Tag Archive | NA

The Hummingbird Heart: Excerpt + Giveaway

I am so
excited that
THE HUMMINGBIRD HEART
by A.G. Howard is available now and that I get to share the news!
 
If you
haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author A.G. Howard, be sure to
check out all the details below.
 
This blitz
also includes a giveaway for a 5 AMAZING Prizes courtesy of A.G. and Rockstar
Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the
bottom of this post.
About The Book:
Title: THE
HUMMINGBIRD HEART
Author: A.G. Howard
Pub.
Date: 
August 15, 2017
Publisher: Golden Orb
Press
Pages: 234
Formats: Paperback,
eBook
 
Set 19 years after The Architect of Song:
Shortly after escaping a circus tragedy, young Italian orphan, Willow
Antoniette, seeks refuge at The Manor of Diversions—a holiday resort in England
born of a ghost story. For eleven years, she’s raised alongside the children of
the resort’s owners: Julian, his twin brother, Nick, and their younger sister
Emilia. Now that Willow is of marriable age, she’s determined to escape
finishing school along with everyone’s efforts to make her a proper lady. The
only man she wants to spend her life with is Julian, after all. Yet how can she
tell him, when he thinks of her as nothing but a friend?
As a machinist and engineer, Julian Thornton prefers a governable life.
He can’t allow his ever-deepening attraction for Willow to distract from his
amusement park plans to lure a younger, wealthier clientele to their family’s
resort. In hopes to escape Willow and find investors, Julian sets off on a
transatlantic ocean liner headed for the St. Louis World’s Fair, unaware Willow
has secretly stowed away on the same ship.
A tiny, mute orphan named Newton and a pair of haunted Italian shoes
bring Willow and Julian face to face on deck. Forced to work together to solve
the mystery of Newton and his vindictive, ghostly companion, Julian and Willow
can no longer fight their untapped passions. However, time to admit their true
feelings is running out, for the ghost and her murderer have enlisted them as
unsuspecting pawns in a karmic game of cat-and-mouse that could cost all of
them their lives.
Grab book 1!
 

Title: THE
ARCHITECT OF SONG

Author: A.G.
Howard
Pub.
Date:
 August 15, 2016
Publisher: Golden
Orb Press
Pages: 425
Formats: Paperback,
eBook
Find it: AmazonGoodreads
 
A lady imprisoned by deafness, an architect imprisoned by his past, and a
ghost imprisoned within the petals of a flower – intertwine in this love story
that transcends life and death.

 

For most of her life, nineteen-year-old Juliet Emerline has subsisted – isolated
by deafness – making hats in the solitude of her home. Now, she’s at
risk to lose her sanctuary to Lord Nicolas Thornton, a twenty-seven-year-old
mysterious and eccentric architect with designs on her humble estate. When she
secretly witnesses him raging beside a grave, Juliet investigates, finding the
name “Hawk” on the headstone and an unusual flower at the base. The moment
Juliet touches the petals, a young English nobleman appears in ghostly form,
singing a song only her deaf ears can hear. The ghost remembers nothing of his
identity or death, other than the one name that haunts his afterlife: Thornton.

 

To avenge her ghostly companion and save her estate, Juliet pushes aside her
fear of society and travels to Lord Thornton’s secluded holiday resort, posing
as a hat maker in one of his boutiques. There, she finds herself questioning
who to trust: the architect of flesh and bones who can relate to her through
romantic gestures, heartfelt notes, and sensual touches … or the
specter who serenades her with beautiful songs and ardent words, touching her
mind and soul like no other man ever can. As sinister truths behind Lord
Thornton’s interest in her estate and his tie to Hawk come to light, Juliet is
lured into a web of secrets. But it’s too late for escape, and the tragic love
taking seed in her heart will alter her silent world forever.

 

International and NYT bestselling author, A.G. Howard, brings her darkly
magical and visual/visceral storytelling to Victorian England. The Architect of
Song is the first installment in her lush and romantic Haunted Hearts Legacy
series, a four book gothic saga following the generations of one family as –
haunted by both literal and figurative ghosts – they search for
self-acceptance, love, and happiness.

 

New Adult: Recommended for ages 17+.

Excerpt:


In the dream, Willow was a child again. With each barefooted step around
the stacks of baggage in steerage, she found them taking on new shapes:
pyramids of clowns, bears, horses and feathered performers, all balanced atop
one another. She was back at the circus, albeit a much hazier and dimmer
rendition than she remembered. She skipped along the center ring, excited to be
home at last. Grit and discarded trash snagged between her little toes. A
spotlight clicked on to illuminate a trunk. From within came a thumping sound,
and girlish giggles.
“Tildey!” Willow cried out, racing across the distance to find her doll,
her pigtails slapping her face and neck upon each bounding step. The creak of
abandoned trapezes swung overhead, cutting intermittently through a thick cloud
of fog. Yet it wasn’t fog. It was tobacco—a stench that seeped into her
leotard, her tights, her very pores, until she could taste it coating her
tongue like bile.
The spotlight shifted from the trunk to a trapeze just above her where a
shape took form in the light: a graceful silhouette in a shimmery leotard and
glistening tutu.
“Mama?” Willow whispered in the dream, forgetting Tildey for the chance
to see her mother perform once more.
The trapeze vanished into thin air but the aerialist continued a controlled
descent toward her, held in place by harnesses attached to the center pole. A
face came into view, painted white like a clown, with bloody eyes and a hollow
of a mouth—stretched wide on a perpetual scream. Willow yelped and squeezed her
lashes shut, willing away the creature … for it was not Mama.
When she opened them again, the freakish performer exploded into a flock
of hummingbirds made of ink. They skittered around Willow, buzzing wings
scraping her skin and hair, imprinting tattoos everywhere they touched. She
screamed and stumbled backwards, bumping into the trunk which was somehow right
behind her. A tinkly, off-key lullaby drifted from inside the giant box. The
lid shook and shuddered, as if something wanted out.
Whimpering, Willow tried to back away, but her feet grew heavy. She
looked down and ballet shoes, covered in steel spikes, swallowed them up. The
empty harness that had held the ghastly aerialist slithered toward her like a
snake, coiling itself around her legs and arms to hold her in place.
On the final haunting strains of music, the trunk’s lid popped open, and
out from the midst rose a hunched old man, holding Nadia’s haunted shoes upside
down. Blood and water gushed out of them—a stench of copper and stagnancy—and
the man laughed with a voice that gnawed into her bones like a thousand
snarling wolves.
About A.G. Howard: 

 

A.G. Howard
was inspired to write SPLINTERED while working at a school library. She always
wondered what would’ve happened had the subtle creepiness of Alice’s Adventures
in Wonderland taken center stage, and she hopes her darker and funkier tribute
to Carroll will inspire readers to seek out the stories that won her heart as a
child.
When she’s not writing, A.G.’s pastimes are reading, rollerblading, gardening,
and family vacations which often include impromptu side trips to 18th century
graveyards or condemned schoolhouses to appease her overactive muse.
Giveaway Details: All International
(1) Grand
prize: Signed set of The Architect of Song & The Hummingbird Heart PB
(1) First Place prize: Signed The Hummingbird Heart PB
(1) Second Place prize: Signed The Hummingbird Heart poster
(3) Third – Fifth Place prizes: Signed The Architect of Song
& The Hummingbird Heart swag pack sets

 

 

 

 

Ends on August
22nd at Midnight EST!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Did you enter the giveaway?

 

Review: The Hummingbird Heart

Title: The Hummingbird Heart

Author: A.G. Howard

Date of Publication: August 15th, 2017

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Goodreads Summary:

Set 19 years after The Architect of Song.

Shortly after escaping a circus tragedy, young Italian orphan, Willow Antoniette, seeks refuge at The Manor of Diversions—a holiday resort in England born of a ghost story. For eleven years, she’s raised alongside the children of the resort’s owners: Julian, his twin brother, Nick, and their younger sister Emilia. Now that Willow is of marriable age, she’s determined to escape finishing school along with everyone’s efforts to make her a proper lady. The only man she wants to spend her life with is Julian, after all. Yet how can she tell him, when he thinks of her as nothing but a friend?

As a machinist and engineer, Julian Thornton prefers a governable life. He can’t allow his ever-deepening attraction for Willow to distract from his amusement park plans to lure a younger, wealthier clientele to their family’s resort. In hopes to escape Willow and find investors, Julian sets off on a transatlantic ocean liner headed for the St. Louis World’s Fair, unaware Willow has secretly stowed away on the same ship.

A tiny, mute orphan named Newton and a pair of haunted Italian shoes bring Willow and Julian face to face on deck. Forced to work together to solve the mystery of Newton and his vindictive, ghostly companion, Julian and Willow can no longer fight their untapped passions. However, time to admit their true feelings is running out, for the ghost and her murderer have enlisted them as unsuspecting pawns in a karmic game of cat-and-mouse that could cost all of them their lives.

My Review:

I have really liked all of A.G. Howard’s books. Morpheus is one of my all time favorite characters from her Splintered series. I also really loved The Architect of Song which was the first book in this series.

I love that each book can be read as a stand alone, but I think you should read each one because the first book connects to the second book, and it’s quite nice seeing characters from The Architect of Song. One of my favorite aspects about this book was the setting. I love the whole gothic atmosphere type vibe, and then the stuff about aerialists/acrobats had me entranced.

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The Hummingbird Heart has the perfect amount of swoon and sensual scenes where it isn’t over the top and mixes perfectly with the well thought out story. Julian and Willow were awesome characters, and I felt like they complimented each other and helped make each other better. There were some scenes that had me smiling and giggling. Anddddd I normally do not giggle!

This book was loaded with mystery, action, romance and addiction. I couldn’t put it down and kept wanting to know what was going to happen in different areas, with the romance, the mystery, all of it! I need to know what is going to happen in the next character’s book as well! I highly recommend this gorgeously written series!

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Have you read The Architect of Song?

Review: The Struggle

Title: The Struggle

Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout

Date of Publication: March 20th, 2017

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Goodreads Summary:

A bloody path has been chosen…

The war against the Titans continues, and they remain determined to wreak havoc on the world, but Seth has become something all gods fear. Now the most dangerous, most absolute power no longer resides in those who have been freed from their tombs.

