Tag: Giveaways

Sunday Spotlight: Dinner on Primrose Hill by Jodi Thomas

Posted October 17, 2021 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 7 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: Dinner on Primrose Hill by Jodi ThomasDinner on Primrose Hill by Jodi Thomas
Series: Honey Creek #3
Publisher: Kensington, Zebra
Publication Date: October 26, 2021
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 336
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The delightful and touching new novel from the bestselling author of dozens of treasured romances. Return to the picturesque Texas town of Honey Creek—a place where friendship and warm welcomes can be relied on, and love always finds a way…

Benjamin Monroe is pretty sure how his life will play out. He’ll continue teaching chemistry in his small college, and spend his free time biking through the valley. Eventually, he’ll retire to putter around in his garden and greenhouse.
His colleague, Virginia Clark, is not one for routines. She’s chatty, spontaneous, and bubbly, and before Benjamin realizes what happened, she’s talked him into collaborating on a research project—studying the mating habits of college students. Virginia knows her desire to work with Benjamin is motivated by more than the potential prize money . . . and hopes he might not be quite as indifferent as he seems to be.

Ketch Kincaid, one of Benjamin’s star students, returned to college after serving in the army. He needs something to get his mind off his recent breakup and collecting research data might do it. And there’s another distraction on the horizon—a woman who looks like she, too, knows about heartache.

Soon enough, their project, “The Chemistry of Mating,” is gaining notoriety. Friends, neighbors . . . the whole town has become involved. But no matter what the data determines, one conclusion seems inescapable: love follows its own rules . . .

Excerpt

Dr. Benjamin Monroe folded his notes and placed them in the worn leather briefcase he’d carried since graduate school. His lecture room at Clifton College was empty now. Peaceful. He always liked the stillness after class. He’d done his job, and he took pride in that.

As he often did, he turned to the long, narrow windows behind his podium and looked out over his hometown. From the third floor he could see east all the way to the river and north to where the land rose in rolling hills. There was a balance here that calmed his soul. A wide valley that nestled three small towns, but his town, Clifton Bend, was the best because the college rested in its center.

Benjamin hadn’t missed a class in twelve years. At forty-two he always came on time and well prepared. Routine ruled his life. He liked working with his dad on their farm every weekend and loved biking through the valley on sunny afternoons. The exercise kept him lean and tanned, just as his work kept him sharp.

What he didn’t like was spring break. It interrupted his routine. A worthless holiday, but he’d help his father on their little farm and manage to keep busy.

“Dr. Monroe?” A nervous, high-pitched voice bombarded his thoughts. “May I speak to you about something? It’s important.”

A creature with auburn hair, glasses too big for her face, and huge blue eyes leaned around the door. Professor Virginia Clark.

He plowed his long fingers through his straight, mud-colored hair. If teachers were allowed a nemesis, Miss Clark, the biology instructor, would be his. As far as he was concerned, all they had in common was age.

Benjamin was tempted to say, “No, you can’t speak to me,” but that would be unprofessional.

To her credit, Miss Virginia Clark was bubbly on a down day. Her voice was too high, her manner of dress was in no way appropriate, and her legs were too short. On a good day she was exuberant and misguidedly thought they were not only colleagues but friends.

He’d always hated bubbly people; they made him nervous. But she taught two doors down in the biology lab and officed next to him. Some days he swore he could hear her laughing or running around her tiny workplace like a squirrel in a box.

Right now, she was charging toward his podium like Grant taking Richmond. Too late to say no or run, so all he could do was watch her approach.

Another observation—professors should never bounce.

Miss Clark bounced. She was a bit on the chubby side; a head shorter than he was, and the white lab coat did not conceal her curves. Her corkscrew hair seemed to be dancing to a hard rock beat, and her breasts . . . well never mind them. Unprofessional, he thought as he watched her coming down the steps row by row, breasts moving to their own beat.

“I need your help, Dr. Monroe.” She stopped one foot too close to him.

He fought the urge to step back.

“Of course, Miss Clark, I’m at your service,” he offered. Maybe she needed a ride or she was locked out of her office, again. He could make time to be kind. After all, they were colleagues.

“I’d be happy to help any way I can.”

“Good. I was afraid you’d say no. It’s a great opportunity and we can split the work and the money.”

