Review – Beard with Me by Penny Reid

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“This is Penny Reid at her finest.” — L.B. Dunbar, author

Beard With Me, an epic and breathtaking story from New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Penny Reid, is available now!

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No one is better at surviving than Scarlet St. Claire and making the best out of circumstances beyond her control is Scarlet’s specialty. In an apocalyptic situation, she’d be the last person on earth, hermitting like a pro, singing along to her CD Walkman, and dancing like no one is watching.

Scarlet is clever, Scarlet is careful, and Scarlet is smart . . . except when it comes to Billy Winston.

No one is better at fighting than Billy Winston and raging against his circumstances—because nothing is beyond his control—is Billy’s specialty. In an apocalyptic situation, he’d be the first person on earth to lead others to safety, overcome catastrophe, or die trying.

Billy is fearless, Billy is disciplined, and Billy is honorable . . . except when it comes to Scarlet St. Claire.

‘Beard With Me’ is the origin story of Billy Winston and Scarlet St. Claire (aka Claire McClure) and is just the beginning of their epic love story.

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Enter the giveaway for a signed paperback set of The Winston Brothers Series!

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BFF K’s Review of Beard with Me

I don’t mean to skip ahead but….Beard Necessities is the title of the next (and final) book in the Winston Brothers Series. And, I don’t think there’s ever been a more appropriate title. After reading Beard with Me, I’m in desperate need of the next book. Now! Stat! Please put me out of my heart-broken misery!!! 💔

I’ve been waiting the entire series to know and understand Billy Winston. And, the backstory is even more endearing and tragic than I imagined. Billy and Scarlet are star-crossed lovers for sure. Beard with Me is the beginning of their relationship and explains all the ins and outs of their broken journey.

Bill Winston has always struck me as being wiser than his years and carrying more responsibility than someone his age and all of his siblings. I had NO idea. My intuition didn’t even scratch the surface of what was really happening in his life, his heart and his brain. And, if Billy is an old soul, then he’s a perfect match for Scarlet. This book is a tale of young love, misunderstanding, and sacrifice that exceeds maturity.

This story was at times hard to read due to the gut-wrenching challenges and vulnerabilities that the characters displayed, but it was such a glimpse into what circumstances built the Winston family. And, it was the perfect story I didn’t know I needed in the series.

All of the praise for this angst-filled, tear-jerker aside, I don’t remember the last time I was this anxious to end a cliffhanger and put a beautiful bow on the Winston Brothers Series!

 

 

 

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

Excerpt from Beard with Me

*Scarlet*

“Do you want me to leave?”

Yes. That would be best, a wise voice said between my ears.

So of course I inhaled deeply and said as calmly as I could manage, “I thought we were going to go get firewood.”

“Okay. Good.”

“But then,” I blurted, flustered and irritated with myself for not speaking wisdom, “You should go. You can’t tell me carting firewood back and forth between your house and here is how you want to spend the last of your Thanksgiving weekend.”

“I didn’t say it was.” He began making his way up the incline.

“But you just said—”

“How about we make a deal.” Billy dropped the kindling next to my little woodpile, dusting his hands off on his pants. “I’ll cart the firewood, and you sing.”

“You want me to serenade you while we carry firewood?”

He smiled, slow and easy as he walked to me and reached out his hand. On autopilot, I accepted it and allowed him to help me up.

As soon as I was standing, his gaze moved from my hairline down to my nose, lips, and then chin, saying quietly, “I’ll take a serenade from you anytime.”

Thunk ka-thunk. That was my heart. It had been doing the thunk ka-thunk quite a lot around him. I ignored it, because what else could I do?

“And you’re not carrying the wood.” He tugged on my hand, pulling me out of my daze and past my tent.

“I will too carry wood.” Struggling to find my bearings, I stumbled after him. “I can carry logs just fine.”

“You’ll carry a log.” Billy fit his fingers between mine, pressing our palms together and grinning at me like he was waiting for me to argue and he couldn’t wait.

Snapping my mouth shut, I glared at him.

“Nothing to say?”

Maintaining my glare, I walked next to him. I wasn’t being led anywhere I didn’t wish to go. Not anymore. He wasn’t talking me into anything else.

