Friday, September 30, 2016

Review of JARED by Nicole Edwards



Title: JARED 
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Genre: The one with the freaking hot as hell Walker Brothers!

Thats right! if you love the Walker Brothers, then you will love that the Walker stories continue in the Coyote Ridge series and Jared!



JARED 

Release Date: September 20, 2016 

Jared Walker is a single dad who knows what it’s like to be burned by a woman. His ex-wife tormented him in a way that’s unforgivable. It makes sense that Jared doesn’t trust women. He’s not looking for love, but when his cousin Travis puts Jared in charge of the Walker family reunion, Jared just might find himself in over his head. In more ways than one.

Hope Lambert has one goal in life. To keep Dead Heat Ranch prospering. From sun up to sun down, she has a single-minded focus working alongside her four sisters, the job isn’t always easy, but it’s definitely worth it. Hope is convinced she needs nothing more than what’s right in front of her. Until he walks into the stable.

It’s easy to think you know what’s best for you. That is until your heart is put to the test. What happens when the cautious cowgirl and the sexy single dad come face to face? The chemistry threatens to scorch them both. Giving in is easy. Not falling in love is the hard part.

This novel is a Coyote Ridge/Dead Heat Ranch crossover.




REVIEW

Wow, Nicole has done it once again!!  She has the uncanny ability to suck you into a story and weave a web of suspense, love and smokin' hot sex that you never want to get out of.  How she has the ability to write characters that hold your heart in their hands is absolutely amazing.  I quickly fell in love with Jared and Hope and I could not get enough of them.

Jared and Hope have both been burned in the past and have no desire to go down the relationship road again.  Jared was focused on raising his son and Hope was focused on running her family's ranch.  While both of them secretly longed for something more, neither one of them wanted to risk their hearts again.  When Jared is tasked with setting up a reunion for the Walker family on Hope's ranch, the sparks between them were instantaneous.

Will Jared and Hope get the HEA they have always wanted or will their pasts come back and prevent what might have been?  In order to find out, you have to pick up your own copy of this juicy read.  I PROMISE you will not be disappointed.  Jared is a true Walker and will have you running out for more batteries before you know it!         



JARED (Coyote Ridge/Dead Heat Ranch, 2) Prologue
Two and a half years ago

“WHERE ARE YOU going?” Sable screamed, her voice grating on his last nerve.

“I’m done. Fucking done, Sable,” Jared Walker informed his soon-to-be ex-wife. And that couldn’t come soon enough.

The second his boss had fired him, telling Jared that he could no longer deal with his crazed wife stopping by unannounced every day trying to start a fight, Jared had decided he’d had enough. The guy wasn’t wrong to fire him. Hell, he’d been putting up with Sable’s bullshit far longer than he should have. She was jealous and spiteful and fucking selfish. Yes, that’s what she was.

Damn it.

Everything was just so fucked up. Jared wasn’t sure how things had gone to shit so quickly, but they definitely had. The woman he’d married had shed her skin not two weeks into their marriage, demanding that she be taken care of. The second that ring was on her finger and the marriage license was signed, Sable had changed from the easygoing, somewhat kindhearted woman to an ex-employee at the makeup counter at Macy’s to a fucking diva who wanted him to make her breakfast in bed on the weekend.

No doubt about it, he’d been blinded by … what? What the hell had he seen in her? Even now, three years later, he had no clue what he’d been drawn to other than her smoking-hot body and her Hoover-worthy mouth. Oh, and she’d given him attention—batting her eyelashes and offering her relentless come-hither stare—something he’d been missing. Or thought he had anyway. In hindsight, the lack of attention from the opposite sex had been self-imposed. Jared had just turned thirty when they met, and he’d been going through the motions, trying to figure out where his life was headed and how he wanted it to go. Marriage had certainly been an idea he was looking forward to, should he find the right woman.

Enter Sable Hillman, with her perfectly applied lipstick and fancy hair. She’d clearly walked into his life at the right time. Or the wrongtime, depending on how you looked at it.

He was definitely an idiot.

Sable didn’t want to work, but she didn’t want to stay home, either. She thought they belonged to the country club elite or some shit. He could see how she’d come to that conclusion. Jared’s parents were well off, and they’d set their children up accordingly. Jared had money—mostly family money—but he’d also been working since the day he turned sixteen. He hadn’t had a rough life, by any means, but his father had instilled in him the need to make a good living. Damn good thing his father had demanded he have a prenuptial agreement. Jared hadn’t thought it necessary, but at the last minute, he’d caved. For a second, he’d thought Sable was going to back out. He should’ve known better. The woman was more than willing to spend every penny he had while they were married. She didn’t need to wait until afterward.

“Fuck you, Jared.”

“No,” he turned to her. “Fuck. You. And every asshole who’s had the displeasure of fucking you over the last three fucking years.”

Three years he’d been dealing with this shit. If it weren’t for the fact Sable had gotten pregnant, Jared would’ve been long gone. Only he’d stayed because of his son. Derrick was the highlight of every single day. Jared went to work every morning, and when he came home, Sable generally went out while he enjoyed the peace and quiet and time he got to spend with his boy. It was the perfect routine, and since it got Sable out of his hair, Jared never complained.

“I want joint custody,” he informed her as he went to the closet and began tossing his clothes out. He was packing his shit and moving out. He had no choice. He would go stay in his parents’ guesthouse until the divorce was final. It would allow him to be close enough to Derrick so he could see him every other weekend and every Wednesday.

“Ha!” Sable sneered. “Like that’s ever gonna happen.”

Goddamn, that was going to hurt. He hated the idea of being away from Derrick for that long. He’d been hoping Sable would be level-headed about this, letting him spend time with his boy whenever he wanted. He should’ve known better.

Jared cast an angry glare over his shoulder. “I’ll fight you for full custody if that’s what you want.”

“Go ahead and try it,” she snapped. “Considering he’s not your kid, I’m not sure that’ll work out real well for you.”

Jared spun around so fast Sable had to take a step back.

“What did you say?” The impact of her words had caused his hands to shake, and there was a red haze clouding his vision, anger and…
Damn, it felt a hell of lot like fear clouded his mind.

Sable always said nasty shit to him. It seemed she got off on putting him down. Normally, he didn’t rise to the bait, but this… He hoped like hell she was lying.

“You heard me. You think you’re all high and mighty. Derrick isn’t yours. You’re not his father. So fuck you, Jared. You don’t get shit out of this deal.”

He had to sit down or his legs were going to give out. Jared managed to back up to the bed and drop down onto the mattress, staring at the woman he had vowed to love forever, a woman he no longer even liked.

“I want a paternity test,” he insisted. That would prove that Derrick was his. He had to be.

Sable rolled her eyes. “I’m marrying him.”

Jared tried to process her words, but they didn’t make sense.

