The Second Chances Blog Tour

Second Chances: A Romance Writers of America Collection
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Authors: 
J. Kenner, Christina Lauren, Brandi Willis Schreiber, Liliana Hart, Alyssa Day, Rachel Hauck, Damon Suede, Marilyn Brant, Renee Luke, Kerri Carpenter, Tara Wyatt
Release Date: September 12, 2017

Do you believe in second chances?

Romance Writers of America brings together seventeen of today’s hottest authors in an anthology of never-before-published tales that reveal true love always deserves a happy ending.

Follow New York Times best-selling authors J. Kenner and Christina Lauren back to reader-favorite worlds.

New York Times bestseller Alyssa Day sprinkles djinn magic in her humorous paranormal romance, while Rachel Hauck brings the enchantment of the holidays in her New Year’s Eve contemporary love story.

And Liliana Hart delivers thrills and adventure in her characters’ search for the impossible.

With characters who find love through tough situations, in an elegant 1800s ballroom, with an old friend who shows up when least expected, at a tender age when cliques and homework get in the way of relationships, or after a random encounter in an unlikely setting, Second Chances delivers romance to strike every reader’s fancy.

Plus tales from:
Marilyn Brant
Kerri Carpenter
CiCi Coughlin
Cassandra Dean
Tina Ferraro
Renee Luke
Ariella Moon
Brandi Willis Schreiber
Lizzie Shane
Sharon Sobel
Damon Suede
Tara Wyatt

 
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So admittedly, I only got this anthology for the novella by Christina Lauren. What? I’m an addict when it comes to their writing. If you’re like me, you’re going to be thrilled to be getting Levi’s story. And if you’re not familiar, Levi is Finn’s younger brother from Sweet Filthy Boy.

There are a whole lot of authors packed into this anthology, and this worked out well for me because I got a taste of some authors I’ve been curious to try but haven’t had the chance to yet.

Each story has the same theme of, you guessed it, second chance romance. Being a sucker for this trope, I gobbled each story up.

This is merely a taste for each author more so that a novella, in my opinion. They’re a touch on the short side to be completely satisfying (about 30 pages give or take per story if I had to estimate), but they’re long enough to let you get to know the author and their writing style and fall in love. As short as the stories were, they were surprisingly fulfilling.

The Second Chances anthology was a fun, swoony read that introduced me to several new to me authors that I can’t wait to read more of. If you’re looking for a fun way to get introduced to a wide array of different authors, this anthology is great.

From Alyssa Day on why her two protagonists are so perfect for each other: “They make each other laugh! As a Navy wife of more than 21 years, trust me: laughter is the most important indicator of success in a relationship.”
[Jake Cardinal wakes up after a wild night to find a familiar djinn in his house. Now if only he knew her real name…]She was holding the fridge door open, bending down, which gave Jake a really terrific view of her really terrific ass. Damn, but she was beautiful.

“Look, Ruby—”

In one smooth move, she straightened and tossed a carton of milk at him. “It’s not Ruby this time. Smell that and see if it’s fresh.”

He sniffed, recoiled, and recapped the carton before tossing it in the trash can. “Two points. We could go out to breakfast … Amethyst?”

“Not Amethyst. But—” She went completely still for a second, not blinking, not even breathing. She had the bluest eyes he’d ever seen. Dreaming, drowning, summer-sky-just-after-a-rain blue. He almost forgot to breathe.

“Are you asking me to go to breakfast with you?”

“Yep. And no, it’s not a wish, before you ask.” Jake took the deep breath his lungs were begging for and blew it out. “We need to get this wish thing out of the way. Tell me your real name, already.”

“Why?” Suspicion curled her sensual lips and soured her tone. “I know all about wizards and witches and the power of a name.”

“Then you know about the power of domicile. I could command you to give me your name.”

Her laughter was like a peal of silvery bells, with the crash of thundering surf underneath. Delicate beauty and imperious power, combined. It suited her.

It was her.

The short, spiky, purple hair? Not so much.

She sneered at him. “You could command me to do nothing.”

He flicked a tiny spell at her, and she disappeared. Just vanished before his spell was even halfway across the room. The target gone, the magic fizzled and swirled its way out of the window, into the rosy light of sunrise over the lake.

And then she materialized in front of him and punched him in the face.

Alyssa Day is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of  more than thirty-four books, including the Warriors of Poseidon and Cardinal Witches paranormal romance series and the Tiger’s Eye Mysteries paranormal mystery series.  Her many awards include Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award for outstanding romance fiction, and the RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Paranormal Romance novel of 2012.  Her books have been translated into a zillion languages but she’s still holding out for Klingon.  You can find her at alyssaday.com or on Facebook and Twitter talking about her future pug ranch.

Prologue Reveal: Dirty Filthy Rich Love by @LaurelinPaige

Dirty Filthy Rich Love
Series:
Dirty Duet #2
Genre:
Contemporary Romance
Author: 
Laurelin Paige
Release Date:
September 11, 2017

I’ve discovered Donovan Kincaid’s secret.

It’s dirty and filthy and rich – as dirty and filthy and rich as he is – and it haunts me as much as he ever did.

Even after knowing what I know now, I still want to talk to him, to touch him. But there’s an ocean between us, and I’m not sure it can be crossed with something as easy as a phone call or a plane ride.

Yet I’m willing to try.

He doesn’t know this yet, but this time I’m the one with the power.

And maybe – just maybe – if the air were cleared and all our secrets bared, there could still be a chance for us.

And this dirty, filthy thing between us might end up being love after all.

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Start the Duet TODAY with Dirty Filthy Rich Men

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Head to Laurelin’s website to read the FULL PROLOGUE to Dirty Filthy Rich Love:

https://laurelinpaige.com/dirty-filthy-rich-love-prologue-reveal

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Blog Tour, Excerpt & Review: Love Another Day by Lexi Blake

LOVE ANOTHER DAY
Series: Masters & Mercenaries #14
Genre: Romantic Suspense, BDSM
Author: Lexi Blake
Release Date: August 21, 2017

A man born to protect

After a major loss, Brody Carter found a home with the London office of McKay-Taggart. A former soldier, he believes his job is to take the bullets and follow orders. He’s happy to take on the job of protecting Dr. Stephanie Gibson while the team uses her clinic in Sierra Leone to bring down an international criminal. What he never expected was that the young doctor would prove to be the woman of his dreams. She’s beautiful, smart, and reckless. Over and over he watches her risk her life to save others. One night of pure passion leads him to realize that he can’t risk his heart again. When the mission ends, Brody walks away, unwilling to lose another person he loves.

A woman driven to heal

Stephanie’s tragic past taught her to live for today. Everything she’s done in the last fifteen years has been to make up for her mistakes. Offering medical care in war-torn regions gives her the purpose she needs to carry on. When she meets her gorgeous Aussie protector, she knows she’s in too deep, but nothing can stop her from falling head over heels in love. But after one amazing night together, Brody walks away and never looks back. Stephanie is left behind…but not alone.

