Category Archives: Blog Tours

NEW RELEASE!!! ~ Escape Girl by Michelle Dayton

Emily Saturn’s world is spinning out of control. When she isn’t working on an impossible lawsuit, she’s trying to avoid her soon-to-be ex-husband, Bobby March. But Bobby is determined to prove to Emily that he can be the man she deserves and has a very creative plan to win her back. Fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne will love Escape Girl, a spicy second chance romance. 

“The love story itself is stirring and emotional, and Emily and Bobby’s second chance feels well-earned.”—Publishers Weekly review for Escape Girl

Escape Girl by Michelle Dayton

Blurb

Emily Saturn’s world is spinning out of control. An intellectual property lawyer, she’s gone rogue from her firm, dealing with a major lawsuit against a predatory software company’s CEO pro bono. When she isn’t looking for elusive evidence she can use—legally, of course—she’s trying to avoid her soon-to-be ex-husband, Bobby March.

After their whirlwind courtship and wedding, Bobby can’t pinpoint what went wrong between them. He’s been working for months on his new career and personal growth, determined to be the man his wife deserves. Desperate to get her attention, Bobby invites Emily to a series of individually designed virtual escape rooms, each one a moment from their love story. Hopefully, the sexy, romantic trip down memory lane will rekindle their intense connection—and clue him in on how to fix this.

Emily has never been able to resist a puzzle. Or, frankly, Bobby. The more she interacts with her husband online, the more she wants to see him again in person. Which is beyond stupid because Emily knows he’s wrong for her. Right?

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Excerpt 

Copyright 2022 Michelle Dayton

One Year Ago

The painting was so ludicrous that I chewed the inside of my top lip—hard enough that the next sip of gin was going to sting. But if I didn’t control my mouth, it was going to shape itself into a judgy, bitchy smirk at our poor hostess’s expense.
The painting was of a woman’s back, butt, and legs as she lounged on a blue velvet settee. It didn’t reveal any part of the subject’s face. But it was clearly supposed to be Selma. Selma was a big fan of strapless gowns and asymmetrical shirts. The triangle of small moles on her left shoulder blade was as familiar to me as the shade of dark pink lipstick always highlighting her formidable lips. The woman in the painting sported an identical isosceles mole triangle, as well as a spill of hair in a variety of blonde shades ranging from honey to platinum. I’d once heard Selma boast that it took three colorists four hours every six weeks to keep her signature blend of hair colors perfect.
I cocked my head as my eyes traveled to the problematic part of the woman in the painting. She may have had Selma’s geometric moles and she may have had Selma’s intricate hair. The ass, however…
“Do you think this painting is a prophecy?” A question spoken so low that only I could hear.
I snapped my gaze away from the painting’s exquisite ass and looked up in surprise at the man suddenly next to me. “Huh?” I didn’t recognize him, but that wasn’t surprising as I’d only been back in the Bay Area for a couple of weeks.
I would have remembered him if I’d seen him before. He was one of those unmistakable people. (Us generic-looking people often resent his kind.) He was probably mid-thirties, over six feet tall with thick, golden hair, grown at a shaggy length that would look stupid on most men, but it decidedly did not look stupid on him. He was tan like he’d just come back from a beach vacation, and he had deep smile lines around his eyes and mouth. They were crinkled now around his bright blue eyes.
My own were crinkled too, not with mirth but with confusion. “A prophecy?”
“A prophecy is a prediction, a forecast,” he began, eyes twinkling. Was he teasing or mansplaining?
“Yes, I know what a prophecy is,” I said. Snapped, really. I’d been around at enough of these nights to be familiar with the typical male attendees. The men near my age usually fell into particular categories: boastful start-up tech founders, schmoozy sales and marketing execs, and lots of “I know everything” lawyers. Most of them treated these nights like networking events or auditions for a TED Talk instead of parties.
I’d been so dreading my possible seating partners for dinner that I’d snuck into the dining room to see the place cards when we first arrived. Thank God I was seated next to my father.
“Excellent.” He waved his negroni toward the painted naked lady. “So I was just wondering if this painting is a heads-up from our hostess about certain impending changes.”
Oh. The mischief in his voice made my lips twitch. He’d been teasing, then. This wasn’t some stuffy ibanker or insufferable crypto bro. Inexplicably, this was someone fun.
I raised an eyebrow at him and spoke softly. “Meaning, Selma wants everyone to know that she’ll soon be getting butt implants?”
He grinned down at me, almost with relief, as though he’d been hoping to find someone snarky. “Perhaps the buttock augmentation is already complete.” He pointed directly below the painting. I hadn’t noticed the blue velvet settee against the wall, an identical twin to the one in the portrait. “Perhaps she’ll settle herself right there later and let us compare art to reality.”
It was just too perfect of an image: ludicrous, of course, but if Selma had one too many negronis, you could almost see it happening. Oh God, please let that happen. I’d suffer through twelve boring dinner parties if Selma would cross that bizarre, hilarious line.
A significant snort-laugh erupted from my nose before I could stop it. “Sorry,” I gasped.
His answering laugh was deep and delighted. “Don’t be. I love it when people snort when they laugh. It’s literally one of my favorite things in life.” Well, I loved when people got tears in their eyes at the smallest of chuckles, and right now, there was a sheen of moisture covering his.
“I don’t know you, and I usually know everyone at these things,” he said, like an invitation.
Sigh. Now I would introduce myself, and he would get that look in his eye when he realized who my father was.
I opened my mouth, but to my surprise, he cut me off. “So I asked four different people here who you were and what you’re like.”
My mouth closed abruptly. Why would he do that? Also, I could guess what the four people had said, and they were all sure to be wrong. I swallowed a sigh. “Oh?” This encounter had started so fun. Now I wondered how soon I could excuse myself.
He took a slow sip. “You’re Sven Saturn’s daughter.” Yep. For the entirety of my life, that would be the first—and sometimes the only—thing most people cared about. “You’re intensely smart and have some sort of big, important job.” OK, he totally embellished that point. I’m sure whoever he talked to actually just used the word workaholic. To be fair, that was also correct. Work was my place, my cathedral, my sports arena. Work was home.
He cocked his head. “And you’re very quiet and sweet.”
Of course that’s what they said. Quiet was correct; sweet was not. But when you’re a little shy with a heart-shaped face and round eyes, people always make the leap to sweet. In actuality, Resting Bitch Face would have suited my internal personality much better. I’m sure people were trying to be kind, but why is sweet a good thing to call someone? In our hyperaggressive, competitive world, who the hell wanted to be sweet?
To the man beside me, I ducked my chin. “Well, that was nice of them.” Where was the tray of negronis? Maybe I’d survive this night with a nice little buzz. Or maybe I could put on headphones and go into another room on the pretense of taking a call. I had Netflix on my phone.
His blue eyes were so bright. “It’s bullshit though, right?”
His gaze and forthright tone gave me a buzz that had nothing to do with gin. He tapped his temple. “There’s a lot going on in there, but I’m guessing that very little of it is sweet.”
Correct. Either he was extremely astute or… “Is this your schtick?” I retorted. “Find the quiet girl in the room and make her feel like she’s some sort of secret badass that only you can see?”
He laughed. Hard. A surprised, loud, genuinely elated laugh. I did that, I thought proudly.
“Who are you?” he asked, and suddenly his blue eyes were…intense.
The direct stare right at me, the timbre of his voice, the way he drew a microinch closer. My skin went warm from head to toe and my pulse went thud, Thud, THUD.
I swallowed, and his gaze went to my throat and back to my eyes. He leaned even closer, then apparently realized that was not dinner-party-appropriate, so he backed up so quickly he banged into someone behind him. A slight flush crawled up his jaw as he recovered, but his embarrassment didn’t make him look away or change the intensity of his expression.
Did I do that to him? I wasn’t the kind of woman that made men clumsy, but I could sense it. He felt the thud, Thud, THUDDING too.
“I’m Emily,” I managed, remembering to offer a hand.
His warm hand took hold of mine, not like a greeting shake, but as if he intended to keep it. 

