One Tough Cowboy by Lora Leigh ~ Sarah A’s Review

First in a brand-new series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Lora Leigh and Veronica Chadwick about one man’s pursuit of justice—and unbridled desire.

LAW AND ORDER. 
For as long as Samantha can remember, Hunter—a man as strong as steel, with a heart of gold—has been her hero. It came as no surprise to Samantha when she found out that the ranch-hardened cowboy who always protected her from bullies went on to become the town’s sheriff. What does surprise her is how incredibly hot he still is. And how much she still wants him…

PRIDE AND PASSION
And, lo and behold, Hunter still has feelings for Samantha. The long-smoldering heat of their innocent flirtation has grown into a full-raging fire. But when tragedy strikes, and their small-town community is shattered, Hunter vows to do everything he can to keep his childhood sweetheart safe. But can Samantha trust that Hunter has her best interests at heart…and that, after all these years, his love is true?

I’m going to keep this short since this book didn’t work for me in the big picture. There were some things I liked; I thought the suspense storyline was fascinating, and I wanted to know what happened enough to stick with the book even while I wasn’t buying into much else.

My biggest issue with One Tough Cowboy was the excessive and repetitive sex scenes. They got so redundant that I started skimming them for anything important that may have been moving Samantha and Hunter’s relationship forward, to no avail. It seemed, to me at least, that the author was far too focused on their sexual relationship and forgot to develop their emotional relationship in any way. They couldn’t be in a room together without being all over one another, to the detriment of letting the reader know why they cared for one another beyond have sex.

Secondly, for a traditionally published book, I found the editorial issues in this book to be glaring – even to my untrained eye. There was a lot of who/that confusion, various typos and misused words, and there was one point where an entire sentence was repeated. I was less than impressed with all of it.

On the plus side, the investigation and implications of it were riveting. I needed to finish the book, even if it didn’t work as a romance for me, so I could find out what was happening in Hunter’s county. I would have loved to see the end be a little more fleshed out – it felt awfully rushed and unrealistic in regards to what Samantha had experienced – and have a little more closure, since I’m not sure I can handle continuing this series, but I did understand that storyline was left a little open-ended since One Tough Cowboy is the beginning of a series.

Lora Leigh lives in the rolling hills of Kentucky, often found absorbing the ambience of this peaceful setting. She dreams in bright, vivid images of the characters intent on taking over her writing life, and fights a constant battle to put them on the hard drive of her computer before they can disappear as fast as they appeared. Lora’s family, and her writing life co-exist, if not in harmony, in relative peace with each other. Surrounded by a menagerie of pets, friends, and a teenage son who keeps her quick wit engaged, Lora’s life is filled with joys, aided by her fans whose hearts remind her daily why she writes.

NEW RELEASE!! Crazy, Beautiful Love by KL Grayson ~ Sarah A’s Review

There’s a fine line between love and hate…

Tess Walker is game for anything—except world-renowned photographer Beau Allen, the guy who inadvertently sent her life into a downward spiral. It has taken Tess years to find herself and become a person she can be proud of. Now Beau is back and making a play for her heart…a play she’s not sure she wants him to make. The more he pushes, the more her walls crumble, and Tess soon discovers that his sweet kisses and even sweeter words might be just what she’s been looking for in life.

And Tess Walker hates Beau Allen…

Beau Allen has it all: loving family, plentiful friends, and a job that sends him all over the world. What he doesn’t have is a home—or a reason to make one. Living out of a suitcase isn’t ideal, but he’s perfectly content. That is, until a beautiful woman barrels her way into his life and has him second-guessing everything. Tess is nothing like the women he’s used to and everything like the woman he wants. Grounded, strong, funny, sweet, and sexy. Did he mention sexy? Her curves make it hard for him to think, and his life’s mission soon becomes making her laugh and sigh and moan, because he really likes it when she moans. But Beau isn’t used to sticking around. Still, he’s hoping she’ll give him a reason to stay.

Doesn’t she?

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Three-time world champion bull rider Rhett Allen has never been afraid to get his hands dirty. Hard work, sweat, and determination have gotten him where he is today—and that’s holed up in a hospital room, wondering how he let that damn bull buck him off. He’s also wondering why he thought it was a good idea to let his twin brother talk him into returning home to heal.

Rhett has a million reasons to come home to Heaven, Texas, and only one reason to stay away. That reason comes in the form of a sweet and feisty girl who stole his heart long before he ever thought to give it away. The only problem…that girl has turned into a stunning woman.

Monroe Gallagher is downright sexy with more curves than he has notches in his bed post. It’s been six years since he’s seen her, six years since he’s felt any form of peace, and six years since she gripped his heart in her delicate little hands and squeezed the life out of it. The longer he’s in Heaven, the more he starts to realize that the heart she took from him—the one she crushed into a million pieces—she also never gave back.

