Blog Tour : Bad Deeds (Dirty Money #3) by Lisa Renee Jones

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Bad Deeds: A Dirty Money Novel by Lisa Renee Jones
Release Date: August 8th, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Would you bleed for the one you love?

To save his family empire from the grip of the drug cartel, Shane is pushed to the edge of darkness, forced to make choices he might never make. His father is dying. His brother is desperate to rule the empire and this means war and all gloves are off. His brother only thought he knew what dirty meant. Shane is about to give it new meaning. There is another war brewing though, and that one, is inside him, his battle between right and wrong, light and dark, and in the heat of the night, it is Emily he turns to for escape. Driving her to new limits, pushing her to accept a part of him that even he cannot.

In every one of Shane’s seductive demands, Emily can taste and feel, his torment, his struggle to save his family and not lose himself. But he is losing himself, and that is a problem just as dangerous as her secret, that still lurk in the shadows, a threat to the Brandon Family waiting to erupt. No matter where she and Shane have traveled, or will travel in the future, she can’t just sit back and watch him become everything he hates, everything he never wanted to become, everything she tried to save him from when she tried to run. It could be their undoing, the end. His end.

This is war, blood will spill, and someone in the heart of the Brandon family will not survive….

My Review

Rating : 4 out of 5 Stars

Bad Deeds picks up where Damage Control left off. The character development was strong in this book, we see gradual changes in some key characters as the story unfolds and the multiple point of views provide some insight into their personality.  This installment is full of intense drama, intrigue, secrets, white lies and suspicions.

Shane’s feelings about his dysfunctional family are conflictual. The Brandon family has become a group of enemies observing one another. Everything his father does seems to have an endgame and he enjoys his mind games, not bothering about the consequences for his sons. His mother’s agenda is still unclear, even though she seems up to some kind of trouble. The strong rivalry between Shane and his older brother Derek is still ongoing. This character is slowly becoming a central element of the story. He is insecure and his jealous resentment against for his golden-boy brother runs deep. In this installment, we get a better understanding of his motivation and he is portrayed in a more positive light.

There is danger everywhere for Emily and Shane is desperate to protect her as best he can. He walked away from his successful career of attorney to save his family’s name. He has a vision for his family company and illegal activities are not part of it, even though he is manipulated into doing business with a drug cartel via a partnership. But Shane is shrewd and fully able to level the playing field.

Shane and Emily are perfect for each other, not only do sparks fly between them, but they are able to open up to one another and to realize that they can trust each other. The dynamics between them played out nicely in this book.

The writing style of Ms. Jones was utterly addictive and fast paced. This time around, I found that there were a few useless repetitions, though. Much like its predecessors, this third installment in the series ends with a cliffhanger. I’m still hooked!

An advanced copy of this book was provided by the publisher, via NetGalley.

Excerpt

“What is in your head right now?”

His eyes heat, darken. “You. Always.” He inches back and looks at me. “You’re mine. Mine to protect.” His voice is low, fierce, and he grips my panties and yanks them away. “Mine to fuck.”

I gasp and grab his shoulders. “Shane.”

His answer is to wrap his arm around my waist, pull me close, his cheek against mine, his fingers pressing into the V of my body. “Wet, just the way I like you,” he says, pressing two fingers inside me. “Wet for me. And too fucking perfect for my sanity sometimes.”

“That doesn’t sound like a compliment,” I pant out, grabbing the lapel to his suit as a sweet ache begins to build in my sex as his thumb strokes my clit.

“And no one else,” he murmurs, nipping my earlobe, “will ever touch you like this.” His fingers caress deeper inside me. “No one,” he adds, “will ever make you say their name like I want you to say mine right now. Say it.”

“Shane,” I whisper, and not because he wants me to, but rather because it’s there on my lips, the way I wish his tongue was on my lips now. “Shane, I—”

Seeming to know what I need, he cups my head and kisses me, long, slow, sensual strokes of his tongue that somehow make every touch of his fingers more intense.

“Come for me,” he murmurs, and this time when he kisses me, I start climbing that wall to release, and I’m there at the top in an instant. I stiffen while his fingers and tongue tease, please, and then I jerk, I’m over it, tumbling in an instant into shudders and shakes. Shane’s lips lift from mine as he breathes with me. His fingers slow as he eases me through the waves until I collapse against his chest.

He tangles his fingers in my hair and drags my mouth back to his. “And no one but me will ever make you come like that again,” he declares, the waves of his emotions beating down any embarrassment I might feel over having had an orgasm on his father’s desk.

“No one has ever made me feel what you make me feel, Shane.”

Bad Deeds Available

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99 CENT SALE – Hard Rules (Dirty Money book 1)

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$1.99 SALE – Damage Control (Dirty Money book 2)

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And Lisa has a chance for readers to read the first TWO CHAPTERS of book 4, END GAME, early PLUS the first chapter of SETH’S story (Poison Kisses) as well!

More info: https://us.macmillan.com/smp/promo/endgamepreordergiveaway

About the Author:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones is the author of the highly acclaimed INSIDE OUT series. Suzanne Todd (producer of Alice in Wonderland) on the INSIDE OUT series: Lisa has created a beautiful, complicated, and sensual world that is filled with intrigue and suspense. Sara’s character is strong, flawed, complex, and sexy – a modern girl we all can identify with.

In addition to the success of Lisa’s INSIDE OUT series, Lisa has published many successful titles. The TALL, DARK AND DEADLY series and THE SECRET LIFE OF AMY BENSEN series, both spent several months on a combination of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling lists. Lisa is also the author of the bestselling DIRTY MONEY and WHITE LIES series. Presently, Lisa is working on her Murder Girl/Lilah Love series to be published by Montlake.

Prior to publishing Lisa owned multi-state staffing agency that was recognized many times by The Austin Business Journal and also praised by the Dallas Women’s Magazine. In 1998 Lisa was listed as the #7 growing women owned business in Entrepreneur Magazine.

Lisa loves to hear from her readers. You can reach her at www.lisareneejones.com and she is active on Twitter and Facebook daily.

Lisa Renee Jones

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Website: http://lisareneejones.com

Cover Reveal : The Learning Hours by Sara Ney

He’s not a douchebag;

but that doesn’t stop his friends from

turning him into one.

MY FRIENDS WANT ME TO GET LAID.

So much so that they plastered my ugly mug all over campus, in bold printed letters:

Are you the lucky lady who’s going to break our roommate’s cherry?

Him: socially awkward man with average-sized penis looking for willing sexual partner. You: must have pulse. Text him at: 555-254-5551

The morons can’t even spell. And the texts I’ve been receiving are what wet dreams are made of. But I’m not like these douchebags, no matter how hard they try to turn me into one.

THIS ISN’T THE KIND OF ATTENTION I WANT.

One text stands out from hundreds. One number I can’t bring myself to block. She seems different. Hotter, even in black and white.

However, after seeing her in person, I know she’s not the girl for me. But my friends won’t let up—they just don’t get it. Douchebags or not, there’s one thing they’ll never understand: GIRLS DON’T WANT ME.

Especially her.

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Excerpt

He’s seated at a table in the far corner when I spot him from the door. He’s not hard to miss—not with his purple t-shirt in a sea of black and yellow, and wavy mussed hair.

He’s slouching, hunched over his table.

Defeated. Tired.

My stomach rolls with nerves, nerves that have me rooted to the spot in the doorway, watching him.
Just watching.

For the entire four minutes I stand here, he sits immobile, studying his laptop, eyes moving along the screen, completely transfixed by whatever he’s reading.

Learning.

“Just go over there,” I whisper to myself, blowing out a puff of pent-up air.