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About Michelle Dayton 

There are only three things Michelle Dayton loves more than sexy and suspenseful novels: her family, the city of Chicago, and Mr. Darcy. Michelle dreams of a year of world travel – as long as the trip would include weeks and weeks of beach time. As a bourbon lover and unabashed wine snob, Michelle thinks heaven is discussing a good book over an adult beverage.

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RELEASE TOUR!!! ~ The Wine Down by Louise Lennox

In THE WINE DOWN by Louise Lennox, Brandi Armstrong leads a life with no room for error—or romance, but when she has to fight for something close to her heart, she turns to her best friend, Riddick Kruger. Can Riddick help to save Brandi’s family farm, and convince her that his love for her is worth fighting for? Fans of Kennedy Ryan’s Kingmaker Series, cultured yet humorous reads, will devour this must-read friends to lovers romance from the Meet Cute Book Club Series.

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Escape with the Meet Cute Book Club, where meet-cutes don’t happen only between the pages of romance novels, and one by one, all the members find their own happily ever afters.Meet Brandi Armstrong and Riddick Kruger in book one: The Wine Down…

Brandi…FearlessSouthernBrokenI’m the heroine saving farms from financial ruin and racism.Who will save me from my loneliness?I’m Too Busy.I’m Too Hurt.But it’s homecoming weekend and I really want to WINE Down.Except now, my family’s farm is on the chopping block.My best friend Riddick vows to fix it.Because…I’m the object of his affection.And money is no object.He wants me. But I don’t want anyone.I’m too fractured to put the pieces back together again.But it’s fun to feel Riddick try…

Riddick…DominatingSouth AfricanBillionaireI’m the wealthy Restaurateur all the ladies love…But I’m in love with my best friend.Brandi doesn’t want my love, but she does need my help.She will get more than she asks for.I’ll destroy the past that’s haunting her.I’ll own the present by pleasuring her.I’ll design our future; healing her.She will be mine, and her heart will no longer hide…Will Brandi Wine Down long enough to let love rule?Can Riddick save Brandi’s farm without killing their friendship?Find out in this hot friends-to-lovers romance from Louise Lennox!The Wine Down is a standalone, Friend to Lovers romance that is part of the multi-author series, Meet Cute Book Club series. Escape with this swoon-worthy collection of romances where meet-cutes don’t only happen between the pages of romance novels and members find their own happily ever after.

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Excerpt

Copyright 2022 @Louise Lennox“Riddick!” A shrill voice I hate all too well calls out. “Long Time, no see! Did you come to watch me perform? You know I’ve still got all my moves.”Mandy fucking FosterI’m going to be sick. And Riddick looks like he may be as well. That’s his fault. No one told him to use Mandy as his go-to fuck toy all throughout college. She’s always thought she had claim to him, even though he never made the slightest gesture to claim her. Now, she’s all over him like a cat with claws.He clears his throat and seeks me out with his eyes. “Umm… no, I’m actually here to support Brandi.” He nods his head towards me, forcing Mandy to turn around. I give her a saccharine smile and wave. She rolls her eyes but quickly recovers.“Oh yeah, I forgot she’s like a little sister to you. Of course, you’d want to see her perform. But isn’t it a bonus that you also get me out of the deal? Someone who knows how to use her body very well.”Bitch. Two can play this game.I walk over to Kruger and step beside him. Placing my hand in his, I squeeze and throw him a quick wink before bringing his ring hand to my lips and brushing my lips over the back of his knuckles. Sweet baby Jesus, his skin is incredible. I feel his calluses on the inside of my hand, but the skin brushing my lips is soft as silk. My poor neglected pussy is dripping from his sexy scent alone. Lord, I want to huff him like fiend addicted to glue. I close my eyes and take a deep breath before I hear him clear his throat, soft enough for my ears. That’s right, I had a reason to come over here, and getting high off the smell of his skin was not it. I glance at him and peep the right side of his mouth turned up in the beginning of a smile. I look away and glare at Mandy.“We are not siblings. Far from it, Mandy, what we are goes deeper than that. Wouldn’t you agree, Riddick?”My eyes never leave her scowl. Her eyes never leave my hand wrapped in his. She looks like she might combust, she’s so angry.Riddick faces me and his jaw flinches. His eyes are predatory, and I get the distinct feeling that I finally opened a door he was seeking entrance into. “I definitely agree,” he rumbles. “We’re the best part of each other.”His words almost knock me to my ass. What the hell is that supposed to mean? He returns my earlier gesture by flipping our clasped hands over and dropping kisses on the inside of my wrist. My knees buckle at the gesture and my breath catches. He chuckles and pulls me away from Mandy, winking as we turn to leave. “We’ll see you around, Mandy. Break a leg.”When we get out of her view, I drop Riddick’s hand and laugh. The sound is nervous and unnatural, but I follow through with it, anyway. Anything to break this awkward tension between us. But when I look up at Riddick’s face, he doesn’t look uncomfortable at all. He looks determined. I place my hand on my neck and swallow. “Mandy is still hot for you. She never could keep her hands off you.”Riddick nods. “Yeah, she never could.’ He steps closer to me, and I step back. Still, he stalks me until my back is against a wall and I realize we’re practically alone on the side of the stage. He trails the back of his knuckles across my cheek and smirks. “But you know, Kitten, I’m curious about your touch, not hers. Do you want me to touch you again?”“Wh..wh..at.” I stammer.He nods. “Umm hmm. Unfortunately, Mandy has had the undeserved privilege of touching my body all over. I wasn’t very discerning in the past. She’s had her legs wrapped around my thighs, lips around my cock, her hands grabbing my ass as I thrust into her. But none of those touches set my entire body and soul on fire, like the brush of your lips against my hand a few moments ago.” Oh, God… his mouth. It’s so dirty. Every word is going straight to my core.Riddick steps into me, and I gulp at his closeness. Part of me is terrified of being pushed against a wall by such a powerful man. If he wanted to, he could trap me there with his weight. It reminds me of the first time Byron took my innocence. The pressure of his body made me feel trapped in a situation I could not control. With Riddick, I just feel deliciously covered.

About Louise Lennox Contemporary romance Author Louise Lennox is a hopeful romantic writing steamy romances full of heart and healing.A Spelman College and Georgetown University graduate, Louise provides women with diverse and meaningful representation in romance novel pages. Not seeing enough women like herself headlining positive love stories, she launched #HappyBlackRomance; a community of readers and writers committed to the creation and sharing of positive romance stories featuring Black heroines.Louise Lennox plots highlight the joys of Black relationships across the diaspora; pushing readers from all cultural backgrounds to admire them for their strength and downright sexiness. In her novels sparks always fly; the sex amazes; and the characters always leave the world better than they found it through their love.When she’s not writing, Louise is enjoying her work as a school leader, wife, and mother of the two cutest dragons to ever walk the earth!To learn more about #HappyBlackRomance and to score a free book or two, check out her website http://www.lovelouiselennox.com. Follow: Facebook | Facebook Group | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Bookbub | Amazon | Website | Newsletter

About The Meet Cute Book Club Series

Escape with the Meet Cute Book Club where meet-cutes don’t only happen between the pages of romance novels and members find their own happily ever afters. Eight single women bound by their love of books take a monthly break from real life to lose themselves in the chapters of romantic fiction. From friends to lovers to fake relationships and more, each story features a brand new couple and their journey to find love from an amazing lineup of authors including Louise Lennox, Tracy Broemmer, A.M. Williams, Mel Walker, RJ Gray, Rebecca Wilder, Julie Archer, and Kate Stacy. These eight standalone romances are packed with meet-cutes, heat, and of course a happily ever after!

This promotional event is brought to you by The Indie Pen PR

New Release & Book Review ~ Be Mine Again by Kathryn Shay

Title: Be Mine Again
Series: The President’s Daughters #3
Author: Kathryn Shay
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release: June 7, 2022
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59848000-be-mine-again
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/be-mine-again-the-president-s-daughters-book-3-by-kathryn-shay

Blurb:

He rejected her for career gains years ago and now he wants her back…

The middle president’s daughter, Hannah Masters Manwaring, has built a sustainable life on a small plot of land in picturesque upstate New York. She either grows what she needs, or she swaps for it, and she can fix or make just about anything. Sure, she’d like to find a guy to spend her life with, but that’s low on her list of “things to do.” Besides, she’s independent as hell!

