Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Under the Northern Lights by S.C. Stephens: Spotlight w/ Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway


Blurb:

Mallory Reynolds is a driven woman fueled by her passion for photographing wild animals in remote locations. Every year she makes a trek deep into Alaska, but this time the unthinkable happens: she crash-lands after her plane stalls out in a storm. Injured, vulnerable, and threatened by the very creatures she loves, Mallory fears the worst—until she’s rescued by Michael Bradley, a mysterious mountain man living in self-imposed exile.

Mallory is grateful for Michael’s help but desperate to return home to let her family know she’s alive. Unfortunately, neither of them can leave Michael’s secluded cabin until spring. Mallory’s stuck with a stranger for months.

As Mallory recovers, a deep bond begins to form between the pair. Mallory is convinced that fate brought them together, but Michael is buried in his past, unable to move forward. Undaunted, Mallory tends to Michael’s heart as tenderly as he cared for her wounds—but will her love be enough to heal him?

Add to Goodreads

Click to Buy on Amazon:

.

Guest Post: 

Cabin Fever - Finding Love in the Wilderness

My latest book, Under the Northern Lights, is about Mallory Reynolds, a driven, passionate woman who is pursuing her dream of photographing wild animals in remote locations. On the way to her favorite spot in the Alaskan wilderness, the unthinkable happens—the engine on her plane stalls and she crashes. Mallory survives the crash only to find herself injured with limited supplies and no hope of returning home. Just when all seems lost, Michael Bradley, a mysterious mountain man, comes to her rescue.

Planning on being in the wild for just a couple of weeks, Mallory only brings a few important items with her into the wilderness—a gun for protection, survival gear, a limited amount of food, her cross necklace for her faith, and her most prized possession, her camera. After realizing that she’s going to be spending the entire winter in a secluded cabin with a stranger, she probably wishes she’d brought a few more items along with her. Things like a high-powered rifle, a chainsaw, a snow mobile, a lot more food, and even better—a satellite phone.

About the Author:

S.C. Stephens is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who enjoys spending every free moment she has creating stories that are packed with emotion and heavy on romance.

Her debut novel, Thoughtless, an angst-filled love triangle charged with insurmountable passion and the unforgettable Kellan Kyle, took the literary world by storm. Amazed and surprised by the response to the release of Thoughtless in 2009, more stories were quick to follow. Stephens has been writing nonstop ever since.

In addition to writing, Stephens enjoys spending lazy afternoons in the sun reading fabulous novels, loading up her iPod with writer's block reducing music, heading out to the movies, and spending quality time with her friends and family. She currently resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her two equally beautiful children.

Social Media Links:


Excerpt:

We both heard a loud clatter outside. Michael instantly snapped to his feet, his face intently focused as he listened for further sounds of trouble; he had no human neighbors to speak of, so things were generally silent here.

Fearful curiosity was killing me, and I was dying to ask him if he knew what was out there, but I didn’t want to disrupt his concentration. And it turned out I didn’t need to ask. Seconds later, I heard the deep, resonant, unmistakable growl of a bear.

Michael turned my way, his expression serious. “Stay here.”

He grabbed his high-powered hunting rifle, and my heart started thudding. Was he nuts? If there was a hungry bear out there, we should be barricading the cabin, not going out into the wilderness. “What do you think you’re doing?”

Lips twisted in a frown, he told me, “All our food is out there, our meat. If I let the bear destroy it, we’ll have nothing to get us through the winter.”

I knew he was right, but still, I was terrified. “Okay … I’ll help.” I grabbed my gun and checked it for bullets. It wasn’t as powerful a rifle as Michael’s, but it might hurt the bear enough that it would change its mind about gorging on our food stash. Or it might just piss it off.

Studying my gun, Michael shook his head. “No, stay in here—guard the cabin.”

His answer made me frown. “The bulk of the food isn’t in here. There’s nothing to guard.”

His eyes softened then. “Yes … there is something to guard.”

My cheeks heated when I realized he meant me. “Be careful,” I whispered.

“Always am,” he stated; then he darted out the door.

Racing to the window, I peered outside, searching in vain for some sign of Michael or the bear. The moonlight wasn’t strong enough to illuminate much, and even though only candles were lit in the cabin, it was enough to wreck my night vision; I couldn’t see a damn thing out there. My nerves spiked, and my heart started racing. I felt like I was out there in the woods, possibly about to get mauled, and following Michael’s orders and staying put grew harder and harder with every second.

I strained my ears, listening for the bear since I couldn’t see it. Sounds of lumbering steps crashing through brush met my ear. Then I heard the dreadful sound of sharp claws raking down wood. With no electricity, freezers weren’t an option here. Michael stored his food the old-fashioned way, either drying it into jerky or curing it with salt. The prepared food was kept in his enclosed workshop, and while Michael had bear proofed the shop as much as possible, hungry bears were tenacious. With food being so close to its reach, the grizzly might not stop until it had ripped the door to shreds.

Knowing where the bear was outside calmed my nerves somewhat. I fingered my rifle, debating whether running out there would help Michael or hurt both of us. It was dark, and if Michael thought I was inside, he could shoot me just as easily as the bear. And verbally warning him would get the bear’s attention—attention I’d rather not have. No, it would be best to stay put and let Michael handle it. But still … that was hard to do.

I heard Michael shout then, yelling at the bear to leave. A gunshot rang through the night, startling small nocturnal animals and rattling the windowpanes. Another one followed shortly after, and fear trickled down my spine. Was that a warning shot? Or was the bear attacking?

Michael wasn’t shouting anymore, and the night was still, silent. Oh God, no … The ball of dread in my belly was too great to ignore, and I nearly tripped in my haste to get to the door. “Michael!” I screeched into the night as I flung the door wide.

A dark shape was suddenly right in front of me, and as I stared in shock, a gaping mouth of thick, sharp teeth opened, and a powerful roar pushed me back a step. I’d never been so close to a bear before, and my legs felt like water. I couldn’t move them, couldn’t move anything. My mind was trying to avoid the here and now by drifting off to happier times with my family, my friends. Death was once again staring me in the face, but even still, the part of me that was still cognizant of the present was awed and amazed by the ferocious beauty of the beast before me. There was a reason these creatures ruled the forest.

The bear rose up on its hind legs, visually warning me that it was bigger, stronger, and most likely hungrier. My eyes flashed to the various weapons it could use in an instant to end me—talonlike claws, ice pick–like teeth, or just its massive weight. All I had was a gun.