“That’s an awfully mean look, Scarlet.” His grin grew, his brutally attractive eyes glowing happily as he peered down at me.

“Well, you deserve it. Always trying to tell me what I can and can’t do. I’m not arguing with you about this. I’m carrying as much wood as I want and you can take your stupid, chauvinistic opinions and shove them up your pretty-boy ass.”

Goodness. Where had that come from?

Billy’s steps faltered and his mouth fell open, his eyebrows rising high on his forehead. He stared at me, looking shocked as hell. And then in the next moment, he threw his head back and laughed. But he did not let go of me, instead bringing my knuckles to his chest as his deep, rumbly laughter filled the empty spaces between the trees, surrounding us.

Crushing me.

Yes. I was well and truly crushed as I could only watch Billy Winston laugh, desperately basking in the image of him so delighted and relaxed. I had the odd sense that his laughter also filled the empty spaces inside of me, the neglected, vacant rooms, and even a few places that felt brand-new, like he’d created them.

All that noble honesty he carried around like a boulder abruptly lifted, revealing him. Just him. Carefree and young and happy. Someone he might’ve been if his burdens hadn’t been so heavy, his responsibilities so broad.

It lasted only a minute, maybe two, maybe less, but I had the sense of being caught afterward. Billy’s laughter had receded, but he’d spun a web while I’d been staring at him, holding his hand.

His grin became smaller and he bit his bottom lip, his gaze dropped to my mouth. “You think I’m pretty?”

“You know you’re pretty,” I said, bizarrely out of breath, rattled, needing to anchor my focus to a tree beyond him and waging war against the heat climbing up my neck to my cheeks. Oddly, my eyes stung. I blinked.

His attention was still on me. I felt it, but I didn’t dare look at him. I couldn’t handle one of Billy Winston’s intense stares right now. He’d probably use my scattered wits to his advantage, talk me into something I shouldn’t want to do, and then I’d be kicking myself later.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, his voice deep with concern, all trace of his earlier humor gone.

I huffed, trying half-heartedly to steal my hand back from him. He didn’t let it go, instead taking my tugging as a signal to step closer, filling my vision.

“Scarlet—”

“Are you ever going to teach me how to play the guitar?” I closed my eyes.

He didn’t answer right away, and I felt him hesitate, his mind work before he muttered, “It’s only been a week.”

A quality to his voice made me think he wasn’t answering the question I’d asked, but rather he was reminding himself that it had only been a week since we’d struck the deal.

Was that only last week? Why does it feel like so much has changed?

Then he said, “Don’t be angry.”

“I’m not angry.” I was muddled, my head and heart hurt, I was incredibly confused, but I wasn’t angry.

The air shifted and I felt him move closer. A second later, the fingers of his free hand were at my ear, tucking my hair behind it, his fingertips lingering at my neck, sending wave after wave of goose bumps every which way. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t swallow. I couldn’t think. Every nerve in my body strained toward him and I didn’t understand it. What is happening?

“Have you ever been kissed, Scarlet?”

 

About the Author

Penny Reid is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Best Selling Author of the Winston Brothers, Knitting in the City, Rugby, and Hypothesis 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 – The Last Wingman by Daisy Prescott

Today is the day! The Last Wingman is LIVE on all platforms and it’s everything we hoped it would be!

 

Jonah Kingston is the last wingman standing.

June Moxee doesn’t care if he’s the last man on earth.

I haven’t exactly avoided relationships, but love has never been a priority. Solitude doesn’t bother me and being alone doesn’t mean being lonely. Until she moved to the island and I had to reconsider everything.

June seems content running her yarn shop, knitting with the local church ladies, and avoiding me. She’s a temptress in a handknit sweater. And for some reason, she’s not a fan of mine. It might be the tattoos. Or the beard. Or the fact that we’re polar opposites.

A woman has finally caught my attention. Too bad she thinks she hates me.

Good thing I’m stubborn enough to try to change her mind.

The Last Wingman is the sixth standalone, lighthearted small town romance in the Wingmen series. You do not have to read the previous books first to enjoy this book.

BUY THE LAST WINGMAN today!

