Two stories so deeply intertwined, you’ll think you know how they intersect…but you’ll be wrong….
Zack Martin: The day I met Emily Bennett my whole world changed. Sure, we were just kids, but I was old enough to know my life would never be the same. She was my best friend. My destiny. My fate. I wasn’t wrong…I just didn’t know how twisted fate could be.
Nikki Fallon: After the death of my mother, moving from my dark and dreary trailer park to sunny California, I was focused on one thing – finding a sister I’d only just learned existed. Falling in love with him wasn’t part of the plan. But he filled a void I never knew was possible to fill. He had to be my fate. My destiny. Until the day I finally found out who my sister was…and how twisted fate could be.
My Rating: 3½/5 stars
Nikki always knew the day would come when her mother’s body simply gave up; between the bipolar disorder and the diabetes, she just couldn’t last forever. Nikki simply hoped that day wouldn’t come before she turned 18 and could legally be on her own. If wishes were dreams, right? Her mother dying certainly sucks but the real suckage sinks in when Nikki finds out not only was her mother keeping secrets, she kept some very, very big secrets like an aunt and a twin sister Nikki never, ever knew about. With her choice being foster care or her aunt, Nikki takes a leap of faith and moves to California with her aunt.
As Nikki is trying to sort out and adjust to her new life and make sense of the mysteries left over from her old life, Zack is doing good just to continue breathing. Emily, his girlfriend and partner in crime since the age of nine has died and his last memories of her are of anger and the fight they had. For more than six months, Zack has refused to go to school, refused to see his friends and, generally refused to live his life. The despair and guilt are almost more than he can bear and the very thought of moving beyond Emily is damn near crippling. In an effort to help their son finally begin to live his life again, Zack’s parents insist he return to school and the life he knew before that fateful night.
Zack’s first meeting with Nikki is perhaps the most significant moment of his life. For the first time in what feels like forever, he feels a spark of something deep in his soul. Nikki is new to the area and the school and has no idea about Zack’s past or what it is that makes him seem so very lost and desperately sad. What both know for sure is that they are interested in the other and they have to find a way to make that interest fit into their respective lives. The feeling out process for both is at times funny, at times sweet and, at times riddled with guilt and misunderstanding. Both Zack and Nikki are still very young and have dealt with incredible loss recently and so, the thought of happiness for themselves and with someone else causes an increased level of guilt mixed with their burgeoning feelings for one another. On top of all the mixed up and confusing feelings is the ongoing mystery of Nikki’s twin sister and the crazy neighbor lady who is virtually stalking Nikki. Neither Zack nor Nikki are in any way prepared for the resolution of these mysteries and when the truth finally comes out, all of the happiness that they have recently found with one another is torn apart.
The Bottom Line: Left Behind is a solidly written read from Vi Keeland and Dylan Scott. Though I did enjoy this read and had no difficulty getting through it, I can’t honestly say there is anything here that just blew me away. Once the story gets rolling, the light mystery is pretty easy to unravel and that just leaves a love story. The love story is riddled with angst, desire, and, some humor but it really doesn’t offer anything new or exciting. I liked both Nikki and Zack and certainly rooted for them along the way but I didn’t ever feel like I had a real connection with either character. Would I recommend this read? Sure. It’s a straight-forward and easy read that will keep your attention as most light reads will.
Excerpt from Left Behind:
He looks up and I watch his eyes take me in. Slowly. They rake over me, dropping from my eyes to my glossed lips down to my exposed shoulders. Taking his time, he follows the neckline of my simple, yet body contouring sundress, lingering when he reaches my full breasts. I’m sufficiently covered, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t aware that the dress showed off my assets well. Tight around my chest, gathering snuggly at the waist, with a scant amount of cleavage. Just enough coverage to still leave something for him to imagine. And I watch his face change as his imagination takes off running.
His eyes drift down my legs, tanned now from the eternal California sun. Momentarily he’s lost in what he sees and doesn’t even notice I’m watching him leer. Totally worth the extra effort getting ready tonight, I couldn’t be happier at the reaction I get. Eventually, his eyes make their way back up to mine and I arch one eyebrow, letting him know he’s been caught. A normal reaction might be to look embarrassed or perhaps even flustered a little. But not Zack. Instead, he flashes me a wicked grin. “You look incredible.” He’s the one doing the leering, yet I’m the one who ends up blushing.
About the authors and where to find them:
Vi Keeland: Vi Keeland is a native New Yorker with three children that occupy most of her free time, which she complains about often, but wouldn’t change for the world. She is a bookworm and has been known to read her kindle at stop lights, while styling her hair, cleaning, walking, during sporting events, and frequently while pretending to work. She is a boring attorney by day, and an exciting smut author by night!
Dylan Scott: Dylan Scott is a New York trial attorney, wife and mother of four. She believes her job as a trial attorney is a subcategory to the field of entertainment more than law. With a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature she believed teaching English was a destined career choice until she realized her life long talent of “argument” could actually be her job. A recent, fairly boring, midlife crisis resulted in a brief stint as a middle school English teacher which confirmed that she wasn’t ready to give up the law. Dylan has also taught legal courses at the college level and worked with at-risk inner city youth in the roles of mentor and coach. She is co-author Vi Keeland’s biggest fan.
A scalding attraction. An irresistible passion. A pity she’s the one woman he can never have… Dane Coulter is mourning the loss of his best friend, fellow Special Ops buddy, Cody. Oh, Cody didn’t die. It’s worse. He’s getting married. Cody is, in Dane’s opinion, whipped. Dane swears he will never suffer the same fate. But when he meets a woman who can take all his dominant loving and beg for more, he realizes he may have met his match. It’s a damn shame she’s the one woman in the world his man-code deems untouchable…his best friend’s sister.
My Rating: 4½/5 stars
Dane Coulter’s life is all but over; his best friend, Cody is getting married and life as Dane knows it is over. Determined to never give in to the farce that is marriage and turn his life over to a woman who can control him, Dane is certain he will be the last man standing and he will be doing so solo. Las Vegas is meant to be full of fun and debauchery but Cody is having none of it. Cody is committed to his bride-to-be and won’t even go for the stripper/hooker the boys arranged for him. Not one to let his friends go unattended, Cody tells the boys to enjoy the stripper. Dane intends to do just that and as luck would have it, he runs into her in the hallway on the way back to his room.
