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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In Pieces by Danielle Pearl ~ Blog Tour & Excerpt

Three years ago she was left in pieces . . . Most college freshmen love the newfound freedom of living on campus, but none of them craves it like Beth Caplan. One ill-fated night when she was fifteen left her locked in a posh prison of private tutors. It’s for the best, everyone said, and maybe it was. But after years of hard work and healing, the one person who never thought of her as broken could be the one to break her all over again. And Beth can’t seem to stay away now any more than she could all those years ago.

As soon as David March learned his best friend’s little sister was enrolling at his school, he promised to look after her, and promised himself he’d keep a safe distance. But the sweet little girl he’d grown up with has transformed into a gorgeous young woman, and she’s attracting attention from people she shouldn’t-like the ex who nearly destroyed her and a strange new student with a disturbing habit of showing up wherever Beth goes. But for David, the most troubling discovery is realizing that he doesn’t just want Beth to be safe. He wants her to be his.

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David
Present Day

Beth slams the door of the Uber and runs barefoot into the building, her heels dangling from her hand by their straps. I give her a thirty-second head start, clenching my jaw shut to resist calling after her with something I might regret, knowing my temper and the still-potent buzz of alcohol have the potential to create the perfect storm right now.

Beth bypasses the small elevator bank and veers left toward the stairwell, heaving the door open and making sure to slam it loudly behind her.

I shake my head in disapproval, wanting to berate her for even that—taking the stairs alone at night when she knows the elevators are safer. Even if the small part of my brain that’s still somewhat rational admits that my building is relatively safe in general. But it’s her mentality that’s making me crazy. With everything going on right now, and everything she knows about this fucked- up world, why would she take risks with her safety at all?

I shove my hand through my hair and slam my foot into the doorjamb. I just can’t fucking believe her right now! And she has the balls to stomp away from me as if I’m the fucking bad guy?

I haven’t had much occasion for indignation in my life, but right now it’s making me grind my teeth into fucking dust. Because the reality is Beth could get hurt again. She could get hurt worse.

My brain gets caught on that last thought, and I can’t get past it no matter how hard I try. It rages through me until my blood boils over, the buzz of alcohol feeding the flames like gasoline as they fire me back into motion. I crush what’s left of my cigarette under my shoe, and march up the rest of the steps and down our hallway. I’m already reaching for the door with my keys when I realize it’s fucking ajar, and the sight of it incenses me even more.

Could she possibly be any more cavalier with her goddamned safety?

It’s after one in the motherfucking morning! Who the hell leaves their front door open in the middle of the night like an invitation for trouble? Especially someone who, on top of everything else, just spent the entire fucking night drinking. She once told me she thought I was trouble. She has no fucking idea what trouble even is.

I barge through the door, all out of patience and ready to tell her off, but the apartment is dark, the only light glowing from the crack beneath the bedroom door. Beth’s presence would be impossible to miss, though, what with the sound of her tramping around the room, violently yanking and slamming drawers like she wants the whole damned building to feel her wrath.

Well, at least that’s one feeling that is definitely fucking mutual.

I throw the bedroom door open with more force than I intend, and Beth jumps at the reverberating bang as it smacks against the opposite wall. But she catches herself without even glancing my way, continuing about her business like I don’t even fucking exist.

My outrage dissipates as I take her in. Her long blonde hair is haphazardly piled on top of her head, and she’s already changed into a T-shirt and yoga pants. My eyes get stuck on her ass for several seconds before I even process the fact that she’s shoving her shit into her duffle bag.

She yanks open another drawer—the one I’d cleared for her bras and underwear—and panic rolls through me. It doesn’t mix well with the indignation. Or the booze.

Somehow I manage to force enough patience to keep from unloading my every grievance on her at once, and I just stand here glowering, biting back every word I couldn’t wait to get out just moments ago—those words now lodged uncomfortably in my throat, held hostage by that fucking duffel. And suddenly I resent that, too. The fact that Beth has the nerve to vilify me for looking out for her. For taking her out to do something she fucking loves. But more than anything, I resent that I fucking care. That the sight of her packing her things affects me. Not just my feelings—my motherfucking feelings—but my actions, too.

