GIVEAWAY!! Dignity by Jay Crownover ~ Excerpt & Sarah A’s Review

Looks can be deceiving.

I knew that most people took one look at the ink and the impossibly big and strong body it covered and decided I was a brawler…a bruiser…a beast. However, I was hardwired to be a thinker, not a fighter.

I should have chosen to use my brain and talents to be one of the good guys, a hero, a man with dignity and worth.

I turned my back on dignity and sold my soul to the highest bidder, deciding to dance with the devil, instead.

I couldn’t figure out how to help myself, so there was zero chance I knew how to save someone else.

That someone else was Noe Lee. She was the unkempt, unruly thief who was just as smart as I was and twice as street savvy. She was annoyingly adorable beneath the dirt and grime, and she was in trouble. In way over her head, I told myself it wasn’t my job to keep her from drowning. In the Point, it was sink or swim, and I wasn’t the designated lifeguard on duty.

I shut the door in her face, but now she’s gone…vanished…disappeared without a trace. It took less than a second for me to realize that I wanted her back.

When a woman comes along that melts all the frozen, hard things you’re made of; you’ll do anything you have to, to bring her home.

What you see is not always what you get…and with a man like me, what you get is more than anyone ever bargained for.

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I wish I had taken the time to refresh myself and read Honor before taking on Dignity.  It wasn’t that I was able to pick up the book and understand exactly what was going on, it was that there were small details that were referred back to that I couldn’t recall.  Dignity can be read as a stand-alone, should you want to, but I would recommend being up to date on all of the Welcome to the Point and Breaking Point novels, as there are recurring characters in all of the novels.

I am consistently impressed by the way Jay Crownover approaches potentially sensitive subjects.  The way she juxtaposed the corrupt officials against the inherent goodness of the people who genuinely love The Point – even when they were not wholly lawful – was compelling.  It was also handled in a way that made it feel like even in the darkest, most hopeless situations have a solution.

Snowden Stark and Noe (pronounced ‘NO’) Lee were fascinating together.  I loved the way they pushed each other, both intellectually – there is a reason they say the brain is the most important sex organ – and emotionally.  The tragic circumstances they’d both experienced in relation to their families may have been vastly different, but they both dealt with it similarly.  Watching them begin to peel back the layers of the things they’d long buried within themselves, in order to develop something more significant than either of them had ever hoped for, was engrossing.

The plot of Dignity was intense and enthralling.  I appreciate how Jay Crownover relates her characters to one another and uses their past pains and traumas to their current struggles.  It’s also amazing how she allows those experiences to inform how they relate to the people they encounter and help them to recover from their own pain.  Watching Now and Stark battle against the worst humanity has to offer while also battling their own demons made me happy, for them and for the people who were unable to fight for themselves.

Jay Crownover has been a go-to author for me for a long time.  Each of her characters feels fresh, while still having an inherent strength that feels uniquely Jay.  She can take the darkest corners of the earth, the most unlikable characters and turn them into places and people that speak to your heart in soul in a way you never see coming.  Dignity was utterly in keeping with her style; it’s all hard edges and interesting dynamics.  I can not wait to see what Ms. Crownover has in store for us in the next book in this series, Respect, due out summer 2018.

I was dragging ass when I took the stairs up to Booker’s unit. Typically, I could run up the three flights and not even get winded, but I was running on fumes and the last traces of adrenaline. My brain was fuzzy, and my normally sharp thoughts felt scattered and unruly. The past and the present were at war in my mind, and the battle for which one made me feel worse was raging.

I made my way through the quiet loft listening for any sound that would indicate Noe was up and moving around. When I got closer to the bedroom, I heard the shower running and swear words chasing the steam out of the open door. It was going to be painful for a while when the water sluiced over her wounds. The thought had me squeezing my eyes closed and clenching my hands into fists. Just because tough things didn’t break didn’t mean they couldn’t be damaged, dented, and scratched. The fact Noe was currently suffering so much wear and tear because of me scraped across my skin and dug into my belly like sharp knives.

I was turning to walk out of the room so she could finish in peace when the running water went silent and her swearing ramped up a notch. I heard her banging around in the bathroom and then she yelled, “Booker, I need a towel! I’m dripping all over your floor.”

I opened my mouth to tell her Booker was gone and that I would go find her one. I didn’t need her poking through his stuff and running across a submachine gun or a rocket launcher. My brain was ping-ponging between annoyance that she’d called for Booker instead of me and the unrelenting image of her, naked, wet, and dripping onto the tile. I wasn’t a guy prone to fantasy, but damn if I didn’t get all kinds of caught up in the thought of her pretty olive skin glistening with moisture from head to toe. I needed to get away from her. I needed space so I could find a way to wrap armor back around all the soft parts of me she exposed.

I was shaking my head to marshal my thoughts back in order when I heard her swear again. Suddenly, like I conjured her out of a dream, Noe was standing in the pocket doorway of the bathroom wearing nothing more than a scowl of irritation and shimmery, shiny water droplets. Her midnight-colored eyebrows shot up to her hairline, and a bright pink flush stained the top of her chest and crawled up her neck into her face. She didn’t lift her hands to cover herself. She stood as still as I was, not moving at all under my furious and hungry gaze.

