Review, Excerpt and, Sweepstakes: Throb by Vi Keeland

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Title: Throb Author: Vi Keeland Published: January 26, 2015

Title: Throb
Author: Vi Keeland
Published: January 26, 2015

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Source: ARC from author

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Review:

Vi Keeland is back and swinging for the fences with Throb, a sexy and fast-paced read centered on reality TV, one hot and compassionate contestant and, two brothers who have been at odds with one another for the majority of their lives.

Kate Monroe is stunning and the moment Cooper Montgomery lays eyes on her, he knows she will be his no matter the cost. Their first encounter is light and fun with Kate taking every penny Cooper (and the others) have in a night of poker. Turns out, Kate isn’t just a girl who can play cards but a card dealer and the daughter of a world champion poker player. Though the odds were certainly in her favor to win, Cooper doesn’t mind handing her every penny he has in the hopes of another meeting and the opportunity to win back his losses. Cooper isn’t used to being turned down by the women he is interested in so when Kate shoots him down he sees it as a challenge more than a rejection.

Kate Monroe has given up everything she wants in order to protect and provide for her family. Though her father was a world class card player he was also a gambler who always chased the next win. When her father died, Kate’s mother was left with huge debts and a son who requires costly treatments as a result of devastating car wreck. When the bills aren’t getting paid and her brother’s treatments are threatened, Kate quits school, starts dealing cards and, signs up as a contestant on a reality show. If Kate can make it to the final four, she will be able to reduce some her family’s burden. If Kate can win the competition she will be able to wipe out all of the debt and ensure her brother’s continued care. All Kate has to do is convince the bachelor that she is the woman among many for him. The rules of the game are quite simple and as soon as Kate signs the contract, she is bound to the rules.

Kate never counted on meeting Cooper Montgomery and she certainly never counted on her intense attraction to him. Jeopardizing her participation in the show by seeing Cooper is risky but the attraction they have to one another is undeniable. Cooper has no idea why Kate is participating in the show and with every ounce of his being, he wants her uninvolved immediately. To make matters far, far worse Cooper’s loser brother, Miles is the producer of the reality show and he is desperate on many levels to see the show succeed. Kate is an audience favorite and so, Miles takes every opportunity available to put her into a position of enticement. It certainly helps that the bachelor (not-so-affectionately known as Dickhead) is totally into Kate and relishes every moment he can be near her and touching her. Kate is stuck between a huge rock and a hard place and every encounter with Cooper draws her closer to him and away from her goals. Achieving her goals is paramount and eventually Kate is forced to fess up to Cooper about her involvement in the show. Though Cooper understands her motivation, he is not happy with it or her decision to stay the course. Cooper is man used to getting what he wants, Kate wants Cooper and the prize money and so, they two devise a series of personal rules that will allow Kate to care for her family on her terms and be with Cooper. The situation is certainly not ideal and though Cooper is on edge constantly, he supports Kate. The two have wicked sexual chemistry and every time they are together Cooper all but brands Kate so she won’t forget who it is she belongs with. As fate would have it, Cooper’s brother really is a totally loser and when he figures out that Kate is not only violating the rules of her contract but seeing his brother, he endeavors to ruin them both.

The Bottom Line: Throb is all kinds of sexy and exciting and Cooper is already one of my favorite leading men for 2015. The premise of Throb just begs for all kinds of drama and it is delivered in spades (HA!) Kate is so strong and adamant about helping her family that she is nearly blinded by her determination. Cooper is equally strong and determined and does everything within his power to make Kate his. Cooper is blindsided by his brother’s betrayal and the fallout from that betrayal is nearly the end of everything Cooper holds dear. He is such a good man and fine partner for Kate that is heartbreaking to see the two of them split apart. Getting to their HEA is dramatic and somewhat wretched but the end is worth the wait.

As much as I loved this read (and I did!), I do have a few issues with the ending. Miles digs up some pretty damaging dirt on Kate and though he is eventually shut down, I never found out what happened to that information. Furthermore, even though I found out that Miles and Cooper’s relationship goes from bad to worse, there is really no resolution to their story. Since the book doesn’t end on a cliffhanger at all, I found myself frustrated by the few loose ends I was left with. Overall, these loose ends didn’t kill the read for me but they did leave me wondering.

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Excerpt from Throb:

Every girl needs three things:

1. A flutter in her belly when she meets him for the first time.

Meet Cooper: My lips brush the top of her hand lightly, my tongue sneaking out to fleetingly touch her skin. The brief contact stirs an ache inside me. This woman tugs at something—more than arousal—something that makes me want to slow down time just to spend a few more minutes standing here.

“Did you just…” she stammers a bit.

“Did I just what?”

She squints at me. “You know.”

“Do I?”

“I felt your tongue on my hand. You…you licked me.”

I’d been dying to run my tongue along her neck all evening, although I hadn’t really meant to be so crude about it. It just sort of …happened. “I wouldn’t say licked, maybe just a little taste.”