The Great War fought by the few is coming…

All may doubt and fear what Seth has become. All except the one woman who might be his final chance at redemption. Josie will do anything to prove that Seth is on their side, but fate has a nasty way of changing lives, of changing people.

In the end, the sun will fall…

The only way they can save the future and save themselves is by facing the unknown together. It will take more than trust and faith. It will take love and the kind of strength not easily broken. No matter what, their lives will never be the same.

For what the gods have feared has come to pass. The end of the old is here and the beginning of the new has been ushered in…

My Review:

I loved being back in this world because it is so fun! Gods, Demigods, Pure bloods, half bloods, yes! I don’t like this as much as The Covenant series because I still miss reading from Alex’s POV, but Seth is pretty awesome!

I wanted a little more action in this book, but there was a lot of emotional battles going on. Seth is no longer just the God Killer, he finds out that he is much more than that. Josie has her own problems to face after being kidnapped by a Titan.

Loved seeing the whole gang together, but I am not sure what is going on with Apollo, but he made me pretty mad in this book. He better have some serious explaining in the next book.

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The romance between Seth and Josie is seriously perfect. At times I feel like Josie is sort of a door mat with everything, but maybe that is just because she is different than Alex. Seth is just a total badass, and I can’t wait until book 4.

 

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Have you started this series?

 

 

Excerpt Reveal: Unrest by: Wendy Higgins

Today we’re revealing an excerpt from UNREST by Wendy Higgins! Check it out and grab your copy today!!

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Title: Unrest

Author: Wendy Higgins

Release Day: February 14th

 

About Unrest:

Being on the run in the desert means food and sanctuary are hard to come by, but Amber Tate and her crew are not about to give up. Not after having so many of the things they love brutally ripped from them by an unknown enemy who sent their world into the apocalypse.

Survival takes precedence, but once safe shelter is found, their guards fall and the emotions they’ve been holding in are finally released. Anger, insecurities…lust. In their tight quarters, Amber, Rylen, Tater, and Remy can’t escape it. The past must be faced, and passions run even stronger in the darkest of times.

In the midst of unrest, their worlds are rocked again when they discover the truth about the war that’s ruined their lives. They thought finding out the enemy’s identity would give them the edge; instead it’s revealed terrifying dangers they never thought possible.

Preorder Today:

Kindle or Nook

 

Get your copy of Unrest:

AmazonUS / AmazonUK / B&N / iTunes / Book Depository

Unrest Teaser Image

Exclusive Excerpt:

A golden hue of sunrise turned night into dawn. I sat on a small boulder, staring at the sliver of sun through trees of the Nevada parkland, the same spot where I’d been sitting silently in the dark for two hours in the cold. I couldn’t take Remy’s whimpering and soul-crushing cries each time she fell back asleep in the tent, venturing into nightmares of what she’d seen the night before. What we’d all seen. I might never sleep again.

Mom. Dad. Abuela.

I fought back another wave of debilitating grief that made my bones feel like liquid—like I’d never have the ability to stand again. Have to be strong. Have to be strong. I rocked back and forth with my eyes shut tight. I couldn’t afford to give in to the loss. If I did, it would consume me whole and devour my will to live. I took a deep breath in and let it out slowly.

We’d been fired up to leave the nature preserve last night and head north to the base in Utah after hearing the Morse code message, supposedly from other military personnel in hiding, like us. But we decided to wait until morning since we needed more light to plan our trip on the map. Plus, headlights in the night would be too easy to spot, and we were all worthless last night, running on adrenaline and vengeance, one step away from crashing. I never did crash or sleep a wink, even though my adrenaline was long gone.

The soft sunrise was too pretty—too majestic—for the way I felt inside. Raw. Like my heart had been grated. During the night, I’d begun to believe the sun would never rise again, and now that it was I felt as if the Earth were mocking what we’d been through, reminding me just how miniscule and unremarkable we were. A new day was happening despite what we’d lost. The world wasn’t stopping to mourn. It felt wrong.

We’d been so close to the camp yesterday where the Disaster Relief Initiative, the DRI personnel, had taken my parents, my grandmother, Remy’s parents, and Rylen’s wife Livia. We watched in confusion as those DRI bastards fled. Then we’d watched in disbelief as Air Force jets dropped a bomb on that camp, obliterating our family and the people from our town. Oh, God.

I pressed the back of my hand to my mouth and squeezed my eyes shut. Even while the world fell apart around us, I never imagined anything would happen to my parents. I never let myself believe it was possible, even after watching my Grandpa Tate shot and killed by a Disaster Relief Personnel—fucking Derps. Who was I without my parents? I was the daughter of an Army man and a Mexican dancer. A Green Machine and a Señorita. A small bubble of laughter worked its way through a sob in my throat when I thought about my parents’ silly banter with each other. Their relentless love and devotion to me and my older brother, Tater.

