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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Spotlight: Excerpt of Fatal Identity by Marie Force

Author: Marie Force
Publisher: Harlequin
Date of publication: July 2016


Every family has its secrets… 
As the first anniversary of her marriage to Vice President Nick Cappuano approaches, Lieutenant Sam Holland is dreaming of Bora Bora—sun, sand and a desperately needed break from the DC grind. But real life has a way of intervening, and Sam soon finds herself taking on one of the most perplexing cases of her career.

Government worker Josh Hamilton begs Sam to investigate his shocking claim that his parents stole him from another family thirty years ago. More complicated still, his “father” is none other than the FBI director. When a member of Josh’s family is brutally murdered, Sam begins to question how deep this cover-up goes. Is it possible the revered director was part of a baby-napping ring and that others involved are also targets?

With a killer intent on deadly revenge and her team still reeling from a devastating loss, Sam’s plate is full—and when Nick and their son, Scotty, take ill, is her dream of a tropical anniversary celebration in peril too?

Enjoy this excerpt!

Sam pushed through the double doors and into cool, crisp winter air that smelled like snow. She’d had a conversation yesterday with her son, Scotty, about how air can smell like snow. Scotty said it wasn’t possible to smell snow, even after she got him to take a few deep breaths to see what she meant. He remained skeptical, but she had a few more weeks of winter to prove her point.
“Mrs. Cappuano.”
Sam turned toward the man who’d called to her. He was in his late twenties or early thirties, handsome with dark blond hair and brown eyes. The panic she saw in his expression put her immediately on alert. “That’s me, although they don’t call me that around here. And you are?”
“Josh Hamilton.”
Sam shook his outstretched hand. “What can I do for you, Josh?”
“I need your help.”
“Okay.”
“Today I was bored at work, so I started surfing the web, you know, just clicking around aimlessly.”
As a technophobe of the highest order, Sam didn’t know because she’d never done that and certainly not at work, where she was usually too busy to pee, let alone surf.
Josh took a series of deep breaths, and Sam’s anxiety ramped up a notch. “I saw this story about a baby who was kidnapped thirty years ago. They had this age-progression photo showing what he’d look like now, and…” He gulped. “It was me.”
“Wait. What?”
With trembling hands, Josh retrieved his cell phone from his pocket and called up a web page, zeroing in on a digitally produced photo that did, in fact, bear a striking resemblance to him.
“Those photos are produced by computers. They’re not exact.”
“That’s me! And it explains why I’ve never felt at home or accepted in my family. What if they took me?”
“Hang on a minute. What evidence do you have to suspect that your parents participated in a criminal act to bring you into their family?”
He seemed to make an effort to calm down. “They’re extremely accomplished people and so are my siblings. My brother is a board-certified neurosurgeon. He went to Harvard for undergrad and medical school. My sister is an attorney, also Harvard educated, Law Review, the whole nine yards. And then there’s me. I barely made it out of state college after having spent most of my five years there on academic probation. After four years working for the federal government, I’m a GS-9 at Veterans Affairs, where I shuffle paper all day while counting the minutes until I can leave. The only reason I have that job is because my father, who has never approved of a thing I said or did, pulled strings to get me in. They’re all Republicans while I’m a liberal Democrat who fully supports your husband. I hope he runs in four years, by the way.”
“None of that proves your parents kidnapped you.”
“Will you take my case? Please? I need to know for sure. This would explain so much of why I’ve felt like a square peg in my own family my entire life.”
Sam held up a hand to stop him. “I’m a homicide cop, not a private investigator, but if you really believe a crime has been committed, I can refer you to someone within the department—”
“No.” He shook his head. “I want you. You’re the best. Everyone says so.”
“I’m honored you think so, but I’m on a leave of absence for the next few days, so I’m not able to take your case personally.”
“It has to be you. You’re the only one I’d trust to do it right.”
“The Metro PD has plenty of very qualified detectives who could look into this for you and help determine whether a crime has been committed, Mr. Hamilton.”
“You don’t understand. It can’t be any random detective. It can only be you.”
“Are you going to tell me why?”
