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Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Guest Post and Giveaway: Cutlass (Cutlass #1) by Ashley Nixon

Published: April 23rd, 2014

Description:

Notorious pirate Barren Reed has one thing on his mind: Revenge against the man who killed his father. So kidnapping his enemy’s fiancé seems a perfect plan…until he actually does it.

Larkin Lee is more than a pretty face and fiancé to a powerful man. Her fierce personality is enough to make any pirate want to push her overboard.

But when the King of the Orient comes to Barren with a task—to find the Bloodstone, a powerful gem thought only to exist in legend, Barren sees another opportunity to destroy his enemy. Together, Barren, Larkin and a crew of pirates set off to find the stone, only to discover it caused the death of Barren’s own mother and Larkin’s, too. As his strongest allies turn into his greatest enemies, and the life of the girl he kidnapped becomes more important than he ever dreamed, Barren’s quest for revenge becomes a fight to save the Orient.

GUEST POST
Pirate - The Anti-Hero 

Let’s talk about the anti-hero. He’s obviously not typical hero material. He’s probably a little corrupt, his morals are questionable, he’s probably done some bad things in the name of something that’s equally bad. He’s not the knight in shining armor, but he’s also not completely the villain—though sometimes you wonder cause he can be selfish. Despite all this, you probably find yourself drawn to the anti-hero—maybe cause you relate to his imperfection more than you relate to Mr. Hero’s perfection? 

Maybe. 

From the moment I began writing about pirates, I knew Barren Reed was not your typical hero. He’s seen some pretty awful things that messed with him, and he became obsessed with revenge. He lives on the sea, so he’s pretty rough and tumble—and he’s got scars that go deeper than the flesh. And because he’s a pirate, there was certain criteria I wasn’t willing to leave out when it came to his occupation. Things like...stealing—which is petty in comparison to murder

Balancing the badness of an anti-hero with their goodness is perhaps the hardest aspect when cultivating the anti-hero. I love my characters but they are pirates, and I don’t remember ever treating pirates as wholly good guys. In my head, they can’t be—they’re pirates. They are outlaws, after all, I couldn’t possibly have a character on my hands who had not killed someone, or one who hadn’t stolen. His morals had to be questionable. 

This did not mean Barren weren’t heroic

It didn’t mean he couldn’t have a good heart. 

It didn’t mean he couldn’t regret what he did. 

Barren’s heartache for the loss of his father is great, but so is his regret for hurting innocent people. He’s reminded of that regret daily after he kidnaps Larkin. He also has times when he tries to convince himself he’s a good person. It’s as if he’s refusing to succumb to the that villain side. 

What keeps him from succumbing to that villain side? Well, Barren’s morals. A part of balancing the good and the bad of the anti-hero is ensuring that they have something to stand for, something they are absolutely without a doubt loyal to. And this thing must be good. 

These are the few things Barren is loyal to: his heart, the Code of Silver Crest and Freedom. They are almost one in the same because Barren’s identity is wrapped up so tightly in these things. They make him good. They show he’s fighting for something other than himself. 

Anti-heroes touch good and evil—but in the end, they’re really all gray matter. I’ve never believed good and evil were purely black and white. After all, what is good and what is bad all depends on the side you’ve taken.

About the author:
Ashley was born and raised in Oklahoma, where the wind really does sweep down the plains, and horses and carriages aren’t used as much as she’d like. When she’s not writing, she’s hard at work on her Master’s degree in Library Science and Information Technology, working out, or pretending she’s Sherlock Holmes. Her obsession with writing began after reading the Lord of the Rings in the eighth grade. Since then, she’s loved everything Fantasy–resulting in an unhealthy obsession with the ‘geek’ tab on Pinterest, where all things awesome go.


Author's Giveaway

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Interview: Deception in the Shadows by T.L. Haddix

Description:

When all the lies that have been hidden come to light, nothing will be the same.

From the time she came to live with her uncle Ron after the tragic deaths of her parents when she was a young girl, Carrie Greer never had reason to doubt she was wanted. Now a dispatcher with the county, she’s a grown woman building a life of her own. But after a trip to Florida, her uncle’s attitude changes… and not for the better. While struggling to come to terms with this shift in their relationship and all the collateral damage it causes, another tragedy strikes. Ron Smith is murdered. And the only person with an obvious reason to want him dead… is Carrie.

Robbie Bailey is finally free to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. But instead of attending classes, he ends up having to return to Leroy and to Carrie, the girl he’s been in love with since he was a teenager. He finds himself in the position of having to convince her of the depth of his feelings while protecting her from a vengeful killer bent on keeping long-buried secrets hidden. And he isn’t sure he can succeed at either task. 

Deception in the Shadows is the sixth installment in the Shadows/Leroy’s Sins Collection, a series of Romantic Suspense novels by author T. L. Haddix. Other titles include Secrets in the Shadows, Under the Moon’s Shadow, Shadows from the Grave, Hidden in the Shadows, and In the Heart’s Shadow. 