I put one foot in front of the other and begin toward him, spine ramrod straight, steeling myself, prepared for another argument.

Twenty feet.

Fifteen.

Eight.

Two.

“Hi.”

No reply.

“Do you mind if I sit here?” I lay my hand on the back of the wooden chair across from him, intending to pull it out.

He stiffens but doesn’t lift his head. “Yes I mind.”

“Would you mind if I sat at the table next to you?” I’m pushing his buttons, looking for a reaction, but he only spares me a brief glance.

Shrugs. “Free country.”

I bite my lip to hide a smile, glad he didn’t tell me to take a hike…

Sara Ney is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the How to Date a Douchebag series, and is best known for her sexy, laugh-out-loud New Adult romances. Among her favorite vices, she includes: iced latte’s, historical architecture and well-placed sarcasm. She lives colorfully, collects vintage books, art, loves flea markets, and fancies herself British.

She lives with her husband, children, and her ridiculously large dog.

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Blog Tour : The Forbidden by Jodi Ellen Malpas

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THE FORBIDDEN by Jodi Ellen Malpas (August 8, 2017; Forever trade paperback original; $15.99)

A new story of dangerous temptations from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the This Man trilogy. 

Annie has never experienced the ‘spark’ with a guy – the kind of instant chemistry that steals your breath and blindsides you completely. Until a night out with friends brings her face to face with the wickedly sexy and mysterious Jack. It’s not just a spark that ignites between them. It’s an explosion. Jack promises to consume Annie, and he fully delivers on that promise.

Overwhelmed by the intensity of their one night together, Annie slips out of their hotel room. She is certain that a man who’s had such a powerful impact on her and who could bend her to his will so easily, must be dangerous. But she’s already in too deep. And Jack isn’t only dangerous. He is forbidden.

“Every kiss, every sexy scene, every word between this pair owned a piece of my soul.  I could read this book a hundred times and still react as if it was the first time.  The Protector is a top 2016 fave for me.” –Audrey Carlan, #1 bestselling author of The Calendar Girl series

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My Review

Rating : 5 out of 5 Stars

From the very first word to the last, I was hooked and consumed by this story. Cheating is such a touchy subject in a romance novel, though. Jodi Ellen has managed to write a soul crushing story of true love that is raw, touching and realistic. I love her writing style, the complexity of her characters and the emotions their story evoked in me. This book was honest and you could grasp the characters’ love, their guilt, anguish and reticence. I smiled so much throughout this book. I also held my breath a couple of times and even got a little teary eyed, wondering what up and downs the characters would have to go through before they could get their happy ending. I know there are a lot of people out there who hesitate to read a book if there is a hint of cheating, but I think you should try this book for yourself. I went into it with an open mind and I am so glad I did.

Annie Ryan loves her freedom and her job of architect. She is busy building her career and is convinced she is immune to men, until her life is turned upside-down by a chance meeting with Jack Joseph. Jack oozes charm and a bit of arrogance, no man has ever caught her attention and emotions so completely. Their connection is instant and Annie can’t believe she falls for him so easily. She is never reckless but with Jack, she wants everything, she is consumed by him. Neither one of them has previously experienced the instant chemistry or the intense need they feel for one another.

Annie thought their story was just a one-night-stand, fully expecting to never see Jack again. As it happens, Jack is the contractor of the project she is working on, and he is married. An affair feels so wrong, what she experiences with him is illicit, but their mutual feelings are undeniable. They can’t keep their relationship just business. Needless to say there are trials and tribulations in their relationship. There are fears and even some uncertainties but none of these seem to deter them. Jack feels trapped and miserable in a loveless marriage and, even though his wife refuses to accept it, he intends to ask for a divorce. Annie has given him a purpose and a reason to leave.

Jodi Ellen Malpas has delivered a story with passion, the forbidden and that all-consuming battle of attraction.  I have to admit that it was easier to support Jack’s choices, considering his wife’s attitude. So if you enjoy a story of true love that is written with honesty, emotion and passion, with relatable characters and cheating is not a trigger, then this book is definitely not to be missed and I highly recommend it!

Thanks for visiting and read on for an excerpt from this book!

ARC generously provided by the publisher, via NetGalley

Excerpt

“Thank you for your help,” I say quietly, studying him, definitely detecting that he’s deep in thought. Don’t ask, don’t ask, don’t ask. I need to get back into my apartment without engaging with him, which could prove tricky when he’s blocking the doorway and looking like he has no intention of shifting to let me in.

“Annie,” he breathes. “I’m struggling so badly.”

“I’m not doing this.” I swallow, pushing my way past him. He grabs me by the top of my arm and holds me in place. “Let me go, Jack.”

“I’ve already told you I can’t do that. Annie, I’m drowning here. I’m going out of my mind, and the more time I spend with you the fucking worse it’s getting. Listening to you, talking to you, sharing a passion with you that goes way beyond the amazing time we had in bed together.”

“You have to forget!” I yell, knowing anger is the only way forward. Be angry with him. Let it dominate me and rule me, because the alternative scares me to fucking death.

He pushes me into the hall and slams the door behind us, forcing me to back up. “No,” he says, straight and even. “No,” he repeats, moving one more step forward, except this time I don’t retreat. Because I can’t. Because he has me locked in place with those grey eyes, and now they’re back to their full glory. Sparkling, even if it’s with anger. He reaches for his shirt and starts unbuttoning it before shrugging it off and throwing it to the floor, revealing the chest that’s haunting me.

I quickly look down at the pile of material, my mind reeling. His chest. His perfect damn chest. “What are you doing?”

“I have no fucking idea.” He reaches for me and slides a hand around my neck, pulling me to him. Our chests meet, and my determination to repel him vanishes under our connection. Wrongs turn into rights. Conflict turns into craving.

“I can’t get you out of my head, Annie.” His forehead meets mine, his palm massaging away the tightness in my neck muscles, softening me up until I relax in his hold. “I want you all over again, and I can’t even find the will to worry about how much more that’ll make me want you.” He breathes down on me. “I’ve played that night on repeat. I’ve dreamed of holding you in my arms again. I’ve craved the sound of your voice, the feel of your touch, the softness of your lips on mine. I know I shouldn’t want you. But I do. Nothing has ever made me feel this insane with need. Nothing has taken up so much space in my head. I can’t fucking help it, Annie.” His grey gaze sinks into me, my heart steadying to an even thrum. His head starts to shake mildly, his splayed hand moving up to the back of my head and fisting my hair. “I don’t want to help it,” he growls. “I want you. I don’t care how wrong it is.” His clenched fist tightens, gripping my hair harshly. “I know I’ve been on your mind since I fucked you every which way in that hotel room. Stop denying it. Don’t insult me and tell me you don’t crave that amazing feeling all over again. I can see it in your eyes every damn time I look into them. You. Want. Me.”

It’s me who moves in first. All me. I lunge forward and smash my lips to his, the magnetic force winning. His words winning. Jack winning. My heart winning. I coax his mouth open with hard, hungry kisses. I’ve lost my mind to a craving too powerful to fight off. And, like Jack, I don’t care how wrong it is.

Lost.

Yet as he walks me backward until my back slams into the wall, I feel found again.

I cry out, and Jack moans. We’re clumsy and desperate. He’s pushing me up the wall with the force of his kiss, then he’s rolling away, taking me with him until it’s his back slamming into the wall. It’s the elevator all over again. The atmosphere is sizzling. I’m on fire. He scoops me up, pinning me to him, and carries me into my bedroom. I focus on him. Only him and the return of feelings that I’ve fantasized about since that unforgettable night. All the guilt is abandoning me, and I let it, unprepared to let anything stop me from taking the forbidden.

