Review: Below the Belt (Book #3: Worth the Fight Series) by Sidney Halston

 

#3 - Below the Belt
Title: Below the Belt Series: Book #3: Worth the Fight Author: Sidney Halston Format: ebook, 296 pages Published: February 10, 2015 by Loveswept ISBN: 0553390988

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Synopsis:

Once one of the most sought-after names on the mixed martial arts circuit, Antonio “Scarface” Marino watched his career go down for the count as he chased skirts and made tabloid headlines. Now he’s finally making a comeback, and it’s all thanks to Francesca Silva, a Brazilian bombshell as tough as any of her fighters. But who’s the real Francesca: the trash-talking trainer who rides him hard, or the vulnerable woman who blushes at his touch?  Francesca went to the mat to sign Tony because she believes he still has the potential to bring big success to her gym—if she can keep his head in the cage and out of her personal life. After a short-lived marriage soured her on love, a one-night stand is all she can handle. Now Tony’s kisses are stirring up complicated feelings—especially when he agrees to face her ex in the ring. Francesca’s used to freezing guys out. But Tony’s tempting her to give in to the heat.

Below the Belt

Source: Author and Purchase

My Rating: 3/5

My Review:

OK, everyone knows there is one book in every long series that just doesn’t live up to the standard of the rest of the series.  For me and the Worth the Fight series, Below the Belt is that book. 

Francesca Silva is the co-owner of WtF gym.  She is seriously badass with her sharp tongue, quick wit, no bullshit, totally well-dressed self.  There is no messing with Francesca and everyone around her knows that.  She is no nonsense and often cold which has left Francesca extremely successful in her career but lacking in the close friends and lovers department.  What most people, even those she deals with on a regular basis don’t know is that Francesca doesn’t really want to be the person she has become but has found her armor to be a necessary evil meant to protect her from the pain she experienced when her only serious relationship broke up in a truly ugly way. 

Francesca’s coup for WtF is the signing of Tony “Scarface” Marino, a world-class fighter with a reputation for partying, womanizing, and brawling.  Tony’s public appearance is currently in the crapper and he has no interest in seriously training.  Oh, and there is the small matter of his current temper tantrum related to the fact that he can’t have Francesca Silva.  Tony has pulled out what he thinks are all his best moves and nothing seems to work on the ice queen.  All Francesca seems to be interested in is yelling at Tony and nagging him to train.  For the first time in his life, Tony isn’t getting his way and a woman isn’t falling over herself to be with him.  WTF???  And I don’t mean the gym . . . .

If Tony wants to achieve his goal of getting Francesca into bed he has to get himself into shape and get serious about his wooing.  When Tony finally begins to put his mind and body into his training the results are really good and Francesca notices.  She yells less, Tony acts more like an adult than a petulant child, and the walls between the two begin to break down.  Tony is surprised by Francesca’s relative inexperience and Francesca is surprised by Tony’s real personality that is often hidden behind his public persona.  As the two become closer, each has to deal with their respective baggage and for both, there is a lot of baggage and a lot to overcome.  Old habits die hard and despite their attraction one another, both Francesca and Tony have a tendency to retreat to their safe place which causes more problems for them as a couple. 

The Bottom Line:  Below the Belt is just an OK for read for me.  I can’t honestly say I got fired up about either Francesca or Tony but I also can’t say I dislike either character.  Their story is fairly tame given what’s come before (Jack/Chrissy and Slade/Jessica) which makes Tony and Francesca’s story less dramatic and crazy.  They have some slightly crazy moments, some very sweet and tender moments, and even some funny moments but nothing over the top.  Clearly, I need dramatic and crazy in my life J  With all of this being said, Below the Belt is still a worthwhile read and necessary to the overall enjoyment and understanding of the Worth the Fight series as a whole. 

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About the author and where to find her:

Sidney Halston lives her life with one simple rule: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”–Mark Twain. Or even simpler, “Just Do It”—Nike.  And that’s exactly what she did. After working hard as an attorney, Sidney picked up a pen for the first time at thirty years old to begin her dream of writing. Having never written anything other than very exciting legal briefs, she found an outlet for her imaginative romantic side and wrote Seeing Red.That first pen stroke sealed the deal, and she fell in love with writing.

