Sex, Not Love by Vi Keeland ~ Sneak Peek

 Sex, Not Love a standalone Contemporary Romance Novel from #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Vi Keeland releases January 15, 2018

 

My relationship with Hunter Delucia started backwards.

We met at a wedding—him sitting on the groom’s side, me sitting on the bride’s.  Stealing glances at each other throughout the night, there was no denying an intense, mutual attraction.

I caught the bouquet; he caught the garter.  Hunter held me tightly while we danced and suggested we explore the chemistry sparking between us.  His blunt, dirty mouth should’ve turned me off.  But for some crazy reason, it had the opposite effect on me.

We ended up back in my hotel room.  The next morning, I headed home to New York leaving him behind in California with the wrong number.

I thought about him often, but after my last relationship, I’d sworn off of charming, cocky, gorgeous-as-sin men. A year later, Hunter and I met again at the birth of our friends’ baby.  Our attraction hadn’t dulled one bit.  After a whirlwind trip, he demanded a real phone number this time.  So I left him with my mother’s—she could scare away any man with her talks of babies and marriage—and flew back home.

I’d thought it was funny, until the following week when he rang the bell at Mom’s house for Sunday night dinner.  The crazy, gorgeous man had won over my mother and taken an eight-week assignment in my city.  He proposed we spend that time screwing each other out of our systems.

Eight weeks of mind-blowing sex with no strings attached? What did I have to lose?

Nothing, I thought.

It’s just sex, not love.

But you know what they say about the best laid plans…

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“You’re not going anywhere before you do two things.”

“Two things?”

“Leave your number and kiss me goodbye.”

“I…I…you haven’t brushed your teeth.”

Hunter chuckled. It felt like he could see through all of my bullshit. Reaching over to the nightstand, he grabbed his phone and held it out to me before getting up. “Toothpaste in the bathroom still?”

“The little one the hotel sets out.”

“I’ll brush. You type.”

While he was in the bathroom, I mulled over not typing anything into his phone. There was no way I was keeping in touch with a man living three-thousand miles away. A guy like him was the last thing I needed. But then I thought better of just telling him I’d put my number in. He seemed to have figured me out pretty quick. So instead, I typed my name and number, only I changed the last two digits.

And it was a good thing I did, because when Hunter returned from his bathroom trip, the first thing he did was check that I’d entered something. Luckily, he didn’t attempt to call me. Satisfied, he tossed his phone on the bed and nodded.

“Thank you. Now kiss me.”

I could see he wasn’t going to let me leave without this. So, sacrificing to make my plane, I pushed up on my toes and delivered a quick peck to his lips.

Mmm…. Nice and soft.

(And minty fresh.)

“Well…it was nice to meet you.” I turned to dart out the door, but Hunter grabbed my wrist yet again.

“I said kiss me.”

“I did!”

“Kiss me the way you kissed me last night.”

Before I could even attempt to let that sink in, Hunter yanked me against him. One of his large hands cupped the back of my neck, and he squeezed firmly to direct my head where he wanted it. Then, his lips crashed down on mine.

The shock of feeling his mouth against mine quickly dissipated as he licked my lips, encouraging me to open for him. His tongue dipped inside, and he groaned as he tilted my head and deepened the kiss. The vibration of the sound traveled between us and sent a hum through my body. Soft and gentle went out the window after that. He grabbed a fistful of my ass, and I lifted my body up onto his, wrapping my legs around his waist. As he backed us to the wall, a sense of familiarity overcame me. I couldn’t remember the specifics of our previous kiss, but I now knew deep inside what it had felt like.

My cell dropped from my hand so my fingers could tangle in his hair. Yanking on the soft strands, I couldn’t get enough. A moan from deep inside my chest moved through our connected mouths. Hunter pushed harder, his thick erection pressing into the center of my open legs. He rocked as he kissed me, causing a friction through two layers of clothing that was leading me to a place I didn’t think it was possible to go fully dressed.

It felt like he wanted to swallow me whole, and in that moment, I would have let him. My breasts were crushed to his chest, and a heartbeat raged out of control—only I wasn’t sure if it was my own or his. Jesus, where does a man learn to kiss like this?

I was breathless and stunned when our kiss broke. Hunter sucked on my bottom lip, tugging it before releasing my mouth.

His voice was strained. “Change your flight. We’re not done here.”

I swallowed, trying to gain some composure. “I can’t.” My voice was barely a whisper. It was all I could muster.

“Can’t or don’t want to?”

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

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Forgetting You, Remembering Me by Monica James ~ Cover and Excerpt Reveal

The stunning conclusion to this epic love story that began with Forgetting You, Forgetting Me from International Bestselling author, Monica James.

The truth sets you free…but what happens when everything you believe in changes in the blink of an eye?

All I ever wanted was for my fiancé, Samuel Stone, to remember me. And now that he does…all I want is for him to forget. Through tragedy, I found myself and who I was destined to become. But more importantly, I found who I was destined to be with.

With a single word, Saxon Stone changed my life forever. He taught me how to live again. But now that Samuel remembers and all secrets have been revealed, I’m left to wonder which life I’m meant to lead.

Divided by my head and my heart, I’m torn between duty and desire. Samuel is my past while Saxon is my forever. The choice should be easy.

But love never is…

Forgetting You, Remembering Me release FEBRUARY 28
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“I’m going to take off the blindfold,” he whispers into my ear. I pause in my tracks, eagerly awaiting the view.

No surprise as Saxon draws out the reveal, torturing me further. I bounce from foot to foot. His husky chuckle tickles me from the inside out. “I thought you didn’t like surprises.”

“I don’t, but maybe you’ll change my mind.”

“Maybe,” he covertly replies before removing the soft fabric over my eyes.

It takes me a moment to adjust to the dim lighting, but after blinking a few times, what I see takes my breath away. “Saxon…oh my god. It’s beautiful.” And it really is.

“You like it?”

“Like it? I love it.” My feet act of their own accord as I float down the steps and spread my arms out wide. My fingertips brush over hundreds of sunflowers arranged in endless tall glass vases as I walk my yard. “When did you do this?”

“Today. You looked like you could do with some color in your day.”

I pause in the middle of my backyard, needing a moment to take it all in. A red and white picnic blanket lays just a few feet away, and to the left is a wicker basket. Bouquets of sunflowers are dotted as far as the eye can see, adding bursts of vibrancy and instantly lightening my mood.

When I turn over my shoulder, the fairy lights fashioned as stars dangle from the porch railings and rafters. They add to this most picturesque scene. However, when I focus on Saxon leaning against a wooden pillar with a lopsided smirk tugging at his full lips, I know he is the picture of perfection.

“I can’t believe you did this. Is this why you’ve been scarce all day? I was starting to think I smelled.”