Blog Tour Giveaway

Enter to win 1 of 10 copies of The Forbiddenhttp://bit.ly/2qXSfOk

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About the Author

Jodi Ellen Malpas author photosJodi Ellen Malpas was born and raised in the Midlands’ town of Northampton, England, where she lives with her two boys. Working for her father’s construction business full-time, she tried to ignore the lingering idea of writing until it became impossible. She wrote in secret for a long time before finally finding the courage to unleash her creative streak, and in October 2012 she released This Man. She took a chance on a story with some intense characters and sparked incredible reactions from women all over the world. Writing powerful love stories and creating addictive characters have become her passion, a passion she now shares with her devoted readers.

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Release Day Blitz : Wicked S.O.B. (Dark Desires #2.5) by Zara Cox

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Title: WICKED S.O.B.: A Dark Desires Novella

Author: Zara Cox

Series: Dark Desires, #2.5

On Sale: August 8, 2017

Publisher: Forever

eBook: $1.99 USD

Add to Goodreads

For so long, I lived for revenge. Now I live for her.

Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that Quinn Blackwood is not someone you mess with. I see. I want. I take. And you better not get in my way. That’s how I built my billion-dollar empire. That’s how I made my enemies pay. That’s how I won the one good, pure thing in my life, Elyse “Lucky” Gilbert. But after what I’ve done, my luck may have run out.

There is a fine line between love and obsession.

I’m not a fool. I didn’t think coming back to Quinn would be easy. That we would fall into a happy future and the darkness inside him would just disappear. Still, after everything we’ve been through, I couldn’t leave him to fight his demons alone. I’ve tried to convince myself nothing else matters as long as we’re together. But if I give him what he needs, will there be anything left of me?

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My Review

Rating : 5 out of 5 Stars

Who needs sleep when you start (a bit late in the evening) a book that has you riveted right from the first page? The conclusion to Quinn and Elyse’s story was captivating! This novella is the sequel to “Beautiful Liar” and is heartbreakingly beautiful, with a good dose of angst. The intensity of their feelings is their strength, their chemistry is sizzling and radiates off the pages. But Quinn’s elaborate revenge scheme against those who orchestrated his mother’s suicide has taken a toll on him. For almost half his life, retribution had been his endgame and he thought he wouldn’t make it to his 30th birthday. Loving Elyse has changed everything.

He revels in Elyse’s love, their passion is all-consuming. She is his much-needed rock, but he is afraid she is too good for him and refuses to drag her in his darkness. He’s so messed up but he’s trying his absolute best to be everything his girl needs him to be. I love how on the outside he’s this larger-than-life billionaire tycoon but on the inside, he’s just a man, broken and damaged, who wants to be loved, who wants hope. He is used to getting his own way, but he so afraid he will lose Elyse. He envies her strength, her selflessness and her compassion.

Elyse is a wonderful character, her love is unconditional. Quinn is her reason for living, her everything. But she knows that his self-destructing tendencies have to be dealt with. I really liked her strength of character, her ability to compromise and convince Quinn. The road to happiness may have been a bit bumpy for these two characters, but their happily-ever-after was utterly satisfying!

I’m in awe of Zara Cox, her stories and characters really get under my skin, so to say. I’m fascinated by complex characters and boy, did she deliver with Quinn Blackwood and Elyse Gilbert! And she sure does know how to turn up the heat! I highly recommend this novella  if you enjoy dark, steamy and romantic love stories that leave you breathless!

Thanks for visiting and read on for an excerpt!

ARC generously provided by the publisher, via NetGalley.

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Excerpt

It’s 5:45 a.m.

From the living room window, I stare eastward and take in one of the many spectacular views from Quinn’s penthouse ninety-two floors up. I love watching New York City come to life in the mornings. Love watching the light on the Chrysler Building’s spire blend into the rising sun’s rays. Love the warmth of first morning light on my face. And having just come through my first, fierce NYC winter, I crave the sun with almost rabid zeal. It must be the native Californian in me.

New York City is fast becoming the center of my world, though. It’s where the love of my life, the reason for my existence, lives after all. I don’t doubt that Quinn’s presence in the city is what makes it extra special for me.

But it’s also become clear that while he lives in the most dynamic city in the world, this isn’t his home. He doesn’t have a home. I don’t have a home either.

Between Quinn and me, we’ve lost sight of what a true home means. I’ve tried to convince myself nothing else matters as long as we’re together. My heart clenches in fear at the thought of losing what we have. In a world of unlikely possibilities, Quinn and I ending up together was one in a million.

I didn’t fool myself into thinking the path to our future was going to be easy. I returned to him on my own terms, despite knowing from the beginning that taking on a man like Quinn Blackwood would be the challenge of a lifetime. I live that overwhelming reality every day. Even before I saw his face, I knew his power over me was borderline absolute and that he intended to own every last cell in my body the way he owns half of the city we live in.

My mouth twists in a smile. I’m not with Quinn for his money, but if I were, I’d slavishly fulfill his every desire for the chance to live in this stunning Park Avenue apartment every day for the rest of my life.

A few days after we moved in three months ago, we woke up to an overcast city below us and nothing but blue sky above us. The sensation of floating above the clouds was incredible. We spent the day in bed, staring at the view from our California King when we weren’t fucking in the heavens.

I want many more days like that.

I sigh. Turn around. And freeze.

He’s lounging against the wall in the hallway, wearing gray low-riding sweatpants and nothing else, with one knee propped behind him. My mouth goes dry as those penetrating eyes watch me in silence.

Quinn’s deathly stillness is one of the many unnerving things I noticed about him when we first met. Despite his towering six-foot-three height and his sleek but solid frame, he moves with a quiet, devastating elegance that literally stops my breath when he walks into a room. And that is even before the exquisite masculinity of his sharp cheekbones, square jaw, and sensual lips. The contrast between his startling silver blue eyes and dark hair never fails to trap and hold the attention of anyone he comes into contact with. I’ve literally seen grown women, and men, stop and stare when he walks on the street.

That dangerous attraction holds my total focus now.

His eyes search mine, the unnervingly direct gaze examining every corner of me. Probing for flaws I can’t hide and concerns I’m struggling to contain. But then that’s nothing new.

“Tell me what you’re thinking about,” he commands from across the room in a low, sleep-rasped voice that makes my toes curl.

I want to start this day with a cleanish (snort) slate. But I know any attempt to evade him will be spotted a mile off. He sees too much. He always has. “Your money,” I reply, choosing the least volatile truth.

His eyes flare for a moment before he shakes his head. “No, you’re not. You go out of your fucking way to avoid anything to do with my money. Try again.”

I’m not touching that statement with a ten-foot pole, so I shrug inwardly and state another truth. “I love this apartment. I’m not moving.”

His unwavering eyes gleam the way they do when he’s debating the pros and cons of giving me what I want. His leg slowly straightens, and he moves toward me. He stops behind the wide sectional sofa he fucked me on last night. Strong, elegant fingers spread over the back of it as he angles his body toward me. “I see. Have I finally found something of mine that you love enough to claim for yourself, Elyse?”

When he holds out his hand to me, I don’t even think of refusing. He guides me around the sofa, pulls me into his arms, and spears his fingers into my hair. Our lips meet in a hungry, thorough greeting. Then he nibbles at the corner of my mouth, my cheek, my jaw to my ear. “I’ll think about not moving us if you agree to spend the day with me.”

I frown and plead with my melting brain to function. “It’s Monday, Quinn.”

