Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Tumble (Dogwood Lane #1) by Adriana Locke: Spotlight w/ Excerpt, Guest Post & Giveaway


Blurb:

After being burned by her dream job in New York City, sports journalist Neely Kimber suddenly finds herself jobless and paying a long-overdue visit to her hometown in Tennessee. Her plan? Relax, reset, and head back up the corporate ladder. There’s just one unexpected step. Neely’s back in Dogwood Lane for barely a day when she sees the man she ran from nine years ago: the bad boy next door who was her first kiss, her first love, and her first heartbreak.

Devoted single dad Dane Madden knows he hurt Neely in the worst way. He’s got a lot to make up for. And as passionate as their reconnection is, it’s a lot to hope for. Having her back in his arms feels so right. But falling in love all over again with a woman who wants to live a world away is bound to go so wrong.

What’s it going to take for Neely to give him—and Dogwood Lane—just one more chance?

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Guest Post: 

Spend a Morning with Dane Madden, The Hero of Tumble

I looked in the mirror this morning to shave. As I lifted the razor to my cheek, I saw a little scar that sits just to the side of my right eye. It’s not something most people would ever notice. Hell, I don’t notice it every day. But the light caught it just right and suddenly it was all I could see.

I’m Dane Madden, the carpenter, not Dane Madden the philosopher, so why I stood there for a good five minutes remembering the night I got that scar is beyond me. But I did. I thought about how the barbed wire caught my skin and ripped the flesh and how Neely Kimber’s face filled with so much concern I was kind of glad I was bleeding.

She and I were inseparable back then. From the moment she opened the door and our eyes locked, there was a bond between us that grew stronger. We went from finding ways to bump into each other, to hanging out with a group of friends, to dating in the sincerest way. She wasn’t just a girl. Neely wasn’t a pretty face I wanted on my arm, or in my bed as things evolved, like many of the guys I knew back then labeled their girlfriends. She was more than that to me—my best friend. My confidant when things with Dad went sour. My trusty right hand that bailed my ass out of more trouble than I was worth. 

The night my eye was cut, she remembered to go back and get my hat so it wouldn’t be found the next day. Had she not done picked up the evidence, the farmer whose cows my friends and I had been trying to tip (terrible idea, if you’re wondering) would’ve been able to track the mess in his field to me and my friends. Dogwood Lane is a small town. Word gets around easy enough without trying.

Then there was the night my brother Matt, our friend Penn, and I went corning around Halloween. That’s another terrible idea, if you’re wondering, and involves throwing shucked corn at cars passing by. Let’s just say a certain driver in an oversized pick-up truck didn’t appreciate the sentiment. After being chased on foot to the outskirts of town, we had to hide in a chicken coop until Neely could come get us.

Despite my antics, she was there. She might’ve laughed at me or pointed out how stupid we were, but she took my worst right along with my best.

Our lives were entwined by shenanigans, stories, and so much love. Damn, I loved her. I didn’t know where she stopped and I started. I didn’t want to know. She was the best thing in my life. She made me better. And that was the ruination of us because I couldn’t bear to think I would make her life worse.

Seeing her again after all these years lit a fire inside me that I didn’t think was possible. I haven’t felt this burn since the day I walked off her porch having broken her heart. I want to talk to her, touch her, hold her and I can’t do any of it. Even though so much of our lives were built together, our memories from the easiest time of our lives shared, we aren’t those people anymore.

And it’s all my fault.

About the Author:

Adriana Locke lives and breathes books. After years of slightly obsessive relationships with the flawed bad boys created by other authors, Adriana has created her own. The Exception is Adriana’s debut novel and will be released on September 18th.

Adriana lives in the Midwest with her family. She spends a large amount of time playing with her kids, drinking coffee, and cooking. Her favorite things include sunshine, candy, and random quotes. Please contact Adriana at www.adrianalocke.com. She loves to hear from readers.

Social Media Links:


Excerpt:

Splat!

The sound of the hammer crushing my thumb—swung with more force than was necessary, to boot—ricochets across the front lawn. The tool falls from my hand, striking against the sawhorse, and flips into the soft grass with a gentle thud.

“Son of a...!” My hand shakes, the top of my thumb threatening to explode. I tilt my head to the sky and try to find some peace in the clouds.

I come up empty. “Matt!” I call to my younger brother. “I’m taking ten.”

He nods from halfway up the ladder leaned against the side of the house.

Wrapping my good hand around my thumb, I head toward my truck. Sounds of construction ring out behind me. It’s usually music to my ears, the lifeblood of the Madden name. But each cut of a sawblade, buzz of a power drill, and swing of a hammer feels like a distraction this morning. I have a throbbing thumb to show for it.

Beads of sweat cluster along my forehead. I remove my hat with my good hand and run the back of my forearm along my brow.

“Damn it.” Everything feels sticky. Mildly irritating. And the progress on the project that usually energizes me has failed me epically this morning. I just don’t want to be here. Not that I have a better place to be. Quite frankly, I have a lot of places I shouldn’t be, and with Neely, or thinking about Neely, is one of them.

I would’ve recognized her anywhere. Same gray eyes that glimmer like she’s about to tell you a secret. Full lips that spread into a smile so infectious you can’t help but feel your own mouth following suit. The hint of floral perfume, the golden hair that may as well be silk, and the aura about her that’s just as strong as the day she left Dogwood Lane and me—it’s all the same. It’s like time forgot to age her. She somehow has become more beautiful, sexier, stronger.

The world hates me. I’ve postulated this for a long time, but it’s obvious today.

The tailgate of my truck lowers. Scooping a handful of ice from the cooler in the bed into a bandanna, I wrap it around my injured digit. The relief lasts only a few moments.

“What are you doing down here?” Penn rests his forearms over the side of the truck, the tattoos carved in his skin like mini masterpieces on full display. He eyes my makeshift bandage. “What happened to you?”

“Hammer,” I groan, adjusting the ice.

“That’s interesting.”

“How you figure?”

“Never knew you to hit yourself with a hammer before. I find that interesting.”

“If that’s interesting, you need a hobby. Or you could work like I’m paying you to do . . .”

“I have a hobby, thank you, and you should’ve seen her last night,” he says, smacking his lips together. “Lord Almighty, she’s a—”

“Penn.”

“Yeah?”

The tip of my finger sticks out of the bandanna. It’s bright red and hot to the touch despite the ice packed around it. “All your escapades really sound the same at this point.”

