BLOG TOUR AND REVIEW – Take Me Back by Meghan March

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TakeMeBack_FrontCoverWe fell in love on a beach, got married in paradise, and I carried her off into the sunset. It should have been perfect, but saying “I do” doesn’t guarantee a happily-ever-after.

Two years later, I barely recognize either of us behind the walls we’ve built.

It’s time to bring it full circle. Back to a tropical paradise. Back to find out if we can still make this work.

I’m not willing to give her up, but to save us, I have to risk everything.

Two damaged people.

Countless secrets.

The fight of our lives.

We might be broken, but we’re not done.

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take me back 3 Whitney’s Four Star Review

4 Stars for a fast paced, suspenseful and sexy read!

I went into this story blind. I had read the blurb at some point but didn’t remember the premise of the story and I’m glad I didn’t know much going in. As such, my review will be spoiler free!

Dane and Kat meet while on vacation and despite knowing a long distance relationship won’t be easy, they can’t leave each other alone. And so begins an unconventional relationship which leads to an unconventional marriage. Although it initially works well for them, their pasts and secrets begin unraveling their lives with dire consequences.

Dane doesn’t want to let Kat go but he’ll have to fight for both of their lives to keep her!

The book is told in dual POV with chapter from present day and from the past. I thought that was important since we kind of jump right into their relationship when they’re married. It’s nice to go back and see what attracted them to each other and how they fell in love. Both characters are fun. Dane has a bit of an alpha male thing going on but it’s not over the top. Kat is pretty closed off emotionally for parts of the book and watching these two fall for each other all over again is heartwarming.

The suspense that gets thrown in will keep you on your toes and you fingers will be itching to turn the next page. Overall, this was a pretty quick read. There are some steamy scenes of course but it doesn’t ever overshadow the storyline.

This was a nice break from the traditional contemporary/NA I’ve been reading. A little romantic suspense/thriller was just what I needed when I picked this book up so I definitely recommend! take me back teaser blast 1

 

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Meghan March has been known to wear camo face paint and tromp around in woods wearing mud-covered boots, all while sporting a perfect manicure. She’s also impulsive, easily entertained, and absolutely unapologetic about the fact that she loves to read and write smut. Her past lives include slinging auto parts, selling lingerie, making custom jewelry, and practicing corporate law. Writing books about dirty talking alpha males and the strong, sassy women who bring them to their knees is by far the most fabulous job she’s ever had. She loves hearing from her readers at meghanmarchbooks@gmail.com.

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NEW RELEASE, EXCERPT AND REVIEW – Every Little Thing by Samantha Young

I’ve been waiting for Bailey and Vaughn’s story and am so please to share my review and all the information on Samantha Young’s newest release! — Whitney

Every Little Thing by Samantha Young

Hart’s Boardwalk #2

Available March 7, 2017

Synopsis:

The New York Times bestselling author of the On Dublin Street series returns to Hartwell, Delaware—the perfect place to get away from it all, and find what you never knew you needed….
 
Bailey Hartwell has many reasons to feel content—her successful business, a close circle of friends, and her steady boyfriend…even if their romance feels staid after ten years without a serious commitment. The only challenge in her life comes in the form of sexy businessman Vaughn Tremaine. She thinks the ex-New Yorker acts superior and that he considers her a small-town nobody. But when Bailey’s blindsided by a betrayal, she’s shocked to discover Vaughn is actually a decent guy.

Vaughn admires Bailey’s free spirit, independence, and loyalty. As his passion for her has grown, his antagonism toward her has only worsened. Every little thing Bailey does seduces him. But when Vaughn’s painful emotional past makes him walk away in fear he will hurt her, it opens an old wound in Bailey, and she uncharacteristically retreats.

Once Vaughn begins to realize he’s made the biggest mistake of his life, he has no choice but to fight like he’s never fought before to convince Bailey that the love they’ve found together only comes around once in a lifetime….

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Amazon US – http://amzn.to/2dO8ZQH
Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/2e64i7J
iBooks US – http://apple.co/2etNWnL
iBooks UK – http://apple.co/2e56Cuy
Barnes & Noble – http://bit.ly/2dOcJ4B
Kobo – http://bit.ly/2dA4YBN
Google Play – http://bit.ly/2fNFvX2
Amazon DE – http://amzn.to/2eRmenX

Haven’t read book one?  Check it out here:

The One Real Thing to buy links:
iBooks UK – http://apple.co/1M5OTRm
iBooks US – http://apple.co/1JHjI8n
Amazon US – http://amzn.to/2bV1N72
Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/1pmCWMu
Kobo – http://bit.ly/1RkPWc4
Barnes & Noble – http://bit.ly/2bU4bKN
Google Play – http://bit.ly/2dqt8v0
Amazon DE – http://amzn.to/2eigfX4

Whitney’s 4.5 Star Review

A 4.5 Stars for book two in Samantha Young’s Hart’s Boardwalk series! Please note that even though this book has different main characters, parts of the storyline do cross over from book to book so it’s best to read in order if possible.

I’ll be honest in that I didn’t love the first book in this series. But the chemistry between Vaughn and Bailey carried me through and I just knew I’d enjoy this book. And holy hotness, it did not disappoint. Vaughn is so darn sexy and Bailey is a great blend of sassy and vulnerable.

I actually laughed more than I thought I would thanks to Bailey and her group of girlfriends. The comic relief from their crazy provided a nice balance from a few darker/sadder moments involving the evil Devlin family and Bailey’s dumb boyfriend, Tom.  I seriously think we need to make #TomIsStupid a thing.

Vaughn and Bailey are two of the most stubborn people on the planet so watching them fall for each other and sort out their pasts gave me all the feels. Again, their chemistry is off the charts hot so the steamy scenes were perfect. I certainly wanted to punch Vaughn in the face a time or two but he had some heroic moments as well, securing him a spot in my book boyfriend list.

I love the tidbits about the other characters in this book and unlike the last one, I don’t feel they really got in the way of the main story this time. I’m not sure whose book is next, Em or Delilah (sneaky Samantha Young couldn’t tell me which one when I asked but did confirm it’s one of these two ladies). I’ll be happy either way and plan to continue with the series!

Excerpt:

I was on a mission.
A mission to cross the distance that suddenly stretched between my boyfriend Tom and me. Ten years we’d been dating. It was safe to conclude that we’d hit a rough patch.
But when your guy pushed you off him in bed because he was too tired to have sex then there was a problem.
I aimed to fix that problem.
First I yelled at him a lot and called him an asshole, because, seriously, asshole move.
Then I calmed down and I started to think. To plan. To fix the situation.
With sexy lingerie and a raincoat.
First I needed the sexy lingerie. I had a few pieces of hot underwear in my closet but Tom had seen them. I wanted to dazzle him with something new.
Sherry’s Trousseau just off Main Street was an expensive little boutique but none of the other stores or the mall near Dover sold anything as nice as Sherry’s. The only issue with buying lingerie in a small town, however, was the fact that anyone in the store, including Sherry, knew I was planning on getting lucky sometime soon, and had no qualms bringing up the subject like they had a right to the details of my sex life.
“Tom will have a lot of fun taking those off.” Sherry rang up the red silk bra, panties, matching garters and sheer silk stockings. I had a pair of red stilettos I planned on wearing with them.
“Yeah,” I said, “Here’s hoping he’ll explode all over me with excitement.”
I grinned to myself as I left the store, savoring Sherry’s blushing mortification.
Apparently it was okay for her to discuss my man touching my lingerie but not okay for me to discuss the consequences of such an act. Oh well. She should have been used to my inappropriate responses by now. It’s how I survived small town life. I said what I was thinking, no filter, and I beat nosy busybodies at their own game by divulging too much information.
It was fun.
I glanced back toward the shop to see if she was sharing her shock over what I’d said with Ellen Luther, the only other customer in the shop at that moment, and—
“Oof!” Pain shot up my jaw as I collided with something hard that knocked me off balance. The movement caused the paper bag with my lingerie in it to swing, and the thin handle snapped with the force, sending my new purchases scattering all over the pavement.
I stared down at it in surprise as my jaw throbbed. And then I caught sight of the shoes at the edge of the scene.
Polished to a shine.
Black leather Derby shoes.
I’d bet everything I had they were Prada.
And there was only one man in Hartwell who wore designer like it was made especially for him.
My heart sank as I lifted my gaze.
Sure enough, staring down at my new underwear like he was staring at a lamppost, or something equally mundane, was Vaughn Tremaine.
Now my whole body thrummed along with the throb in my jaw where I’d collided with one of his broad shoulders. As always he wore a tailored three-piece suit that fit him beautifully.
I watched in horror as he unbuttoned his jacket and lowered to his haunches to pick up my underwear. If it had been anyone else reaching for those items I wouldn’t have cared less. But Vaughn Tremaine wasn’t just anyone.
With my new bra dangling in his clutches he looked up and quirked an eyebrow my way.
Not for the first time I found myself squirming under his steel gray gaze.

Silence stretched between us as we stared at one another and I fought the urge to abandon my stuff and run off in the opposite direction away from him. The problem was—well there were a number of problems with Vaughn Tremaine—the fact that a) he was much too attractive for his own good and b) unlike anyone else, he had the ability to make me feel insecure.
Right now, for instance, as much as I didn’t want the thought in my head I couldn’t help but note how unaffected he appeared at holding my sexy underwear in his hand.
I was as attractive as a limp noodle to him.
And it shouldn’t bother me.
The man was a jerk.
“Looks like Tom is in for an interesting evening.” Vaughn held the bra up toward me.
I snatched it from him, my cheeks blazing. Clearly karma was getting back at me for what I’d said to Sherry. As he reached for the panties and garter I snapped, “Leave it.”
“But I’m already down here.” He ignored my demand as he collected the broken bag and carefully placed the underwear back inside. As he stood up Vaughn handed me the bag.
In my angry embarrassment I leaned in to yank it from him, only to stumble as I did so. Vaughn moved to steady me, his strong fingers curling around my bicep. His touch panicked me and I jerked away, scowling at him.
Perhaps a year ago I wouldn’t have scowled so hard at him.
I would have scowled for sure, but maybe not so emphatically.
Up until last summer our interactions had always been antagonistic because from the day we met Vaughn had made me feel I was the uneducated provincial to his superior cosmopolitan self. He did this by mocking me, mocking Tom, and I didn’t like it. He was no better than me.
Admittedly, however, there was a certain amount of fun in teasing and mocking him back. That is until last summer, when during one of our many verbal battles he’d out and out said that he disliked me in front of Jess and everyone else whose opinion I valued. And okay, I might have deserved a harsh retaliation because I’d been particularly bitchy to him that day because of an argument I’d had with Tom . . . but . . . well . . .
The son of a bitch had hurt my feelings, and that was unforgiveable.
“As ever the gentleman, Tremaine.”
“Helping you retrieve your belongings was gentlemanly, I thought.”
“No—the gentlemanly thing to do would have been to assess the situation, realize that touching a lady’s unmentionables is ungentlemanly, ignore said unmentionables, and go merrily on your way while I tried to conspicuously recover the unmentionables.”
The right corner of his mouth tilted up in amusement. “You’ve never crossed me as the shy and retiring type, Miss Hartwell. I wouldn’t have thought my seeing your panties would get them in such a twist.”
“Ha, clever.” I ignored him calling me Miss Hartwell. Or I attempted to. I never wanted him to know how much it bugged me that he never called me by my name. In retaliation I never referred to him out loud as anything but Tremaine.
We really brought out the maturity in one another.
He grinned. “I do find I’m wittier around you.”
“Yes, well, that happens when arming yourself in a battle of wits against a wittier opponent.”

There were moments, like now, when I thought I glimpsed a flash of respect in Vaughn’s eyes. But I knew that couldn’t be true. I was just looking for something I wanted to see. “We’re particularly feisty today.”
“Don’t royal ‘we’ me, Tremaine. I’m not impressed by your pomposity. In fact it pisses me off.”
He stepped closer into me, and I had to steel myself against stepping back. Vaughn Tremaine did not need to know his nearness made my breath catch. His eyes drifted over my face. He always did this, like he was savoring my every feature, and I knew his only purpose in doing so was to make me feel uncomfortable.
Mission accomplished.
Bastard.
“You shouldn’t tell me when something pisses you off,” Vaughn said. “You know it only makes me want to do it more.”
If he’d been anyone else, I would have laughed in grudging respect. Instead, like always with him, I took it personally. Like I said, it didn’t start out that way. Vaughn was smart. I think a large part of me actually enjoyed our battle of wits. But after he said he didn’t like me, everything he said to me became an insult. Worse, at around the same time he admitted his dislike for me, I actually began to see more in him that just an arrogant, selfish businessman who thought himself superior to me.
Deep down I knew Vaughn wasn’t a bad guy. I discovered that when he helped out my friends Cooper and Jessica last year. When Jess was convinced that things between her and Cooper were falling apart, Vaughn gave her a place to stay in town so that Cooper had time to win her back.
And the truth was we all felt safer with Vaughn around: there was the matter of Ian Devlin and his sons.
Devlin owned a lot of property in Hartwell, including the Hartwell Grand Hotel in town, and the amusement park behind the boardwalk. But he didn’t own anything on the commercial north end of the boardwalk. And just as he’d used less than honorable means to gain properties on the popular, touristy Main Street, he’d tried underhand ways to gain property on the expensive coastline. He was desperate to add boardwalk property to his portfolio. In fact, I guessed he was desperate to one day own the entire length of the north boardwalk. He had it in his head to turn it into a five-star resort, which would decimate what made Hart’s Boardwalk so charming.
When the old boardwalk hotel went up for sale we, the close-knit community on the boardwalk, thought we were done for. Ian Devlin was the only man we knew who could afford to buy it.
But then came Vaughn. A hotelier with more money than God and a better pedigree than most Manhattanites. For whatever reason, he bought the old boardwalk hotel, knocked it down and put up his own establishment.
The good thing though—despite the modern appeal of his hotel—was that Vaughn liked the boardwalk as it was. And even I had to admit that he seemed to genuinely like and respect Cooper. So when Devlin threatened Cooper’s boardwalk bar by bribing someone on the city board to deny Cooper his liquor license renewal, Vaughn stepped up alongside us to put a stop to it.
And despite the fact that was the moment he told me he didn’t like me, I saw what I hadn’t wanted to see.
Vaughn Tremaine may have been a pompous, smug, wealthy, arrogant businessman who thought he was better than me, but he could also be kind of honorable when he wanted to be.
Moreover, he was our defense against Ian Devlin.
According to Cooper, Vaughn had said something that made Cooper feel confident that Vaughn would never let Devlin do anything to damage what we’d built on our boardwalk.
And Vaughn had the money and influence to back up that sentiment.
“What? Do I have something on my face?” Vaughn said.
I realized at that moment I’d just been staring into those startling gray eyes of his. No one had a right to eyes like those. He must have known what those eyes did to a woman.
To women. Other women. Not me.
“No.” I stepped away from him, even if doing so did give him the upper hand.
“What? No sharp reply? You sure you’re feeling alright?” He cocked his head to the side, studying me. A crease formed between his brows. “You do look a little tired.”
I huffed, running a hand over my hair. I hated when he scrutinized my personal appearance. “Always so complimentary, Tremaine. It’s a wonder you don’t have a trail of panting ladies following after you. Oh, wait a second. It’s not.”
He just stared at me, which for some reason made me feel worse, because it felt like he could see right into me, and that he could see how unhappy I was and—
“No wonder you’re single.” I gave him a look that would have made a lesser man’s balls jump back up inside him. “You’re cold through and through. You haven’t got anything real to offer a woman. Nothing but money. And sooner or later they’ll realize not even money is worth a lifetime of nothing.”

