Review – Pucked Love by Helena Hunting

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Pucked Love, the final sexy and emotional standalone in the NYT bestselling Pucked Series from New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting, is available NOW!

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As an NHL player, relationships haven’t been my thing. Shrouded in secrecy and speculation, they never last very long. But then that’s what happens when you require an NDA before the first date.

Until Charlene. She’s like a firefly. She’s elusive, and if you catch her she’ll burn bright, but keeping her trapped dulls her fire and dims her beauty.

I caught her. And as much as I might want to keep her, I’ll never put the lid on her jar. Not at the risk of losing her. So I’ve let her set the rules in our relationship.

But as long hidden secrets expose us both, I discover exactly how fragile Charlene is, and how much I need her.

We’re all broken. We’re all messed up. Some more than others. Me more than most.

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BFF K’s Review of Pucked Love

There are few things I love more than seeing a clueless hero get knocked on his butt when he realizes he’s in love with the heroine. And does Darren take a tumble! I’ve read/listened to every book and novella in this series and I’m thrilled with this ending!

I’ll admit, I’ve been perplexed by Darren and Charlene the whole time. To be honest, their relationship just seemed weird. Were they a couple or weren’t they? It seemed like there were, but time and again they behaved in ways that made you question that. They seemed to like one another but were so secretive and closed off. His secrecy and her gosh darn pearls…what was the deal?

Darren and Charlene both had some significant baggage. And, they were really just hauling it around with them for years. It wasn’t until they were forced by both friends and enemies to confront their issues that they were able to come together and figure their s&%# out! It was so fun to take that journey with them. I think Darren and Charlene are one of my favorite couple’s in the series. I’m just so happy with the conclusion of their love story.

If you haven’t read any of the books in the Pucked series, you need to fix that immediately! They’re terrific books and fantastic audiobooks. I can’t recommend them highly enough! This series is fun, sweet, sexy – everything you want in a rom-com series and Pucked Love is the perfect conclusion!

 

 

An advance copy of this book was received. The reviewer listened to the the audiobook with the Audible Romance Package. Receipt of the advance copy did not impact the content or independence of this review.

 

 

Excerpt

You’re turning twenty-six. It’s your champagne birthday, so we need to do something fun.” Violet bounces, making her boobs shake and my mimosa slosh perilously. “It should be themed! We can all wear leather chaps!”

“Could you be any more cliché?” I roll my eyes. “Just to be clear, Darren doesn’t own chaps.”

“Just a ball gag and a mask with no eye holes, according to Alex.”

And we’re back to my sex life. I knew I was getting off so easy.

I wonder if Darren is catching this kind of heat today. I seriously doubt it’s worse than what I’m getting since I don’t think his friends are likely to push his buttons, but I’ll have to ask when I speak to him next. I’m not sure when that will be, either. The message I sent about Gertrude was pretty straightforward and doesn’t necessarily require a response. Maybe I should’ve worded it differently.

Sunny raises her hand, like we’re all still in middle school and she’s waiting her turn to speak. “Wouldn’t a mask with no eyeholes be dangerous? You wouldn’t be able to see where you’re going.” Her eyes widen, and she looks around the room. “And what’s a ball gag?”

I honestly love that Sunny has grown up in this highly overinformed society and still manages to be innocent.

“Yeah, Char, wouldn’t a mask with no eyeholes be dangerous?” Violet props her fist on her chin and smiles. “And please, do explain what a ball gag is.”

“I’m not sure you really want the answer to that, Sunny.” Poppy gives me a look I can’t quite decipher.

Sunny twirls her hair around her finger. “Why not?”

“Where’s the harm in a little bondage-sex education? It’s not like Miller’s ever going to go out and buy either item for her. First of all, Alex would murder him, and secondly, I don’t think that’s Miller’s thing.”

Sunny’s face lights up, and she does jazz hands. “Oh! I think I know what Miller’s thing is!”

Lily grins. “Eating your cookie?”

“He really likes to do that, a lot. When my belly gets too big I’ll have to watch from the mirror.” She gets a faraway look in her eyes. “But he has another thing! Kind of like how you and Randy are always getting it on in bathrooms, except I think it’s a bit more sanitary.”

“And it doesn’t cause thousands of dollars of damage,” Violet adds.

Lily throws her hands up in the air. “That sink was already falling off the wall. It’s not my fault it broke!”

“That was one expensive orgasm,” I say.

“And Randy says it was worth every penny.” Lily’s smile is devious as she bites her knuckle, then turns to Sunny. “Anyway, back to Miller’s thing.”

Sunny wiggles around excitedly in her chair. “So Miller paints my toenails for me.”

“Miller’s thing is painting your toenails?”

“Yes. Well, no. I think he likes my toes.” Her fingers go to her lips, and she looks around the room, her cheeks flushing.

“Say what now?” Violet asks.

”Sometimes he kisses them.” She covers her mouth with her palm and says something unintelligible.

Violet sits forward in her chair. “Hold on a second, does Buck have a foot fetish?”

“Um, I don’t know.” Sunny looks worried now. “Is that weird? Is it, like, mask with no eyeholes kind of weird?”

About the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Helena Hunting lives outside of Toronto with her amazing family and her two awesome cats, who think the best place to sleep is her keyboard. Helena writes everything from contemporary romance with all the feels to romantic comedies that will have you laughing until you cry.

 

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Review – I Bet You by Ilsa Madden-Mills

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She’s the one bet I can’t resist…

Wall Street Journal bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills returns with an all-new swoon-fest of a novel about what happens when you look beyond labels and take a chance on love.

I Bet You, an all-new sexy college romance standalone is available NOW!

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Sexy Athlete: I bet you…

Penelope Graham: Burn in hell, quarterback.

The late night text is random but Penelope knows exactly who “Sexy Athlete” is. And why she shouldn’t take his wager.

Ryker Voss.

Football star.

Walks on water and God’s gift to women.

Just ask him.

His bet? He promises Penelope he’ll win her the heart of the nerdy guy she’s been crushing on. His plan—good old-fashioned jealousy. Once her crush sees her kissing Ryker, he’ll realize what he’s missing. Sounds legit, right? The only question is…why is Ryker being so nice to her?

Penelope Graham.

Virgin.

Lover of sparkly vampires and calculus.

His mortal enemy.

Penelope knows she shouldn’t trust a jock, but what’s a girl to do when she needs a date to Homecoming? And Ryker’s keeping a secret, another bet, one that could destroy Penelope’s heart forever.

Will the quarterback score the good girl or will his secret mean everyone loses at this game of love?

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BFF K’s Review of I Bet You

I Bet You is a perfect New Adult, college romance! This story gave me similar feels to Madden-Mills previous work, Dirty English, which I LOVED!

Penelope is hard-working, sweet and kind. She has a troubled relationship with her father and she’s mourning the relatively recent loss of her mother. Those experiences have shaped her and given her a skeptical outlook on life and love. And, she’s a bit of a lovable nerd!

Ryker is a football star. His role as the Quarterback and leader of a championship caliber team gets him whatever and whoever he wants. Except Penelope. He’s drawn to her in spite of or because of that fact! He’s a more complicated person than Penelope originally believed and she struggles to match her assumptions of him to the reality. But, of course, their chemistry and attraction to one another is undeniable.

There aren’t a lot of twists and turns or surprises in this book. But, it delivers exactly what you hope for when you pick up a NA, college, football, romance! From start to finish, I Bet You is a sweet and charming coming of age tale. It is a definite one-click for Kindle Unlimited subscribers and all romance lovers!

 

An advance copy of this book was received. Receipt of this copy did not impact the content or independence of this review.

 

 

Excerpt from I Bet You

Penelope

I stand in front of the mirror in the restroom and gasp. Holy moly, I’m a total disaster. Red is on my shirt, my neck, my cheek, and there’s even a dab in my hair. I let out a heavy sigh as I wipe at it with a wet paper towel. At least my hair is auburn and the red will just blend right in. I scrub at the stain on my shirt, but all I end up doing is making a giant wet spot.

“Forget it,” I mutter to myself a few minutes later as I straighten my lopsided messy bun and adjust my glasses. My makeup is faded, and I reach into my apron for a tube of cherry red lipstick then quickly swipe it over my mouth. Like that’s going to improve the situation. I need a makeover and new clothes stat.

