Battling One’s Ghosts UNFORGIVEN–A Review


Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a brand-new contemporary romance from Jay Crownover. UNFORGIVEN is the second book in her Loveless series. Like most Crownover works, this one features interlocking characters and each book is a new romance arc. UNFORGIVEN features a solo Texas Ranger and the woman he was never supposed to love: the one his brother had fallen hard for.

About the book:
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Marked Men series comes an irresistible and suspenseful romance between a tough Texas Ranger and his first love–a woman in danger who insists she doesn’t need his protection.

Hill Gamble is a model lawman: cool and collected, with a confident swagger to boot. Too bad all that Texas charm hasn’t gotten him anywhere in his personal life, especially since the only girl he ever loved has always been off-limits. But then Hill is assigned to investigate her father’s mysterious death, and he’s forced back to the town–and the woman–he left behind.

When Hill left Loveless, he broke Kody Lawton’s already battered heart. And now that he’s working on her father’s case, avoiding him is impossible. She can handle Hill and her unwanted feelings–until he puts his life on the line to protect her. Suddenly, Kody realizes that Hill could be taken away from her…for good.

My Review:
Hill Gamble and Kody Lawton have a complicated history in Loveless, Texas. Kody’s abusive sheriff of a father made her life hell, especially once her mother died. In her teens Kody fell hard for Aaron Gamble, Hill’s younger brother. Aaron had bipolar disorder, and parents who didn’t really invest much care into him. Hill cared for him, but Hill also coveted his loving relationship with Kody. As Kody began to call on Hill to help manage Aaron’s increasingly erratic behavior, Hill fell too hard for that girl–and he pulled back to shield himself and his brother from the growing passion Hill felt for Kody. And, Aaron’s mental issues climaxed in a tragedy that split both families. Kody never forgave Hill for not being there when Aaron was his most needy, and Hill never forgave himself for not being the brother Aaron needed.

Ten years have passed, and Kody’s still single and running an outlaw bar on the edge of Loveless. Hill rarely returns, even though his folks are still there. He’s a Ranger now, and investigates crimes all over the state. Kody’s no-good, totally-bad dad got gunned down outside of Austin and nobody knows why. Well, there’s lots of suspicions on account of the ex-sheriff being bad news, but Hill’s called in to investigate.

It means seeing Kody at her worst, and helping her when she most needs it. There’s a ton of push-pull happening here, with Hill being a gentleman and Kody being out of her head most of the time. Hill makes sure Kody’s assets are protected, doing good for her even when she’d rather he didn’t. The investigation leads to an unexpected Lawton half-sibling who is currently hiding out because of strange threats she’d been receiving. With Hill and Kody reconnecting, and the watchful Lawton clan on board, it wasn’t long before the found the trail of destruction. It’s also not long before Hill’s generosity thaws Kody’s frozen heart back to beating.

Fans of Crownover will appreciate the detail and angst of her characters. At times, the internal reflections slowed the pace for me. I would have loved if the action happened a little faster, and we were left wondering a bit more about the shadowy characters in the story. That said, it’s a solid reconnection romance, with a pair of lovers who’ve caused themselves far more heartache than they needed to endure. We still have some questions hanging from the resolution, so I’d expect another book (or two) in this series.

Interested? You can find UNFORGIVEN on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.

About the Author:
Jay Crownover is the international and multiple New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men Series, The Saints of Denver Series, The Point Series, Breaking Point Series, and the Getaway Series. Her books can be found translated in many different languages all around the world. She is a tattooed, crazy haired Colorado native who lives at the base of the Rockies with her awesome dogs. This is where she can frequently be found enjoying a cold beer and Taco Tuesdays. Jay is a self-declared music snob and outspoken book lover who is always looking for her next adventure, between the pages and on the road.
Catch up with Jay on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

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Unexpected Love Surrounding THE BISHOP–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a brand new contemporary romance from Skye Warren. THE BISHOP is a novella set in her Tanglewood world of broody alpha men who act for justice, not necessary the law.

About the book:
From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Skye Warren comes the next installment in her Tanglewood series.

THE BISHOP is a story of redemption, a story of revenge. A story of romance finding roots in the darkest places.

A million dollar chess piece goes missing hours before the auction.

Anders Sorenson will do anything to get it back. His family name and fortune rests on finding two inches of medieval ivory. Instead he finds an injured woman with terrible secrets.