A secret that will change both their lives

A year later, Stephanie runs afoul of an evil mercenary who vows to kill her for failing to save his son. She runs to the only people she trusts, Liam and Avery O’Donnell. She hasn’t come alone and her secret will bring her former lover across the world to protect her. From Liberia to Dallas to Australia’s outback, Brody will do whatever it takes to protect Stephanie from the man who wants to kill her, but it might be her own personal demons that could destroy them both.

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The door slammed and she suddenly found herself with her back against it. Brody crowded in, taking up all the space and staring down at her. His body brushed hers and she found both her wrists captured in one of his. He dragged them over her head, forcing her chest to come out, breasts skimming along his body. “I shouldn’t do this.”Tough chick was winning. Steph let her take over. It was surely better than the desperate girl who lived inside her. She kept asking for love and affection and getting swatted away. This was the next best thing, possibly the only thing she would ever get. “Then don’t. Let me go and I won’t bother you again.”

“No, you’ll go find Ezra Fain and bother him,” Brody said on a growl.

“Somehow, I don’t think he’ll find me a bother.” She’d barely spoken two words to the man, but she wasn’t going to admit it. It was better to let Brody think she wasn’t a love-starved girl.

“He won’t fucking find you anything at all. If you’re determined to not sleep alone tonight, you can damn well do it with me.” His mouth came down on hers and every inch of her skin came alive. His kiss was overwhelming, hungry. There was no slow meshing of mouths. He took her, his tongue surging inside and dominating her own. He let go of her hands and started to explore her body. His hands were on her hips when he came up for air. “I’m leaving in the morning. I’m going back to London and I can’t come back.”

She’d known that would probably be his answer. She’d known he wouldn’t want to stay and she couldn’t leave.

“One night. That’s all I want.” It was all she could have. It had been foolish to think it could be any different.

His mouth came down on hers again and she let herself get swept away. One night and her life would go back to normal. One night and then she would be alone again. His hands started to roam over her and she tried to forget all the reasons why this was a bad idea.

He stepped back, his entire body set in hard lines. He strode over to the bed and sat down. “Take off the gown. It’s pretty, but I want to see you.”

She hesitated, all her insecurities coming to the forefront. Somehow, she’d thought he would simply take her. “Let me get the lights.”

He was back in her space again, his hand wrapping around her wrist. “I didn’t say turn off the lights. I said take off the gown. How am I going to see you if you turn off the lights?”

“Brody,” she began.

He was having none of it. “You got on your knees in front of me and you said you knew what you were offering me. The first thing you were offering me was obedience. The second was your body. You’re giving me neither right now.”

His voice had gone midnight dark and something about the tone made her soften. He was right. She did know what she’d offered him and now she was trying to have it all her way.

There was nothing wrong with her body. It was feminine and she was healthy. What was she afraid of? “All right.”

He let go of her wrist and sat back down, looking like a damn king waiting on his concubine’s performance. For all his “I’m nothing but a grunt” talk, the man could be incredibly arrogant, and damn if she didn’t find it sexy as hell.

Something about that voice let her know that everything was going to be fine. He was past the point of rejection. He was in and that meant he would play her Dom for the night. He would take care of her. She was as safe with him in the bedroom as she’d been in the field.

At least she was safe for the night. In the morning she would be in a world of hurt, but she wasn’t thinking past tonight.

I want that connection. I want to feel you, and not only in a physical way. This isn’t playing. Playing is a silly word for what I want from you.”
“What word would you use?”
“Everything. I want everything.”

Have you ever read a series that you hope never ends. Like it could have 34355 books and you’ll still crave more? Yeah. This series is that for me. Not only does my addiction to it increase with each new book and new character that gets introduced, I find myself more and more invested. These characters have become like friends to me. I root for them. I hurt for them. And I will never get enough of them.

Dr. Stephanie Gibson was first introduced in A Dom is Forever and my interest in her story has been increasing ever since. As a teenager, an accident due to unfortunate and naive negligence changed her life forever. She’s been paying penance ever since and punishing herself trying to pay things forward. She gained a dear friend out of the woman that she felt should hate her for the accident but family of her own is not something she’s had since that fateful day.

When Brody Carter and his team showed up at her clinic at Sierra Leone, she found herself falling quickly for the broody Aussie. On his last day there, she makes a decision to finally act on her feelings, even knowing he won’t want anything beyond the one night. Brody doesn’t feel he’s good enough for her, even while in her head, she feels it’s the exact opposite. But their one passionate night together comes with a lasting surprise, when Steph finds herself pregnant and her messages to Brody go unanswered. She got the message from the man loud and clear, but when her life and her son’s life is threatened, she finds herself on the doorstep of Liam O’Donnell and back in Brody’s world.

The tension between them is so thick you could cut it with a knife. I needed Brody to redeem himself for the radio silence act he pulled on Steph. I needed him to step up and be a man. I wanted him to grovel, to work for it, to need her forgiveness, and man oh man did I get it. And then some!

He thought briefly about putting the baby in his crib and trying to get a bit of work done, but it felt better to sit, to rock with his son in his arms. For the first time in forever, he knew what peace meant.

While Brody finally sees the light and realizes he needs to fight for Steph, his battle certainly isn’t an easy one. With a dangerous enemy hunting for his woman and her determination to continue to punish herself for her past, it’s not easy to prove just how great they could be together. But it sure made for an entertaining read.

I wanted to be annoyed with Steph and her constant martyr mentality, but I simply couldn’t. Lexi Blake did an amazing job with character development and you can’t help but understand her and feel for her at the same time. To know that you’re the cause of two innocent lives is not easy to get over, no matter how many years passed and whether or not it was a horrible accident. Steph lives with those demons every day. It’s the reason she became a doctor and fights to save lives.

There’s a lot that happens in this book, but the romance is always at the front and center, and it. is. SIZZLING.

It’s going be long and slow and I’m going to know every single inch of this beautiful body like it’s a map I need to memorize. I’ll be able to close my eyes and know how many kisses it takes to get from your mouth to your nipple to your sweet belly to that pussy I’m going to eat like a starving man.”

I loved these two together and I loved how they fight for each other even when they fight with each other.

Of course it wouldn’t be a Lexi Blake book without the rest of the gang and a whole bunch of fun from my favorite, Ian.

You can’t fix someone. That’s not what love does. Love can make a person want to fix himself. That’s the key.” He frowned at his wife. “I said love. I want to vomit.”

Love Another Day was another high octane ride; full of action and suspense that will keep you turning the pages well into the night. I just finished it and I already can’t wait for the next book. I’m an addict when it comes to this series and I can’t recommend it enough if you like your romantic suspense with some sizzling BDSM romance.


THE SERIES

THE DOM WHO LOVED ME | THE MEN WITH THE GOLDEN CUFFS | A DOM IS FOREVER | ON HER MASTER’S SECRET SERVICE | LOVE AND LET DIE | DUNGEON ROYALE | A VIEW TO THRILL | YOU ONLY LOVE TWICE | MASTER NO | FROM SANCTUM WITH LOVE | DOMINANCE NEVER DIES | SUBMISSION IS NOT ENOUGH | FOR HIS EYES ONLY | LOVE ANOTHER DAY

 

NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Lexi Blake lives in North Texas with her husband, three kids, and the laziest rescue dog int eh world. She began writing at a young age, concentrating on plays and journalism. It wasn’t until she started writing romance and urban fantasy that she found the stories of her heart. She likes to find humor in the strangest places and believes in happy endings no matter how odd the couple, threesome, or foursome may seem.

