Monday, June 18, 2018

Excerpt & Giveaway: Splash by M.E. Rhines


Splash
M.E. Rhines
(Mermaid Royalty #3)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: June 12th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Fawna is happy with the new life she has made for herself on land. She has her child and her youngest sister Pauline by her side—plus an amazing new human boyfriend named Randy. So when an old friend from Atargatis shows up, she immediately feels the weight of everything she stands to lose. But the news can’t be ignored – there’s been an attack on their kingdom; her aunt Myrtle is dead and her mother is missing. Angelique, their middle sister, is now ruling a kingdom to the north, leaving Fawna as the only royal left to help save Atargatis. Torn between responsibilities in two different worlds, the decision is made for her when the powerful sea witch who attacked the kingdom also takes Fawna’s son. Now she has no choice—to save her life on dry land, she’ll have to dive back into the ocean…
The final installment in the beloved Mermaid Royalty series, Splash is a heart-pounding fantasy romance that will have you feeling like you need to come up for air!
Grab book 1 – SINK – for FREE!
EXCERPT:
”And if you’d acted before you did, defied your mother and refused her order to kill him, do you believe you could’ve won?”
“Honestly? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. For all we know we could’ve stopped it long before Gene. Aunt Margaret just kept telling us to be patient, that the catalyst would show itself. We rallied against my mother more because Pauline was in danger, not so much because of Eddie. To me, that was the ultimate incentive to proceed. Seeing her in danger was the reason we stood so strong together.”
“Maybe your aunt knew a human wasn’t a strong enough reason to fight such an epic war. I mean, you might’ve rallied behind Gene, but could you say the others in your resistance would? With everything Gilcrest has told you, you’ve got magic in you, Fawna. You stood a chance against your mother. Your aunt probably knew that.”
“You may be right, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve committed some terrible atrocities.”
“Because you were scared! You didn’t have a choice. I wasn’t even here and I can see that.” He clanged his knuckles against the cast iron frame of the cauldron. “You said you wanted to give this old heirloom a second chance, an opportunity to be used for good. Why can’t you give yourself that chance? Cut yourself a break.”
A smile cracked on my lips, and I shook my head in exasperation. “Why is it you always insist on seeing the good in me, even now when there’s none to be found?”
“There’s plenty of good in you, Fawna. If there wasn’t, you wouldn’t be so ready to risk your soul to rescue the ones you love the most.”
“There’s no talking any sense into you, is there?” I wrapped my arms around his torso, using his weight to anchor myself in place.
“Not a chance,” he grinned, planting a sweet kiss on my cheek. “I’m not going anywhere. It’s like I said before, Queen, my heart is yours and only yours. The sea is in my blood, always has been. Now I know why. I was meant for this life, down here with you and Sebastian. Don’t take it away from me because of a past you can’t outrun.”


Author Bio:
ME Rhines a southwest Florida native currently living in North Port with her two beautiful children and a third, much larger child whom she affectionately calls husband.
She writes young adult paranormal romance to feed her belief that fairy tales are real and
nonsense is necessary.
You can visit her on most major social media sites:
www.facebook.com/merhines
www.twitter.com/merhines
She also writes adult romances under her edgier alter-ego, Mary Bernsen.

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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Excerpt & Giveaway: Hart of Darkness by S.B. Alexander


Hart of Darkness
S.B. Alexander
Publication date: June 12th 2018
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense
The road to love is paved in the dark.
Former gang member Dillon Hart abandoned the streets to join the US Merchant Marines. He feels his life is finally on track until he returns home to discover that his sixteen-year-old sister is missing. With his younger brother in jail and his older brother living a life of crime, it’s up to Dillon to find Grace. After four years of searching, a phone call from a morgue gives him a lead that he can’t pass up. Enlisting the help of a cutthroat reporter may be his only hope.
Crime reporter Maggie Marx has just the right mix of grit and sex appeal to get anything she wants, even the darkest stories on the street. Growing up in a gang, she had her fair share of setbacks and obstacles. When Dillon Hart seeks her help, she’s more than ready to take down the street’s biggest enemy. Her actions could help her exact revenge or land her in the belly of the beast.
As Dillon and Maggie team up to search for Dillon’s sister, they aren’t prepared to find what lies ahead. One family is torn apart. Another is brought together. Hearts are shredded, secrets are uncovered, and love takes on a whole new meaning.
Intended for audiences 18+
EXCERPT:
I parked two blocks from a sea of red and blue flashing lights. I grabbed my bag, hopped out of my car, and ran up to the crowd that had gathered around.
I sidled up to an older lady. “What’s going on?”
She didn’t even look my way. Instead, she lifted up on her tiptoes to see over others’ heads. “Word is the cops are in a standoff with some gang.”
My internal radar was firing on all cylinders. “What gang?”
She clutched the robe she was wearing. “Not sure.”
I plowed through the throng to get a better view. Some protested as I wiggled my way up to a man in blue, whose name read Miladin on his uniform shirt. I knew some cops but not him.
Police cruisers and unmarked cars littered the street on the other side of the police barricade.
I flashed my reporter credentials. “I’m here to see Detective Ted Hughes.” I scanned the men in blue and some in plain clothes. Ted was tall, lanky, and sometimes hard to miss with his thick mustache that was similar to the actor Tom Selleck’s. I did another once-over and spotted Rick. He wasn’t as tall as Ted, but he was husky, compliments of the gym he lived at during his off-duty hours.
Officer Miladin narrowed his dark eyes. “Civilians are not allowed past this barrier.”
“I work for the paper, so let me through.” I knew working as a reporter held no clout to get me into an active police scene, but most cops knew I was close to Ted.
Officer Miladin stabbed a finger at another police barrier along the sidewalk in front of the brick homes that lined the street. “The media is over there.”
I didn’t budge from my spot. “You’re new. Aren’t you?”
Miladin’s voice dropped an octave. “I said over there.”
I huffed and decided it wasn’t worth arguing. Ted would only kick me out anyway.
I spotted Deidre, a news reporter for CBNT, a local station in the city. If anyone had a lead, it would be Deidre. She was relentless in her hunt to get the big story. I was about to make my way over to her, when a shot rang out through the humid night.
People screamed and scattered.
The cops took cover behind their vehicles.
I managed to duck behind one of many cars parked along the curb. The lady in the robe joined me, breathing heavily, while the crowd scattered to take cover.
Then silence ensued.
I slowly peeked through the car window, when the lady in the robe nudged me.
She pointed a red-painted nail toward the driveway of the house across from us. “Look.”
A girl with bold red hair darted from the back of the house, setting off the motion sensor.
Miladin, who had abandoned his position, edged along the base of the house and down the driveway. He said something into his radio, when the redhead climbed the chain-link fence.
Considering the girl was running, I suspected the cops didn’t have the house completely surrounded. Or if they did, then their attention wasn’t on the girl.
The crowd seemed to be holding its breath.


Author Bio:
S.B. Alexander is a bestselling romance author of the Maxwell Series. Her books are filled with stories that tug at your heart, and are filled with romance, drama, action and suspense. As much as she loves to write, she also loves to read. Some of her favorite authors growing up were Stephen King and Edgar Allen Poe. She stills enjoy reading Stephen King. In fact, she loves most genres, although in the past three years she has gravitated toward the romance genre, which is when she started her journey to write her first book. Her motto: write what you love to read.
Aside from writing, she’s a huge sports fan, in particular, baseball. Since she hails from New England, she is a diehard Red Sox fan. She’s also a navy veteran and former math teacher, loves white powdered donuts, and handbags. Her husband calls her the bag lady. When she’s not writing, she enjoys playing golf and hanging out with friends and family.

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Happy Father's Day!