 

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BFF K’s Review of The Last Wingman

Jonah and June are just the best. They’re #relationshipgoals. They are gentle and kind and perfect for each other and their journey to come together is everything I want to read in a romance novel! The Last Wingman is a leisurely walk down lover’s lane to arrive at one of the sweetest, brightest, truest, happily-ever-afters I’ve ever read! Jonah is a nerd covered in tattoos and piercings. He’s the poster boy for “Don’t Judge a Book by It’s Cover.” And, he’s just what June needs most.

Because this is the final book in the Wingman Series, this book also gave me some tears. Not that this story is sad, it’s not at all! But, I will miss John, Tom, Dan, Jonah and the Kelso brothers! They’ve been such a welcome and wonderful part of my reading and blogging journey over the last few years. While I will miss them terribly, the beauty of books is that they will always be there for me, just as they are, when I want to go back for a visit. And, isn’t that part of what’s wonderful about books? We can read, relate to and love these characters. It is like we build our own relationship with each of them particularly in a really wonderful series that builds such a strong sense of place and the vibe of a whole island and its’ people.

The Last Wingman is receiving a rare 6-Rating on BFF Book Blog because it completely illustrates everything that I have loved about this series. It is warm, cozy, heart-felt, full of friendship, quirks and incredible characters. It will have a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf. If you haven’t read The Wingmen Series, now is the time to start. Spend some time in Whidbey with the Wingmen and their lady loves. You won’t regret a minute of your stay! Godspeed to my fictional friends.

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

 

 

About the Author

Daisy Prescott is a USA Today bestselling author of small town romantic comedies. Series include Modern Love Stories, Wingmen, Love with Altitude, as well as the Bewitched and Wicked Society series of magical novellas. Tinfoil Heart is a romantic comedy standalone set in Roswell, New Mexico.

Daisy currently lives in a real life Stars Hollow in the Boston suburbs with her husband, their rescue dog Mulder, and an indeterminate number of imaginary house goats. When not writing, she can be found in the garden, traveling to satiate her wanderlust, lost in a good book, or on social media, usually talking about books, bearded men, and sloths.

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Review – Royally Yours by Emma Chase

 

Princess Lenora Celeste Beatrice Arabella Pembrook had an unusual childhood. She was raised to be a Queen—the first Queen of Wessco.

It’s a big deal.

When she’s crowned at just nineteen, the beautiful young monarch is prepared to rule. She’s charming, clever, confident and cunning.

What she isn’t…is married.

It’s her advising council’s first priority. It’s what Parliament is demanding, and what her people want.

Lenora has no desire to tie herself to a man—particularly one who only wants her for her crown. But compromises must be made and royals must do their duty.

Even Queens. Especially them.

**

Years ago, Edward Langdon Richard Dorian Rourke, walked away from his title and country. Now he’s an adventurer—climbing mountains, exploring jungles, going wherever he wants, when he wants—until family devotion brings him home.

And a sacred promise keeps him there.

To Edward, the haughty, guarded little Queen is intriguing, infuriating…and utterly captivating. Wanting her just might drive him mad—or become his greatest adventure.

**

Within the cold, stone walls of the royal palace—mistrust threatens, wills clash, and an undeniable, passionate love will change the future of the monarchy forever.

Every dynasty has a beginning. Every legend starts with a story.

This is theirs.

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BFF K’s Review of Royally Yours

This is the book that I didn’t know I needed until I read the first chapter. I was sucked in from the very beginning and fell in love with Edward right alongside Lenora.

I am a HUGE fan of this Royally Series from Emma Chase. Every book in the series has been stellar and utterly swoon-worthy. I was excited to learn there would be another book in the series, but somewhat surprised when I learned the book would be Queen Lenora’s story. I didn’t really know if it would be a storyline that interested me. I couldn’t understand how the pieces would fit together or what a lover of this series would gain from understanding Queen Lenora’s backstory. But, wow, I was blown away by this story. I’ve never been so happy to read a story I wasn’t really looking for!