MB's INTERVIEW
Thank you, Mrs.T.L. Haddix
How the Leroy’s Sin Series was created and what is the significance of the series name and of the “shadows” from the title of its books? 
The Leroy’s Sins Series came about purely by accident. I wanted to write Beth Hudson’s book (she’s the heroine in the second book, “Under the Moon’s Shadow”) but in order to get her out of my head, I had to write Lauren’s story first (“Secrets in the Shadows”), even though I was itching to write Beth’s. So as I was plotting and planning, I realized that instead of one book, I had two, and then two turned into three. That was the plan initially, just three books. So since series’ titles are often linked, and since the first book was “Secrets in the Shadows,” the second and third had to be “Shadows” books, too. And the original plan was to have the stories all centered around sins that happened behind the scenes in the small (fictional) town of Leroy, hence “Leroy’s Sins.” But people started thinking they were religious books, so we changed it to the Shadows Collection/Shadows series. Now it’s kind of a running gag in my household that I have to come up with more “Shadows” titles. If I had only known the series would end up going this far… I might have picked another word (or none at all!) ;) 

What Romantic Suspense means (or should mean) and what are the ingredients that can make it great? 
For me, RS is a “best of both worlds” genre. I love mysteries, I love romance. And that’s what I think makes it great. You don’t get an overload of either genre, and a good author can offer a well-crafted blend of both. 

What are the first three things that can destroy a Romance Suspense? 
Too little romance, too much romance, too many loose ends. 

You write fantasy/paranormal stories too. What genre is most challenging for you to write and why? 
They’re both challenging in different ways, but I have to say RS is the most difficult. The “Firefly Hollow” series for me is just more natural, more organic in the way the ideas come. There aren’t as many loose ends to have to tie up and make it all seem logical or plausible. I can get away with more in the Firefly series because there is more of a suspension of disbelief with the nature of that specific genre. I love writing both, though. 

Is it enough for a book to entertain or it should send (at least) a message to the readers? 
Depends on the book, the author, and the message that’s trying to be sent. I think it also depends on the reader. When I read, my go-to genre is historical romance. Why? The escapism. As much as I love Romantic Suspense, with what little time I do have to read these days, I want to relax. And I firmly do not think it is the fiction author’s job to preach to readers in most scenarios. While it’s fine to send a message, it should feel native to the characters whose story is being told. Let the characters learn the lesson, and hopefully the readers will relate to that message if they want. But just to write a book under the guise of fiction when it’s actually a soapbox, I don’t like that idea. I know where to find discourse on social issues and politics, and I don’t particularly want them in my entertainment. With that having been said, I like books that tackle tough issues without preaching. Books that show sides of things that perhaps aren’t often seen in media. Those are the kinds of books that make you think while being subtle. As my character Carrie Greer says in “Deception in the Shadows,” you don’t need a backhoe to do a job when a shovel would work nicely. 

About the author:
T.L. Haddix was born in Hazard, Kentucky, a small town in the center of the Appalachian coal fields. Taught to read by her grandmother, T.L. has had a life-long love affair with books, devouring whatever she could get her hands on. From childhood favorites such as the Trixie Belden series and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” books, to her current favorites from authors like Tami Hoag, Alex Kava, J.A. Jance and Lisa Kleypas (among many others), T.L. still finds refuge in the written word.

“Growing up, I wanted to be everything – astronaut, police officer, doctor, teacher, reporter, psychologist – there was no clear choice for me. I wanted to do it all. Becoming a writer has allowed me to do just that, because I can live vicariously through my characters.”

A resident of eastern Kentucky, T.L. is hard at work on her next book, when she isn’t chasing after her three cat-children with her husband.


Giveaway: Above by Isla Morley

Description:

I am a secret no one is able to tell.

Blythe Hallowell is sixteen when she is abducted by a survivalist and locked away in an aban­doned missile silo in Eudora, Kansas. At first, she focuses frantically on finding a way out, until the harrowing truth of her new existence settles in—the crushing loneliness, the terrifying madness of a captor who believes he is saving her from the end of the world, and the persistent temptation to give up. But nothing prepares Blythe for the burden of raising a child in confinement. Deter­mined to give the boy everything she has lost, she pushes aside the truth about a world he may never see for a myth that just might give mean­ing to their lives below ground. Years later, their lives are ambushed by an event at once promis­ing and devastating. As Blythe’s dream of going home hangs in the balance, she faces the ultimate choice—between survival and freedom.

About Above
In ABOVE chosen for the March 2014 Indie Next List, award- winning author Isla Morley crafts a stunning and harrowing novel about a Kansas teenager who is abducted and locked away in an abandoned missile silo by a conspiracy theorist who believes the end of the world is coming. Blythe Hallowell is sixteen when she is abducted by a survivalist and locked away in an abandoned missile silo in Eudora, Kansas. At first, she focuses frantically on finding a way out, until the harrowing truth of her new existence settles in—the crushing loneliness, the terrifying madness of a captor who believes he is saving her from the end of the world, and the persistent temptation to give up. But nothing prepares Blythe for the burden of raising a child in confinement.

Determined to give the boy everything she has lost, she pushes aside the truth about a world he may never see for a myth that just might give meaning to their lives below ground. Years later, their lives are ambushed by an event at once promising and devastating. As Blythe’s dream of going home hangs in the balance, she faces the ultimate choice —between survival and freedom.

ABOVE is a riveting tale of resilience in which “stunning” (Daily Beast) new literary voice Isla Morley compels us to imagine what we would do if everything we had ever known was taken away. Like the bestselling authors of Room and The Lovely Bones 


About the author:
About the author: Isla Morley grew up in South Africa during apartheid, the child of a British father and a fourth- generation South African mother. She now lives in Los Angeles with her husband, their daughter, and an assortment of animals. Her critically acclaimed debut novel Come Sunday was awarded the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for Fiction and was a finalist for the Commonwealth Prize. It has been translated into seven languages


Author's Giveaway
Five Copies of the book

Guest Post and Giveaway: Cold Sacrifice (DS Ian Peterson #1) by Leigh Russell

Description:

When three dead bodies are discovered in Detective Ian Peterson’s hometown of Kent, it becomes clear that a vicious killer is on the loose.And without his trusted colleague, Detective Geraldine Steel, by his side Ian’s left to take the lead on a complex murder case with few clues.

