt like a sauna until at least late September.

Originally, she and Craig were supposed to start their evening with dinner, but he’d texted just as she was leaving work to tell her that he’d gotten caught up at the office and wouldn’t be able to make it downtown until late. He’d offered to call and cancel, which was the least he could do since she had been the one who’d spent a half hour on the phone securing the dinner reservation.

Samiah would be lying if she said she wasn’t annoyed. She’d been looking forward to returning to the Asian fusion spot where they’d had their first date. The restaurant continued to generate an insane amount of buzz around town and reservations weren’t easy to come by.

But she wouldn’t bitch about it. At least not too much. Joining Denise for beef patties from the Jamaican food truck down the street, along with Amy’s Ice Cream, had soothed the sting of missing out on good sushi. And the night was still young. She and Craig would enjoy a little late-night noshing and gritty blues music at the new club that had recently opened on Sixth Street, the epicenter of Austin’s nightlife.

She unhooked a faux suede cropped jacket from the hanger and held it up just under her chin.

Come to think of it, each of her four dates with Craig had been at a club or bar on Dirty Sixth, as some locals called it. Granted, she was the one who’d suggested they go to this new blues club, but only because it was the first thing that came to mind on such short notice, and Craig never seemed to have any suggestions. Next time she would propose something with a different flair, like exploring the caverns in Georgetown or hiking in Bastrop State Park.

“Let’s see what you’d say to that,” Samiah murmured as she returned the jacket to the hanger.

A couple of the guys she’d dated in the past had been surprised to learn that, despite her sharp business attire, perfectly styled hair, and always on-point makeup, she was an outdoors girl. Hell, it had surprised her too. Samiah had grown up in Houston’s Third Ward. The closest she’d ever gotten to the outdoors was eating a sandwich on a bench in Moses LeRoy Park, with the traffic from I-45 whizzing overhead. But in the years since she’d moved to Austin, she’d acquired a taste for the unique adrenaline rush one received at the completion of a hike to the summit of Mount Bonnell or a bike ride through Zilker Park.
She tried to picture Craig trotting up the rocky terrain of the Texas Hill Country in his loafers. The image refused to even take shape in her mind.
Maybe they could compromise and go to one of those indoor rock-climbing places. At least there would be air-conditioning. Craig would insist on air-conditioning. And no bugs.

Are you sure about this guy?

Samiah quashed her pesky inner voice that had started making an appearance more frequently than usual. Craig wasn’t perfect. No one was perfect. But at least he was employed, had manners, and could sorta tell a decent joke when the occasion arose.

Okay, fine. So his sense of humor left something to be desired. Was that a good reason to write someone off? If she wanted a laugh, Netflix provided a vast selection of comedy specials to choose from. Having a sense of humor had fallen several notches on her list when it came to attributes she required in a significant other.

A lot had fallen off that list. These days, a full set of teeth and a playlist that consisted of something other than the Isley Brothers would earn you at least a wink.

Craig might not be her ideal Mr. Right, but he was right enough.

The sound of her sister’s distinct laugh drew Samiah’s attention. “What are you cackling about in there?”

“Just something on Twitter. This poor woman is on the absolute date from hell.”

“And she’s tweeting about it?”

“Yes. In real time. It’s like watching a train wreck.” She heard Denise’s footsteps padding toward her. Her sister’s extremely pregnant belly appeared before she did. “Apparently, the guy she’s with thinks he’s the answer to every woman’s dream. The lines he’s trying on her are sooo tired.”

Been there. Done that. Got the ticket stub, T-shirt, and bad memories to show for it.

“Listen to this,” Denise said. “So, this fool told her he works in clean energy and is all about the environment, yet he’s driving a Mercedes SUV. Not a hybrid, but a gas-guzzling SUV.”

Samiah frowned. A tiny knot formed in her stomach, but then she reminded herself loads of people drove Mercedes SUVs.

“Oh, and get this. His Benz? It’s a rental.”

“How does she know it’s a rental?”

“Hold on, let me scroll up.” Her sister paused for a moment. “Okay, here it is. She said she knew it wasn’t his the moment she got in because she’d rented that exact Mercedes from a luxury car dealership in Round Rock to impress people during South by Southwest last year. She got a discount because it has a cigarette burn on the passenger seat. The exact cigarette burn his has.”