“Derrick’s father. He’s been begging me to leave you. I should’ve done it before now. And yes, you’ll get your paternity test. I’ll prove to you that he ain’t yours.”

She should’ve left before now? She wasn’t the one leaving, Jared was.

“You’ll have nothing,” she spat.

Jared held back his retort, not sure what he could say. The woman had managed to single-handedly rip his heart right out of his chest and grind it into dust.

Derrick isn’t yours.

The fact that his marriage had disintegrated … Jared could get over.

Losing Derrick… That was a wound that would never heal.

* * *

Six months later

“Despite the fact that the paternity test states you are not the father,” Edna Holloway—the expensive lawyer he’d hired—clarified, “Sable is willing to give you full custody.”

Jared waited for her to continue. He was waiting for the “but.” There was always a “but.”

“However, in exchange, she wants twenty-five thousand dollars.”

“Done,” Jared said instantly.

“Jared, you should spend some time thinking about this,” Edna said kindly.

“Don’t need to. My name’s on his birth certificate. He’s my son. Find out where I need to wire the money.”

Edna pulled a sheet of paper from the pile she’d brought with her. “I think we need to ask that she give up her parental rights. That will protect you going forward. She has already made it clear that she doesn’t want Derrick.”

And by made it clear, Jared knew that Edna was referring to the fact that Sable had flat out told him that she didn’t have time for Derrick in her life. The man she’d claimed was Derrick’s father had insisted on a paternity test, also. The results had stated he was not the father. Which meant Sable had lied once again. The new man—some rich, older guy—in her life didn’t want kids, which meant Derrick had suddenly become expendable in her eyes.

“I agree,” he told her. “Do what you need to do, and tell Sable I want this done immediately. While we’re waiting for the legal system to putter along and do their thing, I want him living with me. In Coyote Ridge.”

Since he had moved to the small town where most of his extended family lived, in an attempt to put some distance between himself and Sable, Jared had started to build a life for himself. Although he wouldn’t be close to his parents, he wasn’t too far away. And he had a great job. Being in Coyote Ridge would also lessen the chance of him running into Sable again.

She nodded, jotting down notes before removing her reading glasses and depositing them into her purse. “I’ll keep you apprised of the proceedings. I’ll ask that Sable relinquish custody over to you today.” She glanced at her watch. “Why don’t I try for four o’clock. Will you still be in town?”

“Of course,” he said, his heart pounding. “Anything for Derrick.”

​Little did his lawyer know, but Jared would’ve given ten times that much to get his son back. Granted, there was absolutely no reason to let Sable know that. The manipulative bitch would only ask for more.





Click the series name to go to that page!





Did you know that JARED is a crossover novel? 

It is officially the 2nd book in both the Coyote Ridge and Dead Heat Ranch series'. You not only get the sexy Walker family, but you also get the feisty Lambert sisters. Because of this, the entire Dead Heat Ranch series is currently on sale for $0.99 each and you can grab them HERE!






Connect With Nicole Here: 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Review of HER ONLY SALVATION by J.C. Valentine and Giveaway!

HerOnlySalvation_Tour

Her Only Salvation

by J.C. Valentine
Publication Date: September 13, 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sweet / Clean Romance, Thriller


Her Only Salvation Cover

BUY:

Amazon (99c or #FREE with #KindleUnlimited): http://amzn.to/2bEdxJD

Synopsis: Sometimes, relationships can be deadly.

Terri thought she was marrying a strong, loving man, only to find that beneath that handsome face lies something cold, brutal, and dangerous. After years of abuse, her husband takes things a little too far, and Terri finally summons the courage to take matters into her own hands and make her escape. But freedom comes at a price. Forging a new life, Terri moves to a new town and tries to forget her past, but she can’t help looking over her shoulder at every turn.

When prison bars can no longer hold her husband, and her past comes knocking, Terri finds that the strength to trust again may be her only salvation. When her attractive new boss steps up to the plate and vows to protect her at all cost, she’s inclined to accept…but can she ever allow herself to trust her instincts again?

*Author Note* Her Only Salvation is a bold and enticing storyline with a hint of romance (sensual but not explicit). This book was originally released under J.C. Valentine’s given name and was entitled “Spring Cleaning.”

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REVIEW
 
 Are you looking for a read with just enough angst to keep you turning the pages? If so, this is the read for you.  Terri is trying to overcome her past and forget about her abusive husband.  She wants to finally find happiness and not live in constant fear, to finally move on with her life. She lucks out and lands a job at a nightclub and slowly starts re-building her life.  While she knows it is the last thing she should do, she can't help but notice the sinfully sexy owner and wonder what life would be like with him in it.
 
 Luke knew Terri was hiding something from her past, he just had no idea what it was.  When her troubles come to lite, he vows to protect her at all cost.  He is not looking for anyone to share his life with, but he can't help but feel the pull to Terri. He wants to be the only one she needs and the one to save her from her past.
 
I enjoyed unraveling Terri and Luke's story.  I thought the characters were well written and I couldn't help but hope they got their HEA.  The author did a great job of keeping the story flowing and keeping the reader guessing as to what would happen next.  I loved the ending and the only thing that would have made it better was an epilogue of Terri and Luke a few years down the road.  What do you say Ms. Valentine? I think a "check-in" is in order!    

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ABOUT J.C. VALENTINE

 
JC Valentine
 
J.C. Valentine is the USA Today and International bestselling author of the Night Calls and Wayward Fighters Series and the Forbidden Series. Her vivid imagination and love of words and romance had her penning her own romance stories from an early age, which, despite being poorly edited and written longhand, she forced friends and family members to read. No, she isn’t sorry. J.C. earned her own happily ever after when she married her high school sweetheart. Living in the Northwest, they have three amazing children and far too many pets and spend much of their free time together enjoying movies or the outdoors. Among the many hats she wears, J.C. is an entrepreneur. Having graduated with honors, she holds a Bachelor’s in English and when she isn’t writing, you can find her editing for fellow authors.

Sign up for J.C.’s newsletter and never miss a thing! http://bit.ly/1KxXWWB

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Cover Reveal and Pre-Order of DERRICK'S CHOICE by Cynthia P. O'Neill

Derrick’s Choice
Titan Security – Book #1
By Cynthia P. O’Neill
Genre: Erotic Romantic Suspense
— SYNOPSIS —

Derrick Caldwell:
Trying to carve out my own way in life, I joined the Air Force, only to have my dad pull strings to place me in Special Ops. Turns out, my entire life had been decided for me; I was to follow in my father’s footsteps.

Once discharged, I had my goals within reach and defying dad was at the top of my list, until Jesse walked in, stealing everything I wanted. I should’ve hated her for taking away my choice, but I couldn’t; one smile was all it took to brand herself on my soul. I swore I’d bide my time and eventually have my dream job and her!