He laughs, pushing off the post. “You smell amazing. Hungry?” My growling stomach answers for me.

I watch as Saxon saunters down the stairs, takes my hand, and leads us to the blanket. The gentle hue of the lights wraps us in our own private romantic bubble. I fold my legs beneath me as I sit, running my fingers along the sunflower petals next to me. I can’t help but reminisce about the first time I saw these flowers with Saxon—I was on the back of his bike as he saved me from yet another bad day.

Saxon kneels, reaching into the basket. It’s not until now that I realize how hungry I am. Glued to the computer all day, I’ve forgotten to eat or move. This is so thoughtful. So Saxon. “I hope you didn’t go to too much trouble. Well, clearly you did—” I sweep my hand toward the beauty in front of me “—but I hope you weren’t slaving over a hot stove all day.”

He gives me a playful grin, and I discover why when he exposes what’s inside the basket. “Oh my god.” I laugh. “Just when I thought I couldn’t love you any more, you go and do this.” And by this, I mean when he produces an enormous paper bag filled with only the best Mexican in all of Montana. However, the crème de la crème is when he adds a bottle of Dr. Pepper to the mix. “You know the way to my heart.”

“Or stomach,” he quips, passing me the bottle. “Here is your seven-layer burrito, extra onions.” He hands over my mountain of goodness with a grin.

“What did I do to deserve this?” And I’m not only talking about the food.

“Just being you,” he replies, kissing the end of my nose. My heart swells. He spreads his long legs out in front of him, sipping a beer. “How’s work?”

I sigh, unwrapping my burrito. “Not great. I know there will always be conflict in the world, but it just seems that lately no one is getting along.”

Saxon moves his lips from side to side, appearing to be in thought. “I’m glad we are, though.”

Afraid of choking, I chew slowly, needing a minute to process what he just said. “Me too.” Something is bugging him. It’s written all over his face. “About this morning—”

He cuts me off. “It’s okay, Lucy. I just…need to get over this irrational jealousy when it comes to you. I know you love me, but it’s just difficult sometimes.”

“I completely understand.” I reach for his hand, intertwining our fingers. “I’m glad you know that I love you. Because I do. We’re all trying our best to deal with this pretty messed-up situation. Personally, I think we’re doing great.”

He nods, my words appearing to appease him. But something is still stirring behind his eyes. Just when I’m about to ask what’s going on, his phone rings—again. He digs into his pocket, the ‘something’ amplifying tenfold.

“I won’t be a minute.” He stands quickly and walks briskly away, out of earshot.

Sighing, my appetite gets shot to hell, and I place my barely touched burrito back into the paper bag. I watch for any signs of what the secret conversation Saxon is having entails. But he turns his back as if sensing my inquisitive stare.

I hate this unsettled feeling in the pit of my stomach. The light at the end of the tunnel with Sam is shining dimly, but it’s suddenly overshadowed with whatever Saxon is hiding. He turns over his shoulder, meeting my eyes, before heading toward the house, which just makes me feel worse.

Unable to sit still, I stand, feeling constraints tug at my heart. Needing to escape, I take flight to the stables. Memories of when I felt similar to how I do now cloud my mind, and I do the only thing that has cleared my head since I learned to ride.

Potter, my horse, neighs when he sees me, sensing my desperation. Without thought, I put on his bridle, then I mount him, bareback, and squeeze my calves around his muscular barrel. I cluck my tongue twice, sending him into a gallop. He knows what I need. We both relish in the need to be free.

Clutching the reins, I lean forward and take a deep breath when he tears out of the stables, nothing but the open vastness greeting us. I work on autopilot as I lead him toward the mountains. We have been here before, and the memories linger on my tongue just as if they were crafted yesterday.

The wind whips through my hair, instantly easing some of the tension within. The terrain is bumpy, but we’ve both learned from experience to navigate this ground with caution. “Easy, boy,” I coo, tugging lightly to slow him down. He does.

I examine my surroundings, the untouched openness giving me the peace I need. We settle to a trot, and although I’ve lived here for years, I still am in awe of how picturesque everything is. But the prettiest thing of all is when my gaze alights on where Saxon and I shared our first kiss. This spot has been imprinted on my mind.

Fingering my lips, I recall the tenderness and uncertainty of his touch. I was so naïve to think that kiss wouldn’t change my life as I knew it. It not only changed my life, but it changed me too. Saxon has shaken up my world, but I would happily dance in the chaos because when I’m with him, I’ve never felt more alive.

Dismounting Potter, I tie him to a tree where he happily munches on the grass. So different from when we were here last. My bare feet sink into the terrain, and I savor the feel of being in touch with mother nature in the purest form.

Wrapping my arms around my middle, I close my eyes and return to the past. I can remember his words as if spoken only yesterday.

“Let’s pretend tomorrow doesn’t exist. Whatever happens now, it’ll just be memories from yesterday.” I could feel the tremble rumble throughout his entire body.

A quiver bubbles to the surface, and I hum. Saxon’s love for me has never wavered. I was just too blind to see. But my eyes, figuratively speaking, are opened now, and I’ll be damned if anything stands in the way of our happily ever after.

“What are you doing out here?” His voice is silk, encasing me in a velvety sphere.

“You kissed me here. Right in this spot. Do you remember?”

“Of course, I do,” he whispers, the nostalgia tethering us together.

With eyes still closed, I tip my face toward the heavens and take a deep breath. “We were fated from that moment forward.”

“We were fated a long time before then.” And he’s right. The first moment we met, touched, my world changed forever. “Is everything all right? You just took off.”

Sighing, I decide no more second-guessing. “Who were you talking to?”

“Just…”

“And don’t tell me just work.”

Silence.

“You’re not telling me something, and I can’t help but feel you’re not telling me this because your secret will change everything.”

I’m hoping he will brush away my insecurities and tell me I’m overreacting, but when he does neither, a sense of dread settles low within my stomach. Unable to stand this a second longer, I open my eyes and turn to face him. The cloud of guilt hangs over his head as he peers down at his scuffed motorcycle boots.

“Just tell me what it is. This is your free pass. Whatever it is, I will deal with it. But please, don’t lie to me or hide the truth because we’ve had enough deceit to last us a lifetime.”

He mulls over my proposition, which has me wondering what exactly he’s done. A cold sweat suddenly coats my skin, and I swallow. “Oh god, Saxon, what’s going on?”

“Nothing, Lucy, nothing. I promise.” I’m in his arms a moment later as he hugs me with all his might. “Everything is all right. Everything will be fine.” I didn’t realize things weren’t already fine.

Breaking our embrace, I shake my head, adamant to find out the truth. “I don’t believe you.” Nothing but regret rolls off him as his shoulders drop. I can’t stand this. I don’t know why, but my gut tells me this involves Cleo. I knew she was trouble from the first moment we met, but I never thought she’d have the power to drive a wedge between us. “Does this have anything to do with… Cleo?” His jaw clenches.

