NOW LIVE!! The Surviving Trace by Calia Read

Will is my fiancé. The shy man I met years ago in college. The person I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life with.

This is the life I’ve always wanted until finding a picture of four men changes everything…

Etienne says he’s my husband and the year is 1912. He can’t stand the sight of me, but I don’t know why.

Oh, and he’s one of the men from the picture.

I’ve done the impossible and have become trapped in time and I know Etienne is my key to going home.

The more time I spend with Etienne, the further I fall for him, until I’m questioning which time I belong in and if the life I left behind is the one I truly desire.

All I know for certain is I need to survive time.

I need to survive love.

And I need to make it out on the other side alive.

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Right then, someone places a hand on my arm. I turn and see Nat. Her eyes are wide with panic. “Étienne is here.” I stare at her blankly, and she frowns. “Did you hear me? I said Étienne’s here. He’s livid.”

Judging by Nat’s frantic expression and tone of voice, I know this Étienne is someone important. But I don’t know who the hell he is or why I should be the slightest bit nervous.

I’m getting ready to say that when she plants her hands on my shoulders. It’s impossible to tell if the gesture is more for her benefit or mine. “You’re in no shape to see him. I’ll distract him. That should afford you some time to hurry to your room.”

Before I can reply or ask who in the hell this Étienne is, the whispers start. Word spreads like wildfire until conversations practically cease.

“Go,” Nat pleads.

No sooner has the word escaped her mouth before the doors at the far end of the room slam open. People stop what they’re doing. Even the musicians appear unsure and stare at each other in confusion.

Nat and Livingston move in front of me like a pair of bodyguards. I stand on my tiptoes and try to peer between their shoulders, but all I can make out is a stark white shirt. I’m confident it’s the Étienne man Nat was talking about.

In the hushed silence, I can distinctly hear his powerful steps. People inch toward the walls or the double doors.  

“What are you still doin’ here? Go!” Nat whispers to me.

Why would I go? It’s just getting interesting. A thrill courses down my spine and spreads throughout my body. Minutes ago, I wanted to leave, but the dramatic reaction elicited from everyone and the giant question mark stamped over this mysterious Étienne makes me stay put.

Plus, this is a dream. Right now, I’m merely a cat with nine lives. If danger comes my way, I’ll survive. By the ninth, I’ll wake up.

For now, I’m safe.

The closer he gets, the louder his footsteps become. My heart pounds in sync with his footsteps. When he stops walking, Nat and Livingston’s shoulders are practically fused together. All I can see is the man crossing his tan arms.

There’s a beat of silence before Nat speaks. “Étienne. This is a pleasant surprise. I didn’t know you’d be here.”

“I live here. This is my home.” His voice is laced with the same slow, Southern drawl as everyone else I’ve heard speak tonight. But I think it’s the deep timbre that makes my pulse jump. Yes, that has to be it. “Who’s behind you?”

“No one,” Livingston and Nat say in unison.

“Are you sure? Because I swear I see the top of Serene’s head behind your shoulder.”

He knows my name. How does he know my name? Once again, I remind myself that anything goes in dreams. But something about this isn’t sitting well in my gut.

Livingston and Nat turn at the same time. They wear expressions of pure shock, as if they had no idea I’d been standing behind them.

“Oh, it’s Serene.” Livingston shares a well-practiced look of confusion with Nathalie. “I didn’t know she was there. Did you, Nat?”

“I did not.”

Damn, these two are good. If this were real life, we’d be fast friends. From how they play off of each other’s body language and words, I know they’re siblings; my brothers and I covered for each other the same way.

I can’t see the man’s expression, but I’m willing to bet he’s not buying anything they’re saying.

“Step aside. I need to talk to her.”

No one makes a sound. My legs shake.

When Livingston and Nat don’t budge, he says, “Move. Now.”

Nat’s shoulders slightly sag in defeat. I’m half-tempted to tell her not to give in to his demands, but my tongue becomes three sizes too big for my mouth.

As she steps to the right, she gives me a quick once-over and whispers, “I tried to warn you.”

They move away, and it feels as if I’ve been thrown to the wolves. Now I’m facing the leader of the pack. The first thing that comes to my mind once I see him is, Shit. I should’ve listened to Nathalie.

Because this isn’t the good ol’ boy every mother wants their daughter to end up with. No. This is the man every mom has warned their daughters about. You run, not walk when you encounter someone like him.

I stand there as though I’m nailed to the floor and watch as the man gazes around the room. He sighs as if everyone is wasting his precious time.

Then he turns his eyes to me, and when he does, the realization hits me like a bolt of lightning.

It’s my mystery man.

The man from my dream.

The man from the picture.

Standing inches away from me.

Calia Read lives in Texas with her husband and their five kids.

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Calia will be giving away a $100 Amazon Gift Card to one winner (open international) and a signed set of all of her books to a second winner (open US only)

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Breathe by Carly Phillips ~ Sarah A’s Review

Breathe, an all-new second chance romance from Wall Street Journal and New York Times bestselling author Carly Phillips is available now!

Fall in love with the Wards…

From troubled teen to successful general contractor, Jake Nichols turned his life around from his time in foster care. Divorced and single, he juggles his time between his daughter and his work. Next on his agenda, a new project that is his chance to prove his worth at the job he loves. Except he never anticipates that the only girl he’s ever loved and lost as a teen is now a grown and beautiful woman in charge of the project.

Phoebe Ward has survived and conquered a painful past that includes foster care and becoming a teenaged mom. She wants nothing more than to focus on the present but it’s hard when she looks into the eyes of her son, knowing she’s tried and failed to find his father. She’s resigned herself to raising him alone with the help of her family… Until a client meeting brings her face to face with her first love. A boy… now a sexy man she thought she’d never see again … and the father of her child.

So many years have gone by and both of their lives have changed drastically. Will they be able to put the past behind them and find the second chance they both deserve?

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Breathe was a sweet little romance.  I couldn’t put it down and finished the entire thing before lunch.  My heart ached for Phoebe and Jake from the start, and after finding out what their histories were like, it broke for them.  Books about people who have been in the foster care system always pull at my heartstrings and this one was a double-whammy.

I was astonished by Phoebe’s strength, especially when I found out her backstory.  She’s suffered so much heartbreak and loss in her short life, and she was still an amazing mom who never hesitated to put her son first and do whatever she needed to protect and provide for him.  Phoebe continually impressed me with her resilience when faced with challenges, even when the fears developed by her past reared their ugly heads.

Jake was wonderful.  I mean to the point of being the perfect man wonderful.  He was protective and understanding.  He was loving and patient.  He’d been to hell and back and still managed to make a success of himself and become a stellar father.  At every turn, I was impressed by his maturity and level-headedness.

Though the conflict was minimal in Breathe and somewhat predictable, it never felt stagnant.  There was so much to learn about Phoebe and Jake’s individual pasts, history together, and then getting reacquainted after so many years, the lack of action only served to heighten the importance of their connection and what they meant to one another.

Breathe is the second book in Carly Phillips’ Rosewood Bay series.  These books can be read as standalones, I haven’t read the first book, Fearless, and had no problems understanding exactly what was going on in this book.  I did find myself dying to read that book and will definitely be revisiting that first book before I read the third book, Freed.  Breathe is written in limited third-person perspective, alternatively following Phoebe and Jake’s thoughts.

I discovered Carly Phillips as part of a crossover event for one of my favorite authors, and I was so impressed with her writing, I knew I needed to consume anything of hers I could get my hands on.  Breathe delivered fabulously.  I loved the characters, the plot was so sweet, and the pacing was spot on.

“Are you my guardian?” she quipped, trying to keep things light as she tipped her head slightly, studying his tight, serious expression.

“I want to be.” His voice was serious as hell. His tone rubbed her in the most intimate way, her body swaying toward him.

“Jake.” He reached out a hand to cup her face, his calloused fingertips rough against her skin. So intense were his features, so erotic was his touch, his protectiveness cloaking her in heat. Her nipples even puckered into tight points of need.

“If I had my way, nobody would be able to take advantage of you, because they’d have to go through me in order to get to you.” Her face warmed at his words.

“That’s sweet of you to say.”

“I’m not feeling very sweet. In fact, I’m feeling pretty damned protective.” He was, and she liked it. A lot. His fingers skimmed her cheek as he spoke.

“I was lucky enough to find you again. I want a chance to see what could be between us,” he said, taking her off guard. But God, she wanted that, too.

Despite her brain telling her they needed to tread carefully, that they had a little boy to protect, her traitorous heart still wanted more. His blue gaze bored into hers, causing her heart to pound hard in her chest.

“I know things are complicated right now, but how many people get second chances?”

“Not many,” she agreed, knowing how lucky they were.

“So wouldn’t we be foolish to waste the opportunity?”

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Carly Phillips is the NY Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of over 50 sexy contemporary romance novels, including the Indie published, Dare to Love Series. She is happily married to her college sweetheart, the mother of two nearly adult daughters and three crazy dogs. Carly loves social media and is always around to interact with her readers.

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Perfect Love Story by Natasha Madison ~ Sarah A’s Review & Excerpt

When one man’s death exposes a complex web of lies, three couples discover the true meaning of love, loss, and redemption.

Hailey

What do you do when you find out your whole life was a lie?

That your husband really wasn’t your husband but someone else’s.

That the vows you made to each other were simply empty promises.

You pick up and move to the country to start fresh.

When life hands you limes, you make sure you have tequila because your life is about to get stirred up.

Jensen

Married to my high school sweetheart, the best thing she gave me was my baby girl.

But we weren’t enough for her. I wasn’t enough for her.

The last thing I expected on my birthday was a Dear John letter, but that’s what I got when she upped and left.

Now, it’s just me and my girl against the world till the new girl moves in next door.

Is there such a thing as a perfect love story?

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Perfect Love Story wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but it delivered the goods. I loved Jensen and Hailey, Mila was a doll, and the grandmothers – save one – gave me life. I hope to be as amazing as all of them were when I get to be of a certain age. This book had a little laughter, a lot of heartbreak, and a good helping of healing.

I was hooked from the first scene of Perfect Love Story. It started with such an emotionally taxing scene and then kept building layer upon layer of pain and devastation, I was fully invested in Hailey’s journey to finding herself by the time her Nanny intervened on her wallowing. Hailey was so broken, so blind-sided by who her husband was, her raw and visceral pain oozed from the pages.

The first half of this book was so rich, learning about Hailey’s husband and the fallout from his death, her moving and meeting Jensen’s family – particularly his fabulous grandmother and adorable daughter, finding out what Jensen’s ex-wife had done. I was so enraptured with all of it I didn’t even realize how much I’d read; it was that good.

I kind of loved how antagonistic their relationship was at the beginning and that Hailey didn’t let him get away with his foul behavior. As their affection for one another started making itself known, and they agreed to start over, their chemistry became palpable. They were wonderful together, and I loved how they allowed one another the space and time they needed to reconcile their respective pasts in a healthy way.

My only wish for this book would have been to have more conflict near the end. There was so much that had gone on in the beginning and in Jensen’s past the story didn’t feel lacking, but I felt like the story was lacking a climax.

Perfect Love Story is the first book in Natasha Madison’s Love series. Each book is about a different couple and is interconnected. Despite each book covering a different relationship, I have a feeling reading them all in order is going to make for the best understanding of the dynamics. Perfect Love story is told in present tense in dual first-person perspective, narrated by Hailey and Jensen.

I picked up this novel at the suggestion of one of my favorite authors, Natasha Madison was a complete unknown to me. I was pleasantly surprised by this book. The story was engrossing, the characters were well-developed, and the writing was good. I will definitely be reading more of Ms. Madison’s work.

Chapter One
Hailey

“Hello.” Turning down “Glorious” by Macklemore blasting in the background while I washed the kitchen floor with Pine Sol and water, I answer the phone after the first ring.

“It’s me.” I hear my best friend and cousin, Crystal, say from the other end. “Where are you?” I can’t see her face, but I know something is wrong. Even though she’s asked me that question a million times before, this time it’s different. There is no carefree tone. This time, it’s curt and to the point with no laughter in her voice.

“I’m home,” I say, almost whispering as my hand shakes against my ear. My mouth suddenly goes dry, my neck starting to get hot. Something inside my stomach suddenly drops when a slow burn sets in.

“You need to come to the hospital.” Crystal is an emergency room nurse at St. Mary’s, so whatever feeling I was having before has now doubled. “Blake is on his way to get you.” When she mentions my brother, I now know something is gravely wrong. The honk outside doesn’t allow me to question her any further. “You need to get in the car, okay?” she says softly but firmly. “Listen to me, Hailey. Go outside and get here.” My head nods as the hand holding my phone to my ear falls away.

The front door opens, and Blake comes in, looking at me with sorrow and sadness. His brown eyes meet mine briefly, and then he looks down. He doesn’t say anything to me; he simply holds out his hand to me. I put my hand in his, and he leads me out to his truck. He opens the door for me, helping me take that step in.

As I’m looking at him, he pulls the seat belt over my chest and buckles me in. My mind’s still playing the phone call, trying to dissect the conversation. Trying to find one little word that can be the clue. “It’s going to be okay.” His voice breaks through the haze.

I nod my head at him, then he steps back and shuts the door, jogging over to his side. He gets in and puts the truck in drive. I’m on the outside looking in, watching my life fall apart without knowing it.

The only thing I’m certain of is that the sun is shining without a cloud in the sky. As I watch a bird soar through the sky almost in the same direction we are going, I think to myself, Bad things don’t happen when it’s sunny outside, right?

I watch the bird, not even realizing we’ve made it to the hospital. I don’t have a chance to open my door because Blake has it opened before I even think to reach for the handle. “You’re going to be okay,” he assures me as he raises his baseball cap to run his hands through his short dark hair.

“What’s going on?” I have a feeling my entire life is about to change, so I beg him to tell me before we walk through those doors. Blake doesn’t answer. He just reaches down to grab my hand and lead me through the revolving doors.

The harsh smell of antiseptic immediately fills my nose. Voices bombard me, though, none of them are familiar. Glancing around, I take in the hustle and bustle of the emergency room. My heartbeat echoes in my ears as I try in vain to locate a familiar face. I just need to know who we’re here for.

As we silently walk down the corridor, my mind never stops thinking about why we are here. I look up at Blake, asking the one question that makes my heart squeeze with such intense pain, it feels like it might explode.

“Is it Mom? Dad?” I can hear the pleading in my tone. He gives me nothing, continuing to look straight ahead. My eyes go back to the floor, following the tile pattern as we make our way beyond the entrance to the emergency room. The first thing I see is both of my parents, alive and healthy. My mother has tears running down her cheeks, and my father has his arm around her shoulders. They are standing next to the nurses’ station. I look back at Blake in horror. “Is it Nanny?”

He doesn’t have time to answer because Crystal comes out from behind the nurses’ station in her everyday uniform of blue scrubs and Crocs, wearing a stethoscope around her neck.

With one glance at her face, I stop my feet in their tracks. My feet are stuck to the floor as if someone crazy glued them to that spot. I can see the hurt and tears in her eyes. She looks at me with her head tilted sideways, her bottom lip trembling. My body blocks any movements I try to make. I try to advance to Crystal, but I can’t. My knees start to give out, and a horrible shrieking sound comes from somewhere.

I try turning my head to see where the yelling is coming from, but I can’t. I’m on my hands and knees in the hospital corridor. It isn’t until the coldness seeps through my hands that I realize I’m the one screaming. That wretched sound is coming from me. Me. My throat raw, my eyes burning, and my heart irrevocably broken. No words need to be said. No confirmation given. I don’t need them to bring me to a place where we can “talk quietly.” It’s at that moment I finally know what everyone else knows.

My husband is dead.

The Love Series is coming.

When one man’s death exposes a complex web of lies, three couples discover the true meaning of love, loss, and redemption.

Three couples, three different stories!

***  PREORDER NOW ~ RELEASES June 5,2018  ***
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 Broken Love Story ~ Cover Reveal June 29, 2018
***  PREORDER NOW ~ Releases July 10, 2018  ***
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When her nose isn’t buried in a book, or her fingers flying across a keyboard writing, she’s in the kitchen creating gourmet meals. You can find her, in four-inch heels no less, in the car chauffeuring kids, or possibly with her husband scheduling his business trips. It’s a good thing her characters do what she says because even her Labrador doesn’t listen to her…

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Breathe by Carly Phillips ~ EXCERPT REVEAL

Breathe, an all-new second chance romance from Wall Street Journal and New York Times bestselling author Carly Phillips is coming May 15th!

Fall in love with the Wards…

From troubled teen to successful general contractor, Jake Nichols turned his life around from his time in foster care. Divorced and single, he juggles his time between his daughter and his work. Next on his agenda, a new project that is his chance to prove his worth at the job he loves. Except he never anticipates that the only girl he’s ever loved and lost as a teen is now a grown and beautiful woman in charge of the project.

Phoebe Ward has survived and conquered a painful past that includes foster care and becoming a teenaged mom. She wants nothing more than to focus on the present but it’s hard when she looks into the eyes of her son, knowing she’s tried and failed to find his father. She’s resigned herself to raising him alone with the help of her family… Until a client meeting brings her face to face with her first love. A boy… now a sexy man she thought she’d never see again … and the father of her child.

So many years have gone by and both of their lives have changed drastically. Will they be able to put the past behind them and find the second chance they both deserve?

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“Hello?” Phoebe called out.
“In here!” a masculine voice said, sounding like it came from the far side of the house.
She followed the sound and noticed a man talking on the phone, his back to her. He was tall, well built, muscles defined, as she took him in from behind. And what a behind he had, a tight ass in his faded jeans.

She ogled the sight shamelessly, her gaze traveling up his lean waist and broad shoulders. His dark hair was short and the jet-black color she preferred on a man. He wore a light blue button-down, sleeves rolled up, revealing sexy forearms.

And then he turned to meet her gaze, giving her one raised finger to indicate he needed another minute on the phone. Except she wasn’t paying attention to the gesture, because one look at that handsome face, more mature than she remembered but just as good-looking, and she froze.

Vivid blue eyes widened at the sight of her in return.

She wasn’t just looking at a stranger, she was staring into the shocked eyes of her son’s father, a man she hadn’t seen since before she found out she was pregnant.

“Jake?” she whispered, unable to comprehend the fact that she was standing in the same room with her first love. Her first everything.

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Carly Phillips is the NY Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of over 50 sexy contemporary romance novels, including the Indie published, Dare to Love Series. She is happily married to her college sweetheart, the mother of two nearly adult daughters and three crazy dogs. Carly loves social media and is always around to interact with her readers.

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NEW RELEASE!! Lead Me Home by AL Jackson

The highly anticipated sexy, suspenseful stand-alone second-chance romance from NYT Bestselling Author, A.L. Jackson.

Fourteen years ago, my life changed forever.

My sister disappeared. That day I was selfish. That day I chose myself over her. And that day, I lost everything.

Including Nikki Walters.

She’s the girl I’ve loved my whole life. She’s gorgeous. Caring. Every single thing I’ve ever wanted but denied myself. She was my sister’s best friend, and I destroyed any chance of keeping her.

When her safety is threatened, I have a second chance to do the right thing. But as soon as she moves in, I want her in all the wrong ways.

All it takes is a brush of her hand, and I’m losing all control.

The fire between us is only burning hotter.

But neither of us saw what was coming.

And it just might be Nikki Walters who destroys me in the end.

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My heart rose higher in my throat with every pound on the wood. It was as if an accelerant had been poured directly into my blood.

It was close to two in the morning.

Someone showing up at this time of night—in the middle of a downpour, no less—should make me cautious.

If I searched myself, I guessed a little part of me was afraid, but only because I was sure of who was on the other side of the door.

He’d always been dangerous.

Dangerous to my sanity.

Dangerous to my heart.

Obviously, none of that mattered. I was drawn to him anyway.

Tied.

Nothing more than an offering.

I hoisted up on my tiptoes to peer through the peephole, and I sucked in a breath when I saw the tortured face pleading back.

So gorgeous in its hardened, chiseled way. Wind gusted through the longer pieces of his dark-blond hair, his shirt soaked and clinging to his massive body from having to make his way through the deluge that pummeled at the roof.

Quickly, I worked through the lock and yanked open the door.

Chills flashed.

A shockwave.

All brought on by the sight of him.

“Ollie,” I whispered, my spirit in an uproar.

He staggered in with a half-drained bottle of scotch clutched in his hand and kicked the door shut behind him.

He dropped the bottle to the carpeted floor, and there was no time to contemplate the thud before he was stalking my way.

Body massive.

A burly, beautiful, beast of a man.

I took a startled step back, sucking for the air his presence had stolen. Energy streaked through the room. Those big hands darted out and captured my face in the same second his mouth captured mine.

Lips and tongue and searing heat.

Liquor kisses.

My head spun and need blistered across my skin.

He groaned in misery and released the words between the manic scourge of his mouth. “I need you, Nikki. Need you in a way I haven’t needed anything in all my life. Take it away. Fuck . . . please take it away.”

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.

Her bestselling series include THE REGRET SERIES, CLOSER TO YOU, and BLEEDING STARS novels. Watch for A.L. Jackson’s upcoming novel, SHOW ME THE WAY, the first stand-alone novel in her brand-new FIGHT FOR ME SERIES.

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.

Be sure not to miss new releases and sales from A.L. Jackson – Sign up to receive her newsletter http://smarturl.it/NewsFromALJackson or text “aljackson” to 24587 to receive short but sweet updates on all the important news.

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Don’t miss our amazing giveaway going on to celebrate the LEAD ME HOME Release!! Grand prize includes signed SHOW ME THE WAY and FOLLOW ME BACK and the entire BLEEDING STARS SERIES Paperbacks!! 

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Lie to Me by Natasha Preston ~ Sarah A’s Review

At nineteen, Savannah Dean escaped her family, leaving behind a note and the people who caused her so much pain.

Now, she lives on her own and keeps to herself.

At nineteen, Kent Lawson’s girlfriend betrayed him, leaving him behind with a broken heart and a whole lot of mistrust in women.

Now, he lives on his own and shares himself with nearly every pretty thing that walks by but only for one night.

When Savannah and Kent meet, they can’t stand each other.

Kent knows she’s hiding something, and he despises liars.

And Savannah has nothing but secrets.

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Lie to Me had highs and lows.  Some parts were so poignant I could feel the emotion as if I were experiencing it with the characters and other moments seemed so ridiculously overblown I had a hard time reconciling them with the rest of the story.

Once I got rolling with the story I was hooked, I wanted to know more about what had happened to Savannah and her family, Kent’s previous relationship intrigued me, and I loved everyone in Kent’s life.  Kent and Savannah’s back and forth, their contemptuous interactions were highly entertaining.  On more than one occasion I found myself chuckling at how ridiculous they were being.  And their chemistry?  I totally felt it; it oozed off the pages even before they really acknowledged there was more than physical attraction between them.

Lie to Me is a tiny bit insta-lovey, but sometimes, when you know you know.  Despite the expediency of Savannah and Kent’s relationship, it felt real.  The vulnerability they demonstrated, how they felt like they were themselves again, it all screamed trust and love.  Savannah and Kent had a connection that went beyond a physical connection, it was a soul-deep connection, and I loved witnessing them explore it.

My first struggle with Lie to Me came as soon as I opened the book.  It was obvious it took the author some effort getting this book off the ground.  The writing felt forced – there was a lot of strange over-explanations and awkward telling-not-showing moments.  To the point I nearly DNF’d the book before I had really given it a chance, the writing was that off-putting.  Fortunately, I had the foresight to look farther into the book to see if the writing improved, because so much of this book was terrific.  If Ms. Preston could get some help refining the first few chapters, it would make a world of difference.

My final struggles with this book all came around the same time.  There were a couple different climaxes in this book, and I struggled with both of them.  The first felt too overblown, regardless of any history of any character the reaction demonstrated didn’t feel realistic, especially given the circumstances, for the reaction.  I just didn’t buy it.  The second, more significant climax was a little better, but again, I didn’t understand the motivation.  The secondary character who was at the apex of that scene needed more fleshing out for me to get on board with his actions.

Lie to Me is a standalone novel.  I would love to see another couple books in this world, as some of the secondary characters were so intriguing.  It is written in dual first-person perspective, narrated by Savannah and Kent.

Natasha Preston is a new to me author, and I can see that she has promise.  I feel like she could be a phenomenal writer with a little more practice and a bit more concentration on fleshing out the motivations of her characters.  Having a little more backstory would have gone lightyears for me to have really bought into the entirety of the story.

Wednesday rolls around way too fast. I have a whole evening with Savannah. It’s been really nice these past four days that she’s been out of my life. Yet, the whole time, I’ve been craving the way we snip at each other.

I need help.

I cut my engine outside her building and look up. Apparently, she lives up on the first floor and faces out toward the road.

Is she looking at me right now?

Why I feel the need to get out and buzz her apartment, I don’t know, but somehow, I find myself getting out of the car and walking toward the building. I stop at the front door, realising that Heidi told me what floor Savannah is on but not the number. Or she might have told me, and I just didn’t listen.

This is a great start.

I’m about to call my sister when I see Savannah through the glass, walking down the stairs to ground level.

Fuck me.

Has she always looked like that?

She’s wearing a pair of dark blue skinny jeans and a grey off-the-shoulder shirt, but she looks sexier than any other woman I’ve ever seen in a little dress.

Why don’t I like her again?

Her steely eyes, looking even more prominent with the colour of her top, warily eye me. Our last encounter wasn’t exactly pleasant.

She opens the door and smiles. “Hi, Kent.”

My back stiffens. “Savannah.”

“Are you sure you don’t mind taking me tonight? I can Uber.”

And there it is. This is why she fucking bothers me so much. I feel like telling her to call a fucking Uber then. She always sounds so unsure of herself, like every tiny thing a person does for her is some massive inconvenience. Why?

“It’s fine,” I spit.

She folds her arms, carefully because her fractured arm hasn’t healed. It does take away a little of the dramatic flair she was going for. “Do you need to take a nap before we go?”

“What?”

“You’re cranky.”

“You’re too polite.”

“Being polite is a bad thing?”

I flex my jaw. “Yes.”

“Fine. Get in the car, and take me.”

The intent behind her words is clear; however, I hear it completely different and laugh.

She rolls her eyes. “Don’t be a knobhead, Kent. Take me to your parents’ house, I mean.”

“Knobhead. I’ve not heard that one in a while.”

Savannah takes another long breath. “I really don’t know why I thought accepting a lift from you would be a good idea. In fact, I didn’t. I still think it’s a bad idea.”

“You always follow through with bad ideas?”

“Tonight, I am.”

Fuck yeah. I love this fighting side of her. It’s like, when I rile her up enough, the cover slips, revealing the real Savannah. I’m not sure if she’s hiding something the way Freya was.

“You should work on that. I don’t do anything I don’t want to.”

She tilts her head to the side, fire and determination in her eyes. “Oh, you wanted me to come tonight? And you wanted to be the one to pick me up?”

“You’re hot when you’re angry, Savannah.”

Actually, she’s hot all the time. It’s just, right now, she’s the whole package.

“You always use bullshit like that to deflect from someone calling you out?”

“You’re the first woman to call me out.”

“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” she mutters.

“Do you want to argue on your doorstep all night or get to my parents’ for dinner? I’m cool with either, just checking to see which way you’re leaning.”

She drops her arms, one still bound tightly in a splint. “I’m hungry.”

“Excellent, let’s go then.”

UK native Natasha Preston grew up in small villages and towns. She discovered her love of writing when she stumbled across an amateur writing site and uploaded her first story and hasn’t looked back since.

She enjoys writing contemporary romance, gritty Young Adult thrillers and, of course, the occasional serial killer.

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NOW AVAILABLE: Burn So Good by JH Croix

Ella

Life isn’t fair. I know that lesson well.

I said goodbye to Caleb ten years ago.

The boy I once loved is man now—a rugged, s*xy as h*ll man.

As a hotshot firefighter, he’s all about saving others.

Life ripped us apart, stealing more than I could’ve imagined.

Time didn’t heal all of my wounds, and time never let me forget what we once had.

Once again, he comes to my rescue.

This time, I’m running from a different set of demons.

Maybe this time we have a second chance.

 

Caleb

Fire burns hot and bright. It can destroy everything.

Just like it destroyed what I had with Ella.

What comes out of the ashes is stronger than ever.

Ella meant everything to me once upon a time.

We were young and foolish when tragedy tore us apart.

She went running, and I was too torn up to chase after her and make it right.

They say time heals all wounds.

Some things never die, and the fire between us burns hotter than ever.

I’ll do anything to keep her safe, to make her mine.

***  AVAILABLE IN KINDLE UNLIMITED  ***
Amazon

Caleb

My heart kicked up a notch just being close to her. It had been five years since I’d seen Ella. She looked up at me through the rain, her green eyes bright in the gray light. I felt as if I was spinning back in time—emotions jostling against each other in the process. I’d loved Ella fiercely once upon a time.

“I think so. Dana said I just need a few stitches, right?” she asked, her gaze swinging to Dana Halloran, one of the EMT’s on the scene.

Dana nodded from where she stood, turning back to Ella, her eyes bouncing between us briefly. She squirted disinfectant on a cotton ball, carefully dabbing at the cut on the side of Ella’s forehead. “That looks like all you’ll need. I’ll just clean this up and we’ll get going. They’ll take care of the stitches at the hospital.”

Ella looked back at me. “See, just a few stitches.”

“I’ll meet you at the hospital,” I said as Dana carefully taped a piece of gauze over the cut.

“You don’t need to do that,” Ella replied.

Dana stepped away and spoke to the ambulance driver. I focused on Ella. “I’ll meet you there,” I repeated.

“Caleb, you don’t have to take care of me. I’m…”

A flash of anger rose inside. I might not have been thinking too clearly, but for God’s sake. Ella had once meant everything to me. Then, everything went to hell.

“Ella, you just had a car accident. Is it absolutely necessary to act like we mean nothing to each other?”

 

Ella

We stared at each other again. Oh God. It felt so good to be close to him. For the first time in years, I felt like I could relax. I wanted to wrap myself in Caleb and stay there forever.

My next words startled me. “I miss you.” The moment those words escaped, I wanted to grab them and stuff them back inside. I didn’t need to blurt out all kinds of crazy, emotional stuff. This wasn’t supposed to happen this way.

Caleb stared at me, the hand circling on my back finally pausing. He swallowed, the sound audible in the room. My awareness of him was so heightened the hair on the back of my neck stood up. “You have no idea how much I’ve missed you,” he nearly growled.

Emotion was rushing through me, mingling with desire that should’ve seemed out of place given everything that had happened, but it didn’t. Wanting Caleb came as easily as breathing to me. It always had. I’d forgotten how powerful the draw was. Raw joy rose through the scrum of tattered regret and lingering pain, striking against that desire like flint to stone.

This was me, this was Caleb. Us. There had never been anyone but him in my heart, and my body knew it. He strummed every chord of my being simply by existing in space and time near me.

With a muttered imprecation, he dipped his head, kissing one corner of my mouth and then the other. Oh geez. I was a sucker for corner kisses, at least when it came to him. Two more kisses dusted at the corners of my mouth and then I sighed. His tongue swiped along the seam of my lips, and I let go with a low moan.

USA Today Bestselling Author J. H. Croix lives in a small town in the historical farmlands of Maine with her husband and two spoiled dogs. Croix writes steamy contemporary romance with strong independent women and rugged alpha men who aren’t afraid to show some emotion. Her love for quirky small-towns and the characters that inhabit them shines through in her writing. Take a walk on the wild side of romance with her bestselling novels!

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Lie to Me by Natasha Preston ~ EXCERPT REVEAL

At nineteen, Savannah Dean escaped her family, leaving behind a note and the people who caused her so much pain.

Now, she lives on her own and keeps to herself.

At nineteen, Kent Lawson’s girlfriend betrayed him, leaving him behind with a broken heart and a whole lot of mistrust in women.

Now, he lives on his own and shares himself with nearly every pretty thing that walks by but only for one night.

When Savannah and Kent meet, they can’t stand each other.

Kent knows she’s hiding something, and he despises liars.

And Savannah has nothing but secrets.

***  PREORDER NOW ~ RELEASES APRIL 23, 2018  ***
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Wednesday rolls around way too fast. I have a whole evening with Savannah. It’s been really nice these past four days that she’s been out of my life. Yet, the whole time, I’ve been craving the way we snip at each other.

I need help.

I cut my engine outside her building and look up. Apparently, she lives up on the first floor and faces out toward the road.

Is she looking at me right now?

Why I feel the need to get out and buzz her apartment, I don’t know, but somehow, I find myself getting out of the car and walking toward the building. I stop at the front door, realising that Heidi told me what floor Savannah is on but not the number. Or she might have told me, and I just didn’t listen.

This is a great start.

I’m about to call my sister when I see Savannah through the glass, walking down the stairs to ground level.

Fuck me.

Has she always looked like that?

She’s wearing a pair of dark blue skinny jeans and a grey off-the-shoulder shirt, but she looks sexier than any other woman I’ve ever seen in a little dress.

Why don’t I like her again?

Her steely eyes, looking even more prominent with the colour of her top, warily eye me. Our last encounter wasn’t exactly pleasant.

She opens the door and smiles. “Hi, Kent.”

My back stiffens. “Savannah.”

“Are you sure you don’t mind taking me tonight? I can Uber.”

And there it is. This is why she fucking bothers me so much. I feel like telling her to call a fucking Uber then. She always sounds so unsure of herself, like every tiny thing a person does for her is some massive inconvenience. Why?

“It’s fine,” I spit.

She folds her arms, carefully because her fractured arm hasn’t healed. It does take away a little of the dramatic flair she was going for. “Do you need to take a nap before we go?”

“What?”

“You’re cranky.”

“You’re too polite.”

“Being polite is a bad thing?”

I flex my jaw. “Yes.”

“Fine. Get in the car, and take me.”

The intent behind her words is clear; however, I hear it completely different and laugh.

She rolls her eyes. “Don’t be a knobhead, Kent. Take me to your parents’ house, I mean.”

“Knobhead. I’ve not heard that one in a while.”

Savannah takes another long breath. “I really don’t know why I thought accepting a lift from you would be a good idea. In fact, I didn’t. I still think it’s a bad idea.”

“You always follow through with bad ideas?”

“Tonight, I am.”

Fuck yeah. I love this fighting side of her. It’s like, when I rile her up enough, the cover slips, revealing the real Savannah. I’m not sure if she’s hiding something the way Freya was.

“You should work on that. I don’t do anything I don’t want to.”

She tilts her head to the side, fire and determination in her eyes. “Oh, you wanted me to come tonight? And you wanted to be the one to pick me up?”

“You’re hot when you’re angry, Savannah.”

Actually, she’s hot all the time. It’s just, right now, she’s the whole package.

“You always use bullshit like that to deflect from someone calling you out?”

“You’re the first woman to call me out.”

“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” she mutters.

“Do you want to argue on your doorstep all night or get to my parents’ for dinner? I’m cool with either, just checking to see which way you’re leaning.”

She drops her arms, one still bound tightly in a splint. “I’m hungry.”

“Excellent, let’s go then.”

UK native Natasha Preston grew up in small villages and towns. She discovered her love of writing when she stumbled across an amateur writing site and uploaded her first story and hasn’t looked back since.

She enjoys writing contemporary romance, gritty Young Adult thrillers and, of course, the occasional serial killer.

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Such Dark Things by Courtney Evan Tate ~ Excerpt & Blog Tour

From New York Times bestseller Courtney Cole, writing as Courtney Evan Tate, comes the psychological thriller that will keep readers up turning pages long into the night, SUCH DARK THINGS! “Written in breathless style, this page-turner relies on quick thrills, surprise twists…[for] readers seeking a fast entertaining tale…”(Publishers Weekly).Grab your copy of SUCH DARK THINGS today!

I thought I knew him. He thought he knew me. We were both wrong…

Dr. Corinne Cabot is living the American dream. She’s a successful ER physician in Chicago who’s married to a handsome husband. Together they live in a charming house in the suburbs. But appearances can be deceiving—and what no one can see is Corinne’s dark past. Troubling gaps in her memory mean she recalls little about a haunting event in her life years ago that changed everything.

She remembers only being in the house the night two people were found murdered. Her father was there, too. Now her father is in prison; she hasn’t been in contact in years. Repressing that terrifying memory has caused Corinne moments of paranoia and panic. Sometimes she thinks she sees things that aren’t there, hears words that haven’t been spoken. Or have they? She fears she may be losing her mind, unable to determine what’s real and what’s not.

So when she senses her husband’s growing distance, she thinks she’s imagining things. She writes her suspicions off to fatigue, overwork, anything to explain what she can’t accept—that her life really isn’t what it seems.

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I scan through my texts.

None from Corinne. I’m oddly disappointed, even though she never texts me during the day. The ER keeps her too busy. But still. I thought she might text after this morning’s sex.

One from Michel.

How are you doing?

And several from a number I don’t recognize.

Hi there. It’s Zoe from Vilma’s.

Damn it.

I swallow, and I read her other texts.

You left your credit card at the café this morning.

Do you want to meet me so you can have it back ASAP?

I feel a jolt. First, fuck. I left my card someplace? I can’t even remember the last time I did that. How irresponsible. I practically don’t have a credit limit, so a thief could have a field day with it.

Second, how weird that she’s texting me. So weird.

I can just pick it up from Vilma in the morning, I answer. Thanks for letting me know.

I see the three bubbles on my text screen signifying that she is answering. So I wait without putting my phone down. The idea of who is on the other end of the phone gives me a jolt, a thrill, even though my initial thoughts about the girl weren’t flattering. She might have clear daddy issues, but she has an ass you could bounce a quarter off of. It strokes my ego that she’s texting me.

I actually have the card with me. I didn’t want anything to happen to it. I’m in town running errands. I could meet you for lunch?

Another jolt.

She wants to meet for lunch? Is this for real?

What a kind offer, I answer and my heart literally pounds. But I would never impose on you like that. If you’re working tomorrow, I’ll pick it up then.

There are three bubbles. She’s typing.

But nothing comes through.

I wait.

The three bubbles are still there, then they disappear.

Still nothing.

I can’t help but picture her in her overly-tight waitress uniform. The bright blue complemented her skin tone, and her tits were busting out of the top. The skirt was short, and it’s quite possible that she made it that way on purpose.

For a minute, being a red-blooded man, I picture that ass bent over a chair, her uniform skirt hitched up to her hips. Her lacy panties would be shoved to the side…and I think she’d be shaved.

I indulge for just a second, then I push the images out of my head. It’s a fantasy. That’s all.

I’m normal.

I love my wife.

I miss my wife.

Corinne is my world.

I jam my phone into my pocket as my door opens with my next patient.

“Mr. Ford,” I greet the elderly man in front of me, the one with OCD who is at this very moment wiping his feet on the carpet as he walks to wipe away all germs from his shoes. He does it a thousand times a day. “I’m so glad to see you. How have you been?”

He takes a seat in the chair across from me, careful to keep his right foot crossed over the left, and for the next hour, I’m immersed in the world of an obsessive man. This week, his new habit is stepping on a particular stair-step on his porch precisely four times every time he goes home.

We discuss coping mechanisms, and the chemical reasons that OCD could be at play in his brain, and when we’re nearly done, I find him staring at the portrait of Corinne and me sitting on my desk.

“You’re a lucky man,” he tells me, and his cloudy eyes are pensive. “I lost my Helen a decade ago. I haven’t been the same since.”

No, he hasn’t. His OCD emerged that year, when he was lost in grief.

“I am lucky,” I agree. “My wife is a brilliant woman.”

“She’s a looker, too,” Mr. Ford observes, and I try to see the picture through the fresh eyes of a stranger.

Corinne’s eyes are bright and blue, her hair long and blond. She’s thin, she’s trim, she’s tall. Her legs are long, her smile bright.

She is a looker. Sometimes I forget that.

Probably because I haven’t seen her in days and days.

I hide my stress. My patients don’t get to hear my very real and very human problems.

We finish our session and Mr. Ford leaves, and I wrap up my notes. When I’m finished, I’m surprised to realize that it’s lunchtime.

Ginny pokes her head in. “Hey, boss. I’m going out for lunch. Should I bring you something back?”

I could meet you for lunch?

Unbidden, the texted words flash through my mind, and guiltily, I push them away. Fuck, man. Not cool.

“I’m good,” I tell Ginny, and I think my words have a double meaning. I’m good. I don’t have straying thoughts about a woman who isn’t my wife. Not real straying thoughts.

Ginny leaves, and I grab my jacket, and as I do, my phone buzzes, and I think my wife might’ve texted me back.

I’m startled when I see that I’m wrong.

It’s not Corinne.

It’s a picture.

Of Zoe.

I was right. She’s shaved.

My heart thuds as I stare at the nude picture.

Her tits are big and full and her thumb is brushing her nipple, her other hand caressing her shaved vagina. Her eyes are big and turned to the camera in a sultry gaze, and she’s completely and absolutely naked.

Are you freaking kidding me?

I swallow hard, and it’s not like I haven’t been hit on before. I have. But this is different. It’s so blatant, so outrageous, and frankly, in some hidden and shameful spot, it turns me on.

Fuck, man.

I’m sorry, I’m married, I reply, typing with shocked wooden fingers.

Because I’m good. The stiffness in my crotch doesn’t count.

Three bubbles.

That’s fine, she answers. Do you want a girlfriend?

Sweet Jesus.

She can’t be serious. Is her generation so blatant and direct?

No, I answer. Sorry.

Three bubbles.

Hmm. We’ll see.

 

Courtney Cole is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist who would eat mythology for breakfast if she could.

She has a degree in Business, but has since discovered that corporate America is not nearly as fun to live in as fictional worlds.

Courtney was born and raised in rural Kansas, but has since migrated south. She now lives in Florida and writes beneath palm trees.

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The Thief by Kate McCarthy ~ Sarah A’s Review

After years of working in the family business, Arcadia “Ace” Jones has become a renowned car thief. Trained from a tender age, it’s the only life she’s ever known. Longing for a future that doesn’t hold the promise of prison, she makes the decision to go straight and earn an honest living.

But the Marchetti Organisation won’t accept her retirement, forcing her to complete a job so big it’s almost impossible. She’s on a tight deadline but an irritating biker dude keeps thwarting her attempts to deliver.

Kelly Daniels likes to tinker with bikes and cars. He’s content with operating the car restoration business he owns alongside his partners, until an annoying little thief manages to steal a Dodge Charger right out from under his nose.

He gets pulled into her treacherous scheme and they form an unlikely bond. When it becomes a race against the clock to pull off the heist of the century or end up behind bars, Ace and Kelly realise they have more to lose than their freedom—each other.

***  AVAILABLE IN KINDLE UNLIMITED  ***
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I’m so glad to have finally got Kelly’s book. I was so intrigued by him when we first met him in a previous book; I knew he needed his own story. I could not have ever anticipated just how wonderful he was actually going to be, though. Everything about him was so fascinating; I was under his thrall for the entirety of the novel.

The Thief is a standalone novel. It is a spinoff from Kate McCarthy’s Give Me series, but it is not imperative to have read those novels first. Reading Casey’s story, Give Me Grace, would give a little insight to Casey’s side of their relationship but Kelly’s side is covered in The Thief, so not reading that book does not detract from this story at all. The Thief is written in dual first-person perspective, narrated by Kelly and Arcadia.

Even though I knew Kelly’s story, the prologue of The Thief completely blew me away. It was a total gut punch and, god, I can’t even fathom going through something so awful, so life-changing at such a young age. I’m not sure who Kelly would have been without that formative event in his life, but it was easy to see how the events of that horrific day formed the person he became for the entirety of the novel. Whether it was his anger, his overbearing protectiveness where Arcadia was concerned, or his fear of letting himself truly depend on anyone, the horrors of his youth peppered all facets of his personality.

Arcadia had an equally interesting, if far less devastating, upbringing. She was definitely a product of her very interesting childhood, and the unconventionality of it made her an enthralling character. She was, for the most part, wild and unpredictable, while she could still be sophisticated and demure when the situation called for it. I absolutely loved her.

Kelly and Arcadia were good for each other. Beyond their explosive chemistry and the way they highlighted one another’s best qualities, they also gave each other a safe place to land. Something they’d both been missing, Kelly for far longer than Arcadia. I loved how the shelter they provided one another’s hearts and souls allowed them to find healing from their pasts. Beyond all the action of the book, this was definitely a story of healing and growth.

The Thief was fast-paced, the entirety of the novel – barring the epilogue – covered fewer than twelve weeks, but so much happened in those weeks, it felt like Kelly and Arcadia had been together forever. All the danger, lies, threats, and intrigue served as a great way to make them bare the deepest parts of themselves so freely, and I was enamored by how honest they were with one another when they could have easily let misunderstanding destroy them. It was SO refreshing to see a couple in a romance novel actually speak to one another and hash things out.

Kate McCarthy is a no questions asked, read everything she writes, author for me. She won me over with Fighting Redemption, and since then I’ve read everything she’s written, and there hasn’t been a miss in the bunch. I love her style, and her characters are always so strong, I fall head over heels in love with every single one. I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us in The Cop.

My breath catches. This was only supposed to be about wild sex with a hot, irresistible man. I should have known. The moment he walked inside Fix I knew he was a paradox. A puzzle, one I played with, slowly fitting all the broken pieces together until the whole picture now sits before me, a picture so beautiful it steals my breath.

“Kelly.” He watches me, his face close to mine. “You were never meant to get involved. It’s not your fight.”

He draws back like I’ve slapped him the face.

I fumble for his hand, grabbing it before he can withdraw any further. “It’s always been my fight. I don’t have friends. I don’t have boyfriends. I don’t sleep around. I’ve always kept people at arms-length because I don’t live a life where I can answer the kinds of questions they ask of me. Then you came along and I thought maybe this once it would be nice, real fucking nice to pretend I could have something beautiful for myself. Only you weren’t what I expected. You pissed me off. You made me laugh and you made me ache, and you made me want you so damn much. You did all that and now I can’t imagine how I lived a life without you in it. You give so much of yourself without even realising it. Even now you’re taking my fight and making it your own, and I hate myself for being so selfish and letting you.”

 Kate McCarthy is a USA Today Bestselling author who resides in Brisbane, Australia, a city in the state of Queensland where she works full time on her writing. 

She has two children, two dogs, and a pile of friends and family dotted all over the world that help keep her sane.

When she’s not busy running after naughty kids, filthy dogs, and writing books, you can find her curled up in bed in the early hours of the morning reading new books and re-reading old favourites.

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