Friday, August 31, 2018

Love Online by Penelope Ward: Blog Tour Promo


Blurb:

From New York Times bestselling author Penelope Ward, comes a new, sexy STANDALONE novel.

We met in the least likely of places. It started out innocently enough. I was “ScreenGod” and she was “Montana,” but of course, those weren’t our actual names, just the virtual cloaks we hid behind.

Logging in at night and talking to her was my escape—my sanctuary.

Her real name was Eden, I’d soon come to find out.

From the first time we connected online, I found myself transfixed.

She was an addiction.

At first, we knew nothing about each other’s real identities…and she was adamant that we keep things that way. Anonymity had no effect on our unstoppable chemistry, though. If anything, it allowed us to open up even more in ways we may not have otherwise.

Eden was funny, intelligent, gorgeous—everything I’d ever wanted in a woman.

But I couldn’t really have her.
I had accepted things would have to stay the way they were—until the day I found a clue that led me straight to her.

So I took a chance.
And that was when our love story really began.
 


Click to Buy on Amazon:

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About the Author:

Penelope Ward is a USA Today Bestselling author.

She grew up in Boston with five older brothers. She spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor, before switching to a more family-friendly career.

Penelope lives for reading books in the new adult genre, coffee and hanging out with her friends and family on weekends.

She is the proud mother of a beautiful 10-year-old girl with autism (the inspiration for the character Callie in Gemini) and a 8-year-old boy, both of whom are the lights of her life.

Penelope, her husband and kids reside in Rhode Island.

She is currently working on her fifth novel, Jake Understood. She is the author of Gemini, Jake Undone, My Skylar and Stepbrother Dearest.

Social Media Links:


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Thursday, August 30, 2018

If We Fall (What If Duet #1) by Nina Lane: Release Blitz


Blurb:

We fell in love. Then our world fell apart.

I wished so hard for Cole Danforth. And one day, he came true. He was my first boyfriend, my first lover, my first and only love. He should also have been my last.

But in a split-second, we were ripped apart, our lives broken, my heart shattered.

After ten years, I've returned to my hometown, the place of my greatest joy and darkest pain.

Cole is still here, but the beautiful boy I'd loved is gone. Now he's a ruthless, unforgiving man determined to feed both my hatred and my lust.

Then our torturous past encroaches again, trapping us in a violent storm.

But this time, there is no escape.


Click to Buy the What If Duet on Amazon:

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About the Author:

New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Nina Lane writes hot, sexy romances and spicy erotica. Originally from California, she holds a PhD in Art History and an MA in Library and Information Studies, which means she loves both research and organization. She also enjoys traveling and thinks St. Petersburg, Russia is a city everyone should visit at least once. Although Nina would go back to college for another degree because she's that much of a bookworm and a perpetual student, she now lives the happy life of a full-time writer.

Social Media Links:


Excerpt:

“Sir?” The security guard phones in from downstairs. “There’s a woman here insisting she needs to speak with you.”
                “Name?”
                “Josephine Mays.”
                “Let her in.”
                I turn off the intercom and unlock my office door. A few minutes pass before the door flies open. Josie barges in, her hands fisted and an angry light in her eyes.
                “You are an asshole,” she snaps.
                “I’ve been told.”
                “How dare you pull that kind of stunt?”
                “It’s the truth.”
                “And we both know damned well you brought it up only because I’m involved.” She tosses her backpack and art portfolio onto a chair. She’s trembling with anger. “I don’t care what you think about me, but bringing the people of this town into our personal shit is low, even for you.”
                My shoulders tense. “Even for me? What do you know about me?”
                “Nothing anymore.” She slams her hands to her hips, her features twisting. “But I used to know everything about you. Do you remember that? Then you walked out on me right when I needed you the most, proving you were never the man I thought you were. Now I find out that you run this company like a dictator, you’re crushing independent businesses and putting people out of work, and you’re publicly trying to stop me from creating a mural that’s intended for both this town and my parents. What the hell happened to you?”
                You happened to me.”
                The words fly out of my mouth before I can stop them. The pencil I’m holding breaks in two with the force of my grip.
                Josie steps back, her eyes widening. Her dark hair is windblown, her cheeks flushed, her chest heaving under her old army jacket. I’d once had the right to comb her hair back from her forehead, slide my palm over her neck before edging my fingers into her V-necked T-shirt...
                Anger crushes my chest. I shove away from my desk and stride toward her. Fear flashes in her green eyes, which pisses me off even more. When the fuck was she ever afraid of me?
                I grab the lapels of her jacket, yanking her closer. Our lower bodies collide. She gasps, a little catching noise in the back of her throat that used to get me hot in a second.
                It still does. My blood starts to boil. She tilts her head back, her eyes flashing. I lower my head to look at her, fighting to ignore her scent—goddamned summer leaves and cherry candy.
                “I once would have done anything for you.” The words grate roughly from my throat. “And then I failed you in the worst possible way. I failed you, I failed Teddy, and I failed your parents.”
                She stares at me, her eyes widening. “Cole, I—”
                “When you left, I hoped with everything I was that you’d have a chance at a normal life.” I pull her closer, anger warring with the undeniable flare of lust. “That you could be happy again if you weren’t constantly surrounded by reminders of everything you lost. Everything I took from you.”
                “Goddamn you, Cole Danforth.” Fire flames over her expression. She plants her hands on my chest and shoves herself away. “The only thing you took from me was you.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Unzipped by Lauren Blakely: Cover Reveal


