Excerpt and Sweepstakes: The Beautiful Lost by Luanne Rice

 

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In The Beautiful Lost, Luanne Rice deftly uses her experiences with depression to craft a lilting and surprising story about the vagaries of the human heart. Maia has struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts ever since her mother left to follow her passion of studying ocean life in the Canadian Maritime provinces. Maia is convinced everything will be fine if she can only reconnect with her mother, meaning she won’t have to take her pills, she will never need to be institutionalized again. When Maia runs away from home in search of her mom, she gets unexpected help and companionship from Billy, her crush from school. On the roads through New England, Maia and Billy learn truths about each other that are equal parts enthralling and distressing.

Excerpt from The Beautiful Lost

Today I was ready. Last night I’d hidden the Volvo key on the ledge outside my window. I grabbed it and stuck it into my jeans pocket along with my cell phone. Then I dove into my closet, rummaged for the duffle bag that I’d already filled with a fleece, my rain slicker, underwear, extra jeans, my diary, bottles of medication, my toothbrush, the packet of my mother’s letters, and all the birthday and Christmas money I had. “Who’s there? Maia, is that you?” I froze. Astrid had finished faxing and making her call, and her vigilance had kicked in. I heard her footsteps on the stairs and quickly locked my bedroom door, just as she began rattling the knob. That lasted exactly three seconds, and then she ran down the hall. I knew what she’d do next: call my father and try to head me off at the pass. I had to move fast and couldn’t risk her grabbing me if I went through the house. I threw my duffle out the window and, just like yesterday, climbed out and shinnied down the pine tree. Wind blew through the lilacs. They’d just bloomed, and their scent was stronger than perfume. Tiny purple flowers tossed overhead, mixing with the pine needles. I had lived here since birth; my parents had brought me home to this house, and the smell was as familiar to me as anything in my life. I tore through the trees, made it to the garage door, and hauled the door up in one wild motion. I hadn’t started my mother’s car in a long time, but it was an indestructible Volvo station wagon and it fired right up. I backed out, my heart beating so fast it could have run the engine. Wheels squealing, I flew out of my driveway, leaving Astrid running after the car, yelling and waving. My plan was to hit the highway and disappear, but I had a lump in my throat that made me turn right onto Shuttle Meadow Avenue. My phone buzzed in my pocket. I ignored it. I passed my old elementary school and Heckler Pond, where I had learned to ice-skate, and didn’t feel an ounce of sentimentality. Leaving home meant leaving home. You had abandon old things to the past. I was ready.  But Billy.  Martindale Street wound up the steep hill above the pond. Tall trees shaded it, but every so often I’d glance right, and through the branches could see the opposite rise where my house stood.  My phone kept buzzing, the different rhythms that meant that Astrid, and maybe by now my dad, were both calling and texting. I didn’t even look.  I pulled into the circular driveway. The massive brick building, gothic with spires, arched windows on the first floor, and oxidized green copper roof rose before me. This was a different perspective than I’d ever seen before; I scanned the upper stories, trying to locate Billy’s window, but everything looked different, being so close.  A bunch of kids my age were clustered in a play area full of swings, seesaws, picnic tables, and a jungle gym. I saw Mary Porter, Anna Jacoby, and Kevin Hernandez from school. I could ask them where Billy was. I could do that so easily, but I was frozen in the car.  How many times could I say a private goodbye? I had thought yesterday in English class was it, then in study hall today, and now here I was at the Home. I had to see him one last time.  The car running, I gripped the steering wheel hard with my elbows locked, just begging the stars to let him walk by. That’s when I spotted him sitting alone under a maple tree, leaning against the wide trunk. And, as if the stars had decided to answer, he looked up and saw me too. Then my heart had the biggest jumpstart ever—he leapt up and came toward me. I got out of the car.
“What are you doing here?” he asked.
“I came to say…” I said, but I couldn’t get the words out.
He looked in the back seat and saw my duffle.
“Where are you going?” he asked.
“Away,” I said.
Our eyes burned into each other. I felt heat in my chest, knowing that this really was the last time. I wanted to reach over, touch his hand. I hoped he could read my mind and somehow know he was the only person I’d miss, that I’d come here today because he was, ineffably, mine.
“Away where?” he asked.
“To see my mother,” I said.
“Can I go with you?” he asked.
I stared at him. Had I heard right? No, I had to be dreaming.
“Will you take me?” he asked.
It was real. This was happening. His eyes were begging me.
“But people will miss you. They’ll wonder where you are,” I said.
“I live in a group home,” he said, gesturing at the building. “They won’t wonder for long.”
And then he touched me—just one finger on my wrist bone—so quickly I would have thought I’d imagined it if it didn’t tingle all through my body.
“I can help you,” he said.
“Help me?”
“Yeah, you’re running away, right? I know how to do that. No one will catch us,” he
said. He was already hurrying around the car. I didn’t think after that. I climbed into the driver’s seat, he got in beside me, and we sped off.