Since she was a gangly teenager, Tina has been in love with Dave Coulter. He is everything she wants in a man and though she has dated others, they have never come close to fulfilling her in the way she is sure Dane can. Tina’s brother, Cody is getting married this weekend and with Dane as his best man, she fully intends to get Dane’s attention and keep it. As luck would have it, on the way back to her room Dane mistakes her for the stripper/hooker and invites her to his room for some fun and games. Though he has known her for most of her life, Dane doesn’t recognize Tina and she decides to go with flow and experience a night of unbridled passion with Dane. Not only is the night passionate, it is also the tiniest bit kinky and Tina wants more . . .
In the harsh light of day and at a most inconvenient time, Dane realizes that his night of naughty – one of the best of his life if he is being honest – was not, in fact spent with a hooker named Bambi but with Tina, his best friend’s sister. Man code clearly states that one does NOT ever date nor tie up and spank one’s best friend’s sister. Dane is sure that once he explains this to Tina she will understand and they can move forward with their lives and never speak of their night of awesome again. Tina has other plans . . . .
For two days, Tina does her level best to piss off Dane. If he is going to adhere to some stupid fictional code then she is going to show him exactly what he is missing. Tina is committed to her plan it doesn’t take long for Dane to realize that if he doesn’t do something drastic, he may lose the best thing that has ever walked into his life. All he has to do is tell his best friend and accept that he may not want to be the last man standing . . . . .
The Bottom Line: Whipped is delightfully naughty little read that I would have liked to have seen go on for a bit longer. Tina is funny and smart and determined in her quest to have Dane. She has spent her life loving him and refuses to give up on the possibility of being with him because of some dumb code. Her tactics are naughty and ruthless and make for a damn entertaining read. Dane is so convinced about the course of his life that he is practically blindsided by Tina. Tina not only fulfills him sexually but is a match for his wit, charm and, stern nature. In fact, Tina isn’t the least bit concerned by all of Dane’s posturing and calls him out on it when she needs to. Getting to their HEA is a whirlwind and that HEA is finalized with an epilogue that is both funny and sweet. In all, a fine read!
Meg Michaels, a bookstore owner, has already walked away from two cheating exes. She’s learned her lesson and has her mind set on success—until she gets knocked up. Embarrassed and unwilling to discuss her situation with friends and family, she wears layers to hide the pregnancy.
When Meg gets sick at a party, she’s mortified. Even worse, Theo Taylor, the guest of honor, discovers her secret. Theo, an Army medic wounded in the war, agrees not to reveal her condition, and the two forge a bond of friendship that blossoms into love.
Theo is soon filling all of Meg’s late-night cravings—and not just the pregnancy-induced ones. But can their love overcome all the obstacles that stand between them and creating a happy family?
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Meg Michaels never, in a million years saw herself knocked up and unmarried at just 24 years old. Even more humiliating is the fact that Meg’s baby is not the result of a happy, romantic and, solid relationship but the result of a sweaty, mistake filled weekend with her ex whose BS she fell for, yet again. The cherry on top of the crap sundae is the fact that the baby doesn’t even belong to her ex-fiancé but to her still-married ex-boyfriend. Can it really get any more complicated? Oh yes, it can. Humiliated by her situation and terrified of what her family and friends will think, Meg is trying her hardest to hide the pregnancy and deal with the fact that she is going to be a single mother.
Between hiding her burgeoning bump, fighting morning sickness and, helping her twin brother run their highly successful bookstore, Meg is stretched to the limit. Her charade is as exhausting and her pregnancy and though she knows she can only keep the secret for so long, she is determined to hide until the very moment that she can’t. That moment was meant to be weeks away until returned from war Army medic Theo Taylor accidentally discovers her secret. Though it is probably very bad form to ask an injured veteran to take on yet another burden, Meg asks Theo to keep her secret.
Theo Taylor has been through hell and come out the other side. He saw many, many atrocities in combat and patched up those that he could and said goodbye to those that he couldn’t. When Theo loses his leg and is sent back home, he comes home in very bad shape. Though he makes it through each day and mostly appears to be fine, Theo is falling apart on the inside. When Theo meets Meg, a little bit of hope comes back into his life. Meg is smart, frustrating, funny, stubborn and, in desperate need of a little help. Once Meg’s secret finally comes out, things get even more fun and the two set the tongues a wagging when Theo moves in with Meg. Theo needs to get out of his mother’s house if he is ever going to learn how to live again and with his considerable skills, he can help Meg get her home set up and ready for the arrival of her baby. The plan seems crazy on so many levels but Theo and Meg get along well and are able to help one another at a time when they both desperately need it.
As the weeks go by, Meg and Theo grow closer and a relationship begins to develop. Meg feels more stable than she has in months with Theo by her side and though Theo tends to run hot and cold, he is there for Meg when he can be. When Theo is hot, he is smoking and he is desperately attracted to Meg. Against her better judgment (really, she has two exes that suck!) Meg begins to fall for Theo and the more she around him, the more she wants to save him, to protect him and, help him overcome the demons he is plagued by. But demons are hard to overcome and just when Meg needs Theo the most, he bails on her.
The Bottom Line: When You Make It Home is a sweet romantic read that brings together two moderately to highly broken souls who are looking for their mate. Meg has a terrible track record with men and an inability to let go of the past; until she resolve her issues moving forward is going to be very, very hard to do. Theo’s issues are much more dramatic and just as damaging as Meg’s. Theo’s demons haunt him relentlessly and if he is ever going to be who Meg needs him to be and who he wants to be, he has to get right with himself. The struggle between the two is sweet and sad with moments of steaminess and pure joy. In the end, I very much enjoyed Meg and Theo but had some issues with some of the minor characters. Even with the couple of minor characters who rubbed me the wrong way, When You Make It Home is still a solid read that will certainly appeal to lovers of difficult romances with an HEA.
About the author:
Claire Ashby was born and raised in the heart of Atlanta. At a young age, she began keeping journals and over time embellished the details of her quiet days. Eventually, she let go of reality altogether and delved completely into the world of fiction. When she’s not reading or writing, she spends her time watching extreme survival shows and taking long walks after nightfall. She has an unnatural love of high places, but still regrets the time she skydived solo. She believes some things are better left to the imagination. She resides in Austin with her family and a pack of wild dogs.
