Weighted Issues by M.M. Wheeler is Now Available!!!

Title: Weighted Issues

Author: M.M. Wheeler

Genre: Erotica

Release Date: July 20, 2017

 

 

Her weight was an issue, always had been, but that was before… 

 

She needed to break free from these issues and move forward. 

 

With this dress she was wearing and her new found confidence

 

and attitude towards life she was beginning to break free from all her insecurities.

 


She wasn’t going to hide behind her old image anymore. She’d grown into a 
Beautiful woman and was slowly growing into the person she’d always dreamt of being. 
This dress and this night were about embracing her new image. 
She was going to try hard to not just like herself… she was going to start loving herself. 
Life is about embracing the here and now.

Read.Review.Repeat – “This book will make you laugh, make you cry, it has suspense and a HEA! To me it was the perfect love story!”

 

M.M. Wheeler loved reading as a child and it developed into writing as she became a teenager. Romance was her genre but moved slightly to erotica when she matured a little more.

 

Hot and heavy reads can help the soul.

M.M. Wheeler has lived in Townsville her whole life, her young family is supportive of her career and the tropics are on of her favorite places.

 
 

 

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7 Dirty Lies by Alexis Anne is coming soon, Dirty never felt so good…So Come and Read an Excerpt Now!!!

7 dirty lies_BANNER_Excerpt

7 Dirty Lies by Alexis Anne is coming soon!
Dirty never felt so good…
Release Date: August 17th

7DL

PREORDER NOW!
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2uQfyOv
iBooks: http://bit.ly/7DirtyLies
Nook: http://bit.ly/2ukwYzO
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2gXii6N

ADD TO YOUR TBR→ http://bit.ly/2t0GZEU

7_TEASER1

It was right out of one of my movies:

Tropical island, sexy single man, two hot nights of nameless passion.

Except instead of falling into each other’s arms, we went our separate ways, never to be seen again.

Of course I thought about him all the time. The way he laughed, the way he saw right through me, the way he took no shit as his strong hands roamed my body. If there was one night I could repeat, it would be that one.

I never expected to see my mystery man again.

Fast forward to my new movie set and the handsome property owner. Yep, same guy. Same sexy, sexy guy. Our chemistry is still off the charts but there’s one tiny problem: he doesn’t trust me.

Okay, so I skipped a few important details. I don’t blame the guy. But they were just little white lies. Unfortunately if I want that movie-perfect ending I’m going to have to set the record straight…and hopefully have a little fun in the process.

7_TEASER2

EXCERPT:

I couldn’t sleep. No amount of hiking or bedroom gymnastics could make me fall asleep, apparently. My body was exhausted but my mind wouldn’t stop. Not with the way Colt had me wrapped around him, holding me in place like he enjoyed it every bit as much as I did.

Maybe I didn’t want to sleep because I knew it was the last time I wouldn’t be alone for a while. Even when I did have “company” it was rare that it was as nice as this. Okay scratch that. I’d never had company this nice before. Colt was funny, warm, and generous. He was great in bed and enjoyable outside of it, too. Plus there was this. Just dozing off in his arms was so relaxing and peaceful.

There definitely wouldn’t be relaxing or peaceful after this.

Nor would anything be this sexy.

So yeah, I was up hours later than I should be, soaking up every moment I could before my vacation became a memory.

“You’re awake, aren’t you?” he said just loud enough to be heard over the waves crashing outside the open bungalow windows.

“Yes.”

“Why?” His fingers began to lazily stroke my arm. It was soothing. He was soothing.

“Can’t sleep. Why are you awake?”

He paused, his fingers near my shoulders, before he changed direction and moved to my hair. “I don’t really know. I don’t usually have trouble sleeping.”

Knowing he was having the same problem filled my chest with warmth. “We should be exhausted.”

He made a grunt of agreement. “Are you ready to go home?”

“No.”

Another grunt. “I need to go back. I can’t believe I left things for this long . . . ” Then he kissed the top of my head. It sent electricity racing over my skin. My heart pounded. “But the last thing I want to do is go back.” He shifted, sliding down beside me so that we were nose to nose on our sides. “I want another day like this.”

“Just one?”

“Five. Fifty. Why can’t real life be like this?”

God he was handsome. Even in the shadows of the night. The moon cast the faintest glow through the white curtains, lighting the side of his face up enough for me to admire. He’d shaved this morning, so there was a decent layer of stubble on his rugged chin now. His nose was long and narrow but not perfect. When I got to his eyes I froze. He was waiting for me. Waiting with a look so desperate for me it overwhelmed every thought in my head.

“I forgot what you just asked.”

“Why can’t real life be like this?” he whispered, hoarse.

Raw. He was raw. His eyes, his words—everything—stripped bare, down to his soul, for me.

“Responsibilities.”

He swallowed. “Right now I don’t care about any of them.” He brushed his lips over mine. “I’m fucking miserable. Day in and day out I work myself to death for all of them. Why?”

I didn’t know the answer to that. “You love them?”

His eyes pinched at the corners. With pain? Sadness? “I’m starting to wonder if it’s enough.” He kissed me again. “I’m giving up—” he hesitated, his lips moving but no words coming out until, “—this.”

A sharp ache sliced through my chest. Even if we threw everything out the window and tried to see each other again, it wouldn’t be the same. The man and woman who went on a waterfall picnic weren’t who we really were. It was better that we keep that memory pure.

Didn’t make it hurt any less.

Besides, how would I ever explain that I’d lied about who I was? If I wanted to enjoy these last few hours with Colt, I needed to hold tight to this illusion I’d created for us both.

“What if we come back next year? One year from now we’ll be different people. There’s no way I’m going home and picking up where I left off. Maybe you shouldn’t either.”

“A year?” His voice held a mix of disappointment and hope. “A year to change.”

“You’re a workaholic and my life is kind of a mess right now. I think if we tried to keep this—what we have right now—we’d ruin it. I don’t want that.”

“Neither do I.”

Good. A year would give me enough time to figure out how to explain my little white lies. And maybe he’d be so happy to see me again he wouldn’t care as much as he would right now.

“I’m a sunshine and rainbows, glass-half-full, pot-of-gold, pain in the ass, but I have goals, Colt. Just because I think positive doesn’t mean I’m oblivious to reality.” I took a deep breath, hoping it would give me the courage to finish this. “The last two days have been the best I’ve ever had. Because of you. I hope when I come back next year I’ll see your cowboy hat by the pool. Maybe we’ll be ready by then.”

“Is this a brush off? When I come back will I be all alone again, pining for a woman who never really existed?” His tone was teasing, but his eyes were deadly serious.

I just wish he wasn’t so damn close to the truth.

“I’ll be here, Colt. That’s not even a question. I’m a little bit addicted to you and I want more.”

“Good. Because I think it would kill me if I never saw you again.”

Oh god. “You’re making me want to stay again . . . ” I rolled on top of him, straddling his hips. “Fuck reality. We’re going to blow every penny we have to stay here until we’re broke.”

He laughed, sliding his hands up my hips and pulling me down against him. “This place is expensive. Maybe we can find a cheaper alternative to make it last longer.” Then he pulled me down, his arm along my spine and his hand between my shoulder blades as he held me to him. “I’ll be ready for you next year. Just know I’m not letting you go again. Be prepared for a fight.”

It was taking all the fight I had to leave tomorrow. No amount of time would give me enough courage to fight him off a second time. If, after he knew the truth, he still wanted me, I would give us everything I had to see if we could recreate this magic off the island.

7_TEASER3

About the Author:

Former archaeologist Alexis Anne (who also writes romantic suspense as Alexis Sykes) has worked as an oral historian, GIS specialist, field archaeologist, college professor, and small business owner, before deciding that working from home and writing books was a lot more satisfying. She writes steamy, sexy romance with one half of her brain and romantic suspense, action adventure, and children’s books with the other half.

Growing up she traipsed through the islands of the Gulf Coast, camped in the Everglades, dove the Keys, and generally felt more at home spending her days outdoors with a good book. She currently lives in a home filled with wild men (otherwise known as her extremely extroverted husband, The Sexy Editor, and their two kids), a husky, and a superhero guinea pig.

Follow Alexis!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlexisAnneBooks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlexisAnneBooks
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2spJDDI
Website: http://www.alexisannebooks.com
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/alexis-anne

Have you seen the new cover for Ginger’s Heart by Katy Regnery?! GORGEOUS! + Don’t Speak is only 99c for this week only!

Collection2revised

Have you seen the new cover for Ginger’s Heart by Katy Regnery?!
GORGEOUS! + Don’t Speak is only 99c for this week only!

2GingersHeartNewEbookCover

BUY Ginger’s Heart NOW!

Amazon US → http://amzn.to/2uGdM2o
iBooks → http://apple.co/2twKeEk
Nook → http://bit.ly/2uhpoHQ
Kobo → http://bit.ly/2twlbkS

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Excerpt:

It does no good to stake a claim on someone’s heart. Unless they give it to you, it isn’t yours to take. All you can do is share your heart and hope she wants it. All you can do is offer it and hope she takes it. All you can do is love her and hope to God she finds a way to love you back.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered.

“For what?” she asked.

“For tryin’ to force you to love me.”

“Oh, Woodman,” she said, her voice thick with emotion. “I do love you.”

“I know you do. Like a best friend. Like a brother.”

She shrugged helplessly. “And at times . . .”

He waited for her to continue.

“There have been times,” she said softly, “when I thought I felt somethin’ more.”

With his good foot, he pushed off and the swing rocked gently as he processed her words; those times—those precious moments—when she’d felt possible for him, he’d felt possible for her too. It gave him hope. It restored his patience.

I love you,” he said gently, staring straight ahead at an old oak tree that was blocking the setting sun. It created a sunburst of orange-gold that made the tree look like it was on fire. “I’ve been in love with you for as long as I can remember.”