Thinking of my own weapon jostled me from my state of panic. Raising the barrel, I chambered a bullet and yelled at the bear to back off. It seemed a poor tactic at this point, but I didn’t really want to kill the animal. If I could scare it into submission, I’d take that as a win.

The bear, however, was unimpressed by my shouting. Landing heavily on its front feet, it began lumbering toward me. Damn it, I was going to have to shoot. And hope my gun did more than anger it. With shaking fingers, I lined up my shot. “Please go away,” I murmured, putting light pressure on the trigger.

Like it heard me, the bear suddenly looked to its left. It growled again and took a step back, away from the cabin. I heard Michael’s voice, and then a gunshot rang out in the night. The bear roared again, then seemed to realize it was outmatched. It turned and ran, its winter bulk vibrating with each thundering step.

I was still shaking as Michael stepped into view. Disengaging the gun, I dropped it on the ground and flew over to him. Before I knew it, my arms were around his neck, and I was pulling his firm body into mine. Thank God he was okay. Thank God I was okay.

“Oh my God, Michael,” I murmured into his shoulder, inhaling his woodsy scent. “That was terrifying. I thought for sure…”

Once I fully comprehended that I was squeezing the life out of him, I froze, every limb rigid with tension. I wasn’t sure if Michael would push me away or not, but then he surprised me by wrapping an arm around my waist and pulling me into him just as hard as I was holding him, maybe harder. As we held each other, the anxiety and fear started easing, and I was flooded with warmth; I’d never felt more at peace.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Time (Laws of Physics #3) by Penny Reid: Blog Tour Excerpt & Review


Blurb:

A (brokenhearted) physicist.
Now an infamous (who is LITERALLY EVERYWHERE!! UGH!) musician.
The worst has already happened.

Mona has learned that she has nothing figured out and plans are meaningless. After leaving her in Aspen, Abram is now breaking sales-records, rising to rock star fame almost overnight. Mona can’t seem to escape him. He is literally everywhere, or at least images of him are.

Just when she thinks things can't get any more confusing, Abram returns . . . What happens next? Only TIME will tell.

Add to Goodreads

Click to Buy the Laws of Physics Series on Amazon:

.

Yvette's Review:

The first two books of The Laws of Physics Series by Penny Reid wrecked me. They wreaked havoc with my emotions and drove me crazy with anticipation. After Space stomped all over my heart and crushed into a hundred tiny pieces (before semi-repairing it), I wasn’t sure if I was emotionally prepared to start Time. Mona and Abram’s journey up to this point has been long and arduous, filled with obstacles both of their own making and of ones beyond their control, and I was both eager and trepidatious to see their journey come to an end.

After spending two years apart and a total of only two weeks in each other’s presence, Abram and Mona are reluctant to waste any more time together. The fact that their lives are vastly different from each other certainly complicates their efforts to build a relationship between them. As a newly-famous musician (Abram) and a dedicated physicist (Mona), their demanding careers are leading them down different roads, literally and figuratively.

Despite their differences and the uncertainties between them regarding their past, present, and future, they share an undeniable connection that’s both emotional and physical. Their emotional connection has been palpable from the start, but in Time, the teasing and torturous buildup of tension finally unleashes into this primal, uncontrollable surrender to pleasure. Up to this point, their romantic relationship has been strictly PG-13, but this time around, we get the NSFW version of Mona and Abram. Abram is passionately, crazily, unapologetically obsessed with Mona, and vice versa, and it’s impossible not to get swept up by their sheer, unadulterated need for each other.

With characters that are introspective, intelligent, and fascinating, a narrative that’ll engage both your mind and your heart, and a love story that’s hopelessly romantic, heartbreaking at times, but also breathtakingly beautiful, Time is a riveting conclusion to The Laws of Physics Series by Penny Reid with which fans of the series will be completely and perfectly satisfied.

*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:

I wrapped my arms around her body, lifted her off the ground, and kissed her lips.

She was warm, and soft, and tasted like peppermint and honey. I bit back a groan.

God, she felt good. Great. Celestial. Heavenly. I may have surprised her, but she responded immediately, enthusiastically, twisting her arms around my neck, opening her mouth and welcoming the invasion of mine.

It wasn’t enough.

It was a crumb, and I was starving. Desire—to tighten my hold, devour, take, keep, cherish, to never let her go—obscured thought and sight, and I slipped a hand under her shirt to touch the silky skin of her back, sliding my fingers upward until they rested under her bra strap.

Mona lifted her chin, breaking our mouths apart, and I kissed the point of it, the elegant line of her jaw, the tender spot beneath her ear, the hot skin where Mona’s graceful neck met the slope of her shoulder. I was so hungry for her, I couldn’t stop myself from tasting every exposed inch.

“Abram,” she said, her voice a breathless, disbelieving whisper, followed by a little laugh. Her fingers flexed at the back of my neck, pressing me closer. Every part of my body hummed and vibrated, unable to contain the immensity of now, of this divine feeling.

“You’re here,” she said, her soft voice full of wonder and happiness, soothing the ravenous panic holding me hostage for the past six days. It had been a peculiar kind of madness, not being able to reach her while pretending all was fine, pretending she didn’t occupy my mind every second of the day. But receding now, it left a new kind of turmoil and urgency in its wake.

We had no time.

No, I corrected myself, We have time. We have the rest of our lives.

“I need your fu—your phone number.” I spoke gruffly against her neck, squeezing my eyes shut and breathing her in, again and again, the heat and sweetness of Mona.

I’d missed her, and that was a gross understatement. I’d been speeding toward this moment for days and being with her now felt like the aftermath of a head-on collision. Stupefied, frantic, but determined to enjoy every shared second remaining. My hands were shaking.

We have time. Calm down. Calm down.

Mona laughed lightly, the sound melodic, beautiful, and she pressed a kiss under my ear. “Why didn’t you just ask Leo? Or send me an email?”

Leo.

I worked to keep the darkness of my thoughts from showing on my face as I leaned away, letting her slide to the ground but unwilling to release her fully, fisting my unsteady hands into her T-shirt. “I couldn’t find an email for you anywhere, and neither could Marie. She tried calling your department for me. They told her all media requests had to go through the PR department at the university and it would take two weeks to a month for a response.”

“Ah, that’s true. My email is on lockdown, otherwise it gets out of hand.” She nodded contritely. “But what about Leo?”

“Leo.” I forced my jaw to relax and I lowered my voice but couldn’t completely disguise the intensity of my wrath. “Leo wouldn’t give me your number.”

Mona’s hand moved to my face, her palm pressed against my cheek, the pads of her fingers softly stroking my beard. “What? Are you serious?”

