Books, Photos & a little bit of everything else: July 23

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  • Fix You by Beck Anderson: One Week Sale

  • Uninhibited by Melody Grace: Release Day Event

  • Destructive Release by L.U. Ann: Release Day Event & Giveaway

  • Fear Me Not by Sara Wolf: Blog Tour & Giveaway

  • Connecting Strangers by Rachel Carrington: New Release

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Book: Fix You

Author: Beck Anderson

Publication Date: September 17, 2013

2014 RITA® Finalist for BEST CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE and BEST FIRST BOOK

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When Kelly Reynolds’ husband died, he left her—the awkward, cautious one—to raise their two young boys. She’s pieced herself back together, barely. Now she takes refuge in her routine: running her kids around and running the trails near her Idaho home.

Two years after her husband’s death, a chance encounter on a run brings Andrew into her life. But Andrew is Andy Pettigrew, the Andy Pettigrew, famous actor. Kelly hates risk, and a love affair with Andrew is certainly tempting fate. She doesn’t fit into his Hollywood world. She doesn’t own a pair of Louboutins, and she couldn’t walk five paces in them if she did. Andrew oozes cool. She reeks of dork.

But despite this, they click. It may be inexplicable, but it works. However, it’s also becoming clear that Andrew struggles with the pressures of his fame. Kelly’s hold on a so-called normal life is already tenuous, and as much as she might want to indulge the fantasy, she doesn’t know how either of them is supposed to cope with stalkerazzi and tweet-happy fans with camera phones. She and Andrew both have secrets that seem impossible to keep.

Beck Anderson’s witty, engaging writing yields an emotional tale of love, loss, and all the little things that make up a life. In the end, what is it that really holds us together? Kelly must decide if love can fix two people who might be broken beyond repair.

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Beck Anderson believes in the power of perfectly imperfect women and in the healing power of love. Her novel, Fix You, grew out of those beliefs and the time to write afforded by the worst Thanksgiving blizzard she’s ever witnessed in West Yellowstone.

Beck balances (clumsily at best) writing novels and screenplays, working full-time as an educator, mothering two pre-teen males, loving one post-40 husband, and making time to walk the foothills of Boise, Idaho, with Stefano DiMera Delfino Anderson, the suavest Chihuahua north of the border.

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Uninhibited Release Day.1

Release Day Event

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Book Title: Uninhibited
Author: Melody Grace
Genre: New Adult
Release Date: July 21, 2014
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions & Mark My Words Book Publicity

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Synopsis

He’ll teach her a pleasure beyond her wildest dreams…

Alicia Wright isn’t the kind of girl to make out with a stranger in a dark alley. She’s spent years playing it safe, pining after the perfect man – who’s about to marry someone else. She doesn’t know how to move on, until a sexy stranger turns her world upside down with a wickedly tempting proposition…

She’ll rescue him from the edge of oblivion.

Rock star Dex Callahan swore his days of fame and debauchery were behind him, but the spotlight keeps calling his name. Determined not to fall into his old life, he goes looking for distraction — and finds an intoxicating red-head with a mouth made for sin. One kiss could never be enough, so Dex offers her a deal: spend one week with him, and she’ll forget her old flame ever existed.

Together, they’ll ignite a passion that will change them forever…

No rules. No limits. As the whirlwind week of pleasure unfolds, Alicia discovers a desire she never knew existed – and the tortured heart Dex hides behind his charming smile. But can old loves so easily be replaced? And when the week is over, will their bond be strong enough to weather the storm?

Melody Grace returns with her sexiest book yet!

*This book contains adult situations and explicit content. 17+*

UNINHIBITED is set 3 months after the events of UNREQUITED, but can be enjoyed as a stand-alone novel.
Meet the Author

melody grace

Book-lover and author of USA Today & international bestselling Beachwood Bay series. I’m 28, a SoCal transplant, and sexy new adult romance junkie ;)

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Destructive Release

Release Day Event

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Book Title: Destructive Release
Author: L.U. Ann
Genre: Fact-based fiction
Release Date: July 23, 2014
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

Synopsis

Destructive Release: A Destructive Novel

Destructive Release is the third and final book in A Destructive Novel Series and picks up where Destructive Choices left off.

A beautiful pearl is created from the smallest grain of sand. My fingers trace a pattern in the sand, how can something so precious come from something so painful?

Grief-stricken, Lacey realizes reality has caught up to her.

She was silent, but it kept her trapped as if she was a frightened little girl. When Lacey finally speaks up, secrets are uncovered that will forever haunt her.

She made choices, but they seemed to only hurt those she loved. When Lacey tries to stand up for herself, she is confronted with a choice. A choice she will be forced to live with for the rest of her life.

If life hands you more grief than happiness, what will it take to move on? When the guilt of letting someone down consumes you?

Drowning in her sorrow, will she be able to pull through her inner demons to obtain happiness?

Meet the Author

Author L.U. Ann moved to Colorado from the Eastern Shore of Maryland with her husband and two children. Life in Colorado is so much different. In Maryland, you would find her in the garden tending to her vegetables and flowers, sea glass and shark tooth hunting once a week, and enjoying the kids swimming in the backyard. Her life took a drastic change when her family moved to their own “Little House on the Prairie” at an elevation of over 6,000 feet above sea level, and a semi-arid climate that makes it hard to grow anything. While barely anything can grow where she resides now, the wildlife makes up for it. Mountain Lions, and coyotes, and rattlesnakes, oh my!

She tries to spend a little time each day writing, but domestic chores around the house usually take precedence. She would much rather hide them from her husband. She tends to her loving four-legged children who at times become much too demanding when she locks herself in the office. This often results in MORE domestic work, and she finds herself cleaning up after their deviant behavior.

At night, you’ll find her begging the kids to go to bed so that she can catch up on the latest book before her sister can. Yes, she is an avid reader who escapes her chaotic but wonderful home to the feisty depths of romance land in search of her newest book boyfriend. Shh, don’t tell her husband.

She is an artist by the grace of God. She worked as a set designer for six years, helping establish a local children’s theatre where she was the scenery artist, set, and prop designer. Before that, you would find her covered in paint, so engrossed in painting a mural that time didn’t exist. Graphic design is her guilty pleasure.

Destructive Choices is the second book in The Destructive Series. Each book will hit its reader with lots of angst hoping for a happily ever after.

Destructive Release Teaser #1

Scared Woman

The Guy Holding The Girlfriend

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The aliens crash-landed on Earth eleven years ago. And now, sixteen-year-old Victoria Hale feeds them. With her emotions.

Victoria is an EVE – an Emotion Vesicle Engraft – and one of few humans who are genetically capable of producing emotions for the Gutters to feed on. She’s doing it for the money – her sister Alisa needs a good doctor, and fast. But what she didn’t count on was being sent to the world’s first desegregated high school for Gutters and humans. She didn’t count on the paparazzi, the protestors, or the insane Gutter politics and government secrets. She didn’t count on the crimson-eyed Gutter prince with an intriguing heart of cold iron, either.

She especially didn’t count on murder.

But it’s counting on her.

 

“I’m sorry,” Shadus’ voice says.

My eyes slide over – Shadus is standing right next to me, leaning on the bookshelf. I close my eyes and sigh.

“Don’t be. It’s me. Something’s wrong with me. I don’t know how to react like a normal person. Jeers, whispers, sneers, those are fine. I ignore them, punch something to make them hurt less. Compliments? I don’t know what to do with those.”

