Tag: Sunday Spotlight

Sunday Spotlight: Fully Ignited by Shannon Stacey

Posted January 31, 2016 by Rowena in Features | 3 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a new feature we’re running in 2016. Each week, we will spotlight a release that we’re excited about. We’ll be posting exclusive excerpts and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

Fully Ignited is Book 3 in the Boston Fire series by Shannon Stacey and it features Scotty Kincaid. Scotty is a sexy firefighter from Boston who loves his family and his firefighting brothers…and now he’s going to fall in love with a fellow firefighting woman. squeals Love in the work place…count me in!


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Fully Ignited
Fully Ignited (Boston Fire #3) by Shannon Stacey
Releases on February 23, 2016 by Carina Press

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || KOBO

When Jamie Rutherford takes a temporary assignment as lieutenant of Boston Fire’s Engine 59, she doesn’t anticipate any problems. She’s been in the fire service for a long time and, even though she’s fairly new to Boston, she knows how to make any firehouse her home. What she’s not prepared for is her reaction to firefighter Scott Kincaid.

Scott is looking for a wife. It’s been a fun ride as a single guy, but he’s tired of being the third wheel, and nearly losing his brother-in-law finally made him realize just how much he wants a family of his own. When the new guy at the firehouse turns out to be a capable, confident and very attractive woman, his plan is completely derailed.

Hooking up with a fellow firefighter has never been part of Jamie’s plan, but she’s tempted by Scott—even though getting involved with him could tarnish the reputation she’s worked so hard for. And Scott can’t stop thinking about Jamie, despite the fact that she’s his superior and not sticking around. Chemistry can crush the best-laid plans, though, and while Jamie and Scott might not be each other’s future…there’s no resisting the right now.

Excerpt

Lydia set a frosted mug on a paper coaster in front of her. “You’re not a New Englander, judging by the accent. How’d you end up in Boston?”

Jamie shrugged, swirling what remained of her drink in the bottom of the glass. “Classic story, I guess. I moved here for a guy. Then the guy moved on and I didn’t.”

“Was he from here?”

“No. He got offered a job in pharmaceutical sales and we’d been together long enough so he asked me to go with him the first time. Once you do that, you’re pretty much an official couple, so every time he moved to a bigger city and a bigger company for work, I moved, too. Things were going south between us about the time he realized he hated being away from his parents and I like Boston, so he went home without me.”

“Where’s home?”

Jamie hated this part—all the questions—though she knew there was no way around it. The firefighting community was close-knit, and she was going to be part of if whether she wanted to be or not. “Nebraska.”

Lydia frowned. “Really?”

“Really.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody from Nebraska.”

Jamie laughed. “You’d be surprised how often I hear that.”

“You guys don’t even have a hockey team, do you?”

“Not a professional one, no.”

“Nothing to stop you from being a Bruins fan, then. Some of the guys are out back, playing pool. It’s that room off to the side over there.”

Wondering if one of the guys was Scott, Jamie picked up her beer and looked in the direction Lydia pointed. “Thanks. I guess I’ll say hi, at least.”

As she walked across the bar, she took a few deep breaths. If Scott was in there, she’d be ready for that spark she felt every time she saw him and make sure she didn’t look at him any differently than she looked at the other guys.

It wasn’t easy, though. There were four guys around the pool table, none of whom she recognized. But there, at a table against the wall, was Scott. He was sitting with a guy in a cast who had to be Danny Walsh, and they both smiled when they saw her.

Her stomach did a little flip-flop at Scott’s smile, so she focused on his companion. “You must be Danny.”

“Nice to meet you in person. I’d get up, but…” He waved a hand at the cast. “You’d probably be gone by the time I managed it.”

She stepped forward and shook his hand, before backing up. Unfortunately, in trying to put a little space between her and Scott, she backed up too far and bumped into one of the guys playing pool.

“Oh, sorry,” she said, turning to apologize.

The guys smile turned sleazy when he looked her over and his gaze caught on her Boston Fire T-shirt. “Who’d you sleep with to get the shirt, honey?”

“Excuse me?”

“Does he know you took it or did you sneak out in it?”

“The shirt belongs to me.” She turned her back on him because he wasn’t worth her time.

“Aw, don’t be like that, honey. You can play with my hose if you want.”

Jamie turned to give the guy the look. It was a look that had served her well over the years and, more often than not, ended with the person on the receiving end dropping his or her gaze and muttering an apology.

