GIVEAWAY & Blog Tour ~ Ever Over After by JA DeRouen

highres_eoaMarlo … wild-eyed, untamed, and every single thing I’ve ever wanted from this life. I wasn’t ready for her back then. I was a stupid boy with adult feelings and no idea what to do with them. I squandered away every chance she gave me.

Yes, love like ours either burns white hot or crumbles under the pressure.

And now I’m back to sift through the rubble.

Questions and excuses are two things I have in spades. What I need now are answers.

Answers and Low.

Always Low.

My name is Ever Montgomery, and this is my story of love resurrected.

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I honestly don’t have the appropriate vocabulary to talk about this book.  And I can not talk about it without including its mate, Low Over High.  The two books are so seamlessly and fantastically entwined if I hadn’t just finished both I could not begin to tell you where one ended and the next began.  This duet also flows perfectly from the Over series, from which it is based.

God.  Marlo and Ever.  Each couple in this series had more than their fair share of hurdles to overcome but this couple.  These people.  They hit me hardest.  Their story was the one that I could relate to most readily.  Their pain was more familiar to me than the others was.  While I hadn’t been in all the places both of them had, there were traumas I had experienced and demons I have watched people close to me fight.  To witness two people, fight all those horrific things when they were so young tore my heart and soul to pieces.

I am in awe of how sublime the Marlo and Ever’s story was.  I was completely taken aback by the ways that Marlo grew and dealt with the injustices she had been dealt.  I was even more impressed by how awe-inspiring Ever’s journey through neglect, loss, drugs, and recovery was.  The anguish he had suffered at the hands of his parents, his ‘friend’, and himself could have easily been insurmountable but that marvelous, devastated boy managed to find the strength within him to overcome and soar to amazing heights.

As much as I loved the catharsis that was the reunion of Ever and Low, it was equally devastating.  There were moments I wanted to hate Marlo for the ways she tried to push and hurt Ever, since it was from a place of protecting herself it was hard.  Watching them both lay all of their scars out for one another, seeing them begin heal each other from those mortal wounds, I felt it all down in the deepest edges of my soul.  It was heart-wrenching and beautiful.

Until five days ago, JA DeRouen was completely new to me.  I’d never opened a single page of her books.  Now, I’ve read them all.  As soon as I figured out this duet was a continuation of her Over series I knew I had to read them first.  And good lord, am I glad I did.  This entire series was wonderful, the premise, the characters, all of it.  For me, the best part was seeing how greatly JA DeRouen had grown as an author.  From Hope Over Fear to Ever Over After there was an amazing amount of growth as an author.  While Hope was an amazing story and well told, it didn’t hold a candle to the story-telling that was in Ever.  I am so happy that I was able to see how she honed her skills and improved her craft in these books.  I can only hope that she continues to grow and evolve in the same way.  I will also wish and beg for her to continue writing in this world she’s created.  There are so many more stories I want to see, particularly Jeb’s, that guy needs a break.

5 feathers

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J.A. DeRouen lives in South Louisiana with her husband, son (aptly named “The Professor), and her furry friend, Scout. She holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and nursing.

When she’s not writing or inhaling romance novels by the stack, she works as a women’s health nurse. She’s been an avid reader and daydreamer since childhood, and she’s never stopped turning the page to get to the next happily ever after.

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GIVEAWAY & Book Tour ~ Black & White Flowers by Rachel Robinson ~ Sarah A’s Review

 

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Black & White FlowersCarina Painter lives a life she created in between the pages of her bestselling novel. At least, that’s what she outwardly portrays. A heart-rending childhood followed by an abusive engagement leaves her broken in all ways possible. A chance encounter provides the fork in the road she so desperately desires.

Navy SEAL Smith Eppington is fighting the war of his lifetime. One that isn’t fought with weapons and highly sought intelligence. It’s a battle to remember his past. The accident that scarred seventy five percent of his body, and stole the life of his best friend also seized parts and pieces of his memory. When an author asks to interview him for a fiction novel, he’s ready to pour his heart out no matter the cost.

The friendship that blossoms between Smith and Carina is something extraordinary. It’s a living, breathing love story about finding yourself, change that is out of your control, grasping what you can, and letting go of everything else.

In a twist of kismet, remembering could destroy everything, but fiction may be what saves the day. A friendship built on new truths and a relationship torn apart by old lies collide in a poignant novel by International Bestselling Author, Rachel Robinson.