About the Author:

Luanne Rice is the New York Times bestselling author of over 30 novels for adults and the YA novel The Secret Language of Sisters. There are more than twenty-two million copies of her books in print across the world and five of her novels have been adapted into TV movies and miniseries. Luanne lives in coastal Connecticut with her family of cats.

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Spotlight and Sweepstakes: All the Stars Left Behind by Ashley Graham

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Relocating to Arctic Norway would put a freeze on anyone’s social life. For Leda Lindgren, with her crutches and a chip on her shoulder the size of her former Manhattan home, the frozen tundra is just as boring as it sounds. Until she meets her uncle’s gorgeous employee.

Unfortunately, no matter how smoking hot the guy is, Roar comes with secrets as unnerving as his moving tattoos. And Leda doesn’t trust him.

Roar shouldn’t be drawn to the moody human girl with eyes that leave him weak in the knees. But when Leda gets shot by one of his enemies and survives, Roar finally understands why he’s drawn to her: Leda is exactly what he was sent to Earth to find. A weapon of immense power capable of saving his planet.

She just doesn’t know it yet.

 

About the author and where to find her:

Ashley Graham was born in Ontario, Canada, and has since lived in five countries. Before writing her first manuscript in 2015, she worked as a clerical assistant, quality assurance officer, chef, and stay-at-home mom/homeschool teacher. When she isn’t writing or reading every book she gets her hands on, Ashley enjoys online window shopping, Netflix binges, and spends way too much time thinking about space travel. ALL THE STARS LEFT BEHIND is her debut novel.

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Spotlight: Billionaires Hook Up (Book #8: Billionaires Series) by Claire Adams

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If Rainer is going to inherit the family fortune then he has to settle down…and Tasha is his only hope…

It isn’t easy being a woman in a man’s world, but Tasha has been doing her best. While it has meant sacrificing a social life and a love life, she has risen within the ranks of Hyperion, becoming one of the more notable junior executives. But all her success is threatened when stunning Rainer Maxwell weasels his way onto her big project.

Of course, Rainer himself is dealing with pressure to be a certain kind of man and a certain kind of success. While the world seems to love his playboy image and slick business style, his family looks down upon it. And that matters, because in the Maxwell family, only one heir gets the fortune, and the others get pennies. But he’ll need Tasha’s help.

Sparks fly, both good and bad. Is this a match made in heaven, or are these two who are destined to infuriate each other?

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Spotlight: More than Need You by Shayla Black

Release Date: June 13, 2017

Designer: Rachel Connolly

Photographer: Sara Eirew

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I’m Griffin Reed—cutthroat entrepreneur and competitive bastard. Trust is a four-letter word and everyone is disposable…except Britta Stone. Three years ago, she was my everything before I stupidly threw her away. I thought I’d paid for my sin in misery—until I learned we have a son. Finding out she’s engaged to a bore who’s rushing her to the altar pisses me off even more. I intend to win her back and raise our boy. I’ll have to get ruthless, of course. Luckily, that’s one of my most singular talents.

Sixty days. That’s what I’m asking the gritty, independent single mother to give me—twenty-four/seven. Under my roof. And if I have my way, in my bed. Britta says she wants nothing to do with me. But her body language and passionate kisses make her a liar. Now all I have to do is coax her into surrendering to the old magic between us. Once I have her right where I want her, I’ll do whatever it takes to prove I more than need her.

This book is the second in the More Than Words series. The books are companions, not serials, meaning that backstory, secondary characters, and other elements will be easier to relate to if you read the installments in order, but the main romance of each book is a stand-alone.

This book contains lines that may make you laugh, events that may make you cry, and scenes that will probably have you squirming in your seat. Don’t worry about cliffhangers. HEA guaranteed! (Does not contain elements of BDSM or romantic suspense.)

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More Than Want You, Book 1

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More Than Love You (More Than Words, Book 3)

Available for Preorder – Arriving February 13, 2018

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Shayla Black is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than fifty novels. For nearly twenty years, she’s written contemporary, erotic, paranormal, and historical romances via traditional, independent, foreign, and audio publishers. Her books have sold millions of copies and been published in a dozen languages.