“Is that jealousy I hear?” He cups his hand to his ear. “I thought so. Not my fault you’re in a dry spell.”

Leaning against the truck, I look at him. “Jealousy isn’t how I’d describe it. But if that makes ya feel good, go for it.”

“My hobby makes me feel good.” He moves his lips around, like he’s fighting the next words trying to pop out. He does this when he knows he shouldn’t say something but can’t quite convince himself not to. “From the looks of you, I’d say you’re more than jealous. I’d say you’re . . . tempted.”

My tongue presses on the roof of my mouth. “Tempted to what?”

He leans against the truck, too, the gold St. Christopher’s medal he’s worn since elementary school clamoring against the side. The corners of his lips nearly touch the corners of his eyes. He knows.

“Word travels fast, huh?” I say, prodding around to see if my guess is right.

He slow blinks. Twice.

“What?” I ask.

“That’s all you have to say about Neely being back in town? ‘Word travels fast.’ What’s wrong with you?”

We don’t have time for that conversation.

I sigh. “What do you want me to say?”

“I’d love to have been a fly on the wall for that little run-in.” Penn snickers. “Did you stutter around like I imagine? Or did you not manage to say an entire sentence?”

Working my jaw back and forth, I point a finger his way. “You better stop while you’re ahead.”

He reads me correctly, and his animation drops a notch. “Really, though. How’d it go? But before you answer that, let me toss out there that I heard sparks were flying all over the diner so hot Claire had to call the fire department.”

I shake my head. “Shut up.”

“Just telling you what I heard.”

“The firemen were there to order food, you idiot.”

He thinks he’s onto something. There’s a glee in his face that means only one thing: it’s going to be a long day around here.

“So, what happened?” he asks, resting his arms over the truck bed.

“You know, sometimes I think you should’ve been a girl with all the gossiping you do.”

“This isn’t gossip,” he contends. “This is Neely-freaking-Kimber, man. Every memory I have of my entire adolescence has her in it. She bailed me out of jail when I was too scared to call my dad and you and Matt were passed out on moonshine. Remember that?”

My chuckle is so hard, it causes my thumb to throb. “I forgot about that. She was pissed.”

“Neely came through, though. God, I miss her.”

Those last words echo through my mind.

I have shoved her out of my head for the last few years. Took over Dad’s business, took care of my business. Trudged forward without her because that was the only choice I had. I hardly even think about her anymore unless someone brings her up in conversation.

So why do I itch to crawl into the truck and hunt her down?

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Monday, February 25, 2019

When August Ends by Penelope Ward: Release Blitz


Blurb:

What do you do when a sexy, older man moves into your family’s summer rental?

Well, apparently, you make a fool of yourself—over and over. Things didn’t exactly get off on the right foot with Noah Cavallari. Our first encounter was embarrassing, to say the least.

But despite that, I found myself waking up every day with a newfound energy. Nothing exciting ever happened on the lake—not until Noah moved into the small boathouse on our property. He’d booked it for the entire summer…and I was still trying to figure out why.

When my mother became ill, I inherited the responsibility of making sure our guests were well taken care of. I should have been finishing up college. Instead, I was living my best life…as a maid.

Dark, handsome, and mysterious, everything about Noah screamed forbidden.

I knew he was just passing through town for the summer.

I knew he was probably a little old for me.

Yet, I was drawn to him.

Not to mention, he tried to save my life when he mistakenly thought I was drowning.

I wanted him and made no secret of it.

His own attempts to warn me away soon gave way to late-night moonlight chats by the lake. We were slowly easing into a friendship that was gearing up to explode into something I might not recover from.

Because he’s leaving at the end of the summer.

And I have no idea what I’ll do when August ends.

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About Penelope Ward:

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:

Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Website


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Friday, February 22, 2019

Best Laid Plans by Lauren Blakely: Release Blitz w/ Review, Excerpt & Giveaway


Blurb:

That time I had the brilliant idea to ask my good friend for lessons in sex-ploration…

Awkward? Maybe. But how else is a good girl going to find out if she likes being naughty? I might be sweet as cherry pie, but I'm also bold and damn curious. And Gabe is charming, trustworthy, aces at seduction (or so I hear) and—bonus!— willing to give me lessons. But to guarantee it won’t ruin our friendship, I have some specific requirements for his instruction. I want these classes to be hypothetical more than hands-on. So what if he’s hella sexy? I can handle that, no problem.

***

I have it bad for Arden. She's bright, brilliant, insanely fun, and I want to take her home and spend all night together—and then spend the day with her, too. When she asks for my help, I see my chance to win her sweet heart by showing her how much fun we can have getting spicy. Trouble is, she has a different idea of what “sex-ploration” should mean. Now I’m going to have to get really clever to win her over.

Good thing I know exactly how to upend her best laid plans.

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Excerpt:

~GABE~

Arden has never pumped me for dating details before. Not the tawdry ones at least. I half want to believe it means something, but it could mean nothing at all.

“Just curious,” she says nonchalantly as she grabs her favorite purple ball. She makes it sound so casual, her inquiry. But there’s that word again from Words with Friends—curious—and it snags on my brain. Why exactly is she so curious?

A second later, she gives me the answer. “Everyone’s coming into the bookstore buying these racier books. It just got me thinking.”

She turns away, heads to the top of the lane, and holds the ball in front of her.

And her comment has me thinking too.

About dirtier books.

If she reads them.

What she likes between the sheets.

What her curiosity has piqued exactly. Well, besides me. I’m definitely piqued, and I make a quick adjustment in my jeans so it’s not so damn obvious.

As she tosses the ball down the lane, her left leg arcing behind her, showing a hint of the back of her thighs, I groan.

I want to know the landscape of her body. Want to slide my hands up and down her legs, nibble on her ass, and make her whimper.

I would love to know what would make Arden go wild in bed.

That’s not only because I’m wildly attracted to her.

It’s because I want to know what makes her tick in the bedroom as well as I know what excites her out of it.

I want to know her in every way.

Sooner or later, I’m going to have to figure out how to drive this car clear out of the friend zone.

Sooner is my preference.

Like maybe this weekend at the party here at the bowling alley.

Maybe I can find a way to pique her interest in me.

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:


Yvette's Review:

When a book starts off with the heroine getting dumped and subsequently getting comforted by a handsome, shirtless firefighter, you know you’re in for a good story. Especially when the heroine and said firefighter become good friends who are (secretly) attracted to each other. Throw in a proposition that includes exploring the heroine’s naughtiest fantasies and you have an addictive page-turner. I was hooked from the very first page of Best Laid Plans by Lauren Blakely, became enamored with protagonists, Gabe Harrison and Arden East, over a tearful picnic of cheese and crackers, and fell deeper in love with these characters with every chapter.