Benjamin raised an eyebrow. “What work?”

“My research paper entry for the Westwin Research Journal has been approved as one of five finalists. The winner’s findings will be published in the journal as well as winning the ten-thousand-dollar prize.” She smiled. “Just think, we’ll be famous. Last year’s subject was how aging relates to location. The winner was interviewed on the Today show.”

She was bouncing again. This time with excitement. “I might finally get to go to New York City. I’ve always dreamed of seeing plays and walking through Central Park. They say you can hear the heartbeat of the whole world in the streets of New York.”

Benjamin fell into her pipe dream for a second. “If I had money to blow, I’d go to Paris and see Marie Curie’s office and lab. I’ve read every book about her dedication, her work, her life. Imagine walking the streets she walked.”

He didn’t mention that he’d also find his mother, if she was still alive. She’d left him when he was four years old, saying she must paint in Paris for a few months, but she never came back.

He had only one question for her. Was the life she’d given him up for worth it?

Miss Clark frowned at him as if measuring his sanity. “Paris, really Benjamin, sometimes you surprise me.”

When he frowned at the use of his first name, she sighed, obviously reading his thoughts.

“Dr. Monroe,” she corrected. “We could split the research and the writing. I’ve already obtained the president’s approval for a small survey. All we have is a month to get this done, but we’ve got spring break to kick off our project with a bang.”

He nodded slowly, not willing to jump in, but willing to listen. “What is our topic of research?”

Blushing, she added, “Redefining sexual attractions in today’s world.”

Benjamin straightened slightly.

Miss Clark giggled. “We could call it, ‘The Chemistry of Mating.’”

He swallowed hard as she turned and bounced out of the room.

For a few moments, Benjamin forgot to breathe. Calamity had blown in on a tornado with red hair.

The only good news. Spring break wasn’t going to be boring.

Honey Creek

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: October 2021

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 Jodi Thomas

Author Photo

With millions of books in print, Jodi Thomas is both a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over 50 novels and countless short story collections. Her stories travel through the past and present days of Texas and draw readers from around the world.

In July 2006, Jodi was the 11th writer to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. With five RITA’s to her credit, along with National Readers’ Choice Awards and Booksellers’ Best Awards, Thomas has proven her skill as a master storyteller.

Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, Thomas also served as Writer in Residence at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.

When not working on a novel or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, Thomas enjoys traveling, renovating a historic home, and “checking on” two grown sons and four grandchildren.


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Monthly Reads: September 2021

Posted October 5, 2021 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 8 Comments

It’s a new month so we’re back with a list of our Monthly Reads to share with each of you. This is where you’ll see what each of us has read and what our favorite books and our least favorite books of the month are. Check it out.

Casee

September wasn’t a horrible reading month for me. I read/listened to 10 books.

Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy #1)(audio)(reread) by Ilona Andrews | 4.5 out of 5
The Fixer (Professionals #1) by Jessica Gadziala | 3.75 out of 5
Stand (Bleeding Stars #6) by A.L. Jackson | 4.5 out of 5
Violent Delights (White Monarch #1) by Jessica Hawkins | DNF
White Hot (Hidden Legacy #2)(audio)(reread) by Ilona Andrews | 5 out of 5
Tin Queen (Tin Gypsy #6) by Devney Perry | 4.25 out of 5
Wildfire (Hidden Legacy #3)(audio)(reread) by Ilona Andrews | 5 out of 5
Rise (Rock God #1) by Cassandra Robbins | 4.25 out of 5
Echo (Archer’s Creek #1) by Gemma Weir | 3 out of 5
The Lion’s Lady (Crown’s Spies #1)(audio)(reread) by Julie Garwood | 5 out of 5

With the exception of the book I DNFed, I liked all the books I read in September. My favorites were Tin Queen by Devney Perry & Rise by Cassandra Robbins. I also adore the Hidden Legacy series on audio. Soooo good.

Holly

I finished 19 books in September. I’m coming into my busy season at work, so I have a feeling my reading will drop off from here.

