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Monthly Archives: February 2015

BOOK SPOTLIGHT and REVIEW ~ The Summer Remains by Seth King (Penny Lisa)

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Title: The Summer Remains

Author: Seth King

Release Date: Feb 14, 2015

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 Synopsis 3

Twenty-four-year-old Summer Johnson knows two things. The first is that due to a quickly worsening medical condition, she faces a risky surgery in three months’ time that may very well end in her death. The second is that she would like to fall in love before then.

As spring sinks into her namesake season on the Florida coastline, Summer plays the odds and downloads a new dating app – and after one intriguing message from a beautiful surfer named Cooper Nichols, it becomes clear that the story of what may be her last few months under the sun is about to be completely revised. All she has to do now is write something worth reading.

Tender, honest, devastating and triumphant, The Summer Remains explores a very human battle being waged in a very digital age: the search for a love that will outlast this temporary borrowing of bones. In an era when many feel compelled to share and re-share anything about everything, prepare to feel a love so special, you will want to hug it close and make it yours forever.

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Review

5 Pennies

Some stories follow patterns and some stories blaze their own trails. The Summer Remains charts its own course in a beautifully heartbreaking way.

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Excerpt

Chapter 1

On a sunny Tuesday morning towards the end of March, a white-haired man walked into a cold room and told me I might die soon.

I fidgeted on the hospital bed as Dr. Steinberg entered, the late-spring sunlight mocking me as smiled onto the industrial tile floors. I’d known Steinberg since I was four. He’d handled almost all of my throat problems, and I trusted him. He was like a second father to me, and I knew he would always tell me the truth.

That’s why the look on his face scared the living shit out of me.

I listened for the next ten minutes as he gave me the gist of the story. It was all so surreal that my mind could only catch certain phrases before the sentence would run away from me again:

Your esophagus has ruptured again, for good this time…

Your stomach is leaking more and more…

Toxicity levels are through the roof…

Your body just isn’t getting the nutrients it needs from your feeding tube any longer…

And finally, terminal.

“Terminal?” I heard myself squeak, my throat filling up with that weird, shivery feeling you get when you know your life has just changed. Steinberg suddenly became very interested in a fraying string on the sleeve of his jacket.

“T-terminal,” he stuttered. “Summer, the thing is…I’m afraid this is a…well, nobody has ever…”

He finally cleared his throat and met my gaze, tears pooling in the corners of his cerulean eyes. “Sweetheart, I am so sorry to tell you this, but this mountain may be unclimbable for you.”

My mother let out a small, sharp sob in the corner and then clapped her hands over her mouth.

“Okay, unclimbable,” I swallowed, staring down at the floor as I tried to grasp just what that word now meant to me and my family and this weird little life I had created for myself.  “Okay. Unclimbable. Okay.”

But Steinberg wasn’t done yet.

“Hold on. I said it may be unclimbable, not that it definitely will be. I want to prepare you, and I don’t want to give you any false hope, but there may be something we can do, Summer. It’s a small chance, but still, it’s a chance. A Hail Mary, if you will.”

I reached up to rub my temples. “Okay, well, survival sounds good. Better than death, I suppose. What is this Hail Mary?”

Steinberg crossed his arms, studied me for a moment, and then took out a chart and launched into a spiel about something called the Porter-Collins Procedure, an extremely major surgery that would perhaps be saving my life in three months’ time.

“Nobody has ever survived this particular operation,” he concluded a few minutes later, skipping all the medical jargon to keep from boring you to death, pardon my pun. “Nobody. It’s been attempted three times, but none of those were ultimately successful. One person survived for three months in intensive care, but she was fifty-one, and in frail health in general. We think you’re a much more viable candidate, but then again, there is no way to be sure. We can do it in two, maybe three months, after I assemble the specialists and create a game plan – considering your health doesn’t take another nosedive before then, that is. If we’re going to try this, we need you in tip-top shape – or as close to that as we can get you, anyway.”

“Okay,” I said again, sitting a little taller. “And what are the chances that this Hail Mary will even work, and that I won’t just die a few days later, anyway?”

He peered down at me from over his glasses. “I’m afraid to say that it would be stretching things to even tell you eighty/twenty.”

I steeled myself and took a breath. “Okay, well, that’s better than a hundred to zero. Let’s go out with a bang, then, Steinberg. Let’s do this.”

He threw up a fist, triumphant, but I could see the fear in his eyes. “It’s settled, then. Hail Mary it is.”

