Sunday, January 22, 2017

EDITORIAL: How Fiction Can Influence Reality


                The fictional world, especially the romance one, can be a great escape from the harsh realities of the real world.  It’s part of the reason why I chose the Henri Laborit quote in the blog’s banner: "In times like these, escape is the only way to stay alive and keep dreaming." 

                In times like these indeed. When the new leader of a nation sports rhetoric of hate, it makes the urge even stronger to turn to the pages of a book devoted to love. But simply being a fictional story doesn’t absolve it from having a greater purpose in the real world, a social consciousness, or a role in shaping reality.
“Fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.” —Virginia Woolf
                Feel free to explore those words further and in greater context in Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. It really should be required reading for every woman writer and reader.  In the meantime, consider coming together in the romance community to make strides much like the 2.9 million women who came together yesterday to stand united in their devotion to keep moving forward with progress, equality, and so much more.  đŸ‘ (A big round of applause for everyone who participated in the Women's March and showed their support. Let's hope this is just the beginning!)

                There are so many ways to evoke social change—marches, rallies, legislation, fund raisers, volunteer work, voting...the list could go on. But let’s also make sure to include the written word. Because literature (like art and music) also has the power to produce change.

                As producers and consumers of the written word, we can make progress as well. We can focus on positive depictions of love and working together, emphasize strong female characters, and eliminate sexist heroes and restrictive gender roles.

                Because these representations have not only the potential for subliminal effects on the reader, but they can also speak volumes about the writer and the literary legacy that women today leave for women of the future.

                Take a moment to reflect or go to a book group and discuss the current depictions of women and men in romance. Choose your favorite book or your least favorite—analyze it, look at the characters, the dialogue, the tropes, the messages, and the themes.

                If that’s still too broad or you've never dabbled in feminist literary theory before, then consider these examples as starting topics for reflection and discussion:

  •  Sibling’s best friend is a popular premise for romance novels. Hand up if you’ve read one. ✋ I’ve gravitated to this plot line myself. Now look deeper at the story. Why is the idea taboo? Who decides it’s taboo?  Don’t misconstrue where I’m headed with this; I’m not knocking this type of story. Some of them do a great job exploring the pros and cons of dating someone close to your family but also someone you’ll have to continue to be around if the relationship doesn’t work out.  Others simply give the brother character far too much power!  If the literary conflict of the story revolves around his feelings above and beyond that of the two people who actually have a mutual attraction to each other, then ask yourself what that says about the limitations of women’s freedom to make their own decisions about their love life. 
  • Separations are a key ingredient in second chance romances. The building of the story requires not just the development of the couple’s past and present, but of the time they spent apart.  Have they spent those days, months, or years longing for each other? Have they moved on in life only to come face to face with each other again? Now here comes the sometimes misogynist part…what if one of them has lived life to the fullest, raking up a plethora of new sexual and romantic experiences, while the other has been lonely and/or left largely unfulfilled? An imbalance indeed, but a decidedly sexist one when the majority of the instances it’s the heroine who’s been celibate while the hero was a manwhore.

                Keep in mind these are just two examples where power is imbalanced, double standards come into play, and certain expectations are subtly inserted into the text. There are far more intricately woven ones out there as well as more blatant ones.  While I'd love to hear from readers directly about the sexist elements that they find still prevalent in fiction, the main call to action of this post though is be more conscious when we encounter them as readers and not give them a pass, and to be more diligent as writers by avoiding perpetuating them. Like anything, it involves working tougher as a team and making this reading community a place to be proud of, leaving a new legacy for our “daughters” while honoring the late and great women writers of the past who worked so hard to make this both a better profession and pastime for women.
  
                I’m closing this post with a quote from a speech made yesterday because I love the prospect of female empowerment alongside getting to know each other and striving for a better tomorrow. 
“We're staying together. And we're taking over. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Make sure you introduce yourselves to each other and decide what we're gonna do tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow and we're never turning back.” —Gloria Steinem

Saturday, January 21, 2017

RELEASE BLITZ: Torpedo by Joanna Blake

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~Synopsis~

There’s three things I love: my crew, my ship, and sinking my torpedo.

I wanted to serve my country for life, but then my ship blew up. Now I’m stuck on indefinite shore leave, holed up in my hometown with no crew, no ship, and definitely no women.

Until, after five years, she walks back into my life .

Tabitha Peterson.