“Woodman,” she sobbed.

He didn’t look at her. He stared at the tree as the orange-gold sun set the grass on fire and watched as the old oak was slowly bathed in a calming lavender.

“If you told me ‘no,’ Gin, if you told me ‘never,’ I’d leave you be. You know that, don’t you? It would damn near kill me, but I’d . . . I promise you, I’d walk away. But until you say those words, Ginger, I will keep hopin’ and keep waitin’ for you.”

She took a deep, sobbing breath beside him, and he knew if he looked at her, he’d see tears spilling over the rims of her eyes, but he didn’t look. He watched the grass turn lavender, then purple. He focused on the dying light.

“Gin,” he whispered, hating the question but needing the answer, “are you in love with Cain?”

Peripherally, he saw her shake her head back and forth, letting her neck fall forward until her chin rested on her chest and her shoulders shook the swing with silent sobs. And then he knew for sure. It had happened. Somehow in the space of just a few days she’d fallen for Cain again.

“Gin,” he said gently, putting his finger under her chin and tilting her face up to look at him. Her blonde hair shone in the porch light over their heads as the rest of the world darkened into purple dusk little by little. “Cain is my cousin and I love him, but I just . . . I just don’t think he’s right for you.”

Why?” she demanded, her voice breaking on the simple, pleading word, as though she truly wanted an answer, as though she’d already posed the question to herself and come up with nothing.

Because he’s cock deep in Mary-Louise Walker right now while you’re weeping over him. The words sat perched on the tip of his tongue, but he couldn’t bring himself to say them—he couldn’t bear to hurt her like that, and frankly he didn’t want to villainize Cain like that, not even if meant winning Ginger.

“I see you with me, not him,” he said simply. “Darlin’, I’d be so good to you. Don’t you know that?”

She nodded, tears streaming down her lovely face, limp with sadness.

Reaching down, he took her hand gently, lifting it, bringing it to his chest and placing it directly over his heart.

“You can have this heart to break,” he said softly, devoutly, surrendering everything to her—his dignity, his control, his very soul—“if there’s even the smallest chance you might want it someday. Because here is what I know: even if you can’t ever give me yours, mine already belongs to you.”

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Don’t Speak is only 99c FOR THIS WEEK ONLY!

“Swoon. Sigh. Beautiful, gorgeous love story.” -Mia Sheridan, New York Times bestselling author of Archer’s Voice

Amazon US → http://amzn.to/2uGKW1B
iBooks → http://apple.co/2txTXFM
Nook → http://bit.ly/2txOhvx
Kobo → http://bit.ly/2t8CILP

*Sale ends on Sunday, July 30.*

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About the Author:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Katy Regnery started her writing career by enrolling in a short story class in January 2012. One year later, she signed her first contract and Katy’s first novel was published in September 2013.

Twenty-five books later, Katy claims authorship of the multi-titled, New York Times and USA Today Blueberry Lane Series, which follows the English, Winslow, Rousseau, Story, and Ambler families of Philadelphia; the six-book, bestselling ~a modern fairytale~ series; and several other standalone novels and novellas.

Katy’s first modern fairytale romance, The Vixen and the Vet, was nominated for a RITA® in 2015 and won the 2015 Kindle Book Award for romance. Katy’s boxed set, The English Brothers Boxed Set, Books #1–4, hit the USA Today bestseller list in 2015, and her Christmas story, Marrying Mr. English, appeared on the list a week later. In May 2016, Katy’s Blueberry Lane collection, The Winslow Brothers Boxed Set, Books #1-4, became a New York Times E-book bestseller.

In 2016, Katy signed a print-only agreement with Spencerhill Press. As a result, her Blueberry Lane paperback books will now be distributed to brick and mortar bookstores all over the United States.

Katy lives in the relative wilds of northern Fairfield County, Connecticut, where her writing room looks out at the woods, and her husband, two young children, two dogs, and one Blue Tonkinese kitten create just enough cheerful chaos to remind her that the very best love stories begin at home.

Author Links:

Website/Newsletter Signup: http://katyregnery.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7211470.Katy_Regnery
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2dqySsy
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KatyRegnery
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KatyRegnery
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/katharineregner/

Have you seen the new cover for Never Let you Go by Katy Regnery?! GORGEOUS! + Don’t Speak is only 99c for this week only!

Collection1revised

Have you seen the new cover for Never Let you Go by Katy Regnery?!
GORGEOUS! + Don’t Speak is only 99c for this week only!

1NLYGNewEbookCover

BUY Never Let You Go NOW!

Amazon US → http://amzn.to/2uHlYz8
Amazon Universal→ myBook.to/NeverLetYouGoKaty
FREE with Kindle Unlimited!

NLYGteaser4

Excerpt:

 

“I trust you as much as I can trust anyone,” she said softly.

“That ain’t sayin’ much,” he retorted, his eyes burning.

She leaned onto her side to face him. “Holden, please don’t be mad at me. I love you more than anyone. I want this . . . I want you . . . I just . . .”

“Every one of the marks on my arm . . . is you,” he confessed.

“What?”

He turned his neck to look at her, feeling the heaviness of his heart as he revealed himself to her—his true colors, infused with guilt, regret, and shame. “Every single mark, every single one, b-belongs to you.”

What does that even mean?”

His eyes burned with tears, and he blinked them back, focusing on her face. “It didn’t matter who it was, who I was with. It didn’t matter that you were d-dead. I’d close my eyes in that moment, and I’d see your face. Always. Even with Gemma.”

“Holden,” she said, a sound of disbelief and pain.

“I know it’s sick. You were only thirteen the last time I saw you.” His voice trailed off, as he searched her face, hoping she would understand. “B-but I was already in love with you. The way you’d lie down next to me in that shitty little dirty bed made me feel . . . alive. My whole life, you were what I missed, what I wanted, what I longed for. I . . . I didn’t want anyone else. For all my life—all my life—you have been my beating heart, the woman of my dreams.” He raised his arm, looking at the marks, running a finger over the blue and black lines. “This was me trying to replace you. This was me failing every time.”

Her face was devastated, but something desperate inside him made him press on.

“My body is marked with you. My arms. My chest. My eyes. My head. My heart.” Tears rolled down her cheeks. “I can’t erase you. I’d have to die to be free of you. D-don’t you see that, Gris? C-can’t you see? There is only you for me.”

“I see,” she sobbed in a whisper, opening her arms and reaching for him.

He rolled into her, dropping his forehead to her shoulder as fresh pain assaulted him—the pain of losing her on the Shenandoah, of learning of her death, of being forced to live with Caleb, who’d killed her. The open wound that had been Griselda for so long was still healing inside, and he suddenly remembered, in fresh, visceral pain, how it had felt to believe her dead.

Go to the ends of the earth for you . . . to make you feel my love.

“I c-can’t lose you again,” he said, wrapping his arms around her, his voice husky and eyes burning with unshed tears.

“You won’t,” she promised, her hands stroking his hair. “Never.”

NLYGteaser2

Don’t Speak is only 99c FOR THIS WEEK ONLY!

“Swoon. Sigh. Beautiful, gorgeous love story.” -Mia Sheridan, New York Times bestselling author of Archer’s Voice

Amazon US → http://amzn.to/2uGKW1B
iBooks → http://apple.co/2txTXFM
Nook → http://bit.ly/2txOhvx
Kobo → http://bit.ly/2t8CILP

*Sale ends on Sunday, July 30.*

NLYGteaser3

About the Author:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Katy Regnery started her writing career by enrolling in a short story class in January 2012. One year later, she signed her first contract and Katy’s first novel was published in September 2013.

Twenty-five books later, Katy claims authorship of the multi-titled, New York Times and USA Today Blueberry Lane Series, which follows the English, Winslow, Rousseau, Story, and Ambler families of Philadelphia; the six-book, bestselling ~a modern fairytale~ series; and several other standalone novels and novellas.

Katy’s first modern fairytale romance, The Vixen and the Vet, was nominated for a RITA® in 2015 and won the 2015 Kindle Book Award for romance. Katy’s boxed set, The English Brothers Boxed Set, Books #1–4, hit the USA Today bestseller list in 2015, and her Christmas story, Marrying Mr. English, appeared on the list a week later. In May 2016, Katy’s Blueberry Lane collection, The Winslow Brothers Boxed Set, Books #1-4, became a New York Times E-book bestseller.

In 2016, Katy signed a print-only agreement with Spencerhill Press. As a result, her Blueberry Lane paperback books will now be distributed to brick and mortar bookstores all over the United States.

Katy lives in the relative wilds of northern Fairfield County, Connecticut, where her writing room looks out at the woods, and her husband, two young children, two dogs, and one Blue Tonkinese kitten create just enough cheerful chaos to remind her that the very best love stories begin at home.

Author Links:

Website/Newsletter Signup: http://katyregnery.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7211470.Katy_Regnery
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2dqySsy
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KatyRegnery
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KatyRegnery
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/katharineregner/

#Book Blitz# Northwoods Magic by Desiree Lafawn

Northwoods Magic
Desiree Lafawn
Publication date: July 24th 2017
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Quinn Reynolds is desperate for answers. After a near fatal accident, Quinn’s life changes and she is suddenly plagued by dreams of ravens, magic, and a boy with copper-ringed eyes. Told by her doctors that she is delusional, Quinn travels to the Northwoods of Minnesota to find out the truth. But Quinn has another problem that she hasn’t shared. Not only does she dream of magic, she also possesses her own power as well and it scares the hell out of her.

Corbin Olsen has been battling his own demons for the last ten years. After sacrificing everything to save Quinn’s life, she forgot about him completely. He’s thought of her constantly in the years she’s been gone, but nothing prepared him for the woman she has become. Although angry at her for leaving him, Corbin isn’t able to dismiss his need for her.