But the asshole wasn’t looking at her. He was looking over her shoulder, and before she could grasp what that meant, somebody rushed by her to the right.


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Awwww yeah, Scotty defending Jamie’s honor. That’s my dawg!!! I’m so looking forward to reading this book dammit!

Boston Fire Series

Giveaway: 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 January’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 excited for this year!

Shannon Stacey

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shannon Stacey lives with her husband and two sons in New England, where her favorite activities are writing romance and really random tweets when she’s not riding her ATV. She loves mud, books, football & watching way too much TV.

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Sunday Spotlight: Appealed by Emma Chase

Posted January 24, 2016 by Rowena in Features | 13 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a new feature we’re running in 2016. Each week, we will spotlight a release that we’re excited about. We’ll be posting exclusive excerpts and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

Appealed is the third book in the Legal Briefs series. I was introduced to this series by one of my book pimps, Ames. She thought I would enjoy the books and while the first book made me see red, the second book made me fall in love with Emma Chase’s work. Her writing is captivating and I think her male POV is spot on. We met Brent in Overruled and I immediately loved him. I wanted his story more than I wanted Jake’s story but holy cow did Jake and his story hit every single one of my love buttons. Going into Brent’s story, I’ve got ants in my pants.

This is me:


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I’m just over the moon that this book is finally out and it’s sitting all nice and snuggly on my kindle app waiting for me to finish the book that I’m reading right now and jump right into it.

Appealed
Appealed (Legal Briefs #3) by Emma Chase
Releases on January 19, 2016 by Gallery Books

Pre-Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || KOBO

When Brent Mason looks at Kennedy Randolph, he doesn’t see the awkward, sweet girl who grew up next door. He sees a self-assured, stunning woman…who wants to crush the most intimate – and prized – parts of his anatomy beneath the heels of her Christian Louboutins.

Brent has never let the loss of his leg in a childhood accident affect his ability to lead a fulfilling life. He sets high goals–and then he reaches them.

And now he has his sights set on Kennedy.

**

When Kennedy looks at Brent Mason, all she sees is the selfish, Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue-worthy teenager who humiliated her in high school to join the popular crowd. A crowd that made those years a living hell.

She’s not a lovesick social outcast anymore – she’s a DC prosecutor with a long winning streak behind her. Brent is the opposing attorney in her next case and she thinks it’s time to put him through a little hell of his own.

But things aren’t exactly working out that way.

Because every fiery exchange has her wondering if he’s as passionate in the bedroom as he is in the courtroom. Each argument and objection only makes him want her more. In the end, Brent and Kennedy may just find themselves in love…or in contempt of court.

APPEALED is a sexy, humorous romance about first crushes, second chances and the final verdict of the heart.

So when I emailed Emma Chase and asked if she’d like to participate in our Sunday Spotlight, she asked what kind of excerpt I wanted to feature on the blog. A happy family friendly one or a steamy one. Since we’re all adults here, I was a-okay with a steamy scene. She sent over a swoony scene instead and I’m telling you right now…I am not mad. I loved this scene and I know you will too.

Check it out!

Excerpt

While I happily drown in the eyes I haven’t glimpsed in so long, all the other eyes in the audience are focused on Prince. Microphone in hand, he works the room, his white teeth gleaming beneath the lights.

“And I can think of no other announcement more precious to me than to proclaim that the beautiful Kennedy Randolph is going to be my wife.”

My head snaps up. “What did he just say?”

Kennedy’s head snapped even faster. “What did he just say?”

The room explodes into thunderous applause.

I lean in so she can hear me above the noise. “You’re engaged?”

Her head tilts. “No?”

“Sure about that?”

She doesn’t sound very sure, and it seems like the kind of thing she should have the inside track on.

“David flew out to speak with my father last week. He said they had to discuss something important,” Kennedy explains, her eyes squinting like she’s trying to decode ancient hieroglyphics in her head.

“But he didn’t actually ask you?”

“No. I guess he skipped that part.”

The crowd comes at us like a tsunami, and Kennedy’s swallowed up in a sea of well-wishers and carried away toward the front of the room.

I scowl so hard my face hurts.

The ever-elegant Mrs. Randolph appears beside me, in the spot her daughter just vacated, watching the hubbub with a smile.

“It seems congratulations are in order,” I tell her.

“It appears so.”

