Wednesday, November 22, 2017

COVER REVEAL: The Baby Maker by Lili Valente

Genre: Sexy Romantic Comedy/Contemporary Romance
Release Date: February 5, 2018


Some men are troublemakers or dealmakers. The men in my family? We’re baby makers.

For six generations, the women of wine country have had a saying: don’t bang a Hunter man unless you want a bun in your oven.

Yeah, well. I’ve got a saying too: no thanks. The last thing I need is baby makes three. My business is expanding and the only thing I’m interested in getting knocked up is my bottom line.

But then one night Emma Haverford makes me an offer I can’t refuse—she backs away from the land I have my eye on in exchange for a favor…

A big, fat, baby making favor…

When I hear women have gotten pregnant shaking hands with Hunter men, I know I need Dylan Hunter’s…ahem, special skills…way more than I need to expand my vineyard.

I’m ready to give my heart to a child and I’m tired of waiting for my late-to-the-party Prince Charming to make my dreams come true. So I promise Dylan—three months of hot, heavy, baby-making s-e-x and then I’m out of his hair forever.

But what if when it comes time to say good-bye, all I want to do is keep bottling up more memories with this big-hearted man?

This sexy Standalone romance will make you laugh, swoon, and blush baby-makin’ red. Heat level: A risk of getting knocked up during download. Paperback and audio versions are especially dangerous. Handle with care…

Cover Design: Bootstrap Designs
 Photo: Wander Aguiar Photography
~Pre-order Links~

Coming on Audible on February 5, 2018
Narrated by Andi Arndt and Sebastian York

Lili Valente has slept under the stars in Greece, eaten dinner at midnight with French men who couldn’t be trusted to keep their mouths on their food, and walked alone through Munich’s red light district after dark and lived to tell the tale.

These days you can find her writing in a tent beside the sea, drinking coconut water and thinking delightfully dirty thoughts.

Monday, November 20, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Five Card Studs by Madison Faye

3 ‘I’m Being Generous Because the First Sex Scene was Hot and I liked Gaige’ Stars

Tess is the new bartender at an exclusive club. It’s a real “hot spot” and she finds herself on the radar of not one but five of her bosses— Gaige, Dane, Vince, Luke, and Noah.
“‘Nah, we don’t take turns, Tess…We share.’”
It started out promising, but this book suffers from…giving mixed signals. What you get is various tales of their sexual encounters. But the message the characters keep feeding is their special connection, the real deal, the one, head over heels in love (Yes, even one of the guys says that!)

Had the story actually delivered that, it could have made a difference in the rating. For example, we’re told that in the hour after Tess, Gaige, and Dane’s first encounter, they talk, drink, and share over their lives and backgrounds, and this is where they start falling for each other. It’s not the sex, they stress, but “the part that came after that” which made the difference. But instead of getting the actual scene, it’s summarized. Total missed opportunity. Sure readers can read between the lines, but if we’re supposed to be convinced that this is really love and not just three horny people, let’s be tuned in to their dialogue, grin at their banter, hear the clink of their bottles,  experience the connection when they find some common ground in their lives, and sigh sweetly at their post nookie cuddling.  In the words of the great Banky Edwards, “Now THAT, my friend, is a shared moment.”

It happens again about a chapter later. We next meet Vince who relates:
“She was captivating before. Knowing what she did last night and knowing now the wildness she’s capable of makes her irresistible.”
It seems that Tess made quite the impression on these men from the moment she walked through the door looking for a job, but that scene is never provided either even though several of them reference it. Shame, it would have made a fitting prologue.

The characters had potential, and I would have liked to know more about them individually. I liked Tess alright, but nothing that was depicted cast a light on why she was so special. The guys could say it all they liked, but the burden of proof is on the storytelling. Basically, it suffers from too much ‘tell’ rather than ‘show’ when it comes to the relationship and character development. Insta-love is something anyone can say. A solid narrative and plotting will prove it.