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This is a very hard review for me to write.  I have no idea how to express how I feel, when I’m not sure what it is I am feeling about this book.  Chapter One was real and raw and devastating and so many other things, then I started chapter two and Ms. Robinson lost me.  After experiencing the heavy trauma of Carina’s childhood, the incongruity of the perfection of Megan’s manicured hands was off putting.  I understood that it was a juxtaposition of the pasts of the main characters but it seemed an amateurish attempt to me.  That theme seemed to carry throughout the book.

At the heart of it, Black and White Flowers had the potential to be an incredibly powerful book about love and healing, about how people can rise from the situations thrust upon them and become more than they ever expected.  It just never reached that lofty pinnacle.  In, what I am sure, was an effort to make this SEAL story stand out from the sea of other special forces romances, everything, including the kitchen sink, was thrown into this novel.  It was too much.  This book was a rosebush that never reached its full potential because it was never pruned back.  Still beautiful in its conception but it pales in comparison to those that were cared for with an expert hand.

I am well aware that my review seems heavy handed and incredibly critical and it is.  Despite that, I did like the overarching story of Carina and Smith.  They were a very lovely couple and most readers will absolutely love every second of their story, it was sweet, saccharinely so at some points, angsty, and overall incredibly redemptive.  There were moments that were romantic perfection, some of which were very moving.

Overall, I am happy I read this book, I would have always wondered if I hadn’t.  I don’t regret reading it either, it was a different type of story than I typically read; though I didn’t know that before I started it.  While I wasn’t wholly impressed with the writing, it often felt forced, I wasn’t put off by it enough to the point I wouldn’t read the author again.  If she writes another book I find compelling I would pick it up and give her another chance.

3.5 Feathers

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Shrugging, he pulls me into his warm, shirtless body and yanks the quilt back up to our necks, his hands now wandering over my body. “Sleep is the very last thing on my mind right now.” His gaze burns into mine and his hands find the hem of my nightshirt. His lips twitch. “You wear so little to bed. I can’t help myself,” he says. With a featherlight touch his fingertips stroke the side of my thigh up to the string of my panties. He hooks a finger in and drags his finger underneath it, teasing himself. Teasing me, too. “It took all of my self-control to go to sleep with this much of your bare skin in touching proximity.”

I blush. Big time. Everything below my waist cries out for attention in one wild rush of excitement. It’s been too long. But it’s more than that now because everything before this has been lukewarm. “What did you do at work last night?” I ask before all important thoughts flee my mind in favor of his touch—something that scrambles my brain cells. “Why did it take so long?”

His face changes. His hand stops on my hipbone and he grabs it, his fingers encompassing the whole side of my body. Breathing in and out makes his hand move with me. It’s warm. It’s demanding. “It’s nothing for you to worry about,” Smith replies.

I shake my head. “When people say stuff like that typically there is almost always something to worry about, but you don’t want to worry the person. Do you see how counterintuitive that is? Now I’m worried because you told me not to worry.”

He sighs and then pulls the covers over his head and disappears under the blankets. In a fast maneuver that tickles and makes me pull away in mock protest, he makes his way between my legs. With the edge of the quilt in my hand I lift it to see his smiling face between my knees. “You’re trying to distract me,” I say. Pressing my lips into a firm line, I try to hold a serious face. “Smith Eppington. You better tell me what I want to know.”

Smith takes the sides of my panties and pulls them down and off my body with one fierce tug. It’s playful, but so damn hot at the same. Some noise exits my mouth and it makes him smile, his good side wider than his bad. I shake my head. “Is it working?” he asks, then kisses the inside of my right thigh. “Are you distracted?” His warm breath on my skin clenches my core. He drags his lips up and down, inching his way higher.

I adjust my legs and try to calm my breaths. “I don’t see how I can’t be distracted with my underwear on the floor and your head between my legs. I don’t forget,” I say. Tapping the side of my head, I finish, “I’m like an elephant.”

He licks the inside of my left thigh and runs his hands under my nightshirt up and down the sides of my rib cage. I shiver. Tipping my head back, I close my eyes.

“An elephant isn’t what I want to think about right now,” Smith growls. “I’d ask you how you like this, but I honestly don’t care. I’m starving for you. You’re wet. I smell you.” With his lips pressing against my skin, and the disappearance of my panties, he’s turned into a lust crazed man. A man I’ve wanted to meet since I first laid eyes on him.