My mom rushed over to sit beside me and kind of hang onto my shoulder as some counselor woman came in who helped families handle these types of situations – “transitions,” she called them, and just hearing that word threatened to pull me under. Dr. Steinberg watched, an apology on his face, as she said things like “preparations” and “options” and “arrangements.” I tried to be polite and pay attention, but truthfully I didn’t give a damn about what she was saying. It was go time, and things were looking grim. I already knew that. The wet, metallic panic erupting in my stomach was due to an entirely different subject.

“And finally,” the counselor, Angie, said in a hushed, clipped, polite voice that spoke of years of having impossible conversations with worried families huddled in chilly waiting rooms, “I work very closely with Last Great Hope, a wonderful organization that specializes in situations like this, and if there is anything you want before the surgery, Summer – a trip to Tahiti, a cabin in the mountains, whatever – we can do it. Or if-”

“Thanks, but no thanks,” I said, making her stop short.

“Wh – excuse me?”

“Save the Disney trips for the twelve-year-olds,” I told her. “Spend all that money on a cancer kid or something; I know the truth about those fairy tales now. Make someone else happy – I’ve got everything I need. Or almost everything.” I paused as everyone leaned in. “I do have one request, actually. First of all, all of you are forgetting something vital.”

“Oh no, did we forget your milk?” my mom asked as she reached for her purse. “I thought I put some-”

“No, Shelly, we did not forget the baby milk I pump into my stomach tube every day to keep myself alive because my throat doesn’t work, but that does have something to do with it.”

As she pouted in my general direction I realized what a complete bitch I was being, and then I realized just as quickly that I probably wouldn’t be able to stop myself anyway.

“What is it, then?” my mom asked, stung, and I took a breath and then pushed it back out.

“Frankly, I need all of you to chill the fuck out.”

My mom dropped her purse onto her lap. Dr. Steinberg looked at me like I’d just tried to jump out of the third story window. Angie held her pen in midair and stared at me, the sun turning her brownish eyes ocher.

“Excuse me, young lady?” my mother asked. “We need to what?”

“Chill the eff out,” I said, editing my language the second time around. “Sorry, but all this emotion and drama and doom and gloom crap is already making me freak out. You’re all forgetting I’ve had a broken throat and a tube in my abdomen since I was in diapers, and that I can handle this. I’ve dealt with health scares before, and I will do it again, no matter how much scarier this Scare is than all the other Scares. Like, I know you’re trying to help and stuff, and I love you, but having meltdowns in front of me is not going to help me deal with all this, so please, I beg you, everyone take a deep breath, close your eyes, and get your panties out of a bunch.”

“We’re sorry,” my mom said after an impossibly long and awkward moment. “It’s just that we need to prepare you for…for what will happen, and-”

“Prepare me to die?” I asked. “Guess what, Shelly, I’m going to die one day, be it in three months or sixty years, and wasting all my time crying over it isn’t going to help. Here’s what I want, my one last wish – or my maybe-not-last wish, or whatever the hell this is.” A tear appeared in my mom’s eye, and I softened my voice as I reached up to wipe her cheek. “Okay. Before the surgery, I want to have a normal summer by the beach,” I began as I cleared her eye and shook the water from my finger. “I want to go to the sea and go to work and read my books and go about my business like usual without everyone breathing down my neck and treating me like A Broken Person, because if I am treated like A Broken Person for one more month of my life I will break some faces, no offense. Shelly, if you so much as make one special meal – I mean, not that I can eat or anything, because I can’t – anyway, I’m burning down the house. There will literally be a pile of smoldering ashes where your kitchen used to be, I promise.” Shelly pouted again, but I trudged through. “I’m serious, no special treatment. No Christmases in July, no excessive hugging, not even a midnight run to Target for some trinkets from the dollar section. And most of all…”

I looked around and, seeing sympathy in everyone’s eyes and knowing this request would be completely futile, said – “No sympathy. Please. The sympathy is what breaks me and makes me feel broken. If this is gonna be my last chance to live and have fun and be normal, then I’m going to need to feel as normal as possible, and that means absolutely no pity, because that separates me from everyone else and makes me Different with a capital D. And if I don’t stay in a good headspace I’m gonna spend the next three months in a fetal position in my closet having an endless anxiety attack about the surgery, so please work with me here and keep the pity locked up.”

A sigh and a smile. Shelly put her hand on mine. “I would never pity you, Summer. You’re the strongest person I know, and you always have been. You know that. We all know that. That’s not what this is about.”

I tried to smile back. “Thanks, Shelly.”

“Anytime. And can you please call me Mom, like a normal twenty-four-year-old?”

“Not a chance, Shelly.”

“Okay, fine. So, then…a Jax Beach summer? Is that really all you want?”