As the tale wears on, the professions of love grow worse, the character development more scant, and the sex scenes more repetitive. It was like a bad porn that was trying to pass itself off as romance.  And the number of times the men insist that they aren’t jealous of each other—mind-boggling.

By the final absurd five-way scene, I was losing track of who was where and how she had enough limbs and openings to service these dudes. It played out more like a game of Twister on a poker table. Which, by the way, that must have been one supersized, industrial made table to hold all six of them. I think at the point where I was calculating the total estimated weight of the men in my head, it was clear that even the smut factor had lost me. 

Told via all six of their first person POVs, this is erotica, not romance. Make no mistake, there’s a slim plotline with only one action scene that’s not sex; the characters are barely distinguishable from each other making them hard to connect with; and this is 100% lust/infatuation, not love.  The safety factor was good though.


REVIEW/RELEASE BLITZ: Dirty It Up anthology

Genre: Romance Anthology

What happens when authors start discussing the "steam" level of their sex scenes and realize they ran the gauntlet from Naughty to Filthy?

Dirty It Up is born.

A sexy collection of holiday novellas with each story getting dirtier as you go.

Go deep and get dirty this holiday season.

We've been naughty. Now it's your turn...

Find out more and take a quiz about how "dirty" you are at
~Book Reviews~
Overall Assessment:
 I’ve rated/reviewed each of these individually as there’s a broad spectrum here. I went into all of the stories basically blind, and I was only previously familiar with one of the author’s works. In general, I would have liked to see some of them play up the holiday spirit more and the clichéd romance tropes less. The first felt more like a short story; the second a novella. But three and four felt like fully developed/fleshed out (no pun intended) books. Five I didn't stick with. Three of these stories featured strong, likable heroines. The other two were too weak for me.

I highly recommend the fun quiz, which the authors have set up on the title’s website. I decided to give it a whirl and was intrigued to find out that my score matched my favorite tale, its style fitting my reading preferences the most, and was borderline with my second fav!

Naughty Temptation by Amelia Bond
 3.5 Stars

Kelsey Wegman, 21, is home for the holidays. While she’s not greeted with good news, she is greeted by a familiar face. Scott Turner, 25, is temporarily working for his dad. Anymore, he’s not sure where he wants to be. But he is sure of one thing; the neighbor girl has grown up and she’s more than just temptation.

Told via Kelsey and Scott’s dual first person POV, both were likable characters and they were developed enough for this short story/novella to get a decent impression of them. I especially appreciated how their characters subverted some common subconscious sexism. It was actually the hero who was rendered incoherent speech when he was caught off guard by the heroine. Kelsey was a strong female character, and I was applauding her in the scene where she tells a sexually harassing truck driver off. Oh and when she gives Scott a little “payback.” That was sexy and funny!
“‘No, no, not the balls.’ Never would I think those words would come from my mouth…”
On the downside, there was some OW drama, although thankfully it never materialized the way it often does in these things. None the less, I wish it would have been cut short sooner as it didn’t reflect well on Scott in more ways than one. I also felt it needed more resolution. (As in ‘hasta la vista, biotch’)

But all in all, despite some heavier issues going on in the character’s lives, it turned out to be a mainly low angst romance set during the holidays.

  Indecent Holiday by Elizabeth Brown
  2.5 Stars

Lily Hayes is spending the holidays with her mom at their family cabin, only this year her mother’s new boyfriend and his son are joining then. Her potential future stepbrother is the bad boy she crushed on in high school, and their sexual tension hasn’t changed.
“Rhys Conner was as unpredictable as a winter storm. If I left any part of me exposed, he’d find it and sear into me like frostbite.”
Told via Lily and Rhy’s dual first person POV (but w/more chapters by Lily), in the beginning Rhys intrigued me as the moody, dirty-talker. But Lily is the inexperienced and a little naïve good girl prototype that’s overused in the current romance market. Still, their chemistry was decent, and it seemed like this was going to be one of those sexy stranded together romances, which it was for the first half.

