Author: Nalini Singh

Guest Review: Alpha Night by Nalini Singh

Posted June 10, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Alpha Night by Nalini SinghReviewer: Tracy
Alpha Night by Nalini Singh
Series: Psy/Changeling Trinity #4
Also in this series: Silver Silence, Silver Silence, Silver Silence, Ocean Light, Ocean Light , Wolf Rain , Wolf Rain, Alpha Night
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: June 9, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Alpha wolf Selenka Durev’s devotion to her pack is equaled only by her anger at anyone who would harm those under her care. That currently includes the empaths who’ve flowed into her city for a symposium that is a security nightmare, a powder keg just waiting for a match.

Ethan Night is an Arrow who isn’t an Arrow. Numb and disengaged from the world, he’s loyal only to himself. Assigned as part of the security force at a world-first symposium, he carries a dark agenda tied to the power-hungry and murderous Consortium. Then violence erupts and Ethan finds himself crashing into the heart and soul of an alpha wolf.

Mating at first sight is a myth, a fairytale. Yet Selenka’s wolf is resolute: Ethan Night, broken Arrow and a man capable of obsessive devotion, is the mate it has chosen. Even if the mating bond is full of static and not quite as it should be. Because Selenka’s new mate has a terrible secret, his mind surging with a power that is a creature of madness and death…

Ethan is an Arrow who had a very different childhood (if you can even call it that) than any of the other Arrows.  He believes himself to be completely unemotional so he takes a job from someone in the Consortium, just to see if he can feel something.  His job is to protect Selenka Durev, the Alpha of the BlackEdge wolf pack – the most powerful wolf pack in Russia.  Ethan is taken with Selenka from the first moment he sees her and after a bomb threat they realize they are meant for each other.

Selenka loves Ethan’s voice from the moment she hears it, but she never imagines that mating with him at first sight would ever happen.  She thought it was just something that was made up and only existed in Soap Operas.   Even though they’ve mated, they don’t even know each other.  That will come in time, but she has to find out what is wrong with Ethan.  He believes he has a mental disease and is not long for this world, but Selenka is determined to keep him alive as long as possible.

I love the Psy-Changeling series.  While I tend to give them all high marks, there are obviously some I like better than others.  This is one of those.  This takes me back to the feeling I had at the beginning of the series and I loved that.  Dealing with Psy mind issues as well as integrating a Psy and a Changeling mating was so interesting then and now.  I loved seeing Sascha Duncan again in this book and having her trying to help Ethan with his mental state.

Singh gave us romance, intrigue and mating at first sight.  Did I think it would work? Not as well as it did, that’s for sure.  I was skeptical, but Singh pulled it off.  I adored how Ethan was with Selenka from minute one.  He was hers and would do anything for her.  I loved seeing this “unemotional” man fall and fall hard.  I also loved seeing Selenka find a man that was a match for her alpha-ness. She was pretty badass and finding a man who was just as much an alpha and appreciated that trait in his woman was a thing to behold.

Overall – I loved it.  There was only one slower part (I won’t actually say slow – just slower) in the story and that’s the only reason it didn’t get 5 stars.  If you haven’t ever read the Psy-Changeling series – what are you waiting for???  Pick up Slave to Sensation now. Yes, technically this is book 4 in the Psy-Changeling Trinity series but if you haven’t read any of them then start from the beginning.  You won’t be sorry.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Psy-Changeling

Psy-Changeling Trinity

four-half-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Alpha Night by Nalini Singh (+ Exclusive Excerpt)

Posted June 7, 2020 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 19 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. 🙂

Until this book came out, I hadn’t been keeping up with the series. I’m so glad that I caught up because this book is just yummy, yummy goodness. I love the characters, the camaraderie between the pack, as well as the problems that crop up. Both the hero and the heroine are worthy of this series. I think Nalini knocked it out of the park with this one!

