Thursday, July 19, 2018

Blog Tour: A Gentleman Never Keeps Score by Cat Sebastian


A NEW NOVEL IN THE SEDUCING THE SEDGWICKS SERIES BY CAT SEBASTIAN.
Once beloved by London’s fashionable elite, Hartley Sedgwick has become a recluse after a spate of salacious gossip exposed his most-private secrets. Rarely venturing from the house whose inheritance is a daily reminder of his downfall, he’s captivated by the exceedingly handsome man who seeks to rob him.
Since retiring from the boxing ring, Sam Fox has made his pub, The Bell, into a haven for those in his Free Black community. But when his best friend Kate implores him to find and destroy a scandalously revealing painting of her, he agrees. Sam would do anything to protect those he loves, even if it means stealing from a wealthy gentleman. But when he encounters Hartley, he soon finds himself wanting to steal more than just a painting from the lovely, lonely man—he wants to steal his heart.

About the Book

A Gentleman Never Keeps Scoreby Cat Sebastian
SeriesA Seducing the Sedgwicks Novel
GenreAdult
Historical Romance
PublisherAvon Impulse
Publication DateJuly 10, 2018
Purchase Your Copy Today!Amazon  |  Avon Romance  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Google Play  |  iBooks

EXCERPT

It was dark now, and a chill was settling in that felt more like November than September. Hartley turned up the collar of his topcoat and tucked his hands into his pockets. His thin kid gloves did nothing to keep his hands warm but the change of seasons came as a relief. Autumn meant an excuse to put another layer of clothes between his body and the world. It meant a reprieve from the tyranny of merrymaking that a run of decent weather seemed to inspire in his countrymen. Autumn meant a glorious few months spent indoors, complaining about fog and drinking warm beverages.
The recollection that he’d be experiencing these pleasures alone had a significant damping effect. He had never had close friends in the highest echelons of London society; he wasn’t any good at confidences or warmth or whatever it was people expected of friends. He was an entirely passable acquaintance: he made amusing conversation, wore the right clothes, and blended into good company in a way that made people forget he hadn’t been born to it. With the faith of a child and the ignorance of a tourist, he had assumed that once being accepted into their company, he wouldn’t be cast out.
He turned into the mews behind his house. The kitchen door was left unlocked so that when the servants returned later that night they’d be able to let themselves in. This might have been imprudent but for the fact that Hartley had sold off everything worth stealing years ago. His godfather had left him the house and its contents but nothing to live on. In order to scrape together enough capital to invest for a modest income, Hartley had needed to auction off nearly all the furnishings. Any housebreakers would be sadly out of luck.
The mews was quiet at this hour, and Hartley was able to make his way to his house without being seen. But as he approached the door, he saw a figure standing in the shadows. Hartley went still and let his eyes adjust to the darkness. It was a man, broad and tall, even though he looked like he was making an effort to disappear into the gloom. Beneath the brim of his hat, his skin was dark brown, nearly as dark as the wool of his coat. Hartley recognized him as the same man he had seen across the street the previous week. Evidently he had been watching Hartley’s house then, as he was now.
Hartley could not think of any good reasons why a man would be lurking outside his kitchen door. But he couldn’t think of any bad reasons either. Surely a housebreaker wouldn’t simply stand there. In all likelihood he was walking out with Hartley’s parlor maid and was waiting for a chance to steal a moment with her. Hartley wished them well. Godspeed, young lovers.
Surely, though, if he was walking out with the maid, he’d already know that this was her day out. Perhaps he was a spurned lover, and if so, Hartley did not want him making trouble for any of his maids. He stepped out of the shadows toward the stranger.
“Come into the light so I can see you,” he said, his voice rusty from disuse. That was the worst part of being an outcast—London teemed with people but there was nobody to talk to. The stranger startled, and Hartley congratulated himself on his superior skulking abilities. “I’m unarmed,” he added, holding up his empty hands. “I thought I’d take the opportunity to suggest that if you’re walking out with Janet, you ought to know that her favorite sweets are peppermint creams. And also that if you hurt her I’ll have you murdered.”
“I never heard of Janet,” the man said.
“It had better not be Polly,” said Hartley, bristling. “She’s hardly grown.”
“I have no idea—”
“Cook, then?” He would have thought Cook a good deal too old for that sort of thing, but one never knew. “Good for her,” he said. “I reckon she’ll murder you herself if you put a foot wrong.”
“Are you drunk? Do you need help getting home?” There was a touch of—could it be concern?—in the stranger’s voice.
Hartley stepped even closer. “If you’re not here for one of the maids, does that mean you’re here for me? How flattering,” he drawled. “One usually has to go to such trouble to arrange this sort of thing, and here you are, delivered to my doorstep.” That ought to scare the fellow off right enough.
But instead of turning on his heel and running away, the stranger sighed. “All right mate, let’s get you home where you can sober up someplace safe. Can’t have you making advances to people in dark corners. You’ll get yourself killed.”
“I—I beg your pardon,” Hartley stammered.
The stranger paid him no heed. “This where you live? Let’s go.”
A strong arm came around Hartley’s shoulders, steering him toward the kitchen door. His customary fear stole his words and made him powerless to protest, but it was accompanied by a bittersweet awareness that in another lifetime, he might have wanted this strong arm around him, bringing him to a safe place.