But Corbin and Quinn are running out of time for a meaningful reunion, the real evil is back and hunting the prey that escaped them all those years ago.

Goodreads / Amazon

Are you a book reviewer?

You can request a review copy here!

EXCERPT:

Quinn had a special book, a book that had been with her since she was a teenager. This was the notebook that she kept all of her dream drawings in. Sometimes she would add words to the sketches and sometimes she wouldn’t. There were hundreds of drawings in this book, some the size of a quarter, and some – after a particular bad night of dreaming – took up an entire page of hard angry charcoal strokes.

That book was private, and Quinn kept it to herself. That was just for her. For so long she hadn’t been able to tell what was real and what was fantasy, thinking maybe she herself was just a figment of someone else’s imagination. Her sketchbook was Quinn’s way of knowing she was real. Maybe she had imagined seeing the things she saw, or knowing the things that she had forgotten, but she hadn’t fabricated drawing the pictures or writing the words. The pictures and words would always be there, permanently tattooed into the book. If she opened the pages and saw those things then she would know that in that very moment, she was present. She existed. She was.

 

Author Bio:

Desiree lives in Northwest Ohio with her husband, two children, and two rowdy cats. She is a craft addicted, roller derby skating amateur foody who loves to enjoy a glass of chardonnay with a side of whatever snack the kids left untouched in the pantry, most likely goldfish crackers.

She writes contemporary and fantasy/paranormal romance because fairy tales are where it’s at. She loves the pull of magic, the light and the dark of it, as well as the effort the characters must go through to reach their happily ever after.

Goodreads / Facebook

 

GIVEAWAY!

Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)
• $25 Amazon gift card

a Rafflecopter giveaway
NWMteaser1[79525]HOSTED BY XPRESSO BOOK TOURS

Moon STRUCK by Donna Grant is RELEASING JULY 24th, SO PRE-ORDER TODAY!

RELEASING JULY 24, 2017
 
PRE-ORDER TODAY!
 
 
 
HIS FIGHT TO BE WHOLE
Years ago, Solomon LaRue’s life was ripped apart when his fiancée was taken from him brutally and without cause. After, he vowed to never love again and put all of his energy into defending New Orleans from the evil Voodoo priestess out to destroy everything he held dear. Until a beautiful and maddening witch from the Quarter comes into his life and shakes everything up. Now, he thinks of nothing but her, and despite the dangers surrounding his family, he can’t help but alter his plans to make sure she stays safe. At all costs.
HER REASON FOR BEING
For most of her life, Minka Verdin thought she was nothing more than a gifted fortune teller until a life-altering experience brought her into her powers. Now, honed and hardened to be the weapon she knows she can be, she has no time for lust and love in her life. Unfortunately, a certain sexy-as-sin werewolf occupies her thoughts—and her heart—day in and day out. Minka knows that the survival of many is always more important than the safety of one, and she is more than willing to sacrifice herself so that those she loves remain untouched. But Solomon is having none of that and reminds her that there is no force as strong as the magic between them
 
ADD TO YOUR TBRhttp://bit.ly/2tbLkUF
 
 
 

EXCERPT

Was it worse to want someone you couldn’t have? Or to never know that kind of longing? 
Minka wasn’t sure which was more awful. She knew that no matter how much she hungered for Solomon’s touch or craved his attention, that she would never be his. That kind of knowledge did strange things to a person.  
Her heart had jumped in her throat to find him there. It had felt like forever since she’d seen his face and those brilliant blue eyes. All the LaRues and Chiassons had them, but Solomon’s were brighter than the others’. 
And his hair. The dark blond strands were laced with pale brown that made her want to sink her hands into the locks.  
His face was all hard angles and ruggedness that she longed to touch and kiss. The shadow of dark whiskers on his jaw made her stomach flutter and her skin prickle with awareness. 
Then there was that body of his. Could anyone wear jeans like Solomon? The denim clung to his trim waist and hips, curving over his fine ass before encasing his long legs. Though it was his ability to wear a plain white shirt over the impeccably hard sinew of his chest and wide shoulders that could make her heart miss a beat. 
He was simply mouth-watering. The complete package…and utterly out of reach.
 

ABOUT DONNA GRANT

Donna Grant is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the sizzling Dark King series featuring dragons, immortal Highlanders, and the Fae.

She was born and raised in Texas but loves to travel. Her adventures have taken her throughout the United States as well as to Jamaica, Mexico, and Scotland. Growing up on the Texas/Louisiana border, Donna’s Cajun side of the family taught her the “spicy” side of life while her Texas roots gave her two-steppin’ and bareback riding.

Despite deadlines and voracious reading, Donna still manages to keep up with her two children, four cats, and one long haired Chihuahua.

Connect with Donna:

 
Stay up to date with Donna by signing up for her newsletter here: http://www.donnagrant.com/newsletter-sign-up/
 

#Release Blitz# Melisande by Philippa Lodge is Now Available!!!

Châteaux and Shadows, Book 5
 
Historical Romance
Date Published: July 19, 2017
 
 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png
 
Lucas de Granville—pious, respectable, impoverished, lonely—will do nearly anything for the godfather who raised him, even though his godfather doesn’t seem to want to do anything for him.
 
Melisande—mundane, illegitimate, dirt poor, lonely—will do nearly anything to make sure her mother and brother have shelter and food, even though they are critical of her lack of magical talent.
 
When Melisande’s father, a pious comte, sends his godson Lucas to bring her to Versailles and help him train her to be a fine, staunchly religious lady, their attraction is immediate, but so is their distrust.
 
Her eagerness to get as much money as she can as quickly as possible gradually changes into a wish for something higher, better, and holier. Something that Lucas can help her achieve: love.
 
 
Other Books by Philippa Lodge:
 
The Indispensable Wife
Châteaux and Shadows, Book One
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Published: October 2015
Aurore was delighted when a marriage was arranged with the boy she loved, her older brother’s friend Dominique, Comte de Bures. But in a few years the first rush of joy has worn off, and their promising life seems ruined by loss, betrayal, and misunderstanding. One terrifying morning mercenaries overrun their château and usurpers take Aurore hostage. Miles away at Versailles, where he is required to dance attendance on Louis XIV, Dominique is nearly killed by a crossbow bolt. Escaping, Aurore travels with a troupe of itinerant musicians, hiding in the open while discovering hidden resources within herself. Dom sets out to find his wife. He needs his old life back. He needs revenge. But his lands, his title, and his honor mean nothing unless he can win back the love of his indispensable wife.
The Honorable Officer
Châteaux and Shadows, Book Two
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Published: April 2016
 
France, 1668
 
Hélène de Bonnefoi’s spirit has been squashed by the ever-critical aunt and uncle who raised her. Serving as nanny and stand-in mother to her cousin’s child has saved her from the convent, especially after her cousin’s death. When suspicious accidents threaten the toddler, Hélène overcomes her near-blindness to seek the help of the child’s father, a colonel in Louis XIV’s army.
 
Jean-Louis, Colonel de Cantière, has spent his life proving his worth, integrity, and honor, first to his family and now in the army. When his daughter’s caretaker appears in his camp during a siege, claiming someone is trying to kill the girl, his loyalties are sorely tested.
 
Hélène must convince Jean-Louis the threat is real. But the true danger is to the heart of a shy young woman who has always loved her cousin’s husband from afar and to the colonel’s desire to resist complicated emotions.
 
 
The Chevalier
Châteaux and Shadows, Book Three
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Published: September 2016
 
Emmanuel, Chevalier de Cantière, youngest son of a baron, is happiest raising horses far from his complicated family. When news comes his mother is deathly ill, he races to her side only to find she has apparently recovered and moved on, leaving behind her companion, Catherine.
 
Catherine de Fouet blends into the background, saving up so she’ll never have to wait on waspish, scheming old ladies like the baronesse again. She has no interest in a resentful gentleman, estranged from his mother, no matter how broad his shoulders or intriguing the wounded soul behind his handsome face. She just needs someone to escort her back to Versailles.
 
But Catherine is suspected of poisoning the baronesse. She rebuffs a pushy courtier who tries to use blackmail to make her his mistress, and her reputation hangs by a thread.
 
The chevalier wants more than anything to protect this woman whose prickly exterior hides sweetness and passion. They need his family to help him through court intrigues—almost as much as they need each other.
Henri et Marcel
Châteaux and Shadows, Book 4
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Published: January 2017
 
 
Henri de Cantière has been surly since he returned from visiting his family at Versailles, but he doesn’t want to burden Marcel Fourbier, his longtime lover, with his problems. He can’t sleep and hurts all over at exactly the time when everything else seems to be falling apart.
 
Marcel can barely keep up with his usual duties of running their household and creating beautiful furniture in the de Cantière factory when more burdens fall on his shoulders. His estranged Huguenot family condemns him to hell but wants his help, a stranger attacks him in a dark street, an arsonist tries to destroy the factory, and Henri’s beloved sister-in-law, who has been like a sister to Marcel, is weakening after being in labor for several days.
 
Most of all, Marcel wants to find a cure for Henri, the man who holds his heart.
 
 
 

EXCERPT 

Chapter One

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago in France, there was a witch with no magic.

 

“Mélisande!”

The stranger’s shout echoed inside the damp walls of the tiny house she shared with her mother and her younger brother. If it were the house’s owner, who didn’t know they were squatting there, he wouldn’t have known her name. It didn’t mean the voice wasn’t trouble.
 
Her gut whispered unease. Well, who wouldn’t have a whisper of unease about a strange man shouting one’s name? In one’s home? After being the target of more than one lecherous oaf in the streets? And the target of religious people?
 
She leaned her scrubby straw broom in the corner and peeked up the hall, glad to be shrouded in darkness, grateful for the first time that there was no window except for the tiny, grimy one looking onto the narrow, dark street.
 