Can I just say that friends-to-lovers is my FAVORITE trope? There’s always that will they/won’t they aspect between a couple. Will they act on their attraction? Will they admit their feelings for each other? Will they risk their friendship for something more??? I especially love when Lauren Blakely writes a friends-to-lovers romance because her signature whip-smart, flirtatious banter is interspersed with inside jokes and a playful, effortless rapport. There’s also trust already established between them, which is how Arden feels comfortable enough to enlist her friend, Gabe, in exploring her sexuality in Best Laid Plans. She’s determined to shed her sugary sweet, nice-girl persona (at least in the bedroom) and who better to help than her more experienced friend?

Bold, adventurous, uninhibited, and passionate are words that aptly describe both the storyline and the two main characters in Best Laid Plans. Desires are explored and lines are crossed in a tantalizingly slow-burning romance that’s the perfect balance of sweet and sensual. Gabe and Arden brought vitality to each page with their laughter, with their enthusiasm, and with their open-mindedness. I found Arden’s unabashed curiosity to be refreshing and endearing and I loved Gabe’s nonjudgmental, laidback approach to life. The fun-loving energy and the electric chemistry that they generate between them are what make the story such an entertaining, compelling read.

If you’re a fan of friends-to-lovers romances, read Best Laid Plans. If you like your romances lighthearted and with minimal angst, this is the book for you. Or, if you’re in the mood for a swoon-worthy, feel-good romance, Lauren Blakely has got you covered.

*complimentary copy provided by author for an honest review

Rating: 5 Stars

✮✮✮Let us help you plan your day with this BEST LAID PLANS giveaway! ✮✮✮

The Ultimate Reader Package including a Kindle Paperwhite, $50 Gift Card to your Favorite Book Retailer,and a $50 Gift Card to your Favorite Beverage Retailer (wine, coffee, soda, etc.)!


Thursday, February 21, 2019

Tomboy (The Hartigans #3) by Avery Flynn: Blog Tour Excerpt & Review


Blurb:

How exactly has one good deed landed me in the penalty box?

Ice Knights defenseman Zach Blackburn has come down with the flu, and my BFF—his PR manager—begs me to put my nursing degree to use and get him back to health. Of course she would call in a favor for the most hated man in Harbor City.

But when he’s finally on the mend and I’m sneaking out of his place, everything goes sideways. Paparazzi spot me and pictures, plus accusations that I slept with him, fly faster than a hockey puck.

At first, all of Harbor City wants my blood—or to give me a girlie-girl makeover. But then…the team finally wins a game. And now this fickle town wants me with the big jerk twenty-four seven.

Argh. I never slept with him the first time! But no one will listen. Then the grumpy bastard goes and promises to break his no-fan-appearances rule to help raise money for a free health clinic—but only if I’m rink-side at every game. That’s not a deal I can turn down.

But when the team keeps winning, and I realize there’s more to him than his bad reputation, suddenly remembering to keep my real hands off my fake date gets harder and harder to do.


Click to Buy The Hartigans Series on Amazon:

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Excerpt:

The blaring ring echoed off the bare walls of the nearly empty mansion as Fallon Hartigan marched down the hallway with murder on her mind. 

As soon as she got to the source of that ringing, she was going to give Harbor City what they wanted most and kill the most-hated man in hockey. Sure, she might get arrested, but the metro area would probably throw her a parade. She turned the corner and stopped dead in her tracks outside the open double doors leading to the overpriced defenseman’s bedroom. 

The man—who’d been puking his guts up less than twenty-four hours ago—was in the middle of a king-size bed, wearing nothing but a smirk and a bed sheet that was draped so low across his hips that she could see miles of those V lines south of his hard abs. Like she was a newbie nurse on her first set of rounds, her breath caught, and a blush she most definitely did not want to appear started to burn her cheeks. Damn her pasty Irish skin. 

Still, she had to admit, if only to herself, that the view was fucking amazing. The man was a professional athlete and had the muscular, inked-up chest to prove it. Practically against her will, her gaze traveled over the plentiful ink across his pecs and lingered a few breaths too long on his silver nipple rings. 

Seemingly indifferent to her perusal, Zach swiped his thumb across his cell phone’s screen, ending the incessant ringing. 

“About time,” he said, his voice a mellow, low rumble. “I’ve been ringing for you for almost ten minutes.” 

He dropped his phone on the small table next to the bed and then lounged against the headboard, managing somehow to look down his nose at her even with their current height differential. 

Forget killing him, she was going to go after her bestie. It was Lucy’s fault Fallon was even here. 

She squeezed her eyes shut and counted to ten as she recalled all the reasons why the man was a menace and not the solution to her three-month-long sexual dry spell. 

He was a selfish player. 

He was surly to the press, to the fans, and probably to his neighbor’s dog. 

He’d banged a puck bunny tattooed with the logo of the Ice Knights’ most hated rival. 

She counted to another ten while remembering why she couldn’t off him. 

He was Lucy’s client. 

He was, for some incomprehensible reason, one of her bestie’s friends. 

He had the skills to turn around the Ice Knights’ sofar shitty season if he could remove the giant chip from his shoulder and start playing as if he actually liked hockey again. 

Exhaling a deep breath, she reopened her eyes and barely noticed his muscular shoulders this time as she moved away from the door. 

There. All better. 

She’d managed to pack away the Hartigan attitude, and her temper hadn’t even made an appearance. Bully for her. Now to get back to that cool, clinical demeanor she strove for whenever she was on the clock. 

“You rang?” she asked, managing to keep a good 73 percent of her annoyance out of her tone as she walked farther into the room.

About the Author:

Award-winning romance author Avery Flynn has three slightly-wild children, loves a hockey-addicted husband and is desperately hoping someone invents the coffee IV drip.

She fell in love with romance while reading Johanna Lindsey’s Mallory books. It wasn’t long before Avery had read through all the romance offerings at her local library. Needing a romance fix, she turned to Harlequin’s four books a month home delivery service to ease the withdrawal symptoms. That worked for a short time, but it wasn’t long before the local book stores’ staffs knew her by name.

Avery was a reader before she was a writer and hopes to always be both. She loves to write about smartass alpha heroes who are as good with a quip as they are with their *ahem* other God-given talents. Her heroines are feisty, fierce and fantastic. Brainy and brave, these ladies know how to stand on their own two feet and knock the bad guys off theirs.