I wanted to be polite and look away. I told myself it was rude to stare and that the last thing she needed was some guy she barely knew gawking at her like she was a priceless work of art on a museum wall. I berated myself for this invasion of privacy but none of the lecturing or preaching did any good. The only way I could have torn my eyes off that petite frame, with it’s perfectly perky breasts and slightly rounded hips, was if someone slapped them out of my head. I couldn’t blink. I was scared to breathe. I felt like if I moved at all she would bolt like a startled deer, and I needed another second, another minute, another hour, to memorize every single part of her.

She was small, but all the parts added up to perfection. Seeing her like this, stripped bare with nothing to hide behind, I couldn’t believe I’d ever been stupid enough think she was a boy. Everything about her was delicate, feminine, and soft. The hollow of her neck, the elegant curve of her shoulders, the flare of her hips and the fullness of her ass. Her legs weren’t long, but they were toned and shapely. She was the very definition of good things coming in small packages and all I wanted to do was wrap her up and put her on a shelf that was too high and too hard to reach for anyone but me.

Choking on possession and a surge of lust unlike anything I’d ever felt, I belatedly turned my back on her and muttered thickly, “I used all the towels in there last night when I cleaned you up. I’ll go find where Booker keeps the extras.”

She moved. I felt it. The current that ran between us pulsed and throbbed with something hot. I heard her bare feet on the carpet and it took every ounce of willpower I possessed to keep my feet planted and my back turned. She was naked in a room with a very big bed and I was a man who never had such a visceral reaction to anyone…ever. If I had a switch, Noe Lee was the only person who had ever come along and flipped it. I was the actual definition of turned on when I had been off for most of my life.

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Jay Crownover is the international and multiple New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men Series, The Saints of Denver Series, the Point Series, the Breaking Point Series, and the Getaway Series. Her books can be found translated in many different languages all around the world. She is a tattooed, crazy haired Colorado native who lives at the base of the Rockies with her awesome dogs. This is where she can frequently be found enjoying a cold beer and Taco Tuesdays. Jay is a self-declared music snob and outspoken book lover who is always looking for her next adventure, between the pages and on the road.

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Ruthless King by Meghan March ~ Sarah A’s Review

RUTHLESS KING
Release Day October 17
Mount Trilogy Book 1

Get ready for the darker and dirtier side of New Orleans with a brand new alpha romance from USA Today bestselling author Meghan March.

New Orleans belongs to me.

You don’t know my name, but I control everything you see—and all the things you don’t.

My reach knows no bounds, and my demands are always met.

I didn’t need to loan money to a failing family distillery, but it amuses me to have them in my debt.

To have her in my debt.

She doesn’t know she caught my attention.

She should’ve been more careful.

I’m going to own her. Consume her. Maybe even keep her.

It’s time to collect what I’m owed.

Keira Kilgore, you’re now the property of Lachlan Mount.

Ruthless King is book one of the Mount Trilogy

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Last things first: Holy crow! That ending, I did not see that coming!  I have so, so many questions.  Meghan March gave us one heck of a cliffhanger in this book.  I’m going to be on tenterhooks waiting for Defiant Queen; I need it.

Lachlan Mount is an enigma; I have no idea who he is, really.  I can probably name the things I do know about him on one hand:
1 – he’s demanding
2 – he’s controlling
3 – he’s feared (for good reason)
4 – he’s a ghost
5 – he’s sexy AF
There have been little snippets he’s given us, clues as to what has made him into this terrifying, notorious, untouchable figure, but nothing concrete.  I do not doubt that peeling back the layers he’s made of over the course of the next two books will be a fascinating experience.

Keira is much more of an open book, she’s easy to read and has a hard time concealing precisely what she’s feeling at each moment.  She’s fiery and strong, and maybe exactly the kind of unbreakable Lachlan Mount needs.  I think I fall a little bit in love with her every time she stands up to him, even when she knows the type of person he is purported to be.

This book is decadent.  The world is so rich, the sultry New Orleans feel comes through even with the city playing little part in this book.  The imagery is rich and palpable; I could nearly feel the materials as they were described on the page.  Meghan March delivered some intense sex scenes without ever making them feel tawdry.  I hope this sinful opulence carries throughout the series.

Meghan March is a new to me author; she’s been on my radar for a while, and I have a fair few of her books sitting on my kindle but I’d yet to have the occasion to read one.  I’m sorely remiss for having not made the time.  Ruthless King was consuming, and each character had such a strong voice I was thoroughly entranced with them.  I will definitely keep Ms. March on my go-to authors from here on out.

 

Defiant Queen
Release Day – Nov 14, 2017
Mount Trilogy Book 2

 The Mount Trilogy continues with Defiant Queen…

I’m his entertainment. His toy. Payment on a debt.

I tell myself I hate him, but every time he walks into the room, my body betrays me. How can I want him and fear him in the same moment?

They told me he’d mess with my head. Make it go to war with my body.

But I didn’t realize it would be complete anarchy.

I should’ve known better. When Mount’s involved, there are no rules.

I will not surrender. I will not show weakness. I’ll stand my ground and make it out of this bargain with my heart and soul intact.

But he has other plans . . .

Defiant Queen is the second book of the Mount Trilogy. Mount and Keira’s story concludes in Sinful Empire.

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Sinful Empire
Release Day December 19, 2017
Mount Trilogy Book 3

 

The Mount Trilogy concludes with Sinful Empire!

What’s mine, I keep, and that includes Keira Kilgore.

It’s no longer enough to have her in my debt. No longer enough to own her body.