The front door stood open, letting in cold wind, the reek of filth, and weak evening light which left the man as nothing but a silhouette. Even so, Mélisande had another frisson of what her mother would have called premonition but was probably just fear. She was trapped in her house by a large, faceless man with a booming voice. What was not to frisson about?
She drew back into the room, hoping he hadn’t seen her. The front door scraped and thumped shut, leaving her in complete darkness. She waited, pressed against the wall much like the plaster: crumbling away from the inside. She held her breath and listened.
 
Maybe he’d left.
 
A footstep. Of course he hadn’t left; that would be too simple. This was more than her everyday fear: fear the other witches would discover she wasn’t one of them, fear they would starve, fear they would be arrested, fear a man would pull her into a dark room and rape her. Everything could go wrong in a heartbeat.
 
Footsteps in the front room, where her mother read palms and sold the potions her uncle —her half-brother’s uncle—made. She hoped the yelling man hadn’t tracked anything foul in, as she had just scrubbed those rotting floorboards. A pause as the man listened. At least there was only one man and Mélisande had a sharp pair of scissors, which rattled against the tabletop as she picked them up.
 
“Mélisande?”
 
The voice was softer now. Kinder. Lilting. Tempting. The man was going to try to lure her from her hiding place. She hoped he meant her no harm.
 
A scuff and heavier step as the man tripped on the uneven floor. He halted at the head of the hall, only a few feet from her.
 
“Ecoutez.” He cleared his throat, waiting for her to say she was listening.
 
Oh, she was listening, but she was hoping he would leave.
 
He cleared his throat again. She should offer him a tisane of ginger and honey. She shook her head at her rambling thoughts, swishing her hair against the wall.
 
“Right. I was told you were here. Your mother said you would welcome my news. I’m sorry, but… Well, my shouting is unforgiveable. Your brother and mother angered me on purpose, I believe. They said I wouldn’t find you unless you wanted to be found. I suppose it’s true, what with witchcraft…”
 
He paused, listening. Probably expecting her to blast him with a curse. Too bad the worst curse she had ever doled out was when she was ten and made her brother’s nose bleed. Of course, she’d hurled a cup at him at the same time.
 
Your father wishes to claim you. I’m to take you to Versailles.”
 
Once upon a time, there was a French nobleman who didn’t belong anywhere: a younger son with no portion, fostered with his godfather.
 
Someone gasped softly in the dark room to Lucas de Granville’s left. She really was there. Or someone was, anyway. Some woman.
 
If it was the right woman, the bastard witch daughter of the Comte d’Yquelon, and she came with him, the count had promised Luc a reward. He needed new breeches and a new hat for Easter and was counting on the supplement to his tiny allowance to buy the fabric.
 
Of course, the girl would get a larger reward, eventually. If she could be trained and refined and her soul purged of evil, d’Yquelon would give her a large dowry. Luc smiled sourly, sure the woman would be a hag and thoroughly wrapped in satanic rituals. Her mother had been positively deranged and her brother snide and crude.
 
Three feet from him, a girl slipped out of dark gloom into the slightly lighter gloom, her footsteps silent and her pale bodice picking up just enough light so she appeared to float like a ghost, her face a skull in the shadow. Only by the way she raised her arm did he notice she was holding something – a knife? He staggered back, flinging out his hands to hold her off.
 
He really hadn’t meant to die in a dirty, smelly back alley of Paris while running an errand for his godfather. He stumbled over the uneven floor again, catching himself on the wall beside the door. She stepped into the feeble light from the oilcloth-covered window and he caught his breath.
 
She was pretty. Beautiful. Regal. From death’s head to beauty? Magic. He crossed himself.
 
He had seen her in a dream the night before as he tossed and turned and dozed intermittently in the rundown inn on the edge of this slum. Dark hair, pale skin, and irises so light they appeared almost white. In his dream, he had been fascinated and frightened. He shook his head to clear his mind.
 
She sighed and lowered her hand slightly to reveal a pair of pointed scissors.
 
Then her chin came up, and she was beautiful in spite of pallor and gauntness. It didn’t stop him being wary of her, though the fear was dissipating.
 
“I am Mélisande.” Her voice was low and soothing. Another witch’s trick, probably, to lull him. “I don’t approve of intruders in my home.” She raised her eyebrows imperiously, and he couldn’t stop himself from smiling at this bit of bravado. “And yet, if my mother invited you here, I suppose you are meant to be a guest.”
 
He was afraid his curled lip betrayed his disgust at the pitiful room and stench of semi-frozen rot and sewage seeping in from the street. At least he hoped the rot and sewage weren’t inside the hovel. He shuddered.
 
She scowled. “What, exactly, did my mother say to you?”
 
Luc shuddered again. He had cornered her mother in a different dark room off an alley, off a small street that led to a dirty little market. “She laughed at me and told me about a premonition she had about the Comte d’Yquelon. She said I should pick my friends more carefully.”
 
He hadn’t picked the comte so much as been abandoned in the comte’s household at the age of three. His parents’ money had run out and all the boys except the heir had been dropped off with their various godparents.
 
Mélisande’s lips pursed as if she were trying not to laugh at him. “What brought about this desire to seek me out?”
 
“His son died.” Even after six months, Lucas felt the weight of Charles’ death. 
“Oh.” Her face fell. “I am sorry to hear it. I wish I had known him.”
 
Was she mourning her half-brother?
 
When Charles died suddenly from a fever, the count raged about witchcraft and curses. Six months later, the comte recalled Luc from Normandy and told him where to find this bastard daughter, child of the witch who had cursed his son. None of those words had made any sense at all to Lucas, who had known the comte only as a fierce, strictly pious gentleman.
 
I’ve never seen her. Her mother was a beauty. I told the comtesse she used a spell or potion on me, but, of course, it was just normal lust.
 
Just normal lust certainly described the feeling growing inside Luc. This girl might be using a spell on him, but he was fairly sure she was tempting enough without it.
 
He had no other children?” She sounded wistful. Not at all lusty.
 
“Just me.” He grimaced. “I’m not related by blood.”
 
Her eyebrows went up.
 
“He’s my godfather. He raised me. I’m the seventh son of a duke’s seventh son, and there were far too many mouths to feed.”
 
Her face lit up with her smile. “Seventh son of a seventh son? And you’re not a warlock?”
 
Luc jerked back and crossed himself to ward off the evil eye.
 
“Sorry.” She dropped her head. “It’s a rather coveted place in a family of witches, you know. Though I guess if you’re strictly religious…”
 
Luc cleared his throat. He had to bring Mélisande back. He needed the reward the comte promised, if just to have something to tide him over as he looked for employment.
 
“You wish to take me to my father?”
 
She looked around the room, presenting her profile, and he caught his breath at the sight of the huge knot of dark hair, braided, pinned, and tied at her nape. There was probably enough there to hang past her waist when she let it down. If it were styled properly, she could wear it on top of her head in a rich swirl. Her nose was a touch too large. In fact, it was much like the beak the late Charles had inherited from his father. Luc had still to see her in better light to know if her eyes were her father’s pale, icy blue, but he was sure he had the right woman.
 
“It’s the task I was assigned, yes.”
 
“You do not wish to accomplish the task? I suppose he’s paying you well.” She sounded like she was laughing.
 
Luc stiffened. “I wish to please my godfather, the man who was a father to me, whose son was like my brother.”
“Yet you don’t particularly wish to take me.” It was a statement, not a question. Her lips quirked up wryly.
 
No, he thought it was a fool’s mission for his godfather to try to civilize her. Luc let his eyes travel around the room, taking in the single, rickety table with two stools; the chimney with a few chunks of charred wood; the damp, crumbling plaster; the uneven, rotting floorboards. He wanted to take Mélisande away from here. He would want to take anyone away from here.
 
He shrugged. “I will be rewarded, but not as much as you. I won’t kidnap you. I won’t drag you bodily to Versailles. You will need to say goodbye to your family. When the comte gives you gold and fine clothing, you will have to decide if you wish to share with your mother or keep it to yourself.”
 
She sighed, her narrowed eyes never leaving his, her face wary. “I wish I knew what to do.”
 
The door flew open beside him, and Luc spun to face the threat. As the man moved away from the backlit doorway, Luc saw it was Mélisande’s brother, who had needled and taunted him in the marketplace before leading him to their mother.
 
“Of course she’ll share with us,” the young man announced, strolling in, bringing the odor of muck from the street with him.
 
Lucas coughed, trying to force the stench from his nose and mouth. He wished he had adopted the affectation of carrying a perfumed handkerchief as so many nobles did.
 
“We’ve supported her all these years, and she’s not good for much more than carrying messages and cleaning. Since she refuses to marry or take a rich lover, we’ll look to her father to make our fortune.”
 
Luc clenched his jaw at the mention of a lover, relieved she was not a prostitute. Or her brother said she wasn’t a prostitute, which could be a lie. At least she had one fewer sin than he expected. He immediately wondered why she wasn’t good for more than carrying messages.
As if answering his thoughts, Mélisande’s mother swept into the hovel, leaving the door wide open.
 
“Well, Mélisande! Your father has finally sought you out. He certainly sent a handsome enough little lord to do it. Are you sure you don’t want me to read your palm, little lord?”
 
Luc pulled himself up straight and stuck his chin out. “My godfather frowns on any of the witch’s arts. Palm reading reeks of the devil.”
 
The old witch cackled, just as he thought witches should. Her hair was as thick as her daughter’s, though light brown threaded with gray instead of dark. Their faces were the same shape, with full lips. She would have been seductive twenty years before. “Oh, you pious prigs are so easy to tease.”
 
“Maman, would you please…” Mélisande looked embarrassed.
 
“That wasn’t always the Comte d’Yquelon’s attitude, you know. How do you think he got me with child? He was quite adventurous when he was younger. I heard he turned prudish and preachy.” The older witch strode across the room and dropped a cloth bag on a box in the corner. “Well, at least you have nothing to worry about from Mélisande. We’ve kept it secret around here, but she has no special powers. Weak premonitions, sometimes, but those don’t count for much. Healing skill, but not healing power.”
 