He isn’t letting her go until she helps him find the piece. But there’s more at stake in this strategic game of lust and danger. When she confesses everything, he might lose more than his future. He might lose his heart.

**Every 1001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you’ll enjoy each one as much as we do.**

My Review:
Anders Sorenson is a doctor who works outside the law, and seeks the man who destroyed his mother. When Anders was just a child his mother, also a physician, would treat the poor and downtrodden of Tanglewood. She was a brilliant person until she was attacked one night, beaten, raped and left for dead. After that, she never spoke and was homebound, playing chess with a young Anders under hsi father’s watchful eye. The attacker had stolen a priceless medieval chess piece, a bishop, from his mother, and Anders’ father made him promise to keep its mate–the one his father had carried every day for the rest of his life. Anders had long suspected the attacker kept the bishop, as it never came up for auction, or even sale in the dark web.

Now that his father has died, Anders is planning to lure out his mother’s attacker by offering the matching bishop for auction. While surveying the buyers at the auction house, Anders meets a woman who inexplicably catches his attention. When the bishop is stolen, he searches for that strange woman, finding her near death in the alley outside her questionable motel. Anders saves her, stitching her up and caring for her over the days she needs to heal and regain consciousness. Natalie, as Anders learns, did steal the chess piece, but she didn’t give it to the man pulling her strings–suffering greatly as a result.

Natalie has been a burglar under the power of someone very close to her family for the better part of 15 years. Natalie wants out of the situation, but fears her mother will become a target if she refuses to do as told. For once, however, she has a person who cares for her just because she needs it. Anders’ rough edges seem to smoothe Natalie’s battered heart as much as his capable hands repair her battered body. Anders wants Natalie more than his revenge–but he’d like both.

This was an interesting entry in the Tanglewood series–though I haven’t read these books. It’s clear that there are a couple of books in the series, as there are two unlikely couples who aid Anders and Natalie in the cause of justice–even if they break the law doing it. I thought the romance developed a bit quickly, as we don’t have much of a sense of Anders or Natalie during the crisis of her recovery, and Anders’ history is a bit sketchy, especially regarding his off-the-books medical practice. Everyone seems to know what they need to know when they need to know it–which smacked a bit of coincidence, and I’m not a fan of convenient story lines. That said, if you’re a fan of the author, or this series, this novella will likely make your day.

Interested? You can find THE BISHOP on Goodreads and Amazon.

About the Author:
Skye Warren is the New York Times bestselling author of dangerous romance. Her books have sold over one million copies. She makes her home in Texas with her loving family, sweet dogs, and evil cat.

You can catch up with her on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and BookBub or sign up for her newsletter.

Like Anders and Natalie, I met my hubs in a weird situation–both pretending we were legal drinkers at an illegal campus party when we were young college students. Did you ever meet a Significant Other at a place you shouldn’t have been? Let me know in the comments…
As always, thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Out today! REMIND ME by Samantha Chase

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a cover and excerpt for a new contemporary romance out today from bestselling author Samantha Chase. REMIND ME is a reconnection romance for a woman coming back to her hometown to settle her great-grandfather’s estate. She never thought she’d fall for her first love all over again. This is the perfect place to jump into Ms. Chase’s work, since it’s the first book in her new Magnolia Sound series. Look for my review in the coming week!

About the book:
It’s been years since Mallory Westbrook set foot in Magnolia Sound, but the death of her great-grandfather forces her back. Two weeks to get his affairs in order then she would return to her life in New York. The perfect plan, if not for Jake Summerford—her first love who broke her heart.

Jake always regretted the way things ended with Mallory and now that she’s back in town, he’s hoping they can put the past behind them. As they reconnect, old feelings resurface and Jake realizes that friendship is only the beginning of what he wants from Mallory.

With one foot out of the door, Mallory is looking for any excuse to leave Magnolia Sound behind. Forever. Will Jake’s plan to replace the old, painful memories help him finally show her their love deserves another chance?

How about a little taste?