Social Media Links:


Yvette's Review:

As a huge fan of Avery Flynn and a self-proclaimed rom-com addict, I was beyond eager to get my hands on Tomboy. I adored the first two books in the author’s Hartigans Series and I was intrigued not only by the seemingly unusual pairing of tomboyish Fallon and a hotshot hockey player, but by the fake relationship storyline as well. The unlikely duo are brought together by a certain pushy publicist, but a case of superstition and a mutually beneficial arrangement have them getting to know each other on a more personal level. There's just the *slight* problem that the entirety of Harbor City is watching their every move...

Thanks to a weekend of nursing professional hockey player, Zach Blackburn, back to health after some tainted muffins leave him at the mercy of her no-nonsense nursing skills, Fallon Hartigan finds herself on the cover of tabloid magazines, being touted as the newest gal pal of Harbor City's Most Hated Man. When his association with Fallon seems to shift Zach's bad luck on the ice, Fallon becomes his good luck charm and suddenly finds herself in a fake relationship with a man that ignites her temper and makes her pulse race. They tease and taunt each other, pushing each other’s buttons, each giving as good as they get. And while the roguish, jaded hockey star is as emotionally guarded and standoffish as the tough, opinionated nurse, the two develop some very real feelings that complicate their agreement.

With a lighthearted but heartfelt storyline, a romance that's packed with sexual tension and off-the-charts chemistry, and characters that are fun, humorous, captivating, and entertaining, Tomboy is another must-read from Avery Flynn. There are so many things I love about The Hartigans Series, but what I love the most is the author’s ability to create multidimensional characters that are so much more than they appear upon first introduction. This series invites readers to delve beneath appearances and preconceived notions to get to the very heart of its characters, which is exactly what Tomboy does with Fallon and Zach.

*complimentary copy provided by publisher for an honest review

Rating: 5 Stars

Motion (Laws of Physics #1) by Penny Reid: Blog Tour Review, Excerpt & Giveaway


Blurb:

Forced to lie to protect her sister . . . 
From the New York Times Bestselling Author, Penny Reid


One week.
Home alone.
Girl genius.
Unrepentant slacker.
Big lie.
What’s the worst that could happen?

Mona is a smart girl and figured everything out a long time ago. She had to. She didn’t have a choice. When your parents are uber-celebrities and you graduate from high school at fifteen, finish college at eighteen, and start your PhD program at nineteen, you don’t have time for distractions outside of your foci. Even fun is scheduled. Which is why Abram, her brother’s best friend, is such an irritant.

Abram is a talented guy, a supremely gifted musician, and has absolutely nothing figured out, nor does he seem to care. He does what he feels, when he feels, and—in Mona’s opinion—he makes her feel entirely too much.

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Click to Buy the Laws of Physics Series on Amazon:

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Yvette's Review:

There aren’t many authors who could get me to willingly read a book with a cliffhanger. It’s my undying love for Penny Reid’s books plus a relatively short wait time between books that had me starting the author’s new serial, Laws of Physics, before it’s complete. And after diving in to Motion, all I can say is...what was I thinking??? I have to wait a MONTH to find out what happens next?! I need more! Like yesterday. *sobs* But I’m getting way ahead of myself...

After her estranged twin sister, Lisa, is arrested and threatened with being cut off from their wealthy parents, our protagonist, Mona is roped into assuming her twin’s identity while she’s otherwise disposed. Her objective is to return home and remain out of trouble for one week, under the supervision of her brother’s best friend, Abram – a task that’s complicated by the fact that Mona is the complete opposite of her rebellious, superficial-minded twin. Calm, clinical, and matter-of-fact, including when it comes to the opposite sex, Mona isn’t sure what to make of the handsome, laidback musician who has a rocky history with Lisa, especially when a spark of attraction between them threatens to expose Mona’s deception.

With Mona as the protagonist, Motion is a complex, thought-provoking story that’s part coming-of-age, part romance. She’s an endearingly awkward, intellectually superior heroine who can navigate her professional field among peers twice her age, yet she’s also incredibly naive in many ways. Everything from attempting to balance her twin sister’s blasé persona with her quick-witted, curious nature to navigating her unexpected feelings for a guy who teases and challenges her is explored through this scientific, emotionally stunted lens. Mona is a character who is flawed, stuck in a predicament that has the potential to end badly for her. And this is just the start of her journey.

With quirky, multilayered characters, dialogue that’s witty and humorous, and a storyline that’s intelligent, well-researched and thoroughly captivating, Motion is everything I’ve come to expect from a Penny Reid book. Motion captured my complete attention from the very start and kept both my mind and emotions engaged with every page. This book is a brilliant start to a new series and, after that cliffhanger ending, I’m impatiently waiting to get my hands on the next installment.

*complimentary copy provided by author for an honest review

Rating: 5 Stars


About Penny Reid:

Penny Reid is a part time author of romantic fiction. When she is not immersed in penning smart romances she works full time in the biotech industry as a researcher. She's also a full time mom to two diminutive adults (boy-7 and girl-5), wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought hijacker.




Connect with Penny Reid:



Excerpt

My stomach rumbled, long and loud, and I pressed my hand against it. Grunting into the darkness, I tossed off the covers and stood from Lisa’s bed. Food on my mind, I slipped out of the room and down the stairs. The kitchen was dark, but instead of flipping on a light—which might’ve alerted Abram as to my whereabouts . . . which he probably didn’t care about so long as “Lisa wasn’t doing anything crazy”—I crept on quiet feet to the fridge and opened it.

Momentarily dazzled by the bright light within, it took several seconds of squinting and blinking before the scant contents became visible. I frowned. In addition to the pizza box, two suspicious-looking containers of Chinese takeout, and various condiments, I found: shredded cheddar/jack cheese blend, a zucchini, a half a pint of mushrooms, and hot salsa. Opening the hot salsa, I smelled it, and then I dipped my pinkie inside and tasted it while examining the lid. It looked, smelled, and tasted fine.

Placing my finds on the island counter, I shut the fridge. The sudden extinguishing of the bright light meant that the kitchen was now pitch black. Shrugging off my lack of sight, I extended my arms and blindly felt my way over to the pantry until my hands connected with the torso of a person. 

A person.

A PERSON!