He took another series of deep breaths, appearing to summon the courage he needed to tell her why. “It’s… He’s… Well, my dad, you see… He’s Troy Hamilton, the FBI director.”
Holy bombshell, Batman! Sam’s mind raced with implications and scenarios and flat-out disbelief. “You can’t honestly believe that your father, one of the top law enforcement officials in the country, kidnapped a child thirty years ago.”
“I wouldn’t put it past him,” Josh said.
“He’s one of the most respected men in our business. He’s revered.”
“Believe me, I know all about how revered he is. I hear about it on a regular basis.” He looked at her beseechingly. “You have to help me. I don’t know who else to turn to. Besides some of the people who work for my father, I don’t know any other cops, and you’re the best. And… I’m scared.” The last two words were said on a faint whisper.
Sam wanted nothing to do with the snake pit this case could turn out to be, but the detective in her was far too intrigued to walk away. “How’d you get here?”
“I took the Metro.”
She took a look around to see if anyone was watching, but the parking lot was deserted, and the usual band of reporters that stalked the MPD were taking the day off. They tended to do that when it was freezing. “Come with me.” She led him to her car and gestured for Josh to get in the passenger side.
Though she had no idea what she planned to do with him or the information he’d dropped in her lap, she couldn’t walk away from what he’d told her. “Tell me more about this website where you saw the photo.”
“It’s a blog run by parents of missing children.”
“How did you end up there?”
“I read a story about a baby who was kidnapped from a hospital in Tennessee the day after he was born and how his parents have never stopped looking for him. The thirtieth anniversary of the abduction is coming up, so they’ve gotten some regional publicity. There was a link in the story that led to the blog where the age-progression photo was.”
“So the photo hasn’t been picked up by the media?”
“Not that I could tell, but I was too freaked out by what I was seeing to dig deeper, especially since my thirtieth birthday is next week. I told my boss I had an emergency. I left the office and came right to you.”
“Why me?”
“Are you serious? After the inauguration, the whole country knows what an amazing cop you are. Who else would I go to with something like this?”
Blowing off the comment, she said, “You realize that accusing the FBI director of a capital felony is not something you do without stacks of proof that he was involved.”
“That’s where you come in. I need proof, and I need it fast before that picture gets picked up by the wires or social media and flung around the country. I need proof before he knows that I know.”
Sam had to agree that time was of the essence before this thing blew up into a sh*tstorm of epic proportions. With that in mind, she started the car, pulled out of the MPD parking lot and into weekday afternoon traffic that clogged the District on the way toward Capitol Hill.
“Where are we going?”
“My house.”
She glanced over at him and saw his eyes get big. “For real?”
“Yes, for real.” She paused before she continued. “Look, if you want me to dig into this, I have to do it at home. I’m…off duty right now. I’ve gotta stay below the radar on this or my bosses will be all over me.”
“No one will hear it from me.”
After a slow crawl across the District, Sam pulled up to the Secret Service checkpoint on Ninth Street. Normally they waved her through, but she had to stop to clear her guest. “They’ll need to see your ID.”
Josh pulled his license from his wallet and handed it to her.
She gave it to the agent, who took a close look before returning it to her. “Thank you, ma’am. Have a nice day.”
“You too.”
“What’s that like?” Josh asked. “Being surrounded by Secret Service all the time?”
“About as much fun as you’d expect it to be.”
“Why don’t you have a detail?”
“Because I don’t need one. I can take care of myself.” Thankfully, he didn’t mention the recent siege in Marissa Springer’s basement as an example of her inability to take care of herself. Sam liked to think that was a onetime lapse in judgment, never to be repeated.
Outside their home, her husband’s motorcade lined the street. What was he doing home so early?
She parked in her assigned spot—everyone who lived on Ninth Street now had assigned parking spaces—and headed up the ramp that led to their home.
“Why do you have a ramp?” Josh asked.
“My dad’s a quadriplegic. He lives down the street. My husband installed the ramp so he could come to visit.”
“Oh, that’s cool. Sorry about your dad, though.”
“Thanks.”
Nick’s lead agent, John Brantley Jr., met her at the door. “Lieutenant.”
“Brant. What’s he doing home so early?”
“The vice president isn’t feeling well.”
“Say what?”