“But we were already hanging out,” Mallory reminded him and the look Sam gave her bordered on hysterical. “What? What’s so funny?”
“We all know I’m the third wheel here and the two of you would like nothing more than to be alone, so…I’m leaving,” he said, walking back into the kitchen to put the beer back in the refrigerator. “I’m gonna go home and tell Mom what the plan is–I’m going out to be a good cousin, while you’re here doing…I don’t know…Jake.” He winked. “You two have fun!”
Jake knew he didn’t let out a breath until the back door closed and he saw Sam walk down the deck stairs from the living room window. “Well…that was…awkward.”
“Just a little,” Mallory agreed. “Ugh…why is my brother such a dork?”
Laughing, Jake shifted them until her head was on his shoulder. “I wouldn’t call him a dork, he’s just a little…”
“He’s a dork. Trust me. We’re twins and I’m allowed to say it.” She shook her head. “He’s going to be snarky about this until he leaves.”
“About what?”
“You and me. Us. The fact that he knows what we’re doing.” She groaned. “Now, every time I mention seeing you or doing something, he’s going to make some sort of doofus comment about how I’m doing you. I’m telling you, he’s the worst.”
But Jake couldn’t help but laugh. He didn’t have any siblings so he didn’t understand the dynamics, but from where he was sitting, it was all pretty comical. The fact that they each other and had such obvious affection for each other was a pretty amazing thing. Maybe it was because they were twins or something. All he knew was that he hadn’t met many siblings with the kind of relationship Sam and Mallory had.
Plus, he liked knowing Sam looked out for her when he couldn’t.
And that one single thought had him going still.
This wasn’t going anywhere–this was about passing the time and getting her out of his system. He wasn’t supposed to be thinking about his feelings or hers. This was temporary. They both saw the end before they started up again, so why was he suddenly feeling concerned about how Mallory was going to be when he wasn’t around?
“Jake?” she asked softly, looking up at him. “You okay?”
He nodded. Right now, he didn’t want to talk. Hell, he didn’t want to think either. All he wanted was to feel–feel Mallory’s body against his. Feel her skin under his hands. Feel her breath mingling with his.
Standing, he gently tugged her to her feet before plunging his hands into her hair and giving her a searing kiss. If she was surprised by the sudden change of events, she didn’t show it. If anything, she kissed him back with equal abandon.
So good, he thought. Kissing Mallory was always so damn good…
When he had invited her to come home with him earlier–before Sam showed up–Jake envisioned them coming in and talking and maybe sharing some lazy kisses before he seduced her into staying the night. But as Mallory pressed up against him and purred, he was pretty sure nothing was going to be slow and lazy, and that he was the one being seduced.
And he loved every minute of it.
Without breaking the kiss, they maneuvered across the room and down the hall, stopping once so he could back her against the wall and grind against her. She tore her lips from his and sighed his name like a plea. Reaching down, Jake lifted her until her legs wrapped around his waist and it took every bit of self-control he possessed not to take her right then and there. Her dress was bunched up at her waist and the barely-there panties would be gone with only the slightest of tugs…
“Bed,” he growled against her throat even as he continued to rub against her. “I want you in my bed.”
“Then take me there,” she said breathlessly.
Easier said than done, he thought, forcing himself to walk the last ten feet to his room. At the side of the bed, he simply let himself fall and kept Mallory in his arms. They laughed and rolled until they were comfortable and then he sank back into the kiss.
Mallory tugged at his shirt and once she had it pulled free of his trousers, her nails scraped up his back and it gave him chills. Sitting up quickly, he ripped the shirt off–buttons flying in every direction.
“Wow,” she panted. “That was incredibly sexy.”
“Oh, yeah?” he asked, his own breath coming out roughly. “How do you feel about this?” His hand snaked under her dress and he tugged her tiny panties off–the sound of the fabric ripping seemed insanely loud in the room.
“Oh!” she cried as her hips bucked off the bed. Jake knew what she wanted and he was more than happy to give it to her. In a flash her dress was off. He peeled her bra off with his teeth as she writhed beneath him. “Jake…”
Once he had her completely naked, his self-control completely vanished. His mouth and hands were everywhere. While he licked and suckled at her breasts, his hand was ruthlessly teasing her between her legs. Watching Mallory lose control was one of his favorite pastimes and as he urged her on, he knew it would always be this way. She cried out his name again and again and again and each time it ratcheted his own arousal up more and more.
He hated to move away from her even for a second, but he still had half of his own clothes to discard. Mallory reached for him as he moved away and he smoothed a hand across her stomach. “Soon,” he whispered. “I’m not going anywhere.”

This sounds like a good one!

