COME A LITTLE CLOSER by Kim Karrr

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Join New York Times Bestselling Author Kim Karr on another emotional journey in her next release, Come A Little Closer, on March 28th!

What happens when bad meets good? Get ready to find out. Only this time the bad isn’t who you think it is. It was a one-night stand, until she forced him to change the rules.

Keep reading for an excerpt!

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I haven’t always been this bad…

Up until recently, I was the kind of girl who wore white cotton panties and bent at the knees rather than the waist.

Pomp and circumstance changed all that.

Jaxson Cassidy was my first taste of bad, and I liked it more than I should have. Just not in the way I was meant to. I couldn’t help myself though. I found him irresistible. That sexy grin, those skilled fingers, and that dirty, dirty mouth were a lethal combination.

I wasn’t supposed to want him. I wasn’t supposed to let him put his hands on me. I wasn’t supposed to do a lot of things…but I did.

He wants to keep me close.
I should push him away.

He says he can help me.
I’m not so sure.

For some reason, he thinks there’s good left in me.
What if he’s wrong?

Everyone knows a good boy can’t turn a bad girl around.
Everyone knows it’s always the other way.
Everyone…except him.

Portrait of a romantic, young couple

EXCERPT:

Sadie

There was a dominance in his body language I couldn’t deny.

Heeding his invitation, I stopped before him. He stood and his towering height overwhelmed me, but when he pulled the empty barstool out and grinned at me, I felt electrically charged. “Hi.”

Slowly, I climbed onto it. For some reason, I couldn’t stop my knees from wobbling. “Hi,” I tried to respond, but it sounded more like a squeak.

The way he was looking at me made me feel like I was the only person in the room. I opened my mouth to say something more but found no words. Instead, my breath hissed out as a slow leak.

What was I doing?

I should have been running in the other direction. I didn’t have time for careless flirting. I had a job to do. One I knew I would never really be able to do.

Settling myself on the luxurious white leather stool, I crossed one leg over the other. As soon as I did, his heavy stare rolled over my face and then down my body. It felt like he was surveying every inch of me.

Suddenly, I wasn’t cold anymore. Heat roared through me like a fire being doused with gasoline.

The way he was looking at me was anything but subtle.

He was anything but subtle.

I didn’t care. I didn’t want subtle. I wanted bold.

A flash of thunder cut through the window, illuminating his face. His stunning features. Hard jaw. High cheekbones. Strong forehead. Full and curved mouth. Edible lips. And those eyes, they grabbed me and wouldn’t let go—like he saw the blackness inside me and wanted to add some light.

Ridiculous, I knew.

That smug grin he was wearing spread across his lips as he sat back down. The movement caused his dark hair to flip forward over his eyes. He pushed it away, and the gesture broke the trance I was in. Thick-lashed eyes shined as brilliant as the brightest lights I’d ever seen and amusement seemed to sparkle in their dark color.

All of a sudden I felt dizzy. Lost. Reborn. Taken back in time.

He was Eros.

I was Aphrodite.

He was Cupid.

I was Venus.

I let my bag drop to my feet beside my suitcase.

He twisted in my direction. “Crazy weather,” he said in a voice that was deep, cultured, sexy.

It made me shiver.

Half a nervous laugh snuck out of me. “You’re not kidding.”

Out of nowhere, the bartender set two heavy crystal glasses of amber-colored liquid in front of stock-photo guy and myself, and it shocked me. I hadn’t ordered anything, most especially not whiskey.

“Should I add this to your tab?” the bartender directed, and not toward me.

“Please,” stock-photo guy answered.

Embarrassment washed over me. He was with someone and I had misread him completely.

Hopping to my feet, I felt unsteady in my heels. “I’m so sorry. I should have asked if this seat was taken. I’ll get out of your way.”

Moving fast, he rose to his full height. He was close. So close. Floored by over six feet of hotness, his scent hit me immediately. Something manly, with a hint of the ocean. I took a moment to breathe it in and tried not to wince when the pain in my ribs struck.

His strong hands steadied my hips. “No, don’t leave. The drink is for you.”

And I felt. Felt his touch race down my hips, knot in my stomach, and make my toes curl.

If he was Cupid, I’d been struck by his arrow.

My gaze darted up, up, up, and when our eyes locked, my pulse started to race. “I can’t. I’m waiting for a flight,” I stupidly said.

He was a bad idea.

Staying was a bad idea.

This whole thing was a bad idea—and yet it already felt so good.

He dipped his head, those dark eyes going liquid with a heat I felt between my thighs. “In case you haven’t looked at the monitors, no one is going anywhere right now. All the planes are grounded until morning.”

I laughed, and it wasn’t an act. “I know that,” I replied. “What I meant was that drinking is a bad idea when I have such a long night ahead of me.”

His eyes flickered to my lips before returning to mine. “Exactly. It’s going to be a very long night, which is why drinking seems like a really good idea.”

No alarm bells rang. Instead, I smiled. I couldn’t stop smiling.

“Sit,” he said, moving back to his stool.

For a moment I forgot everything and allowed myself to get lost in the darkest, bluest eyes I’d ever seen. Without thinking anything through, I sat back down. “Maybe just one.”

The look he gave me screamed sinful bad boy.

“Reading Hotlanta?” I asked, pointing to his bag.

With a shake of his head, he blew my comment off. “More like reading crap.”

Okay, I had no response to that, and luckily I didn’t need one.

He lifted his glass. “To passing time,” he toasted.

The way he looked at me when he spoke made my pulse jump and nipples pop. Ignoring my body’s reaction to him, I lifted my own. “To passing time,” I repeated, clinking his glass.

I didn’t really have time.

I had a job to do.

I couldn’t stay with him.

Could I?

I was stranded at the airport, after all.

I lowered my glass and sighed.

“Tough day?” he asked after taking more like a gulp of his whiskey.

“Yes,” I responded truthfully.

He took another long sip of his drink and let his eyes linger on my thighs. “Want to talk about it?” he asked.

In that moment I was no longer Sarah, the lonely rich wife or the wandering mistress or the high-priced call girl I had been sent here to be. I wasn’t acting. I didn’t want to. I was just being me. Albeit, a well dressed-up version of myself, but still me.

Following his lead, I practically guzzled the potent liquor. Once I’d drained it, I figured why not talk. Setting my empty glass down, I told him, “I had to make a decision today and I have no idea if I made the right one.”

In truth, I already knew it was the wrong one.

Being here was wrong.

Being with him was wrong.

And yet, talking to him felt right.

I shouldn’t have come here to steal what wasn’t mine, no matter the reason. It wasn’t me. I didn’t earn what these men had. And I hated myself for even thinking about taking from them.

It was then I looked into his eyes and saw that very familiar feeling of loathing. Those dark eyes I thought had been filled with mirth were actually brooding.

What did he hate himself for?

I wanted to know.

Was I a way for him to forget? If so, did it matter? Either way, I wanted to be the one to ease his pain.

And I had no idea why.

He downed the rest of his glass and signaled the bartender. “You know,” he said, “sometimes I think the only way to get by in this world is to step off for a while.”

I glanced at his bags on the floor. “Is that what you’re doing? Stepping off for a while?”

The bartender placed the entire bottle of Macallan Rare Cask in front of us, and hot photo-guy picked it up right away. “Something like that,” he answered as he poured. “My ex-fiancée got married yesterday, and I was there.”

“Ouch,” I said.

He nodded and finished pouring. “Yeah, hence the heavy drinking. So what’s your story?”

It felt wrong to lie, so I didn’t. I just didn’t tell the whole truth. “I was recently fired.”