Special Agent Zeke Carter was a cocky bastard for years. He sacrificed everything, even love, to get ahead in the Secret Service. And he did succeed all the way up to guarding President James Manwaring during his last year in office. He hoped he could forget the woman he sacrificed for his career, but unfortunately, he didn’t. At forty, he’s faced with irrevocable choices again.

Eventually he comes to terms with what he has to do. He leaves the Secret Service and goes to Rockford to find Hannah. He tells her he wants her back, but she’s having none of it. She’ll never forgive him and orders him to leave town. But he stays in Rockford and causes havoc in her life.

Hannah isn’t buying Zeke’s transformation from alpha male to nice guy. And he keeps making things worse by being pushy with her. She loves him, but can she ever forget the soul-crunching pain he caused her?

If she doesn’t, she’ll lose her second chance with him.

If she does, and he hurts her, she won’t survive a second time.

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3H03cps

Nook: https://bit.ly/3aBKHM3

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3Q85iIf

Apple Books: https://apple.co/3NIKDrS

Google Play: https://bit.ly/3taMdeu

Smashwords: https://bit.ly/3PON9Pr

Be Mine Again is Hannah’s story. Hannah and Zeke used to date when he was a Secret Service Agent but he broke her heart in order to advance his career. Now he’s retired and he wants her back, which in my opinion made him a really unlikeable hero.

The thing I love about these Manwaring sisters is just how capable they are of forgiving the men they love, no matter how much or how big they messed up. Hannah gives a valiant effort against Zeke, who really didn’t deserve her, but ultimately she succumbs what the heart wants.

I wanted to like Zeke, he has everything a good sexy protective hero should, right down to the accent. But I just felt that Hannah was an afterthought for him. Now that he’s done with the Secret Service and his career is no longer an issue, we can be together and she’s supposed to jump for enjoy after the way he hurt her. It colored everything for me but I am a voracious romance reader and I know what I signed up for and I did enjoy the journey.

Hannah was great, a perfectly capable heroine with a bit of badass thrown in and she made the story for me. She’s like your good friend who is in love with a horrible guy but you want her to be happy so you root for her to get what she wants because you’ll be there when she doesn’t.

Oh and I am WAY too invested in what’s going on with the Manwaring parents!!!

In the Series:

Never My Love – available now
Lie With Me – available now
Not For You – preorder
Lost to Us – preorder

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3ob4aXY
B&N: https://bit.ly/3rdonOH
Kobo: https://bit.ly/32HN1gK
iTunes: https://apple.co/3s1AIo7
Google Play: https://bit.ly/3rb37cm
Smashwords: https://bit.ly/3Hh4mvY

Author Bio:

A NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling author, Kathryn Shay has been a lifelong writer and teacher. She has written dozens of self-published original romance titles, print books with the Berkley Publishing Group and Harlequin Enterprises and mainstream women’s fiction. One of her firefighter books hit #20 on the NEW YORK TIMES list. Her novels have been serialized in COSMOPOLITAN magazine and featured in USA TODAY, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL and PEOPLE magazine. There are over ten million copies of her books in print and downloaded online. Readers call her work heartwarming.

Social Media links:

Website: www.kathrynshay.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/kathrynshay  
Twitter: www.twitter.com/KShayAuthor
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Kathryn-Shay/e/B000APY3GW
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kathrynshayauthor/

Excerpt: 

Chapter 1

“Hey, Trouble,” she said to the goat who’d save Danny Larson’s life. “Want some company?”

The animal bleated her response.

Hannah set up a gravity chair under a shade tree next to the pen. Prince, her black lab, was leashed nearby and lying in the grass out of the hot August sun. 

She sat down and reclined back. Her body ached from all the chores she’d done today. Danny Larson, her former farmhand, was unable to help because he was recuperating from his injury. Aloud she said, “Because he was shot by a rogue firefighter in cahoots with the mob. I lead a crazy life.”

Prince barked at her words, then settled down to sleep.

Would her life, her family’s lives, ever return to normal? She thought about how her sister Sasha and Danny had been brought together by the incidents two weeks ago. They were getting married this Saturday. 

But would Hannah be able to participate if she didn’t have a farmhand to do chores? Was she going to have to ask the co-op for even more help and depend on neighbors again like had she injured her arm? Or just miss some of the pre-wedding events at the end of the week?

She didn’t know how long she’d been snoozing when she heard Prince bark again. Then, “I never reckoned I’d see Hannah Manwaring takin’ lazy naps in the afternoon.”

The husky voice made her eyes fly open. Slowly, she righted the chair so she was seated. She stared up at Zeke Carter in silence, at the man who broke her heart.

“Well, darlin’,” he added, his Southern accent thicker now, “I never expected I’d to see you speechless, either.”

Prince approached her, but stayed at her feet, remarkably subdued in a stranger’s presence. Hannah managed to stand; the man still towered over her. She folded her arms across her waist. “What the hell are you doing here, Zeke?”

“Now that’s a story.”

Dressed in navy pants and a navy silk T-shirt, his muscles and fit physique were on perfect display. His blond hair was a little longer, and those damn blue eyes were still the color of a lagoon. But he jammed his hands on his pockets, always a tell-tale sign he was nervous. Huh!

 “I’ve been thinkin’ about you, Hannah. I heard through the Secret Service grapevine what happened with the mob. How you could have been…hurt or worse.” His voice got hoarse on the last word.

“As you can see, I’m fine and dandy.” Her sarcastic tone was armor against him.

“You look real fine. Fifteen years put some weight on you.”

He used to worry that she was too skinny. And before she turned eighteen, he’d called her squirt. “That’s none of your business.”

His expression turned bleak. “I know. I gave up that right.”

“You did. And I’ve forgotten all about you.”

“Have you?”

“Yes. Go away. I won’t believe anything you say. What’s more, I don’t care.

“Han, I retired from the Secret Service.”

“What?”

“The last person I guarded got hooked into a scandal that made protecting her near impossible. And she was guilty to boot.”

“Senator Akins. I read about it online. I didn’t know you were guarding her.”

“I got twenty years in anyway, so it was time.”

It hadn’t been time when he ditched her after a year-long relationship. “I’m shocked. But truly, Zeke, I don’t care. Leave me alone.”

He glanced at his watch, a fancier one than what he used to wear. “I have an appointment in town in an hour. But I’d like to talk afterward.”

“Fuck talking. Just get out of here and don’t bother me again.”

“I will, until I meet with Rockford’s mayor today. Then I’ll be back.”

Don’t ask Hannah. Don’t ask. “Why are you meeting with her?”

“I’ve applied for a job as her part of her security.”

“You said you’d never do private protection.”

“I said a lot of things that turned out to be stupid. Really stupid.”

“I. Don’t. Care.”

“I’m comin’ back.”

“Why, Zeke?” She hated the pleading tone of her voice.

Her raised that sculpted chin. “Because I miss you, sweetheart. And I want you in my life again.” 

#

Zeke adjusted the gray sports coat he’d thrown on for this interview and took the chair offered. “Hello, Madam Mayor.”

“Hello, Mr. Carter.” 

Reagan Rothchild sat behind a huge oak desk and remained unsmiling. She was an attractive woman with auburn hair pulled back into a bun and understated makeup. “I’ve read your application. Have you checked the list of the responsibilities of a mayor of this size city? I sent it out to the applicants.”

“Yes, ma’am.” 

Her back was pin-straight. “I’ve been starting these interviews with questions from the candidates.” She arched a perfectly shaped brow. Zeke was used to noting everything about people. 

“Why do you need a bodyguard?”

“Vanessa Jordan, the last mayor who became our state senator, had some issues with harassment. Before she left office, she put into place money for Rockford’s mayor to employ bodyguards. And the mob activity in town was a big part of my decision. A kingpin was killed.” 