The graphics in this post have been Designed by Freepik but edited by me to fit my content.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Excerpt & Giveaway: Blizzard by Cambria Hebert


Blizzard
Cambria Hebert
(BearPaw Resort #2)
Publication date: June 15th 2018
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense, Thriller
An arctic blast is coming…
Fleeing to the wintry town of Caribou was always meant to be temporary,
BearPaw Resort just a place to hide.
Never in a million years did I expect that running back to the past
would bring me face to face with my future.
But it did, and now everyone I love is in danger.
I’ve already escaped death three times, and I know my luck is running out.
I’m left looking over my shoulder, watching and waiting,
knowing they’re coming
But when?
Hiding is impossible when the mob wants you erased,
and I love Liam far too much to try to disappear.
The more time I spend with him, the more I realize how much he needs me.
A darkness lurks inside him, and the colder it gets, the more I see it in his eyes.
So here I am, more afraid than ever before.
Giving up isn’t an option. Giving in will get us killed.
A blizzard is brewing on our mountain,
more frigid than anything we’ve ever felt.
With everything we ever wanted at stake, the only option is to fight.
When life turns arctic…
Who will survive the blast?
EXCERPT:
“You might not know all the details of my career, all the places I’ve traveled, or even what I’ve been hoping for in the future. But what you do know is far more important than any of that.”
“And what is it I know?” she asked dubiously.
Lifting her hand, I pressed her palm against my chest. Her fingers were cool compared to my skin. Her hand was small compared to mine when I covered hers completely, pressing it flat over my heart. “You know places inside my heart no one else has ever encountered. You know how hard it is to breathe when we look into each other’s eyes. And I’m betting you feel a gentle tug right about here”—I poked my finger into the center of her chest—“when I walk into a room.”
Her eyes scoured mine. “You feel that, too?”
“Ah, sweetheart, I definitely feel it, too.”
Our foreheads met, and we both smiled.
Too soon, Bells pulled back, her brow knitting. “It doesn’t make sense that I could love you so very much and not know the details.”
“You think knowing my favorite color or the state of my teeth means you love me more?”
“Your favorite color is blue,” she said, mildly affronted.
“‘Cause that’s the color of your eyes.” I kissed the tip of her nose.
“I want the details, Liam. I want everything about you.”
“You already have the most important parts, Bells.”
A stubborn glint came into her eyes, and I chuckled. “If everything is what you want, then everything is what you’ll get.”


Author Bio:
Cambria Hebert is an award winning, bestselling novelist of more than twenty books. She went to college for a bachelor’s degree, couldn’t pick a major, and ended up with a degree in cosmetology. So rest assured her characters will always have good hair.
Besides writing, Cambria loves a caramel latte, staying up late, sleeping in, and watching movies. She considers math human torture and has an irrational fear of chickens (yes, chickens). You can often find her running on the treadmill (she’d rather be eating a donut), painting her toenails (because she bites her fingernails), or walking her chorkie (the real boss of the house).
Cambria has written within the young adult and new adult genres, penning many paranormal and contemporary titles. Her favorite genre to read and write is romantic suspense. A few of her most recognized titles are: The Hashtag Series, Text, Torch, and Tattoo.
Cambria Hebert owns and operates Cambria Hebert Books, LLC.

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Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop (US)

Welcome to the Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop hosted by BookHounds!
Here's what you can win:

One winner will receive an advanced reader copy (used) of The Strip by JJ Salem.

Follow Me on Insta! @rainydaysandpjs
In a city built for sin, where any fantasy is one phone call away, three successful women scheme through a culture where today’s stripper could be tomorrow’s Governor’s wife—and nobody would blink an eye. They are Las Vegas wives, and THE STRIP is their adults-only playground, a neon-splashed boulevard where excitement, seduction, and betrayal never go to sleep.
Kristin Fox is the bestselling writer of controversial sex-in-suburbia novels who hungers for a sensual feast that goes beyond the pages of her money-making fiction. Jennifer Payne is the insightful marriage and family therapist who has an answer for every relationship problem except the one happening in her very own bedroom. Billie Shelton is the casino showroom song-and-dance dazzler who has been saved, remade, and quietly shattered by a dangerously obsessive Svengali husband.
And Cam Lawford is their stud-for-hire who sees a career-ending sports injury lead him from roaring crowds in NFL stadiums to willing and generous women in luxury hotel rooms. And, ultimately, straight to an early grave...

RULES
Ends June 30th, 2018 (EST)
Only one winner.
No Cheating.
All entries WILL BE VERIFIED.
US Only
I am not responsible for items lost or damaged in the mail.

GOOD LUCK!

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Cover Reveal: The Scent of Heat by E.P. Sery


The Scent of Heat
E.P. Sery
Published by: Acorn Publishing
Publication date: September 5th 2018
Genres: Adult, Historical, Romance
Ariella Paz is not in a good place. It’s the 1950s, and the 19-year-old is serving her country in the Israeli military, going home at night to a mother who is devastatingly ill, and realizing her dream of leaving home and going to America is slipping further and further away.
Meeting Arik Emmanuel, her boss’s friend, lifts her spirits and distracts Ariella from her sorrows. He showers her with love and luxury, which only masks the dangers inherent in his increasingly possessive behavior.
As their torrid and secret love affair plays out in Israel and Europe, Ariella has some big decisions to make. Can she really leave her family in their time of need? Does she have a legitimate future with Arik? And is there anyone in whom she can confide?
Each direction she turns will change her life dramatically. Perhaps our destiny isn’t something written in the stars, but a path forged by the choices we make.


Author Bio:
Estee Perchik Sery was born and raised in Israel, before moving to Johannesburg, South Africa. Just before a major political shift in her adopted country, Estee moved to California with her family in 1993 and has been soaking in the San Diego sunshine ever since. In addition to raising her children, Estee was a Hebrew teacher and teacher trainer for many years.

Retired now, Estee is putting all of her life experiences to good use.
THE SCENT OF HEAT is her first published novel.

When she's not writing, reading, painting, or traveling the world, she loves spending time doting on her grandchildren.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Excerpt & Giveaway: The Secret Lives of Royals by Shalini Dua


The Secret Lives of Royals
Shalini Dua
Publication date: June 12th 2018
Genres: Fairy Tales, New Adult, Romance
Olivia can’t take it anymore. She’s had enough of the big city and it’s lack of fulfilling her dreams. Then, just when she’s about to give up and move home, out of the blue, she is offered her dream job. Olivia is suspicious but that could just be the New York in her. She decides not to pull at threads. Despite her best efforts to remain blissfully oblivious, the secret to her life upgrade is soon uncovered when she finds herself invited to be part of a secret society.
Olivia learns that there is a thin curtain separating our world from theirs. Just beneath the surface, an entirely different one exists. One that is controlled by those of Royal lineage. The chosen ones, the Royals, hold the fate of the world in their hands. Will Olivia be able to bear the weight of the crown?



EXCERPT:
“It’s on Thursday. We’ll meet there at 8PM. A car will come to get you.” He pauses, gives me a once over and says, “The girls in the closet can help you with an outfit.” I’m caught off guard and I just stare at Connor, coolly heading off in the opposite direction as if he hasn’t just casually knocked my fashion sense, my self-confidence and basically who I have been up until this very moment.