(c) 2017 Samantha Young

About the Author

Samantha Young is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author from Stirlingshire, Scotland. She’s been nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award 2012 for Best Author and Best Romance for her international bestseller ON DUBLIN STREET, Best Romance 2014 for BEFORE JAMAICA LANE, and Best Romance 2015 for HERO. ON DUBLIN STREET is Samantha’s first adult contemporary romance series and has sold in thirty countries. Samantha’s YA contemporary lit debut THE IMPOSSIBLE VASTNESS OF US releases from Harlequin Teen June 2017.

Visit http://authorsamanthayoung.com for more information.
Connect with Samantha on Goodreads and Facebook!

BOOK BLITZ – Change Me by Melissa Townsend

 
Change Me

by Melissa Townsend
Series: Protector #2
Release Date: Feb 7, 2017
Add to TBR

Macie Smith was eager to leave her hometown of Puyallup, Washington, after graduating high school. She knew there was no way around being a Protector like her brother, and she was okay with that. Macie knew in her heart that her purpose was to protect others; however, she refused to follow in her brother’s footsteps forever. She moved to Florida in hopes of finding herself. In the process, she found Jasper White.

Jasper was the polar opposite of the Protectors. Rather than feeling the pain of others like Macie and her brother, he was usually the one to cause it: Jasper was a Raider. He’d spent the last three years being a real-life bad boy. When he first laid eyes on Macie, he instantly knew he wanted her…until he found out she was a Protector. He had already had a few run ins with other Protectors, and to say they were enemies would be putting it lightly. He knew he didn’t stand a chance with Macie, but he couldn’t stay away. He would have to change his Raider ways in order to make her his.

 
 
The smile he had been wearing had disappeared and the indifferent look in his eyes had been replaced with… was that desire? I felt my stomach flop when he took a step toward me. I inhaled a deep breath when he took another step. His face was inches from mine and I wanted to be unaffected. Or at least make him think I was unaffected by him. He reached out and ran his fingers down the length of my arm. Chill bumps followed behind his touch and I cursed my body for being such a trader. He slowly started to lean closer to me, his head was lowering and his gaze was fixed on my lips. I licked them involuntarily and slowly raised onto my tip toes. His lips touched mine and my entire body started to tingle.

From a rural community in southern Oklahoma, Melissa Townsend is a married dental assistant with one child; and on the surface, the picture of today’s ordinary working wife and mother from Smalltown, U.S.A.

As a busy mom, she initially found her escape in reading. It is just in the past few years that she’s found her passion and enjoyment of telling her own stories. Having never travelled or experienced much beyond the realm of country-living, Melissa finds herself taking journeys through an array of genres and different writing styles. Don’t let her quiet, small town, ordinary demeanor mislead you. Sit with her for very long and you will quickly discover her wit, dry sense of humor, and unique perception of the world around her. It’s these characteristics spieled out into her stories that define her writing style and will keep you wanting more.

 

BLOG TOUR, GIVEAWAY, AND REVIEW – The Cad and the Co-ed by L.H. Cosway and Penny Reid

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The Cad and The Co-Ed, a quirky and sexy romantic comedy from Penny Reid & L.H. Cosway is available now!!

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THE CAD

Bryan Leech is a cad.

Or, he *was* a cad.

No one is quite certain.

Once the quintessential playboy, Bryan claims he’s done with wild parties and weekend benders. No more one night stands leading to mornings he can’t remember; no more binges and blackouts; no more exploits plastered all over the tabloids and rag sheets. According to Bryan, he’s cleaning up his act.

The only problem is, no one believes him.

THE CO-ED

Eilish Cassidy never thought she’d be a mother at nineteen or still in college at twenty-four. Cut off from every member of her family except her favorite cousin, she’s finally managed to put her life back together. Stronger and wiser, Eilish enters her last semester of university determined to stand on her own. Now she just needs to find an internship.

The only problem is, her best option—by far—places her directly in the path of her son’s father, and he doesn’t remember her at all.

THE PLAN

Bryan is determined to prove he’s changed. Eager to settle down with the right woman, he’s got his sights set on the gorgeous redhead who seems terribly familiar.

Eilish is determined to hide her secret. She’ll do anything to keep her child safe, even if that means ignoring her own wishes and desires.

But what happens when Bryan starts to remember? And what will it take for Bryan to convince the girl he forgot that she’s unforgettable?

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Download Today!

(Free In Kindle Unlimited)

Amazon US : http://amzn.to/2kpS1KX

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B06W9J28CJ/

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B06W9J28CJ/

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B06W9J28CJ/

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Whitney’s Five Star Review

This book was just everything I needed when I picked it up and when you love a book so much, it’s actually harder to review it.

I was afraid I’d hate Bryan because of his cad ways but I never did. Only a small snippet of this book has him living his old life. For 95% of the book, he has grown up and realized he needs to change his lifestyle. With alcoholic family members, his health was on the line and he’s just coming to the realization that he’s lonely.

Eilish is amazing. I love reading female characters who are single mothers where you literally feel the love for their kids flowing from the pages. Her child is truly what is most important to her even though feelings for Bryan start to surface once she’s face to face with him again.

The writing is fast paced and witty. There are some sexy moments but they’re pretty toned down. It’s all about the tension and the feelings more than physical action. I thought the authors timed Bryan’s finding out about his son perfectly. I wasn’t sure if it would happen quickly or later on and I won’t spoil it, but for me it was great. All of Bryan’s interactions with his son were spot on and made my heart flutter.

I just want everyone to read this series. Although the books stand alone, I do recommend starting with book one if you want to read the whole series. There are snippets of other characters that will make more sense if you read in order.

Penny and L.H. are responsible for my increasing crush on Rugby players! This is a must read folks!

**Now that I’m several weeks post reading my arc, I can say that I STILL have a hangover from this story.

Meet Penny Reid:

Penny Reid is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the Winston Brothers and Knitting in the City series. When she’s not immersed in penning smart romances, Penny works in the biotech industry as a researcher. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.