Who knew the position my father forced me to take for Titan Security would lead me to everything I desired? I’d have to act fast, as time was working against me, with a potential killer on the loose, money missing from the company, and someone stalking her…

Jesse Bradford:
On the verge of making manager, I was consumed with work, before Derrick stepped in and snatched my promotion out from under me. He’s familiar, but how? And why did he take my breath away every time we touched? I wanted to make his job a living hell – until someone tried to kill me.

Now my life was in his hands, the ones I imagined bending me to his will. Why am I even thinking this way? He has me confused, forcing me to rethink who I am, submitting to my desires, and helping him track down a killer(s) before they strike again. Can I trust him? I don’t know that I have a choice.

ADD TO GOODREADS

— COVER INFORMATION 
Cover Photographer: Eric Battershell Photography
Cover Model: David Wills
Cover Designer: RP Designs, Randy Potvin

— PRE-ORDER 
EXCLUSIVE PRICE OF 99CENTS!
AMAZON US | AMAZON UK | AMAZON CA | AMAZON AU


— ABOUT THE AUTHOR — 
Cynthia P. O’Neill grew up in small town in South Florida and moved to Central Florida to attend college. There, she married her friend, love, and soul mate and still resides with their amazing son, and a feisty, four-legged little boy. 

In her books, Cynthia draws on her background in healthcare and business, along with her husband’s engineering knowledge. 

She currently writes on all levels of Romance. The Remembrance Series encompasses New Adult with a touch of Paranormal activity and a hint of Historical romance. A Learning Series is for those who like a little more steam with their books, falling into the categories of Contemporary - Erotica, with a hint of suspense. 

Her latest series, Need, will have several books, each focusing on one couple per book. The main couple will then become supporting characters, while some of the background characters step forward to find their own happily ever after. It will be will be a Contemporary – Erotic romance with a high level of suspense added. 

She tries to make her writing very personal and close to her heart. Regular life is the inspiration for her books, but her imagination takes them to new heights, opening up possibilities that would normally not exist. 

To learn more about the author, please visit Cynthia’s website at: www.cynthiaponeill.com


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Cover Reveal & Pre-Order of THE LAST ROCK KING by Seven Steps


THE LAST ROCK KING by Seven Steps

A New Adult Romantic Suspense Novel
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Limitless Publishing, LLC
Cover Designer: Deranged Doctor Designs

Cassie Washington thought spending her summer touring with a rock band would be an adventure… 

When Cassie’s father invites her to take time off from medical school and go on tour with the rock band he manages, she envisions traveling the world, meeting celebrities, and finally making peace with her estranged father. But when the rock star sets his sights on Cassie, she's forced to make a life-changing decision. Fulfill her lifelong dream of being a doctor, or become the Rock King's new queen?

Noah LaRock was once dubbed The Last Rock King, but that feels like a long time ago…

Noah’s popularity has waned, but he hopes this world tour will change all of that. After getting off on the wrong foot with the new on-staff nurse—Cassie, who just happens to be his manager’s daughter—his best friend Dondo is introduced to Cassie’s friend Kelly. The next morning, Kelly is found murdered.

As the tour goes on, more girls wind up dead…

Cassie pleads with Noah and the authorities, convinced that someone with ties to the band is behind the murders—but even after an arrest, the bodies keep piling up. And that’s not all for Noah—he learns that his record label’s dropping him, his money has run low, there's a killer targeting his fans, and his on-staff nurse has taken up permanent residence in his thoughts. 

Can Noah revive his career, catch a killer, and win Cassie's heart—or is it already too late for the…
Last Rock King?

\\\ PRE-ORDER AVAILABLE TODAY! ///

Every King needs a Queen…


\\\ MEET AUTHOR SEVEN STEPS ///

“Let me be that I am and seek not to alter me.”
–William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing.

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. One of my mentors (you know who you are) often reminds me of my first foray into the world of literary fiction. It was a lively story about a bee’s journey to find a pot of missing honey. He says that I have improved since then. I think that he’s right. 
I am a working wife and mother, as well as a devoted owner of a beautiful cat named Rosie. I enjoy hanging out with my friends and family, thrifting, and anything that reminds me of my childhood.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Relase Blitz of PLAYING IT COOL by Amy Andrews





"Score one for the curvy girls"
Playing it Cool by Amy Andrews!
Standalone. Sports Romance. 

Pre-order NOW!



Blurb

Score one for the curvy girls!

Harper Nugent might have a little extra junk in her trunk, but her stepbrother calling her out on it is the last straw... When rugby hottie, Dexter Blake, witnesses the insult, he surprises Harper by asking her out. In front of her dumbass brother. Score! Of course, she knows it's not for reals, but Dex won't take no for an answer.


Dexter Blake's life revolves around rugby with one hard and fast rule: no women. Sure, his left hand is getting a workout, but he's focused on his career for now. Then he overhears an asshat reporter belittle the curvy chick he'd been secretly ogling. What's a guy to do but ask her out? It's just a little revenge against a poser, and then he'll get his head back in the game.

But the date is better than either expected. So is the next one. And the next. And the heat between them...sizzles their clothes right off.