“You’re different. That’s not necessarily bad,” He offers. His long fingers skim over a row of books and he picks one out, flipping through the pages. “More literature in which the protagonist kisses his interest. Is it all your human writers are interested in? It hardly seems worthy enough to devote entire books to.”

“It’s not so bad,” I defend. “Kissing.”

“You speak from experience?” He asks.

“Second grade during the school play. Arnold Grady. We were backstage, behind the curtain. I thought it was a good time to go for it.”

“It was enjoyable, then?”

“Too wet.” I laugh, the memory burning like an old tattoo of embarrassment. “He was shorter than me – all the boys were. They’ve only started catching up this year, really.”

“I’m jealous.”

I raise an eyebrow. “What? Of the short boys?”

“Of your kiss. You speak of it fondly. Even if it was lacking technique, you still remember it. It must have been an important experience. I assume I will never know that sort of feeling – ”

I step into him. He jolts back, hitting the bookshelf. It shakes, and settles. I point up at him.

“Be thankful. You guys have the ceremony of flame. You don’t waste time with petty shit and he-likes-her-she-likes-him crap. Your future is arranged by your family. But us? Humans? We fish around blindly in a pool of seven billion people, hoping one of them isn’t too crazy or too incompatible with us, and we get so desperate that when we find someone we can stand for two minutes we decide to marry them for life, when in reality they’re all wrong for us. But we keep pretending they’re right, until we can’t anymore, and then we divorce them or break up and we get up and try again, and again, and it chips away at our tiny human hearts.”

He stares at me intently, as if I’m lecturing him and he’s trying his hardest to learn something from it. I snort.

“You’re lucky, Creeps. All you Gutters are lucky.”

“What you call ‘lucky’, I call ‘boring’,” Shadus says. “The human way of things may be more painful, but it sounds much more fun.”

I stride up to him, get in his face. His chest is rising and falling, his fists balled up. His ruby eyes stare down at me.

“Don’t do it,” He murmurs.

“Do what?”  I singsong.

He struggles with something inside himself, a pained look coming over his expression.

“Victoria -”

I press my head into the cradle where his neck meets his shoulder.

Sara Wolf is the author of the LOVELY VICIOUS series and FEAR ME NOT, the first book in The EVE Chronicles, a YA/Sci-Fi series. She’s currently working on the final book in the LOVELY VICIOUS series. She’s addicted to the Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead, True Detective, pink Starbursts, pizza, and damaged heroes. For additional books, news, teasers, and giveaways, visit her at sarawolfbooks.blogspot.com or facebook.com/sara.wolf.3304.

Website: http://sarawolfbooks.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sara-Wolf/476490705731978

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Sara_Wolf1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6862831.Sara_Wolf

 

Life meets death. The end meets the beginning. 

Eighteen-year-old Isis Blake hasn’t fallen in love in three years, forty-three weeks, and two days. Or so she thinks.

The boy she maybe-sort-of-definitely loved has dropped off the face of the planet after his girlfriend’s death, leaving a Jack-shaped hole. Determined to be happy, Isis fills it in with lies and puts on a brave smile for her new life at Ohio State University.

But how long can that smile last with all of her friends gone?

How long can it last with the guilt of Sophia’s death crushing her?

And how long can it really last when Will Cavanaugh attends the same school, taunting her?

Isis is good at pretending everything is okay. But not that good. The cracks begin to show.

Isis Blake is good at putting herself back together.

But Jack Hunter is better.
**This book contains language and sexual scenes, some of which may be unsuitable for younger readers. 



**This is the third and final book in the LOVELY VICIOUS series.


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Connecting Strangers (Discovering Emily Series, #1)
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Getting close is dangerous…

He’s too close, and I start to fidget, needing to keep my hands busy so they won’t grab hold of his shirt. Because that’s what they want to do. Draw him closer. So I can Inhale his scent. Taste his skin.

I didn’t run because I was in an abusive relationship; I ran because my soul was being crushed. I’d forgotten how to live, how to be happy. Running out of gas in a small town, I catch the eye of the local sheriff when the very last thing I want is to come under the scrutiny of the police. I left my boyfriend with blood on my hands, and I know as soon as the wound heals he’ll come looking for me.

Adam Madison draws me to him so easily I can’t even pretend to fight. And the closer we get, the more combustible we become. I’ve never experienced such passion or power. My need is as great as his, but I’m sure he’ll walk away from me once he knows my secret. No other man would stay.

I’ve had enough complications in my life. I’m not looking for more, and that’s exactly what Adam is—a sexy, magnetic complication with secrets of his own. And with my ex on the hunt, I can’t risk bringing him down with me. But he won’t leave…even when vengeance could kill us both.

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Books, Photos & a little bit of everything else: July 22

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  • Unexpected by Amy Marie: Blog Tour

  • Don’t Let Go by MJ Summers: Release Day Blitz

  • Teaser Tuesday

  • Curve My Song by Sarah Gai: Review Blitz

 
 
SYNOPSIS
At twenty-seven Erin Decker has the perfect life; a thriving career, a dream home she shares with her best friend Noelle, and a secure relationship with Robert, her handsome and faithful boyfriend. Or so she thinks.
When her visions of a marriage proposal are met with the ultimate betrayal, Erin finds herself in the arms of sexy and strong-willed distraction, Walker Prescott.
Her summer becomes life changing as she realizes Walker has left her with a tiny piece of himself and no way to find him…until he suddenly shows up and turns her world upside down.
Can she let go of her past to make way for a future she never saw coming?
Can Walker be exactly what Erin needs?
Will he give her the perfect life she so desperately craves in the most unexpected way?
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EXCERPT
 
My body isn’t used to this much alcohol. The few glasses of wine I normally drink don’t have me in the middle of a dance “orgy” without remembering how I got there. Sweat is dripping down my neck and tickling the space between my breasts. After the third round of drinks, bought by three different men just wanting to get in my pants, I feel relaxed yet out of control. Noelle is nowhere to be found and in my drunken state I’m not even the least bit concerned about it. The music has taken over my body and I can feel myself letting go of all the stress and anxiety that Robert has caused me. I don’t care who is watching because at this moment I feel like the sexiest person in here.
 
With my eyes closed I rub my hands along my hips all the way to my hair, pulling it off my neck into a makeshift ponytail. The beat of the music moves through me like an electric wave. When a cool puff of air passes over the back of my neck it feels like water in the Sahara. Larger hands than I’ve ever felt before unexpectedly come around my waist and pull me back into a rock hard chest. My breathing becomes more ragged as the mystery man whispers in my ear.
 
“Are you hot, baby?” He asks, his hot breath sending shivers down my spine.
 
My senses are on high alert and despite the fact that I haven’t a clue what he looks like, those four words turn me on instantly. If his voice can do that to me I’d love to see what his enormous hands are capable of. Our bodies connect and sway to the music as his mouth continues to hover just above my shoulder causing tingles to radiate through my body. I can feel his lips grazing the crease of my neck and when he nips my skin my knees go weak. My head falls back involuntarily giving him more access to continue his sensual assault. He smells delicious, and the soft suctioning kisses he places up my neck cause me to moan in anticipation. I have to see the man who is releasing all my inhibitions.
 
Reluctantly I turn my heated body around feeling the loss of his soft lips, but what I’m rewarded with is a vision of godliness. Standing at what appears to be well over six feet tall is the most panty-dropping specimen that I have ever laid my eyes upon. I should have turned around sooner! His plain black t-shirt hugs every single slender muscle in his sexy ass arms. The faded blue jeans he wears are snug, even more so where his zipper lies, showing me how much he is turned on. His dark brown hair is a styled mess; short on the sides but longer up top. I can’t help but wonder what it would feel like to grab
hold of it and tug. Hard. A grin flashes across his face, as if he’s read my mind, and I see a hint of just one dimple on the right side of his mouth. His green eyes appear hungry as they shamelessly take me in from my toes to my own starving eyes. I swallow hard and try to catch my breath.
 