“Yes,” I ground out. “He said he was doing me a favor. So I flew to LA.”

“You flew to LA?” I felt her body tense, and the moment realization dawned, her beautiful eyes growing impossibly large as they moved over my face. “You must be so tired and—but I wasn’t in LA, I was—”

“Here. Yes. I found that out yesterday when I stopped by your department at Caltech and they told me you weren’t due back until Friday,” I rushed to explain, multitasking, using the time to devour the sight of her, soak and submerge in the reality of being here with her.

Calm down. We. Have. Time.



Friday, April 26, 2019

The Slow Burn (Moonlight and Motor Oil #2) by Kristen Ashley: Blog Tour Review, Excerpt & Giveaway


Blurb:

Tobias Gamble knew from a young age precisely the kind of woman he was going to make his. She was not going to be like his mother. She was going to be like the mother he claimed.

In other words, she was going to be just right.

And when Toby returns to his hometown of Matlock, Kentucky and claps eyes on Adeline Forrester, he knows she’s the one.

The problem is, his brother Johnny has a new girlfriend. And Addie is her sister. Last, Toby would do nothing to hurt Johnny’s chance at happiness.

Toby hangs around town to get to know the woman Johnny fell in love with. He also hangs around to get to know Addie.

But he’s fallen hard, and he knows the best thing for him—and Addie—is for him to leave.

Addie Forrester is thrilled her sister Eliza found a good, solid man. Johnny Gamble is the salt of the earth. The best guy in the world.

The best except for his brother, Toby.

Toby doesn’t know it, but Addie’s fallen hard too. He’s perfect, except for the fact that he’s hands off and it’s torture, being friends with Toby when she wants so much more.

Addie also has a lot on her mind. She’s got bills to pay, her young son needs food, Christmas is coming and her job at the grocery store just isn’t cutting it.

Toby is steering clear of Addie. Addie is steering clear of Toby. But everyone around them knows this is the slow burn.

Because just like Eliza and Johnny, Addie and Toby were made for each other.

Click to Buy the Moonlight and Motor Oil Series on Amazon:

.

Excerpt:

A Gamble man went after what he wanted, locked it down, and then…onward.

“Listen, I’m not saying anything against Toby,” I spoke into her silence. “I get it. He’s not into me. That’s understandable. I am baggage. And Deanna, you have to remember, I watched this kind of thing happen with my mom over and over again. After my dad, she looked for love. She had an open and hopeful heart. She wanted that for herself. She wanted stability for her girls. And she got knocked down again and again by guys who wanted in her pants but wanted nothing to do with some other man’s kids. At least Toby’s honest about it. That genuinely says good things about him. Really good. And I appreciate it.”

This was a total lie.

I did not appreciate it.

I was attracted to Toby Gamble.

I wanted to taste his mouth and other parts of him.

I wanted to feel his skin and see what his body looked like under those tees and jeans.

I wanted to fuck him. I wanted that to be wild and intense and so enthralling, the world ceased to exist, all of it, except what we were doing to each other and how it was making us feel.

I wanted to sleep beside him.

I wanted to wake up next to him.

I wanted to feel his arms around me. Not like they were that terrible afternoon when I’d sobbed into his neck and he’d carried me to Izzy’s bed or that other, far more terrible afternoon when my baby had been stolen from me.

I just wanted him to hold me.

I wanted Brooklyn to grow up with a man like Toby Gamble. Not just as his somewhat uncle who would lift him high and make him fly or let him crawl all over him when we were at a diner eating burgers just because me and my son were there, and he was a decent guy who liked kids. But as a guy who was always there, eventually showing my boy the way in matters his mother could not.

I wasn’t in love with him.

But I knew if he gave me even the barest hint he’d even think of going there with me, I’d take that fall.

And when I did, if it didn’t work, I also knew it would annihilate me.

About Kristen Ashley:

Kristen Ashley was born in Gary, Indiana, USA. She nearly killed her mother and herself making it into the world, seeing as she had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck (already attempting to accessorise and she hadn't taken her first breath!).

Kristen grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana but has lived in Denver, Colorado and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.

Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multi-generational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland and existed amongst the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake (and the wardrobes that matched).

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music, clothes and love was a good way to grow up.

And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

Social Media Links:


Yvette's Review:

I’ve been dying for Addie and Toby’s story since their characters were introduced by Kristen Ashley in The Hookup. As siblings of the two protagonists, they were thrown together frequently and it was obvious from their subsequent interactions that there was something brewing between them. For months, Adeline Forrester and Tobias Gamble remained close, wary of crossing a line that would ruin their friendship. Their mounting sexual tension and unwavering attraction come to a head in the second and final book in the Moonlight and Motor Oil Series, The Slow Burn.

As a single mom to a young son, Addie is as independent as she is hardworking, balancing the weight of the world on her shoulders. She has a durable inner strength that’s overcome hardship and countless obstacles, but she’s also stubborn and proud, especially when it comes to accepting help from others. Luckily, she has an equally stubborn, overbearing, but well-meaning Alpha male to show her that she doesn’t have to do everything on her own. With their playful, easygoing banter and off-the-charts chemistry, the connection between Addie and Toby is obvious, making it only a matter of time before the tension between them implodes. And, while it might’ve taken Toby and Addie some time to get to this turning point, their romance is more of a whirlwind than a slow burn. Those Gamble boys really don’t mess around…

She’s proven this time and again, but I have to reiterate that Kristen Ashley is a brilliant storyteller. She has this inherent ability to evoke a number of different emotions by inviting readers to feel what the characters are feeling in a way that’s raw, real, and visceral. It’s impossible not to get emotionally invested when your heartstrings are being tugged and you’re a teary-eyed mess for the entirety of the narrative. Toby and Addie’s story gave me an overdose of the feels. It made me laugh. It made me cry. It made me blush. It made me swoon. There’s pain, angst, and drama, but there’s also love, desire, and laughter. There are ups and downs but, through it all, the relationship between Toby and Addie is unshakeable.

The Slow Burn is achingly sweet, hopelessly romantic, and completely and utterly riveting. I couldn’t put it down once I got started. From the first word of the prologue to the very last sentence, The Slow Burn is quite simply perfect, which is why it’s my first 6 Star read of the year and my new favorite Kristen Ashley book.

*complimentary copy provided by author for an honest review

Rating: 6 Stars

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Hide and Seek (Criminal Profiler #1) by Mary Burton: Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway


Blurb:

She’s hunting. He’s watching.