Everything he knows about women is about to get turned upside down…

Available in audio first, a brilliantly funny, scorchingly sexy new romance from #1 New York Times best-selling author Lauren Blakely! UNZIPPED will be releasing through Audible on October 30, 2018, with the eBook and paperback releasing on December 14, 2018!

Pre-order your copy today!

Blurb:

Picture this - I'm ready to win back the love of my life, and I'm going big this time. We're talking boom box, sing her name in the rain, let the whole damn neighborhood know I'm good and ready this time around. After all, if you're going to grand gesture the ever-loving hell out of a second chance, you need to pull out all the stops.

There's only one little problem.

My college girlfriend isn't the one who shows up when I play my "I'll do anything to win you back" tune.

The woman who flings open the second-floor window tells me my ex doesn't live here anymore. But she'll help me win her back. Anything for romance, anything for a guy so willing to go big for love. And that's what I want at first. Until I get to know my new "romance coach" and discover she's funny, clever, and keeps me on my toes. And boy, do I ever need that.

Now I don't want to win anyone else's heart. I want the woman who's been helping me all along.

Trouble is - she thinks I'm in love with someone else, and when we take off on a road trip, everything I think I know about women is about to be unzipped and turned inside out.

Releases: October 30, 2018 with Audible






PREORDER YOUR COPY TODAY:

✦Audible ➜ https://amzn.to/2wigo63
✦ iBooks ➜ https://blkly.pub/iUnzipped
✦ Kobo ➜ https://bit.ly/2OeFJFr
✦ Nook ➜ https://blkly.pub/Unzipped-Nook
✦ Google Play ➜ https://blkly.pub/Unzipped-GP
✦ Paperback ➜ https://amzn.to/2BYEUyk
✦ Amazon Kindle LIVE Alert ➜ https://blkly.pub/news

About Lauren Blakely:

Lauren Blakely writes sexy contemporary romance novels with heat,

heart, and humor, and her books have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks bestseller lists. Like the heroine in FAR TOO TEMPTING, she thinks life should be filled with family, laughter, and the kind of love that love songs promise. Lauren lives in California with her husband, children, and dogs. She loves hearing from readers! Her novels include Caught Up In Us, Pretending He's Mine, Playing With Her Heart, Trophy Husband, and Far Too Tempting. On November 21, she'll release the edgy new adult novel THE THRILL OF IT. She also writes for young adults under the name Daisy Whitney.

Social Media Links:



Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Truth About Lies (The Truth Duet #1) by Aly Martinez: Blog Tour Review


Blurb:

Truth: From over a thousand miles away, I watched on the screen of my phone as two men murdered my wife. And I was helpless to save her.

Consumed by hate and rage, I spent four years running from my memories.

Until a shattered woman gave me a reason to stop.

Cora lived in a nightmare, but through sheer force of will, she’d turned it into something beautiful. She had a smile that could pierce the darkest soul. And with one glance, she shredded mine.

Lie: I was only there for a fresh start.
Lie: I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Lie: There was nothing I could do to save her, either.

But that’s the thing about lies—you never know who to believe.