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Blog Tour, Review & Giveaway: The Forbidden by Jodi Ellen Malpas

THE FORBIDDEN
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas
Release Date: August 8, 2017

FROM THE #1 BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE THIS MAN TRILOGY….

What do you do when you can’t control your feelings for someone? When you know you shouldn’t go there? Not even in your head.

Annie has never experienced the ‘spark’ with a guy-the kind of instant chemistry that steals your breath and blindsides you completely. Until a night out with friends brings her face to face with the wickedly sexy and mysterious Jack. It’s not just a spark that ignites between them. It’s an explosion. Jack promises to consume Annie, and he fully delivers on that promise.

Overwhelmed by the intensity of their one night together, Annie slips out of their hotel room. She is certain that a man who’s had such a powerful impact on her and who could bend her to his will so easily, must be dangerous. But she’s already in too deep. And Jack isn’t only dangerous.

He is forbidden.

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“Thank you for your help,” I say quietly, studying him, definitely detecting that he’s deep in thought. Don’t ask, don’t ask, don’t ask. I need to get back into my apartment without engaging with him, which could prove tricky when he’s blocking the doorway and looking like he has no intention of shifting to let me in.“Annie,” he breathes. “I’m struggling so badly.”

“I’m not doing this.” I swallow, pushing my way past him. He grabs me by the top of my arm and holds me in place. “Let me go, Jack.”

“I’ve already told you I can’t do that. Annie, I’m drowning here. I’m going out of my mind, and the more time I spend with you the fucking worse it’s getting. Listening to you, talking to you, sharing a passion with you that goes way beyond the amazing time we had in bed together.”

“You have to forget!” I yell, knowing anger is the only way forward. Be angry with him. Let it dominate me and rule me, because the alternative scares me to fucking death.

He pushes me into the hall and slams the door behind us, forcing me to back up. “No,” he says, straight and even. “No,” he repeats, moving one more step forward, except this time I don’t retreat. Because I can’t. Because he has me locked in place with those grey eyes, and now they’re back to their full glory. Sparkling, even if it’s with anger. He reaches for his shirt and starts unbuttoning it before shrugging it off and throwing it to the floor, revealing the chest that’s haunting me.

I quickly look down at the pile of material, my mind reeling. His chest. His perfect damn chest. “What are you doing?”

“I have no fucking idea.” He reaches for me and slides a hand around my neck, pulling me to him. Our chests meet, and my determination to repel him vanishes under our connection. Wrongs turn into rights. Conflict turns into craving.

“I can’t get you out of my head, Annie.” His forehead meets mine, his palm massaging away the tightness in my neck muscles, softening me up until I relax in his hold. “I want you all over again, and I can’t even find the will to worry about how much more that’ll make me want you.” He breathes down on me. “I’ve played that night on repeat. I’ve dreamed of holding you in my arms again. I’ve craved the sound of your voice, the feel of your touch, the softness of your lips on mine. I know I shouldn’t want you. But I do. Nothing has ever made me feel this insane with need. Nothing has taken up so much space in my head. I can’t fucking help it, Annie.” His grey gaze sinks into me, my heart steadying to an even thrum. His head starts to shake mildly, his splayed hand moving up to the back of my head and fisting my hair. “I don’t want to help it,” he growls. “I want you. I don’t care how wrong it is.” His clenched fist tightens, gripping my hair harshly. “I know I’ve been on your mind since I fucked you every which way in that hotel room. Stop denying it. Don’t insult me and tell me you don’t crave that amazing feeling all over again. I can see it in your eyes every damn time I look into them. You. Want. Me.”

It’s me who moves in first. All me. I lunge forward and smash my lips to his, the magnetic force winning. His words winning. Jack winning. My heart winning. I coax his mouth open with hard, hungry kisses. I’ve lost my mind to a craving too powerful to fight off. And, like Jack, I don’t care how wrong it is.

Lost.

Yet as he walks me backward until my back slams into the wall, I feel found again.

I cry out, and Jack moans. We’re clumsy and desperate. He’s pushing me up the wall with the force of his kiss, then he’s rolling away, taking me with him until it’s his back slamming into the wall. It’s the elevator all over again. The atmosphere is sizzling. I’m on fire. He scoops me up, pinning me to him, and carries me into my bedroom. I focus on him. Only him and the return of feelings that I’ve fantasized about since that unforgettable night. All the guilt is abandoning me, and I let it, unprepared to let anything stop me from taking the forbidden.

I have no hope of stopping this. And no desire to. The forbidden is too irresistible. It has a dangerous allure and a compelling magnetism. And it’s certainly going to inflict pain and anguish. It defies reason for me to willingly allow myself to be possessed like this.

 

Wow.
WOW.
Just wow.

My feelings are all over the place but there’s one thing I know and that’s I’m absolutely blown away by the war honesty and emotion of this book. This is a story that many people will hate on principle alone. It’s a story that they’ll want to judge and condemn. It’s a story that will take you out of your comfort zone and likely never get you back to it. And I have so much respect for this author for daring to go there

In a time where there’s so many authors out there that write what they think the mass readership wants, this a story that was written solely because the author wanted to write it. She took a colossal risk with it. A risk that she even acknowledged won’t sit well with most. But this reader? I. Loved. It.

I knew that smile was dangerous. A man who can bend a woman to his will so easily and so soon couldn’t be anything less than lethal. And the fact that he got me with his wicked game means hats off to him.

The Forbidden is about love that’s unexpected and defies all rules. Annie is a woman that has dedicated herself to her career and making something of herself by the time she’s thirty. Having beat her time goal, she’s now a successful architect who’s never experienced an incendiary connection with any man. She’s practically given up on feeling that sort of connection with anyone until a total stranger tilts her entire world on its axis.

You’ve clearly never been consumed by a man.” He pauses, giving me a moment to agree, but I don’t. I’m fixated on him. “But one day a man will come along and he’ll swallow you up, Annie. Blindside you.”

And blindside her he did.

I don’t want to give away the story, and I implore you to go into this book with an open mind and no preconceived notions.

Tell me to go,” he whispers, the demand licking its way from the base to the top of my spine.
“Tell me.”
“Go.”
“Not a fucking chance.” He swoops in and takes my mouth as if he owns it—deeply, passionately and with an unfathomable conviction.

Did I want to judge these characters for their decisions? Absolutely. But there was just something so honest about them. They were so viscerally real and imperfect and while you want to condemn them for their choices, you really can’t, or at least I couldn’t. The author did such an incredible job with the character development that you truly understand the why’s of their decisions. My only quibble is the slightly over the top situation at the very end, but it also did nicely to tie up some loose ends, so I understand the necessity of it.

I applaud Malpas for truly stepping outside the box and writing what her heart wanted because you could truly feel that reflected in her writing. The Forbidden was raw, emotional, and completely unforgettable. It brought every emotion to the surface and while it was the furthest thing from conventional, it was also a book I won’t soon forget.