Sidney lives in South Florida with her husband and children.  She loves her family above all else, and reading follows a close second. When she’s not writing you can find her reading and reading and reading. She’s a reader first and a writer second.  When she’s not writing or reading, her life is complete and utter chaos, trying to balance family life with work and writing (and reading). But she wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Review: Full Contact (Book #2: Worth the Fight Series) by Sidney Halston

#2 - Full Contact
Title: Full Contact Series: Book #2: Worth the Fight Author: Sidney Halston Format: Kindle Edition, 288 pages Published: October 28, 2014 by Loveswept ASIN: B00K4C3RHC

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Synopsis:

How could she have been so stupid? When Jessica Cross decides to give her violently jealous boyfriend—the otherwise influential and charming Dennis Stavros—a second chance, she very nearly becomes a statistic. After weeks of healing from a broken rib and collapsed lung, and with Dennis behind bars, Jessica finally feels ready to come out of hiding. But will she ever be able to take a chance on love again with someone new?
 
Mixed martial arts fighter Slade Martin knows he has a bad reputation. Hell, he’s probably earned it. So it won’t be easy to convince beautiful, vulnerable Jessica that she can trust him—that from the moment she walked into his life, she’s been the only one he’s wanted. Powerful and confident, Slade knows he can honor his vow to protect Jessica body and soul. Winning her heart will be another matter . . . but a woman like Jessica is worth the fight.  

Full Contact

Source: Author and Purchase

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Review:

Slade Martin is about as badass as they come.  He is a super-simple guy with two total and complete desires.  Desire one is mixed martial arts and the dream of one day owning his own gym.  Slade is, quite literally willing to put his life on the line to make this dream come true.  Desire two is Jessica Cross, the woman Slade has adored for quite some time yet hasn’t ever really been able to get close to.  Like his dream of owning a gym, Slade is willing to put his life on the line and give up his freedom for Jessica. 

Jessica Cross never intended to be a statistic.  From a wealthy family who have high expectations for their daughter and her life, Jessica hasn’t told her family the real reason she broke things off with her boyfriend, Dennis.  As far as Jessica’s parents are concerned, Dennis, with his charm, family connections, and political aspirations is the perfect match for Jessica.  What they don’t know is that Dennis is bat-shit crazy and likes to beat Jessica.  Slade Martin knows all these things and wants nothing more than to hurt Dennis, protect Jessica, and make her his own.  Given her recent experiences, Jessica is beyond hesitant to jump into a new relationship but there is just something about Slade that is hard to resist.  With nearly everyone else, Slade is big, bad, and scary but with Jessica, he is kind, caring, intensely sexual, and hugely protective. 

Slade never imagined when he finally got Jessica into his life and into his home it would be because she is recuperating from a serious beating at the hands of her ex-boyfriend.  Bringing Jessica deeper into his life is one of Slade’s greatest desires and while he is generally a fairly aggressive guy, Jessica needs something far different.  With Jessica, Slade taps into the parts of his personality that don’t normally see the light of day.  As an MMA fighter, Slade gets to let his anger and aggression out but with Jessica, he gets to be gentle and caring, and just aggressive enough in the bedroom to completely satisfy each other.  More surprisingly, Slade quickly realizes he doesn’t just want a little bit of time and a lot of sex with Jessica but a whole hell of a lot of each.

Now let’s add some drama into the mix.  Jessica has to deal with not just her recovery but the choices she made to get her to her current place in life.  She has to deal with her family and her future and how disparate the two really are.  Then, there is the fact that her ex is still causing some fairly serious problems for both she and Slade.  From Jessica’s perspective, it is all just too much to bear and the easiest and most heartbreaking solution for all involved is simply to leave town.  Jessica is only half of Slade’s drama.  He wants her desperately but he also wants his own gym.  With Jessica, he is facing jail time as a result of a confrontation with her crazy ex as well as facing her leaving town.  With his dream of owning a gym, Slade is facing a lack of funds which can easily be remedied with just a few more unsanctioned, high risk fights.  However, he has been fighting for a lot of years and the injuries are adding up to the point that one more serious blow and Slade is in the realm of long-term irreversible damage or even death.  Like Jessica, some things are just worth the time, the effort, and the risk. 