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Connect with Penny:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PennyReidWriter/

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2lakzsD

Twitter: @ReidRomance

Newsletter: http://pennyreid.ninja/newsletter/

http://www.pennyreid.ninja

Meet L.H. Cosway:

L.H. Cosway has a BA in English Literature and Greek and Roman Civilisation, and an MA in Postcolonial Literature. She lives in Dublin city. Her inspiration to write comes from music. Her favorite things in life include writing stories, vintage clothing, dark cabaret music, food, musical comedy, and of course, books.

She thinks that imperfect people are the most interesting kind. They tell the best stories.

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Connect with L.H. Cosway:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LHCosway/

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2jVTDk8

Twitter: @LHCosway

Newsletter: https://goo.gl/vkhYHN

Website: http://www.lhcoswayauthor.com

BLOG TOUR, EXCERPT AND REVIEW – If You Were Mine by Melanie Harlow

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If You Were Mine, an all-new sexy and emotional standalone from USA Today Bestselling author Melanie Harlow is now available!

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If You Were Mine

by Melanie Harlow

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Theo MacLeod wasn’t supposed to be the one.

Tall, dark and handsome suits me just fine, but the cocky grin, know-it-all attitude, and mammoth ego? No thanks. I only hired him so I wouldn’t have to sit at the singles table again. It was just pretend.

He wasn’t supposed to kiss me.

My heart wasn’t supposed to pound.

We weren’t supposed to spend the night together—the hottest night of my life.

One night turns into a snowed-in weekend away, and even the blizzard of the century can’t cool the fire between us. I can’t get enough—of his smile, of his body, of the way he makes me feel.

We’re nothing alike. He’s a daredevil, and I’m a nervous Nellie. He’s a drifter, and I want to put down roots. He’s an opportunist with a checkered past, and I’m a Girl Scout volunteer.

But none of it matters when I’m in his arms.

I know he’s made mistakes. I know his wounds are deep, and he doesn’t trust easily. I know he doesn’t believe he could ever be enough to make me happy, but he could.

All he has to do is stay.

Excerpt:

A guy in a black leather jacket set a coffee cup down on the table and sat opposite me.

I looked over at him, feeling slightly awkward since I’d have to tell him he couldn’t sit there. He was handsome, with warm brown eyes and short dark hair, but he wasn’t Fred. “I’m sorry, I’m waiting for someone,” I said. “But I can move.”

To my surprise, he smiled confidently. “Claire, right? I’m Fred.”

I screwed up my face. “You can’t be. Fred has blond hair and blue eyes. I saw his picture.”

He laughed, almost condescendingly. “I don’t use my real picture, Claire. People are crazy.”

What? This made no sense. “I don’t understand. How can you advertise yourself with someone else’s photo? Don’t women get mad when you show up?”

He shrugged, his grin turning a little cocky. “Haven’t had any complaints so far.”

Actually, he was more attractive than the photo he’d used online—more rugged and masculine, with his scruffy jaw, big shoulders, and brawny chest. Meeting the real Fred was kind of like ordering the chicken piccata and being brought the Porterhouse, which hadn’t even been on the menu.

But that wasn’t the point.

(And I’d described someone completely different to Elyse.)

“So, what, you use a fake photo to lure potential clients and then you set up the coffee meeting to check them out first?” I asked indignantly.

“Wouldn’t you?” He shrugged out of his jacket. “It’s a scary world out there.”

I crossed my arms, sitting up tall. “No! That’s a scam. I don’t like scammers.”

“No, it isn’t. I don’t take any money from them. I don’t even talk to them, I just leave.”

Frowning, I said, “That doesn’t seem right to me. These people are willing to pay you to hang out with them and probably feel bad enough about themselves already, and you just walk out without even giving them a chance?”

He shrugged. “Look, if it makes you feel any better, I’ve only walked off a job once, and that was because I thought I recognized the woman. I prefer to keep my personal and professional identities separate. That’s fair, isn’t it?”

Professional identity? He was a rent-a-date! I shook my head in disbelief. “Is your name even Fred?”

“Does it matter?”

“Yes,” I snapped. “How am I supposed to know what to call you?”

He grinned as he leaned toward me and lowered his voice. “Call me anything you want. You’re the boss.”

Was he flirting with me or making fun of me? I cleared my throat and pressed my knees tighter together. “I’d like to call you by your actual name, please. Bad enough I have to pay someone to play my fake boyfriend. I’d like something to be real, at least.”

He held his eyes steady on mine for a moment. I felt like he was sizing me up, trying to decide if he could trust me, so I stared right back without blinking. If anyone at this table was trustworthy, it was me.

“Theo,” he said quietly, his eyes dropping to my lips for the merest fraction of a second. “My name is Theo.”

There. Was that so hard? I smiled at him before picking up my latte.“Well, it’s nice to meet you, Theo.”

“What, you’re just going to believe me? You’re much too trusting, Claire. I bet people take advantage of you.”

I set the cup back down on the saucer with an angry clank. “Is your name Theo or not?”

“Shhh, it is, it is,” he said, laughing. Then he glanced over his shoulder like he was in the fucking CIA. “But I don’t give that out to just anyone. You should feel special.”

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Read Today!

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Whitney’s 4.5 Star Review

4.5 stars for another sexy and heartfelt romance from Melanie Harlow! I adore all of this author’s books and she’s one of my go to favs for re-reads as well. Why? Because Melanie Harlow knows how to do romance. She is able to blend the perfect amount of steamy sex scenes with emotional and light moments. Her heros are perfectly flawed, her heroines are strong but they all have a touch of vulnerability.

Claire and Theo’s story is my favorite Melanie book since the Happy Crazy Love series ended. Theo’s hiding a past he isn’t proud of and is scared of his demons. Claire is focused on making other people happy instead of herself and avoids taking risks for fear of rejection. When these two meet, they immediately set off the best in each other and sparks fly.

There’s a bit of insta-love/lust happening in this book but it worked perfectly. I think some of my favorite moments were when Theo was with his brother and nieces. It showed a much softer side to him and really gives the reader an idea of the great man behind his past/current mistakes.

The book has a fairly fast pace and even though there’s some back and forth with drama, it’s not overdone. I think anyone who loves contemporary romance or heros who are slightly broken will love this story! Can’t wait to see what Melanie has in store for us next.

About the Author:

Melanie Harlow likes her martinis dry, her heels high, and her history with the naughty bits left in. When she’s not writing or reading, she gets her kicks from TV series like VEEP, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, and Homeland. She occasionally runs three miles, but only so she can have more gin and steak.

Melanie is the author of the HAPPY CRAZY LOVE series, the FRENCHED series, and the sexy historical SPEAK EASY duet, set in the 1920s. She lifts her glass to romance readers and writers from her home near Detroit, MI, where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and pet rabbit.

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Website: http://www.melanieharlow.com

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BLOG TOUR AND REVIEW – Mister Wrong by Nicole Williams

 

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Cora Matthews grew up with the Adams boys, twin brothers and best friends who wouldn’t let anything come between them except for one thing—her. One of them became her best friend, the other, her fiancé.

She always knew she’d wind up marrying one of them, and Jacob Adams is the very epitome of Mister Right. At least he is up until he fails to show up for their wedding day. Not that Cora realizes it. At first.

As Jacob’s best man, and identical twin, Matt makes a split second decision, but one that will affect the three of their lives forever—he steps in to take his brother’s place. In front of the altar, exchanging vows with the woman he’s secretly been in love with for years.