Sunday Spotlight: Alpha Night by Nalini Singh (+ Exclusive Excerpt)Alpha Night by Nalini Singh
Series: Psy/Changeling Trinity #4, Psy/Changeling #19
Also in this series: Silver Silence, Silver Silence, Silver Silence, Ocean Light, Ocean Light , Wolf Rain , Wolf Rain, Alpha Night, Alpha Night, Mine to Possess, Hostage to Pleasure, The Magical Christmas Cat , Kiss of Snow, Tangle of Need, Slave to Sensation , Wild Invitation, Heart of Obsidian, Shield of Winter, Shield of Winter, Visions of Heat, Mine to Possess, Caressed By Ice, Branded by Fire, Blaze of Memory, Mine to Possess, Hostage to Pleasure, Hostage to Pleasure, Shards of Hope, Shards of Hope, Heart of Obsidian, Caressed By Ice, Branded by Fire, Blaze of Memory, Play of Passion, Allegiance of Honor, Kiss of Snow, Tangle of Need, Shield of Winter, Shards of Hope, Allegiance of Honor, Allegiance of Honor, Wild Embrace, Wild Embrace, Wild Embrace, Tangle of Need, Caressed By Ice
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: June 9, 2020
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh returns to her breathtaking Psy-Changeling Trinity series with a mating that shouldn’t exist…

Alpha wolf Selenka Durev’s devotion to her pack is equaled only by her anger at anyone who would harm those under her care. That currently includes the empaths who’ve flowed into her city for a symposium that is a security nightmare, a powder keg just waiting for a match.

Ethan Night is an Arrow who isn’t an Arrow. Numb and disengaged from the world, he’s loyal only to himself. Assigned as part of the security force at a world-first symposium, he carries a dark agenda tied to the power-hungry and murderous Consortium. Then violence erupts and Ethan finds himself crashing into the heart and soul of an alpha wolf.

Mating at first sight is a myth, a fairytale. Yet Selenka’s wolf is resolute: Ethan Night, broken Arrow and a man capable of obsessive devotion, is the mate it has chosen. Even if the mating bond is full of static and not quite as it should be. Because Selenka’s new mate has a terrible secret, his mind surging with a power that is a creature of madness and death…

Exclusive Excerpt

“I don’t believe in tagging individuals as if they’re cattle.” Aden’s voice never rose, his tone steady, but his anger was a cold wind against her. “Ming LeBon had different ideas.”

“What about the rumored drug leash?” Silver asked, as Valentin wrapped an arm around her waist and held her possessively against his chest.

To those who didn’t understand changeling bears, didn’t know Valentin, that would’ve appeared to be nothing but a male asserting his right over a woman. Selenka knew the truth was far more complicated—Valentin was really, really angry at the idea of a man being leashed in such a way, and was cuddling up to his mate in an effort to take the edge off his temper.

Bears rarely lost it, but—and so long as it had nothing to do with a territorial skirmish—Selenka had made sure her wolves knew to give the ursine changelings a wide berth should it ever happen. It’d take three wolves to take down an enraged bear of Valentin’s size in a sudden fight—and they’d all come out with broken bones and shattered teeth.

Wolf rage was a quieter, harder, deadlier thing. Wolves didn’t smash up rooms and swipe out heedlessly. Wolves planned. Selenka planned. If she wanted to attack Valentin, she’d think out every step ahead of time—and when she closed her jaws over his throat, it’d be precisely over his jugular and carotid.

That cold rage sharpened her senses now, had her hearing a distant door closing as Aden said, “The drug leash wasn’t foolproof. In particular, there was no way to know its effect on those with incredibly rare abilities. There is no one like Ethan. Ming wouldn’t have risked ruining him.”

Ruin, Selenka thought, could have different meanings.

I am permanently damaged in ways that affect my psychic balance.

“What I’m about to share is highly confidential,” Aden said, white lines bracketing his mouth. “I’m only doing so because you can’t have any doubts about Ethan. This information cannot be shared with any others.”

“As long as it isn’t relevant to the safety of others, we have no reason to share it.”

Aden waited until Valentin and Selenka both nodded agreement to Silver’s statement before he continued. “Ming tagged Ethan. Dr. Edgard Bashir deactivated that tag three months ago once he’d worked out a way to do it without damaging Ethan’s organs.” Flat, hard words. “The device was placed inside him when he was a child and it grew tendrils around his heart in the time since. It can’t be removed, but it’s dead.”

Selenka’s growl echoed against the walls. The idea of being watched that way, until nothing you did was private, it would’ve driven her insane. That Ethan wasn’t locked up in an institution was an indication of his strength, another piece of the dangerous enigma that was her mate.

Meeting over, Selenka tracked Ethan, his scent a shining thread to her wolf. Her beautiful, dangerous stranger of a mate was leaning against the external wall beside the main door, a stray at his feet, its tail wagging.

Pale eyes locked with her own.

