Tag: Sunday Spotlight

Sunday Spotlight: Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison

Posted January 15, 2017 by Holly in Features | 6 Comments

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

Sunday Spotlight

I remember receiving Dragon Bound in the mail some months before it was published. I read it in a matter of hours, closed it, then immediately started it again. It’s been years since a book captured me as immediately and as intensely as this one.

Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison
Series: Elder Races #1
Also in this Series:Lord’s Fall, Pia Saves the Day & Peanut Goes to School, Dragos Takes a Holiday, Night’s Honor, Night’s Honor, Midnight’s Kiss, Midnight’s Kiss, Dragos Goes to Washington, Shadow’s End, Pia Does Hollywood, Liam Takes Manhattan, Pia Does Hollywood
GenresFiction, Romance, Paranormal, General
Release Date: May 3rd 2011
PublisherPenguin

Half-human and half-Wyr, Pia Giovanni spent her life keeping a low profile among the Wyrkind and avoiding the continuing conflict between them and their Dark Fae enemies. But after being blackmailed into stealing a coin from the hoard of a dragon, Pia finds herself targeted by one of the most powerful—and passionate—of the Elder Races.

As the most feared and respected of the Wyrkind, Dragos Cuelebre cannot believe someone had the audacity to steal from him, much less succeed. And when he catches the thief, Dragos spares her life, claiming her as his own to further explore the desire they’ve ignited in each other.

Pia knows she must repay Dragos for her trespass, but refuses to become his slave—although she cannot deny wanting him, body and soul.

Order the Book:

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Harrison’s world-building is top notch. I fell right into this world of the Elder Races. Dragos and Pia both were fabulous characters. Their banter and wit kept me entertained throughout the novel.

It begins when Pia steals a penny from Dragos’ hoard. For the first time in centuries Dragos is intrigued.

“All I took was a freaking penny. Besides, I already gave you another one.”

“You took a 1962 penny,” Dragos said. His teeth were gritted. “You left a 1975 penny. It’s no replacement.”

She stared at him. “Oh my God, it’s scary you noticed that.”

Pia can’t seem to keep her mouth shut when Dragos is around and she ends up saying the most ridiculous things.

He stared at her neck. Realization pulsed. He was looking at the bite he had given her. A hard length was growing against her hip. “So, is that your long, scaly, reptilian tail, or are you just happy to see me?” No, she did not just say that. Did she?

His reaction to her is totally unexpected. He wants to be angry and kill her, but he can’t help but be fascinated instead.

“Yes, I know,” he said, impatient. “I am going to rend you from limb to limb. Someday. When I feel like it. In the meantime, you will not faint, you will get warm, and you will stop being distressed.” His nostrils pinched. “I don’t like how it smells.”

Despite being as old as time (possibly literally) he has a fabulous sense of humor.

“That’s my long, scaly, reptillian tail. And it’s bigger than anyone else’s.”

His head jerked up. He had one of the most startling and unwelcome thoughts of the last century.

Am I a boyfriend?

He growled and jerked the door open.

He’s also fierce and demanding.

“You might have noticed I’m a primitive kind of guy.” He showed his teeth and got into her face. “All those centuries of civilization? Just a veneer.”

Honestly, I could quote this entire book. That’s how good it is. I just love it.

She leaned forward and staggered, as she confided in a whisper, “You’re the sexiest guy I’ve ever seen too. You know, your long, scaly, reptilian tail really is bigger than anybody else’s. Not that I’ve been with very many guys. Or was comparison shopping or anything.” She hiccupped and watched him worriedly as he guffawed. “Have I just gone over a conversational cliff?”


Elder Races

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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 this month’s features.

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

About the Author


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

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: Honor’s Splendour by Julie Garwood

Posted January 8, 2017 by Rowena in Features | 7 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we started in 2016 and we’re going to keep the party going in 2017. This year, we’ll be spotlighting our favorite books each week. Old or new, if it’s on our favorites list than it will be featured on the blog. Beware, there will be loads of fangirling going on. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

Back when I first started reading romance novels, Julie Garwood was my favorite author. I glommed her books over and over again, discussed every book to death each month and fought with Holly over every one of her heroes. Duncan Wexton was my jam. I loved him so much. I loved his story even more and that is the reason I’m spotlighting Honor’s Splendour today.

Honor’s Splendour by Julie Garwood
Genres: Historical, Romance
Release Date: April 30, 1991
Publisher: Pocket Books

This classic medieval romance from New York Times bestselling author Julie Garwood is a fan favorite—a beautiful lady needs rescue from a knight in shining armor, and gets an alpha warrior instead.

In the feuding English court, gentle Lady Madelyne suffered the cruel whims of her ruthless brother, Baron Louddon. Then, in vengeance for a bitter crime, Baron Duncan of Wexton—the Wolf—unleashed his warriors against Louddon. Exquisite Madelyne was the prize he catured…but when he gazed upon the proud beauty, he pledged to protect her with his life. In his rough-hewn castle, Duncan proved true to his honor. But when at last their noble passion conquered them both, she surrendered with all her soul. Now, for love, Madelyne would stand fast…as bravely as her Lord, the powerful Wolf who fought for…Honor’s Splendour.