Click to Buy The Truth Duet on Amazon:

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About the Author:

Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Aly Martinez is a stay-at-home mom to four crazy kids under the age of five, including a set of twins. Currently living in Chicago, she passes what little free time she has reading anything and everything she can get her hands on, preferably with a glass of wine at her side.

After some encouragement from her friends, Aly decided to add “Author” to her ever-growing list of job titles. So grab a glass of Chardonnay, or a bottle if you’re hanging out with Aly, and join her aboard the crazy train she calls life.

Social Media Links:


Michelle's Review:

From the very first word of The Truth About Lies you know you are in for an extremely bumpy, emotional ride. Between a surprising heroine, an unlikely hero, an impossible situation, and death, despair, and destruction surrounding them there is just no way to escape the emotional upheaval of this one. Aly Martinez continues to bring us deep, sometimes dark, but always brutally honest and true to life stories that slowly but surely splinter you into a thousand pieces only to gradually patch you back together and surprise you to find that you are actually better for it.

With a heroine with an occupation and connections like this one, a love story seems like just about the most unlikely occurrence in her life and Cora would be one of the first to confirm the same, but sometimes chemistry, attraction, and need is undeniable and when the right man comes along there is no stopping that freight train. At first glance you may not think that this woman is very relatable, deserving of any empathy or understanding, or even particularly likable, but you will soon find that her situation is one that you can't help but feel for and one in which anyone with a backbone of steel and immense determination could easily fall into with the right set of circumstances and motivation. You may not like what she does, what she must deal with on a daily basis, or where she's going, but it's easy to see how she got there and you just can't help admire her strength, her perseverance, her compassion, and her need to make even the darkest situation the tiniest bit better for those she cares about.

Penn is a man with more than just your average chip on his shoulder, he has the grief of the past, the responsibility of his family, and the weight of the world upon him and while you can't help but feel his pain way down deep, his is also a mystery so wide, so deep, so intricate, and tangled you may never get him all figured out. It's a jumble of emotions and a completely crazy feeling to feel so strongly for this poor man who has been through the unimaginable, to want the best for him, but to also be wary of him, as there is clearly much more to his story, and a whole other world it seems that he is hiding from even those who have become the closest to him.

With surprises around every corner, a doozy of a cliffhanger, and what seems to be the biggest shock still yet to come, there is no denying the roller coaster that is The Truth About Lies. An emotional journey made complicated by secrets, lies, and unsavory deeds and decisions. This book will leave you feeling shattered and raw, mixed up and confused, stunned and raring for more!

*complimentary copy provided by author for an honest review

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Going Down Easy (Boys of the Big Easy #1) by Erin Nicholas: Release Blitz w/ Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway


Blurb:

As far as flings go, single dad Gabe Trahan is pretty sure that Addison Sloan is his best bet. Once a month, Addison comes to New Orleans and then…It. Is. On. Until Addison returns to New York, it’s just hot, happily-no-strings-attached sex. And beignets. And jazz. But lately for Gabe, it isn’t nearly enough.

Sure, maybe Addison’s gotten a bit hooked on Gabe. After all, who can resist a guy who’s so sexy, so charming, and so…available? But maybe he’s too available for her right now. Addison’s just moved to New Orleans, and relationships are definitely off the table. Besides, guys always bail when they learn her secret: she’s a single mom.

Only Gabe’s not running. Worse, he’s thrilled. But Addison never signed up for ever-after romance, and Gabe won’t settle for anything less. Now it’s a battle of wills—and when it comes to the woman he’s falling for, Gabe isn’t above playing a little dirty.


Click to Buy Boys of the Big Easy Series on Amazon:

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Excerpt:

Gabe had sent her flowers.

Addison stood staring at the gigantic bouquet of white flowers sitting on the desk she was using for the day.

“These are magnolias, right?” she asked Elena.

“They are. The state flower of Louisiana.” Elena stroked the petal of one of the gorgeous flowers. “Someone knows your weakness for all things New Orleans.”

He definitely did. Addison hadn’t even needed to read the card to know who the flowers were from. Gabe knew she was a sucker for anything that was traditionally associated with the city. Beignets, bourbon, masks, beads, gas lanterns, and balconies with looping wrought iron railings. For six months he’d been taking her out on the Sunday she was in town and letting her soak up the city. And now she’d gone from associating those things with New Orleans and the unique spirit of the city to associating them with him.