“So you tasted me?”

My entire body suddenly has interest in this conversation. “I suppose I did. But it wasn’t nearly enough. That brings us back to my invitation for dinner. Tomorrow night?”

“I can’t.”

“The day after then?”

She laughs and shakes her head. The sound makes me smile.

“Good night, Cooper.” She pulls the driver’s side door shut and leaves me standing there…for a full five minutes after she’s gone.

2. A best friend to talk about him to.

Meet Sadie: “And?”

“And I kissed him when we were in his office.”

“How was his office?”

“Really? That’s what you want to know. Not how was the kiss or aren’t you in breach of your contract? How was his office?”

“You can tell a lot about a man by his office.”

I gulp another unladylike sip from my wine glass. “His office was beautiful. Sleek, overlooking the city. It oozed power.”

“Nice. Bet he fucks like he owns you.”

The thought of what he’s like in bed is enough to make me lose my train of thought.

“Go on,” Sadie prods.

I don’t continue immediately.

“You forgot what you were up to because you were thinking of him fucking you like he owns you, didn’t you?” My best friend smirks knowingly.

“Shut up.” I pause. “Anyway, I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

“Well, him. Obviously.”

“I wish it were that easy.”

3. A gentleman that turns into a bossy dirty talker in the bedroom.

Cooper – behind closed doors.: “You haven’t even begun to see bossy yet. Tonight I’m going to tell you to do things, and you’re going to do them. When I tell you to open wider, or take my cock deeper, you’re going to listen. You know why? Because since the moment we met, all I’ve wanted to do is make you feel good. Hell, I don’t even need to get off physically. Because I’m going to get off watching you every minute. So, yeah, I’m going to be bossy. Now let’s put the rest of this behind us. Do you want to be with me tonight?”

After that prelude, I nod my head fast. I’m no fool. Who wouldn’t?

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About the author and where to find her:

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!

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Spotlight: Warrant by S.L. Schiefer

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Title: Warrant Author: S.L. Schiefer Genre: New Adult Published: January 13, 2015

Title: Warrant
Author: S.L. Schiefer
Genre: New Adult
Published: January 13, 2015

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Synopsis:

I’m Devon Harper and there are only two certainties in my life:

1. I live to dance.
2. I’m a prostitute.

Do you know when your life is suddenly turned upside down? Setting in action a sequence of events, you never saw coming.  That’s what happened to me. My story is not a pretty one, nor is it your typical love story.   My world was rocked at 18 and again three years later.  My life is a series of let downs. The only constant in my life is dance. When unlikely ally, Enzo, enters my messed up life I start to believe that just maybe there’s hope for me yet. Trying to get a degree in dance and get out of prostitution might leave me with more to lose than before.

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About the author and where to find her:

S.L. SchieferI was born and raised in a small town in Ohio. I am the biggest Ohio State fan EVER! I have a husband, two boys, and a pit bull. I’m a country girl at heart, and have no problem sitting outside by a fire or grabbing guns and target shooting. I’m a hairstylist and assistant manager at SportClips. In my down time you’ll generally find me relaxing with my Kindle, or trying to entertain my minions. I’m a lover of Harry Potter and Transformers.

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Guest Post and Sweepstakes: Rise (Book #1: Rock Solid Series) by Karina Bliss

Title: Rise Series: Book #1: Rock Solid Series Author: Karina Bliss Format: Paperback, 338 pages Published: January 28, 2015 by Karina Bliss  ISBN: 0994116519

Title: Rise
Series: Book #1: Rock Solid Series
Author: Karina Bliss
Format: Paperback, 338 pages
Published: January 28, 2015 by Karina Bliss
ISBN: 0994116519

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Synopsis:

Acclaimed literary biographer Elizabeth Winston writes about long-dead heroes.  So bad-boy rock icon Zander Freedman couldn’t possibly tempt her to write his memoir.  Except the man is a mass of fascinating contradictions–manipulative, honest, gifted, charismatic and morally ambiguous.   In short, everything she seeks in a biography subject.   When in her life will she get another chance to work with a living legend? But saying yes to one temptation soon leads to another.   Suddenly she’s having heated fantasies about her subject, fantasies this blue-eyed devil is only too willing to stoke.   She thought self-control was in her DNA; after all, she grew up a minister’s daughter.
She thought wrong.  

Rock star Zander Freedman has been an outlier–many would say an outcast–for most of his life.   But there’s no disaster he can’t overcome, from the breakup of his band to the inevitable damage to his reputation.   His Resurrection Tour is shaping up to be his greatest triumph–if his golden voice holds out.   Contracting a respected biographer is simply about creating more buzz. Elizabeth’s integrity is the key to consolidating his legacy as one of  rock’s greats.   All the damn woman has to do is write down what he tells her. Not force him to think.   Or encourage the good guy struggling to get out.
And certainly not make him fall in love for the first time in his life.  Turns out he is scared of something: being known.