Shabby Tabby, the beautiful girl from the wrong side of the tracks. She didn't have money for fancy clothes, but Tabitha still caught every eye in a hundred mile radius - especially mine. Back then, I’d have done anything to catch her - with zero luck.

I'd always wondered where she ended up.

Now I know - because she’s in my house, the caregiver sent to tend to me. I’m broken, maybe forever, but she’s more tempting than ever, with her crazy curves and big, beautiful eyes.

I go from being bored stiff to having the challenge of my life.

I have two missions: learn to walk again, and get Tabby where I've wanted her all this time. In my arms and in my bed.

We can do it lying, sitting, or standing on one leg - I don’t need both legs to show her a good time. I just want to tear her walls down as I tear her clothes off.

When they fall, I’m not prepared for what comes next. How badly she's been hurt… or how badly I want to protect her.

But I'll risk everything to make her mine, for good.

GOODREADS    AMAZON
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Cover Designer: Mayhem Cover Creations
Photog: Furious Fotog
Models: Rachael Baltes and BT Urruela

Joanna Blake loves good old fashioned romance, men who open doors and work with their hands. Hot Blooded Heroes is a series of sizzling stories about True Blue American men and the women who love them. She's thrilled to be collaborating with Pincushion Press on her new series! Come along for the ride!

XoX,
Joanna


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Friday, January 20, 2017

REVIEW/RELEASE BLITZ: Friction by Emily Snow

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Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: HEA Press

~Synopsis~
Former overachiever Lucy WillIams sucks at adulting:
Recent divorce
Pending lawsuit
A move back to Boston to live with her mother

It can't get much worse, right?

When she starts her new marketing job at EXtreme Effects, she's positive shit’s stopped hitting the fan. Sure, what she's advertising is a little ... unorthodox, but it pays the bills. And since she's seconds away from becoming Lucy Williams: Wednesday Night Bingo Enthusiast, she needs money to get the hell out of her mother’s house.

The only problem is her boss, Mr. Extreme himself: Jace Exley. He’s everything any sane woman dreams of—alpha, successful, ridiculously gorgeous. He's also Lucy’s worst nightmare. Because like every overachiever, she has that underachiever she brushed off. The slacker who, once upon a time ago, was the object of her dirtiest schoolgirl fantasies.

Jace Exley—with his sarcastic smirk and delicious accent—just happens to be that guy.
And the friction between them?
Well, that's the only adulting Lucy seems to be winning at.

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~Book Review~
5 Stars

Lucinda (Lucy) Williams-Duncan, 27, is a conscientious, hard-working, good girl, go-getter who’s had her life turned upside down. She might just have reached her lowest point yet when her best job prospect comes from the former high school underachiever bad boy who she both loathed and desired as an adolescent. Upon first meeting with Jace Callum Exley, 29, it isn’t hard to see why Lucy is bulldozed over by him. He’s mesmerizing, colorful, and a distinct personality.

“‘When you stare at my hand like I’ve cocks for fingers, I automatically assume you’re afraid of what filthy things they’ve touched.’”
Jace is your rough around the edges, dirty talking (though he sweetens it with the endearment ‘love,’) bad boy. He shines as the star of the story, which pulled me in right from the beginning. Both Lucy and Jace are well developed, but Jace totally made the book for me. He’s the kind of guy that has a distinct edge, puts off a cool, doesn’t give a shit vibe, but he’s loyal and cares about those close to him, and while women might be a dime a dozen, once he’s found the one, he’s in. He’s certainly alpha and he likes to push Lucy’s buttons, but he’s never over the top ridiculous or chauvinist. I liked the “real” feel to him. And I felt his responses and actions always rang true to his character.

While Lucy has a total facepalm moment, I still found her a likable character, that incident aside. Her ‘fish out of water’ situations with Jace and EXtreme Effects were comical and kept the story lighthearted.

I adored their jobs and their work place; the supporting characters complimented the story well; the premise is sexy and fun, and the story 
well executed. Lucy assumes Jace’s company makes unique clocks. I think you can guess from the blurb he doesn’t. And thus Lucy’s out of her comfort zone moments begin.
“My new boss, on the other hand, strikes up a conversation with every naked person who wonders by. Like he doesn’t have a care in the world.”
Told via Lucy and Jace’s first person POV, Friction is a slightly slow burn (more like heated build), opposites attract romance. It's a standalone, but I hope Jamie and Bailon get a story too.
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Emily Snow is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the DEVOURED series and TIDAL. She loves books, sexy bad boys, and really loud rock music, so naturally, she writes stories about all three. Visit her blog at http://emilysnowbooks.blogspot.com for news, teasers, and contests.