Sarazen’s Betrayal (Sarazen Saga #3) by Isabel Wroth (reread) | 2.75 out of 5
Battle with Fire (Demon Days, Vampire Nights #11) by K.F. Breene (audio) | 4.25 out of 5
Dark Planet Warriors (Dark Planet Warriors #1) by Anna Carven | 3.25 out of 5
Dark Planet Falling (Dark Planet Warriors #2) by Anna Carven | 4 out of 5
Into the Light (Dark Planet Warriors #3) by Anna Carven | 3.5 out of 5
Out of Darkness (Dark Planet Warriors #4) by Anna Carven | 3.75 out of 5
Darkside Blues (Dark Planet Warriors #4.5) by Anna Carven | 4 out of 5
Forged in Shadow (Dark Planet Warriors #5) by Anna Carven | 4 out of 5
Infinity’s Embrace (Dark Planet Warriors #6) by Anna Carven | 3.75 out of 5
Electric Heart (Dark Planet Warriors #7) by Anna Carven | 4 out of 5
Brilliant Starlight (Dark Planet Warriors #8) by Anna Carven | 3 out of 5
Taming Chaos (Darkstar Mercenaries #1) by Anna Carven | 3 out of 5
Shattered Silence (Darkstar Mercenaries #2) by Anna Carven | 4 out of 5
Fractured Souls (Darkstar Mercenaries #3) by Anna Carven | 3.75 out of 5
Stranded and Spellbound (Ever Dark, Ever Deadly #3) by Jenna Collett | DNF
Shatter the Dark (Ever Dark, Ever Deadly #4) by Jenna Collett | 4.25 out of 5
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (audio) (reread) | 5 out of 5
The Lion’s Lady (Crown Spies #1) by Julie Garwood (audio) (reread) | 4.5 out of 5
Witches Get Stitches (Stay a Spell #3) by Juliette Cross | 3 out of 5

My favorite read of the month was Battle with Fire by K.F. Breene. Reagan has never been my favorite character, but she really came into her own and this book finished the series well. I also really enjoyed Shatter the Dark by Jenna Collett. That may be my favorite book of the series to date. My least favorite was Stranded and Spellbound by Jenna Collett, which I DNF’d. I have no desire to read a full book about his parents being mean to her/her trying to win them over.

Giveaway Alert

Three lucky winners will choose their prize (one book) from any of the books we logged this month. If you want to be entered to win, leave a comment on this post telling us what your favorite – and least favorite – reads of the month were.

Monthly Reads: September 2021

So…what was your favorite read of the month? And your least favorite? Use the Gleam Widget to enter! Good luck!


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Sunday Spotlight: Rise by Cassandra Robbins

Posted October 3, 2021 by Casee 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. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight: Rise by Cassandra RobbinsRise by Cassandra Robbins
Series: Rock God #1
Also in this series: Rise
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: September 9, 2021
Point-of-View: Alternating First Person
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 357
Add It: Goodreads
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Series Rating: five-stars

USA Today bestselling author Cassandra Robbins returns with a scorching second chance, age-gap love story about a Rock God and his muse.
I know what I want.

So when opportunity knocked, I took it. I grabbed my shot, willing to do anything to make it happen.
From the beginning, I knew I was destined to be with the six-foot-four, bourbon-eyed Rock God. Only back in the early days he wasn’t a god.
Rhys Granger was my brother’s friend, the boy next door who wrote verses and played his guitar in our garage. He was talented. Exciting. Damaged. The kind of guy who made all the girls cry…
Except for me. I thought I was special. Turns out I’m not.
And now… I despise him.
He’s the lead singer of the Stuffed Muffins, one of the biggest bands in the world, with dark hair, full lips, and a body to die for.
Unfortunately, he’s a dick.
Not that I care anymore. I have my own career. I’m successful in my own right. So, when offered another once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I turn it down.
But the universe has other plans, and I’m forced back into the savagely glamorous world of rock ‘n’ roll. Thrust into battling his seductive smile, his dangerous kisses, and my own addictive needs.
He might be a Rock God, but he’s also a man. And I’m the woman he never saw coming.
----
Get your VIP pass to the hottest world tour this year. Rise is a complete standalone in the Rock God series. Stage dive straight into Rhys and Gia’s uncontrollable attraction. With appearances from beloved past characters, this is my most scorching book yet.
*Not responsible for broken or spontaneous combustion of your e-reader.*

Excerpt

I lift my head but all I see are amber-colored eyes.