 But then it turns angsty. There’s a 2 year separation where time skips ahead. That leads into an annoying back and forth, push and pull between them. The story started to lose me at that point and when they finally reconcile I was totally done when he suggests they abandon protection: “I’m clean. I was tested last month and haven’t been with anyone since, I promise.” I spent the next several paragraphs trying to figure out if he hadn’t been with anyone else since her or since last month! Sadly I got my answer during her next chapter: “Rhys had always been good in bed, but it was clear he’d learned a few things over the years.” Well I’m glad she’s impressed with that, but it grossed me out. Sex without a condom with a guy who was still sexually active with other people a month ago— that’s just skeevy. This was no longer holiday romance; this was two people too immature and too stupid to be together years early. On that note, I certainly didn’t buy that they loved each other at 23 anymore than they did at 21 or 17. 
 Sordid Games by Elizabeth Kelly
5 Stars

Daisy Morrison is a really good friend. She’s agreed (albeit reluctantly) to pretend to be her roommate’s lesbian lover for the holidays to help her friend hide the Romeo & Juliet love affair she really has going on from her family. But good deeds do not go overlooked when Daisy’s attractive ONS turns out to be her roommate’s brother.
“Hell, I had half a stiffy just from staring at the back of her damn head.”
This was the fun, lighthearted and sexy holiday story I was looking for! The premise and the characters were cute, the story flowed well, and there wasn’t a shortage of laughs.
“‘Are we not playing a game of ‘say the least sexy thing in bed you can think of and see if the other one is still turned on’?”
Wes McKinley, 32, made not only a confident (but not cocky) holiday lover, but a ‘for keeps’ boyfriend as well. He's a nice, down-to-Earth guy with charm and integrity. Oh and he’s quite talented in the bedroom too.
“‘You’ll have to hold in your ‘Wes is a sex god’ screams.’”
Daisy is a sweet and likable heroine. She rolled with all the punches well, and I was rooting for her and Wes to make it last.

Told via their dual first person POV, there was just the right balance of steamy encounters alongside the humorous plot and entertaining secondary characters. A winner all the way round! 🎉


Dirty Intentions by Aubrey Bondurant
4.5 Stars
Daniella Trivioli, 27, is on a mission—confirm her fiancé as the cheater and thief he is.  Shane Nelson, 32, is a sex club owner. But one night, their paths cross.
“‘Tell me if you want me to stop now. Otherwise, I’m going to put my fingers inside you and make you come.’”
Obviously, the setting mainly in a sex club gave this one a strong erotic feel. (Readers of the Something series will remember Club Travesty from Catherine story). The chemistry between them is palpable, and their banter not only drew me into the story from the start, but also presented a smart, strong female character. It was refreshing to see a jilted heroine stand up to her ex and get the upper hand since it’s a popular starting point for many romances. I also really liked how Daniella held her own in various situations and how she defied Shane’s expectations.
“Seriously, he was lecturing me with him on the precipice of penetration? I shifted my hips to remind him of exactly where we were.”
Shane was an intriguing hero. He certainly wasn’t without his flaws and he sucked at romance. That fit his character, but it let Dani down at times and made him less of a “book boyfriend.”  But like Dani, Shane was a well developed character. The writing here is solid.
 “We weren’t calling it insta-love or ignoring the fact we each still had a lot to learn about the other.”
I give major kudos for the fact that this story didn’t try to sell something it wasn’t. Too often I find “insta-love” or “insta-lust” tossed around to excuse poor relationship development. That is so not the case here, and I’m glad one of the characters brought it up as a reminder. In that respect, this is a tale of two people who are merging different worlds and different personalities and in the process, they grow as people and expand their horizons. They both learn and mature from their fling and in the process it allows the reader to begin to see how these two will make it in the long haul. 

Told via their dual first person POV, I was left wondering one thing….is Max gonna get a story next Christmas? 🎅

Filthy Appeal by Ramona Gray

Libby Brecken is an attorney starting a new life in a new city before the holidays. In an attempt to combat her esteem issues from her recent break up, Libby hits up a bar to pick up a man. When the “safe” man rebukes her, she garners the attention of two hotter guys.