The first victim is a middle-aged woman named Martha brutally stabbed to death in the local park. Her husband, who does not report her missing, is the prime suspect until a young prostitute, Della, reveals his whereabouts the night Martha was murdered. But then she is strangled to death in her apartment. While the police are frantically gathering evidence and looking for a connection, a second prostitute is suffocated.

With nothing but the timing of the murders to tie the three women to each other, Ian and his new partner, Polly Mortimer, struggle to make sense of the case and find the elusive killer before he strikes again. But, by the time Ian realizes the truth, it may be too late to save Polly.

GUEST POST
Bookish Pet Peeves 

One of my pet peeves as a reader is books that are liberally sprinkled with bad language. It's not so much that I find swear words offensive in themselves, but they are lazy language. Anyone who aspires to be called a writer has a duty to at least try to write well, and choose the most appropriate words to express what they want to say. Even specific words, where the meaning is relatively clear, can be at best open to interpretation, and frequently ambiguous. What do most swear words actually mean? As a professional author, earning my living from writing fiction, I spend a lot of time thinking about the words I use. That said, I do use foul language in dialogue, where a character's speech might not seem authentic without it. Many people swear in their everyday speech. I've been known to let the odd swear word slip out myself. But when I'm writing in my own voice, I never resort to bad language. As an author, I strive to do better than that. 

Another of my pet peeves in literature is gratuitous violence. It is often overused with the sole intention of shocking readers, especially in crime fiction. This, again, is lazy writing by authors who use shock tactics in place of strong story lines with engaging characters. The same is true of gratuitous sex in books. Of course there are violent episodes in my own novels. I write murder mysteries. Glossing over violence, and pretending it is unimportant, rather than evil, is as bad as including it unnecessarily. As a crime writer, I try to pay due respect to the suffering of my murdered victims, and the loved ones they leave behind, while not dwelling on violent death more than is necessary or appropriate. This is a tough judgement call, but an important one. Not everyone will agree that I find the right balance, but I like to feel I have tried my best. 

Many people read crime fiction because they want to try and work out the identity of the murderer before the writer reveals it. There are a lot of skilled authors who contrive to stay one step ahead of their readers, like the brilliant US author Jeffery Deaver. Books that are loosely termed 'crime fiction' in the UK are known as 'mysteries' in the US, reflecting the popularity of this kind of puzzle. I succeed in pulling off this kind of mystery in some of my books. In others, the reader is told who the killer is long before my detectives track the villain down, sometimes from the first page of the book. This builds a different kind of tension, as readers are on the edge of their seats waiting for my detective to crack the mystery before another victim is claimed. The great Conan Doyle, creator of the immortal Sherlock Holmes, was another master of the puzzle, giving his readers all the clues they needed to work out how the crime was committed, while still keeping them guessing. It's increasingly hard to fool readers. Most of my own fans are very sophisticated readers of the genre, and I really struggle to stay one step ahead of them. One of my pet peeves is authors who withhold vital 'evidence' from their readers until the final denouement, so that no one could possibly work out the puzzle for themselves. 

My final pet peeve is books that have either too many characters, or too convoluted a plot - some books fall into both categories. Of course this is an entirely subjective judgement. I don't mind working hard to follow a storyline, but don't enjoy feeling overwhelmed by confusing information. It may be that I'm just not that clever, but I believe a master story teller can tell a complex story simply enough for anyone to understand. 
About the author:
Leigh Russell is described as “a brilliant talent” by Jeffery Deaver. CUT SHORT (2009) was shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger Award for Best First Novel. Road Closed (2010) was listed as a Top Read on Eurocrime. With Dead End (2011) Leigh’s detective Geraldine Steel was Number 1 on amazon kindle’s bestseller chart for female sleuths. Leigh Russell is the award-winning author of the Geraldine Steel and Ian Peterson mysteries. She is an English teacher who lives in the UK with her family.

 Website ** Blog ** Goodreads ** Facebook ** Twitter

Author's Giveaway
10 Bluefire Downloads from HarperCollins

Dual Cover Reveal and Giveaway: The Hazards of Sex on the Beach (Hazards #3) and On The Rocks (Mixology #2) by Alyssa Rose Ivy

The Hazards of Sex on the Beach (Hazards #3)
Release Date: July 21st, 2014

Description:
One broken heart, one drink too many, one steamy night in the sand... 

On The Rocks (Mixology #2)
Release Date: May 29th, 2014

Description:
Love is best served on the rocks. My roommates look really good naked. At least one of them does. I’m sure the other one does too, but I haven’t seen him without his pants on. Living with two guys wasn't something I’d ever considered, but the opportunity fell in my lap, and I’d have been crazy to turn it down. College went by in a great big blur leaving me with less of a direction than I had going in. Add in a family that wanted nothing to do with me, and my post-college plans were less than clear. What’s a girl to do when she has nowhere else to turn? She moves to the Outer Banks and learns to bartend. After all, it was my horrible bartending skills that led me to my roommate’s bed and into his heart.

About the author:
Alyssa Rose Ivy is a New Adult and Young Adult author who loves to weave stories with romance and a southern setting. Although raised in the New York area, she fell in love with the South after moving to New Orleans for college. After years as a perpetual student, she turned back to her creative side and decided to write. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and two young children, and she can usually be found with a cup of coffee in her hand. 