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This book cemented its spot on my favorites list the moment Madeleine warmed Duncan’s feet. Their romance wrapped me up in feels and I loved every minute of it. Every character. Every scene. Everything. Julie Garwood writes fantastic romances and this is one of her bests. This is one of the books that I re-read the most, it’s that good.

Here are some quotes from the book that will hopefully showcase why I love this book so much and think everyone should read and love it too. 🙂

“He’d gone to Louddon’s fortress to take Madelyne captive. His plan was revenge; an eye for an eye. And that had been reason enough.

Until she’d warmed his feet.

Everything had changed at that moment. Duncan had known with a certainty he couldn’t deny that they
were henceforth bound together. He could never let her go.”

Duncan and Madelyne sitting in a tree….

“I am not a poor child, Lady Eleanor,” Madelyne announced, letting her anger sound in her voice.

“Duncan won’t marry you. He won’t sign the contracts. He’d have to give up his greatest treasure in order to marry you.”

“And what be that treasure?” Lady Eleanor inquired, her voice mild.

“Why, I’m Duncan’s greatest treasure. He’d be a fool to give me up,” she added. “And even you must know that Duncan is anything but a fool.”

“Made­lyne, I would like to speak to you in pri­vate after din­ner.”

“Speak to me about what?” Made­lyne de­manded with a dis­grun­tled look.

“Men and their horses,” Dun­can told her.”

“I do know, however, that they took more than one man to their beds.”

Adela gasped and Madelyne nodded, thoroughly satisfied by her friend’s reaction. “More than one at a time?” Adela asked. She whispered the question and then blushed with embarrassment.

Madelyne nibbled on her lip while she considered if that was possible.

“I don’t think so,” she finally announced. Her back was to the door, and Adela’s full attention was centered on her friend. Neither noticed Duncan now stood in the open doorway.”

“It’s a shame you know,” he called over his shoulder.

“What’s a shame?” Duncan asked.

“That I didn’t capture her first.”

Duncan smiled. “Nay, Edmond, it was a blessing. God’s truth, I would have taken her from you.”

Each of these scenes were such good ones and I know that if you haven’t read the book, you won’t get some of these references but that I promise, they’re great. You should definitely check this one out for yourself. You will love Duncan and Madelyne. I swear it!

This is what I look like when I read this one:

Read it, you’ll 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 this month’s features.

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Have you read Honor’s Splendour before? Did you love it as much as we did? If you haven’t read it, why not? You should really fix that pronto!

About the Author

Julie Garwood

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | GOODREADS

It’s no surprise that Julie Garwood became a writer. Growing up in a large family of Irish heritage, she took to storytelling naturally. “The Irish relish getting all the details of every situation,” she explains. “Add in the fact that I was the sixth of seven children. Early in life I learned that self-expression had to be forceful, imaginative, and quick.”

Creating stories was always a passion for Julie, but she didn’t focus on making it a career until the youngest of her three children entered school. After the publications of two young adult books, she turned her interests to historical fiction. Her first novel, GENTLE WARRIOR, was published in 1985, and there has been a steady parade of bestsellers ever since. Today more than 40-million copies of her books are in print, and they are translated in dozens of languages around the world. One of her most popular novels, FOR THE ROSES, was adapted for a HALLMARK HALL OF FAME production on CBS.

Whether the setting be medieval Scotland, Regency England, frontier Montana, or modern-day Louisiana, her themes are consistent: family, loyalty, and honor. Readers claim that it’s the humor as well as poignancy of her novels that keep them coming back for more. Julie described her goals this way: “I want my readers to laugh and cry and fall in love. Basically, I want them to escape into another world for a little while and afterwards to feel as though they’ve been on a great adventure.”

Julie lives in Leawood, Kansas, and is currently working on her next novel.

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Sunday Spotlight: Moonshadow by Thea Harrison

Posted December 18, 2016 by Holly in Features | 4 Comments

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

Sunday Spotlight

Thea Harrison’s Elder Races series is set in the Modern Day world where mythical and fantastical creatures truly exist. Like the real world, the Elder Races world is large and varied. In Moonshadow, we leave the Were Demense in the United States and travel to the Dark Court in Europe. I, for one, cannot wait to explore this new facet on the  Elder Races World.

Moonshadow by Thea Harrison
Series: Elder Races
Also in this Series:  Moonshadow (Moonshadow, #1) (Elder Races #12)Midnight’s Kiss (Elder Races #8)Night’s Honor (Elder Races #7)Pia Does Hollywood (Elder Races #8.6)Shadow’s End (Elder Races #9)Dragon Bound (Elder Races #1)Dragos Goes to Washington (Elder Races #8.5)Dragos Takes a Holiday (Elder Races #6.5)Liam Takes Manhattan (Elder Races #9.5)Lord’s Fall (Elder Races #5)Midnight’s Kiss (Elder Races #8)Night’s Honor (Elder Races #7)Pia Does Hollywood (Elder Races #8.6)Pia Saves the Day & Peanut Goes to School (Elder Races #6.6 & 6.7)
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal
Release Date: December 13, 2016
Publisher: Self-Published

From bestselling author Thea Harrison comes the first in an explosive new trilogy set in the Elder Races world.

Her past is a blank, her future uncertain..