I walk out of the restroom and take in Sugar’s Bar and Grill, a restaurant in Magnolia, Mississippi. The dinner rush is over, but a few stragglers will come in, mostly college students. Only a block from campus, Sugar’s has a modern farmhouse feel with galvanized steel light fixtures, pale pine floors, and straight-back metal chairs, but the food…well, that’s what keeps the place hopping. It’s the only restaurant near campus to get anything you want served up with a side of fresh fried green tomatoes. Their menu also features Southern classics, such as chicken and dumplings or macaroni and cheese with bacon sprinkled on top. Just thinking about it makes my stomach rumble. I was so wrapped up in writing during my break that I forgot to eat.

I sigh and head to the football table, where they promptly hand over the money. “Nice doing business with you, boys,” I say before flouncing off, feeling Ryker’s eyes on me the entire time.

What’s his deal with me?

I mean, you’d think he’d want to avoid me because of the article, but it’s as if his mission is to be around me as much as he can. In fact, I’m not even sure he knew who I was before I wrote it since we don’t run in the same circles. I suspect he’s torturing me.

I push him out of my head and walk over to a table that needs bussing, picking up half-empty soda glasses and putting them on my tray. The door chimes, signaling that someone has come in, and I raise my head to see—

Whoa.

I freeze.

Bring out the angels and cue the hallelujah chorus.

Now that’s the kind of man I should be writing sexy scenes about.

Standing at the door is Connor Dimpleshitz—yes, his surname is unfortunate, but his IQ makes up for it. I’ve been crushing on him since our sociology class last semester.

Framed by a golden halo of sunlight as it glints through the windows, I decide he’s what would happen if Albert Einstein and Henry Cavill had a baby. “A hot genius. The perfect unicorn,” I murmur to myself.

I chew on my lip, debating on whether to mosey up to him and say hi or hide.

Hide wins. I know, I’m a little ridiculous, especially since we have calculus together this semester and he’ll obviously see me at some point in class.

But then I’ll have good hair and ketchup-free clothes.

I quickly survey the possibilities for my escape as the hostess seats him in another server’s section. My eyes land on the right side of the restaurant, where I could make a mad dash for the kitchen, but he’s bound to see me darting since I’d have to walk past him. Plus, I want to hang around and watch him without him knowing.

I come to a decision. Wrangling the tray of half-empty sodas I cleared, I quickstep it over to the back left corner, the farthest away from the double doors of the entrance. I maneuver my body into an awkward hunkering position behind a huge potted plant with wide fan-shaped leaves. At least five feet tall with a gnarly brown trunk, the green monster is perfect camouflage.

I peek around a big leaf that’s in dire need of a good dusting,judging by the motes floating around. Feeling paranoid that someone is a witness to my absurdity, I throw a quick glance over my shoulder to make sure no one’s around.

Ryker. Shit.

He’s staring at me from the football table, and there’s a glint in his gaze, as if he’s wondering what I’m doing.

I scowl and stick my tongue out at him. He makes me feel so rebellious and flustered and…excited.

I can’t even stop myself. Ugh.

His expression deepens in amusement, and I grimace, realizing my butt is sticking out. His annoying eyebrow jacks up and says, What the hell are you doing?

With eye telepathy I tell him to mind his own freaking business.

I pointedly turn my back on him and focus on The Unicorn.

A few seconds later, a familiar deep voice resonates from behind me, making me start. “You look a little flustered, Penelope. Spying on someone for your next story, perhaps?”

I freeze. Blink. His voice is husky and lower than before when he was calling me garçon, the tone reminding me of languid summer nights under a starry Southern sky while he gives me deep, passionate kisses—

Good Lord.Stop your daydreaming.Must. Stop. Reading. Romances.

I heave out a sigh and turn around to face Ryker.

What the hell does he want now?

***

“I don’t submit to the Wildcat Weekly anymore,” I say.

I worked for them most of last year, covering the home games and a few random articles. With a dad who was in the NFL, I know a lot about football, but when Sugar’s offered me more hours, I took it.

“No more football stories, huh?”

I shrug, my gaze taking in his chiseled cheekbones, the curve of his full lips, the hint of scruff on his jaw. Dammit, why is he so gorgeous? “What can I say? I covered the most fascinating story last semester—you. Guess I went out on a high note.”

He nods, taking that dig. “I always noticed you at the games.”

I scoff. “I didn’t think girls like me were on your radar.”

“You sat near the third row at the fifty-yard line taking notes at every home game.” His eyes drift over me. “And I didn’t say you were on my radar.”

“Really? Sounds like you did.”

“Trust me, I have more discriminating tastes.” He shrugs.

“Why, how sweet of you.” My Southern accent has thickened, the way it does when I’m sassy. It’s one thing to know he doesn’t like me, but for him to say I’m not up to his standards…well. “Did you pop over here just to be nice?”

He exhales and rakes a hand through his hair, calling attention to the lighter strands that have been bleached by the sun. “Honestly, I’m not sure why I came over here.” A conflicted expression crosses his face as he tugs at his collar. My eyes stare at the myriad of curly blond chest hairs that are poking out from the V-neck of the light blue Oxford he’s wearing with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay from the ketchup getting all over you, but everything I’m saying is coming out wrong.”

Oh. This is different. And not what I expected.

“I’m fine, Baby Llama. No need to worry. You can go. Your girlfriends are waiting for you.” I tilt my head back toward the football table.

He doesn’t budge. “Baby Llama?” An amused grin flashes over his face.

I shrug. It’s been my private nickname for him since sophomore year when I stumbled upon him coming out of an upstairs bathroom at the Tau house after a shower with only a white towel wrapped around his trim waist. Some jersey chaser was with him. His hairy chest had both shocked my virgin sensibilities and excited me at the same time. The unruly curls just made him seem more naked, as if I’d seen his cock. Much to my dismay, I’d later dream about rolling around on that bed of golden curls. Seriously, who takes a shower with a chick in the middle of a kegger? Ryker Voss, that’s who. Because he can. And girls do whatever he wants.

But not this one.

I respect the game—even love it—but I don’t fall for football players, especially high and mighty quarterbacks who think they walk on water. My dad was the star player at Waylon twenty years ago, and trust me, I know how they operate. They get what they want and then they walk out, leaving broken hearts everywhere.

“Have you ever seen a real llama?” he asks, continuing our conversation. It’s as if he’s actually trying to be nice. “I saw one at a safari park once. Little bugger tried to eat my hand off when I fed him, but he was cute. Maybe you need a poster of one in your room so when you see it, you’ll think about me. I’ll even sign it for you.”

And there’s the cocky again.

“Buy me one. I’ll throw darts at it.”

“Damn, you never stop.” He huffs out a laugh, his eyes lingering on my neck. “Oh, there’s a bit of ketchup here too,” he says, reaching out to glide his finger across the top of my collar, his knuckles barely brushing against my neck.

The feather-light touch is brief and not sexual, yet my body hums, tendrils of sparks racing over my skin. I suck in a breath and catch his scent, warm and spicy with hints of leather and sandalwood.

He blinks and clears his throat. “Um, I actually have this cleaner stuff that I spray on my practice clothes. It’s a miracle worker. You’re welcome to borrow it. Of course, you’d have to come by the football dorm to pick it up. We could even do laundry together if you wanted?”

He says the words softly, as if they’re nothing,and I’m staring at him full on.

Do our laundry together?

I suspect Ryker Voss is flirting with me, though not well. The pimply-faced checkout boy at Big Star has better lines than this.

Yet…

Something warm grows inside my stomach and then flutters around, the sputtering of newborn butterflies. He is the hottest guy on campus. Still, I remind myself he’s a player, gather my resolve, and shoot those butterflies down.

“You’re being weird, Ryker.”

“Because I’m being nice? Yeah. New year, new start. I want to forget all the bad stuff from last semester.” He pauses. “And the article you wrote.”

“Is that right? Even the part where I said you dishonored the sport and were a disgrace to college players everywhere?”

He stares down at his hands. “I had my reasons for what happened.”

So I heard. He got involved in the fighting to help his friend and fellow teammate Maverick save his disabled sister.

“Ah, well, I did write a follow-up article, but it wasn’t nearly as popular as the first one.”

He shrugs, and somehow, he’s closer now. I stare into his thickly lashed cerulean eyes and blink at the force of them. His irises…God, someone should name a crayon after them.

“So…do you want to do laundry together sometime?”

This again? My mouth parts. “What? Like a date?”

“Yeah.”