Mélisande looked down at her hands, her cheeks pink.
 
“And like Thomas said, she doesn’t want to be a whore. She does deliveries, cleaning, and cooking. She’d make some merchant a good wife, if we knew any merchants who wanted a bastard witch. Bunch of prudes they are, too, probably worse than you nobles.”
 
Her brother shoved Mélisande’s shoulder. “Go get your things. The sooner you get your inheritance, the sooner we can live someplace nice.”
 
“If you go, daughter”—the witch spread her arms—“don’t bother to come back without enough for all of us to live on. Better yet, just send us some gold.”
 
Mélisande’s mouth fell open in shock. “Maman…”
 
You won’t wish to come back, and you’re no use to us here.” Her mother turned away.
 
No, Mélisande wouldn’t want to come back once she had a taste of a better life, but Lucas felt a pang of sympathy anyway. He didn’t remember his parents leaving him behind when he was three, but he had grown up separated from his family and without much contact with children his age. “The comte will make sure you have all you need. He will find you a husband. You’re his only surviving child.”
 
The witch looked him over. “The heir died? I foresaw it years ago. D’Yquelon thought I was cursing him, which would have been different magic, of a type I don’t approve of. What was your name, again, little lord?”
 
“Lucas de Gran—”
 
“Lucas, I foresaw the heir would die. I told your count he should recognize the child he would leave me with and raise her alongside his doomed son.”
 
Mélisande slipped from the room into the stygian hallway.
 
“He laughed at me. He didn’t believe I was pregnant. I knew, of course. When I had my Mélisande, I sent him word, but he replied I should leave him alone. He’s going to tell you I cursed him and his family. It was only later, when we realized Méli was hopeless in magic that I thought I should have cursed him when I had a chance. I still thought Méli would be worth something. And now maybe she will be.”
 
Luc pursed his lips. He wondered if the woman’s mercenary attitude toward the worth of her daughter was any worse than nobles paying a dowry to buy an influential husband.
 
The brother grunted. “Well, she’s a good sister, I have to say. It’s been hard to cover up her mundaneness, but she’s a good draw at fairs and such, as long as no one expects her to do any magic. Her sweet smile gets the gentlemen’s attention and the ladies trust her. They rush in to consult with me and Maman because she looks so wholesome.”
 
The sound of Mélisande stumbling made Luc turn. She had a kerchief in her hand, something rattling inside it. Probably those wicked scissors. For some reason, the thought reassured him. She was going to need protection in the coming weeks.
 
“Are you ready, Mademoiselle?”
 
She kissed her mother and brother goodbye. They responded perfunctorily and waved her off.
 
Luc led her off to her future.
 
****
 
Mélisande stumbled through the muddy streets, gripping the handsome young nobleman’s arm as he strode far too quickly up and down the streets. The neighbors stared. She spied her uncle bent double with mirth. She ignored them all as best she could.
 
“Finally found a protector, chérie?” an elderly man cackled as she passed by.
 
She stood up straighter. “I’m going to meet my father.”
 
The warlock pursed his lips, suddenly sober. “I guess we won’t be seeing you again.”
 
His hunchbacked wife made a sign of blessing with her claw-like, arthritic hands, bringing Mélisande to tears again. “Go with the goddess.”
 
Monsieur—What was his name? de Grandeur?—pulled on her arm as Mélisande made the same sign back.
 
They wove through the dirty streets and doubled back several times until they were a short walk from her house. In her shock at her mother and brother’s hard hearts, she hadn’t thought to point out that they were parading up and down seemingly at random.
 
“Monsieur de Gran…?”
 
His frowned ferociously. “De Granville.”
 
“I hate to question you, but where, precisely, are we going?”
 
He looked around. “I met your mother just over there.” He nodded toward the alley where her mother met with clients.
 
Mélisande nodded silently.
 
“From here, I believe I can backtrack my way out of here.”
 
“Or you could tell me where we’re going, since I know the quartier.”
 
De Granville went still. Mélisande ducked her head, afraid she had injured his pride. Her uncle or brother would have slapped her.
 
His chest expanded against her arm as he sighed. “I’m not really sure which way I came along this street.”
 
She risked a glance at him as he wrinkled his nose and stared down the street. He smiled just slightly. He was pleasant to look at when he smiled. His jaw became less sharp and his dark eyes squinted with amusement.
 
He told her at which inn he had left his carriage. Not a rich one, and Mélisande knew she wasn’t welcome inside, but she knew where it was.
 
When she resisted at the door, de Granville said, “I just need to ask them to summon the carriage.”
 
She shuffled in, head down, trying to look as if she belonged.
 
The innkeeper’s memory was long. “Witch!”
 
“I’ll wait outside.”
 
She darted toward the door, but de Granville caught her hand.
 
“She’s with me.” He faced the innkeeper, looking cool and confident.
 
“I will not rent you a room for a few hours. This isn’t that sort of inn.”
 
De Granville scowled, his eyes dangerous slits. Mélisande looked down at her feet, her heart pounding, Run, run, run.
 
“I paid you for last night. I only wish to reclaim my carriage and be off. I am taking the girl to her father. But it is not any of your affair.”
 
“Is her father a witch, too? And you? You looked respectable, but maybe you aren’t. Maybe you’ve stolen the fine carriage. Maybe I should call the guard.”
 
“The carriage belongs to the lady’s father.”
 
“The lady? What lady? All I see is a whoring witch.”
 
She stood up straighter. I am not a whore. I’m not even a witch.
 
De Granville banged his fist on the rickety table serving as a counter. His actions were fire, but his voice was ice. “Bring the carriage. I will pay the rate agreed on for stabling it and feeding the coachman. I am more respectable than you could comprehend.”
 
Mélisande sidestepped away from him as the innkeeper went out back, grumbling. Her brother would have taken out his anger on her. She stood in silence, waiting for the blow to come, but de Granville did nothing but cross his arms and breathe.
 
Several minutes later, when a boy came in and called his name, de Granville, jaw still clenched, held out his arm gallantly and led her out front to a small, dark carriage, an elderly man on the driver’s seat.
 
“That’s her, then, Monsieur Lucas?” The driver glared, taking in her stained, patched dress, not approving.
 
De Granville helped her up. “It will be night in only a few hours, Grosporc. Let’s get out of Paris and try to get to the usual inn before dark. It will be clean there. Unlike here.”
 
The innkeeper shouted his outrage from the doorway of his inn.
 
Mélisande wondered if this Lucas de Granville was really who he said he was and if she weren’t instead being kidnapped to be used, sold, and discarded. Her mother had not been worried, but there was very little that bothered her mother. Of course, her mother usually claimed she knew what was going to happen before it did.
 
De Granville held out his hand and helped her up.
 
 
 
 
 
About the Author

Philippa Lodge has a hundred stories in her head and a social media addiction.
She writes historical romance set in Louis XIV’s France; New Adult romantic women’s fiction set in small-town, small-college America; and contemporary romance with nerdy beta heroes and cranky heroines whose pasts can be healed with the love of a good man.
She lives with one husband, two cats, and three kids in the inland valley of California.
Contact Links
 
 
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#EXCERPT REVEAL# Well Built a sexy new second chance standalone from Carly Phillips and Erika Wilde is coming July 25th!

EXCERPT REVEAL SBPRBanner-WB-ER[78383]

Well Built a sexy new second chance standalone from Carly Phillips and Erika Wilde is coming July 25th!

CPEWWellBuiltCover5x8_BW_300-1

Well Built
by Carly Phillips and Erika Wilde
Publication Date: July 25th

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis

When it comes to women, sexy, well-built Kyle Coleman has always been a lover, not a fighter. His one exception? The tempting, beautiful Ella Fisher. Her family and his share a tempestuous past, which make the two of them as a couple off-limits—despite the fact that she inspires some of his dirtiest fantasies. He’s kept his hands off of her for years . . . until the lines between family loyalty and lust become irrevocably blurred one fateful evening and changes everything between them.

Excerpt:

As they stared at one another and Ella’s smile faded away, Kyle reached out and dragged the pad of his thumb along her soft cheek and didn’t hold back what he was feeling. “Is it selfish of me that I’m glad that you’re stuck in the city and here with me right now?”

“No,” she whispered, not bothering to hide the longing and desire shining in her eyes. “Is it selfish of me that I want you, even knowing it can only be for this one night?”

Another bold and daring invitation that was wreaking havoc with his dwindling willpower. “Ella . . . ” His voice was gruff as he watched her tongue shyly skim across her full bottom lip. “You’re making it so damn hard to be good.”

“I don’t want you to be good. I really want you to be bad. With me.”

She lifted her hand and touched the cool tips of her fingers against the hollow of his throat, then slowly, gradually caressed them down the middle of his chest, along his abs, and followed the thin trail of hair that led to the waistband of his boxer briefs and the hard length of his eager cock.

He groaned, his chest heaving, and before she could cup him in her hand, he grabbed her hips and hauled her body up against his. She gasped, her eyes widening, but not in shock. No, they were fucking triumphant because she’d finally gotten what she wanted.

Then again, when it came to Ella, she’d been his greatest weakness, and he’d always given her whatever she desired. Why had he thought this would be any different?

He backed her up, and when her ass hit the edge of his dining table, he lifted her so she was sitting on the flat surface. Holding her gaze, he pushed her thighs wide apart and stepped in between, making sure she could feel every fucking inch of his aching dick pressing against that sweet spot between her legs.

He buried his hands in her hair, gently tugging on the roots to tip her head back so she couldn’t look away. And Jesus, the need in her eyes, all for him, nearly slayed every last bit of his control. “Are you sure about this?” he asked, because he didn’t want her to wake up in the morning with regrets.