Recovering from a shooting, LAPD witch consultant Sophie Ross leaves her job and travels to the U.K. to search for answers about her childhood. When she encounters a Daoine Sidhe knight of the Dark Court, she becomes entangled in an ancient hatred between two arcane forces.

He has given his body and soul to fight for his people..

Barred from his homeland along with his surviving brother knights, Nikolas Sevigny is embroiled in a conflict that threatens everything he holds dear. Only by uniting their resources can his people hope to prevail against Isabeau, the deadly Queen of the Light Court. He will do anything and use anyone to return home to Lyonesse.

When Nikolas encounters Sophie, he sees a tool to be used. The insouciant witch might be the key to unlocking every passageway that has been barred to the knights of the Dark Court, even as a fascination for her takes root in what’s left of his soul.

Sophie has no intention of becoming anyone’s pawn, yet the fierce Nikolas is so compelling, she can’t deny the temptation that endangers her guarded heart.

As magic threatens Lyonesse, Queen Isabeau unleashes her merciless Hounds, and Nikolas and Sophie become embroiled in a race for survival. Meanwhile, the passion that ignites between them burns too hot to be denied and quickly turns into obsession.

Thank goodness they both know better than to fall in love.

Pre-Order the Book:

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Excerpt

After another night filled with nightmares, Sophie overslept. When she finally woke and looked blearily around her bedroom, she could tell by the angle of the light along the edges of the blinds that the day was no longer new.

The day had, in fact, not been new for some time. Her stomach took a nosedive as she snatched up her alarm clock. Damn it. Her technology curse had struck again. Resorting to an old-fashioned windup clock hadn’t helped in the slightest, and the clock’s hands had stopped at 4:26.

Ignoring the flare of aches in her shoulder, abdomen, and right thigh, she shoved upright and limped into the living room to check her cell phone. The screen confirmed what she already knew. She was horribly late.

Now she was faced with a choice that no coffee-drinking witch ever wanted to face. She could either fix coffee or throw her runes for a quick reading before she showered and left for her meeting.

A good night’s sleep had become a thing of the past, and she really needed that caffeine. But leaving her apartment without doing a reading had become unthinkable. Not since the shooting. She never missed throwing the runes in the morning for whatever message, good or bad, the reading might be able to tell her about the day.

She could cancel the meeting, and for a moment temptation tugged at her. Part of her wanted to drink coffee in the dark with the curtains shut while listening to the distant sounds of LA traffic, but that was how she had spent most of her time since being released from the hospital.

She needed a new game plan for how to approach life, and she wasn’t going to find one in the shadows of her apartment. The only things lurking here were memories, second-guessing past actions, and regrets.

Getting out in the fresh air and talking to someone she didn’t know might not solve any of her problems, but it would be a step outside her door. A step somewhere else. Maybe even a step in the right direction.

So. Coffee or reading.

Choosing was painful, but after leaping into the shower, dressing, and taking five precious minutes to put on makeup and capture her long, curling hair in a loose knot at the nape of her neck, she sat at the small kitchen table with a folded, embroidered tablecloth and the worn velvet bag that held her rune stones.

She paused only for a moment to glare at the stupid, time-consuming percolator sitting on her stove. She had bought the pot to replace the stupid Keurig that had stopped working a few months back.

Turning to the business at hand, she unfolded the small tablecloth. She had stitched the gold thread embroidery on the royal blue cloth herself. The project had taken her weeks. As she didn’t embroider as a regular hobby, the symbols didn’t look professional or even, but the detail was meticulous, and every stitch was imbued with the invocations she had whispered as she worked on the cloth.

She used the small tablecloth for only one thing. As she carefully spread it flat, magic unfurled, changing the air above it where it lay. Holding the bag of runes in her right hand, she placed her left palm at the center of the cloth and centered herself.

Before the shooting, she would have just left the apartment without throwing the runes. The thought caused her to hesitate. It was not the best idea to rush through a reading, and she was going to be late as it was.

But no. Sometimes things change irrevocably. You turn a corner, hear a new song, read a book, fall in or out of love, or look at a painting in a different light.

Or you get shot several times.

Then no matter how you try, you can’t unsee or unexperience something to make life what it used to be. The river always flowed downstream.

She poured the runes into her hand, concentrated on her near future, and tossed them gently onto the cloth. They were pretty, made of polished rose quartz with the runes etched into the stone and painted gold, and they showed brilliantly against the rich blue cloth.
She preferred Nordic rune stones over divination cards with painted pictures because the stones opened the right mental pathways for her. The images that came were true divination, not images created by some unknown commercial artist.
Concepts tumbled and shifted in her mind as she watched the stones roll to a stop. Raidho, for travel. Thurisaz, destruction and defense. Hagalaz, destructive, uncontrollable forces. Dagaz, the stone for breakthrough. Then she let her gaze go unfocused as she stared at the pattern they made.

That was when the visions came, when her attention to the rune patterns created windows into fate.

Silence in her small apartment. Distantly she heard the dead clock begin to tick again.

She listened to the breath she took. Let her eyelids fall in a blink.

As she opened her eyes, she caught a glimpse of a strange landscape. A new wind blew through the apartment, ruffling her hair and bringing with it a faint, acrid scent like smoke.