Cora eventually finds out about the groom swap. The morning after the wedding. As if realizing she just slept with her fiance’s brother wasn’t disturbing enough, she’s forced to confront her feelings for Matt Adams she thought she’d buried years ago.

Matt’s wrong for her. In every way. But through the course of her real honeymoon with her fake husband, she starts to uncover truths both Adams brothers were hoping to keep hidden, for opposite reasons. One to protect himself, the other to protect her.

She married the wrong brother, but what if he’s been the right one all along?
“So?” I crossed my arms and leaned into the banister behind me. “Did you? Like my brother?”
She sighed, turning toward the open door. “Jacob . . .”
“What? It’s a fair question.” I shoved off the banister, feeling hope and heat tangling in my veins from the look on her face, from the sound of her voice. She’d felt something for me, whether it be the most passing of crushes or something much deeper. Realizing that had me feeling drunk from something other than alcohol. “Besides, you’re stuck with me now. Won’t matter what you ’fess up to.”
Cora started through the doorway. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
Grabbing the suitcases, I followed her. I wasn’t letting this go. Never. Not if she threatened death or castration or anything else. “Why not?”
She broke to a sudden stop a few feet inside the room. “Because I don’t want to focus on the past. I want to concentrate on the future. That’s not going to work if you keep asking me questions about Matt.”
There was a sharpness in her voice—one she didn’t use too often. She didn’t want to keep talking about me, which only made me want to continue talking about me. I’d struck a nerve, but I wasn’t sure how deep that nerve went.
I needed to know how deep it went. I had to know. My whole life, I’d been under the impression that Cora saw me as nothing more than a good friend and substitute brother. She cared for me, but not in the same way I cared for her.
Or did she?
“This thing with Matt . . .”
Her back stiffened.
“Was it a thing? Like ancient history? Or is it still a thing?” I closed the door and wondered why I could feel my heartbeat in my eardrums.
She kept her back to me, standing in the middle of the dark room like a lone ship on a vast ocean. “I married you.”
Yeah, she did marry me.
“But if he’d made a play for you, way back before all of this”—I waved my finger between the two of us, not that she could see it—“would you have given him a chance?”
“He never made a play for me.” Her voice sounded faraway, like she was out of reach when she was less than an arm’s length away.
“That doesn’t answer my question.” I stepped closer. “If he had? Would you have?”
Her back was moving faster from her quickened breathing. This conversation was making her uncomfortable. Why was that?
“Stop, Jacob. Enough.” She spun on me, swaying in place just enough that I reached out to steady her. She shook my hand away like it was white-hot. “I’m not going to get into another fight with you over Matt. I’m done. I picked you. I married you. What else do I have to prove?”
“That you don’t—”
“I don’t love Matt!” Her arms flung out at her sides as her voice spilled across the room. ‘There. I said it. Are you happy now? Are you happy we’ve managed to get into another argument over this infatuation you’re convinced I have for your brother? On our wedding night of all times?” She glared at me with bleary eyes. I couldn’t tell if that was from tears or from alcohol. Maybe both.
“Cora, I’m sorry.” I ran my hands through my hair, wondering what in the hell I was doing—for the millionth time that day. Deceiving her, betraying her, and now accusing and angering her. Maybe I didn’t know the first fucking thing about love. Maybe Jacob knew more about it than I did, because I wasn’t sure love was supposed to hurt as badly as this did.
“Just . . . enough already.” As she shouldered past me, I reached for her, but she shook me off. “I need to be alone.”
She slammed the front door behind her a moment later, leaving me alone with my idiocy.
“Cora,” I called to an empty room. I wasn’t thinking when I rushed toward the door after her. “Cora!”
The moment I pulled the door open, something crashed into me. It made a sharp breath rush out of my mouth as I staggered back a few steps.
My arms barely had time to wrap around her before Cora’s mouth was on mine, moving in such a way that made staying upright next to impossible. Before I had a chance to catch up to the fact that I was kissing Cora in an entirely different way than we’d kissed at the wedding and reception, her fingers were working at my belt. Quickly.
I didn’t know she’d already gotten it undone before she’d moved on to my zipper. The sounds she was making as she kissed me, the way her body felt aligned against mine, the way her mouth knew the intricate balance of submission and domination . . . one moment at a time, Cora was crushing the last remnants of my resolve. Destroying the final pieces of my views of right and wrong.

 

 

Whitney’s Four Star Review

A solid four stars for Nicole William’s new sexy story about a girl in love with twin brothers.

Cora grew up with Matt and Jacob Adams and always love both. Although she favored Matt, he seemingly doesn’t return her affections and so she chooses Jacob. They date for years and the book opens with their wedding. A wedding in which the groom never shows.

Wanting to save Cora from embarrassment, Matt makes a rash decision to stand in for his brother. Cora happily marries the man she thinks is her fia A solid four stars for Nicole William’s new sexy story about a girl in love with twin brothers.

Cora grew up with Matt and Jacob Adams and always love both. Although she favored Matt, he seemingly doesn’t return her affections and so she chooses Jacob. They date for years and the book opens with their wedding. A wedding in which the groom never shows.

Wanting to save Cora from embarrassment, Matt makes a rash decision to stand in for his brother. Cora happily marries the man she thinks is her fiancée only to realize the day after her honeymoon starts, that she’s actually married and had sex with Matt.

And while this may sound fishy, don’t judge Matt. He’s been in love with Cora for years and it’s obvious from the beginning that Jacob is an ass and doesn’t deserve Cora. Matt and Cora don’t have much time to work through their feelings for each other before Jacob shows up to reclaim his fiancée. And lord, I lost count of the times I wanted to punch Jacob in the face.

Is this a love triangle? I guess technically, I would say so. However, there is really never a doubt which brother she will end up with. So for those who hate love triangles, keep that in mind as it may ease your mind.

This story is much steamier than most of Nicole’s books and she does a good job with the chemistry between Matt and Cora. It’s obviously fiction and some of the story is a little over the top but isn’t that the point for many who read romance? At least we get explanations when characters do something we might otherwise condemn them for in real life. I loved Matt from the beginning and it’s easy to do as the book is dual POV between he and Cora.

I do kind of wish we had some flashback chapters from when the three of them were kids as I think that would have helped with the character development. But some of their childhood relationship comes out later in the book when Cora is forced to realize just how much she loves Matt.

Overall, this is a definite recommendation!

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Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.
Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.

 

 

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GIVEAWAY & Review Tour ~ Saying Goodbye pts 1&2 by Abigail Drake

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sg1Synopsis part 1:
Samantha Barnes always dreamed of seeing the world and only has a few months left before she starts a semester abroad in Japan. Enough time to say goodbye to her friends, polish up her language skills, and maybe even squeeze in a quick fling with handsome fraternity boy Dylan Hunter.

All she wants from Dylan is something casual, and perhaps some mind-blowing sex, but things don’t work out as planned. Dylan wants a lot more from her than a hook-up. Before Sam realizes what’s happening, their relationship has become serious, something she never intended. And then she discovers Dylan is hiding a dark secret that makes breaking up with him nearly impossible.

Sam is running out of time. She has to leave soon. She has no choice. But leaving Dylan could mean more than just the end of their relationship. It could also mean destroying him completely.

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sg2Synopsis part 2:
What if you meet the right person…at absolutely the wrong time?