I blink at him as he lowers his lips to mine. It’s slow and calm, almost as if we’re still in our own bubble. I cling to his T-shirt and our tongues dance together. My head falls back and I let him take me away. If I live to be a hundred, I will always remember this moment when we soared above the world, Rhys and I.

He lifts his head, his eyes caressing mine. “You feel my heart?”

I nod. “I love it,” I say, not even caring what I say or do. Reality can slap me awake when we land, but right now I’m right where I need to be.

He pulls me in tight and I listen to his heart. I survived the panic attack but the real question is can I survive him?

I should pull away.

He will hurt me again.

“It beats for you,” he whispers.

I can’t look at him. He’ll see all of me right now and that can’t happen. I burrow my nose in his neck while he strokes my hair. When the noise of the jet returns, he lowers the seat, yet all I hear is the slowing of his heartbeat. I sense his body relaxing, which is a little surprising. Rhys is always on the go, his mind rarely at rest. Even when he was young he never really rested.

You feel my heart? It beats for you.

Rock God

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: October 2021

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!


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Sunday Spotlight: Say Goodbye by Karen Rose

Posted September 19, 2021 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 2 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: Say Goodbye by Karen RoseSay Goodbye by Karen Rose
Series: Sacramento #3
Also in this series: Say You're Sorry (Sacramento, #1)
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: August 3, 2021
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 640
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: five-stars

Eden faces a final reckoning when the cult's past victims hunt them down in this explosive, high-stakes thriller in the Sacramento series from New York Times bestselling author Karen Rose.

For decades, Eden has remained hidden in the remote wilds of the Pacific Northwest, “Pastor” keeping his cult's followers in thrall for his personal profit and sexual pleasures. But the Founding Elders are splintering, and Pastor's surrogate son DJ is scheming to make it all his own.

When two of Eden's newest members send out a cry for help, it reaches FBI Special Agent Tom Hunter, whose friend and fellow FBI Special Agent Gideon Reynolds and his sister, Mercy, are themselves escapees of the Eden cult, targeted by the Founding Elders who want them silenced forever. The three have vowed to find the cult and bring it down, and now, they finally have a solid lead.

Neutralizing Eden’s threat will save captive members and ensure Tom’s new friends can live without fear. But when his best friend, ex-Army combat medic Liza Barkley, joins the case, it puts her life—and their blossoming love—in danger. With everything they hold dear in the balance, Tom and Liza, together with Gideon and Mercy, must end Eden once and for all.

Excerpt

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA
WEDNESDAY, MAY 24, 8:45 A.M.

“Well?”

Special Agent Tom Hunter looked over his shoulder, unsurprised to see Special Agent in Charge Molina standing in the doorway of his office. He’d expected the visit from the SAC of the FBI’s Sacramento field office. Today was her first day back after the attack that had left her injured and several other agents dead. She looked paler than nor‑ mal and tired. But determined.

He automatically rose, because his mother had raised him right.

This put him more than a foot taller than his boss, which made her look up with an irritated glare. At six‑six, he towered over almost ev‑ eryone in the Bureau, which was a new experience. He’d been average height during his three years with the NBA. Shorter, in fact, than many of the men he’d met on the court. He hunched his shoulders a bit to offset the difference, but Molina’s glare did not soften.

As her chin lifted, her dark eyes bored into him. “What do you know?” she demanded.

Tom gave her a warm smile. “Good morning.” The woman wasn’t the coldhearted beast she wanted everyone to think she was. He’d watched her manage two crises in the past few months, and while she was quick‑witted, with razor‑sharp focus and an even sharper tongue, she did care. He suspected she might care too much and fought not to let it show.

He knew the type. He’d been raised by a wickedly smart group of women. His mother’s friends were cops, social workers, and attorneys. When pressure was high and risk to humans they cared for even higher, they’d pasted on the same face Molina wore right now.

He held out the chair next to his desk, motioning her to sit.

She shot him a dark scowl but took the seat, tugging at the jacket of her suit unnecessarily. No fabric worn by Tara Molina would have the nerve to wrinkle.

“I know a lot of things about a lot of things,” he said, retaking his seat as he answered her question. “But I’m assuming you’re specifically referring to Eden.”