The scent meant violence and danger. Like other messages the wind brought to her from time to time, it wasn’t a physical scent but intuitive and all too familiar.

Adrenaline spiked, causing a ghost of fiery pain to ripple through her body, localized in three places—her left shoulder, right thigh, and just under her ribs on the right side. As she pressed her hand to her abdomen, the figure of a man appeared.

He was turned away so that she looked at dark hair, the long, strong line of his neck, and broad shoulders.
He stood so close she felt like she could reach out to touch him and, oh my gods, all that Power he carried. How could one physical body contain it all? It was as if his skin thinly veiled a lightning bolt. He wasn’t human. He couldn’t be. He had to be one of the Elder Races.

The man was so vivid he made everything else around her pale by comparison. Even though she knew better, she lifted one of her hands and reached toward him. He was only a vision. He wasn’t really here in her apartment.

Then he turned his head, and he looked straight at her.

No. That had to be an illusion. He couldn’t be looking at her, not in her vision, stimulated by a spell of her own casting.

She received the impression of a strikingly handsome face, the planes and angles so sharp they appeared as if cut from an immortal blade. His glittering dark eyes held an indomitable will and a chilling ferocity.

Power shifted as he brought his body around to face her. So smoothly he moved, with a killer’s grace that was purely inhuman. It caused the tiny hairs at the nape of her neck to rise. He held a sword clenched in one fist, and the long, wicked blade dripped with crimson blood. The gold of a heavy signet ring winked on his ring finger.
The sight slammed into her along with a realization.

He turned to face her.

He saw her and turned to face her.

Shock rocked her back in her seat. She parted her lips to say something. Whoops, or maybe Hi there. Or, I’m sorry.
The kind of thing you would say if you accidentally dialed a wrong number, or stepped on someone’s foot, or got your psychic wires crossed.

Or interrupted a deadly immortal creature in the middle of a killing…

While she stared, the male’s fine-cut nostrils flared. He flung a hand out toward her, fingers outspread, his own cruelly beautiful mouth shifting as he spat out a word. A lightning bolt of Power shot toward her. She felt it coming, a spear of pure, sizzling malice.

That wasn’t supposed to happen in a vision either. What if it hit her?

Before she had fully formed the intention, she grabbed the edge of the magic cloth and yanked. Stones flew around the kitchen, breaking the pattern.

The vision shattered so hard it left her head aching, or maybe that was an echo from the psychic attack the man had flung at her. He vanished, along with the landscape. The lightning bolt never landed, although the image remained burned into her retina.

Her heartbeat galloped like a runaway horse while adrenaline pounded through her veins. As her vision cleared, she pressed shaking fingers against equally unsteady lips and looked around the familiar landscape of her apartment, taking in each detail in an effort to ground herself.

What the royal fuck was that? She had never experienced anything like that, and she had been practicing magic for as long as she could remember. Had the vision been so vivid it simply overwhelmed her sense of her immediate physical reality?

It couldn’t have been real.

Could it?

Her head said no, but her gut said yes. He had behaved exactly as though he had seen her. She had sensed his Power, felt the attack flare toward her like a thrown spear. Her gut had no doubt that if that spear had hit, it would have injured her, perhaps severely.

What did it mean?

It took several breaths for her to regain her composure enough to leave. A dull throbbing took up residence behind her eyes. She strode into her bedroom, opened the small closet safe, pulled out her gun, and tucked it into the concealed-carry pocket of her purse. As she left the bedroom, she glanced one last time at her percolator with a deep sense of bitterness.

Man, she chose wrong.

She should have had that cup of coffee.


The Elder Races

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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 this month’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 looking forward to this year!

About the Author

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

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: Downed by Jen Frederick

Posted December 11, 2016 by Rowena in Features | 4 Comments

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

Sunday Spotlight

Downed is the third book in the Gridiron series by Jen Frederick. It features the asshole best friend of the hero from Book 2, Jock Blocked who transferred to another college to be the superstar Quarterback. Ace Anderson is the guy that everyone hates but when he meets the girl that everyone loves at his new school, shit starts looking up.

downed

Downed by Jen Frederick
Series: Gridiron Series #3
Also in this Series: Sacked, Jock Blocked
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Release Date: December 1, 2016
Publisher: Self Published, Jen Frederick

He’s the guy no one likes…

Despite winning two national championships, JR “Ace” Anderson was sent packing from his old school after losing the trust of his coach. At Southern U, he has a second chance to prove that his college legacy isn’t endless debauchery and selfishness. But his reputation precedes him, and his teammates offer a chilly welcome in the locker room. The one person who is willing to accept him is the very woman he should stay away from—his new coach’s daughter.

She’s the girl everyone loves…

Bryant Johnson’s only goal in life is to make others happy, even at her own expense. One look at her father’s new star quarterback, and she knows that Ace is her next project. With a reputation for being a “jerk whisperer”, Bryant has spent her last three years at college reforming sorry behavior and turning bad boys into the best boyfriends ever. In Ace, though, she’s met with surly resistance and a sizzling attraction she doesn’t expect. Fixing this wounded warrior will be her biggest challenge yet. Not falling for him will be even harder.