He waited. This wasn’t the whole story.

“Also, I’m the daughter of a very wealthy businessman. He’s had death threats.”

Her father headed a medical pharmaceutical company that has controversial practices. “Some say he’s cut-throat and indifferent to who he hurts.

“Some say that, yes.”

“Do you have any enemies?”

“Not enemies exactly. A reporter for the Rockford Sentinel seems to call me out a lot. He doesn’t like me or my policies.”

Now that was one thing Zeke didn’t know. But he’d done his homework. When Vanessa Jordan had left in the middle of her term to take a position of state senator, the person she picked to replace her had health issues and didn’t run for the permanent job. Ms. Rothchild did and was elected by a big margin.

“Go ahead and ask more questions.”

“Was your divorce amicable?”

“Yes. We just drifted apart.”

“What would be the scope of my responsibilities?”

“You’d guard me when I’m at work. I have a driver who takes me home and picks me up in the morning. I live at the mayor’s estate, which is well protected with electric gates.”

He frowned.

“Why the expression?”

“If I was in charge of your security, your bodyguard would pick you up and take you home then pick you up in the morning.”

“Really, why?”

“Those are particularly vulnerable times. Car accidents happen all the time. You need a driver who’s trained in evasive maneuvers.”

“And you have been, of course, in the Secret Service.”

“Yes, ma’am. And like that protection, you need a vehicle equipped with impenetrable tires, armored siding and bulletproof windows.”

“The windows on the mayor’s car are bulletproof. The other two we don’t have.”

“Easy job to put on tires and insert armored panels in the vehicle.”

“There’s no budget for that.”

He stared at her. She had family money coming out the wazoo. 

“But I’ll consider your suggestions. More questions.”

“How many people have you interviewed?”

“Three men and a woman.”

“Were they good?”

“Yes, all of them.”

“Did they make any comments about your car? About drivin’ you home and pickin’ you up?”

“No.”

He rattled off other things they should have queried.

“Only one asked about any of those.”

“Let me guess, the woman.”

The corners of a very lovely mouth turned up. “Yes.”

“How are you leaning?”

“I was leaning toward her. Until your application came across my desk.”

“Does she have Secret Service training and twenty years on the job like I do?”

“No, Mr. Carter. She doesn’t. She was a former police officer, though.”

He moved to the edge the chair. “I think you have an easy choice.”

“You’re very confident.”

“I wouldn’t want a bodyguard who isn’t. Would you?”

“No. Let me ask you a few more things. I don’t yet understand why you retired from the Secret Service.”

“There was a scandal involving my last protectee. It was a mess that I didn’t want to be in.”

“You left willingly?”

“Oh, yeah, I got a commendation from the President if you’d like to see it.”

“Yes, bring it in, but I’m sure you wouldn’t be telling me this if you weren’t above board.”

“Thanks, Ma’am

“Why do you want this job and not something in D.C.?”

Because Hannah’s here. “First off, I have friends here. And my parents are only three hours away. Second, I’ve had enough of Washington. Enough of the all-consuming life of an agent. Being dog-tired every night when I got home. No personal life to speak of. Too much scandal. A small town appealed to me and a job that isn’t twenty-four hours. Time off will have to be worked into the schedule.” He took in a breath before he told her something that could lose him this job. “I’m opening a security business in downtown Rockford. I already applied for my license and am going to look at a shop on Main Street to rent.”

Furrows marred her brow. “How will that affect my protection?”

“It shouldn’t. I have lots to do before the business can even open.”

“How long will you commit to me?”

“A year. I thought we’d reassess then.”

“I’ll have to think about it.”

He nodded. “Understandable. One more thing, you need a main bodyguard to be with you during your work days, then drive you home pick you up in the morning. You should hire a parttime person to be with you for evening commitments and on my days off, which I prefer to be weekends. Maybe the female job applicant would consider those duties.”

She watched him through shrewd hazel eyes. “All right, Mr. Carter, the job’s yours. If we can agree on one more thing.”

“What’s that?”

“If you want this position, you’ll have to sign a non-disclosure agreement saying anything I do, anywhere I go, and with whom, is confidential. And before you agree, know that I’ll sue you if you break it.”

“I’ll sign that. First, I have integrity, so I wouldn’t go back on my word. And I was very good keeping information about the U.S. president and his family to myself. So you should feel secure after I sign it.” 

She picked up papers in front of her. “Here’s the agreement. Take it to a lawyer if you want, but have it signed when we next meet before you start on Monday.”

“Then it’s time to call me Zeke.”

“Call me Reagan.”

#

After he left, Hannah couldn’t get Zeke out of her mind. And it was way too hot in late August to go running; even a walk outside wouldn’t cut it. Instead, she brought Prince inside and settled him on the porch, then headed down the steps to her basement where it was blessedly cool. Half of space had been converted to a canning and freezing operation and a spot to pasteurize Trouble’s milk. She by-passed the refrigerators, the sink, the small stove and several counters and made her way to the far corner where she’d set up a treadmill. Hannah had to stay in shape, and she used the machine especially during the winter for aerobic exercise. She’d developed plenty of muscles and strength working the land in the other three seasons.

She hopped on. Began to walk slowly. Accelerated wisely. When she reached her top pace, she let her mind wander to what had happened between her and Zeke in the past…

Hannah walked into her apartment after finishing a wicked day at the construction site where she was interning. She glanced at the clock across the room. Zeke was due here in fifteen minutes. She darted to the shower, soaped up quickly, and was dry enough to dress, though her hair was still wet when he came inside. He set his key on the table.

“Hi, darlin’.” She loved when he called her that. She crossed to him on bare feet, went up on tiptoes to kiss him. He still smelled like shaving cream.

But he eased her back. 

She frowned. “What’s wrong?”

“Let’s sit.”

“We usually go in there…” she angled her head to the bedroom “…as soon as you can get here.” Their time together was precious.

She could tell he wanted to but he said, “No.” He crossed the room and dropped down on the couch. Held out his hand. “Come’re, babe.”

She sat beside him. 

The fact that he took deep breath didn’t ease the fear curdling in her belly. “I’m sorry, Han, but we have to cut this off.”

“This as in?”

“Our relationship. It’s gone on too long, anyway.”

“Only a year.”

“It should never have happened.”

“So you said 365 days ago.” 

One night, when the senior agent guarding her was called in for something, he’d stepped up and driven Hanna home from work. On a lark, went inside with her. 

“I gave into my feelings against my better judgement when you turned eighteen.”

“I know that’s true. But after a year? You should be over those qualms by now.”

“I was…until yesterday.”

“What happened yesterday?” 

“The head of the Secret Service called me in.”

“Oh, my God, does he know?”

“No. He wanted to go over my performance.”

“Zeke, spit it out. This is killing me.”

“He offered me another position. It’s not much of an advance, but it puts me in line for the PPD. I have to work my way up through the VPPD but I could guard your father in his last year. He wants me to start in the program now.” 

She sat there staring at him. Then, “Why do we have to breakup? We can go on like this and you can advance.”

“First, it’s not fair to you, to hide here like we’ve been doin’.”

“I went into this with open-eyes, Zeke.”

“Did you? You were only seventeen when you started flirting with me.”

“Old enough to know what I wanted. When I turned eighteen, I moved out of the White House and got this place so we could be together. I don’t mind hiding our relationship now, if we can eventually go out in the open.”

“Things have changed. I have to concentrate on my job.”

“You’ve been doing that.”

He angled his body more toward her. “How do you see our relationship shaking out, Hannah?”

“I was hoping for a future with you. You said you wanted that, too.”

“Not anymore. If we reveal what we’ve been doing, there’ll be a scandal. And scandals won’t get me to the PPD, especially with your father. That’s always been my goal.”

“I know. That was okay by me.”

“Look, this is a done deal, honey. We have to be over.”

She swallowed hard, and felt her eyes moisten. “You don’t want me anymore?” She hated that she sounded like a love-sick puppy. 

He stared hard at her. “No.”

She shook her head. “You’re lying. I can see it in your eyes. Please, don’t do this to us. I love you. I can make this work for us.”