I’m waiting for him to put my mind at ease, but he doesn’t. He simply stands mute, hands dug deep into his pockets. I feel sick. “Saxon, answer me. What…what did you do?”

He hisses, taking a step back. “I didn’t do anything.”

“Then tell me what the hell is going on.”

“Why would you automatically assume Cleo is involved?”

“Because whoever you’re speaking to, you clearly don’t want me to know who it is. So unless you have another girl on the side…”

Another girl?” he spits, angered. “I don’t have any girls but you, Lucy.”

“Then tell me what’s going on!”

An exasperated breath leaves him as he begins to pace. This place once filled with happy memories is now tainted with secrets and doubt. I give him the time he clearly needs because he’ll just clam up if I continue to push.

“Yes, I need to tell you something, but…” He comes to a stop, running both hands through his snarled hair. “But I know when I do, you’ll…” The sentence remains unfinished because the ringing of Saxon’s cell cements my fate for good.

FORGETTING YOU, FORGETTING ME (Memories from Yesterday – Book #1)
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Monica James spent her youth devouring the works of Anne Rice, William Shakespeare, and Emily Dickinson.

When she is not writing, Monica is busy running her own business, but she always finds a balance between the two. She enjoys writing honest, heartfelt, and turbulent stories, hoping to leave an imprint on her readers. Her inspiration comes from every day life.

She is a bestselling author in the US, Australia, Canada, and the UK.

Monica James resides in Melbourne, Australia, with her wonderful family, and menagerie of animals. She is slightly obsessed with cats, chucks and lip gloss, and secretly wishes she was a ninja on the weekends.

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DIRT by Cassia Leo ~ Chapter Reveal

A hard-hitting, emotional new series from New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo.

Jack and I had everything. Then, in one brutal instant, the universe tilted on its side, discarding us into black nothingness.

Now, I have a cocky a**hole for a husband.

The only way we communicate anymore is when we’re fighting or f**king.

With nothing left to lose, I write Jack a goodbye letter and head for Portland, where I quickly meet a neighbor who helps me find a job.

My new neighbor—broody, tattooed ex-soldier Isaac Evans—is complicated. Nevertheless, we form a fast friendship, bonding over our mutual desire to create something beautiful from the wreckage of our lives.

But despite the distance between us, Jack and I are still trying to make things work—fighting and f**king dirtier than ever. And he doesn’t appreciate my new friendship with Isaac. Not one f**king bit.

DIRT releases January 12, 2018
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Chapter 1

Laurel

I hugged Jack Jr. tightly against my breast, and he molded his soft, warm body to mine. His eyes remained closed as his tiny fingers curled around the fabric of my blouse, his rosy lips puckering as he geared up for more food.

“You sucked me dry, little fella,” I whispered, leaning in to press my nose against the downy-soft, golden hair on the top of his head. I inhaled his scent and my muscles unspooled. “But I’ll be back to feed you soon. I promise.”

Why do babies smell so damn good?

Before I got pregnant with Junior, my favorite smell was orange blossoms. As a teenager, I often got scolded by my mom for picking the flowers off the orange tree in our backyard in Portland. I’d rub the creamy petals between my fingers, bruise them with my fingernails, then sniff my hand for hours until the scent wore off.

When I was pregnant with Junior, my favorite scent became the rich aroma of the forbidden coffee I could no longer drink.

After Junior was born, and my decaf days came to a glorious end, I realized how wrong I’d been. There was absolutely no scent as sweet and soul-quieting as the smell of the top of a baby’s head. Bonus points if the baby was lying peacefully on your chest sound asleep.

“Are you ever going to put him down?”

I flicked my head sideways, startled by Jack’s clear, baritone voice.

He stood in the doorway of Junior’s nursery, the silhouette of his six-foot-three athletic body framed by the warm light in the hallway. His head was tilted to the side. He’d probably been standing there admiring us for a while. After six years together, I knew Jack’s body language and facial expressions better than I knew my own face.

I stood from the rocking chair and stole one more sniff of Junior’s head before I placed him gently on his back in the center of the crib. I adjusted the left sleeve of his pajamas, pulling it down to make sure it covered his entire chubby arm. I didn’t want to imagine him waking up cold and alone in here.

Jack appeared at my side as I switched on the video baby monitor. “He’s going to be fine,” he murmured, reaching down to stroke the soft patch of hair on Junior’s head. “In fact, he’ll probably enjoy some time alone. After all, he is just like his daddy; sometimes, we need a break from the constant attention from the ladies.”

I rolled my eyes and headed for the door. “Making jokes only makes leaving him slightly less scary, you know,” I said as we stepped into the hallway of our five-bedroom dream home in Hood River, Oregon. I couldn’t wait to fill up every one of these bedrooms with brothers and sisters for Jack Jr.

Jack chuckled as he followed closely behind me. “Less scary is an improvement,” he replied, grabbing my hand to stop me in the middle of the corridor. “You promised Junior you’d be back soon. Can you also make me a promise?”

The hallway lights made his dark hair look glaringly shiny, but I couldn’t help but notice how weary his blue eyes looked tonight. Since Junior arrived three months ago, I’d been so focused on my baby boy’s vulnerability, his scent, his beauty, I hadn’t slowed down enough to appreciate how those were the same qualities that made me fall in love with Jack.

Suddenly, my worries about leaving Junior with my mother for the evening evaporated. All I wanted to do was kiss Jack, grab hold of that dark hair and make love to him for hours. I wanted to replace the weariness in his eyes with dark hunger, or maybe a glint of mischief.

I squeezed his hand and smiled at the thought of possibly having sex with him in public tonight. We hadn’t done that in a while.

“What kind of promise?” I asked.

He shook his head. “Nope, you’re not allowed to ask. Just promise me you’ll say yes.”

My stomach vaulted at the sound of those words. They were the same words Jack spoke when he asked me to marry him. I wondered what he would ask this time.

The phrase “just promise me you’ll say yes” had become like an inside joke, our own private, unspoken promise to each other that we would always do whatever it took to stay together. The last time he had uttered this phrase, he asked me to stop taking my birth control pills. With Junior here, it was easy to trust that whatever Jack asked me for this time would turn out to be exactly what I needed.

I tilted my head back so I could look up and into his crystal-blue eyes. “Yes, I can make you a promise.”

His expression became sober. “Promise me you’ll be present tonight.” He fixed me with a piercing gaze as his large hand cupped my face. “It’s just you and me for the next three hours. Promise me.”

I smiled. “I promise. Just you and me. And I’ll even put my cell phone on vibrate.” As I said the words, a sharp finger of fear prodded my subconscious, telling me it was a bad idea to risk missing a phone call tonight.