The rock star & the academic: Making opposites attract by Karina Bliss

I love the opposites-attract trope, ‘You say toe-ma-toe, I say toe-mate-o’. (FYI, as a Kiwi, I say it the first way). I couldn’t have written two people more different than my egotistical, rock-star bad boy Zander Freedman and my warm-hearted, church-brat academic Elizabeth Winston.  With opposites, it’s easy to see what’s keeping your characters apart. But when you’re writing romance, what’s more important is what brings and binds these two together. What do they have in common? Both Zander and Elizabeth are smart, independent, take-charge people who share a similar sense of the ridiculous, and I made sure my plot gave them opportunities to join forces.  I found this wonderful Oscar Wilde quote, which I adopted as my theme for Rise. “Every saint has a past, and every sinner a future.” As I wrote the book, it reminded me to add dimensions to my story characters. Just because my heroine is a good person doesn’t mean she lacks a wild side, and vice versa for the hero.  Opposites or not, the hero and heroine need to appreciate each other in a way no one else does. In Zander, Elizabeth sees a caretaker hero, capable of kindness and vulnerability. In Elizabeth, Zander sees a wolf in sheep’s clothing, someone as adventurous as he is.  In a romance, the challenge for opposites is to incorporate the qualities of the other – the qualities they lack – so two halves become a perfect whole.  Can you recommend favorite romances that use this dynamic? Enter the Release Giveaway and go into the draw for an e-book of Rise.

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About the author and where to find her:

New Zealander Karina Bliss’s debut, Mr Imperfect, won a Romantic Book of the Year award in Australia, the first of eleven books published through Harlequin SuperRomance. Her most recent release, A Prior Engagement, was a Desert Island Keeper at likesbooks.com. Her next release, Rise, is a single title, self-published contemporary which continues the story of Zander Freedman, who first appeared as a villain inKarina’s bestselling title, What the Librarian Did – a book that made DearAuthor’s Best of the Year list in 2010.Two of Karina’s books have also featured in Sizzling Book Chats at SmartBitchesTrashyBooks.

Find out more at www.karinabliss.com

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Spotlight: Broken Pleasures (Prequel: Pleasures Series) by M.S. Parker

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Title: Broken Pleasures Series; Prequel: Pleasures Series Author: M.S. Parker Format: ebook, 100 pages Published: January 13, 2015

Title: Broken Pleasures
Series; Prequel: Pleasures Series
Author: M.S. Parker
Format: ebook, 100 pages
Published: January 13, 2015

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Synopsis:

Every night, when I go to sleep, I wonder if I’m going to see them, hear them, feel them. For thirteen years, my life was hell and now I’m just trying to keep all the broken pieces together so I can have a somewhat normal life. Then I had to meet him and everything changed.

Twenty-two year-old Jenna Lang is one of the best computer techs in Colorado, if not the country. Known for her eccentric appearance as much as for her intelligence, she keeps all of her secrets closely guarded, never letting anyone close. And no one has ever really tried. Not until twenty-eight year-old billionaire Rylan Archer decides to test the walls Jenna’s put up, forcing her to wonder if maybe it’s time to let someone in.

Don’t miss Broken Pleasures, the prequel to M.S. Parker’s newest dark and sizzling Pleasures series.

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About the author and where to find her:

M. S. Parker is a USA Today Bestselling author and the author of the Erotic Romance series, Club Privè and Chasing Perfection.  Living in Southern California, she enjoys sitting by the pool with her laptop writing on her next spicy romance.  Growing up all she wanted to be was a dancer, actor or author. So far only the latter has come true but M. S. Parker hasn’t retired her dancing shoes just yet. She is still waiting for the call for her to appear on Dancing With The Stars. When M. S. isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading- oops, scratch that! She is always writing.

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Excerpt and Sweepstakes: Kaleidoscope Hearts by Claire Contreras

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Title: Kaleidoscope Hearts Author: Claire Contreras Format: 295 pages Published: January 20, 2015

Title: Kaleidoscope Hearts
Author: Claire Contreras
Format: 295 pages
Published: January 20, 2015

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Synopsis:

He was my older brother’s best friend.
He was never supposed to be mine.
I thought we would get it out of our system and move on.

One of us did.
One of us left.

Now he’s back, looking at me like he wants to devour me. And all those feelings I’d turned into anger are brewing into something else, something that terrifies me.
He broke my heart last time.
This time he’ll obliterate it.

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Excerpt from Kaleidoscope Hearts:

What’s wrong?” I asked as she wiped her tears and shook her head. Her face was no longer wet, save for the dip over the top of her lips. I’d never noticed how full they were before then. I’d never noticed how rosy and defined her cheekbones were, or the way her eyebrows turned into a slight frown when she looked at me. I’d never paid attention to how ridiculously alluring her eyes were. The different shades made them look like the marbles I used to collect when I was a kid. My gaze drifted down to her neck, where I noticed her swallow, and then over her tits, which were now full, not like the last time I’d seen her in a bathing suit when she was still flat chested. Jesus Christ, this girl was hot.