He shook his head and stood. “Goodbye, Hannah. You’ll have a good life without me…”

The timer she set on the treadmill went off, startling her out of the memory. As she slowed down, she thought of the aftermath of his announcement. The crying, the gut-sick hurting, the immobility of it all. It was her sisters who got her through a funk so deep it scared her.

“No way I’m giving you another chance to devastate me, Zeke Carter. No way.”

Book Tour & Review ~ Into the Sunset by S.L. Sterling

Into the Sunset by S.L. Sterling

Title: Into the Sunset
Author: S.L Sterling
Release: May 10, 2022
Genre: Second Chance Romance
Cover Design: Thunderstruck Cover Design
Goodreads: https://geni.us/IntotheSunsetGR
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/into-the-sunset-by-s-l-sterling

Blurb:


Ben
I know why I lost her. I was too serious, I was too practical. I was too busy thinking I knew
what she wanted without asking her.
Over time, this wore on her. All she wanted was to be heard. She wanted someone to
support her big exciting ideas, I was supposed to do that, but I shut them down. No wonder
she handed me my ring back and left town. No wonder she married someone else, leaving
me with memories of sunsets at the beach and the future I had planned for us.
I went on and built my life without her. My father and I opened the second division of
Sunset Builders in Las Vegas, and to my surprise, I stayed busy, almost busy enough not to
notice the loneliness. That was until one day I was called to do a quick bathroom and
kitchen remodel for a woman who lived on Las Vegas Boulevard. I shouldn’t of gone, I
should have sent one of my men because when I arrived, and the door opened, every
memory I’d had of Jessica came flooding back.
If I’d learned anything in her absence it was that anything worth doing was worth being
done well, and anything worth having was worth fighting for. I just hoped she’d give me a
second chance.
Jessica
Ben had always been right to keep me grounded. I should’ve listened because the falls didn’t
hurt as bad that way.
I wanted a bigger life, in a bigger brighter place. I never appreciated the beauty of living in a
small town with a huge support system. Instead, I left town without so much as a goodbye,
chasing a silly dream.
I married the man who promised me the sun, moon, and the stars, but delivered blinding
blows. I spent years hiding in the dark so that no one would see my bruised face. Most days,
I thought I’d die before I escaped the nightmare. I dreamed of running, it was my only way
out. Then I got news my grandfather had passed. He left me money and a gorgeous condo in Vegas. I had a plan. I would upgrade the condo, sell it, and fade away into the sunset, all
while my husband was gone on a business trip.
Little did I know that Ben would show up on my doorstep. He swore we could make our
dreams real, but this time I was the grounded one. I could only see how we would never
work. I’d made too many mistakes and love was terrifying.


Buy Links:


Universal: https://geni.us/IntotheSunset
Amazon: https://amzn.to/3lxVDwa
Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/37ohHG3
iTunes: https://apple.co/3KkwmAn
Kobo: https://bit.ly/3r7SBSR

Into the Sunset book review, S.L. Sterling
3.5 stars/martinis for this second chance romance

It took me a while to figure out how I felt about Into the Sunset when I finished reading it. I didn’t really like either of the main characters. Jessica had every right to leave but she was as guilty of not voicing her concerns and wants and needs as Ben was of not asking. Besides, they were very young and needed some time apart.

At least Jessica lived her life, regardless of the quality of that life instead of just holing up and becoming a bitter workaholic. I always love a second chance romance but the truth is that I didn’t feel a connection between Ben & Jessica, certainly not one that made me want their happy ending. Over the course of the story I did root for them but I never really felt like they deserved it or had earned it.

Overall Into the Sunset was a good read. I really loved the friendship between Jessica and Kate, and I loved how fiercely protective Ben’s sister was when it came to his former flame. She’s a fierce one and added some much needed spunk to the story.

Praise:


5 Star Reviews – “This book was absolutely amazing my heart was broken 💔 I cried but
then I was smiling and sighing … absolutely gorgeous couldn’t recommend enough!”
5 Star Review – “I loved this book. I was in such a book hangover and this was such an easy
read, just what I needed.”
5 Star Review – “Angsty , heartbreaking, heartfelt, emotionally charged , captivating ,
intriguing, off the charts chemistry, witty banter , humor , angst , page turner….”

Author Bio:
S.L. Sterling was born and raised in southern Ontario. She now lives in Northern Ontario Canada and is married to her best friend and soul mate and their two dogs.
An avid reader all her life, S.L. Sterling dreamt of becoming an author. She decided to give writing a try after one of her favorite authors launched a course on how to write your novel. This course gave her the push she needed to put pen to paper and her debut novel
“It Was Always You” was born.
When S.L. Sterling isn’t writing or plotting her next novel she can be found curled up with a cup of coffee, blanket and the newest romance novel from one of her favorite authors on her e-reader. Her favorite authors include Kendall Ryan, Vi Keeland, Penelope Ward, Lauren Blakely, Alessandra Torre and Willow Winters. In her spare time, she enjoys camping, hiking, sunny destinations, spending quality time
with family and friends and of course reading.


Social Media Links
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/SLSterlingGoodreads
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hearomance/
Instagram: http://bit.ly/SLSterlingInstagram
Bookbub: http://bit.ly/SLSterlingBB
Sterlings Silver Sapphires: http://bit.ly/SterlingsSapphires
Amazon: http://bit.ly/SLSterling
Newsletter: http://bit.ly/SLSterlingNewsletter
Books + Main Bites: http://bit.ly/SLSterlingBooksMain

HAPPY RELEASE DAY!!! ~ Into the Sunset by S.L. Sterling

Title: Into the Sunset
Author: S.L. Sterling
Genre: Second Chance Romance
Release Date: May 10, 2022
Cover Design: Thunderstruck Cover Design






Ben
I know why I lost her. I was too serious, I was too practical. I was too busy thinking I knew what she wanted without asking her.
Over time, this wore on her. All she wanted was to be heard. She wanted someone to support her big exciting ideas, I was supposed to do that, but I shut them down. No wonder she handed me my ring back and left town. No wonder she married someone else, leaving me with memories of sunsets at the beach and the future I had planned for us.
I went on and built my life without her. My father and I opened the second division of Sunset Builders in Las Vegas, and to my surprise, I stayed busy, almost busy enough not to notice the loneliness. That was until one day I was called to do a quick bathroom and kitchen remodel for a woman who lived on Las Vegas Boulevard. I shouldn’t of gone, I should have sent one of my men because when I arrived, and the door opened, every memory I’d had of Jessica came flooding back.
If I’d learned anything in her absence it was that anything worth doing was worth being done well, and anything worth having was worth fighting for. I just hoped she’d give me a second chance.

Jessica
Ben had always been right to keep me grounded. I should’ve listened because the falls didn’t hurt as bad that way.
I wanted a bigger life, in a bigger brighter place. I never appreciated the beauty of living in a small town with a huge support system. Instead, I left town without so much as a goodbye, chasing a silly dream.
I married the man who promised me the sun, moon, and the stars, but delivered blinding blows. I spent years hiding in the dark so that no one would see my bruised face. Most days, I thought I’d die before I escaped the nightmare. I dreamed of running, it was my only way out. Then I got news my grandfather had passed. He left me money and a gorgeous condo in Vegas. I had a plan. I would upgrade the condo, sell it, and fade away into the sunset, all while my husband was gone on a business trip.
Little did I know that Ben would show up on my doorstep. He swore we could make our dreams real, but this time I was the grounded one. I could only see how we would never work. I’d made too many mistakes and love was terrifying.



“Hey, just me,” Julie yelled. “Did you forget? You were supposed to meet me tonight at The Dive Bar?”

Instantly I remembered and I closed my eyes, “Fuck! Sorry, Jules. I got a little sidetracked,” I said, forcing myself up off the couch and heading to the kitchen to meet my sister.

“It’s fine. I brought pizza and wings to you instead. I figured you got caught up in something, but it would have been nice for you to call me or something. Instead, I sat there waiting for you for an hour, looking like an idiot.”