Suddenly, this fake relationship is feeling all too real…



Excerpt 

Dexter Blake liked a woman with some junk in her trunk. And the tall, curvy chick on the sidelines was packing a whole lot of booty. She had one of those itty-bitty waists, too. And her cups floweth’d over.
Staring at her chest was practically a religious experience.
Unfortunately, she only had eyes for Chuck Nugent, the pretty boy sports reporter for Channel Five. He was currently doing his sycophantish spiel on the field, a cameraman following him around as he interviewed the players still milling around for their obligatory post-match interviews.
She was impatient for his attention, too, if her pacing was anything to go by.
Lucky bastard.
As far as Dex was concerned, she could keep pacing. Watching everything jiggle was the cherry on the top of his pie tonight. There was nothing better than winning a hard-fought game of rugby union. But watching a fine-looking woman strutting her stuff came a very close second.
“I’d say don’t look now, booty at six o’clock, but I can see you’re ahead of me.”
Dex smiled at Tanner Stone, the captain of the Sydney Smoke and his good mate, as he pulled up beside him then dropped at the waist to stretch out his hamstrings.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Hey, Dex,” Bodie Webb said as he pulled up on the other side. “Your kinda ass on the sideline.”
A low whistle came from behind them. “I hope you’re planning on hitting that, Dex,” Lincoln Quinn murmured as he also appeared, casually waving at some teenage girls hollering at him from the dispersing crowd.
Dex chuckled. “Since when did you all turn into pimps?”
Linc clapped him on the back. “Just lending a hand.”
“Thanks. I can get my own ass.”
And, sadly, as much as sideline-chick ticked every box, her ass was off-limits. One look at her told him she was the kind of girl a guy loved. Got into a relationship with. The kind he married. Made babies with.
She was the commitment type.
Over a decade of avoiding romantic entanglements had alerted Dex to the signs, and this woman had I don’t do casual written all over her.
And he didn’t do commitment. His career came first. He’d fought hard for his place on the team, and at thirty, he probably only had a few good years left. He couldn’t afford to take his eyes off the ball for a second. He knew how easy it was to lose everything. To have it all go to shit when you least expected it. 
He was never going back to Perry Hill.
There would be time for commitment later. Rugby was it for now.
“But you don’t,” Tanner said.
“Just because I don’t walk around with a permanent hard-on like Linc—”
“Hey!”
Everyone ignored Linc’s half-hearted protest. The cocky back rower wore his horniness like a badge of frickin’ honour. “—doesn’t mean I go without.”
And if he did—it was none of their damn business.
Chuck finished his interview with the skipper of the losing team and, spotting Tanner, headed toward them.
“Christ,” Dex said. “Dickhead approaching.”
Tanner sighed. “Best to just think of our contracts and smile for the camera.”
“Ooh, helllllo,” Bodie purred. “She’s on the move, too.”
Dex’s gaze flicked to the woman again, tracking her progress as she hurried after Chuck. Her hips swung enticingly and her chest moved interestingly beneath her T-shirt.
Christ, it was a turn-on.
“Chuck,” she called, hurrying to catch up with him.
Idiot. Dex would never let a woman trail behind him like that. Not when she could walk in front and he could check out her luscious ass.
“What in hell does she see in that guy?” Bodie asked.
Dex had no idea, but the urge to throttle the smarmy reporter—something that was never far from the surface—spewed like the sudden rush of a geyser in his chest.
“Chuck,” she called, louder this time, almost caught up with him.
Dickhead stopped. Turned. Then glared before looking around him as if he was embarrassed. He hissed, “What the fuck, Harper?” He’d kept his voice low, but the edge of fury carried it farther than Dex was sure Chuck would have liked.
“I told you to stay in the stands, not embarrass me by running onto the goddamn field in a pair of jeans you’ve barely managed to squeeze your lard ass into. I have a certain image to maintain, and it does not involve being followed around by fat chicks.”
Dex’s jaw clamped tight as the hackles rose on the back of his neck. Fat chick? He could see the stain of red creeping up her neck from here, and the spewing geyser in his chest turned viscous, like lava.
“God, he’s a fuckwit,” Bodie whispered.
“Excuse me,” Dex growled.
Lava burning in his chest, he strode purposefully toward Chuck and the woman, who was hissing something back at the reporter Dex couldn’t quite hear. He was sweaty and dirty and every damn muscle bitched at him, but Dex paid none of it any heed.
The urge to deck the smarmy front man rode him hard, but by the time he pulled up beside Chuck, Dex had another plan.
A better plan.
One that involved less potential penalty. And more potential booty.
“Hey, Chuck,” he said, forcing himself to smile as he clapped the reporter hard on the back. It was satisfying to hear a strained, involuntary cough from the man.
“Oh Dex, hi,” Chuck said, sleazy smile in place, turning as if he were trying to block the woman from Dex’s view.
No chance with those puny coat hanger shoulders.
“Great game tonight,” Chuck enthused. “If you could just give me thirty seconds, I’ll be right over.”
“Actually, Chuck,” Dex glanced at the woman and smiled at her. She was even more magnificent up close, with a whole lot of pissed-off glittering in the depths of her Marsala brown eyes. “I was hoping you might introduce me to the lady.”
It was amusing to watch the pretty boy almost choke on his tongue. For a moment, Dex thought he was going to say lady, what lady? But he finally turned to acknowledge the woman behind him. “Of course. This is Harper…Nugent. My…”
The woman—Harper—folded her arms across her chest, and all the blood rushed from Dex’s big head to his little one. “Come on, Chuck, you can say it,” she said, her voice dry with amused sarcasm. “It starts with S. Ssssister.”
Something eased in Dex’s chest. So she was not getting naked with Pretty Boy. There was a God.
“Step!” Chuck said quickly, his voice sharp.
She rolled her eyes as she smiled at Dex and offered her hand. He absently noted there were streaks of paint on her fingers. “Nice to meet you.”
Dex was a tall guy. Big. Not as big as some of the team’s front row, but he was still six foot and had trouble buying shirts that weren’t tight in the shoulders. This tall—hell, Amazonian—woman could look him straight in the eye. He’d never met a woman who could do that in a pair of flats, and it was a strange kind of turn-on.
“The pleasure’s entirely mine,” he murmured, returning her firm and sure grip with one of his own.
He liked a woman who could handshake like a boss.
“Yes…anyway,” Chuck said, his expression pained, as Harper’s hand fell away. “Harper has to run. A girlfriend crisis or something.”
Dex’s eyebrow kicked up. A girlfriend crisis? A crushing sense of disappointment slugged him in the chest.
She was a lesbian?
She laughed and shook her head. “Not that kind of girlfriend.”
His gaze was drawn to her mouth, a plush, sexy crescent in the midst of her flawless olive complexion. He didn’t think she was wearing any makeup, but she was sporting some kind of clear lip gloss that emphasized the luscious curve of her lips.
They glistened, wet and tempting.
Dex laughed, too, as relief flowed like champagne bubbles through his veins. “I am so pleased to hear that.”
Chuck cleared his throat. “Yes. Well. I have to interview the team.” He looked pointedly at his sister.
“Fine. Just don’t forget to pick up Jace and Tabby after you’re done. They’re fine in the stands with Jenny while you wrap up, but she can’t take them home and I’ve told your mother that you’re bringing her kids now instead of me.”
“I’m not going to bloody forget them, Harper,” Chuck replied testily.
She shot an apologetic smile at Dex then turned to go. He and Chuck watched her. The outline of her sexy, rounded butt in the denim of her jeans actually made Dex a little light-headed. It was a sight to behold.
“God, she has a fat ass,” Chuck muttered, disgust colouring his voice.
Dex’s hands tightened to fists. What a monumental wanker. He opened his mouth before he engaged his brain. “Harper! Wait up.”
She looked over her shoulder, a puzzled expression drawing a crease between her brows. “Dex,” Chuck said, putting a hand on Dex’s arm as he took a step in Harper’s direction.
“Tanner’s waiting,” Dex said, shaking off the hand before jogging the short distance to where she’d stopped.
“Hey,” she said, tossing the long strands of her rich dark hair behind her shoulder, clearly still puzzled.
He smiled. “I was hoping you might like to go out with me one night.”
She blinked, the crease between her eyebrows almost cavernous now. “Oh.”
Dex chuckled. It wasn’t the standard response he got from women. Normally, they were tripping over themselves to be asked out by him. Hell, most of them didn’t wait to be asked. It was well known that he didn’t generally date, so they were more than happy to do the asking.
A man with a less healthy ego might have been insulted by Harper’s tepid response. But he could sense her reticence was real as she glanced at the guys to her left, all gawking and smirking, clearly talking about them. Her gaze travelled over his shoulder to where Chuck stood—glaring, if the prickle between Dex’s shoulder blades was anything to go by.
Her gaze returned to him. “Um…”
Hmm. Maybe this wasn’t going to be as easy as he’d thought. He looked pointedly at the mobile she held. “Give me your phone.”
She glanced at it for a moment, frowning some more. “Why?”
