Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry ~ Sarah A’s Review

Would you dare to defy destiny? Are our destinies written in stone? Do we become nothing more than the self-fulfilling prophecies of other people’s opinions? Or can we dare to become who we believe we were born to be?

Jesse dreams of working the land that’s been in his family forever. But he’s cursed to lose everything he loves most.

Scarlett is desperate to escape her “charmed” life. But leaving a small town is easier said than done.

Despite their history of heartbreak, when Jesse sees a way they can work together to each get what they want, Scarlett can’t say no. Each midnight meeting between Jesse and Scarlett will push them to confront their secrets and their feelings for each other.

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Freaking phenomenal. As with each book I read by Katie McGarry, Only a Breath Apart was utterly engrossing and wrung me through the emotional wringer. It wasn’t an easy read, it wasn’t particularly fun, it was painful, a little dark, and made me stretch my disbelief, but it was so incredibly rich and intriguing I was beyond consumed by every word, every twist, everything that made up Scarlett and Jesse’s story.

I was 100% not prepared for Scarlett’s story, or Jesse’s if I’m sincere. Her home life was hinted at in the blurb, but I could have never guessed exactly how bad her circumstances would actually be. Jesse’s life was a complete surprise to me. The darkness they’d lived through and were living in could have easily twisted them into awful people, but they both managed to rise beyond their situations and become stronger, better people than those who bore them. They broke my heart, both in the way they took the mantels of guilt and pain that had been thrust upon them and in the way they helped one another begin to shed those burdens and heal from the wounds left behind. Healing was an essential theme in Only a Breath Apart, and I loved that both Scarlett and Jesse found the strength to do what was necessary – even when it seemed impossibly difficult – to become whole again.

I found the secondary characters in Only a Breath Apart to be just as captivating as Scarlett and Jesse. This book wouldn’t have been as rich as it was without them. I loved how Ms. McGarry used them to push Scarlett and Jesse forward, to help them learn about themselves, to show them what life outside the constraints they’d put on it could be. I would love to live in this fascinating world of broken families, supernatural themes, and secrets forever – just to squeeze out each drop of mystery hidden behind the faces we met in Scarlett and Jesse’s story.

Late last year I had the opportunity to read a few books that relied heavily on the tarot, palm readings, and other psychic type themes, and became fascinated with it. Only a Breath Apart took all of those threads of interest I had developed, fanned those flames, and made me want to believe that there is something to the spiritual world beyond the things most people are taught within the walls of a church. I loved how Katie adapted those beliefs and wove the ideas of believing in something bigger – whether psychic abilities, curses, or mainstream religion – into Only a Breath Apart. It made the story feel otherworldly, while still being completely rooted in the often horrific reality of everyday life.

~JESSE~

“So you’re the decision maker now?”

He waits too many beats before speaking or maybe not enough. “I took on this role because, believe it or not, I care. I won’t pretend to understand the pain you’ve gone through, and I won’t pretend to understand your connection to this land. I’ve watched you grow up. I know, for you, this farm is like a Band-Aid on cuts that won’t stop bleeding.”

If that was meant to make me feel better, it didn’t. “You’ll never vote for me. You’re biased.”

“I’m not biased.”

For days I’ve been a stick under pressure, being bent too far. Finally, I snap. “I know you told Gran not to take me in after Mom died and to put me in foster care. You told her I was too broken and couldn’t be fixed. I know because I heard you. Tell me now you’re not biased.”

Guilt flashes over his face, and he tries to hide it as he flips through the folder in his hands. “If it helps, that’s why your grandmother set up the tribunal and chose two other people to help make the decision. Majority vote will win, and she believed you’ll rise to the challenge.”

I’m not sure if I respect him or hate him for not denying what we both know is true regarding the foster care. I’m also not sure how I feel that he doesn’t apologize either.

“She chose people who will give you a fair shake,” he continues. “This isn’t a death sentence. It’s a wakeup call. It’s August, and you have until May to prove you’re responsible. You have time. Take it. Prove me wrong.”

A growing sense of purpose takes root within me, and I do my best to funnel my anger and grief into it. “Who, besides you, is on the tribunal?”

If I tell you then I run the risk of you putting on a show for those people. This is your chance to change for the better. Take advantage of it.” Marshall leaves the paperwork on the antique table, shoves his folder back in his leather bag, and stands. “If it’s any consolation, I want you to succeed, but I want you to truly succeed. I won’t vote for you to keep the land unless you show me you understand what it means to run a farm of this magnitude.”

It’s no consolation. That’s him attempting to ease his guilt for when he votes against me.

“I’m sorry for your loss, Jesse. If you need to talk or if you’d like to stop by for a meal, you’re welcome at my house. And if you get tired of being here alone, you can live with us. We have plenty of room.”

I don’t believe any of that, but I nod because doing so will get him out of my home faster. Marshall stares at me for a few more seconds, as if contemplating saying more, but he doesn’t. Instead he walks out, shutting the door behind him.

His engine purrs to life and rocks crack under his moving tires. Then there’s silence. Maddening silence. I drop into Gran’s recliner, lower my head into my hands and close my eyes. I’ve lost Gran, and now I could lose my land. The only thing left that I love. The only thing in my life that brings me peace. “Why, Gran?”

I strain to listen in the silence, and my gut twists that there’s no response. “I miss you.”