It had totally slipped my mind that my sister and I had dinner plans. I walked over to the counter and flipped open the pizza box, grabbing a slice while my sister grabbed plates from the cupboard. Her eyes fell to the stack of dirty dishes that lined the counters, and then she turned and looked me over, watching as a piece of pepperoni fell onto my chest, which I grabbed and shoved in my mouth.

“Jesus, you look like shit! Here, have a plate.” She giggled and thrust the plate out to me. “You probably should clean this place up, you know. It’s a sty. Honestly, for a guy who is looking for a girlfriend, you’d think you’d keep your place clean.”

“Thanks! Always loved your compliments. Since when did you become my keeper anyway?”

Jules completely ignored me while I loaded my plate with pizza and wings. While she loaded hers, I grabbed two beers from the fridge, pulled the chair out, and sat down at the table. I twisted off the two caps and handed her a bottle.

“So what happened?” she asked, taking the beer from my hand.

“Apparently, I’m a shitty-looking guy who lives in a sty. What do you mean, what happened?”

“You stood me up, for starters, but in all seriousness, you look like you’ve been put through the mill. I know your day wasn’t that tough, since I’m the one who scheduled it, so what gives?”

The last thing I wanted to do was talk about Jess, but I knew it was inevitable with my sister. She would poke, prod, and pry until I had spilled everything! The fact that she hadn’t asked me more than she already had surprised me, especially since she knew I had gone to Jess’s earlier.

“Something happen between you and Jess?”

There it was, like always. I threw my slice of pizza down on the plate and brought the beer bottle up to my lips. “Guess you could say that.” I guzzled down half the bottle and looked at my sister.

“Care to elaborate or are you going to make love to that beer bottle all night?” she asked while picking a piece of pepperoni off her pizza and shoving it into her mouth.


S.L. Sterling was born and raised in southern Ontario. She now lives in Northern Ontario Canada and is married to her best friend and soul mate and their two dogs. 
An avid reader all her life, S.L. Sterling dreamt of becoming an author. She decided to give writing a try after one of her favorite authors launched a course on how to write your novel. This course gave her the push she needed to put pen to paper and her debut novel “It Was Always You” was born. 
When S.L. Sterling isn’t writing or plotting her next novel she can be found curled up with a cup of coffee, blanket and the newest romance novel from one of her favorite authors on her e-reader. Her favorite authors include Kendall Ryan, Vi Keeland, Penelope Ward, Lauren Blakely, Alessandra Torre and Willow Winters. 
In her spare time, she enjoys camping, hiking, sunny destinations, spending quality time with family and friends and of course reading.


HOSTED BY:

New Release & Book Review!! ~ Meet Me At Midnight by Melissa Toppen

Title: Meet Me at Midnight
Author: Melissa Toppen
Release: April 29, 2022
Genre: Friends to Lovers Romance
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60470884-meet-me-at-midnight

Blurb:

Meet me at midnight– whispered words from drunken lips.
Lips that I had spent years wanting to kiss.
Lips that I had dreamt about night after night, waking to wonder what if.
What if he noticed me?
What if he wanted me?
What if
But I quickly learned some things are better left to wonder. 
Especially where Levi Mills is concerned.
He didn’t just steal my innocence that night. 
He broke every part of me.
Dismantled me from the inside out until there was nothing left of the girl I used to be. 
Years passed. Moments faded into the background. Until eventually he became nothing more than a distant memory- a dream that almost didn’t seem real. 
But then suddenly he’s there, standing in front of me again like he never left. And in that one heartbeat, in that one breath, I relive it all over again. Every touch. Every word. Like frozen snippets of time suspended in front of my eyes.
And then he smiles that all too familiar smile, meet me at midnight moving soundlessly across his lips.

Melissa Toppen’s Meet Me At Midnight is a good read. The thing I loved most about this story is the fun cast of characters. Olive’s best friends, Josie & Lizzie were great and meddlesome but their lifelong friendship and sense of sisterhood really helped push the story forward. The details of the friendship and their lives really helped build out Olive & Levi’s world in Warren, RI.

I am a sucker for a good second chance romance and I enjoyed pretty much every aspect of this story. Just about.

Except Levi.

Yeah sure he’s hot and smoldering and that’s fine but I just didn’t like him at all. He was selfish and in my eyes he never redeemed himself. The only reason he got what he wanted was because Olive wanted him, not that he did anything to deserve it throughout the story. I wanted him to turn around and I even rooted for him…until the office incident.

I’m happy that Olive got what she wanted. For now.

Aside from Levi’s unworthiness I really enjoyed Meet Me At Midnight.

Buy Links (kindle unlimited):

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3kpyVpN
Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/3rXtQZS
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/3EUyxc8
Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/3OKDGI8

Giveaway: $10.00 Amazon Gift Card

a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Direct Link:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/81aa78942491

Author Bio:

Melissa Toppen is a USA Today Bestselling Author who specializes in New Adult and Contemporary Romance. She is a lover of books and enjoys nothing more than losing herself in a good novel. She has a soft spot for Romance and focuses her writing in that direction; writing what she loves to read. 

Melissa resides in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband and two children, where she writes full time.

Social Media Links:

Website: http://www.mtoppen.com
Author Facebook: www.facebook.com/mtoppenauthor
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/melissatoppen
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/mtoppen
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/mtoppenauthor
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/melissa_toppen
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/mtoppenauthor
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/melissatoppen
Bookbub: www.bookbub.com/authors/melissa-toppen
YouTube: www.youtube.com/channel/UCTuq7fyAW4h_XYcNsJUkJtw
Newsletter: http://mtoppen.com/keep-in-touch/

New Release & Book Review!!! ~ The Bastard Heir by Whitley Cox & Ember Leigh

Title: The Bastard Heir
Series: Winter Harbor Novel #1
Authors: Whitley Cox & Ember Leigh
Release: April 9, 2022
Genre: small town, second chance, estranged brothers, family mystery, grumpy/sunshine, fighting a developer

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60492019-the-bastard-heir
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/the-bastard-heir-by-ember-leigh-and-whitley-cox

Blurb:

I’m the heir to a secret family fortune, facing down brothers I hate, and trying to get back the one that got away….

Callum

Eight years ago, she broke me. 

Her secrets drove a wedge between me and my brother that can never be fixed. 

Now, with my life in shambles, I’m forced by the ludicrous demands of my dead father to face the one woman I ever loved, and the brother I can not stand. 

I need the money. But a year is a long sentence to serve in a house with people I hate, and in a town that hates me.

A year is a long time to dodge Harlow Jackson and the eyes and smile that made me fall harder than I’ve ever fallen before. 

But it only takes days to show me that what happened eight years ago was a mistake. Now I need every last second of the year ahead  to convince her to take a second chance on us. 

This is the first book of the Winter Harbor series which features a quirky small town, secrets galore, and three estranged brothers who find the key to healing comes from the women who steal their hearts.

Continue reading New Release & Book Review!!! ~ The Bastard Heir by Whitley Cox & Ember Leigh

New Release & Book Review ~ Lie With Me by Kathryn Shay

Title: Lie With Me
Series: The President’s Daughters #2
Author: Kathryn Shay
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release: April 5, 2022
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59848003-lie-with-me
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/lie-with-me-the-president-s-daughters-book-2-by-kathryn-shay

Blurb:

She’s too good to be true and he’s her worst nightmare…

Sasha Masters Manwaring, the youngest president’s daughter, is satisfied with the path she’s chosen: she lives in picturesque upstate New York, teaches dance, is close to her sisters and stays out of the public eye. But it’s love at first sight for Dan Lawson and when he sweeps her off her feet, there’s nothing she can do about it. Even if her feelings tell her something isn’t right about him.

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3Jj9Dnd
B&N: https://bit.ly/3DC2PQj
Kobo: https://bit.ly/3DBZe4T
Google: https://bit.ly/35ziq6w
iTunes: https://apple.co/3u3T6ix
Smashwords: https://bit.ly/3r0sgFY

Excerpt:

Chapter 1 

The phone shrilled into the darkness. Sasha startled awake. With shaky hands, she grabbed it from the nightstand. 