“Ouch,” he offered back with a wicked grin and set the bottle down to hold out his hand. That strong, confident, dominant hand. “I’m Sundance.”

I raised a brow. “As in Butch Cassidy?”

“The very same. It’s a nickname, actually.”

Sundance.

Hot name.

I liked it.

I took his offered hand, and the electric current that ran up my arm was stronger than the alcohol flowing through my veins. “Sarah.” The lie slipped out, and I couldn’t take it back. Then again, I didn’t think it really mattered. “And stepping off for a while sounds like a really good idea.”

He leaned closer and lifted his glass. “So, Sarah, what are we going to do to make that happen?”

My brow lifted curiously. “I’m open to suggestions,” I said, the alcohol taking over where reason should have stepped in.

He drained his drink. “Are you?”

The way those two words came out sounded like an invitation. I was in the middle of downing my glass when I lowered it. “Yes, I am. I mean, within reason, of course.”

“Good to know.” He tossed me a panty-melting grin and poured a little more into his glass.

“Why? What do you have in mind?” Ignoring my one-drink rule, I drank a little more, knowing exactly what he had in mind. It was written all over his face—in the way his eyes seemed to have turned the darkest shade of blue, the way his sinful mouth curved ever-so-much, and the way he leaned in even closer to me.

When he was a breath away, he raised the sexiest brow in answer. “We could take this somewhere a little more private.”

I smiled back. A silent, “Yes, I’m interested.”

“One rule,” he cautioned.

Now I raised the brow. “Rules already? I don’t even know you,” I joked.

“And that’s the way I like it,” he deadpanned.

In that moment I knew what he wanted.

To be anonymous.

To be free.

And to get fucked.

I wanted all of those things, too.

He went on. “We don’t talk about our lives,” he murmured, kissing behind my ear.

I allowed my head to lull back, silently agreeing to his rule because even though he couldn’t possibly know it was the only way I could be with him, it was.

His teeth nipped at the sensitive skin of my throat, and I knew that somehow I had gone from the one doing the preying to the one being preyed on.

And I was okay with that.

Maybe stepping off for a while was exactly what I needed.

Portrait of a romantic, young couple

About the Author:

Reader * Chocolate Lover * Writer * Coffee Lover * Romantic * Beach Lover * Yoga Beginner

Kim Karr is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of eighteen novels. Best known for writing sexy contemporary love stories, she enjoys bringing flawed characters to life and creating romances that are page worthy. Her stories are raw, real, and explosive. Her characters will make you laugh, make you cry, make you feel. And her happily-ever-afters are always swoon worthy. From the brooding rock star to the arrogant millionaire to the Football Player. From the witty damsel-in-distress to the sassy high-powered businesswoman to the boutique owner. No two storylines are ever alike. If Kim’s not writing, you can find her wandering through antique stores with her husband, trying out new fitness classes with her sons, venturing out to new coffee shops with her daughter, or with her nose stuck in a book.

Link with Kim!

Website: http://www.authorkimkarr.com/
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DEVIL IN TARTAN by Julia London

From New York Times bestselling author Julia London, comes DEVIL IN TARTAN—the fourth novel in her Highland Grooms Series!

DEVIL IN TARTAN releases on February 20, 2018. Pre-order your copy today!

DEVIL IN TARTAN Synopsis:

Lottie Livingstone bears the weight of an island on her shoulders. Under threat of losing their home, she and her clan take to the seas to sell a shipload of illegal whiskey. When an attack leaves them vulnerable, she transforms from a maiden daughter to a clever warrior. For survival, she orchestrates the siege of a rival’s ship and now holds the devilish Scottish captain Aulay Mackenzie under her command.

Tied, captive and forced to watch a stunning siren commandeer the Mackenzie ship, Aulay burns with the desire to seize control—of the ship and Lottie. He has resigned himself to a life of solitude on the open seas, but her beauty tantalizes him like nothing has before. As authorities and enemies close in, he is torn between surrendering her to justice and defending her from assailants. He’ll lose her forever, unless he’s willing to sacrifice the unimaginable…

Preorder DEVIL IN TARTAN here!

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About Julia London:

Julia London is the New York Times and USA TODAY best-selling author of more than thirty romantic fiction novels. She is the author of the popular Cabot Sisters historical romance series, including The Trouble with Honor, The Devil Takes a Bride, and The Scoundrel and the Debutante. She is also the author of several contemporary romances, including Homecoming Ranch, Return to Homecoming Ranch and The Perfect Homecoming. She has over 100,000+ Facebook followers, is the recipient of the RT Book Reviews for Best Historical Romance and a six-time finalist for the prestigious RITA award for excellence in romantic fiction. You can visit her website JuliaLondon.com. She lives in Austin, Texas.

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MANIFEST by Golden Czermak

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MANIFEST
by Golden Czermak

Blurb

Oh, hello there! Forgive the tone of surprise; it’s been quite some time since I’ve had a visitor, especially one such as yourself.

This is probably weird for you, talking to a book. Well, let me tell you nothing is weirder than being trapped inside of one. This one in fact.

You still there? Oh good! The name’s Chance. What’s yours?

It’s a pleasure to meet you and even more so that you’ve stuck around! Now this may be a strange request, but I was wondering if it would be possible for you to help me out of my situation?

If so, all I need you to do is open this book to find out more…

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My Review

Very short, quick read, but unlike ANYTHING I’ve read before. I’m not sure what I can say about this awesome book without giving any spoilers. I was sucked in from the beginning. Almost to the point I worried I’d be joining Chase. I’m just absolutely blown away by Mr. Czermak’s talented writing.

Buy link

AMAZON

Also available on Kindle Unlimited

THE LEARNING HOURS by Sara Ney

He’s not a douchebag;

but that doesn’t stop his friends from

turning him into one.

 

MY FRIENDS WANT ME TO GET LAID.

So much so that they plastered my ugly mug all over campus, in bold printed letters:

Are you the lucky lady who’s going to break our roommate’s cherry?

Him: socially awkward man with average-sized penis looking for willing sexual partner. You: must have pulse. Text him at: 555-254-5551

The morons can’t even spell. And the texts I’ve been receiving are what wet dreams are made of. But I’m not like these douchebags, no matter how hard they try to turn me into one.

THIS ISN’T THE KIND OF ATTENTION I WANT.

One text stands out from hundreds. One number I can’t bring myself to block. She seems different. Hotter, even in black and white.

 

However, after seeing her in person, I know she’s not the girl for me. But my friends won’t let up–they just don’t get it. Douchebags or not, there’s one thing they’ll never understand: GIRLS DON’T WANT ME.

Especially her.

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He’s seated at a table in the far corner when I spot him from the door. He’s not hard to miss–not with his purple t-shirt in a sea of black and yellow, and wavy mussed hair.

He’s slouching, hunched over his table.

Defeated. Tired.

My stomach rolls with nerves, nerves that have me rooted to the spot in the doorway, watching him.
Just watching.

For the entire four minutes I stand here, he sits immobile, studying his laptop, eyes moving along the screen, completely transfixed by whatever he’s reading.

Learning.

“Just go over there,” I whisper to myself, blowing out a puff of pent-up air.

I put one foot in front of the other and begin toward him, spine ramrod straight, steeling myself, prepared for another argument.

Twenty feet.

Fifteen.

Eight.

Two.

“Hi.”

No reply.

“Do you mind if I sit here?” I lay my hand on the back of the wooden chair across from him, intending to pull it out.

He stiffens but doesn’t lift his head. “Yes I mind.”

“Would you mind if I sat at the table next to you?” I’m pushing his buttons, looking for a reaction, but he only spares me a brief glance.

Shrugs. “Free country.”