The clearing of her throat made my eyes snap back to hers, putting an end to their voyeuristic journey down her now grown up body.

“You’re so grown up,” I said before I could stop myself and cringed at the voice I said it in, all needy and husky and fuck my life, desperate. I expected her to roll her eyes, the way she normally did when I said anything to her, but this girl, this freaking girl looked at me and smiled the sexiest smile I’d ever seen. And I had just been at a party full of hot girls smiling, but Elle’s was slow and sensual when she wasn’t trying to make it be. It was just her smile, the one I’d been seeing for as long as I could remember. Putting that smile on this grown up version of her should be down right illegal.

“Are you hitting on me?” she asked, with a sultriness in her voice that surprised the hell out of me.

“That depends,” I said, inching to sit closer to her, somehow completely forgetting that I was in my best friend’s house and this was his little sister. The thought of Vic finding us crossed my mind, but I pushed it down. In that moment, under a sky full of stars with a sad Estelle, all I could think about was making her smile.

“What does it depend on?” she whispered.

“Whether or not it’s working,” I whispered back, lifting my hand and running it down her back, a motion I shouldn’t have done because now I knew Elle wasn’t wearing a bra under the oversized sweater she had on and that knowledge woke up everything in my lower region.

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About the author and where to find her:

Claire ContrerasClaire Contreras graduated with her BA in Psychology from Florida International University. She lives in Miami, Florida with her husband, two little boys, and three dogs.  Her favorite past times are: daydreaming, writing, and reading.  She has been described as a random, sarcastic, crazy girl with no filter.  Life is short, and it’s more bitter than sweet, so she tries to smile as often as her face allows. She enjoys stories with happy endings, because life is full of way too many unhappy ones.

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Excerpt and Sweepstakes: Behind the Door (Part 1: Behind the Door Series) by M. Clarke and Alexandrea Weis

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Title: Behind the Door Series: Part 1: Behind the Door Series Authors: M. Clarke and Alexandrea Weis Published: January 25, 2015 by Weba Publishing

Title: Behind the Door
Series: Part 1: Behind the Door Series
Authors: M. Clarke and Alexandrea Weis
Published: January 25, 2015 by Weba Publishing

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Synopsis:

After the love of her life walks out the door, Abby Simmons is depressed, run down, and overwhelmed. Working long days as an attorney in a busy firm is sucking the life out of her and Abby feels she is at the end of her rope. Then, a co-worker recommends a new type of spa called Paradise. He promises their therapies will shake off her lethargy and help her to regain her sparkle. Skeptical, but very curious, Abby decides to visit the establishment. At first, what she hears sounds too good to be true, but soon Abby uncovers a whole new world of pleasure that quickly becomes her undoing.

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Excerpt from Behind the Door (Part 1: Behind the Door Series):

Before I could react, he had pried my legs apart and was working along my inner right thigh, moving slowly upward. By now, my reservations were gone and I surrendered to him. And when his fingers reached the junction between my legs, I gasped when his hands slipped under my butt and gripped my cheeks, squeezing them in his hands. He could see every intimate part of me, I was sure of it. Letting go of my butt, his hands came around to my folds. At that moment, when his finger slipped between my legs, I clapped my hand over my mouth, suppressing my scream.

His fingers moved along my folds, tracking my wetness up and down. I was so wet at this point that my insides heaved with desire as he stroked me. I wanted to cry out, ask him what he was doing, but I didn’t. I let him manipulate my folds, slowly, methodically bringing me to orgasm. My hips began rocking in time with his hands. God, those hands were making me feel things I never thought possible. I could feel my climax building, like a wave caught in the shallows it was gaining momentum, waiting to wash over me.

I was at his mercy now. I ached for release and was willing to do anything to achieve it. But when his finger inched back and forth over my vagina, teasing me with the promise of what was to come. I bit my lip, desperate for him to penetrate me. His fingers did not wait long to slip inside of me, and when I felt the pressure of him moving deeper, I arched my back and moaned. He was rubbing back and forth over that spot, the one so many men try to find but give up. Well, Mr. Hands knew exactly where my spot was, and as he slowly moved in and out of me, I knew I was going to come harder than I had ever come before.