Samiah’s hand arrested on the faux camel leather jacket she was about to pull from the hanger. “Did she mention a color?”

“No. I’ve been refreshing my feed like a crazy person, but she hasn’t updated her timeline in the last minute.” Denise looked up from the phone, a wide grin on her face. “This is why I love Twitter.”

“To read about bad dates between two people you don’t even know?”

“Yes.” Her sister’s unapologetic response would have elicited a laugh from Samiah if she wasn’t so busy trying to quell the manic butterflies whirling in her belly.

Stop being ridiculous. Plenty of people who work in clean energy probably drive a Mercedes SUV with a cigarette burn on the passenger seat.

“Did I mention the tweet about his apartment?” her sister asked. “He told her he lives in those fancy apartments up near the Domain, but this girl happens to know the property manager there. She had her friend run his name and, of course, the fool was lying about that too.” Denise laughed again. “He messed with the wrong one.”

The unease that had settled in the pit of Samiah’s belly began to blossom.

“Oh, she tweeted again!” Another laugh. “Now he’s trying to woo her with his favorite dish.”

“The volcano sushi roll,” Samiah said, barely able to get the words past her clenched jaw.

Her sister’s head popped up. “How’d you know? You’re not even on Twitter.”

Samiah jerked the jacket loose and flung the hanger on the floor.

“Oh, shit,” Denise said. “Don’t tell me…”

But Samiah didn’t have to tell her anything. She could tell by her sister’s horrified expression that she’d figured it out.
She pulled on her jacket and stuffed her feet into her favorite quarter-strapped heeled boots. She’d be damned if she walked in there looking like an enraged, spurned woman. Or worse, some wounded animal. She would burst through those doors showcasing her fabulousness. Let that bastard see what he would be missing out on for the rest of his sorry-ass life.

“Where are you going?” A thread of panic lined the edges of Denise’s voice.

“They’re at the new restaurant a couple of blocks away,” Samiah answered. “The same place we were supposed to go tonight.” She stopped short. “He used the reservation I made. Son of a bitch. I was on the phone for a half hour trying to get that reservation.”

“You mean he had the nerve to bring another woman to a restaurant in your neighborhood? He must have balls of steel.”

“I wouldn’t know.” And thank God for that.

She’d actually considered Craig a gentleman because he hadn’t tried to get her into bed on the first date. Of course, he’d tried on each subsequent date, but Samiah had made a promise to herself long ago not to give up her goodies until she was good and ready. The fact that it had never felt right should have been her clue that something was wrong. Apparently, her vajayjay had sensed he was a rat long before she had.

“And just what do you plan to do when you get there?” Denise asked as she followed her back into the bathroom. “Beat him up in the middle of the restaurant?”

“I won’t lay a hand on him. I just want to see his face when I walk in.”

Her sister looked down at the phone and gasped. “You’ve got to be kidding me!”

“What?” Samiah ran to her side.

“Another girl just tagged herself on the Twitter thread. She’s been dating this Craig guy too.”

Samiah didn’t just see red; she saw a burst of fiery crimson.

“This is like that TV show. You know, the one where the people meet online but you don’t know if they’re telling the truth about who they really are? What do they call it?”

“Catfishing,” Samiah hissed.

She’d been catfished. Or, at the very least, scammed into believing Craig was something he definitely was not.

A combination of mortification and rage congealed in her blood. Every single time she heard one of those stories, she’d felt sympathy for the poor, unsuspecting fool who got caught up in it. But that sympathy always came with a heavy dose of judgment. She couldn’t understand how anyone could be so gullible. Never could she imagine that she would become the victim of some slick-tongued, rental car–driving asshole’s scam.

“I’m not sure going to that restaurant is a good idea,” her sister said. “Maybe you should take some time to cool off.”

“Nope.” Samiah unwound the silk headscarf from around her head and used a wide-toothed comb to release her flat-ironed hair from the wrapped style. She parted it on one side and let the soft locks fall to just under her chin in a sensible yet sexy bob. Because, yes, she was determined to look like a queen when she cursed Craig’s lying, three-timing ass out.

She left the bathroom and, with one last look in the full-length cheval mirror she’d inherited from her grandmother, grabbed her clutch from the dresser and stalked out of her bedroom.

“What time is Bradley coming to pick you up?” she asked her sister.

“In another half hour.”

“This shouldn’t take long, but if I’m not back by then, use your key to lock up.”