“Thursday morning when I step out of the glass elevator at Le Salon, what can only be described as a glam squad descends upon me. When I ask where they came from, I’m informed that Connor has sent them because as they delicately put it,
“I need help.”
The first blonde eyes me warily as if I’m a 1,000 page report on her desk that she is about to dig into.
“You are not, uh,” she looks at the others apparently searching for tact, “meeting a certain standard, uh, in terms of brand image.”
I feel like a reality TV star, a “before” to be clear. Though, I would die if anyone from Le Salon knew my thoughts were this basic. The crew sees me, moves their heads up and down to examine me in unison as if operated by the same spine, and exchanges a look that says, “We’ve got our work cut out for us.” To be honest, I’m finding them more than a little judge-y. I
wouldn’t say I’m a hot mess. Although it’s true I could get my nails done a tad more often, but I live by the rule of two out of three, which is that if you can hit two of these three things every day, you are doing pretty well: hair, make-up and outfit. Admittedly, I don’t always hit two, but I had been doing okay since starting at Le Salon. I had repeatedly accomplished all three and was very proud of myself, so I’m not sure what these critical bitches are rolling their eyes about.
They introduce themselves.
“Hi, I’m Sophia.” She extends a hand, Starbucks cup in the other. Sophia has dark hair and olive skin; she’s dressed in skinny black leather pants, a chic purple blouse, black pumps and aged silver jewelry. Very edgy style, but she actually seems semi-nice when compared with the other two.
“Kaley,” barely glances in my direction as she sips from her Starbucks cup. Dressed in ripped dark blue jeans and a black blazer, she seems more than a tad intimidating and clearly doesn’t have time for me.
“Trista,” with a slight nod of the head, ad for Starbucks pose, black dress and black pumps, appears to be a bit of an airhead though apparently a wiz with a make-up brush.
Sophia hands me a coffee, which I think is quite a nice gesture despite their apparent personalities.
I feel a set of hands on me as they collectively drag me into an entirely too brightly lit room somewhere left of the large closet that houses all of the fashion we use for various shoots. They push me into the tall black chair used for making-up the subjects of said photo sessions. And that is how I find myself in every woman’s nightmare, staring back at my early morning reflection, pre-coffee, in a mirror lit by at least thirty 100-watt light bulbs, which is
when I stop protesting. Seriously, maybe models are not overpaid. I cannot imagine doing this for a living. I immediately develop a new respect for the gazelle-like creatures that float through this place on a daily basis and who, until today, I have been envy-judging with Mads after work in an effort to preserve the last shred of my self-esteem, which has been unceremoniously murdered by Sophia, Kaley and Trista early this morning. RIP self-esteem. You will be missed. I sip my coffee and ingest the singular source of warmth in this room.


Author Bio:
An international upbringing and a love of stories laid the foundation for wanderlust. Shalini aspires to spend her time country-hopping and consuming pop-culture, comedy and good food but the reality is often frantically downing coffee, meeting deadlines at exactly the last second and working her un-glamorous corporate job to fund all of the other pursuits. The Secret Lives of Royals is Shalini's debut novel. Her other work includes published poetry and scripts only she has read.


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Excerpt & Giveaway: In the Land of Milk and Honey by Nell E.S. Douglas


In the Land of Milk and Honey
Nell E.S. Douglas
Publication date: January 17th 2018
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense
When Gabrielle “Bree” Valentine awoke in a hospital bed with a newborn baby, she centered herself and rebuilt. Bree didn’t think about her mental breakdown, lost memories, or the features of a stranger emerging daily in the face of the son she is raising alone. Five years later, on a weekend in the Hamptons, a chance encounter with a man unlike any other jars her—bone deep. Daniel Hawthorne Baird II, wealthy, dangerous, British aristocrat, gravitates to Bree like caviar on crostini. In his relentless obsession with Bree, their lives entwine despite Bree’s resistance. With the unconditional support of friends she calls ‘family’, Bree confronts the most difficult questions of her life. Unearthing the painful mysteries behind who fathered her child, who the real Daniel Baird is, and the irrepressible desire driving her towards a man destined to be the end of them both.

EXCERPT
August tiptoed in around three a.m. and I finally fell asleep around six. When I awoke, almost six hours later, I found the note he'd left telling me he was in a meeting in one of the conference rooms and would meet me on the patio at lunch. I called Tristan and apologized for not calling first thing, but he sounded happy and distracted. He was playing horseshoes with Ian and Jill and getting ready for a cook-out at her townhouse. I told him I loved him (and Jill promised to take lots of pictures).
I showered and quickly dressed myself in a tailored white blouse, minimal gold jewelry and dark slim jeans. Women here typically wore pearls and boucle skirt suits, but I had my limits. I blew dry my long, straight, dark-chocolate color hair until it glossed, and applied a little make-up before heading out the door.
Just my luck, as I hurried through the halls I bumped (literally) into a little red haired girl who was crying. She told me she lost her big brother so I led her up to the front desk where the girl told us her name was Amy and that she knew her Mom was at the spa. They sent out a page for a lost Amy, and an irate looking woman in a white robe, slippers and a face mask marched up.
“I told you to stay with your brother! Can't I get a facial without having a crisis? It took me days to get this appointment...” she ranted to the little girl as she held her hand, dragging her behind. Maybe she was better off lost.
Outside, on a massive paver deck, they'd set up food stations with chefs serving lunch, a la carte. I was hungry from having missed breakfast and made a beeline for the meat-carving table. Most of the wives and girlfriends had the same idea, and the tables were filled with ladies who lunch.
I grabbed the first vacant seat I found, only one other woman sat at the table. I was bad at introductions, but she didn't raise her eyes from her magazine, so we ate silently. She had a short blonde bob and was very polished in (what else?) a light blue Chanel boucle dress and
multi-strand pearls. All she was missing was a wide brimmed hat with a bow. We wouldn’t have anything to talk about anyway, I concluded.
"Daniel!" she called out, waving her hand in the air, flagging someone down. Within seconds, there stood Mr. V-neck himself—Danny—flanked by two other dark haired men. He was dressed more casually than the other men, who wore full suit and tie. He looked like he hadn't gotten much sleep and I noticed for the first time his hair color was a rich, beer bottle brown.
I smiled warmly in greeting, but his face was stony and he turned away. I guess Danny and I weren't friends when others were around.
"Join me, gentlemen," blonde bob implored. She was English too, and clearly knew how to play her role here. I realized then she was the other half of the V-neck Crew from the lobby— Danny's other half. As she waved her hand, I also noticed the giant sparking canary yellow diamond on her hand.
Danny’s nod was a directive; the two men filled the chairs between us as he sat at the end, the blonde at his side. As the men took to discussing financials, I picked up they were all English. I was not impressed when they placed special orders to the kitchen, apparently too good to plate their own food or eat what the rest of us did.
"Bree!" I heard, and turned the sound of charging footsteps. I spun just in time to see little Amy barrel into my chair, giggling. Everyone had turned towards the disruption, eyeing her disapprovingly. Well, except Danny, whose eyes were closed and his brows were knitted together as if he'd just been poked with a needle. She wedged herself between the snobby suit guy, bumping his elbow, and fired away.
"Did you know my Mom wears a wig sometimes?" she announced, panting heavily from her run. I laughed inappropriately loud before covering my mouth. She took that as encouragement.
"And sometimes, at night, I hear her in her bedroom shaving her legs all by herself. Buzzz, buzzz, buzzz, allllnight. That's what it sounds like. Yep," she mimed while nodding, smiling brightly. I was wide-eyed as I
surveyed the table. The blonde was aghast, as was the suit directly opposite her, but the guy to my side was laughing and Danny observed her as though she were a curiosity.
"Little one, I don't know if I'd share that with anyone else today, okay?" I suggested amusedly as a pulled a stray hair from her face.
"She won't care," Amy shrugged.
"Let's keep it our little secret, anyway," I whispered.
"Cool," she whispered back, liking the idea of a secret.
"What's your name little girl?" the Suit next to me asked.
"Amy."
"Amy, I’d like you to give your mother my card. Tell her it's in case she needs any help shaving tonight," he said smugly, flicking out his hand. She snatched the card. I hoped he was kidding when I saw the wedding band on his finger.
"Okay! You two can come play with me now if you want?" she exclaimed to myself and Suit one, bouncing on her heels. I wondered if her mother had fed her bars of chocolate to placate her. Or possibly uppers.
Her eyes bounced back and forth from the suited man and me expectantly, he raised an eyebrow that said how preposterous, and I took a cue; even his eyebrow seemed to have a snooty British accent.
"Amy, I think the nice man has business to do, but maybe I'll come and play later."
"I’ll be on the hill.” She pointed beyond the pool down to the sloping grassy hills beyond and then she bolted for it. I snickered, observing her stumble once, her legs not fast enough for her body.
I checked my watch, wondering where August could be. As I did, the overcast sky parted for just a brief moment, a few beams of sunlight rebelliously breaking through the grey and lavender clouds, the rays falling like tiny radiant spotlights and in the corner of my eye, I caught a glimmer of cognac—just like a spark—and an errant thought raced through my mind, too quickly to catch.
I felt suddenly tense, like I needed some air; air somewhere else. I rose from the stuffy table and smoothed out my shirt, and by the time I looked up Danny had risen from his chair, the other men abruptly followed suit. I was puzzled by the gesture but I snapped out of my daze, my inner tension returning, when the blonde grabbed his forearm and gave him a look like he'd just stood for the maid.
I turned, heading for the hill where Amy played and stood watching from the edge of the patio, trying to clear my head. Several children were chasing each other and I smiled, thinking of my son, but somehow I still felt... troubled.
I turned back searching for August and finally I spotted him. Of all things he was standing beside Danny's chair, smiling and talking vividly—reassuring the troops, I'm sure. But as soon as he walked away he began rubbing his forehead with the back of his hand. He spotted me and rushed over.
"Bree," he said hurriedly. "I'm so sorry I missed lunch. I've been doing damage control all morning.”
“Anything I can help with?”
“It’s beyond helping. A total disaster." I was going to ask more, but it seemed out of my depth.
"Don’t worry about me. Go do what you need to," I said firmly, leaning on tiptoes to kiss his cheek in hello and goodbye.
"Are you sure?" He laid his hands on my shoulders.
"Yes. Now go be a superhero," I teased, shooing him off. He smiled, dropping a kiss on my cheek before hurrying off.
My old distress was replaced with worry for August. Amy ran up and asked if I'd be “home base” in their game of hide and go seek. I laughed, agreeing to the distraction. Several rounds in, she ran up to me, sticking out her little leg.
"Will you tie my shoes?" she asked, cutely, so I bent down to lace them.
"You're pretty, Bree," she sang smiling and blinked. I smiled back and patted her head before she ran off screaming to the hiders “you’re in
trouble now!”
"You have an admirer." I turned to see Danny standing a few feet behind me.
"Uh, no, just a little friend," I replied, confused by his sudden presence.
"You make friends easily,” he supplied. I laughed at the irony; I would have made more friends sitting at the children's table than at his (because it clearly became His table once he sat).
"I found her in the hallway,” I explained. “She was lost."
It looked like the rest of his group was gone, which explained why he was talking to me again. I was beginning to think the parallel I'd drawn between his face and a sculpture was truer than I'd realized. His face was always perfectly stoic, but he shook his head briefly as if to say Of course.
"I think they've got a sixth sense, you know?" I mused, watching the children play.
"About safe places to run?” I smiled at his odd guess. He obviously wasn't a kid person.
"No. Well, sort of," I paused, wondering how long he'd been watching the game. "I think they can sense other mothers. They seem to automatically trust us," I clarified, watching Amy maul a boy to the ground. She reminded me of Violet. He didn't reply so I checked to see if he was there. He was looking at his loafers.
"You have a child," he intoned solemnly.
"Yes," I replied with pride. "I have a little boy."
Finally he spoke. "I am…happy for you,” he said. I thought he was being sarcastic but when he raised his gaze and his eyes met mine, but there was honesty there.
"I'm pretty happy for me, too," I replied, thinking of my amazing little son.
"Bree! I won! I won! I caught them all!" Amy ran up and flung herself at me. I grabbed her just in time before she knocked us both over, laughing.
"See, doesn't this just make you want to take one home?" I turned, and said to the thin air where Danny had formerly been standing.
Eat your heart out, Houdini.