Hartley let himself be shepherded inside.

Tour Wide Giveaway

To celebrate the release of A GENTLEMAN NEVER KEEPS SCORE by Cat Sebastian, we’re giving away three paperback copies of IT TAKES TWO TO TUMBLE!

GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open to US shipping addresses only. Three winners will each receive a paperback copy of It Takes Two To Tumble by Cat Sebastian. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance.  Giveaway ends 7/23/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted.  CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

About Cat Sebastian


Cat Sebastian lives in a swampy part of the South with her husband, three kids, and two dogs. Before her kids were born, she practiced law and taught high school and college writing. When she isn’t reading or writing, she’s doing crossword puzzles, bird watching, and wondering where she put her coffee cup.

Author Links

Newsletter Sign Up  |  Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon


Cover Reveal: Rules of Friendship by C.A. Harms



RULES OF FRIENDSHIP by C.A. Harms releases August 6th!

Add to your TBR list today! 

Cover Information:
Photographer and Designer: Sara Eirew
Models: Gus Caleb Smyrnios and Karine Lefebvre


As a guy, the number one rule to being best friends with a girl should be simple…

Never, and I do mean never, fall in love with her. 
Oh and you should never fantasize about her either.

Believe me, that situation can get messy really fast and leave you with nothing but one hell of an awkward mess on your hands—literally.

Reese and I have been through everything together; our bond is deep. But I am going down fast, and I fear there is no way to stop it. I spend most of my time hiding my body’s reaction to her because like I said: just friends.

But things are changing. We are changing. 

I no longer see her as just Reese, my best friend. When I look at her now, I see a gorgeous woman that takes my breath away. I see my future. But what if she doesn’t see me the same way? 

I can’t risk losing her… 

The fear of screwing everything up is excruciating. So that’s why I have chosen to stick to the rules. The Rules of Friendship that is. 

She was off limits. Plain and simple. 

But then in she walks wearing her tiny shorts and those tight tops. Come on, a guy can only have so much restraint before he caves…



MEET THE AUTHOR:
C.A. Harms is an avid romance and mystery reader. She's always had a love for books, getting lost in writing and storytelling even as a young girl. She enjoys happy endings and HEA love stories. 

She lives in Illinois and enjoys spending time with her husband and two children. She holds an addiction for Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha’s and KitKat when she should really be focusing on water and maybe a fruit or two to make herself feel less guilty, but that feeling quickly passes...thankfully. 

She is easy going, fun, and although she may seem like one of the quiet ones at first, you just wait until she gets to know you better...that quietness changes, fast.


Cover Reveal: The Risky Hearts Duet by Candace Knoebel

We are so excited to be sharing with you not one, but two new covers for Candace Knoebel's Risky Hearts duet. If you love contemporary romance, you're not going to want to miss TEN REASONS TO STAY and FIVE REASONS TO GO this fall!

 


TEN REASONS TO STAY - August 30, 2018

One day a week—Thursdays—my husband and I could do whatever or whomever we pleased. Protection was non-negotiable. And no matter what, we had to be home by midnight. 

Jack was the one who wanted an open marriage, but we were supposed to keep things simple. No strings. No commitments. It seemed so easy…until it wasn’t. Devilishly handsome Cole Blackwater was only supposed to be a flight, but everything about him made me feel alive. Wanted. Seen. When I realized he was my husband’s boss, I should have broken things off right then…but I didn’t. One day a week, I could pretend that I was his and he was mine…until Cole wanted more. But how could I decide between the man I’d promised to love, honor, and cherish, and the man who tempted me to break every single vow I’d made? 

 Add TEN REASONS TO STAY to your Goodreads TBR here!  

FIVE REASONS TO GO - October 25, 2018

Blurb to be revealed following the publication of TEN REASONS TO STAY!
Add FIVE REASONS TO GO to your Goodreads TBR here!
                     






About CANDACE KNOEBEL
Candace Knoebel is a hopeless romantic with an affinity for whiskey and good music. Her love of words began when she met the boy who lived in the cupboard under the stairs. She's a self-proclaimed Lost Girl. Words are her mirror. With two completed series, her work ranges from paranormal to contemporary, all centered heavily around romance. Currently, she lives in Florida with her husband and two children, and has just completed her thirteenth novel, The Taste of Her Words. Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Goodreads / Amazon / BookBub / Reader Group