Author's Giveaway

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Cover Reveal organized by INK Slinger PR Blogger

Excerpt and Giveaway: Deadlier Than the Rest by Shirleen Davies

Description:

“A passionate, heartwarming story of the iconic MacLarens of Fire Mountain. This captivating historical western romance grabs your attention from the start with an engrossing story encompassing two romances set against the rugged backdrop of the burgeoning western frontier.” 

Connor MacLaren’s search has already stolen eight years of his life. Now he close to finding what he seeks—Meggie, his missing sister. His quest leads him to the growing city of Salt Lake and an encounter with the most captivating woman he has ever met. 

Grace is the third wife of a Mormon farmer, forced into a life far different from what she’d have chosen. Her independent spirit longs for choices governed only by her own heart and mind. To achieve her dreams, she must hide behind secrets and half-truths, even as her heart pulls her towards the ruggedly handsome Connor. 

Known as cool and uncompromising, Connor MacLaren lives by a few, firm rules that have served him well and kept him alive. However, danger stalks Connor, even to the front range of the beautiful Wasatch Mountains, threatening those he cares about and impacting his ability to find his sister. 

Can Connor protect himself from those who seek his death? Will his eight year search lead him to his sister while unlocking the secrets he knows are held tight within Grace, the woman who has captured his heart? 

Read this heartening story of duty, honor, passion, and love in book five of the MacLarens of Fire Mountain series. 

EXCERPT

Connor followed her up the narrow steps to her place, carrying her small bag, and set it down on the floor inside. 

“You going to be okay here tonight?” 

She slipped off her coat and hung it on a nearby hook. Grace wanted to be alone but didn’t want him to leave. Her heart told her to walk up to him, lace her arms around his neck, and ask him to stay. She shouldn’t. She was still married and it would be wrong, even if her marriage was a mockery. She planned to obtain a divorce, which was simple to do in Utah. The laws were lenient and divorce common with people coming from other states to take advantage of the quick dissolution procedures. She simply hadn’t had time to do it with work and planning how she was going to free Meggie. 

Grace walked to a window and stared at the dark sky, deciding what to do. She needed to tell him about Moser but the words wouldn’t form. Say something tonight, or let him leave—she was conflicted. She continued to look out when she sensed him walk up behind her, felt his strong arms wrap around her waist, and draw her flush against his chest. 

He pulled loose strands of hair away from her neck, bending to place kisses up to the tender spot behind her ear. “Ask me to stay,” he whispered before tugging a sensitive earlobe with his lips. She sagged against him, letting her head fall back against his chest and giving him access to the soft column of her neck. 

About the author:
Shirleen Davies began her new series, MacLarens of Fire Mountain, with Tougher than the Rest, the story of the oldest brother, Niall MacLaren. During the day she provides consulting services to small and mid-sized businesses. But her real passion is writing emotionally charged stories of flawed people who find redemption through love and acceptance. She grew up in Southern California and now lives with her husband in a beautiful town in northern Arizona. Between them they are the proud parents of five grown sons.


Author's Giveaway
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Happy Release Day! Giveaway: Runner (Tainted Hearts #1) by A.J. Summer

Description: 18+

run/rən/
verb
move at a speed faster than a walk, never having both or all the feet on the ground at the same time.

run•ner/ˈrənər/
noun
a person who smuggles specified goods into or out of a country or area.

run•ning/ˈrəniNG/
noun
because if you don't I will find you and you will wish you'd done it a little faster, a little better, because there's nowhere on earth I won't find you...

CHOICES

You make the right choice, you win.
You make the wrong choice, you lose.
You let someone else choose for you, because there really isn’t any other way to do it and they own you.
I’ve worked for Reno Parker for six years.
And shit just got bad.
I’m going to the place I thought I’d never see again.
I’m going home.
Do I want this new responsibility? No.
Do I need it? Yes.
Will someone else choose for me? Never again.
And to finally crash this impending train wreck, there's a girl messing with my head.
Are you ready for another seven days?

Bound by birth - Separated by consequence

KYLE
I can’t paint for shit. I can’t carry a tune to save my life. But I have a story.
A story that started out brave. A story that started out humble. A story of total destruction.
What would you do to save your family? 
My decision was easy, the consequence was death.
I am Kyle but most people know me as the RUNNER.
How did this start?
Seven days. In Seven days I changed my world and the world of everyone I loved.

MIA
I could tell you a story about love and sunshine and of all being right in the world. But I won’t because that isn’t my story. 
My story is so sweet it will make your teeth rot. My story is so real it will make you believe in fairy tales. My story will rip your heart out and leave you bleeding all over the pages.
Outcast, rebel, misfit, all those words applied to me. Until I met him. 
I fell in love once. 
All it took was seven days. Seven days and my heart turned, twisted and thumped right next to his.
But not all stories have a happy ending…. 

Guard My Heat is book one in the Tainted Hearts Series. It follows the twins Kyle and Mia through seven days that changed their lives forever.

About the author:
AJ Summer lives in a dusty little town in South Africa. She married her high school sweetheart and has three beautiful kiddies.

She loves getting lost in a book and writes poetry with a darker, emotional edge. Her stories follow much the same path.
Her debut novella released in November 2013 and is the first in a 5 book series.