I want something more.

She can try to resist, but I’ll never give her up.

Nothing will keep us apart.

Not her. Not my enemies. No one.

Her debt will only be paid one way—with her heart.

Sinful Empire is the third and final book in the Mount Trilogy.

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

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NOW LIVE ~ Most of All You by Mia Sheridan

A broken woman . . .

Crystal learned long ago that love brings only pain. Feeling nothing at all is far better than being hurt again. She guards her wounded heart behind a hard exterior, and carries within her a deep mistrust of men who, in her experience, have only ever used and taken.

A man in need of help . . .

Then Gabriel Dalton walks into her life. Despite the terrible darkness of his past, there’s an undeniable goodness about him. And even though she knows the cost, Crystal finds herself drawn to Gabriel. His quiet strength is wearing down her defenses and his gentle patience is causing her to question everything she thought she knew.

Only love can mend a shattered heart . . .

Crystal and Gabriel never imagined that the world that had stolen everything from them would bring them a deep love like this. Except fate will only take them so far and now the choice is theirs: Harden their hearts once again or find the courage to shed their painful pasts.

Guys, this book.  So good.  I think this might be Mia Sheridan’s best work yet and that’s saying something because Archer’s Voice was terrific.  I couldn’t bear to put it down for a single second; I was so involved in Ellie and Gabriel’s story.  I’m blown away by how deeply I felt every single word in this book; it is a thing to behold truly.

It’s been an hour since I finished this book and my heart is still pounding due to the plethora of emotions it was pulled through in Most of All You.  Ms. Sheridan dumped me right into the deep end of feeling and made me fight for every inch I gained closer to the shore.  Her ability to draw emotions with her words and make them all such a visceral thing is nothing short of masterful.

Gabriel and Ellie were everything.  My heart just hurt so much for what they had both been through.  It was impossible to distinguish who’d survived the worst circumstances, though it was easy to see who had overcome the atrocities of their youths.  I couldn’t imagine either of them being able to heal in a way that was healthy without the other, theirs may have been a love story, but it was primarily a story of healing.

Most of All You is very much character driven, while there are outside factors that influenced their hurt, healing, and relationship, the plot took a backseat to character growth.  Writing this book in dual POV really highlighted how much the characters grew, as we were able to see changes they made both from the inside and how others perceived them on the outside.  I love a good character arc, and Mia Sheridan is a master at giving her characters compelling, fulfilling arcs.

Mia Sheridan is at the top of my must-read authors.  Most of All You is a perfect example of why.  She can take the most heart-wrenching, tragic situations and sculpt them into beautifully poignant masterpieces.  The prose in this book was sublime and consuming.  There are few authors whom I would place in the same class of author with Ms. Sheridan; her work has always been fantastic yet with every book she writes the writing exceeds the impossibly high bar she’s already set.

Mia Sheridan is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author. Her passion is weaving true love stories about people destined to be together. Mia lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband. They have four children here on earth and one in heaven.

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Secrets Hidden in the Glass by Cate Beauman ~ Sarah A’s Review

Today we have the release day blitz for Secrets Hidden In the Glass by Cate Beauman! Check it out and get your copy today!

 Stained glass artist Callie Davis is in desperate need of a vacation. Burnt out and on the edge of a nervous breakdown, she’s fleeing the pressures of her career and is taking refuge on Massachusetts’ tiny Carter Island. Callie yearns for long, lazy days and pretty walks on the beach—blessed solitude and an escape from the complications of her life. Then she bumps into gorgeous Nate Carter and everything changes.

Sheriff Nathan Carter couldn’t be happier now that the height of the summer season has finally come and gone. After four endless months, tourists have packed their bags and headed for the mainland. The quiet days of autumn are about to befall the town—the way Nate and his fellow Sandersonians like it best.

But nothing ends up quite the way Nate expects when he meets the beautiful blonde with the big blue eyes. Callie’s pretty smiles hide secrets—deep, dark mysteries that could cost them both their lives if they continue digging into the past and cross a killer’s path.

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This book is long, like really long.  And it felt long as I was reading it.  I did enjoy the time I spend reading it, but it wasn’t one of those books I got so lost in I didn’t notice the time passing.  I’m torn as to how to rate this book, the plot was good, the characters were interesting, but it didn’t keep my interest well.

Cate Beauman wrote some very compelling characters in this book.  Callie’s life was incredibly heartbreaking, even the best parts of it – before her time on the island – were rife with pain and dissatisfaction.  She was such an amazing person in spite of a past that could have led her to be very damaged.  Nate was the epitome of perfection; seriously I don’t think the guy had a fault – he was one of those guys who, when asked in a job interview about their worst traits, says he just is too hard a worker, too kind, too compassionate.  I want to hate him for it, but I can’t, he was EXACTLY what Callie needed and deserved.

Secrets Hidden in the Glass was fairly predictable.  I had more or less figured out what had happened, and who was at fault before I was halfway through the book.  I still wanted to know the whys and hows of how everything happened, so that part kept me flipping through the pages to find that out and make sure Callie got her answers and found true love and happiness, but there was no great mystery.  Even with the lack of intrigue, it was a fun and interesting book; learning about the island, its residents and secrets was one of the best parts of the book.