My gaze never wavers from Kennedy as she’s ushered forward. And there’s a pulling sensation in my chest, like my lung has been snagged by a hook and it’s being yanked out of my rib cage.

The feeling turns my voice scratchy. “Does she love him?”

Mrs. Randolph thinks for a moment, then she answers smoothly, “David is a fine young man. I believe he’ll be president one day. He’s an excellent match for my daughter.”

“That’s not what I asked.”

She sighs. “Claire and I have always been close; we understand each other. But Kennedy…I fear she will forever be an enigma to me. What do you think, Brent? Is that the look of a young woman in love?”

Kennedy’s standing next to Prince now. Black microphones are thrust at her, and bright lights illuminate her pale face and wide eyes.

In love? No.

Scared out of her mind? Absolutely. She looks like a mouse caught in a trap, ready to chew its own leg off to escape.

I was a shitty friend to Kennedy in boarding school, I see that now. But you know something?

This isn’t fucking boarding school.

I march forward, pushing and elbowing my way through the crowd. “Pardon me. Excuse me. Coming through.”

Finally, I reach the unhappy couple. I nod to Prince. “How’s it going, Dave?”

He looks a little confused. “Uh . . . fine, thanks.”

“Good.”

Then I scoop Kennedy up into my arms—and I run.

The element of surprise is on our side, several moments pass before anyone behind us thinks to react.

“What are you doing?” Kennedy squeaks.

“Saving you.”

Loved it. Just absolutely loved this scene. Screw the book that I’m reading right now, I’m jumping into this book right now!

The Legal Briefs Series

Giveaway: 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 January’s features.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re excited for this year!

By day, Emma Chase is a devoted wife and mother who resides in a small town in New Jersey. By night she is a keyboard crusader, toiling away the hours to bring her colorful characters and their endless antics to life. She has a long standing love/hate relationship with caffeine.

Emma is an avid reader. Before her children were born she was known to consume whole books in a single day. Writing has also always been a passion and with the 2013 release of her debut romantic comedy, Tangled, the ability to now call herself an author is nothing less than a dream come true.

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Sunday Spotlight: My American Duchess by Eloisa James

Posted January 17, 2016 by Rowena in Features | 10 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a new feature we’re running in 2016. Each week, we will spotlight a release that we’re excited about. We’ll be posting exclusive excerpts and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

Eloisa James has written some fantastic historical romances and I’m always excited when she comes out with new stuff. After reading the summary for this book, I knew that I wanted to read it. I mean, who wouldn’t want to read a romance where the runaway bride falls in love with someone, not her fiance? It sounds so good!

I was super thrilled when our friends at Avon were very interested in being this week’s Sunday Spotlight.

My American Duchess
My American Duchess by Eloisa James
Releases on January 26, 2016 by Avon

Pre-Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || KOBO

The arrogant Duke of Trent intends to marry a well-bred Englishwoman. The last woman he would ever consider marrying is the adventuresome Merry Pelford— an American heiress who has infamously jilted two fiancés.

But after one provocative encounter with the captivating Merry, Trent desires her more than any woman he has ever met. He is determined to have her as his wife, no matter what it takes. And Trent is a man who always gets what he wants.

The problem is, Merry is already betrothed, and the former runaway bride has vowed to make it all the way to the altar. As honor clashes with irresistible passion, Trent realizes the stakes are higher than anyone could have imagined. In his battle to save Merry and win her heart, one thing becomes clear:

All is fair in love and war.

Ooh, we get some kissing action in this excerpt.

Excerpt

He had promised himself he would be gentle when he kissed her. He was wrong.

It was a greedy kiss. He had never realized that a lady’s lips could be as voluptuous as a courtesan’s—but that the addition of surprise and innocence would make it a far headier experience than he had ever experienced.

To this point, Trent hadn’t particularly enjoyed kissing. It was too intimate. He’d never been selfish about giving pleasure, as he enjoyed bodily intimacy. All the same, he didn’t care for kissing.

Not until now.

When Merry started kissing him back, the shock of it sent a hum down his limbs that brought with it a strange feeling, as if the world were shaking around them.

One of her hands came around his neck and buried itself in his hair. Her mouth had been sweet, but now it was silk and fire. Her innocence was still there, but alongside it, a searing urgency.

Trent lost himself. Their tongues danced together and he felt a shudder go through Merry’s body. She made a whimpering sound in the back of her throat, and desire exploded down his spine.