Where to find AJ:

Author's Giveaway

Event organized by Forever Me Romance Promotions

Excerpt and Giveaway: Blind Love (Sulfur Heights #3) by M.S. Brannon

Description:

“She is magnetic to me. Every emotion she feels pulls me that much closer to her charm and energy. For reasons unbeknownst to me, I want her to know what she means to me.” ~Jake Evans

For Jake Evans, life was as it should be. No responsibilities. He was the master at embracing his reckless lifestyle whenever it presented itself. Surviving on his ability to expertly hustle, fight and womanize, Jake could do it all; lived it all.

Raised in a rundown city, filled with crime and drugs, he had survived the death of an abusive mother and a life with an absent father while only having his brothers to depend on. His lifestyle became fast and Jake had lived it the only way he knew how, until the day he met Delilah.

Delilah St. James was the epitome of flawless. Brought up in an affluent southern household, Delilah’s life had been planned from the moment she was born. She was raised to be the perfect socialite and daughter, and groomed to be the ideal wife. When a school internship moved her to Sulfur Heights for the summer, Delilah collided with the bitter reality of life outside her comfortable gated community when Jake Evans upset her perfect world.

Over the next two years, Jake and Delilah became best friends, embracing a friendship neither one was prepared to have, although they soon found it to be a relationship that neither one of them were willing to sacrifice.

A tragic turn of events brings Jake and Delilah together once again. Only this time, the feelings are different. Lines within their friendship are blurred. Everything they vowed never to do, becomes the very thing they cannot deny. Will Jake and Delilah’s relationship withstand the changes surrounding them? Or will the emotions sever the two year friendship they’d fought so hard to keep?

EXCERPT



Darcie

It’s about one in the morning when we pull into the driveway and park next to Reggie’s Camaro. I am wasted. Unable to walk, shitfaced, wasted. I can’t form a single thought and my lips are numb. All the guys are pissed at me. Apparently, I was running my mouth to Vanessa during the entire race and ended up chucking my empty tequila bottle at her head. I can’t remember if it hit her or who won the race for that matter.

Jeremy runs around to the passenger seat and hoists me out of the car. I climb onto his back and he carries me up the back steps into the kitchen. I’m attempting to sing “Creep” by Radiohead, but butchering the song with every syllable when Jeremy sits me down on the counter. Jake avoids me as he makes his way down to the basement. Screw it! I could care less right now. I achieved my goal; I’m drunk as hell and it’s amazing!

I swing my feet back and forth while singing the lyrics to “Creep.” “I wish I was special. So fuckin’ special...”—a little louder now—“…but I’m a creep!” Jeremy’s hand comes across my mouth, quieting me. I jerk my head back smacking it on the cupboard and shout, “Hey! I’m singing, Jer!” 

Jeremy hands me a glass of water and a couple of Advil. I swallow the pills and let out a loud burp. He rolls his eyes, trying to hide the smile across his face. 

“Do you want me to help you to bed, Darcie?” he asks.

“Ahh, Jer. That’s so sweet. Where’s Presley? She can help me. It might be weird seeing your sis in her underwear.” I laugh obnoxiously at my strange comment. God, I’m wasted. 

Jeremy blushes. “She’s with Drake and I’m not going in there. If you need help, then I’ll help you.” 

To Jeremy’s relief, Reggie walks around the corner, glaring at both of us. He looks sexy as hell, wearing only a pair of black basketball shorts that are slung low on his hips. I’m practically drooling as I look at the slight trail of blonde hair below his belly button and the defined V of his abdomen. His hair is loose and tousled from sleep. Oh shit. There go my hormones again. I want to rip his clothes off and suck on his…lips? I let out a small giggle followed by a hiccup from my dirty thoughts.

Jeremy’s angry as he looks over at me. “She’s fucking wasted, Reg. She drank a pint of tequila and started running her mouth to that girl she beat up at school. Everyone else bailed on me. I’m trying to get her to bed.”

Reggie rolls his eyes and shakes his head in disgust. “I’ll put her to bed.”

Relief passes over Jeremy’s face. He smiles then sprints out of the kitchen and flies down the stairs, heading for the basement. Man, I didn’t think I was that much of a pain in the ass. 

Reggie walks over to me and puts his hands on either side of my thighs. My breath hitches at our closeness and flashes of last night play in my mind. 

I press my forehead to his and whisper, “Always my knight in shining armor.”

“Always.” His lips stay close and I’m hoping he will crash them into mine, but he doesn’t.

“I’ve had a bad day.”

He lets out a small sigh and says, “Yeah… I know.”

Reggie slides his hands behind my butt pushing my core against his waist. Butterflies are swarming in my stomach as I wrap my legs and arms around him. I plant my face in the crook of his neck and that familiar smell of salvation engulfs me. It’s divine, a combination of soap and Reggie. Lifting me off the counter, he walks down the hall toward my bedroom. I look into his eyes where I find fierce, ocean blue pools, drowning me in desire. My body is warming with pleasure as I feel his hard muscles constrict with every movement. 

Reggie kneels on the bed hovering over me. I let go of my grip and push myself to the top, lying on my pillow. He lifts one of my legs and pulls off my leather boot. It drops to the floor and he repeats with the other. He’s sitting up on his knees between my legs and my body is rushing with excitement. His hands slowly slide down the zipper of my jacket. I can’t believe this is going to happen. I don’t want anything more than to give him the innocent part of me. Now, I wish I was a little more sober. 

“Sit up.,” Reggie demands, never taking his eyes off mine.