One hand trails down my body to squeeze my ass in silent rebuke. “I know what day it is. I’m taking the day off.”

My jaw drops to the floor, and I jerk back to look into his eyes. “No way.”

“Shut your gorgeous mouth before I put my cock in it. I’m buying you breakfast; then we’re spending the rest of the day being slobs.”

THE DARK DESIRES SERIES

Dark Desires

BEAUTIFUL LIAR, #1

BLACK SHEEP, #2

WICKED S.O.B, #2.5

ARROGANT BASTARD, #3

Series Page on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Zara Cox has been writing for almost twenty-five years but it wasn’t until nine years ago that she decided to share her love of writing sexy, gritty stories with anyone outside her close family (the over 18s anyway!).

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Leave The Night On (Cottonbloom #4) by Laura Trentham

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Summary:

Love, betrayal, and sweet revenge—life in Cottonbloom is about to get a whole lot hotter . . .

Sutton Mize is known for lavishing attention on the customers who flock to her boutique on the wealthy side of her Mississippi town. So when she finds a lace thong in her fiancé’s classic cherry-red Camaro, she knows just who she sold it to: her own best friend. In an instant, Sutton’s whole world goes up in flames. . .

Wyatt Abbott has harbored a crush on Sutton since he was a young kid from the other side of the tracks. He witnessed Sutton’s shocking discovery in the Camaro at his family-owned garage—and it made him angry. What kind of man could take lovely, gorgeous Sutton for granted? But then Sutton comes up with an idea: Why not give her betrothed a taste of his own medicine and pretend that she’s got a lover of her own? Wyatt is more than happy to play the hot-and-heavy boyfriend. But what begins as a fictional affair soon develops into something more real, and more passionate, than either Sutton or Wyatt could have imagined. Could it be that true love has been waiting under the hood all along?

Leave the night on

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My Review

Rating : 4.5 Stars out of 5 Stars

I was so happy to be back in Cottonbloom! Leave The Night On is definitely a great addition to the series. New characters are introduced, promising more stories to tell, and there are some cameo appearances of the Fournette family. Laura Trentham’s writing is fantastic. This author really has an impressive way of evolving her characters until you feel you’re reading about people you know. Her characters are vibrant and easy to love (I’ll make an exception for the villain of the Abbott family).

Sutton Mize is the daughter of a prominent family from the posh Mississippi side of Cottonbloom. Wyatt Abbott is a car mechanic from the working-class Louisiana side. When Sutton is betrayed by both her fiancé and her best friend, Wyatt offers his help to get even with them. Sutton and Wyatt are no strangers to each other, but have never been on friendly terms, partly due to Wyatt’s awkward attempts to attract Sutton’s attention when they were teenagers. More separated them than just the river, they never moved in the same circles.

Sutton feels vulnerable and hurt. When she rather thoughtlessly tells her cheating fiancé that she is romantically involved with Wyatt, they start a fake relationship they both consider as a short-lived business arrangement. I enjoyed the slow burn building of their relationship. Sutton is irresistibly drawn to Wyatt by feelings that have nothing to do with logic or reason. She enjoys his luminous personality, his honesty and his kindness. But she doesn’t trust easily and needs time to heal the pain from the betrayal. Wyatt is willing to wait, he isn’t one to back down from a challenge.

This sweet and charming look at love, set in a quirky small town, was a delightful read and a definite keeper on my shelf. I loved everything about this story, the characters, the storytelling, the pace, the perfect balance between emotions and humor. The cast of secondary characters add depth and warmth to the story. Wyatt’s twin aunts are something else and I can’t wait to read more about the Abbott brothers, although I’m not sure if Laura Trentham will manage to redeem the eldest one, Ford Abbott. If you enjoy small town romances, I highly recommend this book! If you haven’t started the series yet, this story works perfectly well as a standalone.

Thanks for visiting and read on for an excerpt from this book!

ARC generously provided by the publisher, via NetGalley.

Chapter Two

Sutton stared at the lace concoction. From La Perla’s fall collection. Fine Italian lace. Ridiculously expensive for something so small. A special order with the addition of a small embroidered heart to sit at the owner’s hipbone. Oh yes, she was acquainted with the underwear but not intimately acquainted. She’d ordered them through Abigail’s Boutique, but not for herself. She was too practical.

Wyatt Abbott shook them even closer to her face, obviously expecting her to take them. The thought of touching the lace made her shrink against the driver’s door, and she fumbled for the handle, finally finding it and yanking. The door opened and her momentum sent her to the shop floor on her butt.

Her skirt bunched around her thighs, probably high enough for Wyatt Abbott to see her simple cotton pink panties from Victoria’s Secret. The fact they weren’t white was the wildest she got. She’d even waited for them to go on sale. With a bruised ego and bottom, she scrambled up.

Wyatt hadn’t moved. His mouth was parted, still in a slight smile, the panties dangling from his fingers. Instead of the roil of emotions gaining steam inside of her, she concentrated on his hands. They were rough-looking and callused. The nails were short but lined with grease. And they were big. They built things. Fixed things. Put things back together.

A darkness came over his face, clouding his earlier good-humor and giving him an edge of danger she hadn’t sensed through his teasing. Instead of getting out of the car from the door, he stood up on the passenger seat, stepped to the driver’s seat, and hopped next to her, the black lace of her betrayal dangling in his hand.

“What’s the problem?” he asked.

A jackhammering noise from the other bay filled the space so she didn’t have to. The crazy thing was that she had sensed something wrong. Something had been wrong pretty much since she and Andrew had gotten engaged.

She’d tried to put it down to nerves or how busy they both were with work. But the truth was she’d been dragging her feet with the wedding preparations. Between the two of them pulling away, the distance had grown until only an echo of what had drawn them together remained.

The hum of a motor and the flash of sunlight on metal drew her attention to the open bay door. Her best friend, Bree Randall, stepped out of her BMW coupe dressed in heels, grey slacks, and a sleeveless silk shell, the pink contrasting beautifully with her dark brown hair and ivory complexion. She was a lawyer for Cottonbloom, Mississippi’s city government and had been Sutton’s best friend since first grade.

No way could Sutton smile and pretend everything was fine. She grabbed the front of Wyatt’s coveralls and looked up at him. The boy she remembered had been too cool and a borderline jerk, teasing her incessantly, almost to the point of tears. The man was still too cool, yet something new lurked behind his ease. She hoped it was akin to kindness.

Bree drew closer. Stuck between a devil she knew and one she didn’t, Sutton took a chance. Her voice was hoarse and begging and she didn’t care. “Get me out of here. Please.”

Without taking his eyes off her, he called out, “Yo, Jackson. Could you put the lady from the Beemer in the waiting room? Tell her Miss Mize isn’t feeling well and stepped out back for some fresh air.”

If his brother answered, she didn’t hear him. Wyatt put a strong, stabilizing arm around her shoulders and guided her around various pieces of equipment and mechanical parts to a door tucked away at the back of the shop floor. She stepped outside, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. The freshness of the air counteracted the bile rising in her throat.

Her knees wobbled as the stark reality of the situation and the fallout took shape in her mind. She glanced at the man by her side. What was Wyatt Abbott thinking right now? Probably that she was borderline psychotic.

A huge red barn sat behind the shop, and they passed from sun back into shadows. A body-sized punching bag twirled from a high beam as they passed by. That explained why the arm at her back was so solid. Her heels tapped on the wide-planked floor. The smell of weathered wood was overlaid by something sweeter. Honeysuckle, maybe.

No hay was stored in the Abbott’s barn. Two tarp-covered cars, the bottom curves of their tires the only part visible, formed a path to the back where a scratched up leather couch and mini-fridge sat.