COVER REVEAL: Wonder F*ck by Maggie Marr

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Release Date: January 31, 2017

“I’ve got everything a woman wants and all in one tight, well-muscled, long, hard package.”
~Blurb~

They call me the Wonder F*ck.  Why? Because I’ve got a rocket in my pocket and I live to take you for a ride. I’ve got everything a woman wants and all in one tight, well-muscled, long, hard package. My goal is to make you come so hard and so often that you finally understand your innate power and how absolutely-fucking beautiful you are. Because every woman is beautiful. Being the Wonderf*ck is my vocation and all I ever wanted to be...or so I thought.

Until Tara.

My sexy-neighbor with her douche-nugget ex-fiance. Tara and I weren’t friends, barely acquaintances, until the tears, and the fist-fight, and then...the sex. Now what do I do? I can’t be me when I'm with her and I can’t be Wonder F*ck. I want her, but having Tara means watching the walls of my carefully crafted existence crumble and fall and while I have the strength to provide countless orgasms, I’m not sure if I have the strength to love.   


~Except~
Los Angeles is a small town. I know it seems impossible to believe, unless you live here, but it is. It’s pockets of small communities stacked beside each other. My parents were raised here, I’ve lived here my entire life except during college, my sister is a Judge here. At this stage there is one degree of separation between everyone--including celebrities. 

I suppose it’s inevitable. 

I stand in Gelson’s. I grasp a tomato. Which one is firm and round and needs to be grilled this afternoon? I hear a cart before I see her. I glance up. 

Her face turns red. A pinkish blush. She swallows. She’s not nearly as ‘done up’ as she was when we were together. It’s not Natasha, or Shelly or Carolyn or Leslie or my personal longest vocation Cheryl. This woman is many many women back--six or seven. 

Jennifer. 

This woman gave me the name of Jennifer. I don’t flinch. I smile. I don’t give her any hint of recognizing her. I don’t let on as though I’ve caressed every inch of skin. Pulled the nipples of her perky breasts now hidden behind a sweatshirt with Stanford emblazoned across the front into my mouth. I don’t let on that I remember she has a special penchant for fucking in the bathtub or that she likes to be blindfolded while having sex. No. I push all of the sexual specifics, every last lovely detail from my mind. I compartmentalize—as men are so very able to do—and I simply smile and say, “Hello.”

Her head jerks back and the skin between her eyebrows creases. One quick breath, as though she considers whether she’s lost her mind. 

“Never able to pick a good tomato.” I continue. “They’re always mealy when I get them home.” 

Now she’s uncertain. Uncertain that I’m the man she thinks I am. It’s been over a year and her memory of our time together, while so vivid she can feel every touch, every thrust, in fact I’d bet her panties are wet right now, she’s unsure. I mean people do look substantially different when they’re fucking. 

“You want to go with firm.” She lifts a tomato and presses the taut red fruit to her nose. Her gaze meets mine. No, no, she knows it’s me. Her tongue flicks out over her lips. “This one is the one you want.” She holds out the juicy flesh toward me. 

I take it. Our fingers touch. A zing pulses through me and I’m hard. Simple as that. Hard as a rock. 

“Thank you.” I lift an eyebrow and tilt my head and walk away from the produce and toward check-out. I don’t sleep with every woman that calls. Nor is every number with Wonderfuck scrawled above it mine. I’m selective. Careful. Detailed. One can’t be too careful when meeting women to fuck away their insecurities and heart break. As for the other men who share my name and my vocation. I’ve not met them, perhaps we should form a club.

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Maggie Marr has fifteen years in the Hollywood trenches. Parties? Check. Stars? Check. Parties with Stars behaving badly....Check, check, and double checkity-check! Names? (She'll never tell.....) Look for her latest romantic comedy; Wonderf*ck on 1/31/17

When you pick up a Maggie Marr book, you'll always get your dose of hot men, strong women with amazing friends, and steamy sex. Never miss any of Maggie's hot new books, follow her here on Amazon and sign up for her newsletter at: www.maggiemarr.net.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

COVER REVEAL: Sexy Bad Neighbor by Misti Murphy & Tami Lund

Genre: Romance 
Release Date: February 9, 2017

~Blurb~
What happens when your neighbor hires you a stripper? 