“Don’t get yourself arrested,” Denise called from the condo’s front door. “And text me as soon as you get back.”

Samiah stuck a hand in the air and waved in answer as she marched down the hallway and into the elevator. She concentrated on taking deep, calming, cleansing breaths as she traveled from the twenty-first floor to the lobby without interruption.

She exited her building and started down Nueces Street, arriving at the restaurant in minutes. She spotted Craig’s clean-shaven head at a table in clear view of the entrance. Couldn’t the bastard at least try to be discreet? This place was steps from her home. She could have strolled by at any time.
Samiah told the hostess she was meeting friends. The young girl didn’t even question her as she invited her in. She made a beeline for Craig’s table, sidling up to him with a bright smile.

She infused as much cheer into her voice as she could muster and said, “Well, I guess your work meeting got canceled, huh? Lucky you!”

He jumped at the sound of her voice and looked up at her over his shoulder, his eyes wide with an oh shit, I’m caught look.

She hit him with a super sweet grin.

That’s right, bitch. You’re caught.

Samiah looked to the woman sitting across from him. The red globe over the light fixture that hung above the table cast a rosy glow across her light brown skin. Her reddish-brown hair was done up in thick box braids and she had cheekbones Samiah would sell her soul for.
“Hi.” She extended her hand with a genuine smile. “I’m Samiah.”

“Taylor,” the woman answered with matching politeness. “I thought for a minute that you were London.”

Samiah nodded toward the phone sitting next to a half-eaten plate of sushi. “Is London the other woman on Twitter?”

Taylor nodded. Amusement glittered in her light brown eyes.

“Twitter?” Craig asked, his sweat-slicked forehead scrunching up in confusion. “What’s going on here?”

“Your lies are catching up to you,” Samiah answered. She nodded at Taylor, who’d propped her elbow on the table and now perched her chin on her closed fist. “Let me take a stab at this. He invited you to go out to a club after dinner, but just gave you a lame-ass excuse for why he needs to cut the night short.”
“His mom is sick,” Taylor said, biting her lip to contain the smile turning up the corners of her mouth.

“Ah, yes, I’ve heard about his sick mama. Actually, I’m his sick mama. He’s supposed to meet me in another half hour.” She tilted her head to the side. “I wonder who played the sick mother when he fed me that line on our first date.”

“That would be me.”

The three of them turned as a statuesque woman with rich brown skin, a head full of enviable coily, natural hair, and shoes to die for approached the table.

“At least I think it was me. Hello all, I’m London.” She plunked her hands on her hips, her wry smile directed at Craig. “The Internet is amazing, isn’t it? One of my fellow Walking Dead tweeps retweeted this hilarious first date from hell into my timeline. Imagine my surprise when it turns out to be the exact first date I had, down to the volcano sushi roll.”

“You have to admit that sushi roll is amazing,” Samiah said.

“Incredible,” London agreed.

Taylor pushed her plate toward them. “It’s the best. Dig in, ladies.”

They’d started to garner attention from the other tables. A number of people were openly staring, and the hum of whispers filtered in from various corners of the restaurant.

“I haven’t had dinner yet,” London said. “Should we order another?”

“Okay, now, wait a minute.” Craig put both hands up. “Let me—”

“Shut up.” Samiah cut him off. “You don’t get to speak here.”

“Come on, Sammy.”

“Shut. Up.” If he knew how close she was to elbowing him in the throat, he would walk out of here without saying a word. The grip she had on her rage was tenuous at best. “And don’t call me that stupid nickname. My name is Samiah.”

“That’s a beautiful name,” London said around a mouthful of sushi.

“Yes, it is. So is that jacket,” Taylor added. “I love the way it cinches a bit at the waist instead of being all boxy.”

“That’s the reason I bought it,” Samiah answered, looking down at her jacket. “Hey, are you ladies up to listening to some blues music? My ‘date,’” she said with an eye roll, “was supposed to take me to that new club on Sixth. I’d hate for this makeup to go to waste.”

“Oh, I don’t blame you,” London said. “That smoky eye deserves to be seen. I end up looking like a raccoon whenever I try for that look.”

“I can give you some tips,” Samiah offered. “It’s all in the primer you use.”