Interested? YOu can find out more about REMIND ME on Goodreads, or pre-order it in advance of its March 12th release on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo and GooglePlay.

About the Author:
Samantha Chase is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller of contemporary romance. She released her debut novel in 2011 and currently has more than forty titles under her belt! When she’s not working on a new story, she spends her time reading romances, playing way too many games of Scrabble or Solitaire on Facebook, wearing a tiara while playing with her sassy pug Maylene…oh, and spending time with her husband of 25 years and their two sons in North Carolina.

Catch up with Samantha on her website, twitter, Facebook, Instagram and BookBub or sign up for her newsletter.

Coming Soon! REMIND ME by Samantha Chase

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a cover and excerpt for a new contemporary romance coming soon from bestselling author Samantha Chase. REMIND ME is a reconnection romance for a woman coming back to her hometown to settle her great-grandfather’s estate. She never thought she’d fall for her first love all over again. This is the first book in the new Magnolia Sound series, so it’s a good place to jump into this author’s work, if you haven’t read her before.

About the book:
It’s been years since Mallory Westbrook set foot in Magnolia Sound, but the death of her great-grandfather forces her back. Two weeks to get his affairs in order then she would return to her life in New York. The perfect plan, if not for Jake Summerford—her first love who broke her heart.

Jake always regretted the way things ended with Mallory and now that she’s back in town, he’s hoping they can put the past behind them. As they reconnect, old feelings resurface and Jake realizes that friendship is only the beginning of what he wants from Mallory.

With one foot out of the door, Mallory is looking for any excuse to leave Magnolia Sound behind. Forever. Will Jake’s plan to replace the old, painful memories help him finally show her their love deserves another chance?

How about a little taste?

“But we were already hanging out,” Mallory reminded him and the look Sam gave her bordered on hysterical. “What? What’s so funny?”
“We all know I’m the third wheel here and the two of you would like nothing more than to be alone, so…I’m leaving,” he said, walking back into the kitchen to put the beer back in the refrigerator. “I’m gonna go home and tell Mom what the plan is–I’m going out to be a good cousin, while you’re here doing…I don’t know…Jake.” He winked. “You two have fun!”
Jake knew he didn’t let out a breath until the back door closed and he saw Sam walk down the deck stairs from the living room window. “Well…that was…awkward.”
“Just a little,” Mallory agreed. “Ugh…why is my brother such a dork?”
Laughing, Jake shifted them until her head was on his shoulder. “I wouldn’t call him a dork, he’s just a little…”
“He’s a dork. Trust me. We’re twins and I’m allowed to say it.” She shook her head. “He’s going to be snarky about this until he leaves.”
“About what?”
“You and me. Us. The fact that he knows what we’re doing.” She groaned. “Now, every time I mention seeing you or doing something, he’s going to make some sort of doofus comment about how I’m doing you. I’m telling you, he’s the worst.”
But Jake couldn’t help but laugh. He didn’t have any siblings so he didn’t understand the dynamics, but from where he was sitting, it was all pretty comical. The fact that they each other and had such obvious affection for each other was a pretty amazing thing. Maybe it was because they were twins or something. All he knew was that he hadn’t met many siblings with the kind of relationship Sam and Mallory had.
Plus, he liked knowing Sam looked out for her when he couldn’t.
And that one single thought had him going still.
This wasn’t going anywhere–this was about passing the time and getting her out of his system. He wasn’t supposed to be thinking about his feelings or hers. This was temporary. They both saw the end before they started up again, so why was he suddenly feeling concerned about how Mallory was going to be when he wasn’t around?
“Jake?” she asked softly, looking up at him. “You okay?”
He nodded. Right now, he didn’t want to talk. Hell, he didn’t want to think either. All he wanted was to feel–feel Mallory’s body against his. Feel her skin under his hands. Feel her breath mingling with his.
Standing, he gently tugged her to her feet before plunging his hands into her hair and giving her a searing kiss. If she was surprised by the sudden change of events, she didn’t show it. If anything, she kissed him back with equal abandon.
So good, he thought. Kissing Mallory was always so damn good…
When he had invited her to come home with him earlier–before Sam showed up–Jake envisioned them coming in and talking and maybe sharing some lazy kisses before he seduced her into staying the night. But as Mallory pressed up against him and purred, he was pretty sure nothing was going to be slow and lazy, and that he was the one being seduced.
And he loved every minute of it.
Without breaking the kiss, they maneuvered across the room and down the hall, stopping once so he could back her against the wall and grind against her. She tore her lips from his and sighed his name like a plea. Reaching down, Jake lifted her until her legs wrapped around his waist and it took every bit of self-control he possessed not to take her right then and there. Her dress was bunched up at her waist and the barely-there panties would be gone with only the slightest of tugs…
“Bed,” he growled against her throat even as he continued to rub against her. “I want you in my bed.”
“Then take me there,” she said breathlessly.
Easier said than done, he thought, forcing himself to walk the last ten feet to his room. At the side of the bed, he simply let himself fall and kept Mallory in his arms. They laughed and rolled until they were comfortable and then he sank back into the kiss.
Mallory tugged at his shirt and once she had it pulled free of his trousers, her nails scraped up his back and it gave him chills. Sitting up quickly, he ripped the shirt off–buttons flying in every direction.
“Wow,” she panted. “That was incredibly sexy.”
“Oh, yeah?” he asked, his own breath coming out roughly. “How do you feel about this?” His hand snaked under her dress and he tugged her tiny panties off–the sound of the fabric ripping seemed insanely loud in the room.
“Oh!” she cried as her hips bucked off the bed. Jake knew what she wanted and he was more than happy to give it to her. In a flash her dress was off. He peeled her bra off with his teeth as she writhed beneath him. “Jake…”
Once he had her completely naked, his self-control completely vanished. His mouth and hands were everywhere. While he licked and suckled at her breasts, his hand was ruthlessly teasing her between her legs. Watching Mallory lose control was one of his favorite pastimes and as he urged her on, he knew it would always be this way. She cried out his name again and again and again and each time it ratcheted his own arousal up more and more.
He hated to move away from her even for a second, but he still had half of his own clothes to discard. Mallory reached for him as he moved away and he smoothed a hand across her stomach. “Soon,” he whispered. “I’m not going anywhere.”