Still no response and my head begins to throb. My cell in my back pocket vibrates. I dig it out, expecting to see a text from one of my friends, but I pop my neck to the right at the sight of Glory’s name. You need to stop by tomorrow night.

Me: No

Glory: I know of your grandmother’s plan

Me: So do I

Glory: But I know who the people are who will be deciding your future.

Me—stone cold frozen.

Glory: Stop by tomorrow at nine. I should be wrapping up my last session then.

Me: I won’t be there.

Glory: Yes, you will.

Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.

Katie is the author of full length YA novels, PUSHING THE LIMITS, DARE YOU TO, CRASH INTO YOU, TAKE ME ON,  BREAKING THE RULES, and NOWHERE BUT HERE and the e-novellas, CROSSING THE LINE and RED AT NIGHT. Her debut YA novel, PUSHING THE LIMITS was a 2012 Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction, a RT Magazine’s 2012 Reviewer’s Choice Awards Nominee for Young Adult Contemporary Novel, a double Rita Finalist, and a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Teen Pick. DARE YOU TO was also a Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction and won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Young Adult Contemporary fiction in 2013.

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NEW RELEASE!! Pricked by Winter Renshaw

He said it would only hurt a little …

On her sixteenth birthday, Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel. On my twenty-second, I pricked mine on the needle of a tattoo machine wielded by a beautifully complicated man who would go on to become my ruin.

Madden Ransom was everything I was never allowed to be: unfeeling, opinionated, rebellious … free.

He was also everything I was never allowed to be with.

And while Sleeping Beauty fell into a peaceful slumber as she awaited true love’s kiss, I fell into something else entirely—my heart in the hands of a man who’d never given nor received anything remotely like love.

It turns out when Madden told me it would only hurt a little … he didn’t mean the tattoo.

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Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi.

And if you’d like to be the first to know when a new book is coming out, please sign up for her private mailing list here —> http://eepurl.com/bfQU2j

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Cruel Money by KA Linde ~ Sarah A’s Review

Lose yourself to the dark and glamorous underbelly of the Upper East Side in USA Today bestselling author K.A. Linde’s new billionaire romance Cruel Trilogy.

She was supposed to be a one night stand.

A way to sate my sexual appetite.

I let her glimpse the man I am. The face that I hide behind my carefully cultivated life.

But she ripped open that divide–and there’s no going back.

Now, she’s here. In my city.

I don’t care that I’m Manhattan royalty and she’s the help.

Only that she’s living in my summer home. With me.

And I want more.

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I’m Veruca Salt after finishing this book. I want it (Cruel Fortune) now! I want it right now! Don’t care how, I want it now! I didn’t even realize how completely addicted to the story – and this bizarre world of facades – I was until I flipped to the last page and Cruel Money was over. KA Linde did a phenomenal job of tying me up and twisting each little interaction until I was completely ensnared in the interesting dynamic of Penn and his crew and attempting to decipher where, exactly, Natalie fit into all of it.

I loved Natalie and was happy I had deigned it necessary to read the prequel, One Cruel Night, before I started Cruel Money. She had matured so much from the naïve ingenue she’d been in that story, I found it a lot easier to understand her motivation and hesitation in Cruel Money. She may have been more guarded, a little jaded, definitely more worldly, but she was also much more confident in her own skin – even when she didn’t permit herself to believe her first instincts. Natalie was a force unto herself, and I loved watching her hold her own in a world where nothing – and no one – is quite what it seems.

As interesting and sympathetic as Natalie is, my true fascination with Cruel Money lies with ‘the crew.’ I have so, SO many questions about them. About the few things we learned about their past in the book. About the lack of transparency that seems to exist within their ranks. They were an enigma to me, one I can’t help but be wholly intrigued by. I feel like they do truly care for one another, but I also can’t help but wonder if there isn’t something much darker than their shared upbringings and familial connection bonding them together.

For all my love of the crew (-ish, there is one member I’m not sure anyone in or out of the crew cares for), I’m still really unsure about Penn. There I said it. He has these moments where he is sublime, but he seems to have just as many moments where this other side of him comes out, and it makes me hate him. I’m along for the ride, because I do feel the undeniable pull between him and Natalie and I’m dying to see if he’s able to redeem himself and how. Honestly, I might be pulling for someone else to win Natalie’s heart – and if he doesn’t, I’d really like to see him get his own happily ever after.

Cruel Money is the first book in KA Linde’s Cruel series. There is a prequel, One Cruel Night, that available and gives a little insight into how intense Natalie and Penn’s beginning was and why it seemed so effortless for them to fall into the depth of understanding they had for one another. These books are not-standalones and will need to be read in order for completion and understanding. Cruel Money is written in dual first-person perspective, narrated by Natalie and Penn.

K.A. Linde is the USA Today bestselling author of more than fifteen novels including the Avoiding series and the Record series. She has a Masters degree in political science from the University of Georgia, was the head campaign worker for the 2012 presidential campaign at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and served as the head coach of the Duke University dance team. She loves reading fantasy novels, geeking out over Star Wars, binge-watching Supernatural, and dancing in her spare time.

She currently lives in Lubbock, Texas, with her husband and two super adorable puppies.

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NEW RELEASE!! Be the Girl by KA Tucker

From the national bestselling author of the Ten Tiny Breaths series and The Simple Wild comes a poignant story about a girl trying to change her future while evading her past.

Almost sixteen-year-old Aria Jones is starting over. New postal code, new last name, new rules. But she doesn’t mind, because it means she can leave her painful regrets behind. In the bustling town of Eastmonte, she can become someone else. Someone better.