I jumped back on instinct, my leg hitting one of the stools at the island counter and sending it crashing to the ground. My heart in my throat, I screamed, turned, and darted forward, but my feet tangled with the felled stool and I pitched, bracing myself for a gravitational collision with unseen wooden bars and a granite stool top.

But then strong arms caught me, deftly spinning and lifting me into the air. Cold dread rushed through my body, tensing every muscle. I couldn’t think. I didn’t think. Instinctively, my legs and fists pumped, fighting against my captor. Rocks in my throat as I readied another scream, a hand covered my mouth just as I belted it out. 

“Whoa! Calm down. It’s me.” Abram’s voice at my ear soothed, his bulky arm a tight band around my torso, my back to his front, my feet not touching the ground. “Calm down. Shhh. Calm down.”

Hot breath teased my hair and neck, and I stilled, relief at discovering it was Abram didn’t quite chase away the viral panic still attached to my hemoglobin, coursing through my veins. I shook. I was shaking. And I was gasping through my nose, greedy for air. 

Perhaps he heard or felt my strained breathing because his arm loosened, lowering my feet to the ground, and his hand covering my mouth slid away. “Are you okay? Are you hurt?”

“I’m fine,” I said, not sounding convincing. Truth was, I felt like throwing up. “Can you, uh, let me go?”

His arms immediately fell away and I stupidly rushed forward, once more crashing into the stool.

I heard Abram mutter a curse under his breath just as he caught me again, lifting me off the ground again, and saving me—again—from another gravitational collision. This time he turned us away from the stool and carried me across the room. 

I didn’t fight him this time. In fact, I relaxed into him. Wired and exhausted, but mostly embarrassed, I allowed myself to be transported without protest. We left the kitchen and I was finally able to see dim outlines of furniture and walls, courtesy of the streetlamp illumination spilling through the windows of the living room. 

Abram carried me to my mother’s favorite piece of furniture in our house, a gold velvet chaise lounge said to have once belonged to Napoleon’s sister, Pauline Bonaparte. Depositing me on the soft surface, Abram crossed to one of the Tiffany lamps and pulled the chain, bathing the room in soft blue and yellow, colored light filtering through the stained glass. 

He then returned, knelt in front of me, one hand on my leg, the other cupping my cheek. “Are you okay?”

“Yes,” I said, cleared my throat, unable to lift my eyes higher than his black T-shirt, and said again, “Yes.” 

He blew out a breath, pushing his fingers through my hair. By doing so, he forced my chin up and caught my gaze. That wrinkle of worry appeared between his eyebrows, and his very pretty eyes—which glowed and sparkled like polished amber cabochons—moved between mine. 

“You really freaked out.”

I stiffened, gritting my teeth and yanking my head back, out of his reach. “I didn’t know you were there.”

Watching me with watchful watchfulness, he let his hand drop slowly until it rested on my left leg, next to his other hand which covered my right knee. “I said your name—twice—when I walked in.”

“I didn’t hear you.” I glanced from his eyes to where his palms were hot on my skin. “And I couldn’t see. I’d just shut the fridge, my eyes hadn’t adjusted.”

“Did you think I was a robber?” His left eyebrow lifted as did the side of his mouth, just a hint.

Clearly, he was trying to lighten the mood. Unfortunately, I still felt shaky. And embarrassed. 

“I- I didn’t think,” I admitted, releasing an unsteady breath. “I wasn’t thinking. Sorry I fell.”

“No need to apologize. It wasn’t like you could help it.” 

“Yeah. Gravity can be such a downer.”

He made a light, laughing sound. “What?”

“Uh, nothing. Whatever.” No physics jokes!

His frown returned, his fingers flexing slightly on my legs. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

Reaching for his hands, I removed them from my knees, setting them away. “I’m really fine. I just don’t like—”

He glanced at my knees. “Being touched?”

“When it’s unexpected.” I crossed my arms.

“That makes sense. But your reaction, even after you knew it was me—” He paused and sat back on his heels, as though debating how to continue and finally settling on, “It was a big reaction.” Abram continued to study me with his big, pretty, knowing brown eyes. “Hey, I would never hurt you.” 

I winced, just a little, my gaze falling to my knees where his hands had been. I wanted to huff a laugh and roll my eyes, maybe say something like, I know, don’t be ridiculous. 

But the word “Okay,” small and fragile sounding, slipped out instead. I immediately wished it back, because I didn’t understand it. I didn’t know why I’d said it, and I hated not knowing.

Get ahold of yourself, Mona. Pull it together. You are fine. Nothing happened.

Meanwhile, he continued his examination of me, I felt his stare, assessing my downturned face. “Out of curiosity, and no big deal if you don’t want to say, but did something happen to you this last year?”

My back straightened and I sucked in a slow, deep breath before asking calmly, “Like what?”

“You’re very . . . different than you were before.”

“Because I don’t want you touching me?” I tried to infuse my words with challenge, strength—wanting to shake off any earlier impression of weakness—and mostly succeeded. Peeking at him, I gauged his reaction from behind a hastily built wall of dispassion.

But then Abram dropped his chin to his chest, a massive grin lighting his features, and the fragrance of him hit me. My lashes fluttered as though he’d blown dust in my eyes, penetrating my wobbly wall of dispassion and sending it crumbling to the ground. 

God, he smelled so good, and—unlike visual stimuli—I couldn’t stop whatever cascade of relaxing, soothing, melting awareness smelling his scent set off. Unthinkingly, I leaned forward an inch, chasing and inhaling the smell of him while he cleared his throat, like he was trying not to laugh. 

Why he was fighting a laugh, I didn’t know, but the apparent genuineness of Abram’s struggle to subdue his grin only served to increase his attractiveness.

A moment later, he lifted his eyes and they connected with mine. He’d conceded to a shy smile. It was quite a smile.

“Yes,” he said.

“Yes?” I parroted dumbly. What were we talking about? And would it be weird if I buried my nose in his neck? 

“Yes. You not wanting me to touch you means that you are very different now than you were before,” he explained. 

I appreciated the completeness and thoroughness of his sentence.

My cheeks were hot. I pressed my hands against them while I examined him with suspicion. What was he doing to me? 

“How so?” I asked, hoping to keep him talking so I could hunt down the splintered pieces of my concentration.

His eyebrows pulled together as his shy smile became a smirk. “You’re telling me you don’t remember?”

“Tell me your version of events,” I demanded, side-stepping a lie and still holding my cheeks. 

“Uhh . . .” He scratched the back of his neck, peering at me like I both confused and amused him. 