The writing in Secrets Hidden in the Glass was much like the title, excessively wordy.  Often, I was so lost in what I was being told; I didn’t see what was actually going on.  There was so much information it often took away from the things that were most important.  There were some passages I tried to skim, but it was so difficult to glean the vital information there was no way to focus on just that.

The world Cate Beauman built in Secrets was the highlight of this book.  There were so many layers to the history and the families living there; it felt rich and real.  The interesting dynamics of a small town made the book feel comfortable.  There were some characters I’m desperately interested in finding out more about, so I hope Ms. Beauman will continue writing within this world.

 

 

International bestselling author Cate Beauman is known for her full-length, action-packed romantic suspense series, The Bodyguards of L.A. County. Her novels have been nominated for the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, National Indie Excellence Award, Golden Quill Award, Writers Touch Award, and have been named Readers Favorite Five Star books. In 2015, JUSTICE FOR ABBY was selected as the Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Gold Medalist, while SAVING SOPHIE took the Silver Medal.

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Gun Shy by Lili St. Germain ~ Sarah A’s Review

A stand-alone psychological thriller.

HAVE YOU SEEN THIS GIRL?

In the middle of a fierce snowstorm in Gun Creek, Nevada, seventeen-year-old Jennifer Thomas disappears without a trace.

The second girl in nine years.

Identical cases. Identical conditions. Only last time, the girl was found. Dead, stuffed in a well beside the creek that feeds the town’s water supply.

The killer was never found.

As the small town mobilizes and searches for newly vanished Jennifer Thomas, one suspect comes to the fore. But did he do it? Or is there something else at play? Something nobody could have anticipated?

For Jennifer’s friend Cassie Carlino, the worst is yet to come. As she pins MISSING posters to store windows and joins the search, she begins to suspect that Jennifer’s disappearance might be much closer to her than she could have ever imagined.

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Gun Shy is twisted and dark.  And sickening.  And I loved it.  It is absolutely not for the faint of heart, not for lovers of sweet romantic love stories, not for people with delicate sensibilities.  This is a book for the people who seek the darkest corners, who are driven by revenge and have a fascination with things good girls shouldn’t enjoy.  This book fed into the blackest, bleakest parts of my psyche and satisfied them in a way few things are able.

I said I love this book, but I think I might hate it also.  I’m not sure.  Honestly, I’m not sure of anything right now.  I don’t know if I was supposed to love any of the characters or hate them.  And I definitely feel both ways about most of them.  Every feeling I had while I was reading this book was warped and stretched and transformed into something else.  I don’t trust anything I thought I knew about Gun Creek or its residents.

Cassie’s story is not romantic, even the love she feels is not romantic.  Her love is tainted, broken, deranged.  Her life molded by some of the most horrific things a person can experience.  She took those traumas and honed them into something sharp and unfathomable.  I found her to be so intriguing, so irresistible; I wonder if a little of Cassie doesn’t live inside of me.

When I think back and ask myself if there is anything more I would have liked from this story, I’m hard-pressed to commit to anything.  Would I have loved to have seen a more complete conclusion to a couple of storylines? Yes.  Do I think that the ambiguity of those storylines was intentional? Yes.  This book isn’t a romance and shouldn’t be treated as such.  Those storylines played their parts, and when they’d moved the characters to the place they were supposed to be, they were left as they should have been.

Despite many recommendations from my friends, this is the first book I’ve read by Lili St. Germain, and she blew me away.  From stylistic formatting choices, to interesting imagery, to the intricate and demanding prose she wrote with, I appreciated the outside the box approach she took when writing Gun Shy.  Ms. St. Germain challenged me with this book, it was not an easy book to read, and I admire her for testing me with it.

After reading this entire book, I’m stunned.  Just astonished by every single part of it.  I am sure that I will keep thinking about Gun Creek and Cassie and Damon and Leo and everyone in this book for some time to come.  The experience of this book was so delightfully unsettling; I have plenty of material to ruminate on for ages.

 

Lili writes dark, delicious romance full of love, lust and revenge. Her USA Today Bestselling Gypsy Brothers series focuses on a morally bankrupt biker gang and the young woman who seeks her vengeance upon them. The Cartel series is a trilogy that explores the beginnings of the club, published through HarperCollins.

Lili quit corporate life to focus on writing and so far is loving every minute of it. Her other loves in life include her gorgeous husband and beautiful daughter, excellent coffee, Tarantino movies and spending hours on Instagram.

She loves to read almost as much as she loves to write.

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Unloved by Katy Regnery ~ Sarah A’s Review

The sins of the father. The burden of the son.

My name is Cassidy Porter…

My father, Paul Isaac Porter, was executed twenty years ago for the brutal murder of twelve innocent girls.

Though I was only eight-years-old at the time, I am aware – every day of my life – that I am his child, his only son.

To protect the world from the poison in my veins, I live a quiet life, off the grid, away from humanity.

I promised myself, and my mother, not to infect innocent lives with the darkness that swirls within me, waiting to make itself known.

It’s a promise I would have kept…if Brynn Cadogan hadn’t stumbled into my life.

Now I exist between heaven and hell: falling for a woman who wants to love me, while all along reminding myself that I must remain…

Unloved.

**NOTE: This book is intended for readers 18+**

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Unloved is easily one of the best romances I’ve read in some time.  I was drawn in from the first page and hated to have to put it down for any reason.  Brynn and Cassidy completely captivated me, and they nestled themselves deep within my heart.  Conveying just how special this book is going to be nearly impossible.