I bite my lip to hide a smile, glad he didn’t tell me to take a hike…


 MY REVEIW

I like the story for the most part. Some of the college pranks and behaviors really got on my nerves. And I almost stopped listening/reading. Guess I’m too old to REALLY enjoy college age stories. But in the long run, I really liked it the story itself.

The audio left a bit to be desired. Both narrators have great sounding voices and are pleasant to listen to. Muffy Newton did a decent job using different voices for the different charaters. But in my opinion, Josh really didn’t have any distinctive voices for the different characters. For example, Rhett is from Louisiana. Lived there his whole life until transferring to Iowa. He has southern manners and uses southern slang, but almost never had a southern accent. I only hear the occasional hint of a southern “twang”. 

 

Sara Ney is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the How to Date a Douchebag series, and is best known for her sexy, laugh-out-loud New Adult romances. Among her favorite vices, she includes: iced latte’s, historical architecture and well-placed sarcasm. She lives colorfully, collects vintage books, art, loves flea markets, and fancies herself British.

She lives with her husband, children, and her ridiculously large dog.

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HUNTED by Elisabeth Naughton

 

 

From New York Times Bestselling author Elisabeth Naughton, comes HUNTED,a new novella in her Eternal Guardians Series, brought to you by 1,001 Dark Nights! Be sure to grab your copy today!

 

 

ABOUT HUNTED:

Erebus – Dark in every sense of the word, a skilled and lethal warrior, and sinfully sexy by design.

Since the dawn of modern man, Erebus was Hades’ secret weapon in the war between the immortal realms. Until Hades lost the minor god in a bet to his older brother Zeus. For the last hundred years, Erebus has trained Zeus’s Siren warriors in warfare and the sexual arts. But he’s never stopped longing for freedom. For a life filled with choice. And lately, he also longs for one Siren who entranced him during their steamy seduction sessions. A nymph he quickly became obsessed with and who was ripped from his grasp when her seduction training was complete. One he’s just learned Zeus has marked for death because she failed the last Siren test.

Before Erebus can intercede on the nymph’s behalf, she escapes Olympus and flees into the human realm. In a fit of rage, Zeus commands Erebus to hunt her down and kill her. Erebus sees his opportunity to finally go after what he wants, but he’s torn. Freedom means nothing if the Siren at the center of his fantasies doesn’t truly crave him back. Because defying the gods will unleash the fury of Olympus, and if he chooses her over his duty, whether she joins him in exile or not, the hunter will become the hunted.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | Amazon AU

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EXCERPT 

“I want to know where you’re taking me,” she said as he pulled her around switchbacks in the tunnel, her breath heavy at his side, her skin so hot against his he was starting to sweat.

He didn’t owe her an explanation. She was lucky he hadn’t decided to kill her after the way she’d lashed out. Or taken her to Zeus already. The second he’d recognized her he’d decided not to do either, though. Not because she didn’t deserve one or both but because he had his own plans for her. Plans that didn’t include the King of the fucking Gods, at least not yet.

Eventually he knew Zeus would want her back for punishment, which could include anything from having her reassigned as a servant or handmaiden or even a sex slave. And though Erebus wasn’t wild about any of those options—especially the last, unless she was his sex slave—he knew he had time. Time to have his own fun before his life-long obligations to Olympus drew him back.

Hell, he deserved some fun after the years he’d spent in servitude, didn’t he? As far as he was concerned, he deserved more than a little fun simply because he had to deal with Zeus’s incompetent Siren trainees on a daily f*cking basis.

“I’m taking you to the half-breed ruins,” he said, tugging her around another corner in the dark, deciding he didn’t want her completely defiant. Oh, he enjoyed an adrenaline-amping fight now and then, but it was so much more enjoyable when he could coax a female’s reluctance into cries of sensual pleasure. With Sera’s nymphomaniac tendencies, he knew it wouldn’t take much persuading.

“No one’s there,” she argued. “The half-breed ruins have been empty for twenty-some years.”

Exactly. No one was there. No one could hear her screams from inside its walls. No one would even know a minor god had gone off the grid there with a cheeky little nymph who made him so hard he hurt.

She tugged against this grip. “Erebus, please. This is a bad id—”

It was the please that brought him around. Or maybe it was the way she said his name. He wasn’t sure which, but something in her voice made him whip back and push her up against the cold rock wall.

  

 

 

 

 

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Elisabeth Naughton’s HUNTED – Review & Excerpt Tour Schedule:

June 28th

I Smell Sheep – Review & Excerpt

My Nook, Books & More – Excerpt

Only One More Page – Review & Excerpt

June 29th

Oh My Growing TBR – Review & Excerpt

Read-Love-Blog – Excerpt

Reads All the Books – Review & Excerpt

June 30th

Fictional Rendezvous Book Blog – Excerpt

Rainy Thursdays – Review & Excerpt

Reads & Reviews – Review

Vagabonda Reads – Review & Excerpt

July 1st

A Fortress of Books – Review & Excerpt

Susan’s Books I Like – Excerpt

The Romance Reviews – Review

July 2nd

A Naughty Girl’s Novel World – Review & Excerpt

Nerdy Dirty & Flirty – Excerpt

The Reading Cafe – Review & Excerpt

July 3rd

Brittany’s Book Blog – Excerpt

Celtic Dragon Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt

Obsessive Reading Disorder – Excerpt

July 4th

Ruby’s Books – Review & Excerpt

Shannonbookishlife – Excerpt

Sofia Loves Books – Review & Excerpt

July 5th

Books Need TLC – Review & Excerpt

Evermore Books – Review & Excerpt

Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents – Excerpt

Ramblings From This Chick – Excerpt

July 6th

A small girl, her man and her books – Review & Excerpt

Jax’s Book Magic – Excerpt

Reading Between the Wines Book Club – Excerpt

July 7th

Angels With Attitude Book Reviews – Review

G & T’s Indie Café – Excerpt

Vampire Book Club – Excerpt

WTF Are You Reading! – Review & Excerpt

 

 

ABOUT ELISABETH NAUGHTON:

Elisabeth Naughton is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. From Elisabeth: “I was never one of those people who knew they wanted to be an author at the age of six. I didn’t have imaginary friends. I didn’t write stories in my journal or entertain my relatives by firelight after Thanksgiving dinner. For the most part, I was just a normal, everyday kid. I liked to read, but I wasn’t exceptional at it. And when my teachers complimented me on my writing abilities, I brushed them off. I did, however, always have a penchant for the unique and absurd. And as my mother told me all throughout my childhood, I should have been an actress—I was a drama queen before my time.

“Years ago, my husband bought me Scarlett: The Sequel to Gone With The Wind. If you ever saw the book, you know it’s a long one. I sat and read that thing from cover to cover, and dreamed of one day being a writer. But I didn’t actually try my hand at writing until years later when I quit my teaching job to stay home with my kids. And my husband? After that week of reading where I neglected him and everything else until I finished Scarlett, he vowed never to buy me another book again. Little did he know I’d one day end up sitting at a keyboard all day drafting my own stories.

“My writing journey has not been easy. I didn’t just sit down one day, decide I was going to write a book and voila! sell my very first attempt. As most authors will probably agree, the path to publication is filled with hours of work, pulling all-nighters I thought I’d given up in college, sacrifices, rejections, but a love I discovered along the way I just can’t live without. Instead of a big, thick book to read by lamplight (I do read much smaller ones when I get the chance), I’ve traded in my reading obsession for a laptop. And I’ve never been happier.