“I thought you looked good from behind but damn if you don’t look heavenly from this angle,” he says loudly, over the music.
He grabs both of my hands, circling them around his neck. With our height difference my forehead falls into his chest perfectly, as if we are two pieces of a puzzle. I try to control my breathing; the alcohol is coursing through my veins now. Freeing my hands from their hold, they find their way down and softly graze over his pecs and then the ripple of his abs. They falter as they come in contact with not a six pack but, a …1,2,3,… eight pack! I see his chest rising and falling rapidly. I think he must be as turned on by me as I am by him. Impossible.
 
 
AUTHOR BIO
Amy Marie was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago and now resides in Virginia Beach with her fantastically crazy husband and two kids.
As an avid reader, she never dreamed of writing her own novel until the characters started haunting her at night and in the shower.  Wanting to get it down on paper she set off on a journey that has been more than she could have ever dreamed. 
When not writing, she can be found carting her kids around, breaking up their fights, cleaning up messes, teaching Zumba, or reading. 
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Release Day Blitz 

22nd July – USA & Canada 

29th July – UK, Australia & New Zealand




Book: Don’t Let Go
(A Full Heart Novella)
Author: M J Summers
Genre: Contemporary Romance
M.J. has been working on a little something sweet and savory for you while you wait for Breaking Love to be released…
Readers fell in love with Ben and Alicia’s picture-perfect marriage in BREAK IN TWO, but, for these two, the road to a happy ending hasn’t always been smooth.
Alicia Williams has been in love with Ben Mitchell since he picked her up out of the mud in elementary school. But baseball-obsessed Ben has dreams to make it to the majors and see the world, and those dreams don’t include the girl next door, no matter how perfect she is. Ben is forced to choose and he leaves Alicia behind – but dreams can change and regrets can grow. When Ben returns back home to the ranch in Colorado Springs, trying to re-discover the man he was meant to be, will the girl he can’t get off his mind still be waiting?
Join Ben and Alicia in DON’T LET GO as they fall in love and discover that sometimes life’s greatest adventure is the one you find at home.

MJ Summers currently resides in Canada, not far from the Rocky Mountains, with her husband, three young children and their goofy dog. When she’s not writing erotic novels she loves running, reading, going for long dinners with her girlfriends, swimming, and camping with her family.


Don’t Let Go Playlist
“Ahead by a Century” by The Tragically Hip
“Over You” by Miranda Lambert
“The Lightning Strike” by Snow Patrol
“Brave” by Sara Bareilles
“Like a Star” by Corinne Bailey Rae

“Weather to Fly” by Elbow

“How about you and me pretend we are the only two people on this island and we’re staying for a good long time?” Ben nuzzled her neck for a moment and then found her earlobe with his lips, savouring it.
            “Why, Ben,” Alicia said coyly, “if there is no one else on this island, that means we can do anything we like, anywhere we like . . .”
            “Exactly,” Ben replied in a low, sexy tone as he slid his hand in between her thighs. Finding the high slit in her skirt, he ran his large hand along the silk of her legs, wasting no time in getting to her bikini bottoms. He toyed with the strings resting on her hips. One little tug and they would fall away from her, leaving her exposed under her skirt. Trailing kisses down her neck to her collarbone, he pulled at the strings. “I’ve been waiting to do that all day,” he murmured in her ear.
            Alicia gasped a little at the thought of being so exposed to the world before she realized that they really were alone. She allowed herself to enjoy the hot breeze as it caressed her sensitive skin. “That’s kind of why I bought it.”
            Ben’s fingers moved along the length of her sex, taking in its satin warmth. Alicia gave a little moan and turned to find his mouth with hers, feeling her body respond as it always did to Ben’s touch. After years of his kisses, she never stopped getting that thrill from feeling his lips on her. He kissed her the way he looked at her, as though she were the only woman to have ever inhabited the planet.
            Sliding his fingertips gently into her, pressing his palm against her, rubbing with exactly the amount of pressure that he knew she loved, Ben knew every inch of her body, how she wanted to be touched, what she needed, and he took full advantage of that knowledge as he moved his other hand up over her breasts. Moving his fingers in tiny circles inside her, he could feel her press herself hungrily against his hand. It wasn’t long before they reached that exquisite moment when she tensed in long waves as commanding as those in the ocean nearby. Alicia bit down on her lip to stifle the loud cry that begged to erupt from her throat. Ben’s own breathing become ragged and his entire body hardened at the desire that was building up in him. He wanted her right there on that beach and he was going to have her.

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Teaser Tuesday

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Title: Torrent
Author: Gemma James
Genre: New Adult/Dark Erotic Romance
Release Date: July 22, 2014

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Title: Without You Here
Author: Carter Ashby
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: September 9, 2014

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Curve My Song Review Blitz

Review Blitz

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Book Title: Curve My Song (The Curvies, Book 1)
Author: Sarah Gai
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Chick Lit, Plus Size (novella)
Release Date: May 12, 2014
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

Synopsis

Follow the amazing plus size trio, The Curvies, as they find love, drama, tears, laughs and a song to match every situation. Bree Carson loves her life, friends and little town, but something is missing. Taylor Cole returns home after ten years and old flames reignite. Can he break through Bree’s walls?

This book is the first in a three novella set following the lives of three curvy best friends: Bree, Elise and Skyla. This book follows Bree and her life as she fumbles her way through letting down walls and letting love in. With a lot of laughs and a little drama it introduces the readers to the rest of the characters leading into the second book, which builds up suspense for the third and final installment.

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Meet the Author
Sarah Gai is the author of The Curvies series. Living in Victoria Australia. As a devoted wife and mother of three, when Sarah is not writing she will be found reading in a quiet corner somewhere or out for coffee with her own real life Curvies. Being a busy mum she was always trying to find a quick and fun read to squeeze in and that is when the idea for the three novella set sparked into her mind. Wanting to write for all the women out there who want a good short read about strong friendships, romance and body positive, love the skin you’re in kind of fiction.

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Books, Photos & a little bit of everything else: July 21

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  • Word Play by Amalie Silver: Blog Tour

  • Author Spotlight: Claudia Y. Burgoa (includes Giveaway)

 

 

WORD PLAY

 

Author: Amalie Silver

 

Genre: Romantic Comedy

 

~ SYNOPSIS ~

Smut sells.

Michael Rourke learned this the hard way.Struggling to make ends meet as a mystery writer, he sold his soul – and his pride – as he pedaled sex and lust writing under the pen name Christoph Strong.No one knew he was the one behind the steamy stories on the bestsellers lists. And he planned to keep it that way.

Until he met her.

Monica Singer, an infamous blogger, is keen to discover the truth of his secret identity.

During a chance meeting at a book convention, Michael and Monica form an instant connection. And soon, an innocent online friendship becomes something so much more.

But as Michael starts to let his guard down, he doesn’t realize that the person he’s learning to trust may be hiding secrets of her own.

Secrets that could ultimately destroy everything.

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Amalie Silver
Tour Host: HEA Book Tours, PR & More: http://heabooktours.blogspot.com/
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claudia y. burgoa author spotlight

Author Spotlight

claudia b.