The sound of a tent’s zipper wrenched through the morning solitude and I quickly wiped my eyes. I looked over and saw Rylen crouching as he pushed through the opening. The golden hue of sun made his blond hair and the scruff on his face stand out. His eyes met mine and I had to swallow hard at the sight of pain in his expression. I’d already cried so much last night.

Seeing those solemn gray eyes brought back a flood of memories: young, scrawny Rylen Fite, loved and cared for by my parents like he was their own son. And his eyes reflected his remembrance too, as if he felt their absence as prominently as I did. But he’d lost a wife, as well. Maybe she hadn’t been his wife in every technical sense of the word, but he’d been trying to make it right. Every bit of his loss was reflected in the heavy way he sat on the rock beside me and rubbed his face before staring out at the sunrise.

 

About Wendy Higgins:

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Wendy Higgins is a soccer mom and backstage drama mama. Most people in her tiny bayside town don’t know she’s a USA Today and NYT bestselling author of paranormal, fantasy, and science-fiction romances. Wendy is a former high school English teacher who now writes full time in her pajamas, and lives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with her veterinarian husband, daughter, son, and little doggie Rue.

Wendy earned a bachelor’s in Creative Writing from George Mason University and a master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from Radford University.

 

Reach Wendy Online:

Email: wendyhigginswrites@gmail.com

Website: www.wendyhigginswrites.com

Twitter: @Wendy_Higgins https://twitter.com/Wendy_Higgins

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

Instagram: @wendyhigginswrites https://www.instagram.com/wendyhi

 

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Have you read book one, yet?

Excerpt Reveal: Riveted by: Jay Crownover

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From the New York Times bestselling author of the Marked Men books comes the next installment in the Saints of Denver series.

 

 

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Everyone else in Dixie Carmichael’s life has made falling in love look easy, and now she is ready for her own chance at some of that happily ever after. Which means she’s done pining for the moody, silent former soldier who works with her at the bar that’s become her home away from home. Nope. No more chasing the hot as heck thundercloud of a man and no more waiting for Mr. Right to find her; she’s going hunting for him…even if she knows her heart is stuck on its stupid infatuation with Dash Churchill.

Denver has always been just a pit stop for Church on his way back to rural Mississippi. It was supposed to be simple, uneventful, but nothing could have prepared him for the bubbly, bouncy redhead with doe eyes and endless curves. Now he knows it’s time to get out of Denver, fast. For a man used to living in the shadows, the idea of spending his days in the sun is nothing short of terrifying.

When Dixie and Church find themselves caught up in a homecoming overshadowed with lies and danger, Dixie realizes that while falling in love is easy, loving takes a whole lot more work…especially when Mr. Right thinks he’s all wrong for you.

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google

ADD RIVETED TO YOUR GOODREADS

 

 

EXCERPT:

Church

“You’ve been awfully quiet tonight.”

The southern drawl was lighter than mine, more lyrical and smooth. The Blue Hills of Kentucky rolled thick and unmistakable in Asa Cross’s twang as he looked at me steadily from behind the massive oak bar he was currently in the middle of wiping down.

“I talk when I have something to say.” No one would ever accuse me of being the chatty type. When I did choose to speak the Mississippi Delta was deep and locked thickly around all my words. My drawl was much slower than the blond bartender’s and far less practiced. Asa used his inflection and his southern charm to work whoever was sitting on the other side of the bar like they were one of his marks in a long con. He turned up the south in his voice to make hearts flutter and to fool drunks into thinking he was far less sharp than he was. His Kentucky-flavored tone was nothing more than a tool he used to his advantage whenever he needed it, while my unhurried inflection reminded me of a home I hadn’t seen in far too long. That was one of the reasons I never had much to say. Every time I opened my mouth the sound of my voice, like molasses over gravel and deep as the Mississippi River, took me back to a place I had been actively avoiding for over a decade.

I’d spent a little over ten years serving my country in various capacities while enlisted in the army. I’d been around different types of men from a million different walks of life. In all that time I’d never met anyone as hard to unravel as the man standing across from me. He had eyes the exact same color as the aged whiskey on the shelf behind him, and they were picking me apart with a perceptiveness that made me uneasy. I wasn’t used to being so transparent. Whatever shield I had up, whatever ironclad curtains I had pulled around me, Asa Cross saw right through them.

“You are usually quiet, but tonight you didn’t say a single word. You look like you have something on your mind.” His eyebrows lifted and that smirk on his face turned into a grin that I wanted to put my fist in. He wouldn’t be half as pretty as he was with missing teeth and a bloody nose. “Dixie had a date tonight. I figure you were worried about her since she’s been spending time with those internet guys over the last few months, and the bar is never the same on her nights off.”

My back teeth clicked together in aggravation and a low growl escaped my throat. My hands curled into fists at my sides without me being aware they were doing it and I could feel a furious heat climb up the back of my neck.

The idea of Dixie, sweet, sunny Dixie, out there with God only knew what kind of troll she was going to find on the internet made me want to destroy everything. I wanted to break the bar top in half. I wanted to throw chairs through windows. I wanted to smash all the meticulously placed bottles displayed behind Asa into smithereens. I wanted to dropkick the remaining few stragglers nursing their last-call drinks out the door and I wanted to get my hands on whoever had taken Dixie out tonight and throttle him within an inch of his life.