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About Marie Force 

Marie Force is the New York Times bestselling author of 50 contemporary romances, including the Gansett Island Series, which has sold more than 2.3 million books, and the Fatal Series from Harlequin Books, which has sold more than 1.2 million books. In addition, she is the author of the Green Mountain Series as well as the erotic romance Quantum Series, written under the slightly modified name of M.S. Force.  All together, her books have sold more than 5 million copies worldwide!

Her goals in life are simple—to finish raising two happy, healthy, productive young adults, to keep writing books for as long as she possibly can and to never be on a flight that makes the news. 

Join Marie’s mailing list on her website at marieforce.com for news about new books and upcoming appearances in your area. Follow her on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/MarieForceAuthor, on Twitter @marieforce and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/marieforceauthor/. Contact Marie at marie@marieforce.com.

Connect with Marie


Marie Force’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Monday, June 27th: Bewitched Bookworms – Fatal Affair
Tuesday, July 5th: A Splendid Messy Life – Fatal Affair
Wednesday, July 6th: Book Binge – excerpt
Thursday, July 7th: Book Reviews and More – excerpt
Monday, July 11th: Reading Reality – Fatal Affair
Wednesday, July 13th: Mignon Mykel Reviews – Fatal Affair
Thursday, July 14th: Stranded in Chaos – Fatal Affair
Tuesday, July 19th: A Bookaholic Swede – excerpt
Wednesday, July 20th: Dog-Eared Daydreams – Fatal Affair
Thursday, July 21st: The Romance Dish – excerpt
Friday, July 22nd: A Holland Reads – excerpt
Monday, July 25th: Romancing the Book – review and excerpt
Monday, July 25th: Becky on Books – Fatal Flaw
Tuesday, July 26th: The Sassy Bookster – Fatal Identity
Wednesday, July 27th: From the TBR Pile – excerpt
Thursday, July 28th: Books and Bindings – the entire Fatal series
Monday, August 1st: Books a la Mode – excerpt
Tuesday, August 2nd: Open Book Society – Fatal Affair, Fatal Justice, Fatal Consequences
Wednesday, August 3rd: Dog-Eared Daydreams – Fatal Justice
Thursday, August 4th: Buried Under Romance – Fatal Affair
Friday, August 5th: Dog-Eared Daydreams – Fatal Consequences


Throwback Thursday: The House on Tradd Street by Karen White


Author: Karen White
First published in 2008 by

A brilliant, chilling début featuring a Charleston real estate agent who loves the histories inside old manors. Melanie Middleton hates to admit she can see ghosts. A man she recently met died, leaving his historic Tradd Street home; complete with a dog and family of ghosts anxious to tell their secrets. Jack Trenholm, a gorgeous writer obsessed with unsolved mysteries, has reason to believe diamonds from the Confederate Treasury are hidden. He turns the charm on with Melanie, to discover he's the smitten one.


This book was a random audio pick from my library.  When I was looking through the site looking for a "throwback" book, I thought the synopsis sounded good.  Unfortunately, I only got about halfway through the book.  It's about a woman who inherits a house that is falling apart.  She has to live there for a year before she can sell.  Oh, and she can see ghosts.  

While parts of the book were interesting, I found it to be really slow.  Not much really happens in the first half of the book.  I found Melanie to be kind of annoying.  She has control issues, is really uptight and generally unlikable. There were a few things about the plot that had me shaking my head.  Who appoints a known alcoholic to be the executor of a trust that has a lot of money?  Also,  Melanie is 39 and didn't know when prohibition happened. I found this unlikely, especially for a woman who specializes in selling old houses in the Charleston area.  She didn't seem to know anything about the history of the houses or of the area she grew up in.  As for romance, it was almost non-existent and I didn't feel like sticking around to see if anything developed with Jack.  I say skip this one. But, if you manage to get through it, there are 3 other books featuring Melanie.  Maybe she gets better over time?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Excerpt & Giveaway of Right Through Me by Shannon McKenna

We are celebrating the release of Right Through Me by Shannon McKenna!

Check out the excerpt and giveaway below!

NYTimes and USA Today bestselling author Shannon McKenna launches The Obsidian Files with RIGHT THROUGH ME, a pulse-pounding tale of thrilling suspense and searing passion. A beautiful fugitive and a biotech tycoon with strange powers must face the lethal rage of a vicious enemy bent on their annihilation.

Author: Shannon McKenna
Publisher: Self
Date of publication: July 2016

Stranger, speak softly...

Biotech tycoon Noah Gallagher has a deadly secret: his clandestine training as a super-soldier gives him abilities that go far beyond human. Yet he's very much a man. When Caro Bishop shows up at his Seattle headquarters with a dangerous secret agenda, his ordered life is thrown into chaos. Caro is a woman like no other—and her luminously sensual beauty cloaks a mystery he must solve.

Caro's lying low, evading a false charge of murder. She means to clear her name, and she'll do whatever it takes to survive—but seducing a man like Noah is more than she bargained for. His amber eyes have the strangest glow when he looks at her—she could swear he sees the secrets of her heart. The desire smoldering in Noah's eyes awakens her own secret hunger, but Caro has to resist his magnetic pull. Anyone close to her becomes a target. The only right thing to do is run, far and fast, but Caro can't outrun Noah's ferocious intensity—or deny the searing passion that explodes between them.

Nothing else matters—until a vicious enemy bent on the ultimate revenge puts his murderous plan into play. Noah and Caro must battle for their lives...and their love...