I paused as her words hung in the overly sanitized air. It wasn’t all, and I knew it. As I sat there I thought of the one thing I didn’t have, the one thing I’d never had, the one thing that screamed at me from the silence and jumped out at me from the shadows – and now that this upcoming summer had perhaps just become Summer’s Last Stand, my desire was suddenly more urgent than ever. I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop the longing from rising to my face, and as I felt the blood burn my cheeks I caught Steinberg’s eyes again, which just embarrassed me even more.

“Well, I mean, since you’re asking, there is one thing…”

“Anything!” Shelly and Dr. Steinberg said at exactly the same time, and I stared out of the window as my eyes got all weird and watery.

“Okay, well, I know something so sentimental is going to sound crazy coming from someone so…well, you know how I am…”

“Honest?” Steinberg offered, trying to be polite.

“Opinionated?” Shelly said.

“Brash?” Angie asked, even though she’d just met me ten minutes ago and it was literally beyond embarrassing that she already held that opinion of me.

“Headstrong and stubborn and annoying,” I finally said, shoving it out of the way, and they all nodded. “Anyway, here goes. Since you’re asking, the thing is…well, I’d like to fall in love.”

I looked down at the ground again as everyone in the room broke my most important rule already: I could feel their pity descending on me, smothering me just like it had my entire life, snuffing out any chance I had at being treated like a normal, living, breathing human, who deserved to love and be loved just like anyone else, as they say in the Hallmark cards.

“Oh, honey…” Steinberg sighed.

“It just wouldn’t be fair to someone…” my mother chimed in, just as Angie the counselor lady threw in her two cents, too.

“Sweetie, you have to understand, your situation is very serious. People get irrational during times like these, and if you get involved with someone and the worst happened, well-”

I crossed my fingers behind my back and shook my head. I’d known they’d react like this – why had I even tried in the first place? Some things, I knew, were just better left unshared.

“Yeah,” I said. “Okay, yeah, you guys are right. I’ll try to…put that off, I guess. For now. God knows I have tons of time to think about it – it’s not like I’m dying or anything.”

Everyone forced quick, fake laughs and then got back to business. Unbeknownst to them, however, my mind was quickly leaving the room, flying past the barren oak branches outside the window and soaring above the clouds to someplace only I knew. My desires could not be contained by the circumstances in this room, or by sickness, or even by reality in general, really. I wanted love more than anything – this was true, as much as it humiliated me to admit it. I’d wanted love ever since I was a cookie-cutter little girl being brainwashed by cookie-cutter Disney movies about cookie-cutter princes and princesses falling into cookie-cutter love and then prancing off to their cookie-cutter castles to live out their cookie-cutter lives. And strangely enough, this desire had only deepened after the fairy tale fantasies faded away and melted into a more grown up, real-world entity known as relationship FOMO, when my condition had rendered me an observer from the social media sidelines as everyone my age paired up and got engaged and married and pregnant and then shouted about it from the Facebook treetops as loud as their keyboards would let them while I sat there single as a nun with the flu. But I didn’t want that cookie cutter love from the Disney movies and my social media feeds. I didn’t want some run of the mill summer romance that would fizzle out as soon as the sunrays slanted in the fall and the Facebook Official status went to shit.

Because I, Summer Johnson, Purveyor of Pragmatism, Lover of Logic, Ultimate Believer in the Rational, and Person Who Was Maybe Going To Die Soon, wanted to drown in someone.

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Author Bio

 

Author

Seth King is a twenty-five-year-old author and artist.

Author Links

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COVER REVEAL ~ Rendezvous by Arie Lane (Penny Lisa)

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RendezvousF Title: Rendezvous

Author: Arie Lane

Release Date: April 8th 2015

Cover Designed by: Christina Badder of CBB Productions

Synopsis 3

***WARNING*** This book is intended for 18+ due to strong language, violent scenarios, and sexual content.

This book is the completion to the book Tryst. It is NOT a standalone, and it DOES NOT end in a cliffhanger.

After having the love of his life walk away, Tristan is left with only one option, to find her and bring her home. He finds the help he needs in locating her from a most unexpected source. But no matter how much he wants her by his side, he knows she will never agree, so long as Darla is out there looking to destroy her.

Bentley has made some hard decisions in her life, but none harder than walking away from the one person she’s come to love more than life itself. She knows Darla will never stop until one of them is dead. Having Tristan by her side just leaves him at risk, and gives Darla an extra piece of leverage to torment her with.

If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were.

Richard Bach

What happens when you just can’t let go? When you know without a doubt they belong with you, but will never come back?

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***WARNING*** This book is intended for 18+ due to strong language, violent scenarios, and sexual content.

Bentley Celeste is a witty, foul mouthed, reclusive, dark romance writer. She lives her life in solitude, hiding from her painful past and the one person hell bent on destroying her future. She doesn’t have time for relationships and has no interest in allowing anyone but her best friend into her private little sanctuary.