It gives her a kind of control—power. It’s not a dynamic I’m used to with women, and it’s left me a little lost and a lot confused. And even more pissed the fuck off. It’s enough to demolish even my pretense of patience, my composure shattering in one fell swoop, and I spring into action, thrusting myself in front of her in challenge.

“’The fuck are you doing?” I demand.

Beth’s jaw locks, but she just sidesteps around me.

“Beth,” I warn.

She snatches handfuls of panties from her drawer—my drawer—with enough hostility that I worry for the integrity of the delicate lace, and my inebriated mind actually pities them until I remember it’s me she’s fucking pissed at. The appearance of her underwear doesn’t help my focus, either. But watching her shove them purposefully into her bag snaps me back to reality. Or it snaps me the fuck out of my Beth-panty-coma, at least.

“What the fucking hell are you doing?” I repeat as calmly as I can manage—which, it turns out, isn’t calm at all. But where the hell does she think she’s going in the middle of the goddamned night?

“Taking my stuff and going back to my dorm,” Beth deadpans, and it takes me a second to realize she’s not actually kidding.

I shake my head and grab her upper arms. “The fuck you are!”

Beth wrenches from my grip, and I have to release her or risk hurting her, which is not a fucking option. “The fuck I am, is right!” she shouts, skirting back around me to stuff more clothes into her bag.

And, finally, I lose it.

I grab the offending fucking duffle and flop it upside-down, shaking it violently until all of her shit falls onto my bed in an unceremonious pile of all things Beth.

“What the hell are you doing!” she hisses, climbing onto the bed to regather her clothes.

I don’t even think. I take hold of her calves and jerk her knees straight, and she squeals with surprise, falling facedown onto the bed, right atop the heap of clothing. But I don’t back off. I grab her hips and flip her onto her back in one not-so-smooth movement, bending over her and planting my palms on either side of her face in a makeshift cage. Beth’s lips part in a small o of shock, but she can’t escape my gaze, trapped beneath me like she is.

But that goes both ways, and I force myself to close my eyes, and inhale a choppy rush of air before meeting hers.
Something changes when I reopen my eyes. Beth’s temper seems to have dissipated, her dark blonde brows pulled together in helpless bemusement. Her eyes are deep blue oceans, and they draw me in like an undertow, luring me into their shallows before drowning me in their depths.

But, somehow, they calm me, and the anger is drained right out of me as something tugs inside my chest. For a moment I forget how we even got here. All I register are her sharp, shallow breaths as they whisper against my lips in soft gusts.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I know this is dangerous—her lying beneath me like this. It calls to that reckless part of me. The same part that risked dancing with her tonight…that wants to just say fuck it, again and again and again. The part that can’t remember the reasons to stay away.

Beth’s tongue darts out to lick her bottom lip, and my dick jumps in my jeans, still swollen and aching, which it has been all night on some level or another. I suck in an uneven breath, the air hissing between my teeth, and I know I need to either get off of her or inside her in the next sixty seconds.

Danielle Pearl is the Amazon and iBooks international best selling author of the Something More series. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and three children. She is a life long book enthusiast who has been writing ever since she could hold a pencil.

Danielle went to Boston University and worked in marketing before she published her first novel, Normal in 2014. She writes mature Mature Young Adult and New Adult Contemporary Romance.

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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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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

iBooks

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

iBooks

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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Fix Me Not by Carey Heywood ~ Sarah A’s Review

Paige Sullivan’s life is a train wreck. In a matter of months, she lost her business, her swanky apartment, and her big city life. Now she’s stuck in Nowhere, New Hampshire, sleeping on her mom’s couch. If that wasn’t bad enough, she’s forced to do odd jobs for money. She has a plan though, and once she’s saved enough, she’s out of there. That is, as long as she doesn’t murder her sexy new employer first.