Excerpt:

“Look,” he said. “I promised not to touch you. I can’t keep that promise anymore.”
            She drifted closer, a cloud of sunset colors. Her scent washed over his senses. His supercharged synesthesia translated her aroma into colors in his head. He wanted to strip her bare. His hands flexed with the impulse to seize her. It almost overcame him.
            “Leave.” His voice was tight. “I paid you.”
            “No,” she said.
            “You finished your dance. You said there could be nothing more. So go.”
            “Shhh.” She stretched up, touching his cheek with soft, cool fingertips. Then, to his astonishment, she pressed a hot, soft kiss to his jaw.
            “This is not helping,” he growled.
            She rose up on her bare feet, her mouth near his. Never quite getting there. No kiss . . . just the caressing heat of her breath. The teasing promise of . . . maybe . . . almost.
             He was so close to losing control, he didn’t dare inhale.
            He stepped back. Not far enough. The sweetness of her perfume taunted him.
            She didn’t move. Not one inch. She was enjoying this, feeling her power. It made his teeth grind, and his dick ache.
            “You’re still here,” he said.
            “I’m not ready to leave.” Her voice was a drifting whisper. “I like the way this makes me feel.”
            “I’m ready,” he said. “And it’s my goddamn office.”
            “Yes. After hours. And we’re alone. More or less.” She closed the slight distance between them with a single step.
            So she was seducing him. He got the message—but he still didn’t dare breathe.
            Then she took his hand, and pressed it against her bare belly.
            They both inhaled sharply. She was flower-petal smooth against the hard, callused skin of his palm. A flash of hot lust pumped through him.
            A swift, shocked ripple went through her, as if she’d had a small orgasm, and then her hand fastened over his, holding it firmly in place. As if she welcomed the touch but didn’t dare allow his hand to wander elsewhere.
            “Take the envelope,” he said. “Put it in your bag, and we’re square.”
            Her fingers tightened on his hand.
            “I asked for a service, you provided it, I paid you,” he said stubbornly. All business. Meeting over. Too bad his dick didn’t get the memo. He was about to explode.
            Without saying a word, she turned and headed to the bathroom, purple veils fluttering behind her.
            He didn’t have to wait for her to return. But he knew that he would.
            She was back minutes later, wearing jeans and a baggy black T-shirt. His exotic dancing maiden was gone but she was as beautiful as ever. Her real hair was a thick, curly dark cloud, caught up in back in a tousled knot of twisted ringlets. Some of them dangled around her face.
            “Sorry,” he said stiffly. “That got out of hand.”
            “It’s OK. Not your fault.”  She looked down at herself. “I thought it was better to have this conversation in street clothes,” she said. “To see if the fantasy melted away for you without the props. Better for both of us to know right now.”
            He looked her up and down. Blood roared in his ears. “That’s not happening.”
            Her sig pulsed, excited pinks and reds. “So?”
            “I promised not to touch you, and I broke that promise. With your help.”
            She nodded reluctantly.
            “If you stay here, I’ll break it again. Let me put that right out in the open.”


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About Shannon McKenna:

Shannon McKenna is the NYT and USA Today bestselling author of fifteen action packed, turbocharged romantic thrillers, among which are the stories of the wildly popular McCloud series. She’s also the author of the upcoming OBSIDIAN series, the first of which, RIGHT THROUGH ME, comes out in July of 2016. She loves tough and heroic alpha males, heroines with the brains and guts to match them, villains who challenge them to their utmost, adventure, scorching sensuality, and most of all, the redemptive power of true love. Since she was small she has loved abandoning herself to the magic of a good book, and her fond childhood fantasy was that writing would be just like that, but with the added benefit of being able to take credit for the story at the end. The alchemy of writing turned out to be messier than she'd ever dreamed, but what the hell, she loves it anyway, and hopes that readers enjoy the results of her alchemical experiments. She loves to hear from her readers.


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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Need by Joelle Charbonneau

Author:  
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Date of publication: November 2015

One by one, the teens in Nottawa, Wisconsin, join the newest, hottest networking site and answer one question: What do you need? A new iPhone? Backstage passes to a concert? In exchange for a seemingly minor task, the NEED site will fulfill your request. Everyone is doing it. So why shouldn’t you?

Kaylee Dunham knows what she needs—a kidney for her sick brother. She doesn’t believe a social networking site can help, but it couldn’t hurt to try.

Or could it?



In NEED, the teens of a small town in Wisconsin are invited to a social networking site where for a small price, they can get something they need.  The biggest problem is that the stakes keep getting higher.  For Kaylee, all she needs is a kidney for her little brother.  She quickly finds out that nothing is ever given for free.