Dex gave an exaggerated sigh and plucked it out of her unresisting hand. “It’s okay,” he assured her as she murmured a protest, and his fingers busily navigating to her address book. “I’m just going to put my number in because obviously I don’t have my phone available to put yours into mine.”
She crossed her arms as she watched him enter the details, and it took him twice as long.
“There,” he said, passing the phone back to her.
She glanced at the entry, and his heart tap-danced in his chest as a smile pulled at the curve of her mouth. She quirked an eyebrow at him. “Dex the Stud?”
He grinned and shrugged. “What can I say?”
“And what do you expect me to do with this?”
“As soon as you’re done with your girlfriend thing, give it a ring and we can set up a time and a place for our date.”
“Well, that’s a step up from the last guy, who put his number into my phone hoping I’d send him nude photos,” she said, her tone flippant.
Dex blinked. What the actual fuck? “Absolutely no class.”
“Well, to be fair, he did request arty ones.”
He laughed. “Hey.” He held his hands up in faux surrender. “Never let it be said that I stand in the way of artistic expression, if you feel so inclined with my number. But definitely lose his.”
She laughed back, and it grabbed him by the balls. Like everything else about her, it was big and rich and real. But then her gaze flicked over his shoulder again, and her smile slowly slipped from her face.
Dex gave an exaggerated sigh. “You’re not going to ring it, are you?”
She shook her head, a glossy smile playing on her glossy mouth. “No chance in hell.”
“Why?”
She glanced at her stepbrother again. “Some things just aren’t worth the hassle.”
Dex couldn’t agree more. But he didn’t think Harper Nugent was one of them. Undeterred, he grabbed for her phone again, his reflexes lightning fast after a decade of professional rugby. “You leave me no choice,” he chided as he quickly rang his own number.
“Hi, Dex the Stud,” he said as the ring tone eventually gave way to his message bank. “It’s Dex.” He waggled his brows at Harper, and she smiled and rolled her eyes. “I’m ringing to remind you to call Harper Nugent on this number and ask her on a date again. Do not take no for an answer. Even”—he grinned at her—“if she offers nude arty photos in lieu.”
Dex hit the end button and passed the phone back to her. “There now. You’re in my phone. And I will be ringing you.”
She glanced at the phone then at him before flicking a look at the guys again. Linc was grinning like a loon as he shot Dex two thumbs-up.
“Sure you will,” she said, the tight, polite smile on her face making Dex want to slap Linc upside the head.
She bade him farewell and walked away, and for the first time in his life, Dex looked forward to something other than rugby and inflicting bodily harm on Linc.
Harper’s phone rang three hours later. She was a bottle of wine down with her best friend Em, who was in the middle of a boyfriend-number-sixteen crisis. Em was cute, peppy, and up for anything.
She just had really lousy taste in men.
When Em went into a relationship, she went all in, something which Harper had always admired even if her friend consistently chose the wrong guys to be “in” with. The type who were only out for a good time, not a long time. But she always sprang back, and Harper was in awe of her friend’s tenacity and absolute conviction that the right person was out there for everyone.
Although not tonight. While Harper was drinking wine, Em’s breakup booze of choice was butterscotch schnapps, and tonight it was leading her to seriously consider becoming a nun. To prove her seriousness, she was currently Googling how to re-virginise.
So, Harper was both tipsy and completely distracted when she answered the phone.
“Hi,” she said as Em made gagging noises at pictures on a website she was skimming.
“Hey, Harper.”
The hairs on the back of her neck stood up in instant awareness as they had earlier tonight when Dexter Blake had singled her out for a bit of attention.
Her mind went blank for a beat or two. He rang?
Of course he had. She had clearly been some kind of bet or dare or something with his team buddies. At twenty-three, it wouldn’t be the first time she’d been the butt of some douche’s idea of a good time. I dare you to ask the fat chick out. Snigger, snort, backslap.
Some men were such assholes.
But it had been so good, even momentarily, to put her sanctimonious step-brother in his place.
“Harper? It’s Dex the Stud. Remember me?”
His voice was warm and rich with amusement, and Harper shut her eyes. Remember him? She’d relived him asking her out about a dozen times, no matter how much she’d told herself it had all been some sick joke. It had been the first thing she’d told Em after her friend had stopped crying and asked for something happy to cheer her up.
Then they’d Googled him.
“Harper?”
His voice was sharper this time and Harper pulled herself together, sitting straighter in the chair. “Yes. Of course… Hi.”
“You sound kinda…outta it.”
Harper eyed the empty wine bottle and the full one she’d just cracked open. “Well…I’m kinda drunk, so that’s probably why.”
His low chuckle slid seductive fingers down her neck. “The girlfriend emergency?”
“Yup.”
Em looked over her shoulder. “Who is it?”
“Dex.”
Her eyebrows practically hit her hairline. “The rugby dude?”
“Is that the girlfriend?” Dex asked in her ear.
“Yup,” she said to them both.
“Ask him if he knows how to re-virginise.”
Harper shook her head. “I’m not asking him that.”
“Asking me what?” His voice sounded delicious when it was amused. Thick and gooey, oozing all over her body. Like chocolate topping.
God, she loved chocolate topping.
“You should totally ask me whatever it is.”
“Trust me, you don’t want to know.”
“Are you kidding?” Em interrupted. “He’s a professional rugby star. Everyone knows they get laid all the time. What he doesn’t know about a woman’s anatomy probably isn’t worth knowing. He’ll know about re-virginising.”
Harper thought it more likely he’d know about de-virginising.
“Did she just say re-virginising?”
Had Harper been sober, she would have paid more heed to Em’s sage words about the mating habits of professional sportsmen and not the sweet seduction of a chocolate-topping voice. She sighed. “Yup.”
“Why would anyone want to re-virginise? Hell… Can someone re-virginise?”
“I don’t know and yes, apparently, according to the internet. Spiritually and surgically.”
“That sounds…painful.”
Harper laughed. “Yes. For both.”
“And seriously, would you want some strange dude with a scalpel down near your lady parts?”
She shuddered. “I can think of better uses for a dude down near my lady parts.” His bark of laughter was loud in her ear, and she realised what she said. Her face flamed. “Oh God, sorry. I said that out loud, didn’t I?”
“You certainly did, Harper Nugent.”
“I take it back.”
“Oh no,” he chuckled some more. “You can’t take that back.”
Harper groaned internally. Jesus. Where was her filter? She glanced at the wine bottle. Somewhere at the bottom of that, no doubt.
“Fine. Ignore it then. It’s the booze. White wine makes me mouthy.”
“I can’t wait to see that.”
His voice had dropped an octave and roughened with the merest hint of a promise. It went straight to those aforementioned lady parts, and Harper actually squirmed in her chair to ease the sudden ache.
“She’s not serious, is she?”
It took her a moment to realise he’d moved on, and she leaped at the opportunity gratefully. “No. She’s pissed. Both at men and in the alcoholic sense.” Em had already been several shots of Schnapps down when Harper arrived. “Re-virginising is just one of many options we’ve already discussed tonight. I think she wants to make a voodoo doll next.”
He laughed again. “I like the sound of her.”
Harper sighed, looking at the gorgeous mop of caramel curls and the alabaster wedge of cheekbone making up Em’s profile. She looked like one of those babies from old-fashioned adverts for Pears soap. Only all grown-up.
“She’s gorgeous. You should ask her out. You’d make beautiful babies.”
There was a long pause. Long enough to make Harper think, somewhere in her alcohol-addled brain, babies were not on Dexter Blake’s agenda.
“Thanks,” he said, voice low and amused. “I think I’ll stick with my original plan, though.”
“Oh?”
“You and me. A date.”
“Oh.” Harper’s stomach tightened. She’d seen the way his teammates had been watching them tonight. The way the younger guy had given the thumbs up. She could have kissed Dex for his timing, but a girl had her pride, right? Plus she never wanted to be one of those people who were gossiped about for punching above her weight.
“Look. I’m very flattered that you want to go out on a date with me, but—”
“You should do it,” Em interrupted.
Harper blinked at her best friend. “What?”
“I told you I liked the sound of her,” Dex said in her ear.
Em shrugged. “It’d be worth it just to piss off Chuckers.” If it was possible, Em disliked Chuck more than Harper did.
Harper considered that angle for moment, her head still spinning a little. It was a powerful argument. Why not? If Dex was using her to win some kind of ridiculous frat boy dare, why shouldn’t she use him, too?
“Okay, fine.” Clearly there was a level of drunk where pride rapidly diminished. “But I’m not sleeping with you. Or letting you anywhere near my lady parts.”
That low chuckle again. It ruffled seductively along flesh and nerve endings, and Harper fought the urge to stretch. And purr.
“You know you said that out loud, too, right?”
The lazy smile in his voice ruffled things even lower. “Yes. I know.”
“I will be on my best behaviour. I promise I won’t even bring condoms.”
Sober Harper nodded, pleased with the concession. Drunk, uninhibited Harper knew full well he could ruin her without the aid of a condom, and she seemed perfectly fine with that, too.
Uninhibited Harper was dangerous. She was going to have to cut that bitch off at the knees.