Asher Thompson is the ruggedly handsome hermit of the Thompson clan. Tall, ridiculously sexy despite his beard, and annoyingly aloof, his main concern is his privacy. He fills his days with his work as a carpenter and the peaceful solitude of his lake house. A peaceful solitude that vanished the moment Paige Sullivan stormed into his life, hell-bent on driving him crazy.

The problem is, opposites attract and each time they cross paths she works her way further under his skin.

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Fix Me Not was a cute, sweet, easy afternoon read.  Like all of Carey Heywood’s books, these characters felt like old friends.  That is why I return to her books time and again – they’re familiar and comfortable – and sometimes it’s nice to just enjoy the peace that type of a book brings.  The writing, plot, and characterizations this book are effortless.  There was nothing horribly surprising or challenging, it was a breeze to read, and after some relative heavy books it was a nice change of pace.

I found Asher to be the most intriguing of the Thompson siblings in Fix Her Up and I was excited to see what made him tick and how he’d come to the decision to seclude himself from society.  Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like I got much in the way of answers as far as that was concerned.  The only explanations given seemed trite and incongruent with the other aspects of his personality.  I just wish this aspect of Asher’s life was more fully explored in a way that truly explained his behavior.  For me, it just felt like a missed opportunity to touch on some important and heavier themes.

There were also some missed opportunities with Paige and her relationship with her mother.  As antagonistic as it was, it felt like there were some underlying issues that were never mentioned.  I kept hoping that Ms. Heywood would delve into their dynamic more fully but it was left unexplained all together.

Though I truly wish some of those more difficult aspects of the book weren’t fully explored, I was satisfied with the story that was told in Fix Me Not.  Asher and Paige had an adorable relationship, and I enjoyed the way they challenged one another to explore parts of themselves they weren’t fully comfortable with.  I also really liked that we got to check in with some of the other Thompsons and am looking forward to continuing to witness the siblings find their futures.

Fix Her Up (The Fix Series #1) – KINDLE COUNTDOWN $0.99 SEPT. 22-29
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New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author. She was born and raised in Alexandria, Virginia. Supporting her all the way are her husband, three sometimes-adorable children, a mischievous black cat, and their nine-pound attack Yorkie.

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Flutter by LA Corvill ~ Sarah A’s Review

We were the classic fairy tale.

William and Sophia.

Wilphia.

Love at first sight, high school sweethearts, married in college, constructing our empire one building at a time.

He was the love of my life… until he was gone.

Until the sound of my heart breaking into a million pieces was the last sound I heard.

Now I have to build my future…alone.

Or so I thought.

Finding a new life was not part of the plan.

Finding love was not part of the plan.

But my heart could not resist him.

I, could not resist THEM.

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Leli and Aimee are Texas-Natives who reside in the Rio Grande Valley. Their love for books helped them decide to pursue their dream of writing. They teamed up to create stories with happily ever afters.

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Perilous Trust by Barbara Freethy ~ Sarah A’s Review

In PERILOUS TRUST, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Barbara Freethy brings you the first book in a new romantic suspense series! OFF THE GRID: An FBI Trilogy offers three breath-stealing books filled with action-packed plot, heart-stopping romance, and page-turning suspense.

It was one dark night that brought Damon Wolfe and Sophie Parker together. They were two tortured souls, looking for escape, and they weren’t supposed to see each other ever again…

Four years later, Sophie’s FBI father, who is also Damon’s mentor, is killed in a suspicious car crash after leaving Sophie a cryptic message to trust no one from the agency. When Damon shows up looking for her, she isn’t sure if he’s friend or enemy, but she knows he could easily rip apart what is left of her heart.

The last thing Damon wants is to get involved with Sophie again. It was hard enough to walk away the first time. But she’s in trouble, her father’s reputation is under attack, and the lives of his fellow agents are at stake if there’s a traitor in their midst.