You possess me. You own me. You rule me,” Jack murmurs in my ear. “You are everything to me, Annie Ryan. My pulse, my heartbeat, my breath. Everything.”

Jodi Ellen Malpas was born and raised in the Midlands’ town of Northampton, England, where she lives with her two boys. Working for her father’s construction business full-time, she tried to ignore the lingering idea of writing until it became impossible. She wrote in secret for a long time before finally finding the courage to unleash her creative streak, and in October 2012 she released This Man. She took a chance on a story with some intense characters and sparked incredible reactions from women all over the world. Writing powerful love stories and creating addictive characters have become her passion, a passion she now shares with her devoted readers.

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Release Blitz, Review & Excerpt: Illegal Contact by @santinohassell

ILLEGAL CONTACT
Series: The Barons #1
Genre: Contemporary, MM Romance
Author: Santino Hassell
Release Date: August 15, 2017

The rules of the game don’t apply off the field in this first Barons novel. 

New York Barons tight end Gavin Brawley is suspended from the team and on house arrest after a video of him brawling goes viral. Gavin already has a reputation as a jerk with a temper on and off the field—which doesn’t help him once he finds himself on the wrong side of the law.

And while he’s been successful professionally, he’s never been lucky when it comes to love.

Noah Monroe is a recent college grad looking for a job—any job—to pay off his mounting student debt. Working as Gavin’s personal assistant/babysitter seems like easy money. But Noah isn’t prepared for the electrifying tension between him and the football player. He’s not sure if he’d rather argue with Gavin or tackle him to the floor.

But both men know the score, and neither is sure what will happen once Gavin’s timeout is over…

AMAZON | iBOOKSCLICK HERE TO READ THE ILLEGAL CONTACT_Excerpt

Gavin Brawley was one of the most unlikeable people I’d ever met, and yet my brain had no problems conjuring images of us naked, sweating, and doing the unmentionable.

Is it any wonder that I’m obsessed with everything Santino Hassell writes? The man weaves literary magic with his newest series. A grumpy football star with a chip on his shoulder and an anger management problem meets his match with a preppy Clark Kent looking nerd and his newest PA and sparks fly! A witty, swoony and ridiculously sexy romance, Illegal Contact was pure perfection!

New York Barons tight end Gavin Brawley has a chip on his shoulder a mile wide. Growing up dirt poor orphan in the system ensured his anger management problems and football provided him his sanity. He’s focused all of his anger, all of his desire and drive into being the very best, and he certainly is. Football loves him, but the public hates him. It the court of public opinion, he’s violent, dangerous, and a menace to society. After a recent fight lands him on house arrest and out of the sport he loves so much, his agent insists that he gets a PA to get his life in order. The last thing Gavin wants is somebody in his business 24/7. Only his closest two friends know of his bisexuality and he doesn’t need a meddling assistant interfering with his life. He likes it as it is.

Noah Monroe is up to his nose in school loans and when a scandal costs him a job he loved and his father gets laid off, he’s desperate. So desperate that he allows his friend into interviewing for a position he has no interest in. Noah has no interest in football nor does he like the grumpy giant glaring at him from the couch during his interview. Letting his smart mouth and frustration get the best of him, he thinks he’s blown his chance at the only decent job on his horizon, he gets the surprise of a lifetime when Gavin himself calls to offer him the job.

Noah and Gavin are polar opposites. Noah is openly gay and Gavin hides his bisexuality from the public in fear of losing his football contract. But beyond that, Noah is sunny to Gavin’s dark clouds. Noah dislikes football and football has been Gavin’s life and sanity. They shouldn’t get along. But beyond the snarky barbs and insults, they begin to form an unwilling friendship that sizzles with an electric sexual chemistry.

Illegal Contact is very much a slow burn romance, and it was utterly delicious. I loved seeing Noah slowly but surely unwittingly work his way under Gavin’s skin. I loved the way he wove his way into Gavin’s soft side and got to see a side of him that only his two closest friends have ever seen. But what I loved most of all was slowly getting to that warm and fuzzy center hidden beneath a concrete wall of anger and muscle of Gavin’s.

As for the chemistry between these two? Through. The. Roof. HOT.

Nobody,” he whispered. “You ruined me for anyone else.” I wanted to cry, but I power-fucked him instead. I was relentless. I was goddamn ruthless. And he loved every second. With his elbows pressed into the bed for leverage, Noah rocked up to meet me every time I pulled out and rammed back into him.

This is easily the most romantic book that Hassell has written to date and I loved every page of it. It was angsty, emotional, with a splash of his signature grit, and absolute perfection. I simply cannot wait for more in this series!

Review & Excerpt: Beneath The Truth by Meghan March

BENEATH THE TRUTH
Series: Beneath #7
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Suspense
Author: Meghan March
Release Date: August 8, 2017

From USA Today bestselling author Meghan March comes the final sexy standalone set in the Beneath world of New Orleans.

I used to believe there were lines in life you don’t cross.

Don’t lie. Don’t cheat. Don’t steal.

Until I learned people don’t always practice what they preach.

I turned in my badge and gun and walked away from everything.

Then I got the call no one wants, and I’m back in New Orleans.

What I don’t expect is for her to be here too.

Another line you don’t cross?

Don’t touch your best friend’s little sister.

She’s always been off-limits.

Too bad I don’t follow the rules anymore.

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Wham. My heart slammed against my ribs as it sped up about twenty beats per minute.The heat and delicious woodsy citrus scent radiating from his body did good things to me. Things that made me want to do very bad things to him. I wasn’t a seventeen-year-old virgin anymore. I knew my way around a man, but I had to admit, the hipsters in Cali had nothing on a homegrown Louisiana man like Rhett.

When he spoke, he leaned in so close that I could feel his breath on my ear. “You missed that shot on purpose.”

My gaze jumped from the sexy five o’clock shadow shading his jaw to his piercing green eyes.

“Wha-what are you talking about?” I smacked myself mentally when my old stammer kicked in. Of course he would cause it.

“That shot. You missed on purpose. I saw you adjust at the last minute. Why?”

I swallowed the saliva pooling in my mouth and decided to take the safest exit from this situation. Lying.

“Cue slipped.”

His eyes narrowed on me. “You’re lying and you’re terrible at it, just like you’ve always been.” He reached up and pressed his thumb to my left eyebrow. “You get a twitch right here.”

Oh my God. Rhett Hennessy is touching me. And what’s more . . . he knows my tell. He noticed me!

The fifteen-year-old inside me did a terrible cartwheel at the realization. Okay, more of a round-off. With a tumble in the grass to finish. Whatever.

But outwardly, I was trapped in that green gaze until he decided to let me go—or until I came to my senses.

I cleared my throat and sidestepped him. “Whatever you say, hotshot. I need another drink.”

Focusing on putting one four-inch heel in front of the other without biting it, I escaped to the table and reached for the whiskey glass I’d left behind, interrupting my brother and the waitress. They both stared at me as I chugged the contents.

I’d always wondered what it would feel like to have Rhett’s attention, and now I knew. In a word, it was . . . unnerving.

“How’s the game going?” my brother asked.

“Fine.” Keeping my answer short meant he couldn’t tell that I was lying. Heath wasn’t nearly as observant as Rhett.