It wasn’t until he became aware that one of his hands had settled on her thigh, and that certain parts of his body had taken on an ungentlemanly life of their own, that he regained a measure of sanity.

He drew his mouth away from hers, just far enough that he could still feel the erotic heat of her breath. He watched her face, his heart pounding unsteadily, as she opened her eyes.

A man could get lost in those eyes. Desire shimmered between them like a haze on a hot day in August.
Would she be outraged? Surprised?


She was dismayed.


“I loathe myself,” she mumbled, closing her eyes in anguish.


“It wasn’t a bad kiss.” Trent’s voice had a rasp that he’d never heard in it before.

Her eyes opened again. “You have the oddest sense of humor,” she said, frowning.

“Did you enjoy the kiss?”


“It was a very nice kiss. In fact—”


She caught back whatever she was about to say.


“I am a despicable person,” she said, her voice ragged.

He suppressed a smile. “I strongly disagree.”

Descriptions and details began tumbling out of her—about Bertie, who used to kiss her on a sofa (if Trent ever met him, he’d have to kill him for that), about Dermot, about Cedric . . . In short, the whole sorry saga of Merry’s romantic life thus far.

Trent didn’t want to discuss the three men she’d fancied herself in love with. He didn’t want to imagine that they had touched her. Or kissed her.

As Merry recounted her supposed sins, Trent cupped her face in his hands and lowered his lips to hers, so close that their noses brushed. She went silent. “You never kissed Cedric the way you just kissed me,” he stated.

Her eyes didn’t fail him. He could see the truth in them. “No,” she said with a little gasp. “No—that is to say, I won’t discuss it. This mustn’t ever happen again, Your Grace. I’m—”

He took her mouth in a thirsty, deep kiss.

Before now, first, second, and third kisses had been merely signposts on the road to bed. His mistresses had all been courtesans, refined women who chose their lovers and enjoyed his company as much as he did theirs.

Kissing Merry was no signpost. It was like making love, something he could do all night. She was everything he’d ever wanted in a woman, and nothing he’d ever thought to find in a lady.

Oh wow, that was a great excerpt. A really great scene. There’s so much to look forward to and I can’t wait for this book to come out. I just know that I’m going to love it!

Giveaway: 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 January’s features.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re excited for this year!

Eloisa James

New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James writes historical romances for HarperCollins Publishers. Her novels have been published to great acclaim. A reviewer from USA Today wrote of Eloisa’s very first book that she “found herself devouring the book like a dieter with a Hershey bar”; later People Magazine raved that “romance writing does not get much better than this.” Her novels have repeatedly received starred reviews from Publishers’ Weekly and Library Journal and regularly appear on the best-seller lists. After being a finalist for a RITA—the top award in the genre of romance fiction awarded by the Romance Writers of America—over ten times, she won in 2013.

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Sunday Spotlight: The Score by Elle Kennedy

Posted January 10, 2016 by Rowena in Features | 11 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a new feature we’re running in 2016. Each week, we will spotlight a release that we’re excited about. We’ll be posting exclusive excerpts and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

Rowena: I am completely obsessed with this series. It’s one of my favorite series that I started last year and I seriously cannot get enough. You guys, this book comes out tomorrow!!

We’re getting Dean’s book and I’ve got to be honest, when I found out that Kennedy was writing Dean’s book next, I was a little bummed since I wanted Tucker’s book but I’ve been reading a lot of excerpts and teasers around and I’m super stoked to read this book now.

Dean is another roommate of both Garrett and Logan. He plays hockey with them and he’s a huge playboy. He’s a fan of sex with multiple partners in the living room of the off campus apartment that he shares with Garrett, Logan and Tuck…and he’s rich. I’m wondering how all of that is going to play out, what kind of person Dean really is behind that quick smile and even quicker wit.

When I found out that his heroine is Allie, Hannah’s (from The Deal) bestie and roommate, I was super excited. I really liked her in The Deal. I thought she was a great friend to Hannah and I’m mighty curious to see what happened to her relationship with frat boy Sean. What brings these two together?

I can’t wait to find out!

The Score
The Score (Off Campus #3) by Elle Kennedy
Releases on January 11, 2016 by Elle Kennedy

Pre-Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || KOBO

He knows how to score, on and off the ice

Allie Hayes is in crisis mode. With graduation looming, she still doesn’t have the first clue about what she’s going to do after college. To make matters worse, she’s nursing a broken heart thanks to the end of her longtime relationship. Wild rebound sex is definitely not the solution to her problems, but gorgeous hockey star Dean Di-Laurentis is impossible to resist. Just once, though, because even if her future is uncertain, it sure as heck won’t include the king of one-night stands.