“I’m one of the lucky ones. I have a wonderful family and fabulous husband who put up with my writing—and obsessive personality—even when life is chaotic. More than once my kids have been late to swimming or baseball because I needed just five more minutes to finish a scene. Their support and encouragement mean the world to me. I also have amazing friends and a support network I couldn’t survive without. So to all of you out there who have encouraged me along the way, sent me emails and fan letters, phone calls and congratulations, I just want to say, thank you. You make this whole writing gig that much more enjoyable. I truly wouldn’t be here without you.”

 

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UNTIL SAGE by Aurora Rose Reynolds

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Meet Sage & Kimberly in Until Sage by Aurora Rose Reynolds
NOW LIVE!
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Blurb
Sage Mayson had Kimberly Cullen once, and the memory of that brief encounter has tortured him since the moment he pushed her away. He should have followed his gut, but he didn’t, and now he’s left watching the woman he wants more than anything from afar. 
Kimberly vowed to protect her heart from Sage, but when her sister is murdered and her world starts to fall apart, he’s the one person she finds herself leaning on. 
Getting a second chance is something Sage knows is rare. He’s not going to squander the one he’s been given, and he won’t take no for an answer when it comes to making Kim his.
But what Sage doesn’t know is Kim has a secret that could leave them both devastated and heartbroken. 
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EXCERPT
“He apologized. Don’t you think you should do the polite thing and at least hear him out?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know, or you’re just too scared to find out what will happen if you do?”
“Do we have to do this right now?” I sigh, and he tosses his arm around my shoulders and pulls me into his side.
“We’ve been doing this for months now. I’ve seen the way you look at him when you think no one will notice, and I see the way he looks at you, not giving a fuck if everyone sees. Even when he thought you and I were a thing, he still made it perfectly clear to those who were watching that if by some chance he got a shot, you would be his.”
“I really think you are reading way too much into this.”
“Am I?”
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My Review
Sage Mayson may be the adopted son of Nico and Sofie, but he is a Mayson through and through. And Sage has found his #BOOM with Kim. There certainly isn’t a dull moment with these two (and the rest of the Mayson family). Plus throw in some twists from Kim’s biological family and Kim’s own illness. The book does bring up some things that happened in Until Ashlyn, but I truly feel Ms. Reynolds gives just enough info that you won’t feel lost if you haven’t read Ashlyn’s book, but not too much that ARR fans will be irritated with repeat information. Sage and Kim’s story is full of an alpha male, an independent woman and a whole crazy supportive group of family and friends.
About the Author:
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Aurora Rose Reynolds is a navy brat who’s husband served in the United States Navy. She has lived all over the country but now resides in New York City with her Husband and pet fish. She’s married to an alpha male that loves her as much as the men in her books love their women. He gives her over the top inspiration everyday. In her free time she reads, writes and enjoys going to the movies with her husband and cookie. She also enjoys taking mini weekend vacations to nowhere, or spends time at home with friends and family. Last but not least she appreciates everyday and admires it’s beauty.
THANK YOU!
 

ALWAYS YOU by Belle Brooks

Title: Always You
Author: Belle Brooks
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Published: February 2, 2017


“Grab this book and a box of kleenex and get ready to read a book that is going to stay with you and leave you talking and thinking for a long time to come!!! I wish I could give this book 100 stars!!” ~Reader Review

“This story is heartbreaking and breathtakingly beautiful!” ~Reader Review

“WOW…just wow… There are very few times in life where words truly escape me. After reading Always You; I find myself having one of those moments. Belle Brooks is truly a remarkable story teller.” ~Reader Review


“I will breathe for you.” 

Some people’s bodies are built to run marathons. Others to lift and labour. And some are made so graceful their footsteps are barely heard.
My body was built to be a vessel. It was Always You.

 

Maybelline Connors knows stars are not always as faultless as they appear. She knows life is not permanently concreted into its foundations and love can last a lifetime…even when a lifetime is shorter than one hoped.
Willard Connors knows that life will rob you. That dreams are just that—dreams. And no matter how hard one prays, a star riddled with faults will always be riddled with faults.
What Will is yet to learn, is that he is stronger and braver than he ever imagined he could be. And that gifts from the heart leave a lasting imprint—an imprint unable to be erased.
With life there is love… with love there will always life.
YOU WILL BE REDIRECTED TO THE AUTHORS FACEBOOK PAGE TO ENTER

Born in Australia, Belle Brooks has always had a passion for books and creative writing. She loves exploring the different ways stories can be told through the use of text and in-depth characters. Since she was a child her strong talent and interest in creative writing was evident, explaining that her favourite class in school was English. Despite her love for all things books, she decided the world of advertising and marketing was where she could put her talents to use in the business realm, well that is until now. Belle enjoys creative writing and creating fictional stories that leave a valued message inside the pages.

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DIRTY DEEDS by AJ Nuest

dirty-deeds-tourbannerDirty Deeds

By AJ Nuest

Releasing January 31, 2017

Lyrical Underground

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Blurb:

An Eye for an Eye

As owner of Dirty Deeds, a tech-savvy company specializing in the age-old art of revenge, Eden Smith knows first-hand that secrecy is critical. But when a dead body washes up on the shores of Lake Michigan clutching her business card, Eden’s well-constructed world begins to fall apart. Apparently, she’s not the only one with a passion for payback, and staying alive to outsmart a killer has become her most important job of all.

A Game for a Game

Hardened homicide detective Kelly Riordan is convinced Eden Smith is hiding more than she’s willing to admit. Years on the force have taught him that nothing is what it seems, and that couldn’t be truer than when it comes to investigating the alluring owner of a revenge-for-hire business. But revealing her past could put everything Eden has worked for in jeopardy. And trusting a man like Riordan goes against the very instincts that have kept her alive this long.

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Excerpt

Kelly’s phone chirped, and he frowned, slipping it from the pocket of his jeans. A glance at the caller ID, and he jerked to attention. “Holy shit.”

He knew that number. It’d been the bane of existence for the past forty-eight hours.

Archer lifted his brows. “Problem?”

Holding up his hand, Kelly thumbed the screen. Whether or not this call qualified as a problem was still up for grabs. “Riordan.”

“I heard you’ve been looking for me, Detective.” The voice was female, soft, held a slight hint of humor. Yep. He raked his hand through his hair. This was gonna be a problem, all right. “I hope you don’t mind that I called.”

His brows jacked toward his hairline. Mind that she called? What the hell was she trying to pull? For Christ’s sake, the woman had not only located his private number, she’d dialed it and then acted like calling him was no big deal. Meanwhile, he’d only spent the last two days driving himself nuts trying to figure out her loca—

His eyes slammed shut. But, of course, she already knew that. Which could only mean she also knew his efforts at trying to find her had resulted in a dead end. So she’d called him. A power play to establish right from the get-go exactly who was in charge.

Nice move, Dirty Deeds. Bitchy, but nice.

“Are you there? Maybe I’ve called at a bad time. If you want, I can always—”

“No, no, I’m here.” He locked onto Archer and wrote an invisible line through the air, signaling for him to get some paper and a pen. Kelly cleared his throat. “How can I help you, Miss…?”

She laughed. Smooth, low. Like a shot of barrel-aged whiskey had just slid down her throat. “I think the question you meant to ask is how can I help you.”

Dammit. Huge problem. Huge, huge problem. Not to mention, she seemed to be enjoying this game she’d cooked up. A game she played without giving him the parameters. “Had I known it would be this easy to get your assistance, I would’ve started asking questions about you a long time ago.”

It was a stupid thing to say since he hadn’t even known she existed until Monday night, but based on the way her husky laugh brushed his ear like a feather, she got the point.

“Very good, Detective. At ten o’clock tonight, I’ll be at 17 South State Street on the twenty-first floor, room 4-B. I’ll give you ten minutes.” She paused. “Funny, I was about to say come alone, but I know you won’t. Besides, that sounds corny. Even for me.”