“You winning?”

Thanking the Lord that Heath obviously hadn’t been watching, I shrugged. “I guess.”

He glanced toward Rhett and then back to me. “The sister I know and love doesn’t lose at pool. Ever. Even to Rhett Hennessy.”

I lowered the glass to the table and straightened my shoulders. “Like they say, things change.”

He nodded slowly. “That may be true about most things, Flounder. But you’re a pool shark and we both know it.”

Before I could respond, Heath’s attention jumped back to the waitress. I took another ten seconds to gather myself, also known as drinking offensively in my mind, before I crossed the floor to face off against my former obsession.

“You all right, Red?” Rhett asked.

“Don’t call me that. And I’ve never been better.”

His gaze dipped to my feet and dragged up my body. “I can agree with that statement.”

Whoa. Who is this guy with the innuendo? A glance at his empty whiskey glass told me he was drinking heavily as well. Was this the booze talking? Or was Rhett Hennessy not just noticing me, but noticing me?

Either way, I had to play it cool. Or at least pretend to play it cool, since it seemed I might fall short.

“Your turn, hotshot. Better not miss, because I’ll clear the table next time,” I said, but my cocky attitude backfired.

Rhett didn’t miss. He sank his balls and then the eight, ending the game almost as quickly as it started. He returned his cue to the rack and turned to face me, all traces of the earlier heat banked, his expression shuttered.

“Game over.”

What the hell just happened?

There were lines you didn’t cross in life, and your best friend’s little sister was one of them. 

Sweet mother of grit but Meghan March know how to end a series with a bang. She not only lit the match and set things on fire, but threw gasoline on top for good measure to ensure the burn was even more sizzling.

This is the series that first introduced me to March and started my obsession, so this book was extra bittersweet for me. While I’ve been dying for Hennesy’s book since Beneath These Lies, I also never wanted it to end. Alas, all good things come to an end and there’s no better way to end this series than with ex-detective Hennessy. Now while you can absolutely enjoy this as a standalone, you’d also appreciate it a whole lot more if you at least read Beneath These Lies first. There’s a lot that happens in these books and while the author gives plenty of background to ensure new readers won’t be lost, you have a different appreciation for the characters having read the previous books.

Just when I decided I was well and truly over Rhett Hennessy, he sucked me back in with a single look.

Hennesy is back in New Orleans looking for answers after the suspicious death of his father who was under investigation for being dirty. Determined to clear his dead brother’s name and to finally unearth the truth, Hennesy is forced into the underbelly of a brutal cartel. His best friend’s little sister is a complication he doesn’t see coming.

Ariel has had a crush on her brother’s best friend since she was a little girl. But she’s not the little girl she used to be. These days she’s a genius CEO of a successful IT company and she’s over her school girl crush, or at least she thinks she is until she lays eyes on Hennesy. While there was always an undercurrent of heat, she doesn’t expect for the incendiary connection she feels with the man he is today. March is the queen of alpha males, and if there’s one thing that they all do well is go after their woman. Once Hennesy decides that ignoring the connection between Ariel and him is no longer an option, he goes after her with guns blazing. Ariel is no wilting wallflower and I loved her sass and inner monologue. She was a bit of a badass in her own right that was the perfect match for Hennesy.

This book had a much different vibe than the rest of the series for me. While I enjoyed the romance, I felt like it came secondary to the incredibly addicting and suspenseful story. This was quite possibly the grittiest book that Meghan has written to day, and I devoured each page with bated breath and on the edge of my seat. This was a powerhouse of a conclusion.

While I’m sad to see this series come to an end, Meghan introduced a secondary character here that I’m already salivating over. This man is the alpha to beat all alphas. We merely get a peek and the man sizzles with his presence. I cannot freaking wait for Ruthless King. Cannot wait, I tells ya.


Meghan March has been known to wear camo face paint and tromp around in woods wearing mud-covered boots, all while sporting a perfect manicure. She’s also impulsive, easily entertained, and absolutely unapologetic about the fact that she loves to read and write smut. Her past lives include slinging auto parts, selling lingerie, making custom jewelry, and practicing corporate law. Writing books about dirty talking alpha males and the strong, sassy women who bring them to their knees is by far the most fabulous job she’s ever had. She loves hearing from her readers at meghanmarchbooks@gmail.com.

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Reboot Tour, Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway: A Sip of Rio by

A SIP OF RIO
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Author: Teodora Kostova
Release Date: September 2016

Liam Young has a problem – he’s booked a romantic holiday to Rio de Janeiro months ago, but when he breaks up with his boyfriend, all his plans fall apart. Not only is his dream holiday slipping through his fingers, but Liam is sick and tired of getting his heart broken.

Blaine Reed has a solution that can save Liam’s plans. Recently divorced, Blaine needs a break, and a couple of stress-free weeks in Rio with a sexy guy like Liam sounds like heaven.

Liam and Blaine hit it off right from the start, becoming good friends even before they’ve left London. Despite their efforts to ignore the simmering attraction between them, it boils over when they end up sharing a room in one of the most romantic cities in the world.

Being together in Rio is easy, and it’s exactly what Liam needs – no feelings, no drama, nobody getting hurt.

Until someone does.

When the holiday bubble bursts, it’s up to them to find a way to be together outside of Rio’s seductive magic.

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 FROM THE AUTHOR

 

 What you want the takeaway of the book to be for readers: A Sip of Rio is a happy book about beach holidays, finding love in unexpected places and following your heart. I’d like readers to fall in love with Rio de Janeiro as much as I did, and crave a beach holiday of their own. And maybe, just maybe, gather the courage to do what their heart tells them just this once.

 I fell in love with Rio de Janeiro when I first went there a couple of years ago and it was inevitable I’d set a book there some day. A Sip of Rio is that book. It’s romantic, sexy, maybe a bit melancholy, and full of hope. It’s a book you can relax by the pool with, a cocktail in hand, and a smile on your face.

“How about this?” Liam said, stepping out on the balcony.Blaine’s eyes roamed over his body, greedily taking in the view. Liam spun around, curving his spine, thrusting his ass out, making sure Blaine saw exactly how short these shorts were.

“The leg warmers are a nice touch, don’t you think?” He asked, looking over his shoulder at Blaine.

He had no time to react before Blaine crowded him against the door, his arm circling Liam’s waist and pressing him back against Blaine’s chest.

“Not bad,” Blaine said, nipping at Liam’s earlobe.

“Not bad?” Liam would have argued that the outfit was amazing, sexy and fun, but Blaine slid a hand over the thin fabric of the shorts and squeezed Liam’s already hard dick. Liam forgot how to speak.

Dropping his head on Blaine’s shoulder, Liam watched their reflection in the glass doors as Blaine rubbed his dick through the shorts. The slow, smooth touch was driving him crazy with need, and he needed more, so much more.

“Baby?” Liam said, the word coming out as a husky whisper.

“Hm?” Blaine murmured, his eyes meeting Liam’s in their reflection in the window. His hand kept stroking, moving all so slow, the friction of the soft fabric making Liam crave a harder, faster touch.

“I want you to fuck me,” Liam said, bucking his hips into Blaine’s hand.