The cult he’d been actively seeking since mid‑April. The cult that’d provided a hiding place for vicious killers for the past thirty years. Vicious killers who had abused two of the people who, in a short period of time, had become Tom’s friends. Both Gideon Reynolds and his sister Mercy Callahan had been children when they’d escaped Eden, but both were scarred for life, physically and emotionally.

Because the killers hadn’t simply hidden in Eden. They’d thrived there, starting a cult that condoned—no, encouraged—the rape of twelve‑year‑old girls by middle‑aged men, calling it “marriage.” They condoned the rape of thirteen‑year‑old boys, calling it an “apprenticeship.”

Gideon and Mercy had been only two of their victims.

“Yes. I’m talking about Eden.” Molina rolled her eyes. “And here everyone said you were some wunderkind,” she drawled, but her tone was light. Almost teasing.

“I don’t know about that,” Tom muttered, his cheeks heating. He was good at what he did—specifically hacking. He was very good at what he did, in fact.

The fact that he still hadn’t found the cult’s compound after months of searching left him thoroughly irked. But they had made progress.

“I got into their offshore bank account,” Tom stated. Which, under most circumstances, would have been cause for congratulations and maybe even a promotion. Or a prison sentence, if he hadn’t been work‑ ing for the good guys. Either way, it had been damn difficult to do.

“You did that three weeks ago,” Molina stated flatly, popping any hope he might have had for an attaboy. “My temporary replacement briefed me weekly. What have you learned about Eden recently?”

Tom could only imagine what Molina’s temporary replacement

had told her. He and Agent Raeburn had not gotten along well at all. “From their bank account, not much,” he admitted. “No money’s been moved either in or out, not since they pulled all of Ephraim’s money out of his personal account and back into the main Eden cof‑ fers, three days before he was killed.”

It was Molina’s turn to grimace. “I must say that I hate the sound of that man’s name. All of his names,” she added bitterly.

Ephraim Burton, a Founding Elder of the Eden cult, had been born Harry Franklin, under which name he’d earned a record as a bank robber and murderer, before going into hiding thirty years ago. Bur‑ ton had other aliases that had allowed him to mingle in the real world during the times he left Eden.

Which wouldn’t be happening ever again, because Burton was dead. Tom wished that he’d been the one to do the honors, but one of the other cult elders had killed Ephraim Burton, possibly to keep him from telling the FBI of Eden’s whereabouts. A lot of people had died in connection to Eden. The stakes were high. Its bank accounts held in excess of fifty million dollars.

It was more likely, though, that the other elder had killed Ephraim to keep him from spilling the biggest secret—that two of the cult’s runaways hadn’t died trying to escape but had been living free for more than ten years.

Gideon and his sister, Mercy, had been abused by Eden in their youth but were fighting back now, helping the FBI track down Eden and end it, once and for all. Tom respected the siblings more than he could say.

“I put an alert on the offshore accounts,” Tom said. “If they move any money, we’ll know.”

“But they haven’t yet.”

“Not yet. However, someone resembling DJ Belmont did withdraw some cash from a different bank account outside Mt. Shasta an hour after Ephraim Burton was shot.”

“Belmont?” Molina hissed, anger flashing in her eyes.

Belmont was second‑in‑command to Eden’s leader, a charismatic man known only as “Pastor” to his followers. Luckily the FBI had learned a bit more than that. Pastor’s name prior to his starting the Eden cult had been Herbert Hampton. Prior to that he’d been Benton Travis, serving a sentence in a federal penitentiary for forgery and bank fraud.

They knew the identities of the cult leaders. They just didn’t know where the cult was. It was a small community that moved around re‑ mote sections of Northern California, and they were clever at evading detection.

Belmont was more than Pastor’s second‑in‑command, though— assuming he was still alive. He was a dangerous, ruthless, alarmingly competent killer who’d taken out five federal agents, most of them SWAT. He’d also fired the bullet that had taken Molina out of commission for the past month, so her reaction to his name was understandable.

Tom pulled up a file on his computer, then turned the screen to show her the photos taken from surveillance cameras. “The resolution of the bank’s drive‑through camera is good, but he was wearing a bandana over his face, sunglasses, and a cap with a wide brim. Facial recognition couldn’t pick up anything useful. The body type and size fit Belmont’s description, though.”