The line disconnected.

Kelly lowered the phone and stared at the screen. On impulse, he hit *69 to dial back the number, but a weird busy signal repeatedly beeped in his ear. Yep. He’d just been spanked and, at the same time, something about her…

Damn, the woman had him intrigued.
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Book Links: Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N | Google Play | iTunes | Kensington | Goodreads

 

 

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Author Info:

Multi-published, award-winning author and editor AJ Nuest resides in Northwest Indiana with her loving husband, two beautiful children, and a bevy of spoiled pets. Her four-part serial fantasy romance, The Golden Key Chronicles, was awarded the RONE Time Travel Romance of 2015 by InD’tale Magazine, and her spin-off series, The Golden Key Legacy, was chosen as a Must Read Romance by USA Today’s Happy Ever After. Her contemporary romantic comedy, She’s Got Dibs, won First Place in the Heartland Romance Author’s Show Me the Spark! Contest, 2013. For more please visit her at ajnuest.com.

 

Author Links: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 
Tour Schedule: http://tours.readingromance.com/2016/12/dirty-deeds-by-aj-nuest.html

WAKE UP CALL by Amy Avanzino

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blog tour

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Book Title: Wake-Up Call
Author: Amy Avanzino
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

Goodreads

book blurb

Sarah Winslow wakes up with a terrible hangover…and a kid in her boyfriend’s bed. She makes the horrifying discovery that, due to a head injury, it’s not a hangover. She’s got memory loss. Overnight, five years have disappeared, and she’s no longer the hard-living, fast-track, ad executive party girl she thinks she is. Now, she’s the unemployed, pudgy, married, stay-at-home-mom of three kids under five, including twins.

As she slowly pieces together the mystery of how her dreams and aspirations could have disintegrated so completely in five short years, she finds herself utterly failing to manage this life she can’t imagine choosing. When Sarah meets the man of her dreams, she realizes she’s got to make a choice: Does she follow her bliss and “do-over” her life? Or does the Sarah she’s forgotten hold the answers to how she got here…and how she can stay?

excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

The moment I wake up I know I’m in trouble. I try and caution a peek at my surroundings but I can’t get my eyes to focus. I feel nauseous. I finally manage to make out an image of a massive lump beneath the covers beside me. It rises and falls with alternate motion in rhythm to a rumbling snore, which only intensifies the loud thumping in my head. I soon realize, with a sinking heart, that the man in bed with me is too large and unruly to be my boyfriend.

What have I done?

I become lightheaded with the thought of myself as a cheater. My stomach turns and I think I’m going to be sick. I take in a few short breaths and try and collect my thoughts. What happened to me? How did I get here? Why would I do this when I have a man with defined abs and the sex drive of a man at sea?

I must have had too much to drink last night because my memory is so fuzzy. I can’t seem to remember anything.

It doesn’t matter. Kofi will never forgive me and I couldn’t ask him to. My eyes well up and my chest feels clinched while thinking about all the things I’m going to miss about him. The way he looks at me when I enter a room. His ambition and how he inspires me to work harder and be a better person. He has this sarcastic sense of humor, I often don’t understand, but he accompanies it with a laugh that’s quiet and contagious, like a yawn. I miss him already.

I need to get out of here. I want to get up but my head is too heavy to lift and moving makes my head pound harder. I have a charley horse in my neck and a shooting pain in my eye. This is the worst hangover ever.

I mine for deeper reserves of strength and roll myself off the bed and hit the floor with a thud. Through scrunched up eyelids I look around for my belongings but I can’t seem to find any of my things. Where’s my bag, my shoes, my clothes?

A twinge of guilt trickles down my spine as I borrow a shapeless shirt and sweat pants from the floor. I pause for the poor girl who owns these garments. Not only did I sleep with her big fat man last night, but worse, her personal taste is appalling. She has enigmatic style and is awfully un-savvy. Because her clothes identify her as a husky woman, I best move fast before she returns. I’m quite certain she can kick my skinny ass. Although my Tae Bo keeps me perfectly toned, I fear the heavily practiced jabs, punches and sidekicks have little street use.

I look for the emergency exit and can’t help but take in this distasteful environment. I’m surrounded by a terribly decorated room with cheap imitation Anne Geddes baby photos and mismatched furniture. I’ve seen garage sales with better interior design elements.

I creep to the door and twist my ankle on an oversized Lego. I tumble to my knees and mime a silent scream. Now eye level to the carpet, I’m better able to survey the final course of my escape route. I stay low and slither across the floor, appreciating the breathable fabric and freedom of movement of the clothes on loan.

Once I make it past the threshold of the bedroom, I’m faced with a mine field of toys planted in the hallway, obstructing my passage to the outside world. I trip over a stuffed dinosaur and he screams and then there’s silence…the snoring has ceased. As this could further complicate my departure, I begin my high-speed pursuit towards the front door forgoing all thought of injuries and hangover.

“Sarah?” says a recognizable voice.

I cock my ear at the door. “Kofi?”

“Where you going babe?”

I weave my way back through the house to my boyfriend.

“Where are we?” I breathe a heavy sigh when my eyes meet his.

Kofi has intense smoldering charcoal eyes and behind them there is a light that sparkles whenever he is excited. He’s got impeccable lustrous ebony skin, exotic full kissable lips, and high cheekbones – a fascinating combination resulting from his African American-Cherokee heritage. When standing he is nearly six-feet-tall, with a v-shaped torso and he oozes with unadulterated, uncontrived maleness. But in spite of his appearance, he has this cool confidence that’s devoid of arrogance. In fact he is so smooth that the Isaac Hayes’ theme song for Shaft plays in my mind whenever I watch him from across a room.

My heart is dancing inside my chest, thrilled I haven’t ruined the opportunity to see where this relationship will go. I want to leap into bed with him, pin him down, and smother him with kisses, but I’m still feeling off balance. Instead I rest my shoulder against the door frame for support.

Kofi, moving sluggishly, sits up. I watch him closely and notice I can’t hear the music playing in my head, instead I hear my brain beating against my skull. My eyes still zooming in and out of focus. “Where are your braids?”

Kofi jerks his head up. “What do you mean?” and talks in a loud whisper.

Kofi once described his hair as an expression of originality but it is now something approaching respectability and uniformity. “You look like a Marine and yesterday you looked like K-Fed.”

After a pause, he says, “huh?” sounding perplexed.

“You know K-Fed, a.k.a Kevin Federline, a.k.a Mr. Britney Spears,” and if he didn’t get those references I add, “a.k.a the next Eminem.”

Kofi looks at me with an expression curiously akin to confusion.

“Why did you shave off the cornrows? A buzz makes you look so…” I trail off, unable to think of a single word other than fat. Then old comes to mind. I finally arrive at “different. You look so different,” I say, wincing on his behalf.

Before Kofi can answer, the covers start rustling and out pops a child rubbing his eyes.

“What is that?” I scream and point at the boy. “Why? Why?” is all I am able to say.

“He had a nightmare.” Kofi exaggerates a long drawn out yawn and stretches out his lengthy arms.

“Huh? What?”

“Mama, what’s wrong?” says the boy in the bed in a tiny, weary voice.

“Kid I’m not your mom,” I say, followed by an uncomfortable chuckle. I share a look with Kofi and gesture towards the door. “I’m going home.”

“Very funny Sarah, but I don’t have time for this.” Kofi digs into the corner of his eyes with his fingers. “I have to be at work, I’m in trouble enough as it is.”

The boy turns to Kofi and asks, “Daddy, why’s mama acting weird?”