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Behind the Door: Part 1:

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Behind the Door: Part 2: Release Date: 02/08/2015:

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Behind the Door: Part3: Release Date: 02/22/2015:

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Behind the Door: Part 4: Release Date: 03/08/2015:

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About the authors and where to find them:

mary tingMary Ting resides in Southern California with her husband and two children. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Writing her first novel, Crossroads Saga, happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother, and inspired by a dream she once had as a young girl. When she started reading new adult novels, she fell in love with the genre. It was the reason she had to write one-Something Great. Why the pen name, M Clarke? She tours with Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children’s chapter book-No Bullies Allowed

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Alexandrea Weis is an advanced practice registered nurse who was born and alexandrea weisraised in New Orleans. Having been brought up in the motion picture industry, she learned to tell stories from a different perspective and began writing at the age of eight. Infusing the rich tapestry of her hometown into her award-winning novels, she believes that creating vivid characters makes a story moving and memorable. A permitted/certified wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, Weis rescues orphaned and injured wildlife. She lives with her husband and pets in New Orleans.

To read more about Alexandrea Weis or her books, you can go to the following sites:

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Excerpts and Sweepstakes: Kick (Book #1: Savage Saints MC) by Carmen Jenner

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Title: Kick Series: Book #1: Savage Saints MC Author: Carmen Jenner Paperback Published: January 26, 2015

Title: Kick
Series: Book #1: Savage Saints MC
Author: Carmen Jenner
Paperback
Published: January 26, 2015

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Synopsis:

When I was ten, my father indoctrinated me into the family.  A brotherhood who would fight, protect, and give their lives for one another. A club whose ties ran thicker than blood, murkier than the dirt and grime that tainted my soul. Stronger than the bonds that connected me to my own family.  A band of brothers, where loyalty was kept and paid in a currency of blood.  When I was twenty-seven, I betrayed that brotherhood.  I’ve spent every day since running, avoiding paying back that debt.  My name is Daniel Johnson. I have betrayed everyone I ever loved.  And I’ll betray her too.  This is my story—if you’re screwed up enough to want to read it.

Warning: Kick contains graphic violence, profanity, drug use, and explicit sexual situations of a taboo nature. Intended for an 18+ audience only. Not intended for pussies.

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Excerpt from Kick (Book #1: Savage Saints MC):

I take a deep shuddering breath, close my eyes and stretch my hand towards him. His touch is gentle this time, far more gentle than I’d ever thought someone with so much uncontained violence to him could be.

“Spread your fingers,” he commands. I do, and he lifts the roll of tape, presses the edge to my skin and begins winding it over my knuckles. I close my eyes. The strident sound of it stretching out from the roll makes me want to flee. It makes me want to run as far from his touch—from any man’s touch—as I can possibly get.

The feel of the tape against my flesh, binding, holding, is so much worse. I tug on my hand, but he won’t let go. My heartrate skyrockets, and sweat beads erupt over my brow and upper lip. I’m in that room again, struggling, screaming, trying to fight them off, and failing.

Biker knows it, too. His dark eyes challenge, they dare me to run, but they also implore me to stay. It’s ironic that the only thing keeping me here, keeping me grounded, is the man who abducted me.

He holds my gaze. I don’t know exactly what is hidden in his dark blue one, but it suffocates the panic within me, douses it like water flooding flames. He bends his head to my hand. Taking the paper tape in his mouth, he rips it with his teeth.

I still. I soften. His gaze doesn’t leave mine, not even once. Not even when he starts in on my wrist, gently biting through each piece of tape before pressing it down with his rough hands. I’m mesmerised by his mouth, the piercing, and the soft, full lips. The light catches a silver chain around his neck, something I’ve never noticed before—but then I try not to make a habit of staring too closely at him. Not now, though. Now I watch every twitch, every blink, every intake of breath, and every inch that is swallowed up by his mouth moving closer to my flesh.

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Excerpt from Kick (Book #1: Savage Saints MC):

I pick up a cup of cold, stale, black coffee and chug it down. It tastes like shit, so I screw the cap off of a bottle of Jack and chase the black filth with the burn of amber. I set it back on the table while the familiar click of my gun being cocked echoes through my small room. I laugh. Fucking ballsy bitches make me hot.

“Hands in the air, and turn around. Slowly,” the woman says through a scratchy throat. I do as she asks, mostly because I want to keep my spine intact, but also partly because bitches with guns are fucking hot, and I’m hard as a rock just thinking about the way she’s gonna look with a pistol trained on me.

She’s been busy while I was out, rummaging through my drawers and finding a pair of loose tracksuit pants. They’re rolled at the waist, so much that it makes her look pregnant. That, combined with her crazy fuckin’ cat lady hair and the filth covering her body, makes her look like a homeless person.

I smile and clasp my hands behind my head. Her eyes rove over me, taking in my size. She’s checking me for the arsenal I so obviously have stashed away in my fucking worn, faded jeans. She’s not checking me out and dreaming about me taking her rough and hard on my fucking scratched-up dining table, but I still get a fucking boner out of having her eyes roam all over me.

“Pick up the keys, and open the door,” she commands.

“If you run, they’ll shoot you.”

“Pick up the fucking keys.”