The Bottom Line:  The title, Full Contact really does epitomize Slade Martin.  From start to finish, Slade is full tilt and focused on his two goals, getting enough money to buy a gym and making Jessica his.  Slade is so focused on these goals that he often disregards even his own well-being and while that may seem stupid (and it is on some levels) is also an expression of his confidence.  Slade has confidence in spades and that is very much a part of his appeal.  His foul mouth and absolute determination make him sexy as hell and when you throw in all the crap he has to go through and the opposition he faces, well, Slade is just about perfect.  One of the awesome ironies of this read is how often Slade says he doesn’t do drama but there is a butt load of drama in his life and in this read.  Every single bit of the drama makes sense to the read and particularly to Jessica and speaks to Slade’s character.  That Slade is willing to endure the drama he so despises for the realization of his dream and an HEA is a delightful irony that I chuckled about many, many times throughout this read.

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About the author and where to find her:

Sidney Halston lives her life with one simple rule: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”–Mark Twain. Or even simpler, “Just Do It”—Nike.  And that’s exactly what she did. After working hard as an attorney, Sidney picked up a pen for the first time at thirty years old to begin her dream of writing. Having never written anything other than very exciting legal briefs, she found an outlet for her imaginative romantic side and wrote Seeing Red.That first pen stroke sealed the deal, and she fell in love with writing.

Sidney lives in South Florida with her husband and children.  She loves her family above all else, and reading follows a close second. When she’s not writing you can find her reading and reading and reading. She’s a reader first and a writer second.  When she’s not writing or reading, her life is complete and utter chaos, trying to balance family life with work and writing (and reading). But she wouldn’t have it any other way.

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From the Archives: Review: Against the Cage (Book #1: Worth the Fight Series) by Sidney Halston

Title: Against the Cage Series: Book #1: Worth the Fight Series Author: Sidney Halston Format: ebook, 256 pages Published: May 27, 2014 by Loveswept  ISBN: 0553390961
Title: Against the Cage
Series: Book #1: Worth the Fight Series
Author: Sidney Halston
Format: ebook, 256 pages
Published: May 27, 2014 by Loveswept
ISBN: 0553390961

Purple Goodreads

Synopsis:

In her Loveswept debut, Sidney Halston turns up the heat as a sexy cage fighter shows a former bookworm how delicious a few rounds between the sheets can be.

For Chrissy Martin, returning to her Florida hometown always seems to bring bad luck. The day starts with a breakup text, followed by a jailhouse phone call from her troublemaker brother. Now a routine traffic stop has ended with her accidentally punching an officer . . . in a delicate place. Then Chrissy realizes that the hot cop on the receiving end of her right hook is none other than the man from her teenage fantasies.

Jack Daniels knows how to take a hit. After all, when he’s not chasing reckless drivers, he’s kicking ass in a mixed martial arts ring. So what takes his breath away isn’t the low blow, but the woman who dealt it: a gorgeous knockout with legs Jack wouldn’t mind being pinned under—who just so happens to be his best friend’s nerdy little sister, all grown up. Soon their instant chemistry leads to a sizzling affair, but Jack and Chrissy are fighting an uphill battle if they want to make love last beyond the final bell.

Source: ARC from the author

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Review:

OK, here’s the deal: as a reader I find it is generally not a good idea when an author completely changes his or her writing “voice” and/or style.  However, from time-to-time, a particularly talented author can do just that and successfully so.  In this instance, Sidney Halston has not only changed her writing voice but has also switched genres with little to no effort.  The final result is an exciting new read, Against the Cage.

They say you can’t go home again but Chrissy Martin is going to test that theory when, after eleven years away she returns to Tarpon Springs, Florida to bail out her worthless brother, Slade Martin.  Intending to get in and get out and back to her life, Chrissy’s plans are torpedoed when she is pulled over on her way to break in to her family home.  As if the universe completely hates her, not only is she pulled over but, in the process of presenting her license and registration, she accidentally punches the cop in the crotch and gets cursed at repeatedly while he rolls around on the ground in pain.  Oh, and the final insult to injury is the fact that the cop just happens to be her brother’s best friend and her childhood crush, Jack Daniels.  Yes, that is really his name and he hates it 🙂

For the past eleven years, Jack has looked after Chrissy’s dumbass brother, bailed him out when necessary and asked after Chrissy at every turn.  In addition to his role as police officer, Jack also enjoys the occasional MMA fight – as a contestant and not just a viewer, he has completely remodeled his family home and, he is the not-so-proud owner of a nasty little Chihuahua by the name of Drogo.  The totally unexpected presence of the decidedly grown up and slammin’ sexy Chrissy Martin has flapped the generally unflappable Jack.  Her presence in his house and his life is a threat to his sanity.  Oh, and his nasty little dog may like her too and Drogo likes no one! 