This sounds like a good one!

Interested? YOu can find out more about REMIND ME on Goodreads, or pre-order it in advance of its March 12th release on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo and GooglePlay.

About the Author:
Samantha Chase is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller of contemporary romance. She released her debut novel in 2011 and currently has more than forty titles under her belt! When she’s not working on a new story, she spends her time reading romances, playing way too many games of Scrabble or Solitaire on Facebook, wearing a tiara while playing with her sassy pug Maylene…oh, and spending time with her husband of 25 years and their two sons in North Carolina.

Catch up with Samantha on her website, twitter, Facebook, Instagram and BookBub or sign up for her newsletter.

Falling for a ROCK KING–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new rock romance form Tara Leigh. ROCK KING is the first book in the Nothing But Trouble series and features the lead singer of a rock band who’s hiding a terrible secret–and the girl-next-door he hires to be his chaperone/companion on tour.

About the book:
I’m not who you think I am.

Shane Hawthorne has it all. At least, that’s what the headlines say about me. I have millions of fans, awards, more money – and women – than I know what to do with. But what you don’t see is the wreckage I’ve caused. The memories and pain I can’t escape, even when I pour them into music and spin them into gold.

I tried to forget. To lose myself in booze and groupies. It didn’t work. It hurt me and – worse – it hurt my band. That’s the last thing I want to do, so I’m cleaning up my act… starting with Delaney Fraser.

Gorgeous, smart, drama-free, and even nice – Delaney is the perfect “girlfriend.” When I’m with her I don’t have to pretend. It’s like she sees the real me. And I can see a future with her. But that’s dangerous. Because the truth is, Shane Hawthorne doesn’t actually exist. He’s a shield to hide who I really am. Fraud. Runaway. Addict. Murderer.

And it’s impossible to love a lie, right?

My Review:
Shane Hawthorne is a rock star and lead singer of Nothing But Trouble, a headlining rock band. But he’s hiding a dark secret behind his stage name: as a teen he was driving the car when it crashed and his best friend and surrogate brother Caleb died. Having no one to care for him and fearing he would be prosecuted, he ran and adopted this persona.

As the years have passed, he’s made good in the rock world but his guilt eats him alive and he’s been fighting addictions to alcohol and drugs. His agent devised a plan a few years back to keep Shane from chasing his demons into oblivion: hire beautiful chaperones who will stay by Shane’s side and keep him sober. If the girl happens to be down for sexytimes, that’s cool, too, but she’s not being hired as an escort. Nominally.