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rachel-robinsonRachel grew up in a small, quiet town full of loud talkers. Her words were always only loud on paper. She has been writing stories and creating characters for as long as she can remember. After living on the west coast for many years she recently moved to Virginia Beach, VA.

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GIVEAWAY & Book Tour ~ One Step Closer by Kahlen Aymes

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one-step-closer-cover-2The only had each other…

Until one forbidden night ruined everything.

 

STEPSISTER. He hated that f*cking word.

When their parents got married, the only thing Caleb Luxan had in common with Wren Brashill was that they both hated their parents. When he was sixteen, Caleb discovered Wren’s closely guarded secret and vowed to protect her: from that day forward she became the reason for every decision he made.

Jealousy and long-suppressed desire overpowered Caleb’s fierce protectiveness and they spent one forbidden and unforgettable night in each other arms, but the aftermath left Caleb panicked, Wren heartbroken, and their relationship in shambles. In the time since that fateful night, he’d only seen her once and had only managed to make the situation even worse.

The sudden death of his estranged father calls Caleb home and face-to-face with Wren for first time in years. He is presented with a choice that forces him to confront the painful memories of his youth and his many regrets with Wren.

Like it or not, his father’s last, hard lesson, will demand Caleb deal with his long denied emotions for Wren, or let go of her forever.

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Caleb’s muscled frame was rigid and as Wren looked at him, she studied his profile, and could feel his coiled tension.  The fingers in his right hand curled into a fist.  “I was so mad.  So many times, I wished he’d been the one to die.”  His voice was full of pain, as the words tore from him.  “I fucking hated him with every breath I took.  You saw how much.”

Wren nodded, though he didn’t see her acquiescence.  She knew what he went through growing up when they had formed an affable alliance against their parents.  She hated her mother at least as much as Caleb hated his father and she understood his anger and pain; then the apathy that became a welcome alternative.  They’d been unlikely allies against a common enemy.

“Maybe I deserved his indifference.”

Wren got up and went to Caleb, standing behind him as he stood still as stone, and staring out the window.  Her heart ached with love and grief for Caleb. She wanted to touch him; to offer reassurance, to take away the ache in his voice and heart.  Without considering her actions, her arms slipped around his waist and she pressed up against his strong back and leaned her head against him, between his shoulder blades.

Caleb was massive in comparison to her, and she was like a flower curling around him.  Her hands fanned out against his hard stomach, her fingers finding the definition of his abs beneath his shirt.   “Stop, Cale.  I won’t let you do this to yourself.  Your dad wouldn’t want that.  None of it was your fault.”  Her arms slid fully around him and held him tight against her body. “I can’t bear it.  You’ve had enough pain.  Enough.”

Caleb sucked in a deep breath, the action bringing her even closer.  He could feel every curve of her body pressed so closely against his back.  He could feel her breathing, could feel how she shared his pain.  His hand came up and he ran the flat of his hand from her elbow down to her hand, and then wrapped his fingers around hers.

“When did you turn into the strong one?”

Wren’s arms tightened around him.  “When I met you. ”

“Oh, Wren.” Should he just spill his guts? Would it fix everything?  “I’ve got so much to say to you.  How long can you stay?”

She nodded against him, unwilling to end the contact between their bodies; needing the closeness as much as he did.

He wanted to apologize for how he acted the last time he’d seen her, he wanted to say a hundred things… he needed her forgiveness.

“How long do you need me?”

In that moment a miracle happened; a sort of beautiful irony that taunted Caleb with its fragileness.  It was as if he’d never screwed everything up between them.  But would it stay this way?

How long do I need you? Caleb thought.  His heart raced to the point of exploding, and he wondered if Wren could feel it.

Forever.

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kahlen-aymes-bioI’m a single mother of one daughter, Olivia. She’s amazing in every way.

I was born in the Midwestern United States and educated at a private university where I received a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Business Administration.

I’ve always been creative with art, music, theater and writing. I decided to write a story as a way to build a network for a business venture. The reader support of my stories and my overwhelming desire to find out where my characters would take me, soon had the writing morphing the business. No one was more shocked than I. When readers began nominating my work for online awards, it took my breath away and only made me love it more. It soon became clear that writing was, and should be, my focus.

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