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Claire Daniels is good at a lot of things, but dating isn’t one of them. Although she enjoys men of all different shapes, colors, and sizes, she has one requirement: they must have a job on her approved-occupation list. It has to be safe, so they can come home every night, which means no cops, pilots, doctors, ranchers, and absolutely no firefighters.

She’s kept to her rules thus far—as long as you ignore the tiny crush she has on Trevor Allen, a crush that cannot move toward anything physical because Trevor is a firefighter and a rancher. Not to mention, he’s four years younger than she is and the brother of her two best friends.

Still, it sure would be nice to have him put out her fire.

Trevor Allen also has a few rules when it comes to Claire Daniels: no staring, flirting, smokin’ hot fantasies, or touching of any kind. He’s been lusting after Claire his whole life, but with a steady stream of willing women and two demanding jobs to hold his attention, he’s somehow managed to keep his hands off her.

Until they end up in a bathroom together—a small bathroom with very little room to move, leaving him pressed against Claire’s lush curves. What’s he supposed to do when she looks up at him with those big, green doe eyes and licks her lips? The only thing he can do: kiss the hell out of her, then convince her it can’t happen again.

Too bad he can’t convince himself.

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There’s a special place in hell for a man like me—a man who shamelessly sleeps with his best friend’s little sister, knowing he’ll never be what she needs. A man who takes because the only thing he has to offer in return is a broken past that’s destined to destroy his future.

I was the kid who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks with shit parents and clothes that had been handed down one too many times. I stole to feed my sister, fought to protect her, and I’ll always be the guy your parents don’t want you to bring home.

So yeah, that’s me. Lincoln Bennett. Adley Allen’s walk on the wild side. Her dirty little secret. And I’m okay with that—ninety-nine percent of the time. Unfortunately, today is in that one percent when it doesn’t sit well with me. For some strange reason, I want to be around to celebrate all of Adley’s successes. I want to be here when she gets her first job and take her out to dinner after her first shift. I want to be the one she depends on, the person she calls when she has a bad day. Or a great day. Or any kind of day.

I want more than her body. I want her heart. But men like me don’t get women like her.

At least not to keep.

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K.L. Grayson resides in a small town outside of St. Louis, MO. She is entertained daily by her extraordinary husband, who will forever inspire every good quality she writes in a man. Her entire life rests in the palms of six dirty little hands, and when the day is over and those pint-sized cherubs have been washed and tucked into bed, you can find her typing away furiously on her computer. She has a love for alpha-males, brownies, reading, tattoos, sunglasses, and happy endings…and not particularly in that order.

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Hollywood Playboy by Natasha Madison ~ Sarah A’s Review

Jessica

An entertainment journalist was the last thing I thought I would be doing.

I thought once I got my degree, I would be reporting on stories that made a difference, but now all I do is report on who broke up with who and who is dating who.

I was over it.

Then I got my next assignment.

He’s Hollywood’s bad boy.

He works hard, and he plays even harder.

He’s rude, he’s condescending, and he’s made it known he doesn’t want me on the tour.

With one month on the road with him, two things might happen

One, I may never work in this industry again.

Two, I may just be like everyone else and fall for Hollywood’s Playboy.

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Hollywood Playboy was a mixed bag, for me. The parts that I loved I loved immensely. The parts that didn’t work for me really felt laggy. In the end, the good far outweighed the bad, and I enjoyed the overall story. Jessica and Tyler were an interesting, if unlikely, couple and I felt they were going to be able to weather life’s storms together.

Hollywood Playboy was kind of an enemies-to-lovers romance, though I never quite bought the enemies side of their relationship. It felt a little forced, and the reasoning behind their disdain didn’t quite ring true for me – at the very least it didn’t seem like they had any reason to hate each other beyond why any famous person and Hollywood reporter would hate one another. I kept waiting for a big reveal to explain their animosity to no avail. I was exceedingly happy when they finally dropped that façade and began to treat one another with respect and interest, that was MUCH easier for me to buy into.

My favorite part of Hollywood Playboy was the secrecy in which they developed their relationship. I think that keeping things between the two of them helped Jessica and Tyler learn to trust one another and keep things real in the midst of a world that is often manipulative and fake. When they were in the little cocoon of their relationship their chemistry and connection was intense and satisfying. I loved that Ms. Madison added scenes with Tyler’s parents and the ways they showed their love for one another, then mirrored it later in Tyler and Jessica’s relationship because it made it feel more powerful and real.

I struggled with the first third of this book really dragged. There was a lot of information that didn’t add to the story in any way, and I found myself getting increasingly annoyed with how superficial the characters all seemed to be. I attributed that to the excessive name brand usage and unnecessary descriptions of every. Single. Article. Of clothing, every character in the book was wearing. It got repetitive and felt very inelegant.

Kellie

An Oscar, a Tony, an Emmy, a Grammy—she has them all.
She’s the most sought-after woman in Hollywood.
Even if her rise to fame was a fluke, you can’t deny the camera loves her.
The problem is so does everyone else, and she’s about to leave on the biggest concert tour of her life. 
Headlining for the first time in five years.