Logically, I knew there were decent, normal individuals using the internet to find love and sex . . . the sex being more likely. There were millions of people online dating and while I thought that was okay for them I refused to think it was an option Dixie should be utilizing. I hated the idea of her dating at all, but there was something about her meeting strangers, meeting men that hadn’t had the opportunity to see her in person before taking her out, that really rubbed me the wrong way.

Dixie Carmichael was the nicest girl I had ever met. She didn’t have a mean bone in her perfectly curvy and petite body. She was always smiling, always laughing, and there wasn’t a moment spent in her company where it didn’t feel like the sun was shining directly on you. She embodied warmth and care. Someone behind a computer monitor would never understand that. They would never feel the way her innate ability to make everything seem like it would be okay made the world seem like it was worth saving. There was a lot of bad shoved at us all on a day-to-day basis but somehow Dixie was a filter for it, and when you were around her it seemed like the only thing you could focus on was the good she let through.

She needed someone that could appreciate that. She needed a man that shined as bright as she did and that would hold her above the shit that was always trying to drag everyone else down. I doubted that guy was on Tinder or Bumble. In fact, I doubted that guy existed at all.

“I don’t keep track of her comings and goings.” I rubbed a hand over my mouth and watched as Asa’s eyebrows shot up and his lips twitched. I was a damn good liar. I lied to myself for years and years about the kind of man I was in order to convince myself that the choices I made were the right ones. But I was currently trying to lie to a man that was a professional liar, so it was no surprise that he saw right through the bullshit I was laying down.

“Ahh . . . I see. You have no interest in the fact she might be out there with a serial killer that wants to turn her pretty hair into a coat for his pet hamster?”

I glowered at him and crossed my arms over my chest. I was a big guy. Years of doing PT and boredom in the desert had led to a strenuous fitness routine I still maintained, partly out of habit and partly because when my muscles burned and I made myself sweat I could shut off all the other stuff that was crowding my head. Some of it nagging, niggling regret from the past, a whole lot of it new nightmares and realizations from my present. I had a couple inches in height on the Kentucky charmer and a whole lot more brute strength. Yet none of that or the glower that I was sure was stamped across my face kept Asa from keeping his stupid, sound advice to himself.

“Dixie is a good girl, she deserves someone who can give her that kind of good back.” I could see the surprise on Asa’s face as I finally gave him something that was wholeheartedly true.

He pushed off the bar and hollered that it was time for the last few customers to finish up. There were some grumbles but everyone left was a regular and as soon as the clock hit one thirty they would move towards the door without any hassle. I liked nights like this, where there were no fights to break up, no crying girls to console, no puke to clean off the floor, no amorous couples to shoo out of the bathrooms. Typically on a night like this I would watch Dixie scamper around shutting the bar down while pretending I wasn’t looking at her. I couldn’t help myself. My eyes were pulled to her and when she laughed or smiled I felt it in my gut like a punch. She did things to me that no woman had ever done to me before.

She made me want to smile and that alone was enough to have my feet itching to hit the road before I did something stupid, like fall in love or take her up on her blatant invitation into her bed. I wanted to fuck her, but I knew if I did it would fuck us both. She was nothing but good and when I got good in my life it always went bad, so I didn’t allow myself, or her, to go there. She shone as bright as the sun every single day but I was a man that knew all too well that too much time in the sun could lead to some serious burns.

I’d spent the last few months biting my tongue until it bled while she dated men that weren’t me and I went to bed alone each night wondering why I didn’t just pick up one of the barflies that hung around making it known they were ripe for the picking.

I’d never been the kind of guy that burned through women. My mother, and subsequently the women that stepped in to raise me after my mom was gone, Elma Mae and Caroline, taught me to understand that women’s hearts were fragile and you had to be careful with them. They tried to teach me how to take care of the good when you had it, how to respect it and earn it. I kept the lessons close because they were some of the only things I had left of the women that shared them with me. I never played with a woman’s body if I didn’t know for sure her heart was kept in a separate box somewhere. I liked my hands on soft tits and full hips, and silky legs wrapped around my back as much as any other guy. What I didn’t like was wiping away tears, explaining myself, and dramatic good-byes when I didn’t stick around after a good time. I was picky about who I went to bed with and I made sure they understood all my hard and fast rules about not committing or sticking around before I ever put my hands on them.

“Denver was just a pit stop.” I rubbed my hand over the top of my buzzed head and looked down at the wooden floor under my boots. “With everything that happened with Brite and Avett a few weeks ago I think it’s about time I put some space between me and the Mile High.” A friend and his daughter had recently run afoul of some really nasty people. My old commanding officer and current boss and I had moved in to help in any way we could, which ended with bullets and blood and some seriously pissed-off drug dealers. Holding a weapon in my hand and kicking in doors was second nature to me. I missed the fire of combat in my blood and the adrenaline coursing through my veins. I was made to fight, not to rest on my laurels. “Well past time I made my way home and tried to mend some fences.”

This was why Asa was such a good bartender. He pulled your story out of you whether you were planning on telling it or not, and he listened like he cared even if my story was told in fewer words than he was used to.