Heartbreak was a central theme in Unloved, both Brynn and Cassidy had been dealt more tragedy in their lives than either of them were equipped to deal with.  I found the way they each utilized their own heartache to find understanding in the other particularly poignant.

Unloved is told from both Brynn and Cassidy’s POVs.  Their voices were distinct, they each had unique speech patterns and word preferences.  I am a sucker for dual POV because I love having the insight into each of the character’s thought processes, this book was a perfect example of why having that information was so important.  Particularly having Cassidy’s viewpoint, I think if we didn’t have it he might have been a hard character to love.

Brynn, Cassidy, and their relationship drove this story.  Of course, there were outside factors that manipulated their journey towards one another, but Unloved is a character-driven novel.  Getting to know them and watch the spark of lust, need, and attraction blossom into something solid and lasting, all while fighting the future they knew was coming made my heart both swell and shatter simultaneously.  They were a wonderful demonstration of what truly selfless love looks like.

Katy Regnery is an author I read frequently, her books are fun and interesting, but NOTHING I’ve read by her before Unloved comes close to the book I just read.  I was completely blown away by the writing in this book.  Her prose was sublime, each word, each sentence, building to a crescendo I could have never expected.  If this is a sign of the direction her art is taking I will be a faithful worshipper of her words.

ALP AuthBio2 Owl

katy-regneryNew York Times and USA Today bestselling author Katy Regnery started her writing career by enrolling in a short story class in January 2012. One year later, she signed her first contract and Katy’s first novel was published in September 2013.

Twenty-five books later, Katy claims authorship of the multi-titled, New York Times and USA Today Blueberry Lane Series, which follows the English, Winslow, Rousseau, Story, and Ambler families of Philadelphia; the six-book, bestselling ~a modern fairytale~ series; and several other standalone novels and novellas.

Katy’s first modern fairytale romance, The Vixen and the Vet, was nominated for a RITA® in 2015 and won the 2015 Kindle Book Award for romance. Katy’s boxed set, The English Brothers Boxed Set, Books #1–4, hit the USA Today bestseller list in 2015, and her Christmas story, Marrying Mr. English, appeared on the list a week later. In May 2016, Katy’s Blueberry Lane collection, The Winslow Brothers Boxed Set, Books #1-4, became a New York Times E-book bestseller.

In 2016, Katy signed a print-only agreement with Spencerhill Press. As a result, her Blueberry Lane paperback books will now be distributed to brick and mortar bookstores all over the United States.

Katy lives in the relative wilds of northern Fairfield County, Connecticut, where her writing room looks out at the woods, and her husband, two young children, two dogs, and one Blue Tonkinese kitten create just enough cheerful chaos to remind her that the very best love stories begin at home.

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NOW LIVE!! Bedroom Hymns by Morgan Reeves ~ Sarah A’s Review

They took me, broke me, remade me in their image. I am branded by their twisted ambitions; martyred by their greed. They ground me down until I was everything they wanted and more, and at the end I thanked them for it.

Jackson.

Dominic.

Cole.

They forced me to love them, and then they cast me aside like yesterday’s trash. But they taught me to be the best. So that’s exactly what they’ll get.

Because in the end…

Revenge is sweeter than love.

And they’ll never see me coming.

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I was almost completely blown away by Bedroom Hymns.  I loved every second of what I read, I just   The intense taboo was done quite well.  However, I did feel there were several storylines that were started and never fleshed out.

Bedroom Hymns passed all boundaries of polite society.  Morgan Reeves set the tone of the book from the first sentence and continued to build one that darkness throughout the entirety of the book.  Even the lighter moments, the scenes where love and understanding were the pinnacle, were shrouded in immorality.  There nary a scene that wasn’t full of wickedness and foreboding.

The character development in this book was a little lacking, for me.  Beyond knowing Sophia’s immediate motivations, it was hard to tell what drove any of the characters.  Perhaps that mystery was what Ms. Reeves was going for in this novel, something more plot than character driven, but I prefer to have a better understanding of the characters about whom I’m reading.  When I was finished I realized that I had no idea how any of the characters would have reacted outside of the intense situation they lived in during the book.

While I completely understood that this book and everything in it was designed to be secretive and full of misdirection, some of the storylines felt either unnecessary or unfinished.  I wish that I had more closure regarding most of the secondary storylines in part two.  I can appreciate what was included for how it was used to manipulate the antagonist, yet I’d have loved to have seen those threads used more effectively.  I felt as if huge parts of Sophia’s persona were forgotten entirely and discarded by the time we reached the end of the book.

Overall, I was quite impressed with Morgan Reeves writing.  She drew me into this world thoroughly and made me care about characters I knew quite little about.  This story had the potential to blow me away completely, yet ultimately left me somewhat unsatisfied.  Had the character development been a little deeper and those few storylines that seemed to have been forgotten fleshed out this could have easily been one of the best taboo books I’ve read in ages.

 


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Morgan Reeves is the author of the Never Ever After series. When she isn’t writing, Morgan chases around two energetic minions and tries to convince her loving husband that a miniature pig would make a great pet. She is also extremely fond of iced tea and hot coffee. You can find her books on all major retail sites, and she always loves to hear from readers so feel free to send her a message through Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/authormorganreeves. Morgan currently lives in Raleigh, NC.