About the Author



Amy Andrews is a multi-published, award- winning author of 50+ romance novels across both traditional and digital platforms. She writes for Harlequin Mills and Boon, Entangled, Harper Collins Australia, Momentum Publishing, Escape Publishing and Tule. She's sold in excess of a million books worldwide and has been translated into over a dozen languages. In her spare time she is a PICU nurse and mother of two teenagers. She lives on acreage on the outskirts of Brisbane, Australia but secretly wishes it was the hillsides of Tuscany.

If you want to keep utd with all her latest releases and exclusive content you can sign up for her newsletter here - http://www.amyandrews.com.au/newsletter.html


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Monday, September 12, 2016

Review of BREAKING HIM by Sherilee Gray & Giveaway!

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Breaking Him

by Sherilee Gray 
Publication Date: September 5, 2016 
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Scorched, Erotic, Romance


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Synopsis: Folks in town call him a monster—say he’s dangerous. But I know him simply as Elijah Hays, the quiet, gentle giant who works with the horses on my ranch. I can feel him watching me, that steady intense gaze making me crave things I don’t quite understand, burn in a way that frightens me. He’s always kept his distance…until that night.I remember him coming to my rescue, me following him into the barn, giving him his first taste of a woman, and his inexperienced yet barely reined touch turning me to ash.

Now all I can think about is exposing the dark desire I see deep inside him—having him turn those dark desires on me. That low, gritty voice rasping orders in my ear. Those huge, rough hands holding me down when a storm blows in.

I want his surrender. His control. I want to break him…and have him break me…


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EXCERPT 

He smelled of clean sweat, the outdoors, the soap he used. The combination was incredibly sexy. I uncurled his fingers and rested his hand just above my heart. My top was low cut, so we were skin to skin, and my body went up in flames from that simple touch. I watched him, gauging his reaction. His eyes were locked on his fingers. His hands were scarred with cracks and gouges, dark and stained, as clean as they ever got. The contrast against my lighter, smooth, unblemished skin was startling—exciting.

“Is this what you want?” I asked softly.

He dipped his head again, fingers flexing slightly, stare intent, scorching. “More?”
“Yes…please.” Oh God, the way he said it, deep, rough… I jammed my legs together, the throb between my thighs making me reckless, making me do things, say things, I might not usually.

But here in the barn, so quiet and still, it was just us and this moment. I couldn’t stop even if I wanted to. Wrapping my fingers around his thick wrist, the coarse hairs tickling my skin, I lowered his hand slowly, until his palm grazed the swell of my breast. “You ever touched a woman here, Eli?”

He shifted his weight from one foot to the other, jaw tightening, then shook his head.

I could barely believe it. No, he didn’t talk much, kept to himself, but he was smart, gorgeous, and a harder worker I’d never met. “Why not?”

He didn’t answer, just kept his eyes locked with mine. An answer wasn’t necessary. I knew why—the same reason everyone in this town kept their distance. Fear. I moved his hand lower, struggling to breathe when the rough skin of his palm dragged over my hard, aching nipple. He swallowed audibly and made another one of those hungry, low sounds.

“Your skin’s so hot,” I whispered, curling my fingers around his, encouraging him to squeeze me. He flexed them, but he didn’t let up this time, no, he pressed in, tightening around me in a way that had me soaking my panties. “Feels good?”

“Yes, ma’am.” When he said those words, there was a spark of something thrilling in his eyes. His nostrils flared. “Better than good.”

Dear God, it was. What the hell was I doing?


REVIEW

Are you in the mood for a book that will have you wearing out batteries faster than you can read? If so, you better pick up your copy of this sweltering book today! 

Wow, I mean, seriously wow! I was not anticipating the level of heat in this book. Eli and Abigail were absolutely perfect for each other. Abi wants Eli in every way possible. The longer she watches him working on the ranch, the more she longs for him to be hers. When she finally gets the chance to make her fantasy a reality, she wastes no time in claiming Eli as her own.