He nodded at me and pushed a rocks glass filled with amber liquor towards me. He typically drank Scotch at the end of the night, but I was a bourbon guy through and through. “I know all about mending fences, brother. Not a day goes by that I don’t have to dig a hole for a new post and string up some new wire.” He took a swig of his own drink and plastered that arrogant smirk back on his face. “Plus you might as well run before that girl you’ve been watching when she isn’t watching you fall in love with someone who ain’t you.”

I was going to hit him. My intent must have been clear because he put his glass down on the bar and lifted his hands up in a gesture of surrender. “My girlfriend is armed and she likes my pretty face the way it is. Keep that in mind, soldier.”

I slammed back the rest of the bourbon and let it burn its way down my throat. “Fuck you, Opie.”

He chuckled at me and turned to cash out the register behind him. “That’s why they say the truth hurts, Church.”

Before I had been Church I’d been Dash. And before I had been Dash I’d been Dashel. It was already hard enough being a kid with less than white skin and with parents in an interracial relationship, but having a name that was as uncommon as mine down in the Deep South was fuel on an already burning fire. I’d hated it growing up and even with shortening it to Dash I’d still struggled with it. But now I’d been Church for a long time, and he was a man that didn’t give any kind of shit what anyone else thought of his name. I’d earned that nickname through service and blood. It wasn’t a name that was given to me. It was one I had taken and made my own. Elma Mae was going to hate it and she was still going to call me Dashel even when I begged her not to but there was a part of me that couldn’t wait to hear the stubborn old woman tell me, I’ll call you by the name your mother picked out for you, son. That’s the name she wanted for you and you should respect it. I should, but there were a lot of things I should have done to make my mom proud that I didn’t do.

The truth Asa was laying down did hurt, because there was no hiding from him that part of the reason I was ready to bolt was because I really couldn’t stomach the idea of watching someone else take Dixie’s heart.

“Didn’t ask you for the truth.” I stuck my head out the front door and watched as the last two bar patrons climbed into their Uber. I locked the front door and shut off most of the lights and made my way back to the bar.

I liked the operation Rome had set up here. I liked the people, both the ones who worked for him and the ones he served, and I liked that the atmosphere was usually festive but pretty mellow. On the nights that heads needed to be cracked and tempers needed to be tamed I enjoyed the exertion and physicality of that as well, but I wasn’t meant to be a bouncer. I had too much training, too much experience, and frankly too many demons that needed an outlet, to babysit drunks and party girls for the long haul. It was time for me to stop drifting.

Asa finished up with the money and shot a glance at his phone. I could tell by the genuine smile that crossed his face and the way his gaze sparked that his gorgeous redheaded girlfriend was the one behind the message. Royal Hastings, the pretty Denver policewoman had recently moved in with the annoying southerner and it wouldn’t surprise me if she ended up with a ring on her finger before the year was out. The cop and the con had something special going on even if I firmly believed it was doomed to fail.

“Most folks don’t ask for the truth but that doesn’t stop me from giving it to them.” He gave me a look that told me if I was any kind of man I would take that truth he was so fond of and do something smart with it. I didn’t bother to tell him good and

 

 

I didn’t really see eye to eye. We made our way to the back door after a quick stop at the office to lock the money up in the safe. Asa scribbled a note to Rome and then quickly checked the security cameras. He typed out a message on his phone and by the time we hit the parking lot at the back of the bar a brand-new Toyota 4Runner was pulling in with a smiling redhead behind the wheel.

Asa clapped a hand on my shoulder and gave me a look that burned with understanding and seriousness. I felt like he was speaking directly into my soul when he told me quietly, “The real truth is, I let something good go, so I know how that feels. Got it back and would move heaven and earth to keep it by my side, so I know exactly what you’re walking away from, soldier. Be smarter than I was and don’t let all that goodness slip through your fingers.” He turned around and walked backwards for a second while flashing me that shit-eating grin of his. “It’s always better to be warm than it is to suffer the cold, Church.”

He moved towards the SUV and I had to look away when he leaned into the driver’s side window to kiss his girl. There was so much intimacy there, so much passion that it made everything I swore I knew about love and togetherness pull against the reins that held it tight.

I gave a halfhearted wave as Royal honked the horn at me and pulled out of the parking lot, then made my way over to my Harley. It was still nice enough weather to ride, another reason I needed to get my ass in gear and head south. In a few weeks it was going to be too cold to have the bike on the road and I wasn’t interested in putting the beauty on a trailer and driving her like some expensive piece of luggage back to Mississippi.

I was swinging my leg over the chrome-and-leather beast when my phone vibrated in my back pocket. It was after two in the morning so I knew anything buzzing through at this time of night couldn’t be good. Considering I’d recently shot Denver’s top drug supplier’s right-hand man and put down another one of his henchmen for good, I was dreading seeing what was waiting for me on the display.

It was almost as bad as I expected it to be. The number was one I’d been ignoring since I landed in Denver months ago. It was a number that belonged to a man that I owed more than some simple conversation or a handful of words. It was a call I would have continued to ignore if it hadn’t come in the middle of the night and on the heels of three other calls throughout the day that I had turned a blind eye to.