But why was he sending her flowers? That was new. So far, their routine was she showed up at the bar on Saturday night, they spent the weekend together, she left on Monday morning, and then thirty days later, they repeated it all over again. There was no contact in between times. No texts or calls—they didn’t have each other’s number. No letters or gifts—he didn’t have her address. And definitely no flowers.

“See you soon, Gabe,” Elena read from the card. She lifted her eyes, meeting Addison’s. “Gabe? Who’s Gabe?” Then her eyes widened. “Wait. These aren’t from Gabe Trahan, are they?”

Oh, crap. Addison took a deep breath, thought briefly about lying, and then realized there was no real reason to not tell her friend the truth. “Yes.”

Elena’s eyes widened, almost as if she hadn’t expected that answer. “Really? You’ve seen him since that first night?”

Addison rounded the desk and set the folder she was carrying on top of the nearest stack, straightening the pile of already straight files. “Yes,” she said simply. The fewer details she offered, the better, probably.

“When?” Elena asked. “I had no idea you’d seen him again.”

And then it hit Addison . . . Elena wasn’t just her friend anymore. She was Addison’s boss. Was this going to reflect badly on her? Was a just-when-she-was-in-town affair something Elena would frown upon?

“I didn’t think it was important to mention. We just . . . went out a couple of times.” They had. They’d gone out to Preservation Hall for jazz. They’d gone to Café du Monde for coffee and beignets. They’d gone to the French Market. They’d gone to Gabe’s bedroom. And his shower. And his kitchen table. And his balcony . . .

“You’re dating Gabe Trahan?” Elena asked, planting her hands on her hips.

“No,” Addison said quickly. “Not dating. We’ve had . . . drinks when I’ve been in town.” And many, many orgasms. And laughs. And fun.

“Which time?” Elena asked.

“Which time what?”

“Which time that you were in town did you have drinks?”

Addison sighed. “Each time.”

“You’ve seen him every time you’ve been in town since you met him?” Elena asked, clearly shocked.

“Yes. But,” Addison added before Elena could go on, “it’s nothing serious. It’s been . . . a fling. Just a little fun. No big deal. And”—she took a deep breath—“this weekend was the last time. Now that I’ve moved here, I won’t be seeing him anymore.”

Saying it out loud made her heart clench even harder than it had when she’d driven away from him that morning.

About Erin Nicholas:

Erin Nicholas is the author of sexy contemporary romances. Her stories have been described as toe-curling, enchanting, steamy and fun. She loves to write about reluctant heroes, imperfect heroines and happily ever afters. She lives in the Midwest with her husband who only wants to read the sex scenes in her books, her kids who will never read the sex scenes in her books, and family and friends who say they’re shocked by the sex scenes in her books (yeah, right!).

Social Media Links:

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Wooing a Woman: New Orleans Edition with Erin Nicholas

My newest book, Going Down Easy, is a hot, contemporary romance set in one of the sexiest cities in the country: New Orleans. I’ve loved New Orleans since my first visit there in 2011 and have been back multiple times. I fall more in love with the place every time I’m there. There’s just something about the city that I can’t explain but that keeps me coming back. The music, the history, the laid-back attitude, the food…there’s just so much to love. So finally, the right characters and stories came along and it was time to write a series set there. Here's a little bit about my characters and book...

Gabe Trahan: dirty-talking, charming, and a little bit sweet bar owner in the French Quarter. Has lots of friends and close to his family. Has a slow, sexy drawl, panty-melting grin. And a son, Cooper, who is five years old.

Addison Sloan: restoration architect who comes to New Orleans from New York City once a month to consult on a new project with a local firm. Confident, independent (very), smart, sassy. Loves dirty-talk in a slow Louisiana drawl. And jazz. And beignets. And pralines. And pretty much anything related to New Orleans. She’s also a single mom to five-year-old Stella.

How they meet: Addison comes into Gabe’s bar with a friend. The chemistry is immediate. And Addison’s love for New Orleans is obvious. Even the mention of beignets makes her eyes sparkle, she melts when she hears jazz, she loves the café au lait, the horse-drawn carriages—just everything. Gabe’s never been much of a romantic, but suddenly he wants to get that sexy, sweet look on her face as often as possible. (You can actually read all about this in "Easy Going", the prequel novella! Check out Goodreads to find it :)

So whenever Addison is in town they go to jazz clubs, eat all the traditional New Orleans dishes—gumbo, crawfish, pralines—and they take in everything about the city. And Addison gives him a new appreciation for his home town. Though, their favorite place is definitely the balcony on the apartment above Gabe’s bar. For lots of reasons ;) (Did I mention the prequel novella? "Easy Going". Goodreads).