“If he didn’t withdraw cash from Eden’s offshore account, which account was it?”

Tom gave her a sideways glance. “I thought you got weekly briefings from Agent Raeburn.”

Molina’s eyes narrowed. “I did. I want to hear your version.” Tom managed to hide his wince. “My version?”

“Yes,” Molina said coolly. “Agent Raeburn’s version was less than satisfactory.”

Well, damn. “I figured as much,” Tom muttered. “He’s . . . well, he’s not very flexible.”

Her brows lifted. “He is a damn good agent.” Careful, careful. “Never said he wasn’t.” “You thought it.”

Tom pursed his lips, unsure if Molina was amused or upset. It was often hard to tell. But of course he’d thought it. Raeburn was by‑the‑ book to a fault and left no wiggle room for the humanity of any situation. He wasn’t going to say that out loud, though. He was aware that Molina knew he bent the rules every now and then.

He had, in fact, bent the rules often since his first day on the job. Which seemed like it had been a year ago, even though it had only been five months. There was something about Gideon Reynolds and Mercy Callahan that made him want to help them, to ease their fears—even when he technically wasn’t supposed to. But the brother and sister had been through too much abuse.

Tom knew abuse. He still bore the scars from his own biological father’s cruelty. He knew heartache, far more recently. He knew that sometimes rules needed to be bent or even broken in order to do the right thing.

But he also knew that if he wanted to continue helping Gideon and Mercy, he’d need to toe Molina’s line. Or appear to, at least. Which meant not badmouthing her temporary replacement, who was still technically his direct supervisor.

He bent his mouth into a smile that was convincing because he’d practiced making it so—a side benefit of heartache. People didn’t ask you questions if you smiled and looked happy.

“The account Belmont withdrew money from at the ATM was an individual checking account in the name of John Smith,” he said, shifting them back on topic. “Assuming this is him in the photo, he withdrew the cash about ninety minutes after he fled the scene at Dunsmuir.”

DJ Belmont’s shooting spree in the forest two hundred miles to the north had left five bodies on the ground that day—the FBI SWAT members and a special agent named Schumacher. Molina had been lucky. Her injuries at Belmont’s hand had “only” hospitalized her for a week and required physical therapy for three more.

Unfortunately, Belmont had also taken out Ephraim Burton that day. They’d hoped that Burton might have led them to Eden, to the people who lived under Pastor’s authoritarian rule.

The adults who’d followed Pastor had perhaps been misled, but they’d made their choice. The children of Eden, however, had not chosen and many were being abused every single day.

But federal agents hadn’t been Belmont’s only victims that day. Tom pointed at the ATM photo. “Belmont was driving an old box truck that was later reported stolen by the surviving family of an itinerant farm picker. He was shot in the head twice with Agent Schumacher’s service weapon.”

“So he didn’t shoot Schumacher from afar, like he did us.” From a tree, far enough away that the SWAT team hadn’t been able to locate him before he’d shot them all. Far enough away to reveal Belmont’s impressive, albeit terrifying, sniper skills. “He took her weapon after he killed her.” Molina swallowed hard. “She was a good agent. A good person.”

“I know. He killed the picker, stole his truck, and hasn’t been seen or heard from since.”

“Maybe Belmont’s dead,” Molina said hopefully. “Maybe.”

She studied him. “You don’t think so, though.”

“I don’t know,” Tom said truthfully. “We can’t assume it, though. He wanted to kill Mercy and Gideon that day. If he is alive, he has too much at stake not to try again.”

“You’re right that we can’t assume. Did the picker’s truck have GPS?” “It didn’t. It was twenty‑five years old.” Tom had to draw a breath, the memory of the man’s grieving family still clear enough to make his chest ache. He’d accompanied Agent Raeburn to inform the victim’s wife and five kids. It had been his first time delivering such news, and Raeburn hadn’t been overly sympathetic. Tom figured that was how the man coped, which might be better than the nightmares that still plagued his own sleep. “The family was poor. The truck was all they owned.”

Molina was quiet a beat longer than necessary. “Agent Raeburn said that the family received a gift from an anonymous benefactor a few days later, through their parish priest.”