“Sorry it’s so dusty in here. We like to keep the doors open if the weather’s nice because of the views and cross breeze.” He took a blue towel from his back pocket and wiped off a section of the couch, leaving yellow streaks of pollen. Getting a little dirty was way down on her list of worries and she plopped down, wrapping her arms around her stomach and leaning over so her forehead nearly touched her knees.

“You want a Coke or tea or something?”

She raised her head enough to see his big hand holding out a bottle. He shifted back and forth in his black work boots, the hem of his coveralls ombrèd black to grey with grease.

“It’s a little early for whiskey, but I’ve got that too if you’d rather.” He sounded so worried and unsure, she straightened, took the Coke and pressed the cool plastic against her cheeks and neck.

“You must think I’ve gone batty.” She rarely drank alcohol and never whiskey, but for a moment she considered it as a viable option, even though it was still technically breakfast. It was five o’clock somewhere, right?

“I think something really bad happened,” he said. “I’m not sure what, but I suspect it has something to do with the restaurant receipts and the underwear.”

“Oh God. The receipts.” Her mind hadn’t even circled back around to those, but everything notched into place like a puzzle whose missing piece turned up stuck on the bottom of a shoe covered with chewed up old gum and bug guts.

His late nights working. Breaking dates at the last minute. His distraction. How long had it been since they’d shared the same bed? Two months? Three? She’d put it down to the natural progression of a committed relationship and the busyness of their lives, assuming things would be better once they were living under the same roof.

“I’m a moron.” Tears crawled up her throat and choked off her feeble attempt of a laugh.

She closed her eyes wishing she could teleport herself back under the covers. The cushion sagged next to her, and she tipped towards him, her shoulder bumping his biceps. A moment passed before his arm came around her shoulders, and they sank back into the couch together.

She turned her face into the space between his neck and shoulder and took a deep breath, desperately trying to get a handle on her out-of-control emotions. Pain was to be expected, but the flashes of fierce fury took her by surprise.

Easygoing and nice and cheerful were bandied about when people passed compliments her way. At least, she’d always taken them as compliments. Now she wasn’t so sure. Maybe all those things were code words for weak and gullible.

Another breath. She concentrated on Wyatt’s warmth and scent. So different from the expensive cologne Andrew wore. Wyatt smelled like pine trees and the garage. His dark, almost black hair, tickled her nose. A tear slipped out and she wiped it away with the heel of her hand.

“You want me to go get your friend?” His chest vibrated against her, deep and rich.

Friend? She didn’t want to examine the other half of the betrayal. Worse than Andrew cheating on her was who he’d been getting down and dirty with. Her best friend. No. A friend wouldn’t sleep with her fiancé behind her back while helping her plan the wedding with an enthusiasm that oftentimes exceed her own.

Sutton ransacked her brain for moments she could point to and say Aha! but none came to mind. Bree had been supportive and helpful over the last few months. Lies. How many lies had Sutton accepted as gospel truth? A few more tears escaped along with a ragged breath.

Wyatt made a humming sound that was distinctly uncomfortable, and he pulled away. “Let me—”

She grabbed his coveralls. “No. Don’t you get it? That was her thong.”

He shifted to face her. “Is identifying underwear in a single glance your superpower?”

Despite her life crashing down, a shard of humor sliced through the shock, and her lips twitched. “Expensive underwear. The heart on the panties matches her tattoo. A special order.”

“You fiancé and your best friend?”

Put like that, she felt even dumber. “My life has turned into a cliché.”

“It’s a cliché because of how often it happens. Nothing for you to be ashamed of. It’s them that should feel like chickenshit.”

“You don’t understand how people like to talk.”

“I understand, alright. I just don’t care what people say.” The defiant edge in his voice spoke of his own pain and sorrows, but right now she only had room for her own. He was quiet for a moment. “You want me to get rid of her?”

Sutton sank back and took a swig of Coke, the burn bringing a different, more welcome, sort of tear to her eyes. “I need to talk to her. Confront her.”

“Yeah, but not hurt and crying. You need to prepare. Get mad then get even.”

His advice made her sit up straighter. She’d been raised to smooth feathers, not ruffle them. Her mother had taught her how a smile and pleasant word could diffuse most situations. The lessons had contributed to her business success but hadn’t done her personal life any favors. Another whip of red-hot fury flayed her heart.

“She’s my ride back over the river.” Her voice sounded even and strong, her anger a mast to cling to amid the wreckage.

“I can be your ride.”

“But you have work to do.”

The look he cast her was full of disbelief. “You’re not going through with the restoration, are you?”

The Camaro, the red harbinger of her ruin, had already slipped her mind. She didn’t even like the stupid car. Her daddy and Tarwater senior had hatched this surprise over a round of golf with Ford Abbott after she’d confessed she couldn’t think of anything to give Andrew as an engagement present. Only when her daddy had anted up half the money had she agreed. Their “go big or go home” mentality had seemed a ridiculous waste to her.

Dear Lord, her family. What would her daddy say? As a long-standing judge, he was sort of a colleague of Andrew’s. She closed her eyes and rocked forward and back on the edge of the couch.

“What if I’m overreacting?” If only this was a bad dream. Yet, did she really want that? An undercurrent that felt vaguely like relief trickled through the anger and humiliation and doubts.

“About which part, your fiancé cheating or who he was cheating with?” Wyatt stuck a hand into his pocket, came out with the thong and tossed it on her lap.

She leapt up and brushed it off as if she were Miss Muffet and it was a venomous, hairy, black spider. She kicked at it with the toe of her shoe. The red heart mocked her from the black lace. Yet the little girl who’d shared her pimento cheese sandwich with Bree every day during kindergarten wanted to be wrong.

She sank back down to the edge of the couch, feeling like she was shoring up the situation with Scotch tape. “There could be a reasonable explanation. Like she and Andrew went to lunch and for some reason she had them in her purse and they fell out. Maybe I’ve jumped to the wrong conclusion.”

“Maybe.” He shrugged. She appreciated the fact he wasn’t calling her on her BS excuses even though his face was the definition of skeptical.

“You sure you don’t mind giving me a ride?” she asked.

“I’ll get rid of your friend and take you home. That should buy you some time to figure things out. Confront her on your terms.”

Her initial impressions of Wyatt Abbott were from the viewpoint of a preteen girl. Back then, she’d been self-conscious of her skinny arms and legs and flyaway hair, and whenever she’d come to the garage with her daddy, Wyatt had made it his mission to tease her mercilessly.

What was he now? On the surface, she’d label him a good old boy. Fun, flirty, simple. Except, his gray eyes were anything but. Not flat like shale, but ready to spark a fire like a flint. Raw emotions provided a sharp awareness. Her memories of him urged her to be cautious with her trust, yet his jaw was set and his shoulders were rolled forward as if ready and willing to go into battle.

“Why?” she finally whispered.

“Why what?”

“Why are you being so nice to me? You hated me as a kid.”

Hated you?” He stuffed his hands into his pockets and tipped his head enough to shutter his intensity of his eyes. “I never hated you, in fact . . .” He shook his head.

“In fact what?”

“Not important. Simply put, unlike your fiancé and your friend, I’m not an asshole. If you don’t need me—”

“No, I do need you.” She stood but misjudged how close he was. They weren’t touching, but she could feel his heat and appreciate his strength. “I just . . .”

Wyatt Abbott was handsome, but even more potent than his looks was an intangible confidence and ease with himself. The man probably talked a different woman out of her panties every weekend. Would he cash in on her humiliation for a good story to tell brothers and drinking buddies? Did it even matter? Whether it was him or someone else, rumors would rush through the town like their river after a storm

Insecurities pinged between her head and heart, the message clear. Protect yourself. But surely, she could at least trust him to get her home. “I would really appreciate a lift home.”