Special Agent Macy Crow is a survivor. After a vicious hit-and-run nearly kills her, she gets right back to work, and now she’s gunning for a spot on the FBI’s elite profiling team. As an audition, she offers to investigate the recently discovered bones of Tobi Turner, a high school girl who disappeared fifteen years ago.

While investigating with local sheriff Mike Nevada, a former colleague and onetime lover, Macy discovers a link between Tobi’s case and several others that occurred around the same time as her disappearance. As Macy interviews victims and examines old cases, she uncovers a sinister picture of a stalker who graduated to sexual assault—and then murder.

Macy and Nevada race to put this monster behind bars before he can come out of hiding. But the murderer’s had years to hone his skills, and soon Macy herself becomes a target. She’s no stranger to pain and terror, but will Macy’s first profiling case be her last?

Click to Buy on Amazon:

.

Guest Post:

Profiling FBI Profiler Macy Crow

Special Agent Macy Crow is 33-years-old and is an accomplished FBI Agent. She’s worked a series of high profile cases across the United States and isn’t afraid to take chances. When her father was murdered, she headed to Texas to investigate the crime. Following clues left behind by her father, she was closing in on the killer when she became the victim of a hit and run accident.

Most would have died from the injuries Macy sustained or would have been permanently disabled. However, Macy channeled her extreme ability to focus into her recovery. Though her fit muscles have softened during her recovery, she is regaining strength each day and is now laser-focused on returning to the FBI as a field agent. Before her accident, she had shoulder length blond hair but the brain surgeons who saved her life cut off all her hair. She now proudly sports a pixie cut. 

When Macy returned to Texas, she learned a startling fact about herself. She has an identical twin—medical examiner Dr. Faith McIntyre. Though adopted by different families, the sisters already have a strong connection. 

Macy’s adoptive parents split when she was two and she moved from Texas to Alexandria, Virginia located outside of Washington, D.C. Over the years she remained close with her father and spent many summers with him helping repair old cars on his auto salvage lot. In Alexandria, she and her mother lived in a large apartment complex. When she was young, a neighborhood girl was murdered. That tragedy had a very profound affect on Macy, who discovered she wasn’t afraid of the police and FBI agents swarming the apartment complex. Instead, she was fascinated by their work and not only watched law enforcement in action but also walked the actual crime scene herself in search of clues.

Macy has never been married and has no children. For a long time, she considered herself married to her job and it wasn’t until she met FBI Special Agent Mike Nevada that she reconsidered her single status. However, her accident cut short their romance. Nevada is now the sheriff in a small Virginia town in the Shenandoah Valley. He understands Macy’s need to reclaim the FBI job she has always loved so much. In the last year, he has never forgotten her and is committed to helping regain her old life. When the two are paired on a cold case murder investigation in Nevada’s district, they become an unstoppable team.

 
About the Author:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist Mary Burton is the highly praised author of twenty-eight published romance and suspense novels and five novellas. She lives in Virginia with her husband and three miniature dachshunds.



Social Media Links:


Excerpt:

Vivid blue sky, white clouds, and golden fall leaves blanketed the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains and created a picture-perfect day in the valley. In Macy’s book, the beauty was wasted. If she had God’s ear, today would have been cold, overcast, and damp. Save the pretty days until she caught this killer.

As she drove south down I-81, Macy mentally replayed her ten minutes of regional research. In the last couple of decades, the Shenandoah Valley’s population had ballooned thanks to a growing university, its proximity to Washington, DC, and a thriving tourism trade peddling vineyards, Civil War battlefields, and railroad museums. Filling in the economic gaps were warehouse distribution centers, chain hotels, and strip malls.

The voice of Macy’s GPS cut through AC/DC’s Back in Black blasting from her playlist and instructed her to take the upcoming exit toward Deep Run. As she rolled onto Route 250, a sign for her go-to fast-food eatery gave her an excuse to stretch her legs before driving the remaining ten miles to the crime scene.

Parking, she gingerly rose up out of the car. Her leg hurt. Stretches weren’t optional any more. She grabbed her ankle and pulled until the bunched muscles in her thigh released. After a quick walk around the lot, she made a beeline for the restaurant bathroom.

She glanced into the mirror as she washed her hands. Even after five months, she still didn’t recognize the woman with the short hair and thin face.

Nevada was in for a rude awakening.

She wiped her face with a paper towel. “Macy Crow, you’re above ground and headed in the right direction. That’s what counts.”

At the counter, she ordered a supersize bucket of fries and a large soda. It wasn’t that she loved the food—okay, maybe she did love the fries—but the chain restaurant’s predictability and sameness was comforting after so many life changes.

A few fries later, she was in her car and backing out of her space when her phone rang. Nevada’s number appeared. She cleared her throat and sat a little taller.

“Agent Macy Crow,” she said.

“Ramsey tells me you’re on your way. Where are you?”

He was direct, rarely charming, and she always knew where she stood with him. “Fifteen minutes from the barn.”

“I’m here now.”

The transition back into a working relationship appeared effortless. Whatever they had was over and done. No hard feelings.

“See you soon,” she said.

En route on the interstate, she ate her fries and drained her soda. There were no guarantees on when the next meal would be.

The last few miles took her down smaller roads until she spotted the driveway marked by stacked stones. Gravel crunched under her tires as she passed a freshly cleared field. Over the rise of a hill, she saw the old barn encircled by yellow crime scene tape.

When she had been researching the area, slogans such as “Best Quality of Life” and “Raise Your Family in Deep Run” popped up on her computer screen. As she had read about the area, she had kept glancing toward her open case file filled with images of Tobi Turner’s scattered bones. Recent pictures had captured the barn surrounded by dozens of state and local law enforcement vehicles crammed side by side in the grassy field.

Now as Macy parked, she noted that all the vehicles were gone expect for a lone black SUV. She grabbed her Glock from the glove box, holstered it, and stepped out of her car. Her worn hiking boots sloshed in the damp muddy soil. She tugged on an FBI windbreaker and draped her FBI credentials around her neck. As a stiff breeze blew a lingering chill and autumn scents, she checked her pockets for latex gloves, sunglasses, a small pocketknife, and pendant light.

Edginess and excitement fused as she strode toward the stretch of yellow tape and searched for Nevada. She ducked under the tape and stepped inside the barn.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*************************

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

My Life in Shambles by Karina Halle: Blog Tour Review


Blurb:

When Valerie Stephens made the resolution to say yes to new adventures, she never thought she'd end up in the tiny town of Shambles, fake engaged to one of Ireland's top rugby players. But there's a first time for everything...including losing your heart.

My Life in Shambles is an emotional and sexy new standalone contemporary romance from the New York Times bestselling author of A Nordic King and The Pact.