With the Hartford family living next door, it seems she will succeed. Sure, Cassie Hartford may be the epitome of social awkwardness thanks to her autism, but she also offers an innocent and sincere friendship that Aria learns to appreciate. And Cassie’s older brother, Emmett—a popular Junior A hockey player with a bright future—well … Aria wishes that friendship could lead to something more. If he didn’t already have a girlfriend, maybe it would.

But Aria soon finds herself in a dicey moral predicament that could derail her attempt at a fresh start. It is her loyalty to Cassie and her growing crush on Emmett that leads her to make a risky move, one that earns her a vindictive enemy who is determined to splinter her happy new world.

K.A. Tucker writes captivating stories with an edge.

She is the USA Today bestselling author of 18 books, including the Causal Enchantment, Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water series, He Will Be My Ruin, Until It Fades, Keep Her Safe, The Simple Wild, and Be the Girl. Her books have been featured in national publications including USA Today, Globe & Mail, Suspense Magazine, First for Women, and Publisher’s Weekly. She has been nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance 2013 for TEN TINY BREATHS and Best Romance 2018 for THE SIMPLE WILD. Her novels have been translated into 16 languages.

K.A. Tucker currently resides in a quaint town outside of Toronto with her husband and two beautiful girls.

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NOW LIVE!! We Shouldn’t by Vi Keeland

Bennett Fox walked into my life on one hell of a crappy Monday morning.

I was late for the first day at my new job—a job I’d now have to compete for even though I’d already worked eight years to earn it, because of an unexpected merger.

While I lugged my belongings up to my new office, a meter maid wrote me a parking summons.

She’d ticketed a long line of cars—except for the Audi parked in front of me, which happened to be the same make and model as mine.

Annoyed, I decided to regift my ticket to the car that had evaded a fine.  Chances were, the owner would pay it and be none the wiser.

Except, I accidentally broke the windshield wiper while slipping the ticket onto the car’s window.

Seriously, my day couldn’t get any worse.

Things started to perk up when I ran into a gorgeous man in the elevator.  We had one of those brief moments that only happened in movies.

You know the deal…your body lights up, fireworks go off, and the air around you crackles with electricity.  

His heated stare left me flush when I stepped off the elevator.  

Maybe things here wouldn’t be so bad after all.  

Or so I thought.

Until I walked into my new boss’s office and met my competition.

The gorgeous man from the elevator was now my nemesis. His heated stare wasn’t because of any mutual attraction.  It was because he’d saw me vandalize his car. And now he couldn’t wait to annihilate his rival.

There’s a fine line between love and hate—and we shouldn’t cross it.  

We shouldn’t—but straddling that line could be so much fun.

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Figures.

It was the gorgeous guy I’d seen in the elevator. And here I thought we’d had a little spark.

Bennett Fox grinned like he’d already been named my boss and extended his hand. “Welcome to Foster Burnett.”

Ugh. He wasn’t just good looking; he knew it, too.

“That would be Foster, Burnett and Wren, as of a few weeks ago, right?” I iced my subtle reminder that this was now our place of employment with a smile, suddenly thankful my parents had made me wear braces until I was nearly sixteen.

“Of course.” My new nemesis smiled just as brightly. Apparently his parents had sprung for orthodontic care, too.

Bennett Fox was also tall. I once read an article that said the average height of a man in the US was five-foot-nine-and-a-half inches; less than fifteen percent of men stood taller than six feet. Yet the average height of more than sixty-eight percent of Fortune 500 CEOs was over six feet. Subconsciously, we related size to power in more ways than just brawn.

Andrew was six foot two. I’d guess this guy was about the same.

Bennett pulled out the guest chair next to him. “Please, have a seat.”

Tall and with gentlemanly manners. I disliked him already.

During the ensuing twenty-minute pep talk given by Jonas Stern—in which he attempted to convince us we weren’t vying for the same position, but instead forging the way as leaders of the now-largest ad agency in the United States—I stole glances at Bennett Fox.

Shoes: definitely expensive. Conservative, oxford in style, but with a modern edge of topstitching. Ferragamo would be my guess. Big feet, too.

Suit: dark navy, tailored to fit his tall, broad frame. The kind of understated luxury that said he had money, but didn’t need to flaunt it to impress you.

He had one long leg casually crossed over the other knee, as if we were discussing the weather rather than being told everything we’d worked twelve hours a day, six days a week for was suddenly at risk of being in vain.

At one point, Jonas had said something we both agreed with, and we looked at each other, nodding. Given the opportunity for a closer inspection, my eyes roamed his handsome face. Strong jaw, daringly straight, perfect nose—the type of bone structure passed down from generation to generation that was better and more useful than any monetary inheritance. But his eyes were the showstopper: a deep, penetrating green that popped from his smooth, tanned skin. Those were currently staring right at me.

I looked away, returning my attention to Jonas. “So what happens at the end of the ninety-day integration period? Will there be two Creative Directors of West Coast Marketing?”

Jonas looked back and forth between us and sighed. “No. But no one is going to lose his or her job. I was just about to tell Bennett the news. Rob Gatts announced he’ll be retiring in a few months. So there will be a position opening up for a creative director to replace him.”

I had no idea what that meant. But apparently Bennett did.

“So one of us gets shipped off to Dallas to replace Rob in the southwest region?” he asked.