I was surprised that I actually ended up liking this book.  I had read some negative reviews, so I was a bit skeptical.  I thought it was a great commentary on our youth today and the effects of social media. Not to mention that lot of people don't understand the concept of what a true need is over something they want.  The story is told through multiple points of  view.  For me, that really helped enhance the plot.  I liked seeing other kids thoughts and how the website affected them.  The other thing that I liked was Kaylee.  She was a strong character without insta-love to keep her from her goal. That was refreshing. As far as I know this is a stand alone YA.  Yay for that as well!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Blog Tour: The Girl He Used to Love by Amy Vastine


Author: Amy Vastine
Publisher: Harlequin
Date of publication: July 2016

The past will always be between them


He swore he’d never return home. Then a flat tire lands Dean Presley back in Grass Lake, Tennessee, and he’s forced to confront the woman he left behind. Faith Stratton was once the love of his life. Now her gifted brother could be the rising Nashville star Dean needs for his struggling music label. But it means taking Sawyer away from the horse therapy farm that Faith’s so proud of. That won’t be easy, especially since those old feelings that started all the trouble… Well, let’s just say he can’t go back there, because he doesn’t want to relive the memories of the terrible accident that drove them apart.

The Girl He Used to Love is another offering this summer from Harlequin's Heartwarming collection. It's the first in a new series by this author.  Dean is back in his hometown by what he would describe as bad luck.  He vowed never to come back after the tragic death of his sister.  He left behind everyone he loved, including Faith.  For Faith, everyone seems to always leave her.  When Dean wants to make her brother Sawyer a star, she struggles with letting go of yet another loved one.

While I thought the beginning was a little slow, I ended up enjoying Faith and Dean's story.  It's not just another second chance story.  It's about learning that home is the place you need to go when it's time to heal.  Sometimes the place you want to be the least is the place you need to be the most. It was gut wrenching at times, but I enjoyed watching Dean and Faith move beyond past hurts.  I loved the ending.  The solution that Dean came up with in the end was absolutely perfect!  I definitely want to read the next book, Catch a Fallen Star when is comes out in December!  I would definitely recommend this sweet, clean second chance romance.  It's a great summertime escape!

Amy Vastine


Amy Vastine has been plotting stories in her head for as long as she can remember. An eternal optimist, she studied social work, hoping to teach others how to find their silver lining. Now, she enjoys creating happily ever afters for all to read. This USA Today bestselling author lives outside Chicago with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband, three fun-loving children, and their sweet but mischievous puppy dog.
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Connect with Amy


Purchase Links

Summer Lovin’ TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Monday, July 4th: Romantic Reads and Such – Under an Adirondack Sky
Tuesday, July 5th: A Chick Who Reads – The Girl He Used to Love
Wednesday, July 6th: Romancing the Readers – Sophie’s Path
Thursday, July 7th: Wall to Wall Books – Under an Adirondack Sky
Friday, July 8th: Just Commonly – When I Found You
Friday, July 8th: Books A La Mode – Karen Rock guest post
Monday, July 11th: From the TBR Pile – Sophie’s Path
Tuesday, July 12th: Musings of a Bookish Kitty – Under an Adirondack Sky
Wednesday, July 13th: Books and Spoons – When I Found You
Friday, July 15th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – The Girl He Used to Love
Monday, July 18th: Stranded in Chaos – Under an Adirondack Sky
Wednesday, July 20th: Books A La Mode – Amy Vastine Guest Post
Thursday, July 21st: Romancing the Book – When I Found You
Friday, July 22nd: Wall to Wall Books – Sophie’s Path
Monday, July 25th: From the TBR Pile – The Girl He Used to Love
Tuesday, July 26th: Bibliotica – Under an Adirondack Sky
Wednesday, July 27th: Books and Spoons – Sophie’s Path
Friday, July 29th: Books A La Mode – Kate James Guest Post
Saturday, July 30th: The Sassy Bookster – When I Found You
Monday, August 1st: A Chick Who Reads – Sophie’s Path
Tuesday, August 2nd: Reading Is My Superpower – Under an Adirondack Sky
Wednesday, August 3rd: Reading Is My Superpower – When I Found You
Friday, August 5th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews – The Girl He Used to Love
Monday, August 8th: Why Girls are Weird – Under an Adirondack Sky
Tuesday, August 9th: Musings of a Bookish Kitty – When I Found You
Wednesday, August 10th: Reading Lark – Sophie’s Path
Thursday, August 11th: Romancing the Book – The Girl He Used to Love
Friday, August 12th: Books A La Mode – Catherine Lanigan Guest Post
Monday, August 15th: Romancing the Book – Sophie’s Path
Tuesday, August 16th: Read-Love-Blog – Amy Vastine Guest Post
Thursday, August 18th: Romancing the Book – Under an Adirondack Sky

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Book Spotlight: Giveaway & Excerpt of You and Me Always by Jill Mansell

To celebrate the release of Jill Mansell's latest book, You and me Always, we are giving away a copy of Jill's April release, The One You Really Want..  See the rafflecopter below to enter.  US & Canada only please.