Queen Lenora and Prince Edward have a remarkable, heart warming, epic love story! They’re brought together in difficult circumstances and aren’t really sure they even like one another. But, attraction and mutual respect grow into the most amazing tale of love and devotion. Their story is beautifully written and compliments the other books so completely that now I can’t imagine the series without this missing piece. And, I’ve even gone back to the other books in the series searching for key words to put even more pieces of the Lenora and Edward puzzle together.

You do not need to read the rest of the Royally Series to love Royally Yours, but you absolutely should! This series is nothing short of magical and I know it’s a series I will be thinking about, reading and recommending long into the future! For lovers of a great Royal Romance, I can’t think of any better than these! Emma Chase’s Royally Series is a crown jewel!

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

 

 

 

About the Author

Emma Chase is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the hot and hilarious Tangled series and The Legal Briefs series. Emma lives in New Jersey with her husband, two children and two naughty (but really cute) dogs. She has a long-standing love/hate relationship with caffeine.

 

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Review – A Love Letter from the Girls Who Feel Everything by Brittainy C. Cherry & Kandi Steiner

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“A Love Letter From the Girls Who Feel Everything reminds me of my favorite roller coaster . . . it was such an emotional ride—one I’m willingly going to take over and over again.”

– Dee Lagasse, author

A Love Letter From the Girls Who Feel Everything, a beautiful book of prose and poetry, by bestselling authors Brittainy C. Cherry & Kandi Steiner is LIVE!

 

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Bestselling authors Brittainy C. Cherry and Kandi Steiner come together for the first time in an emotional compilation of poetry and prose. Written and collected over the course of more than two years, A Love Letter from the Girls Who Feel Everything is an intimate, honest, and raw assemblage of two women’s feelings in a modern world that often quiets any kind of emotion past indifference.

Discussing themes of love, worth, loss and hope, A Love Letter from the Girls Who Feel Everything is a journey of discovery and healing.

“We are the girls who feel everything.

And this is our love letter. To you, to them, to us, to the world, to no one at all. Whether it’s the brightest, sunniest day where everything is perfect, or the darkest, dreariest night of rain where life seems unbearable — we have lived it, we have survived it, and we have felt every, blissful, aching second.

Here’s to embracing the feels, to the brave souls that listen to the way their hearts beat and aren’t afraid to ask someone else if they feel those same beats, too. Here’s to the girls, the boys, the love we sometimes share and the love we all-too-often conceal.

And more than anything, Reader — here’s to you.”

 

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Download your copy today!

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BFF K’s Review of A Love Letter from the Girls Who Feel Everything

 

When I was in High School, my Speech and Debate Coach forced me to compete in Oral Interpretation of Poetry. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with poetry ever since. In recent years I’ve found myself seeking out poetry and developing an adult’s appreciation for this literary format. I was looking forward to A Love Letter from the Girls Who Feel Everything and I wasn’t disappointed.

Cherry and Steiner have delivered an emotional, raw, gut-punch in pure poetic prose. There are a couple of more up-beat, optimistic pieces, but the vast majority are intense introspections on life and relationships. They reflect incredible self discovery, healthy and unhealthy relationships and most of all loss and love.

I started highlighting my favorites, but it soon became apparent that by doing so I would end up highlighting most of the book!

I think that poetry is a terrific palate cleanser when you’re switching genre’s or tropes. And this set would be perfect before or after an angsty read. Either way, it will get you ready and pointed in a new direction. I know that I will come back to A Love Letter many many more times and I’m sure you will too!

I haven’t received too many love letters in my life, but this is definitely a love letter from Cherry and Steiner to themselves and their readers and I’m grateful to have been on the receiving end of this book!

 

 

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

 

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About the Authors

Brittainy C. Cherry:

Hi! I’m Brittainy! Join me as we travel through my mind as a Romance Author. This includes such things as my random thoughts, tricks, tips, things I’m learning, things I’m re-learning, things I’m forgetting, and my weird ways of crafting stories.

Connect with Brittainy:

Facebook: http://bit.ly/2oIoDEb
Twitter: http://bit.ly/2Cnk2kr
Stay up to date with Brittainy by signing up for her mailing list: https://goo.gl/VOg4l8
Website: http://bit.ly/2NR6y1w

Kandi Steiner:

Kandi Steiner is a bestselling author and whiskey connoisseur living in Tampa, FL. Best known for writing “emotional rollercoaster” stories, she loves bringing flawed characters to life and writing about real, raw romance — in all its forms. No two Kandi Steiner books are the same, and if you’re a lover of angsty, emotional, and inspirational reads, she’s your gal.