Jonas’s face told me Bennett wouldn’t be happy about the prospect of heading to Texas. “Yes.”

All three of us let that sink in for a moment. The possibility of having to relocate to Texas shifted my mind back into gear, though.

“Who will make the decision?” I asked. “Because obviously you’ve been working with Bennett…”

Jonas shook his head and waved off what I was beginning to question. “Decisions like this—where two senior management positions are being merged into one office—the board will oversee and make the final determination of who gets first pick.”

Bennett was just as confused as me. “The board members don’t work with us on a daily basis.”

“No, they don’t. So they’ve come up with a method of making their decision.”

“Which is?”

“It’ll be based on three major client pitches. You’ll both come up with campaigns on your own and present them. The clients will pick which they like best.”

Bennett looked rattled for the first time. His perfect composure and self-assuredness took a hit as he leaned forward and raked long fingers through his hair.

“You’ve got to be kidding me. More than ten years, and my job here comes down to a few pitches? I’ve landed half-a-billion dollars of ad accounts for this company.”

“I’m sorry, Bennett. I really am. But one of the conditions of the Wren merger was that due consideration be given to the Wren employees in positions that might be eliminated because of duplicity. The deal almost didn’t go through because Mrs. Wren was so insistent that she not sell her husband’s company, only to have the new organization strip away all of Wren’s hard-working employees.”

That made me smile. Mr. Wren was taking care of his employees even after he was gone.

“I’m up for the challenge.” I looked at Bennett, who was clearly pissed off. “May the best woman win.”

He scowled. “You mean man.”

★★★★★

We hope you enjoyed this sneak peek of We Shouldn’t!

 

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Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author. With more than a million books sold, her titles have appeared in over fifty Bestseller lists and are currently translated in fourteen languages. She lives in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.

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Fool Me Once by Nicole Williams ~ Sarah A’s Review

Second chances are for kids, diets, and shelter pets—not for relationships. Especially not one like Chase and Emma’s.

Before he was writing chart-topping hits and smashing record sales, Chase Lawson was Emma’s childhood friend and first love. They promised each other forever, but forever expired at eighteen, when he landed a major record deal and left Emma and their hometown behind.

Ten years later, he shows up at their high school reunion with a proposition she can’t refuse. Six months. Seven figures. He gets a chance to clean up his reputation, and she gets the means to restore the old family farmhouse. It’s only for show—hold hands in public, kiss for the cameras—but boundaries blur behind closed doors.

It isn’t long before Emma feels her resolve slipping, crushed by the shadow of the boy she grew to love in the man selling out stadiums of present. Can Emma resist one of the most irresistible bachelors in the world? Or will she fall for the same man twice?

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If you’re looking for a feel-good, sweet second-chance romance to fill an afternoon, look no further than Fool Me Once. It was a perfect mix of flirty, fun, and forgiveness: no deep, dirty secrets, no heavy, horrible pasts to be uncovered. Fool Me Once was the epitome of a feel-good romance, and I quite enjoyed the time I spent living in Emma & Chase’s world.

I loved Emma and Chase together. I never, not even for a second, thought they weren’t destined to be together. Emma Might have been a little less sure, but Chase and I – we knew. I am usually not a huge fan of manipulating someone to agree to a relationship – fake or not – for any reason. However, I felt it worked wonderfully in this setting. I’m 100% sure Emma wouldn’t have given Chase the time of day any other way. I didn’t quite buy that she would agree to his arrangement as quickly as he did, but for the sake of moving their story forward, I was happy she did.

Chase was the darling of this book, Emma was sweet too, but I didn’t feel the connection to her I did to Chase. He seemed genuine in his intentions, and never shied away from telling Emma how he felt about her, regardless of if she believed him or not. My heart reached out to him; I could feel how broken he was from his past – even if we never quite knew the details of what he’d gone through. I loved them together and hoped beyond hope that Emma would see the sincerity in Chase’s pleas because I wanted her to give into him so badly.

Fool Me Once was mostly conflict-free, there was a smidge of controversy that was quickly resolved, which resulted in a mostly angst-free novel. There was still plenty going on with Emma and Chase rediscovering their connection and romance, so it moved along quickly in that regard. The climax wasn’t horribly surprising, neither was the resolution, but they felt true to the characters and the story.

While Fool You Once was a complete story, I think there were a couple of things that could have punched it up and taken it to the next level. One would have been more insight into their pasts. We get enough to have a surface understanding of why he left, but little more than that. I feel like seeing the intensity of their young love would have made their adult love story more vital to the reader. Also, if there were ever a book that was begging for an epilogue, it’s this one. The ending felt incredibly abrupt, and a left me slightly unfulfilled.