Not to be outdone, Chrissy is totally blown away by the sheer beauty of Jack and if the situation were at all different, she may just have to consider a hook-up.  But, Chrissy is on her way out of town just as soon as things are settled with her brother.  HA!!  Enter Sidney Halston and her evil genius ways . . . .

It takes about a nanosecond for both Jack and Chrissy to realize that there is some real chemistry between them and as far as science experiments go, their chemistry is explosive.  Furthermore, as we have already determined, the universe hates Chrissy and over the next few days her plan to get in and out of town is constantly thwarted.  Her brother is badly hurt following an unsanctioned MMA fight, he fully intends to fight again within the next few days and if she can’t talk him out of the insanity, at least Chrissy can be there to patch him up when he comes out of the cage.  But, she doesn’t have to be happy about it!!

For the bulk of the read, Chrissy is fighting with either her brother or with Jack as both seem to be completely unreasonable men.  When not fighting, she is wooing Drogo and trying desperately to ignore her growing attraction to Jack.  But that kind of sexy can only be ignored for so long and after one seriously delectable night, Chrissy begins to rethink her grand plan.  Maybe, just maybe the universe doesn’t hate her quite as much as she thought.  Again I repeat, HA!  As we all know, the road to happiness (and Hell) is often paved with good intentions and though everyone involved has good intentions and is only interested in protecting everyone else, the secret keeping, lies of omission and grievous misunderstandings related to their collective past creates all kinds of drama and leaves Jack totally distraught and Chrissy on her way out of town after all.

The Bottom Line: I was a fan of Sidney Halston long before she asked me about reading Against the Cage.  My previous experience with her writing includes the seriously dark, totally erotic and, slightly paranormal Seeing Red series and this is what I was expecting when I cracked the cover of this read.  What I got was a totally different type of read that is no less well-written, no less entertaining and, no less sexy than her other books.  The voice and style of Against the Cage is so different that I had to keep reminding myself that this was written by the same person who wrote the Seeing Red series.  I was hooked from the beginning by Chrissy’s sharp wit and intelligence, Jack’s smoldering honed to perfection fighter’s body sexiness mixed with the whole “I’m a cop” thing and, by Drogo.  Yes, the angry Chihuahua with a spiked collar and a bad attitude is a selling point for me 🙂  In all, I’m in and signed up for the rest of this series.  Once again, Halston has put together a fantastic read that will certainly appeal to a wide range of readers.

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 About the author and where to find her:

Sidney Halston lives her life with one simple rule: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”–Mark Twain. Or even simpler, “Just Do It”—Nike.  And that’s exactly what she did. After working hard as an attorney, Sidney picked up a pen for the first time at thirty years old to begin her dream of writing. Having never written anything other than very exciting legal briefs, she found an outlet for her imaginative romantic side and wrote Seeing Red.That first pen stroke sealed the deal, and she fell in love with writing.

Sidney lives in South Florida with her husband and children.  She loves her family above all else, and reading follows a close second. When she’s not writing you can find her reading and reading and reading. She’s a reader first and a writer second.  When she’s not writing or reading, her life is complete and utter chaos, trying to balance family life with work and writing (and reading). But she wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Excerpt and Sweepstakes: Mace (Book #4: Cocky Cage Fighter Series) by Lane Hart

mace lane hart

Cover
Title: Mace Series: Book #4: Cocky Cage Fighter Author: Lane Hart Format: Kindle Edition, 181 pages Published: March 12, 2016 by Editor’s Choice Publishing ASIN: B019AJC8DS

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Mace: I fell for Hailey the moment I laid eyes on her, before I knew about the three King Kong size battles I would have to fight to be with her.  By the time Linc warned me that his gorgeous sister with legs a mile long was off limits and “emotionally fragile,” it was too late. There was no turning back.  Then there’s my friend Senn, who had a one-night stand with Hailey. He’s trying his best to get a repeat performance during the week of Claire and Linc’s wedding. Sorry buddy, bros might come before hoes, but they don’t come before sweet southern belles.  And last but not least, the IFC insists that if I want a million dollar contract and a championship title fight then I need to keep up my playboy image to fuel all the female fans’ filthy fantasies.  But for Hailey, I’ll do whatever it takes to make her mine.