They say bad things happen in threes.

After my boyfriend broke off our engagement, I lost my apartment, and was laid off from my job, I can definitely attest to that.

They also say life is what happens when you say yes to new adventures.

So when my two sisters invited me to ring in the new year in Ireland, I decided to throw all caution to the wind and go for it. I was going to let "saying yes" be my new resolution.

Little did I know I'd spend New Year's Eve having a hot and dirty one-night stand with Padraig McCarthy, one hell of a sexy Irishman. I also didn't know that the brooding and intense sex god was one of Ireland's top rugby players.

A rugby player with a proposition for me:

Come with him to his tiny hometown of Shambles and pretend to be his fiancé for a few days, just so that his ailing father can have some peace of mind.

It sounded simple enough.

It was anything but.

Not when a town gets up in your business, not when the media hunts you down, not when your past comes back in the picture, not when there are real hearts and feelings at stake.

Not when there are secrets that could break you.

They say life is what happens when you say yes to new adventures.

This is my life in Shambles.

Add to Goodreads

Click to Buy on Amazon:

.

About the Author:

Karina is represented by Scott Waxman of the Waxman Leavell Literary Agency

**I love to read when I have a chance. I love making new friends, too. But PLEASE don't add me if you're an author just wanting me to read your book and promote yourself shamelessly. You should have more of a reason for friending me than THAT. Also, please don't recommend me books, I have enough on my TBR and not enough time to read. And I'm a super picky reader. Cheers!**

The daughter of a Norwegian Viking and a Finnish Moomin, Karina Halle grew up in Vancouver, Canada with trolls and eternal darkness on the brain. This soon turned into a love of all things that go bump in the night and a rather sadistic appreciation for freaking people out. Like many of the flawed characters she writes, Karina never knew where to find herself  and has dabbled in acting, make-up artistry, film production, screenwriting, photography, travel writing and music journalism. She eventually found herself in the pages of the very novels she wrote (if only she had looked there to begin with).

Karina holds a screenwriting degree from Vancouver Film School and a Bachelor of Journalism from TRU. Her travel writing, music reviews/interviews and photography have appeared in publications such as Consequence of Sound, Mxdwn and GoNomad Travel Guides. She currently lives on an island on the coast of British Columbia where she's preparing for the zombie apocalypse.

***disclaimer***

When I'm not writing, I'm reading. And when I'm not reading I might be writing up a review. I'm wary of books with a lot of hype but unless something has bad reviews across the board, I'll probably still take a chance on it and give my honest opinion. Everyone is different and I won't pass up an adventure just because someone else didn't like it. And that's what I think when I look at my bookshelf...what adventure can I go on today?

Social Media Links:


Yvette's Review:

I love Karina Halle and I love fake engagement romances so I was eager to dive in to My Life in Shambles. Going in to the book, I knew little aside from what was included in the blurb although, from the author’s posts, I knew it would be a tearjerker. And it is. From start to finish, this book surprised me, and kept me riveted and emotionally engaged. It’s not a lighthearted, happy-go-lucky romance, but rather a gut-wrenchingly emotional, evocative read that leaves a lasting impression.

After losing her apartment, her job, and her fiancé in one fell swoop, Valerie Stephens is at a crossroads with her job and her love life (or lack thereof). With the help of her two sisters and copious amounts of alcohol, she makes a resolution to take more chances, be spontaneous, and say “Yes” to adventure. That’s how she finds herself in an Irish pub, flirting with the handsome Irishman, Padraig McCarthy, one of Ireland’s top rugby players. Sidelined from a rugby injury and dealing with family and personal issues, Padraig’s future is as uncertain and Valerie’s. Valerie and Padraig form a quick, but intense connection that lays the groundwork for Padraig’s ill-conceited, yet well-intentioned plan to recruit Valerie as his fake fiancée for his trip home.

With their magnetic chemistry and overwhelming physical attraction, it’s easy for Valerie and Padraig to play the part of besotted lovers. What complicates matters is when emotions get involved, blurring the lines between what’s real and what’s pretend. These characters bare themselves physically and emotionally – the good, the bad, and everything in between – but the process is long and full of obstacles, especially with Padraig maintaining an air of mystery, even from the reader. As protagonists, Valerie and Padraig are multifaceted and mesmerizing, which, combined with the complex narrative, makes each chapter of My Life in Shambles more gripping than the one before.

If you’re in the mood for a heartbreakingly beautiful, captivating read, I can’t say enough good things about My Life in Shambles. The story is wistful and romantic. The romance is primal and sensual. The emotions are refreshingly raw and real. My Life in Shambles is another must-read from Karina Halle.

*complimentary copy provided by author for an honest review

Rating: 5 Stars

The Perfect Dress by Carolyn Brown: Spotlight w/ Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway


Blurb:

In the small town of Celeste, Texas, Mitzi Taylor has never quite fit inside the lines. Nearly six feet tall, flame-haired, and with a plus-size spirit to match every curve, she’s found her niche: a custom wedding-dress boutique catering to big brides-to-be with big dreams. Taking the plunge alongside her two best friends, she’s proud they’ve turned The Perfect Dress into a perfect success.

Just when Mitzi has it all pulled together, Graham Harrison walks back into her life, looking for bridesmaid dresses for his twin daughters. A still-strapping jock whose every gorgeous, towering inch smells like aftershave, the star of all Mitzi’s high school dreams is causing quite a flush.

For Mitzi, all it takes is a touch to feel sparks flitting around her like fireflies. She can just imagine what a kiss could do. Graham’s feeling it, too. And he’s about to make that imagination of Mitzi’s run wild. Is it just a hot summer fling, or are Mitzi’s next designs for herself and seeing her own dreams come true?

Add to Goodreads

Click to Buy on Amazon:

.

Guest Post:

Hello, everyone and thank you for inviting me to your site today! 

My granddaughter is getting married this fall, and she’s not one of those size six girls who can walk into wedding dress store, try on a dozen dresses and find the perfect dress—especially when she has her heart set on a black lace dress for her wedding. When we began to shop for her dress, I wished for a custom wedding shop that catered only to women who wore a size fourteen or larger. So I created one called The Perfect Dress and set it in the little town of Celeste, Texas. This summer I plan to bring my old Singer sewing machine out of retirement, and make my granddaughter’s black lace wedding dress—just the way she and I will design it!

The Perfect Dress is not a real place so don’t go to the local doughnut shop in Celeste and ask about it, but the town, the characters and the shop were all very real to me while I was writing about it.