Release Blitz: Just Lust by Kristen Luciani

Title: Just Lust
Author: Kristen Luciani
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
Blurb: Fueled by revenge and wrecked by lust…this is the story of Jeff Torres, the sexy but stupid ex-con who never learned not to dip his wick into the enemy pool.
They say prison is supposed to rehabilitate you, to make you a better citizen. But five years stuck in that concrete hellhole only fed my rage for the enemy who’d stripped me of everything. Now that I’m out, it’s time to take a sledgehammer to that bastard’s empire.
At least, that was my plan…until I got distracted by a perfect ass wrapped in a tight skirt and red lips that can spit fire as well as they can suck and squeeze.
She was off-limits, but that only made me want her more. So I put everything on the line for the one person with the power to yank it all away again.
And that perfect ass? I never saw it going…not until it was too late.
***Just Lust is a re-release of Hard Time with brand-new content and a special Easter egg for fans of The Mob Lust Series by USA Today bestselling author Kristen Luciani.***
Kristen Luciani is a self-proclaimed momtrepreneur, beauty product junkie, and bestselling romance author with a penchant for stilettos, Silicon Valley, plunging necklines and grapefruit martinis.  As a deep-rooted romantic who prefers juicy drama to fill the lives of anyone other than her, she tried her hand at creating a world of enchantment, sensuality, and intrigue, finally uncovering her true passion. No pun intended…
Author Links:
Buy Links:
He swipes his key and in we go. I follow him into the massive space, deeply entranced by the heady scent surrounding him. I inhale his musky cologne, and the clouds in my mind separate for a brief moment. He shrugs out of his jacket and tosses it onto a chair as he walks over to the phone. I wait for him to move out of the way so I can call, but he turns suddenly, his eyes fixed on mine. I swallow hard past the lump lodged in my throat. His gaze heats every inch of my body from the inside out. A tiny spark in my belly ignites and I lunge for him, pressing my lips to his scotch-tinged ones.
He pulls me close, wrapping his strong arms around me. His fingertips press into the small of my back, and my legs weaken as his cock hardens against me. Good God, I need this. I drink him in, our tongues coiling with need – hot, hungry, and desperate.
Wait! This is crazy!
My body melts into him, hands tangling in his hair as his tongue plunders my needy mouth.
No. Stop thinking, just kiss him. Mm, let him make you feel like you’ve never ever felt before…
Those hands, oh God, they’re so devilish, roaming over my ass and down to my thighs.
He’s going to be family in a few weeks. He’s as old as Dad. Mom would bend over for him in a hot second.
I pull away, gasping for air. “Stop, I can’t…we shouldn’t…”
But Jeff says nothing. It seems like my mind is the one doing all the talking.
The throbbing between my thighs intensifies.
Sorry not sorry, Mom. I’m the one bending over tonight.
His eyes are dark with lust, but there’s an amused twinkle in the depths. He starts unbuttoning his shirt, never breaking his gaze. My breath hitches as he slides it off. Those abs. Jesus, they’re amazing. I want to touch. I need to feel. My fingers twitch for a chance to trace the outline. His fingers move to his belt buckle, the muscles in his biceps flexing as he unfastens the belt and pulls it off.
Breathing is just about impossible at this point. This man, that body, fuck the consequences. I need this. Isn’t alcohol supposed to silence the stupid voices? Make me do things that I know I shouldn’t, but that will feel so good I don’t care?
Nothing. No response. My brain has finally turned to mush. Everything is muted. Finally.
 “Do you want to make that call now?” The corners of his lips turn upward as he unhooks his pants, so slowly and deliberately. He’s making me crazy right now. And I’m pretty sure he loves watching me watching him. Sick fuck.
Screw it. “No!” I launch myself against him once again, attacking his mouth while his fingers work the zipper of my dress. He slides the straps off my shoulders, never breaking the spell that has me so captivated, and pushes it to the floor, where it pools at my feet. I step out of the dress, but I leave on the heels. Every guy wants to fuck a woman in heels and nothing else. His warm hands massage the places that have been neglected for far too long, and my legs turn to Jell-O. He unhooks my strapless bra with the flick of his fingers, letting it fall to the floor. I gasp when the cool air hits my bare breasts. Then the moaning starts, and dammit if I can help it.
“You’re so fucking beautiful, Ariana,” he growls, flicking one of my nipples, the motion firing every single nerve. I all but lose it from his hands alone. Holy crap. Then those delicious lips move away from mine, leaving me desperate for air from a kiss so deep, so long, so needy, that it ruins me for any other. Yes, it was that intense, and no, I’m not exaggerating. Buzzed as I am, I will remember every dirty, salacious detail, and will replay them all over and over and over.
He dips his head, taking my breast into his mouth, his tongue and teeth working the taut pink bud. It’s gentle at first, but then it gets more harsh. And it makes me wet, so damned wet. Nipple play is definitely a hot button for me. My knees buckle as he kneads my flesh with those strong hands, and then his mouth is on a determined path to something definitively more naughty. My stomach clenches. He lowers himself to his knees, looping his fingers into the elastic G-string and pulls it away from my body. His tongue scorches a path to my abdomen and then beyond.
I rake my fingers through his hair, gripping tightly as his tongue teases my slit, probing the soft folds. My chest heaves as breaths come fast and furious. He nips my clit with his teeth then follows with long strokes that have me ready to collapse on the carpet, writhing with shockwaves coursing through my body. All from the sensations that his masterful tongue has stirred up inside of me.
My heart flutters. Holy fuck, this can only get better.
I press his head against me, my hands urging him to probe deeper. And he takes direction well, very well.
This is wrong. So wrong.
His tongue flicks my now-swollen clit, hands gripping my ass cheeks for leverage. He digs his fingertips into my flesh, making me yelp. Stroking and suckling, the alternating motions making my toes curl inside my heels. I grab his shoulders to steady myself, my body shuddering from the tingles that have since morphed into full-on shock waves crashing over me.
“Oh my God, Jeff,” I whimper.
He wraps his arms around my waist, trailing his fingers up my torso. He rises slowly, still holding me close. “I want you, Ariana.” One hand creeps back down to my quivering pussy and he plunges into me with two thick fingers, eliciting a loud gasp from me. “I want this. Now.” A seductive smirk lifts his lips. “And don’t take off those shoes.”
I nod, breathless, scared, and excited all at the same time. I push his pants and boxers to his ankles and he kicks them away. His cock is hard as an iron fucking rod and so thick, I’m afraid he might split me like a log. Not that I’m complaining. I swallow hard and lick the palm of my hand before gripping him, working his dick with long, hard strokes. Jesus, it turns out he wasn’t even fully hard before. I bite my lip to keep from crying out with glee.
Oh, the anticipation.
“You’re so fucking bad,” he murmurs against my ear, still finger fucking me. “I’m gonna fuck you like the bad girl you are. And I know you want me to. You’re so wet. I think you like being a bad girl. Yeah, you do. I can feel it every time I press into you. I want to feel you all over my dick.”
I’ve never been so turned on. I don’t usually handle the dirty talk too well. Maybe because the tools I’ve been with have never done it right. They sure as shit never made me come this hard from the promise of what’s to come…namely, me.
But Jeff is a fucking pro, and he can feel the impact he’s having on my body. He knows just how to press my buttons; buttons I didn’t even know I had.
I drop to my knees because my legs are just about to give out. I squeeze his dick and stroke it once more before taking it into my mouth. He lets out a low growl, his fingers tangled in my hair, thrusting into my mouth. He’s so big, he hits the back of my throat without too much movement. My gag reflex kicks in, but I squeeze my eyes shut. I need to taste him, need to feel his cock throb as I suck it…just for a minute, before he plunges inside of me and destroys the chances that any poor suckers in the future have with me.
I drag my tongue up and down the shaft, cupping his balls with one hand, gripping his ass with the other. But Jeff doesn’t want my mouth anymore.
His fingers move from the back of my head and tighten around my shoulders, urging me upward. His cock slips from my swollen lips and I rise to meet his gaze; the one that incinerates my insides. My heart hammers against my ribcage, and my pussy throbs. I can’t wait another second, or I might spontaneously combust right here. And that would be a travesty because I wouldn’t get to experience what’s sure to be the most amazing lay of my entire life, past and future.
He reaches over for his overnight bag and fumbles around, pulling out a condom. Tearing off a corner with his teeth, he takes it out and rolls it onto his dick. I bite my lower lip. I know this whole show has taken about five seconds, but it feels like hours are creeping by before his body is plastered against mine again.
I want to sing with joy when he eases me back onto the plush mattress, his lips so soft and sensual. His hand reaches around my torso, caressing the small of my back as he pushes into me, inch by glorious inch. Oh.My.God. His perfect cock fills my pussy, stretching me, forcing me to take him all in. I clamp my muscles, pulling him deeper, and he lets out a low groan against my hair.
Each thrust comes miraculously closer and closer to my spot. His lips are back on my neck, teasing the area behind my ear that drives me insane. My chest heaves against him, and I squeeze with all my might. I never want this to end, but I am desperate, so desperate for release. Our bodies rock against each other in perfect rhythm, both of us close to the edge. His fingers press into my hips as the movements intensify. And that’s when the magic happens…the point where I can’t remember my own name or what planet I live on, when my mind becomes a blank canvas splashed with vibrant colors, and blinding streams of white light flash across my eyes. My body shakes as the tingling that began in the pit of my belly erupts into an unparalleled explosion, firing into every single nerve ending. I’ve never felt more alive in my life.
Nor have I ever been so fucked, figuratively and literally.