Tom didn’t blink. That the money had come from his own bank account was a fact he was not prepared to admit. “I hadn’t heard that,” he said mildly. And he hadn’t actually heard it, so technically he wasn’t lying.

“Raeburn said the amount was enough for them to live on for several months, plus a bit more than their funeral expenses.”

He could feel his skin itching, like Molina could see his every secret. But still he didn’t blink. He knew he couldn’t replace every victim’s losses, but he could help that family. So he had. It hadn’t made a dent in his bank account, flush after his three years in the NBA. Being able to help people like that was one of the best things his time as a professional basketball player had done for him. He’d never planned to make the NBA a career, always knowing he’d join the Bureau, but he’d been young and better than decent on the court. It had seemed a shame to waste the talent he’d been given—or his earnings. He’d donated a fair bit and saved the rest.

He was grateful for those years, even if after his fiancée’s death he hadn’t had the heart for it anymore and had retired early. Now he kept his tone bland. “That was a nice thing for someone to do.”

Molina rolled her eyes, but her tone was almost sweet. “Don’t make it a habit, Tom.”

He blinked, unprepared for her use of his first name. “Make what a habit?”

She shook her head. “You know, when I was told I was getting a hacker rookie, straight out of the Academy, I was not happy. When I found out you were a former pro athlete, I was unhappier still. I didn’t have the time to train an agent wet behind the ears. Or one with an ego the size of Texas.”

Tom frowned. “I have an ego the size of Texas?”

“No. I assumed that you would, but I was pleasantly surprised on that score.” One side of her mouth lifted. “I’m glad you’re here. If only so I can toughen up that soft heart of yours so you make it to retirement. I’m not kidding, Agent Hunter.”

Tom bit back his own smile. “So noted, ma’am.”

Sacramento

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 2021

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 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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Sunday Spotlight: Give Me a Reason by A.L. Jackson

Posted September 12, 2021 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 4 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. 🙂

If you haven’t read my review for Give Me a Reason, you can read it here. This book is the best book I’ve read all year. I love A.L. Jackson. I love her characters and her writing style. This book has all the feels in it. Don’t miss out!

Sunday Spotlight: Give Me a Reason by A.L. JacksonGive Me a Reason by A. L. Jackson
Narrator: Connor Crais, Desiree Ketchum
Series: Redemption Hills #1
Also in this series: Give Me a Reason
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: August 30, 2021
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 418
Length: 11 hours and 57 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: five-stars


From NYT and USA Today bestselling author A.L. Jackson comes a single-dad, enemies-to-lovers stand-alone romance about a jaded club owner and his son’s teacher…

Eden Murphy came into my club looking to make some extra cash.A girl like her didn't belong in a place like this. She'd get ripped to shreds.Most likely by me.There's nothing but sweetness dripping from her sexy little body, and I'm the monster who's salivating to get a taste.
Trent Lawson is the last man I should want.Dark.Dangerous.So wickedly gorgeous he makes my knees weak. He's also an arrogant jerk who happens to be my new boss.
When I discover his adorable son is also in my kindergarten class, I know I have to keep my distance.
But neither of us can ignore the attraction that flames.One glance, and our hearts race. One touch, and we’re aching for what we can’t have. One night, and we’re falling fast.
Dragging her into my sordid world is wrong.It doesn’t matter. Eden Murphy is mine.

Excerpt

“Speaking of hot guys…” She angled her head in the direction of a white Porsche Panamera that pulled into the parent pick-up line on the other side of the wrought-iron fence. “There he is.”

And I wondered if I was seeing things.

Hallucinating.

If this was some kind of cruel, sick joke or if I’d just done something really terrible in another life and this was my punishment.
Because there was no mistaking the smoldering eyes staring me down through the windshield where he came to a stop at the curb.

The way shock blanched his unbearably gorgeous face before his jaw clenched in what appeared hatred.

Or maybe glee.

With the man, I was sure they were one and the same.

My hand tightened on the child’s.

Instinctual.

A gut reaction to protect him.

Shivers raced. This unsettled feeling that something was coming. Something I didn’t understand, but something I should fear.

The man climbed from the driver’s seat of the flashy car that I wouldn’t have thought would fit him at all but somehow right then looked like the perfect accent piece.

He straightened to his full, menacing height.