It’ll take more than flashy moves to win her over

Dean always gets what he wants. Girls, grades, girls, recognition, girls…he’s a ladies man, all right, and he’s yet to meet a woman who’s immune to his charms. Until Allie. For one night, the feisty blonde rocked his entire world—and now she wants to be friends? Nope. It’s not over until he says it’s over. Dean is in full-on pursuit, but when life-rocking changes strike, he starts to wonder if maybe it’s time to stop focusing on scoring…and shoot for love.

Awww, Dean shows up at Allie’s apartment to cheer her up?

I’m sure that’s not the only thing he was hoping to do once he got there. Let’s dig into this excerpt, shall we?

Excerpt

“Hey there, baby doll.” He flashes a grin and barrels his way inside. “Wellsy said you were sulking, so I stopped by to turn your frown upside down.”

“I’m not sulking,” I grumble.

“Even better. Saves me from having to do any work.” He unzips his jacket and tosses it on the arm of the couch. Then he strips off his sweater, leaving him in nothing but faded blue jeans.

I stare at him in disbelief. “Did you really just take off your shirt?”

“Yeah. I don’t like shirts.”

He doesn’t like shirts.

This guy…goddamn it, I don’t even know what I think of him.

He turns toward the sofa, and the way his tight butt moves beneath the snug denim reminds me of how firm it felt when I squeezed it. Then he lowers his long body on the sofa cushions, which causes the denim to stretch over his package, and now I’m reminded of the way my mouth had watered when Dean’s cock was filling it.

“Oh yeah, suck it, baby. Suck it like you own it.”

The raspy command echoes in my mind. My lips start to tingle, because damn it, I had sucked it. I’d sucked it like it was a lollipop and an ice cream cone and every other delicious treat imaginable, all rolled up in one hard cock.

Crap, I think I might be blushing, which is confirmed when Dean winks at me. Does he know I’m thinking about blowing him?

What am I even saying? Of course he does. A guy like Dean probably assumes that everyone, at all times, is thinking about blowing him.

He stretches one arm along the back of the couch and beckons me with the other. “You sitting or what?”

“I’ll stand, thanks.”

“Aw, come on. I don’t bite.”

“Yes, you do.”

Those green eyes twinkle. “You’re right. I do.”

He looks way too comfortable sitting there on my couch. A blond Adonis with his golden chest and sculpted muscles and perfectly chiseled face. If the hockey thing doesn’t work out for him, he ought to consider going into modeling. Dean Di Laurentis oozes sexuality. He could slap his face on a laxative label and every woman in the world would be praying for constipation just to have an excuse to buy it.

“Seriously, Allie-Cat, sit down. You’re starting to make me feel unwelcome.”

“You aren’t welcome,” I sputter. “I was having a perfectly nice evening until you showed up.”

He looks hurt, but I don’t know if it’s genuine or if he’s putting it on. I suspect it’s the latter. “You really don’t like me, huh?”

This is me right now…

I didn’t think I could be any more excited for tomorrow. I know what I’ll be doing once I download this book to my iPad. grin

Off-Campus Series

Giveaway: 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 January’s features.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re excited for this year!

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!

Website | Twitter | Facebook

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Sunday Spotlight: Against the Wall by Jill Sorenson

Posted January 3, 2016 by Rowena in Features | 6 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a new feature we’re running in 2016. Each week, we will spotlight a release that we’re excited about. We’ll be posting exclusive excerpts and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

To start things off, Jill Sorenson has a book coming out next month that I forgot I wanted. You see, back in 2011 I read The Edge of Night and really enjoyed it. You can read my review of that book here. I also really enjoyed the secondary romance but wanted more from Eric’s character and wanted a longer, fully fleshed out romance for Eric and Meghan. I hoped Eric would get his own book and my wishes came true because Against the Wall comes out on February 2, 2016 and…IT’S ERIC AND MEGHAN’S BOOK!

Excuse me while I do a little happy dance…

After reading the premise for this book, I’m even more excited because holy cow…I’m so stoked to see these two all grown up and falling in love again. I have every faith that Jill Sorenson will work her magic and completely win me over. I can’t wait for more Eric. Eric Hernandez is full of yum. In my head, this is Eric.