She was already unbuttoning the shirt she was wearing, revealing the soft, delectable curves of her breasts, her smooth, flat stomach . . . “Absolutely sure,” she breathed huskily. “Just this one night, Kyle. Please.”

It was that last word that shattered his resolve and had him crushing his lips against hers in a hungry, endless kiss while she desperately shrugged out of his shirt until it pooled around her on the table. His tongue swept over hers, the connection turning hotter, deeper, as he angled her head so he had full access to every part of her mouth. Jesus Christ, he wanted to fucking own her.

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Meet Carly Phillips:

Carly Phillips is the N.Y. Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of over 50 sexy contemporary romance novels, including the Indie published, Dare to Love Series. She is happily married to her college sweetheart, the mother of two nearly adult daughters and three crazy dogs. Carly loves social media and is always around to interact with her readers.

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Connect with Carly:

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Meet Erika Wilde:

Erika Wilde (aka Janelle Denison) is the USA Today bestselling author of over 50 contemporary romances for multiple print publishers.

Connect with Erika:

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Erika’s Website: www.erikawilde.com

Come and Read an Excerpt, From Famous Love by Lelly Hughes which is Now LIVE!!!

Title: Famous Love

Author: Lelly Hughes

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: July 3, 2017

 

 

Jessi from Goodreads – “This story had me cussing, quite a few OMG moments, was beautifully written! I cannot wait to read more by Lelly Hughes!”


Patty from Goodreads – “Oh this book was amazing. It is a wonderful romantic story. Almost like Romeo and Juliet, but maybe more or less like West Side Story with the Sharks vs Jets.”


Brianne from Goodreads – “Lelly Hughes writes a sexy, sweet, fun romance that will leave you smiling and cheering Levi and Zara on.”

 

Under the bright lights of Nashville, Levi Austin is a country music superstar whose life is rocked by the tragic death of his former wife, leaving him to raise their two daughters. Now faced with having to tell his girls, and making the hard decision about where they’ll live, Levi packs his bags and rushes off to Los Angeles—the last place he wants to be, but the one place where no one will recognize him.

Zara Phillips loves two things: her husband Van, and the band she created with her brother, Reverend Sister. To her, her life is perfect until she discovers that her high school sweetheart husband is cheating on her. The paparazzi are relentless, forcing a devastated and heartbroken Zara to stay hidden until the record label demands she shoot a video for the band’s new single, driving her out of seclusion.

Two people collide from opposite worlds. Neither knowing who the other is, yet both intrigued by one another. When Levi spills hot coffee on Zara, everything changes. He’s focused on his daughters, trying to do what’s best for them while Zara is determined to get away from everyone and everything in Los Angeles.

When Levi offers her sanctuary at his home in Nashville, Zara jumps at the opportunity to disappear… with the hopes that Levi comes with her.

What transpires next are the lives of two very different people finding their path along a very bumpy and unforgiving road, who are tested by their loved ones, the media and one ex that doesn’t want to go away quietly.
 


The only light in my room comes from my alarm clock as I lift the shirt I placed over it before going to bed. I cover the red numbers almost instantly, but not before I start to see red dots each time I blink. As I lay in bed, the faint sound of the house phone continues to ring off into the distance. My eyes try to focus on what would be my ceiling or my wall, but it’s pitch black in here and anything in front of me in purely my imagination.
It’s three a.m., and some jackass is calling my house phone. I sigh and think about how I need to change my phone number again and wonder what’s the point of having an unlisted number if people can still obtain the sacred digits. The only reason I still have a landline is that cell service is questionable on my ranch. Besides, I like the feel of a phone. I like that I have to sit down to talk to someone, giving the person calling my undivided attention.
The blackout curtains were purchased and hung by my personal assistant and publicist, Barbara, in an attempt to have my mind shut off at night. This was after she received an email from my record label informing her that my late night actions were causing the executives to have minor heart attacks when photos of me, drinking in a bar, were made public.
Her answer was to make sure I had a peaceful place to rest, that and tea. Barbara treats everything with tea. If you have a cold, she gives you tea. If you stab yourself accidentally with a rusty nail, instead of taking you to the hospital for a Tetanus shot, she asks if you want tea. I love her dearly, but tea can’t fix everything.
Ever since, I’ve been trying to play by their rules and sticking close to home. Drinking alone though isn’t as fun as when you have a crowd surrounding you, encouraging you to drink more until you’re stumbling into the bar and finding random rides back to your home by complete strangers. Who would’ve thought that they’d sell the story to the newspapers?
One mistake and I’m being labeled an alcoholic. One incident and it’s being suggested that I spend some time relaxing which is industry speak for rehabilitation. I thought about getting away, going to spend some time where no one knows who I am just to escape the scrutiny.
But doing so would mean not speaking to my daughters every day. Stormy and Willow are my life, my reason for living, and I hate that I can’t see them every day.
The phone rings again. I count each ring until they stop, only for them to start up again. I sit up and bring my pillow to my face while I tap the base of my bedside table. Slowly, I let my eyes adjust to the light before making my way toward the living room.
My house is quiet. It’s always quiet, except for the faint sounds of the wildlife that can be heard. It’s often that I can sit in the oversized chair and watch a herd of deer traipse through my yard or hear a pack of coyotes howling in the middle of the night. It was one of the selling points, that and being away from the busy city.
Sitting on twenty plus acres of land, my view over Nashville is one of the most sought after locations around. Investors want me to sell off my land for development, and each time I tell them no, they come back with a higher offer.
This is my little slice of heaven. It’s where I can come and be me without having to be the Levi Austin that fans expect every time they see me out and about. This is where my private life begins, and my public one is put on hold. Behind closed doors, I can write my music, play my guitar as loud as I want and stare at the assortment of trophies I’ve won over the years. My favorite came last year when I won Country Music’s Album of the Year. Man, to beat out the stellar artists in that category was an amazing feat and one I am so proud of.
On my ranch, I can walk around my house in my underwear while drinking beer and not have to worry about the paparazzo with their high-powered lenses trying to capture my picture, although it’s rare that the paparazzi bother me much in Nashville. It’s when I have to go to Los Angeles that they’re all over me.
But here, on my ranch, I can ride my horses, shoot my guns and go muddin’ if that is what I want to do. I can have my band over for bar-be-que and not worry about my neighbors calling the police on us for being rowdy. This is where I can relax, be free and live my life. Besides, I’m saving my land for my girls. That is something those big city developers don’t understand.
The ringing starts again, but this time I’m there to answer it quickly. “Hello?” I say, my voice somewhat hoarse from sleeping.
“Mr. Austin?” the voice on the other end says.
“Who’s calling?” I’m almost afraid to ask. Knowing my luck, it’s some sales person or a fan turned creepy stalker.
“Sir, my name is Detective Pete O’Brien. I’m with the LAPD.”
Hearing those words is enough to send chills down your spine. They cause you to tense up, shake, and maybe sweat a little, but mostly, they scare the shit out of you.
“Okay,” I say after he pauses.
“Do you know Iris Austin?”
The sound of my ex-wife’s name has me relaxing a bit. I’m not surprised that she’s been arrested or picked up for something stupid. When we got divorced, she was adamant that she be allowed some freedom since I had that every time I went on tour, and she was home raising the girls. I agreed. I was happy that the girls were going to live with me while their mother “found” herself in Los Angeles.
That was until Iris started talking to Stormy about all the amazing dance companies in L.A. and how she should move out there to pursue her dream of becoming a dancer. Stormy’s dream, of course, is to perform for hip-hop artists when they tour. As much as it pained me to let her go, I did but also didn’t like the fact that Willow would be left without a sister so both my girls went to live with their mama. It’s not what I wanted, but I didn’t want to short-change Stormy on her dream and didn’t want Willow growing up without her sister.
Iris is an amazing mother when she wants to be. But she also loves the nightlife in Hollywood, and that sometimes gets in the way of her parenting. I suppose when you’re pregnant by seventeen and married at eighteen, you start to miss your twenties and need to relive them in your thirties.
“I do,” I tell the officer with an exaggerated sigh as I wait for him to tell me how much her bail money is.
“This is never easy to say. Iris Austin was killed in a car accident earlier this evening on the interstate.”
“I’m sorry, what did you say?” There is no way I heard him correctly.
He clears his throat and repeats his words verbatim as if he’s reading from a script. I let them sink in, only to realize he hasn’t said anything about my girls.
“My daughters? Were they with her?”

 

Lelly Hughes is named after her grandmothers. She’s a dreamer who writes words to tell stories about falling in love. Ocean fanatic. Loves the feel of warm sand.
 
FAMOUS LOVE is her first novel.

 





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Get hot this summer with Adonis in Athens by Kat Mizera! Keep reading for an EXCERPT!

Adonis_BANNER_excerpt

Get hot this summer with Adonis in Athens by Kat Mizera!
Keep reading for an EXCERPT!
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: July 18th

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ADD TO YOUR TBR → http://bit.ly/2sPbpK4

Paige Carter’s fling with the dark-haired, green-eyed Greek was short, but it rocked her world. Her only regret was not finding out whether she’d ever see him again before he returned to Greece.

Apollo Lakkas earned his degree and was thrilled to return to Greece to begin work with his family’s shipping business. His only regret is the way he left the sweet blonde he met in Vegas—who may or may not be his wife.

When an unexpected proposal throws Paige into a panic, she packs a bag for Athens and does the one thing she knows she must do before she can face any kind of future…reconcile her past.

The moment their eyes meet once again, Paige and Apollo feel the same spark that ignited them down the aisle. Will they be able to plan a future together or is their love destined to be nothing but a bittersweet memory?