An alumna of the University of Central Florida, Kandi graduated with a double major in Creative Writing and Advertising/PR with a minor in Women’s Studies. She started writing back in the 4th grade after reading the first Harry Potter installment. In 6th grade, she wrote and edited her own newspaper and distributed to her classmates. Eventually, the principal caught on and the newspaper was quickly halted, though Kandi tried fighting for her “freedom of press.” She took particular interest in writing romance after college, as she has always been a diehard hopeless romantic, and likes to highlight all the challenges of love as well as the triumphs.

When Kandi isn’t writing, you can find her reading books of all kinds, talking with her extremely vocal cat, and spending time with her friends and family. She enjoys live music, traveling, anything heavy in carbs, beach days, movie marathons, craft beer and sweet wine — not necessarily in that order.

Connect with Kandi:

Mailing list: http://bit.ly/NewsletterKS
Facebook: http://bit.ly/2Q5lWJc
Facebook reader group (Kandiland): http://bit.ly/2wKSDnq
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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 – Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren


Love, loss, friendship, and the betrayals of the past all collide in this first women’s fiction novel from New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Autoboyography, Dating You / Hating You).

The story of the heart can never be unwritten.

Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.

But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother…only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.

Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.

 

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BFF K’s Review of Love and Other Words

What to say about another impeccably written, unique, emotional, heart-felt story from two romance masters? Buy it! Read it! Listen to it! Love it! That pretty much sums it up!

Love and Other Words is a deeply moving story of innocent, bone-deep-love, heartbreaking loss and the wondrous gift of a second chance. The story is a rich and stirring account of first love broken up by misunderstandings, poor decisions, youth, and loss and mended together by devotion, time, and intention.

Macy and Elliot are meant to be and there is really nothing that can completely sever their bond and commitment to one another. Their story is told in chapters alternating between past and present. But, each is gripping and impactful.

I did a combo read and listen of Love and Other Words. Many of the most emotional bits were listened to in the car during my commute. I think that’s the only thing that saved me from body-wracking-sobs during parts of the book. Just thinking about it makes my heart both heavy and full of hope. I don’t think it’s possible to read this story and come away unscathed. It will mark your heart, leaving you stunned and pondering the characters, their love and their second chance for days and weeks to come.

Buy it! Read it! Listen to it! Love it!

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

 

About the Authors

NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY AND #1 INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLING AUTHORS
Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of long-time writing partners/besties/soulmates/brain-twins Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. The coauthor duo writes both Young Adult and Adult Fiction, and together has produced fourteen New York Times bestselling novels. Their books have been translated into 30+ languages.

You can find them online at ChristinaLaurenBooks.com or at @seeCwrite (Christina), @LolaShoes (Lauren), or @ChristinaLauren on Twitter.

Review – Cake: The Newlyweds by J. Bengtsson

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Jake and Casey are BACK!
CAKE: The Newlyweds by J. Bengtsson is NOW AVAILABLE in ebook, paperback & audio!

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You thought their story was over… but a love like theirs has no end.

Fate doesn’t own Jake McKallister. At least that’s what he tells himself. Life is better than ever. He’s at the top of his game, performing to sold-out crowds the world over.

He has his health and a solid, fun-loving family to keep him grounded.

And he got the girl – the beautiful, quirky girl he’s just made his wife.

Yes, life is good. If only fate would stop screaming in his ear.

Lucky is the word to best describe Casey McKallister. Life is not just great… it’s amazing.

She has an awesome, devoted support system, a nerd’s dream job at a prestigious accounting firm, and, best of all, she’s married to the hottest rock star to ever roam the earth.

Yes, life is perfect… until it comes crashing down around her.

They say love concurs all. That’s what Jake and Casey are counting on.