Raised an only child, Shayla occupied herself with lots of daydreaming, much to the chagrin of her teachers. In college, she found her love for reading and realized that she could have a career publishing the stories spinning in her imagination. Though she graduated with a degree in Marketing/Advertising and embarked on a stint in corporate America to pay the bills, her heart has always been with her characters. She’s thrilled that she’s been living her dream as a full-time author for the past eight years.

Shayla currently lives in North Texas with her wonderfully supportive husband, her teenage daughter, and two spoiled tabbies. In her “free” time, she enjoys reality TV, reading, and listening to an eclectic blend of music.

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Review and Excerpt: Lover by Marni Mann and Gia Riley

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Title: Lover

Author: Marni Mann & Gia Riley

Publication Date: June 8, 2017

Genre: Contemporary Romance

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The attraction was undeniable.

I couldn’t escape him.

I didn’t want to.

I was his.

He was mine.

But he wasn’t my husband.

My once treasured marriage was now flawed and imperfect.

By the time the guilt set in, it was too late.

Reality was trying to keep me away from my obsession.

My husband was that reality.

My obsession was West.

But West was forbidden. Taken. Married.

We were swingers.

It was the perfect arrangement.

Until I fell in love…

With West.

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Source: Authors     My Rating: 3½/5 stars

Piper and West belong together and that is made abundantly clear the first time they have sex. Technically and legally, Piper and West belong to other people which makes their world-altering sex something that should only be done with the full knowledge and consent of their respective spouses. Yeah, there are some real disadvantages to swinging . . . . .

Piper is most decidedly not a swinger, but she is a woman willing to go to extreme lengths to save her failing marriage. After weeks and weeks of online research, troubled thoughts, more distance between she and her husband, and agonizing decisions, Piper and her husband decide to try swinging in a last-ditch effort to save their relationship. The ultimate goal is to save her marriage, not fall in love with a man who is not hers to have and implode two marriages. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

From the first encounter, Piper and West fit together and as their respective spouses continue to agree to further sexual encounters, their feelings move from being purely physical to the development of a deeper emotional connection. West is everything her husband is not on every level and that scares the hell out of Piper. Swinging was meant to save her marriage, bring she and her husband closer together, not introduce her to the part of her life she’s been missing for years. Piper is afraid of her feelings and scared to voice them, but West is perceptive man and when he starts asking some very pointed questions, it is impossible for Piper to deny what she’s feeling.

Piper knows nothing of West’s marriage beyond what she learns from him and her own husband. She knows his wife is sexually adventurous, completely uninhibited, and more than willing to continue their “relationship.” West is very clear and very direct with Piper, he has long suspected his marriage is held together by a shared interest in sex and her interest in his wealth. The feelings Piper is experiencing are shared and West will begin the separation process from his wife. While both don’t expect the process to be fun, neither anticipates the sh*tstorm that occurs when everyone’s truth comes out. And wow, does everyone have a secret . . . . .

The Bottom Line: Two things happened with this book and review: 1) I read the book in a single sitting and, 2) I waited more than a week to write this review. It took a week to figure out how I feel about this book. Here’s what took me a week to figure out: through 75% of this book, I was firmly set on a 5-star rating and then the completely unnecessary plot twist cropped up toward the end and it all went sideways for me. Without spoiling the read for anyone, the plot twist is related to a long-forgotten moment in Piper’s past that has come back to bite her on the ass. With every other logical and emotional issue already in play, this particular plot twist is not just unnecessary, but illogical and somewhat damaging to the overall read. In truth, it really is just that single ridiculous plot twist that took this read from 5 to a mere 3½ stars though I suspect I will be in the minority on my feelings about this. With that being said, I did like everything else about this read including West, whom I loved, the continuous intensity of the situation which is prevalent throughout the read, the copious yet reasonable naughty bits, the incredible emotional roller coaster, and the crazy secrets (except that one plot twist!) that come to light. This is an intense, fast-paced read, that will keep you turning pages and will most assuredly appeal to most readers, but just missed the mark for me.

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Excerpt from Lover:

After tonight, she’ll know how gorgeous she is, and she’ll know how incredible a man can make her feel. And, when she looks at her husband, she’ll expect more from him.

I know shit between them isn’t as hot as what Tilly and I have. Cannon doesn’t look at Piper like he wants to take her clothes off with his teeth and have his mouth live between her legs. He gazes at her like he wants to ask where they’re going to dinner and what movie they’ll see after.

There’s a difference between fucking your best friend and someone who actually worships your body.