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EXCERPT:

It was hotter than she imagined the hinges of the gates of hell would be. Paige Carter stepped out of her apartment and immediately felt the makeup she’d so carefully applied begin to melt off her face. With a sigh of frustration, she hurried to the stairs and walked down, looking at her watch. She was running late, as usual, and her boyfriend would undoubtedly be annoyed. She didn’t mean to fall behind, but somehow it always happened where Tom was concerned. She often wondered if, subconsciously, she did it on purpose. Nothing else made sense, because she was always punctual for work and other appointments. There was something about him, though, that brought out the procrastination and disorganization she usually kept at bay.

Tom Malone was the kind of guy all her friends were looking for. Not only was he handsome, smart, and funny, he also made an excellent living as an accountant and owned a beautiful home in a gated subdivision. He drove a Mercedes, bought her nice gifts and was generally a good guy. As far as she knew, he’d never cheated, never done drugs and barely drank other than the occasional beer. He’d given her a key to his house, a drawer in his dresser and had asked her to move in repeatedly. He didn’t have a single flaw, she thought irritably as she got into the sauna that was masquerading as her car. Maybe that was the problem.

Turning up the air conditioning and willing the cold air to start coming out sooner rather than later, she rolled down a window and pulled out of the parking lot. She had no idea why Tom had been so adamant she meet him at their favorite restaurant at 6:00 on a Friday night. It was June and work had slowed down a little for her, so all she really wanted to do was put on shorts and a T-shirt and either lounge by the pool with a good book or watch a couple of movies; this time of year, if she wasn’t by the pool, she wanted to be inside, away from the Las Vegas heat.

She turned on the radio and mindlessly hummed along, wondering what Tom was up to. In the 18 months they’d been dating, he’d often surprised her with unplanned weekends away, tickets to shows, and random day trips. It wasn’t her birthday or any kind of anniversary, so tonight could be anything from a romantic dinner for two to a formal ceremony where the mayor granted her keys to the city.

She almost snorted at the thought, chuckling at her own sarcasm. Tom was such a good guy, she hated being so out of sync with him. Quiet and unassuming, he was always there for her, supportive and as interested in her needs as a guy could be. Maybe too much so, she thought with a grimace. If Tom did have a fault, it was that he seemed to read her mind. If she so much as looked at a purse online, it would appear on her doorstep a day later. If she’d forgotten to schedule an appointment for a haircut, and her hairdresser was booked, he’d make a few calls and an opening would miraculously appear. Sometimes, she wanted to figure out how to afford the purse or get the appointment herself—and he refused to let her. He thought his job was to take care of her, but she just wanted someone who would be there to lend moral support.

Reaching out to push the auto-tune buttons on the radio to find something she knew, she stopped on an adult contemporary station and sang along to the end of Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are.” The romantic lyrics made her a little melancholy and she was about to change the station yet again when the next song froze her hand in place. The first few bars of Bruno Mars’ “Marry You” inexplicably brought tears to her eyes, and for the first time in ages she thought of him. Apollo. She could still picture his mesmerizing green eyes, chiseled features and body reminiscent of a Greek god. Literally. Tall, Greek and even-hotter-than-Vegas-in-summer good-looking, she did her best not to think about him. Or the spring break he’d come to Vegas. Or the nights they’d spent dancing and kissing as if nothing else in the world existed, running from casino to nightclub to the gondola ride at the Venetian. Or how he’d brought her body alive in ways that made her shudder just thinking about them. No, thinking about Apollo was a bad, bad idea. Especially when she had a night planned with Tom. She hit the button to change the station.

Since it was already 6:10, Paige pulled up to the valet and all but snatched the ticket from the young man’s hand. Tom never yelled or got angry when she was late, but she could see the disappointment in his eyes and it was worse than when a parent looked at you that way. It made her uncomfortable, having that much power over a grown man, so she did her best to avoid being in that situation. Today had just been a long day at work and when it was this hot, she felt sluggish.

Pasting a smile on her face, she approached the hostess. “Hi. My boyfriend is probably already here and—”

“Miss Carter!” The hostess’s eyes twinkled as she grinned at her. “Oh, yes, he’s here! Your whole family is here! Are you totally excited?”

Paige cocked her head slightly, her brows knitting together. “Um, what?”

“Uhh…” The girl’s face darkened slightly and she turned away, fidgeting with something on her computer. “Oh, um, maybe I was mistaken. What’s your boyfriend’s name again?”

Paige had a funny feeling in the pit of her stomach. “Tom. Tom Malone.”

“Okay, yes. Um, follow me.” She strode into the heart of the restaurant and Paige had no choice but to follow, scanning the tables for Tom.

They walked all the way to the back and the hostess turned with a smile. “You’re here in the back room—have a wonderful evening!” She opened the double doors that led into the big room usually reserved for private parties and Paige stepped forward with trepidation.

“There she is!” Tom was grinning broadly as he approached her, and Paige’s stomach dropped.

“What’s going on?” she whispered under her breath as he brushed his lips across hers.

“Wait and see!” he whispered back impishly.

Paige nearly groaned as she spotted her parents sitting at a table with her sister, Nicky, and her Aunt Sue and Uncle Paul. Her father gave her a thumbs-up while her mother waggled her fingers. She glanced from her parents to Tom and then across the room where she spotted her traitorous best friend, Raegan Warner, who should have warned her that something was going on. Because something was definitely going on.

“Tom!” She squeezed his hand harder than she intended and he turned in surprise, his eyes widening slightly.

“Honey, I know you’re always cranky after a long week at work but trust me, okay? You’re going to like this!” He kissed her cheek and pulled her along with him to a table at the front of the room, where his parents and sister were sitting.

“Why is everyone so dressed up?” she hissed in his ear. “I’m in capris and a T-shirt!”

“You’re gorgeous no matter what you’re wearing!” he whispered.

She wanted to roll her eyes but he was being so sweet and earnest, she mentally chided herself as she gave him a little smile. “Thanks—but you know I hate surprises.”

“This one is worth it!” he grinned, pulling out her chair and waiting for her to sit down.

“Hi, Mrs. Malone, Mr. Malone.” Paige nodded at his parents before turning to his sister, Jean, who hated her. “Hi, Jean.”

“Hi.” Jean raised her eyebrows. “Nice Duran Duran T-shirt.”

“That’s what happens with surprises,” Paige said lightly. “If I’d known, I would’ve dressed for a special occasion.”

“Since it’s not that special of an occasion,” Jean muttered, “I guess you’re dressed fine.”

“Jean!” Tom gave his sister a dirty look but she merely shrugged.

He sighed but after a wink at Paige, turned and let out a low whistle. “Excuse me, everyone! Now that Paige is here, I have an announcement.”

Paige was getting more and more nervous as she looked up at Tom. Her parents’ obvious happiness, Jean’s grumpy attitude and the number of friends in the room made his intentions perfectly clear; he was going to propose again and she had no graceful way to refuse him.

“Mr. Carter.” Tom took a wireless microphone that seemed to appear out of thin air and walked across the room to Paige’s father, Seth. “You know how I feel about Paige.”

Seth smiled. “I think everyone does, son.”

No, no, no, Paige thought, her eyes wide, stomach churning as he spoke.

“So after nearly two wonderful years together, I was hoping to get your blessing to ask for her hand in marriage.”

Fuck me loud, Paige groaned inwardly. She cut her eyes to Raegan, who was slowly realizing that the shock on Paige’s face was not laced with excitement.

“Well, of course you have my blessing,” Seth replied. “But I’m not the one who has to marry you. Ultimately, it’s Paige’s decision.”

The guests began to twitter and chuckle, whispers filling the room as Tom walked back towards Paige, pulling a small black box out of his pocket.

I’m going to kill him, she thought, too horrified to move and wondering how the hell she was going to get out of this.

“Paige, would you come down here please?” he asked.

Paige gulped, a roaring in her ears telling her she might start hyperventilating any moment now. She was screwed. There was no way to walk out of here without making a fool of herself, embarrassing Tom, or some combination of the two.

“Honey?” Tom spoke again, his smile faltering slightly.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” Jean muttered. “Just say no and spare us all the headache of watching the two of you make the worst decision of your lives!”

Fuck, fuck, fuck. Paige stood on wobbly knees, struggling to breathe, breaking out in a cold sweat. “T-tom?” Her voice was barely a whisper but her eyes were pleading with him to stop this insanity. He had to know she was going to say no. Why else would he have done it so publicly? This was more than a disaster; this was a nightmare and apparently she wasn’t going to wake up before the bad part.

“Sweetheart, I—” He took her icy cold hand in his and pulled her towards him.

“Tom, no!” she whispered frantically. “Please—not here.”

His smile fell a little further. “Paige…”

“Put the microphone down,” she implored, blinking away tears that were threatening to fall. “I have to talk to you—alone!”

He frowned. “Honey…”

“If you truly love me, you’ll do this for me.” She was whispering, desperation in her voice and written all over her face.

Tom took a deep breath and let it out slowly, before picking up the microphone and smiling broadly again. “My girl seems to want this part to be private. Can you give us a couple minutes?” He put down the mike amidst boos, cheers and catcalls, and pulled Paige from the room. They walked around the corner and down the hallway where the bathrooms were. Finally, he leaned against the wall and met her gaze. “Why do I get the feeling it’s not that you don’t want me to propose in there, it’s that you don’t want me to propose at all?”

She swallowed. “It’s not that black and white,” she whispered, searching her mind for something she could tell him to make him understand. To make him think about her needs. Hell, to make him stop trying to move so fast.

Raegan told her she was crazy. She worked as a waitress at a casino on the Strip and seemed to meet the very worst possible guys, so Paige thought her opinion of Tom was a bit skewed. Raegan was right about one thing, though: Tom was one of a kind. He wanted to be in a committed relationship and was willing to put in the work to make that happen. He’d already proposed once and she’d had to gently point out that they were both still young, needing time to get to know each other and grow up a little too. He’d been disappointed, but seemed to take her words to heart. He’d bought the house not long after that and seemed intent on showing her how much of a grown-up he was. She just wished he would slow down. Growing up, to her, didn’t mean giving up all semblance of youth; it meant living and exploring to find out who you were and what you really wanted in life. Tom was on the fast track to leaving behind every bit of childhood and focusing on retirement.