Author Bio:
Nell E. S. Douglas has possessed a deep, abiding love for written words since childhood. The transition from reader, to writer, was a natural one. Her first stories, penned on the lined pages of class notebooks, were inspired by her mother’s poetry and epic tales of travel, and a professorial inquisitiveness inherited from her father. Following college in Florida, Nell exited the world of pure imagination, and entered the one of business, successfully establishing a career in sales, and developing a cup-a-day habit (of coffee). Today, Nell writes everything from story ideas to essays during the spaces in-between domestic goddessing, and contributing as a managing partner to a thriving small business. Nell resides in Florida, with her husband and their children, passing on the traditions of her mother, and sinking her feet in the sand whenever possible.
Her favorite books are Pride and Prejudice, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Her favorite movies are Gladiator, anything by Scorcese, The Time Traveller’s Wife, and Bridesmaids.

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Monday, June 11, 2018

Excerpt & Giveaway: Princess of Draga by Emma Dean


Princess of Draga
Emma Dean
(Draga Court, #1)
Publication date: October 17th 2017
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Science Fiction
In the first book of the Draga Court series, Princess Adelina’s coming-of-age party will declare to the worlds she is finally eligible to wed. All she wants is to serve her people and the crown with honor, but when a dangerously attractive prince from another galaxy – one who they all thought was dead – arrives with warnings of monstrosities and war, will her feelings put her in a position where she has to choose between her people and love?
The Draga Court series is a beautiful combination of fantasy and space opera set in a faraway future where humans have altered their genetics to save their species from their destructive natures. Dominance and rank weave a complicated dance among the galaxy’s society where a true submissive has to find her place, and learn the true meaning of power and love.

EXCERPT
Why was she so anxious to speak to Giselle about this? She was never nervous around Giselle despite their difference in dominance. They had always been close and kept each other’s secrets, and there were a lot of them.
“Spit it out, Lina.”
“Do you think I could be the one to escort Prince Nash?” Adelina glanced at her sister but kept pacing. She had too much energy to stand still.
Giselle’s shocked look could be for a few different reasons. Adelina waited for the answer. “Do you like him, Lina?” Giselle asked instead.
After everything that had happened with Alpha Giselle had been sweet and supportive, always saying Adelina would find someone when the time was right. She knew Giselle spoke the truth, but had doubted on occasion.
Now there was this strange feeling and she wasn’t even sure what she actually felt for Nash. She wasn’t even sure what she wanted to accomplish by escorting him, but Adelina felt as though she had to do something.
Adelina threw her hands up in exasperation. “I don’t know. I feel…like a fluttering moth to the flame. He draws me in, but I can’t say if I feel anything at all other than sympathy and the desire to help him. That father and Raena outright denied the alliance agreement…” She stopped and crossed her arms as she studied Giselle. “I need to speak with him privately. There is no other way. Finding out the truth is what is important, and if I can convince father he is trustworthy and honorable perhaps it will get him to reconsider his denial.”
Adelina knew Nash hadn’t killed his own family. The male she’d spent time with only a few cycles ago didn’t have an evil bone in his body. But her father needed to be convinced this was the right choice, the honorable one. If she couldn’t convince the king, then she would have to do whatever she could to aid him on her own.
She felt called and she would not deny a nudge from the goddess


Author Bio:
Emma Dean lives and works in California with her husband and son. She loves romance but needed something different so Draga Court was born. With too many stories to write the schedule has been filled through 2018.
When she’s not writing she’s reading, or spending time with her family.
With publishing now at least she has an excuse for not folding the laundry ;)

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Sunday, June 10, 2018

Interview & Giveaway: Electric Impulse by Angel Hilson

Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult, Erotic, Suspense
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-692-12123-8 Publisher: Writers' Raven Publishing

Enticing, provocative and enigmatic, ELECTRIC IMPULSE invites you on a journey of self-discovery. It will immerse you in a tale of intense attraction, brazen passion and Wild Love.