Pre-Order Blitz: The Last Valkyrie byKarina Espinosa

Title: The Last Valkyrie
Author: Karina Espinosa
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
Cover Designer: Orina Kafe
Publication Date: August 3rd, 2018
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
Blurb: Raven Romero is a washed up Valkyrie who is unable to return to Valhalla, spending her days in a haze of sex, drugs, and alcohol.
When she is wrongfully accused of murder, Raven has two options: run or clear her name. With a laundry list of enemies, she has no idea who could be framing her. One thing is for sure: they know what she is and they'll stop at nothing until she’s behind bars or dead.
With no choice but to delve into the supernatural underground she tried so hard to avoid, Raven seeks aid and learns what it means to be human.
The world believes her kind no longer exists, but Raven Romero is The Last Valkyrie.
Karina Espinosa is the Urban Fantasy author of the Sins of the Fallen series and the Mackenzie Grey novels. Infatuated with travel, pop culture, and the need to write everything down, she spends much of her days in front of a computer working on her next book, shopping online, and listening to music. With nomadic tendencies, she is currently resting her head in South Florida until the itch to move strikes again. You can usually catch her on Facebook, Instagram and live-tweeting during episodes of Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and Orphan Black. Follow her on social media! Author Links:

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Blog Tour: Happy Hour by Piper Rayne

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Happy Hour, an all-new hilarious enemies to lovers romance from USA Today bestselling duo Piper Rayne is available NOW!

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The perfect man for her is the one she hates most. #gofigure
Dating is hard.
Dating in your thirties is even harder.
Dating in Chicago is harder still.
I haven't given up on finding my happily-ever-after, but in the age of swiping right and Netflix and chill, I'm wondering if everything is as temporary as my marriage turned out to be.
Truth is, there is one guy I can't get my mind off of.
Roarke Baldwin has salt and pepper hair I've dreamed of running my hands through and I'm pretty sure that if I checked he really does have a six pack of abs underneath his suit. And I've always wondered what that stubble on his face would feel like between my thighs.
The problem? He's the one man I hate more than my ex-husband…
His divorce attorney.