I blink rapidly, my brain trying to wrap about this new Ryker. “No. I’m sure you already have jersey chasers lined up outside your dorm vying to do your laundry. I’ve heard they actually beg to rub your shoulders and do your homework. I imagine they even fight to be the one to suck your sweet little toes.” I come to an abrupt halt. Suck his toes? SUCK HIS TOES? OMG. Where did that random comment come from? I don’t have a foot fetish. I blame it on his presence and carry on. “And don’t worry about me—I don’t need your laundry advice. A little ketchup never hurt anyone.”

Determination crosses his face and with a flurry of movement, he drops a small piece of paper onto the tray I’m holding.

I stare down at it. Sexy as Hell Athlete is written in masculine handwriting with a phone number after it. I look back up at him, my eyes tracing the enigmatic half-smile on his face.

“I wrote it down for you earlier and wanted to give it to you after the ketchup thing, but I chickened out.”

Several seconds go by.

“Will you give me yours?” he asks after a few moments of us just standing here.

“My what?”

“Number.” He grins.

I indicate the tray and my obvious impediment. “I don’t have any paper on me.”

“Just tell me. I’ll remember.”

I’m flustered, and that’s the only reason I rattle off my phone number. He grins and repeats it back to me.

He lowers his voice in a conspiratorial way. “So…you’re watching someone, I take it. Anyone I know?”

Feeling bemused by his attention, I shake my head, quickly losing control of this situation.

“For a writer, you seem to be at a loss for words. Do I make you speechless, Penelope?”

I scoff. “No.”

“I’m curious as to what has your attention back here.” He slides in next to me behind the plant, his shoulder brushing against mine. He’s a giant next to my slender frame, and all at once, I feel protected and safe, which is entirely wrong. It’s probably his male pheromones, lulling me into softness before the kill—and damn if it isn’t working. He murmurs something about us hiding together and spying on people, but I’m distracted because my face is up close and personal with the chest hair that pokes out of his shirt. I want to trail my fingers through it and see if it’s as soft as it looks. He smells like alpha male and sex. Hard, passionate sex that makes you orgasm fast and furious.

Not that I have any firsthand knowledge of that, of course, but I have my fantasies.

Gird your loins, Penelope.

Resist the quarterback.

But I’m getting sucked in.

I blame it on the dimple that appears when he smiles. My stomach does that fluttering thing again, and this time, I can’t shoo the butterflies away. I’m weak. I move my eyes up the strong column of his tanned throat to meet his gaze. At least ten seconds go by as we take each other in.

What. Is. Happening?

“You’re pretty,” he murmurs. “Have I ever told you that?”

“We don’t usually talk except for when I take your order.”

His hand reaches up and briefly touches a piece of my hair that’s fallen out of my topknot. He rubs it between his fingers. “Your hair…it’s—”

“Auburn,” I manage, clearing my throat.

“It reminds me of a new penny, the way the amber color catches the light…” His voice trails off, and he bites his bottom lip. “God, that has to be the stupidest thing I’ve ever said.”

“You have worse lines. Tell me, is doing laundry code for sex?” I say, staring up at him. I’m itching to straighten my glasses, a nervous reflex, but my hands are holding the tray.

“I only use lines on jersey chasers. You’re the kind of girl I have to work for.”

“What about your discriminating tastes?”

“Pure bluff. I think we have a real connection, Penelope.” His face is closer now, and I swallow, wondering how we must look to everyone else in the restaurant. I realize that in the process of talking, we’ve backed up to the wall behind the plant, and I figure the only table we’re visible to is the football one, but I don’t tear my eyes away from Ryker to check.

“You smell like rainbows,” he says.

My chest rises. I’m enjoying his full-court press. It’s…intoxicating. “What does a rainbow smell like?”

“Sweet and delicious.”

“It’s the suckers.” His eyes land on my lips, and it almost feels as if he’s touched them. Heat rushes over my skin. “The red ones are my favorite. I think they’re cherry or strawberry or raspberry…definitely not cranberry…that’s disgusting,” I say, rambling, feeling disoriented.

“It’s crazy, but I really want to kiss you right now,” he murmurs.

My eyes drift over his shoulder to where Connor’s table is. I can’t see his face, but I know he’s there, and even though I’m drugged by Ryker’s proximity, I remind myself he’s the one I should kiss.

Not Ryker.

Ryker is a player—just like my dad was.

He watches the direction of my gaze and follows it. “You’ve been watching Dimples hitz, haven’t you?” he says, a frown line appearing on his forehead. “Are you into him?”

My stomach dips. “Why would you say that?”

“Because you hightailed it over here when he walked in and you’ve been hiding ever since. So, I figure he either did you wrong or you’re infatuated, and since I haven’t heard any gossip about you and him, I’m guessing you must have a thing for him.”

Abort! Abort!He knows too much!

Sanity slowly returns to my brain in small increments, and I take a deep breath, orienting myself as questions race through my head. What if he uses my crush against me? Maybe he wants revenge for the article. I don’t know!

Flustered and unsure, my eyes dart around the restaurant, looking for an exit so I don’t have to answer his question.

My gaze lands on the football table he came from, and I notice Archer watching us with focused interest, a calculating look on his face as he whips his eyes from me to Ryker. He leans over and whispers to Blaze, who turns to peer in our direction. I pause, my brain analyzing and decoding. Why is Archer suddenly interested in what Ryker is doing over here with me—especially when there’s a pretty co-ed sitting right next to him, tracing little circles on his bicep?

Yet Archer’s eagle eyes are onus. Watchful.

I notice all three players at the table have suddenly given us their attention, anticipation evident on their faces.

Alarms go off in my head and things start to click into place.

How nice he was to me. How we ‘have a connection’. Yeah, right.

Mortification washes over me.

How could I not have seen it sooner?

God, I am an idiot.I was so distracted…

I’m a bet. A stupid freaking bet.

I feel like someone just punched me in the gut.

My survival instinct tells me to get away from Ryker, and obviously,I could just walk away and hold my head high, but I want to make a point and show those football players they can’t toy with me. I release the tray I’ve been balancing for what seems like days in his direction. The contents of the glasses spill out and crash to the floor, watered-down soda and ice drenching us before dripping down to the floor. The plastic glasses make a horrible clattering noise on the wooden floors, and I imagine most everyone in the restaurant heard it. I don’t look to see their faces. I only glare at Ryker.

He jumps back and stares down at the mess on his khaki pants then looks back at me. “Remind me to never bring up Dimpleshitz again.”

“Stop your games, Ryker.”

His face stills. “What games?”

My teeth snap together. Enough.

 

Love football heroes and nerdy heroines?

Start the series of standalones today with I DARE YOU

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About the Author


Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and USA Today best-selling author Ilsa Madden-Mills writes about strong heroines and sexy alpha males that sometimes you just want to slap. She’s best known for her angsty, heartfelt new adult college romances.

A former high school English teacher, she adores all things Pride and Prejudice; Mr. Darcy is her ultimate hero.

She’s also addicted to frothy coffee beverages, Vampire Diaries, and any kind of book featuring unicorns and sword-wielding females.

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New Release – Trailer Park Heart by Rachel Higginson

Trailer park born and raised. It’s my legacy. That’s how my mama lived. And that’s how her mama lived. It’s the life I was born into and it’s the life I swore I would leave the second I was old enough to make it out.

Only legacies have a funny way of sneaking up on you. An innocent decision the night of high school graduation led to a series of complications in my plans to escape.

Seven years later, I’ve resigned myself to this small town and the roots I’m tied to. Nothing could make me leave. And nothing could make me spill the secrets that keep me here.

Until he walks back into town with a chip on his shoulder and a stupid hunch nobody else in town has been smart enough to follow.

Levi Cole is my opposite. Born on the right side of the tracks with family money to spare, he’s the kind of black sheep that can afford to be rebellious—because his family will always pay for his mistakes. He’s also the only living heir to Cole Family Farms, after his brother Logan was killed in duty seven years ago.

He sees something in my life that he thinks he has a right to. But he’s wrong. And obnoxious. And he needs to take his stubborn good looks and that intense way he looks at me and go back to wherever it was he came from.

I know better than to trust men like him. I was born and raised in a trailer park, I know nothing good happens to girls like me—girls with trailer park lives and trailer park hearts. Especially from gorgeous, kind, pigheaded men like him.

 

BFF K’s Review Coming Soon!