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Dirty Little Promise by Kendall Ryan ~ Sarah A’s Review

DIRTY LITTLE PROMISE

Forbidden Desires Book 2

Conflicted in the depth of her feelings for bad boy Gavin Kingsley, lonely librarian Emma Bell knows he’s all wrong for her—yet the heart wants what it wants.

But if she gives into his dark, erotic desires will she lose herself completely?

Passion, drama and suspense combine in the highly-anticipated conclusion to Emma Bell’s love affair with the alpha and enigmatic Kingsley brothers. Secrets will be exposed, sides will be chosen, and nothing will ever be the same.

This is book two in the series, following Dirty Little Secret.

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After I finished Dirty Little Secret, I was DYING to get my hands on this book.  I had to know what happened to Emma, Cooper, & Gavin.  Kendall Ryan did not disappoint with Dirty Little Promise.  I left the book feeling content and fulfilled, yet still eager to find out about the next brother in Torrid Little Affair.

Dirty Little Secret left us with far more questions than answers, it was a great cliffhanger and had left me both satisfied with the story I had read and begging for more.  Dirty Little Promise did not disappoint in fleshing out all of those secrets and questions that were left in the air.  At least, regarding the primary Kingsley brother in this book.  The other brothers are still full of secrets, and I have so many questions about them.

I loved how easily Emma and the brother of her choosing were able to open up to one another.  How, once they decided to not keep secrets from one another and lay it all on the line, they easily trusted one another and didn’t let misleading situations to destroy the trust they had built.  There were times when it would have been far easier to jump to the easiest – and worst – conclusion but the strength of their relationship was in allowing each other the chance to explain everything.  Too often in romance books jumping to conclusions lends to heartbreak and pain, when a simple explanation would clear everything up.  It was nice to see this trope bucked in favor of a loving and trusting relationship.

A lot was happening in this book.  At times it seemed a concerted effort was orchestrated to keep Emma and her Kingsley brother from being together.  Each time it looked like things were calming down for them another thing popped up, the amount of action in this book served well to keep me on my toes and turning those pages as fast as I could.  Since the relationship was figured out and settled relatively quickly, it was all those forces against it that served to really cement their love.  How they dealt with those awful things showed how much they truly belonged together.  I also appreciated neither Emma or the brother in question let other people’s opinions of their relationship taint what they knew was right.  It was a breath of fresh air to see two people so confident in their love.

My only wish for this book would be that the resolutions to the conflicts would have been more fleshed out.  I like to really dig in deep on those types of things, and I felt like the solutions to the problem vexing their relationship were just wrapped up too quickly for my preferences.  It wasn’t that they weren’t wrapped up well, just that I would have loved to see more of the intricacies of the motivations of people behind the problems.

Kendall Ryan’s writing was perfect for this story.  It was a perfect balance between showing the love and affection the couple had for one another and the outside forces working for and against them.  There was a roughness to the Kingsley brother’s chapters and a confident softness to Emma’s.  Ms. Ryan also left enough breadcrumbs about the other brothers throughout the book to make me need to know their stories, to make me want to see them find their happiness.

DIRTY LITTLE SECRET
Forbidden Desires Book 1

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TORRID LITTLE AFFAIR
Forbidden Desires book
 3
December 11, 2017

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TEMPTING LITTLE TEASE
Forbidden Desires book
 4
RELEASE DATE: March 19, 2018

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NAUGHTY LITTLE SCANDAL
Forbidden Desires book
 5
RELEASE DATE: May 11, 2018

iBooks

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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GIVEAWAY!! Breakaway by Sophia Henry ~ Sarah A’s Review

In a standalone hockey romance that tugs at readers’ heartstrings, a broken ex-pro learns to live and love again—all thanks to the complicated, wonderful nurse who gives him a second chance.

Brianna Collins needs to break away from her overbearing family. Her parents expect her to “fix” her brother after a series of concussions derailed his hockey career. Unfortunately, no doctor will give him clearance to play, and she’s finished with being the person they rely on to perform a miracle that will never happen. For Bree, a six-month nursing assignment at a hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina, is the perfect escape.

Luke Daniels, former forward for the NHL’s Charlotte Aviators, has spent close to a year rehabbing a career-threatening injury—and distracting himself however he can. Worlds collide when Luke realizes that the girl from his latest one-night-stand happens to be the new nurse at the hospital where he volunteers in the pediatric unit. What’s more, Bree’s the only person who makes him excited about life again.

Despite her initial reservations, Luke can’t help pursuing sweet, beautiful Bree. Then he realizes it was her brother whose career he ended with an accidental hit, and he falls back on the thing that’s always helped suppress his demons: alcohol. But if Luke doesn’t kick his old habits, he just may lose the one thing he loves more than hockey.

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When I decided to read this book, I was unaware it was part of a series.  The fifth book in the series, in fact.  Pleasantly, these books were true standalones, and I did not ever feel like I was missing information I needed from the initial books in the series.  Of course, there were references to the other characters and their relationships, but those moments were so brief I brushed them off and continued with the book I was reading.

I’m quite torn on my feeling about Breakaway.  I loved most of the book; I found Bree and Luke interesting and dynamic.  Even the secondary characters had unique personalities, and the relationships between all the characters were interesting.  However, some things just felt odd to me.