Tristan Reece is sultry, sexy, and jaded. He also happens to be the cover model for Bentley’s long time acquaintance, Electra. He believes everyone who he loves is going to betray him, and then walk away. Though he carries the reputation of a ladies man, Tristan prefers to keep his heart and his bed empty.

A chance meeting blind sides Bentley as she’s nearly trampled by the giant wall of muscle that is Tristan. Tempers aren’t the only thing to fly. Bentley may not have any interest in Tristan, but after getting his ass handed to him through a verbal assault, he can’t forget the tiny Spitfire that sparks more than just his fury.

Both are stubborn, with the will to fight against each other until the very end. Will Tristan’s determination be enough to fight the demons lingering in Bentley’s shadow? Or is Bentley’s fear strong enough to tear them apart.

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Author Bio

Arie Lane is an avid reader and stay at home mom to two beautiful little boys. When not writing or chasing them around she is usually catching up with other Indie authors and constantly keeping up with new blogs.

She loves to connect with people and is proud that she finally had the courage to put some of her crazy thoughts into written words. From the time she started reading her nose was always stuck in a book and she’s couldn’t be happier that now she’s encouraging others to get their noses stuck also. Even if her readers are of the +18 variety.

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Author Links

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NEW RELEASE RICOCHET BY JESSICA WILDE ~ PENNY STEPHANIE

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Title: Ricochet
Author: Jessica Wilde
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: February 23, 2015
Release Day Blitz: February 25, 2015

 

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Synopsis 3

Fear.

It’s the last thing I remembered.

I was afraid.

Afraid to fight, afraid to run… afraid to breathe.

Then, everything had gone dark. As if life was finally hearing my pleas, my cries to end the torment. To end the fear.

But even in the dark, I still felt it.

I always felt it.

My life had been a ricochet of one event leading to the next. Bouncing back and forth from good to bad. Happiness to despair. Hope to fear.

My name is Arianna West. I’m stronger now. Steady. Alive.

I can find a way to survive on my own. I can see what is coming for me. I can channel my fear into strength.

Except… I didn’t see Jack.

And Jack changed everything.

For readers 18+ due to language, violence, and sexual content.

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Excerpt

I laughed. A laugh so deep that the muscles in my abdomen flexed. How long had it been since I had felt that? Too long. I hadn’t really laughed in a long time and something so simple had brought it out of me.

Jack had brought it out of me.

“God, I missed that laugh,” Jack whispered.

I went silent, so suddenly that my breath couldn’t keep up and it came rushing out with the emotion that had been built up inside of me.

Tears immediately sprang to my eyes and the heaviness in my chest was back.

My life had changed so much. Everything had changed.

“Jack…”

“Ari, please don’t cry.”

He had turned his body towards me and was holding my face in his hands. The tears running down my cheeks didn’t make it far. He wiped each one away.

He saw the moment my control slipped and I just couldn’t seem to stop the tears. That’s when he pulled me into his arms. Arms that had always made everything better. Strong fingers combed through my hair, down my temple, across my jaw, then retraced their way back up and into my hair once more. He was giving me whatever comfort he could while I sobbed on his chest.

I should have been embarrassed about the quick change in my mood. I should have felt ridiculous. Childish. With Jack, though, I never had to worry about being anyone but myself no matter who I was now.

“So much is gone,” I said in a broken and weak voice. “So much is missing from me.”

“No, Ari. You’re still in there, babe, just a little harder to reach.”

I shook my head. In denial? I wasn’t sure. He was only half right.

“I’ve bent too far for too long. I’m broken,” I whispered. So much regret came pouring out of me and I couldn’t control it.

I had been slowly breaking for three years and my determination to move on was waning much faster than I could ever keep up with.

Jack buried his fingers in my hair and I felt the press of his lips on the top of my head. When he spoke, the tone of his voice sounded defeated. Resigned. “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places.”

I sniffed as the rumble in his chest vibrated against my cheek. His shirt was wet from my tears and I knew I looked like a mess, but I looked up at him anyway.

“What is that from?” I asked.

“What? You don’t think I could come up with something so profound by myself?” he teased.

“I know damn well you could, Jack.”

He looked at me for a moment, his eyes searching mine and his fingers sweeping a lock of hair back behind my ear. If I didn’t know any better, I would think he was reading my mind, seeing all my secrets, all my broken places. “It’s Ernest Hemingway. He said that.”

“Do you believe it?”

“I do. So much so that I tattooed it on my shoulder the first chance I got,” he mumbled with a short chuckle.