Blaine stilled for a second, then pressed his palm harder against Liam’s cock. Liam moaned, his knees melting, bright light exploding behind his lids. His cock was leaking, making the front of his shorts wet, and he was moments away from coming.

Turning sharply in Blaine’s arms, Liam grabbed his hips and pulled him closer, mashing their erections together. He kissed him, grinding against him, mindless with lust and anticipation.

“Let’s go inside,” Blaine said between kisses.

“No,” Liam pulled away, walking backwards to the hammock. When his knees hit the fabric, he turned and lay on it, spreading his legs and fisting his cock through the shorts.

“Fuck,” Blaine swore, closing his eyes. “Is that thing going to hold us both?”

Liam lifted his hips off the hammock, then slammed back down, looking at Blaine with a playful smirk.

“Looks pretty sturdy to me,” he said, bouncing on it some more. When Blaine stood frozen on the spot, his gaze locked on Liam, he added, “Are you going to go get the condoms and lube, or shall I start without you?” He wiggled out of his shorts to emphasise his point, his cock jumping eagerly out.

Blaine dashed inside, and while waiting, Liam took off the rest of his clothes, throwing them on the floor. He wrapped a hand around his shaft, stroking leisurely, not trying to get himself off, but simply enjoying the soft pressure. 

 Hi, my name is Teodora and I live in London with my husband and my son. I’ve been writing ever since I can remember, but it became my full time job in 2010 when I decided that everything else I’ve tried bores me to death and I have to do what I’ve always wanted to do, but never had to guts to fully embrace. I’ve been a journalist, an editor, a personal assistant and an interior designer among other things, but as soon as the novelty of the new, exciting job wears off, I always go back to writing. Being twitchy, impatient, loud and hasty are not qualities that help a writer, because I have to sit alone, preferably still, and write for most of the day, but I absolutely love it. It’s the only time that I’m truly at peace and the only thing I can do for more than ten minutes at a time – my son has a bigger attention span than me.
When I’m procrastinating, I like to go to the gym, cook Italian meals (and eat them), read, listen to rock music, watch indie movies and True Blood re-runs. Or, in the worst case scenario, get beaten at every Nintendo Wii game by a very inventive kid

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Teaser Blitz & ARC Giveaway: The Forbidden by Jodi Ellen Malpas

THE FORBIDDEN
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas
Release Date: August 8, 2017

A new story of dangerous temptations from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the This Man trilogy.

What do you do when you can’t control your feelings for someone? When you know you shouldn’t go there? Not even in your head.

Annie has never experienced the ‘spark’ with a guy-the kind of instant chemistry that steals your breath and blindsides you completely. Until a night out with friends brings her face to face with the wickedly sexy and mysterious Jack. It’s not just a spark that ignites between them. It’s an explosion. Jack promises to consume Annie, and he fully delivers on that promise.

Overwhelmed by the intensity of their one night together, Annie slips out of their hotel room. She is certain that a man who’s had such a powerful impact on her and who could bend her to his will so easily, must be dangerous. But she’s already in too deep. And Jack isn’t only dangerous. He is forbidden.

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Keeping his eyes on mine, he calls to the barman. “Two tequilas, please.”“Tequila,” I muse, looking over my shoulder when the salt and lemon land behind me. “Is that my challenge?”

“Crying off?” he goads, reaching into his pocket and pulling out some notes.

“Never,” I scoff, turning into the bar. I don’t know what his game is, but I want to play. With him. “You’re asking me to prove I’m sober by doing a shot?” I narrow my eyes on him, teasing. “Or is your plan to get me drunk and take advantage of me?”

He smiles to himself as he pays the barman. “You don’t look like the kind of woman who could be taken advantage of.”

“What kind of woman do I look like, then?” I challenge quietly.

He turns into me, watching me for a few moments. “I don’t know, but I think I’d like to find out.”

I hold his gaze for a few seconds, no retort coming to me. I think I want him to find out, too, just as much as I want to find out what kind of man he is. My eyes drop from his sparkling greys, down his tall, lean frame to his feet.

Oh…fuck…

“Let’s play,” he says, moving in closer and pulling one of the glasses forward. I don’t mean to, but I yank my arm away abruptly when he brushes against me, startled by the tiny stabs of pleasure that pitter-patter all over my skin. The fleeting touch tells me he would feel as good as he looks, and—give me strength—he smells divine, all manly and earthy and fucking edible.

The sudden lapse in movement and talking from both of us becomes slightly awkward. I can feel him looking down at me.

“What do I have to do?” I ask again quietly, almost on a breathy gasp.

He clears his throat. “You’re not drunk?”

“Not even the slightest bit.” I raise my nose in the air.

“Good. Then you’ll smash this challenge first time.” He places a finger on the brim of one of the shot glasses. “Brace your palms on the edge of the bar,” he orders, firm but softly. I look at him, finding a serious face. “Go on.”

Frowning, I place my hands on the edge of the bar. “Okay?”

He takes my hips. He takes my fucking hips! I freeze from top to toe and swallow hard, waiting. My insides are quickly furling, my mind in chaos. “Move back a bit,” he says, pulling at them a little until I step back.

Oh, Jesus. I’m on fire. I have a strange man bending me over a bar in public, and me, Annie I’m-immune-to-men Ryan, isn’t fighting him off. It’s like he has me under a spell. What gives? I dare not look behind me. I’m not stupid enough to think Lizzy isn’t currently watching a man manipulate my body to where he wants it.

“You feel tense,” he observes, releasing me and moving back to my side.

I don’t deny it; neither do I confirm it. His big hands felt so good resting on my hips, so much so I have to resist not claiming them and putting them back where they were. “What now?” I ask, evidently struggling for air, damn me.

“Now.” He picks up his beer and grins. “I get to gloat that I had you bent over a bar within five minutes of meeting you.” He takes a swig, still grinning, and I hear the roar of a man down the bar laughing his head off.

Oh, the fucker! Part of me has admiration. Another part of me wants to slap him stupid; I don’t care how beautiful he is. And another part of me wants to rip his clothes from his body and ravish the sly bastard.

I cannot believe I fell for it! How many women has he played like a fiddle? I drop my head, shaking it to myself.

I knew that smile was dangerous. A man who can bend a woman to his will so easily and so soon couldn’t be anything less than lethal. And the fact that he got me with his wicked game means hats off to him. I can’t possibly take that away from him, and since I’m lacking in the dignity department right now, I decide not to slap him. Nor will I chuck a drink over his head, or fire a load of verbal abuse at him.

I’ll do what he least expects.

I push myself up and turn to face him, unable to stop myself from smiling at his half-grin. Holding his gaze, I slowly lick the back of my hand, blindly take the salt off the bar, sprinkle a bit, and take one of the shots of tequila. But as I’m taking my hand to my mouth to lick the salt up, he seizes my wrist and takes the shot from my other hand. My heartbeat accelerates, our eyes glued to each other as he moves into me and slowly brings my hand to his mouth. I watch, gripped, as he lazily licks up the salt from the back of my hand, eyes on mine, and then knocks the tequila back. Kill me now, for I will certainly die a happy woman. His tongue on my skin. His eyes boring into mine. His hold of my wrist. I must look like a statue—unable to talk, move, or think clearly.