Speaking of characters let me introduce you to Mitzi. She’s and her two plus sized friends, Paula and Jody, have dreamed of putting in their own plus-sized wedding dress shop for years. Now it’s a reality. They’ve bought an old two story house at the edge of Celeste and hung out their shingle. 

Jody is a thin vegetarian now, but when the girls were in high school, she was a big girl just like her friends. She’s living proof that a woman will do anything for love, but when love goes awry, she’s sure glad that she’s got Mitzi and Paula to support her.

Paula is carrying a big secret. The three women have shared everything since they were little children, but she can’t talk about her secret, not when both her friends are in the middle of drama themselves. She has to be the strong one to share Jody’s sorrow and Mitzi’s happiness.

Fanny Lou, Mitzi’s grandmother, is an eccentric old gal with lots of advice that she’s not one bit shy about spreading around. She’s the mother role for all of them, constantly popping into the shop with a box of doughnuts, or the local gossip.

Lately Mitzi has been feeling like maybe her ‘perfect family’ is missing someone... perhaps the perfect man. She hasn’t seen him since high school, but that doesn’t mean that Mitizi’s heart doesn’t go pitter-patter for this awesome single dad. Graham towers above Mitzi, who is almost six feet tall. He has twin girls, who are also plus sized. He feels the sparks, too, but questions whether Mitzi could ever love some big guy who already has teenage daughters.

There is definitely a gap between the teenager girls, who help out in the shop, and Fanny Lou, the granny, and the three best friends. But true friendship knows nothing about age—it’s love, support, and unflinching loyalty towards each other, no matter what the age.

About the Author:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author and RITA® Finalist, Carolyn Brown, has published more than sixty books.

Brown presently writes both women's fiction and cowboy romance. She has also written historical single title, historical series, contemporary single  title and contemporary series. She lives in southern Oklahoma with her husband, a former English teacher, who is not allowed to read her books until they are published. They have three children and enough grandchildren to keep them young.

Social Media Links:


Excerpt:

Mitzi rushed back to the sewing room, where the hum of two sewing machines filled the air. “Graham Harrison just came in the shop to set up an appointment for his two daughters. He said they only live a few houses up the street from us. He looked like a bull in a china shop sitting on that pink sofa. And of course he didn’t even recognize me, but I sure knew him the minute I laid eyes on him.”

At the mention of that name from the past, work jolted to a halt.

“All the girls in high school swooned over him, including Mitzi, but she hasn’t told us if he’s still as sexy as he was back then.” Jody took a bowl of salad from the fridge along with a plate of vegetables that she stuck into the microwave to heat.

“He’s aged very, very well, and I’m having cookies,” Mitzi said.

“Smart girl,” Fanny Lou said. “Life is short. Eat dessert first. So you had a little crush on Graham?”

“Everyone did,” Mitzi answered.

“Not me. I was always in love with Lyle,” Jody said.

“Well, according to what I heard at the church bake sale today, Graham moved his daughters here to Celeste because they were being fat shamed down in Greenville. One of them knocked a girl on her butt, blacked both eyes, and bloodied her nose with one punch. It was the last day of school and they said they were going to suspend her for the first two weeks of next year for fighting,” Jody said.

“She should get a medal, not suspended,” Mitzi fumed.

Fanny Lou took a gallon jug of sweet tea from the fridge. “Who all wants a glass?”

Three hands went up.

She filled four glasses with ice and then tea and carried them to the table. “I remember when he went to work for his dad at the Cadillac dealership—right after he and Rita got married. His dad gave him a job on the lowest level, and he had to work his way up. Rita was furious because she thought they’d get a big house and a new Caddy every year. Stupid woman figured since his folks had money that he had an open bank account.”

Paula took the ham and cheese containers from the fridge while Mitzi pulled a loaf of bread from the cabinet. “You eating with us, Granny?”

“I’ll eat with you and Paula, but I don’t want any of that stuff Jody is having. I don’t eat fake meat. I’ll eat what I want and die when I’m supposed to. Slice some of them tomatoes I brought in here earlier. And I’d rather have bologna instead of ham and mustard instead of mayo,” Fanny Lou answered.

“Me, too,” Paula said. “I want one like hers.”

“I was thinking the same thing.” Mitzi set about making three sandwiches.

So Graham was divorced and raising girls on his own. Bless his heart for getting them away from a school that bullied them because of their size. Mitzi could relate to the girls. But then, so could Jody and Paula. She’d always figured that Jody adopted her own modern-day hippie style to combat those feelings of insecurity. Paula had retreated into superstition. Mitzi had just plowed her way through emotions and other kids, spending a lot of time in the principal’s office for fighting.

She pushed all that to the back of her mind, put the sandwiches on plates, and carried them to the table. “Y’all know that this job for Ellie Mae could turn into a big thing. I bet her older sister will be the maid of honor and her mother will want a fancy dress.”

“That’s what you’re in business for, isn’t it?” Fanny Lou said. “Man, this brings back memories. Friday night was bologna sandwich night when I was a kid.”

“Why?” Jody asked.

“Because Mama always cleaned house on Friday, and she didn’t have time to make a big meal,” Fanny Lou answered.

“Funny how an hour of beading takes forever and our noon hour goes so fast.” Jody pointed to the clock.

“Good Lord!” Fanny Lou finished off her sandwich and grabbed a cookie. “I’ve got an appointment with my CPA at one and it’s a fifteen-minute drive to Greenville. See you girls later. You have my permission to flirt with Graham, Mitzi.”

Mitzi’s cheeks began to burn. “I had a teenage crush on him. I’ve grown up since then.”

Fanny Lou winked as she headed for the door. “Paula, since you live with Mitzi, I’m putting you in charge of being sure she takes her birth control pills every morning.”

Mitzi felt even more heat in her cheeks. “Granny!”

“When you get old you get to say whatever the hell you want to.” Fanny Lou closed the door behind her.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 15, 2019

Promise Me by Robin Bielman & Samanthe Beck: Release Blitz


Blurb:

Instead of soaking up the SoCal sunshine while housesitting for my aunt, I’m dealing with a Pomeranian who thinks she’s a Pitbull, two half-sisters who would happily prune me off the family tree, and him. Vaughn Shaughnessy. Hot model about to go nuclear, dangerously sexy flirt whose perceptive green eyes promise he’s more than just a pretty face. He’s the kind of walking, talking temptation I should avoid, but that’s impossible because he also happens to be my extremely lickable—I mean likeable—neighbor.

He’s turning me into a hot mess.