I glanced down at his shoulder. It was too dark to see much of anything, but the moonlight streaming in the window showed enough when he lifted his shirt sleeve. The words were there, permanently inked into his skin just above a complex shape that I couldn’t quite make out.

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Author Bio

I live in Morgan Utah with my husband, daughter, and dog, Kolo. I write as often as my active daughter will let me and my husband has the patience of a saint. I find inspiration from dreams, people I meet, and life experiences. When I write, I usually end up drinking one too many cans of Peace Tea, eating three too many Fruit by the Foot fruit snacks, and accidently kicking my pup and best buddy, Kolo, too many times since he loves to sleep under my desk at my feet.
I started writing as a teen, but my fear of the unknown won out every time and I threw everything out. After becoming a mother and deciding to stay at home to raise my beautiful little girl, I tried again when I couldn’t stop thinking of ideas. I loved every minute, every hour of sleep lost, and every character that came to life in my mind.
It’s strange, but my favorite moments are when I have writer’s block because I can turn to my husband and find inspiration through him by just doing what we do best together. Talking, laughing, and just being in love. He doesn’t like to read, but he never stops encouraging me to keep going.
Writing has become an important part of my life and every book has a special place in my heart.

Jessica Wilde

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FINDING SADIE ~ by BRANDACE MORROW ~ FORGETTING POPPER ~ BLOG TOUR ~ GIVEAWAY (PENNY STEPHANIE)

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Book Title: Finding Sadie
Author: Brandace Morrow
Genre: New Adult Romance (Novella)
Release Date: February 2015
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

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Book Title: Forgetting Popper
Author: Brandace Morrow
Genre: New Adult Romance (Novel)
Release Date: February 2015

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Synopsis 3

FSebookFinding Sadie

At fifteen, I took on the role of Popper out of necessity, forgetting the person I was. That’s when I became the lead singer of a grunge metal band.

Now at twenty-two I’m cocky, a pessimist, and violent. My shrink is even fed up with me, suggesting I try something radical to appreciate the value of life.

She gives me a card that leads me to him, and ultimately I find . . . me.


 

FPebookForgetting Popper

Being a celebrity makes people think they know who I am. Just because I can’t leave my house without a camera in my face, doesn’t mean you know me.

The sad part is that for so long, I thought of myself the same way everyone else does. Screaming at mosh pits, I personify Popper, lead singer of the band Chimera.

But I have a secret life. A life where I’m a hero, where people look up to me. When my fake celebrity world comes crashing down, and I’m left with not only my secret, but others as well, there is one man standing behind me.

The only thing is, he has the biggest secrets of all.

Excerpt

FSebookFinding Sadie

He lets go of my legs to tangle in my hair, pulling his fists taut as his chest abrades my nipples. Then he gets to work. Fucking me. He fucks me into the mattress. It’s hard and powerful. Luscious and smooth.

“What do you want?” he rasps against my cheek.

I move my hands to his back, nails digging into flesh. “Everything.”

“Not everything. Not yet,” he gasps, pulling away from me. Breaking that delicious friction he has with my chest to pull my thighs back to the bed.

His pace speeds up, so fast I can only stare, my eyes wanting to close but I can’t miss a second. Then he pulls me farther up, my ass and lower back in the air and I explode.

My eyes slam shut, my body arching, thrashing as he holds me down.

“Fucking, yes, yes, give it to me, baby,” he gasps between thrusts as I feel him harden impossibly further, then pulsing inside of me.

I expect to take his weight after he comes, but he rolls to the side. My legs move more slowly. Sore. I am definitely going to be sore tomorrow.

He gasps beside me, lying on his back. One hand is over his head, bicep bulging. Fuck, can I keep him?

As if he hears the thought, he sits up with another groan, getting off the bed. He disappears in the bathroom, and I try to regulate my breathing. Getting rid of round one for two? I may be ready for that. Maybe.

But when he comes back, it’s not to the bed, but his clothes. I sit up and watch silently as he pulls first boxer briefs, then jeans over his muscular thighs. Finally he turns to me and licks his lips, his hands on his hips.

“What’s your name?”

God. Damn it. Way to ruin the mood. What did I really think I was getting here? I knew but it’s always a wake-up call.

“Sadie.”

With a single chin lift, he’s gone.

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Author Bio

profilepic2Brandace Morrow is a full time mom of four, and currently stationed overseas with her sexy soldier. Her recent obsessions are Maroon 5, Luke Bryan, The Pretty Reckless, rum and coke, and reading, in no particular order. Despite being terribly awkward with social media, she’s everywhere. Frequently subjecting the public to pictures of her minion’s messes, and everything that is momdom in the Morrow house.