Piper will soon know the latter.

And that’s why she’s here. To know what it feels like to be with a man who lusts for her cunt.

She picked the right couple to swing with.

 

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Marni MannBest-selling Author Marni Mann knew she was going to be a writer since middle school. While other girls her age were daydreaming about teenage pop stars, Mann was fantasizing about penning her first novel. She crafts sexy, titillating stories that weave together her love of darkness, mystery, passion, and human emotion. A New Englander at heart, she now lives in Sarasota, Florida with her husband and their two dogs who subsequently have been characters in her books. When she’s not nose deep in her laptop working on her next novel, she’s scouring for chocolate, sipping wine, traveling to new locations, and devouring fabulous books.

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GiaRileyAuthor Gia Riley has been in love with writing romance since high school when she took her very first creative writing class. From the small but mighty state of Delaware, she’s a country girl at heart, traveling back to her roots in Pennsylvania as often as she can.  While New Adult and Contemporary romance have been her passion, she’s dabbled with more erotic plotlines lately, enjoying discovering the sexier side of love with each story she pens. After all, she’s a lover of all things romance – a firm believer that everyone deserves their happily ever after no matter what it takes to get there.  When she’s not writing, you can find her roaming the aisles of Kirkland’s, up to her elbows in Play-doh, or trying to hunt down spoilers for her favorite reality television show.

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Spotlight and Sweepstakes: Counting on You by J.C. Reed and Jackie Steele

From New York Times Bestselling Author, J.C. Reed, and Jackie Steele comes a new standalone novel.

I have everything I want.
Success. Wealth. Women…and make that plenty of those. As a filthy-rich CEO, I would say I’m pretty much close to perfection. Except for that one weakness: I’m cocky as hell, and an irresistible magnet for women.

So when one tiny mistake lands me in hot waters with the investors, I have one hell of a choice to make:
Restore my reputation…

Or risk losing my company.

I’m a man of my word and failure is not an option. Not now. Not ever. I fully intend to uphold my responsibilities.


Sharing an apartment should be easy, right? And it’s only for six weeks.

That’s what I thought before I found out that my new roommate is female.
And wow.
Vicky Sullivan is unlike any woman I’ve ever met.
She’s hot as sin, and crazy.
Definitely not my kind of crazy, but too hot to pass up.
There’s something about her that makes me rage with want.
I don’t like her, but obviously my dick does. And what he wants, he gets.

Six weeks…

Living together shouldn’t be too hard…
Until my best friend challenges me to a bet…
I make it my mission to make her mine.

There’s only one problem.

I have to break…Every. Single. Rule.
And did I mention she’s completely off-limits?

It’s too late to say no.

Author’s note – Counting On You is a full-length, standalone novel with no cliffhanger.


 

 

 

 

Meet J.C. Reed

J.C. Reed is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author. She writes steamy contemporary romance with a touch of mystery and suspense. When she’s not typing away on her keyboard, forgetting the world around her, you can find her chatting with her readers on Facebook.

 

    Meet Jackie Steele

Jackie Steele is a USA Today Bestselling author and a true romantic at heart. Whether reading or writing, Jackie loves dark, emotional stories that twist with your head and take you on a journey. As an ever romantic, she believes in happy endings and true love in all forms, which is reflected in all of her books.

 

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Spotlight: Where I End by Michelle Dare

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Eve: Pretentious. Arrogant. Condescending. Cruel.

All words I’d used to label him. Exactly what I’d always believed he was. All that changed one spring morning when I realized I didn’t know the man behind the façade at all.

Angry. Desperate. Broken. Mine.

All words I’d use to define him after I interfered. Once our eyes locked, I was all in. There was no turning back. He tried to push me away, but I refused to let him go. I was determined to save him. What I didn’t expect was that he would save me, too.

Cy: I was so close to ending my misery. Mere seconds away. Then she stumbled upon our argument, and I changed my plans. She wasn’t supposed to be there. She knew too much. Even with my entire world burning down around me, she wouldn’t walk away.

I’ve always been on my own. No one had ever fought for me before. Why should anyone start now? But she did, no matter how much I tried to stop her. I knew I was nothing, unworthy of her, but she was persistent. Once she got under my skin, I couldn’t let her go, because where I end, she begins.

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Michelle Dare is a romance author. Her stories range from sweet to sinful and from new adult to fantasy. There aren’t enough hours in the day for her to write all of the story ideas in her head. When not writing or reading, she’s a wife and mom living in eastern Pennsylvania. One day she hopes to be writing from a beach where she will never have to see snow or be cold again.