“We’ve got to go over something first,” he said, smirking at my efforts to budge his arm.
​“What?” I asked, annoyed.
​“We’re going to be a couple in the public’s eyes. Which means we’re going to have to do certain things that couples do.”
​I blinked at him. “Couples don’t do that in public. At least not the normal ones.”
​He gave a grunt of disbelief. “I’m not talking about sex.”
​“Then what are you talking about?” My voice was rising the more flustered I became. The lack of apparel, the warm water, the way Chase’s brown eyes seemed to melt when he looked at me a certain way . . . I was struggling to keep my composure.
​“Kissing.” He shrugged as though it were obvious. “We’ve had ten years to get rusty. We don’t want to look like a couple of fumbling amateurs when we kiss in public for the first time.”
​My mouth fell open a little as I tried to determine if he was serious. “Kissing is like riding a bike. We don’t need to practice to get it right.”
The corners of Chase’s eyes creased. “It’s more like riding a unicycle. Once you figure it out, with enough consistency, no problem. But if you go a decade without climbing on that unicycle, you’re starting right back at square one.”
I had to bite the inside of my cheek to keep from laughing. “You’re comparing kissing to a unicycle. You’re just as romantic as I remember.”
Chase treaded closer until my legs were brushing against his with each kick. “Come on. One kiss. Practice makes perfect.” His arms drew in, entombing me in his presence. One brow carved into his forehead. “That is, unless you’re scared to kiss me in private, half-naked in a swimming pool, because you still harbor some kind of feelings for me . . .”
I shoved his chest as a snap reaction, realizing too late that I should not touch him when he was this close, when I was this conflicted. “Fame has really gone to your head.”
His shoulders rose above the water before dipping below again. “So? Prove me wrong.”
“Fine.” The word materialized on its own. “But if you even try slipping me tongue, my knee is winding up in your groin.”
He wet his lips, fighting a smile. “When have I ever complained about any part of you nestling down there?”
My hands balled at my sides as I attempted to approach this whole thing like a science experiment. Objectively. Neutrally. Emotionlessly. “Just kiss me and get it over with.”
His smile quirked. “Once you’re finished whispering sweet nothings into my ear.”
When I tried to push him away, his hands circled my wrists. Chase’s eyes found mine, the color of his irises nearly indistinguishable from his pupils. My chest moved quickly when he swam closer, his head angling as his lips aligned with mine.
He hadn’t even kissed me and I’d lost all sense of direction. Up was as good as down in my present state. His breath fanned across my lips as he waited, perfectly at ease having me trapped in the corner of his pool, our mouths a sliver of air apart.
His grip on my wrists relaxed right before his mouth finally connected with mine. My body froze the instant he kissed me, but it didn’t last long, seeming to melt one piece at a time.
I didn’t realize I was sinking until Chase’s arm cinched around me, pulling my shoulders back above the water, his mouth not missing a beat. The last piece of me to unthaw was my lips, but the moment they did, they matched his urgency. My arms wound behind his neck as I drew closer, our bodies tangling beneath the water as he kissed me in a way I hadn’t been kissed in years; in the kind of way that made a girl feel delicate and invincible at the same time.
Chase treaded water, holding us both above the surface, the planes of his chest rising to meet mine with our uneven breaths. Before I knew it, our tongues were tying together, though it wasn’t him who’d broken that rule first. His chest rumbled against mine as my mouth and hands grew more feverish, no longer under the constraint of my better judgment.
​Kissing Chase was exactly as I remembered, yet totally different. The scrape of his calloused fingers against my skin felt the same, yet there was a newfound strength to it. His full lips moved with mine in a dance we’d mastered years ago, but there was a resolve I’d never tasted so deeply before. The way he held me was exactly the same, though the contours of his body had changed.
​When my chest was hammering from breathlessness, Chase broke the kiss, managing to evade my ensuing advances. His eyes remained closed for a minute, droplets of water winding down his face from where my hands had been.
​When his eyes finally opened, the look in them made my head dizzy, even as I reminded myself this had been a practice kiss. Nothing more.
“How was that?” he asked.
I had to look away in order to make my answer seem convincing. My shoulder lifted out of the water as I shaped my most detached expression. “You were right. Like riding a unicycle.”
“No, you were right.” Chase’s hand drifted up my back, his rough fingertips somehow soft against my skin. “Kissing you is like riding a bicycle.”

Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USA TODAY 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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NEW RELEASE!! Deal with the Devil by Meghan March ~ Sarah A’s Review

From New York Times bestselling author Meghan March comes the story of the ruthless, calculating billionaire Jericho Forge. India Baptiste, his latest prey, is now caught in the high stakes game that has become her life since colliding with Forge, and she’ll need the luck of the devil to survive. India Forge’s life is now part of Jericho Forge’s calculated game.

“You can put that man in a suit, but he’ll never be tame.”

One look at Jericho Forge and I knew the rumors were true. He was a predator, and he had set his sights on me.

I knew better than to bet more than I could afford to lose that night. I knew better than to bet myself. But desperation leads to bad decisions, and I thought there was no way I could lose.

I was wrong. 

Now I have no choice but to make a deal with the devil.

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I’m having a hard time deciding exactly how I feel about Deal with the Devil. On the one hand, I was utterly wrapped up in the story, and I’ve never read anything quite like it. On the other, the arrangement between Forge (Jericho) and India is a little lopsided – or at least it seems that way on the surface. All in all, though, I’m completely fascinated by the entire plot, all the players, and attempting to decipher how things are going to play out as the series continues.

I was there for Jericho Forge, his intensity, and his desire to avenge those who did him wrong. He often came across as heavy-handed, but there was something underlying all of that bravado that made me care for him and want to know all his secrets. I was also incredibly affected by the way he thought about India, even as he was trying to insist she was nothing but a means to an end. The man definitely knows no bound when it comes to taking what he wants and protecting what is his, so I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us in the next book.

India is a little more of a question mark for me. Though Forge can read her like a book, I feel like her poker face – as far as what we’ve been allowed to see as readers – is nearly impenetrable. She’s a wild card (pun not intended), and she manages to surprise me with surprising frequency. I live for the moments she lets her walls down, and we get a peek at the true her and can’t wait to unpeel all the layers she’s hidden behind.