It starts one hell of a prank war. A war that involves goats, phallic chandeliers, stolen kisses in the rain, strawgasms, and eating out on the kitchen counter. 

A war that could damn well involve two hearts and a plan. Her plan doesn’t involve falling in love. His life doesn’t involve plans.

This could be a problem.
GOODREADS
Cover : Booming Covers

Misti Murphy is a sadistic b*tch who loves to emotionally torture fictional people. If she did that in real life she’d probably end up in prison or a psych ward so she prefers to create dirty talking alphas and the sexually frustrated women who fall into their beds. And if someone needs to be smacked upside the head before f*cking turns to love then that makes her very happy indeed.

She’s a huge believer in flaws making us human, and that not everyone likes bacon. She’s also addicted to chocolate and scared of the effects of the coming shortage. She swears like a f*cking trooper, and thinks that graphic smuttiness should be as real in fiction as it is in real life.

When she’s not writing she’s the perfect housewife and mother. Ha bloody ha! When she’s not writing she’s hiding in a cupboard with her kindle, scoffing chocolate, and stalking facebook.

Tami Lund writes. And drinks wine. And wins awards. She also loves romance, and is writing happily ever afters, one book at a time.

Tami writes paranormal and contemporary romance, often with a dose of suspense. She is both self-published as well as contracted with a few publishers, including Crimson Romance, Liquid Silver Books, and Soul Mates Publishing. Chances are, there’s a new book coming out soon. Be sure to stalk her on social media, so you know when.

And most important, if you enjoyed one of Tami's books, please let other readers know by leaving a review on the site from which you bought it. Otherwise, how will they know which book to read next?


Oh, and there's a FREE READ, available for download only through her website  

Newletter   Twitter  Pinterest  Facebook   Come Wine With Tami Lund  Amazon

Monday, January 16, 2017

COVER REVEAL: Fake Fiancée by Ilsa Madden Mills

 Release Date: February 6, 2017

~Blurb~

They say nothing compares to your first kiss,
But our first kiss was orchestrated for an audience.
Our second kiss…that one was REAL.
He cradled my face like he was terrified he’d f*ck it up.
He stared into my eyes until the air buzzed.
Soft and slow, full of sighs and little laughs,
He inhaled me like I was the finest Belgian chocolate,
And he'd never get another piece.
A nip of his teeth, his hand at my waist...
And I was lost.
I forgot he was paying me to be his fake fiancée.
I forgot we weren’t REAL.
Our kiss was pure magic, and before you laugh and say those kinds of kisses don’t exist…
Then you’ve never touched lips with Max Kent, the hottest quarterback in college history.



Wall Street Journal best selling author Ilsa Madden-Mills writes about strong heroines and sexy alpha males that sometimes you just want to slap. She's addicted to all things fantasy, including unicorns and sword-wielding females. Other fascinations include frothy coffee beverages, dark chocolate, Ian Somerhalder, astronomy (she's a Gemini), and tattoos. She has a degree in English and a Master's in Education. When she's not pecking away on her computer, she shops for cool magnets and fuzzy pajamas.

COVER REVEAL: Royally Bad by Nora Flite

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Publication Date: April 1st, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance

~Blurb~
Getting close to an arrogant bad boy like him is dangerous. Too bad it’s her only choice.
Kain Badd looks great on paper: rich, handsome, and he’s even a prince. But after spending a few minutes together, Sammy sees the real him—arrogant, possessive, and too hot for his own good. If she hadn’t agreed to help plan his sister’s wedding, she could have avoided him. Instead, she’s waking up in his bed after an unforgettable night she definitely wants to forget. But he won’t let her.
When Sammy thinks her life can’t get any crazier, the wedding is raided by the police, and she spends her first-ever night in jail. The irresistible Kain isn’t just bad in name—his family is connected to a dangerous underworld. Now she’s mixed up in a power struggle between his family’s empire and their rivals. She has no choice but to put herself back in this filthy prince’s extremely capable hands.
Sammy must trust Kain to keep her safe. She’s just not sure she can trust herself to resist temptation.

GOODREADS

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Royally Bad, a sexy new standalone from Nora Flite is coming April 1st!!!