“There he is! There he is!” The child started jumping up and down and waving his hand in the air. “Hi, Dad, hi! Over here!”

That seething intensity flashed through the air. My head spun and my knees knocked, my mouth going dry.

Trent Lawson strode toward the gate, all dark swagger and don’t-give-a-shit attitude, even though there were at least fifteen signs asking parents to stay in their cars and their children would be escorted out.

I got the sense the man wasn’t exactly one to follow the rules.

Because there he was, dressed a lot like he’d been last night, black jeans and a black v-neck tee and black boots that were unlaced. All that exposed, inked flesh somehow appeared obscene.

I had the urge to wrap the child up and take him into hiding. Run to the rest of the children and usher them to safety.

Emergency evacuation.

But I just stood there.

Dumbfounded.

Finally, I mumbled, “That’s your dad?”

Gage Lawson.

Of course.

This really was some cruel, sick joke, and I was the very brunt of it.

“Yep! That’s him.” Gage was jumping and pointing. “Tell him I got an A, Miss Murphy! He’s gonna be so proud!”

Trent Lawson strode toward the gate with the clear intention of barging in.

Finally, I found my voice, calling out before he made it through the barrier. “Sir, you need to wait in your car. School isn’t over for a couple minutes, and we will bring your child to you. Parents aren’t allowed in this area without signing in at the office first.”

With his hand on the gate latch, he paused, an arrogant smirk ticking up like a threat at the corner of that plush mouth. “That so?”

I lifted my chin, still clutching his son’s hand. “Yes.”

He eyed me as if I were the enemy. “So, let me get this straight. I pay an ungodly amount of money for my son to come here, and you get to tell me when I can and cannot pick him up?”

“You’re paying for your child’s education, Sir, not for me to order you around.”

“Huh…would have been mistaken.”

My chin lifted higher. “It seems you are very, very mistaken.”

A war waged in the exchange. That same tension that had existed last night clear and present, his outright animosity unchanged. But there was something else lining it, too.

As if I’d gained some sort of power as we stared each other down.

“You’ve got to wait, Dad! I told you I got to get all the As, and you’re gonna ruin it by not followin’ the rules. Sheesh.”

Tessa giggled beside me.

One second later, the bell rang. It jarred me out of the trance the man held me under, my entire being jolted with the sound, as if time had been set to pause and it’d begun to speed to catch back up.

Children screeched their excitement and ran to grab their bags that were lined up against the wall.

“Please remain in your car tomorrow,” I called out, the words roughened shards as I reluctantly released Gage’s hand.

“I’ll see what I can do,” he returned, just as smug and cocky and infuriating as he’d been last night.

Gage went running that way, that giant backpack bouncing all over. He glanced at me, running backward for two steps, nothing but grins and belief. “Don’t worry, I’ll be back to see you tomorrow, Miss Murphy!”

When the child made it to him, Trent stretched out a hand for Gage to take.

For a flash, his entire demeanor shifted when he looked down at the child and the child smiled up at him.

Soft. Kind. Protective.

I had to be seeing things.

Then he turned to leave on those ridiculous boots, but not before he tossed out from over his shoulder, “See ya soon, Kitten.”

Anger rushed, my cheeks hot and my pulse wild and that irrational rage taking hold.

All mixed up with that feeling.

That impossibility.

They walked back to the Porsche, and I remained rooted to the spot as he helped Gage into the backseat and into a booster before he rounded the front of the car and slipped into the driver’s seat.

The man glared at me before he tossed his car back into drive and pulled from the curb.

Fingernails curled into my upper arm. “Holy shit, Eden Jasmine Murphy,” Tessa hissed. “What was that? And you better fess it up now, because I can already feel your denial coming on, and there is no denying whatever the heck that was.”

She waved a turbulent hand through the air as if she could capture that feeling.

Something unattainable but real.

“That?” I let my eyes follow the car that whipped out of the drive far too fast. “That was my new boss.”

Redemption Hills

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 2021

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 A. L. Jackson

AL Jackson author pic

A.L. Jackson is the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance. She writes emotional, sexy, heart-filled stories about boys who usually like to be a little bit bad.

If she’s not writing, you can find her hanging out by the pool with her family, sipping cocktails with her friends, or of course with her nose buried in a book.


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