Born on the mystical day of October 30th in the not so mystical lands of Mexico City, Claudia grew up with a childhood that resembled a caffeine-injected soap opera. Seventeen years ago she ventured to the lands of her techie husband—a.k.a. the U.S.—with their offspring to start a new adventure.

She now lives in Colorado working as a CFO for a small IT company, managing her household filled with three confused dogs, said nerd husband, two daughters wrought with fandoms and a son who thinks he’s the boss of the house. To survive she works continually to find purpose for the voices flitting through her head, plus she consumes high quantities of chocolate to keep the last threads of sanity intact.

Get to know Claudia:

What’s the best thing about being an author?

I enjoy playing with the character’s lives delineating their outcome and in my own world making things better… or worse.

Are you inspired by any particular books or authors?

I think I have the influence of every author and book I ever read, trying to pinpoint a specific one is hard.

What are your must have writing accessories?

Wireless keyboard, tea and music.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Don’t give up, write, write, write and write.

If you could work with any author who would it be?

Oscar Wilde

What sort of books do you personally enjoy to read?

Like music, I’ve eclectic taste. I enjoy about every genre—except horror, I’ve read only a few of those in my life time.

If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?

Unbelievable, it can only happen to me!

Tell us a little about Next to You?

Next To You is the sequel to Where Life Takes You, it starts right after the first book ended. This book is written from Daniel’s POV, as oppose as WLTY where we follow the story from Becca’s side. Daniel tells you what is life without his best friend, his own healing journey and happiness.

What traits do you and Becca have in common?

My love for chocolate

Who designed the book cover?

Damonza

What was the hardest part of writing the book?

Writing the entire book from the perspective of Daniel, and making the decision to cut the number of letters between Dan and Becca. We didn’t want the reader to fall asleep after letter number 10.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Standing By, the second book of the Knight series; to be released around mid-September and I’m working on a new Sci-Fi Nix Terra.

Synopsis

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00008]

Him

…I need time. Time to heal those wings and learn to use them…

Was part of the letter Rebecca Trent, Daniel Brightmore’s fiancée and best friend left when she ran away. The person he trusted the most for the past decade disappeared without giving him a second glance. She taught him how to love, believe in family and that everyone deserves a happily ever after. Now he’s struggling between wiping any traces of her from his life and drowning his sorrows away with the help of his new best friends—Don Julio and Jack Daniels.

Her

Rebecca’s past suffocated her to the point of not wanting to continue, her lifeline and the only reason to live began to withdraw from her. She wished it had been her imagination, but heard it loud and clear: “If not, there’s always a divorce, nothing is forever.” This time it became a leave or die situation. Something has got to change—she had to change. Packing light and leaving a letter behind, she takes a journey that can help her find herself through the shards of her painful childhood.

As letters, memories and stories are exchanged, two once inseparable people reconcile what’s left of their relationship. Beyond the confines of everything they built together, they’re left with two lonely people searching for what it means to be whole. Will they find meaning under their bruised psyches or will their pasts get the better of them?

Teaser 2

excerpt

As I step outside the elevator and come close to my office, Betsy my efficient fifty some year old assistant with the pressed tailored suit and blond bob opens her eyes wide. She straightens her posture and I know her back stiffens right when I reach her desk, though she says nothing. The grimace on her face feels like a judgment and some part of me wants to apologize, though the rest of me wins and I choose to ignore her.

“Coffee Sir?” she asks as I take the messages from the tray on the left corner of her desk where she usually leaves them in the morning without answering. “Mr. Brightmore.” She clears her throat and finally stops typing. “Dr. Vadapalli called earlier and asked me to send you home if you came by. You need to rest.”

A grunt escapes me, home… there’s no fucking home. My new address is down the block in the Presidential suite of one of the hotels I own, but I refrain from giving her those specifics since she knows them well enough.

“Raj Vadapalli isn’t the one running this company,” I remind her while reading through my messages. “As I recall, I’m the one who signs your paycheck.”

Ty, Buddy, Raj and Ashley have left messages, all of them telling me to go home. Call them, they are here for me. It has been four days. Four fucking days since I came home to find the letter on top of her pillow with the pink diamond ring next to it, saying ‘goodbye, have a fucking nice life.’ Fucking bitch.

“Shh,” Betsy hisses while setting her index finger on top of her lips, like a school librarian chiding a child. “Mr. Brightmore, are you drunk again?”

“Nope,” I answer standing up as straight as I can. “Again would imply that I let the buzz go, and I won’t… Hold my calls.” I bang her desk a couple of times with the crystal paperweight that reads employee of the year. It was a present from Rebecca to her. “I’m in the mood to destroy a company or two.”

After that, I head into my office, but stop right in the threshold. “Did you cancel the wedding?” A question I had been meaning to ask yesterday… or whenever Raj sent me home. Unlike today, when he said I needed to be responsible. “Because she said no wedding.” I place a hand inside my pants pocket and fidget with the ring she returned. “How stupid is that? You know, I have women throwing themselves at my feet on a daily basis. Women who are more willing to do whatever shit I tell them to do. Anyone would do anything to be Mrs. Brightmore… and she dumped me.” Betsy doesn’t seem to assimilate it quiet yet. That makes me say it louder. “She dumped me.” There’s no response from her part and I walk back to her desk and grab the phone handle, then press the keys to access the company speaker and say it again. This time separating the words, so they sink in. “Rebecca. Trent. Dumped. Me.”

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Books, Photos & a little bit of everything else: July 20

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  • Under Contract by Jacquelyn Ayres: Blog Tour, Review & Giveaway

  • Fate’s Mistake by Brandace Morrow: Cover Reveal & Giveaway

  • Seductive Shadows by Marni Mann: Sale

Book: Under Contract
Author: Jacquelyn Ayres
Genre: Erotic Romance/Erotic Humor

Charlotte McKendrick is your typical thirty-something stay-at-home mom. She has three beautiful children, a loving family, special friends, and the most wonderful, adoring husband. Her life is a dream.

Er . . . let’s try this again.

Charlotte McKendrick is not your typical thirty-something stay-at-home mom. Yes, she’s got three beautiful children, a loving family (all of them lingerers—you’ll see), and her friends are special, all right! As far as her wonderful, adoring husband, what a joke! That bastard abandoned her and the kids six months ago.

Now, she will do anything she can to survive and provide for her children. Even if it means signing on the dotted line . . .

Mitch Colton is the CEO of Colton Technologies. Most of his year is spent traveling around the world, bringing companies the latest innovations in automobile technology. He doesn’t have time for a traditional relationship and the BS that comes with it. He doesn’t do the “marriage” thing, the “kid” thing, and he certainly doesn’t do the “falling in love” thing. All that said, he still wants someone to come home to. Someone who will offer everything he wants, and nothing he doesn’t. He realizes loyalty paired with these kinds of demands won’t come cheap. No problem. What he doesn’t realize is that once Charlotte McKendrick signs that dotted line, he’ll be paying with a lot more than money.

 



e9b59-review
Thanks to the author, I was allowed to read an ARC of this book for an honest review. Oh my goodness, this book is awesome! Jacquelyn Ayres hit the mark again!
This book has a little bit of everything…it is touching, sexy and funny. You have a single mom with 3 great kids (and they are her priority which is refreshing in a book). You have a super sexy guy who has his own problems. You have hilarious best friends that say just about anything. Put them all together and you have one great book. I laughed out loud multiple times in this one!
You won’t want to put it down from chapter 1 on. I am already ready for Book #2! Five huge stars!