My Rating: 3/5
Lucy Tuttle’s life is neat, ordered and, perfectly aligned. She has a perfectly arranged desk, her apartment is ultra-modern, sleek and tidy and, as a financial planner, she has secured her future. The only real messiness in Lucy’s life is her über-hippy boyfriend, Oliver and her delightfully crazy aunt, Maren. The day crazy aunt Maren dies is the day Lucy Tuttle’s life turns ass over tea kettle and her neat and orderly life will never, ever be the same.
As if the loss of her aunt weren’t enough Lucy also finds out that her crazy aunt has left her house, a house that is in no way neat or tidy. In fact, the house is not in the city and it is not in good condition but, it the last place on Earth that Lucy feels close to her aunt. Though she is reluctant to leave her sleek and ultra-modern apartment in the city, Oliver convinces Lucy that with a make-over, Maren’s house could not only be livable but a place where they can have a real future together. With little to hold on to now that Maren is gone, Lucy agrees to the make-over and the move. Before long, Lucy has also agreed to Oliver moving in and the make-over being eco-friendly. Like her life, Lucy’s home is turned ass over tea kettle and the days and months wear on and on, Lucy isn’t quite sure she will ever be able to come out the other side of her grief.
The Bottom Line: I really wanted this read to be so much more than it is. With a name like The Sock Wars, I thought I was in for at least a little bit of humor but what I got was a read full of sorrow with only the tiniest bit of happiness and little to no humor. Lucy is mired in grief and while that grief is well-deserved, it also bogs down and slows down the read. By the time Lucy finally begins to pull out of her grief and accept the immense changes in her life, it is a bit too late to really salvage the overall read. To be fair, once she does begin to accept the changes Lucy also dives in and starts making some more changes to help herself find her center once again and pursue a happy future, one her crazy aunt Maren would have approved of. In all, I found myself to be completely underwhelmed by the plot of The Sock Wars but because of the strong writing style (no problems with flow, grammar, errors, etc.) and complete commitment to character development (even though I only really liked the crazy, deceased aunt), I find myself unable to go below a three star rating.
Hockey star Alexander Crossman has a reputation as a cold-hearted player on and off the rink. Pushed into the sport by an alcoholic father, Alex isn’t afraid to give fans the proverbial middle finger, relishing his role as the MVP they love to hate. Management, however, isn’t so amused. Now Alex has a choice: fix his public image through community service or ride the bench. But Alex refuses to be molded into the Carolina Cold Fury poster boy . . . not even by a tempting redhead with killer curves.
As a social worker, Sutton Price is accustomed to difficult people—like Alex, who’s been assigned to help her create a drug-abuse awareness program for at-risk youth as part of the team’s effort to clean up his image. What she doesn’t expect is the arrogant smirk from his perfect lips to stir her most heated fantasies. But Sutton isn’t one to cross professional boundaries—and besides, Alex doesn’t do relationships . . . or does he? The more she sees behind Alex’s bad-boy façade, the more Sutton craves the man she uncovers.
Source: ARC from author
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Holy hockey puck, Batman!!! Alex is the first book in Sawyer Bennett’s new Cold Fury Hockey series and it is one smonkin’ hot read that has me seriously considering becoming a HUGE hockey fan. This character-driven read is full of action, drama, lust and, some ice-melting (yeah, I went there J) naughty bits.
Alex: Super-asshole Alex Crossman is hands-down this is my favorite character!! From the minute I met Alex I knew I wanted to both punch him and lick him. Alex’s past, and in particular his childhood is one I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Alex’s father was – and still is – a drunk bastard with little to no regard for his son’s well-being. The only interest Alex’s father has ever had in him relates to how good of a hockey player he is. In the years since he left his father’s house, Alex has hardened himself against any and all attachments. He is painfully clear about his feelings toward humanity and, everyone, including his long-time teammates know to steer clear. Alex is a self-described asshole with absolutely no desire to change until the second he meets Sutton Price.
Sutton: Sutton Price is the kind of character you either absolutely love or absolutely hate. She is pure sunshine with an effervescent personality that is hard to tame. Sutton works as a drug counselor and though she sees a lot of back sliding and falling off the wagon, she is optimistic and determined to stay positive and help where she is able. Like Alex, Sutton had a pretty terrible childhood but unlike Alex, she didn’t let it define her. Given what she has overcome in her life and what she faces on a regular basis with her job, Alex Crossman is nothing she can’t handle. In fact, Sutton makes it very clear the day she meets Alex that his asshole attitude is not only completely unintimidating but less awful than what she faces on a regular basis.
Alex is difficult and testy while Sutton is optimistic and able to give as good as she gets. Sutton refuses to let Alex shirk his responsibilities where their project is concerned and Alex refuses to allow Sutton to go one more day knowing nothing about hockey. Though Sutton is not at all confused about she feels for Alex and what she wants with him, Alex is definitely confused. Sutton opens Alex’s world and before he knows it, he is experiencing life in a way he never knew possible. On a purely physical level, Alex and Sutton are volcanic in their hotness. Once those two decide the time is right, there is no stopping them and it is some damn good reading. Of course, it wouldn’t be a truly good (dare I say great?) read without some drama and Bennett certainly heaps it on her characters.
The Bottom Line: I’m not afraid to say this twice – HOLY HOCKEY PUCK, BATMAN!! Alex is a thoroughly enjoyable read from start to finish. While I don’t generally care for assholes, Alex owns his attitude and more importantly, when he meets Sutton, he proves to everyone that he can be a better man, he can change. Alex’s struggle with his past and his future plays a heavy role in this read and I liked watching his evolution. Bennett doesn’t make Alex perfect and she doesn’t give him an easy road filled with roses, bunnies and, chocolate. Alex’s road is hard and he screws up, a lot!! Sutton is completely delightful and yes, I fall on the side of loving her. She doesn’t take any sh*t off Alex and more importantly, she is patient and willing to help Alex. Sutton’s optimism is infectious and she has a wonderful impact on Alex and his world. If you haven’t already figured it out, I sort of really, really, really enjoyed this read. In fact, I actually squeaked a few times while reading this one :)
P.S. I don’t often comment on the covers of the books I read but I feel compelled to in this instance. The cover of Alex is so completely tied to the read and I love it. The model and the pose both describe the character perfectly and I really do like it when a cover synchs up so perfectly with the read.