The story in Breakaway was fun and interesting.  There were just enough funny moments to balance out some of the darker themes that Sophia Henry broached in this book.  I appreciated that she took the risk to deal with what it’s like to love a person living with addiction, those moments with Luke, his mother, and their past were visceral and gripping.  The different and authentic family dynamics she wrote about were also compelling; I particularly appreciate the way she juxtaposed Luke, Bree, and – to some extent – Mason’s struggles with their parents and their upbringings.

One of my most significant issues was the timeline.  It felt very muddy to me.  The author did a pretty good job of not mentioning many exact dates but the time periods over which things happened seemed to vary wildly.  One of the most glaring of those times where I experienced confusion over exactly how much time had passed in regard to Luke’s time working a ‘desk job’ for the team.  Initially, he went in to talk to his boss six months after his surgery then a little later he said he’d been working a desk job for the entire year since his surgery.  There were other moments like this, where I wasn’t sure if there was just missing information as to what the characters had been doing in the meantime, if more time had passed than was accounted for, or if there was only a mistake in the timeline.  It was this ambiguity I found hard to accept.

The sex in this book was dealt with in a way I’ve never really experienced.  It wasn’t fade to black, but it wasn’t a complete sex scene either.  It was jarring the way they were handled.  As soon as the sex had begun – not implied, as you expect with a fade to black scenario – and I was anticipating the intimacy that can only really be experienced in that vulnerable position the scene abruptly changed to something post-coital.  I’m not a huge fan of sex scenes unless they serve to move the couple forward in some way, but this was just too awkward and abrupt for me.

I’m reserving my judgment on Sophia Henry’s writing for now.  Some parts of this book were great, while others were lackluster, so I feel like I would be doing her a disservice to make a decision about her as an author based off this single book.  While I doubt I’ll be rushing out to purchase other her other books immediately, I would definitely pick up another if I found the blurb intriguing.

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Award-Winning Author, Sophia Henry, is a proud Detroit native who fell in love with reading, writing and hockey all before she became a teenager. She did not, however, fall in love with snow. So after graduating with an English degree from Central Michigan University, she moved to the warmth of North Carolina for the remainder of her winters.
She spends her days writing books featuring hot, hockey-playing heroes. When she’s not writing, she’s chasing her two high-energy sons, watching her beloved Detroit Red Wings, and rocking out at concerts.

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The Choices I’ve Made by J.L. Berg ~ Sarah A’s Review

Death is easy.

Surviving it? That’s the hard part.

Dr. Jake Jameson knows this all too well. Losing his mother at the age of eighteen, he walks away from his small hometown and the painful memories it holds, vowing to never return again.

Twelve years later, he finds himself driving back down the coast of North Carolina. When his father leaves him a small medical practice, he has no choice but to heed the call until he can find someone else to take it off his hands.

But coming back home means facing everything he left behind, including the one woman who might make it impossible to leave again.

Molly McIntyre has spent her entire life in one town. Taking over her parents’ small inn, she’s settled into a quiet, happy life. But all of that comes to an abrupt halt when Jake shows up at her door in need of a place to stay.

Molly loathes everything about this man, but she can’t find it in her heart to refuse his request.

After over a decade, these former lovers quickly discover what once burned brightly between them has only grown in their time apart. Soon they must decide if the choices they’ve made have led them back to each other for a second chance or one final goodbye.

Available in Kindle Unlimited
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The Choices I’ve Made was such a beautifully slow burn.  GAH!  I loved this book.  Molly and Jake’s story tugged at my heartstrings, it bruised and damaged my heart in the most wonderful way.  It completely warmed the deepest, coldest corners of my heart as they made the journey from shattered souls to people who were whole and complete in themselves.

This book drew me in from almost the very first page.  After I read the prologue I NEEDED to know why Jake had made the decision he had, when obviously he was so very much in love with the girl he spoke of.  From there each new revelation, each new devastation only served to further entice me into Molly and Jake’s lives.

It was obvious Jake had suffered some pretty devastating losses as a child and Molly was terrified of putting herself in a position to lose everything again.  It was also obvious neither of them realized just how damaged they were, it was an interesting dynamic.  Once they each realized what was going on with the other, and eventually themselves, it warmed my very soul to see them each make the decision to work on healing themselves, for themselves, before they made any promises to one another.  Too often we see characters fix their broken pieces for someone else when that type of healing needs to come from within.

My only wish for this book would have been to see some of that healing journey they each went on in real time.  It was nice to have the recap of what they’d realized and why, but I always hope to see those epiphanies in real time.

JL Berg did a fantastic job writing this book.  Her words drew me in and made me care deeply for each character; well – there was one I just straight up hated, but evoking emotion is the goal here, right?  I also appreciated how she built the story, particularly how she began Molly and Jake’s journey back toward one another in such an unexpected way.  Stepping out of the typical romance structure box was a huge win for me, it made this book stand out in a sea of books where it can be difficult to find individuality.

After two glasses of wine and an hour of feeling sorry for myself, I decided I’d had enough self-pity for one day. Rising from my cozy chair, I took one last look at the sparkling water as the moon rose high in the sky. How one could ever get used to a view like that, I’d never know. I’d been raised in this house, and still, it never ceased to take my breath away.

After a quick stop by the kitchen sink to rinse out my glass, I headed to the large pantry, deciding I needed a little baking therapy to pass the time. Although the Lovells had offered to take care of their own meals since I comped the room, I decided to treat them for their help over the last week.

As much as I hated to admit it, I couldn’t have done it all without them.