 

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BFF K’s Review of Cake: The Newlyweds

 

Cake: A Love Story and the first three books in the series were among my most favorite books of 2017. So, I was thrilled to see a new book coming in the series and it did NOT disappoint! Cake: The Newlyweds was sweet and LOL-funny while being a bit tearful and heart-wrenching at the same time!

Jake and Casey experience many of the issues and emotions of any newlywed couple. But, add to it Jake’s traumatic past, his challenging career and some unexpected tragedy and you have a tale that does more than just check in with your favorite characters, it moves their lives and stories forward.

My only criticism is that I would have liked Jake’s trauma story to be a little more developed. This story found Jake continuing to work through personal issues related to his childhood. I wish there had been a few more scenes with him working through those issue, it was all tied up a little too neatly for me. I think it could have been even more substantial.

Cake: The Newlyweds is another great love story for Jake and Casey. But, it’s also a wonderful check-in with Kyle and Kenzie, Emma and Finn and some of the other members of the family. I really liked the scenes with Quinn and Grace and I’m excited to see where their stories go. AND, there were a couple of scenes that made me laugh until I cried.

This book has it all – highs and lows, terrific characters and unique storylines. You need to read the first three books in the Cake Series for maximum enjoyment. Then you’ll be sure to find Cake: The Newlyweds is just the icing….on the Cake! 😂

PS – the Audio Version is Andi Arndt and Joe Arden and sure to be AMAZING!

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

 

READ BFF K’s Reviews of the other books in the Cake Series!

A Series Review for Cake: A Love Story

 

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-A reclusive rock star going through the motions-

Jake McKallister might have been a rock star, but he was no ordinary one. Surviving an unspeakable crime as a young teen had shaped him into a guarded workaholic, and he now lived his life trying to forget. If it hadn’t been for music and the redemption he found through it, he might not have survived. Career success came easily for him. Personal connections did not.

-A vivacious college student embracing life-

When outspoken and fun-loving Casey Caldwell was paired with the famously reserved musician for a friend’s wedding, she was prepared for the worst. What could they possibly have in common? She was a bubbly talker; he was a media-shy loner. His life was filled with music; she couldn’t carry a tune. She’d enjoyed a happy childhood; his was a well-publicized nightmare.

-Their worlds are about to collide-

Despite their obvious differences, Jake and Casey found each other, and her light balanced out his darkness. Would their love be strong enough to survive the weight of his tragic past?

 

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About the Author

J. Bengtsson lives in Southern California with her husband and three children. Her favorite things to do are laugh, go for walks, and hang out with family.

Connect with J.!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jbengtssonauthor/
Twitter: www.twitter.com/CakeALoveStory
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/chhhbX
Bookbub: http://bit.ly/2rxHjuK
Join her Reader Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/thebananabinder/

 

 

Review – Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

 

Fangirl meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this funny and poignant coming-of-age novel from New York Times bestselling author Christina Lauren about two boys who fall in love in a writing class—one from a progressive family and the other from a conservative religious community.

Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.

But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.

It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.

BFF K’s Review of Autoboyography

Autoboyography is my most thought about and talked about book of the year! I absolutely can’t stop raving about it! Christina Lauren has delivered another incredible story. But, this one rises above even their usual brilliance. It is a sweet, smart, heartwarming and heartbreaking story of young love. But, it is also a captivating social commentary and thought provoking look into the lives and struggles of two not-straight young men growing up in areas where they can not truly be themselves.

Tanner is smart and sensitive. He is surrounded by a loving family and supported by good friends, but there are still parts of himself that he keeps hidden. Sebastian is also smart and caring, and similarly, he has grown up with a great deal of love and support. But, Sebastian is also prohibited from revealing who he truly is. The push and pull and angst-filled journey is exposed in a book within a book. It will grab your heart in a vice and squeeze it so so tightly!

I can’t describe how much I LOVE this book. I have told everyone who will listen how great it is. I’ve bought copies for friends and family. I love the written copy and the audio version. I warn you…I don’t believe you can not read this book and come out unscathed. It will carve it’s lines in your head and your heart and you’ll look at the world just a little differently when you’re done. Without a doubt, this is one of my Besties of 2017, worthy of a 6-rated review and you won’t regret a minute you spend with this compelling novel.