Delaney fled her Long Island upbringing after a tragic accident killed her mother and landed her father in jail. Unable to cope with her role in the situation, she’s aimless and wishing she could do something to help her dad. Running into an old schoolmate while waiting tables in LA, Delaney is stunned to get an invite to an exclusive party. It’s clear her pal isn’t really interested in reconnecting; unassuming but beautiful Delaney is the kind of gal who might fit the role Shane needs filled.

Shane and Delaney meet at the party, and it leads to the kind of “relationship” Shane most wants: contractual. Delaney doesn’t want to do it, but part of the contract involves getting her father moved to a minimum security prison once her six-month commitment to Shane ends. With this new mission to help her dad firmly in her mind, Delaney vows to be the perfect public companion to Shane–and nothing more. But, the more time they spend together, the more their attraction makes saying “no” impossible.

It’s a cute romance, but there’s plenty of deeper issues. Delaney’s big secret is nearly as catastrophic as Shane’s, but she stands by him as his world crumbles under some investigative reporting. And, while the press is rabid, the amends made do fill in the gap created by guilt. I liked how it turned out, with Shane building strong relationships with his estranged brother and Caleb’s grieving parents. Delaney’s situation turns out to be really complicated, and Shane’s a jerk about it, though I wasn’t really mad at him. I got his pain–and he does fix things in the end. For me, there was a little too much back and forth with the romance–and the mooning over past mistakes seemed excessive. That slowed the pace a bit, and I wished it wouldn’t have.

Interested? You can find ROCK KING on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo.

ROCK LEGEND, the second book in the Nothing But Trouble series, comes out July 17th. It’s open for pre-order on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.

About the Author:
Tara Leigh writes steamy contemporary romance featuring tortured heroes worth lusting after and the women they didn’t know they needed. She attended Washington University in St. Louis and Columbia Business School in New York, and worked on Wall Street and Main Street before “retiring” to become a wife and mother. When the people in her head became just as real as the people in her life, she decided to put their stories on paper. Tara currently lives in Fairfield County, Connecticut with her husband, children and fur-baby, Pixie.

Catch up with Tara on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, BookBub, or sign up for her newsletter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Making it Real With a PART-TIME LOVER–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! I’m excited to share a review and giveaway for a new romance from Lauren Blakely. PART-TIME LOVER is an unexpected romance between two people burned by bad marriages making a bold attempt to right an injustice…through sexytimes. I loved STARS IN THEIR EYES and thoroughly devoured this one!

Scroll down for a tasty excerpt and be sure to enter the HUGE giveaway too!
About the book:
I’ll say this about Christian — he made one hell of a first impression. When I first saw the strapping man, he was doing handstands naked on a dock along the canal. His crown jewels were far more entertaining than anything else I’d seen on the boat tour, so I did what any curious woman would do — I took his photo. I might have looked at the shot a few dozen times. Little did I know I’d meet him again, a year later, at a secret garden bar in the heart of the city, where I’d learn that his mind and his mouth were even more captivating. But given the way my heart had been trampled, I wanted only a simple deal — No strings. No expectations.

Our arrangement worked well enough until the day I needed a lot more from him…

***

Let me just say, this whole part-time lover thing was her idea. I’d have gone all-in from the start, but hey, when a gorgeous, brilliant woman invites you into her bed, and only her bed…well, I said yes.

But then, one hysterical phone call from my brother later, begging me to find myself a wife so grandfather’s business stays in the family, and I need a promotion with Elise. Turns out a full-time husband suits her needs too, and a temporary marriage of convenience ought to do the trick, until we can simply untie the knot…

As long as no one finds out…
As long as no one gets hurt…
As long as no one falls in love…

But our ending was one I never saw coming.

How about a sexy taste!

~Elise~

A year ago

The boat slides under another bridge then motors through a more residential area, passing homes on the water and private docks every few feet. My eyes hungrily eat up the view. My current hometown of Paris is my love, but I could get used to weekends in Copenhagen. It’s a delightful mix of old and new, like a Swiss alpine town mated with a futuristic sky-rise city.

As I gaze at the sun-soaked homes, I imagine lazy afternoons drinking strong coffee on the deck, reading delicious tales under the rays. That seems like a recipe for happiness for the rest of my days.