Thing is, I can’t handle more messes in my life. I’m still trying to come to terms with the monumental ones in my past, and getting involved with Vaughn—even for temporary summer fun—is guaranteed to get messy. I don’t dare risk it, but I’m not sure I can resist…



Click to Buy on Amazon:

.

About Robin Bielman:

When not attached to her laptop, USA Today Bestselling Author Robin Bielman can almost always be found with her nose in a book. A California girl, the beach is her favorite place for fun and inspiration. Her fondness for swoon-worthy heroes who flirt and stumble upon the girl they can’t live without jumpstarts all of her story ideas.

She loves to go on adventures, and has skydived, scuba dived, parasailed, gotten lost in the wilderness (and only suffered a gazillion bug bites for it) hiked to waterfalls, and swam with dolphins. In her spare time she also likes to put her treadmill to good use while watching her favorite TV shows, take hikes with her hubby, indulge her sweet tooth, and play sock tug of war with her cute, but sometimes naughty dog, Harry.

She dreams of traveling to faraway places and loves to connect with readers. Keep in touch and sign up for her newsletter on her website at http://robinbielman.com.

Social Media Links:


About Samanthe Beck:

Samanthe Beck is a USA Today bestselling author of sexy contemporary romance novels, including The McCade Brothers series from Entangled Publishing’s super-sizzling Brazen line.

Sam was transfixed from an early age with any story featuring a handsome prince, a fabulous dress and, of course, the enchanting kiss. She eventually aspired her to write her own grown-up version of a happily-ever-after tale.

When not living the glamorous life of a romance author (ummm… behind her computer screen), Samanthe likes to relax at home in Malibu, California with her husband, their young son, Bebe the trash talkin’ chihuahua and a furry ninja named Kitty. Their love, support, and willingness to eat take out three or more times a week enables Samanthe to pursue her literary dreams.

Social Media Links:



Time (Laws of Physics #3) by Penny Reid: Release Blitz


Blurb:

A (brokenhearted) physicist.
Now an infamous (who is LITERALLY EVERYWHERE!! UGH!) musician.
The worst has already happened.

Mona has learned that she has nothing figured out and plans are meaningless. After leaving her in Aspen, Abram is now breaking sales-records, rising to rock star fame almost overnight. Mona can’t seem to escape him. He is literally everywhere, or at least images of him are.

Just when she thinks things can't get any more confusing, Abram returns . . . What happens next? Only TIME will tell.

Add to Goodreads

Click to Buy the Laws of Physics Series on Amazon:

.


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:



Saturday, April 13, 2019

99 Cents Sales from Entangled!


Entangled publishing has several books on sale for 99 cents right now! These books include YA, NA, and adult romances and they're only on sale for a limited time so grab them ASAP!!!

.
.
.

********************************

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The Promise of Us (Sanctuary Sound #2) by Jamie Beck: Author Interview, Excerpt & Giveaway


Blurb:

Claire McKenna knows about loss. The bullet wound that ended her promising professional tennis career drove her to make a quiet life for herself working with fabric samples, chatting with her book group, and spending time with her parents in her sleepy coastal Connecticut hometown. Then there was the boyfriend who dumped her to pursue her adventurous childhood friend. Now, Claire’s business has hit a financial snag, but she’s up to the challenge. After all, she can survive anything. At least she thinks so . . . until her teen crush, Logan, returns to town with his sister, Claire’s traitorous friend.

Photographer Logan Prescott is more playboy than homebody. But his sister’s illness teaches him that there’s more to life than chasing the next thrill. Bent on helping her win Claire’s forgiveness, he turns his charm on Claire and offers her big bucks to renovate his multimillion-dollar New York City condo.

After years of playing it safe, Claire must now take some risks. The payoff could be huge, but if it all falls apart, can her heart recover from another loss?

Add to Goodreads

Click to Buy The Sanctuary Sound Series on Amazon:

.

Interview with Jamie Beck:

1. Can you give readers a quick snapshot of your newest novel The Promise of Us.

At its heart, this book is based on some favorite romance tropes (best friend’s older brother, unrequited crush, second chance-ish) although the circumstances are unusual. Basically, Logan returns to town to help his sister recover and, in his desire to help his sister mend fences with Claire, he hires Claire to redecorate his apartment. What starts out as a somewhat manipulative—though well-intentioned—plan flips on him. He remembers the version of Claire from before the gunshot wound and wants her to stop living in fear, so he sets about slowly challenging her limits to help her lead a fuller life. In the process, he falls for her, although his job and wanderlust (and Claire’s inability to forgive Peyton) conspire to make her push him away. Ultimately, they have to figure out how to compromise if they want things to work out.

2. What makes Claire and Logan’s story special to you?

Each book I write is special in its own way. I think what stays with me about this one is a sense of tenderness that developed in Logan that didn’t really exist before he spent more time with Claire. He was a fairly selfish guy (meaning he put his needs and career aspirations ahead of everything) for most of his life. His sister’s life-threatening illness was the first catalyst for change, but his relationship with Claire develops a new facet of his personality. I liked him so much by the end of the story. And I had fun writing Claire, despite her being a very nervous, conservative character at the outset.

3. Your heroine Claire has suffered tremendously (both physically and emotionally) yet she perseveres and has made a great life for herself. What gives her strength?

In my mind, Claire’s greatest strengths are her ability to be content with the little things and her gratitude for her family and friends. For the most part, she rarely laments her quiet life. When she had to give up her first love (tennis), she directed her energy into something else she enjoyed and made that a career. She feels that she is good at her job and she enjoys it, so that also gives her a sense of pride and accomplishment. I think her job (making old or ugly things pretty) is a bit of a metaphor for how she dealt with her injury.

4. Claire has had love and lost it. How has her past experience changed her?

I think losing her boyfriend to a best friend rocked her to the core. Those two betrayals shook a fundamental sense of trust in all relationships. And in love. She recovered much better from her physical injury that the emotional ones, that is for sure. In any case, this cynicism about love and friendship definitely makes it hard for her to believe anything Logan has to say, or to believe that he could truly love her.

5. What is her reaction to first seeing her childhood crush Logan?

She’s caught unaware, so she reacts badly, especially because she suspects he is trying to manipulate her. Hostile might be how some would describe her mental state, although Claire tempers her feelings most of the time, so it is more of a quiet rage with a hint of desperation to flee!

6. It seems like Claire and Logan are complete opposites. She is cautious about new experiences, while he jet sets around the world. Was it difficult to write about two very different characters?

No. They are opposites, but in a complementary manner. In other words, he is able to use his strengths (courage) to help her tap into her own, and she is able to use her strength (contentedness) to give him a sort of stability and affection sorely lacking in his life.