 

About the Authors

NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY AND #1 INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLING AUTHORS

Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of long-time writing partners/besties/soulmates/brain-twins Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. The coauthor duo writes both Young Adult and Adult Fiction, and together has produced fourteen New York Times bestselling novels. Their books have been translated into 30+ languages.

You can find them online at ChristinaLaurenBooks.com or at @seeCwrite (Christina), @LolaShoes (Lauren), or @ChristinaLauren on Twitter.

Review – Stand by A.L. Jackson

 STAND is now live!

A Bleeding Stars Stand-Alone Novel

From NYT & USA Today Bestselling Author A.L. Jackson comes the next seductive, unforgettable Bleeding Stars Stand-Alone Novel…
Zachary Kennedy has never been known as a fighter, but he’ll never regret fighting for her…
I’m Zee Kennedy.
Quiet. Reserved. Predictable.
When my brother died, everyone thought I was just the good guy who stepped up to take his place in the band.
No one knew what I was hiding. The one thing I’ve been fighting for.
For seven years, I’ve never lost focus.
Not until one chance encounter with Alexis Kensington.
Now she’s become my greatest temptation.
I knew better than to touch her, but now that I’ve had a taste, I can’t get enough.
Her kiss becomes my air. Her body my salvation.
She needed a savior and somehow she became mine.
Taking her was a betrayal. But keeping her means risking everything.
One look at Alexis Kensington, and I know she’s worth the fight.
Will my past continue to keep me down or will I finally find the strength to pull myself up and Stand.

 

Don’t miss out on the stunning conclusion unforgettable series BFF K has been raving about!

 

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BFF K’s Review of Stand

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It was a little over two years ago. I found myself sitting in a Panera restaurant (when I probably should have been working) headphones on and engrossed in the most incredible book that I just couldn’t stop listening to. That book was A Stone in the Sea read by Sebastian York and Andi Arndt. I was hooked. I was hooked on the story, the characters and the unbelievable audio performance. When it ended in a cliffhanger, I thought my world was falling apart. I feel a little bit the same way tonight as I finished Stand, the final book in the Bleeding Stars Series. I’m more than a little heartbroken over the end of this wonderful series.

Zee has been the most mysterious member of the world famous band, Sunder. He’s so straight-laced and has always taken care of everyone else. He’s never succumbed to the temptations of women, drugs and booze. But, you could never really get to the heart of why he protected his bandmates so fiercely and denied himself so much in the process. Stand blows that wide open. Zee Kennedy has good reasons to guard his life and his heart.

But, one night, Zee meets Alexis and the world shifts on its axis. Suddenly his carefully constructed walls have are crumbling before his eyes. He’s powerless to stop the way his foundation is shifting. Alexis knows that Zee is hiding something, but is unsure what or if it even matters.

A.L. Jackson’s beautiful words are dripping with emotion and angst. She clearly lays out the afflicting wreckage that Zee and Alexis must navigate and it’s one hell of a minefield. The book is so carefully crafted and emotionally charged that you’ll be unsure if you should pick your way through it slowly or charge ahead with little regard for the safety of your own heart or emotions!

The Bleeding Stars Series started strong and maintained the brilliant intensity through every book. They’re lovingly crafted, pulse-racing stories that will take hold of your heartstrings and pull you along from each fantastic story to the end. I strongly recommend this series for several heart-stopping doses of angst and gut-wrenching emotion. It’s going to take me a long time to get over the final chapter for these rockstar, bad boys, turned-good!

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

 

 

 

“6 Devastatingly Beautiful and Brilliant Bleeding Stars but Worth the Whole Constellation.

I felt every burn…every blaze…every beautiful and brilliant word…I FELT IT ALL. ”

~Karen, Bookalicious Babes Blog

Giveaway

Grand Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card + First 5 Bleeding Stars Novels Signed

 

 Celebrate the Release!