Straight up, I can’t stand reading about heroines who have been dumped on and have body image issues. The first several pages were a huge turn-off as it’s nothing but Libby and her weight issues. Then Libby interacts with Seth and Theo, and the dialogue quickly turns cheesy and stilted. The attempted blend of realism and fantasy didn’t work for me. This one is told entirely by Libby's first person POV.

To be clear, those are the reasons I tossed this one aside. It had nothing to do with the ménage angle as I don’t have a problem reading those types of tales.

99c for a limited time only!

Contributing Authors

COVER REVEAL: Over Us, Over You by Whitney G.

Publication Date: November 30, 2017
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance


Subject: Delete this message after you read it...

Dear Hayley,

I'm assuming you're still hungover, so I'll make this brief.

Last night, you slipped under my sheets (without my permission), and we almost had sex. I got the hell out of the bed once I realized it was you, and I took you home.

That's the story.

The end.


Just in case you've forgotten, you're my best friend's little sister. We will never be anything more. (We can't be anything more.) Our previous friendship is still unresolved--or "over" in your terms, so I'd prefer if we worked on becoming 'just friends' again since you're in town.

Nonetheless, I'm not a man who leaves questions unanswered--even the drunken ones, so to properly close our inappropriate conversation:

1) Yes, I liked the way your lips felt against mine when you were on top of me.
2) Yes, I do "prefer" rough sex, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't rough with you.
3) No, I had no idea you were still a virgin...

This message never happened,
Preorder: Amazon | iBooks

Whitney G. is a twenty-eight-year-old optimist who is obsessed with travel, tea, and great coffee. She’s also a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of several contemporary novels, and the cofounder of The Indie Tea–an inspirational blog for indie romance authors. When she’s not chatting with readers on her Facebook Page, you can find her on her website at or on instagram. (If she’s not in either of those places, she’s probably locked away working on another crazy story.) Don’t forget to sign up for Whitney’s monthly newsletter.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

REVIEW/RELEASE: Defiant Attraction by V.K. Torston

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Erotic Romance

Dan might be the enemy of my enemy, but I’m not sure that makes him my friend. He’s definitely not my ‘step brother’, no matter what everyone at school says. Honestly, I don’t know what he’s supposed to be to me. Or what he’s becoming…

Fact: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

In the yearbook, I’ll be Sophia Ramos: Valedictorian. Years of honor roll certificates, AP classes, and lugging around an obnoxiously large cello case are about to finally pay off. If everything goes according to plan, I’ll escape these decaying suburbs for a top university across the country.

The problem? A few years ago, my mom met someone just as broke, just as drunk, and just as impulsive as she is. Approximately five seconds into their relationship, they decided it would be an excellent idea for him—and his son, Dan—to move in with us. (Spoiler alert: it wasn’t).

Now I share a house with none other than Daniel Cole. Even though Dan dropped out two years ago, he’s still the tattooed, bad boy, heartthrob, legend of St. Anthony’s Academy. He and I aren’t supposed to have anything in common.

Living together means war. First, Dan and I were at war with each other. Now, our rivalry is giving way to an unlikely alliance—two opposing sides teaming up against a common enemy: our respective parents.

Which is to say, we’ve been hanging out.

Question: What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object

Here’s the thing: My brain is a complex organ. One hundred billion neurons, each with an average of seven thousand synaptic connections to other neurons. My brain is my ticket out of here.

My heart, by contrast, is a pump. It moves blood around.

I know Dan is off-limits. I know I shouldn’t do something I’ll regret. And I know how much is at stake (my family, my future).

So why can’t I stop thinking about him? Those inscrutable jade eyes. The smile that can say a thousand different things at once. That tattoo curving across his abs…
Even though I know better, I feel that pounding in my chest. And it’s getting harder to ignore.
But if I follow my heart, I can never go back.