Grabbing flour, sugar, and a few more items, I settled on a family favorite recipe—zucchini bread. I’d added my own little flair to it over the years, but the basic recipe was still the same.

There was something almost restorative about the process of mixing ingredients. With no need for a recipe anymore, I found myself humming a song I’d heard on the radio earlier in the day, and my mood began to lift.

That was, until the doorbell rang.

Wiping my hands on a dish towel, I checked my appearance in the hallway mirror, rolling my eyes at the flour that coated my cheeks.

My mom always said I was a messy baker. I guessed some things never changed.

Putting on my best face possible, I prepared myself, morphing into the hostess with the mostest. It didn’t always happen, but every now and again, I’d have unexpected visitors. People who’d missed the last ferry and were in desperate need for a place to stay or others who had just fallen in love and didn’t want to leave.

In every case, I always found a place for them, sometimes even giving up my own rooms to accommodate them. Pulling open the door, I greeted the late-night visitor with a bright smile. But, the moment I saw his face, that familiar rugged jaw and piercing blue eyes, my smile faded into something less than pleasing.

“What are you doing here, Jake?” I nearly snarled.

“Is that any way to greet a guest?” he replied sluggishly. He was clearly drunk.

“Did you drive here in that state?” I asked, looking over his shoulder to make sure a car wasn’t wrapped around the neighbor’s tree.

“No,” he answered. “Waited until I was parked outside before I popped open the bourbon. Did you know, if you park right there”—he pointed behind him, making his sloppy posture even worse—“you can see the backyard? You still like to sit out on the deck, huh?”

My cheeks heated with anger as I realized my private moment of sulking had been witnessed by none other than hotshot Jake Jameson. I sighed, noticing the way his eyes followed mine.

“What do you want?” I finally asked, averting his gaze.

“I’m a wayward tourist in need of a place to stay.”

My arms folded across my chest as he made himself at home, breezing past me to stumble into the sitting room. His large body seemed to melt into the couch as I tried not to think about all the things we’d done in this room while my parents were out of the house.

“You have a place to stay, Jake,” I reminded him. “And, no matter how much you try to convince yourself, you’re no tourist. Not even a fancy degree could change that twang in your voice.”

He laughed, a sound that made my spine tingle. “You’re right. I can’t seem to shake it. But it does do me some favors every now and then.” He gave me a quick grin and a wink, causing me to nearly spit fire.

The idea of him using his stupid accent to get women into bed—it shouldn’t have affected me so, but it did.

It really did.

“Look,” I said, feeling my never-ending river of patience suddenly drying up, “it’s late, and I know you’ve had a rough day, but—”

“I tried, Molly. God, how I tried.”

“Tried what?” I asked, pinching the bridge of my nose.

“I tried to forget you. But I never could. I tried to forget this place and all it represented, but the memories never faded. You never faded.”

My heart galloped a little faster, but luckily my anger won the race. “You’ve got to go, Jake. You can’t stay here.”

“But I can’t go back there, Mols. I can’t go back to that house. There are too many ghosts. Too many memories. It hurts.”

The way he’d said it reminded me of the scared boy I’d once held in my arms as he wept for his mother. It tugged at the few remaining heartstrings I had for this man, and suddenly, I found myself caving.

“Fine.”

He instantly perked up, turning his head, as his bright blue eyes found mine again.

“But you will pay double, and don’t expect any special treatment.”

He nodded as he tried to stand, swaying back and forth. I ran forward, keeping him from crashing into my antique coffee table. The generosity I’d felt just moments before was already starting to bite me in the ass.

“Got it,” he said as my hands wrapped around his muscled biceps. That intense stare of his was back as his fingers found mine. “You won’t even know I’m here,” he whispered, the smell of bourbon on his breath.

“Highly unlikely,” I grumbled, pulling my hand from his. The heat of it remained, like a brand against my skin. “Now, you can take the—”

“Yellow room,” he said, finishing my sentence.

It had always been a favorite of his. Mine, too.

“Fine,” I replied, trying to seem unaffected by his demand. “I assume you still remember the way?”

He held up his palm in front of his face. “Like the back of my hand.”

“That’s the front, Doctor.”

He laughed, sounding drunker than I’d ever seen him. “Right.” Taking a few steps forward, his body brushed against mine. “I like it when you call me doctor.”

I took a deep breath, putting some much-needed space between us.

“You would. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have bread to bake.”

“Bread!” he nearly shouted before chuckling under his breath. He said in a hushed tone, “I love bread.”

“Go to bed, Jake.”

“You first.”

Those two words were like a cold bucket of water. His gaze suddenly sharpened as a tingle went down my spine. Both of us knew he wasn’t talking about sleeping, and for a moment, I let him know it.

No eye roll or quick-witted comeback. I just stood there, letting myself indulge in a single moment that signified a lifetime of memories.

And then the jerk threw up on my shoes.

I’m a California native, who lives in the South – Virginia to be exact. I still prefer sushi to fried chicken, avocados to okra, and I absolutely loathe humidity. I do love watching the seasons change though. My husband and I have been here for over a decade, and I still get giddy like a school girl every time it snows. It’s magical!

I’m married to my high school sweetheart, and we’ve been blessed with two beautiful daughters and two rescue pups I like to call my “coworkers”. I’m obsessed with chocolate, minions, anything Harry Potter and I love to watch re-runs of Friends and Gilmore Girls!

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