It was time to stop running from my past. It was time to man up.

It was time to be a better man, the man the person calling had tried his best to raise me to be.

“Hey, Julian.” I rested the Harley back on the kickstand and ran a hand over my face. I could practically feel the shock wafting across the phone line. He hadn’t expected me to answer and that made me a special kind of asshole.

“Dash.” His voice was even deeper and coarser than mine. People often told me I sounded like Johnny Cash but Julian Churchill really had the Man in Black’s rough growl embedded throughout his tone. “I didn’t think you were going to answer.” I sighed and felt like the wild five-year-old he had tried to wrangle all over again. “Been busy. Took a while to settle in and get used to sleeping without bombs going off overhead.”

He didn’t say anything for a long minute and when he spoke I could tell he was trying really hard to keep the hurt and censure out of his deep voice. “You have a perfectly good bed here and last I heard there weren’t any bombs in Lowry.” Lowry was the small town where I had been born and raised, just outside of Tupelo, Mississippi. There weren’t bombs there but there was a bucket load of memories that blasted me with emotional shrapnel that hurt worse than the kind I’d had surgically removed from my skin.

“I needed time, Jules.”

“Had more than enough time, son. You need to come home.” I bristled just like I always did when he tried to tell me what to do. I thought I’d squashed that urge after we stood side by side and lowered my mom into the ground but there was something about him talking to me like I should know better that always made me feel like an unruly kid.

“Planning on it. Have to tie up a few loose ends around here, and I have to make sure I don’t leave my friend that helped me out in a lurch.” Rome would send me on my way with a pat on the back and a foot in my ass if he knew the real reason I was hiding in Colorado instead of hightailing it home. He was understanding, but the man was all about family first and he wouldn’t abide the way I’d been avoiding mine for the last decade or so. I was a coward and I didn’t want a man I’d been in the trenches with, a man I would die for and knew would die for me, to know just how deeply that weakness ran.

“Dash.” There was a sigh and then Julian cleared his throat, so I knew he was struggling to keep his emotions in check. “Elma Mae had an accident.”

I almost dropped the phone as I bolted up from my lounging position on the bike. “What do you mean she had an accident?” My fingers tightened around the phone to the point that my knuckles hurt and the blood rushing furiously between my ears made hearing his response difficult.

“She was carrying her laundry in off the line and tripped going up the stairs. She fell backwards and busted her hip. A neighbor heard the commotion and ran to help. They had to airlift her to the hospital in Tupelo. She’s also got a dislocated shoulder and a sprained wrist. She’s back in the Lowry hospital now recovering and she should be going home at the end of the week.”

“Jesus.” Elma Mae was chasing down eighty if she was a day. None of us knew her exact age and she refused to tell. She would just smile at us and tell us we kept her young. Those kinds of injuries were serious for someone in their prime. In a woman Elma’s age they were life threatening. “She gonna be all right?”

“Elma is a tough old bird. It’ll take more than a tumble to keep her down. She’s been asking about you.”

Well, if that wasn’t just a fucking red-hot poker right through the guts. It was also a slap across the face with the reality of everything I’d purposely been avoiding and denying for way too long.

“I bought a Harley. Gonna have to ride it home, so I’ll be there in a couple days.” My homecoming was happening sooner than I’d planned, but there was no way I couldn’t be there for the woman that had always been my true north. When nothing else in my life made sense there was Elma Mae. She was the only safe place I had ever known and if she needed me I was going to be there to return the favor. I owed the woman everything and the fact I’d waited so long to see her after years of deployment was a startlingly clear reminder of why I was correct and considerate in staying the hell away from Dixie.

She lived in the light and I was far more comfortable hiding in the dark.

“I’ll let her know. That will make her day.” He paused for a second, which made me brace for whatever was coming next. “She mentioned a girl. Elma told me the reason you weren’t in any hurry to come home from Denver was because of a girl. That true?”

Son of a bitch. The truth might hurt but the lies I told, and they were more gray than white, were going to outright kill me. “There’s a girl.” And there was, but she wasn’t entirely the reason I wasn’t ready to face Julian or anyone else back in Lowry. She had been one of my reasons for sticking around Denver longer than I’d planned. She was an excuse that would buy me time and one that wasn’t entirely untrue.

“Do me a favor and see if you can bring her with you. Elma would love nothing more than to see you happy, to know you’re finally settling down and moving past the things that happened with your mom and with Caroline. You bring your girl home with you and give all of us some peace of mind. Make an old woman happy, Dash. You owe Elma a few years where she doesn’t have to worry about you catching bullets or ending up alone.”

Shit. I rubbed my temples and kicked at the loose gravel under the soles of my boots. “I’ll see what I can do.” That was bullshit. Dixie would drop everything and come with me if I explained the situation. She was too nice and too sweet to tell me no. Elma Mae was going to goddamn love her after she gave her a ration of hell in order to make sure she was the right girl for her boy.

“If the girl cares about you then she’ll figure out a way to be here. If she can’t figure it out, she isn’t worth your time. Come home, son, we miss you.”