I am a domestic engineer (born and raised in NJ) whose sole responsibility is to guide three young, impressionable kids into becoming phenomenal adults. This challenging yet rewarding work requires a lot of love (coffee), patience (wine), and determination (periodic exorcisms). I work this magic from the beautiful state of New Hampshire.

Before becoming a domestic goddess (not really), I spent over a decade in the medical field, where I wore more hats than the Queen.

I have loved the written word and the great escape it provides since I was a little girl. When I wasn’t reading about people and the places they lived, I was creating my own characters and adventures. 

Finding myself again through my writing in The Lost & Found Series, The One, and The GEG Series has been nothing short of a dream come true. Also, it makes people feel better when I laugh randomly or talk to myself, knowing it’s my characters and not “the voices” . . . that would be creepy. 

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Cover Reveal

Fate'sMistakeeBookBN

Book Title: Fate’s Mistake
Author: Brandace Morrow
Genre: New Adult/Contemporary Romance
Release Date: August 19, 2014
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

Synopsis

He was the perfect gentleman, and my parents adored him. In time, I learned to adore him too. I married him. He was my forever.

Until the day he hit me.

Five years went by with the speed of a ticking clock, counting down my life one painful second at a time.

Until Danny. Danny saw me. Danny was my hero.

Danny was the one I was supposed to be with. But now I’m broken, shattered into pieces too jagged to fit back together.Isn’t that what fate is? Puzzles fit together by an unseen hand to form a life worth living.So when fate makes a mistake, who fixes it?

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Meet the Author

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Brandace Morrow is a full time mom of four, and currently stationed overseas with her sexy soldier. Her recent obsessions are Maroon 5, Luke Bryan, The Pretty Reckless, rum and coke, and reading, in no particular order. Despite being terribly awkward with social media, she’s everywhere. Frequently subjecting the public to pictures of her minion’s messes, and everything that is momdom in the Morrow house.

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Charlie is a passionate, sensually-inspired art student, desperately seeking an escape from the abusive past that haunts her and a tragic accident that emptied her heart. Scarred and unable to love, her yearning for physical pleasure leads her into a tantalizing, dangerous world of power and seduction. The anonymity of the deal offers security; the money brings financial freedom and the madam is the mother figure she longs for.

But the thrill of the mansion and its arousing dominance quickly fades when she meets renowned-yet-mysterious Cameron Hardy, whose intense baby blue eyes send a nervous flutter through her core. Cameron is sexy, and not in a subtle way. He stimulates Charlie’s art, her intellect and her desires. Just as he begins to break through her emotional boundaries, she discovers a devastating connection between her past and her scandalous work at the mansion, shattering everything she thought to be true.

Provocative, intoxicating and erotic, Seductive Shadows is the unforgettable tale of a young woman’s self-discovery as she learns to forgive, to love and be loved, and to find redemption amidst a remarkable journey that will captivate your mind and stimulate your soul.

This book is for mature audiences. It contains explicit language and sexual content.


 

 

“We had only kissed once, but I knew what he could give me would be enough for me to never crave anything from another man again. And I knew this because it wasn’t just his body that I desired; I wanted his words, his thoughts and his tears. I hungered for his imagination.”

The breath he exhaled trickled inside my collar and down my neck. “Tell me your name,” he said a little louder. There wasn’t any anger in his tone. Just desire.

“Cee.”

He dipped his head, his lips stopping just above my earlobe. His fingers traced the skin below my jaw. I expected words to come out of his mouth, but instead it was a tiny moan. A breeze of cold air rushed against me as he moved over to the bed. He sat on the edge, unknotting his tie before resting his hands on the mattress.

“Come to me.”

I stepped past the pole and around the end of the bed. His commands, the way he expected to be obeyed, enticed me. They weren’t cruel or threatening; his voice, his words, his whole persona was deliberate and inviting. The need from my other sexual partners had often been a turn off, but Jay’s tone was just the opposite.

“Slowly,” he said.

With my chin pointed down, hair falling over my cheeks, I looked up at him as though he were my master. If this was the role I needed to take tonight to impress Victoria and make her proud, I was ready to abide. Our eyes met, and his breath quickened. I bit my bottom lip and took a step forward. My toes danced over a broken slab of mirror, pausing for several seconds, and I took another. Landing just a foot from his lap, my fingers caressed the buttons of his shirt. When I got to the bottom, I started back up.

“Take it off,” he said, his eyes never leaving mine.

I pushed his top button through the hole.

“No,” he said quickly. “Yours.”

My fingers circled around the top buttons of my shirt, popping them through their holes. As I got lower I shimmied my shoulders out of the collar, and the shirt fell to my chest. With my breasts still hidden, I hesitated.

His mouth opened. “Drop it. Now.”

His impatience was sexy; his demands caused everything below my stomach to soften as the fluttering increased. His voice was as nerve-wracking as it was arousing.

I pulled the shirt open, rubbing the fabric over my nipples, making them even harder as they pushed through the thin cotton. I watched the shirt fall to the floor. It floated so slowly and gracefully in its descent. I kept my eyes lowered as I dipped my fingers into the waist of my panties, running the width of my stomach.

“Now those.”

I’m a New Englander at heart and now a Floridian, inspired by the sandy beaches and hot pink sunsets of Sarasota. As a writer of erotic romance, new adult and literary fiction, I tap a mainstream appeal and shake worldwide taboos, taking my readers on a dark, harrowing, and breathtaking journey. When I’m not nose deep in my laptop, I’m scouring for chocolate, traveling, reading, or walking my four-legged children.

WEBSITE ☆ FACEBOOK ☆ TWITTER ☆ GOODREADS ☆ PINTEREST

Books, Photos & a little bit of everything else: July 19

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  • Taken by KoKo Brown: Sneak Peek

  • When You Make It Home by Claire Ashby: Release Blitz

Untitled

Sneak Peek

taken

Book Title: Taken
Author: Koko Brown
Genre: Erotica
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

Synopsis

The playboy…

Khalid Francois Duïs is a man who isn’t afraid to take what he wants. And what he wants is Olivia Pierce. As his best friend’s sister, she was supposed to be off limits but Olivia quickly becomes a fever in his blood he simply can’t shake. He will do whatever it takes to have her with him and underneath him, even it means kidnapping.

The independent woman…

Olivia Pierce vows to never marry, instead choosing to focus on her career. But a clandestine encounter with Khalid’s threatens her resolve. Though her mind says no, her body screams yes! Her only option is to reject the the arrogant industrialist who believes a woman’s place is in his bed.

When Olivia rejects Khalid’s advances, he takes matters in his own hands and whisks her away to placate his obsession. From the tempestuous passion of their first encounter, across stormy seas, to a beautiful oasis in Africa, Olivia becomes his prisoner and a slave to Khalid’s all-consuming seduction.

excerpt

Olivia inhaled a deep, calming breath. She’d marched downstairs to put Khalid Francois Duïs in his place, but her shored-up indignation crumbled the moment she laid eyes on him. So much so, her temper had become self-directed.

She’d expected a man dressed in Eastern garb, sporting a bushy beard and moustache. Not a refined, clean-shaven gentleman in black evening attire with a face that would make most women lose their common sense.

His features were downright exquisite. Sun-kissed skin and inky black hair cropped closely to his head, served to emphasize the lean sculpted planes of his face and full, sensual mouth. And yet, none of these fine attributes compared to his eyes, which were pale green, thickly lashed and absolutely mesmerizing.

Unable to help herself, Olivia’s gaze drifted across the table. To her horror, Khalid was staring right back at her, unabashed, with a smile that bordered on arrogant.

In that instant, Olivia knew she despised him. He was everything she loathed in a man—chauvinistic, narcissistic, and pigheaded. And there would be no changing him. He would never respect her as his equal.