“H-hello.”

“Is this Sasha Masters, the owner of DanceWorks?” She’d chosen to use her mother’s last name for privacy when she moved to Rockford.

“It is.” She glanced at the clock. Three in the morning. This wasn’t going to be good.

“Lieutenant Liam Murray here, from The Rockford Fire Department. Your building caught fire, in the bakery. It’s contained on the first floor.”

“Is Mrs. Bruni hurt? Anybody?”

“Nobody’s hurt. But her shop is a mess with a shitlo—oops, sorry, a whole lotta water damage.”

“Oh, no.”

“She’s at the site, now. She gave us your contact information. There’s smoke damage in your studio but you’re one lucky dog. The sprinklers stopped the fire from reaching the second level.”

“Just so no one was hurt. I’ll be right there.”

“Thank you. Mrs. Bruni’s all alone.”

“I’ll hurry.”

Throwing on clothes, Sasha thought about calling her sister Hannah, but she was still recovering from her arm surgery and she’d want to come, too. Sasha could handle this by herself. 

She took a moment to breathe in and out deeply for calmness, then dashed out to the car. On the short drive she uttered the mantra, “No one’s hurt. No one’s hurt.”

Flashing red lights from police vehicles blocked off the entrance but they let her through. More red lights and the loud rumble of firetrucks greeted her as she arrived at the building and hurried out of the car. A man in tan-and-yellow gear approached her. “Ms. Masters?”

“Yes.”

“Liam Murray. I called you.” He angled his head. “Mrs. Bruni’s over there.”

“Can you tell me how the fire started first? And the extent of the damage?”

“Looks like an electrical outlet sparked in the bakery near the deep frier.”

“That’s terrible.”

“We got here fast and put it out with a special extinguisher. The flames did damage, but the water is the big culprit.”

“Did you explain this to her?”

“Uh-huh. She asked if she did anything wrong.”

“Aw. Poor woman. I’ll go over to her.”

The stalwart widow of a war veteran, Angela Bruni was slump-shouldered and pale. When she saw Sasha, she started to cry. “Cara. My shop.”

It was dark so Sasha couldn’t see inside. “Mi dispiace tanto.” Mrs. Bruni had been teaching her Italian so she knew the words for I’m sorry.

Dio mia. This is all I have left of Gus.” She and her husband started the bakery together. “That nice firefighter said it was not my fault.”

“Apparently the electrical outlet was old and sparked.”

Mrs. Bruni shook her head. “Your studio?”

“Smoke damage. Easier to clean up.” But water damage? That was huge.

“He said I can rebuild. But how?”

“The building’s insured. I promise, you’ll have your store back.” If Sasha had to pay extra for repairs herself. She owned the structure and was up to code on her inspections. This must have been a fluke.

Another woman approached them. “Angie, dear Angie, I’m so sorry.” Sasha had met Mrs. Bruni’s sister, who often helped out at the bakery.

They hugged then Mrs. Bruni said, “Coso posso fare, Millie.”

“We’ll figure out what we can do.” Mildred looked over her sister’s shoulder at Sasha. “There’ll be a way.”

“Excuse me.” Lt. Murray stood behind them. “Ms. Masters would you like to go up and see your studio? The private entrance staircase’s intact.”

“Thank you, Lieutenant.” She said to the women, “I’ll be right back.”

He handed her something. “I got some goggles from the truck and some gloves. Put them on. And don’t touch anything.”

He went ahead of her to the door. “I’m afraid we had to break your lock.”

“I’m glad you didn’t have to break down the door.”

They climbed the steep staircase and he opened the studio door. Immediately, she began to cough.

“We should go back.”

“No, I’ll be all right.” She pulled out a scarf she’d grabbed at home and covered her mouth and nose to dilute the acrid, putrid smell.  

The symptoms dwindled and her eyes adjusted. Everything was intact—the two dance barres, the set of mirrors. She saw the door was closed to the office so that might have helped to keep it cleaner. 

“We can’t stay, but I wanted you to know it’s just smoke damage.” When she didn’t respond, he went on, “There’ll be soot everywhere. But luckily no water damage. The alarm went off and we got here fast.”

“I had a layer of fireproof compounds and mortar laid between the floors when I remodeled upstairs.”

“Good thinking. Let’s go back to the street.”

Ironically, it was a lovely July night, with stars twinkling and the streetlights glowing. Too lovely, for what had happened here.

Sasha had a thought. “I forgot to ask how I go about cleaning all this up.”

“Call Pro Serve. They’ve worked with us a lot. You’ll have to wait to do anything inside, though, until the arson squad checks things out.”

“Arson? This could be arson?”

“Doesn’t seem like it to me, but for most commercial fires, the squad comes to make sure. I already told this to Mrs. Bruni.”

“Oh. My heart stopped there for a minute. But, again, thanks.” 

Sasha walked over to Mrs. Bruni, who now sat on one of the benches that lined the street. Mildred’s arm circled around the shoulders of her sister’s flowered house dress. Sasha joined them. As soon as she sat and took the old woman’s hand, she felt gutted by her pain. 

Sasha ignored it. She would be here for her friend.

#

Dan stood across the street on the sidewalk as he watched Sasha come out of the studio entrance with a fireman and head over to a bench. Amidst the noise of the trucks and officers shouting orders, Dan crossed to where she sat with Mrs. Bruni. Her curly brown hair was back in a ponytail and she wore a light purple workout suit. “Sasha, are you all right?”

“Danny? Um, physically, I’m fine. What are you doing here?”

“I have a small apartment down the street and heard the commotion outside my window.”

“I forgot where you lived.” 

“Mrs. Bruni, I’m so sorry about all this,” he said. 

The older woman stared at him with bruised eyes. He tried not to react but she was so sad even his hardened heart softened. “Danny. Thank you.”

“You two know each other?” Sasha asked.

“I go to the bakery almost every day.”

“You’re a nice boy,” she said squeezing his hand. 

Ha! He was anything but that.

“What can I do for you?” he asked Sasha

“We don’t know yet.” 

When Mrs. Bruni turned to her sister, Dan dropped down next to Sasha. Taking her hand would be too forward, so he made sure their hips and shoulders touched. Her face was ragged, her violet eyes turbulent, something else that elicited unwanted emotion from him. “This is so awful.”

“I know. You’re insured, aren’t you?”

“I am. But Mrs. Bruni has a high deductible. She won’t be able to cover all the repairs.”

“There must be something we can do.” He used we intentionally. 

“The town has to help.”

“I agree. How bad was your studio damaged?” 

“Smoke damage. The flames didn’t reach it so the sprinklers didn’t go off.”

“That’s good to hear. At least it didn’t burn.”

“I have to remember that.” She gave him a small smile. “I like that you’re so optimistic.”

Again, the foreign twist in his heart. Which he couldn’t afford. He’d come to Rockford to do a job and he certainly couldn’t develop feelings for his target. After all, he was planning to destroy her life as she knew it.

Sasha and Danny are smitten. Completely and totally smitten with one another, but President Manwaring’s youngest daughter has a sense about people and she senses that something isn’t right with Danny.

Before she finds out the story is okay, it moves forward and gives you all the details you need moving forward. Once she learns about Dan, the story picks up. It’s interesting and fun, even if Sasha was a bit unbelievable at times. I had a hard time connecting to her and even liking her, which is odd because everyone who meets her seems to love her.

In fact, I didn’t care for Danny/Dan all that much either, but I loved the sisters and the family and the way they loved each other with everything they had. It could be smothering at times but it was always with the best of intentions. They were the best part of the story.

The plot with Danny and his past was interesting and there were some nice misdirects tossed in, which I appreciated.

I love a good happy ending as much as any romance reader, but I’m surprised this couple got one. Pleasantly surprised, but still.