Between her big heart and his damaged one, a battle is ensuing. In this game of love, every defense will crumble.

Buy the Book:

AMAZON

Excerpt

Ace comes storming into the diner at ten-thirty. It’s amazing to me that after summer camp and then four weeks of pre-season, he hasn’t learned that my father operates under the ol’ if you’re on-time, you’re late proverb, but since he’s performed admirably in other ways, I guess he’ll figure it out soon enough.

“My date’s here so you have to skedaddle now.” I wave my hand toward the poor guy who’s slumped in the booth seat across me.

“But, Bryant, why won’t you give me a chance? I’m a good guy. I don’t cheat on girls. I open their doors. I pay for their dinner. I’m a feminist! Like, I believe women have rights!” Kent beats his fist against his chest, knocking a lock of his overly long bangs into his eyes. He looks like a sad puppy, which is probably the only thing that keeps me from introducing his uber-soft cheek to the hard plane of my palm. Women have rights? Of course, they do. That’s just a given like we need water and tea needs sugar. I shake my head at him as he leans earnestly across the table. “You should give the nice guys a chance. I’ll treat you like the queen you are. These jerks that you date aren’t good enough for you.”

“That’s sweet, honey, but I’m doing fine with my dating choices.”

He blinks dumbly at me. “Is it because they’re needy? Well, I need you, too. I haven’t had a date in, like, six months. It’s been a long dry spell.”

With considerable effort, I manage not to roll my eyes. So much for treating me like a queen. Lord, save me from the guy who thinks he’s a hero because he opens your car door. “I’m not a sex doctor.” I wiggle my fingers at him. “Now, seriously, you have got to go.”

Ace is nearly upon us, and his nostrils are flaring like he’s some bull that’s ready to charge. As much as Kent might need a good kick in the teeth, it’s best if I handle this.

“Your name is Bryant Johnson,” Ace accuses.

My lips part in surprise at the unexpected attack. “It is, indeed.”

He starts to say something else when he notices Kent. “Who are you?” Ace barks.

Kent wilts under the glare of Ace Anderson. Six feet, five inches of athletic grace, a chin that could be carved from rock, and blazing green eyes order Kent to move.

While I’m outwardly smiling lightly, inside I’m squirming with glee. Even though Ace is struggling with his emotional response toward me, his instincts tell him that Kent’s an opponent. For a competitor like Ace, that means Kent needs to be crushed. It’s such a good sign. Because a guy who thinks girls can be used and discarded like tissues isn’t going to get territorial.

“Kent’s leaving.”

“This is the guy?” Kent unwisely hisses at me. “The new quarterback your daddy brought in because he was so much trouble at his last school? Bryant, give up on these losers and give the nice guy a chance.”

I rise, slipping my hand through Ace’s arm, mostly because I want to touch him, but also so I have a handle on him in case he tries to punch Kent’s lights out for the insult. “Kent, honey, you’re already so close to perfect that you don’t need me. Ace, this is Kent Dayton. Kent, this is Ace Anderson. We’ve just started going out.” I smile and look up adoringly at Ace’s stern façade.

“We’re not—” He breaks off and shakes his head as if there’s something caught between his ears. “Look, Bryant, we need to talk.”

His glower sends exciting shivers down my spine. “I agree. Kent was leaving, weren’t you, Kent?”

“But what about everything we discussed? What about me?” he whines.

“Go home and write out a list of everything you want in a girl, and then we’ll talk.”

“You mean you’ll consider me?”

“I’ll take a look at your list for you,” I promise noncommittally. Maybe I can hook him up with someone.
Kent’s eyes light up. “All righty, then.” He finally slides out of the booth and gives Ace’s arm a slap. Ace stares at the spot on his arm and then at Kent, who backs away, peeking around Ace’s solid frame to offer one last plug. “I promise you, if you choose me, it’ll be awesome.”

He backs away, giving us the thumbs up.

Ace scowls at Kent’s departing back before whipping around and addressing me again. “What the hell was that all about?”

“Kent was here applying for your position, but I told him it was already full,” I answer airily. I contemplate giving him a kiss but decide against it. Instead, I take my seat again and gesture for him to take his.

The moment his butt hits the vinyl, he pins me with an accusatory look. “Why didn’t you tell me your dad was Coach Johnson?”

Is that what he’s mad about? I figured it was because I didn’t wake him up last night so he could have that second chance at rocking my world. Guys are awfully sensitive when it comes to performance in the bedroom. “I thought you knew. I told you what my name was. First and last.” An awful thought occurs to me. “Were you drunk last night?” Horrified, I press my fingers against my lips. “Did I take advantage of you?”

“No. Christ.” He digs a hand through his leaf-brown hair, his biceps flexing in a lovely, mouthwatering manner. “Your last name is Johnson. Do you know how many Johnsons there are in this country? Like eighty million of them.”

I relax and allow my hand to fall back to the table. With a lot more ease, I regain my smile and say, “Eighty million is a gross exaggeration, but even if that were true, how many of them are named after the winningest SEC coach in the history of football, Bobby Bowden aside?”

“That’s why you’re named Bryant?” he asks incredulously. “After Bear Bryant.”

“None other. Who else would I be named after?” I signal for Milly, the waitress, to let her know we’re ready to order. I need to get some food into this particular bear.

“I don’t know. Maybe it was your family name,” he says.

My hand itches to smooth away the lines of disgruntlement on his face. I’m confident that if Ace gains a more positive outlook on life, he’ll be less of a surly bastard.

“Speaking of names,” I interrupt, “Can I call you something other than Ace? What does JR stand for?”

“It’s my dad’s name and no. Back to your dad—”

“Ace isn’t very loving. It’s so abrupt and short.” I tap a finger against my lips. “Is it Jonathan? Jack? James?” None of those fit him. Maybe he is an Ace.

The creases in his forehead deepen. “Is that why you couldn’t get off last night? Because you don’t like my name?”

Heat floods my face. Ace is so…graphic all the time. I’m going to have to drum that out of him. “That’s not appropriate brunch conversation,” I scold, but when the thunderclouds darken over our heads, I hurriedly assure him. “No, that’s not it at all.”

To my relief, Milly hops over before I’m forced to explain more. “Milly, can I have an egg white frittata with whatever fresh vegetables you have today?”

“Asparagus and tomatoes okay, sugar?”

“That’d be perfect.”

“And your man here?”

“I’m not her—” Milly and I both stare at him. “You know what, whatever.” Ace surrenders in disgust, apparently not willing to embarrass me in front of the waitress.

“He’ll have steak and eggs,” I tell her.

“How does he like that cooked?”

“He would like it medium-rare,” Ace interjects loudly. Milly winks at me and takes both the unviewed menus off the table before going back to the kitchen to put the order in. The moment she’s out of earshot, Ace leans forward. “Bryant, you seem like a nice girl. You’re gorgeous, and I definitely want to fuck again, but I don’t do relationships. We are not dating. We’ll never date because I don’t date.”

“You have a reason for that?” I ask, unperturbed by his speechifying. I expected this. He thinks that he needs to be footless and fancy-free until his penis is shriveled like a raisin.

“Yeah, because women fuck up your game. I’ve seen it time and again. Why do you think I had to leave Western State after winning a national championship?”

“Well, it looked like your coach recruited your replacement before you were ready to leave.” The coach of Ace’s old team brought in a young gun and decided to start him over Ace. It surprised everyone in the sports world, including my daddy, who thought it was supremely disrespectful and bad for recruiting.

“Wrong,” Ace snaps. “I slept with the coach’s daughter. Coach got pissed. Kicked me off the team. He wanted to turn me into a tight end or a safety or something other than the quarterback.”

Ace wants me to be offended, both at him and his coach, but everyone knows—including Ace if he really looked deep enough—that he won’t see a down in the NFL as a quarterback. Something else? Absolutely. I can see that helping Ace come to grips with this will be part of the project.

I start right away. “I could see you at safety. Like Scott Frost from Nebraska. He ran that option offense just like you, and he turned out to be a great NFL player.”

“He played five years as safety. Besides, I’m not a safety; I’m a quarterback,” he says flatly.

He needs me so much. “Okay. I don’t make those decisions. While I attend most of the games, I admit I’m merely part of the cheering section.” I suck some water up the straw and watch with amusement as Ace’s eyes fall to my pursed lips. “But in the few practices I’ve caught, it appears you have great field vision, right?”

He nods, almost absently. He’s entertaining a naughty image about my lips being wrapped around something else right now, which allows me to press forward without interruption.

“Your situational awareness is the best in the game. The defense was caught offsides more than once.” At one practice a couple of days ago, the defensive players were slow getting off the field, and Ace hiked the ball. In a real game, that would’ve been an automatic five-yard gain for the offense. Coach Troyer, the defensive coordinator, almost had his head pop off in anger at his squad while Ace smirked in the middle of the field. “Your instincts are spot-on. You sense those defenders closing in on you without even looking at them.”

“Yeah. So?”

I ignore his question. “Plus, you know all about passing routes and would be able to read the quarterback’s eyes as well as his body language to figure out where the ball is going to be even before the receiver does.”

Ace gives himself a tiny shake and drags his attention away from my mouth back to the conversation. “Maybe I do have those skills, but I’m here to play quarterback.”

“’Course you are.” I’m planting seeds that won’t give fruit until after the season is over, but if you don’t sow while the field’s ripe, there won’t be a harvest. “You’re going to win a championship for all those men my daddy promised would get a ring before they graduate. I’m just saying that beyond this year, if that’s an option for you, you should look into it.”

Milly’s return prevents him from immediately disagreeing. Perfect timing that I didn’t even have to plan. I give Milly a dazzling smile. Across from me, I hear a swift inhale of breath when she sets his plate in front of him. “This looks amazing, Milly. Thank you.”

She grins back. “Anything else you two need?”

I shake my head. “No. We’re fine. Eat up, Ace.”

He’s back to frowning. “We’re getting way off track here.”

“Don’t worry, honey. I remember everything you said. You don’t do relationships, and you just want to sleep with me.” I eat a small piece of my frittata.

“Right.” He looks around and lowers his voice. “So we’re not dating, okay? I appreciate the breakfast sandwich, the almost sex last night, but I’m an asshole.”

“I know.”

“I’m—wait, you know?” He sets down his fork with a clatter.

“Yes. I’ve heard all the rumors about you sleeping around too much, you being a bad teammate. All of it.”

“And none of it matters?” he says skeptically.

“Not to me.” I take another bite. “Oh Milly, tell Helena this frittata is to die for.” I raise my voice enough so Milly can hear me across the diner.

She waves her hand in acknowledgment while Ace, already in the hole he dug for himself, tries to shovel dirt over his head. “I intentionally tried to break up my best friend’s relationship because I could see she was falling in love. I wasn’t ready to date her, but I wanted her available for when I was. I took her man out, got him drunk, took incriminating photos of him and showed them to her.”

The self-loathing in his voice almost makes me tear up. “Oh sugar, how long has it been since you talked to her?”

“Lucy? I haven’t since I left Western State.” He’s frowning again. He’s going to have a permanent problem if he keeps that up.

“That long?” I click my tongue against the roof of my mouth. No wonder he feels awful. That wound’s been festering far too long. “That’s like months. You gotta call her.”

He scowls. “She doesn’t want to hear from me.”

“Of course she does. You two were best friends?” I ask and wait for his abrupt nod of acknowledgment before repeating, “Of course she does.”

“How do you know?”

“Because friends are important in our lives. Just like you’re missing her, she’s missing you. Not all girl-boy interactions are sexual. It’s okay to miss her, but not want to sleep with her.”

He rubs a hand over his suddenly weary face. That man has so much pain inside of him, and it has nothing to do with this old girlfriend. I don’t know what the root cause of it is, but I’ll find out and then he’ll be free. I can’t wait to tell my sister about him. She’ll be so happy I’m doing this.

He sighs. “This isn’t going how I thought it would go.”

“That’s all right. No need to plan. Hey, would you cut me off a piece of your steak?”

“Why didn’t you order one?” he asks, but immediately starts sawing off a huge bite for me.

“Because red meat is so fattening, and I only need to look at something for me to gain five pounds.”
He holds a meat-laden fork out for me. “Your body is perfect.”

“Not too round?” I fish for a tiny compliment. I get a little down about my figure. It’s womanly, my momma says. I wish I was more like my sister—model thin.

“I don’t think there’s such a thing,” Ace grunts.

I tip my head toward my plate to hide my look of satisfaction. He’s absolutely delightful. Ace demolishes his steak and eggs in the next three minutes while I eat half of my frittata and drink my water. He kindly waits until I’m done before he starts in again.

“So here’s the deal, Bryant. I want to fuck you, but I can’t. I don’t do teammates’ girlfriends, ex-girlfriends, sisters, daughters, mothers. No girls even tangentially related to the football team. Not a team manager or a trainer or an intern. I’ve sworn off all of them, including, and especially, the coach’s daughter. I’m good at two things: sex and football, but I’ve still managed to screw both of them up, so I can only concentrate on the one now. You’re hot as sin, and I’m ashamed I didn’t get you off last night. I had every intention of returning today to make up for it, but now we just can’t. Got it?”

I pick up my purse and slide out of the booth. He watches warily as I saunter over to his side and lean down to give him a kiss.

“No other girls. That’s my only rule.” I press my mouth against his lips, slackened in surprise. He hesitates for about a second before wrapping one of those big hands around my hip and pulling me forward. Given the setting and the time of day, the kiss goes on a smidge too long, but he looks adorably dazed and befuddled when I draw back.

Shoot. I just want to lick him all over. With a smile, I whisper, “Call your friend.”


love

Gridiron Series

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About the Author

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Jen Frederick is a lover of romances and happy endings.

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Sunday Spotlight: Rules of Contact by Jaci Burton

Posted December 4, 2016 by Holly in Features | 5 Comments

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

Sunday Spotlight

Today we’re spotlighting Rules of Contact by Jaci Burton, book 12 in the Play by Play series. Don’t let this discourage you from reading it, however, as it stands alone nicely. I read it, and I’m about 7 books behind in the series.

rules-of-contact

Rules of Contact by Jaci Burton
Series: Play by Play
Also in this Series: Play by Play
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: December 6, 2016
Publisher: Berkley

In the new Play-By-Play novel by the New York Times bestselling author of Unexpected Rush, a football player who knows how to win on the field needs a better game plan for his love life.

A defensive end for the San Francisco Sabers, Flynn Cassidy is used to being in the spotlight—he just doesn’t enjoy it. But if getting in front of the cameras will help his new restaurant succeed, he’s willing. Now if he could just meet a woman who loved him and not his fame…

After her divorce, Amelia Lawrence is thrilled to start over as head chef at Ninety-Two. It’s just the opportunity she needs to heat up her career—if only she wasn’t wildly attracted to her sexy new boss. Their chemistry might be sizzling hot, but Amelia has no intention of being burned again.

Flynn can’t get enough of Amelia, and Amelia loves every second she spends with the tough yet tender Flynn. But trust is a hard-fought battle for both. Breaking the rules of contact and surrendering to their passion was the easy part. Are they willing to risk their hearts to win at the game of love?

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Excerpt

RULES OF CONTACT by Jaci Burton
Book Binge – Sunday Spotlight

She let her fingers map a trail over his shoulders and down his arms, as if she were reading a treasure map. There were scrolling patterns and sharp points, but no words.

“What do they mean?”

“Nothing, really. I just like the ink. At some point I might think about putting some literature on here. Maybe something that inspires me.”

“They’re beautiful.”

“Thanks.”

She sat back and looked at him. “So nothing like ‘Mom’ or some ex-girlfriend’s name on here?”

He laughed. “No. I’m not a momma’s boy, and so far no woman has inspired me enough to ink her name on my body.”
“So far.”

“Yeah. Maybe when I get married I’ll do something permanent like that.”

“You do realize that fifty percent of marriages end up in divorce.”

He frowned. “Mine won’t.”

“So sure of that, are you?”

“Yes.”

She leaned back and he shifted, moving down the bed so he could pick up her foot to massage it. He really did have great hands. She thought about what he’d said about marriage.

“While I admire your confidence, I can assure you that everyone goes into marriage thinking it’s forever. It doesn’t always work out that way.”

He lifted his focus from her foot onto her face. “While I can appreciate you’re coming from a point of cynicism since you’ve gone through a divorce, I only intend to get married one time. And I intend for it to be forever.”

“I’m sure the guy who had ‘I love Patty for All Time’ tattooed on his body and then had to have a giant Chevy truck tattooed over it thought his tattoo would last forever, too.”

He arched a brow. “You know this guy?”

She laughed. “No. I made it up. I’m just using it as a random example.”

He picked up her other foot, and she couldn’t resist a moan when he dug his thumb into her sore arch.

“I think your ex made you lose faith in love.”

“Maybe. I’d think all those women who prefer camera time over their interest in you would make you lose faith.”

He shrugged. “They just weren’t the right one.”

“And you still think the right one is out there for you.”

He wasn’t focusing on her foot. He was looking at her. “Yes, I do.”

His gaze was warm. Intense. And she had to admit, she felt relaxed with him, all that tension and after-sex weirdness completely gone.

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why do you believe in love, Flynn?”

“Because I’ve seen it in action with my parents. They’ve had difficult times and through it all, their love for each other has never once wavered. I’ve seen it with my brothers, who’ve all found amazing, smart, beautiful women who love them unconditionally. And believe me, my brothers aren’t easy guys to love. If they can find it, so can I.”

This was a new side to him. She’d seen the business side of him and the sports side of him. In both, he was driven. She’d seen him be funny and fun. But she’d never seen this serious side. This was a man ready to fall in love.

Too bad she wasn’t the woman for him. Because she was never going to give her heart over to a man again. She’d had it crushed once by someone she trusted, and it had hurt horribly.

Flynn was a nice guy, and she liked him. She was sure there was a woman out there who deserved him. It was really too bad it couldn’t be her.

Unfortunately, tonight was just that. Just this one night. Because a man like Flynn could be habit forming. She’d fallen down that rabbit hole once before, and she’d never allow that to happen again.

She gently extricated her foot from his grip. “It’s probably a good idea for you to take me home.”

He gave her a quizzical look. “You don’t want to stay tonight?”

She wanted to. And that was the problem. She shook her head and slid off the bed to stand.

“I have a lot of things to do tomorrow. Early.”

He got up and came over to where she stood, sliding his arms around her. “I get up pretty early.”

His body was warm and she was tempted to turn around and curl into him, let him coax her back into his big bed.
But he was dangerous to her mind and her body, and most especially her heart. So she stepped away, turned around, and smiled at him. “I had fun tonight. But no. I need to get home.”

Fortunately, he read her signals and nodded. “Sure. I’ll throw on some clothes and drive you home.”

She got dressed and grabbed her things. They got into his SUV and he drove her the short distance to her house. When he got out and walked her to her door, for a split second she thought about inviting him in. But that would defeat the purpose of putting an end to their night together.

She pulled her keys out of her purse, unlocked the door, then turned to him. “Tonight was amazing.”

He tugged her against him. “I thought so, too. I’ll see you soon.”

Before she could walk inside, he tugged her close and kissed her. She fell into the kiss, making her wish they were still naked and in his bed.

One time with Flynn was definitely not enough. Her body curved into his and wanted more. So much more. She finally had to break the kiss with her heart and pulse pounding and everything within her trembling with desire.

“Good night, Flynn.”


You guys. He’s so adorable.
he's adorable gif

Play by Play

 

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 this month’s features.

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

About the Author

jaciburton1_800px_300dpi
WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | TUMBLR | GOODREADS

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Jaci Burton is happy to be living her dream of writing passionate contemporary romance. She has written over seventy-five novels to date. Jaci has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business that she is delighted not to be using in her previous life of corporate management. She grew up in Missouri, migrated to California, but has been happily making her home in Oklahoma for the past fifteen years with her husband and dogs. She enjoys being outdoors in the summer and she and her husband are avid Harley riders.

Jaci was honored with the RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award as well as their Reviewers Choice Award. She has been a finalist in the Bookseller’s Best and National Reader’s Choice Awards, and has won The Romance Studio’s CAPA Award four times.

Jaci is a member of Romance Writers of America.

You can find Jaci on the web at the following locations:

Website: jaciburton.com

Facebook: facebook.com/AuthorJaciBurton
Twitter: twitter.com/jaciburton
Instagram: instagram.com/jaciburton

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