Hailey : Smooth talkin’, sexier than sin, Mason Reed came out of nowhere and stole my heart, despite his inappropriate obsession with my panties. I’m not supposed to fall for the “little” brother of my soon to be sister-in-law, or be fantasizin’ about lickin’ every inch of his tattoos the week of her and Linc’s wedding.  Mason’s seven years younger than me, and infamous for his so called “harem.” His fight intro song is actually a tribute to his magical…well, it rhymes with rock. Not only will he likely end up hurtin’ me, but he’s also…rock blockin’ Senn, my former hot fling.  After I find out just how close Mason is to landin’ a huge IFC contract if he keeps performin’ his magic tricks for all the ladies, I refuse to let him give it all up for me.  I had no idea how much I would miss him or how much it would hurt when I finally succeeded in pushin’ him away.

mace teaser

Excerpt from Mace (Book #4: Cocky Cage Fighter Series):

Her sigh is so heavy, I can practically feel the warmth of her breath whooshing against my ear before she says, “You’re late.”

There’s something about the weight in those two words and how her golden shoulders slump that have me feeling shittier than maybe ever before for being slack. Not just slack, I was fucking selfish, making this incredibly classy and gorgeous woman wait for me in a shitty airport coffee shop while I was dicking around. The southern beauty doesn’t even sound pissed. She sounds…disappointed in me. Which is so much worse. And I know right then and there that my being late has actually hurt her feelings. In a rare moment of understanding how the crazy female brain works because I have—had— two older sisters, I even realize exactly why she’s upset – I didn’t think she was important enough to be on time for. 

“I’m sorry,” I say with as much conviction as possible, because I honestly mean it. If I had known about those fucking mile-long legs and her slow, sexy drawl, I would’ve been here at sunrise, waiting to worship her on my knees instead of having a threesome. That’s right, she equals the equivalent of two sexy women. Hell, maybe even four. “What can I do to make it up to you?” I ask, wanting, no, scratch that, needing to have her forgiveness. “Any fucking thing. Name it, and you’ve got it, sweetheart.”

And that’s when it happens. Her face breaks into a smile that’s so stunning it actually causes a hiccup in the space-time continuum. It’s like in a movie when the entire room freezes. Everyone else around us disappeared, time stood still, and the single moment hung suspended in its progression, all because of her

I pull the phone away from my ear to see what time it is because I never want to forget this monumental, historic event.  Eleven-eleven on June sixth is the exact moment I fell in love with that smile. And now I’m absolutely sure that I’ll not only keep my promise to do anything to make up for being late, but I’m also certain that I would do anything on God’s green Earth just to see her smile again.

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About the author and where to find her:

lane hart bioNew York Times bestselling author Lane Hart was born and raised in North Carolina. She continues to live in the south with her husband, two daughters, and several pets named after Star Wars characters.  When Lane’s not writing or reading sexy novels, she can be found in the summer on the beaches of the east coast, and in the fall watching football, cheering on the Carolina Panthers.

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Excerpt and Sweepstakes: Unleash the Storm (Book #5: Steel and Stone Series) by Annette Marie

Book #5
Title: Unleash the Storm Series: Book #5: Steel and Stone Author: Annette Marie Format: Paperback, 432 pages Published: March 4, 2016 by Annette Marie ISBN13: 9781988153001

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Piper thought she could handle the Sahar, the most powerful magical weapon in existence. She thought she could protect her loved ones and stop a war. She thought she could make a difference.

She was wrong, and her mistakes were paid for in blood.

Leaving her world—and her failures—behind, she retreats to the Underworld with Ash and the other draconians. They forge deep into long abandoned mountains, the first draconians to fly the valleys and passes in centuries—or so they thought. Until now, Ash’s mysterious heritage has been nothing but a name, but his presence does not go unnoticed. A new danger stalks him, one that may be even greater than what they escaped.

Cut off from the power she’d come to rely on and lost in a world where she doesn’t belong, Piper has never felt so hopeless. But she must find her strength, and find it quickly, before she loses Ash to an ancient power he can’t fight, before her home is devastated by the daemon war, and before her mind, body, and soul are consumed by the Sahar’s insidious magic.

Excerpt from Unleash the Storm (Book #5: Steel and Storm):

A tingle of magic sparked in the air, coming from Lyre. She looked up and felt a violent swoop in her belly. He had dropped glamour. His impossibly beautiful face was calm and smooth, but grim resolve hardened his golden eyes into steel. His pale hair gleamed in the last of the sunlight, a ruby shining like a drop of blood at the end of the thin braid that hung down one side of his face. Staring at him, she couldn’t even breathe.