Eric Hernandez

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Against the Wall
Against the Wall by Jill Sorenson
Releases on February 2, 2016 by Loveswept

Pre-Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || KOBO

Fans of Katie McGarry, Simone Elkeles, and Tammara Webber will love Against the Wall! As teenagers, they fell for each other despite the odds. But now that Eric and Meghan are all grown up, they’re reunited by fierce passion and dangerous secrets.

Eric Hernandez is the bad boy of every schoolgirl’s fantasies—and every mother’s nightmares. But after serving time for manslaughter, he’s ready to turn his life around. He just needs a chance to prove himself as a professional tattoo artist. The one thing that keeps him going is the memory of the innocent beauty he loved and left behind.

Meghan Young’s world isn’t as perfect as it looks. The preacher’s daughter is living a lie, especially now that Eric is back. Tougher, harder, and sexier than ever, he might be the only person she can trust. But there’s no telling what he’ll do to protect her if he learns the truth, and that’s a risk Meghan won’t let him take. And yet, back in the arms of the troubled boy with the artist’s soul, Meghan can’t help surrendering to the man he’s become.

Jill Sorenson set this excerpt up for us and I’m more than a little anxious. Check it out: In this excerpt, Meghan returns to her brother’s house to search for a letter she wrote to Eric while he was in prison.

Excerpt

I park in the driveway at Noah’s house and unlock the front door. I’m greeted by silence, so I head straight to the den. Eric’s not there. The bed is neatly made with a black backpack sitting on top of it. I’m tempted to search through his stuff, but I resist the urge. I came for my letter, which he rejected. He didn’t want it then and he doesn’t deserve to read it now.
The only question is…where did I put it?

I start in the closet, shoving my old clothes aside. My body hums with a strange sort of tension. It takes me a minute to realize that it’s anger. I’m mad at myself for leaving the letter behind. I’m mad at Eric for coming back from prison, more handsome than ever. I’m mad at Chip for bruising my arm. I’m mad at my parents for being so disappointed in my choices. I’m mad at the world and at the way things worked out.

I find some photos and jewelry in a shoebox, but my letter isn’t there. I suspect that April has moved my belongings and I feel a twinge of pique. Leaving the closet in a disarray, I check the nightstand. Eric’s clothes are in the top drawer, along with a shaving kit and a stick of deodorant. I imagine removing the lid to smell it like a lovesick girl.

I grit my teeth and shove that drawer shut, moving on to the next one. There’s a large manila envelope stuffed with letters that aren’t mine. I peek inside anyway. I can’t read the folded pages without removing them, but I recognize the slanted masculine scrawl.

Before I can snoop further, someone walks in the front door.

“Hello?”

It’s Eric. I toss the envelope back into the drawer and shut it quickly. He appears in the doorway before I have a chance to escape. I can’t come up with an excuse to be in here, so I just stare at him, my heart racing. He’s wearing the same shirt as yesterday with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. His boots are work-worn, his jaw smooth. Freshly shaved. There’s no hint of softness in his body. He’s all sharp edges.

He’s quieter than I remember, more self-possessed. There’s a new stillness in him, as if he’s braced for trouble. “You don’t have to clear out your stuff on my account. I told April not to bother you.”

I cross my arms over my chest to hide my trembling hands. Then I glance into the closet, which is full of the quirky thrift shop clothes I used to wear, BC. Before Chip. “I wanted to pick up a few things.”

Eric stands at the threshold, studying me. He looks hot. Not just good-looking hot, but sweaty-hot, as if he’s been walking in the sun for miles. He probably wants me to leave so he can freshen up. I imagine him stripping down to the waist and my brain short-circuits. He’s got more tattoos now. Harder muscles, broader shoulders.

I clear my throat, flushing. I feel trapped and awkward, in danger of embarrassing myself. I can’t find my letter with him watching. “I’m sorry about Chip.”

Eric shrugs. “It’s okay.”

“No, it’s not. He was rude.”

“Does he know about…?” He trails off, making a vague gesture between us.

“He knows now.”

His gaze searches mine, brow furrowed as if he’s wondering how many details I shared. He makes no attempt to apologize for the things he said when I visited him in jail. Maybe he doesn’t remember that conversation—or care.

“I heard Noah set you up with an interview at Fine Ink.”

“Yeah, he did.”

Matthew Fine is my best friend’s dad. He met Noah through me. “How’d it go?”