When Samantha Barnes starts her semester abroad in Japan, she brings along a heavy load of emotional baggage. With her ex-boyfriend in the midst of a mental health crisis back home, she’d been forced to make some difficult choices, choices that now fill her with guilt and remorse. She also made promises to him she isn’t sure she can keep, especially when she meets Thomas MacGregor, an irresistibly charming Scottish rugby player. Thomas is studying at the same university as Samantha, and, although she tries to fight it, she begins to fall for him. Hard.

Life in Kyoto is everything Samantha could imagine, but, when tragedy strikes, it sends her on a downward spiral into darkness. Will she be able to come to terms with what happened, and have a future with Thomas, or will she forever be plagued by regret?

Forgiveness is a tricky thing, especially when the person you need to forgive most is yourself.

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Saying Goodbye was my first Abigail Drake book and I was pleasantly surprised by her unique writing style and fresh story lines.  In a genre where books often have very similar structure and themes, this book stood out as something uncommon.

Saying Goodbye, particularly part one, was full of very heavy subject matter.  The book was rife with taboo subjects and how people react to those situations with which they aren’t comfortable.  I was quite impressed by how tastefully it was done.  Each scene and every moment was carefully constructed to demonstrate how every single thing that happens affects a person.  They also served to show how a person’s temperament can make those experiences have completely different outcomes.

Abigail Drake incorporated several cultures and languages into Saying Goodbye in a way that felt very natural.  I am in no way educated in any of the cultured or languages she used, but it seemed very true to what they were.  I loved that each part was set in a different place, it made it much easier to keep the storylines separate while I was reading.  I fell in love with the glimpses into worlds I’ll likely never experience, that she included in the story.  The way she used the cultural references to help the characters grow and used languages to bring them closer together were so fresh and unique, it was something I relished experiencing.

3.5 Feathers
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abigailAbigail Drake has spent her life traveling the world and collecting stories wherever she visited. She majored in Japanese and International Economics in college and worked in import/export and as an ESL teacher before she committed herself full time to writing. She writes in several romance genres, and her books are quirky, light, fun, and sexy. Abigail is a trekkie, a book hoarder, the master of the Nespresso machine, a red wine addict, and the mother of three boys (probably the main reason for her red wine addiction). A puppy named Capone is the most recent addition to her family, and she blogs about him as a way of maintaining what little sanity she has left.

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Review Tour ~ Riveted by Jay Crownover

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From the New York Times bestselling author of the Marked Men books comes the next installment in the Saints of Denver series.

 

riveted_finalEveryone else in Dixie Carmichael’s life has made falling in love look easy, and now she is ready for her own chance at some of that happily ever after. Which means she’s done pining for the moody, silent former soldier who works with her at the bar that’s become her home away from home. Nope. No more chasing the hot as heck thundercloud of a man and no more waiting for Mr. Right to find her; she’s going hunting for him…even if she knows her heart is stuck on its stupid infatuation with Dash Churchill.

Denver has always been just a pit stop for Church on his way back to rural Mississippi. It was supposed to be simple, uneventful, but nothing could have prepared him for the bubbly, bouncy redhead with doe eyes and endless curves. Now he knows it’s time to get out of Denver, fast. For a man used to living in the shadows, the idea of spending his days in the sun is nothing short of terrifying.

When Dixie and Church find themselves caught up in a homecoming overshadowed with lies and danger, Dixie realizes that while falling in love is easy, loving takes a whole lot more work…especially when Mr. Right thinks he’s all wrong for you.

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At the end of Riveted, Jay Crownover added an Author’s note that says, ‘It was fun to take a little bit of Denver on the road and the reality is that you follow your heart when it’s right.  You sacrifice your own comfort and your familiarity if that’s what best for the other person.’  She may have been speaking to why Dixie went home with Church, but I found it particularly relevant to the journey she took in writing this book.  It was evident in the books in both Marked Men and Saints of Denver series Jay cared deeply for both Church and Dixie.

The thing about sacrificing your own comfort for another is, there is often a period of adjustment, of awkwardness while you’re trying to find your way in this new place and I felt a lot of that in Riveted.  It was as if Ms. Crownover was struggling to find her place in the new, unfamiliar world of Lowry right along with Dixie.  Much of the book felt incongruous with the type of writing I am used to from Jay Crownover, it didn’t have the edge her other books have.  There were moments of crazy flowery prose that were just so far outside the norm for these books, it was just not was I was expecting.

That being said, the book had a good, solid story line.  I loved the journey Dixie and Church had to take to find their happiness.  Seeing the pain they had each experienced and how differently it molded each of them was fascinating.  In the more heated moments, the ones that truly drove the book forward, Jay’s signature style was highly evident and I appreciated it hadn’t been lost in the effort to write Riveted.

While Riveted doesn’t represent the best of Jay’s work, as far as I am concerned, I think it was a very important story to tell.  It told of struggles people still face today, in a world and time where such prejudices should no longer exist.  I am happy to have been able to read Dixie and Church’s story and while there were some things that just felt off to me, it was a fun book and I will continue to hold Jay and her work in high esteem.

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Jay Crownover - headshotJay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men, The Point, and the Saints of Denver series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.

 

 

 

 

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Blog Tour ~ Singe by Aly Martinez ~ Sarah A’s Review

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singe-for-webShe was my nightmare. Every time I closed my eyes, I watched her fall into that inferno. Over and over, I failed to save her.

I hadn’t been able to reach her, and the guilt only burned hotter over time. Four years later, I was the unreachable one.

Heroes aren’t always saints. Sometimes, we’re nothing more than jaded sinners driven by sleepless nights and hearts full of darkness.

And then I met her. She was a dreamer who managed to soothe my scars and heal my wounds.

But, as the flames closed in around us, I feared I wasn’t the right man to save her. That is until I realized she was the one woman I’d burn the world down to protect.

Amazon US | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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I have been impressed by Aly Martinez’s writing in each book I’ve read by her.  They all hold great stories without adding extra content just to fill pages.  Each word and every sentence seem meticulously written with the intention of driving the plot forward, helping the characters grow, and keeping the reader invested.  She’s an author who doesn’t throw in a bunch of extra details without having a purpose for them.  Each detail a puzzle piece to a picture not meant to be revealed until the end of the book.  Singe was no different.

The prologue of Singe was crazy intense.  I could feel the sheer terror of each character in each word.  That intensity changed form throughout the pages and morphed into something much different, but no less fiery.  Singe was an apt title for this book, even without the fire that bound the characters.  It smoldered and sparked for the entirety of the novel.  There were so many things, beyond the relationship between Rhion and Jude, waiting for the fuel to flash into flames.  Those secrets and subplots kept me on my toes, guessing, piecing together a web of secrets so intricate it would take only the slightest of breezes to destroy the entire thing.

Rhion and Jude’s story was tragic, their shared past shaped them into entirely different people.  Singe eloquently demonstrated how one event can be so wholly different to different people, how each person’s interpretation of the events can warp the facts of what happened and their view of themselves and the other people involved.  Paying witness to the way Rhion and Jude healed each other and put the pieces of their lives together was awe-inspiring.  Their broken pieces filled in the empty spaces in the other and left them coming so much stronger in the end.