Preorder exclusively with Amazon!
Amazon US   Amazon UK 

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A USA Today Bestselling Author, Nora Flite lives in SoCal where the weather is warm and she doesn't have to shovel snow--something she never grew to love in her tiny home-state of Rhode Island.All of her romances involve passionate, filthy, and slightly obsessive heroes--because those are clearly the best kind! She's always been a writer, and you'll probably have to pry her keyboard/pen/magical future writing device out of her cold, dead fingers before she'll stop. She loves when people say hello! If you see her in the wild, walk up and start chatting.

REVIEW/RELEASE BLITZ: Jail House Rock by Liberty Laine

GENRE: Contemporary/Erotic

~Blurb~

I’ve got ninety-nine problems and all of them begin and end with the Coletrain twins. Especially Millie Coletrain. I don’t know whether to kiss her or spank her. Either way, she’s mine.

Warning: This is an erotic novella with laugh-out-loud ridiculousness, insta-love, a smart-mouthed heroine, and an over-the-top alpha bail bondsman.


COVER DESIGNAly Martinez
~Book Review~
2 Stars

Jake Blackwood, 31, is a bail bondsman set on finally bringing in Tillie Coletrain. Instead he accidentally apprehends her twin sister, Millie, 24.
“‘This is how it’s all goin’ down. You’re coming home with me and helping me find that sneaky-ass sister of yours, and then, when all that I settled, I’m gonna prove to you that there isn’t one shortcoming anywhere on my body. You feel me?’”
The blurb and the premise of this story sounded fun and I was looking forward to reading it.  Unfortunately, it did not work for me. I think enjoyment of this one is going depend a lot on the types of reads you prefer. The story promises to be an insta-love and that it delivers…or is it only insta lust?  Frankly, I think it’s the later. But the lack of relationship development aside for a moment, if you have issues with any of the following, like I did, then this might not work for you either.

First—the love angle. Millie is a 24 year old virgin. I literally groaned when I read that part because a virgin heroine is soooo overdone, and rarely is it necessary to the plot. And in this case it makes it harder to believe that Millie’ feelings for Jake are actually love. She seemed more like a naĂŻve, inexperienced girl who’s enjoying sexual experiences for the first time and mistaking it as a deeper feeling.

Second—the characterization.  Millie is meant to be sassy, self described as “crazy, quirky, but surely loveable.”  Personally, I found her annoying.  The title made me think she was going to be a rocker (in rock band), but she’s really a Brittany Spears loving, pop star wannabe. That did not endear me to her at all.  

Jake is supposed to be a possessive, alpha man. He’s really bossy and sexist, spouting off things like, “‘I want you to understand who owns this gorgeous body.’”  Sorry, but the Women’s Movements have fought hard for the rights of women to make decisions over their own bodies.  Men who think and say this stuff need a big wake-up call. And that’s not the only thing that came out of his mouth that felt so wrong. At one point he observes, “I could tell right away that she was made to care for others. I wonder why she can’t see that’s her gift. She’ll make an excellent mother and wife someday. Someday soon, hopefully.” While it might have been meant as a compliment, that statement also has some subtle (or perhaps not so subtle) chauvinist undertones. Millie has dreams of doing something more, being something bigger. Any man who “claims” a woman, tries to talk her out of her dreams, and turn her into his wife and babymaker is far from desirable. If a man has no respect for your job or behaving professionally in your workplace, he isn’t an over-the-top alpha, he’s just a plain asshole.  That’s why I found that semi-sex scene (along with the others) disgusting instead of sexy.

And then it only gets worse when Jake breaks out the “I want her pregnant now” card. Thankfully he avoided the actual dreaded B word (breading), but the message is the same. And like an utter doormat, Millie agrees to have unprotected sex with a man she’s known 1 freaking day!!!

All in all, if you can tolerate a dumb doormat heroine and a brute caveman hero; you aren’t bothered by misogynist erotica; and you aren’t annoyed by a silly misunderstanding that could be avoided by actually getting to know a person; then this might work for you. But if you have a healthy sense of feminist beliefs and prefer more positive portrayals of a sexual relationship, keep on book browsing. 