Answer: There is no such thing as an immovable object.


 ~Book Review~
4.25 Stars

Sophie Ramos's mom and Daniel Cole’s dad have been living together, drinking together, and fighting together. While their parents might be cut from the same cloth, Sophie and Dan are textbook opposites. She’s the cello playing honor student; he’s the tattooed high school drop-out.

Sophie, 18, and Dan, 20, aren’t really step-siblings, but it seems that people see them in that role. In one sense I felt the taboo aspect was a little forced since their parents weren’t really married and they were both legal adults.  While the story jumps right into the point where their relationship changes (so the love/hate is downplayed), I definitely felt the chemistry between them.
“It’s as if he needs to feel all of me at once and I need the same.”
 My favorite scene was their “first date.” It was cute seeing how Dan presented his life to the rest of the world or his world.  It was also a critical relationship development scene as it depicted that “good girl/bad boy” world coming together.  I think scenes like this are important in romance as it helps the reader envision a successful future for them as a couple.

I was pleasantly surprised when it came to Dan. There are so many bad boy, manwhoring stepbrother characters out there and while initially I sensed Dan might fit the mold, he turned out to be a dedicated romantic hero.  His devotion to her kept the angst in check and the steamy scenes plentiful. That’s always a plus in my book.  
“‘Yes,’ I moan, and he echoes me. ‘Yes,’ we pass it back and forth. Yes.”
Told via Sophie’s first person POV, this is a new adult standalone romance. Both Dan and Sophie have to deal with a difficult home life and Sophie wrestles with merging her developing private and personal identities. Sophie’s classmates are a little stock character, and there was more than one person who I wanted to see get what they had coming to them, but the ending wraps up pretty quickly, jumping to the epilogue. For the most part, the angst between the couple is mostly contained to the drama around them rather than between them. It’s an “us against the world” type of romance, which this market needs more of.

 Twisting the tray from side to side breaks the ice with a satisfying crack. I've almost gone so far as to pour water into my glass before I stop. Memories from last night surface and I recall sitting up in bed picking popcorn out of my bra.

Dan is wearing elastic-waist pajamas. I can see the edge of his boxer-briefs peeking out of the top but their waistline is much the same scenario. Everything has been so relaxed today. He's perfectly content—humming to himself!—while he finishes scrubbing the sink. He would never see it coming.

I pad softly across the linoleum, careful not to make a sound. The glass of ice waits poised in my hand. Dan finishes rinsing the sponge. In one fell swoop I wrench back a handful of pajama-and-boxer and let loose a frozen torrent.

Dan jumps, surprised, but he’s still reacting more to the grabbing than anything. While he knows something has happened, he doesn't yet know what.

I can't contain my devious grin while he searches my face. Then—there it is. A yelp, a jump, a shake. Cube after freezing cube tumbles from his pant legs. More yet are trapped inside his underwear. He hops from foot to foot and tries to push them out. Then he changes strategy.

“You little—”

“No!” I squeal, giggling wildly, and tear out of the kitchen.

I circle the table and he pauses just across its diameter. I try to feint left. He jerks then corrects his course and lunges. I backtrack.

We're stuck in a dead heat. A draw. One of us will have to make a break for it.

Throwing caution into the wind, I take off away from the table and leap over the couch. He struggles to follow my maneuver. Probably something to do with the glassful of ice melting in his underwear. I can't stop shrieking like a child and waving my hands like an idiot. If I don't make it to my room, he's going to tickle the fuck out of me.

My heart leaps as I crash through my door and tug it closed behind me. It stops short of snapping shut. One tattooed arm pries it open.

I jump back and seize a pillow from my bed like a shield. “No!”

Then the tickle-fingers. Just the sight of them breaks something inside me and I start laughing so hard I can’t breathe. Once, twice, three times I whack him with my pillow. He yanks it away and I trip backward onto my bed.