“Daddy? Daddy! You have a kid? Shit Kofi, you never told me you have a kid.” I study the child closely, there’s no denying the resemblance. He’s but a miniature clone of Kofi, with lighter skin and one third his stature and both are sitting cross-legged, with heads tilted slightly to the left, the same single eye brow raised, and both now pouting petulantly.

I retreat into the hallway and try and slow down my thoughts that are running circles through my mind. Where am I? How did I get here? Why does this kid think I’m his mom? And why is Kofi looking at me as if I’m crazy?

“What’s shit?” the child asks.

“Oh sorry kid, I mean…” I search for a more child-friendly vocabulary and come up with nothing. I just look at the boy blankly as he looks back with wide saucer eyes. The silence stretches too long and my nerves burst with a bang. “Shit,” I repeat -I can’t help myself.

Kofi’s expression goes instantly very angry. “Sarah, what the heck is wrong with you?” he grumbles.

“Me? What the heck is wrong with you? I didn’t know you had a kid. You somehow breezed over that topic in the six months we’ve been together.” The last thing I want to be is some poor, confused kid’s step-mom. “I didn’t sign on for this! Where’s my stuff?” I stalk back and forth like a caged animal searching for an escape route. “I want to get out of here.”

“Okay. Ha-ha, you’re funny. I never told you I have a kid.” Kofi and the child exchange puzzled looks.

“Whatever. Let’s talk about this later. I can’t deal with it now. God, my head is killing me,” I tell him. “I have the worst hangover and I think I’m going to throw up.”

“Hangover?” Kofi draws back sharply. “Babe,” he squints his eyes slightly as he surveys me, “maybe you should get back into bed?”

“With the young boy…that’s illegal,” I say, avoiding eye contact with the child. “Can you just take me home?”

“Sarah,” Kofi says in a slow, clear, soothing way; a tone I imagine a pre-school teacher would use or maybe a psychotherapist. “Are you okay?”

“What do you think? I just found out my boyfriend has a kid. I’m in some dreadful house and God only knows where the Excedrin is. I’m probably wearing your baby’s mama’s clothes.” I breathe in deeply, the smell is repugnant and triggers my gag reflex.

Kofi gets out of the bed and approaches me slowly. He’s wearing boxers and T-shirt advertising Jones BBQ. I scrutinize his appearance for a moment and perceive a change, but my eyes feel like they’re burning behind my head. I squeeze them shut.

“Actually, don’t even bother getting up Kofi. I’ll bus back to my apartment.”

Kofi walks toward me looking troubled. “Oh babe,” he nervously shifts his eyes and says, “Babe, can you…can you…” then he stops, looks at his…son, raises his voice an octave. “Sweetness, why don’t you go use the potty and give us a minute.”

The boy jumps several times across the bed, as though on a trampoline and then darts out of the room.

Kofi turns back to me and his stutter returns. He finally manages to spit out, “Can you tell me what you did yesterday?”

The only thing I know for sure is how brutal this headache is and it seems to be crippling my thoughts.

I attempt to reconstruct the events of last night’s drunken debauchery. I try to concentrate as hard as I can. Desperately searching for the memory, much like trying to remember a dream the morning after. “I…um…oh yeah, I interviewed for that promotion I’ve been talking about for weeks, which went really well by the way. I’m pretty sure I got it.” I stop, think harder. “And then I met up with the girls for happy hour, like every other Friday for the past three years.”

Kofi’s mouth falls open.

I think back on the night, but nothing jumps out as odd: the drinks went down in the usual way. My girlfriends and I covered the typical topics: men, fashion, office gossip and celebrity current events. When the spirits took over us, we took over the dance floor. I remember Jo-Jo dancing to a seven count rather than the conventional eight and Piper’s good judgment was lost somewhere between the funky chicken and the robot. Celia was jiving and using her hand as a microphone, lip-syncing with the house band. It appears in my recall, however, that I was an expert dancer.

I shrug my shoulders. “I must’ve blacked out after that because I don’t remember coming here.”

Kofi stares at me hard. “Babe, are you serious?”

“Yelling isn’t helping Kofi.”

“I’m not yelling,” Kofi says and looks me firmly in the eyes. “I think…we have a problem. Nico told me you fell when riding his skateboard yesterday and you hit your head, maybe you…” his voice trails off.

Instinctually, I put my hand up to my head and I cringe at the touch. “Ow!” I call out. There’s a bump the size of a golf ball. It feels sore and tender and its throbbing like it has its own heart beat.

“Nico? You mean grandpa? He just got a hip replacement…he can’t even Bocce Ball anymore.”

“You haven’t been to a happy hour in, well, forever.” Kofi speaks slowly and maybe even a little sadly. “Last night we watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on DVD and we were in bed by 9:00.”

“Wait a minute…this is a prank.” This must be another one of Kofi’s jokes, although I’m not really sure how it’s funny. “You totally had me going for a second. Bravo.” I applaud his originality, creating his own Harry Potter title, Deathly Hallows, that’s detailed. “Where’d you get the kid? He’s a good little actor…did you rent him? Did you drug me to get me here? That’s a little bit excessive, but man, you really got me. I almost believed you.”

I wait for him to break into laughter and then deliver some punch-line, but instead he holds a poker face for an unbearably long time.

Kofi rubs his forehead as though trying to gather his thoughts. “I’m going to call the doctor Sarah,” he says and before I can respond, the kid has returned from the bathroom. Kofi bends down to meet him. “Stay with her. I’ll be right back.”

Kofi grabs a navy fuzzy robe from the back of the bathroom door, leaving its matching baby blue one behind. He slips into a pair of house shoes from the foot of the bed then hustles out of the room, leaving the child and me behind.

I flash the youngster a nervous semi-smile. He’s an attractive kid. He has large, soft, dark chocolate eyes, shapely nose, perfect lips, charming grin and a skin tone I’d risk skin cancer for. He has wild, brownish hair that’s styled in a three-inch, loose-curl afro. He’s smallish, as a child should be I suppose, but he has the build of a bulldog; broad shouldered and solid frame. He looks like my sister’s kid, but I guess all kids look alike.

I open dialogue hesitantly with, “Hi”. He begins to speak a dialect unfamiliar to me. And wow, does he speak: he goes on and on and I haven’t a clue what he’s talking about. He’s using up all the oxygen in the room, and I feel like I’m suffocating. I begin side stepping my way to the door. I’m hoping he won’t notice if I duck out, but he watches me like a hawk. I try zigzagging and weaving, but he won’t get off my tail. It’s like being chased by a mugger in a dark alley.

Kofi, still on the phone, is pacing back and forth, in and out of the kitchen. He yells into the receiver, “Yes, I understand we don’t have an appointment…No, we don’t want to see another doctor…I don’t care that he’s not on-call, this is an emergency….If you can’t make this happen, put someone on the phone who can.”

When I look down at the kid, he’s still talking. I try to politely excuse myself. “Kid,” I say, “I don’t know what a wocketchip is, and I need to go tinkle…okay?”

“Okay. A wocketchip is…” and he continues talking, unbothered by my lack of interest. Thank God my ears are ringing to drown out some of his noise. He follows me right into the bathroom, stubbornly determined to invade my personal boundaries.

Then Kofi storms into the bathroom- even though, and I can’t stress this enough, I told him I was busy inside. “Blue’s Clues is on,” Kofi says and without another word, the young boy whirls out of the room, not unlike a miniature tornado.

Kofi approaches me slowly. He kisses me gently on the cheek, despite the fact he hasn’t brushed and his scent is musty.

“The doctor wants us to come in right away. He’s worried you may have a concussion or something.”