I found Singe to be wildly compelling and a wonderful start to what is sure to be an incredible series.  I was wholly fulfilled by Rhion and Jude’s story, while still feeling like there is so much more to find out about every character involved in this story.  I will be eagerly anticipating each new book in this series and I’m excited to get to dive into the world of The Guardian Protection Agency over and over again.

4 Feathers

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Chapter One

Jude

“Tomorrow, it’s on me,” I said, standing up off the barstool.

Behind the bar, Carmen waggled her eyebrows, seductively calling out, “Funny, I could be on you tonight if you stayed awhile longer.”

I laughed at her innuendo and tossed her a wink. “I gotta get home, babe. Seven a.m. comes way too early.”

“Well, offer’s on the table,” she purred.

It always was with her. And, if I wasn’t careful, I’d eventually take her up on it.

Not that sleeping with Carmen wouldn’t have been good. But, when you find a cheap bar only five minutes from your house, you don’t fuck that up by dipping your cock into the bartender.

“Later, Carmen,” I called, pushing the door open and heading to my car.

I wasn’t out of the parking lot before I heard, “Officer Levitt? We’ve got an alarm going off in Park Hill. You mind taking a look on your way home?”

Banging my head back against the headrest, I groaned to myself. Park Hill was about as “on my way home” as swinging past California on the way to Maine.

Switching my radio to my other hand, I complained, “I’m off the clock, Jocelyn.” I had been for several hours, even if I hadn’t made it home yet.

She laughed. “I’m sorry, but you’re the only one remotely close. I had to send two cars out to the Laslows’ to break up another argument between Cam and his old man.”

“They at it again?” I asked.

“Apparently, Cam told Lindsey he didn’t want the baby. Lindsey told his dad. Old Man Laslow lost his mind.”

I chuckled, putting my blinker on and then doing a U-turn in the middle of the empty road. “Christ. I bet he did. I know the man’s seventy-five, but I sure as hell wouldn’t want to go toe-to-toe with him.”

“I’m with you on that. So…you gonna head out to Park Hill?” she asked in a sugary-sweet tone.

I grumbled deep in my chest. “You’re gonna owe me some of that banana bread for this. I missed it the other day when you brought it up to the station.”

“I don’t owe you anything.” She giggled. “However, as a personal thank-you from the state of Illinois, Park County, and the owners of Park Hill, I’ll bring you in a loaf on Friday. Deal?”

“Deal. I’m en route now.”

“Stay safe, and radio in with your report.”

“Yes, ma’am,” I replied, knowing exactly how much thirty-year-old Jocelyn loved being called ma’am by a twenty-five-year-old man.

“Don’t you—”

“Gotta go.” I turned the volume down to mute her, grinning to myself as I flipped my lights and siren on.

I’d been a cop for two years. And, in that time, I’d been out to the privately owned Park Hill estate at least a dozen times. It wasn’t unusual for the alarm on the mansion to get triggered. It never amounted to anything. The expansive estate was on the very edge of the county, and trouble didn’t usually travel that far out. More often than not, a bird at a window or a bumbling new member of the grounds crew would accidentally trip the alarm. Truth was, no one actually lived in Park Hill. The owners visited sporadically. But, for the majority of the time, it remained empty.

Some minutes later, I cut my siren as I pulled up to the entrance. The cold air assaulted me as I stepped out of my patrol car with my flashlight in hand and aimed at the keypad on the massive security gate that blocked the driveway off. That damn thing alone had to have cost more than I’d make in a lifetime. Forget about the house inside.

The smell of wood burning in a fireplace wafted through the night air. I guessed someone was home for a visit.

I typed in the emergency code on the gate panel and then climbed back in my car and made my way down the tree-lined driveway. I’d spent the day on patrol, and, with the exception of some minor vandalism across town, it had been a slow one.

Though, in the blink of an eye, that would change.

Along with my entire life.

“Oh fuck,” I breathed as the main house came into view on the top of the hill.

After throwing my car in park, I jumped on the radio at my shoulder. I could barely get the words out as I slung my door open and took off at a dead sprint.

“This is Officer Levitt! I need fire support at Park Hill immediately!”

And then I froze as a wave of adrenaline crashed into me like a tsunami.

An inferno roared in the night sky, but it was the small silhouette of a woman perched outside a third-floor window, smoke pouring out all around her, that knocked the breath out of me. My heart stopped, but my feet continued to pound against the pavement.

Jocelyn’s voice caught me. “What’s going on?”

“I need medical too!” I barked as I got closer. “The whole damn place is in flames and there’s a woman trapped!”

The woman’s long, black hair blew out behind her like a battered flag whipping in a storm. I couldn’t make out her face or her skin color or even guess at her age for the black soot covering her, but her fear was unmistakable.

And unforgettable.

“Hang on!” I yelled up to her.

“Oh my God!” she screamed before it turned into a fit of coughing. “Help me!”

“Hang on! Don’t let go!”

Frantically, I searched the perimeter for a way in, but it wasn’t only her house that was on fire. Flames were encompassing her. The yard and all the surrounding flowerbeds. Top to bottom. The first and second floors were completely engulfed, and if the sound of shattering windows was any indication, it was quickly making its way up to the third floor—to her.

“No! Don’t leave me!” she screamed, panic thick in her garbled voice, as I started around the side of the house.

A wall of heat stopped me in my tracks. Throwing an arm up, I did my best to block my face while scanning the building for any possible entry—or, in her case, exit.

But there wasn’t a surface of that house that wasn’t ablaze.

Except the roof.

Son of a bitch.

I spoke into the radio. “I need an ETA on fire.”

Jocelyn replied, “They’re on their way. Five minutes out.”

I didn’t have one minute, much less five.

Fuck.

My pulse quickened, sending blood thundering in my ears. I was a cop. I’d trained for chaos. I should have been able to come up with a solution for a situation like this, but they didn’t teach you how to conquer the impossible at the Academy.

And, as I took inventory of the flames dancing beneath her, I knew that was exactly what I was up against.

My gut wrenched as I helplessly sped back around the house. She appeared almost childlike, hovering barefoot on that narrow brick ledge, but her long-sleeve top and her loose-fitting pants clung to the body of a woman.

Jesus Christ! Where was that fucking fire truck?

“Is anyone else in the house?” I yelled up to her.

Not that I could have helped them, either. Short of running into a burning building, on what would surely be a suicide mission, there was not one thing I could do. And didn’t that little reality feel like a wrecking ball to the chest.

“No!” she cried, a loud sob lodging in her throat. It turned into more coughing, her body shaking violently with every heave.

I fisted my hands at my sides as my anxiety spiraled higher.

“Please. Do something!” she begged.

I ground my teeth together and once again glanced around as if a water hose and a ladder were going to suddenly appear out of nowhere. “Hang tight, okay? Fire trucks are on their way.”

“I can’t hold on much longer!” she cried.

“Yes, you can,” I demanded.

“I…I think I need to jump,” she coughed out.

I assessed the massive fire below her. I’d never be able to reach her before it swallowed her. But there was no way I’d be able to stand by and watch her burn.

No. If she jumped off that ledge, she was going to get us both killed.

“Don’t you dare,” I barked. “Don’t even think about it. Two minutes. They’ll be here.”

“I…I can’t.”

“Two minutes,” I repeated. “Hold—”

Suddenly, a window to her left exploded, shooting glass and flames in all directions.