He reached over his shoulder, fingers brushing across the feathered tips of his arrows. He pulled one free from the quiver, but instead of nocking it on his bow, he spun the shaft in his hand. Pointing the arrowhead down, he dragged the razor point across the palm of the hand in which he held his bow. Blood welled, running down his wrist.

Shocked out of her trance, she realized what he had done. Blood magic. He had just activated a spell on the arrow—likely the most powerful spell he had.

The arrow spun in his hand again and the next moment, it was nocked on the bow and he’d drawn the string back to his cheek. His blood clung to the tip of the arrow as it began to glow an eerie red. Her heart leaped with hope—hope that his spell, one so deadly his blood was required to unleash it, would be enough to save Ash.

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Chase the Dark (Book #1: Steel and Stone): 

Warm hands landed on her waist and she choked on a shriek of surprise.

The hands slid downward to curl over her hips as they pulled her back into a hard body. Hot breath bathed her ear.

“Hello beautiful,” a male voice purred.

Piper flung an elbow back with enough force to crack a rib. Chuckling, her assailant slid away as though she were moving in slow motion, his fingers trailing across the small of her back as he retreated. She whirled around with her fists ready to strike.

The young man with wandering hands casually put himself out of easy reach and propped an elbow on the counter. If sex appeal were an artist, he was its masterpiece. Golden brown skin sheathed lean muscle and flowed over the sharp planes of his cheekbones. His hair was an impossible platinum blond much lighter than his skin, his eyebrows dark, and his eyelashes thicker than any man should have. They framed eyes of an exotic amber shade like a dark patina brushed over ancient gold.

Piper gave him her most disgusted glare. “Lyre, can’t you ever keep your hands to yourself?”

“No,” he replied in his deliciously deep voice. There was no apology in his expression, only grinning amusement at her discomfort. “You’re just so easy.” His eyelids lowered. “So am I.”

She straightened from her aggressive stance and gave him an insulting once-over, taking in his impossible style of metrosexual crossed with a hint of Goth‌. Damn, the guy knew what he was doing. Clean, safe, and charming but with that oh-so-sexy hint of bad boy‌—‌exactly the kind of guy who would appeal to almost any girl. And that body packaged with that face? Very few women said no to Lyre.

Surprisingly, he didn’t seem offended she was one of those few. Then again, he never missed a chance to flaunt his availability.

“Would you mind finding someone else to harass?” she growled. “I’m not in the mood right now.”

His mouth quirked up. “I’m always in the mood.”

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Bind the Soul (Book #2: Steel and Stone):

“Piper!” he roared.

She bolted, arms flailing for balance as she ran for the waiting car. The back door opened. She caught a glimpse of Miysis before he moved back to make room for her.

“Piper, get back in here right now!”

She dove into the darkness of the car. Miysis reached across her and pulled the door closed as the car began moving. Piper glanced out the window in time to see Quinn running across the lawn after her, fear stamped across his face. Her insides squirmed with guilt. He couldn’t know who owned the black car and he couldn’t have seen Miysis in the shadowy interior. All he’d seen was his daughter, wearing a dress for the first time in years, sneaking out to a mysterious car with unknown occupants one night after he’d found out she was possibly participating in illegal activities. She hoped he didn’t think she’d just been picked up by a pimp.

Miysis eased back into his seat as the car sped up. She pulled her skirt down to where it belonged and gave him a quick once over. Her heart sank. He looked like a million bucks in a smoky gray tux with a silvery vest and a fancy-collared shirt. His honey blond hair was tousled in a perfect mix of messy and deliberate and his golden-green eyes almost glowed in the dark interior of the car.

Sitting next to him, she looked ridiculously cheap and underdressed. His gaze flicked over her stupid little dress. He opened his mouth to speak.

“I didn’t have anything to wear,” she wailed before he could complain. “I didn’t have anything.”

“I know,” he said with a hint of a smile. “That’s why I brought you something.”

He pointed to a long garment bag hanging beside him.

She blinked. “You bought me a dress?”

He smiled, by all appearances totally serene. “You didn’t think I would let my date go in rags, did you?”

“Your—your date?” She gaped at him. “I’m going as your date? I—I thought you were making me one of your attendants or something.”

Daemon royalty always had a gaggle of advisors, attendants, and bodyguards following them around.

“Really, Piper. How would I explain the daughter of the Head Consul waiting on me? You should be glad I didn’t have a date already.”