Aria Davenport is preparing to walk across the stage, snag her diploma and make her mark on the world, she can’t wait to experience adulthood bliss with her beau. But unbeknownst to her, he has different plans.

She’s blindsided when, the day before graduation, he dumps her in front of everyone at his family gathering.

The traumatic breakup reignites her once forgotten childhood issues of abandonment. She graduates with a dismal outlook on life. How can she recover from such a stunning blow?

In walks Phoenix Prescott, a Forbes-celebrated real estate mogul. The moment he sets eyes on Aria, he wants her. And he’s used to getting what he wants. After all, being a wealthy playboy comes with its share of perks. The attraction between them is palpable. It’s undeniable. But Aria isn’t one to play by his rules.

Will she let down her walls long enough to take another chance on love? Will his secrets or her insecurities end it all before it’s begun?

Interview

What inspired you to write this novel? 
In a word, my life. I’ve personally experienced a lot of what I write about. And what I haven’t experienced, I’ve seen others go through. So, I have an intimate connection to many of the scenes I’ve written. Of course, I also make use of poetic license.

Why did you choose to self-publish? 
Initially, I was like every other writer, I wanted a traditional contract with a big fat advance. It's the dream. But I've studied the landscape and experienced first-hand how difficult it is to break into the closed world of traditional publishing. Honestly, this process has made me much more selfaware. I learned that I like to have a say in all aspects of my creative projects. For me, on this project, self-publishing was the way to go.

Who is your favorite author and why?
 I LOVE Toni Morrison. I spent a whole semester studying nothing but her books. The richness of her language, the poignant way she looks at life and the circumstances her characters find themselves in, touch my heart. She’s a prolific writer. If you’re not on Toni Morrison, get on it! NOW! She’s not one to miss!

What makes your book unique? 
From the comments I receive from Wattpad readers, by the end of the book, they feel like they’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster. They can’t wait to read Book 2. I feel ELECTRIC IMPULSE is unique because it taps into real life experiences that people go through when dating. From the pain of a horrible breakup, to the fluttering butterflies you feel with a new love and everything in between, readers relate.

Your Book Bio mentions “Mature Audience,” how mature is your novel? 
In a book dealing with love, chemistry, sexual tension and sexual gratification, there are bound to be adult only scenes. I don’t shy away from disclosing the details of the main characters’, Aria’s and Phoenix’s love affair. The reader definitely gets to be a fly on the wall. No fade to black scenes in this book!

A U T H O R  B I O 
Angel Hilson is a lover of the written word. Discovering a talent for weaving tall tales at a young age, she’s enjoys writing across many genres. Currently she’s smitten with crafting Provocative Contemporary Romances that aim for the heart, taking readers on an emotional journey. 

Her experience includes earning degrees in English Language and Literature and African American Studies along with a minor in Spanish Language and Culture from Marquette, a private Catholic university located in the heart of the Midwest. She was also a Digital Copywriter for a Fortune 500 company for over 5 years. 

When she's not badgering her husband to give his opinion on her next jaw-dropping plot twist, she can be found reliving childhood with her two daughters at the nearest trampoline park. 

Angel is the author of the ELECTRIC IMPULSE series.