“There’s one more tequila,” he says, cocking his head toward the bar but keeping me in his sights. “And it’s yours.”

Oh good lord. My heart is speeding up by the second as I watch him lick the back of his hand and sprinkle some salt. Then he offers it to me. I stare at his hand, and then slowly look up at him. I could get lost in those grey glittery eyes.

“I taste good,” he whispers.


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Blog Tour, Review & Excerpt: Where I Belong by M. O’Keefe

WHERE I BELONG
Series:
The Debt #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: M. O’Keefe
Release Date: June 26, 2017

THE GIRL I LOVED IS THE WOMAN I CAN’T HAVE

It was simple: Pay the debt and I stay out of jail. Pay the debt and I stay alive.

But I sacrificed it all for Beth.

I didn’t pay what I owed. I’m sure punishment is coming, but I can take it – as long as Beth is safe. Away from her mother and everyone else who would hurt her.

I gave it all up for two days with her. And it was worth it.

She always was.

THE SECRETS WE KEEP ARE WHAT TEARS US APART

We’re supposed to be done. Over. Tommy goes his way, I go mine. Cue the heartbreaking music.

I’m supposed to forget him, but I don’t think I can. And when the danger closes in on Tommy, we’re on the run again. From Bates. From my mother. From our past. And there are no safe places to hide.

Except one. And it’s the place that will hurt Tommy the most.

But maybe it’s time for me to face my past. My demons.

Maybe it’s time for me to save Tommy for once.

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“What do you want, Tommy?” she breathed. So close. So beautiful. With her free hand she took off her glasses and tossed them on the ground. Her eyes, lined in black liner raked over me.And mine raked over her.

“You,” I said, so raw I was practically inside out. “Just once.”

She laughed low in her throat. “You have a few questions you want answered, do you?” she asked.

“Don’t you?”

“God yes.”

She stepped forward until she was nearly touching me. It took my inhale for my chest to brush hers. I exhaled and our bodies retreated. She inhaled and we touched. Exhaled and retreated.

We each did it again. And then again. Breathing each other in, in turns. Finally it wasn’t enough and I stepped toward her, and my cock pressed against her stomach and she pushed against me. Her breasts and belly imprinted on my skin.

“One time,” she said. “One time and we go back to our lives and get on with things. I’m going to forget you, Tommy. And you’re going to forget me.”

I doubted it, but I wasn’t going to argue. Not with my dick pushed up against the tight muscles of her stomach. Not with her breath, sweet from the pop and the candy she’d eaten, making me crazy.

“I’m serious, Tommy,” she said as if she could read my mind. “I don’t want to be hurt anymore, and I really, really don’t want to hurt you anymore. Promise you’ll forget me.”

“I promise,” I said, because when threatened with the idea of hurting her, I’d agree to anything to stop that. “I’ll forget you, right after I fuck you.”

I wish… Swear to God, those were the most dangerous words I knew.

Where I Belong is the emotional conclusion to Beth and Tommy’s story and if possible, I enjoyed this installment even more than the first book. While we got a gritty and unapologetic look into Tommy’s childhood inLost Without You, this book finally brings the answers to all the questions regarding Beth.

Beth has been living a fragile existence based on lies and hidden truths. Hiding from the world, hiding from her memories, she used her alter-ego, Jada, to deal with the hard stuff. Jada isn’t like Beth; hard where she’s soft, cynic where she’s nostalgic. The only person capable of tearing through her walls is the boy from her past that she never stopped loving. But what happens to those carefully constructed walls when he wants Jada instead of Beth to hold his own heart back?

Her hair was a wild mess around her small face. Like she’d been in a storm. Like she was a storm. And I was caught up in it. In the look in her eyes. The way she licked her lips. She didn’t want love. She wanted sex. She wanted fucking. It was me who wanted love.

Where book one focused on their past, this one focuses on their present. The fragile trust that they’ve managed to rebuild and the lies that threaten to tear them apart. I fell hard for Tommy in the beginning but I felt even harder for him in this book. There’s just something so fragile about him beneath the tough guy appearance. This is a man that wears his heart on his sleeve and would do anything for the girl he loves; even if it means sacrificing himself and his happiness. Man, but my heart broke for him. And with every new detail that gets unraveled, it broke even more.

Where I struggled a bit to understand Beth/Jada in the previous book, the puzzle piece really clicked into place with this one. You finally get why she is the way she is and why she made the choices she did. You want to judge her for them, but you can’t.

This book brought many answers, but it also left just as many questions. I wanted to say that I felt fully satisfied with the ending, but there was something missing for me to make that statement completely true. It’s clear that this marks the beginning of the series and we’ll be getting a lot more answers with Simon (and then hopefully Carissa). The duet gives you a conclusion to the romance between Beth and Tommy but not the story. There’s too many unanswered questions that you’re left with at the end and I’m already salivating for more of the series. One thing is for sure, however, and it’s that I’m addicted to Molly O’Keefe’s words, and I can’t wait for more!


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Molly O’Keefe is an award-winning author of over 30 romance novels. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her family and the largest heap of dirty laundry in North America. Sign up for her newsletter to get release day news, exclusive excerpts, sale announcements and in-depth author interviews!

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Blog Tour: Tycoon by Katy Evans

TYCOON
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Katy Evans
Release Date: June 20, 2017

He wasn’t always this rich. This hot. This difficult.

Aaric Christos was a guy who protected me. Wanted me. Maybe even loved me.

That man is gone.

In his place is the most powerful real estate tycoon in the city.

He’s a cold, ruthless, aggressive businessman.

The only one who can save me and my startup from ruin.

It takes every ounce of courage to put my pride aside and ask for his help.

I didn’t expect him to offer it easily.

And he doesn’t.

Instead, he vets me harder than he’s vetted anyone.

Don’t invest in what you don’t know, he says.

He’s assessing every piece of me, to the point I’ve never felt so bare.

I yearn for the boy I once knew, whose touch once craved me.

Putting it all on the line will be worth it, I tell myself.

Until I realize—too late—that some risks are not worth taking.

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I hop off the train and walk several walks to his building.It’s a brownstone in Park Avenue, one of the most elite of the elite spaces in town.

My lungs feel a little bit overworked from awe as I head up the steps to the double doors, grateful that I came dressed to kill in a little black dress, a jacket, and pumps. Simple, but effective.

See, I may be feeling a little awkward, but at least I don’t look it.

I’m greeted by his maid. She’s dressed in black and white, her hair drawn back in a neat bun, her expression stoic and formal as she leads me down the hall to a gorgeous study.

I catch my breath when I notice all the books and shelves.

It’s like a reader’s paradise in here. There’s a sleek chrome bar, a modern mahogany glass-topped desk, and two huge whiskey-colored leather chairs that almost swallow me up when I’m instructed to wait in one.

I drum my fingers, inhaling the scent of leather and wine, remembering a guy I knew with his mechanic navy-blue uniform, black streaks on his jaw, his big nose always the first thing you’d see, which was a pity because he had beautiful eyes and a really sinful pair of lips.

He’s living in luxury now. Wow. Good for him.