We land hard and he quickly takes both the figurative and literal upper hand. One knee wedges between my legs to keep me from kicking. His hands snatch my wrists in turn, pinning them above my head.

Dead heat. Stalemate. My armpits are terribly exposed but he can't tickle me as long as he's holding me down. My chest rises and falls as fast as my heartbeat. Desperate laughs push through my tight-pressed lips.

This close, his face a spare few inches from mine, I notice a field of freckles for the very first time. Light, almost invisible, they dust his nose and cheeks. Freckles don't seem like something Dan should have.

The lunatic laughter dies in my throat but my chest still rises and falls. A muscle in his jaw works. Green eyes dart rapidly between mine, thinking. About what, I’m not sure.

When we landed, his chest pressed down against mine. Now I feel his thin, worn sleeping t-shirt against my thin, worn sleeping t-shirt. No bra in between. On either side, only skin.

His hands, coiled around my wrists. My breasts, curving against his chest. Our lips, inches apart. This is starting to look like…something.

Our eyes stay locked. The longer we remain like this, the more the next movement matters. The stakes are shooting up. Maybe, if I could move, I could just tickle him back...

His knee shifts a fraction, hardly anything at all. Or maybe I imagined it. A rush of heat flows between my legs—so strong and so sudden I'm sure he could feel it. The fabric is so thin it might as well be bare skin. Goosebumps erupt down my arms. My nipples pull to points against him. He must feel them too.

I've been staring into his eyes so long…however long this has been—an infinity— and I mark their swift change. Something has happened there. Some choice, some determination...

Some noise rises from my throat. I'm not even sure if it was a sound or just a feeling, but I sense how it changed me. The space between us starts to close.

V.K. Torston is a millennial and ‘cool aunt’ to a brood of nieces and nephews. She was born and raised in San Francisco, attended university in New York City, and aspires to one day live in London. A veteran of the independent music scene, she began writing nonfiction in her late teens. Then she realized that making up stories was way more fun than coming up with endless synonyms for ‘frenetic’ and ‘danceable.’ Her hobbies include drinking too much coffee, making up stupid songs, and ranting about current events. Defiant Attraction is her first novel.

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Kissing Tolstoy by Penny Reid

***Proceeds during November go to hurricane relief efforts!***

Series: Dear Professor 
Genre: Contemporary Romance


What do you do when you discover that your super-hot blind date from months ago is now your super-hot Russian Lit professor?

You overthink everything and pray for a swift end to your misery, of course!


 ~Book Review~ 

2 Stars

Anna Harris, 21, lives a boring life for a college student. She’s afraid to take chances, and she’s losing opportunities in the process. Luca Kroft, 31, is the leather clad, motorcycle riding by Valentine’s Day/ suit and bowtie wearing professor by summer session man who shakes up her world.

Full disclosure: I was once in my life an English lit major. Russian classic literature was not my specialty though. None the less, I never met anyone in six years of university studies who fantasized about kissing these dead white guys. But the title is not to be taken quite literally.

I should also note that Anna isn’t a lit major; it’s just a fascination in her pastime. I’m rather thankful for that because I hate to think she was meant to be a stereotype of literature majors. The story plays strongly on certain literary works. I’ll admit it initially attracted me to the story. By half way through it was beginning to turn me off.

Anna is not my tastes for a modern heroine. She’s too jumpy (or as her friend aptly put it, “…you freaked out like a dork.”) and she overreacts to situations. For example, telling a guy (a ‘stranger’ as she stressed), who you are conversing with in a public place, that you have no siblings or that one of your parents passed away when you were little isn’t exactly confidential information sharing worth stressing over. Or bolting from the premises over. Nor is finding out that said guy (who you really shared no—nadda—intimate encounters with) is now your summer class professor something to cause your hands to shake and make you grip the desk. To her credit, she does acknowledge that she’s overreacting. But once again her instinct is to bolt. At only 13%, in I was starting to question if the heroine needed to see a shrink over the summer more than she needed this lit class.