I snatch up the keys and lob them at her, hard enough that she has to twist out of the way. She cries out as she does, proving to me that her ribs are definitely injured, maybe even cracked. I lunge at her. Shoving her back against the bed, I land on top of her, warding off her blows with one hand and squeezing her wrist with the other until she drops the gun on the floor.

“Get off me!” she screams.

“You’re not leaving this clubhouse,” I whisper in her ear as she struggles beneath me. “The best you can hope for is to play nice and I might decide to keep you as a house mouse. But if you piss me off, and if you pull on me with my own gun again, your life will be so much worse. You thought the dentist was fucked up? Baby, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve lived inside my fantasies for a day. So if I were you, I’d be really fuckin’ careful about how you play your next move.”

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Visit the Saint Savage MC official website: http://savagesaintsmc.blogspot.com.au/

About the author and where to find her:

carmen jennerCarmen Jenner is a thirty-something, USA TODAY Best Selling Author, doctor, pilot and CIA agent. She’s also a compulsive, flagrant prevaricator who gets to make things up for a living.  While Sugartown may not technically exist, Carmen grew up in a small Australian town just like it, and just like her characters, she always longed for something more. They didn’t have an Elijah Cade, though.  If they did, you can be sure she would have never left.

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Review: The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant (Book #1: The V Trilogy) by Joanna Wiebe

Title: The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant Author: Joanna Wiebe Format: Hardcover, 272 pages Published: January 14, 2014 by BenBella Books     ISBN: 1939529328

Title: The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant
Author: Joanna Wiebe
Format: Hardcover, 272 pages
Published: January 14, 2014 by BenBella Books
ISBN: 1939529328

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Synopsis:

So many secrets for such a small island. From the moment Anne Merchant arrives at Cania Christy, a boarding school for the world’s wealthiest teens, the hushed truths of this strange, unfamiliar land begin calling to her—sometimes as lulling drumbeats in the night, sometimes as piercing shrieks.

One by one, unanswered questions rise. No one will tell her why a line is painted across the island or why she is forbidden to cross it. Her every move—even her performance at the school dance—is graded as part of a competition to become valedictorian, a title that brings rewards no one will talk about. And Anne discovers that the parents of her peers surrender million-dollar possessions to enroll their kids in Cania Christy, leaving her to wonder what her lowly funeral director father could have paid to get her in… and why.

As a beautiful senior struggles to help Anne make sense of this cloak-and-dagger world without breaking the rules that bind him, she must summon the courage to face the impossible truth—and change it—before she and everyone she loves is destroyed by it.

Source: Netgalley

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Review:

Well, well, well. Wasn’t this little read full of all kinds of surprises, twists and turns?

Anne Merchant was generally happy in her life. Sure, she was the weird girl, the daughter of the mortician but she was top of her class and looking to make a run for a college scholarship and then one day, her dad quite unexpectedly ships her off to Cania Christy.

Cania Christy is an ultra-exclusive boarding school that is home to a select number of students. Every student at Cania Christy have a few things in common, they are ultra-rich, ultra-snobby and, none are happy to see the new girl on campus. Anne can’t begin to conceive of why her father sent her to Cania Christy and more confounding is how he is affording the tuition and why Anne is separated from the rest of the student body. While every other student at Cania Christy lives in the dorms, Anne is segregated and lives with a local in her home. While we’re talking about crazy, Anne’s first day on campus finds her in the head master’s office, being assigned a personal guardian and, encountering two boys who are totally intriguing.

From the moment Anne enters Cania Christy everything is confounding. Every student seems to hate every other student, there are actual plots to derail students from achieving their goals, there is little to no contact allowed with the outside world and, the competition for Valedictorian is unlike anything Anne has ever experienced. These students are downright crazy and though she understands the need to do well and achieve her goals, Anne just can’t figure out why everyone around her is driven to the point of madness. In most situations, a girl such as Anne would look outside the confines of school to make new friends but upon her arrival she was told there should never, ever be any mixing of the students with the local population. Seriously, there is quite literally a large red line across the island that the Cania kids are not allowed to cross. Yep, this is one weird school!

Because she is segregated from the rest of the student body, Anne does cross the red line and makes friends with a local girl though she is warned that their relationship can never, ever become known. Additionally, Anne takes any moments alone she can find to explore the island and what she finds is just as unbelievable as the behavior of the students on campus. Between the weird ceremonies held by the locals, the totally unexplainable nighttime actions of the head master and, the activities taking place in the one house Anne can see, it all becomes quite overwhelming. Anne is very much like a dog with a bone and as the crazy begins to pile up around her, she becomes more and more determined to discover the secrets that permeate her new school. Knowing who to trust at Cania Christy is a very risky business and betrayal is always on the menu. The deeper Anne gets into the mysteries surrounding her the more she realizes that the truth will not in any way, shape or form set her free. In fact, the knowing the truth just may end her life.

