Category: Giveaways

Sunday Spotlight: Headliners by Lucy Parker

Posted January 19, 2020 by Rowena 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. 🙂

Headliners is the fifth book in the London Celebrities series by Lucy Parker. I’m a pretty big fan of this series so I have been looking forward to this book for as long as I’ve known it was coming. I wasn’t too wild about Nick as the hero since he pissed me off in the last book but I’ve already dug into my eARC of this book and Lucy Parker’s redemption game is strong because by the end of this book, I loved Nick to pieces. I’m super stoked to share an excerpt from this book so that hopefully, you guys will be stoked for this release, right along with us. Check it out.

Sunday Spotlight: Headliners by Lucy ParkerHeadliners by Lucy Parker
Series: London Celebrities #5
Also in this series: Pretty Face, Making Up , The Austen Playbook
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: January 20, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
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Series Rating: four-stars

Sparks fly when two feuding TV presenters are thrown together to host a live morning show in Lucy Parker’s latest enemies-to-lovers contemporary romance.

He might be the sexiest man in London, according to his fan site (which he definitely writes himself), but he’s also the most arrogant man she’s ever met.

She might have the longest legs he’s ever seen, but she also has the sharpest tongue.

For years, rival TV presenters Sabrina Carlton and Nick Davenport have traded barbs on their respective shows. The public can’t get enough of their feud, but after Nick airs Sabrina’s family scandals to all of Britain, the gloves are off. They can barely be in the same room together—but these longtime enemies are about to become the unlikeliest of cohosts.

With their reputations on the rocks, Sabrina and Nick have one last chance to save their careers. If they can resurrect a sinking morning show, they’ll still have a future in television. But with ratings at an all-time low and a Christmas Eve deadline to win back the nation’s favor, the clock is ticking—and someone on their staff doesn’t want them to succeed.

Small mishaps on set start adding up, and Sabrina and Nick find themselves—quelle horreur—working together to hunt down the saboteur…and discovering they might have more in common than they thought. When a fiery encounter is caught on camera, the public is convinced that the reluctant cohosts are secretly lusting after one another.

The public might not be wrong.

Their chemistry has always been explosive, but with hate turning to love, the stakes are rising and everything is on the line. Neither is sure if they can trust these new feelings…or if they’ll still have a job in the New Year.

Excerpt

Blindfolded biscuit decorating.

Sabrina was rapidly becoming a lot less fond of Fenella Price.

Phil Meyer, one of the finalists for Ultimate Cakemaster, the current Sunday evening obsession around the country, was just about bent double so that Layla Johnson, his petite fellow contestant, could secure the length of black silk over his eyes. The pair of them had been chuckling and jostling one another, and obviously having a grand old time as they effortlessly produced a stack of perfectly browned, crisply shaped gingerbread people at their station.

They also looked far too unsurprised by this exciting turn of events; evidently, they’d been given a heads-up in the green room that things were going to take a farcical turn.

Sabrina winced as she glanced back at the pile of biscuits on the Carlton/Davenport station. Their lines of figures looked flat-out tragic. Several were missing limbs after she’d accidentally dropped a tray while trying to avoid bodily contact with Nick, and at least half of them were burnt, after the biscuit prince had forgotten to take them out of the oven. He claimed the temperature had been set too high.

And unlike the piping bottles at the opposite station, their royal icing had an interestingly crunchy texture, because Nick Davenport, usually a veritable Renaissance Man, had no idea how to crack an egg. He’d bounced the shell off the side of the bowl like he was slam-dunking a basketball.

“I thought you knew how to bake,” she muttered under her breath as she slipped the blindfold around Nick’s head. She was tall even without her heels, so they didn’t need to resort to Phil and Layla’s acrobatics. He made a quiet sound of protest when she pulled the tie too tight, and she slipped her fingers under it to loosen it. “Sorry.”

He’d managed to transform in the hour before they went live, and now looked as alert and dapper as ever in his crisp suit. She could smell him, this unusually close. His skin had a warm scent of oud from his cologne and, faintly, vanilla from the bottle of extract he’d spilt all over his hands. Sabrina could almost taste it in the back of her throat.

She smoothed the silken fabric into place over his short black curls. “What happened to the scion of the baking dynasty?”

For the first few minutes of the segment, she’d thought he was just embracing the direction to fudge things a bit, make sure their guests looked suitably expert. After she’d watched him poke curiously at the butter with the handle of a wooden spoon, and the acrid bitterness of burning sugar had reached her nostrils, she’d realised he wasn’t acting, he was just shite.

London Celebrities

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Sunday Spotlight: January 2020

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Sunday Spotlight: Grumpy Jake by Melissa Blue

Posted January 12, 2020 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 5 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. 🙂

Grumpy Jake by Melissa Blue came on my radar last month when I saw that gorgeous cover. Then Rowena read it and said she really liked it, so I bumped it up on my list. I can’t wait to read it.

Sunday Spotlight: Grumpy Jake by Melissa BlueGrumpy Jake by Melissa Blue
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: November 8, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 104
Add It: Goodreads
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Bailey Thorne doesn't hate Jake the Rake, just despises him. She blames the rumor mill at her school...and, okay, him. His adorable son has only been in preschool, but Jake has already made an impressive dent in dating the unmarried faculty. She's had to hear of his every exploit from the broken hearts he's left behind. She was fine to loathe him from afar, but now his son has entered kindergarten--and she's the teacher. It's going to be a very long school year.

Jake Polaski was more than fine to avoid Ms. Thorne after it became clear she was not amused by his very existence. But then they get stuck in an elevator for an evening. He finds out that underneath that baleful glare she always gives him, lies a warm, funny and sexy as hell woman. He does his best to not be smitten after every exchange afterward. His son needs him rational, steadfast...and love is the most uncertain thing.

It was the elevator's fault. Had it worked like it should, Bailey would have gone on with her life without seeing why so many of her co-workers had fallen for the grumpy single dad. (It's his dry wit, his playful teasing and the drool-worthy cut of his jawline.) And now she's caught in the way he doles out smiles and the dark depths of his secrets. If nothing else, she knows from rumor there's a clock ticking on their affair before it implodes because things always do with Jake the Rake, but she can't seem to walk away first.

Excerpt

He tossed the suit jacket on the arm of the couch. She hesitated then walked over to the photo album to pull out the braces picture. He just smirked at her as he settled into the cushions.

When she came back in with two cups, he did indeed have the album open on the table.

“That was the only picture in there where I cringe.”

He sat back. “I noticed. There’s just a void of you and your family until high school.”

“Sophomore year to be exact.” She handed him the cup then put hers on the table to cool off. “By then I grew boobs, got a bit of style and no longer wore braces.” She bit her lip for a moment.

“What is it?”

“I think it’s only fair you show me an embarrassing photo.”

He put his cup down on the table. “For the record, I don’t cringe at any of my old photos.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“I was born handsome.”

She cackled. “Lies.”

He didn’t smile but there was a light in his eyes. “You’ve caught me. I was ugly as shit until fifteen, and then there were some questionable style choices for me.” He scrolled through his phone, stopped to look at her then shook his head. “I can’t believe I’m about to show you this.” He hesitated. “No. I absolutely cannot show you this.”

Red blossomed on his cheeks. Grumpy Jake was blushing. “I have to see this picture now.”

He glanced at his phone then shook his head. She put her hand out. He pulled the phone just out of her reach. “I can’t do it.”

“Okay,” she said, placing her hand in her lap.

Their gazes met, held, then she lunged for the phone. She ended up sprawled across his lap on her stomach as they both laughed. They playfully wrestled for another moment until her hand brushed something hard, something thick. She snatched her hand back and tried to untangle their limbs from his. He wrapped his hand around her waist and pulled her into him until her butt settled on that hard and thick part of him between his legs. The laughter had died away. Bailey brought her gaze up to his. Heat and lust had darkened his blue eyes, seeping into her and leaving every part of her buzzing with—everything.

Jake cupped her cheek. “I want to kiss you, Bailey.”

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: January 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 Melissa Blue

Melissa Blue’s writing career started on a typewriter one month after her son was born. This would have been an idyllic situation for a writer if it had been 1985, not 2004. She penned that first contemporary romance, upgraded to a computer and hasn’t looked back since.

Outside of writing, Blue works as a mail clerk for the federal government has a paralegal certificate (that she has more use for as a dustpan) and is a mother of two rambunctious children. She lives in California where the wine is good and, despite popular belief, is not always sunny.


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Sunday Spotlight: Some Enchanted Season by Marilyn Pappano

Posted January 5, 2020 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 16 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

This is one of my favorite books to reread during the holidays. It’s a book about second chances at life and love. Ross and Maggie were college sweethearts and were deeply in love. This book tells the story of how success in life doesn’t always improve a relationship. In this case it actually hurts it. It’s apparent that fate decides that Ross and Maggie aren’t quite done. The small town of Bethlehem works it’s magic and these two slowly find their way back to each other. This book makes me laugh, get teary, and sigh every time I read it. It’s a must read anytime of the year, but much more enjoyable during the holiday season.

Sunday Spotlight: Some Enchanted Season by Marilyn PappanoSome Enchanted Season (Bethlehem, #2) by Marilyn Pappano
Series: Bethlehem #2
Also in this series: Some Enchanted Season (Bethlehem, #2)
Publisher: Bantam
Publication Date: December 1, 1998
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 374
Add It: Goodreads
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Sometimes miracles do happen.

When Maggie left her husband Ross that fateful Christmas Eve, their marriage was over.  But a near fatal accident on an ice-slick road changed everything.

Now another Christmas approaches.  While Maggie hasn't regained all her memory, she's ready to test her strength at home--with Ross as her only companion.  Sharing a house with him once more, putting on the best face for their neighbors, Maggie knows she's living a lie.

Then she glimpses Ross as he used to be: playful and passionate, the man of her dreams before ambition changed him.  She couldn't know he's feeling the same regrets, the same heartache...or that he fears the return of her memory.  What will happen when she remembers the reason she fled from him last year?

It will take a miracle to send the walls of anger and secrecy tumbling down and reunite the divided couple.  But in the small town of Bethlehem, miracles do happen....

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || KOBO

Excerpt

She wiped her eyes and gave a great sigh. “Oh, Ross, if I don’t laugh, I’ll have to cry, and I’ve cried enough tears in my life.”

He didn’t want to know—honest, he didn’t—but the question slipped out anyway. “When?”

In an instant, she became utterly serious. “Nights when you were in the office. Weeks when you were out of town. Years when you were out of reach. A woman can’t watch her husband create a life for himself with no room for her without shedding a few tears.”

“I—I’m sorry. I didn’t know …”

“Maybe not about the tears, but you knew you were moving me out of your life. You just didn’t care.” She spoke matter-of-factly, as if she had long ago accepted that fact. Before the acceptance, though, there must have been heartache and disillusionment, because she, at least, had tried to make things work.

That was more than he could say for himself.

She tried her burger and shrugged. “It’s not too bad. I’ve had worse. I’ve cooked worse.” After another bite she said, “All those dinner parties I planned for you … What was wrong with them?”

“Nothing. The food was great. You were always great. They were fine.”

“Then why did you take them away from me? Why did you suddenly insist on having them catered?”

Sliding onto the stool beside her, he thought back to when he’d made that decision. He tried to remember what her response was. Had she been resistant, or had she quietly, meekly, gone along? Had she been grateful to be freed of so much responsibility, or had she felt rejected?

That last was easy enough to answer. Why did you take them away? wasn’t the question of a grateful woman.

“It was a status thing,” he said at last. “A way of subtly pointing out that we could afford such extravagances.” Seeking to ease his own discomfort, he said, “You never enjoyed those parties anyway—not the hours of planning or the days of shopping or even the cooking. What did it matter to you if someone else did it?”

“Because it was one less way you needed me. You’re right. I didn’t particularly enjoy the parties. But I liked doing them for you. I liked feeling that I had someplace in your life besides bed.” Suddenly she grinned. “But I have to admit, whatever problems were building between us, the sex was still great. I was always grace—grateful—that you never replaced me there. But you weren’t that type. All those times you were gone, all that distance between us, I always knew that there would never be another woman. That counted for a lot.”

The chill that hit Ross was guilt laced with shame. It made his lungs tight and filled his ears with a rushing that distorted her words as she continued to talk. She sounded so confident, so certain that she could trust him at least on that score, but she was wrong. Her gratitude was misplaced, because for one brief, unforgivable time, he’d been exactly that type. He had betrayed her and himself for a few hours’ pleasure, and in the process he had almost destroyed her.

Now he was betraying her again, because even as she hoped and prayed for her missing memories to return, he prayed that she would never remember.

God forgive him.

Because Maggie wouldn’t.

Bethlehem

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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: January 2020

Do you want to give this book a try after reading the excerpt? Let us know what you think and what some of your old favorites are!

About Marilyn Pappano

Marilyn Pappano Headshot

Born in Oklahoma, Marilyn Pappano followed her career-Navy husband across the southern United States for fifteen years, living in California, the Carolinas, Alabama and Georgia -- all locations she's used regularly in her novels. Her first book, WITHIN REACH, was published by Silhouette Books in 1987, and she's gone on to sell about eighty books to Silhouette, Harlequin, Warner, Bantam, Dell and Forever Romance. She's made bestseller lists, won every major award in the romance genre, and seen a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie made from her novel, SEASON FOR MIRACLES. Marilyn writes both contemporary romance and romantic suspense and is best known for her richly-textured characterization. Her current publishers are Harlequin Romantic Suspense and Forever Romance, where she's using her experience as a military spouse and mother in her new Tallgrass books, a series about a group of best friends and military widows who help each other grieve, live and learn to love again.


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Sunday Spotlight: The One for You by Roni Loren

Posted December 15, 2019 by Rowena in Features, Giveaways | 5 Comments

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

I can’t believe that we’re already on Book 4. When I first heard about this series before the first book came out, I was mighty intrigued and I thought it was such an interesting concept though I didn’t know how Roni Loren would pull it off. Telling the stories of victims of a school shooting? That was different but I’ve got to say that Roni Loren has written fantastic stories for the survivors and I have eaten each and every single book that she’s written in this series up.

In The One for You, we are finally getting Kincaid’s story. I’m pretty anxious for this book to be released into the wild because Kincaid has completely won me over throughout this series. In the first book, I didn’t really care for her at first but now? Love the woman. I can’t wait to read her story and it’s a best friend trope along with the one that got away trope? Oh yes, sign me up!

My love for this series is real and that is why we’re featuring The One for You on our Sunday Spotlight for this week. Check out the excerpt below and see Kincaid meet up with her long lost best friend that she hasn’t seen in years. Enjoy!

Sunday Spotlight: The One for You by Roni LorenThe One for You by Roni Loren
Series: The Ones Who Got Away #4
Also in this series: The Ones Who Got Away , The Ones Who Got Away, The One You Can't Forget, The One You Fight For (The Ones Who Got Away, #3), The One for You
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: December 31, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
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Series Rating: four-stars

The highly-anticipated fourth book in Roni Loren's unforgettable The Ones Who Got Away series.

She got a second chance at life.Will she take a second chance at love?

Kincaid Breslin wasn't supposed to survive that fateful night at Long Acre when so many died, including her boyfriend—but survive she did. She doesn't know why she got that chance, but now she takes life by the horns and doesn't let anybody stand in her way

Ashton Isaacs was her best friend when disaster struck all those years ago, but he chose to run as far away as he could. Now fate has brought him back to town, and Ash doesn't know how to cope with his feelings for Kincaid and his grief over their lost friendship. For Ash has been carrying secrets, and he knows that once Kincaid learns the truth, he'll lose any chance he might have had with the only woman he's ever loved.

Excerpt

Ash’s head was pounding from lack of sleep and absence of coffee as he stepped out of the tiny shower in the apartment above the bookstore. The hot water had helped wake him up some, but the headache was going to take something more drastic. Like a double shot of espresso from the coffee shop on the corner. Maybe a triple. It wouldn’t taste like his usual from his favorite shop in Brooklyn, but he couldn’t be choosy.

Not that many years ago, Long Acre didn’t have a coffee shop at all. If you wanted coffee, you had to go to Toby’s Diner and drink the weak, brown water they passed off as coffee. As a teen, he’d thought it was quality stuff. He and Kincaid used to stop there all the time after their evening shifts at the bookstore to meet Graham, order a pot of coffee, eat cheese toast—the cheapest thing on the menu—and get their homework done. Well, mostly it’d been Ash attempting to do his homework while Kincaid narrated everything about her day or the customers she’d helped in the store. He’d never met anyone who seemed to say every thought in her head even while doing a completely unrelated task. Some people worked to background music. He’d taken to working to the hum of her chatter. After a while, it’d become something he missed when he tried to work in silence.

He grimaced and dried his face on his towel, trying to wipe away the memory. No thinking about the past. Being back in Long Acre was bad enough. He didn’t need to do the memory-lane thing. That road was populated with a whole bunch of sites he didn’t want to visit ever again. That was one reason the little gourmet coffee shop was perfect. It was new, probably some transplant business owner from Austin looking for small-town life, and when Ash had stopped in the last two mornings, he hadn’t recognized a soul and no one had recognized him.

Ash finished drying off and knotted the towel around his waist. He felt around the edge of the sink. Dammit. Where had he left his glasses? He squinted through the steam trapped in the small room and didn’t see them. He sighed, wishing, not for the first time, that he was back in his New York apartment where he had defined places for everything.

He vaguely remembered pulling off his glasses when he’d gotten undressed by the bed, so he headed out of the bathroom, vision blurry but manageable. The apartment was just a studio with a small kitchen in the corner, a bed, and a table where he could eat and work at his laptop, but the layout was unfamiliar. Plus, the place was filled with boxes and dark, the curtains still drawn. He walked carefully, hoping not to stub a toe or knock something over. He finally located his glasses on the small bedside table and slipped them on. He reached for the lamp, but when he heard a sound off to his left, he only had time to register that someone was standing near the door before a woman’s shriek tore through the small room.

He lifted his palms as if it were a holdup and jumped back in surprise. But before he could get a word out, something heavy and solid crashed into his shoulder.

Oof. Pain rocketed down his arm and up his neck. The sound of breaking glass exploded at his feet. “What the fu—”

“I have pepper spray and know self-defense!” the woman shouted. “Don’t you move!”

“Me?” he asked incredulously. “You don’t move. This is my apartment. And if you have pepper spray, why the hell didn’t you use that instead?” He rubbed his throbbing shoulder and took a step toward the lamp to illuminate his unwelcome visitor, but sharp pain pinched the bottom of his foot. “Fuck.”

“Your apartment?” she said, affronted. “I don’t think so, squatter. This place is on the market.”

Ash’s foot was on fire with pain. The glass had nicked him, and he was losing his patience and possibly blood. “Look, calm down. I think there’s been a mix-up, but give me a sec. Let me turn on a light.” He kept his feet where they were and reached for the lamp again. He clicked it on, soft light flooding the room. He was ready to yell at whoever this stranger was for attacking him, but when he saw the blond woman standing there, pepper spray aimed, familiar just-try-me expression on her face, all his breath left him. “Kincaid?”

Kincaid’s face, which he hadn’t seen since their last awkward shared Christmas at the Lowells—an annual tradition that always involved a lot of tense, fake smiling at each other—was the picture of shock. Eyes widening. Lips parting. Her gaze slid down his body, which he now remembered was bare except for his tattoos and the damp towel around his hips. He cleared his throat.
Her attention snapped back up to his face. “Ash? What the hell?”

He grabbed the knotted towel at his hip, not trusting the thing to hold up. Apparently the universe hated him, so full frontal nudity was imminent if he didn’t take precautionary measures. “I could say the same to you. How’d you get in?”

“I have a key. I’m showing the place for the Lowells so they can rent it out.” She lowered the pepper spray and swept her other hand in his direction. “I was bringing flowers by to brighten up the place. I have someone coming over later to see it.”

Ash looked down at his feet where shards of glass glinted in the lamplight and a puddle of water had spread like some kind of abstract art, mixing with the blood from his cut and the scattered flowers. His foot was burning like hell. “Well, it’s not for rent anymore. I’m…using it.”

Her brow creased, and she glanced around, noticing the boxes for the first time. “Using it? You always stay at Grace and Charlie’s when you visit.”

God, he didn’t want to get into this with Kincaid. He’d always made sure to bring a date home for Christmas, and he’d been extra thrilled the last two years to bring a serious girlfriend home to prove to everyone how well he was doing. Without this town. Without his parents. Without Kincaid. That he was just fine. Now here he was, right back where he’d started. “I needed a place for a little longer to get some writing done. Someplace quiet.”

The Ones That Got Away

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: December 2019

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

About Roni Loren

Roni wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has. She holds a master’s degree in social work and spent years as a mental health counselor, but now she writes full time from her cozy office in Dallas, Texas where she puts her characters on the therapy couch instead. She is a two-time RITA Award winner and a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.


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Sunday Spotlight: Into the Dark by Karen Rose

Posted December 1, 2019 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 5 Comments

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

I love Karen Rose. She is at the top of her game with Alone in the Dark. If you like romantic suspense, or romance, or suspense, you need to give Karen Rose a try. She will not disappoint. She hasn’t disappointed me once as a matter of fact!

Sunday Spotlight: Into the Dark by Karen RoseInto the Dark by Karen Rose
Series: Cincinnati #5
Also in this series: Into the Dark
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: November 14, 2019
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 480
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: five-stars

When Michael Rowland saves his younger brother Joshua from the clutches of his stepfather, he runs for his life with his brother in his arms. From his hiding place he sees the man who has made their lives a misery taken away in the trunk of a stranger's car, never to be seen again.

Doctor Dani Novak has been keeping soccer coach Diesel Kennedy at arm's length to protect him from her dark secrets. When they are brought together by the two young brothers who desperately need their help, it seems they might finally be able to leave their damaged pasts behind them.

But as the only witness to the man who kidnapped and murdered his stepfather, Michael is in danger. As Diesel and Dani do all that they can to protect him, their own investigation into the murder uncovers a much darker web of secrets than they could have imagined.

As more bodies start to appear it's clear that this killer wants vengeance. And will wipe out anything that gets in his way...

Excerpt

Cincinnati, Ohio
Saturday, March 9, 5:40 a.m.

Michael shifted in the chair in the corner of Joshua’s bedroom, trying to get comfortable as he kept watch over his little brother, who slept peacefully, unaware that anything had happened tonight. At least there was that. Joshua wouldn’t have the memory of being drugged by their stepfather. Of their escape through the old orchard.

Michael had tried to sleep in his own bed. He truly had. God only knew, he was exhausted
enough. But every time he closed his eyes, he saw Brewer jabbing Joshua with a syringe and carrying him away. He’d tried to force his brain to see Brewer going limp under the big bald man’s hands, but his brain kept seeing the bastard getting up and walking away. That wasn’t what had happened, but until Michael knew for sure that Brewer really was dead, he’d be on pins and needles, waiting for his mother’s husband to come home.

And watching over Joshua. It wasn’t like anyone else was going to. Their mother had never been what anyone would call maternal, but she’d gotten much worse since Brewer had entered their lives.

He shifted again, then froze as a familiar rumble beneath his feet sent an even more familiar bolt of fear through his body.

The garage door. Someone had opened it.

Someone is here.

Michael shot to his feet, fumbling for the gun he’d taken from Brewer’s safe. Tucking it into the waist of his jeans at his back, he looked around the room wildly, nearly scooping Joshua up into his arms.

But again he froze. There was no time. Someone was coming.

Someone is here.

Brewer? Or . . . He remembered the big bald man tossing Brewer’s keys into the air. Had the man come back? Had he killed Brewer and come back? For us?

Oh God. He saw me. Knows I saw him kill Brewer. He thinks I’ll tell. He’ll kill me, too.

Michael’s brain told him to run, until his gaze fell to his little brother, still asleep. I’ll keep you safe. I won’t let him touch you. I promise.

Stepping back, Michael hid behind the chair and drew the gun. He’d kill whoever walked
through that door. Unless it was his mother. Her, he’d let live. Although she didn’t deserve to.

He’d gone to her, terrified and bleeding. Scared. He’d told her what her husband had done, the first time it had happened more than two years ago. And the second. And the third. But she hadn’t believed him. Or she’d claimed as much.

You’re lying, she’d told him. Michael could still feel the sting of her slap across his face. It was a wonder she hadn’t broken any of his teeth. But he hadn’t been lying about all the things her husband had done to him.

He’d threatened to go to the police, hoping they’d believe him, but his mother told him that they’d take him away— and maybe her, too. He and Joshua would go to foster care, but not together. They’d be separated, she’d told him, and everyone knew what happened to kids in those homes. Joshua would be hurt and it would be Michael’s fault. Unless he stayed quiet. So he had, enduring his stepfather’s “visits” in the night, hoping that Brewer would just go away.

Now he had. Because he’s dead.

He shuddered, pushing those thoughts from his mind. Not now. He couldn’t lose it now. Later, he’d fall apart. Later, when Joshua was safe.

Joshua, the only reason he’d stayed in this house. This hell.

Michael clutched the gun in both hands, willing them not to shake. Willing his eyes to stay open, even though he wanted to clench them shut and pretend none of this was happening. Because the door was opening. Slowly.

He held his breath, his heart hammering in his chest. No, no, no. It couldn’t be Brewer. Brewer was dead. Please let him be dead. Please let this be Mom. Please.

A shadow appeared in the doorway. Big. Hulking.

It was the man. The bald man. The man who’d killed Brewer with his bare hands. He was here. He stepped into the room, the moonlight from the window reflecting off his head as he stopped at the foot of Joshua’s bed.

Michael could see his face clearly. Memorized his features. Every detail, so that he could tell the police.

No, no, you won’t. You can’t tell the police. Because they wouldn’t believe him. His mother would tell them he was a liar. Just like she’d done when he’d told her that her new husband came to his bed at night.

She’ll find a way to blame me. That’s the way it’s always been.

He glanced at the gun he held in his shaking hands. I won’t need to tell the police, because I’m going to kill him.

Except the man didn’t touch his brother. He simply stood there, his gaze fixed on Joshua. There was no anger on the man’s face. None of the lustful leering that Michael had seen so often in Brewer’s eyes. Actually, the man looked . . . relieved. And that didn’t make sense.

The man’s gaze jerked up and Michael wondered if he’d made a sound. But the man didn’t
come closer. He just turned on his heel and left the room.

Michael sagged back against the bedroom wall, letting out the breath he’d been holding. A few minutes later he felt the rumble of the garage door going back down.

He crept to the window and peeked out into the night. And sucked in a breath when he saw the big man running down the driveway, toward the flickering light at the road, a suitcase in his hand.

He was gone.

Michael and Joshua were alone again.

Michael’s entire body began to shake. He stumbled to the chair just as his legs gave out. He didn’t have to wonder what would have happened if the man had discovered him there. He’d have put his hands on Michael’s throat and choked him until he’d gone limp, just as he’d done to Brewer.

Oh God. Oh God. I would have been dead. And Joshua would be all alone, unprotected. He
glared at the gun in his hand. He’d frozen. He should have shot the man as he’d stood next to

Joshua’s bed, but he’d frozen.

I won’t freeze next time. If he comes back, I’ll be ready.

Cincinnati

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Sunday Spotlight: December 2019

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About Karen Rose

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

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

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

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


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