I comply. His hands skim over my shoulders, moving my jacket down and the heat from his touch is sending me over the edge. Reggie tosses my jacket to the floor and then he leans down and puts a faint kiss to the cigar burn on my left shoulder. My breath hitches from his gesture and I wish he could take all of it away. Using a gentle touch, his hands guide me to lie down. I’m panting with want. All the familiar feelings of our storage room make-out floods my body. Moving off the bed, Reggie pulls the comforter over my body then leans down and places a gentle kiss on my forehead. 

“Goodnight, Darcie.”

Wait. What? He’s leaving me?

The door clicks shut. Embarrassed and rejected, I roll over onto my side and cry for the second time in twenty-four hours.


About the author:


M.S. Brannon was born and raised in the Midwest. She still resides there today with her wonderful husband and son. When she is not writing or reading, M.S. Brannon spends time with her family, watching movies, and discovering new music. She writes romance because she believes love and heartache is the rawest emotion one can experience.


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Excerpt and Giveaway: Ransom (Ransom Brothers #1) by Rachel Schurig

Published: April 28th, 2014

Description:

The first book in a brand new series from USA Today bestselling author Rachel Schurig. This New Adult Contemporary Romance novel is a complete story with no cliffhanger.

Daisy Harris has no reason to suspect that her day will be any different than usual. She’ll go to class, alone. She won’t speak or make eye contact. She’ll spend her entire day doing her best to go completely unnoticed. That’s what life is like for Daisy now—an endless cycle of loneliness and fear. A life lived hiding behind the walls she so faithfully maintains.

Then she sees it. A magazine, left behind in class. A simple picture—just his face. And it changes everything.

It’s been a year since she’s seen Daltrey Ransome. A year since he and his brothers left town to pursue their dreams of rock and roll superstardom. A year since he left Daisy behind—left her to watch as everything she knew crumbled around her. She’s been running from Daltrey ever since, desperate to keep her secret.

But she can’t run anymore. And now that Daltrey has found her—the girl he’s loved his entire life, the girl he’d give up everything for—he’s determined never to let her go again.

EXCERPT


I wake up, alone in a dark hotel room, my heart racing, scared out of my mind. When I finally figure out where the hell I am, I rub my aching chest. I’m glad I’m not on the bus, glad there’s no one in here to see me like this. I’m pretty sure the wetness I feel on my cheeks is tears, and my brothers would never let me live that down.

Knowing sleep isn’t going to return anytime soon, I climb out of bed and head for the mini bar. I grab a cold beer, even though I could probably use something stronger. You’re too young for a drinking problem. So-called rock star or not.

I take the beer to the small balcony of my room and lean against the railing, looking out over the lights of Memphis. We played a kick-ass show, and I should still be on a high from it. The crowd was amazing. Everything felt right in the world, for a few brief hours. I could forget about the knowledge that I’d traveled halfway across the country without actually seeing any of it. Forget the fact that the tour bus, though more luxurious than our old van, was cramped and starting to make me feel claustrophobic. Forget about how tired I was and how my throat hurt pretty much every day now. When we played like that, when we somehow managed to tap into that almost magical, synched-up, out-of-body place I can’t even describe, I could forget about all the shitty stuff and remember why we were doing this in the first place.

I had felt that tonight, for the first time in weeks, and the sensation had been fantastic. I should have slept like a baby. But here I was again, drinking a beer by myself at three in the morning. 

I keep having dreams about her.

Which is pretty fucking ridiculous because I haven’t talked to the girl in about a year. Daisy made it perfectly clear that, for whatever reason, she was done with me—just like that, years of friendship, gone. And I don’t even know what the hell I did.

Okay, so I left, but she always knew that was going to happen. We planned for it, for Christ’s sake. Worked for it. Both of us. She had every bit as much to do with our success as anyone in the band. She was our biggest supporter, our loudest critic. We never performed a song without her hearing it first, never played a gig without her there. She was with us on that first horrible so-called tour, riding around Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana to all those dingy dive bars. She helped us plaster the towns with our flyers and sell our homemade CDs, just waiting for our big chance. 

And when it came, when we got the call from Grey Skies that they wanted us to open for them, she was there then, too. She sat at our kitchen table, just like she had a thousand times before, waiting with bated breath for my dad to get off the phone with their manager. When he finally hung up and confirmed that our big break had appeared, she was the first person I grabbed as the kitchen erupted around us. She was happy for me—not the fake kind of happy that you think another person wants to see. She was genuinely, honest-to-God, screaming-her-face-off-while-hugging-me happy.

The only bad thing about those hectic, heady weeks before the tour was leaving her. I wanted to tell her then, the thing I’d always known but been too afraid to say, but I didn’t. I couldn’t imagine saying those three words—finally saying them, out loud, not just in my head where I imagined it constantly—and then leaving. So I held my tongue, and my tears, as I hugged her one last time before heading for the airport.

Maybe I should have said it. Maybe then she wouldn’t have disappeared the way she did. But I had a plan, damn it. I was going to come back, take her to her prom, the way we always talked about, and drop the bomb that I wanted us to be more. The way it played out in my head was that she’d be so happy she’d be willing to leave with me. She would forget about the business school she never really wanted to attend to come on tour with us. I wanted to experience this with her. I wanted to show her the world.

Taking another sip of beer, I wonder—not for the first time—what in the hell I could have done to piss her off so much. She stopped taking my calls about three months after we left for California. By then we’d recorded our album and started to tour as the openers for Grey Skies. I used to call her every night, eager to tell her all about life on the road in a proper tour. We had a lot more free time back then, and I was actually getting a chance to do things in the towns where we stopped. Was that it? Was she jealous?