I was used to confusing people, but not amusing them. My cheeks burned hotter. 

“Do you even remember?” I pushed, knowing my tone was belligerent.

He made a sound like he was choking on a laugh. “Yes. It’s hard to forget waking up to a naked girl in my bed.”

Jaw dropping, my eyes grew to their maximum diameter.

Naked. Girl. In . . . bed? 

“Are you serious?” I whispered, my mind darting in all directions, attempting to form a reasonable hypothesis for Lisa’s behavior and coming up completely empty. Suddenly, I couldn’t catch my breath.

He shook his head, giving me an astonished once-over. “You honestly don’t remember?”

My mouth opened and closed as I struggled to speak, but it was no use. I was too . . . I was too many things. Shocked. Confused. Incredulous. ANGRY.

LISA!

What had she been thinking? She’d been eighteen! How would she have liked waking up to find a strange, naked, eighteen-year-old boy in her bed? 

I was beyond shocked. I was horrified. I was electrocuted by the reality of my sister’s brazen-slash-creepy quotient, because I couldn’t imagine doing anything in the same sphere of possibility. I was beginning to believe that if my twin and I were represented by a Venn diagram, our only areas of overlap would be physical. A minor sliver of shared corporal characteristics, and that was absolutely it.

“Lisa?”

Blinking at Abram, and promptly becoming tangled in his searching gaze, I realized he was still there. And I was still here. And my hands were still pressed against my cheeks as I warred with what I now identified as hot mortification.



What else could I do? I shot to my feet and marched out of the living room, dropping my hands and running up the main staircase.





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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Risk (Briar U #2) by Elle Kennedy: Review

Blurb:

Everyone says I’m a bad girl. They’re only partly right—I don’t let fear rule me, and I certainly don’t care what people think. But I draw the line at sleeping with the enemy. As the daughter of Briar’s head hockey coach, I’d be vilified if I hooked up with a player from a rival team.

And that’s who Jake Connelly is. Harvard’s star forward is arrogant, annoying, and too attractive for his own good. But fate is cruel—I require his help to secure a much-coveted internship, and the sexy jerk isn’t making it easy for me.

I need Connelly to be my fake boyfriend.

For every fake date…he wants a real one.

Which means this bad girl is in big trouble. Nothing good can come from sneaking around with Jake Connelly. My father would kill me, my friends will revolt, and my post-college career is on the line. But while it’s getting harder and harder to resist Jake’s oozing sex appeal and cocky grin, I refuse to fall for him.

That’s the one risk I’m not willing to take.

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About the Author:

USA Today bestselling author, Elle Kennedy grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, Ontario, and holds a BA in English from York University. From an early age, she knew she wanted to be a writer and actively began pursuing that dream when she was a teenager. She loves strong heroines and sexy alpha heroes, and just enough heat and danger to keep things interesting!

Elle loves to hear from her readers. Visit her website www.ellekennedy.com or sign up for her newsletter to receive updates about upcoming books and exclusive excerpts. You can also find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter (@ElleKennedy).

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Yvette's Review:

After reading and loving The Chase by Elle Kennedy, I was dying to read the next book in the Briar U Series, especially after learning it would be Brenna’s book. I want to go on record saying that I knew who her love interest would be from the very moment he was introduced in The Chase. Who else would be paired with the coach’s daughter from Briar University other than the team captain of their rival, Harvard? The sparks that flew between Brenna Jensen and Jake Connelly when they exchanged angry barbs made for an intriguing prospective pairing, but talk about a forbidden romance! Their potential romance promised to be nothing short of explosive and I, for one, couldn’t wait to dive in to The Risk.

Part enemies-to-lovers, and part fake relationship romance, The Risk follows Brenna and Jake as they navigate the pressures of life and love, all while still attending school. With his stellar record on the ice and a single-minded dedication, Jake's future as a professional hockey player has already been decided, while Brenna is tirelessly working toward her dream job in sports broadcast journalism. It's when Brenna struggles to be taken seriously as a female in a male-dominated profession that she shamelessly uses her nemesis to get a leg up. Brenna might be using Jake but he’s all too willing participant, especially when it means scoring some “real” dates as part of their “fake” relationship arrangement.

With crackling sexual tension, snarky banter, and chemistry to spare, the pairing of Briar University's resident bad girl and Harvard's playboy hockey captain is fun, steamy, and endlessly entertaining. Jake's cool, effortless confidence is the perfect complement to Brenna's daring, brazen persona, with each teasing, taunting, and challenging the other with every breath. Their love/hate, push/pull dichotomy gives each page an electric, provocative feel that had me eager for their every interaction.

After reading The Risk, I was reminded why I love NA novels and why Elle Kennedy is particularly adept at creating riveting, brilliantly-written stories in this genre. The Risk employs lighthearted humor while tackling serious subject matters, never letting the age of the characters dictate what should or shouldn't be included in the narrative. The Risk is bold. It's sexy. It's dramatic. It's completely impossible to put down once you get started. The Risk is another must-read installment in Elle Kennedy's Briar U Series and I'm beyond excited for what's coming next.

*complimentary copy provided by author for an honest review

Rating: 5 Stars

Tinsel (Lark Cove #4) by Devney Perry: Review Blast


Blurb:

Sofia Kendrick has always cherished her tiara. As the youngest daughter of a wealthy New York family, she’s lived the life of an American princess. But after two scandalous divorces and a breakup smear her name across the society rags, the shine from her crown has dulled. People call her superficial, even gaudy.

She’s nothing more than tinsel.

Desperate for escape and starving for peace, Sofia heads to Montana for a holiday weekend with her brother. But she doesn’t get the relaxing vacation she planned. Instead, she’s put to work in a bar alongside Dakota Magee—a man who does not want her help. A man who is set on teaching her a few lessons about real life and hard work. But Sofia has a couple of life lessons of her own to teach. Like how to fall in love.



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About the Author:

Devney is the USA Today bestselling author of the Jamison Valley series. She lives in Montana with her husband and two children. After working in the technology industry for nearly a decade, she abandoned conference calls and project schedules to enjoy a slower pace at home with her kids. She loves reading and, after consuming hundreds of books, decided to share her own stories. Devney loves hearing from readers! Connect with her on social media.