Then, everything changes. Addison is moving to New Orleans to take a permanent job with the firm…and she has no time or energy or interest in a full-blown, all-the-time, same-city relationship.

But Gabe’s not giving up.

He has every intention of using Addison’s weakness for New Orleans and the south “against” her in a huge play for her heart. So how does he do it? Read on for hero Gabe Trahan's Seven EASY(ish) Steps To Woo A Woman in New Orleans:
Step #1

Start off with reminding her of the sweet stuff about being with you in New Orleans. Send a basket of pralines and Magnolias. Be romantic. Do not mention dirty stuff on the card. Probably.

Step #2

Turn up the heat. Send her some beignets and an extra bag of powdered sugar to remind her of the night on your balcony where lots of other things ended up with sugar on them. Maybe mention the dirty stuff on the card now. Or again.

Step #3

Invite her on a horse-drawn carriage ride around the Quarter. Make it impossible for her to say no by sending the invite with a bottle of Pimm’s No. 1 and tell her that there’s going to be a parade at the end. She can’t resist a parade.

Step #4

Have your mutual friends suggest a night out on the town to her and then surprise her by joining them at Preservation Hall for the jazz show. Make sure you show up just before it starts. There’s no way she’ll yell at you when she can be listening to jazz. She’ll very likely let you stand really close and wrap your arms around her like you’ve done all the other times she’s heard a jazz trumpet. You can say some dirty things in her ear here. For sure.

Step #5

A few days later, send her a book about alligators. Make sure it’s something her five-year-old daughter will be interested in. A coloring book with alligator trivia would be perfect. Insert a brochure for a swamp boat tour in the book. Text her the next day and suggest you all go on the swamp boat tour together.

Step #6

After a day in the sun on the bayou with your kids, invite her to a masquerade ball. Be sure to mention it’s at a plantation. And that she gets to wear a ball gown. And a mask, of course. And that there will be mint juleps. She’ll be putty in your hands. This is your chance to do a few dirty things.

Step #7

In the end, even if some of the other stuff has failed, use the Ace up your sleeve. Show up on her doorstep with a pot of your grandma’s gumbo and tell her that you’re madly in love with her and that if she’ll let you in, she’ll be able to have that gumbo regularly for the rest of her life. No one can say no to grandma’s gumbo.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 27, 2018

Love Online by Penelope Ward: Release Blitz


Blurb:

From New York Times bestselling author Penelope Ward, comes a new, sexy STANDALONE novel.

We met in the least likely of places. It started out innocently enough. I was “ScreenGod” and she was “Montana,” but of course, those weren’t our actual names, just the virtual cloaks we hid behind.

Logging in at night and talking to her was my escape—my sanctuary.

Her real name was Eden, I’d soon come to find out.

From the first time we connected online, I found myself transfixed.

She was an addiction.

At first, we knew nothing about each other’s real identities…and she was adamant that we keep things that way. Anonymity had no effect on our unstoppable chemistry, though. If anything, it allowed us to open up even more in ways we may not have otherwise.

Eden was funny, intelligent, gorgeous—everything I’d ever wanted in a woman.

But I couldn’t really have her.
I had accepted things would have to stay the way they were—until the day I found a clue that led me straight to her.

So I took a chance.
And that was when our love story really began.
 


Click to Buy on Amazon:

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About the Author:

Penelope Ward is a USA Today Bestselling author.

She grew up in Boston with five older brothers. She spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor, before switching to a more family-friendly career.

Penelope lives for reading books in the new adult genre, coffee and hanging out with her friends and family on weekends.

She is the proud mother of a beautiful 10-year-old girl with autism (the inspiration for the character Callie in Gemini) and a 8-year-old boy, both of whom are the lights of her life.

Penelope, her husband and kids reside in Rhode Island.

She is currently working on her fifth novel, Jake Understood. She is the author of Gemini, Jake Undone, My Skylar and Stepbrother Dearest.

Social Media Links:



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Saturday, August 25, 2018

Check out this week's upcoming releases!


There are a TON of books releasing this week! Check out the recap below to see what's up for pre-order!!!

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Blind Kiss by Renee Carlino: Blog Tour Excerpt & Review


Blurb:

Penny spends her afternoons sitting outside a sandwich shop, surrounded by ghosts. Fourteen years ago, this shop was her childhood dance studio—and she was a dancer on the rise. Now she’s a suburban housewife, dreading the moment her son departs for MIT, leaving her with an impeccably decorated McMansion and a failing marriage. She had her chance at wild, stars-in-her-eyes happiness, but that was a lifetime ago. After The Kiss. Before The Decision.

The Kiss was soulful. Magical. Earth-shattering. And it was all for a free gift card. Asked to participate in a psych study that posed the question, “Can you have sexual chemistry without knowing what the other person looks like?” Penny agreed to be blindfolded, make polite conversation with a total stranger, and kiss him. She never expected The Kiss to change her life forever and introduce her to Gavin: tattooed, gorgeous, and spontaneous enough to ask her out seconds after the blindfolds came off.

For a year, they danced between friendship and romance—until Penny made The Decision that forced them to settle for friendship. Now, fourteen years later, both of their lives are about to radically change—and it’s his turn to decide what will become of their once-in-a-lifetime connection.





Click to Buy on Amazon:

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Michelle's Review:

Coming off more than a few less than stellar reads in a row, I've been in a major book slump recently and was pretty convinced that nothing was pulling me out of this one. Then my savior came along. From the moment I picked Blind Kiss up until the moment I reluctantly put it down, I was hooked by this convoluted, complex, and wholly consuming story.

I'm not sure there's going to be much middle of the road when it comes to opinions on this one. It seems to me it's a love it or hate it type of read depending on whether you can separate a fictional story from your own intense personal beliefs. I have to say, there is nothing that bugs me more than hearing someone talk about a book and say, "Oh, I hated that book because the heroine ate a big steak, and I'm a vegan!" or "I couldn't stand that book because I love cats and the hero was allergic!" But what about the story? "Oh, the story was fine, but I just couldn't get past the erroneous use of plastic bottles."

I believe in reading a story and basing my feelings about the book, as a whole, on the quality of writing, the depth of story, the capability to not only hold my interest, but to keep me yearning to find out more, and yes, finally, the characters themselves and my connection with them. On that note, did I agree with all of these character's actions and choices? Not by a long shot. What was going on was mostly inappropriate, nowhere near as open and honest as they may have been professing or had convinced themselves, and I found myself siding with something Penny's mother had once accused her of which she found hurtful and was unwilling to accept or acknowledge, because honestly, it had to have hit a little too close to home.

Despite these personal feelings, I could see why it was so hard to stay away, why they felt possessed to behave this way no matter the consequences, and the root to the feelings and behaviors compounded with some really bad choices even sometimes made me feel bad for everyone involved. I just simply cannot deny that no matter how frustrated I grew, how sad the situation made me, or how much empathy I felt for the other side of the story, from the very first page I found myself preoccupied with everything about this story, unable to put it down, and totally and utterly addicted.

If nothing else, this is a really fascinating look into a whole different way of life, way of thinking, way of conducting yourself. If you can separate yourself from your own moral beliefs or disapproval of someone else's actions, you are guaranteed to be gripped by the connection, ensnared by the back and forth between past and present as you struggle to understand where things went wrong, and completely absorbed in this unique and tumultuous story.

Talk about evoking emotions! If you love the should-we-or-shouldn't-we, the oh-so-close, or the forbidden, you have definitely got to read this book. Will this story make you feel all warm and fuzzy? I wouldn't count on it. At least not for quite some time. Will it bring tears to your eyes? Maybe, but not in the way you would expect. Tears of joy, not exactly, tears of relief, maybe. Will it frustrate the hell out of you? Absolutely. Seeing what is right there before everyone's eyes and wondering why things just couldn't work out the way that they should, near miss after near miss, will have you pulling your hair out for sure. If that isn't one of the most visceral reactions you can have, I don't know what is.

Blind Kiss is a very different sort of story from a favorite author, not one that I was expecting in any way, but it was a very pleasant surprise and one that just proves just how incredible and evocative of a writer Renee Carlino truly is. Calling all angst junkies, this is exactly what you've been looking for!

*complimentary copy provided by publisher for an honest review

Rating: 5 Stars 

About the Author:

Renee’s first friends were the imaginary kind and even though her characters haven’t gone away, thankfully the delusions have. She admits she’s a wildly hopeless romantic and she blames 80’s movies staring Molly Ringwald for that. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she’s not at the beach with her boys or working on the next book, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate.

Social Media Links:


Excerpt:

WE SAT AT the bar of the pub as I continued to stare at him, a mixture of curiosity and fear boiling in my gut. He ordered a beer, and I ordered Chardonnay with beer-cheese pretzels.
“That’s different for you.”
I usually stuck to salads, an old habit from my dancing days, but I had lost a lot of weight in the past few weeks. “Don’t think you can distract me so easily. Tell me what’s going on. Did you break up with Briel?”
He took a long pull from his beer and stared straight ahead. “Don’t be mad, okay?”
I stared at him, wordlessly, the fear fully boiling over. And then he dropped the bomb on me.
The next few minutes were hazy as Gavin, the bar, and my glass of Chardonnay swam together before my eyes. I tried to reach for the glass but found it suddenly empty. That’s weird. It was full a minute ago. I motioned to the bartender for another, then poured it down my throat in a steady stream.
I was breathing fast when I slammed the glass on the bar, shattering my fugue state—and bringing Gavin into sharp relief. I was reeling.
“Shit, Penny! Be careful. You almost shattered your glass!” He practically yelled.
“You’re moving to fucking France?!” I yelled back.
The bartender jerked his head toward the door, and within minutes Gavin was forcibly dragging me out of the bar by the arm. I slipped out of his grip and stood in the middle of the parking lot, seething, very much drunk, and fully freaking out. “So, do you love her?”
“Briel? What kind of question is that?”
“Just answer me.”
“Fuck, Penny. That’s not what this is about. I don’t really have a choice here, though, do I?”
“You always have a choice.”
He glared at me. “That’s fucking rich, coming from you.”
I shook my head vigorously. “Totally different situation.”
“Like hell it was.”
“When do you leave?”
“In two days.”
“WHAT?!”
He ran up and shook me by the shoulders. “Jesus, if I knew you were gonna take it like this, I wouldn’t have told you in public. Pull yourself together.”
I screamed at the top of my lungs and then made a guttural sound as I hunched over and held my stomach.
“First Milo, now you?”
“Don’t you put that on me. I’m not the reason why you’re about to be alone and unhappy.”
“Fuck you, Gavin!”
“Fuck you, Penny!”
He didn’t turn around—he just stormed off in typical Gavin fashion: petulant, recalcitrant, and a total shithead. People in the parking lot were gawking, appalled, covering their children’s ears. But no one made a move to leave. When Gavin and I got like this, we were like a car wreck by the side of the road, impossible to look away from.
Gavin slid into his ’67 Chevelle and fired up the engine. I hated that car because he loved it so much. It had a black leather interior, a flawless paint job, and tinted windows, like it belonged to some kind of celebrity—which Gavin definitely wasn’t. It was his only possession worth a dime, besides his garage, a few guitars, and a Zippo lighter he swore River Phoenix had given to him at the Viper Room the night of his death.
I ran to the exit and stood in the middle of the lane, daring him to run me over as he ripped out of his parking spot and raced around the corner toward the exit. “We’re not done talking, you coward!”
He slowed but let the car idle while he revved the engine. “I dare you!” I yelled.
He stuck his head out the window, leaned his tattooed arm against the door, and actually grinned at me.
So smug. What a dick.
“You look ridiculous standing there. Get out of the way!”
I walked toward his window and noticed that his demeanor had completely softened. There was even humor in his expression. He wanted me to block him, and he knew I would.
“Can’t you have a proper fight without running away?”
“You were lecturing me, yet again. I have a mother, thank you. You have a child you can order around . . . and a husband you can control. I don’t need your shit, okay? Don’t you realize that I’m freaking out, too? I’m going through the hardest time of my life, and you’re making this all about you.”
“You’ve been going through the hardest time of your life for the whole fourteen years I’ve known you.”
“And as my friend, do you think you’re helping my situation right now?” he spat back, his mood shifting once again. “Don’t even. Don’t you dare act like I haven’t been a good friend to you. You’ve put me in the most awkward situations, you’ve bolted on me, you’ve stopped speaking to me for weeks at a time, but still . . . I make myself available to you. I’ve been here for you, always. And now you’re moving thousands of miles away when I need you most?”