 

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Excerpt from Trailer Park Heart

Rolling my eyes, I waved him off. Honestly that was a tamer word than usual. And Max was unfortunately used to grownups saying words he wasn’t supposed to hear by now. “I’ll tell you later, okay? Why don’t you go find a great big stick and let Mommy talk to the scary man.”

Max tilted his head at Levi. “I don’t think he’s scary.”


“Ha! Looks can be deceiving,” I mumbled to no one in particular. “Go on, babe. Find a stick.” He looked up at me like I’d grown a second head.

“Then what?”


“Then… then whack that cornstalk with it.”


“Why?”


“Because it needs to be whacked.”


“Why?”
Levi walked closer. “Just pretend it’s Darth Vader and you’re on a mission to save the galaxy.”


Max’s attention swung back to Levi. “Who’s Dark Faber?”

“Who’s Darth Vader?” Levi repeated, stunned. “What do you mean, who’s Darth Vader?” To me he said. “What kind of parent are you? He doesn’t know who Darth Vader is?”

“He’s six,” I reminded him patiently.

“Exactly the right age to know about the glory that is Star Wars. You’re depriving him of a fantastic childhood.”

“Are you seriously giving me parenting advice right now?”


He leaned forward. “Are you seriously considering passing it up? It’s good advice.”


A frustrated growl rumbled in the back of my throat. Max, getting bored with our back and forth, wandered off to whack the cornstalk. Levi and I watched him in silence for a minute. Eventually, curiosity got the better of me. “What are you doing here, Levi? Why are you in my neck of the woods?”


He shrugged, and that damnable smile was back. “I feel bad about the other day… about the gas station.”


I couldn’t let him get away with his behavior then nor now. Or the questions he was hell bent on asking. Or the sheepish, repentant smile he was wielding like a weapon. “You have no right to stick your nose in my business, Cole.”

He shrugged. “I’m trying to say I’m sorry.”

It wasn’t exactly a promise to leave me alone, but Levi didn’t usually give me what I wanted. This was probably the best I could ask for, and yet, I couldn’t let him get away that easily. I lifted a hand, half hidden in the sleeve of my shirt, and pointed a finger at him. “You can mess with me, Levi, but you better not hurt my son. Got it?”

He took a step forward, closing some of the space between us. “Just to be clear though, you’re saying I can mess with you, right?”

 

About the Author

Rachel Higginson is the best-selling author of The Opposite of You, The Five Stages of Falling in Love, Every Wrong Reason, Bet on Us and The Star-Crossed Series.

She was born and raised in Nebraska, and spent her college years traveling the world. She fell in love with Eastern Europe, Paris, Indian Food and the beautiful beaches of Sri Lanka, but came back home to marry her high school sweetheart. Now she spends her days writing stories and raising five amazing kids.

 

 

You can visit Rachel:
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Review – Strong by Kylie Scott

 

 

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Kylie Scott comes a new story in her Stage Dive series…

When the girl of your dreams is kind of a nightmare.

As head of security to Stage Dive, one of the biggest rock bands in the world, Sam Knowles has plenty of experience dealing with trouble. But spoilt brat Martha Nicholson just might be the worst thing he’s ever encountered. The beautiful troublemaker claims to have reformed, but Sam knows better than to think with what’s in his pants. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to make his heart fall into line.

Martha’s had her sights on the seriously built bodyguard for years. Quiet and conservative, he’s not even remotely her type. So why the hell can’t she get him out of her mind? There’s more to her than the Louboutin wearing party-girl of previous years, however. Maybe it’s time to let him in on that fact and deal with this thing between them.

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

 

 

AVAILABLE NOW

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BFF K’s Review of Strong – A Stage Dive Novella

 

I thought the series was over. I have already mourned the loss of these characters and stories. So, finding out there would be a Stage Dive Novella was like believing someone is dead and then seeing them come back to life! And what a re-birth it was. Not only is Strong the a new story in the series, but it’s the ultimate redemption of an evil and detested female character.

I didn’t think it could be done. I wasn’t sure that Martha could be redeemed after her meddling in David and Ev’s relationship, the tricks she played on the band and it’s members. But, I actually felt empathy for Martha. I wish that this had been a full-length novel instead of a novella, because I think that she could have been an even more richly developed character and her issues could have been fleshed out in so much more detail.

I love Sam! He’s such a great guy with the patience of a saint. Martha has a b*&#$y exterior and questionable past. But, Sam can look past those issues and he sees the good in her that others may not. He is a champion for her. He wants her to be the best version of herself and helps her to become that. He advocates for her and makes her a priority. I think those are the things Martha had been looking for all along.

AND, there’s a liberal dose of Mal, my favorite Stage Dive man, sprinkled throughout the book! It was like catching up with long lost friends and getting up to speed on what they’ve been doing and how their families are growing.

Now I’m even more sad that Stage Dive has come to another end. But, this time I’m hopeful that Kylie Scott will open that world up again in the future. Until then, I’m thinking a series re-read is definitely in order!

**Note, I mentioned that I wish this was a full-length novel and I really do. But, this is still a great story. It was always intended to be a novella and I knew going into it that it wouldn’t have the level of detail I craved. I still think it’s a great story! It’s like ordering a piece of pie, asking for a smaller piece and loving every bite, just wishing there was more when you’re all done!

 

 

 

 

An advance copy of this book was received. Receipt of this copy did not impact the content or independence of this review.

 

 

Excerpt from Strong – A Stage Dive Novella

“Ooh, busted,” said Lizzy. “The bodyguard caught you looking.”

“Shut it.” I inched my chin up a bit, trying not to frown because frowning gave you lines. “Sam and I have known each other for years and nothing has ever happened. You’re completely wrong about this.”

“Am I?”

“Yes, there’s nothing between us.”

“So that’s why you were staring at him?”

I chose not to answer that. “And you know he prefers to be called executive protection officer instead of bodyguard.”

At this, Lizzy burst out giggling, a malicious glee in her eyes. No wonder I liked my sister-in-law these days.

Ben shot us both an irritated glance. We both ignored it.

Of course, I’d known Sam would probably be here. Rock stars going out in public could be a delicate thing. People had a tendency to get overexcited. And while one person wanting an autograph wasn’t a problem, twenty or thirty of them suddenly swarming definitely could be. Having once been part of the entourage, I’d seen it happen to Ben and his fellow Stage Dive band members enough times to be wary. And you couldn’t get by with ordinary security. Rock stars needed protection from their over-zealous fans, but on the other hand they didn’t want the fans roughed up or hurt in any way. It required a delicate balance: control, experience, and a whole gamut of scary physical skills. Hence Sam.

Still, Portland seemed generally less crazy than the good old days back in LA. All of the guys seemed calmer and more settled away from the constant craziness of the party scene. Not to mention the effect of all of the wives/partners and various offspring. The biggest rock band in the world had officially been domesticated.

It was kind of cute. Or sad. I don’t know.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to stir you,” she lied. “What do you think of your brother’s new musical bromance?”

On the small stage set up in the corner of the room, a young man wailed his heart out while playing an acoustic guitar. Much angst about a girl who only called him after midnight. Trust a rockster to turn a simple booty call into a heartbreaking ballad. The song was damn good though. He had talent. If only I hadn’t had my fill of the type when I was younger. The kid looked to be in his early to mid-twenties. Lanky with lots of tattoos. Your typical rock ’n roll Prince Charming. Gag. These days my type ran more toward…actually, what I needed or wanted in a male was a total mystery.

And my gaze did not stray back to Sam. That did not happen.

 

 

 

About the Author

Kylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013 & 2014, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet. You can learn more about Kylie from http://www.kylie-scott.com/

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Review – Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis

 Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis is ready to warm up your Kindle and put you in the Holiday Spirit!

Who needs mistletoe?

Most people wouldn’t think of a bad Santa case as the perfect Christmas gift. Then again, Molly Malone, office manager at Hunt Investigations, isn’t most people, and she could really use a distraction from the fantasies she’s been having since spending the night with her very secret crush, Lucas Knight. Nothing happened, not that Lucas knows that—but Molly just wants to enjoy being a little naughty for once . . .

Whiskey and pain meds for almost-healed bullet wounds don’t mix. Lucas needs to remember that next time he’s shot on the job, which may be sooner rather than later if Molly’s brother, Joe, finds out about them. Lucas can’t believe he’s drawing a blank on his (supposedly) passionate tryst with Molly, who’s the hottest, smartest, strongest woman he’s ever known. Strong enough to kick his butt if she discovers he’s been assigned to babysit her on her first case. And hot enough to melt his cold heart this Christmas.