Too bad her body responded to his allure in quite a different manner. With each passing second, her temperature seemed to soar. Heat raced through her veins, causing her cheeks, breasts and the hidden place between her thighs to become enflamed.She was practically burning up, as if overcome with a fever which left her slightly delirious and incapable of resisting him or her suddenly depraved thoughts. He had her so befuddled she fought the impulse to jump from her seat, march around the table, and plant her mouth over his.

TakenTeaser2

TakenTeaser3

Meet the Author

Koko Brown is an USA TODAY Bestselling author and romance junkie who once read over 200 Zebra romance Club novels the summer before her senior year in high school.

Her writing career began at the tender age of nine when she self-published and distributed a newspaper for her fellow classmates. Unfortunately, her grade-school principal Mr. Clark didn’t appreciate the competition and put her out of business after one best-selling issue.

Undaunted, Koko continued to write and read everything she could get her hands on. She honed her writing skills as a staff writer on her college’s newspaper, writing obituaries for the local newspaper, and even teaching American Literature.

One day, while daydreaming in bed, she came up with the idea for her first erotic manuscript. Taking a hiatus from teaching, she had enough time on her hands to flesh out the story in two short weeks. A month later, she cleaned it up and sent it to Ellora’s Cave . By January, she received a revision letter from one of their editors and by March she signed a contract for her vampire erotic novel Charmed.

Koko calls the east coast of Florida home. Even though she’s a multipublished author of interracial erotic romance, she has a life. She loves to travel (three continents, 20+ countries and 38 states so far), shop in thrift stores, ride motorcycles, and volunteering.

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“Quirky, sexy and heartwarming – a story of
love, forgiveness and what it means to be a family.”
~ Kate Moretti, New York Times bestselling author of Thought I Knew You
 
 
Meg Michaels, a bookstore owner,
has already walked away from two cheating exes. She’s learned her lesson and
has her mind set on success—until she gets knocked up. Embarrassed and
unwilling to discuss her situation with friends and family, she wears layers to
hide the pregnancy.
 
When Meg gets sick
at a party, she’s mortified. Even worse, Theo Taylor, the guest of honor,
discovers her secret. Theo, an Army
medic wounded in the war, agrees not to reveal her condition, and the two forge
a bond of friendship that blossoms into love.
 
Theo is soon filling all of Meg’s late-night cravings—and not
just the pregnancy-induced ones. But can their love overcome all the obstacles that stand between them and creating a happy family?
 
Chapter One
 I first caught sight of Theo at his
welcome home party. A mob shifted around him, jockeying for a position next to
the guest of honor. I lingered near the door to the living room and listened to
the joyful words and murmur of good wishes directed toward him.
Someone whispered, “… lucky to be
alive.”
The doorbell rang and crowd parted. For
a moment, he stood alone. Tears burned the backs of my eyes. I couldn’t see the
luck in what was left of him.
Ellie pinched my arm. “Don’t stare,”
she said on her way to the door.
I bit my lip, turning away. But my
attention found its way back to him, and I sneaked another look at his arms, surveying
the road map of scars trailing away from bandages. My gaze traveled to his
face, and I gasped. Theo glared at me with defiant hazel eyes, as if to say, Go ahead and look all you want; I can take
it.
I knew he’d lived through much worse than I had and that my own
problems paled in comparison with his. I could use some of his strength. But,
of course, I couldn’t tell him that.
“What’s wrong with you?” Ellie
hissed, using the same voice as when she caught me eating the cookies meant for
story time at our bookstore.
She steered me into the dining room,
and once she had me cornered, she snatched a box of tissues and pushed them at
me. “Get control of your hormones. We already went over this. If you want to
keep your secret, you can’t get all teary eyed.
“I know.” I blinked rapidly, waving
the tissues away. “I’m not crying. I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s wrong with
me.” I pressed my lips together, trying to clamp down on the list my brain
rattled off. I had plenty wrong with me. But a party wasn’t the time for a self-directed
lashing. I could save that for home, after I dispensed a generous share of
support to my best friend, who was desperate to give her brother-in-law the
hero’s welcome he deserved.
Ellie hugged me, and the tension
between us evaporated.
“Don’t let Theo see you looking at
him with those weepy eyes. He gets pissed whenever anyone shows him an ounce of
sympathy.”
“Deal. But I wish we could do
something for him.” I hadn’t meant to gawk at the guy.
With all the progress updates Ellie
had shared with me, I knew far too many details about his surgeries and
struggles. Theo often woke up screaming, but no one said whether his cries came
from pain or nightmares. That knowledge haunted me until my overactive
imagination filled in the blanks. I knew too much about the man, and I’d never
met him before today. Worse, all I could do about it was put on a happy face.
I stepped back and reached out to
touch the soft cotton of Ellie’s new yellow dress. “You look fantastic.” The fabric
hugged the curve of her belly, erasing any doubt she was pregnant and not just
packing on the pounds.
“Thanks.” She scanned the crowd.
“Jake got back late last night,” she whispered. “He picked Theo up at the rehab
facility and brought him to their mom’s house.” The lines around Ellie’s mouth
deepened. “Jake offered to let Theo stay here, but fortunately, their mom
didn’t like that at all. Jake’s optimistic, but I never met Theo before he
deployed, you know? I wish I had.” Ellie rubbed her belly. “Theo’s quiet.”
The doorbell chimed, and Ellie
hurried off. I used the chance to slip into the bathroom.
I flipped the exhaust-fan switch and sighed
with relief that the hum muffled the noise of the partygoers. With trembling
hands, I turned on the cold water and let the icy stream rush over the insides
of my wrists. I took a deep breath and checked my clothes in the mirror.
My new Marc Jacobs jacket covered
the basic black T-shirt that hid a waist-contouring camisole. Skinny jeans and
burgundy, open-toed heels completed my look. Almost anywhere else in the
country, my outfit would’ve been perfect for a casual spring evening.
But not in Texas.
Early May, and the temperatures had
already soared into the mid-90s. To make matters worse, my jeans fit tighter
than they had the week before. I’d expected they would loosen after I wore them
awhile. At least the cut of the jacket hid my growing belly. My secret is
safe for another day
.
I licked my lips and swallowed the
lump in my throat before rejoining the party. The chatter and laughter had
risen to competitive levels. I couldn’t face trying to fit in, and I fell back
into a trance. Theo fumbled around Ellie’s living room, gripping his crutches.
One of his arms was heavily bandaged, and he had a thick square of white gauze
taped below his ear. But what sent a shiver through me was the sight of his leg.
He had only one.
“Come on. I’ll introduce you,” Ellie
said from behind me. She hooked her arm through mine and pulled me along.
“Theo, this is my friend, Meg Michaels.”
“Hello.” He gave a slight nod,
shifting on his crutches to extend his hand to me.
Despite the fact that I’d had my
eyes on him for most of the last half hour, I’d failed to notice his
hit-the-pause-button good looks. Theo’s injuries drew attention away from his
athletic build, but there was no hiding the tall, rock-solid composure. Close-cropped
dark hair added to his dangerous edge. But when his full lips lifted into a
smile, I could barely stand still at the unexpected warmth that surged through
me. That surge skidded to a halt when his brooding eyes locked onto mine.
Theo cleared his throat.
I reached for his hand. “It’s a
pleasure to meet you.” Did he have any idea how much I already knew about him?
My face heated, and I felt like a big dummy while he appraised me as though he
had all day. Ellie had disappeared, and I didn’t know the proper protocol for
socializing with a man I inexplicably felt intimidated by. Not that Theo seemed
to mind.
He appeared all too comfortable with
silence, but I needed to speak, if he wasn’t going to. So I wouldn’t have to
yell over the noise of the party, I leaned into him, despite the fluttering in
my chest that made it hard to inhale. “Would you…” Background music and clatter
from the growing crowd swallowed my words.
He angled in closer. “What?”
I kept my eyes on his, refusing to
glance at any other part of him. “Can I get you something to drink? Do you need
anything?” I cringed at my voice—too pitchy, too polite.
He shook his head and looked past
me.
I mumbled an excuse about helping
out with dinner, stepped away from him, and fled to the back of the house.
Melinda, Ellie’s mother-in-law,
darted around the kitchen, yanking covered casserole dishes from the fridge and
shoving them in a row along the counter. How had Theo and Jake come from such a
trim little woman? Her white hair fell in waves around her flushed cheeks.
“Hey there.” I huffed shallow
breaths to fend off the strong aroma of browned butter. My stomach clenched.
“Hi Meg.” Melinda’s puffy, dark-ringed
eyes surveyed the spread in front of her.
“You’re doing an amazing job, but
don’t you want to go sit with Theo?” I wrapped my arm over her shoulders,
giving her a squeeze, suddenly aware that no one was looking after her needs. I
wasn’t qualified for that job; mothers were not my thing. “Tell me what to do.
I’m here to help.”
“Why did I insist Jake and Ellie
give Theo a party?” Her voice cracked and her lip trembled, but she continued
to work, tearing foil off macaroni and cheese, baked beans, and corn on the
cob. “Theo used to be so popular. He always wanted his friends around—they were
all so wild—but only a few of them replied to the invitation.” She slammed her
hands down on the table and lowered her head. Her pale-blue eyes were wet and
red rimmed, but she held back her tears.
“It’s okay. He’s going to be fine,”
I promised, even though I had no clue if that were true. “He’s not alone. There
are tons of people out there. Ellie invited the staff from the bookstore, and
Jake has plenty of wild friends.”
Melinda turned to me, nodding.
“You’re right. You know, I accepted what Theo had been through… how he had
changed. But that was at the hospital and at rehab where he was surrounded with
guys he could relate to, people who were going through the same thing he was.
It’s different here.” She blinked, and tears slipped in two straight lines down
her face. “Every time I look at a young man I think: Theo should be like that.
He shouldn’t have to go through this. It’s not fair.”
“It’s not, and I’m so sorry.” I
moved to hug her, but she wiped at her face and turned away from me.
“It’s okay. I’m fine.” She cleared
her throat and squared her shoulders. “Theo needs to eat. He has to keep his
energy up. Can you man the grill? I can’t do the burgers and do this.”
“Trust me, no one wants me in charge
of the grill, but I’ll go find Jake. Are you sure you’re okay?”
She yanked open the silverware
drawer and rummaged around, pulling out a collection of serving spoons. “I am.
Thank you, Meg.”
I ducked out of the kitchen, wiggled
my way around the thirty or so people in the living room, dodged conversations
with friends, and found Jake and Ellie whispering together near the front door.
Jake’s hand rested on Ellie’s belly, an image I’d seen many times, but today I
had to look away.
Watching
Jake and Ellie highlighted the loneliness of my pregnancy. I could almost long
for Bradley’s return, but since he disliked
public displays of affection, I
doubted he’d be much of a tummy toucher. I had called off our wedding four
months earlier, partly because of his business trips. At first, he’d leave me
for a few days or a week at a time. But as his weeks away piled up on each
other, that feeling of a shared life fractured. The longer he stayed away, the
less we connected when he came home.
Especially once I found out he had
plenty of time to spend in the company of another woman.
“Hey, break it up guys,” I said.
“Jake, your mom wants you at the grill.”
As he walked by, he patted me on the
shoulder, in on my little secret. When one’s best friend gets married, one
learns that even the most classified information is going to echo off an extra
set of ears. I loved Jake, though, so I was okay with it. Ellie’s man was
loyal. I’d trusted him even before she did and had convinced her that she was
going to lose a good one if she didn’t give in to love. In the first year of
her marriage, Ellie was already four-and-a-half months pregnant.
That was the best part of my
mistake. While I might have gotten my single self knocked up, at least my
lifelong best friend and soul sister was preggers, too.
“Hey, little momma.” Ellie rubbed
her belly, smiling deliberately at mine.
“Shush!” I looked over my shoulder
and stuffed my hands in my jacket pockets. “Don’t say that.” I’ve never been a
self-conscious person, but since my flat abs had exploded into a telltale pooch
two weeks before, I’d been nearly hysterical, feeling as if I were wearing one
of those “Baby on Board” T-shirts with a big arrow pointing down.
“Sorry, Meg. I just know everything
is going to work out for you.” The warmth in Ellie’s voice triggered a lump in
my throat. “Besides, you’ve always got me to lean on.” She squeezed my shoulder.
Scanning the faces in the room, I
struggled to breathe. How many of those people thought they knew all about me? I
took a step back, but there was no escaping the pressure that rolled over me
like a wave pulling me under.
My stomach churned under the
unrelenting fear of discovery and the weight of choices before me. The smell of
beef cooking on the grill didn’t help. Rising bile in the back of my throat
overwhelmed the familiar metallic taste.
“You don’t look good.” Ellie came to
my rescue, as always. “Why don’t you lie down in my room for a while? I’ll
cover for you.”
“Are you sure? I’m supposed to be
helping you.” I took a deep breath, determined to pull myself together, but
prickling sweat popped out on my brow.
“Let’s go.” Ellie put her arm around
my waist and led me away from the crowd. I looked over my shoulder. Theo was
eating from a plate on a TV tray, carefully chewing each bite. Melinda sat next
to him looking calm and composed.
After Ellie left, I kicked off my
heels and hung my jacket and T-shirt over the chair of her antique vanity in
the far corner of the room. The ceiling fan, set to low, spun in lazy circles.
I lifted my hair in a twist and looked down at my body. The camisole that used
to conceal my belly accentuated the protruding bump. I couldn’t deny the
obvious.
There was a baby onboard.
I tugged the hem of my camisole up
over my bump and tucked it under my swollen breasts. The snug top stayed where
I’d left it. I couldn’t believe someone was in there. Before, every choice I’d
ever made was calculated. A few random decisions had changed everything.
The bedroom door banged open, and I
jumped, expecting Jake or Ellie. Instead, Theo lumbered in on his crutches and
slammed the door behind him.
“Excuse me, do you mind?” I tugged
my top in place to cover myself, but Theo’s gaze took in my bare skin. He
watched my movements closely and locked the door. For some reason I flushed and
grew warmer as he came closer to the bed. Could
he want to trap me?
Of course, the thought was ridiculous. I was pretty
sure my small, five-foot-five-inch, exhausted, knocked-up self could plow
through a one-legged boy covered in bandages if I wanted to get out of there
badly enough. The thing was—I wanted to stay.
“Give me a break.” He hobbled to the
king-size bed without looking at me then propped his crutches against the wall before
falling back onto the mattress. “You think you can hide in here all by
yourself?” He hauled what was left of the lower half of his body onto the bed.
A flash of pain crossed his bronzed face. Closing his eyes, he lay back on the
striped navy sham. He ran his good hand through spiky hair the same tawny brown
as the week-old scruff on his face. “Hit the light on your way out,” he barked.
“Hey, I was here first, and I was
just about to rest there. Ellie told me I could.” I smacked a hand over my
mouth. “Wait… I’m sorry. That was rude.”
Theo lifted his head off the pillow,
squinting from the overhead light. He peered at me in a slow, thorough
inspection that left me fighting not to squirm.
“Well, Jake told me I could crash
here. Turn off the light and come on.” He patted the bed next to him. “Forgive
me—I didn’t see that you are with child.” He rolled his eyes.
The breath shot out of my lungs, and
I wrapped my arms around my stomach as if I could hide the truth. “Stop looking
at me,” I said, making my way to the light switch.
Although he’d draped his tan,
muscular arm across his forehead, I sensed his eyes tracking me. I pictured my
belly growing with each step, the truth transparent. I switched off the lights.
The sun was on the other side of the house, and fading afternoon light glowed
in the room. I went back around the bed and paused, not sure I really wanted to
get in with this hostile-looking guy who had spent recent years surrounded by
sand and weapons.
Theo glared sideways at me. “Don’t
flatter yourself. I’m not about to make a move on some pregnant chick. Either
get in or get out—I don’t care.”
My mouth fell open. “Oh… you think I
think…” My voice quivered, so I stopped and tried another tactic. “I don’t…”
More quivers. I forced out the only response I could manage. “Whatever.” I
snatched my heels off the floor, ready to go home.
“Wait. What are you doing?” Theo
scrubbed his hand over his face. “Don’t go.” His tone softened. “I shouldn’t be
alone right now.” He was giving me those big, puppy-dog eyes, but I could see his
smirk.
“What? Now you want me to stay?” No
more quivering. The words flowed when the focus was on him. “What’s with you?” I
itched to make a run for it, but even so, he intrigued me.
“Cut a guy some slack, will you? My
social graces are rusty.”
“Oh, please! I’ve been warned not to
give you anything that might resemble sympathy.”
“I don’t want your pity.” A spark
flared in his eyes. “Are you always this sassy, or is your condition playing
with your hormones?” He had a full-on grin, his white teeth gleaming.
His audacity got the best of me.
“Shut up, or I’m going to take your crutches when I leave.”
My threat only made Theo roar with
laughter, infuriating me more.
“You’re a bad girl, teasing a
hurt man. Just get in bed—you look tired. I’ll leave, if you really want me to.”
I gave in because he was right: I
was worn out. “No, don’t go.” I dropped my shoes, went to the bed, pulled back
the covers, and climbed in, staying as far away from him as I comfortably
could. “Let’s call a truce. I’ll stay over here, you stay over there.” I
settled the plush bedding around me and rolled over to face his direction. The
visible side of his body was flawless.
“Fine, but you better not snore or
I’m going to flatten a pillow over your head.”
I stifled a giggle. “You’re not at
all what I expected.”
He jerked his head toward me, eyeing
me suspiciously. “What did you expect?”
“I just thought a war hero would be
nice.” I yawned.
“I’m not nice enough for you?” His
voice, low and smooth, did nothing to hide his amusement.
I relaxed, sinking in the mattress.
“No, you’re a total asshole.”
The bed shook with his laughter.
“Well, at least you’re honest, but don’t call me a hero.”
I heard the smile in his tone, but
my eyes were closed. I really should have
just stayed in bed today
, I thought, drifting off to sleep.
***
My eyes were open before I realized
I was awake. Theo, bathed in moonlight, lay stretched out on top of the covers
next to me.
“You don’t have a ring on.” He
searched my eyes.
“I gave it back when I cancelled the
wedding. Bradley wanted me to keep it…” I looked at my bare hand in the dim
room. My ring finger felt naked without the karat-and-a-half, princess-cut
diamond. Sometimes I still caught myself rubbing the area, searching for the
phantom ring. “But I couldn’t.”
“So what, you didn’t want a shotgun
wedding?”
“Wait. Bradley’s not the father.” I
cringed as soon as the words left my mouth.
His eyes twinkled in the moonlight,
and he grinned again.
“So you are a bad girl.”

 

Claire Ashby was born and raised in the heart of Atlanta. At a
young age, she began keeping journals and over time embellished the details of
her quiet days. Eventually, she let go of
 writing
reality altogether and delved completely into the world of fiction.
 
When she’s not reading or writing, she spends her time watching
extreme survival shows and taking long walks after nightfall. She has an
unnatural love of high places, but still regrets the time she skydived solo.
She believes some things are better left to the imagination. She resides in
Austin with her family and a pack of wild dogs.
 
 
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Books, Photos & a little bit of everything else: July 18

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  • Designed by Alicia Renee Kline: Release Day

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Book Title: Designed
Author: Alicia Renee Kline
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: July 18, 2014
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

Synopsis

Blake Snyder is an expert at bringing visions to life. Owner of a successful interior design business, she prides herself on creating things that are picture perfect. If only her talent extended to her personal life.

Chris Taylor is her brother’s best friend, but more importantly, her ex. After a messy breakup years ago, they’ve been careful to avoid each other.

But out of sight isn’t necessarily out of mind. Chris holds a special place for her in his heart – and a never presented engagement ring. Blake can’t stop thinking about him – despite her frequent attempts to replace him.

When a series of events in the present lead Blake to confront the truth in her past, she knows that it’s time to come clean about what really drove them apart. What she reveals is something that brings him to his knees yet again.

Can Chris forgive her for a decade of secrets and omissions? Will their love for one another be strong enough to withstand the repercussions of a decision made long before? Or will the bombshell spell their ultimate demise?

Meet the Author

 

profile photoAlicia Renee Kline has been writing for as long as she can remember. Her work has evolved from scrawling story ideas in spiral notebooks in loopy, middle school handwriting (complete with scribbles) to more professional looking fare via her laptop. She is eternally grateful for the “delete” key, so that no one can tell that she doesn’t get everything right the first time.

She resides in Northeastern Indiana with her husband, two daughters, two cats and two hamsters. When she isn’t being an author, she works full time in the insurance industry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

excerpt

Why did my mind always wander to him? I stared at my reflection in my bedroom mirror, wondering if I was only fooling myself into believing that I was happy being by myself. I’d proven both him and my father wrong during the almost decade since Matthew’s second arrest, holding true to my word that I’d be okay on my own. In many ways, I had been.

I slumped down on my round mattress, allowing myself a moment of composure. This was my sanctuary now, a place Chris had never physically touched, though his memory lived here most every night. My bedroom was my favorite room in my house, loving referred to as “The Bubble Room” due to the circular patterns found throughout. The look I’d been going for was reminiscent of floating on a cloud, or blowing a giant bubble out in the middle of a purple sunset. I succeeded on both counts based on the looks that people gave me when they entered. It almost made me believe my own hype; that I was as talented as others insisted I was.

But clouds brought storms and bubbles popped.

And my sanctuary wasn’t a place of fond memories, of calm and restoration. It was a place where I retreated, alone, after a full day of pretending that I wasn’t. A place where I sometimes woke up in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat and sobbing, doubled over in phantom pain as I remembered the life that never was.

It had been a nice touch to make my bed round, I supposed. It might be quirky and impossible to buy bedding for in a store, but it was damn well convenient for curling up into the fetal position.

So often, I’d dreamt about him being here with me, stroking my hair adoringly as he dried my tears. As he whispered forgiveness for what I’d done to him. As he told me the thing I most wanted to hear: that he loved me despite everything in our past.

But he’d never sat beside me and said that, much as I wanted him to. Yet I reserved that space for him here like he had, much the same as I held it open in my heart. Until he’d warmed it with his presence, it was sacred and I’d never let anyone else fill that void.

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