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NEW RELEASE FROM J.C. REED ~ AN INDECENT PROPOSAL ~ NOW AVAILABLE

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An Indecent Proposal by J.C. Reed & Jackie Steele

Release date: February 23rd, 2015

Synopsis 3
It was supposed to be easy. 

Hire a professional actor to play my fake fiancé. 

But when he steps in front of my door to pick me up for The Interview, my heart stops. Chase Wright is perfect. And hot. I mean like, burn up your dress hot. However, Chase isn’t professional at all. I hate what he does to me with his sinfully sexy blue eyes. I hate that he wants me in his bed. 

One month…that’s all I need him for. All I have to do is stay out of his bed. But the rules slowly begin to change. My fake fiancé suddenly becomes my fake husband. When Chase offers me an indecent proposal, it’s too late to fire him. It’s too late to decline. 

Full-length novel. Includes free prequel novella THAT GUY.

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$50 Amazon Gift Card & signed print copy
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NEW RELEASE and EXCERPT ~ I Loved A Rogue by Katharine Ashe

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I Loved A Rogue

Synopsis 3

In the third in Katharine Ashe’s Prince Catchers series, the eldest of three very different sisters must fulfill a prophecy to discover their birthright. But if Eleanor is destined to marry a prince, why can’t she resist the scoundrel who seduced her?

She can pour tea, manage a household, and sew a modest gown. In short, Eleanor Caulfield is the perfect vicar’s daughter. Yet there was a time when she’d risked everything for a black-eyed gypsy who left her brokenhearted. Now he stands before her—dark, virile, and ready to escort her on a journey to find the truth about her heritage.

Leaving eleven years ago should have given Taliesin freedom. Instead he’s returned to Eleanor, determined to have her all to himself, tempting her with kisses and promising her a passion she’s so long denied herself. But if he was infatuated before, he’s utterly unprepared for what will happen when Eleanor decides to abandon convention—and truly live . . .

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Excerpt

Eleanor held the porcelain cup to her lips and inhaled until she felt it in her toes.

Mrs. Hodges plunked her hands on her hips. “Well, aren’t you going to drink it?”

“I am reveling.” Her lips could nearly taste it. Nearly. Temptation. The waiting teased. Deliciously.

“You’re an odd duck, aren’t you, miss?”

“Not usually.” She tilted the cup upward. “Usually I am entirely predictable. Reserved. Modest.” Her words were muffled by the rich liquid so close, heating her flesh. Heady sensation. “Usually I am very”—she let the chocolate wash against her lips—“very”—and a ripple of pleasure went through her—“good.” It stole around her tongue. Decadent. Sinful.

She sighed.

Taliesin appeared in the kitchen door.

She choked.

“Well now, sir,” Mrs. Hodges said, wiping her hands on her apron. “Miss was just teaching me here how to make chocolate like they do at all the big houses.”

He leaned a shoulder into the doorpost and crossed his arms. His shadowy eyes scanned her from toe tips to brow, finally coming to rest on her lips. “Was she?”

A thick droplet of chocolate clung to her bottom lip. Eleanor felt it there like a beacon. She should wipe it with her kerchief.

The tip of her tongue stole between her lips and licked up the droplet. Another shiver wiggled through her.

What was she doing?

“Now then, miss,” Mrs. Hodges said, “you’d best go and leave the kitchen to me, and I’ll fix up a nice dinner for you.”

Clutching the cup in both palms, Eleanor went to the door. Taliesin stepped back but with so little space she had to shift sideways to move past him. She darted a glance upward.

Immobility. His. Hers. She could see every line, every whisker that had not been on his face eleven years ago. Not the same boy she’d known. A man now. Her pulse fluttered. Then it fluttered harder as his scent mingled with the flavor of chocolate upon her tongue. Horse. Leather. Him. The same. It tangled in her nose, in her head, a memory barreling through her, while he watched her eyes from inches away.

She slipped past him.

The taproom was empty now. Mr. Treadwell was probably in the stable seeing to his Arthurian characters and Betsy must be in their room seeing to mundane tasks Eleanor was accustomed to seeing to herself.

“Chocolate?” the incubus behind her said. “Missing the luxuries of the ducal mansion so soon, are you?”

She swung around to him and the chocolate sloshed in the cup. “Is that what you think? That I have grown spoiled by my sisters’ good fortune?”

“No.” His black eyes hooded.

“No? Is that all you can say?” Her tongue, it seemed, was an unbridled thing. Too much prison. Too much feeling to swallow again and again. “We’ve not seen each other in eleven years, and now for four days you have said nothing to me.”

Again he leaned his shoulder against the doorpost in an attitude of sublime nonchalance. “You made it clear you did not wish my escort. I am respecting that.”

She didn’t believe it. He had never respected her. He had teased her endlessly. “You could at least speak to me.”