Around the world in ninety days. Should be a piece of cake.
Until her new security detail walks in the room and she’s looking into the eyes of the only man who didn’t fall for her charm.

It’s only a matter of time till he falls for Hollywood’s Princess.

***  PREORDER NOW ~ RELEASES FEBRUARY 26 ***
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When her nose isn’t buried in a book, or her fingers flying across a keyboard writing, she’s in the kitchen creating gourmet meals. You can find her, in four-inch heels no less, in the car chauffeuring kids, or possibly with her husband scheduling his business trips. It’s a good thing her characters do what she says because even her Labrador doesn’t listen to her…

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NEW RELEASE!! If I Only Knew by Corinne Michaels ~ Sarah A’s Review

If I Only I Knew, an all-new heartwarming and sexy standalone romance from New York Times bestselling author Corinne Michaels, is live!

My life was perfect – until a shocking tragedy pulled the rug out from underneath me.

My children were left without a father. I was without a husband and a provider. Instead of wallowing in my grief, I buried myself in my work at Dovetail Enterprises. Landing the promotion as the CEO’s right hand was exactly what I needed.

Getting saddled with Milo Huxley as an assistant is exactly the opposite.

I can’t stand him.

He’s arrogant, irresponsible, and out for my job. As if that’s not bad enough, he has to be devastatingly sexy, and have a posh English accent that makes me squirm on top of it all. I’ve had enough unpredictability for one lifetime, thank you.

But soon enough, we’re fighting less and laughing more. He’s there for me when no one else is. And those good looks aren’t the only panty-dropping thing about him.

If I only knew what to do about it . . .

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After reading Not Until You, I was pretty sure Milo couldn’t be redeemed.  He seemed to be so completely obsessed with himself and his own happiness, with little to no regard to anyone else.  After what Danielle had gone through, I couldn’t begin to see how he could be a good match for her.  Corinne completely redeemed Milo in If I Only Knew, more than I thought possible.  Milo and his straightforward personality were exactly what Danielle needed at a point in her life when she felt like nothing would ever be okay again.  If I Only Knew was a witty, emotional office romance, with a dash of enemies-to-lovers thrown in.

I loved that Danielle refused to back down to Milo from the first moment they met.  It set a precedent I was impressed by, Danielle was no shrinking violet, and I’m not sure she would have had the appeal to Milo – or me – if she didn’t display that spine of steel when confronted.  Danni had more than her share of struggles to face, and that’s definitely where her strength came from, but she also needed someone solid and more removed from the situation than her friends were to support her.  Milo fit that role excellently.  I loved how effortlessly they fell into a relationship neither of them were expecting.

Milo surprised me at every turn.  From the reasons he’d always acted the way he did, to his unwavering devotion to Danielle and her kids, to his acceptance of taking on any responsibility thrown his way, he was incredible.  He had grown so much from his first appearance in Not Until You and through If I Only Knew, his arc was phenomenal and made this story outstanding in a way I hadn’t anticipated.  Coupling his growth arc with Danielle’s (and Ava’s, if I’m being completely honest) healing arc, I couldn’t have asked for a more satisfying way to conclude this series.

If I Only Knew is the final book in an unnamed series of standalones by Corinne Michaels.  The series is about a tribe of four women who are closer – and more important to one another – than some families.  Each book is about a different woman and can definitely be read without reading any of the others.  I don’t think it’s possible to read one without wanting to read the others, though, because each of the women is so phenomenal.  If I Only Knew is written in dual first-person perspective, narrated by Danielle and Milo.

New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Corinne Michaels is the author of nine romance novels. She’s an emotional, witty, sarcastic, and fun loving mom of two beautiful children. Corinne is happily married to the man of her dreams and is a former Navy wife.

After spending months away from her husband while he was deployed, reading and writing was her escape from the loneliness. She enjoys putting her characters through intense heartbreak and finding a way to heal them through their struggles. Her stories are chock full of emotion, humor, and unrelenting love.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~JESSE~

“So you’re the decision maker now?”

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

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

“I’m not biased.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me: No

Glory: I know of your grandmother’s plan

Me: So do I

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

Me—stone cold frozen.

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

Me: I won’t be there.

Glory: Yes, you will.

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

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

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NEW RELEASE!! Pricked by Winter Renshaw

He said it would only hurt a little …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cruel Money by KA Linde ~ Sarah A’s Review

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

She was supposed to be a one night stand.

A way to sate my sexual appetite.

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

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

Now, she’s here. In my city.

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

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

And I want more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NEW RELEASE!! Be the Girl by KA Tucker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NOW LIVE!! We Shouldn’t by Vi Keeland

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seriously, my day couldn’t get any worse.

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

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

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

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

Or so I thought.

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

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

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

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

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Figures.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tall and with gentlemanly manners. I disliked him already.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Which is?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

He scowled. “You mean man.”

★★★★★

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.

Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.

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