Author: Jill Mansell
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Date of publication: July 2016

In the morning of her twenty-fifth birthday, Lily Harper opens the very last letter written to her by her beloved mother, who died when she was eight. Learning about the first and only real love of her mom’s life is a revelation.

The same momentous day, Lily meets Eddie Tessler, an actor fleeing fame who could change her world in unimaginable ways. But her childhood friend Dan has his own reasons for not wanting Lily to get too carried away by Eddie’s attentions.

As secrets past and present begin to emerge, Lily’s not sure what—or who—to believe. But one thing is clear: in the beautiful Cotswold village of Stanton Langley, nothing will ever be the same again…

With over ten million copies sold, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Mansell writes irresistible, funny, poignant, and romantic tales for women in the tradition of Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella, and Jojo Moyes. She lives with her partner and their children in Bristol, England.

Enjoy this excerpt:

There he was, sitting in the sun outside the Star Inn. Lily slowed and parked the van outside Goldstone House, next to the pub. Dan saw her and waved, and her stomach tightened at the sight of him, as it always did. There was just something about the languid angles of his body, those long legs in black jeans stretched out in front of him, the tilt of his head as he chatted on his phone and laughed at something that had been said.
The tightening didn’t mean anything, though. Lily knew that. It had evolved as a kind of Pavlovian reaction, a habit that had become ingrained over the years simply because Dan Rafferty was so physically attractive. The good thing was that he knew he was attractive and traded on it shamelessly with all concerned—-so the idea of an actual relationship with him was the very last thing anyone in their right mind would want.
And since she was in her right mind, thankfully she was safe.
“Lily, Lily.” Dan’s eyes crinkled, and he pushed his dark glasses to the top of his head as she jumped down from the van. “My most favorite girl in the world.”
See? This was what he was like. “And you’re the most annoying boy.”
“I’m not a boy. I’m a man.”
He was twenty--seven, two years older than she was. Technically, he might be a man, but when you’d known each other since childhood, the idea just seemed wrong somehow.
“You used to put frog spawn in the hood of my sweatshirt,” said Lily. “You’ll always be a boy to me. Where’s your car, anyway?”
“Over in Chipping Norton.” Dan had texted her earlier asking if she could give him a lift to go pick it up.
“Why?” As if she couldn’t guess.
“Best not to ask. The usual, basically. Good wine and bad women. Well, one bad woman taking shameless advantage.” He gestured to the still--full cup of coffee on the table in front of him. “Are you in a big hurry, or can I get you a drink?”
Lily checked her watch. It was twenty past six. She’d spent the last three hours delivering a marble--topped table and a set of Victorian chimney pots to a customer in Chippenham, but work was now over for the day, and the rest of her evening was free.
“Go on then. I’ll have a Coke.” She joined him at the table, unsticking the back of her T--shirt from her shoulder blades and flapping the front of it to cool down her rib cage while Dan disappeared inside to order the drink.
When he returned, she took the glass and said, “Cheers, thanks. Why couldn’t Patsy give you a lift back to your car?”
“She’s out. Gone on a date. With a mystery man off the Internet.”
Lily perked up. “Ooh, what’s he like?”
“No idea.” Dan shrugged. “That’s the whole point of him being a mystery. She didn’t want me to meet him.”
“Well, after last time with the chap from Chepstow, who could blame her?”
“Welsh William.” He shrugged. “That wasn’t my fault. He was the one who challenged me to an arm--wrestling match. He was just showing off, trying to prove how strong he was.”
“You could have let him win,” said Lily.
“Me?” Dan looked horrified. “Why? He was an idiot. Patsy wouldn’t want someone like him anyway.”
Which was true enough. Ah, well, maybe this new one would be an improvement. Lily swirled the ice cubes in her glass and took a gulp of Coke, then paused as her attention was drawn to a stocky man on a bicycle heading down the street toward them. He was wearing an orange cycling helmet that clashed with his red face and turquoise Lycra leggings. As his legs pumped the pedals, he appeared to be talking to himself.
By this time Dan had turned and was watching him too. It wasn’t until the man had drawn closer that they realized he wasn’t riding an ordinary bike. It was a tandem. Nor was he having a conversation with himself; he was loudly addressing his cycling companion behind him.
“…and in September of 2013…or it might have been October, come to think of it… Anyway, that was when I cycled from Ravenglass to South Shields alongside Hadrian’s Wall, and that’s one hundred and seventy--four miles in total, so it’s quite a trek, but the views were phenomenal… Then the following March, I did the Devon coast--to--coast, from Ilfracombe to Plymouth…”
“Whoops,” Lily murmured as the tandem drew nearer still and they were finally able to see who was on the back of it. Dan sprayed coffee and rocked forward on his seat. Clearly mortified as her companion continued at top volume, poor Patsy saw them watching and made an Oh God face.
And then she and the cyclist were passing the pub, their legs moving in unison as the pedals turned and the tires made a dry, swishing noise on the hot, dusty pavement. Patsy’s date was still facing forward, talking loudly for her benefit as he informed her of the importance of keeping up a nice, steady rhythm.
Which made Dan, predictably, crack up with silent laughter. As the tandem moved on, Patsy glanced over at them for a moment, shook her head in despair, and mouthed the words: Help me.
Oh dear, but it was hard not to laugh. At the junction at the end of the main drag, the traffic light turned red, and the tandem dutifully slowed to a halt. Lily and Dan watched as Patsy put her feet down and turned back to give them a look of mortification and misery, while her date continued his loud monologue.
“How does she get herself into these situations?” Dan marveled. He gestured to his sister and mimed diving sideways off the bike.
Up ahead, taking her weight on her feet and raising her bottom from the saddle, Patsy let go of the handlebars. The traffic light changed to amber, then to green. Her companion pressed down on the front pedals and the tandem moved off, leaving Patsy standing in the road behind it. Evidently still entranced by the sound of his own voice, and oblivious to the fact that he’d lost his pedaling partner, the man who’d been her date continued on down the road.
Dan took a quick photo on his phone before the tandem completely disappeared from view. He grinned at Lily and said, “Ha, brilliant. That’s this year’s Christmas card.”
****
Patsy stood in the center of the road and watched as Derek energetically cycled off without her. She couldn’t quite believe he hadn’t noticed she’d gone.
Why did this kind of situation always seem to happen to her? Derek had sounded so nice in his emails. He’d given her no cause whatsoever to suspect he was a secret cycling fanatic with a deep and detailed knowledge of every single bike path in the UK and a passion for sharing all this information with her in a maximum--volume, never--ending monotone.
If she’d known, the entire relationship could have been nipped in the bud before it even had time to become a bud. Some women might not mind the idea of sailing through life on the back of a tandem, but Patsy definitely wasn’t one of them.
She sighed and brushed away the loose strands of hair that were sticking to her forehead. And now Dan and Lily were beckoning her toward them, no doubt finding her predicament hilarious. What she should have done, of course, was to tap Derek on the shoulder, politely explain that they might as well give up now, then shake hands, say good--bye, and wish him better luck next time.
That would have been the normal way, the dignified way to go about it.
Oh God, poor Derek. She really shouldn’t have done that to him.
Then again, poor her.