“Don’t be silly. I don’t need a doctor. What I need is a Bloody Mary. Will you make me one?”

“Um,” Kofi utters, fumbling for the words. He slowly lifts his eyes to meet mine. He looks weird. I squint at him and study him. I notice the deep set lines. His hair is cropped short, peppered gray amongst the jet blackness of the rest of it. His stomach is…round.

I wonder if I’m dreaming. Am I still drunk?

“Maybe you should sit down.”

“What’s going on Kofi?”

“Well, I’m not sure how to start actually.” He takes a deep breath and composes himself. “You know that interview you were talking about?”

I nod firmly.

“That was at least five years ago.” He pauses to let it sink in.

I look up briefly and rub my eyes. What did he just say? There is no way he just said that was five yearsago.

He adds in a no-nonsense tone. “Nico’s our son.”

“What?! You’re trying to tell me that I’m a…a…” I can’t even say it. I notice my knees shaking ever so slightly. Kofi tries to slide his arm through mine but I pull away.

“Yes, you’re a mom and we’re married and this is our home.”

I feel hot on the inside, and itchy, and a little bit queasy. I try and speak but the lump in my throat won’t budge. I need a few moments to take all this in. I take a few steps back and lean against the wall and start looking around the room at the graffiti walls, the laminate flooring, the dirty counter tops and then begin to panic.

“You don’t work in advertising anymore,” Kofi continues, “you work full time at home, you’re a stay-at-home-mom.”

I freeze. Time seems to slow down to a crawl. Is this what the deer-in-headlights, who we hear so much about, experience right before the 18 wheeler smacks it head-on?

“You’re not kidding?” I ask nervously.

Kofi fixes his eyes to mine and shakes his head very slowly. He puts my hand inside of his and says, “It’s going to be okay.”

I can’t believe this is happening. I was finally moving up the ladder. When I began my career in advertising my 5×5 cubicle was blocking the elevator and in four short years I’d moved to three cubes away from the office that had a window. I was so close. I could finally see success. All that shit work I put into advancing my career. The late nights, working weekends, the years of school, was for nothing. This is just my luck.

“So I’m not twenty-eight anymore?”

“You’re thirty-three.”

I react to the news physically, with a flinch. Thirty-three is practically mid-thirties, that’s almost forty, which means…I’m old. Oh God, no!

“Oh, and your grandpa’s dead too; sorry,” Kofi adds, cautiously awaiting my next move. He’s following me closely with his eyes as I shift my weight, so that I can peer into the mirror behind him.

I look at the stranger in the reflection and I don’t know who I see, but she looks as surprised to see me as I am too see her. I spin around a little, slowly, and she does the same. I approach the mirror and with every step the reflection gets bigger and bigger and fatter. My voice is shaking now. “What’s going on? What…what…. happened to me?”

Kofi explains again more slowly and enunciating his words judiciously. “I don’t know exactly, I was at work, but according to Nico you were attempting an ollie off his skateboard and you fell back and hit your head on the curb. You weren’t wearing a helmet, but I thought you were okay…there was no blood and last night you seemed fine….maybe a little shaken up…maybe a little tired, but you’re pretty much always tired, so…” The color from his face begins to fade as the memory cascades over him. “Oh God, now that I think about it, you were acting strange. You put Nico’s Transformer back-pack on and said you were going to school. I thought you were just fooling around…it was really funny.” He puts both hands up to his head. “Jesus, I laughed.” His expression looks about to crumple. “I’m so sorry Sarah, I feel terrible…” his voice trails off.

Truthfully I’m not really listening. I’m still staring at myself in the mirror, while my fingers trace the fine lines that crowd my mouth. “No. No. Why do I look like this?” My eyes have sunken; my roots now freckled with gray and at least an inch thick above the rest of my wild ash-blond mane. How could so much damage happen in five years? I’ve aged at least a decade. “You’re right I should probably sit down. I’m so pale. I look faint.”

“Actually, you look…normal.”

I feel tears build behind my eyes. I start blinking hard, refusing to cry, refusing to believe that this is actually happening.

“I have the arms of a linebacker, my thighs are fuller and my boobs,” I say, grabbing my breasts and lifting them up and down, like I’m doing arm curls with them. “They’d definitely fail the Pencil Test.”

“Pencil Test?”

“The Pencil Test. If you can tuck a pencil under your breasts, they’re saggy. If you can tuck the entire back-to-school supply box under them, you have mine!”

He scratches his head. “I love your shape,” he says, thankfully convincingly.

“Then you must like circles!” My cheeks feel swollen, my legs feel like jelly and I’m feeling myself wobbling on the edge of hysteria. “What’s happened to me? This makes no sense. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe!”

“Relax,” he advises. “We’ll get this all straightened out at the doctor. It will be okay. Everything is going to be okay,” he says almost to himself.

I inhale deeply through my nose, then open my lips and make an om sound as I exhale, trying to find my center.

“Right now you just need to get dressed so we aren’t late for our appointment.”

“Are you out of your mind?” I say, unnerved. “There’s no way I’m leaving this house looking like this. I haven’t even showered.”

Kofi blinks, taken aback. “That’s crazy talk. This is really serious.”

“Well so is hygiene,” I point out.

“Please,” Kofi struggles to keep his voice calm, “let’s just go and you can take a bath when we get home.”

“Ew, I am not leaving this house without a shower.” I put my unpedicured foot down.

“Fine, I need to make a few phone calls anyway.” Kofi throws up his arms. “But hurry.”

When Kofi leaves, I take off my clothes and against my better judgment I take a look. It’s worse than I’d expected. My stomach looks like a walnut shell. I have a muffin top without pants on and even my hair looks fat. I’m dumbfounded. I always valued beauty and grooming. I love working out and being unemployed, I imagine that I have time in spades to do so. What else do I have to do, for Christ sakes?

I stand in the shower and let the water pour down my face, as I try to piece together the mystery of how my dreams and aspirations could have disintegrated so completely. But my eyelids are feeling heavy again. My head’s spinning and banging, like having shoes in the dryer. I can’t think.

“You okay babe?” Kofi watches me through the clear shower door, which is just another design flaw of this house.

“I’m fine.” This is a lie. I’m freaking out.

“You need to speed things up. Our appointment’s at 8:00 and it’s almost 7:00.”

I sputter through the water, annoyed, “I only have an hour to get ready?”

“No, we have to be there in an hour. So you have about fifteen minutes,” he yells over the shower stream.

“Sorry, no can do. I’m in need of a deep conditioning. And I mean deep.” I’m hoping against all hope that that’s all it takes to get me back to some semblance of normalcy. “We’ll just taxi.”

“Actually, we have to drive. We live in the foothills, about twenty miles east of Seattle.” I mentally zoom in on the word “foothills”. What he really means is, we live in a damned suburb.

I lean my head into the water stream that won’t get hotter than warm and look down for my hair products and only see one bottle, Pert Plus 2 in 1, shampoo and conditioner. So this is what it’s come to. I lather and spread the soap. My skin moves with the wash cloth. I have an eight inch scar beneath my belly and below that I’ve gone savage.

By the time Kofi returns, again he enters without knocking or announcing himself. I’m perched on top of the bathroom counter doing extensive damage control: the makeup bag that I managed to dig out from underneath the sink has vomited its contents all over the place. I apply a generous amount of make-up and pull my hair back in a perfectly parted, elegant twist, at the nape of my neck. Although it makes me look like a pudgy ballerina, it’s better than a disheveled housewife.

Kofi grabs a shirt and pants from the top of one of the clothes piles, sniffs them, and then puts them on. He pats his pockets and discovers his phone and wallet. His eyes grow bigger when he notices me. “You’re not even dressed yet?” He begins to pace about the way he does when he’s nervous. “Your friend’s coming over and she’ll be here any minute. You should be ready by now.”