7. What common ground do your heroine and hero have?

The have the common ground of growing up in the same community, with all the values and ideals that help form us as children. They also have mutual friends and some shared history, which binds them. In terms of their interests, they are both creatives—him with photographs, her with fabrics and such—so they understand that way of seeing the world.

8. A hallmark of your writing is the maturity that your characters find throughout their journey of falling in love. What are some lessons that Claire and Logan must learn for them to get their happily-ever-after?

The hallmark of any well-written romance (of which there are plenty) is that its characters will have a strong arc (they will grow and become better, stronger individuals). In this story, Claire needs to learn to take risks again, and to trust that, come what may in life or love, she will survive and be okay. Logan needs to learn to compromise, and to learn that the relationships he makes in the here and now are more likely to bring true happiness than achieving any aspirational goal.

About the Author:

National bestselling author Jamie Beck’s realistic and heartwarming stories have sold more than one million copies. She’s a 2017 Booksellers’ Best Award finalist, and critics at Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and Booklisthave respectively called her work “smart,” “uplifting,” and “entertaining.” In addition to writing, she enjoys dancing around the kitchen while cooking, and hitting the slopes in Vermont and Utah. Above all, she is a grateful wife and mother to a very patient, supportive family.

Fans can learn more about her on her website: www.jamiebeck.com, which includes a fun “Extras” page with photos, videos, and playlists. She also loves interacting with everyone at www.facebook.com/JamieBeckBooks.

Social Media Links:


Excerpt:

“What are you thinking?” Claire dropped her hands to the table.

Steffi shook her head, waving one hand. “Nothing.”

“Don’t lie. Is there another problem I’m not aware of?”

“No.” Steffi inhaled, held her breath, then exhaled slowly.

“I know of one project that would make a sweet profit and let you really stretch your talent. ‘Sky’s the limit’ kind of budget.”

Excitement lifted Claire’s spirit, straightening her spine. Anything that accelerated plans to open a retail outlet merited her attention. “Sounds amazing. What’s the catch?”

Steffi hesitated.

“Never mind. You won’t take it, so let’s move on.” Steffi spooned whipped cream into her mouth. “Oh! Molly says that Mrs. Brewster is thinking of remodeling her master bath.”

Mrs. Brewster’s late husband had left her comfortably well off, but you’d never know it. She clipped every coupon available to humanity—Claire had been behind her at the grocery store more than once. She put only two dollars in the collection basket at church each week, despite having enough money to leave more. And she gave out bite-size candy at Halloween. Bite-size!

“We can’t rely on Ryan’s mom as our major source of leads, and Mrs. Brewster spending big bucks on a remodel sounds improbable..” She leaned forward, elbows on the table. “Don’t make me beg. If you have a solution, I won’t dismiss it out of hand, I promise. I’m not an idiot. We need income. I’ll do whatever it takes to keep the doors open.”

Steffi went still, her chin just above the mug held midair. “Whatever it takes?”

Claire’s hair stood on end, but she motioned “Let’s have it” with both hands.

Steffi hesitated. “How would you like to redecorate a high-end condo in Chelsea?”

“In the city?” Her entire body prickled painfully at the thought of putting herself in the midst of that chaos and danger. She’d already been one madman’s random victim. Manhattan teemed with crazy people, not the least of whom were the ones who drove their cars like heat-seeking missiles. “Who’d hire us instead of any of the premier designers there?”

Steffi met Claire’s gaze. “Logan.”

Claire’s tongue seemed to swell and turn sticky. Work with Logan … Her blood thickened like warm syrup. Tingles and terror all at once—a sensation she both loved and loathed. Her own brand of crazy. Maybe she did belong in New York, after all. “No.”

“You just said you’d do whatever it takes.”

“Not that. Never that.” Claire didn’t need to look into a mirror to know that her fair, lightly freckled cheeks now looked like someone had smeared them with ripe strawberries.

“As I suspected.” Steffi shrugged nonchalantly, as if she hadn’t just pulled the pin from a grenade and dropped it on the table. “So that leaves us a little tight until something else comes up. In terms of our social media presence, I just read an article …”

Claire heard Steffi talking, but the words ran together like white noise because Claire’s brain was still stuck on the idea of working with—no—for Logan Prescott. His obvious ploy made her want to laugh. Did he really think he could buy her forgiveness for his sister? Well, Claire would never, ever forgive Peyton. Not even if he paid her a million dollars to renovate his condo.

“Claire? Did you hear anything I said?” Steffi turned her hands out in question.

“Sorry.” She rubbed the scowl from her forehead. “I’ll find another way to turn up new leads. Working with Logan is a hard no.”

“Too bad. You’d have so much fun decorating his place. I’m sure he’d let you do whatever you wanted. Anything would be better than how it looks now. Guess he never cared before, since he was rarely around to enjoy it.”

Only a Prescott would own a million-dollar property that sat vacant as often as it was occupied.

“I’m not an idiot.”

“Did I call you one?” Steffi had the gall to look stunned.

“This has Peyton’s paw prints all over it. I’d bet my last penny that she put him up to it. I don’t know what I hate more, that she did it, that you took the bait, or that she knows we’re desperate for money.”

“It’s not a conspiracy. I mentioned that I felt bad about putting you in this situation because of this home. Logan tossed out the idea on the spot.”

“I can’t deal with the strings that would come with his offer.” Except now Claire couldn’t focus on anything else because thinking about Logan took up all the space in her head. If Peyton hadn’t stolen Todd, she might’ve pounced on a chance to work closely with Logan. Of course, then she wouldn’t have been free to act on her desire. Not that she had ever acted on it before Todd, either. The hawkish way Logan could stare at her turned her to jelly around him and—oh, just no. “I thought you finally understood that.”

“I do. That’s why I wasn’t going to say anything.” Steffi crossed her arms. “You forced me to tell you.”

True enough. Logan’s image flickered through Claire’s mind again, poking at the tender spot of her pointless longing, like always.

She shook her head, dislodging all thoughts of Logan. “I’ll catch up with Mrs. Brewster and pitch a proposal for her bathroom. But we also have to scrape together funds to advertise and update the website, and you need to scare up reno work pronto. Promise me we’ll earmark new revenue toward retail space—”

A knock at the door interrupted her monologue.

Steffi rose from the table and disappeared around the corner.

From the other room, Claire heard Steffi’s surprised voice say, “Oh, we didn’t expect you so early.”

“Hope that’s not a problem,” replied Logan, in his unmistakable baritone.

a Rafflecopter giveaway