I want to feel that way. Happy. It’s been so damn elusive lately, and for a fleeting moment, it feels as if I grasp it again, so I’m no longer teetering on the edge of grief and shame.

But that’s why I’m here, to move past that terrible duet.

I try valiantly to simply enjoy everything in front of me: the buildings, the water, the view.

As we round the bend in the canal, I blink at the view.

Holy hell, the unexpected view.

Nearby is a private dock.

On that dock is a man.

He’s performing a downward-facing dog, and his rear is facing us.

What a spectacular ass.

It’s not covered in sweatpants or basketball shorts.

It’s au naturel, as finely sculpted as the statue of David.

He’s a dog all right.

I sit up.

I practically stand. I lean on the edge of the boat, agog. I won’t even pretend I’m not looking. I’m ogling.

The Japanese friends whisper and point. The couple shifts closer to get a better look. The college girls titter and laugh.

We slide along on the calm water, and now we’re fifty feet away from a sight way better than the Little Mermaid statue, more magnificent than the royal palace.

He bends forward, pressing his palms into the wood, lifting his legs, and flipping them upside down.

Full. Frontal. Birthday suit.

He’s a tall drink of a man, and I’m so very thirsty.

“Look,” I whisper to Veronica, though of course she’s already engaged in the fine art of gawking. “Did you know the Mad Naked Handstander of Copenhagen was on the tour?”

She sighs contentedly. “I am so glad you forced me to go to the buffet.” She parks her chin in her hands, watching the tall upside-down creature.

“My favorite part of the buffet is dessert,” I say, as my eyes gobble him up.

This man wears nudity well, even in this unusual position.

“I enjoyed the rubies and emeralds in Rosenborg Castle, but I like these crown jewels even better,” I say.

And hey, perhaps I’m perving, but I’m an equal-opportunity spectator at this private dock show. I don’t merely peer at the centerpiece of his physique, resting majestically against the grooves of his abs. My eyes take a most happy stroll up and down his carved body, from the planes of his stomach, to his strong thighs, to his arms ripped with muscles. His face is hard to read at 180 degrees, but I see the shape of his cheekbones, carved by angels.

Then, he moves. He walks on his hands. Back and forth.

Like he’s performing.

Showing off his most unique skill set.

I chuckle louder.

Then louder still when he holds himself up on one hand only, waving to us.

“What a show-off,” Veronica says.

Lars clears his throat. “And sometimes, we see the unexpected sights of Copenhagen.”

I do what any curious onlooker might do. I grab my phone and snap.

Snap.

Snap.

The man stands, takes a bow, and waves.

My chest heats up. The temperature in me flirts with mercury levels. He’s a stunner. My God, he’s like Skarsgård, from this distance.

And because I believe in speaking my mind, I cup my hand over my mouth and shout, “Bravo. All of it.”

He doffs an imaginary top hat and takes a bow. “My pleasure.” His voice books across the water, his accent a British one.

Sparks unexpectedly race down my chest. That accent is delicious. “Oh no. The pleasure is truly all mine.”

My Review:
Elise is a cosmopolitan woman running her PR firm in Paris, a city were she spent much of her youth, though she was educated in NYC. She’s still getting over the astounding secrets of her recently deceased husband at the beginning of the story. On a girls’ trip to Copenhagen Elise encounters Christian–doing naked handstands on his dock–while taking on a boat tour of the city. Following some banter, she attempts to meet him at a local cafe, only to later learn he was awaiting her at a bar of the same name.

Christian is in Paris a year later, where he meets Elise again. This time, they get things right, and the attraction simmers. Elise isn’t ready for a man to conquer her heart, however, and she makes Christian wait. Their weekly non-dates are smoldering, but not sexual, and it’s a fun cat-and-mouse game until Chistian’s brother runs into some trouble and the easiest way out is through…a marriage of convenience.

This was a fun one! I really liked how Christian and Elise built a friendship which complimented their passion. The rom-com situations were intriguing, and their part-time status as lovers seemed to make their hearts grow ever fonder. There’s a bit of sexytimes, though it’s more romance than steamy, and the feels were intense, on both sides. I couldn’t stop turning the pages near the end, once both Christian and Elise had recognized their feelings had grown well beyond companionship and into true love.

Interested? You can find PART-TIME LOVER on Goodreads, Amazon (US UK, CA, AU & paperback) iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play.