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Download your copy today!
Amazon Universal: http://mybook.to/HappyHourPR
Add to GoodReads: http://bit.ly/2MBUb8P


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Excerpt:
I press the numbers on my phone with shaky fingers, bringing the receiver up to my ear and release a deep breath. He picks up after one ring. “I thought we were friends? Having your assistant call my assistant. Tsk. Tsk, Ms. Crowley.” Aggravation fuses together every cell in my body until I become an impenetrable wall. “First, we are not friends. Second, I would prefer to talk to you via our office phones.” There’s a brief second of silence where he’s probably realizing I called him through my office line. “Ahh… so now you have my number and I don’t have yours? That seems terribly unfair.” “I didn’t realize you cared about fairness?” I lean back in my chair and cross my legs. “You don’t know that much about me. It’s not like you know me intimately.” He lowers his voice on the last word and drags it out. I roll my eyes, happy we’re not face-to-face so he can’t see the flush in my cheeks. “You may have witnessed how I own the courtroom, but you know nothing about my private life. For instance, you don’t know if I like thrillers or comedies. Whether I prefer sorbet to ice cream or if I wear boxers or briefs.” “I don’t need to know those things,” I say with frustration, shutting my eyes to rid the vision from my head of him in tight black boxer briefs—since that’s my preference. “You want to know though.” A sexual innuendo pours out of his mouth and hits its mark between my thighs. “There you go making assumptions about my wants.” I pick up my pen, shuffling through paperwork. Anything to distract me from this ache. “I not only know what you want, I know what you need, Ms. Crowley.” I smack my hand down on my desk. “Okay Rico Suave, let’s talk about this venue you have access to and keep the discussion of undergarments for another time.” A beeping sound interrupts us. “Hold all my calls please, Kristen.” Then nothing for a moment. “Sorry about that but you know how busy I am.” “Yes, I’m sure destroying people’s lives takes a lot of time. So let’s stop the sexual innuendos and get down to business.” “Let’s meet tonight. You frequent Torrio’s. I frequent Torrio’s. Let’s do something crazy and have a drink together.” “I don’t need a drink at Torrio’s, Mr. Baldwin, I need a venue to house my gala. Now tell me your terms and I want the details of this venue you insist you can secure. I refuse to meet you until you supply me with that information.” I uncross my legs and tap my foot on the floor under me. “So demanding. I like it.” I can hear him shuffling papers in the background. “I’ll have my assistant message your assistant with all the details of the venue. I’m sure it will be of your liking. Then we’ll meet tonight at Torrio’s. Seven sharp. Consider it our own personal happy hour.” “I’m not committing to anything until I see the venue.” “Then I’ll see you at seven.” The phone clicks and I stare at the receiver in my hand. “Prick,” I murmur. A knock sounds on my door.




REVIEW

I've been waiting for Happy Hour since the start of this series, because I have been so curious to see how things were going to play out between Hannah and Roarke.  As usual Piper Rayne pulled it off with their usual humorous twists and romantic banter. 

Hannah met Roarke in court - where he represented her now ex-husband and they've clashed ever since - but in the previous books we've seen the hints at their chemistry together and as we all know - there's a fine line between hate and love.  

I really really enjoyed getting to know Hannah and Roarke better, digging in to who they really were and how perfectly they fit each other.  This story was probably my favorite of the Charity Case series, because I've been anticipating it for so long and it lived up to the hype I had in my head.  I love how fierce and strong Hannah is and she paired so well with Roarke and his own strong will.   







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Start the Series of Standalones today with Manic Monday!
Amazon Universal: http://mybook.to/ManicMonday
Add to GoodReads: https://bit.ly/2pbRAJq
About Piper Rayne:
Piper Rayne, or Piper and Rayne, whichever you prefer because we’re not one author, we’re two. Yep, you get two USA Today Bestselling authors for the price of one. Our goal is to bring you romance stories that have "Heartwarming Humor With a Side of Sizzle" (okay...you caught us, that's our tagline). A little about us... We both have kindle’s full of one-clickable books. We're both married to husbands who drive us to drink. We're both chauffeurs to our kids. Most of all, we love hot heroes and quirky heroines that make us laugh, and we hope you do, too.

PiperRayne
Connect with Piper Rayne:

Sneak Peek: The Naked Truth by Vi Keeland

The Naked Truth Sneak Peek teaser

CONTINUE READING FOR MORE GRAY

IN AN EXCLUSIVE SNEAK PEEK OF

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  “May I get you something to drink while you wait for the rest of your party?” the waiter asked. I would normally wait to see what the client did and follow his lead on alcohol. But tonight was not the norm. I rubbed at my stiff neck. “I’ll take a vodka cranberry, please.” I hoped it would help calm my nerves and release some of the tension in my jaw before I gave myself a full-blown headache. Taking out my phone, I started to scroll through emails to distract myself while waiting for my drink and dinner companion. My head whipped up at the sound of Gray’s voice behind me. “Sorry I’m late.” My heart unexpectedly fluttered, and I fought against the feeling of excitement. “Are you really? Because I get the sense you don’t have any manners after the way you interrupted me a million times today.” He completely ignored my attitude as he took the seat across from me. “Traffic is a bitch getting downtown at this time. Next time we’ll have dinner at my place.” “There won’t be a next time.” Gray’s mouth curved into a smug smile as he snagged my gaze. “Sure there will. There’ll be plenty of next times. And eventually you’ll stop pretending you don’t enjoy my company.” I hated that my body reacted to him. Right from the very start, we’d had a crazy chemistry between us that was difficult to dull. I sighed. “What are you doing, Gray? Why did you come to my firm?” He lifted the cloth napkin in front of him and laid it across his lap. “Isn’t that obvious? I need new legal representation.” “At my firm? And you’d prefer that representation come from an associate instead of my boss’s boss—the head of our securities division? Or even from Pittman, who would gladly hold your hand and provide you whatever legal advice you need from his fifty-plus years of experience?” “Loyalty is important to me. I want someone I can trust with my business.” “And you’ve decided that’s me? An associate with five years experience who just got off probation with the Bar Association for violating attorney-client privilege?” The waiter arrived with my drink. “Here you go, ma’am.” He turned to Gray. “May I get you something to drink? Or would you like to wait until the last of your party joins you this evening?” “It’s just the two of us. I’ll have a Macallan, neat, please.” “Coming right up.” The waiter walked around to the other side of the table and started to remove the third place setting. I put my hand out, stopping him. “We actually do have another party coming, so you can leave that.” “Very well.” He nodded. Gray waited until the waiter was out of earshot. “I didn’t invite anyone else to dinner.” I sipped my drink and offered a saccharine-sweet fake smile. “I did. Figured an important client like you should have more than one attorney to answer his questions.” Just as I set down my glass, I saw the other man I was waiting for enter the restaurant. He scanned the room, looking for me, so I held up my hand and waved. “Perfect timing. There’s Oliver now.” Gray glanced at the man heading toward us and back to me. Instead of being pissed off, the jerk was amused. “That’s cute. You invited a chaperone because you don’t trust yourself with me.”

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The Naked Truth by Vi Keeland

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Book Blitz: Into the Woods




Into the Woods is the title and theme for this assortment of short stories, poems, essays, music, and one walking meditation. Each piece is unique in tone and genre and the result is that the collection captures the fascinating, frightening, fun, healing, and fantastical wonder of time spent in the woods. The twenty-six contributors who attend Mindful Writers Retreats in the mountains of Ligonier, Pennsylvania, are donating one hundred percent of the proceeds to support the research and work of The Children’s Heart Foundation.

Available at....









Book Excerpts
Short Story
TRAIN WRECK
by Kathleen Shoop

Ellie Trumbull squinted out the window of the Uber, gripping the door handle. The car swerved and bounced up the long driveway leading to the retreat center where the courts had sent Ellie for punishment. She grabbed her stomach to stave off nausea, but when it began to launch itself she smacked the driver’s arm. He slowed and stopped. Ellie pulled the handle, and tumbled out of the door onto all fours, heaving.
She gasped for breath, dizzied. Voices sounded as she struggled to stand. She focused on the group heading toward her: two women, a man, and several children who simply bolted past her, their squealing laughter filling the air.
A graceful woman with gray, bunned hair and dark skin approached. She took Ellie’s arm and pulled her close, leading her into a building. “Welcome. I’m Vera.”
“I’m Alice.” A stout woman with platinum spiked hair followed along.
A lanky man with hair so perfect it looked plastic picked up Ellie’s duffel bag. “I’m Brandon. Your husband’ll send the rest of your luggage shortly.”
Ellie grunted. They led her upstairs. Brandon rushed ahead to open a door. Ellie shuffled inside.
“Your room,” he said. “I’ll set your bag here.”
Ellie looked over her shoulder to see him smiling, as he’d been doing since she arrived. “Thanks, Guy Smiley.”
“What?”
She ignored his question, held onto one of the top bunks and surveyed the space. Three large windows at the end of the room and three sets of bunks with plastic mattresses belted the perimeter.
Ellie collapsed onto a bed.
“Plastic makes it easy to clean,” Vera said.
“Shut those.” Ellie shook her hand at the windows.
The woman sighed, closed the curtains and lowered the blind that covered the center pane. She lifted Ellie’s feet off the floor and swung them onto the bed. “Housekeeping’ll make up the bed in a little bit.”
“Fine,” Ellie groaned.
Vera loosened Ellie’s shoelaces.
Ellie snatched her feet away. “I’m fine.”
Vera backed away, her large hands flailing for a moment before she tucked them against her belly. “Our healing circle begins in an hour.”
Ellie turned away and balled up. Leave me alone.
And a few seconds later the door clicked shut.
***
Giggling children and the sound of feet running down the hallway outside Room 2 woke Ellie. Her mouth was desert dry, so she headed downstairs to the great room where she saw a kitchen area. With the kids gone, the silence felt good.
Ellie startled at the sight of Alice, Vera, and Guy Smiley sitting around an island. Guy Smiley poured coffee. Healing circle.
“Ellie,” he said. “Welcome.”
Vera sliced banana bread. The scent threatened Ellie’s stoic facade. A smile tugged her lips, but she tucked away the fleeting happy sensation, hid it where it wouldn’t remind her how Maggie’s face would light up when she bit into her favorite treat.
Alice clomped her feet onto the coffee table. Vera batted them away and pushed the banana bread toward Ellie.
She looked away.
“I’ll take hers,” said Alice.
“I’d like to begin,” Vera said, her voice gentle and melodic. “The healing circle guides us into continued acceptance and strengthens our endurance as we grow through the pain that comes with losing a child. Each of us understands the daily shock of waking and realizing our lives will never be the same. So how do we go on?”
Guy Smiley sipped coffee. “Feels good to be with everyone.”
“Each time we meet I do better back home,” Vera said.
“Same,” Alice said.
“We hope you’ll find our group helpful, Ellie,” Vera said.
When Ellie didn’t respond the others went around describing how they lost their child. Ellie blocked out every word, rubbing her temples. Her own pain was enough. She wasn’t about to invite theirs inside. Her gaze strayed to the kids outside, the game of tag that left them breathless, rolling down the hill and out of sight. How lucky they were.
“Ellie?” Alice asked. Ellie turned her gaze back to see Alice glaring.
“It’ll help,” sweet Vera said. “To share.”
Guy Smiley slid forward in his seat, fingers steepled. “Change brings…blah, blah … comfort, healing…” He droned on and on and finally Ellie’s mind snapped back to what he first said.
Change?” Ellie said.
He nodded. They all did.
Ellie’s anger surged. She wiped spittle from her lip. “I don’twantchange. I feel Maggie more now than I ever did… before she died I couldn’t wait to get to work, or girls’ night out or go away with my husband. My daughter… difficult from the day she was born… is dead. I’ll never sit with you people thinking about change and eating stinking banana bread.”
She stood and stomped away.
“She don’t want help,” Alice said.
“But her husband…” Brandon said.
Ellie got farther away, unable to hear what they said. Her husband? He was finished with her. She jogged to her room and crashed onto the mattress that housekeeping hadn’t yet returned to make. She covered her face and held back tears. With balled fists she tried to resist.
But she couldn’t.
Up off the bed, Ellie dug through her duffel and found it. Vodka. Cap unscrewed, she gulped, washing away the scent of banana bread, the thought that she’d never again see Maggie’s smile when she took a bite of it.