If she could get him to slow down, to stop rushing all the milestones, it would be easier to love him. She didn’t want a mortgage, babies and a dog at 24. She wanted to travel, go to concerts, and get beyond an entry-level position at her job. Tom said he understood, but actions spoke louder than words and his actions said the opposite. He wanted a spouse and a white picket fence sooner rather than later. Paige wanted that too, but later rather than sooner. Was it so wrong to want to enjoy life as an adult without a lot of responsibility for a little while longer?

“Then what is it, exactly?” he asked, his normally easygoing smile turning into a scowl. “I moved too fast the first time, but dammit, Paige. It’s been almost two years!”

“Eighteen months,” she contradicted, warring with herself about whether to just let him go and get this over with or to try to explain so that he would be patient a little longer.

“Paige, what’s going to change at 24 months or 36 months or, hell, 100 months?!”

She bit her lower lip and tried to articulate her reservations. “It’s just…I don’t…” She couldn’t seem to do anything but sigh.

“Do you love me, Paige?” he asked tightly, his brown eyes boring into hers intently.

“I do,” she whispered. “But we’re at really different places in life right now.”

“That again?” he demanded. “Jesus, you want to wait until we’re 30? Forty? I mean, how old will be old enough?!”

“It’s not about age!” she protested. “It’s about lifestyle… You have the big house and the car and the job. You want the wife and babies to go with it, and I’m not ready.”

“What do you want to do?” he asked in frustration, calming down now that she’d admitted she loved him.

“I want to focus on my career and get to a point where I feel successful, instead of one step above entry-level. I want to travel. I want to go on adventures… You’re only 26, Tom. Why don’t you want to go on adventures?”

He looked startled, his eyes narrowing a little. “I, um, well, like what?”

“Swimming with sharks in the South Pacific or zip-lining across Costa Rica or excavating shit in the desert in Egypt—I don’t know! Don’t you dream about anything other than accounting?”

He met her gaze sadly, stuffing his hands—and the box with the ring—in his pockets. “You,” he said softly. “I dream about you.”

Embarrassment and guilt tore through her, making her want to cry. He didn’t deserve a woman like her—he deserved better. He wasn’t the kind of guy who dreamed about adventure; his dreams were about reality. Life, love, marriage, children and retirement; that summed up Tom Malone and it was the opposite of everything Paige wanted. There was just no way to explain that without hurting his feelings.

“There’s something I have to tell you,” she finally said, taking a step away from him and looking anywhere but his face. “I, um, I’m kind of…already married.”

“Huh?” Tom looked too confused to even be angry.

“I mean, I think I am.”

“What?! You think you’re married? How can you not know?”

“It was a crazy fling during spring break, three years ago.” She looked down. “He was leaving to go back to school the next morning and we couldn’t find any papers or anything so we…assumed we hadn’t actually done it, like legally, and…forgot about it.”

“Forgot about it? Are you kidding me?” He was staring at her as though a unicorn horn had just poked through her forehead.

“It was spring break…drinking, partying, carrying on—a too-much-fun overload—and then he was running to catch his flight and eventually going back to Greece… We weren’t sure what we’d done. So he left me his information and said to call him. I never did.”

Tom was still staring at her. “Let me get this straight. Three years ago you had a wild week with some guy from Greece, whom you may or may not have married, but instead of finding out, you went your separate ways and decided to just ignore it?!”

Hearing it spoken out loud like that, it really sounded dumb, but all she could do was nod.

“Is that your idea of an adventure?”

Her eyes shot up and met his, hurt, guilt and a twinge of anger running through her. “That’s not fair,” she said hotly. “Name one college student who didn’t do something dumb!”

He arched his brows. “I can name at least one.”

She scowled. “I’m sorry! I can’t help who I am! It’s not like I’ve changed…I’ve always been this way and you asked me out anyway. I’ve never lied about who I was and I’ve tried to compromise, to do some things your way while still doing other things my own way. You just don’t seem to want to do any compromising on your end, and now—”

“No compromising?!” He glared at her. “Everything I’ve done has been a compromise! If it were up to me, we’d already be married and living together! Instead I keep waiting and putting my life on hold so you can grow up!”

“How have you put your life on hold?” She frowned at him, suddenly tired of this, tired of everything. “Your career is on track, you bought the big McMansion in the suburbs, you have a fancy car and the monthly golf date at the country club. How is delaying putting a ring on my finger holding you back?”

“Single guys don’t get the corner offices or the partner offers—they’re too busy partying to snag the better clients.”

“So you need a wife to further your career?” She was getting pissed now, folding her arms across her chest. “All that stuff about dreaming about me was just bullshit!”

“No! Honey, wait.” He ran a hand through his thin brown hair and sighed. He reached out and gently put his hands around hers, pulling her closer to him. “Listen, that came out all wrong. I’m sorry.”

“Tom, I don’t know if I can do this anymore,” she admitted. “I love you, but we’re in really different places in our lives. Sometimes it feels like you don’t know me at all.”

“What do you mean?”

“If you wanted me to say yes tonight, this wasn’t the way to do it. You know I don’t like surprises and gathering all these people stressed me out—even if things were perfect between us, I might’ve said no because it’s just so overwhelming for me.”

“I’m sorry.”

“And I know you love this stuff. In the end, I don’t ever want to be the reason you don’t do something. I don’t want to hold you back.”

“You’re not.” He looked sad. “But I kind of feel like your heart is somewhere else.”

“That’s not true!” she protested. “I’ve never been unfaithful! Never!”

“That’s not what I meant. I know that’s not who you are…but you’re in a different place in life. You want your freedom for a while, to explore the things you feel are missing, and I’m ready to settle down. Maybe…” He met her eyes almost guiltily. “Maybe we need a break.”

“A break?” She blinked.

“At the very least, you need to find out, one way or another, if you’re married. If you are, you need to do something about it. If you’re not, I still think we need some time to think about the future, about where we want to be in a year, five years…ten.”

“I…okay.” She didn’t know how to argue because he was right. Even though it could be different between them, he obviously wasn’t willing to find middle ground. He wanted things to be the way he wanted them; her needs and wants weren’t his priority, even though he made it appear that they were by spoiling her with gifts she didn’t need and the type of overwhelming attention she didn’t want.

“Let’s take a little time to regroup. You can sort out your…marital status and I can think about the idea of adventures.”

She looked up into his handsome face in surprise. “Really? You’ll think about adventures?”

He shrugged. “For me to love you, I’d think I’d have to.”

“It has to be a choice,” she said softly. “Not a burden.”

“That’s why I have to think about it.”

“That’s fair.” She paused. “Tom, my parents don’t know—”

He smiled faintly. “About your possible marriage? I figured. Don’t worry. I’ll cover for you.”

“You will?” She looked at him curiously. “Why?”

“Because you’re right—I didn’t make tonight about you…it was about me. I wanted the big party, the big surprise, the big engagement. I know you, though, and I knew you wouldn’t like it. I just hoped you wouldn’t be able to say no.”

“I’m sorry,” she said quietly. “But that’s not fair to either of us. I do have to find out, one way or another, whether or not I got married three years ago. And you have to decide if you’re willing to put off the white picket fence dream for another year or two, until I’ve had time to follow some of my dreams too. Once we get married and have kids, everything will change, Tom, and I don’t know that I want to give up that much freedom at 24.”

“Maybe some time apart will make us see that we’re meant to be together,” he said.

“Maybe,” she whispered softly, leaning up to press a chaste kiss on his cheek.

“Go ahead and go,” he said, releasing her hands. “I’ll think of something to tell everyone.”

“Oh. No, that’s not fair. We should tell them together. I can—”

“Tonight was my fault,” he admitted. “I never should have put you on the spot like that, so I’ll make it right.”

“But what will you tell them?”

“That I shouldn’t have planned something like this without talking to you first and that you want a private, romantic engagement, not something this big or ostentatious. When they ask where you are, I’ll say you’re upset with me and that I’m giving you time to cool off. In a few days, we’ll tell people we’re taking a break.”

“And then?” she asked, looking over her shoulder at him.

“I don’t know.” He met her gaze sadly. “I guess we’ll regroup when the time is right.”

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About the Author:

Kat Mizera is a South Florida native. Born in Miami Beach with a healthy dose of wanderlust, she’s called Los Angeles, Long Island, upstate New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Atlanta home. She’s never been able to pick which locale is her favorite, but if pressed, she’d probably choose the west coast.

Kat’s a typical PTA mom with a wonderful and supportive husband (Kevin) and two amazing boys (Nick and Max). When she’s not writing, she’s either scrapbooking or indulging in her second love (after writing) – traveling. Greece is one of her favorite places in the world. She loves that Athens is a big city with a small-town feel. The food, beaches and culture keep her going back as often as possible. She hopes to retire there one day so she can spend her days writing books on the beach.

Kat has been a working freelance writer for nearly 30 years. She sold her first article–a review of a rock concert–for $10 in 1985. Since then she’s been an entertainment journalist, waitress, bartender, legal assistant, food critic, magazine editor, substitute teacher, and sports writer. She also spent some time working at A & M Records in Los Angeles.

As you can guess from her series, the Las Vegas Sidewinders, Kat loves hockey. She is also a freelance hockey writer, covering her favorite team, the Florida Panthers, and any other teams that have an interesting story. The rest of the time, she writes novels: sexy, romantic fiction that she hopes makes you as happy as it makes her. There’s something enticing about hockey players and romance…

Connect with Kat:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorkatmizera/
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2lzRBG6
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorKatMiz
Bookbub: http://bit.ly/2li6zRe
Website: http://www.katmizera.com