“What would you have me say?”

“Anything. How do you go along these days, Eleanor? How is the parish? Is it still the same as eleven years ago when I departed so precipitously, without warning, without word?”

His face grew still, planes of dark beauty like hewn marble. “Ah,” he said in a low voice. “You wish for empty pleasantries. Or perhaps an apology? I regret that neither is in my lexicon.”

“I don’t wish for pleasantries or apologies. I don’t care why you left as you did. But you hurt Papa. Do you even know how deeply you hurt him?”

His lips were an unbreakable line.

“He wouldn’t even speak of you.” Locked behind bars for years, Eleanor’s words now tumbled forth. “He said nothing except when Ravenna mentioned you. She did not understand why you left either, but she accepted it in her way. She always thought you would return. But Papa didn’t. And it wounded him.”

“I wrote to him,” he said after a moment.

“Rarely. So few letters that the pages grew thin from folding and unfolding. He never said a word about them or read a line to us, but do you know where he kept them? In his Bible, tucked in Luke, chapter fifteen. The story of the prodigal son.”

His eyes had become hard obsidian. But he remained silent.

Her hands clenched around the cup. “Why won’t you speak?” she exclaimed.

“Seems like you’re speaking enough for the both of us.” His perfect lips barely moved.

“Can’t you even be civil? Or did you leave those lessons behind too when you left St. Petroc?”

“Listen to you. As righteous as you always were.”

She threw the chocolate at him.

She didn’t know quite how it happened. One moment strange, frantic panic coursed through her, straight from her heels to her throat. The next moment a demon possessed her, seizing her arm and forcing it to jut forward and disgorge the contents of her cup at him. Chocolate spattered everywhere—on the wall, the doorpost, and on the dark, handsome man from her past for whom she had wept months of tears.

“What in the—” But he didn’t finish. Instead he came at her. Her foot dropped back but he grabbed her wrist and jerked her hand with the cup up between them. “What do you think you’re doing?” Chocolate dripped down her wrist and along his cheeks and lips. He stared down at her in astonishment.

“Wasting my chocolate.” She tugged. His grip tightened. Arm to arm, he held her close, and he did not look into her eyes. He looked at her lips. The shadows in his eyes were deeper, but now limned with fever brightness, so bright that she could see the flecks of brown there that she had discovered as a girl.

“How do you go along these days, Eleanor?” His voice was rough.

“Wh-what?”

“How is the parish?” His gaze never left her lips, his fingers strong around her wrist. “Is it still the same as eleven years ago when I departed?”

“Precipitously,” she whispered. “Without warning. Without word.” The syllables trailed into the silence of her raucous heartbeat.

“Precipitously. Without warning.”

Through his hand she felt him. Her skin, her bones, her blood felt him.

“You are poking fun at me,” she said. “Don’t.”

“What will it be, Eleanor? You demanded my attention. You have it now. Do you want it or not?”

She wanted to taste the chocolate on his lips. She wanted to remember the danger and delirium she’d felt the last time she had been entirely alive. …

Author Bio

 

katharine ashe

Katharine Ashe is the award-winning author of historical romances that reviewers call “intensely lush” and “sensationally intelligent,” including How to Be a Proper Lady, an Amazon Editors’ Choice for the 10 Best Romances of the Year, and How to Marry a Highlander, a 2014 RITA® Award finalist. She lives in the wonderfully warm southeast with her beloved husband, son, dog and a garden she likes to call romantic rather than unkempt. A professor of History, she writes romance because she thinks modern readers deserve grand adventures and breathtaking sensuality too.

Author Links

WEBSITE . FACEBOOK . TWITTER

Please write to her at PO Box 51702, Durham, NC 27717-1702

NEW RELEASE and GIVEAWAY ~ DARK PHOENIX BY ELISE FABER

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Title: Dark Phoenix
Author: Elise Faber
Series: Phoenix
Genre: Paranormal/New Adult
Publisher: Blue Tulip Publishing

dark phoenix

From the author of Phoenix Rising, comes the second novel in the Phoenix Series. A tale of darkness, love, and mortal enemies…

Synopsis 3

Black magic. Immoral monsters. Death. And bone-deep, soul-to-soul love with a green-eyed man hell-bent on owning every part of her heart.

Daughtry’s life changed forever when she bonded with Cody and began to control her visions. Yet as she masters her magic, those very same abilities threaten to harm the people she holds most dear.

When an opportunity arises for her to fix a past wrong, does she dare risk using her magic in order to set things right again?

A soul sweeping darkness is lurking at the Colony, making the choice for her and threatening the world she’s built for herself. But Daughtry soon discovers that if she’s to have the future and love she’s always wanted, she must fight for it.