“You need to see your healer,” he said with no indication that he felt any sense of intimidation in her presence. Arousal licked through her—but her stubborn mate wasn’t finished. “The numbing agent in the gel will have long worn off.”

Her wolf curled its upper lip at the demand in his tone but grudgingly accepted he was right. Her back hurt. “Yes. I messaged him just before. He’s already at the pack’s city HQ, so we’ll meet him there.” She looked at the dog—now quivering, but staying staunchly at Ethan’s side. “That your dog?”

Ethan looked down at the hopeful, scared, loyal animal. “It appears we are equally damaged.” He didn’t try to shoo the creature away as it walked with them . . . its body trembling the entire time.

Impressed by its courage, she caught the animal’s eyes. It froze. She didn’t crouch—that would just confuse it. She just bent and patted its head. “I’m not going to eat you.” The dog knew it stood next to a wolf, a predator that could rip it to shreds.

Ethan said nothing after she drew back, but his new pet wagged its tail like a metronome. She found her gaze drawn to Ethan’s throat again, to the strength of the cords, to the steady beat of his pulse against the warmth of his skin . . . and had her teeth sunk into his flesh before she realized she’d moved.

A growl filled her chest, the scent of him in her blood. And the deadly Arrow she’d just bitten didn’t lift a finger to defend himself. He just placed his hand on her hip, holding her close to the muscled strength of his body.

Growl turning into a low rumble, she released her bite, then licked her tongue over the indentation in his skin—she’d been careful even in her lack of control, hadn’t broken skin.
His breathing altered. The sharp intake of it had her jerking away.

What the hell was she doing? She’d just bitten a man she’d only met hours earlier . . . and she was very, very satisfied to see she’d marked him. Even now, she couldn’t help but brush her fingers over the mark. “This isn’t normal.” It came out husky.

Ethan looked at her with unflinching intensity. “I’ve never been normal. But you’re my mate now and I’m not going to give that up.”

Copyright © 2020 by Nalini Singh

Psy-Changelings Trinity

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: June 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 Nalini Singh

I've been writing as long as I can remember and all of my stories always held a thread of romance (even when I was writing about a prince who could shoot lasers out of his eyes). I love creating unique characters, love giving them happy endings and I even love the voices in my head. There's no other job I would rather be doing. In September 2002, when I got the call that Silhouette Desire wanted to buy my first book, Desert Warrior, it was a dream come true. I hope to continue living the dream until I keel over of old age on my keyboard.

I was born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand. I also spent three years living and working in Japan, during which time I took the chance to travel around Asia. I’m back in New Zealand now, but I’m always plotting new trips. If you’d like to see some of my travel snapshots, have a look at the Travel Diary page (updated every month).

So far, I've worked as a lawyer, a librarian, a candy factory general hand, a bank temp and an English teacher and not necessarily in that order. Some might call that inconsistency but I call it grist for the writer's mill.


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Featured Review: Alpha Night by Nalini Singh

Posted May 28, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 4 Comments

Featured Review: Alpha Night by Nalini SinghReviewer: Casee, Holly, and Rowena
Alpha Night by Nalini Singh
Series: Psy/Changeling Trinity #4, Psy/Changeling #19
Also in this series: Silver Silence, Silver Silence, Silver Silence, Ocean Light, Ocean Light , Wolf Rain , Wolf Rain, Alpha Night, Mine to Possess, Hostage to Pleasure, The Magical Christmas Cat , Kiss of Snow, Tangle of Need, Slave to Sensation , Wild Invitation, Heart of Obsidian, Shield of Winter, Shield of Winter, Visions of Heat, Mine to Possess, Caressed By Ice, Branded by Fire, Blaze of Memory, Mine to Possess, Hostage to Pleasure, Hostage to Pleasure, Shards of Hope, Shards of Hope, Heart of Obsidian, Caressed By Ice, Branded by Fire, Blaze of Memory, Play of Passion, Allegiance of Honor, Kiss of Snow, Tangle of Need, Shield of Winter, Shards of Hope, Allegiance of Honor, Allegiance of Honor, Wild Embrace, Wild Embrace, Wild Embrace, Tangle of Need, Caressed By Ice
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: June 9, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh returns to her breathtaking Psy-Changeling Trinity series with a mating that shouldn’t exist…

Alpha wolf Selenka Durev’s devotion to her pack is equaled only by her anger at anyone who would harm those under her care. That currently includes the empaths who’ve flowed into her city for a symposium that is a security nightmare, a powder keg just waiting for a match.