Liberty Laine is a writing duo made up of two smart-mouthed best friends who have a passion for romance and reading. They can usually be found together at their local Mexican restaurant with a margarita in one hand and a chip covered in cheese dip in the other. They spend their days being desperate housewives, blogging about books, and using all of their willpower not to eat all the cake and donuts.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

COVER REVEAL: Text 2 Lovers by K Webster and J.D. Hollyfield

Publication Date: January 24, 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romantic Comedy

~Blurb~
It’s the start of nothing good.
I fired off a storm of raunchy text messages…to the wrong number.
And he replied.
Him: Show me a picture.
Him: Tell me your name.
Why does the lure of anonymity have me craving to indulge a stranger?

It’s the start of everything right.
I received a slew of text messages…when everything in my life was wrong.
And she made me laugh again.
Her: You’re probably a creeper.
Her: Possibly a stalker.
Why do I have the overwhelming need to find this stranger who saved me and make her mine?

Him: Take a chance with me.
Her: This is crazy.
Him: I need to see you.
Her: What are we doing?
Him: We’re about to find out.

Her: PHOTO ATTACHED
Him: PHOTO ATTACHED


K Webster is the author of dozens romance books in many different genres including contemporary romance, historical romance, paranormal romance, and erotic romance. When not spending time with her husband of twelve years and two adorable children, she’s active on social media connecting with her readers.

Her other passions besides writing include reading and graphic design. K can always be found in front of her computer chasing her next idea and taking action. She looks forward to the day when she will see one of her titles on the big screen.

You can easily find K Webster on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads!
J.D. Hollyfield is a creative designer and first-time author. When she’s not cooking, event planning, or playing around with her husband, son and three doxies, she’s relaxing with her nose in a book. With her love for romance, and her head full of book boyfriends, she was inspired to test her creative abilities and bring her own story to life. Life in a Rut, Love not Included is her first novel. Hollyfield lives in the Midwest, and is currently at work on her next book.

COVER REVEAL: Trigger by LP Dover

Series: Circle of Justice
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: February 6, 2017

~Blurb~
A killer . . . that’s what I am.
It’s what I do.
It’s what I live for.
I’m no longer the Preston Hale everyone knew. I left that life and the people in it a long time ago the second I made my first kill. I wasn’t going to give in, but when I heard the screams there was no going back.
It triggered the pain, the need.
I knew what I had to do, and I did it well. But I never expected for Emma Turner – the only link to my past – to come back into my life.
She triggers a different emotion inside me, something I hadn’t ever felt.
It’s not a want to kill . . . but a need to CLAIM.


Cover Design: Mae I Design and Photography

~PRE-ORDER LINKS~


~EXCERPT~
When I got downstairs to the dining room, Glenn and Wade were already there, speaking to each other in hushed tones by the large window. There were shiny plates on the table, with all sorts of silverware around them. Start from the outside and work your way in, was what I was told when it came to using the various forks and spoons. Give me just one of each and I’d be happy.

It wasn’t long before Glenn noticed me at the door and the conversation ceased. “Emma, you look lovely tonight,” he announced.

I smiled. “Thank you.”

He beckoned me over to the table and Wade held out a seat for me. I sat down and he took the one on the right, while Glenn sat on my left at the head of the table. There was only one other place setting and it was across from me.

“Wine?” Glenn asked, holding up the bottle.

I nodded. “Sure.”

He poured me a glass and I took a sip. It tasted like heaven, all fruity and crisp. It was so good I had to take another sip, and another, while we waited on the special guest. Not even a minute later, the dining room door opened and a man walked in. Only, he wasn’t just anyone.

It’d been eight years and he’d surely changed, but there was no mistaking those gray eyes. His hair was the same light brown, and mussed up like all the guys did their hair these days. However, his body looked totally different. His cream colored, long-sleeve sweater hugged a set of muscular arms, and his face was more rugged, covered in a five o’clock shadow.

I almost choked on my wine. “Oh my God.” Is it really him?

“Emma, are you okay?” Wade asked, his voice low.

“Yeah,” I whispered. “I’m fine.”

I waited for Preston to look at the table, and when his gaze finally caught mine, he paused for a slight second. In his face, I could see the friend I lost so long ago, but it vanished quickly.

Glenn and Wade both stood when Preston approached, and I shot up out of my seat, bumping the table with my jerky movements. Glenn grinned at me and then at Preston. “Preston Hale, I’d like you to meet Emma Turner. She’s my assistant. Emma, this is Preston Hale, a close family friend. His father is one of my dearest friends.”