About the author and where to find her:
USA Today Best-Selling author, Sawyer Bennett, is a snarky southern woman and reformed trial lawyer who decided to finally start putting on paper all of the stories that were floating in her head. She is married to a mobster (well, a market researcher) and they have two big, furry dogs who hog the bed. Sawyer would like to report she doesn’t have many weaknesses but can be bribed with a nominal amount of milk chocolate.
Love is selfish…
My name is Blaire.
I’m the bad girl.
The other woman.
The one who never gets the guy in the end.
I’m the gold digger.
The one no one roots for.
The one you love to hate.
I hate myself too.
Everyone has a story. Are you ready for mine?
Chapter One from Easy Virtue by Mia Asher:
Part I: Innocence
What is love?
I don’t know.
I’ve never had it.
Is it even real?
No, I don’t think so. I mean, how can I believe in love when I’ve never witnessed it? When it seems to only exist in books and films, or in the lives of more fortunate people than me? Trust me, I know.
Love is my personal chimera.
I am gazing at brown eyes, admiring the richness of the color, the beauty of the man to whom they belong to.
“You’re so beautiful, Blaire … so wet,” he murmurs, his hand going between my legs as he begins to rub me. His fingers spread me open to their soft invasion, tuning my body to his wants and needs, preparing me to be taken as the hot friction of his touch lights a wild fire within my body. It’s not the first time he has touched me like this, but each time feels better and better—the sensations all-consuming and heady.
Over and over again.
His invasion is fast and slow, deep and shallow. His touch is soiled heaven.
As I open my legs wider for him, I wonder if it feels this good because of him or because I’m taking something that doesn’t belong to me and making it mine.
“Oh God … I love you, Blaire. I love you … I love you …” he pants in my ear.
“Don’t stop … it feels so good,” I breathe.
Okay, maybe it’s because at this moment in time this man thinks he loves me and no one else but me, however false his proclamation may be.
I close my eyes as his lips land on mine. He kisses me softly as if I’m made out of gold, kissing me with that familiar mouth I’ve seen smile tenderly at me so many times before. The assault of his tongue debilitates me but doesn’t incapacitate me.
“It’s four dollars, gorgeous,” the cute barista says, smiling at me.
I’m about to pay for my cappuccino when I hear a deep, manly voice say, “Let me get that for you.”
A man wearing a beige suit comes forward, standing next to me as he hands the barista some bills. “I’ve seen you around … you’re Paige’s friend.”
I smile, licking my suddenly dry lips. “Thank you, and yes … I know Paige.”
The smile on his handsome face seems to freeze as his gaze follows the tip of my tongue, the spark of hunger brightening his eyes. Inwardly, I smile because who knew it was so easy to make men desire me, particularly when I went without attention for so long.
“My pleasure. Are you,” he coughs, “here with someone else?”
I shake my head and look at him through fluttering eyelashes. “No, I’m here all by myself.” I pause, touching his arm invitingly, and smile. “Would you like to join me?”
He looks around the coffee shop, probably considering if he should, if it’s proper to do so, but less than five seconds later, he’s staring at me once again. “Sure.”
Yes, just like that.
The beige walls are spinning.
The clock is ticking.
The bedsprings creak as the moon cries outside the motel window.
And the man above me kisses me while he fingers me, preparing me for him. Gotta love such a thoughtful man.
I can taste his sweet saliva mixing with mine, and I love it.
“Please,” I beg against his lips, reaching for his hard cock and wrapping my fingers around it. “I’m ready.”
I feel his mouth leave mine as he begins to make his way down my partially dressed body. “Are you sure, Blaire? Are you sure you want to do this with me?”
I open my eyes to witness what I think I want him to do. No, what I’m sure I want him to do. I can’t help the smile I feel playing on my lips as I see him struggling with his conscience. He asks me if I’m sure when he has already fucked my mouth with his cock countless number of times, when his fingers have filled every orifice of my body. Should I laugh? No … I decide to take pity instead.
“I’m sure, so sure,” I say, letting my arms land like dead weight on the bed, the cheap fabric rough against my skin.
When I feel the bed dip between my legs, I instinctively open them for him and watch as he brings a condom package to his mouth. As he rips it open with his teeth, I admire his perfect full lips that emphasize how masculine he is.
I feel pleased with myself.
So fucking pleased because he wants me.
Mr. Callahan wants me. Me. Can you believe it? Chubby Blaire. Ugly and awkward Blaire.
I guess I’m not that ugly anymore. My body? What was considered fat as a child is now called boobs and ass. Guys want it. They want me. They want to touch me, grope me, feel me … they want to screw me. And it feels good to be wanted … so good. It makes me feel powerful, and like a potent drug spreading inside your bloodstream, I want more.
I need more.
“Hurry up,” I say, not bothering to be shy or coy about it. I mean, he brought me here to have sex, right?
“Fuck, give me a second, Blaire. Trying to get the damn condom on my dick.” As he rolls the rubber on his stiff dick, his eyes wonder over my bare chest, my face, my spread legs. Shaking his head as if trying to clear his mind, he mutters, “You’re so beautiful. I want you so much.”
That’s not the first time I have heard those words come out of a man’s mouth. Josh tells me all the time how beautiful I am, how perfect I am, how much he wants me, how much he loves me. But he’s my friend with benefits. The words kind of lose their meaning when it’s the same person saying them to you over and over again.
Those two words are all it takes for him to spread my legs wider with his hands and finally enter me with his throbbing dick. Pain shoots through my body, and a groan escapes my mouth when he covers my body with his. I feel his whole length inside me in one deep thrust.
“Christ, you’re so tight.”
He lifts both my legs, wrapping them around his lean waist and starts to thrust. Hard. It hurts. But I like the pain. It sobers me.
And that’s when reality comes crashing down on me. It hits me with the speed and blinding power of a torpedo, making me realize what I’m doing. What I’m giving away and the man doesn’t even know it.
What the hell am I doing?