He shook his head slowly. “That’s right, Penny. You have been here. You’ve been right by my side, lecturing me, rolling your eyes at me, pressuring me to get serious about Briel, all so I could go and fuck up my life even more while you sit in your nice house, with your KitchenAid mixer, your Oracle espresso machine, and your fucking yellow Lab.”
“Don’t talk about Buckley that way! He’s a good dog. And you love our espresso machine.”
Gavin’s lips turned up at the corners. “You’re so messed up, Penny. You definitely have a chemical imbalance.”
I pointed to my chest, shocked. “Me? Look who’s talking? Please, pull into a parking space. I don’t want to stand here anymore, making a spectacle of myself. Some parent from Milo’s school is probably watching this whole thing. There’ll be whispers at the next PTA meeting. Is that what
you want for me?”
“Don’t pretend like you go to PTA meetings. And look around; everyone’s gone. It’s just us.”
He was right. The parking lot had cleared out. Gavin was sitting in his idling car while I was standing outside his window like a moron.
“I resent you for saying I pushed Briel on you. And yes, for your information, I do go to PTA meetings.”
You encouraged me to go out with her, then you needled me about it until I finally did.”
“You were horribly depressed! I thought you were gonna jump off a bridge. I told you to go out with her and to have some fun. She’s a nice girl. I didn’t say turn your life upside down, pack up, and run away with a foreigner! You’re thirty-six-years old, Gavin. I think it’s time you grew up.” I shook my head. “God, I can’t believe you.”
He jerked his head back and squinted. “Great band but not totally PC to call someone a foreigner, Penny.” His voice was low.
“Are you going to become a French citizen now, too? You better brush up on your French.”
“Everyone speaks English there.”
“No, they don’t! People always say that, but you’ll see. They might be able to communicate to a degree, but it’s not conversational English.”
Why am I still standing here, screaming about French people?
I needed to tie this conversation up in a pretty little bow. I needed closure. I couldn’t say good-bye to my best friend without it. He was leaving, going to France to chase a girlfriend
I knew he didn’t love. I was losing him. And it was my fault. We couldn’t leave each other angry.
“I’ll figure it out,” he said. “Try not to make me feel worse about my situation, though I know that’s hard for you.” “Your situation? It’s always your situation. What about my situation?” He just stared at me. He was hurting; I could tell. But I was hurting, too. “Listen—”
“What?”
“Don’t interrupt me.” I cleared my throat. “Gavin . . . it’s just . . . I’m going to fucking miss you, okay? I’m having a hard time right now, and life is about to get a whole lot harder the second you leave.” I started to cry.
He hated it when I cried, but he didn’t ask me, “Why are you crying?” He never had to ask. He took a deep breath in through his nose, then released it forcefully in a burst of frustration. A second later his car stalled. He put it in gear, got out, and swooped me up in a bear hug. “Penny, Penny, Penny . . . my crazy girl,” he said as he rubbed my back. I was wiping my snot-covered nose on his black T-shirt and he didn’t care one bit.
He held me for a long time. When he started to release me, I said, “It’s not enough.”
He picked me up again and squeezed me harder. Tucking his face into my neck, he said, “It’ll never be enough.”
“Why?” I said, fully bawling against his shoulder. He brushed a strand of my hair, damp with tears, behind my ear. “I have to go, and so do you. You need to be with your family now.”
I felt the lump in my throat growing. “You don’t have to constantly remind me that I have a family. I love my family. But you’re a part of it, too, and that’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m fucking crying in the parking lot in front of Bank of America.”
He pulled away and we stood there, two feet apart, staring at each other, as if we were committing each other to memory. Allowing one another to really look at and take the other person in, stripped down to our bones, without scrutiny.
“Is this it?” I asked.
“This is it, P.”
I shook my head, leaned up on my toes, and wrapped my arms around him. We hugged again for a long time before he got into his car. I tried to hold on to the feeling of having him in my arms, or maybe I was trying to hold on to the feeling of being held in his.
He started the engine as I stood there, waiting for him to leave.
“We’ll talk on the phone or email or something, okay?”
“Okay,” I told him.
He swallowed nervously. Looking up at me from the car window, he said, “I wish it were you, Penny.”
That was my bow. He knew I needed it, good or bad—no matter what feelings it shook loose from our long and complicated history together.