***
Short Story
EIRA
by Wende Dikec

The lights went out, and Eira held her breath, waiting for the emergency generator to work. It started with a shudder and a horrific crunching noise, but at least it continued to function.
She closed her eyes, feeling the fear in her chest ease when she heard the comforting sound of the humming engine. She couldn’t bear the thought of being left cold and alone in the dark.
Tugging her pale, blond hair into a ponytail, she pulled her ragged wool cardigan tightly across her body and walked over to the window of Alexander House, a grand name for such a Spartan hunting cabin, to peek outside. She waited for the sun to come up, looking out the dirty glass pane, and continued to stare out the window long after the sun rose in the sky. She didn’t know why she bothered. She saw nothing outside except the same white expanse she’d seen every day for the last five lonely months.
Eira opened the door to grab some wood from the pile for her fire, her body flinching from the chill of the icy wind. She had enough wood to last a few more weeks, and then she’d have to make the dangerous trip into the forest to chop more. She dreaded it, but not as much as she dreaded living without the generator. If she rationed carefully, she’d have enough fuel for another month, but she wasn’t sure what she’d do after that. She hadn’t planned on being stranded for such a long time. Spring should have arrived almost two months ago.
She blinked in surprise when she saw a figure moving toward her house, struggling in the waist deep snow. Eira squinted against the harsh sunlight reflecting off the white landscape, trying to make out if the approaching form was human or animal, friend or foe, but she could see very little at this distance. She stumbled back into her warm little house, and reached for her heavy coat. She quickly slipped on her snowshoes before grabbing her gun, a nervous sense of excitement building inside her. If it was a person, it would be the first human being she’d seen in months. If it was an animal, she’d shoot it and have food for a week. And if it was one of the strange ones, the creatures that were no longer human yet not completely animal, she’d kill it without remorse and leave its carcass for the hungry bears to find.
She waited on her front porch, her gun ready as it came closer. It looked human, bundled under layers of heavy clothing, but she wasn’t taking any chances.
“Who are you?” she asked, her voice echoing in the quiet wilderness.
The figure stopped moving and looked directly at her. She could see a dark beard covering the skin exposed beneath protective ski goggles. It was a man.
“My name is Ben,” he said, his voice sounding scratchy and strange, as if it hadn’t been used in a long time. “I saw the smoke from your fire. Can I come in and warm up?”
Eira paused, considering his request. He seemed human enough, but it was a risk. He could steal her food, hurt her, or take her precious fuel. She weighed her options quickly. Loneliness won out over caution, but she wasn’t stupid. She clenched her gun as she waved him in.


***
Poem
FOREST BATHING
by Martha Swiss

I am alone in this place that is alive, anticipating the gift before me.
I open it slowly, with grateful breath, footsteps and heartbeats,
then thankfully sink into the purifying molecules of chlorophyll and humus.
I bask, now able to sense the purpose of ferns, snakeroot, noble trees and the creek that tumbles past my feet.

Crayfish pay me no mind in their muddy caverns.
Trees skyrocket overhead, on a mission.
Chipmunks skitter through leaf litter
and a kingfisher pounds its teal wings heading upstream.
I am dwarfed by the hillside vaulting from the floodplain. Boulders and saplings cling to its spine.