I hear footsteps approaching and the little hair on my arms prick at attention. My head turns as a tall, dark figure steps into the room, and the most intimidating guy I’ve ever seen enters and crosses the room toward the desk. He walks like he’s the shit…his strides proud and composed, elegant and powerful.

Christos, I hear myself breathe in surprise.

He’s so tall now…six three, at least. Dirty-blonde hair, gold-green eyes, chiseled jaw, and a gorgeous profile.

All in black, he looks very much a New Yorker.

He’s wearing a black jacket, black pants, and a black turtleneck beneath the jacket…

I stare at him, my jaw hanging a little bit open. The man is….all man. Testosterone. Muscles. Height. Width. My chest hurts all of a sudden because I realize…

The boy you knew is gone.

I force myself to stand. “Thank you for seeing me.”

He heads to the bar to pour two drinks, then he prowls over, takes the whiskey leather chair across from mine and leans forward, pushing a glass of cognac with one finger across a small table, toward me.

And he waits.

In silence.

But my stomach dips as if he’d said something ultra-sexy and decadent.

“You might not remember me, I’m sorry to be reaching out like this,” I say, nervous.

“What do you want?”

There’s a pleasant shiver as he speaks. Recognition of his voice, even though it’s far deeper than I remember.

“I was told you sometimes invest in startups.”

“I’d say more than sometimes.” He raises his eyebrows as if I should’ve done my homework better.

Ugh, Bryn! Focus! Be SMART! Make yourself and your business irresistible! A silence settles as he eyes me, slowly setting his drink down as he leans forward and finally, unexpectedly, smiles. At me.

It’s just a smile.

But the world tilts under its impact.

“Hello, little bit.” Amusement touches his gaze as he tilts his head and watches me. “You know, I’d think you’d have grown up the ten-plus years since I last saw you. At least an inch.” He leans back in his seat, seemingly displeased. Wow, this guy is not the lanky kid I knew once. This guy oozes danger.

Every ounce of “boy” is gone. Oh God. For a moment I wish that we could go back in time and I could discuss my startup with the guy I knew before.

But time travel is not really my talent, and it seems like I have yet to see if I even have any special talents at all—depending on what this guy thinks.

“I grew two in width,” I shock myself saying.

He laughs then, his eyes drinking me in openly.

“Shame on you, you’re not trying to see if it’s true?” I ask him, frowning now.

He shrugs casually, his lips curved at the corners. “I can’t help it. Something has to have changed.”

“Why?”

“Because nothing good ever lasts. Even you, little bit.” A smile touches those unforgettable gold-green eyes.

A shiver runs through me. Because…

Christos recognized me.

“I can tell you’re as incorrigible as ever.” I shake my head, but I’m smiling, truly just relieved that he recognized me.

“I try to be,” he purrs dangerously.

I’m feeling warm all of a sudden. I can’t believe I’m staring at him so much, but it’s like I cannot take my eyes away. He looks achingly familiar, but at the same time, so different I cannot help but stare and track the differences in his features. The way his jaw squared out even more, the way his body filled out with hard, lean muscles that shift and ripple beneath his expensive designer clothes. I cannot believe that this is a guy I knew once.

He seems to silently be taking in my changes too, his keen stare allowing me to see that he seems to approve of it all. Even the dress I’m wearing. “You changed enough for the both of us,” I blurt.

“Really. How so?” he asks.

“You grew into your nose.”

“Really?” He chuckles as if despite himself.

“Width and height too. Quite a bit,” I add.

“Anything else,” he prods, one eyebrow rising.

“You learned how to dress.”

He looks down at his black suit. “This old thing?” He grins, then shifts forward, sobering up. “What can I do for you, Bryn? Considering I’m rather surprised to see you here, I’m eager for you to satiate my curiosity.” His stare becomes keen.

“So am I. I didn’t expect to be here,” I admit, and for a moment when I look into his eyes, all I see is someone I’ve seen before. Someone who belonged in my life long ago. “You know when you had that misplaced crush on me and told me one day I’d know what it felt like to throw pebbles at someone’s window wanting them to open? I’m sort of throwing rocks here.”

“Not to sing me a love song,” he says flatly, his eyes shuttering.

“No. Well, you know that was never….I mean…” Don’t bring up your rejection of him, Bryn! “It’s for something better. Business.”

“Go on.”

“I knew that’d get you.” I smile privately. “So it’s true your love is money now.”

“She gives back what I put in. Though her ass isn’t as juicy as I like,” he says nonchalantly.

“Wow. No matter how polished you look, your mouth is still as crude as ever.”

“Thank you,” he purrs, his eyes grinning at me.

I laugh. Then I sober up and realize he’s waiting for me to speak. “I’m looking for money for my startup,” I say.

“How much.”

“One hundred thousand.”

“I don’t invest less than a million.” He twirls his whiskey in his glass, eyeing the liquid.

“Well then, I’ll ask for a million.”

He raises his brows, setting his glass down. “It’s not how much you want to ask for, it’s how much the company’s worth.” Eyebrows up, he skewers me with a cold, intimidating look.

“It’ll be worth more than a million, trust me,” I bluff.

“Good for you. Except…” he leans back with a rustle of clothes, every athletic inch of his black-clad body flowing sinuously like a feline with the move, “considering that has yet to happen and I’ll need to trust you on that, my trust needs to be earned.”

This version of Christos is even more intimidating than the old one, unfortunately.

I try to hide it, keeping my voice as level as possible. “How does one earn your trust?”

“I’d tell you if I were interested, but I’m not exactly sure that I am.” He eyes me as if debating in silence.

This guy is the only guy in the world that unnerves me in this way, and I can’t seem to slow the fast pounding of my heart in my chest as I try to remember what I came here to say.

“I have a full presentation for you. I’m not taking no for an answer.” I reach into my briefcase.

“Darling. Are you ready?”

I start at the female voice and glance at a gorgeous woman striding into the study. Christos continues looking at me as he stands and reaches for the cell phone the woman extends out.

“We’re done here,” he answers her as he pockets the phone, his gaze remaining on me.

“I’ll wait for you in the car.” She leans up and kisses his jaw, her hands proprietary on his chest, then sends me a woman-to-woman claiming look, before she swishes away, all glittering jewels and lean body.

There’s a silence as he approaches, and for a second all I can hear is the sound of a toilet flushing, taking my only opportunity with a possible investor away.

“I’ll think about it,” he says.

“Christos.”

“I said I’ll think about it,” he says from the door.

“Please do,” I say as he exits the room. I cup the sides of my mouth, “I’ll be back tomorrow. Same time?” I say jokingly.

I’m surprised when I hear footsteps returning. He pauses when our eyes meet. “I’ll make contact,” he says, raising his eyebrows meaningfully, “If I’m interested in hearing more.” He nods. “Nice to see you, Bryn.”

“Nice to see you. Christos.”

Well, that went sort of awful.

Katy Evans is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Her debut REAL shot to the top of the bestselling lists in 2013 and since then 9 of her titles have been New York Times bestsellers. Her books have been translated into nearly a dozen languages across the world.

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Email: katyevansauthor@gmail.com

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Twitter @authorkatyevans

Copyright © 2015 · Dirty Girl Romance

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