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About the Author:
A #1 New York Times Bestselling author, Lauren Blakely is known for her contemporary romance style that’s hot, sweet and sexy. She lives in California with her family and has plotted entire novels while walking her dogs. With fourteen New York Times bestsellers, her titles have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Lists more than eighty times, and she’s sold more than 2 million books. In October, she’ll release HARD WOOD, a standalone romantic comedy. To receive an email when Lauren releases a new book, sign up for her newsletter!

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Falling Down the Rabbit Hole–THE WONDER OF YOU, A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a sweet and spunky new romance from Harper Kincaid. THE WONDER OF YOU is a contemporary retelling of Alice in Wonderland…as a romance. I’ve enjoyed other books that reimagined classic works, including THE HIDDEN LIBRARY which also featured an Alice character.

About the book:
What if Alice didn’t fall down the rabbit hole, but instead, traveled through Lincoln Tunnel into another kind of Wonderland: New York City.
The best day of twenty-five year old Alice Leighton’s life was the day she got to put her nothing special, li’l Southern town in her rear-view mirror. Good-bye to phony ‘bless your hearts’ and ‘I’ll pray for you’ crap, all while talking trash behind her back. She’s New York City’s latest addition and she’s going to work her ass off proving she earned her spot in the country’s top grad program.

Never again will she let some jerk derail her future and break her heart. Oh, and no more players. She’s D.O.N.E with the ‘cool guys’.

Getting caught up in Dare Grangeworth, the art world’s resident bad boy, was not part of her Alice 2.0 plan, even if he is just her type, with his beard, tats sleeves and intense green eyes. When he’s not dodging the press or his cultish fan base, Dare’s making art that makes a statement. Women seem to lose their heads around him – all the more reason why he finds Alice’s candor refreshing. He’s used to women giving in – not giving attitude.

He has to get to know this girl, even if it means allowing himself to be the subject of her research. Before too long, he becomes more than a simple outlier she can explain away. And for him everything starts to feel larger than life and upside down, like a heady rush, all while desperately trying not to lose his heart.

Become lost and found in this re-imagined story of Alice and her cast of characters, in a world where Wonderland meets Sex-and-the-City.

My Review:
Alice Leighton is moving into her sister’s 2.5 bedroom apartment in New York City when she runs across Dare Grangeworthy in a taxi battle. Her sharp tongue intrigues him but so does the contents of the purse she left in the cab. An infamous avante-garde artist, Dare wants to get to know Miss Alice in more personal ways, but Alice has big plans.

She’s been with rich, powerful men before and she’ll not be swayed from her graduate school courses: she’s in training to become a clinical sex therapist. And, her first assignment is to find a sexual partner and document their sex life via journaling. Dare, having had a terrible break with his last lady-love, wants no more publicity of his love life. Yet, he still wants Alice. And his pursuit might could put Alice’s big plans in jeopardy.

This was a little wacky and a bit juvenile. Some of the banter between Dare and Alice seemed right out of high school. I got that this was a re-telling of Alice in Wonderland, though, so I was willing to entertain a bit of wackiness. Having read the original work, not just relying on movies, I could see peaks of Carroll in areas. Each chapter beings with a brief Carroll excerpt, to focus that bit of the story, so readers could easily see the parallels. Having been inspired by the random, chaotic narrative of the masterwork, well, this book echoes that spasticity in its storytelling. It was a quick breezy read, but left me wanting a bit more substance to round out the mayhem.

Interested? You can find THE WONDER OF YOU on Goodreads and Amazon (US, UK, CA and AU).

About the Author:
Born in California and raised in South Florida, Harper Kincaid has moved around like a gypsy with a bounty on her head ever since. For years, she was a jill of all trades and a master of none, but is now tickled hot pink to pen stories that break and mend people’s hearts for a living. Kincaid believes seduction occurs from the neck up, which is why her characters are smart, sexy, and slightly quirky – and definitely worthy to be your next hard-core book crush.

When not writing, she adores listening to indie, lo-fi, complaint rock played on vinyl, the theater, well-informed optimism, happy endings (both kinds), and making those close to her laugh ’til they snort. She is a self-admitted change junkie, loving new experiences and places, but has now happily settled in the cutest lil’ town, Vienna, Virginia.

Catch up with Harper on her website, Facebook, twitter, Instagram, sign up for her newsletter, Goodreads, Amazon, and Bookbub.