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Yvette's Review:

You know when an author puts a preview to the next book in the series at the end of an awesome book? You’re riding the high of a Happily Ever After and you figure, why not see what’s coming next? I always tell myself not to read the preview (because the wait until the next book always seems excruciatingly long) but, when the time comes, my self-control disappears and I devour every single word. After reading the sneak peek of Tinsel at the end of Tragic by Devney Perry, I was mesmerized reading about the heiress whose dirty laundry was ruthlessly hung out to dry in front of peers. When said heiress fled to Lark Cove and met a handsome and mysterious bartender, I was officially intrigued.

Fleeing from the fallout of a scathing magazine exposé about her love life and career (or lack thereof), Sofia Logan finds herself in Lark Cove, Montana, temporarily taking a job at her sister-in-law's bar, under the supervision of prickly bartender, Dakota Magee. The hardworking, blue collar Native American who left his Reservation for a better life has nothing is noticeably wary of a woman who's never worked a day in her life, but having her world turned upside down makes her determined to prove herself. Despite getting off to a rocky start, Dakota and Sofia are irresistibly drawn to each other, engaging in a passionate, whirlwind romance that leaves a lasting impression, but reality creeps in to remind them of their stark differences.

With Tinsel, the Lark Cove Series seems to come full circle. Like her brother before her, Sofia arrives in Montana out of her element and with no plans of staying. Also like Logan, Sofia is enchanted by the small town and its inhabitants, particularly a certain bartender with whom she has nothing in common except a palpable mutual attraction. Tinsel is like a mirror of Tattered, telling the story of two very different people going down two diverging paths. It’s a love story, but it’s also a journey of self-discovery and self-reflection. The storyline is romantic, wistful, sexy, sweet, and, at times, heartbreaking, with characters you can't help but fall in love with.

If you enjoyed Tattered, if you're a fan of opposites attract romances, and/or if you're in the mood for an angst-filled romance that'll tug on your heartstrings, Tinsel is a must-read.

*complimentary copy provided by author for an honest review

Rating: 4 Stars

The (Half) Truth by Leddy Harper: Spotlight w/ Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway


Blurb:

Tatum Alexander is so close to realizing her dream of becoming a sous chef she can taste it, but working at her ex-fiancé’s restaurant with his new girlfriend was never in her career plan. To save face and prove she’s moved on, Tatum cooks up a lie that she’s in a relationship with her best friend’s superhot cousin. There’s just one problem: Jason only recently moved to town, and he has no idea they’re already “dating.”

Jason’s a recovering ladies’ man who shouldn’t be on the menu, but that doesn’t mean he’s immune to Tatum’s quirky charm. Giving her lie a kernel of truth, they decide some no-strings-attached fun between the sheets can’t hurt. But as Tatum’s forced to keep making up stories to cover her original fib, she has a hard time separating what’s real and what’s fake—including her feelings for Jason.

With too many tales spun, Tatum can only watch in horror as her collection of yarns begins to unravel, leaving everyone she cares about feeling betrayed. After so many lies, will it be too late to set the record straight? And more importantly, will she be able to convince Jason there’s truth in their love?

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Guest Post: 

How To Properly Create a Fake Relationship with the Heroine from The (Half) Truth

My name is Tatum Alexander, and I’m a liar. There…I’ve said it. Now, before you judge me, hear me out. While I understand this might sound preposterous (if it hadn’t happened to me, I wouldn’t believe it, either), trust me when I say it’s 100% true.

You see, what had happened was…my fiancé dumped me in the most epically humiliating way—while sitting at a table in a fancy restaurant, waiting for my friends and family to join us for my birthday dinner. But, he wasn’t just my fiancé (well, technically, my ex-fiancé), he was also the owner of the posh restaurant I worked at. And rather than quit my job after he dumped me, I stayed because it would’ve been career suicide to leave after I’d gotten so close to being a sous-chef (my dream job). The one thing I hadn’t expected was that a few months later, my ex-fiancé would hire his new girlfriend—who happens to work in the kitchen, one station away from me. Needless to say, I was unable to escape the embarrassment and devastation that surrounded my breakup…especially since the kitchen was full of nosy-bodies.

And since my ex has the heart of a corpse, he decided to schedule me and his new girlfriend to work side by side at the town’s annual foodie festival. She’s not a bad person—kind of sweet, really, aside from the whole dating my ex thing—so it wouldn’t have been that bad had she not spent the whole time discussing how “wonderful” her relationship was. Before I knew it, I was telling them all about the new guy I was dating. (I’ll let you in on a little secret…I wasn’t dating anyone. Didn’t really even know the guy, but that’s what I get for trying to sound like I wasn’t bothered by her stories of her “amazing” boyfriend.) I guess you can say that was the beginning of the train wreck. And boy, what a train wreck it was!

Looking back on it now, I can see where I went wrong. Then again, hindsight’s twenty-twenty. If I had to make a list of all the mistakes I made while forming this “half” truth of sorts (AKA my new boyfriend), I’d probably start with the boyfriend himself. You see…I had recently met my best friend’s older, extremely hot, sexy, and single cousin. And somehow, while describing my faux-beau, I ended up giving a very detailed description of said older, extremely hot, sexy, and single cousin of my best friend. The very next mistake happened about five seconds later when I was asked what his name was. Jay. Sounded simple enough. Except my bestie’s cousin’s name is Jason. Technically not the same name. But still, it would’ve been smarter to have gone with Ricardo…or Thor. Anything other than the first syllable of his real name. And the very next mistake happened five seconds after that…when I stupidly showed the girls his picture. It could be argued that that had been the biggest mistake of them all, considering the real Jason showed up to the very same foodie festival I was working. Although, with as well as I’d detailed his entire body, they could’ve very well picked him out of a crowd without a picture.

My story doesn’t end there, but I don’t want to bore you with the details of how my “lie” became somewhat of a “truth”…right after everyone I worked with witnessed him cheating on me (in his defense, he had no idea we were dating. In my defense, I had no idea he’d become interested in me after all my co-workers thought him to be a lying, cheating scumbag. But I digress.) All of that could’ve easily been avoided if I was a better liar, if I wasn’t such an awkward person—especially around a certain extremely hot, sexy, single guy—if I hadn’t kept it all from my best friend, or if that same best friend hadn’t “forbidden” me to see him in the first place. So all in all, it wasn’t entirely my fault.