“But—but—” She goggled.

Miysis was one of the top-ranking Overworld daemons. Going as his date was like going to a coronation with a member of a royal family. She’d never imagined he would go out on a limb like that for her. The entire political community would be gossiping about it for months. She might be the Head Consul’s daughter, but compared to Miysis, she was a dirt-poor commoner.

“But aren’t you worried what people will think?” she asked.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the looks on their faces,” he said with satisfaction. “The confusion and alarm will be priceless. They won’t know what to make of it.”

She thought about it then shrugged. “I guess if you don’t mind …”

He canted one eye toward her. “Do you?”

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Yield the Night (Book #3: Steel and Stone):

“Kindra, no—”

The daemon rose to her feet, shedding her glamour in the same movement. Her wild red hair drifted outward, suddenly immune to gravity. Her ears were now pointed, cheeks hollow beneath dramatically sharp cheekbones. Her eyes were huge and black as coal. Her body, more willowy and lightweight than ever, coiled in readiness. Narrow red things—scales? feathers?—rose in lines on her arms like a cat’s hair standing on end.

Before Piper could even finish her protest, Kindra sprang out of the trees. With impossible speed, she flashed across the expanse of lawn. Piper swore under her breath and ran out after her, keeping low.

Kindra was on the first man before he could turn. Piper didn’t see what Kindra did but the man screamed as he fell. The others spun toward the daemon. She dashed away, almost too fast for the eye to follow, then reappeared, making a grab for a second one. The third got his gun up and fired but Kindra abandoned her target and flashed away, a dark blur. His gun flipped up, hitting him in the face, struck by an invisible blow from the daemon. He staggered, brandishing his rifle and wildly looking around for Kindra.

Between the darkness, the haze of rain, and the lethal daemon, none of them noticed Piper coming.

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Feed the Flames (Book #3.5: Steel and Stone):

“So your spell will disable the collar for . . . how long?”

“Maybe five minutes.”

She masked her shock. Most daemons performed magic through on-the-spot spell-casting. Magic could also be woven into materials such as metals and gemstones, but that was far more complex. Creating weavings that could interact with other weavings was high-level magic. She couldn’t do anything like that, and neither could Ash. Sure, they’d learned how to set a spell in a piece of stone or metal, but they weren’t inventing intricate, interactive weavings.

Developing new magic was the life’s work of the most gifted daemon minds. The only daemons she knew with that kind of talent worked at Chrysalis, Samael’s most sinister business. They’d developed some of the most complex magic she’d ever heard of, like the collar that had nearly killed Ash.

She studied Lyre, swallowing the touch of suspicion trying to creep into her voice. Spell weaving wasn’t something a daemon picked up on the fly.

“Where did you learn to make stuff like that?”

He rolled his eyes. “You’re right. This is the perfect time to share my life’s story.”

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Reap the Shadows (Book #4: Steel and Stone):

An animal snarl ripped through the silence as the beast dove for them like a half-ton missile. She threw her hands up and cast a shield. Black fire exploded outward when the creature slammed into her spell. The dragon rebounded into the air, great wings beating as it roared.

Piper spun to see that all the apprentices were on the ground, having thrown themselves down when the monster had charged them.

“Get up and run!” she yelled.

Lexa yanked Lee up by his arm. “Go!”

The apprentices scrambled to their feet and bolted down the alley. Lexa ran after them, but Piper’s eyes were locked on the second shadow. It held still, standing on the rooftop with partially spread wings. She could feel the burn of the draconian’s gaze on her. He was here for her.

With a frantic glance toward the fleeing apprentices, she turned and ran between two buildings. Just before her line of sight was cut off, she saw the dragon swoop over the heads of its prey, letting out a terrifying roar even as it deliberately missed them by several feet. It must be herding them away.

Fighting for calm, Piper sprinted down the narrow passageway between buildings—too narrow for a draconian’s wingspan. Darkness enclosed her but she didn’t dare create any light. She ran on, stumbling over cracks and garbage. She could feel the press of the draconian’s stare and knew he was following her, not the others.

Ahead of her, the passageway opened up into a wide street faintly illuminated by a single streetlamp. She skidded to a stop just short of the sidewalk, lifted her gun, and waited.