In the Series – Available Now:

Never My Love

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3JbOkUB
B&N: https://bit.ly/3Hg6HYg
Kobo: https://bit.ly/3s6gv0D
Google: https://bit.ly/3s6kNF0
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In the Series – PreOrder:

Be Mine Again
Not For You
Lost to Us

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Author Bio:

A NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling author, Kathryn Shay has been a lifelong writer and teacher. She has written dozens of self-published original romance titles, print books with the Berkley Publishing Group and Harlequin Enterprises and mainstream women’s fiction. One of her firefighter books hit #20 on the NEW YORK TIMES list. Her novels have been serialized in COSMOPOLITAN magazine and featured in USA TODAY, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL and PEOPLE magazine. There are over ten million copies of her books in print and downloaded online. Readers call her work heartwarming.

Social Media links:

Website: www.kathrynshay.com
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Release & Review Tour ~ Our Best Shot by A.M. Williams

My life seemed perfect until he came back to town. With his sights set on me, he’s ready to settle down and face any challenge. Fans of Briar U by Elle Kennedy will devour Our Best Shot by A.M. Williams, a small-town, forced proximity, hockey romance.

Read Now! 

Amazon https://amzn.to/37lFHcC

Rory

On the outside, my life seems perfect. I have my friends, family, and quirky small town to keep me satisfied plus my secret writing career that’s done better than I ever dreamed. What’s not to love?

There’s just one thing missing. But I don’t know what it is.

At least until he comes back to town. The man I crushed on so hard in high school, I couldn’t talk in full sentences around him.

He’s back, he’s ready to settle down, and he’s set his sights on me, the wallflower.

Every time I turn around, there he is. He wants to know about me. And no matter how hard I try to ignore him…I can’t. He’s everything I wanted as a teenager.

And as an adult? I’m discovering that he’s the total package and is ready to sweep me off my feet.

Alex

Deciding to retire from my professional hockey career was easy. I miss my family, friends, and hometown. I crave a slower lifestyle so I can finally settle down.

What isn’t easy? Figuring out how to coach teenaged boys in how to play hockey and win over the woman I can’t stop thinking about.

I think about her constantly and am constantly finding ways to run into her ‘by accident’. I want to know everything about her, but she’s hesitant and I have my work cut out for me to convince her to step outside her comfort zone and date me.

But I’m up for the challenge. I’m ready to show her what being with me could be like and that she doesn’t need to be scared.

With outside forces working against us, can we get it together for our best shot at a happily ever after?

Add to Goodreads!

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Excerpt 

Copyright 2022 @A.M. Williams

 “You want to sit for a little while?” Alex asked, pointing to a bench just ahead of us and off the main path.

I nodded, hoping that the bench would be enough out of the way that people wouldn’t notice us sitting there and stop staring.

We settled in and I sipped my coffee, looking the park over.

Compared to the weekend before, the park looked totally transformed.

There were bright tents throughout the trees with local crafters and artisans, and loud chatter filled the air from people walking around.

“This festival looks no different from when I came as a kid,” Alex said, pulling my attention to him.

I glanced at him and watched as he looked over at what I’d just been looking at.

“Are you surprised? You know we like tradition here.”

Alex chuckled. “Not really. I guess since it’s been so long since I was here, that I expected something to have changed. But nothing has. The same tents, same vendors, same atmosphere.”

I made a noise low in my throat. “There are some new vendors. They’re just peppered throughout. Some ones you’re thinking of don’t come anymore.”

What I didn’t say was that some owners had died because of how old they were and their businesses closed. The town had to get some new life for the vendors, otherwise this festival would have dwindled.

“Still. This is the same. If I close my eyes, I bet I could recall where everyone is and the order of the games at the rink. I feel like no time has passed.”

I said nothing at first. Then I asked, “Are you happy to be here at least?”

Alex met my gaze and nodded. “I am. It’s weird how I didn’t think about so much related to town while I was gone. I came home for holidays and brief visits, but everything else was just background. But now that I’m here, I can’t help remembering coming as a kid with my mom and sister. Hanging with my friends before our games. And all the other shit that the town does throughout the year.”

I thought about what he was saying. I didn’t have any experience not coming to the town events, considering I went to college close by and returned to town the minute I could. I’d kept coming to everything, even throughout college.

Where do I begin? I just really loved Rory and Alex, separately and together. She is one of those teachers that you love but not in a brown-nosing sort of way, just like a cool teacher you don’t feel ashamed of saying ‘Hi’ to in the halls or around town. Oh and she’s an undercover author, so I mean what’s not to like about her?

Alex is a former professional hockey player who has returned home to his small town to live a normal life, no matter how strange others think his choices are. I loved that he had to work to get Rory to go out with him. Even though he had no idea it was because of her past baggage, he didn’t ask what her problem was, he just worked harder to charm her.

And he did.

Together they were fun and flirty and sure, a little bit steamy too. I had a good time reading Our Best Shot, smiling nearly the whole time I was immersed in the story.

The Harpy was terrible and even after finding out why, I still didn’t care and I hope she gets what’s coming to her. I really loved Bea, Rory’s best friend. We all need friends like that and I hope everyone has at least one. I really hope she gets the story I think she’s going to get.

Our Best Shot was a really fun and romantic read. I love a good small town romance and this was a really good time.

Our Best Shot – A.M. Williams

About A.M. Williams 

A.M. Williams is just a simple girl from the south that found herself living abroad. When she’s not annoying her cat or reading, she’s spending time with her husband and traveling as much as possible. She has a serious case of wanderlust and wants to go as many places as possible while she can. She loves Cheerwine, sweet tea, and North Carolina (eastern style) BBQ as well as those crystal clear waters on the North Carolina coast.

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BOOK REVIEW!!! ~ Love to Hate You by Whitley Cox

Title: Love to Hate You
Author: Whitley Cox
Release Date: March 12, 2022
Genre: enemies to lovers, marriage of convenience, best friend’s brother, road trip, forced proximity, romantic comedy, high heat, erotic romance
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/love-to-hate-you-by-whitley-cox
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60402988-love-to-hate-you

Blurb: 

She needs arm candy, he needs her insurance, but first, they need to drive across the country without killing each other.

Eli

Since the first day of kindergarten, I have hated Alexandra Hartford.

And twenty-something years later that hasn’t changed.

But she has.

She’s still a tomboy with a chip on her shoulder, but now she’s a hot tomboy with a chip on her tattooed shoulder who can fight like a badass.

I’d still rather have a bath with fire ants than spend ten days in a car with her, but she has something I need.

Once the deal is done, we can go our separate ways.

That is … if I want to.

Alex

Eli Evans is my nemesis.

He blames me for his sister’s death, our parents’ divorces, and probably global warming, too.

Why on Earth would I help him?

Because he’s as easy on the eyes as he is the bane of my existence and I need a hot date to a wedding in San Diego.

Can we drive across the country without me leaving him at a truck stop somewhere? I doubt it.

But, I’m willing to try.

Ten days in a car, a wedding, and a marriage of convenience, then I’m done with him forever.

Right?

Love to Hate You is an enemies to lovers romance and holy cow are these two enemies when this story begins. Eli and Alex have known each other–a term I use loosely–since they were in kindergarten. She was best friends with his twin sister and he was her bully, her tormentor.

They were hardcore enemies who found themselves living in the same small Maine town years after their lives were blown apart by tragedy and circumstances.

The story itself is mostly entertaining.
Mostly.

My major problem is that I just could not warm up to Eli. I understand where his misdirected anger came from, but those first few chapters just soured me on him and I never recovered from what he said about Alex. I just couldn’t. Not sorry.

But they make a deal which I won’t spoil for you except to say it’s a fake relationship/marriage of convenience which mostly takes place on a road trip. I appreciated the growth shown by both throughout the trip and the heat between them was HOLY SMOKES OFF THE CHARTS!! Together, they burn up the sheets and my kindle.

The story itself was good even if I didn’t like Eli all the way to the very end. I loved Alex though. She was scarred and tough and brilliant and managed to find ways to navigate her pain that were healthy and positive. She is exactly the kind of heroine you can and want to root for, and I did. She wanted Eli and I wanted her to get what she wanted, it’s as simple as that.

Good read, meh hero and awesome heroine.

Buy Links: Kindle Unlimited

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Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B09R18H3JH