But that wasn’t like Daisy. I cannot imagine that she would throw away a thirteen-year friendship out of jealousy. It didn’t make any sense. But one day, she didn’t answer when I called. And didn’t respond to my voice mail. Or my increasingly panicked text messages. My emails went unanswered, too. 

I tried for weeks to reach her, calling her house, her phone, her dad’s phone. He told me flat out she didn’t want to talk to me, but I still couldn’t accept it. Even when her cell number was disconnected, when my emails started to come back with the message that there was no such address, I didn’t get it. It wasn’t until she finally called me to cancel our prom plans that I realized what she’d been trying to tell me: She didn’t want to have anything to do with me.

I replay those weeks all the time, wondering what I could have done differently. I always come back to the same thing: I should have gone home. I should have told my dad to screw himself and gotten on a plane. They could have managed without me for a few days. Even if they couldn’t, even if it would have jeopardized our chance to open for Grey Skies, I should have done it anyway. Daisy was worth it.

But I didn’t. And now she’s away at college, probably having the time of her life, forgetting all about her old friend. I can see her so clearly, sitting on a green lawn, surrounded by friends, like some fucking commercial, her brown curls blowing in the breeze as she laughs. The image makes my chest ache again. She’s gone, man. Accept it.

I look out over the city again, my beer bottle empty. She is gone, hundreds of miles away, totally out of my reach. And I’m here, alone in the middle of the night, haunted by memories of the only girl I ever loved.



About the author:
Rachel Schurig lives in the metro Detroit area with her dog, Lucy. She loves to watch reality TV and she reads as many books as she can get her hands on. In her spare time, Rachel decorates cakes. Her THREE GIRLS series is available now from Amazon!


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Special Offer, Excerpt and Giveaway: Kismet by A.E. Woodward

Published: February 10th, 2014

Description:

Katie’s world came crashing down in an instant.

Her husband, daughter, and unborn baby. . . all gone in a flash. The life that she’d come to know, gone before she ever really got to live it.

With a broken heart, she deals the only way she knows how, by shutting it all off. No communicating, no feelings, just pure nothingness.

Alone with nothing but her own thoughts and a well meaning family, she moves back to her childhood home, a horse farm. It’s there that she finds herself healing along with the horses her family rehabilitates. But when Parker McKenzie comes back into her life she’s reminded of all that went wrong, and all that she lost.

EXCERPT



In the twenty minutes that has passed since my Mom called Parker, the kitchen has become a hub of excitement and confusion. I’m still sitting on the hallway floor. In all the confusion I think I’ve been forgotten. But that’s fine, because I’m really good with being alone. It’s soothing for me to be lonely. That, and listening to all the conversation gives me something else to focus on besides myself. Tommy and Pop eventually join Mom and Stevenson in the kitchen, waiting for Parker. Each of them throw their two cents in as to how this should go down. Tommy insists that he should go with us, saying that Parker can’t handle the responsibility. I appreciate that he’s still trying to look out for my best interests, but the fact of the matter is that Tommy doesn’t know the half of what I need.

He goes round with Mom and Pop, but Stevenson stops him. “We need to follow her lead, Tommy.”

“I just don’t think her going there with him is the best option right now!” Tommy yells.

“Now, I respect your concern, Tommy, and we all appreciate that you want the best for your sister. However, if Katie wants to go alone with Parker then that is what we give her. She needs to be in control of her own recovery. We need to remember that this isn’t about us. She’s an adult, she can make her own choices.”

Tommy lets out a sarcastic laugh just before I hear the screen door fling open, the springs creaking in response, and then quickly slamming shut. “What the hell is going on?” Parker asks anxiously.

Quickly, Stevenson fills Parker in on my request. He adds that Parker shouldn’t feel pressured, especially if he’s not comfortable with the situation, but that he needs to understand how huge this could be for my treatment.

“Why me?” he questions.

“I dunno, Parker,” Tommy barks. “Why you?”

There’s a brief, awkward silence before Stevenson clears his throat and continues to speak. “Obviously Katie knows you well enough to know that you’ll be there for her, while allowing her enough independence to cope with it on her own terms. She’s trusting you,” Stevenson says without emotion.

“I don’t know if I can do this,” he mutters. Experience tells me that he’s most likely running his hands through his hair. He always does when he’s nervous.

A fist slams against the table, making me jump out of my skin. “You’re right, you can’t!”

“Tommy!” Mom scolds.

A few more moments of awkward silence pass. I can only imagine the looks that are being thrown in that kitchen. The tension is surely raising a few questions in everyone’s mind. “I just don’t think this is the best idea,” Tommy speaks quietly. “You’re in over your head, Park.”

“We’ve been here before, Tommy,” Parker reminds him.

“Exactly.”





About the author:

A.E. Woodward lives in Vacationland with her husband and two young children. Between her day job and the pursuance of a master’s degree, she wrote her first novel, Imperfectly Perfect. Since then she has written three more novels, Imperfectly Real, Kismet, and Imperfectly Bad.


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Giveaway: Spark by Bambi Bellamy

Published: April 15th, 2014

Description:18+

WARNING: Spark contains sexy neighbors who love getting it on… with each other. Graphic language and sex scenes abound. Be advised, this is no sweet romance. Contains hard pumping and ridiculous sexual situations and scenes to make your toes curl. If you can finish Spark without getting hot and bothered, I would check for a pulse. 18+ only!

Newlyweds Violet and Hunter are new in PussyWillow Falls, and they’re loving it.

Everything is beautiful, including the people.