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About the author and where to find her:

Annette_Marie_Author_Photo_600x900_blueAnnette Marie is the author of the Amazon best-selling YA urban fantasy series Steel & Stone, which includes the 2015 Goodreads Choice Award nominee Yield the Night. Her first love is fantasy, a limitless realm of creativity where she can break all the boring rules of real life, but fast-paced urban fantasy, bold heroines, and tantalizing forbidden romances are her guilty pleasures. She proudly admits she has a thing for dragons, and her editor has politely inquired as to whether she intends to include them in every book. Annette lives in the frozen winter wasteland of northern Alberta, Canada (okay, it’s not quite that bad). She shares her life with her remarkably patient, comparatively sensible husband and their furry minion of darkness—sorry, cat—Caesar. When not writing, she can be found elbow-deep in one art project or another while blissfully ignoring all adult responsibilities. 

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SWEEPSTAKES

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Spotlight: Santa Muerte (Book #1: The Daniela Story) by Lucina Stone

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indexSanta Muerte (The Daniela Story Book 1) by Lucina Stone: Amazon

Lucina Stone blends Mexican folklore with modern technology and time travel in this seductive new series where the lines between right and wrong, protagonist and antagonist, truth and fiction, love and lust, and life and death have never been more blurred.

THE YEAR IS 2030. IN A DRAMATIC, final attempt to free her inner demons, twenty-year-old Daniela Delgado tempts fate and winds up on a strange farm in 1923. With an olive complexion due to her Mexican/Italian heritage and a fresh pixie cut, she is mistaken for a “boy of color.” Her only shot at survival now is to play it cool, pose as “Danny,” and figure out how to get back home to her two, loving moms.

And then she meets Daphne—an abused, motherless farm girl in desperate need of freedom and a friend. Having escaped Daphne’s father, the two of them are now roaming the streets of New York City disguised as a young aristocrat and her male servant. They’re running out of money, and ideas. And Daniela thought living in 2030 was tough.

But her solar powered smart phone works. And there’s someone within range. She pings them. A selfie of an attractive male comes in with the text: I’m Lain. Who the f— are you? Even in that moment, Daniela knows this can’t be safe, but what are her choices? They meet Lain at a speakeasy on the Lower East Side. When Daniela reveals her last name, Lain says the only Delgado he knows is Anaya—the head of the Santa Muerte Coven of witches in Merida, Mexico. And then he hints that Daniela is a liar, even though she rocks a man’s three-piece suit like no woman he’s ever met. And as for her tattoos? Don’t get Lain started….

Despite the intrigue, Daniela adds Lain to the list of folks Daphne and she must outrun to stay alive. But as they plan their trip to Mexico, they soon discover that list is much longer than they thought. And they uncover a few other things, too, about Daniela’s true identity….

About the author :

lucina stone

Lucina Stone has a Master of Arts Degree in Clinical Counseling and is a Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in depression, family conflict, LGBT affirmative therapy, and life coaching. She lives in New Jersey with her family. This is her debut novel.

 

Follow the tour HERE  at YAReads Blog Tours

Cover Reveal: Dreadlands: Wolf Moon by Jaimie Engle

 

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COVER

Dreadlands: Wolf Moon by Jaimie Engle

GENRE: YA FANTASY/NORSE FOLKLORE

Preorders available now! http://tinyurl.com/gvxdpt3

With a grandmother who is unnatural, an anxious mother, and a missing father, Arud’s family tree is rooted in secrets.

Leif Erikson abandoned the settlement in Labrador, Canada, when the ferine attacked and murdered his small crew. A band of families stayed behind to rebuild. Now, the Wolf Moon approaches, a single night when the ferine’s binds to the Dreadlands are broken, freeing them to hunt. But when one appears beneath Arud’s window, his mother rushes him off, urging him to take care of his sister whose sickness grows worse. His world is shaken and family deceptions unravel, when Arud learns his sister may be the key in a century old prophecy. The stakes are raised, and getting safely to the city in the sea becomes more than a quest. It becomes survival.

“…the world Engle has created in this novel is an intriguing one, equal parts familiar and fantastic.” Kirkus Reviews

About the author and where to find her:

Author Pic 3Jaimie Engle was once sucked into a storybook, where she decided she would become an author. She has modeled bikinis, managed a hip-hop band, and run a body shop. Her passion is talking to kids about writing and social issues because words have power. When not writing, she’s probably editing or playing trivia. She lives in Florida with her awesome husband, hilarious children, and the world’s best dog. Become a fan at jaimiengle.com. Twitter @jaimiengle | Instagram @jaimiengle | Facebook @jaimiengleauthor | Goodreads | Amazon