“All right, enough of this.” Craig pushed his chair away from the table and stood. “I can explain—”

Samiah whirled on him. “Read the room, Craig. Read the fucking room,” she snarled, unable to pull off the blasé pretense a second longer. She was hurt and upset and ready to lay into this asshole. “You’re caught, you lying piece of dog shit. Your stupid little game is over.”

The other patrons weren’t even bothering to hide their interest now. Even the waitstaff had stopped what they were doing. All eyes were on them, but Samiah was too incensed to care about the scene they were causing.

“I don’t know how many other women fell for it, but it’s over.” She jabbed her finger against his chest. “Lose my number. If you try to contact me again, I’m calling the police.”

“Same goes for me,” London said as she pulled Craig’s chair to the side of the table to get closer to Taylor’s sushi roll. Taylor passed her a new pair of chopsticks from the container in the center of the table and slid the soy sauce closer.

“The number I gave you was a fake, so I don’t have to worry about hearing from you again,” Taylor said. She tossed her napkin on the table and joined Samiah. Folding her arms across her chest, she said, “Make sure you fill up your Benz before you return it to the car rental place. They charge an arm and a leg if you bring it back on empty.”

His eyes widened. “How’d you know?”

Samiah had to refrain from punching him in the gut. “You’re pathetic,” she spat.

“Can I get a to-go box?” London called. “Also, add another volcano roll to the order. He’ll pay for it. His cheap ass still owes me from our last date.”

“Oh, let me guess,” Samiah said. “He forgot his wallet at work?”

“And the Apple Pay on his phone was acting up,” London said with a nod. “He isn’t very creative, is he?”

Two women at a nearby table laughed out loud. One of them held up a phone to snap a picture.

Great.

Samiah turned back to Craig. “You are a horrible person, and your jokes are corny. I wish nothing but the worst for you.”

A waiter arrived with a black paper bag and handed it to London. She stood and motioned for Samiah and Taylor to walk ahead of her.

“Don’t I get a chance to explain?” Craig called.

“No!” the three women said in unison as they marched out of the restaurant without a backward glance.

The Boyfriend Project

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Sunday Spotlight: July 2020

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About Farrah Rochon

A native of south Louisiana, USA Today Bestselling author Farrah Rochon officially began her writing career while waiting in between classes in the student lounge at Xavier University of Louisiana. After earning her Bachelor of Science degree from Xavier and a Masters of Arts from Southeastern Louisiana University, Farrah decided to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a published novelist. She was named Shades of Romance Magazine's Best New Author of 2007. Her debut novel, Deliver Me, the first in her Holmes Brothers series, garnered rave reviews, earning Farrah several SORMAG Readers' Choice Awards.

Farrah is a two-time finalist for Romance Writers of America's RITA Award and has been a Romantic Times Book Reviews Reviewer's Choice Award nominee. In 2015, Farrah won the Emma Award for Author of the Year.

When she is not writing in her favorite coffee shop, Farrah spends most of her time reading, traveling the world, hanging around on Twitter, visiting Disney World, and trying to attend as many Broadway shows as her budget will allow. An admitted sports fanatic, Farrah feeds her addiction to football by watching New Orleans Saints games on Sunday afternoons.

Farrah is represented by Evan Marshall of the Evan Marshall Literary Agency.


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Sunday Spotlight: Desolation Road by Christine Feehan

Posted July 12, 2020 by Casee 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: Desolation Road by Christine FeehanDesolation Road by Christine Feehan
Series: Torpedo Ink #4
Also in this series: Judgment Road (Torpedo Ink #1), Judgment Road, Vengeance Road (Torpedo Ink #2), Vendetta Road, Desolation Road
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: July 7, 2020
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 480
Add It: Goodreads
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Series Rating: three-stars

Take the ride of your life with the Torpedo Ink motorcycle club in this thrilling romance novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan.    Torpedo Ink is Aleksei “Absinthe” Solokov’s whole life. They’re his brothers, his family—his everything. But that doesn't stop him from wanting something that only belongs to him. That’s why the tough biker has spent the last six weeks at the library, reading every book he can get his hands on and watching the prim and proper librarian who makes his blood rush.    For the past six weeks, Scarlet Foley has been fantasizing about the handsome, tattooed man whose eyes follow her every move. She senses he's dangerous. She wants him to get close enough to touch. She wishes she could let him know the real woman, not the one she pretends to be. But Scarlet has a plan to carry out, and she can’t afford any distractions.   Absinthe is well aware that Scarlet is hiding something. She’s a puzzle he intends to solve, piece by intoxicating piece….