The Bottom Line: The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant is one weird read from start to finish and I loved it!!! From the moment she arrives at Cania Christy, Anne knows there is something wonky but she can’t put her finger on exactly what it is. This is no normal high school and as Anne begins to pull the pieces together what she discovers is just outrageously stunning. I was so sucked into this story and what the hell was happening that I just didn’t see the big reveal coming. Additionally, Wiebe does an excellent job of crafting characters that are totally convincing. I hated and liked exactly who she wanted me too and then got thrown ass over teakettle by the discovery that no one is who they seem to be at Cania Christy. To top it all off, I blazed my way to the end of the read only to be left with a cliffhanger that had me angry and totally surprised. Thankfully, I came across this book late enough that the second installment of the trilogy is already available!! Onward and upward . . . . .

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Excerpt and Sweepstakes: Time Out, Valentine by Melinda Dozier

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Title: Time Out, Valentine Author: Melinda Dozier Genre: Contemporary Romance Format: ebook, 82 pages Published: January 21, 2015 by The Wild Rose Press  ISBN13: 9781628307429

Title: Time Out, Valentine
Author: Melinda Dozier
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: ebook, 82 pages
Published: January 21, 2015 by The Wild Rose Press
ISBN13: 9781628307429

Purple Goodreads

Synopsis:

Lexi’s life is one big dump. Or so she thinks. To keep her mind off her latest breakup, she stays busy with work. It’s no big deal, since writing for Time Out Portland Magazine is a blast…except for the one small snag – Grant Reeds. Grant, a shy but sexy computer geek, is new to Time Out, working as the Networking Director for the online magazine. Even though Lexi thinks he doesn’t notice her, he sure as hell does. The owners have a plan for their upcoming Valentine’s Special, pairing up the two to explore romantic date ideas around the city. Soon, Lexi and Grant learn that the old adage, “Opposites Attract,” can ring true.

teaserExcerpt from Time Out, Valentine:

Grant sipped his beer and surveyed the room around them—anywhere but at the siren next to him, with her fancy drink, an umbrella hanging off the side. Overhead lights strobed the room, gleaming in all directions. The DJ announced a new song and a new crowd rushed to the dance floor, leaving them more alone in the back of the room. Thank God.

It was stifling hot. He tugged his collar from his neck and rolled the sleeves of his white button-up. His glasses slid down his nose, forcing him to take them off and put them in his shirt pocket.

Luckily in that part of the room, the music wasn’t so loud that they had to scream to converse. He only raised his voice a fraction to ask her the question he’d been wondering since they set foot in the place. “So, you think this is romantic enough for a Valentine’s date?”

She batted her long lashes in his direction and smirked. “There’s low lights.”

“Yeah and loud music, people all around.” To help prove his point, someone bumped him in the back, pushing him closer to Lexi. His hand circled her waist and rested on her hip.

She sipped the drink, moving the umbrella with her other hand, then licked her lips. “It’s the place to be. All trendy couples find their way here.” She cocked her head. “What would make it more romantic? Kissing?”

A slow smile formed and he faced her. Not a bad idea. “Actually, yeah.” He placed his bottle on the table behind them, cracked his knuckles and stretched his neck.

She laughed nervously, putting her weight on another sexy as hell foot. “What? You’re gonna kiss me? For real?”

“We need romance.” He grabbed her cup and put it next to his bottle. His gaze dropped to her mouth.

“You kissing me won’t—”

He placed his thumb on her lips. “Shhh. Stop talking so we can be romantic.”

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About the author and where to find her:

authorMelinda is a multi-published contemporary romance author with books from Crimson Romance, Swoon Romance and The Wild Rose Press and she’s represented by Dawn Dowdle of Blue Ridge Literary Agency. She lives in Guatemala, Central America with her husband/college sweetheart who brings “mucho amor” to her life. Melinda enjoys being the queen of her household and dreams of being pampered fully by her three boys once they are grown. Melinda’s guilty pleasures include reality t.v., traveling, blogging and playing Zynga games.

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Review: Shadows and Gold (Elemental Legacy Series) by Elizabeth Hunter

Title: Shadows and Gold Series: Book #0.5: Elemental Legacy Series Author: Elizabeth Hunter Format; ebook, 128 pages Published: December 5, 2014 by E. Hunter/G. Draven  ISBN: 194167402X

Title: Shadows and Gold
Series: Book #0.5: Elemental Legacy Series
Author: Elizabeth Hunter
Format; ebook, 128 pages
Published: December 5, 2014 by E. Hunter/G. Draven
ISBN: 194167402X

Purple Goodreads

Synopsis:

Failing grades. Misleading wind vampires. And a fortune in forgotten gold.
Traveling to the most remote region of China certainly wasn’t what Ben Vecchio had in mind for his summer vacation, but when Tenzin suggested a quick trip, he could hardly turn down a chance to keep her out of trouble and practice the Mandarin he still struggled with in class.