 

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BFF K’s Review of Hot Winter Nights

 

Hot Winter Nights is made for Hallmark! It just screams Hallmark Christmas Movie, maybe even a mini-series on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries channel. Either way, I demand this book become a movie! (Please, I desperately need a living breathing version of Lucas!!!!)
What seems like simply a sweet holiday story from the outset takes a couple of unexpected twists and turns that will have you rapidly turning pages and cheering for the characters. You’ll want them to not just fall in love, but solve the case while they’re at it!
Molly is sweet and kind and hard working. It’s impossible not to like her. But, like any truly good girlfriend, I wanted to have a little Come to Jesus with her. She needed someone to set her straight. She spent a portion of the book intentionally looking for roadblocks to what should have been a perfectly natural relationship. And Lucas was so worried about scaring her away that he let her throw up every ridiculous barrier she could. They could have just set each other straight in the beginning, but then the book wouldn’t have been as long or as entertaining!
Buy yourself an early Christmas Gift! Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis is ready to warm up your Kindle and put you in the Holiday Spirit!

 

 

An advance copy of this book was received. Receipt of this copy did not impact the content or independence of this review.

Excerpt from Hot Winter Nights

           It took Lucas Knight longer than it should have to realize he had a woman in his bed, but to be fair, he had a bitch of a hangover. Even worse than that, last night was a blur, prompting him to take quick stock. One, there was a bundle of sweet, soft curves against him. Two, his head was currently threatening to secede from the United States Of Lucas. And three, his side hurt like … well, like he’d been shot.

            It’d been two weeks since he’d gotten caught in some crossfire on the job and he hadn’t yet been cleared for more than light duty – something he’d obviously managed to ignore last night given that he was palming a nice, warm, feminine ass.

            Think, man.

            Straining his brain, he remembered taking a pain med before going to O’Riley’s Pub to meet up with some friends. A client had been there, someone he’d recently helped save from a multi-million dollar corporate espionage. The guy had ordered shots to toast to Lucas and … shit. Knowing better than to mix pain meds and alcohol, he’d hesitated, but everyone had been waiting on him, glasses hoisted in the air. Thinking just one shot couldn’t hurt anything, he’d knocked back the drink.

            Clearly, he’d been wrong and it’d been enough to mess him up big time, something he hadn’t been in years, not since his brother Josh had been killed. Shoving that away for another time – or never — Lucas cracked open one eye, but when his retina was stabbed by a streak of sunlight glaring in through the window, he immediately slammed it shut it again. Taking a deep breath, he told himself to suck it up and opened both eyes this time, learning two additional facts.

            He was naked and completely uncovered.

            And the woman snugged up at his side was rolled up in his comforter like a burrito.

            What. The. Hell.

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website, www.jillshalvis.com, for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

New Release – Strong by Kylie Scott

 

 

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Kylie Scott comes a new story in her Stage Dive series…

When the girl of your dreams is kind of a nightmare.

As head of security to Stage Dive, one of the biggest rock bands in the world, Sam Knowles has plenty of experience dealing with trouble. But spoilt brat Martha Nicholson just might be the worst thing he’s ever encountered. The beautiful troublemaker claims to have reformed, but Sam knows better than to think with what’s in his pants. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to make his heart fall into line.

Martha’s had her sights on the seriously built bodyguard for years. Quiet and conservative, he’s not even remotely her type. So why the hell can’t she get him out of her mind? There’s more to her than the Louboutin wearing party-girl of previous years, however. Maybe it’s time to let him in on that fact and deal with this thing between them.

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

 

 

AVAILABLE NOW

AMAZON US | AMAZON AUS | AMAZON UK

 

BFF K’s Review Coming Soon!

 

 

Excerpt from Strong by Kylie Scott

“I don’t believe this,” I bitched. “My Valentino boots are actually sticking to the floor. That’s how gross this place is.”

Lizzy just smiled. “Told you to dress casual.”

“I am.”

The smile widened.

“Jeans and a tee is casual.”

“A tee? It’s velvet, Martha.” She held a bottle of beer up to her lips, taking a sip. “I said we were going to a dive bar. You have only yourself to blame for the fashion faux pas.”

“But velvet is in!”

“Would you two quit talking? I’m trying to listen,” said my brother, Ben. The big hairy idiot was slouched back in his chair, bopping his head in time to the music.

Lizzy shuffled closer all conspiratorial-like. “I know why you’re all dressed up.”

I said nothing. There was nothing to be said.

Next her gaze went to the man standing at the end of the bar across from us. No, no, I would not turn my head. I would not fall prey to her bullshit. After all, I’d managed to successfully avoid him for the forty-eight or so hours since my not so triumphant surprise return to the West Coast. Even with us both being in the same house. A very big sprawling house, but still.

On the other hand, it should probably be mentioned that he looked awfully good tonight in jeans and a white T-shirt with a leather jacket. Samuel Rhodes, otherwise known as Sam. Not a pretty man with his harsh features and bull-like neck, but something about him appealed to me. As always, his head was shaved and his body was built and my idiot fingers itched to explore.

Okay. So I guess at some point I must have turned my head. And shit, he caught me looking.

The corner of his lips rose just a little, just enough to mess with me, before he returned to doing his job by casually surveying the packed room. My heart did not speed up due to anything done by him. Clearly, I hadn’t totally caught my breath from when we’d walked in half an hour ago or something. That was all. Interesting to note, he did none of the checking me out typical of a heterosexual male who might have been into me. In fact, he didn’t really give me any signals at all. Ever.

 

 

 

About the Author

Kylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013 & 2014, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet. You can learn more about Kylie from http://www.kylie-scott.com/

FACEBOOK | FACEBOOK FAN GROUP | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

 

 

Review – Dr. Strange Beard by Penny Reid

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Dr. Strange Beard, an all-new standalone in the bestselling, romantic comedy Winston Brothers Series by Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author Penny Reid, is available NOW!

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Hunches, horse races, and heartbreak

Ten years after Simone Payton broke his heart, all Roscoe Winston wants is a doughnut. He’d also like to forget her entirely, but that’s never going to happen. Roscoe Winston remembers everything—every look, every word, every single unrequited second—and the last thing he needs is another memory of Simone.

Unfortunately, after one chance encounter, Simone keeps popping up everywhere he happens to be . . .

Ten years after Roscoe Winston dropped out of her life, all Simone Payton wants is to exploit him. She’d also like some answers from her former best friend about why he ghosted her, but if she never gets those answers, that’s a-okay. Simone let go of the past a long time ago. Seriously, she has. She totally, totally has. She is definitely not still thinking about Roscoe. Nope. She’s more than happy to forget he exists.

But first, she needs just one teeny-tiny favor . . .

Dr. Strange Beard is a full-length romantic comedy novel, can be read as a stand-alone, and is the fifth book in the USA TODAY bestselling Winston Brothers series.

 

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BFF K’s Review of Dr. Strange Beard

I expect the unexpected from a Penny Reid story and Dr. Strange Beard does not disappoint! Simone and Roscoe’s story is quirky and unconventional. The characters are richly developed and incredibly unique. The storyline is fresh, current and both entertaining and informative. There is always something new to be learned and discovered while I’m immersed in great characters and a little bit of gooey romance on the side!

Roscoe has been a master avoider! His heart and mind can’t bear to remember his childhood best friend turned-love so he just avoids her. For years. Simone has never understood what happened to turn her best friend into a stranger. Perhaps this is the perfect time to find out!

Like all of the stories in the Winston Brothers series, this one is full of idiosyncratic characters, fun facts, interesting plot twists and just enough romance to make your insides mushy! Simone and Roscoe are complex and far from your traditional romance novel Heroine and Hero. But, that doesn’t mean you won’t fall in love with them while they fall in love with one another.

I know that when I pick up a story from Penny Reid, it will be like nothing else I’ve read. Even books in the same series are fresh and different from anything I’ve read before. I always feel so lucky to have the opportunity to read Penny Reid’s stories and Dr. Strange Beard is just another example of why she’s one of my most favorite authors!

 

 

 

 

An advance copy of this book was received. Receipt of this copy did not impact the content or independence of this review.

 

Excerpt Dr. Strange Beard

“Simone, this is not one of our adventures from when we were kids. This is not finding Blithe Tanner’s cat. These men are murderers, drug dealers, thieves.”