Ethan Night is an Arrow who isn’t an Arrow. Numb and disengaged from the world, he’s loyal only to himself. Assigned as part of the security force at a world-first symposium, he carries a dark agenda tied to the power-hungry and murderous Consortium. Then violence erupts and Ethan finds himself crashing into the heart and soul of an alpha wolf.

Mating at first sight is a myth, a fairytale. Yet Selenka’s wolf is resolute: Ethan Night, broken Arrow and a man capable of obsessive devotion, is the mate it has chosen. Even if the mating bond is full of static and not quite as it should be. Because Selenka’s new mate has a terrible secret, his mind surging with a power that is a creature of madness and death…

Holly: I haven’t loved the last few releases in this series, but I really adored this book. I loved the dynamic between Selenka and Ethan, and I really loved Selenka’s pack.

Casee: I adored this book as well. Like you, I haven’t particularly enjoyed the last few releases. This book was more than a pleasant surprise.

Rowena: I think I enjoyed the last few releases more than you guys and I really liked this one as well. I’ve been in a weird reading mood this past week but buckling down with this book was good for me.

Casee: One of the things I liked was that just because Selenka and Ethan were instantly mated, they weren’t just happy-happy right away.

Rowena: I liked the instant mating thing and I really, really loved Ethan and Selenka. I don’t think I’ve ever read the instant mating thing before, have you guys?

Holly: I know we haven’t seen the instant mating thing from Nalini Singh before. I thought that aspect of the book was really well done. Like Casee said, they weren’t immediately all happy happy just because they were fated mates. They had to learn each other. But I liked that the instant mating made them immediately commit. It wasn’t a matter of if they got together, but how they made a future work. The way Ethan was filled up by Selenka was well written.

Casee: I loved Selenka’s pack. Everyone from the Lieutenants to the Healer to the cubs. I did feel really bad for Selenka because of her relationship with her father. He was such an ass.

Holly: I did struggle with the pacing in the early part of the book. I felt like I got dropped into the middle of a story at first. It took probably a good quarter of the book before I remembered details from earlier in the series and felt like I knew what was what.

Casee: I felt the same way. The information about Selenka’s pack was like a million books ago. It took me a bit to remember as well.

Rowena: I didn’t prepare for this read and it feels like the last book in this series came out so long ago so, like Holly, it took me a while to catch up on who was who again and what was what. Once I caught up, things really picked up for me. I enjoyed seeing everyone again, seeing our friends from the DarkRiver and all of our Psy friends.

Casee: Did you both figure out his designation?

Holly: Yes, I figured out his designation early on. I liked how his abilities morphed based on his upbringing.

Rowena: I thought Ehtan would end up being what he was and I thought it was a neat spin on that designation. He’s so different from the others that I thought it was interesting. I liked seeing him become friends with people, I really loved seeing him form bonds outside of Selenka’s pack and I really loved how fiercely loyal Selenka’s pack became to Ethan, right from the jump. There was no questioning Selenka’s authority or Selenka’s mate, there was just a ready acceptance that I felt Ethan really needed.

Nalini Singh is really good at complicated relationships and seeing the different kinds of relationships in this story was just great. From Ethan and Selenka to the other mated couples but also Mercy and Ethan and hell, even Nomi and Blaise. They’re all different kinds of relationships and I thought each of them was interesting in their own ways.

Holly: I agree, Singh is really good at complicated relationships. I love seeing Ethan navigate his way to forgiveness with the other Arrows, and how things circled back around with Selenka’s father.

Casee: I also enjoyed seeing his relationships with people in the pack develop, as well as with the Arrows. Ethan has never trusted anyone for good reason. I am curious to see what happens when Ming LeBon shows back up.

Rowena: I really liked this book and am looking forward to seeing where Singh takes up from here after what Kaleb and Aden do at the end of this one. Shit just got real and complicated, real fast….and I’m here for it. Who is the next couple, do you guys know? I give this book 4.25 out of 5 stars, what about you guys?

Holly: I’m looking forward to more from this pack, and I definitely want to see where she takes things after the events at the end of this book. I don’t think we’ve heard yet who the next couple will be, but I’ll be here for it.

I’m giving this 4 out of 5.

Casee: I really hope there are more books coming out from this pack. I really enjoyed Selenka’s relationship with Valentin too. Freaking bears. I just generally enjoyed the entire dynamic of this book.