Meanwhile, Luca’s sister accuses him of getting sucked in by the “broken bird” type (overly educated and delicate). To me, I couldn’t agree more that Anna fit the bill. (No pun intended). I suspect what follows is meant to convince readers that Anna has more spirit and passion, but it only makes her come off immature. And thus, Anna continued to frustrate me, choosing to take the easy way out while at the same time sulking when Luca behaved like the adult professional he was.
“Luca had omitted all personal and possessive pronouns referring to himself…”
Because he’s writing to her as her professor!!! I would hope that a man with a doctorate would be able to write a professional letter to his student…the same way an almost senior year undergraduate student should be able to figure that out!

At a certain point the story makes some valid points about the importance of critical thinking and supporting the arts. I’m behind that 100%. But the way classic literature operates in the story feels very heavy handed. In fact, I think the author got too hung up on it. Missing from this contemporary romance is better pacing (it drag and drags and then abruptly moves to an end); more character development from Luca (most of the story is told via Anna’s first person POV with only a few chapters from his); a bigger role from Luca’s family (who are hinted at having a significant role in his life); and their sex life (it doesn’t happen till the freaking epilogue!)

In the end, I still didn’t know what Luca saw in her, and I still wanted a better picture of him.


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

RELEASE/REVIEW: Most Eligible Bastard by Annika Martin



He’s a powerful billionaire CEO who built the family business into an empire. The money doesn’t matter to him, but the company is his life. And then his eccentric mother wills it all to her tiny dog.

I’m Vicky, the dog whisperer. (Not really, but that’s what my elderly neighbor always says.) When she dies, she surprises everybody by leaving a corporation worth billions to her dog, Smuckers. With me as his spokesperson.

Suddenly I go from running my Etsy store to sitting in an elegant Wall Street boardroom with Smuckers in my lap. And my neighbor’s son, Henry Locke, aka New York’s most eligible bachelor, glaring across the table at me.

Rumor has it Henry’s a business genius who’s as talented in the bedroom as he is in the boardroom. Sure, he’s gorgeous. Sex-in-a-seven-thousand dollar suit. But…

He’s arrogant and infuriating.

He refuses to listen to me when I insist I didn’t con his mother.

He thinks he can bully me, buy me off, control me, even seduce me.

Henry may have the women of Manhattan eating out of the palm of his hand, but I'm so over entitled rich guys who think they own the world.

No way will his wicked smile be charming ME out of my panties.

His wicked...devastating...impossible-to-resist smile.

Oh well, who needs panties anyway?



~Book Review~

4.25 Stars

This is a love story between a wealthy businessman, Henry Locke; a jewelry designer, Vicky Nelson; and Smuckers, a toy Maltese.
“So. Fucking. Romantic.”                                  
Okay, so it’s not really a three way love story between man, woman, and dog. Although there is that Smuckers incident. Hmm... With a name like Smuckers it has to be good. *wink*
It’s really a heartfelt romance with touches of humor. (Like Smuckers has to pee.) Anyways, Henry’s been estranged from his mother who’s bequeathed her stake in his company to her dog via his human proxy and caretaker, Vicky. It creates quite a dicey business situation to say the least. To up the complicated factor, Vicky isn’t exactly who she says she is either. And throughout the course of the story, Vicky and Henry find they must confront their own trust issues as they get to know each other.
“It’s so Henry to give me a tutorial on sucking his cock.”
There’s resistance, of course.
“Sometimes I feel like Smoky the Bear, stomping sparks left and right. Too many to stomp out.”
But Henry wears her down and his ruthless exterior gives way to his caring and capable, yet also vulnerable, side.  
“I don’t care about the burn; it’s the spark of our chemistry that’s torching me.”
Oh and there’s his sexy side too.
“‘You like my hands,’ he says, undoing another button, revealing the top of my camisole. ‘You’re going to like them even better when they’re between your legs.’”
Henry really grew on me and by the end I liked him a lot. Told via Vicky and Henry’s alternating first person POV, in the beginning though I had to keep reminding myself that I knew both sides of the story because when it was Vicky’s POV, I thought Henry and his associates were pretty mean to her, and then when I was in Henry’s POV, I remembered that things would look pretty strange if not downright suspicious if I was in his shoes. So the dual POV was critical here.