Of course, Tenzin might not have been clear about everything travel entailed.

Driving a truck full of rotting vegetables and twenty million in gold from Kashgar to Shanghai was only the start. If Ben can keep the treasure away from grasping immortals, the reward will be more than worth the effort. But when has travel with a five-thousand-year-old wind vampire ever been simple?

“What’s on the agenda for tonight?”
“I thought we’d go into Shanghai. Eat some fish. See the lights.”
“Okay.”
“Then maybe lure a traitor into the open before he steals my gold.”
Ben paused, thought, then gave her a nod. “Sure, sounds like fun.”

At least he was practicing his Chinese.

Right?

SHADOWS AND GOLD is a prequel novella in the Elemental Legacy series.

Source: Purchase

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Review:

Let’s just take a moment to stop and appreciate the awesome that is Tenzin!!

And done . . . now on to the gushing about the awesome that is Tenzin.

Shadows and Gold is just what I have been waiting for and so much more than what I had hoped for. I knew Elizabeth Hunter would eventually deal with the whole:

“Tenzin?”

Yes?”

“I’m bored.”

“Me, too.”

 thing that happened at the end of A Fall of Water and though I was hoping the dealing with would have happened far more quickly than it did, I have to say, the wait was totally worth it. Tenzin is likely the most significant character in all of the Elemental World manifestations and to deal with her in short order would have been criminal.

Tenzin is the oldest of all the Elemental World characters and with that age comes a profound sense of isolation and loneliness. Tenzin has forgotten more than things than most will ever know, she has seen empires rise and fall, loved ones live and die and, through it all, Tenzin has endured. In only a very few instances across the great span of her existence has Tenzin allowed herself to become truly close to another living being. In this modern age and given her current associations, Ben Vecchio is the one Tenzin has allowed herself to become close too. Interesting.

From the moment Ben became a part of Tenzin’s world, she has – in her own special kind of way – liked the boy. Ben has proven himself to be everything Tenzin admires and respects: intelligent, quick, cunning, deadly in the right circumstances, always willing to partake in some crazy adventure and, absolutely loyal. Though still human, Ben has proven to be quite resilient and with his quick wit and skills has also proven to be one of Tenzin’s favored companions. With that being said, when Tenzin once again finds herself in need of a travelling companion and partner in crime, Ben is the first person she calls.

When one has lived as long as Tenzin, it often becomes necessary to shift one’s assets. When your Tenzin, assets often means large quantities of gold and goods that have been buried and/or in secret locations for centuries. Though Tenzin can certainly handle to vampire contingent in her current situation, she need Ben to physically move the gold and goods and transport everything to a new, safe location. The chance to travel with Tenzin and practice his abysmal Mandarin is something Ben just can’t turn down and if a little heavy lifting and some driving is all he has to do then so be it. Ben quickly discovers that Tenzin may have slightly undersold the exact nature of the adventure and before he can get his bearings, Ben finds himself embroiled in a vampire plot for control and revenge.

The Bottom Line: I always know I am going to get something good from Elizabeth Hunter but Shadows and Gold is so much more than just good. Tenzin has long been my favorite Elemental World character and to see her story continuing to evolve in such a fine, fun and, believable way is just fantastic. This read really highlights a few things regarding Tenzin: 1) despite her age, she is still capable of humor and a sort of childlike irreverence and; 2) even Tenzin isn’t immune to the affairs of the heart. In many ways, these highlights really open up a whole new world of possibilities for the aged vampire and I am incredibly excited to see where these possibilities will lead. Lest you think I have forgotten Ben in this summation, let me assure you, I have not. I think some of my love for Tenzin has to do with her relationship with Ben and that relationship definitely takes some intriguing turns in this read. Ben is growing up and given his physical training, he is growing into a beautiful body that is not going unnoticed by Tenzin. Ben is not at all afraid of Tenzin and one of the only beings alive that will mouth off to the ancient and stand his ground in the face of the tiny terror. In so many (totally important!) ways, Ben is a beautiful balance to Tenzin and someone who can certainly help this powerful being to not only adjust to but thrive in the modern world. Though Ben is adamant in his decision to remain human, I can’t imagine Tenzin and by extension, Elizabeth Hunter will allow this business to continue. In short, Ben and Tenzin’s future should prove to be long, fun, fascinating and, dare I say, sexy!

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About the author and where to find her:

Author - Elizabeth HunterElizabeth Hunter is a contemporary fantasy and romance author. She is a graduate of the University of Houston Honors College in the Department of English (Linguistics) and a former English teacher.  She currently lives in Central California with a seven-year-old ninja who claims to be her child. She enjoys reading, writing, travel, and bowling (despite the fact that she’s not very good at it.) Someday, she plans to learn how to scuba dive. And maybe hang glide. But that looks like a lot of running.  She is the author of the Elemental Mysteries and Elemental World series, the Cambio Springs series, and other works of fiction.

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