The exhaustion in Jack’s eyes melted away as he smiled. “I can deal with that, but you have to promise me one more thing.”

“What’s that?”

His smile turned almost menacing as he looped his arm around my waist and drew me close. “Promise me you’ll lemme smash that blonde bombshell booty,” he said, landing a light swat on my ass.

I shook my head as I recalled how we often had sex in public during our first year together, in our senior year at Oregon State University, Cascades. For some reason, once we graduated and moved in together, having sex in public seemed like something we couldn’t get away with so easily. We decided public sex-hibitions — or throw downs, as we more commonly referred to them — would be reserved for special occasions like anniversaries or vacations.

Truthfully, Jack and I kicked off our relationship by having sex on the first date. He was always a very difficult man to resist. When he showed up at my apartment to pick me up that night, I couldn’t resist his suggestion that we should stay in and make paper masks of ourselves, then put them on and ask each other first date questions as if we were the other person. I had never laughed so much on any date. Ever. But when he asked — while pretending to be me — if I’d ever had sex with someone on the first date, I couldn’t help but respond with, “I’m Jack-fucking-Stratton. I’ve fucked a lot of girls on the first date. But none as gorgeous as you.”

Jack always knew how to keep things fresh and alarmingly sexy. Six years in and my body still craved him almost every second of every day.

Today was our three-year wedding anniversary. We’d only had sex twice since I gave birth to Junior three months ago, and both of those times were truly awkward.

The first time was painful. My C-section incision hadn’t fully healed yet, and even trying to have sex with him behind me was uncomfortable. The second time we tried, Jack was so afraid of hurting me, he stopped midway through. There’d been a lot of oral sex happening in this house since then.

Luckily, a few weeks had passed since our last attempt, and I had repeatedly assured him I was fully healed up now. I was certain that even if the sex did hurt a little, it would still be worth it. I couldn’t understand couples that didn’t consider sex an important part of a relationship. I never felt more complete, more present, more alive than when my body and mind were entwined with Jack’s.

I smiled as I wrapped my arms around his waist. “I think I know just the place for a proper throw down.”

He wiggled his eyebrows. “Ooh. Tell me more.”

As he leaned in to kiss me, my mother’s voice interrupted us.

“Are you two making out again?” she said, standing at the top of the stairs with her hands on her hips as she gawped at us. “Well, don’t let me stop you.”

Jack laughed and I shook my head as we moved toward her.

“We’re just trying to keep you entertained while you’re on vacation, Beth,” Jack said.

My mother cocked an eyebrow. “If I wanted to watch porn, I’d open up your laptop and have a look at your internet history.”

“Mom, don’t be gross,” I protested, trying not to laugh.

Jack smiled as he held out his elbow for my mom to grab hold as they descended the stairs in front of me. “I made a special collection of links for you. They’re in a folder labeled Tantric Geriatric. You’ll love it.”

I rolled my eyes. Jack and my mother exchanged jabs like this all day.

My mother was staying with us for a few days, so Jack and I could have some time to ourselves and get some much-needed uninterrupted sleep. She was leaving tomorrow to go back to the house where I grew up in Portland. Though she pretended as if she was desperate to get home to her Craftsman cottage in the city, and I even teased her about how she was dying to get back so she could see the handsome new neighbor she’d been going on about, I knew she was going to miss Jack’s pretend insults as much as she would miss Junior and me.

My mother practically shoved me toward the front door. “I order you to go have fun,” she said, smiling as Jack opened the door and stepped outside. “And don’t come home until you’re too drunk to walk.”

I shook my head. “Thanks, Mom. Please call if you need anything. And don’t answer the door for anyone. There’s a house that got broken into a few streets away.”

She waved off my paranoia. “Stop worrying so much. We’ll be fine. See you later, babe.”

I blew her a kiss, then I closed the door behind me.

 

* * *

 

“I have to admit, having sex on the waterfront was one of my favorite public throw downs ever,” Jack said, pulling his Tesla into the long driveway of our four-acre estate. “But do we really have to wait until our fourth anniversary to do it again?”

I tugged the silky fabric of my skirt straight as I pressed my thighs together. Though my body was still raw with the evidence of the dirty deed we’d just committed, I couldn’t wait to get Jack inside and pounce on him again. I hadn’t realized how much I missed the sensation of him moving inside me, and how good he was at making me feel beautiful.

“We can do that anytime we can snag a babysitter,” I replied as he turned the car off.

He made no move to exit the Tesla. “Well, babycakes, you’d better get ready to interview a fuck-ton of babysitters.”

I laughed. “Babycakes? That’s a new one.”

Jack rarely used the same term of endearment twice in a row. He liked to keep me guessing.

He scrunched up his nose. “Yeah, that one was kind of creepy. Now that I’ve tried it out, I think I can bury that one in the nickname graveyard.”

“Try the incinerator,” I said, reaching for the door handle.

“Duly noted,” he replied, exiting the vehicle.

Jack and I glided unhurriedly along the flagstone walkway, which was lined with sparkling pathway lights. As we made our way toward the steps leading up to the covered porch, I stopped in the middle of the path and closed my eyes as I inhaled the sweet scent of the lavender and honeysuckle I’d planted with my mom’s help.

That was when I made a wish, a corny wish, but I didn’t care.

I wished that every person could find someone they loved as much as I loved Jack. I wished every child could feel as loved as Junior was. And I wished every anniversary could be as perfect as this one.

“No… No, no, no!” Jack’s voice grew louder with each no.

They say mother’s intuition is scientifically proven to exist. I knew by the tone of Jack’s voice, without even opening my eyes, that my world would never be the same. I knew in that instant, I would regret leaving Jack Jr. tonight for the rest of my life.

Though I knew something was wrong, I wasn’t prepared for what we found.

At some point, while we were lost in our blissful celebration, the front door of our home had been forced open. This discovery was what had made Jack cry out in disbelief. Father’s intuition must also be a thing, because he told me later that, even though the door was still closed, the moment he saw the gouges in the wood near the handle, he had felt that same sense of dread. That feeling that the universe had suddenly tilted on its side, discarding us into black nothingness.

The house was ransacked.

Furniture upended, paintings and flatscreen televisions torn off the walls, shards of shattered vases littered the floors. Complete and utter chaos.

The master bathroom doorknob looked as if it had been shot off. We found my mother’s lifeless form huddled against the bathtub, my baby boy’s dead body clutched tightly in her arms.


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New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo loves her coffee, chocolate, and margaritas with salt. When she’s not writing, she spends way too much time re-watching Game of Thrones and Sex and the City. When she’s not binge watching, she’s usually enjoying the Oregon rain with a hot cup of coffee and a book.

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GIVEAWAY!! NOW AVAILABLE ~ Whore by Willow Aster

“I need a reason to exist.”