When someone starts shooting at them, they have no choice but to go on the run and off the grid. Everyone in their world becomes a suspect. They want to uncover the truth, but will it turn out to be the last thing they expect? Proving her father’s innocence might just cost them their hearts…and their lives…

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This was a great suspense novel.  If I were to give percentages on what made this book up it would be 90% suspense, 10% romance and the romance could have easily been left out and not made too much of a difference to the novel as a whole.  In fact, there were times when I felt like the romance should have been left out in favor of everything else going on.

I did enjoy the chemistry between Sophie and Damon, while they were working together, trying to figure out their next step in staying safe, it was the moments that were just about their relationship that were lacking.  They felt strange and forced, and, honestly, it seemed as if the author wasn’t completely comfortable writing about a relationship with no other outside forces affecting it.  Ms. Freethy was much more in touch with her characters when they were dealing with traumatic situations than she was when they were safe.

The suspense in this novel was definitely the thing that kept me reading.  While I was able to figure out most of twists and turns, the motives behind what was going on were lost on me until the very end.  It was obvious that Ms. Freethy’s talents lay far more in the realm of secrets, lies, and action than in romance.  Her suspense writing in this book will keep me coming back for the rest of the books in this trilogy.

Had I not gone into Perilous Trust expecting the type of romantic suspense I’m used to reading – relatively equal parts romance and suspense – I would likely have rated it higher.  My rating of this novel was primarily based on my preconceived notions and, had I not gone into it with them, I probably would have enjoyed the book much more for what it was than been let down by what I felt was missing.

“Why did you run away from your apartment, your friends, your father’s coworkers? Why did you just disappear, Sophie?” Damon asked.

“Because someone killed my dad.”

“It’s possible it was an accident.”

“You don’t believe that any more than I do.”

“Maybe not, but I think something specific spooked you.”

“You mean like the two men I saw going into my apartment building?”

“You saw the men who broke into your apartment?” he asked in surprise.

“I don’t know if they were the ones, but they could have been.”

“What did they look like?”

“Law enforcement, maybe—I don’t know.”

Damon stared back at her, and she could see him running through her words in his head. “Why would you be afraid of law enforcement when your father is FBI?”

“Gut instinct,” she lied, knowing she wouldn’t have been afraid at all if her father hadn’t told her to be. “And it looks like I was right to run. If I’d gone to my apartment, who knows what would have happened?”

His lips drew into a hard line. “Look, Sophie, I want to help you.”

“Why? Why on earth would you want to help me?”

His gaze darkened, and the air sizzled between them as they found themselves back in a place probably neither of them wanted to revisit, but they were there all the same.

“We’re not friends,” she said quickly, needing to break the tension. “We’re not anything. We haven’t seen each other in four years. Why do you care where I am, what I’m doing? Is it because of loyalty to my dad? That has to be it, right? Nothing else could have made you drive all the way up here.”

“I should have called you after that night,” he said.

“I’m not looking for an apology.”

“Aren’t you?”

“No. Maybe. No,” she said, hating to sound so uncertain. “None of that is important now. I have bigger problems.”

“Then let’s talk about now,” he said, relief in his eyes as he changed the subject. “I respected your father. He was a mentor to me. I owe him for that, and I know that he would want me to help you. He trusted me, and I hope you can trust me, too.”

“I don’t know if my father trusted you,” she said, shaking her head.

Surprise and anger flared in his eyes. “Why would you say that?”

“Because he told me not to trust anyone from the bureau, and since you’re an agent, that includes you. Please, just go. Just leave me alone,” she pleaded, desperate to get him out of the cabin before she did something even more stupid—like start to trust him. “I’ll disappear. I’ll go somewhere no one else knows about. You don’t have to worry about me. You’ve done your duty. You came after me. You did that for my dad. Now do something for me—leave me alone. You’ve managed it for four years. You can keep going.”