Saturday, June 9, 2018

Excerpt & Giveaway: The Gathering by Bernadette Giacomazzo


The Gathering
Bernadette Giacomazzo
(The Uprising, #1)
Publication date: March 31st 2018
Genres: Adult, Dystopian
The Uprising Series tells the story of three freedom fighters and their friends in high — and low — places that come together to overthrow a vainglorious Emperor and his militaristic Cabal to restore the city, and the way of life, they once knew and loved.
In The Gathering, Jamie Ryan has defected from the Cabal and has joined his former brothers-in-arms — Basile Perrinault and Kanoa Shinomura — to form a collective known as The Uprising. When an explosion leads to him crossing paths with Evanora Cunningham — a product of Jamie’s past — he discovers that The Uprising is bigger, and more important, than he thought.
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EXCERPT:
Jamie
I saw Emperor – looking like a hot air balloon, sounding as ridiculous as ever – blathering on about his personal Reichstag fire, and laying the blame of the explosion squarely at the feet of myself and my brothers-in-arms.
“…and it’s these traitors of the state – the threat to the security of my Empire of the United States of America – the defectors of the Cabal who go by Jamie Ryanand Basile Perrinault and, my greatest betrayal, Supreme Allied Commander Kanoa Shinomura…” he hollered into the microphone, which seemed to reverberate throughout the city.
At the sound of Kanoa’s name, the Cabal members below the balcony slammed the butts of their guns on the floor in rhythm. I knew that rhythm all too well – it was meant to be a war cry for those of us in the rank-and-file of the Cabal – but, to the untrained ear, it sounded like a machine gun going off…which was exactly the point.
But I couldn’t help but sneer at the accusation that the blast that nearly killed Evanora and Tommy was somehow our fault. He’d spent decades trying to catch us and failing miserably, yet in the same breath, believed we were inept enough to set off a blast that took no lives and could be cleaned up during a balmy New York evening. And he managed to sell this ridiculous belief to the crowd, no less.
“Let’s make something clear, asshole,” I muttered, “if it had been me and the boys that lit your shit up, you wouldn’t be standing here today.”
Despite the absurdity of the accusation – and despite the obvious absurdity of the accusation – the victims of psi just grunted along, agreeing with everything and anything that came out of Emperor’s mouth, in part because they didn’t know any better (they were psi victims, after all), and in part because any disagreement with what Emperor had to say was met with a fierce, painful punishment.
“His Word, Before All and Above All,” I muttered. “With liberty and justice for no one, so kiss my peasant Old New York ass and take a breath mint afterward, unless you like that funky aftertaste…”
My voice trailed off as my eyes focused on a strange woman on the balcony.
At first, I couldn’t discern who she was – she looked like someone I’d seen before, yet someone I’d never seen before.
Her hair was a garish white-blonde, stringy and lifeless, and pinned tightly behind her head with a set of black ceramic chopsticks. Her makeup was almost cartoonish – cat-like black eyeliner and matte black lipstick sat atop a ghostly white foundation. Even her outfit was a hideously hilarious cultural appropriation – a black silk kimono paired with a set of black stiletto heels. I’d seen Old New York 42nd Street prostitutes, with terrible heroin problems, sell the “Asian coquette” look better than what I’d seen before me now.
“Who the actual…” I began, hesitantly, unable to process who I was seeing before me.
And then it hit me, all at once, who she was.
For the first time in a long time, I was literally speechless.
When I could finally find my voice again, it barely came out in a whisper. “Rosie,” I squeaked.
I walked into the Ludlow Street apartment I shared with Angelique and was instantly greeted with the smell of a meat dish that, I would later learn, was calledcarne asada.
“Angelique!” I called out over the loud sizzling of steak as I kicked off my black Frye boots and set my matching acoustic guitar down. “Where are you, my love?”
“In here!” she called, out of sight, from the kitchen, where more clanging and banging sounds echoed over her voice.
I began walking through the apartment, shedding layers as I went along until I reached the kitchen wearing nothing but my black leather pants and a mischievous smile. I was hoping to have a little appetizer of crème d’Angelique before dinner, but when I reached the kitchen, I realized – much to my chagrin – that we weren’t alone.
Angelique, her hair tied back into a messy ponytail, was wearing a tight, white, see-through shorts jumper and a matching white apron. She was standing next to an unfamiliar-looking woman with a matching messy ponytail, but whose thick chocolate brown hair stood in sharp contrast to Angelique’s thin flaxen locks. The rest of her, too, was in stark contrast to Angelique, but not in a bad way – she was olive-skinned, in contrast to Angelique’s pale white skin; she was curvy, in contrast to Angelique’s ectomorphic figure; she was fiery, in contrast to Angelique’s ethereal nature.
They were standing side by side, working on something that smelled simply delicious. Angelique was mixing flour, sugar, and garlic powder, and her friend was adding melted butter and salted water to the resultant powder, then kneading it until it formed a dough.
“Am I interrupting something?” I asked as I walked behind Angelique, wrapped my arms around her waist, and kissed her neck, breathing in her scent of lilacs as I did so.
She smiled, then took her index finger and bopped the tip of my nose with the flour mixture. “Hey handsome,” she said, beatifically. “We’re making something special for you for dinner. We’ve got carne asada in the pan over there – we’ve got some arroz con gandules in the rice cooker – and we’re making…wait, girl, what’s this called?”
Arepas,” her friend said, smiling as she continued to knead the dough between her hands, her silver thumb ring glistening in the light of the dusk as she did so.
“Right, arepas,” Angelique repeated. “Ramira here is teaching me all her magic ways – she says this is the exact dinner I need to make if I want my man to marry me.” She giggled, then elbowed Ramira, who giggled along with Angelique.
I couldn’t help but giggle, as well, as I unentwined myself from Angelique and walked over to Ramira to properly introduce myself. “I’m going to be stuffed fordays with all this delicious food, so it’s only right that we become friends,” I began, extending my hand. “Hi there. I’m James Randall Ryan IV, I somehow lucked out enough to convince this lovely lady Angelique to be my girlfriend, and it’s a pleasure to meet you. You can call me Jamie.”
Ramira smiled, then shook my hand with two of her fingers, taking care not to smear the wet dough across my palm. “Well, my name is Ramira Diaz, Angelique is my best friend, and it’s a pleasure to meet you too. You can call me Rosie, though. Everyone else does.”
I sat under a wilting star magnolia tree and stared, intently, through the open window of a room that had to be Rosie’s dressing room. She peeled her black silk kimono off and turned her back to the frameless window, exposing her prominent ribs and shoulder blades as she did so. The sight of her suddenly-bare, emaciated frame shocked me, especially given how pronounced her curves were in our younger years, and tears welled up in my eyes yet again.
In the decades since Angelique and my son had died, I could count the number of times I’d cried on one hand. In the past 72 hours, though – as I realized that my best friend’s kid, and my best friend’s girlfriend, were alive and well, and that the Uprising was bigger than I’d ever imagined – the tears came quickly and flowed easily, and I couldn’t decide if this was a sign of strength or weakness on my part.
Rosie slipped a shimmering white camisole over her emaciated frame, which she then tucked into a pair of white linen slacks. I couldn’t get over how thin she’d gotten, then wondered if this was by her own design, or if she was under orders from that evil husband of hers. No way would Jordan be cool with this, I thought to myself. On his fucking grave would this go on. On his fucking grave. And wouldn’t you know it – here we are, on his fucking grave.
I saw Rosie leave the room and begin to head down a flight of stairs, and I took that as an opportunity to get her alone, away from the rabid Cabal and out of sight of the vainglorious Emperor. She’d taken a few steps away from her building, and into Emperor’s Park, before passing by the wilting star magnolia tree that I was hiding behind. It was only when I saw the back of her slicked back, perfect ponytail – what a difference from the one she was wearing when we first met, I thought – that I saw the opportunity to get her alone and began walking behind her.
“You’ve come a long way from making arepas on Ludlow Street,” I said, tapping her on the shoulder when I finally caught up with her.
She spun around, her face scrunched up in fear, and for a split second, I thought she was going to hit me. But just as quickly, she relaxed as her eyes registered who owned the disembodied voice. “Jamie,” she whispered tearfully. “You’re here. You’re alive. I didn’t realize…”
“How the hell did you not?” I asked, furrowing my eyebrows and side-eyeing her. “Your damned husband has been hunting me for decades.”
“I knew that,” she said, taking ragged breaths. “But just the fact that he was never able to take you alive led me to believe that you were…you know…” Her voice trailed off.
I wasn’t convinced, and I continued to stare at her intently as I scratched my left cheek, which was now beginning to show the first signs of salt-and-pepper beard stubble. “First of all, why the hell are you talking like you’re Queen Elizabeth? Second, let me just state it for the record: you give your asshole husbandway too much credit if you think he can take me down.”
Rosie bit her lower lip, then shifted her eyes down. I put my hand under her chin and tipped her face up, forcing her eyes to meet mine as I tried, desperately, to search for a sign of the Rosie I once knew. “Rosie,” I whispered intently. “It’s me. You don’t have to hide from me.”
Her face was a blank slate. “My name is Rose. Rose Cunningham,” she said with flat affect.
“Oh, bullshit,” I whispered, even more intently. “Whatever happened to ‘call me Rosie, everyone else does’? What happened to that woman who was makingarepas in the kitchen with my Angelique?”
That got her attention, and her deep brown eyes flashed with fire as she balled up her fists and began swinging at me. “You shit! You bastard! You did it! You almost killed my baby!”
I ducked, bobbed and weaved, avoiding each blow as I carefully tried to talk her down from the ledge. “Rosie! What the hell are you talking about? I didn’t do that shit! I swear!”
She continued to swing at me. “Yes! Yes, you did!” she squealed tearfully, repeating the same “yes, yes” with each swing, her voice getting louder each time.
“Do you want to knock it off before the fuckin’ Cabal finds us, Rosie? The fuck is wrong with you? Jesus Christ!” I was shouting despite myself and began scanning the landscape frantically for Cabal soldiers that would have undoubtedly heard us, all while bobbing and weaving like a prizefighter to avoid getting punched in the face.
She swung even harder and squealed even louder. “You tried to kill my baby! Just like you killed yours!”
That line finally got me to react, and I had to steady my breathing to stop from clocking her in the mouth. Even in the throes of the worst of my Faustian behavior, I never hit a woman, and neither did any of my bandmates – the thought of violence against a woman, let alone a woman we’d loved, didn’t even cross our drug-addled minds.
Instead, I grabbed her wrists and forced them down to her sides, holding them in place at hip level as she struggled, trying to hit me, until she finally began whimpering in defeat.
“Now you listen to me, Ramira Diaz, and you listen well,” I began, angrily. “You may have forgotten everything you were and are, but I sure as fuck haven’t forgotten a goddamn thing, and let me rest assure you, I never fuckin’ will.”
Her lower lip was trembling, her eyes were watering, and it became evident that she was on the verge of tears. Still, I continued. “So, let me get a few things out of the way now, so we’re not confused. Number one: that blast? It wasn’t me. It wasn’t anyone tied to me. It wasn’t anyone whose name I can even spell. Because let me assure you, again, that if it were me, or anyone tied to me, we’d have burned down the entire fuckin’ city, even if it meant killing ourselves in the process, and wouldn’t have left a survivor anywhere on this God-forsaken island.
“Number two: you know goddamn well I didn’t kill Angelique or our baby. Now I wear their death on my heart every. Fucking. Day. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in twenty fucking years, from the day they were killed, because I can’t get their murders out of my mind. There are times I wish I was dead, just so that I don’t have to live with the guilt of their murders, but no, here I am, and ain’t that a fuckin’ bitch from Hell. I’d give all the money in the world to have my Angelique back. I’d trade my life for Jordan’s any day of the week. And my son – my only legacy – never had a chance at life, and you think that’s all fair?
“Number three – and this is the most important part, Rosie, goddamnit, you’d better fuckin’ listen to this if you listen to nothing else: remember that promise I made to you in the hospital room? All those years ago? Because I fuckin’ do. And that’s why when Evanora and Tommy came down the Bowery after the blast, and I realized who she was, I made sure she was safe and clean and warm…”
Rosie looked shocked. “Wait. She came to you?”
I searched her face, trying to see if I could register where her loyalties lie before I continued to answer the question. For some reason, however, I couldn’t make it out. I even tried to read Rosie’s mind using a gentle form of psi, but I still couldn’t read her mind at all. It was like trying to probe a brick wall. So, to protect Evanora – and the rest of us – I chose to cover my tracks. “Yeah,” I said airily, “she mentioned something about listening to Uprising Radio.”
The name of Uprising Radio registered some type of recognition with Rosie, and her eyes lit up slightly. “My baby has heard Uprising Radio?”
“I don’t know for sure,” I continued, still adopting an airy affect, “but I’m pretty sure that’s what she said.” Using my Cabal training, I put a mental wall between my thoughts and Rosie, mostly because I didn’t know how much training she’d had in the psi arts, and I wasn’t sure if she, too, could read my mind. And if, God forbid, her loyalties lied with that pathetic excuse of her husband, I could at least protect, if not myself, then the whole Uprising movement.
I made sure the wall was firmly in place before I continued. “I think I’ve heard Uprising Radio a few times, but I don’t know much about it, who does it, or anything of the sort.”
“Yeah,” Rosie said, hesitantly, behind a mental brick wall of her own, “I have no idea, either.”
We were calmer, now – our breath was steady, our thoughts were collected, and Rosie’s fists were limp. I finally felt confident that she wasn’t going to try to hit me again, so I loosened my grip on her wrists.
But I suddenly found myself unable to let her go, so I slid my hands from her wrists to her hands and grabbed her fingers lightly. I was overcome with emotion.
“What is it, Jamie?” Her voice was cracking.
I exhaled loudly, then drew in a ragged breath. “Do you think about him, Rosie? Do you think about Jordan at all?”
She closed her eyes and allowed the tears to fall as she exhaled shakily. “Every day of my life,” she said softly. “There’s not a day that goes by that Jordan doesn’t cross my mind. Every time I look at Evanora – every time I hear her laugh – he comes to my mind. Sometimes, she gives me this look – you remember, Jamie? You remember when Jordan would hear something that was just too stupid for words, and he would get this look on his face, like, ‘were you dropped on your head as a child?’” – and to this, I gave a half-smile and a nod – “and now, she gets that look. And that one eyebrow” – she took her finger and drew on her left eyebrow – “it would just go up like…like…”
She dropped her hand as her voice trailed off, her eyes filling with tears.
I nodded my head, closed my eyes, and sighed. “Fuckin’ guy,” I said, opening my eyes and looking at Rosie. “So. You didn’t see me, right?”
Rosie smiled and winked at me. “Ivan Sapphire? Please. Get over yourself, rock star.” She squeezed my hands one last time for good measure. “I’m going to leave now. I’m not going to look back because I don’t want to see where you’re going. This way, if someone with bad intentions against you asks me if I know where you are, I can answer honestly when I say I don’t know. But just because I don’t look back, doesn’t mean I want to see you go. I need you to understand that, Jamie Ryan. I don’t need you to over-analyze things that don’t need over-analyzing. I need you to let me go, Jamie Ryan, and I need you to know that I love you, and I thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”
She finally let go of my hands, gave me a slight nod, then turned and walked back to her home. I watched her, silently, keeping the promise I made so long ago to Jordan Barker and didn’t leave what was once known as Central Park until I saw, for sure, that she was safe inside.