Beautiful, intelligent, independent, strong-willed, wealthy—Lilith Fontenot seems by all appearances, to have it all. But that’s not how the highest paid prostitute in New Orleans sees herself.

A stain on society. A scourge. A waste. Outsider. Prisoner…

Any idyllic dream of the normal life she may have once imagined, Lilith buried long ago. Her only plan now is survival.

But mob boss Nico Santelli and community center owner Soti Christos have not given up on Lilith. Each has his own very specific, very opposing, plans for her, and neither will rest until it becomes a reality.

WHORE is a singularly bracing take on an ancient tale of tireless love, betrayal, and the possibility of redemption.

Whore is temporarily on SALE for $2.99, price will increase to $3.99 shortly after release day.
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I take a sudden deep breath and my breasts brush against his chest. The contact surprises us both. I do it again, intentionally this time, trying to gain control in the only way I know how. His neck flushes and he takes a step back. I enjoy the rush it gives me, knowing that I affect him too.

“Hey, would you like to come around the corner with me to—”

I swallow my surprise and shake my head, holding my hand up before he says anything else.  

“Please,” he says louder.

“What’s your name?”

“I am Sotirios … Soti.”   

“Soti, what makes you think you know anything about me?”

He tries to make eye contact, but I focus on a spot just past his left ear.  

“I just want to help you…” His words trail off.

The wind blows my hair forward, a sheet of black coming between us until I smooth the long strands down on either side. I gaze down the street and see a blurry little girl with black hair down to her waist in middle school, standing shy and hopeful in front of a group of girls.

“We know what you are,” they said. They hurled spit and names on her and she stood there, taking it, until the teacher came and helped her.

Help only got me so far.

“You listen to me, okay?” I say so softly he leans in to hear me. “I was born for this.”

When my eyes finally land on his again, I know his face will haunt me forever. He looks as bleak as I feel.

I clear my throat. “Now, if you’ll excuse us.”

With that, I loop my hand through the arm of my next income source, calculating how I can get the most money out of him for the least amount of time. It takes every ounce of willpower I own to not look Soti’s way one more time. Once we round the corner and I know he’s out of sight, all the adrenaline leaves my body, and I’m actually glad to have someone to hold onto.

I avoid my reflection as we walk back to the house. I don’t want to know what the rest of the world sees when they look at me.

Whore by Willow Aster from Bibliophile Productions on Vimeo.

Willow Aster is the author of True Love Story, In the Fields, Maybe Maby, Fade to Red, and the upcoming release, Whore. Willow loves nothing more than writing the day away—anywhere will do. Her husband and two children graciously put up with her endless daydreaming and make fun of her for reading while cooking.

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Willow is giving away a $50 Gift Card!

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GIVEAWAY!! Whore by Willow Aster ~ Excerpt Reveal


Enjoy a sneak peek into WHORE by Willow Aster! This contemporary romance/suspense is releasing on December 26th! Mark your calendars!!!

“I need a reason to exist.”

Beautiful, intelligent, independent, strong-willed, wealthy—Lilith Fontenot seems by all appearances, to have it all. But that’s not how the highest paid prostitute in New Orleans sees herself.

A stain on society. A scourge. A waste. Outsider. Prisoner…

Any idyllic dream of the normal life she may have once imagined, Lilith buried long ago. Her only plan now is survival.

But mob boss Nico Santelli and community center owner Soti Christos have not given up on Lilith. Each has his own very specific, very opposing, plans for her, and neither will rest until it becomes a reality.

WHORE is a singularly bracing take on an ancient tale of tireless love, betrayal, and the possibility of redemption.

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

“I don’t need any money,” I tell him. “I can make enough in the next few hours to cover me for the week.”

He flinches and turns toward me. The expression on his face makes my gut cinch. His eyes are like copper in the sun. So bright I have to look away.

I swallow and my voice shakes when I speak. “Thank you for everything. I won’t forget this.”

I put the phone in my pocket and decide to go while we’re on the topic.

“Wait, take this, please.” He reaches in his pocket and gives me a crumpled up wad of cash. “It’s not as much as I’d like to give you, but it’s all I have right now.”

“Can I do anything for you?” I ask, stepping toward him.

“No. Not everyone sees you as a business transaction, Lili,” he says softly.

My face is heated as I take the money and shove it in my pocket. I turn around and rush to the door. Before I leave, I chance another look at his face, but when we make eye contact I’m even more unsettled.

I lift a hand, whisper my goodbye, and stumble out of there. My eyes burn as I walk down the stairs, and even though the community center is bustling at this time of day, I don’t notice anyone else. By the time I step outside, tears are streaming down my face. I don’t even know why. His kindness … it confuses me.

Whore by Willow Aster from Bibliophile Productions on Vimeo.

Willow Aster is the author of True Love Story, In the Fields, Maybe Maby, Fade to Red, and the upcoming release, Whore. Willow loves nothing more than writing the day away—anywhere will do. Her husband and two children graciously put up with her endless daydreaming and make fun of her for reading while cooking.

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Willow will be giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card.
Go to Willow’s author page on Facebook to comment, share the cover and/or add Whore to their Goodreads TBR. Thank you!

**GIVEAWAY** The Outpost by Devney Perry ~ Sarah A’s Review

The Outpost by Devney Perry is out now! Check out our blog tour post and be the first to read this sexy new romance from Devney—grab your copy today!

 Trapped in his tiny mountain cabin, she didn’t expect to fall for his big heart.

Exposing a prominent criminal family with an investigative news report didn’t exactly work out the way Sabrina had hoped. Instead of basking in the glory of her article’s success, she’s on the run from a powerful man who wants her dead. To stay safe, she’s forced to trade one bad situation for another. Stuck in the Montana wilderness, she’s secluded from anything resembling civilization or the modern-day world. The only good thing about her situation is the gorgeous mountain man assigned to protect her. Too bad he isn’t the slightest bit interested in a city girl like her.

Beau likes his life quiet and simple. Give him a peaceful day hiking in the woods with his dog, and he’s a happy man. He has no use for large crowds, noisy cities or dramatic women. So when a hotshot reporter rolls into town, dragging her big-time problems with her, he should have run for the hills. Instead, he volunteered to keep her safe. Bringing her into his world won’t be easy, but if he can convince her that Montana isn’t as terrifying as she believes, they might just be the perfect match.

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If it hadn’t been for the prologue drawing me into this story, I might have quit reading it. The first half of The Outpost seemed long, slow, and at time torturous. I didn’t connect with the characters and had to force myself to keep going because I was sure it would get better (and I wanted to know why she’d left ‘him’ if the months spent with him were so life-altering. I am glad I stuck it out, the last half of the book did redeem the first, although the rough start did affect my rating.