About the author:

Jill Mansell lives with her partner and children in Bristol, and writes full time. Actually that’s not true; she watches TV, eats fruit gums, admires the rugby players training in the sports field behind her house, and spends hours on the internet marvelling at how many other writers have blogs. Only when she’s completely run out of displacement activities does she write.

Jill Mansell's books have sold over ten million copies and her titles include: Making your Mind up, Fast Friends, Good at Games, Sheer Mischief and Solo, among many others. 


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Saturday, July 23, 2016

2 in 1: Back to Buckhorn & A Buckhorn Summer by Lori Foster

For odd-girl-out Zoey Hodge, the best thing about Buckhorn, Kentucky, was leaving it behind. And now she’s back—at least until she can nurse her mother back to health and hightail it out of there anew. But there’s one person she doesn’t mind seeing again. Garrett Hudson was one of the few who was always kind to her. Now he’s a firefighter—still one of the good guys, but with a sexy alpha charm that’s tempting her inner bad girl.

In school, Zoey was smart, witty and unafraid to be herself. Garrett fell hard back then, and he’s falling even faster now. As far as he’s concerned, there are all kinds of reasons Zoey should stick around. Her pet grooming business. Her mom. And the chance for him to prove that he can be her real-life hero in every way that matters


Back to Buckhorn (HQN, 2014) is a novella that features the offspring of the men in the "Buckhorn Brothers" series. I loved that series, so it's a treat to see their kids fall in love.  In Back to Buckhorn, Zoey has returned home to take care of her mother.  Her secret crush, Garret Hudson is unattached and drawn to Zoey.  Zoey and Garret's story was really sweet.  It's a friends to lovers story, which is always one of my favorites.  It wouldn't be a Burckhorn story with out the family interfering.  It was really fun to watch them all work to get these two together.



Lisa Sommerville’s wild one-night-stand was completely out of character for the workaholic businesswoman. So when she arrives in Buckhorn, Kentucky to spend a summer rethinking her career, she’s stunned to find that Gray Neely has stepped out of her steamy memories and taken up residence in her hometown. What’s more, the laid-back ex-cop wants to pick up where they left off.