Eli has only ever had eyes for Abi; however, he doesn't think he will ever have a chance with her. So he dreams about what it would be like to have her in his arms, until his dreams finally come true. 

I loved the dynamic between Abi and Eli. She showed Eli what it was like to be loved and Eli showed Abi what can happen when you finally let all your reservations go. I fell for Eli and he is now one of my BBF. Seriously, I can't say enough about that sexy mouth of his!! Make sure to 1-click your copy and experience this HOT read for yourself!

ABOUT SHERILEE GRAY

Sherilee Gray

Sherilee Gray writes sexy, edgy contemporary and paranormal romance. Stories full of heat and high emotion, following stubborn characters as they fight against the odds… and their happily ever after. She’s a kiwi girl and lives in beautiful NZ with her husband and their two children. When not writing or fueling her voracious book addiction, she can be found dreaming of far off places with a mug of tea in one hand and a bar of Cadburys Rocky Road chocolate in the other.


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Release Day Blitz of BEHIND CLOSED DOORS by J.L. Berg & Giveaway!

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Are you ready to meet Roman Cavenaugh? He's kind of an asshole, but you do not want to miss out on meeting him! Get your hands on USA Today bestselling author J.L. Berg's BEHIND CLOSED DOORS today!

 

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About BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

My name is Roman Cavenaugh and I’m kind of an asshole. Running a company isn't easy, especially when everyone expects you to fail, so being a jerk? It comes with the territory. I don't have time to mess around, and I sure as hell didn’t see her coming. Cara Hamilton—she was supposed to be off limits…a temporary employee brought in during my assistant’s maternity leave. But, in the blink of an eye, she became so much more. An obsession I couldn’t shake. So yeah, I may be an asshole, but now, I finally had a purpose, and soon, she would be mine. All’s fair in love and war…

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Read a sneak peek of BEHIND CLOSED DOORS:

"Can I ask you something?" she said, drawing my attention away from the monotony on my computer screen. I looked up to find her eyes dead set on mine. It was unnerving.

She usually tried to avoid direct eye contact with me. Maybe I intimidated her. Perhaps she found me attractive and the idea of lusting after her boss bothered her.

Believe me, it bothered me too.

In a very physical way.

“Go ahead,” I answered, unwilling to break the intimate connection she'd started.

"When you saw me… at the club that night," she said, her eyes wavering just slightly. "What was it you saw in me? I mean, was it just the clothes?"

My eyebrows furrowed in confusion. Even though I'd said we'd never speak of what happened that drunken night two weeks ago, I saw something in her eyes that needed an answer.

That needed something more.

"Why are you asking?"

"It's nothing, sorry. I'm being stupid," she backpedaled, as she began fiddling with the hem of her skirt.

Looking back at our few interactions, I suddenly noticed the difference in how she'd acted today. Her normal never-ending stream of word vomit was there, but behind it, there was an internal struggle going on. The hemline wasn't the first thing she'd fidgeted with. I'd watched as she'd pulled at the collar of her shirt and then, as if she'd realized what she had done was wrong, quickly lay it flat again.
"Does this have something to do with the way you're dressed today?"

Pink tinged her cheeks once again.

"You noticed?"

I simply nodded, not trusting myself with words in that moment.

Because I’d more than noticed. It’d been damn hard not to think about anything but.

"A gift from my boyfriend," she replied. "He said my old clothes didn't fit in with our new life style. It was a very generous gift," she added, never forgetting that politeness she'd no doubt been taught since birth.

"But?" I questioned, waiting for her to continue.

"But… I don't feel like me anymore," she finally admitted.

"And I'm guessing the night in the club was another gift of his as well?"

It was her turn to nod.

I could see the indecision and worry gnawing at her. Someone like her, sweet, honest and good… she was meant for better things than a life with a man who didn't appreciate her.

Leaning forward, I made sure she saw the sincerity burning in my eyes as I spoke. "That night in the club, I'll admit, I noticed the dress first."

She opened her lips to speak but I held up my hand to stop her, wanting to make my point.

"And today, when you walked in, I couldn't help but give a second… or third glance at the way that new skirt hugged your ass."

Her eyes widened at my blatant honesty.

"So yes, the clothes may grab my attention for a moment or two, but the fact that I'm still interested, two weeks later? That's you, Cara. That’s all you.”

And just like that, I'd crossed the line.

I’d hit on an employee.

And there was no going back from that.


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About J.L. Berg

J.L. Berg is the USA Today bestselling author of the Ready Series, The Walls Duet, and the Lost & Found Duet. She is a California native living in the beautiful state of historic Virginia. Married to her high school sweetheart, they have two beautiful girls that drive them batty on a daily basis. When she's not writing, you will find her with her nose stuck in a romance novel, in a yoga studio or devouring anything chocolate. J.L. Berg is represented by Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, LLC.

Release Blitz & Excerpt of HER ONLY SALVATION by J.C. Valentine & Giveaway!

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Her Only Salvation

by J.C. Valentine 
Publication Date: September 13, 2016 
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sweet / Clean Romance, Thriller


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Amazon (99c or #FREE with #KindleUnlimited): http://amzn.to/2bEdxJD
 
Synopsis: 
Sometimes, relationships can be deadly.

Terri thought she was marrying a strong, loving man, only to find that beneath that handsome face lies something cold, brutal, and dangerous. After years of abuse, her husband takes things a little too far, and Terri finally summons the courage to take matters into her own hands and make her escape.

But freedom comes at a price.

Forging a new life, Terri moves to a new town and tries to forget her past, but she can’t help looking over her shoulder at every turn. When prison bars can no longer hold her husband, and her past comes knocking, Terri finds that the strength to trust again may be her only salvation. When her attractive new boss steps up to the plate and vows to protect her at all cost, she’s inclined to accept…but can she ever allow herself to trust her instincts again?

*Author Note* Her Only Salvation is a bold and enticing storyline with a hint of romance (sensual but not explicit). This book was originally released under J.C. Valentine’s given name and was entitled “Spring Cleaning.”

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EXCERPT

She wasn’t on the floor for more than five minutes when Cathie called her behind the bar.

“You have a phone call, doll.” Passing off the receiver, she flashed a quick grin over her shoulder and said, “It’s a guy.”

Not knowing anyone who would possibly be calling her, let alone a man, not to mention at work, puzzled Terri. With a dark frown, she lifted the receiver and pressed it to her ear.

“Hello?”

At first she didn’t hear a thing, the noise in the bar drowning everything out. Turning her back to the room, she cupped her hand over the phone and repeated the greeting.