The Outpost is the Fourth in Devney Perry’s Jamison Valley series, although it can be read as a stand-alone. I haven’t read any of the books in the series, and I never felt lost in this book. There are a couple of characters I’d like to know more about, so I will likely pick up the previous books and read the series in its entirety, though. It is told in dual POV, Sabrina and Beau’s, but more of the book is told from Sabrina’s viewpoint than Beau’s

While I did feel empathetic toward Sabrina, I had a hard time connecting with her. It was definitely a ‘me’ thing, as I don’t think she was poorly written. It just seemed to me like a lot of who she was, in the beginning, was so superficial I think I wrote her off from that point forward. There were times she seemed too wrapped up in what her life used to look like to understand where her life was heading in the present. All in all, Sabrina was just a character I found difficult to relate to.

Beau was very much the opposite, and I desperately wish we would have had more scenes in his POV. He was such a quintessential ‘good guy’ and seemed to be a straight shooter; I think it would have been easier for me to connect with the book if I were in his head more often.

The Outpost did keep me on my toes for a good portion of the novel. There was a constant looming threat in the background and other moments of suspense thrown in to keep things interesting. Most of the on page happened in the final half of the book which helped me to enjoy the overall experience. I loved the glimpse of the other couples and tertiary characters; those scenes made me feel like I need to go back and read their stories too.

My wish for this book is just that the beginning of the book be more attention-grabbing. It started with a few big bangs and then fizzled for several chapters, that huge change in pace – while important for the character – was not great for the pacing of the novel. I also would have liked Sabrina to have been a more sympathetic character. While I did feel sympathy for her situation, I didn’t feel it for her as a whole.

Devney Perry is a new to me author. I’ve had several friends suggest her books since The Coppersmith Farmhouse was released, I just hadn’t taken the time to read them. After reading The Outpost, despite the slow beginning, I do see myself checking out her backlist. Her writing was good, and I enjoyed the journey she took me on. The fact she made me feel so much for secondary characters shows how good she is at drawing in her readers.

“Bryce,” the producer called from behind the row of cameras. “We’re all set.”

“Thanks.” She waved over the hair and makeup team. My blond hair got fluffed and placed while her skin was dusted and blushed. With both of our lips recolored, we settled in for the interview. The cameraman gave us his countdown and then Bryce did her introduction before turning to me.

“You’ve had quite the year, Sabrina. Just a little over one year ago, you wrote an article for The Seattle Times that shut down the biggest gun-smuggling operation on the upper West Coast. Then you disappeared for six months, only to reemerge as a best-selling romance novelist. You’ve just won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting and I’ve heard that there are talks of making your book into a blockbuster. How does it feel to have reached such success in your career?”

“Thank you. It’s been wonderful, albeit very busy.” I smiled and glanced at my lap to hide the flash of pain that crashed through my heart. Nothing about my successes gave me joy. Talking about my accomplishments just reminded me of how much I had lost.

“You’ve made some major achievements since you came back to Seattle,” Bryce said. “Most journalists, including this one, would kill to be in your position. How does it feel?”

I gave her my rehearsed answer. “It’s been incredible. Surreal, really. I’m still in shock at how much has happened over the last year.”

“I can imagine.” She flipped to a new note card. “Let’s talk more about the article.”

My cheerful face belied my true feelings. I was miserable on this television set. I was exhausted from talking about that damn article. I was done having people fuss over its success.

Everyone thought it was the article that had changed my life.

It wasn’t.

It had been the six months I’d spent in Montana.

It had been the six months I’d spent with him.

 

 

Devney lives in Montana with her husband and two children. After working in the technology industry for nearly a decade, she abandoned conference calls and project schedules to enjoy a slower pace at home with her kids. She loves reading and, after consuming hundreds of books, decided to share her own stories.

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The Outliers by TM Frazier ~ Sarah A’s Review

The Outliers, the stunning conclusion to The Outskirts Duet by T.M. Frazier is available NOW!

Sensual. Heartbreaking. Passionate. Overwhelming. Maddening.

That’s the love Finn and I share.
It’s the kind you can never recover from.
The kind you never WANT to recover from. 

That’s why we’ll do everything and anything to protect it.  

When my past chases me all the way to Outskirts, we have to make a choice.
Let the lies destroy our chance at future together or…bury them deep in the swamp where they belong.

Got a shovel?

****AVAILABLE IN KINDLE UNLIMITED****
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The Outliers concludes TM Frazier’s Outskirts duet excellently. She gave her readers everything they needed after the end of The Outskirts plus some. I’m happy to have those answers, but a little sad that we’re done with Sawyer and Finn. I hope that we are able to see more of the Outskirts in the future.

The Outliers jumps in immediately where The Outskirts left off; there is no passage of time off page and for that I am thankful. I think having any of those moments happen as a flashback or a recollection to another character would have taken away from how important and life-changing those seconds were for Sawyer.

One of my favorite things about this duet as a whole is how Sawyer and Finn’s relationship was approached. There was never any doubt about their love for one another, and they didn’t let outside circumstances come between them. I loved how deeply they loved and trusted one another and strived to never keep secrets from each other. There was one instance where it seemed as if Finn may have been less than forthright with Sawyer, but once he explained his thought process, it was clear that was not the case.

My wish for The Outliers is that it be a little heavier, there was so much to work with regarding themes used it seems like a miss to have not delved into those things more. I was expecting a lot more exploration into the cult Sawyer escaped from and the abuses perpetrated against its members. There was a little of it, but I’d hoped for more. I’d also hoped the book would be less predictable, it felt very formulaic, and that was just a little disappointing after such a promising start.

My eyes went to her throat. I saw her pulse quicken beneath her smooth skin. She twisted her pouty pink lips. Her hesitation only lasted a second before she wrapped her arms around my neck and pulled me down closer so that the tips of our noses touched. Her lips feathered against mine. “Fuck me, Finn.”

“Yes,” I growled.

I may have been the one who told her to say those words but hearing them out of her mouth caused the raging inferno of lust within me to explode beyond control. I had a feeling I’d be hearing those words on repeat in my head for the rest of my life.

Fuck me, Finn.

I lifted her up onto the nearest table and pushed her onto her back. I tore her panties off in one tug and while I devoured her with my eyes, I somehow managed to concentrate enough to unbuckle my belt and push my jeans down over my ass, freeing my throbbing cock.

Sawyer moaned when I parted her legs, stepping between them. The sound was pure fucking heaven. Our tongues danced while we drank each other in. I savored the way her body felt against mine. Hard against soft. I dug my fingers into the flesh of her perfectly round ass before moving them to her pussy where I parted her warm wet folds and strummed her swollen clit because Sawyer was my instrument of choice and only I knew how to play her to perfection.

The look on Sawyer’s face when I inserted a finger inside of her was as if I’d just given her a drug. She was high on the pleasure. Her lids were heavy. Her pupils large and dark. I was dead set on making sure I wrung every bit of pleasure from her gorgeous body and I gave her exactly what she’d asked me for.