I missed home, too, but I could do without the memories and reminders that had kept me away since the day I signed my life away to my country.

It was my turn to sigh. “I’ll see you soon, Jules.” He hung up and I wanted to kick myself because after all these years and all the time and effort he put into raising me I still couldn’t call the man Dad. He deserved the title, after all it was his last name I carried around with me, not that of the man who had knocked my mom up and run. He had earned it much like I had earned my name, but whenever I tried to say it the word got stuck and I fell back on something that seemed less important. It felt like I was fooling God and everyone under the sun about just how important Julian was to me if I refused to call him the only thing he had ever been to me. I was trying to trick fate so Jules didn’t end up the way so many others I loved had.

I was also going home, and I was going to put some sunshine in my pocket and take it with me.

 

 

RIVETED - Preorder graphic

Jay Crownover continues her Saints of Denver series with Riveted, available February 14th, 2017

Give yourself a Valentine’s Day gift in advance…Preorder and fill out the form here: https://a.pgtb.me/t0JkQX

Pre-order Riveted today and on February 14th, you’ll also receive a glossy Saints of Denver poster and an exclusive first-look at Chapters 1 and 2 of Avenged, her forthcoming Mackenzie Family novella.

Avenged combines the grit of Saints of Denver series with the all-out heat of The Point series with a mind-blowing, mystery, yet-to-be-revealed, couple combining both of these worlds. Be one of the first to find out who it is, pre-order Riveted today.

Posters will be mailed the week of February 14th and Avenged chapters will arrive via email.

 

 

Jay Crownover - headshotAbout Jay Crownover:

Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men, The Point, and the Saints of Denver series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.

 

 

 

 

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Review: Safe Bet

 

Safe Bet by
Monica Murphy
Release Date: January 10th, 2017
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.)

My Review:

I have read several YA books from Monica Murphy, so this was my first NA book by her. Sydney becomes a nanny for NFL quarterback Drew and his wife Fable. Things go downhill when pictures of Drew are taken with Sydney. Even though there is nothing going on between them, Drew and Fable decide to ask Sydney and their friend Wade to pretend they are a couple to take the heat off of Drew.

This pretend relationship between Wade and Sydney begins to heat up quick. While things started out as fake, sometimes things turn out unexpectedly.

Safe Bet was an adorable read! I liked the bond between Wade and Sydney and their interactions when they were with each other. There were definitely swooney moments that Monica knows how to work well when she writes.

I really liked Drew and Fable and even though I haven’t read their story, I think I would like to go and read it after reading this book! I did want a little something new to this type of story, but overall it was a really cute read!

Pre-Order Links:
 
 
About the Author:
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.
Connect with Monica:

 

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Review: Going Under

Title: Going Under

Author: Georgia Cates

Date of Publication: March 10th, 2012

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Goodreads Summary:

Jesse Boone is a self-proclaimed bad boy and doesn’t march to the beat of anyone’s drum but his own. Growing up in less than desirable circumstances has made him no stranger to the hard knock life but his determination to leave it behind is fervent. He sees an opportunity to snag a college football scholarship when he’s transferred to East Franklin High School but Forbes Henderson has other plans. The player Jesse intends to replace doesn’t plan on giving up his spot as starting quarterback so a rivalry is born. Jesse is determined to show his nemesis that he’s not only going to take his position as first string quarterback, he’s going to take his girl, too.

Claire Deveraux is perfection at its best. She’s beautiful, intelligent, and unaware she just became Jesse Boone’s conquest to settle a score with her boyfriend. Like her flawless performance as the perfect daughter and student, Claire’s production of being the perfect girlfriend has everyone fooled, except Jesse Boone. She fears this tattooed bad boy will see her secret desire to explore his crude threats and promises of rocking her perfect world. If she decides to give in to one uninhibited moment with Jesse, will she learn too late that it was all an act of vengeance or will Jesse learn that the taste of first love is sweeter than that of revenge?

My Review:

I could tell from the first page that the book would be an addicting read, and it was, but the content was a mess. Jesse starts a new school, and he becomes the new quarterback of the football team. The old quarterback, Forbes, messes with Jesse. He decides to try and get with his girlfriend to get back at Forbes.

First off I thought it was ridiculous that Jesse is rude to Claire for absolutely no reason in the beginning, and then I found it even more ridiculous that Claire takes forever to break up with Forbes when she is into Jesse. She doesn’t even care about Forbes, who by the way is a jerk, but she is still technically cheating on him. I wasn’t cool with that.

Now the parts of the book that really bothered me was the slut shaming. It wasn’t just Claire that was doing it, but even Jesse. By the way if Claire hadn’t existed, I am sure he would have had no problem sleeping with this so-called slutty girl.

The writing was good, but the dialogue was a little on the cheesy side, and the I love you stuff came way too fast. The romance between Jesse and Claire was still really cute, but Jesse should have been honest from the beginning and not tried to do the whole ignore the other person thing like all these new adult books seem to do. Also what was up with the “My Princess” stuff? It reminded me of “My Precious” from Lord of the Rings. Going Under is a quick and light read if you are looking for something not too thought provoking.

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