I’m giving this a 4.25 out of 5.

Final Grades

Casee: 4.25 out of 5
Holly: 4 out of 5
Rowena: 4.25 out of 5

Psy-Changeling

Psy-Changeling Trinity

four-half-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh x2

Posted March 29, 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. 🙂

Casee and I were discussing the Psy/Changeling series the other day and it reminded me how much I love this book Featured this as a group some time ago, but I’m bringing it back today because I love it so much.

Sunday Spotlight: Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh x2Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh
Series: Psy/Changeling #12
Also in this series: Mine to Possess, Hostage to Pleasure, The Magical Christmas Cat , Kiss of Snow, Tangle of Need, Slave to Sensation , Wild Invitation, Heart of Obsidian, Shield of Winter, Shield of Winter, Visions of Heat, Mine to Possess, Caressed By Ice, Branded by Fire, Blaze of Memory, Mine to Possess, Hostage to Pleasure, Hostage to Pleasure, Shards of Hope, Shards of Hope, Heart of Obsidian, Caressed By Ice, Branded by Fire, Blaze of Memory, Play of Passion, Allegiance of Honor, Kiss of Snow, Tangle of Need, Shield of Winter, Shards of Hope, Allegiance of Honor, Allegiance of Honor, Wild Embrace, Wild Embrace, Wild Embrace, Silver Silence, Silver Silence, Tangle of Need, Ocean Light, Ocean Light , Caressed By Ice, Wolf Rain
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 360
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: five-stars

Step into New York Times bestseller Nalini Singh’s explosive and shockingly passionate Psy-Changeling world…
A dangerous, volatile rebel, hands stained bloodred.
A woman whose very existence has been erased.
A love story so dark, it may shatter the world itself.
A deadly price that must be paid.
The day of reckoning is here.

Excerpt

Kaleb’s priorities and goals were murky in the beginnng of the series, but as time when on we saw there was more to him than we previously thought.

It was the greatest of ironies that the only person who had ever held him as if he mattered was the one person who did not need to hold him at all. If Sahara called, he would come. Always.

Sahara was the most important thing in the world to him, and he never faltered when it came to her.

[..]He rose to his feet and, placing his hands on the table, leaned toward her until she could’ve reached out and run her fingers along his freshly shaven jaw. “You are here,” he said in a tone that made her heart thump wildly against her ribs, “because you belong to me.”

They were both broken, and had issues.

[..]He sat on the edge with his back to her and his arms braced on his knees . . . and he remembered the seven years he had waited for her to come back, the countless days he’d stood on this terrace staring down at the gorge as the rational part of his mind tried to convince the obsessive madness that lived in him of her likely death.

The gorge, deep and without end, hadn’t existed until the first time he’d imagined her erased from existence.

I love how strong Kaleb’s determination to find Sahara was. How he continued to build a life for her, even though she’d been gone for so long.

“Who are you?”

“A caretaker,” he said, and it was a truth, if not everything.

Frown lines on her brow, her fingers flexing and clenching against his chest in a way that challenged his already unsteady control.

“Of this house?”

“Yes.” It was an anchor, a physical symbol of his search, of her.

“Who owns it?”

“You do.” He’d had it built according to specifications she’d outlined at fifteen, watched over it all the years of her captivity, using

On the surface, Kaleb seems to live in perfect Silence, but things are more complex than that.

“That,” Tatiana said, putting down the stylus, “is why we’d make an unbeatable team. Neither one of us has any flaws in our Silence.”

Kaleb thought of the woman who slept in the house he’d built for her, of the man with a broken neck who had burned to ash in a crematorium incinerator hours ago, and knew his Silence was far more complex than Tatiana could imagine.

Psy-Changeling

Psy-Changeling Trinity

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: March 2020

Have you read this series? What’s your favorite novel from the series to date? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Nalini Singh

I've been writing as long as I can remember and all of my stories always held a thread of romance (even when I was writing about a prince who could shoot lasers out of his eyes). I love creating unique characters, love giving them happy endings and I even love the voices in my head. There's no other job I would rather be doing. In September 2002, when I got the call that Silhouette Desire wanted to buy my first book, Desert Warrior, it was a dream come true. I hope to continue living the dream until I keel over of old age on my keyboard.

I was born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand. I also spent three years living and working in Japan, during which time I took the chance to travel around Asia. I’m back in New Zealand now, but I’m always plotting new trips. If you’d like to see some of my travel snapshots, have a look at the Travel Diary page (updated every month).