****AVAILABLE IN KINDLE UNLIMITED****
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T.M.Frazier is a USA TODAY bestselling author. She resides in sunny Southwest Florida with her husband and her young daughter.

When she’s not writing she loves talking to her readers, country music, reading and traveling. Her debut novel, The Dark Light of Day was published in September of 2013 and when she started writing it she intended for it to be a light beachy romance.

Well…it has a beach in it!

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**GIVEAWAY** NOW AVAILABLE ~ The Outpost by Devney Perry

The Outpost by Devney Perry is out now! Check out the release day festivities and be the first to read this sexy new romance from Devney—grab your copy today!

 Trapped in his tiny mountain cabin, she didn’t expect to fall for his big heart.

Exposing a prominent criminal family with an investigative news report didn’t exactly work out the way Sabrina had hoped. Instead of basking in the glory of her article’s success, she’s on the run from a powerful man who wants her dead. To stay safe, she’s forced to trade one bad situation for another. Stuck in the Montana wilderness, she’s secluded from anything resembling civilization or the modern-day world. The only good thing about her situation is the gorgeous mountain man assigned to protect her. Too bad he isn’t the slightest bit interested in a city girl like her.

Beau likes his life quiet and simple. Give him a peaceful day hiking in the woods with his dog, and he’s a happy man. He has no use for large crowds, noisy cities or dramatic women. So when a hotshot reporter rolls into town, dragging her big-time problems with her, he should have run for the hills. Instead, he volunteered to keep her safe. Bringing her into his world won’t be easy, but if he can convince her that Montana isn’t as terrifying as she believes, they might just be the perfect match.

 Amazon | iBooks | B&N | Kobo

“Bryce,” the producer called from behind the row of cameras. “We’re all set.”

“Thanks.” She waved over the hair and makeup team. My blond hair got fluffed and placed while her skin was dusted and blushed. With both of our lips recolored, we settled in for the interview. The cameraman gave us his countdown and then Bryce did her introduction before turning to me.

“You’ve had quite the year, Sabrina. Just a little over one year ago, you wrote an article for The Seattle Times that shut down the biggest gun-smuggling operation on the upper West Coast. Then you disappeared for six months, only to reemerge as a best-selling romance novelist. You’ve just won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting and I’ve heard that there are talks of making your book into a blockbuster. How does it feel to have reached such success in your career?”

“Thank you. It’s been wonderful, albeit very busy.” I smiled and glanced at my lap to hide the flash of pain that crashed through my heart. Nothing about my successes gave me joy. Talking about my accomplishments just reminded me of how much I had lost.

“You’ve made some major achievements since you came back to Seattle,” Bryce said. “Most journalists, including this one, would kill to be in your position. How does it feel?”

I gave her my rehearsed answer. “It’s been incredible. Surreal, really. I’m still in shock at how much has happened over the last year.”

“I can imagine.” She flipped to a new note card. “Let’s talk more about the article.”

My cheerful face belied my true feelings. I was miserable on this television set. I was exhausted from talking about that damn article. I was done having people fuss over its success.

Everyone thought it was the article that had changed my life.

It wasn’t.

It had been the six months I’d spent in Montana.

It had been the six months I’d spent with him.

 

 

Devney lives in Montana with her husband and two children. After working in the technology industry for nearly a decade, she abandoned conference calls and project schedules to enjoy a slower pace at home with her kids. She loves reading and, after consuming hundreds of books, decided to share her own stories.

Website  | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

 

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The Other Brother by Meghan Quinn ~ Sarah A’s Review

I got the call. The dreaded call every child fears. My dad wasn’t well, and the man who had always been my everything needed me.

There was only one thing to do; pack up and head back to my hometown. I had finally made my dream life in the city with the great job and loving boyfriend. But was there really a choice not to go?

I found a wonderful job, a quaint house to rent, my boyfriend was working on joining me in Binghamton, and my favorite pizza place was only miles away. Life was good.

Until I met my neighbor.

It’s been three years since I’d seen Aaron Walters, and my God is he all kinds of sexy gorgeous. Figures. He was supposed to be my forever, the man I grew old with, but he had different plans. How can a man who ripped my heart apart still trip me up? How can he make me still want him now more than ever?

I’m tempted, I’m drawn toward him, I’m completely and utterly unaware that I’m dating his biological brother.

Now two men own my heart. The question is, which brother will I choose?

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I nearly put this book down before I was a quarter of the way into it. I wasn’t connecting with the characters, and some of the writing was feeling forced. At the advice of some of my reading buddies, I pushed through, and I’m glad I did. While The Other Brother isn’t the best book I’ve ever read, it was satisfying and interesting. The characters had compelling backstories, and this was an interesting twist on a second-chance romance.

The Other Brother is a stand-alone. However, there are two other couples in the book who have previously been written about: Racer and Georgie in Twisted Twosome and Tucker and Emma in My Best Friend’s Ex. I did not read those books before The Other Brother, but the couples intrigued me enough that I have added them to my TBR and hope to visit them soon.

Second chance romances are a favorite of mine. There is just something about reconnecting with a significant other from the past and rediscovering the passion once shared that warms my heart. Aaron and Amelia had that connection in spades. It was evident from the start what they’d lost had never disappeared, only misplaced. I enjoyed the flashbacks to their initial relationship; it put the foundation on which Aaron was trying to build their new relationship in crystal clear perspective.

The most intriguing part of the book was that of the brothers, Aaron & Tyke. While a little unreal, I loved it; I read to escape reality, so it was terrific to get that little bit of departure. In fact, all the family dynamics Aaron had to deal with were fascinating and heartbreaking.

My wish for The Other Brother is that the first few chapters be more attention-grabbing. As I said, I nearly DNF’d the book because of the first quarter, when I was finding it hard to connect with the characters or writing. The writing did improve as the novel progressed, so I felt that, perhaps, the author had difficulty connecting with the characters in the beginning as well.

Meghan Quinn, while not exactly unknown to me, is an author I’ve never read. I’ve extensively heard about how funny she is – if you follow my reviews, you know I stay away from comedy – so I’d had little reason to pick up her books. I’m unsure if this book is a departure for her, but the humor took a back seat to the emotion and intensity of The Other Brother. Keeping this fact in mind, I have every intention of trying a few titles from her backlist.

Why? Why does he have to magically appear in my life? Moving back to Binghamton, I thought about the possibility of maybe running into him, but I thought it unlikely, something that would never really happen.

Boy, was I wrong.

What a sick joke life is playing on me.

Aaron Walters, the boy who broke me into pieces is my neighbor.

I can’t fathom the impact I feel already.

Seeing him in hip-hugging jeans and a tight, plain shirt did a number on me. It kept me up all night as memories of what we used to have flooded my mind.