Proving that you are your mother’s daughter.
Making her proud.
The room is filled with the noises of the man grunting his pleasure and the wet slapping of our skin; it makes me want to gag. I want to throw up. Maybe it’s the alcohol I drank.
Maybe it’s self-disgust.
The initial pain is gone and now I just feel sore. And strange.
His beautiful face lowers, his lips about to connect with mine, and I feel the bile rise inside my throat. I turn my face to the side, his kiss landing on my cheek. My eyes watch the way the lights in the bathroom illuminate all its used and dirty ugliness.
“Oh God, I’m going to come … I’m going to come … I’m going to come,” he continues to pant in my ear, pumping in and out of my body. Before I know what’s happening, he half-screams and half groans, his body going tense on top of mine.
And just like that it’s over. In less than five minutes I’ve managed to kill a part of me.
Our breathing evens and he pulls out, moving to stand up. I push myself up on my elbows to see him inspect his condom. It still glistens. By the time he lifts his eyes, connecting with mine, I’ve already wrapped my body with the duvet cover.
Confusion, shock, and pleasure reflect in those brown eyes. “I-I didn’t know … I …” His hands go to his hair as we stare at each other. “I didn’t know you were a virgin.”
I shrug my shoulder carelessly, causing the duvet to slide down, exposing my bare breasts to him. His eyes immediately flare with lust. “It doesn’t matter … I wanted it to be you.”
And that’s the truth.
“But nothing. If it bothers you, then forget it happened. I already did,” I say, ending the conversation.
This is my body. I will have the last word. Not him. Not anyone. This is my life. This is my decision.
Without giving myself a chance to doubt my next words, I turn to look at him in all his naked beauty, the gold wedding ring on his finger catching my attention. “Don’t worry, Mr. Callahan … I won’t tell your daughter that you fucked her classmate.”
And with that, I seal my destiny.
About the author and where to find her:
My name is Mia Asher. I’m a writer, a hopeless romantic, a wanderer, a dreamer, a cynic, and a believer. And, oh yes…I might be a bit crazy – but who isn’t?
THE BLOOD VINE SERIES
An Adult Paranormal Romance Series
Published by Omnific Publishing
The Maras vampires will go to any length to save their kind. Only their lovers can show them how. Blood Vine: When public relations pro Zoey Porter arrives at an enchanting California winery, she discovers her sexy new client is the almost one-night stand she can’t forget. Zoey has vowed never to risk her heart again, but Andre needs her help. Blood Entangled: Kos Maras’s orderly life is in shambles–he must distribute Blood Vine to a population of ailing vampires, but Hunters block him at every turn. To make matters worse, each night, he watches over a temptingly beautiful but unattainable woman sleeping in his bed. Blood Reunited: Vampire biologist Bel Maras must create a cure for the wasting disease that plagues his family. But when it fails, only his ancient and estranged godmother Uta can help. Now these old enemies must overcome their past to save the vampires and come to peace with the bond they never chose.
Guest Post: Wine Pairing for the Blood Vine Series by Amber Belldene:
On our fancier dates nights, my husband and I love to go out to the restaurants in San Francisco that have those great prix fixe menus. Three courses for $35, and for an extra $20, the wine pairing. I like it because I would normally never order an appetizer, entree, desert, and three half-glasses of wine. And when he orders three different things, then we get to taste a lot from the menu. *Wanders off in a salivating reverie while recalling a particularly delicious salmon filet.*
And, I’m back! So, I thought it would be fun to give you my food and wine pairing for the Blood Vine series!
In Blood Vine, we travel with P.R. executive Zoey Porter to meet the Maras family of vampires on their estate in Sonoma County. (Though, it turns out she’s already met but refused to sleep with Andre.) Plus, Pedro and Lucas meet in the winery’s tasting room in Healdsburg. When I imagined the opening of the book, I thought of one of my very favorite Zinfandel producers, Seghesio Winery. They have a lovely tasting room in Healdsburg, CA—a bit more upscale that the Kastel Estate’s small storefront, but a place I heartily recommend if you’re doing a wine country visit. Seghesio also has a great Old Vine Zinfandel that regularly goes on major markdown at my local Safeway grocery store, because every night is not fancy date night and I feel guilty drinking wine that costs more than $12 a bottle on Tuesday. With that OVZ, I would enjoy a grilled cheese on sourdough in the Kastel Estate kitchen, which happens to be the peace-making meal Lena and Zoey share in the book.
In Blood Entangled, Kos is responsible for all the logistics of bottling and distributing the potent Blood Vine, and the Hunters try to stop him at every turn. When I researched the procedures of a family-sized winery—how they bottle, label, box and ship their wines, I thought of the tiny small-production Nalle. If you can get your hands on anything they make, especially their quick-to-sell-out Zins, I heartily recommend! In the book, chef and heroine Lena is planning a Croatia meets California menu for the Blood Vine launch party. With a Nalle Zin, I would gobble up plates of Lena’s stuffed peppers, but skip her grilled sardines in order to leave room for the Baklava. The scene where Kos helps her find the honey in the pantry is um, sweet ;-)
In Blood Reunited, Bel, Uta and a reluctant Pedro travel to the vampire homeland in Eastern Turkey and uncover the origins of Blood Vine. I delighted in researching the ancient (as in 8000 years old) winemaking techniques of the Republic of Georgia, especially the famous “black wines” made by leaving the skins and stems to ferment inside the giant ceramic qvevri which are buried underground to keep their temperatures constant. The pictures of wineries using these techniques are breathtaking and I really, really want to go! Of course, I made a point of tasting some of those wines, and Pheasant’s Tears is one widely available in the U.S. I love it—it’s a very big, bold wine, dry but with lots of fruit. Not for everybody, but a new favorite for me. In this story, one of my favorite scenes is when Pedro rhapsodizes about his sister-in-law Lena’s cherry pie and realizes his thoughts sound rather naughty. He doesn’t much care though, because the pie is so good, and I think a slice would pair very nicely with a glass of Pheasant’s Tears!
The boxed set will include a Pedro and Lucas short story for all the fans of the series, called “Blood Eternal.” It’s short and sweet, and so I think it will deserve a nice port-style Old Vine Zin from one of my favorite little wine-country hole in the walls, Prager. They make to-die-for desert wines, perfect for a decadent and romantic m/m read!