Preston held out his hand and looked at me as if he’d never laid eyes on me before. “It’s nice to meet you.”

Was he being serious? I shook his hand and made sure to put a little extra squeeze in there for good measure. “Meet me? Surely, you remember who I am.”

Glenn’s eyes went wide. “Wait. You two already know each other?”

I nodded. “From college.” I was about to add before he up and left without a trace, but thought better of it.

Glenn chuckled and smacked a hand on Preston’s shoulder. “Well, isn’t this a small world? You’ll have to tell me some stories on this one.” He nodded my way.

Preston’s jaw clenched. “Can’t. Don’t remember her.”

My mouth dropped open; it was like being punched in the gut and slapped in the face, all at the same time. No words would come out, so I sat there with a lump in my throat. In college, he’d been a close friend. I sang with him in his band, Silent Break. We connected on stage in a way I’d never felt with anyone. I cared about him, and had even been ready to take the next step in our relationship right before he up and disappeared. I never got to tell him how I felt. Now he looked at me as if I was a stranger.

The room fell silent. I wanted to say something, but I bit my tongue. It was going to be the longest dinner of my life.


New York Times and USA Today bestselling author L. P. Dover is a southern belle living in North Carolina with her husband and two beautiful girls. Before she began her literary journey she worked in periodontics, enjoying the wonderment of dental surgeries. 

She loves to write, but she also loves to play tennis, go on mountain hikes and white water rafting, and has a passion for singing. Her two youngest fans expect a concert each and every night before bedtime, usually Christmas carols.

Dover has written countless novels, including her Forever Fae series, the Second Chances series, the Gloves Off series, the Armed & Dangerous series, the Royal Shifters series, and her standalone novel Love, Lies, and Deception. Her favorite genre to read and write is romantic suspense, but if she got to choose a setting in which to live, it would be with her faeries in the Land of the Fae.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

REVIEW/RELEASE BLITZ: Safe Bet by Monica Murphy

Series: The Rules
Genre: Contemporary Romance

~Blurb~
Sydney Walker’s new job is perfect. As the live-in nanny to the most famous quarterback in the NFL and his beautiful wife, she couldn’t have it any better. Their kids are adorable. Her bosses are more than generous. Plus, there are hot football players at the house all the time. Life can’t get much better than this.

Until her life turns into an absolute nightmare. The media is abuzz with rumors that she and her boss Drew Callahan are having a torrid affair. Everyone knows the truth—except the public. So Drew’s wife Fable comes up with the perfect idea.

She creates a fake relationship between Sydney and one of the rookie players on Drew’s team. Wade Knox is forever indebted to Drew and Fable and readily agrees to the set up. Pretending to be in a romantic relationship with the hot nanny for a week—how hard can it be?

Crazy how it only takes one week for two people to fall head over heels in love…

(This mash-up new adult romance features characters from both the One Week Girlfriend series and The Rules series.)

~Book Review~
4.75 Stars

Sydney Walker, 19, has managed to get herself disinherited. She needs a job and even with no nanny experience, jumps at the chance to be a live-in babysitter and personal assistant to a famous football player’s wife. And then things turn really crazy when a hectic night lands Sydney in the tabloids as a celebrity mistress.

Wade Knox, 22, is one of the newest members on his pro football team. He wants to make the right decisions and is taking his career seriously. Lucky for him, his best friend’s brother-in-law is the star of the team and has taken Wade under his wing.  A former player when it comes to women, Wade’s never had a girlfriend before and he’s not looking for any woman right now.  That doesn’t mean the new nanny hasn’t caught his eye, and once scandal breaks out, she has his full attention.
“This girl came out of nowhere and rocked my world with a few choice words, a handful of touches and a kiss that’s making me reevaluate every other kiss I’ve ever experienced.”
This was a fast read. Not sure if it’s a shorter novel or it just pulled me in so easily that the time flew by. I’ve never read any of the other books in these series and while many of the supporting characters in this one were the main characters in other books, Safe Bet can easily be read as a standalone.  