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Buy Links

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Meet Daughtry

 

Daughtry

Ability: Can view and manipulate people’s deaths (Tertiary Level of magic)

Age: 24

Magic color: Violet

Bonded with Cody

Fun Facts: Regularly binges on bad reality television shows, loves chocolate and Diet Coke, hates onions

Favorite Quote (or poem in this case):

“And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

— Do not go gentle into that good night by Dylan Thomas

beautiful black hair young woman with blue eyes

 

The Background

The Rengalla

Descended from magical beings that could control the elements, the Rengalla appear human but are more. Besides their magical abilities, they live on average a millennium and a half, are rarely sick, and heal rapidly.

 

The LexTals

An elite group of warriors whose purpose is to protect the Rengalla from the Dalshie. The current LexTals are: Dante, Cody, John, Morgan, Mason, Monroe, Tyler and two new recruits whose names the rest of them haven’t bothered to learn yet (the training is excruciating and the fail rate is high).

 

The Dalshie

“Turned” Rengalla who’ve been corrupted by their magic — who’ve used their powers to hurt others. As the infected magic invades their mind and soul, a stain spreads over their body, starting from their palms and spreading up their arms. Once the taint reaches the heart and brain, every trace of the former Rengalla is lost, leaving only a cruel, inhuman monster in its wake.

 

Recognize these evil creatures from their stained palms. They can glamour most of the taint of the black magic, but cannot hide the infection on the center of their hands. They also heal instantly, have red eyes (when their glamour fails), and can only be killed — ashed — via decapitation or a direct strike to their heart.

 

Magic of the Rengalla

Primary or elemental involves controlling individual elements — fire, air, water, and earth

Secondary is combining 2 or more elements into another power, e.g. healing or teleportation

Tertiary is the capacity of foresight (involves any ability to see the future whether it involves a specific person or the entire world) — those with this power are most at risk of turning Dalshie

 

Magic of the Dalshie

Once they’ve begun to turn, the Dalshie can no longer manipulate the elements. They retain magic, but it turns black and it can only hurt — burn, maim, destroy.

 

 

The Colony

Located on the border of Kentucky and Tennessee, this hidden building is the home of the majority of the Rengalla. It’s tucked in a stretch of rarely occupied National Forest and is glamoured to appear like an ugly old warehouse in order to keep the humans away. It’s also protected by a shield that prevents the Dalshie from getting in an attacking the Rengalla.

 

 

Playlist

 

DP teaser 4

 

Interview

 

An Interview with Daughtry

You didn’t know you were Rengalla until recently, correct? How’s the adjustment been?

D: About as well as you’d expect. It was a relief to finally understand why my mind was showing me the visions, to know that I wasn’t crazy, that I was special. *Daughtry rolls her eyes at this* I’m working to control my magic, but the ability to manipulate death isn’t something I would wish on anyone else. No one should have the power to play God.

 

What’s bonding all about?

D: Bonding is our magic’s way of uniting two Rengallan powers in a way that strengthens them both. For me, the bond has supplemented my magic, giving me the ability shield myself from unwanted visions. For Cody, it gave him control and leveled out his powers.

 

But in reality, it’s more than that. Aside from the magical consequences, the bond unites us on a telepathic — and soul-deep — level. The link between our minds allows us to share thoughts and emotions and sense where the other person is at.

 

It’s both wonderful and a burden to be so open to another person. There are no games, no hidden agendas, but sometimes being able to read another person’s every thought isn’t easy. *Daughtry pauses* Sometimes you hear things that you really wish you hadn’t.

 

On a lighter note, you’re a known chocaholic. So tell me, what’s your go to chocolate choice?

D: Ice cream. Without a doubt, plain chocolate ice cream. I could eat a gallon of the stuff.

 

What couldn’t you live without?

D: You mean besides Cody? *Grins* Wifi! I binge on tv shows and would be lost without Netflix and instant streaming.

 

What’s your favorite possession?

D: For Christmas, Cody got me a bracelet of woven green and purple strands. I don’t know where he got it, but the threads of both colors so tightly wound is a perfect representation of how the bond looks in my mind. Every time I look at it, feel it brush against my skin, I’m reminded of how much he loves me.

 

Phoenix Series

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords

 

Author Bio

elisefaber author photo

Despite moonlighting as a zookeeper and then a dog trainer, Elise decided that the only mammals she wanted to work with were her dark and sexy heroes and heroines. She inherited her love of reading from her mother and grandmother who dutifully kept stacks of romances where her teenaged fingers could easily pilfer them. She lives in Northern California with her three dogs, two energetic (read crazy) boys, and her awesome (see prior comment) husband.

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