“I know.” Boy oh boy, did I know. I didn’t want to be here anymore than he did. I was frightened. Yet allowing Roscoe to be taken on his own hadn’t been an option. “I can handle myself, and I can provide backup for you, if you need it.”

Roscoe gripped my shoulders. “Nothing can happen to you, do you understand?” His words were emphatic, his gaze disoriented, desolate, frantic. “If anything happens to you, I’ll . . .” He swallowed, apparently unable to finish the sentence.

My heart twisted to see him like this. I wished there were some way to show him what I could do, what I was capable of, so he would stop seeing me as a liability.

Well, why can’t you?

“Huh.”

Now there was a thought.

Stepping out of his grip, I walked backward to the other side of the room and took a deep breath. “Okay. Come at me.”

He blinked. “What?”

“I want you to come at me.”

“Simone,” he seethed.

“Come at me, bro.” I did that little movement with my fingers, my palm turned upwards. “Come at me or I’ll start singing again.”

“I’m not doing this.”

“Fine.”Frustrating. “I’ll come at you.”

He stood there, features set, looking raw.

Moving quickly forward, staying light on my feet, I faked right and then went left, hooking him behind the back of his leg, catching his arm to twist behind his back, and sending him to the ground—face-first—with a thud.

I winced as he grunted, my knee at the base of his spine, his arm restrained behind his back. “Sorry! But you wouldn’t listen to me.” Leaning forward, I whispered in his ear, “Are you okay? Did I hurt you?”

Roscoe’s back and shoulders rose and fell with an expansive breath, like he was about to respond, but in the next moment he’d spun his legs to the right, leveraged my knee on his back to throw me off-balance, and slipped his wrist from my hold.

In my defense, my grip had been lax as I was purposefully trying not to injure him.

The next thing I knew, Roscoe had me pinned to the ground, air knocked out of me, him hovering above, and my gun digging into my ribs beneath my shirt. He’d been careful to subdue my legs, likely so he wouldn’t end up with a bruised ballsack.

His stare more probing than angry—which I took as a good sign—he said, “I didn’t teach you that. Where’d you learn that?”

Even though I was still coughing, I smiled and rasped, “Since college, take judo.”

He nodded faintly, his eyes moving between mine, looking concerned. “Are you okay? Did I hurt you?”

“No.” Endeavoring to catch my breath, I said, “I took it easy on you because I didn’t want to hurt you either, but I’m an asset, not a liability.”

“You’re definitely an asset.” Roscoe frowned, his gaze dropping to my mouth. “And a distraction,” he said, his voice rough.

“I’m a distraction?” I asked, my words still breathy.

I bucked, but he held me fast.

“Yes. . .” His stare turned inward. “You are most definitely a distraction.”

Even though I’d had plenty of time to recover and we’d been holding still for close to a minute, I was still breathing hard. This might have been because of my lingering irritation. Or, maybe it was because the length of Roscoe’s lean body was lying on mine. He held my hands on either side of my head, our faces even, his mouth just inches away.

Was it insane that I hoped he kissed me?

Yes?

No?

Let’s go with no.

He gave me his eyes again and I saw something there, a battle. He looked undecided, at war with himself, straining against something I couldn’t see.

“Roscoe?” I whispered.

Roscoe closed his eyes, and I thought he was going to let me go, but in the next second his lips descended, capturing my mouth in a tender kiss.

I moaned.

I kissed him back.

That’s what one does when Roscoe Winston kisses one. Moan and kiss. Repeat. Because not doing so would be a travesty.

His hold on my hands slacked, his fingers seeking and threading with mine. He settled his hips between my legs, his form relaxing. The weight of him was different now, warmer somehow. At least I felt warm. I also felt cherished as his tongue sought mine, again tenderly, stroking, causing my abdomen to twist and tighten into delicious knots.

He broke the kiss and a protest died on my lips as his mouth trailed down my jaw to the sensitive skin of my neck, sucking, licking, savoring me. What had felt warm and cherishing heated, and my hips tilted reflexively as he nibbled on my ear, cradling his rapidly growing erection.

We both gasped as his hips rocked in an answering yet inelegant movement. It felt perfect and essential in the moment.

“Oh God.” His hot breath spilled against my jaw, a ragged sigh. “What are we doing?”

“I don’t know, but don’t stop.”

 

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About the Author

Penny Reid is the Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Winston Brothers and Knitting in the City series. She used to spend her days writing federal grant proposals as a biomedical researcher, but now she just writes books. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.

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Connect with Penny:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PennyReidWriter/

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Twitter: @ReidRomance

Mailing List: http://pennyreid.ninja/newsletter/

www.pennyreid.ninja

 

 

Review – Blind Kiss by Renée Carlino

 

From the national bestselling author of Before We Were Strangers, Swear on this Life, and Wish You Were Here comes a powerful story of two people who spend years denying their scientifically-proven chemistry.

Penny spends her afternoons sitting outside a sandwich shop, surrounded by ghosts. Fourteen years ago, this shop was her childhood dance studio—and she was a dancer on the rise. Now she’s a suburban housewife, dreading the moment her son departs for MIT, leaving her with an impeccably-decorated McMansion and a failing marriage. She had her chance at wild, stars-in-her-eyes happiness, but that was a lifetime ago. After The Kiss. Before The Decision.

The Kiss was soulful. Magical. Earth-shattering, And it was all for a free gift card. Asked to participate in a psych study that posed the question, “Can you have sexual chemistry without knowing what the other person looks like?” Penny agreed to be blindfolded, make polite conversation with a total stranger, and kiss him. She never expected The Kiss to change her life forever and introduce her to Gavin: tattooed, gorgeous, and spontaneous enough to ask her out seconds after the blindfolds came off.

For a year, they danced between friendship and romance—until Penny made The Decision that forced them to settle for friendship. Now, fourteen years later, both of their lives are about to radically change—and it’s his turn to decide what will become of their once-in-a-lifetime connection.

 

Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and the bestselling author of Sweet Thing, Nowhere But Here, After the Rain, Before We Were Strangers, Swear on This Life, and Wish You Were Here. She grew up in Southern California and lives in the San Diego area with her husband and two sons. To learn more, visit ReneeCarlino.

 

AVAILABLE NOW

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BFF K’s Review of Blind Kiss

Several years ago I remember seeing an article online about people doing a blind kiss study and I was so intrigued. It was a fascinating experiment to judge raw chemistry. So when I saw the premise of Renee Carlino’s new book, I knew I wanted to read it. Perhaps I should have read the synopsis more objectively.

Let me be really honest. There is a reason I stick primarily to romantic comedies. I am an emotional reader. And the angst and sadness is just too overwhelming for me most of the time. Reading rom-com helps to keep my head and my mood in a much happier place. But, every once in a while a book that makes you feel and breaks your heart just a little bit is a reminder of the power of great stories.
Penny is a beautiful, talented and dedicated dancer when she meets Gavin in college during the Blind Kiss experiment. Their chemistry is instantaneous and explosive. Their youth and other issues keep them apart romantically but they determine to be best friends. That relationship proves distressing for many other people in their lives and themselves.
Penny is complicated. But, she is also passionate, creative, nurturing and fiercely loyal. Gavin is a lost soul and Penny is the center of his world that keeps him grounded. Their convoluted and intricate relationship is fascinating. Together they weather some of the most difficult of life’s circumstances, depend on and love one another in ways they love no one else.
Again, I am an emotional reader and it has been quite some time since I have read a heartbreaking book. I cried through more than half of this book. While it is a romance and the ending brought satisfaction and closure, it wasn’t enough. I needed more positive to heal the negative and I’m not sure the good was sufficient enough to make up for the bad.
If you are a fan of angst and heartache, this is a book for you! The storyline is unique and captivating and you will care deeply about the characters. The book is exceptionally well written. But be fully and completely prepared that this emotional story will take its toll on your heart and your tear ducts.
An advance copy of this book was received via Net Galley. Receipt of this copy did not impact the content or independence of this review.

It was really this bad….

 

Excerpt from Blind Kiss

WE SAT AT the bar of the pub as I continued to stare at him, a mixture of curiosity and fear boiling in my gut. He ordered a beer, and I ordered Chardonnay with beer-cheese pretzels.

“That’s different for you.”

I usually stuck to salads, an old habit from my dancing days, but I had lost a lot of weight in the past few weeks. “Don’t think you can distract me so easily. Tell me what’s going on. Did you break up with Briel?”