The story has some twists and turns which helped it avoid some romance plot pitfalls as well as kept me turning pages in the climax and resolution. A standalone, there’s a seriousness to the backstory intertwined with more light-hearted moments revolving around Smuckers as he inadvertently brings two seemingly different but actually quite similar people together. The tale has good underlying messages and themes of looking beyond the exterior and truly listening to people as well as a satisfying turnout.


She glares at me now. “I can’t believe you tried to strip poor Smuckers of his vote. Do you have no decency?”
“When it comes to protecting this company?” I say. “No.”
Her gaze intensifies. “Just no?”
“None at all,” I say. “No decency whatsoever. Nada, if you will.”
Her pretty lips part. It’s shock. Maybe a little bit awe.
I give her an amused smile, adjusting my jacket sleeve over my cuff just so. The suit was tailored by a man who charges three hundred bucks an hour and is worth every penny.
“Uh,” she says. “You think you’re all that? You’re not.”
“Oh, I am all that,” I say. “I very much am. And for the record, I will crush you in the end.”
“Smuckers had this medication once,” she says. “We tried to hide it in his food, and he spit it out. No matter what we did, he’d spit it out.” She puts one finger on the paper with the new amendment and slides it back across the desk. “Smuckers doesn’t like when people try to fool him. That’s his message for you.”
“I have a message for Smuckers.” I put my finger on it and slide it back across to her. “Smuckers needs to know that we have a private investigator on this case. Smuckers might not have very nice food to eat if you ended up in prison.”
Finally she looks scared.
Brett swoops in. “I say we settle this. One-time offer from me personally.” He writes the number—$4,500,000.00. “This offer expires in two minutes.”
My heart pounds. She needs to take offer. We’ve shown how close she can come to losing everything.
She looks at the paper.
She’s all alone caring for that sister of hers. She’s poor—we have her banking information; we know it for a fact. She has every reason in the world to take it. Yet she hesitates.
“This is our last offer,” Brett says. “After this, we’ll take the company from you, and you’ll get nothing.”
She raises her brown eyes to me. It’s me she’s really dealing with. I like that she knows that.
“You know what Smuckers hates even more than being fooled?” she says.
My heart pounds. She almost lost everything to me, and now she’s going to tell me a dog story?
“He hates being threatened,” she says. “And bullied. He really, really hates it.”
“Well he’s going to have to get used to it,” I hear myself saying. “He’s used to bubbles and bows and sunny parks but he’s in the jungle now. There are animals who are faster and stronger and smarter than he is. Animals who will dominate him easily—savagely, even.”
“Then you don’t know Smuckers very well.”
“Oh, I know all about Smuckers, and I’d suggest he practice rolling over. Baring his belly for the superior predator.” I lower my voice. “Begging sweetly for mercy.”
The color heightens in her face. This shouldn’t be fun.
But oh, it is.
I keep going. “Smuckers may think he can request packets and bylaws and get up to speed, but he can’t compete here. He doesn’t have the skills.”
“Smuckers thinks owning fifty-one percent is the best skill to have,” she says.

Annika Martin loves fun, dirty stories, hot heroes, and wild, dramatic everything. She enjoys hanging out in Minneapolis coffee shops with her writer husband, and also likes birdwatching at her bird feeder alongside her two stunningly photogenic cats, especially when she should be writing. She’s heavy into running, music, saving the planet, taking long baths, and consuming chocolate suckers. She’s worked a surprisingly large number of waitressing jobs, and has also worked in a plastics factory and the advertising trenches; her garden is total bee-friendly madness and her most unfavorite word is nosh or possibly fob. A NYT bestselling author, she has also written as RITA award-winning author Carolyn Crane.