Whether you’re a wine drinker or not, I hope you find the setting of the Blood Vine series as interesting as I did. And I’d love to hear your thoughts on Blood Eternal—the story is about Pedro and Lucas facing what it means to have an eternity together.
About the author and where to find her:
I grew up on the Florida panhandle, swimming with alligators, climbing oak trees and diving for scallops…when I could pull myself away from a book. As a child, I hid my Nancy Drew novels inside the church bulletin and read mysteries during sermons—an irony that is not lost on me when I preach these days.
I’m an Episcopal Priest with a bachelor’s degree in religious studies. I believe stories are the best way to explore human truths. Some people think it’s strange for a minister to write romance, but it is perfectly natural to me, because the human desire for love is at the heart of every romance novel and God made people with that desire. I write paranormal, historical and contemporary romance and live with my husband and two children in San Francisco.
My literary agent is the fabulous Becca Stumpf of the Prospect Agency.
It’s lust at first sight when Mac sees Jason shirtless and sweating on the back of a truck.Jason is the army sergeant assigned to support the six‐week scientific expedition that Mac is participating in, and might just be the perfect candidate for another journey of discovery that Mac is desperate to undertake — sex. Fraternisation between students and staff might be strictly prohibited, but everybody knows fruit always tastes better when it’s forbidden.
My Rating: 2.5/5 stars
Willow MacIntosh – Mac to everyone – is young and inexperienced in so many ways. In an effort to rectify the situation and on somewhat of a whim, she applied for a six week research trip that will take her through the north Queensland rainforest. Though she is excited about the research and the opportunity to spread her wings, Mac also has an ulterior motive, to lose her virginity. As Mac explains:
“I haven’t meant to remain a virgin. University should be full of sex and fun, but for me it’s been full of study. The years slipped by and now I’m about to finish uni and enter the adult world as an untested girl. This trip could solve my problem. Six weeks of girls and guys camping together. Surely I could get lucky.”
Almost immediately Mac sets her sights on the one and only man she absolutely cannot have, Jason. Jason is an army sergeant assigned to a unit sent with the research group to protect them while in the rainforest. There is a very strict “no fraternization” policy in place so naturally, Mac can’t stop thinking about the hotness that is Jason. The thinking and wanting only get worse when in a moment of weakness, Jason and Mac kiss. For the next six weeks the two play a sort of cat and mouse game with one another and everyone in their respective groups. Mac is determined to have Jason and complete the research trip and Jason is determined to have Mac and keep his job.
The Bottom Line: For me, the only redeeming quality of this read is Jason. He is strong and confident, funny and intelligent and, capable and competent. Jason’s easy-going nature is a fine compliment to his strong sense of duty and I was pretty smitten with him from the beginning. On the other hand, there is Mac and I had a really hard time with her. Mac is absolutely filled with self-doubt about every aspect of her life. I could certainly understand a small amount of self-doubt – who doesn’t have that? – but Mac is nearly consumed with it. Since this read is told predominately from Mac’s POV, I found myself becoming frustrated with her very early on and simply skimming through some of her inner dialogue. This read would have been far, far more enjoyable with less introspection, less self-doubt, more humor and way more naked Jason. In all, The Virginity Mission fell a bit short for me.
“What lies beneath my veiled perfection is the ugly truth—my truth, my reality, my destiny.”
Vivian Graham has an acceptance letter into Harvard, a badass tattoo, loyal friends, ties to marijuana, a penchant for Dunkin’ Donuts, and her pesky V-card.
Everyday she takes the Red Line to her job at The Green Pot in Boston while her friends enter the coveted, black iron gates to higher learning. The ramifications from a tragic accident have put her life on hold while time marches on for everyone around her.
After graduating from Harvard Law, Boston native, Oliver Konrad, moves to Portland to start his career and his life. Three years later, after a horrific discovery, he returns home to trade in his three-piece suit for leather work boots and his suburban home for a condo in Cambridge.
All he brought back to the East Coast was an aversion to pillows and secrets he keeps hidden behind a mysterious locked door. Oliver’s days are predictable and his nights are lonely until he meets Vivian on the subway. Her long raven hair, green eyes, and mile-long legs are achingly sexy, but the way she “innocently” fingers and licks her Boston Kreme doughnut can only be described in two words—complete torture.
When their paths cross at every turn, laughter is abundant, friendship is easy, and love is unintentional. However, their future seems improbable.
About the author and where to find her:
With 10 years of flossing lectures under her belt, she took early retirement from her dental hygiene career to stay home with her three awesome boys and manage the family business.
After her best friend of nearly 30 years suggested a few books from the Contemporary Romance genre, Jewel was hooked. Devouring two and three books a week but still craving more, she decided to practice sustainable reading, AKA writing.
When she’s not donning her cape and saving the planet one tree at a time, she enjoys yoga with friends, good food with family, rock climbing with her kids, watching How I Met Your Mother reruns, and of course…heart-wrenching, tear-jerking, panty-scorching novels.
Darkness is the only thing I see. Ever since the day my life changed. The day that everything and everyone I held close to me ceased to exist. The day I lost it all and the demons of my past consumed my every waking moment.
I tried to keep others at arm’s length. Tried not to let my darkness taint them. Ruin them. Harm them. And whether I want to admit it or not, as much as I wish I could keep them locked out, they refuse to leave. Refuse to let me suffer alone.
If I hadn’t been so focused on keeping those demons from flying free, I wouldn’t have missed how one perfect angel was able to sneak her way under my skin—refusing to let go. Making me want things I don’t deserve.
She consumes me. Her beauty knows no end. The love she promises tempts me every time she’s near. But that pure heart that makes her MY Emmy is the one thing I’m convinced I’ll destroy if I ever let her close.
I’m a broken man. A broken man with too much darkness in his soul to ever let her light shine upon me. But even that doesn’t stop me from craving her with every single breath in my body.
**This is the final book in the Corps Security series. This book is not suitable for younger readers. There is strong language, adult situations, and some violence.*
Excerpt from Locke (Book #5: Corps Security Series):
Six weeks. It’s been over a goddamn month since Emmy ran from me.