I am free to bathe here in clarified cells of cambium, xylem and phloem.
I wring my sponge in the generosity of flora.
The stream’s effervescence cleanses the tangled energy seeping from my pores.

I celebrate my fresh spirit with a confetti of scarlet, orange and yellow leaves that bob on the breast of the creek
as silently,
the trees disrobe.

***
Short Story
LIGHT OF THE MOON
by Ramona DeFelice Long

After three weeks in jail, Mama asked me to talk to Judge Rousseau about getting her some decent food to eat.
Mon Dieu,I am wasting away,” Mama said from her cell. Behind her, the narrow cot was covered with a quilt from home, and on top of the wooden crate she used as a table was a kerosene lamp on a doily. She’d left a half played game of solitaire spread over the doily. Where she got playing cards, I didn’t know. The Bible that had been on the pillow was nowhere to be seen.
She showed me her bowl of half-eaten stew. I think it was stew. “That old cow Lorraine Badeaux is poisoning me.”
“Hush, Mama,” I said. “Mrs. Badeaux is doing no such thing.”
Mama pressed her face between the bars. Her eyebrows and cheeks lifted up. That, plus the pounds she’d lost eating jail food and all the naps she took out of boredom, made her look as young as me. Trust Mama to turn getting arrested into getting prettier.
“Geneva,cher, just go ask him,” Mama wheedled. “That sheriff can hardly look at this slop. He passes me my plate and runs away. Or maybe he believes I’ll bewitch him, too.”
I begged her not to joke about that.
She narrowed her eyes at me. “And pour l’amour de Dieu, when you go see the judge, don’t wear what you got on. You look like a blind nun dressed you.”
“Mama—”
“Your hair’s all right, but get you some lipstick and rouge and use it. Judge Rousseau is old, but he ain’t dead.”
No, he wasn’t, but his brother-in-law was, and that’s why Mama’s bail was set high as the moon. But explaining that to her was like talking to a tree stump.
I said I had to leave. I was Mama’s only visitor, and she was bitter. Where was our family? Where were her friends? She was lonely and felt forsaken. I never told her that, at home, nobody came to visit me either, and I had not even murdered anybody.
Most days she begged me to stay, but tonight she told me to get on home. I suppose she thought I had a busy evening ahead tarting myself up before going to see the judge.
***
When the young deputy was on duty, he sat in a chair five feet away from Mama’s cell, as if he thought I’d help my mother escape by slipping a bolt cutter under my dress—a dress fit for a convent, indeed, because my teacher contract said I had to “act and keep my person modestly.” I worried every day I’d be fired over Mama’s scandal.
Sheriff Reyes usually sat in his office up front and read the newspaper. When my visiting time was over, he always asked, “Things all right, Miss Geneva?”
I answered, “Yes, Sheriff, thank you,” except for the time or two when Mama asked for a warmer shawl or the quilt off her bed.
Once, horrifyingly, I had to say I needed to come right back; when he frowned, I whispered that Mama needed some womanly things. He let me into her cell with a paper sack that he did not inspect. Had I been wily, I could have slipped her anything—a pistol, liquor, tonic from Madame Velda—but wily was Mama’s way, not mine. The sheriff trusted me. If you can’t trust a twenty-year-old spinster schoolteacher who dresses as modestly as a nun, you have faith in no one.
Tonight, Sheriff Reyes stood at the window. The kerosene lamp on his desk lit him up from behind: tall, broad-shouldered, brown hair cut short but still wavy. On one of those shoulders was the scar from a shell that blew him out of the sniper’s nest he’d sat in for three days, picking off Germans but never giving away his position. I’d read that in the Bossier City newspaper, when he’d come home a hero after the war ended.
He turned around and said, “Your mother’s right. Mrs. Badeaux can’t cook.”
I didn’t speak; he was also very handsome.


***

into the woods SQ teaser


Mindful Writers Retreat Authors 
Many of the writers who contributed to the anthology. 
The retreats happen at Ligonier camp and conference center in Ligonier, PA. Tenth retreat is coming up this fall!


Twenty-six Mindful Writers Retreat Authors contributed to Into the Woods. The group consists of bestsellers, award-winners, first-time authors, seasoned veterans, poets, memoirists, essayists, musicians, journalists, novelists, and short story writers who are traditionally, self and hybrid published. At Mindful Writers Retreats the labels don’t create a hierarchy, but instead reveal the richness of those who attend. Every single writer contributes to the magic and the fun that results from meditation, walking in the woods, and hour upon hour of mindful writing.

Authors in alphabetical order:
Lorraine Bonzelet
Wende Dikec
Teresa Futrick
Selah Gray
Hilary Hauck
Michele Zirkle
Eileen Enwright Hodgetts
Larry Ivkovich
Lori M. Jones
Kimberly Kurth-Gray
Laura Lovic-Lindsay
Ramona DeFelice Long
MaryAlice Meli
Gail Oare Sher Pensiero
Kim Pierson
Cara Reinard
James Robinson, Jr.
Larry Schardt
Linda K. Schmitmeyer
Carol Schoenig
Kathleen Shoop
Martha Swiss
Amy Walter
Madhu Bazaz Wangu
Denise Weaver

Many of the writers who contributed to the anthology. 
The retreats happen at Ligonier camp and conference center in Ligonier, PA. Tenth retreat is coming up this fall!

Find the Mindful Writers Retreat Series on Facebook HERE

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