Category: Features

Sunday Spotlight: Lies and Lullabies by Sarina Bowen

Posted September 13, 2020 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 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: Lies and Lullabies by Sarina BowenLies and Lullabies by Sarina Bowen
Series: Hush Note #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: September 22, 2020
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 300
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

Summer nights and star-crossed lovers! From USA Today bestselling author Sarina Bowen.
Once upon a time, he gave me a summer of friendship, followed by one perfect night. We shared a lot during our short time together. But he skipped a few crucial details.
I didn’t know he was a rock star.
I didn’t know his real name.
Neither of us knew I’d get pregnant.
And I sure never expected to see him again.
Five years later, his tour bus pulls up in Nest Lake, Maine. My little world is about to be shattered by loud music and the pounding of my own foolish heart.

Excerpt

The water lapped gently under the dock. If I turned around, he might not truly be standing there. I held my breath.
That’s when he began to whistle softly. The first four bars of “You Are My Sunshine.”
Goosebumps rose on my arms.
“You remember,” I gasped, whirling around. Five years later, and he still knew to warn me. He hadn’t forgotten that I used to startle if he—or anyone else—approached me from behind.
He walked towards me slowly, his hands spread wide, muscular arms on display. His hair was shorter now, but still the most beautiful shade of sandy blond. “Of course I remember, sweetness. Never sneak up on Kira.”
At that, my eyes filled with tears.
“Hey, now,” he said gently. He’d made it all the way out on the dock, so close I could almost touch him. His blue-green eyes regarded me warmly. “I’m sorry to take you by surprise. Don’t I get a hug?”
Lord, I needed to get a grip. I took a step towards him, and he folded me in. He smelled the same, like sunshine and soap.
It hurt so much to see him again. It was excruciating to be wrapped in his hug.
“God, I’ve missed you,” he said.
And I had absolutely no reply to that. My heart urged me to hold on tightly and never let go. To confess that I thought of him every single day.
But I didn’t do it. Because I was still so angry, too.
Drawing off that anger, I summoned a little willpower, stepping backward, freeing myself. “If I ask how you’ve been, which name should I use? Jonas or John?”
A look of dismay creased his handsome face, his eyes closing for a moment, before opening again to pin me with a turquoise gaze. “Kira, I’m so sorry about that. That summer I was just trying to get away from it all.”
I swallowed. “Really? But I told you all my secrets. You must have thought that was pretty funny.”
He blinked, his face as stunned as if I’d slapped him. “Jesus, Kira. Never.”
That wasn’t the reaction I’d been expecting. And it was suddenly very hard to hold his gaze. I’d spent the last few years shaping my idea of him to match the pictures I saw in Us Weekly. The problem was that the guy standing in front of me on the dock did not look like the frivolous celebrity in those articles. This was the same man I’d met all those years ago. His face was open and youthful, his voice rich and mellow. His gaze seemed to touch me everywhere at once, making me feel flushed and confused.
He stepped forward again and wrapped his arms around me. And I let him. I took a deep breath of him, and my heart began to gallop again. When I put my arms around his back, I felt his lips press against my hairline. It was a chaste kiss between old friends.
Or rather, it should have been. But the feel of his lips on my skin sent a charge through my body. Tipping my face to meet his wasn’t even a conscious act. It was more like the inevitable result of a five-year absence and Earth’s gravitational pull.
When I moved my chin, his lips slid softly down my cheekbone. Still, it might have ended there. He might have released me, but he didn’t. “Sweetness,” he whispered.
And then? His kiss slid to the corner of my mouth, pausing there, hovering. Torturing us both.
I couldn’t resist. I leaned forward an immeasurably small distance. At that, he made a low sound in the back of his throat. He melded his mouth onto mine, his hands curving around my lower back. With a sigh, he teased my lips apart until his warm tongue met mine.
The next moments were lost to me. I melted against his body, knowing nothing except the stroke of his tongue against my own and the feel of his breath against my face. His strong arms held me in their grasp. It was the sound of my own gasp that finally brought me back down to earth. And I became aware that someone was standing on the little beach nearby, watching us.
“Oh my God, your…” Horror stopped me from finishing the sentence.
He looked over his shoulder without releasing me from his grasp. “My drummer,” he said quickly. “We’re old friends.”
I pushed on his chest until he took a step backwards. I was hot and confused. I needed oxygen and time to think. “Look… we need to talk.” I couldn’t tell him my secret now. Not with an audience. And not without a little rehearsal. “Tomorrow,” I added.
“Okay,” he said, his voice low and even. “I’d like that.”
“Um, lunch?” I asked, my eyes on my shoes. I couldn’t quite catch my breath. There wasn’t enough oxygen in the atmosphere anymore. There might never be again.

Hush Note

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: September 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 Sarina Bowen

Sarina Bowen is the RITA® Award winning author of over two dozen contemporary and LGTB romance novels. She most recently hit the USA Today bestseller's list in February, with Brooklynaire. Formerly a derivatives trader on Wall Street, Sarina holds a BA in economics from Yale University.

Sarina Bowen is a New Englander whose Vermont ancestors cut timber and farmed the north country since the 1760s. Sarina is grateful for the invention of indoor plumbing and wi-fi during the intervening 250 years. On a few wooded acres, she lives with her husband, two boys, and an ungodly amount of ski and hockey gear.

Sarina's books are published in a dozen languages on four continents. In 2016, The Romance Writers of America honored HIM by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy with a RITA award for Best Contemporary Romance, Mid-Length.


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WTF Cover Saturday (367)

Posted September 12, 2020 by Casee in Features | 4 Comments

I honestly choked on my protein shake when I found this cover. WTAF was the author/art department thinking with this one? If you’re interested in the hilarious summary, you can go here.

Share your thoughts on this cringe-worthy cover in the comments below!


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What Are You Reading? (539)

Posted September 11, 2020 by Holly in Features | 1 Comment

Casee: Casee is out camping this week. Let’s hope she’s also reading all the books. 🙂

Holly: This was a much slower reading week for me than the last. I didn’t have much time to read over the weekend and I chose to watch movies on Monday rather than read. I finished Dragon Unleashed by Grace Draven, which I ended up really loving. The ending of that book was great. It was a slow moving story, but it worked well in context. I only wish the next book was available already. I started a new series, King Arthur and Her Knights by K.M. Shea. I’ve been craving Arthurian romances and I love the premise of this – a woman gets taken back in time to become the one true King of Britain – I read Enthroned and Enchanted. The first half of Enthroned was pretty bad and I almost quit reading. The second half picked up enough for me to want to read the next book. Enchanted was better than Enthroned, but not great. They’re pretty light reads without a lot of depth, but I am enjoying the gender swap and I’m hoping they get better as the series progresses.

I’m currently listening to a book called She Walks in Power by MaryLu Tyndall, a new to me author. It’s another gender swap where the heroine is the Robin Hood character. I’m early into it, but I’m enjoying it so far.

Rowena: My reading slowed down this week and because of that, I quit the book that I was reading because I wasn’t in the mood for a historical romance. That book was The Perfect Rake by Anne Gracie. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it but I’ve been itching to start Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews so I did. So far, so good so I’m hyped to finish it. Bring on Catalina and Alessandro, please!

What are you reading this week? Any new favorites or books that drove you crazy? Share!


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Sunday Spotlight: A Winning Season by Rochelle Alers

Posted September 6, 2020 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 3 Comments

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

[Introduction to spotlight book]

Sunday Spotlight: A Winning Season by Rochelle AlersA Winning Season by Rochelle Alers
Series: Wickham Falls Weddings #10
Also in this series: A Winning Season
Publisher: Harlequin Special Edition
Publication Date: September 1, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 224
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

Sliding home…for a lifetime

The girl next door…

Or a grand slam love?

Baseball ace Sutton Reed’s returned home triumphant after years in the majors. When he moves next door to a troubled young man, he’s determined to help—for the boy’s sake and for the boy’s gorgeous older sister, Zoey Allen. After sacrificing everything to keep her family together, Zoey has no time for romance…even with a hometown hero. But will this unlikely combo be the home run love story they all deserve?

Nationally Bestselling Author

Excerpt

Excerpt, A WINNING SEASON by Rochelle Alers

***

Sutton gave Zoey her mug, noticing her hand had trembled slightly when their fingers touched. “Are you all right?”

“I’m good,” she said.

He wanted to believe Zoey was all right but the rigidness in her body said otherwise. He stood and moved to a nearby chair. “I’m sorry if I invaded your personal space.”

She lowered her eyes, staring into the contents of her mug. “It’s okay.”

Sutton drank his coffee, staring at Zoey over the rim. He was perceptive enough to know she had been completely at ease with him the day before, but this morning her body language said otherwise, and he wondered what he’d said or done to make her uneasy.

Suddenly it occurred to Sutton that he may have made a faux pas when he had referred to Zoey as pretty lady, especially when he did not know whether she was involved with someone. “I’m sorry, Zoey.”

She halted putting the mug to her mouth. “For what?”

“For making you uncomfortable because I called you pretty lady. Hell, I don’t even know if you’re involved with someone.”

Zoey swallowed a mouthful of coffee. The corners of her eyes crinkled when she smiled. “I really have to give it to you, Sutton Reed.”

A slight frown marred his natural good looks. “What are you talking about?”

“You did not make me uncomfortable, and if you wanted to know if I’m involved with someone, then all you had to do was ask.”

A hint of a smile replaced his frown. “Are you?” The seconds ticked as she met his eyes. “No. And I can’t afford to because of a promise I made to Kyle and Harper when they were little boys. I told them it would be just the three of us until they were old enough to take care of themselves.”

Sutton set his mug on a side table. “I can under-stand you making that promise when they were boys, but I doubt if Harper would hold it against you if you decided to start dating.”

“Right now, Harper has no say in how I live my life.”

“Is he giving you a problem?”

Zoey went completely still. “Why would you ask me that?”

“I was sitting out on the porch when he came home last night. Someone had dropped him off and I noticed he was a little unsteady on his feet.”

If Sutton saw Harper coming home obviously under the influence, then Zoey wondered how many of her other neighbors had also witnessed it. Zoey did not want or need people gossiping about the Allen boy drinking or possibly drugging. She had managed to raise Kyle to adulthood without an incident, but life was testing her because Harper had decided he wasn’t going to make it that easy for her.

“I don’t know you and you don’t know me, Sut-ton, and there’s no way I’m going to dump on you about my problems.”

Sutton angled his head, giving her a long stare. “You’ve lived in the Falls all your life and you should know that folks here always look out for one another. Those who have more than they need always share with those who don’t have enough. And it’s not al-ways about money.”

Zoey knew he was right. The people in the town had been more than generous when tragedy struck her family. Even now some folks still asked if she needed anything. She nodded. “You’re right. I give thanks every day that I live here and not somewhere else, because without the help of Preston McAvoy, the chamber of commerce and the worshippers at the church, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you.”

The local law firm had handled her legal prob-lems; local contractors had volunteered their services to make certain the house was free of violations; a company selling and installing gas heaters set up an installment plan for her to pay off the cost of the unit over three years.

“So once Harper graduates you plan to stay here?” Sutton asked.

Zoey smiled. “Where would I go?”

He shrugged broad shoulders under his tee. “I don’t know. Maybe you’d prefer someplace that has a little more excitement.”

She took another sip of the delicious brew. Sutton had made the coffee exactly how she liked it. “The Falls has enough excitement for the four thousand-plus folks who live here. Someone had submitted a proposal to the town council to open a club and it was unanimously voted down. What we don’t need is a club with people getting drunk and acting like fools. The town council in Mineral Springs has closed two clubs in the past four years because of fights and rowdiness.”

“The Springs has almost twice our population, so there’s bound to be a few more incidents than we have here.”

“Speaking of excitement, why did you decide to move back here after spending half your life in Hot-lanta?” Zoey had asked the question that had plagued her since hearing word that Sutton Reed was moving back to Wickham Falls.

Sutton closed his eyes for several seconds. “I never really got used to living in a big city. The crowds and noise didn’t upset me whenever I was at the stadium, but once the game was over all I wanted was some-place quiet where I could decompress.”

“Whenever you were interviewed you seemed so confident, so in control of yourself.”

“That was all an act, Zoey. I’d learned early on to switch it on for the cameras and microphones. There was one Sutton for the sports reporters and another Sutton when he was home behind closed doors.”

***

Wickham Falls Weddings

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: September 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 Rochelle Alers

Rochelle Alers Headshot

Hailed by readers and booksellers alike as one of today's most popular African-American authors of women's fiction, Ms. Alers is a regular on bestsellers list, and has been a recipient of numerous awards, including the Vivian Stephens Award for Excellence in Romance Writing and a Zora Neale Hurston Literary Award.


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WTF Cover Saturday (366)

Posted September 5, 2020 by Casee in Features | 3 Comments

I know this isn’t a real cover, but I laughed so hard when I saw it that I had to share it with you all. What do you think?

Share your thoughts on this cringe-worthy cover in the comments below!


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