His mouth tightened. “I’m not leaving you alone. You won’t be safe. You can’t get help from a friend, because you’ll put them in danger, and even if you are very careful, you’ll make a mistake. You don’t know how to stay off the radar, but I do. You’re going to have to trust someone at some point. You’re going to have to put your anger aside and let it be me.”

Before she could answer, she was suddenly hit with a shower of glass from the nearby window.

What the hell had just happened?

Another pane blew out, and something whizzed by her ear.

Damon grabbed her arm and pulled down as a third window exploded.

Someone was shooting at her!

 

Barbara Freethy is a #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of 60 novels ranging from contemporary romance to romantic suspense and women’s fiction. Traditionally published for many years, Barbara opened Fog City Publishing in 2011 and has since sold over 7 million books! Twenty-three of her titles have appeared on the New York Times and USA Today Bestseller Lists, including one title, SUMMER SECRETS, which hit #1 on the NYT. In 2014 Barbara was named the Amazon KDP Bestselling Author of all time! She was also the first Indie writer to sell over a million books on Barnes and Noble.

Known for her emotional and compelling stories of love, family, romance and suspense, Barbara is a six-time finalist and two-time winner in the Romance Writers of America acclaimed RITA contest for her novels DANIEL’S GIFT and THE WAY BACK HOME.

For more information, visit her website at www.barbarafreethy.com

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One Week with the Marine by Allison Gatta ~ Blog Tour

Title: One Week With The Marine

Author: Allison Gatta

Genre: Sexy Contemporary Romance

Release Date: July 24, 2017

Synopsis

Best friends with benefits…

 

Avery Forrester has never been the type to settle down—not to one place, not to one job, and certainly not to one man. Still, when her long-term best friend with benefits comes home on leave with a plan—including marriage and children—she realizes she’ll have to do something drastic in order to keep him. Luckily, drastic is what she does best.

 

…isn’t enough anymore.

 

U.S. Marine Holden Morris has never backed down from a challenge. And this time, that challenge is persuading wild child Avery Forrester, the woman he’s loved his entire life, to marry him. He wants the whole deal—a wife, a family. But convincing her to become a military wife won’t be easy. Then again, he knows Avery—in every way possible. Armed with that kind of knowledge—carnal and otherwise–how can he possibly fail?

 

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Excerpt

 

“You wanted to give this a try. This, us, thing.”

“I do.” He scrubbed a hand over the bristle of his chin and she fought back the urge to drool. Why did he have to look like a damn Brawny advertisement during their serious discussion?

She joined him on the couch. “Okay. Let’s do it. I’ve made a list of terms and conditions–“

“No terms, no conditions.” His mouth was a hard line of determination.

He slid closer–so that her knee grazed the firm muscle of his leg. Even that slight touch sent an electric spark surging between her thighs. He had her. It was over.

A one hit K. O.

“Then what–“

“You’ll belong to me–“

Belong seems a little caveman-ish–“

“We’re together. That’s it.” He cupped his strong hand around her nape and every ounce of air in her body was gone. There was only him, the mintiness of his breath, and the scorching heat of his firm lips as he kissed her.

She responded to him without thinking, deepening the touch until she lost herself in the swirl of his tongue, the taste of his mouth.

When he pulled away, the room was spinning, moving in slow motion circles and all she could see was the handsome face in front of her. If this was the hard sell, then she’d fallen for it.

Hook, line, and sucker.

 

About The Author

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Allison Gatta is an avid writer of steamy contemporary romance, an obsessive viewer of bad television, and an occasional player of overly-complex board games. In her free time, she thinks up fun, new characters and argues with her family over sci-fi trivia. She is a firm believer that Voldemort would vanquish Darth Vader in a duel.

 

Allison lives in the bustling city of New Haven, CT with her husband and their scrappy pup, Sophie. She is fueled by coffee and feedback, so feel free to get to know Allison though twitter (@Allison_Gatta), Facebook (Allison Gatta), or her website www.AllisonGatta.com.