Things heat up FAST when Violet satisfies her husband while they both watch a menage a trois over the fence going on in their neighbors backyard.

But, when the mailman, the paper boy and all the neighbors come calling for a piece of the Violet and Hunter action, was PussyWillow Falls a swinging paradise, or a swinging hell?

Top Ten Facts about Love

What is love, baby don’t hurt, don’t hurt me no more. - Haddaway - What Is Love

Love is one of the most misunderstood, and misused concept around today. Love is hard to define. It’s an intense feeling of affection. But, what does that really mean?

Well, I searched and researched and found some really cool facts about love:

10. It only takes up to 4 minutes to decide whether you like someone or not

If you want to make a good impression on someone, you’ve only got about 4 minutes to do it. It is believed that it has far more to do with your body language, tone and speed of your voice rather than exactly what you say.

9. When Two Lovers Gaze At Each Others’ Eyes, Their Heart Rates Synchronize

Some extraordinary research has found that couples who are in love and bond in a romantic relationship synchronize their heart rates after gazing into each others’ eyes for three minutes.

8. Falling In Love Has Neurological Effects Similar To Those Of Cocaine

Falling in love is much like taking a dose of cocaine, as both experiences affect the brain similarly and trigger a similar sensation of euphoria. Research found that falling in love produces several euphoria-inducing chemicals that stimulate 12 areas of the brain at the same time.

7. Romantic Love Eventually Ends…Only To Be Followed By Committed Love

Couples at the very beginning of a romantic relationship will be very different a year later. It is estimated that romantic love, which is linked with euphoria, dependence, sweaty palms, butterflies and alike, only lasts about a year. After that first year begins the so-called “committed love” stage. The transition is linked with elevated neurotrophin protein levels in newly formed couples.

6. Thinking Of Love And Sex Influences Creativity And Concrete Thinking, Respectively

Research based on the construal level theory found out that reminders of love influence more abstract and creative thinking because they are associated with more distant and abstract considerations – long-term relationships, devotion, commitment and intimacy. Reminders of sex trigger concrete thinking, making a person focus more on momentary details than on long-term plans or goals.

5. Attachment + Caring + Intimacy = Perfect Love

The triangular theory of love suggest a clear formula for the components of different kinds of love. There are three kinds of love that are a product of two different pairs of basic components: romantic love = passion + intimacy, companionate love = intimacy + commitment, and fatuous love = passion + commitment. Of course, the truest and strongest of all is consummate love, which consists of all three components.

4. Butterflies In The Stomach Are Real And They’re Actually Caused by Adrenaline

When you fall for someone you probably won’t be able to avoid the butterflies flying, dancing and fooling around in your stomach. They’re caused by adrenaline, which floods your body during flight-or-fight response situations.

2. People Who Are In Love Have Chemical Similarities With People With OCD

Studies show that people at an early stage of love have lower levels of serotonin, which is associated with feelings of happiness and well-being, and higher levels of cortisol, associated with stress. This is strikingly similar to those people who have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, which explains why we act so out of character when we fall for someone. It works the other way around as well – people with lower levels of serotonin fall in love and get into sexual relationships quicker than others. Check out this vivacious video that explains the theory

1. Love Is Really All That Matters

A marvelous 75-year long study, which was conducted by a group of Harvard researchers, has shown that love is really all that matters. The participants’ lifelong experiences revealed that happiness and life fulfillment revolved around love or simply searching for love.

Maybe we’ve come closer to answering the question, What is Love.

I don’t think we’ll ever be able to truly define love, but as we live life, lets all try to experience it.

How would you answer to "What is Love"?

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Excerpt and Giveaway: Blood Magic (SoulTracker #1) by T.G. Ayer

Published: April 28th, 2014

Description:

My name is Mel Morgan and I'm a Tracker. I find people for a living. The people I help have no idea I know exactly how they feel because I've lost someone too. If only I could have found the one person I've been looking for all these years.

My current case is no ordinary abduction. Before long I'm neck deep in blood magic - the worst kind. I need the help of a necromancer if I'm to free the kid. Doesn't mean I have to like it.

When sexy djinn Saleem asks for help things get a little hot to handle. But how can I say no? Dodging demons and sorcerers are just part of my day job.

Excerpt

Missing people can be found. Not all missing people are found.

I was good, maybe even the best I knew of. I find people for a living. My business is dependent on people losing people. The idea didn't sit so well with me but it was what it was. Not that I needed to find people for a living. I could very well choose to find things. Finding cutting edge nuclear warheads stolen from the government, locating lists of undercover cops within drug cartels – I can do that. Do the job, find the target, no questions asked. But things held no interest for me. People did.

I find people. And I didn't play to lose.

About the author:
I have been a writer from the time I was old enough to recognise that reading was a doorway into my imagination. Poetry was my first foray into the art of the written word. Books were my best friends, my escape, my haven. I am essentially a recluse but this part of my personality is impossible to practise given I have two teenage daughters, who are actually my friends, my tea-makers, my confidantes... I am blessed with a husband who has left me for golf. It's a fair trade as I have left him for writing. We are both passionate supporters of each others loves - it works wonderfully...

My heart is currently broken in two. One half resides in South Africa where my old roots still remain, and my heart still longs for the endless beaches and the smell of moist soil after a summer downpour. My love for Ma Afrika will never fade. The other half of me has been transplanted to the Land of the Long White Cloud. The land of the Taniwha, beautiful Maraes, and volcanoes. The land of green, pure beauty that truly inspires. And because I am so torn between these two lands - I shall forever remain crosseyed.

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