“Pretty good. I start tomorrow.”

“You move fast.”

“Not always.”

I’m not sure what he means by that. He moved pretty fast with me. Then again, I threw myself at him.
“I need a bag for my stuff,” I say, brushing by him. April keeps trash bags in the kitchen. I grab one and return to the den. Eric makes himself scarce while I start tossing vintage tees and secondhand dresses into the large plastic bag.

When I’m done, I tiptoe to the desk in the corner. It has a hidden drawer that I haven’t thought about in ages. My fingers search the underside of the desk for the release mechanism. It pops open and sure enough, there’s a pale blue envelope inside, next to a cross on a thin silver chain. Eric left it for me the day he got arrested. He seemed to know he wasn’t coming back from that fight.
I shove the necklace into my pocket and hide the letter in the clothes. Then I pick up the trash bag and drag it out. Eric is in the living room, drinking a soda. He opens the front door because my hands are full.

“I’ll carry that for you,” he says.

“No, I’ve got it.”

I try to sidestep him, but I’m all out of sorts and clumsy. I stumble over a potted plant by the entryway. He grabs my arm to save me from falling on my ass. Unfortunately, it’s the tender arm. I wince as he steadies me.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.”

His hand slides to my elbow. It’s a man’s hand, strong and dark against my pale skin. The fingerprint bruises are visible on my upper arm, just under the edge of my shirtsleeve. He pushes up the fabric, frowning. “What happened to you?”

“Nothing.”

“Chip did this?”

“I bruise easily,” I say.

The last thing I want is Eric going after Chip. The two of them hated each other on sight. I don’t need any more grief from Chip, and Eric is supposed to stay out of trouble. One slip and he’ll be back in prison.

He releases my arm, which tingles from his touch. Then his eyes travel down my body, as if searching for more injuries. I’m wearing a thin tunic blouse with cutoff denim shorts and huarache sandals. His gaze lingers on my bare legs.

We both notice the silver chain at the same time. It must have slipped from my pocket. Now it’s lying on the carpet, glittering in the afternoon haze like a beacon of shame. He bends down to retrieve it.

“That’s yours.”

“I know,” he says flatly.

I want to tell him that the item means nothing to me, but I’m not the best liar. My mouth goes dry and I don’t trust my voice. He puts the cross in his pocket, straightening. I couldn’t bring myself to fling the necklace off the end of the pier after he went away. Instead I crushed it into my fist and wept.

Moving past him, I continue out the door. He follows me to my car and helps me put the bag in my trunk. I stand by the curb, self-conscious. I can smell freshly cut grass and warm dirt. Bees buzz in the background, swarming high in the trees. My face is hot, heart racing. I feel alive in an uncomfortable way. It’s as if I’ve been reanimated or woken up from a coma. I’m not ready for this much stimulation.

“You look good,” he says.

“So do you,” I reply, mildly resentful of this fact. He doesn’t look good for someone who’s been in prison for three years, either. He looks good, period. He looks hard and healthy and strong. He looks like he hasn’t seen a pretty girl in a long time and he wants to eat me up.

“I’d better go,” I say.

“Yeah. You’d better.”

Despite the warning in his tone, I don’t move. The memory of our ill-fated affair, and the way he broke things off, hangs in the air between us.

I can’t let him use me and toss me aside again just because he’s eager for female attention. He’s young and well-built. He’s always been handsome. He’ll have no trouble finding a girl to hook up with. He needs a single girl, one who won’t cause so many complications in his life. Noah would be furious if Eric touched me, and Chip would go ballistic.

Even so, I lean forward to kiss him goodbye. My lips brush his cheek, lingering close to his mouth. It’s a friendly kiss, even sisterly, but I’m taunting him and he knows it. His jaw clenches with tension.

I want to elicit a reaction from him. I want to make him sorry. I have this revenge-fantasy of getting him excited and then pushing him away.

Excuse me for a minute…

Holy smokes, I can’t freaking wait for this book to come out. I’ve got a case of major grabby hands so I’m pretty sure that come February 2nd, this is going to be me…

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Jill Sorenson

About the Author: Jill Sorenson is the RITA-nominated author of more than a dozen romantic suspense novels, including the Aftershock series by HQN. She lives in the San Diego area with her family. She’s a soccer mom who loves nature, coffee, reading, twitter and reality TV.

Riding Dirty is her first erotic suspense novel.

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