Lisa has been on Gray’s mind every day since that mind-blowing encounter. He was reeling from a tragedy in the line of duty, and their connection was instant and intense. Still is. But sleepy Buckhorn is a million miles from her corporate world. And he has one sweet, hot summer to prove they have a future there, together…
 


I honestly think this one is my favorite out of the Buckhorn novellas.  I absolutely loved Lisa and Gray together. In Buckhorn Summer (HQN, 2015) The couple had a one night anonymous stand, but fate brings them together again in Buckhorn County.  Their attraction sizzles off the pages.  I loved how they kept getting interrupted when they were trying to get together.  Of course the family shows up just in time to help out and give the couple the push they need to find their HEA.  It as a really fun read!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Blog Tour: Going Down Easy by Carly Phillips

Author: Carly Phillips
Publisher: CP Publishing
Date of publication: July 2016

Billionaire Bad Boys: Rich, Powerful and sexy as hell.

Billionaire Kaden Barnes has a reputation for being difficult and always getting his way.

Enigmatic and exacting, he's unable to keep an assistant for long. Enter his newest hire, Lexie Parker. She's no-nonsense, efficient and all business… She's also hot as sin and soon starring in Kaden's dirtiest fantasies.

As their passion for each other reaches a boiling point, neither can control the explosive outcome when they finally give in to their desires. He may think he's calling the shots, but for this bad boy, going down easy has never felt so good.


Going Down Easy is the first in a new series about three friends who own a billion dollar business together.  Kade has issues with anxiety and OCD and that prevents him from keeping an assistant.  When Lexie starts working for him, he quickly realizes that she is more than capable of handling his issues.  He also decides he wants her in his office and in his bed.  Lexie has her own stuff to deal with at home, but she can't ignore the chemistry between her and her boss.

I really enjoyed this one.  I thought it was a sweet story without too much angst.  That was a refreshing change.  I thought Kade and Lexie were good togetherespecially since Lexie could empathize with Kade over his issues.  I was also happy to see that Kade was kind of on the other side of his anxiety issues.  Meaning, he had been dealing with it for a while and had learned some coping mechanisms to help deal with them.  It made their relationship more believable and solid to me.  

This is a great start to a new series.  I look forward to Luke and Derek's stories.

Add to Goodreads

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About the Author:



After a successful fifteen-year career with various New York publishing houses, and over 40 sexy contemporary romance novels published, N.Y. Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Carly Phillips is now an Indie author who writes to her own expectations and that of her readers. She continues the tradition of hot men and strong women and plans to publish many more sizzling stories. Carly lives in Purchase, NY with her family, two nearly adult daughters and two crazy dogs who star on her Facebook Fan Page and website. She's a writer, a knitter of sorts, a wife, and a mom. In addition, she's a Twitter and Internet junkie and is always around to interact with her readers. You can find out more about Carly at www.carlyphillips.com.

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Ryan's Hand by Leila Meacham


Author:Leila Meacham
First published in 1984 by Walk & Company
Re-issued in July 2016 by Grand Central Publishing

Some friends are more like family...and that's exactly how Cara Martin feels about Ryan Langston. He stood by her side through the most difficult time of her life and there's nothing she won't do for him, even now after his death. But inheriting Ryan's share of his family's ranch in west Texas and living there for a year? Cara doesn't understand what he was thinking. Still, she cannot, will not deny Ryan's last request...even if it means sharing a roof with his brooding, arrogant older brother.

Jeth Langston doesn't trust Cara as far as he can throw her. Jeth is certain she prevented his baby brother from spending his last days at home. And he'll be damned if he lets this stranger take over the Langston family legacy too. Whatever the cost, he's determined to drive this beautiful outsider away-no matter how intriguing he finds her.

But as the days grow longer and sunshine sweeps across the plains, Cara can't help but fall for the untamed land-and the man whose passion for it captures her, heart and soul. Can their love bloom wild and free on this Texas ranch?


Ryan's Hand was originally written in 1984.  It's the first book by this author.  Included in the beginning of the book is a story of how this book came to be.  As I was reading it, I kept having to remind myself that it was written in the early 80s. A time when men were jerks and women fell in love with them. I think for the time this was written, this is a good clean romance.   It's a really good first effort. The author notes that no updates or revisions were made with the re-issue and I was happy to see that. I do want to try to hunt down some of her other works to see how her writing evolved over the years.

That being said, I did ultimately like this one.  Out of the two main characters, I liked Cara the most.  I loved her conviction to stay true to her promise to her best friend Ryan, no matter what happened to her. She definitely didn't have an easy time at the ranch.  Jeth is a major douche to her most of the time, but she still falls for him anyway.  The ending was sweet.  I only wish that they had spent more time together in the book actually liking each other.   There was a serious lack of communication between the couple.  I did like that it took place over a full year.  I made the HEA more convincing.