“Who’s coming Piper or Jo-Jo? I know you wouldn’t call Celia. I couldn’t handle her honesty right now anyway.”

“I called Elaine. She’s very concerned about you and is on her way over.”

“Who?”

“Our neighbor.” He slips his feet in his shoes without unlacing them. “You don’t really talk to those other girls much anymore.”

“It’s because we don’t get reception in the burbs, isn’t it?” Something squeezes hard in my chest. “Oh God, you moved me to a place that’s out of network.”

“Babe, I know this is a lot to take in, but maybe we can get more answers from the doctor.”

The doorbell rings.

“Let’s go,” Kofi says, “I know Elaine really wants to see you. She’s really worried about you.”

“Send her away,” I say, trying to summon some composure. “I’m not ready to meet anyone right now.”

“You’re not meeting, you’re great friends.” He rubs his face hopelessly then says, “That’s right, you don’t know that because you don’t remember. Well,” he speaks quickly, “she offered to babysit while we’re at the doctor, so she’s staying. I’ll just ask her to stay with Nico in the kitchen while we sneak out.” Kofi moves across the room at a pace four times that of mine. “Can you please hurry up and get dressed?”

I roll my eyes to mean, whatever, and he leaves with a loud sigh.

The sounds of Kofi and a chirpy, disembodied voice head down the hall toward the kitchen.

Now according to my lingerie drawer, I’ve given up on sexy. All undergarments are functional and supportive, meant to stay concealed and not revealed. My panties are white and made of cotton and –oh God!- they’re tall. Why, why? My brassieres are built with technological and scientific sophistication. They cover my entire chest, with three inch straps and needing a five clasp panel system in the rear. I then origami my breasts to get them in my bra.

Everything in “my” closet is casual, conservative and machine washable. I’m completely underwhelmed by my options and trying to put something acceptable together with what I have is like my own Project Runway challenge. I pick out a shirt that has a pattern that gives me vertigo and hope since it’s been at least five years that poly-cotton blends are just a bad trend like the visible g-string or holey jeans. I reluctantly pull on a pair of high waist jeans. I lace up my shoes and then admire the finished product. I do my signature runway walk to a half length mirror and hit my pose, but instead of looking fierce, I look healthy, plump, and jolly.

Kofi puts his head in around the door. Can’t he knock?

“Ready?” he asks, looking at the woman in the mirror, who vaguely resembles the woman he dated five years ago. “Babe, you know we’re just going to the hospital right?”

“What do you mean?”

“You look…” he stops, then starts again, “glamorous…like you’re getting ready for the theater and not a doctor’s appointment.”

I give a few twirls and wonder what Kofi’s complimenting. I have always appreciated his trustworthiness and candor, but my suspicions are now raised to his sincerity.

Kofi grabs my arm. “Come on. We have to get out of here before Nico catches wind that we’re leaving.” I hear urgency in his voice. “Let’s go quietly. And don’t step there,” he points to a spot on the floor. “That board’s loose.” Kofi moves like a ninja but I walk with a heavy foot on a rubber sole. “Shhh, tiptoe,” but it’s too late.

I hear the frantic pitter patter of running feet before an advancing blur attacks me from down below. The next thing I know the little boy, “Nico” I presume. He has his legs wrapped, then locked, around my midsection. He’s squeezing the breath out of me and I’m unable to withstand the weight of his forty plus pound frame. I begin to crumble, hitting the floor. My foundation is smudged almost instantly and my hair comes undone.

“Help me,” I say with my last breath, “I think he’s trying to kill me.”

Nearly blacking out but revived by his high pitched piercing scream, “Don’t go!” The kid is covered in tears and getting slobber on my hair and neck. Then he plants his face into my shirt and wipes it across the front, leaving a snot streak. I’m appalled that I was just used as a tissue. “Mama, don’t leave!”

I don’t know who this mama person is, but I run for the exit. I reach for the door handle, that much closer to freedom, when I hear something, like an echo. It’s coming from the back of the house, and the sound is suspiciously familiar.

“What’s that noise?” I gasp. “Oh no. Do I also have a baby?”

“No,” Kofi replies, frantically pushing me towards the door.

“Oh, thank God. I just couldn’t handle that right now.” I’ve got one foot out the door. I can almost taste the escape.

“We have two.”

praise

“Funny yet tender…witty and charming…a reminder of the things that really matter in life.” – Jackie Bouchard, USA Today Bestselling Author of What the Dog Ate

“A sparkling debut novel brimming with heart and hilarity.” – Karin Gillespie, National Bestselling Author of Girl Meet Class

“With a marvelously snarky, sarcastic wit and a formidably flawed heroine, Wake-Up Call is frequently laugh-out-loud—and hard to put down.” – Phoebe Fox, Author of The Breakup Doctor Series and Huffington Post Contributor

“I laughed through every page…I never wanted to put it down…hilarious.” – Holly Rust, Co-Founder of Mother’s Guide to Sanity and Contributing Author of It’s Really 10 Months: Special Delivery

One of the best I have read this year… a great read especially if you are feeling the strain of raising small children and you are dreaming about the greener grass in someone else’s yard.” – A Novel Mama

“A sarcastic, snarky, funny look at life and all the things we never knew we really wanted.” – The Books Lover’s Best Friend

“Hilariously funny…endearing and heartfelt.” – Library Thing

“Thought-provoking…relatable…loved.” – Tara Wilson, Co-Author of Martinis & Motherhood: Tales of Wonder, Woe & WTF?!

“A lighthearted read, with lots of love, hilarity, some sexiness and definitely a good time.” – Comfy Reading

“Fresh, funny, and compulsively readable. I loved it!”– Kati Merritt Radziwon, Founder of OneMomADay.com

“I love everything about Avanzino’s writing; it’s witty, true and extremely smart. She is awesome at creating hilarious dialogue and her characterization is also spot on. I love how she has taken a run-of-the-mill suburban street and plucked so many fascinating stories from amongst its residents” –Bookaholic Confessions

“Amy Avanzino has quickly developed a reputation for writing realistic characters and situations that truly touch the heart and inspire.” –BestChickLit.com

meet the author

Amy Avanzino received a Bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and a Master’s from the University of Washington. She is a former special education teacher who has spent the last several years writing and doing extensive hands-on research for her Wake-Up Series, the first of which is Wake-Up Call. She’s a contributing writer of Hap Scotch, a play performed at the 2008 Frigid Festival in New York, which won two Audience Choice Awards. Amy currently lives in the stands above the football fields, basketball courts, and baseball diamonds around Folsom, California with her husband and four children.

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WINTERLUST TALES by Ray Sostre

Winterlust Tales

by Ray Sostre

One of the hottest reads to keep you warm all winter long! Six steamy reads – m/f, m/m, ménage

BLURB:

Prepare for a cold winter, but because the season has changed it doesn’t mean the sexual fantasies have to. Author Ray Sostre delivers six steamy reads, related to a winter theme. Whether you’re snowed in or vacationing, or celebrating a holiday with your passionate one, this book will guarantee to heat up your winter.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | All Romance eBooks (ARe) | Kobo | B&N

About the Author: 

Ray Sostre

New York born, East Coast raised, and West Coast bound

Writing erotica happened by accident in the summer of 2010.  That same year, he established a story submission site – AfterDark Online, a place where people are free to publish erotic stories.

He lives in Nevada with his long-time girlfriend, is an avid listener of electronica, and enjoys writing and publishing articles. He jokes: “I’m always looking for writing material.”

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