Author Bio:
With an impressive list of credentials earned over the course of two decades, Bernadette R. Giacomazzo is a multi-hyphenate in the truest sense of the word: an editor, writer, photographer, publicist, and digital marketing specialist who has demonstrated an uncanny ability to thrive in each industry with equal aplomb. Her work has been featured in Teen Vogue, People, Us Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and many, many more. She served as the news editor of Go! NYC Magazine for nearly a decade, the executive editor of LatinTRENDS Magazine for five years, the eye candy editor of XXL Magazine for two years, and the editor-at-large at iOne/Zona de Sabor for two years. As a publicist, she has worked with the likes of Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and his G-Unit record label, rapper Kool G. Rap, and various photographers, artists, and models. As a digital marketing specialist, Bernadette is Google Adwords certified, has an advanced knowledge of SEO, PPC, link-building, and other digital marketing techniques, and has worked for a variety of clients in the legal, medical, and real estate industries.
Based in New York City, Bernadette is the co-author of Swimming with Sharks: A Real World, How-To Guide to Success (and Failure) in the Business of Music (for the 21st Century), and the author of the forthcoming dystopian fiction series, The Uprising. She also contributed a story to the upcoming Beyonce Knowles tribute anthology, The King Bey Bible, which will be available in bookstores nationwide in the summer of 2018.