It took me three days to find her—thanks to the tracking device I had placed on her car—down in some small Podunk town in south Florida. Even if she had been trying to hide, she’d done a shit job of it. One search for her parents would have brought me right to her.
It took me longer to actually get eyes on her than it had to find her. She was holed up in some cheap-ass hotel for three weeks. She called in her meals and never left the room. And unfortunately, I had to leave and rush home when things out of my control needed attention and I again had to pull Asher’s head out of his ass. Now I’m back and I’m not leaving until I get my hands on her.
She doesn’t want to be found. I know that, but damn if I’m going to let her run off and get away for good. I’ve pushed and pushed her away. Every bone in my body has screamed at me to take what she’s been offering for years. I’ve seen her, I know what she wants, but I won’t let my demons hurt her. Not my Emmy.
Since day one, she’s been the greatest temptation, but I refused to take everything innocent that is Emmy and let my blackness take her. Because that’s what will happen. It will wrap around her soul and slowly choke the life out of her. Just like every other person I’ve allowed in.
I’ll taint her. I’ll ruin her. And in the end, it will destroy her.
One smile from her made me fall. So I pushed her away. I told her that she would never be what I need—that I would never want her. God, if she only knew. I crave her and everything she keeps trying to hand me. I crave her and everything she could give me. My very being calls out to her, and I work daily to refuse it.
So I pushed.
Until she ran.
But that ends right now.
Looking up at the gaudy neon lights thrown on the top of this hellhole, I know that was my first mistake.
A motherfucking strip club.
This is not a place where my angel belongs. Just the thought of her inside this club makes my skin crawl. I can feel my anger becoming a force of its own as the blackness in my soul threatens to burst through. It’s burning inside my veins and demanding blood. My nostrils flare, making my breaths come in loud pants. My fist clenches—demanding something to pound into, something to destroy. My skin feels tight. Every vein in my body is pulsing with each wild beat of my heart.
I’m going to explode.
The bouncer doesn’t even give me a second thought. He gives me a brief glance as I pay the twenty bucks to gain my access into the hellish place. I immediately rip my sunglasses off, taking in every inch of the room. Black walls with dim lighting, stereotypical red carpeting and leather booths lining the room. They have the name right with the smell of this place—sex and sin with a mixture of smoke and sweat. There are three stages set up around the room, the center one being the largest and two smaller ones to the left and right, with a bar against the back wall and one on the top floor.
The whole top-floor bar area is set up on a glass floor, giving these douchebags around the room the perfect view between the barely dressed servers’ legs. Taking my eyes off the top floor, where the bartenders are clearly working the glass floor to their advantage, I scan the room again, squinting my eyes to see through the dim lighting and heavy smoke.
That’s when I spot her.
“What. The. Fuck,” I snarl under my breath.
The anger I felt earlier burning through my body starts to boil. It’s almost as if my body becomes a force of its own. The monsters inside me wanting free.
There she stands, not even five feet away, looking exhausted, wearing next to nothing. Her skirt—if that’s what you want to call it—is more like a napkin someone cut in half. From the way she stands—slightly to the side—I can just make out the perfect roundness of her ass peeking out the bottom of the hem. Her pert tits are pushed together and held in a tight bikini top, the fabric so thin that I can see the outline of her nipples clear as day.
My eyes take in every inch of her exposed skin and I want to roar with rage.
No one should see her like this. No one but me. And even though I don’t have the right to feel this way about her, there isn’t a damn thing that can stop me now.
She hasn’t seen me yet, so I stalk over to where she’s standing. She turns right when I’m about to reach out for her and her eyes go wide, shock and alarm clear in her beautiful, honey-brown eyes.
“What the fuck are you doing, Em?” I bite out.
She shrinks back at my tone before she catches herself and goes stiff. I can tell instantly that I’m not going to like anything she has to say.
“You heard me, Emmy. What in the hell are you doing in this place?”
She tilts her head slightly, taking me in. Her eyes leave mine and roam the room before she gives a stiff nod. When she turns her focus back to me, I go stock-still at her words.
“I’m exactly where I should be, Maddox. I’m home.” Her tone is submissive, and that fury inside me goes from a boiling fire to ice cold.
With that, she turns and stalks off towards the bar. And I see that not only is her ass hanging out, but so are her hot-pink boy shorts.
“Dude. She’s a fine piece of ass, right?” The man she was just talking to speaks in awe.
“Shut your fucking mouth,” I growl, feeling that rage return like a switch has been flipped.
“Ah, you’re new here. Just sit back, my friend, and get ready for the show.” He laughs, takes a deep pull from his beer, and turns his attention back to the main stage, where the current entertainment is doing her best to swallow the fucking pole with her pussy. She’s working so hard for it that she might as well be fucking the damn thing.
I’m no stranger to strip clubs. Back when the guys were all single, we would hit some local ones around California. No better way to let off some steam from the shit that is constantly swirling around in my head than to sit in a room full of naked woman. Where the music pounds into your body, the drinks are always flowing, and the pussy is in abundance.
One thing’s for sure: This isn’t a place for Emmy. Hell no.
Without taking my eyes from Emmy, I drop my body into the nearest booth. She’s in a heated argument with the bartender and an older man who looks about as run-down as this fucking town. She throws her hands in the air, her head moving wildly, and if I had to guess, her stunning eyes are burning bright. She points over to me a few times, and all the older man does is shake his head, obviously not giving her what she wants. I just scowl at them from the booth, waiting for her to walk her ass back over here so I can explain to her that it’s time to go.
“Hey there, handsome,” a raspy voice says to my right. “Looking for some fun tonight? I bet a big man like you would be up for something wild.”
“No.” I don’t even look at her. My eyes never leave Emmy—who is now looking at me. A mix of ire and hurt is written all over her face. Even with the shit lighting in this place, I can see it…and I hate it.
Fucking hurt? Is she serious right now? Pissed I can understand. She didn’t want to be found and I found her.
“I won’t bite, baby. That is unless you want me to.” Her hands snake around my neck and down my chest.
Turning my attention away from Emmy, I look at the bleach-blonde hair, weathered skin, and fake tan of this bitch in front of me. I’ll give her credit—she tries to hide it with more than enough makeup for about ten women, but this piece of work in front of me has to be pushing fifty.
“I said no, woman. What part of that didn’t you understand? And for the last time, do not touch me.” I reach up and pull her hand off my stomach before she can go any further.
Moving my eyes back to where I last saw Emmy has me coming up empty. What the hell? I scan the room but she is still nowhere to be found.
“Ah, sweet cheeks. I know what you want. Good luck with that one. Rose doesn’t play around, and honey, why would you want her when you can have me? After all, I taught her everything she knows.” She leans down and, before I can guess her intent, licks my neck, clearly taking my distraction at her words to her advantage.
I turn swiftly and move into her space, making sure she doesn’t mix this shit up in her head to think that I would somehow ever want her ass.
“Do. Not. Touch. Me. You got that, sweet cheeks?”
She looks me in the eyes for a few beats before throwing her head back and laughing. The sound of it hits my ears like nails on a chalkboard.
When she walks off, I start my scan of the room again. No Emmy in sight. I run my hand over my buzzed scalp before settling in for the wait.
Thirty minutes later and I still haven’t found her. The crowd is getting restless. The chicks taking turns on the stage now haven’t been impressive and they undoubtedly want more. The pole humper has moved on to one of the smaller stages. The last act on the main stage was slightly better, but all she did was basically finger-fuck herself on the stage before fumbling to get to her feet on her ridiculous heels.
I wait, determined not to leave until I have her with me. Another thirty minutes and two more rotations on the stages have my frustration levels going up even higher. How the hell did she just disappear? I know she didn’t leave. The tracking device on her car, which is sitting right next to my truck in the parking lot, hasn’t alerted me of any movement. I’ll be damned if she takes off on me again.
After signaling over another server, I order a beer and check my phone again to make sure the tracker isn’t malfunctioning. I’m just putting my phone in my pocket when a deep voice cuts over the music.
“Gentleman of Syn. It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. The one your dicks have been begging for all fucking night. The Princess of Syn herself. The one and only, Rose!”
The Princess of Syn? What an idiot. I laugh to myself, placing my beer to my lips for a long pull. The music starts and the first few notes of Lollipop by Framing Hanley fill the air. Got to give this chick props—at least she picked a good song.
The house lights go down, plunging the room into darkness, before a spotlight hits the main stage. The smoke clinging to the air gives the stage an eerie glow. I take my eyes off the action and attempt scan the darkness of the room again for Emmy. Movement by the back corner catches my attention at the same time that the crowd goes electric. Idiots start throwing their money left and right, calling to this Princess of Syn to take them.
I focus on the corner again and see the blonde from earlier smiling her wicked smile at me before pointing to the stage. Turning back to the stage, I watch as a woman, who I assume is this so-called princess, spins effortlessly on the pole, her movements all but blurring her body from the men wishing she were spinning on their dicks. It doesn’t take me long to see why the bitch from earlier is telling me to look.
With one quick spin, her hands are placed at the center and her legs are spread wide and parallel to the pole, showing off her barely there G-sting, I see my Emmy. It takes a second for the shock to wear off, and in that second, she gracefully drops from her spin with a guarded smile to the men crowding the stage. Lifting her small hands from her side, she drags them up her flat stomach to take her tits in hand and jiggles them.
Fucking jiggles them.
I can’t control my body at this point. I’m focused on one thing—the best way to get her off that stage and out of this place.
She reaches up and, in a move that is obviously practiced, removes her top, throwing it in to the crowd. There she dances with her body on display, caressing her naked tits until her nipples pebble. Turning her back to the room, she bends at the waist and starts to slowly pull her G-sting down her long, toned legs.
This is when the reality of this situation hits me. I’ll fucking kill all of these motherfuckers in the room.
Then she drops to her knees before getting on all fours and crawling towards the end of the stage.
I’m on my feet in seconds, stalking through the crowd, pushing any man who stands in the way of my woman and me. I don’t even lift my arms from my side. I just barrel through the bodies with one goal in mind.
She doesn’t see me coming since she’s back on her feet and walking to the pole again. With a leap that would make my high school track coach proud, I’m on the stage, and a second later, I have a naked Emmy thrown over my shoulders before I jump off the stage. The sharp pain up my leg does nothing to extinguish my determination.
I can see the bouncers coming, and with one hand on her slick ass, I reach out and punch the first one in the face, taking great pleasure watching him instantly buckle to the floor. The other one comes at me from the side, but he doesn’t get far before I pick up the chair to my left one-handed and crack it against his fucking head.
Emmy is struggling with such vigor that I’m forced to put her down. She looks up, ready to spit fire at me, before snapping her mouth shut when she sees the expression on my face. I have no doubt that I look just as feral as I feel.
“Don’t you open that sweet fucking mouth, Emersyn. I swear to Christ, now is not the time to fucking piss me off any further.”
I rip my shirt off and roughly pull it over her head. She struggles and puts up a fight, momentarily distracting me from the third bouncer coming at full throttle. His fist takes me by surprise, but not for long. Grabbing her wrist so she doesn’t get away, I turn to the motherfucker stupid enough to get in my way.
“You shouldn’t have done that,” I seethe.
He goes to punch me again, but I duck and pop up before he realizes he failed. Bringing my head forward, I head-butt him right between the eyes and almost smile when he falls instantly.
I’m stopped at the door by the last bartender she was speaking with earlier. He goes to make a move but pulls up when he sees the look in my eyes. I’ll fucking kill and I’m sure it’s written clear as day on my face.
“Do it. I dare you.” My tone leaves no room for argument. I’m leaving with her and there isn’t a person on this Earth who can stop me.
Other books in the Corps Security Series and where to buy them:
Book #4: Cooper: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
About the author and where to find her:
Harper lives in small town Georgia just a short drive from her hometown of Peachtree City. She (and her 3 daughters) enjoy ruling the house they dubbed ‘Estrogen Ocean’, much to her husbands chagrin. Harper has a borderline unhealthy obsession with books; you can almost ALWAYS find her with her eReader attached. She enjoys bad reality TV and cheesy romantic flicks. Her favorite kind of hero–the super alpha kind!
Harper started using writing as a way to unwind when the house went to sleep at night; and with a house full of crazy it was the perfect way to just relax. It didn’t take long before a head full of very demanding alphas would stop at nothing to have their story told.