So far, I've worked as a lawyer, a librarian, a candy factory general hand, a bank temp and an English teacher and not necessarily in that order. Some might call that inconsistency but I call it grist for the writer's mill.


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Sunday Spotlight: Love Hard by Nalini Singh

Posted March 15, 2020 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 have been waiting for this book for ages now. I’m so stoked to finally be getting a Samoan romance. A sexy Samoan rugby player? Yes, please! Jake and Juliet sound like all kinds of fun so I’m all in. We’re pretty stoked to be sharing an excerpt from Love Hard so check it out!

Sunday Spotlight: Love Hard by Nalini SinghLove Hard by Nalini Singh
Series: Hard Play #3
Also in this series: Cherish Hard, Cherish Hard (Hard Play, #1), Cherish Hard (Hard Play, #1), Rebel Hard (Hard Play, #2), Cherish Hard (Hard Play, #1)
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: March 10, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh brings you the next sizzling story in her Hard Play contemporary romance series…

Jacob Esera, star rugby player and young single father, has worked hard to create a joyous life for his six-year-old daughter. After the death of his childhood sweetheart soon after their daughter’s birth, all Jake wants is safety and stability. No risks. No wild chances. And especially no Juliet Nelisi, former classmate, scandal magnet, and a woman who is a thorn in his side.

As a lonely teenager, Juliet embraced her bad-girl reputation as a shield against loneliness and rejection. Years later, having kicked a cheating sports-star ex to the curb, she has a prestigious job and loyal friends—and wants nothing to do with sportsmen. The last thing she expects is the fire that ignites between her and the stuffed-shirt golden boy who once loved her best friend.

Straitlaced Jacob Esera versus wild-at-heart Juliet Nelisi? Place your bets.

Excerpt

Jake checked on Esme—who was having a grand old time running wild with the other children—then went hunting Jules.

He was starting to think she’d ditched the reception when he finally saw her seated in a hidden alcove with a giant slice of wedding cake on a saucer. She cut into it with a fork as he watched, slipped the tines into her mouth. Her lashes drifted shut, her lips pursed; he could almost hear her moan of pleasure.

His cock twitched.

No, no, no. He couldn’t twitch for Juliet.

Yet he haphazardly grabbed a slice of cake for himself before going over to join her in the alcove.

She glared at him. “This is my spot. Go. Away.”

“I don’t see your name on it,” he said and took a seat. The alcove wasn’t that big, and his shoulder brushed hers, his hip pressing into a lush feminine curve. He was crowding her on purpose. Because the thing was… he wanted to fight with Juliet. Dangerous as it was, he hadn’t felt this alive in a long, long time.

Her eyes flashed. Then she elbowed him under the guise of getting comfortable.

“Oof.” He rubbed his ribs.

“Oh, did that hurt?” She pointed her fork in his direction. “So, so sorry.”

Jake was grinning when his father appeared nearby.

“Son,” he said. “Sorry to interrupt, but Uncle Tama wants to get home and his car isn’t starting.”

“I’ll have a look.” Jake took the keys his father held out… before he turned to Juliet and said, “It’s dark out. Mind coming and holding the torch for me?”

Joseph Esera broke in. “Oh, I can do that.”

“No, Mr. Esera.” Juliet’s smile was warm and generous. “It’s your son’s wedding. Stay, enjoy. I’m sure it won’t take Jake long to fix things.” She kept up that smile as Joseph patted her on the shoulder and told her she was a good girl before he walked away to tug Alison into a dance.

At which point Jake got the death glare magnified.

Driven to antagonize her by a madness he couldn’t shake, he took a bite of cake before rising to put his plate down on the alcove seat. “Cake’s gonna have to wait, Jules.”

“Where’s the damn torch?” She put down her own cake and stood.

“In my car,” Jake said automatically before realizing they’d come here in a limo. “On second thought—we’ll have to use our phones.”

Juliet took his phone when he handed it to her, then swung by the head table to pick up hers too. They’d just stepped outside when his phone flashed with light, a message popping onto the front screen.

Shuddering, Juliet handed it over. “I think it’s one of your groupies. Take it before I gag.”

The text was from a Trixi Kitten. “For your information,” he muttered after quickly scanning it, “that’s the name of my great-aunt’s cat.”

Juliet stared at him. “Do I look like I was born yesterday?”