Excerpt

Absinthe opened the door to the restaurant for her, scanning the room quickly for potential trouble before allowing her to do the same thing while he turned back toward the street and gave that another quick once-over. Certain no one was paying attention to either of them, he closed the door and followed his librarian’s amazing ass. She was in a black skirt with small white polka dots scattered over it. The material clung to her curves. He appreciated that particular skirt very much.

Absinthe held the back of her chair for her, ignoring the waiter who looked as if he might conk him on the head and abscond with the girl. She looked regal as she took the seat, smiling up at Absinthe, nearly taking his breath away. Whatever it was that she had affected him like some kind of aphrodisiac. Her small teeth. That mouth with her full, pouty lips that were made for a man’s dirtiest fantasies. He hadn’t had them until she came along. Not like this. Mostly he’d had nightmares. The erotic, very graphic dreams were a welcome change.

“Are you a wine drinker?” Absinthe didn’t know the first thing about wine. He could make her any kind of drink she wanted, or talk beer, but wine eluded him. If she loved wine, he was going to be taking a crash course. It wouldn’t take him long to catch up.

She shook her head. “I actually don’t drink very much. Once in a while, if it’s really hot out, I’ll have an ice-cold beer. But other than that, it’s a very occasional drink and usually I go for something girly like a cosmopolitan.”

“I don’t drink wine,” Absinthe admitted. “Like you I’m not a big drinker, but mostly that stems from wanting to be alert all the time.”

“You don’t put your feet up, relax and have tons to drink?” There was the merest hint of amusement in her voice. Mostly she was serious.

He loved the look on her face when she gave him her full attention. He focused completely on her once he was certain the few couples already eating or waiting to be served weren’t interested in them in the least.

“No, that wouldn’t work for me. I do like to put my feet up though,” he admitted. “I’m going to be very up-front with you.”

It was confession time. If he didn’t say it straight up, she’d find out anyway. “I’m not good at this. I never know what to say and I come off stilted and awkward, but I don’t want to be that way with you.”

Her green eyes were hard to stay still under. She seemed to see right through his skull into his mind where chaos reigned—thanks to her.

“I’m not so great at this either,” she declared. “I guess we’re going to have to learn. I’m very competitive and I have a fast learning curve. Very fast. Wait.” She frowned at him. “You weren’t reading a help book on dating, were you?”

“Do they have those in the library?”

Her lashes swept down and then back up. A small smile teased the curve of her mouth, causing his heart to accelerate. He found himself staring. Shit. He was going to lose before he got started because he couldn’t stop staring at her.

She laughed. “I’m not telling you. I’ll read them and turn into a scintillating conversationalist in minutes, leaving you in the dust.”

He instantly learned three things. There were multiple self-help books on dating, she read extremely fast, and she really was competitive. He flashed a small grin, looking at her with hawk-like eyes, giving her the predator look just for a moment. Just to see the shiver that crept down her spine.

“I’ll have to be there first thing in the morning before your shift.”

“You know my shifts?” The smile faded, and she sounded uneasy.

He shrugged. “How was I going to ask you out? I went multiple times without seeing you, so clearly you had a shift and only came into the library during those times. I kept having to trade work with friends, and drive here from the coast, so, I found out when you worked. I came as often as I could, and just waited until we’d established a very tentative woman can charm the socks right off a shy man any day of the week.”

“Is that what we established?”

Her laughter got him every time. He found himself actually relaxing. The waiter hovered, and both guiltily studied the menu. She ordered a pasta dish and he ordered a steak. Fresh-baked bread was put on the table, and he suddenly realized he was very hungry.

Torpedo Ink

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Sunday Spotlight: July 2020

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 Christine Feehan

I live on the beautiful Northern California coast and draw much inspiration from the beauty around me. I've always been a writer, for as long as I remember. My sisters were forced to read all of my books from the time I could write a story on paper.

I love family. I love my brothers and sisters, my children, my grandchildren and my great grandchildren. My home was always full of kids and children give me so much joy.

I also love my "sisters of the heart", those friends who have supported me through my life, laughed with me, cried with me and loved me regardless of how crazy my life got. I am a strong supporter of women helping each other which is why I became a third degree black belt and taught self-defense to women who'd been abused.