I covered my face as she screamed in a paralyzing mixture of fear and agony. It cut me so deep that I knew I’d bear the scars for the rest of my life, and that had nothing to do with the glass and everything to do with the heavy weight of my failure already lingering in the smoke-filled air.

When I opened my eyes again, I caught a glimpse of orange flickering in the window behind her. Panic built in my chest.

“You need to move!” I yelled.

She shook her head and continued to cough and cry.

But it wasn’t an option. I couldn’t help her. Though I damn sure refused to watch her die.

“Please. Just listen to me.” I swallowed hard. “You can’t stay there.” I looked to the roof.

Sending her higher seemed wrong and went against everything I’d learned in my limited fire training. But fuck, my options were having her jump into a conflagration or scale up the side of a building in hopes of buying us the precious minutes needed for the fire department to arrive.

Drawing in a smoke-filled breath, I made a decision that would haunt me for the rest of my life. “You need to climb up to the roof.”

“I can’t!” she shrieked.

My stomach twisted, but I gentled my voice. “Look, I know you’re scared. But I’m right here. I’ll help guide you up, but, sweetheart, it’s bearing down on you. You gotta move, and I mean now.”

She choked on a mouthful of smoke as she attempted to look over her shoulder.

“You’re going to be fine. I swear to you,” I lied. “But you have to move.”

“I’m not going to make it!” She had to have yelled it in order for me to hear her, but I felt her defeat slither over my skin like a whispered goodbye.

I took a long step forward, too focused on her to feel the heat singeing my skin. “Yes, you are!” I declared. “Move your ass up to the roof and we’ll both be out of here in time for breakfast.”

Her gaze landed on mine, tears forging paths down her soot-covered cheeks, her disbelief obvious even from yards away. “Are you sure?”

It was a ridiculous question. It wasn’t like I could make any guarantees. It was fire, for God’s sake. But that didn’t stop me from covering my heart with my palm and vowing, “I swear on my life you’re going to make it through this.”

Her hesitation was evident, but with one last sob, she inched her small body farther out onto the narrow ledge, reaching the tips of her shaking fingers out for the windowsill above her.

“Good girl,” I praised, a fraction of relief washing over me.

And then I sucked in a sharp breath as one of her shaking legs slipped out from under her.

“No!” I yelled.

On instinct, I rushed toward the flames, my arms stretched out in the air as though I could catch her.

A scalding heat blistered my face and forced me to stop, but the real pain was in my chest. I watched in horror for what felt like a lifetime as she fought to right herself, her dainty arms flailing like a wounded butterfly frantically trying to catch the wind.

But there was none to be found.

My heart lurched into my throat, and my breath seized in my lungs.

And then a deep, guttural sound tore through me, shredding me from the inside out, as I watched her fall.

I woke up in a cold sweat. It wasn’t exactly something new. I’d been dreaming of Butterfly for over four years. She always flew directly into the flames, screaming as I stood helpless to save her.

Swinging my legs over the side of the bed, I cradled my head in my hands and tried to pretend I was okay. That wasn’t exactly something new, either. I could still feel the heat on the back of my neck. My lungs were still thick with smoke. The pressure in my chest never left me.

The distance while I was living in LA had helped. But, in the week since I’d been back in Illinois, I’d woken up every morning at that blazing house. I didn’t even have to be asleep for the memories to assault me.

I should have gone back to sleep. It was my first day at my new job, and the last thing I needed was to show up haggard and sleep-deprived. But, as I’d learned over the years, another fiery butterfly awaited me on the other side of REM. No way I was volunteering for that.

I pushed myself off the bed and tugged a T-shirt on, preparing to head down to the hotel gym with hopes that I could outrun the mental fog that had been hovering over me since I’d returned. There was a reason I’d thrown all of my shit in my car and driven as far as I could all those years ago.

Yet, somehow, I’d come full circle.

But I’d come back a different man.

At least that’s what I’d told myself as the deafening roar of doubt had overwhelmed me the moment I’d driven across the state line.

Regardless, it had been time to go home.

I’d been gone too long.

Or, as I’d decided as I’d passed the exit to Park County, not nearly long enough.

singeteaserlana1

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aly martinezBorn and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Aly Martinez is a stay-at-home mom to four crazy kids under the age of five- including a set of twins. Currently living in South Carolina, she passes what little free time she has reading anything and everything she can get her hands on, preferably with a glass of wine at her side.

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Blog Tour ~ Mists of the Serengeti by Leylah Attar ~ Sarah A’s Review

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mistsoftheserengeti_ecoverOnce in Africa, I kissed a king…

“And just like that, in an old red barn at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, I discovered the elusive magic I had only ever glimpsed between the pages of great love stories. It fluttered around me like a newly born butterfly and settled in a corner of my heart. I held my breath, afraid to exhale for fear it would slip out, never to be found again.”

When a bomb explodes in a mall in East Africa, its aftershocks send two strangers on a collision course that neither one sees coming.

Jack Warden, a divorced coffee farmer in Tanzania, loses his only daughter. An ocean away, in the English countryside, Rodel Emerson loses her only sibling.

Two ordinary people, bound by a tragic afternoon, set out to achieve the extraordinary, as they make three stops to rescue three children across the vast plains of the Serengeti—children who are worth more dead than alive.

But even if they beat the odds, another challenge looms at the end of the line. Can they survive yet another loss—this time of a love that’s bound to slip through their fingers, like the mists that dissipate in the light of the sun?

“Sometimes you come across a rainbow story—one that spans your heart. You might not be able to grasp it or hold on to it, but you can never be sorry for the color and magic it brought.”

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In romance, there are few books that make you realize just how small a part of the world you are.  Few books that bring awareness to just how far removed we are from the true atrocities happening in other parts of the world.  I can count on one hand the books that have made me feel insignificant, in the best way possible, and this is one of them.  This book slayed me, it pulled back the curtain that kept me in the safe bubble of my life and gave me a glimpse at the horrific things that are still happening in the world today.

Mists of the Serengeti was, at its heart, a story of healing, of redemption, of hope in the face of the worst kinds of tragedies.  The plot that Ms. Attar laid out in this book was addictive and compelling.  It was also one of the most impassioned stories I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.  There were times when the words on the book were so intense, made me feel so much, I had to put down the book and just take a beat to gather myself.  I needed a break to process exactly what I was feeling and how I could deal with the things that Leylah Attar put on those pages.

This book was everything.  It was all of the most beautiful and ugly things about the human condition.  It was the darkest of darks and the brightest of brights.  There moments when my chest hurt so badly I could barely breath, those moments were interspersed with glimpses of levity, which allowed me to catch my breath and remember if you look, there is always a way out of the dark.

I am in awe of Leylah Attar’s writing.  It was wildly obvious that she has a passion and a respect for her art that is unmatched by many authors.  Her love for her characters, her plot, her message pours from each word.  It is highly unusual for me to mark many passages in a book, but I continuously found myself highlighting words because they were too beautiful, too wonderfully written to pass over without acknowledgement. Ms. Attar put herself on my go-to list of authors with Mists of the Serengeti.  I would be remiss to even think of missing a book she has written, if the words she crafted in this book are indicative of the care she puts into her other works.

5 feathers

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la_photoLeylah Attar writes stories about love – shaken, stirred, and served with a twist. She lives in Ontario, Canada, with her husband, son, and all the voices in her head. Sometimes she disappears into the black hole of the internet, but can usually be enticed out with chocolate.

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