But at least I now know what not to do when creating a fake relationship. So, if any of you find yourselves in a situation like I did (oh, who am I kidding? I’m literally the only person on the planet who could manage that) or in any situation where one might need an imaginary boyfriend, I have a few tips to keep in mind. One—never use a real person. Especially his name. It would be best if you take eleven or twelve different men and describe their physical traits as if they were one person. That way, the chances of anyone “finding” him will be slim to none. And if he is found…I’d say that’s as good as any sign I can think of that he’s your soul mate—which might behoove you to pick some pretty delicious-looking men, if you ask me. Two—and this one’s important, so pay very close attention…never, and I mean never show anyone a picture of this guy. If anyone asks why you don’t have any photos, make sure you have a realistic list of excuses. Such as: he’s camera shy; you lost all your pictures in the last software update on your phone; he’s a celebrity and doesn’t want to risk putting you in the public eye. Okay, that last one might be a bit too much. I never claimed to be a good liar. And three—which might very well be the most important tip I could ever give…do not, under any circumstances, fall in love with him (especially if you’ve made him up…because then you’d have a few additional problems to deal with rather than just getting caught in a lie).

Trust me…getting caught in what I call a “domino-effect” lie (once one falls apart, the entire thing comes crashing down) is not fun. So, if you’ve learned anything from me today, I hope that it’s the importance of a well-crafted lie. But in the event you get caught, always remember…it’s not a lie; it’s a “half” truth.

About the Author:

Leddy Harper had to use her imagination often as a child: she grew up the only girl in a family full of boys. At fourteen, she decided to use that imagination to write her first book, and she never stopped. She often calls writing her therapy, using it to deal with issues through the eyes of her characters.

Harper is now a mother of three girls, making her husband the only man in a house full of females. She published her first book to encourage her children to go after whatever they want, to inspire them to love what they do and do it well, and to teach them what it means to overcome their fears. You can learn more about Harper at www.leddyharper.com or find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Leddy.Harper.

Social Media Links:

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Excerpt:

“You do know Michael used to be engaged to Tatum, right?”

“Yeah, he told me. But that was a while ago. Does it bother you, Tatum? You’ve never said anything about it.”

I thought about pointing out that six months wasn’t really a while ago, but I decided to let that go. And the idea of admitting how it felt to see him smile at her or whisper into her ear, let alone hear about all the things I didn’t have to witness, made me want to disappear. “Oh, no. I’m so over it. So, so over it.” And since stopping while I was ahead had never been my strong suit, I added, “In fact, I’ve been dating someone.”

“You have?” Both Rebecca and Amanda asked the same question at the same time, but while Rebecca’s voice was filled with excitement—which matched her bright eyes and ridiculous hand clap—Amanda’s was more cynical.

“Yup. And he’s amazing.”

“What’s his name?” Again with the doubtful tone from Amanda. She’d been part of my postbreakup support system, so I couldn’t exactly blame her for questioning my sudden confession. After everything Michael had put me through, this was something I definitely would’ve told her … had it been true.

“Uh … Jay. His name’s Jay.”

“Where’d you meet him?” This time, it was Rebecca asking, as if we were girlfriends sharing juicy gossip over mimosas at a spa.

I had no idea why I’d even started this. I should’ve known they’d jump all over it like rabid dogs on a T-bone. Yet I couldn’t back out now.

“We met at a barbecue.” Short and sweet, not many details I’d have to remember. Perfect.

“When?” Dammit, Amanda. She was no longer on my Christmas card list—not that I’d ever sent any out, but that didn’t mean I didn’t have a list in case one year I felt ambitious. And if that year ever came, this heifer wouldn’t get one.

“Two weeks ago.”

“What’s he look like?” Rebecca’s blue eyes shimmered.

“Yeah, tell us what he looks like, Tatum.” And now she could forget getting a birthday present from me. It also helped that I had no idea when her birthday was.

“He’s tall. Hot. A man’s man.” That could’ve been anyone. I was still safe.

“How very nondescript of you.”

“Well, you know how it is, Amanda.” I glared at her, hoping she’d get the hint and go with it. “It’s still new, and I wouldn’t want anyone to get jealous of how perfect he is.”

“No need to worry about me. I’m very secure in my relationship with Michael.”

I wanted to ask Rebecca how secure she could possibly be with a man who, six months ago, had broken up with his fiancée on her birthday because he said he wasn’t sure if he was ready for something so serious. But I held back the wicked comments that longed to slip off my tongue.

The next words out of my mouth were Michael’s fault. Had he not forced me to spend the day with his new girlfriend, listening to every detail of their relationship, I never would’ve been in this position.

“He has dark hair that’s trimmed short on the sides and a little longer on top, just enough to look messy if he runs his fingers through it. His eyes are this amazing shade of green—sometimes they’re light, like blades of grass at the beginning of spring, and other times they’re darker, similar to the color of a Christmas tree. And he’s gotta be over six feet tall. When I stand next to him, I’m eye level with his chest.” I glanced at my phone in my hand, noticing that the photo still filled the screen, and realized I had described Jason to a T.

“Go on,” Rebecca prodded. “Is he fit like Michael?”

By this point, I was in it to win it.

“He makes Michael look like a wimp. And I’m not just saying that because Michael’s my ex, either. I could wash my clothes on his abs.” Well, that was taking it a little too far. I had to rein it in some if I wanted her to actually believe me. “He works out all the time, so he’s totally in shape. Not an inch of fat on him.”

“He sounds dreamy,” Rebecca said with a sigh.

“Yeah, he does. Almost too good to be true … like you made him up. You probably don’t have any pictures of him, do you?” As only a friend would, Amanda loved watching me dig my own grave.

“As a matter of fact, I do.” I thought about sticking my tongue out at Amanda in an immature “shows what you know” kind of way, but then I realized what I’d just done. In my need to prove her wrong—even though she wasn’t—I’d inadvertently dug my hole even deeper.

“Well, let’s see it.”

I had no choice but to show them the photo on my phone. I had to admit, though, the surprise on Amanda’s face when she saw it gave me a sense of victory—like winning Monopoly only because I cheated. Rebecca’s approval was simply the icing on the cake.

A cake that came crashing to the ground about thirty minutes later.

Rebecca stared at something over my shoulder and asked, “Hey, Tatum, isn’t that Jay?”

“Huh? Jay who?”

“Uh … your boyfriend,” Amanda reminded me with a quirked brow.

I craned my neck so fast it gave me a cramp. There was no way it was him. Okay, so that was wishful thinking on my part. Not only was there a chance he was here, but he was, in fact, here. At Taste of the Town. Standing a few tents away next to another guy.

My life was over.

Having Amanda believe I had lied about a boyfriend was one thing—having multiple people catch me in said lie was another. Add in the probability of Jason being one of those people, and … shoot me now.

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