I love people and dogs, good books and great coffee and I'm lucky to know just how blessed I am.


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Sunday Spotlight: The Dare by Elle Kennedy

Posted July 5, 2020 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. 🙂

I haven’t been reading as much New Adult lately, but Elle Kennedy is one of the few authors I still auto-buy in that genre. The Dare is the latest novel in her Briar U series. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Sunday Spotlight: The Dare by Elle KennedyThe Dare by Elle Kennedy
Series: Briar U #4
Also in this series: The Chase (Briar U, #1), The Risk (Briar U #2), The Play
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: June 16, 2020
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 354
Add It: Goodreads
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Series Rating: four-stars

College was supposed to be my chance to get over my ugly-duckling complex and spread my wings. Instead, I wound up in a sorority full of mean girls. I already have a hard time fitting in, so when my Kappa Chi sisters issue the challenge, I can’t say no.

The dare: seduce the hottest new hockey player in the junior class.

Conor Edwards is a regular at Greek Row parties…and in Greek Row sorority beds. He’s the one you fall for before you learn that guys like him don’t give girls like me a second glance. Except Mr. Popular throws me for a loop—rather than laughing in my face, he does me a solid by letting me take him upstairs to pretend we’re getting busy.

Even crazier, now he wants to keep pretending. Turns out Conor loves games, and he thinks it’s fun to pull the wool over my frenemies’ eyes.
But resisting his easy charm and surfer-boy hotness is darn near impossible. Though I’m realizing there’s much more to Conor’s story than his fan club can see.
And the longer this silly ruse goes on, the greater the danger of it all blowing up in my face.

Excerpt

“Tell me something…why aren’t you already here with someone?”

“What do you mean?”

“There isn’t a guy in the picture somewhere?”

It’s my turn to shrink away from the topic. I’d probably have more to say with regards to thirteenth-century textiles than dating. And since I’ve embarrassed myself enough for one evening, I’d rather not compound my humiliation by sharing the details of my non-existent love life.

“So there is a story there,” Conor says, misreading my hesitation for coyness. “Let’s hear it.”

“What about you?” I volley back. “Haven’t settled on that one special groupie yet?”

He shrugs, unbothered by my teasing jab. “Don’t really do girlfriends.”

“Ugh, that sounds slimy.”

“No, I just mean I’ve never dated anyone for more than a few weeks. If it’s not there, it’s not there, you know?”

Oh, I know the type. Bores easy. Constantly looking over his shoulder at the next thing passing by. A walking meme in the flesh.

Figures. The pretty ones are always aching for their freedom.

“Don’t think you’ve distracted me,” he says, giving me a knowing smile. “Answer the question.”

“Sorry to disappoint. No guys. No story.” One unremarkable entanglement sophomore year that hardly fulfilled the definition of a relationship is too pathetic to warrant mention.

“Come on. I’m not as dumb as I look. What, did you break his heart? He spend six months sleeping on the sidewalk outside the sorority house?”

“Why do you assume I’m the kind of girl a guy would pine over in the rain and sleet?”

“You kidding?” His silvery eyes sweep over me, lingering on various parts of my body before returning to meet my gaze. Everywhere he looked is now tingling like crazy. “Babe, you’ve got the kind of body that boys build in their heads under the sheets after dark.”

“Don’t do that,” I tell him, all humor draining from my voice as I start to turn away. “Don’t mock me. That’s not nice.”

“Taylor.”

I jerk when he takes my hand, keeping me in place so that we’re still facing each other. As my pulse kicks into overdrive, he presses my shaky hand against his chest. His body is warm, solid. His heart beats a quick, steady rhythm beneath my palm.

I’m touching Conor Edwards’ chest.

What the hell is happening right now? Never in my wildest dreams did I envision the Kappa Chi Spring Break Hangover party ending this way.

“I mean it.” His voice thickens. “I’ve been sitting here having filthy thoughts about you all night. Don’t mistake my manners for indifference.”

Briar U

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 2020

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 Elle Kennedy

A New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, Elle Kennedy grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, Ontario, and holds a B.A. in English from York University. From an early age, she knew she wanted to be a writer, and actively began pursuing that dream when she was a teenager.

Elle writes romantic suspense and erotic contemporary romance for various publishers. She loves strong heroines and sexy alpha heroes, and just enough heat and danger to keep things interesting!


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