Sydney and Wade were both great characters and they certainly had chemistry together. Neither had led perfect lives in the past, but they seemed to have learned from those experiences and we’re trying to do the right things now.
“It’s like we’re bonding over our mutual distaste for love and relationships. While we sit here pretending we’re in love and in a relationship.”
I liked that Sydney and Wade were attracted to each other and started to connect even before they got roped into a fake romance. It made the premise feel more like a catalyst for the relationship to develop rather than making it feel contrived.
“Her fingers slowly slide beneath the fabric, pausing before they go farther, and I hold my breath, waiting for that moment when she makes her discover.”
This is one of those stories of how two people meet, get to know each other, and fall in love. As a reader, you see it and feel it. There’s no unnecessary angst, no OW/OM drama; just a sweet and sexy tale where things like honesty and not keeping secrets are stressed. I simply adore romantic journeys like this because there’s enough drama alongside so many bad relationships in the real world. Maybe if we had more stories like this people would have better examples to follow.
 “‘You want me?’
I nod.
‘Then you have me.’”

A final comment in response to the author’s note at the end: Did Drew and Fable take over the story? Maybe in some places their life being inserted in the tale felt a little heavy handed, but mostly I didn’t have a problem with it (even though I’ve never read their story) except with the bonus scene from Fable.  That’s where ending the story with the final scene highlighting Drew and Fable seemed to overshadow Wade and Syd.  It was a missed opportunity to cement their HEA instead of a HFN.  Is it okay that Wade and Syd’s story isn’t angsty and heartbreaking? Absolutely!  Swoonworthy love stories don’t need all that crap. You can tell a feel-good romance without dragging it down with drama. This one is a great example.



~Excerpt~
“Drew!” Fable calls, waving him over. “Come meet Sydney.”
He starts to head over there and when he sends me a look over his shoulder, I reluctantly follow him. I really don’t need to be involved in this scenario, but I just can’t tell him that, can I? It would be rude. And I’m never rude to Drew and Fable.
Ever.
“Sydney, this is my husband, Drew. Drew, this is Sydney Walker. She’s going to be our new nanny,” Fable says, sounding pleased. She looks over at her husband with a little wince. “I hope you don’t mind that I went ahead and hired her.”
“Of course I don’t mind. I trust your judgment.” Drew turns to greet Sydney. “Good to meet you,” he says as he gives Sydney a firm handshake. She’s staring up at him, her lips slightly parted, her eyes wide. Full on awestruck, which is typical. He’s a superstar. That’s how most people look at Drew when they first meet him.
“Hi,” she squeaks, her cheeks going pink as she releases Drew’s hand. Her gaze slips to mine, and then flitters away. But that one quick glance was like a sucker punch to my gut.
The nanny is beautiful.
I take a deep breath, shoving my hands in my jeans’ pockets so I won’t do something stupid—like try to grab her. She has pretty blue eyes and a full mouth that’s made for kissing. Her curves are even lusher than I first realized. She has full hips and a tiny waist and shapely legs. But I can’t worry about pretty nannies right now. I have to concentrate on work.
It still blows my mind that I might play for the NFL. That football is my job. I’m a lucky son-of-a-bitch.
“Sydney, this is Wade Knox. He’s an old family friend,” Fable says, knocking me from my thoughts. I blink and look down to find Sydney smiling up at me, interest clearly showing in her gaze. Hmm. “Wade, this is Sydney.”
“Hey Sydney.” I shake her hand, electricity pulsing between us the moment our palms touch. She jerks her hand away from mine as if I burned her. Guess she felt it too.
Interesting.
“Nice to meet you,” she murmurs as she takes a step back. Like she needs the distance.
Even more interesting.
We make small talk for a few minutes before Fable takes Sydney back to the house, and the moment the door shuts behind them, Drew’s talking.
“The nanny’s cute,” he observes, his voice way too nonchalant.
“Uh huh.”
“She looked at you like she thought you were cute, too.”
I roll my eyes. He never says stuff like this, so what’s his deal? “Cute? What are you doing? Trying to play matchmaker?” I send him a pointed look. “Give me a break. I don’t need the distraction.”



Monica Murphy is the New York Times, USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of the One Week Girlfriend series, the Billionaire Bachelors and The Rules series. Her books have been translated in almost a dozen languages and has sold over one million copies worldwide. She is both self-published and published by Random House/Bantam and Harper Collins/Avon. She writes new adult, young adult and contemporary romance.

She is a wife and a mother of three who lives in central California on fourteen acres in the middle of nowhere along with their one dog and too many cats. A self-confessed workaholic, when she's not writing, she's reading or hanging out with her husband and kids. She's a firm believer in happy endings, though she will admit to putting her characters through angst-filled moments before they finally get that hard won HEA.