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Friday, June 8, 2018

Excerpt & Giveaway: Clutch by Lisa Becker


Clutch
Lisa Becker
Publication date: Original 2015; Re-release 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
** Now with five new bonus chapters **
Clutch is the laugh-out-loud, chick lit romance chronicling the dating misadventures of Caroline Johnson, a single purse designer who compares her unsuccessful romantic relationships to styles of handbags – the “Hobo” starving artist, the “Diaper Bag” single dad, the “Briefcase” intense businessman, etc. With her best friend, bar owner Mike by her side, the overly-accommodating Caroline drinks a lot of Chardonnay, puts her heart on the line, endures her share of unworthy suitors and finds the courage to discover the “Clutch” or someone she wants to hold onto.
Audiobook listeners can get a free copy of Clutch on Audible if you sign up for a 30 day trial!
EXCERPT:
Mimi Johnson was casually dressed in a brightly-colored blouse with enormous turquoise jewelry and equally-oversized glasses. Despite that largesse, the only thing truly bigger than her personality (and her bosom) was her handbag. Always perfectly matched to her clothing, shoes, and jewelry, she was like a walking Chico’s advertisement, if you added forty years, forty pounds, and a Virginia Slims cigarette. From her Mary Poppins-like bag, she pulled out a box, impeccably-wrapped in glossy pink paper with a white grosgrain ribbon bow. A cigarette teetered between her two fingers while she produced a lung-hacking cough.
“Open it… …sweetie. Open it,” she said to her seven-year-old great niece, Caroline, a beautiful and vibrant girl with long blonde hair and oversized blue eyes.
Alive with anticipation, sweet young Caroline eagerly took the box and smiled up at Mimi. She gingerly removed the ribbon, planning to save it for later. The glossy paper was of less interest and she ripped through it quickly. She opened the box and gently lifted out a hot pink purse, adorned with pale pink flowers and rhinestones. An enormous smile overcame her. Caroline nearly set her own hair on fire from Mimi’s cigarette as she bounded into her aunt’s arms.
“Oh, thank you, Aunt Mimi. It’s lovely.”
And that was when Caroline’s love of handbags began. From big and loud ones that would make Mimi proud to unimposing wristlets, from bowler bags to satchels; it didn’t matter if they were made of canvas or calf-skin leather, were distressed or embellished with metal studs. Hell, she didn’t care if you called them pocketbooks or purses. She just loved them all – almost as much as she loved Mimi.
By the time she was a junior in high school and well on her way to being class valedictorian, it was the hundreds of bags Caroline owned that helped her conceptualize her ticket out of her suffocating small Georgian town. She would design handbags. And it was Mimi who was her steadfast cheerleader.
“Caroline, sweetie… …you find something you love and you just hold onto it.” It had never mattered if Caroline was asking Mimi’s advice about a friend, lover, or career. The advice was always the same: “Find something you love and hold onto it.”
Mimi’s words ever-present in her mind, Caroline headed to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and spent four years in Los Angeles learning everything there was to know to pursue her passion. Then, right out of college, she spent three years working in the design and marketing departments of two of the world’s leading, high-end handbag designers.
She was schooled in beauty and how to accessorize the perfectly-coiffed women on the way to their Botox appointments. But Caroline was pulled by the nagging feeling that the very person who had inspired her career, Mimi, could never afford the bags she designed, even if Caroline used her generous employee discount on Mimi’s behalf. And God forbid Mimi would ever accept one as a gift, always preferring to give rather than receive. But Caroline believed there was no reason for anyone to be denied the ultimate in accessories. She saw an untapped market of designing beautiful and affordable bags, but she just wasn’t sure she was start-up potential. Again, it was Mimi who nudged her to learn the business side of things and apply to MBA programs. When Caroline was accepted to Harvard Business School, Mimi, of course, encouraged her.
“You’ve got this, sweetie. ,” she said. “It’s in the bag.”
•••
Caroline was sitting in Financial Reporting and Control on her first day of Harvard classes (and yes, the class turned out to be as boring as it sounded). That’s when she first eyed Mike, who was wearing a faded pair of Levi jeans, a washed-out vintage Rolling Stones T-shirt, and Converse sneakers. He oozed charisma. Turning her head away from him and back toward the front of the lecture hall, Caroline thought that if he were a handbag, he would be a grey leather tote – confident and dependable, but not trying too hard.
Mike surveyed the large lecture hall as he walked in, a Starbucks coffee cup in each hand. After descending the steps slowly, he took a seat next to Caroline and planted one of the white and green cups on her desk.
Flashing a wide, dimpled smile, which she mused he reserved for getting girls to drop their panties, he said, “Here. You look like you’re going to need this.”
“Thanks,” she replied in a suspicious tone, turning her head sideways to look at him and raising an eyebrow.
“I’m Mike,” he said, again flashing a smile and reaching out for a handshake.
“I’m Caroline. Thanks for the…”
“Latte.”
“Latte,” she confirmed. “Thanks. But just so you know, I’m not gonna sleep with you,” she said in an apparent attempt to establish up front she wasn’t taken in by his obvious charm.
“I know,” he replied matter-of-fact.
Before she could respond, Professor Beauregard, a stout man with excessive eyebrows, spoke up. “Please take note of where you are seated. I will send around a seating chart for you to mark your spot. This will be your seat for the remainder of the semester.”
“Looks like we’ll be seatmates,” Mike said, grinning at her.
“Looks like it.”
•••
About three months into the first semester, Caroline learned that her fun-loving, easy-going, new best buddy Mike wasn’t exactly who he appeared to be.
A blanket of white snow dusted the Harvard grounds and it was a particularly slow day in another mutual class, LEAD – Leadership and Organizational Behavior. Professor Moss, a frail man who weighed less than his years, was droning on and on about establishing productive relationships with subordinates or something to that effect. He initiated a discussion about what works better – the carrot or stick approach.
“Mr. Barnsworth,” he called, referring to his seating chart and scanning the room until he found Mike in the fifth row. “What are your thoughts?”
“Well, it seems to me that good management is all about empathy and being able to enthuse and inspire your staff. You know, appreciating them and respecting them. Showing you care,” he said, placing his hand over his heart in a gesture of true compassion and concern. “And if they can’t get that through their thick skulls, you fire ‘em,” he continued, drawing his finger across his throat.
Several students sitting around them started to chuckle while Caroline stifled a laugh. Mike looked around the room and nodded his head, soaking in the appreciation of his sense of humor.
“Mr. Barnsworth,” said Professor Moss in a menacing tone, “I would have expected a better answer from you, considering your family history.”
Confused by the conversation unfolding before her, Caroline leaned over and whispered to Mike, “What is he talkin’ about?” Mike put up a hand to quiet her.
“Later,” he hissed.
Twenty minutes later, the two shared a bench outside Baker Library, the chill of winter causing Caroline to pull her scarf closer around her neck.
“What was that all about?” she asked, scrunching up her nose in confusion.
Reluctantly, Mike began to speak. “My full name is Michael Frederick Barnsworth the Third. My family owns a large brokerage firm in New York,” he confessed, unsure of how Caroline would react.
Caroline listened as she took in just how old money his family really was. Mike’s great, great, great, great – actually it was hard to keep track of how many “greats” it went back – grandfather ran the first Bank of the United States, which Congress chartered in the early 1800s. His family had advised presidents, dined with royalty, and amassed a fortune that continued today through the Barnsworth Brokerage Firm.
“I’m the seventh person in my family to attend Harvard including my father, uncle, three cousins, and grandfather, who was a classmate of Professor Moss,” he continued.
Surprised by this unexpected news, she joked, “So you’re just slummin’ with a simple Southern girl like me – and makin’ me pay for drinks, mind you – until you go join the family business and marry someone named Muffy…”
“That’s my family’s plan,” Mike laughed. “There’s even an office in the Woolworth Building owned by my family, sitting empty, until I finish business school,” he said reluctantly.
“But…” she pressed, touching his hand gently, sensing the family plan may not actually be Mike’s plan – though they had never discussed his plans before.
“I want to open a bar,” he said, matter of fact and looking her square in the eye.
Caroline’s head leaned back as she let out a raucous laugh. “You want to own a bar?” she questioned, her shoulders shaking from laughter. “Now I get your goal to drink at every one of the six hundred bars in Boston before you graduate.”
“Yup, it’s research,” he said emphatically.
“Research?”
“Yeah. Every time my parents call, which isn’t very often – they are usually off with their snobby society friends or at Met Balls – I tell them I’m working hard and doing research.”
“Gotta give you credit. That’s pretty clever,” she replied, nodding her head.
“And true. If I’m going to open the best bar ever, I need to know what works and what doesn’t.”
“Okay. I get why you don’t want to be a wizard of Wall Street. But why a bar?” she asked, not understanding his desire for the life of a bar back.
“My parents weren’t around a lot growing up. My father spent more time in the office than my mother spent jetting between boutiques in Paris and ski chalets in Switzerland. And believe me, that was a lot,” he confessed. Caroline looked down in her lap, her heart sinking at the thought of the small boy with the winning smile being ignored by his family.
“I was pretty much raised by a series of au pairs. My favorite was Linnea who was nineteen when she came from Sweden to live with our family. She was obsessed with Tom Cruise movies and we would watch them all the time,” he explained, a wistful look on his face as he recalled fond memories.
“Cocktail!” Caroline exclaimed.
“Yup, I want to be the sole proprietor of a place where you can shake margaritas bare-chested,” Mike laughed. “It’s going to be called The Last Drop,” he stated, not looking for her approval.
“Great name,” she admitted, nodding her head. “Especially when your folks drop kick you out of the family.”
“I know. I’m preparing to be disowned, which is why I’m getting you used to buying the drinks,” he said, flashing her a smile.
“Well with any luck my business will allow me to continue payin’ for drinks.”
“The purse thing?”
“Yes. The purse thing,” she said, mocking him. “I aim to start a line called Clutch, because it’s one of my favorite handbag styles, and in honor of my aunt Mimi. She always says ‘Find somethin’ you love and just hold onto it.’”
“Sounds like a smart lady.”


Author Bio:
Lisa Becker is a romance writer whose previous novels include Click: An Online Love Story, Double Click and Right Click. The books, about a young woman's search for love online in Los Angeles, have been called, “a fast read that will keep you entertained,” “a fun, quick read for fans of Sex and the City,” and “hard to put down.” The first in the series was optioned for a major motion picture.
Her latest novel, Links, is a second chance romance that explores what happens when two high school classmates have a chance encounter after 15 years. #1 New York Times bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken called Links, "Witty, heartfelt and emotionally satisfying. Everything I want in a second chance romance! Once I picked it up I couldn't put it down!"
Lisa’s writings about online dating have been featured in Cupid’s Pulse, GalTime.com, Single Edition, The Perfect Soulmate, Chick Lit Central and numerous other book blogs and websites.
As Lisa's grandmother used to say, "For every chair, there's a rush." Lisa is now happily married to a man she met online and lives in Manhattan Beach with him and their two daughters. So, if it happened for her, there’s hope for anyone!

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