A.L. Jackson Reader Hangout ► http://smarturl.it/AmysAngelsRock

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About the Author

A.L. Jackson is the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance. She writes emotional, sexy, heart-filled stories about boys who usually like to be a little bit bad.
Her bestselling series include THE REGRET SERIES, CLOSER TO YOU, as well as the newest BLEEDING STARS novels. Watch for the next installment STAND, coming Spring 2017.
If she’s not writing, you can find her hanging out by the pool with her family, sipping cocktails with her friends, or of course with her nose buried in a book.
Be sure not to miss new releases and sales from A.L. Jackson – Sign up to receive her newsletter http://smarturl.it/NewsFromALJackson or text “aljackson” to 24587 to receive short but sweet updates on all the important news.
Connect with A.L.

Facebook: http://smarturl.it/ALJacksonPage
Reader Group: http://smarturl.it/AmysAngelsRock
Amazon: http://smarturl.it/ALJacksonAmzn
Bookbub: http://smarturl.it/ALJacksonBookbub
Twitter: @aljacksonauthor
Instagram: @aljacksonauthor
Snapchat: @aljacksonauthor

 

Review – Stay by A.L. Jackson

Stay

A Bleeding Stars Stand-Alone Novel

 

“Stay is a power, heart-wrenching story that will consume you heart and soul, leaving you utterly breathless days after the last page is read.” – Kelly Elliott New York Times bestselling author

From NYT & USA Today Bestselling Author A.L. Jackson comes the next sexy, gripping Bleeding Stars Stand-Alone Novel…

I’m Ash Evans.
The life of the party.
Hot. Rich. Charismatic.
A tattooed rock star with the world at my feet.
I burn through women faster than the strike of a match.

I’ve embraced my lifestyle and live it to the fullest.
Until the day my lifestyle caught up to me.

Willow Langston found me at my lowest.
Literally.
Facedown in a puddle of my own blood.

I owe her my life and I have three months to repay that debt.
What I never should have done was touch her. Kiss her. Take her to my bed.

Love wasn’t supposed to be a part of the equation.
I gave up that nasty complication a long damned time ago.
Now I want her more than my next breath.
But she doesn’t know what I know.

Do I leave to protect her? Or can I face my demons and ask her to Stay?

 

Get Your Copy TODAY

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BFF K’s Review of Stay

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Ash Evans is the jokester of the Sunder Crew. He’s the comic relief in a band known more for thrashing than ballads. Ash is the good guy, life of the party, always ready with a quip or a flirtatious comment, but underneath shiny veneer is a wounded soul. When he opens his eyes to Willow Langston as he lays broken and bleeding outside her shop, he’s drawn to her in ways he doesn’t understand.

The story of Ash and Willow is not a comedy. Stay is not a light-hearted romp….It’s more of a ‘rip your heart out, crush it bit by bit and destroy it’ kind of book. But, there is growth that comes from pain for both of the main characters and a redemption that is so perfect, it might go down as one of my all-time favorite “grand gestures”!

Stay is the perfect compliment to the rest of the books in the Bleeding Stars Series. But, you don’t have to read the others to enjoy the saga of Ash and Willow. I have loved these characters since I first clicked play on the audio for Where Lightning Strikes and I’ve been invested ever since. I’m a girl who typically avoids angst at all cost. But, this series is so incredible that I will gladly open the book knowing that it will rip my heart to shreds more than once before it’s over. And, the pain is worth every turn of the page. A.L. Jackson’s writing is picturesque and poetic and a pure joy to read. I absolutely recommend, Stay and all of the stories in the Bleeding Stars Series.

 

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

Giveaway

 

About the Author

A.L. Jackson is the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance. She writes emotional, sexy, heart-filled stories about boys who usually like to be a little bit bad.

Her bestselling series include THE REGRET SERIES, CLOSER TO YOU, as well as the newest BLEEDING STARS novels. Watch for the next installments, WAIT and STAY, coming in 2016.

If she’s not writing, you can find her hanging out by the pool with her family, sipping cocktails with her friends, or of course with her nose buried in a book.

Be sure not to miss new releases and sales from A.L. Jackson – Sign up to receive her newsletter http://bit.ly/NewsFromALJackson or text “jackson” to 96000 to receive short but sweet updates on all the important news.

Connect with A.L.

Facebook
Reader Group
A.L. Jackson Newsletter
Amazon
Bookbub
Twitter: @aljacksonauthor
Instagram: @aljacksonauthor
Snapchat: @aljacksonauthor