“Read the message.” He held it out.

Folding her arms, she tilted her head to the side, just daring him to continue.

He held it up right in front of her face so she couldn’t miss the message: Jake, dear, are you checking your uncle’s car? Can you come look at Great-auntie’s in the next week? It’s making a strange noise and it scares me. Meow – Trixi Pussy

A kind of strangled sound erupting in her throat, Juliet nudged aside his phone. “Does she always…”

“Write messages as if it’s her cat?” He nodded. “She’s a perfectly sane human otherwise. Last week she beat everyone in her local pub quiz so she could win a nodding-cat thing.”

“The whole… er… pussy thing?”

“She’s eighty-nine. As far as she’s concerned, it means cat.” Jake rubbed his face. “She stood next to me while I was inputting her number and kept asking me why I didn’t list her as Trixi Pussy.”

Juliet’s laughter sounded like it was torn out of her. And the cock twitching got worse.

That didn’t make sense. Why was her laughter turning him on? Or maybe it was the way she looked when she laughed, so open and warm and… as if she’d make him that way. Not this staid, solid stranger he sometimes felt he’d become.

Shaking off the thought because his solid and staid nature was what made him a good dad, he pointed to a pale blue VW Bug. “That’s it.”

The two of them walked across the parking lot, which was empty of all other signs of life. Just rows of cars—some bedecked with flowers and streamers in honor of the wedding—and a few standing lamps that cast just enough light so people could find their vehicles.

Useless, however, for looking at an engine.

The land sloped down on the other side of the car, the old theater surrounded by manicured grounds that often hosted outdoor plays. Maybe he’d bring Esme to one of those, he thought absently as he unlocked his uncle’s car, then tried to start it to see what sounds it made, if any.

Juliet stood outside, tapping her toe on the tarmac and looking like a fantasy straight out of the midnight hours, times when Jake’s brain went its own merry way. Sex dreams weren’t exactly a surprise for a single male who had a sex drive he hadn’t been feeding, but the dreams had always been amorphous and erotic. No faces, nothing but sensations that led to frustrated arousal.

He had a feeling that was about to change.

When the hell had Juliet grown those curves?

Wishing he hadn’t left his jacket in the event space, he popped the hood before getting out of the driver’s seat; hopefully the dim lighting would conceal the interest in his pants.

“Here.” He handed her his phone. “I think I know the problem,” he said, propping the hood open.

The scent of Juliet washed over him as she stepped close enough to shine the torchlight from both phones into the engine.

“Tell me where you want it,” she said, and his brain decided to put those words in a totally different—and dirty —context.

Gritting his teeth, Jake said, “Where you have it is good.”

*

Not responding to Jake’s comment because she’d become fascinated by the way his muscles moved under the fine white fabric of his formal shirt as he bent over the engine, Juliet told herself to breathe. She also reminded herself that she’d already had this conversation with herself and decided the physical attraction was pure nonsense.

But jeez, did the universe have to make him so gorgeous?

There, fine, she’d admitted it. The gearhead jock had grown up into a panty-melting adult who adored his daughter, loved his family, and was kind to his elders. Even a great-aunt who liked to text using her cat alter ego. He might have a stick up his butt, but Juliet would still like to see that butt.

Juliet Nelisi, you stop checking out Jake’s butt. STOP.

But the man was muscled everywhere. It was hard not to eat up the eye candy when it was right in front of her. Also, since a visual was all it would ever be, she might as well enjoy… except, this wasn’t just a random hot guy.

This was Jake.

Hard Play

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Sunday Spotlight: March 2020

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About Nalini Singh

I've been writing as long as I can remember and all of my stories always held a thread of romance (even when I was writing about a prince who could shoot lasers out of his eyes). I love creating unique characters, love giving them happy endings and I even love the voices in my head. There's no other job I would rather be doing. In September 2002, when I got the call that Silhouette Desire wanted to buy my first book, Desert Warrior, it was a dream come true. I hope to continue living the dream until I keel over of old age on my keyboard.

I was born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand. I also spent three years living and working in Japan, during which time I took the chance to travel around Asia. I’m back in New Zealand now, but I’m always plotting new trips. If you’d like to see some of my travel snapshots, have a look at the Travel Diary page (updated every month).

So far, I've worked as a lawyer, a librarian, a candy factory general hand, a bank temp and an English teacher and not necessarily in that order. Some might call that inconsistency but I call it grist for the writer's mill.


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