He took a long pull from his beer and stared straight ahead. “Don’t be mad, okay?”

I stared at him, wordlessly, the fear fully boiling over. And then he dropped the bomb on me.

The next few minutes were hazy as Gavin, the bar, and my glass of Chardonnay swam together before my eyes. I tried to reach for the glass but found it suddenly empty. That’s weird. It was full a minute ago. I motioned to the bartender for another, then poured it down my throat in a steady stream.

I was breathing fast when I slammed the glass on the bar, shattering my fugue state—and bringing Gavin into sharp relief. I was reeling.

“Shit, Penny! Be careful. You almost shattered your glass!” He practically yelled.

“You’re moving to fucking France?!” I yelled back.

The bartender jerked his head toward the door, and within minutes Gavin was forcibly dragging me out of the bar by the arm. I slipped out of his grip and stood in the middle of the parking lot, seething, very much drunk, and fully freaking out. “So, do you love her?”

“Briel? What kind of question is that?”

“Just answer me.”

“Fuck, Penny. That’s not what this is about. I don’t really have a choice here, though, do I?”

“You always have a choice.”

He glared at me. “That’s fucking rich, coming from you.”

I shook my head vigorously. “Totally different situation.”

“Like hell it was.”

“When do you leave?”

“In two days.”

“WHAT?!”

He ran up and shook me by the shoulders. “Jesus, if I knew you were gonna take it like this, I wouldn’t have told you in public. Pull yourself together.”

I screamed at the top of my lungs and then made a guttural sound as I hunched over and held my stomach.

“First Milo, now you?”

“Don’t you put that on me. I’m not the reason why you’re about to be alone and unhappy.”

“Fuck you, Gavin!”

“Fuck you, Penny!”

He didn’t turn around—he just stormed off in typical Gavin fashion: petulant, recalcitrant, and a total shithead. People in the parking lot were gawking, appalled, covering their children’s ears. But no one made a move to leave. When Gavin and I got like this, we were like a car wreck by the side of the road, impossible to look away from.

Gavin slid into his ’67 Chevelle and fired up the engine. I hated that car because he loved it so much. It had a black leather interior, a flawless paint job, and tinted windows, like it belonged to some kind of celebrity—which Gavin definitely wasn’t. It was his only possession worth a dime, besides his garage, a few guitars, and a Zippo lighter he swore River Phoenix had given to him at the Viper Room the night of his death.

I ran to the exit and stood in the middle of the lane, daring him to run me over as he ripped out of his parking spot and raced around the corner toward the exit. “We’re not done talking, you coward!”

He slowed but let the car idle while he revved the engine. “I dare you!” I yelled.

He stuck his head out the window, leaned his tattooed arm against the door, and actually grinned at me.

So smug. What a dick.

“You look ridiculous standing there. Get out of the way!”

I walked toward his window and noticed that his demeanor had completely softened. There was even humor in his expression. He wanted me to block him, and he knew I would.

“Can’t you have a proper fight without running away?”

“You were lecturing me, yet again. I have a mother, thank you. You have a child you can order around . . . and a husband you can control. I don’t need your shit, okay? Don’t you realize that I’m freaking out, too? I’m going through the hardest time of my life, and you’re making this all about you.”

“You’ve been going through the hardest time of your life for the whole fourteen years I’ve known you.”

“And as my friend, do you think you’re helping my situation right now?” he spat back, his mood shifting once again. “Don’t even. Don’t you dare act like I haven’t been a good friend to you. You’ve put me in the most awkward situations, you’ve bolted on me, you’ve stopped speaking to me for weeks at a time, but still . . . I make myself available to you. I’ve been here for you, always. And now you’re moving thousands of miles away when I need you most?”

He shook his head slowly. “That’s right, Penny. You have been here. You’ve been right by my side, lecturing me, rolling your eyes at me, pressuring me to get serious about Briel, all so I could go and fuck up my life even more while you sit in your nice house, with your KitchenAid mixer, your Oracle espresso machine, and your fucking yellow Lab.”

“Don’t talk about Buckley that way! He’s a good dog. And you love our espresso machine.”

Gavin’s lips turned up at the corners. “You’re so messed up, Penny. You definitely have a chemical imbalance.”

I pointed to my chest, shocked. “Me? Look who’s talking? Please, pull into a parking space. I don’t want to stand here anymore, making a spectacle of myself. Some parent from Milo’s school is probably watching this whole thing. There’ll be whispers at the next PTA meeting. Is that what

you want for me?”

“Don’t pretend like you go to PTA meetings. And look around; everyone’s gone. It’s just us.”

He was right. The parking lot had cleared out. Gavin was sitting in his idling car while I was standing outside his window like a moron.

“I resent you for saying I pushed Briel on you. And yes, for your information, I do go to PTA meetings.”

“You encouraged me to go out with her, then you needled me about it until I finally did.”

“You were horribly depressed! I thought you were gonna jump off a bridge. I told you to go out with her and to have some fun. She’s a nice girl. I didn’t say turn your life upside down, pack up, and run away with a foreigner! You’re thirty-six-years old, Gavin. I think it’s time you grew up.” I shook my head. “God, I can’t believe you.”

He jerked his head back and squinted. “Great band but not totally PC to call someone a foreigner, Penny.” His voice was low.

“Are you going to become a French citizen now, too? You better brush up on your French.”

“Everyone speaks English there.”

“No, they don’t! People always say that, but you’ll see. They might be able to communicate to a degree, but it’s not conversational English.”

Why am I still standing here, screaming about French people?

I needed to tie this conversation up in a pretty little bow. I needed closure. I couldn’t say good-bye to my best friend without it. He was leaving, going to France to chase a girlfriend

I knew he didn’t love. I was losing him. And it was my fault. We couldn’t leave each other angry.

“I’ll figure it out,” he said. “Try not to make me feel worse about my situation, though I know that’s hard for you.” “Your situation? It’s always your situation. What about my situation?” He just stared at me. He was hurting; I could tell. But I was hurting, too. “Listen—”

“What?”

“Don’t interrupt me.” I cleared my throat. “Gavin . . . it’s just . . . I’m going to fucking miss you, okay? I’m having a hard time right now, and life is about to get a whole lot harder the second you leave.” I started to cry.

He hated it when I cried, but he didn’t ask me, “Why are you crying?” He never had to ask. He took a deep breath in through his nose, then released it forcefully in a burst of frustration. A second later his car stalled. He put it in gear, got out, and swooped me up in a bear hug. “Penny, Penny, Penny . . . my crazy girl,” he said as he rubbed my back. I was wiping my snot-covered nose on his black T-shirt and he didn’t care one bit.

He held me for a long time. When he started to release me, I said, “It’s not enough.”

He picked me up again and squeezed me harder. Tucking his face into my neck, he said, “It’ll never be enough.”

“Why?” I said, fully bawling against his shoulder. He brushed a strand of my hair, damp with tears, behind my ear. “I have to go, and so do you. You need to be with your family now.”

I felt the lump in my throat growing. “You don’t have to constantly remind me that I have a family. I love my family. But you’re a part of it, too, and that’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m fucking crying in the parking lot in front of Bank of America.”

He pulled away and we stood there, two feet apart, staring at each other, as if we were committing each other to memory. Allowing one another to really look at and take the other person in, stripped down to our bones, without scrutiny.

“Is this it?” I asked.

“This is it, P.”

I shook my head, leaned up on my toes, and wrapped my arms around him. We hugged again for a long time before he got into his car. I tried to hold on to the feeling of having him in my arms, or maybe I was trying to hold on to the feeling of being held in his.

He started the engine as I stood there, waiting for him to leave.

“We’ll talk on the phone or email or something, okay?”

“Okay,” I told him.

He swallowed nervously. Looking up at me from the car window, he said, “I wish it were you, Penny.”

That was my bow. He knew I needed it, good or bad—no matter what feelings it shook loose from our long and complicated history together.

 

 

About the Author

Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and bestselling author of contemporary women’s novels and new adult fiction. Her books have been featured in national publications, including USA TODAY, Huffington Post, Latina magazine, and Publisher’s Weekly. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she’s not at the beach with her boys or working on her next project, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate. Learn more at www.reneecarlino.com

 

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Review – It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time by Kylie Scott

 

 

“Addictive like all Kylie Scott books, you’ll swoon, laugh, ache, put your life on hold, and compulsively read until the wee hours of the night—only to reread the whole thing the next morning. Perfection!” – Katy Evans, New York Times bestselling author

Returning home for her father’s wedding was never going to be easy for Adele. If being sent away at eighteen hadn’t been bad enough, the mess she left behind when she made a pass at her dad’s business partner sure was.