Deal with the Devil is spectacularly well-plotted and fast-paced. Every time I thought I was going to have a little time to catch my breath before the next shoe dropped there was another revelation flying at me. I have so much to think about, so many strings to follow and try to untangle to solidify my theories before the next book, I don’t know if I’ll get anything straightened out before Luck of the Devil releases.

Deal with the Devil is the first book in Meghan March’s Forge Trilogy. This series is one continuous storyline written in three volumes and must be read in order. The Forge trilogy is unrelated to Ms. March’s other series. Deal with the Devil is written in dual first-person perspective, narrated by India and Forge.

Making the jump from corporate lawyer to romance author was a leap of faith that New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Meghan March will never regret. With over thirty titles published, she has sold millions of books in nearly a dozen languages to fellow romance-lovers around the world. A nomad at heart, she can currently be found in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, living her happily ever after with her real-life alpha hero.

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Bitter Sweet Hell by Alex Grayson ~ Sarah A’s Review

As the Sheriff of Malus, Texas, JW takes his oath to protect its citizens very seriously. Born from an ugly past, he swears no child, woman, or man will ever endure what he and his brothers have. As he seeks retribution of the ones who have wronged him, his past and his present finally collide. Secrets are laid open. Ones that are so heinous, they’ll rock the very foundation of JW’s life.

When Eden blazes into town, hot with her own threatening troubles baring down on her, JW steps in as her protector. It’s not only his duty, but a need he can’t ignore. The chemistry between the two is instant and all too tempting.

Giving in was easy, but the consequences were high.

Little does JW know, the disturbing destruction that would rain down on Malus by getting involved with the red-headed gypsy.

Danger lurks just around the corner–it’s dark, terrifying, and malicious.

JW is bitter because of his gruesome past. Eden is sweet despite hers. Together, will they create a beautiful future, or will it all end in bitter sweet hell?

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I’m having a tough time rating and reviewing this novel. Not because it was a bad story, it wasn’t. There are few things I’m reluctant to read about, especially for entertainment, and this book was rife with some of those situations. Bitter Sweet Hell kept me glued to the pages; I’m just having a really hard time reconciling everything I read. I decided to read this book without first seeing the cover, had I seen it I likely wouldn’t have picked it up as it gives off a steampunk vampire kind of vibe to me. I don’t feel like it fit the story at all.

Putting the more hideous aspects of this book aside, I found the primary storyline of Bitter Sweet Hell quite intriguing. I found Eden’s situation compelling and terrifying. I wanted to know more about JW and his history – even though what I found out was sickening. Watching them try to navigate their relationship while JW was trying to protect her and his secrets was interesting.

I keep vacillating on how I feel about Eden and JW’s relationship. I love instalove, but I wasn’t feeling it in this book. There were times when their connection and chemistry seemed amazing, but there was still a lot that didn’t feel right to me. I could see the beginnings of the foundation they were building and definitely saw the potential they had together, it just didn’t quite come to fruition in Bitter Sweet Hell, for me. I would have loved to see more of them exploring their feelings AFTER all the outside forces they were working against were settled, as I think that would have helped me to get on board with how deeply they felt for one another.

I have a couple of wishes for Bitter Sweet Hell. The first would be that it have another editing pass or two. There were several typo types of issues, but there was also some stilted language. The second would be that the ending not be quite so abrupt. So much happened in the last twenty or so percent of the book, that it was a little overwhelming. A little too convenient, too.

Bitter Sweet Hell is the second book in Alex Grayson’s Hell Night series. This books in this series are interconnected standalones and can be read independently. I haven’t read the first book and had no trouble understanding what was going on in this one. Bitter Sweet Hell is written in dual first-person perspective, narrated by Eden and JW.

I’m not usually the kind of girl who thinks books need trigger warnings; I feel like it spoils part of the plot. However, Bitter Sweet Hell dealt with some incredibly horrific topics, the worst things human beings can do, and I wish I would have known going in. It wouldn’t have changed my choice to read the book, but it would have given me the opportunity to prepare myself for the atrocities I was about to witness. Bitter Sweet Hell deals with incest, child sexual assault, evisceration, and animal cruelty.

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Alex Grayson is the bestselling author of heart pounding, emotionally gripping contemporary romances including the Jaded Series, the Consumed Series, and three standalone novels. Her passion for books was reignited by a gift from her sister-in-law. After spending several years as a devoted reader and blogger, Alex decided to write and independently publish her first novel in 2014 (an endeavor that took a little longer than expected). The rest, as they say, is history.


Originally a southern girl, Alex now lives in Ohio with her husband, two children, two cats and dog. She loves the color blue, homemade lasagna, casually browsing real estate, and interacting with her readers. Visit her website, www.alexgraysonbooks.com, or find her on social media!

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NEW RELEASE!! Evidence of Desire by Lexi Blake ~ Sarah A’s Review

A fast-paced contemporary romance that sizzles from the New York Times bestselling author of Order of Protection where passion for the law isn’t the only thing heating up the courtroom.

Isla Shayne knows she’s in over her head. As former all-star linebacker Trey Adams’s personal lawyer, she’s used to handling his business dealings and private financial matters, not murder charges. She needs to find an experienced criminal attorney who speaks her client’s language. David Cormack of Garrison, Cormack and Lawless is exactly what she needs in the courtroom—and the only man she wants in the bedroom.

For David, taking on the Adams case means diving back into a world he thought he’d left behind and colliding head on with tragic possibilities he’s in no mood to face. There’s a reason professional football is in his past and no matter how close Isla gets to the truth he intends to leave it there.

But long days working on the case together lead to hot nights in each other’s arms. As their feelings grow, the case takes a deadly twist that could change the game between the two lovers forever.

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It’s no secret that I am in love with Lexi Blake’s writing. She always manages to captivate me and tell fascinating stories. She often includes incredibly delicate topics in her novels, and Evidence of Desire was a prime example of that. She weaved the devastating threads of degenerative mental disorders into an already enthralling suspense novel, making it feel more poignant than so many other novels in the same genre. This may be one of my favorite Lexi Blake stories, and I can’t wait to see what else she has in store for us in this world.

Evidence of Desire is simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming, watching David’s fears manifested through his case was devastating. Watching Portia, Isla, and David’s mother show him that love wasn’t as fragile and mercurial as he’d previously experienced was EVERYTHING. I continually found myself completely consumed by both Isla and David’s love story, and Portia and Trey’s. Any time I can get my hands on a book that gives me a two-fer on romance, I’m in.

The suspense in Evidence of Desire was captivating and had me trying to piece together all the evidence until nearly the last second. All the clues were there, little nuggets of information that seemed unimportant at the time, but once everything came to light, I was able to finally take a step back and see the big picture Ms. Blake had been carefully weaving from the beginning. It was a wild and fascinating ride from beginning to end.

Evidence of Desire is the second book in Lexi Blake’s Courting Justice series. These books can be read as standalones. Characters from the first novel carry over into this book, and we also get a visit from some of our favorite Masters and Mercenaries, too. Evidence of Desire is written in limited third-person perspective, alternating between following Isla and David’s thoughts.

Isla couldn’t believe she was doing this, but the minute she got a good look at David Cormack without his suit on she knew there was no going back. She’d been ready to make a pot of tea and wait for him to come out of the shower when Erin Taggart had appeared in the kitchen.

“Not jumping his bones, then?” she’d asked as she dragged a bottle of water out of the fridge.

“He wants to take it slow.” She was aware of how disappointed she’d sounded.

“No man who looks at a woman the way that one looks at you wants to take things slow. He’s scared you’re too good for him or something stupid like that,” she said. “I should know. I held off my gorgeous hottie for way too long because he was a tiny bit younger than me. Don’t waste time. Take command. And then when he’s all in, give that control up. That always works for me. ’Night.”

There was something in the way the redhead smiled, something intimate and soft. Something Isla wanted for herself again. She’d had it as a girl with Austin. She wanted to know how it felt to have that connection as a woman.

So she’d made the decision. Maybe for the first time in her life, she’d genuinely made the decision to be brave, to go after what she wanted with a singular purpose, to put herself out there and see if she was bait enough to catch the one fish she wanted.

Though first she needed some fishing gear. According to Noah, that was in the nightstand drawer.

She’d stepped in and taken off her clothes. All in. Just like a poker game. If he refused to play, she would be devastated and potentially never be able to face the man again, but she’d felt almost compelled to undress and walk to the entry of that sexy natural stone shower. She’d stood there and looked, really looked at David Cormack. He’d been turned away from her, his back on full display. He was beautifully male, his muscles defined by years of athleticism. His back was strong, his butt practically perfect, and he was held up with strong legs. But his head hung low and she could swear she felt how lonely he was.

She hadn’t realized how lonely she was until she’d met him. “David?”

He started, every muscle tensing, and then he turned, though he mostly moved his torso as though trying to keep his private parts private. His eyes latched onto her, but he didn’t say a word.

Oh, she wanted to run. He was far too gorgeous. She wasn’t in his league. She knew she was attractive, but she wasn’t even close to being in the same condition he was in. He’d been an elite athlete and he’d obviously never stopped working out. She could stand to lose a few pounds.

And if those pounds and the roundness of her hips ran him off, then so be it. She was done sitting around and hoping she got what she wanted. At least she would know. “I don’t want to go slow.”

For a second, she was almost sure he would tell her to go. Then he turned and he was standing there in his full glory, as though let- ting her see what he had to offer. When she simply stared, he crossed the space between them and, without a word, his hands cupped her face and his mouth was on hers.

The minute they touched, something sparked to life inside her, something wild she’d never felt before. It seemed to start in her toes, making them curl as the sensation rushed through her system. Heat and anticipation and pure joy.

It had been forever since a man kissed her like this. Maybe never. The only thing that compared was the sweet high school fumbling between her and Austin. He’d been eager, but he had no idea what he was doing.

David Cormack knew how to kiss. He mastered her mouth with his, soft when he needed to be and then rough, sending a thrill through her system that burned a path straight to her pussy. He brushed his lips against hers and then zeroed in on her lower lip, biting gently and sucking briefly before another soft kiss allowed her to breathe again. And then when she was ready to beg, his tongue surged in, rubbing soft velvet against her own.

“Tell me you’re sure,” he said against her mouth as his hands moved down.

“I’m sure,” she replied with a breathy whisper. He could throw her up against the side of the shower and take her then and there and she would be perfectly satisfied.

“Because there’s no going back. I’ve been a good boy up until this point. I’ve been civilized, Isla. I’ve played the gentleman around you, but if you let me in, I’ll invade and you’ll see the real man under- neath the suit. I’ll be demanding and overly protective and I’ll want you every fucking minute of the day.”

And that was bad, how? She’d been on the outside looking in for so long, the idea of being someone’s center, being the person for him, made her heart ache with longing. “Please touch me, David. I want the real you, every dirty, possessive part of you.”

His hands found her hips and he dragged her against him, their bodies coming together for the first time. He was warm, his skin soft over the steel of his muscular body.

She took a moment, letting her arms wrap around him, her breasts against his chest, that hard erection of his cradled to her belly. This was sweet intimacy. Yes, it would lead to something wild, but for a moment she basked in the comfort of another body against hers.

He stepped back, taking her with him and bringing them into the warmth of the shower. He seemed to understand she needed a moment, and he followed her lead perfectly. One hand held her to him while the other smoothed back her now-wet hair as he brushed light kisses over her forehead and down to her nose, lavishing her with affection she’d been starved without. He stood like that with her, learning her body with his hands and mouth.

“See,” he said with the sexiest chuckle as he leaned over and ran his tongue along the shell of her ear. “We’re still taking it slow. I could do this for hours and I haven’t even gotten to your tasty parts yet. You’re sweet, Isla. I could eat you up. Are you going to let me eat you up?”

She nodded.

One hand tangled in her hair, gently drawing her back and forc- ing her to look up at him. His eyes were hot, his jaw tight with arousal. “Talk to me. I won’t let you disconnect from me when we’re intimate. Tell me. ‘‘Yes, David, I want you to eat me up.’”

“Yes, David. I want you to eat me up.”

To high-end defense attorney Henry Garrison, Win Hughes is a woman he met during one of the most trying times of his life. She’s soft and warm, and he finds solace in their brief relationship. But Win has a secret. She’s actually Taylor Winston-Hughes—born to one of the wealthiest families in the country, orphaned as a child by a tragic accident. Win moves in the wealthiest circles, but her lavish lifestyle hides her pain.

When her best friend is murdered in the midst of a glittering New York gala, Win’s charged with the crime, and the only person in the world she wants to see is Henry.

Henry is shocked at the true identity of his lover, but he can’t reject the case. This case could take his new firm into the stratosphere. Still, he’s not getting burned by Win again. And yet every turn brings them closer together.

As the case takes a wild turn and Win’s entire life is upended, she must look to the people she’s closest to in order to find a killer. And Henry must decide between making his case and saving the woman he loves…

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NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Lexi Blake lives in North Texas with her husband, three kids, and the laziest rescue dog int eh world. She began writing at a young age, concentrating on plays and journalism. It wasn’t until she started writing romance and urban fantasy that she found the stories of her heart. She likes to find humor in the strangest places and believes in happy endings no matter how odd the couple, threesome, or foursome may seem.

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NEW RELEASE!! Finding Alexei by Kendall Ryan ~ Sarah A’s Review

Spotting a hooker on a city street corner is not an abnormal thing.

Me bringing one home? Well, that’s a first.

But this girl . . . She’s in trouble.

And this asshole is not a guy she wants to go home with.

So I do the exact thing I shouldn’t—I offer to bring her home with me instead.
She says this is the first time she’s ever done this, which is adorably ironic.

Then proceeds to tell me a sob story about needing money to care for the baby who was left on her doorstep. That’s when my stomach starts to clench. I think she might be telling the truth.

So I do what any respectable man would do—I take her home, stopping to pick up diapers and formula on the way—and discover that she was telling the truth all along.

Christ on a cracker.

I should have just kept walking.

I should have done a thousand other things except for barge into her sad life, offer to fix everything, fall for her . . .

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Finding Alexei was an impossibly sweet, satisfying read.  The cute factor was high, the conflict factor low, and the overall feeling of the book was heartwarming.  I always have fun reading Kendall Ryan’s books, but Finding Alexei stands out from the rest.

Few women can resist the lure of a hot man with a baby, especially when the baby isn’t his.  I am no exception; neither is Ryleigh.  I loved how much both Ryleigh and Alexei stepped up for that precious infant who was completely lacking a family.   Ella was an innocent, and I was so happy to see these people who had no tie to her rearrange their lives to ensure that precious baby had everything she needed.

Ryleigh was nearly as innocent as Ella and in desperate need of a break.  Her life had been anything but easy; she had no support system, no safe place to land, no one to fight for her.  Until Alexei found her.  She was so used to clawing her way through life, she could scarcely believe – or accept – that someone would so willingly help her.  I loved that she was so intent on retaining her independence and resilience.

Alexei was just as good as I imagined him to be in Dear Jane.  Seriously, I don’t think the man had a bad bone in his body.  He was good with babies, supportive of women, and seemed otherwise flawless.  He was perfect in a way only romance novel heroes can be.  Those types of heroes don’t always work for me, but in this story, with everything Ryleigh and Ella had gone through, Alexei definitely did it for me.  He was amazing, and I kind of want to keep him to myself and refuse to share him with anyone else.

A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of more than two dozen titles, Kendall Ryan has sold over 1.5 million books and her books have been translated into several languages in countries around the world. She’s a traditionally published author with Simon & Schuster and Harper Collins UK, as well as an independently published author. Since she first began self-publishing in 2012, she’s appeared at #1 on Barnes & Noble and iBooks charts around the world. Her books have also appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists more than three dozen times. Ryan has been featured in such publications as USA Today, Newsweek, and InTouch Magazine.

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