At first, she didn’t trust what her ears were hearing. The voice was too distinct, too familiar to be real. Her first inclination was to throw out the most obvious explanation and come up with something that she was better equipped to handle mentally. However, when his voice came down the line again, rough and laced with menace, reality slammed into her like a freight train.

“Hi there, sweets,” Randy said smoothly. “Miss me?”

Terri’s voice seemed to be caught in her throat, a lump that she had difficulty even getting her short breaths past.

“Judging by your silence, I’ll take that as a yes. Don’t try to deny it,” he snapped, then quickly reigned in his temper.

Terri didn’t realize she had been shaking her head. In that instant, she knew he was watching her. Immediately, she spun on her heel and scanned the crowd. There were so many people tonight, she could barely make out their faces, let alone single one out. As he continued to talk, she slowed her visual inspection, breaking the room down into square foot sections, taking in every face methodically. Randy had distinct, pale blonde hair, and anyone who didn't fit that description, she tossed out of the equation, and those with similarly blonde hair she subjected to intense scrutiny.

“You’re looking good, sweets,” he complimented her from his hidden vantage point.

“Always knew you would live up to your full potential one day.”

She could almost feel him moving through the room, his eyes pinned to her every step of the way. It made her skin crawl.

“From housewife to barmaid,” he continued. “Wouldn’t your mother be proud.”

“My mother was always proud of me,” she sneered into the phone. Bringing up her deceased mother had always been a sore spot for her, and he well knew it. She would not allow him to sully her memory any longer.

Randy snickered, loving that he had managed a reaction out of her. 

“You always were easy to rile up, sweets.”

“Don’t call me that,” she nearly shouted in return, but managed to lower her voice at the last minute to avoid attracting any unnecessary attention.

“Not so fond of that nickname anymore?” He clicked his tongue thoughtfully. “How about love bug? Does that suit you better?”

“I hate it,” Terri growled, hoping to sound as angry as she felt.

“Good, love bug it is. Now,” he went on, uncaring of her growing temper. “I must be going, but before you beg me to stay, I want to assure you that I won’t be far.” Suddenly it was as if the sound coming through the other end of the phone had entered a vacuum.

Eyes darting frantically across the sea of dancers, Terri honed in on a set of familiar wide shoulders set against a tall frame and a head of pale blonde hair cut short in an almost military fashion, exiting the club. It had to be Randy, she thought, but he was gone from view so quickly, she couldn’t be sure.
Except that she would know him anywhere.

With shaking hands, Terri replaced the phone on its station, and without saying where she was going, walked mindlessly down the narrow passage leading to the locker rooms. She needed to be alone. She couldn’t think. Her mind was too clouded with visions of her murder, of Randy strangling the life out of her once and for all.

With panic setting in, Terri burst through the locker room doors and ran for the washroom where she proceeded to vomit her dinner into the toilet.

Luke found her soon thereafter, worry and annoyance warring for dominance on his broad face.

“The girls are wondering where you disappeared to,” he informed her, crossing his arms over his chest as if she were a child in need of reprimand. “You know you can’t just take off without telling someone where you’re going.”

“I know,” Terri muttered, keeping her head low. She lacked the strength to hold it up, too weakened from the turmoil eating at her insides to do much else than sit there and ponder her fate. “I’m sorry. Tell them I’m sorry.”

Luke was suddenly sitting beside her. She hadn’t even heard him move.

Lifting her chin, he narrowed his deeply blue eyes on her and tilted his head. “Are you sick or something?”

“I’m fine,” she managed, trying to find some strength to lie effectively and failing miserably.

Tucking a chunk of hair that had escaped her ponytail behind her ear, he shook his head.

“Talk to me, Terri. I know everything isn’t fine. I know there is something going on with you, and I want to know what it is.”

“It’s nothing,” she insisted, forcing herself to meet his gaze.

Dropping his hand, Luke’s expression changed from soft and understanding to a mix of anger and annoyance like a switch had been thrown.

“That’s bull and we both know it. Now this…whatever this is,” he waved a hand through the air encompassing her, “is starting to affect your performance here. This is a business, Terri, and if you want me to be understanding, then you’re going to have to level with me.”

Terri narrowed her eyes on him. “Are you saying you’ll fire me if I don’t confide in you?”

Luke sighed deeply, pinching the bridge of his nose in exasperation. “No, I’m not going to fire you, Terri. I just need you to help me understand. I can’t help you if you don’t.”

The pained expression he turned on her, one of utter defeat, somehow compelled Terri to open her mouth and admit this one person into her shrunken world.

“My husband,” she began, and swallowed hard to tamp down the tremor in her voice, “he’s been released from prison.”

Luke looked at her in a way that told her he was trying to be sympathetic but still didn’t grasp the gravity of the situation.

She went on. “He was here tonight, and I think he was here last night too.” She grimaced, knowing in her heart of hearts that what she was about to say next was the truth. “I think he was the one who hit that boy in the parking lot.”

Luke’s eyes widened, understanding mixed with equal parts anger and worry twisting through them until the blue seemed to swirl with his anger.

“I’ll kill that asshole,” he seethed, his fingers curling to form tight fists against the bench they sat on.

Terri shook her head. “You can’t. They would lock you up, and then who would watch out for me?”

She didn’t want Luke to get himself into trouble. It was obvious he was a fighter, willing to go up to bat for any cause he deemed worthy, but she didn’t want to see him get caught up in the drama of her life. Not if she could help it.

She hadn’t meant to, but she started to shake a little, almost as if the cold outside hadn’t fully left her.

Seeing this, Luke wrapped her in his arms and squeezed her to him. “Hush,” he murmured. “I won’t let anything happen to you.”

“Promise?” she asked, then sniffed back the start of a runny nose. Had she started crying too? Jesus, she really was a mess.

“Promise. It will be a cold day in hell before I let that creep get anywhere close to you again.” He petted her hair absently. “Don’t you worry about a thing, I’ll work something out.”

Closing her eyes, she leaned into his embrace. For the second time in her life, Terri decided to put her trust into a man. This time, she only hoped she wouldn’t get burned.

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ABOUT J.C. VALENTINE

JC Valentine

J.C. Valentine is the USA Today and International bestselling author of the Night Calls and Wayward Fighters Series and the Forbidden Series. Her vivid imagination and love of words and romance had her penning her own romance stories from an early age, which, despite being poorly edited and written longhand, she forced friends and family members to read. No, she isn’t sorry.

J.C. earned her own happily ever after when she married her high school sweetheart. Living in the Northwest, they have three amazing children and far too many pets and spend much of their free time together enjoying movies or the outdoors. Among the many hats she wears, J.C. is an entrepreneur. Having graduated with honors, she holds a Bachelor’s in English and when she isn’t writing, you can find her editing for fellow authors.

Sign up for J.C.’s newsletter and never miss a thing! http://bit.ly/1KxXWWB

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