He chaffed her arms like a coach might comfort a little kid after a loss. “It’ll be okay. You wait here while I handle your friend, okay?”

She nodded, and he strode back toward the garage. Highlighted in a shaft of sunlight, he hesitated at the metal door they’d ducked through and glanced behind him. A zing of warning—or premonition?—skittered down her spine.

Her life had been spun into chaos, yet in that moment, she felt connected to Wyatt in a way that terrified her. Then he disappeared, and she waited to discover out if her trust had once again been misplaced.

Copyright © 2017 by Laura Trentham and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

Giveaway

Laura Trentham is doing a giveaway for a beach bag prize pack with Cottonbloom books! Enter here :

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About the Author

Laura Trentahm IIAn award-winning author, Laura Trentham was born and raised in a small town in Tennessee. Although, she loved English and reading in high school, she was convinced an English degree equated to starvation. She chose the next most logical major—Chemical Engineering—and worked in a hard hat and steel toed boots for several years.

She writes sexy, small town contemporaries and smoking hot Regency historicals. The first two books of her Falcon Football series were named Top Picks by RT Book Reviews magazine. Then He Kissed Me, a Cottonbloom novel, was named as one of Amazon’s best romances of 2016. When not lost in a cozy Southern town or Regency England, she’s shuttling kids to soccer, helping with homework, and avoiding the Mt. Everest-sized pile of laundry that is almost as big as the to-be-read pile of books on her nightstand.

Social Links:

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Release Day Blitz : The Playboy Prince and the Nanny (Royal Duology #1) by Donna Alward

Playboy-Prince-blitz-banner

Summary:

Prince Diego Navarro is the “spare” to his brother’s “heir”. While Raoul performs his crown prince duties with the appropriate sense of nobility and poise, Diego’s garnered a bit of a reputation as a playboy – despite the good he does behind the scenes with his favorite charities.

But when tragedy strikes and his sister-in-law is killed in a car accident, Diego knows it’s time for the playboy to step up. If not for his brother, then for his niece and nephew, who now find themselves without a mother.

Which is where Rose Walters comes in.

Rose isn’t intimidated by money or glitz. The veteran nanny has worked for the rich and minimally famous, but a manor house is no comparison to a castle… or the handsome princes who live there. However, the worst thing she could possibly do is fall for the gorgeous playboy with a surprising heart of gold. He’s a prince; she’s the help. He lives in the tabloids; she loves her privacy. But when her two darling charges start to play matchmaker, Diego and Rose don’t stand a chance.

The Playboy Prince and the Nanny is the first book in Donna Alward’s royal duology.

PPP and N Cover

Buy Links:

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My Review

Rating : 4 out of 5 Stars

This modern day fairy tale with a twist was a sweet and fun read that held my interest from start to finish! I love Donna Alward’s stories, they are full of heart, with characters to love and great settings. She pulls us into the world of royals with this new series, and I really enjoyed it. The storyline was easy, but cute. The hero, Prince Diego of Marazur, has a reputation as a playboy and has been making gossip headlines for years. His carefree life is tainted by tragedy when his nephew and niece lose both their mother and nanny in a car accident. In these difficult circumstances, Diego wants to show that he is not the shallow person the media has made him out to be. He values the idea of family and wants to be a part of the childrens’ life.

Rose Walters is the crown prince childrens’ new nanny. She is kind, compassionate, sweet, dedicated and yet she is feeling a bit intimidated by the royal lifestyle. Her connection with Diego is instant, they understand each other. He is full of surprises and lonely, she questions his playboy reputation and is convinced that there is more to him than meets the eye. They both want to give the children affection and stability. A relationship between them seems impossible, she doesn’t want to be his little secret on the side. We see her struggle with the emotional conflict between her attraction to Diego and her fear of gossip. But Diego knows what he wants and he is convinced they can make their relationship work.

Filled with warmth and romance, this book was a delight to read! The characters are well-developed and engaging, they are the strength of this story and their interactions felt real. The Playboy Prince and the Nanny was an excellent start to a new series and I can’t wait for the next book, The Crown Prince’s Bride!

ARC generously provided by the publisher, via NetGalley.

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

The noise and hubbub in the West Sussex pub was so deafening that Diego nearly missed the silent flash of the Breaking News banner across the TV behind the bar.

But he saw it out of the corner of his eye. Frowned. Turned his head away for a moment, then felt a queer lift in his gut, like something was very, very wrong.

“Diego. Hey, Diego.” His pal Ryan elbowed him in the arm. “Shite. You’d better look at this, mate.”

He turned back to the screen and the lift in his stomach dropped to his feet.

The headline scrolled along the bottom of the screen. White words against a blue background, innocuous compared to the aerial view of the scene. He didn’t need to read the banner to recognize the mangled car, one of the black limousines his father insisted they ride in when home in Marazur. If there was any doubt, it was banished by an up-close shot of a small red and yellow flag with the green coat of arms hanging limply from the front corner of the crushed vehicle.

“Diego.” Ryan’s voice was gentler now, his hand resting on Diego’s arm rather than elbowing him roughly. “It’s not your da. Or your brother.”

Diego dragged his gaze to the flash along the bottom of the screen. No, it wasn’t his father or his brother. There was no need for Diego to worry about them, or who was next in line for the throne. But tears stung his eyes as he read the names: Cecilia Navarro. Mariana Cortez.

His sister-in-law, and the nanny to his niece and nephew.

His phone buzzed. It had been doing that all night and he’d chosen to ignore it, wanting to avoid another argument with his father and spend the evening kicking back with his friends to celebrate the start of the UK polo season. Now he felt unbearably guilty as he pulled his mobile out of his pocket and looked at the screen.

Lucy, or rather, Princess Luciana. His half-sister, who he knew was visiting Marazur right now on one of her biannual trips. He took a deep breath, then hit the talk button. “Give me two seconds to go outside where it’s quiet,” he said loudly.

Leaving the gruesome news report behind, he pushed himself away from the bar and weaved his way through people until he reached the door. Outside, the English spring evening was gentle and mild. He closed his eyes and let out a breath.

“How bad is it, Luce?”

“Bad.” In that one word he could tell she’d been crying. Oh God . . .

“Ceci?”

“Gone, Diego.” Her voice caught on a sob. “Mariana too.”

For once the news had it right. His sister-in-law and Mariana—the nanny to his niece and nephew. His heart stuttered. He’d hoped there’d been a mistake. The paparazzi couldn’t be trusted with the truth, as he well knew. What a time for them to be right.

“The children?” he asked as he said a silent prayer that they hadn’t been in the car. He couldn’t think about Max and Emilia too much; he kept them at the edge of his mind and heart right now. The thought of losing them was terrifying and he steeled himself against the emotion.

“Bruised. Scared. But alive.”

He let out his breath, felt a sob escape, and gulped it back. He couldn’t lose his grip.

“We tried calling you for the last hour,” she said. “Your brother . . .”

His brother would be a wreck and expectedly so. His wife had just died. Perhaps a lot of royal marriages weren’t based on love, but Raoul’s had been. He’d doted on Ceci and the kids. Mariana, too, had been like part of the family. Hell, she’d been with the palace since . . .

Since Diego and Raoul had lost their own mother nearly twenty-five years ago. Mariana had raised them. She treated Raoul and Ceci’s children like grandkids. Grief struck him, sharp and sure, a painful ache around his heart. Mariana had been family.

“I’m sorry,” he replied, pressing the fingers of his left hand to his temple. Those were two words he said often when it came to his family. Now, though, he really meant them. “I’ll be home as soon as I can.”

“I know you will,” she said gently. Of the whole family, Lucy was the one who was easiest on him, who understood him best. Maybe because she hadn’t been raised in Marazur. It afforded her a clarity that others didn’t have. “I’m so glad I’m here right now. Papa . . .” Her voice broke again.

“Is Brody there with you?” Lucy and her family made their home in Canada, on Brody’s ranch, but visited often. Right now Diego found himself beyond thankful that she was there now to help his father and brother navigate the next few days. Papa would know what to do . . . he’d been here before.

A man shouldn’t have to face this kind of tragedy more than once in a lifetime.

“Brody’s here. He’s looking after Alex now so I can be there for Raoul and Papa.”

Lucy would be keeping everyone cared for and fed and nurtured, because that’s what she did. Diego rested his shoulders against the brick wall of the pub and sighed. Raoul, the crown prince, the responsible ruler-to-be, fair and just. Lucy, the mothering figure who cared for the family’s simpler but no less important needs. And then there was Diego. Where did he fit? In the stables. At parties. In fast cars.

In other countries. With firm admonishment to not be an embarrassment to the family.

“Diego?”

“I’m here. I’m going to go, though, Lucy. I need to make travel plans. I’ll be home as soon as I can.”

“What should I tell Papa and Raoul?”

“Nothing. I mean, just tell them you were able to reach me. I’ll look after the rest.”

There was a pause and Diego wondered if his sister was making that terrible disapproving face he hated or if she was simply emotional.

“I love you, Diego. Please fly safe.”

Emotional, thank God. He wasn’t sure he could take criticism right now. He nodded even though she couldn’t see him. “I will. I promise. See you soon.”

“E-mail your plans and I’ll have a car waiting for you.”

“You worry about yourself, and not me,” he ordered. “Love you.”

He hit the button on the phone, ending the call, and when he looked up he saw Ryan standing by the back door of the pub, watching him sadly.

“It’s bad, eh?” he asked, his brown eyes wide and too knowing.

“Cecilia,” Diego admitted. “And the nanny. The kids though . . .” Emotion swamped him and he drew in a shaky breath. “Thank God the kids are okay.”

Ryan came forward and clamped a hand on Diego’s shoulder. “Looks like you have to go back to your castle then, doesn’t it?”

Diego smiled grimly. “I can’t stay away forever. And they need me. Of course I’m going back.” It had nothing to do with duty and everything to do with family. Of course, many believed that Diego didn’t value the idea of family as much as he should.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

He looked over at Ryan. The two of them had been best friends since he’d gone to Cambridge for his postgrad and joined the polo club. Diego, in a moment of hubris, had made an offhand remark about an Irishman playing polo, and the next thing he knew he’d been dusting the dirt off his perfectly creased trousers. Then Ryan O’Toole had held out his hand, pulled Diego to his feet, and said, “Come on, Your Highness. Let’s go get a pint.”

It had been many years since then, but the offer had been made several times, particularly when Diego needed it most. Tonight, though, it wouldn’t help.

“Anything I can do for you?” Ryan asked.

Diego smiled grimly. “The blonde at the bar. Go buy her a drink. I’m going to duck out early.”

Ryan nodded with a crooked smile. “Call if you need anything.”

“I will.”

Ryan went back inside, while Diego lifted his phone again and scrolled through until he found the number of his assistant. Not that he gave her much work when he was away from home, but tonight everyone on the staff would be up and alert.

And Diego would be going home.

 

One Month Later

Rosalie tried to focus on the words on the page, but they were all a blur. With a sigh, she closed the book and rested her hands on the cover, then turned to look out the airplane window. She wasn’t usually nervous before meeting a new family, or the children she’d be caring for. This was different, though. When the agency had called about her new placement, she hadn’t expected the job to be for the Royal Family of Marazur. She’d worked for minor nobility and rich families, traveling with them when the occasion warranted, but she’d never been to Marazur and she’d definitely never worked for a prince.

She knew of the island principality, of course. And she’d even had an encounter with the younger of the princes once, though he wouldn’t remember. Diego, she recalled, and shook her head. It wasn’t Diego she was going to work for. It was Raoul. She had been hired as a nanny to the crown prince’s children. The heirs.

“Ms. Walters? Make sure your seatbelt is on. We’re going to begin our approach soon. Can I get you anything before we land?”

Rosalie looked up at the sharply dressed attendant. Raoul hadn’t sent a royal jet or anything, but he had chartered a private flight. It was beyond anything Rose had ever experienced. “No, thank you,” she said with a smile. “I’m fine.”

“Very well. We should be on the ground shortly.”

Rose sat back in the comfortable leather and looked out over the Mediterranean. It had been nearly a month since televisions, newspapers, and magazines had been abuzz with the death of Princess Cecilia. They’d shown pictures of the funeral at the cathedral in the capital, a week after the accident. It had nearly broken her heart to see the crown prince, looking harrowed and drawn, holding the hand of his daughter while his son rested on his arm. King Alexander had looked tired, and Prince Diego had been uncharacteristically solemn as he sat with Princess Luciana and her family.

Once the funeral ended, though, so did the news story, and very little was heard of the family, left to heal their wounds in relative private. The media had moved on, but Rose knew the royal family were people like anyone else. Children who, when it came down to it, had lost their mother. All the wealth and privilege in the world couldn’t make up for that, and Rose knew she had her work cut out for her.

The plane landed smoothly at the relatively small airport. When she unbuckled her seatbelt, the flight attendant was at her side once more to collect her carry-on. Rose only had to grab her purse before she exited the plane, holding on to the railing as she descended the stairs to the tarmac.

“Miss Walters?”

A liveried man waited at the bottom of the stairs, and touched his hat as he greeted her. “I’m Marco. I’ll see you through customs and on to the palace.”

Good heavens. This was a tad surreal, wasn’t it?

She smiled politely at him. “That would be lovely, thank you, Marco.” The warm, moist air was perfumed with the scent of salt and flora that she knew must be present but couldn’t be seen here in the secure, paved area of the airport. The aroma clung to the warm rays of sun that were somehow far more penetrating than any in England.

It reminded her of the school trip she’d taken when she was twelve. It had been four days in Rome and she’d loved every colorful, rich, vibrant moment of it. It had been a long time since she’d visited the Mediterranean, and she was more than ready to leave the damp and fog of England for time in the sun.

She was here to work, but couldn’t escape the thought that this was also a bit of a fairy tale, really. Her assignments through the agency had been posh indeed, but nothing on this scale.

“Miss? If you’re ready.”

Marco had both of her cases and waited for her to make her way through the doors. To her continued surprise, she was escorted through customs without any wait or trouble, and in mere minutes found herself ensconced in the back of a limousine.

My word.

She was starting to get nervous now, and twisted her fingers together. Drew them apart again and wiped them on her black trousers, then regretted that too. She had to keep calm, cool, professional. This was her job. It wouldn’t do to be flustered and nervous.

The airport was on the outskirts of the city, and she peered out the window at the narrow streets and charming houses stacked on the hillside. Oh, on one of her days off she’d have to come down here and discover all the nooks and crannies. Have coffee or a glass of wine at a little cantina along a cobbled street. She was still thinking about it when the car began to climb and wind its way out of the urban area and along some of the most beautiful landscape she had ever seen.

Marco slowed and stopped at a huge set of gates, which swung open at their arrival. They crept at a sedate pace along a paved lane flanked with what looked like some sort of oak. Then she caught sight of it. The castle—home of King Alexander of Marazur. Turrets rose up, pinky-beige against the blue of the sky and the green of the manicured grounds. A hedge formed a kind of maze in the U-shaped drive, carefully trimmed and pruned. It was smaller than some of the manor houses she’d visited in England, but there was a grandeur to it just the same. And a hominess that she hadn’t expected. Perhaps it was due to the color of the stone, warmer and more welcoming than the cold, gray-white granite she was used to.

She ran through names in her head, desperate to make sure she adhered to the proper forms of address. King Alexander—clearly Your Highness. And how often would she see him anyway? Hardly ever. She’d be with the other household staff. She’d have to communicate with Raoul, she supposed. She would be required to curtsy. He was the crown prince and would be addressed as “Your Highness” as well. If the press was to be believed, Diego wouldn’t be home much and was unlikely to be around. The Sun had just posted pictures of him somewhere in South America.

After Marco pulled to a stop, Rosalie’s door was opened by another liveried staff. “Good afternoon, Miss Walters. Welcome to Marazur.”

She pasted on a smile and let out what she hoped was a centering breath. “Thank you.”

“His Highness is looking forward to meeting you at four o’clock in the blue salon.” Perhaps he’d noticed her shaky exhale, because the man dropped his stiff formality for a moment and smiled. “Don’t worry, Miss.” He held out his hand and gallantly helped her out of the car. “The prince is really very nice. And we’re all so glad you’re here.”

Before she could ask what exactly that meant, he dropped her hand and moved to collect her bags. She looked around, marveling at the calm beauty of the grounds. It was like a beautiful oasis, more lush than the surrounding countryside, with shrubs, graceful trees, and gardens of rioting blossoms. She gawked around her as they made their way down a neat path leading to the far side of the castle. And when the man opened the door to the north wing, Rose was relatively sure she’d just arrived in Paradise.

  Copyright © 2017 by Donna Alward and reprinted by permission of Swerve.

About the Author :

marti-corn-photography-donna-alward-h-r-1600

 

A busy wife and mother of three (two daughters plus the family dog), Donna Alward believes hers is the best job in the world: a combination of stay-at-home mom and romance novelist. Donna loves being back on the East Coast of Canada after nearly twelve years in Alberta where her romance career began, writing about cowboys and the west. She is the author of Somebody Like You, Somebody’s Baby, and Someone to Love.

 

Social Links:

Twitter, @DonnaAlward

Author Website

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GoodReads

Launch Day Blitz : An Earl by Any Other Name (Sins and Scandals #1) by Lauren Smith

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AN EARL BY ANY OTHER NAME by Lauren Smith (August 1, 2017; Forever Yours eBook; $1.99; Sins and Scandals series Book 1)

An earl in the streets, a rogue in the sheets . . .

Leopold Graham, Lord Hampton, was never a man to let propriety stand in the way of his pursuit of pleasure. Hedonism is his only desire in life—until his father’s death saddles him with debts that threaten to bankrupt the entire family. Now the only thing that stands between him and utter ruin is marriage to a proper, and preferably wealthy, young lady.

Ivy Leighton is no sweet English rose. Perhaps it’s her gypsy roots, but she would rather make a spectacle of her independent spirit than sit quietly on the sidelines. If that means that the only place she’ll ever have in society is firmly on the shelf, then so be it. But when Ivy runs into the handsome, rakish Leo who’s looking for a respectable, well-bred wife, she can’t stop thinking about the troubles they can get into. Now she just has to convince him that a life with her is really what he needs.

An Earl By Any Other Name

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My Review

Rating : 4 out of 5 Stars

This novella is the first in Lauren Smith’s new Sins and Scandals series that definitely looks promising. It had everything I love in a historical romance: an engaging story, witty dialogue, emotion, an endearing heroine, and a sexy rake hero reformed by love.

Leo Graham, Lord Hampton, is in a pickle. His family’s reputation is tainted by a scandal and he needs to find funds to protect his legacy and family home. A marriage of convenience seems to be the only  option to solve his financial problems. He’ll marry a wealthy, prim and proper heiress, and use her fortune to sustain his family estate. His rakish days are over and he intends to keep out of trouble to restore his family’s name.

But his mother has other ideas. She is convinced that Ivy Leighton is the wife he needs. Leo and Ivy are childhood friends, but it has been more than a decade since they have last seen each other.  Life happened and they were separated. Ivy also happens to be a suffragette and has no intention to marry. She doesn’t recognize her mischievous friend, he is rigid and not open to equal rights ideas.

I enjoyed the witty dialogue and fun interactions between these two characters. They had such a spark whenever they were together. Their banter was natural, their teasing was amusing. Ivy has a quick temper, she is independent and educated. You can’t help cheer for this couple. I loved how they were able to reconnect and find a perfect balance despite their differences. I recommend this novella and I’m totally looking forward to the next books in this series!

Thanks for visiting and happy reading!

ARC generously provided by the publisher, via NetGalley.

Excerpt

Without so much as another word, he bent his head. When their mouths were an inch apart, he captured her gaze, and something wild and hot passed between them as he slanted his mouth over hers. All worries and fears were destroyed in the wake of pleasure and fire.

Heat and light burned through at that single kiss, like tender sparks shooting through the night over a healthy fire. A little moan escaped her as he teased her mouth open with his tongue. One of his hands grasped her hip, holding her firm between him and the tree as he pressed against her. The heady aroma of autumn leaves, leather, and sandalwood sent her senses spinning.

With gentle kisses and a wicked tongue, he taught her all the ways she’d longed to kiss. It was the sort of kiss the upstairs maids whispered about, the kind that made a woman lose her head…and her heart.

This is a terrible idea. I should stop him…but…The will to break the kiss faded like morning mist. Once upon a time, there had been nothing more she had wanted in her life, a kiss from her sunny-haired prince. But she’d changed; she’d grown up and a man’s kiss shouldn’t have been so potent that it cast a spell over her. Yet, Leo’s kiss was exactly that, a spell that bound her to him in a way she feared would break her heart.

He nipped her lips, and she felt his mouth curve into a smile against hers before he finally drew back. His eyes were dark with passion, and his breathing was rough and warm against her face. Their bodies were so close, the intimacy making her feel like there was nothing outside of them in that moment.

“Why do I have the feeling you are going to be trouble, Miss Leighton?” Leo chuckled, suddenly drawing a fingertip down her nose and tapping it lightly, the way he had so often all those years ago.

“Trouble?” she echoed faintly. Still shaken by her first kiss and the shivery warmth spreading through her limbs, she dared not move for fear of falling. Love was dangerous; love ruined a woman’s dreams. And Leo was the one man who could tempt her into falling in love.

“Oh yes. Just when I have everything planned, you come along and remind me of why I used to be so wicked.” He bent, feathered one last kiss to her lips before he took her arm in his and escorted her back to the house.

Ivy did not look at him. She felt changed. Their secret moment had awakened her and melted whatever defenses she’d thought she’d built against his charm. How was she ever going to think clearly when all she wanted to do was relive that kiss? The carefully crafted battlements around her heart quivered, trembled, the walls crumbling.

Oh dear…

AnEarlByAnyOtherName

About the Author

LAUREN SMITH, winner of the 2014 Historical International Digital Award, attended Oklahoma State University, where she earned a B.A. in both history and political science. Drawn to paintings and museums, Lauren is obsessed with antiques and satisfies her fascination with history by writing and exploring exotic, ancient lands. She is currently an attorney in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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Giveaway

Enter to win 1 of 15 free ebook downloads of An Earl by Any Other Namehttp://bit.ly/2t56MZl