His voice.

His stature.

The way he used to kiss my neck.

The way I felt so protected in his arms.

Too bad his arms couldn’t protect me from his devastating, heart-breaking self.

And hell, he looked good. Too good.

He’s always been tall with handsome features and a chiseled jaw, but now he’s bulked up to the point that I could see his abs flexing under his shirt, the same shirt that stretched over his biceps.

But it wasn’t his muscles or handsome features that once again made my heart ache, it was those eyes. So bright, so blue, so kind, but still so sad. It reminded me of the first day I met him, of the day he stole my heart from every other man on the market.

Broken, unsure, yet yearning for love. It was all there, and like experiencing a moment of déjà vu, I was transported back into a time when I felt invisible like I could conquer anything with him at my side.

Once again, I was wrong.

Born in New York and raised in Southern California, Meghan has grown into a sassy, peanut butter eating, blonde haired swearing, animal hoarding lady. She is known to bust out and dance if “It’s Raining Men” starts beating through the air and heaven forbid you get a margarita in her, protect your legs because they may be humped.

Once she started commuting for an hour and twenty minutes every day to work for three years, she began to have conversations play in her head, real life, deep male voices and dainty lady coos kind of conversations. Perturbed and confused, she decided to either see a therapist about the hot and steamy voices running through her head or start writing them down. She decided to go with the cheaper option and started writing… enter her first novel, Caught Looking.

Now you can find the spicy, most definitely on the border of lunacy, kind of crazy lady residing in Colorado with the love of her life and her five, furry four-legged children, hiking a trail or hiding behind shelves at grocery stores, wondering what kind of lube the nervous stranger will bring home to his wife. Oh, and she loves a good boob squeeze!

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Savage by LA Fiore ~ Cover Reveal

They call him a monster.

Pale blue eyes as cold as ice that see right through you.

He’s hard.

He’s damaged.

He’s dangerous.

He lives in a castle fit for a fairy tale, but he’s no prince.

He’s savage.

He’s brutal.

He’s a killer.

By an act of fate, our worlds collide.

They call him a monster, but he is my salvation.

Title: Savage: The Awakening of Lizzie Danton
Author: L.A. Fiore
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense
Release Date: November 17, 2017
Cover designer:  Melissa Stevens, The Illustrated Author
Photographer: Scott Hoover

Text copyright © 2017, L.A. Fiore
All rights reserved

My hands fisted in the pockets of my trousers as I watched Lizzie Danton walking down the drive. Fuck. Damn that fucking conscience. I didn’t need it, didn’t fucking want it. I wanted to turn my back, but I could hear Brianna and Fenella, even Finnegan, in my head. “Fucking hell.”

     Fenella was just entering the library as I was leaving it. She was giving me her stink eye, that frosty look that condemned without her needing to speak a word. What the hell did she want? I let the woman sleep here, fed her, and clothed her. It was the clothes, or lack of them, that stirred something left well enough alone. “Our guest is walking home.”

     “I saw.”

     “I think she’s coming down with a cold.”

     “Fucking walking in the rain will do that.”

     “Not her fault the car broke down.” She narrowed her eyes at me before she added, “And it’s not her fault she’s kin to Norah Calhoun. Remember, she’s kin to Brianna too.”

     I didn’t pay my staff to lecture me. They weren’t staff; they were family, but I ignored that. I was halfway down the hall when Fenella called after me, “She wants to paint your home.”

     That stopped me, my head swiveling to her. “She said that?”

     “Yes. Said you could Google her to see her portfolio and that she would gift you the painting.”

     I didn’t need to Google her. I was familiar with her work. But after my interrogation last night, why the hell would she offer that? “Why?”

     “Because the sight of the castle from the lane took her breath away, her words.”

     It was the view from the lane that sold me on this place; more specifically the feeling of peace it evoked, a foreign, but not unpleasant feeling. Fucking hell.

     There were a few broken branches blocking the drive. By the time I got the Range Rover out of the garage, it had been about an hour since Miss Danton left. Halfway back to the village, I saw the body on the boulder. My chest grew tight thinking harm had come to her; the unwanted sensation annoyed the hell out of me. Pulling over, I climbed out to hear Lizzie Danton talking to herself. She had a bizarre habit of talking to things, like those cows and Brianna’s ghost. Her words that day had lingered because despite the shit she’d seen, she still had it in her to paint fucking sprites…to try for happy. I couldn’t decide if she was the most well adjusted person of my acquaintance or the craziest. I wondered if she’d spent any time in a mental facility.

     I couldn’t make out what she was saying, didn’t really care. My goal was to get her ass back to the cottage. That would ease the nagging from my fucking conscience. I stepped closer, to peer down at her, her eyes went wide then she screamed. She jumped off the boulder like it was on fire.

     “What the hell! Didn’t you ever learn not to sneak up on someone resting on a rock?”

     I ignored that ridiculous question. She was pale and there were dark circles under her eyes. “You don’t look so good.”

     “Nice. Scare the shit out of me and then insult me. Seriously, charm school was completely lost on you.”

     She had the oddest way of communicating. More surprising was the urge to grin at her nonsense. “I’ll give you a ride to the cottage.”

     “No, thank you. I wouldn’t want you thinking I was after your car, or your house and heaven forbid you. I’ll walk.” She started walking away but stopped and turned back. “And why assume I was like my mother? You knew Aunt Brianna, but you interrogated me like I was after something. Never mind. I don’t care what you think.”

     She did care. I saw how deeply it cut her to be compared to her mother. Another unfamiliar sensation curled in my gut. Guilt. I shook it off. “You can barely stand.”

     Temper burned behind her eyes, but she acquiesced. “Fine.”

     She didn’t wait for me and walked to the car in much the way a child in temper might do. She yanked open the door and dropped into the seat. I climbed in, felt her eyes on me, but when I looked over her focus was out the window.

     “Why are the villagers freaked out by you?” She turned in her seat to face me. “They think you’re a werewolf.”

     I’d heard that rumor. Was actually rather fond of that one. “Maybe I am.”

     I glanced over at her and she was contemplating the real possibility that I was a werewolf. Damn, if I didn’t want to grin.

     “I don’t think so, but I’ll be sure to stay inside on the full moon.”

L.A. Fiore is the author of several books including Beautifully Damaged, Collecting the Pieces and His Light in the Dark. Her favorite movie is Star Wars, a love her son shares. They hope to build their own Millennium Falcon one day. She would like to meet the Winchester Boys to thank them for enlightening her on the versatility of salt as not just a food enhancer, but as protection from supernatural threats. And she thinks it would be interesting to be a zombie, to get an idea of what life is like as a brain-addicted fiend so she can be their voice to tell their side of the story. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and kids, their two spoiled cats and their awesome dog.

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