Fifteen years older than her, Pete had been her crush for as long as she could remember. But she’d misread the situation—confusing friendliness for undying love. Awkward. Add her father to the misunderstanding, and Pete was left with a broken nose and a business on the edge of ruin. The man had to be just as glad as everyone else when she left town.

Seven years later, things are different. Adele is no longer a kid, but a fully grown adult more than capable of getting through the wedding and being polite. But all it takes is seeing him again to bring back those old feelings.

Sometimes first loves are the truest.

AMAZON | AMAZON UK | AMAZON AU | iBooks | B&N | KOBO

 

BFF K’s Review – It Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time

 

I have been in a slump! You know those times when you pick up five different books, but just can’t finish one of them? But, this was the home run that finally scored a finish for me, and it was so good!

It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time is an emotional story with just the right amount of tension and conflict, but overall enjoyable, deep characters that you can connect with and care about, particularly Adele. She’s sweet and kind and a little quirky. As a young girl, she had an unrequited crush on an older man who worked for her father. She’s been away for years and finally come back to find that her lust burns just as hotly as it did when she was 18. But, it might not be as one-sided as it used to be!

Pete is a strong, alpha male character who finally sees what he couldn’t/wouldn’t see just seven year’s ago. What started as a meaningful friendship threatens to become so much more. Though there were a couple of times when I wanted to seriously smack him across the head, he finally gets his act together in pretty spectacular fashion!

I really loved this story! It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time has all the sass, snark, witty banter and clever insight that I crave from a Kylie Scott book. It was just the right book at just the right time. I know you will fall in love with these stories and characters too. Buying this book is definitely a good idea all the time! ❤️

 

An advance copy of this book was received. Receipt of this copy did not impact the content or independence of this review.

 

 

 

 

 

Excerpt from It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

It was meant to be a soft kiss. A chaste one, even.

The minute my lips touched his, however, everything changed. Callused hands grabbed the sides of my face and my mouth opened on a gasp. His tongue swept inside, taking me over. Holy hell. Shoes and purse hit the floor, forgotten. Nothing about this kiss was slow or easy. The man devoured me. Every ounce of emotion poured into that kiss, all of the anger and frustration between us. His tongue was teasing and tasting, driving me wild. Then he drew back to suck and nip at my bottom lip. One hand slid around the back of my neck, the other over my hip to grab at my ass. His hold was firm, a little rough even. He treated my body like it belonged to him and I wasn’t gentle either.

Apparently experience mattered. Because all I could do was try and keep up.

I held on tight to his open shirt, straining against him, trying to get closer. I’d have crawled inside the man if I could. Turned out that under certain circumstances, the taste of scotch worked for me in a big way. Against my hip, his cock hardened, digging into me. And oh my God, I’d done that to him. Me. How amazing! Meanwhile, my body felt liquid, core aching and empty. I needed him inside of me and it seemed like I’d already been waiting forever.

“Pete. Please.”

“Fuck,” he muttered, breath hot against my ear.

I fumbled at the remaining buttons on his shirt. My damn fingers didn’t seem to be working. Easier to just push the whole thing upward. Luckily, the man decided to help, tearing the shirt off over his head. More skin was good. And he was so hot and smooth, a thrill to the touch. The solid flesh of his pecs and the flat plane of his stomach.

He tore at the zipper on the back of my dress, dragging fabric down over my shoulders. A growl came from the back of his throat, a noise of frustration, impatience. I’m reasonably certain I heard the silk rip. I didn’t care. His hands and mouth seemed to cover every bit of skin revealed, touching and tasting me everywhere. The dress got stuck on my hips. Out of the way enough for now.

He didn’t even bother undoing my bra, simply peeling down one of the lace cups to free my flesh. My breast filled his hot palm as it took the weight. Fingers plumped me, his thumb flicking over my hard nipple. The sting of pain followed by the heat of his kiss made my head spin and my body ache. There was no room for thought as he fed me deep, wet kisses. Slowly, he took us to the floor. No time for anything else. Just the urgent need to have him inside me.

The hardness of the polished wood was cool against my back. My legs were spread, his body between them. And with his broad chest above me, his weight taken on one arm, he was all I could see. I swear even the insides of my thighs were wet, I was so ready. It would have been embarrassing with anybody else. But this man, he had to know, he had to understand. It had always been him.

“Pete, I need—”

“I know,” he said, voice harsh and low.

 

 

 

 

About the Author

kyliescottimageKylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013 & 2014, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet. You can learn more about Kylie from http://www.kylie-scott.com/

 

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Release Blitz – It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

 

 

 

“Addictive like all Kylie Scott books, you’ll swoon, laugh, ache, put your life on hold, and compulsively read until the wee hours of the night—only to reread the whole thing the next morning. Perfection!” – Katy Evans, New York Times bestselling author

Returning home for her father’s wedding was never going to be easy for Adele. If being sent away at eighteen hadn’t been bad enough, the mess she left behind when she made a pass at her dad’s business partner sure was.

Fifteen years older than her, Pete had been her crush for as long as she could remember. But she’d misread the situation—confusing friendliness for undying love. Awkward. Add her father to the misunderstanding, and Pete was left with a broken nose and a business on the edge of ruin. The man had to be just as glad as everyone else when she left town.

Seven years later, things are different. Adele is no longer a kid, but a fully grown adult more than capable of getting through the wedding and being polite. But all it takes is seeing him again to bring back those old feelings.

Sometimes first loves are the truest.

AMAZON | AMAZON UK | AMAZON AU | iBooks | B&N | KOBO

 

 

 

Excerpt from It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

“Did you enjoy the wedding?” he asked.

“W-what?”

The man stood much closer than necessary. “The wedding. It was nice, right?”

“Sure.”

Faint strains of music carried from across the road. It seemed worlds away. He downed a mouthful of scotch, gaze never leaving my face. All I could smell was the single malt, his cologne, and the slight scent of salt on his skin. After all, it’d been a hot night and he’d been dancing in the suit. He wasn’t happy; I knew the signs well enough. The tension in his jawline and the look in his eyes. All heated and intense.

“So you’ve been sitting in the dark, drinking and brooding, huh?” I asked. “That sounds constructive.”

“What did Leona have to say?”

I laughed. “Oh, hell no. I’m not getting caught in the middle of you two again. Why don’t you try settling your issues like normal people and actually talk to one another?”

“You have such a clever mouth, Adele.” He cocked his head. “Always got an answer, don’t you?”

“Enjoy your scotch, Pete.” I turned away. “I’m going to bed.”

“What’s the rush?” Strong fingers wrapped around my arm, not gripping me hard, just enough to hold me in place.

“I’ve spent enough time tonight in the company of a drunken asshole, thank you.” I smiled.

His return smile was lopsided. “You’re angry.”

“I’m tired.”

“You’re angry and tired. Me too,” he said. “Less so on the tired, though. Actually, I’m wide the fuck awake.”

“Good for you.”

He finished off his drink, then reached past me, setting the empty glass on the kitchen counter. “Keep me company.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“Why not?” he asked, expression full of false interest. “Thought you’d love the chance to tell me off some more.”

I looked away. “We’re done here.”

“No, we’re not.”

“Yes, we are.” I pulled my arm out of his grasp. “We’re finished, Pete. Our friendship or whatever the hell it is these days . . . It’s over, kaput, the end. Took me seven years, but tonight I finally wised up.”

“That so?”

“Yep,” I said. “I refuse to keep feeling this way about you. It’s such a stupid waste.”

His gaze narrowed.

“You know, I even have a plan.”

“What might that be?”

“In the morning, I’m going to go home and fuck every available man I meet until one of them does it for me.” My smile felt jagged and horrible. It couldn’t have been pretty so see. “And then I won’t think about you anymore.”

His fingers curled into tight fists. Nice to know I wasn’t the only one affected. I put my hand on his chest, getting up in his face. Two could play the invading-personal-space game, for fun and intimidation. As if I would back down.

 

 

 

About the Author

kyliescottimageKylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013 & 2014, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet. You can learn more about Kylie from http://www.kylie-scott.com/

 

FACEBOOK | TWITTER | FACEBOOK FAN GROUP | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS