Blog Tour : Most Of All You by Mia Sheridan

MostofAllYou_ReleaseWeekBlitz

 MOST OF ALL YOU by Mia Sheridan

On sale: October 17, 2017 | Forever | Trade Paperback: $14.99 | eBook: $4.99

 “Heartbreaking…inspiring, uplifting and raw…” ― RT Book Reviews, A 5-star Gold Pick

 A broken woman . . .

 Crystal learned long ago that love brings only pain. Feeling nothing at all is far better than being hurt again. She guards her wounded heart behind a hard exterior and carries within her a deep mistrust of men, who, in her experience, have only ever used and taken.

A man in need of help . . .

 Then Gabriel Dalton walks into her life. Despite the terrible darkness of his past, there’s an undeniable goodness in him. And even though she knows the cost, Crystal finds herself drawn to Gabriel. His quiet strength is wearing down her defenses and his gentle patience is causing her to question everything she thought she knew.

Only love can mend a shattered heart . . .

 Crystal and Gabriel never imagined that the world, which had stolen everything from them, would bring them a deep love like this. Except fate will only take them so far, and now the choice is theirs: Harden their hearts once again or find the courage to shed their painful pasts.

 

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BUY THE BOOK HERE

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My Review

Rating : 5 out of 5 Stars

This story was a romantic delight, well-paced and beautifully written! I already knew that Mia Sheridan was an exceptionally talented writer that knows how to deliver a great romance. But this book totally surpassed my expectations.  If you are looking for a break from womanizers and want to fall in love with a spectacular guy, look no further. Gabriel Dalton is your man!

Gabriel has been to hell and back. He was abducted when he was a kid and escaped after six years in captivity. Gabriel is a survivor but struggles to recover from the trauma. He can’t tolerate people in his personal space and is socially awkward. He hires Ellie to help him practice getting close to a woman. Ellie and Gabriel click right away. Their relationship is complicated, though, they are two broken souls.

Ellie is deeply moved by Gabriel’s kindness and sincerity. He is a man with his own share of painful insecurities but his heart is a thing of beauty.  He never let himself forget what love felt like. Ellie has given up hope that her dreams of love and happiness would ever come true, she feels unlovable. She is scared and tends to sabotage the good things happening to her.

Mia Sheridan did a fantastic job of writing these two people building a relationship. The romance between Gabriel and Ellie is a slow burn. It forced them to get to know one another and really understand what the other needs. They bring out the best in each other and lead each other to the happiness neither thought they’d find. This book is a journey of emotional healing, an inspirational story of resilience, hope and new beginning. I highly recommend it!

ARC generously provided by the publisher, via NetGalley.

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Excerpt

I swallowed heavily, my mouth going dry as I took in the masculine beauty of his practically naked body. He was…divine. That was the word that immediately came to mind. Divine. Angelic. Godly.

My gaze soaked in his strong, broad shoulders, the tight, lean muscles of his chest, the taut ripples of his stomach. As if my eyes were drawn to him like a magnet, they moved down his chest to his muscled thighs, his well-formed calves and then back up to his boxers, where the outline of his male anatomy was just barely visible against the thin material.

My core clenched, wetness pooling between my thighs. I blinked, completely unaccustomed to this kind of reaction when it came to a man’s body. I wanted to simultaneously run away and step toward him, to reach out and trail a finger down his chest the way I’d just run a finger over the tiny stone bird.

“My father made that.”

“W-what?” God, my voice sounded too breathy, too stunned.

“The sparrow.”

He crossed his arms over his chest, obviously self-conscious about his state of undress. He gave a quick nod downward. “Sorry, I didn’t know you’d be up.”

Again, my eyes moved to his bare chest. There was a sparse trail of hair under his belly button leading into the waistband of his boxers. My eyes leapt back up to his, and I practically gulped, sure he had heard it when his eyebrows twitched slightly.

I turned my head, my heart beating so loudly in my own ears I was sure he could hear that, too, even from where he stood. “It’s only fair, I suppose,” I murmured.

“What’s that?”

“Now we’ve both seen each other half-naked.”

Gabriel tilted his head, assessing me in some mysterious way. He suddenly turned and walked back toward his room. I stood rooted to the spot, confused, when he returned just as quickly as he’d left, pulling a T-shirt over his head. He walked toward me, coming to stand directly in front of where I stood. His expression was slightly shy, slightly teasing. “I hope…that if we see each other naked again, it won’t be a job, or an accident. It will be because we both want it, and because it means something.”

What?

Visions swirled through my mind, unbidden: tangled limbs and twisted sheets. Heat filled my veins, blood pumping between my legs. It was too much. It was…out of my control and it scared me. I didn’t want to think of Gabriel that way, couldn’t think of Gabriel that way. In truth, had never thought of any man that way. “Mean something?” My voice was a mere whisper.

He nodded, his expression going serious, his eyes filled with sudden gravity. His hand slowly moved up to my hair, and he brushed a piece back from my face. His hand lingered, his knuckle brushing gently down my cheekbone. My breath hitched at the subtle touch. His full lips parted slightly, those angel eyes moving over my features as if he was memorizing me, memorizing the moment. I was spellbound, caught once again in his gaze. No one had ever looked at me the way Gabriel was right then, not in all my life.

“Yes.” It was all he said, leaving me to try to comprehend his meaning. But of course getting naked always meant something. A bribe, a paycheck, a coercion, a means to an end…only I knew very well Gabriel didn’t mean any of those things, and it was impossible to convince myself he could. I already knew better. And I didn’t want to think about what getting naked would mean to Gabriel because the very idea filled me with terror and an aching, needy want. But mostly terror.

Giveaway

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mia Sheridan is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author. Her passion is weaving true love stories about people destined to be together. Mia lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband. They have four children here on earth and one in heaven.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

Website: www.miasheridan.com

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Release Blitz : Dirty Rich One Night Stand by Lisa Renee Jones

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Lisa Renee Jones is back with a sexy, stunning STANDALONE: DIRTY RICH ONE NIGHT STAND!

Dirty Rich

BOOK INFORMATION

TITLE: Dirty, Rich One Night Stand

GENRE: Contemporary Steamy Romance

RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2017

DIRTY, RICH ONE NIGHT STAND.

That’s all it was supposed to be. Her. Him. Pleasure. And then a fast goodbye. He’s a stranger. And yet, he’s not. She knows him even though he doesn’t know her.

He’s the powerful attorney, now world-renowned after coming off the trial of a century which was publicized across the country. And I’m one of the reporters that sat in his courtroom.

I watched him, studied him, got to know him from afar which isn’t hard since I know his exact brand of confidence, arrogance, and wealth.

I know his type. I’ve dated his type. Which is why when I happen to come face to face with him, when sparks fly and heat simmers between us, I know what happens if I say “yes” to Reese Summer.

I know he’ll taste like sin and sex, even before he kisses me.

I know he’ll feel like pleasure and passion, even before he touches me.

I know he’ll demand more than I wants to give, and yet, because I dare to give myself to him, the result will be deliciously hot.

I know that I will not leave his bed without being utterly, completely sated.

And I know that I will leave the next morning anyway.

And so, I do.

And so, he follows.

And as chase begins my question becomes: Is Reese Summer THE one or is he really just a dirty, arrogant lie that should have stayed a one night stand?

Buy Links:

Amazon US ➜ http://bit.ly/DirtyRichAmazon
Amazon CA➜ http://bit.ly/DirtyRichAmazonCA
Amazon UK ➜ http://bit.ly/DirtyRichAmazonUK

Dirty Rich One Night Stand is on sale for 99 cents as a release day special price, it will go up to $4.99!

My Review

Rating : 4 out of 5 Stars

This book is different from the other books by Lisa Renee Jones I have read so far, in the sense that it focuses more on the romance between the characters, with some suspense elements as a secondary subplot. It tells the story of Reese Summers, a top defense attorney, and Cat Maxwell, a columnist and bestselling true crime novelist. These characters are extremely likeable and their chemistry was intense, explosive even. The romantic aspect of the story was well-thought-out. The witty dialogues manage to catch the essence of this couple. They are very much alike, passionate about their jobs, but also loyal, thoughtful and stubborn.

I loved Cat’s down-to-earth personality. Despite her privileged background, she isn’t a haughty heiress or a socialite. She has a great work ethic and strong principles. When she meets Reese, she sees him as an arrogant womanizer. He is trouble and she wants nothing to do with him. And yet, she needs to interview him, he is the lead counsel for the defense in a sensational murder case.
Reese is a natural-born seducer, confident and charismatic. He is a top-flight criminal defense attorney with a perfect track record, but he must be convinced that a potential client is innocent to take on his case. And there is much more to him than the arrogant, successful lawyer he seems to be.

Cat and Reese were perfect together. This couple was amazing and likeable right away, they radiate positive energy. They are honest and straightforward with their feelings and attraction towards each other. There was no hiding, or fighting against it, even though it is new territory for both of them. They are both playing for keeps, but they need time to build a relationship based on trust.

The characters are so multi-layered and so easy to love that you won’t care that there is no mystery, secrets or major life shattering dramas. “Dirty Rich One Night stand” is a sweet, fast-paced, very sexy and well written romance book with a vivacious heroine, a dreamy hero, and a great cast of secondary characters. It is a standalone told in dual POV, but I hope there will be more books about the Maxwell family.

I received an advanced copy of this book from the author.

Potrait of a calm couple resting in the bedroom

EXCERPT

“You’re as perfect as I knew you would be,” he says, his voice managing to be both sandpaper and silk on my nerve endings, as he adds, “and almost as naked as I want you to be.”

The idea that he has wanted me as much as I have wanted him does funny things to my stomach, but more so, delivers an unexpected wave of illogical vulnerability. This is sex. The end. I don’t want or need to feel anything more. I want and need him naked and fucking me now, fast, hard. That’s safe. Desperate to find that safe place, to shift the control from him to me, I push to my toes, my breasts molding to his chest, and press my lips to his lips. They are warm, and he is hard everywhere I am soft.

And his response to my kiss, the answering moan I am rewarded with, is white-hot fire in my blood that he ignites further with a deep, sizzling stroke of his tongue. He slants his mouth over mine, deepening the connection, kissing me with a fierceness no other man ever has, but then some part of me has known from moment one that he is like no man I have ever known. Which explains why he is everything I want. And nothing about this night is what I expected, any more than this man is anything I can control.

But there is something intensely arousing about the idea of trying.

As if claiming I am reaching for the impossible, he molds me closer, his hand between my shoulder blades, his tongue playing wickedly with mine, but I meet him stroke for stroke, arching into him. He cups my ass and pulls me solidly against his erection. He wins this one. Now I am the one moaning, arching into him, and I welcome the intimate connection. I burn for the moment he will be inside me.

But I also want him to burn for this just as much as I do, and I need to touch this man. Really, really, need to touch him. My hand presses between us, and I stroke the hard line of his shaft. Reese tears his mouth from mine, pressing me hard against the pillar supporting the window again, and when his hands leave my body, when his palms press to the concrete above me again, I sense his withdrawal is about control. I was winning. I confirm that as reality when our eyes lock, and the dash of fire in his eyes is lit by one part passion and one part challenge.

“If I slide my fingers between your legs right now,” he says, “are you wet for me? Are you ready for me?”

“Why don’t you find out for yourself?” I dare him, testing him, pushing him.

AUTHOR INFORMATION

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones is the author of the highly acclaimed INSIDE OUT series.

In addition to the success of Lisa’s INSIDE OUT series, she 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 the bestselling DIRTY MONEY and WHITE LIES series. And will be publishing the first book in her Lilah Love suspense series with Amazon Publishing in March 2018.

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.

AUTHOR SOCIAL LINKS

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLisaReneeJones

Website – http://lisareneejones.com/

Newsletter – http://lisareneejones.com/newsletter-sign-up/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/LisaReneeJones

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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/LisaReneeJones

Blog Tour : In Pieces by Danielle Pearl

InPieces_ReleaseWeekBlitz

IN PIECES by Danielle Pearl

Part of the Something More series.

October 10, 2017 | Forever | Paperback: $14.00 | eBooks: $4.99

 The second New Adult novel in the Something More series by bestselling author Danielle Pearl!

Beth Caplan is ready to begin college a new woman. She’s worked hard to overcome her demons, and she’s eager to live in a world where no one knows about her past. Except, of course, her childhood crush. David March has known Beth a lifetime. Tasked by her older brother to look after the beautiful incoming freshman, he takes his job exceptionally seriously. Even if she tempts him in ways no kid-sister type ever should.

When Beth’s ex shows up as a transfer student, and a creepy stranger with a reputation for violence sets his sights on her, Dave will do whatever it takes to protect her, even if it means moving her in with him. When he learns just how much a secret from his past hurt the girl he’s always cared for, he becomes doubly determined to protect her, even from himself. But that’s easier said than done.

In Pieces - Book Jacket

BUY THE BOOK HERE

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My Review

Rating : 4 out of 5 Stars

This friends-to-lovers romance is an intense read of heartbreak, emotional healing and salvation, with a lot of angst. A fast-moving plot and easy dialogue made the book read quite fluidly. I found that the author told the characters’ story in a very evocative way and handled hard subject matters with great delicacy. This new adult novel features a college freshman, Beth, and David, her brother’s best friend.

Beth has a troubled family history, that led her to develop feelings of emptiness and betrayal that nearly pushed her over the edge. But she is a survivor and she is lucky enough to have a deep and lasting friendship with David, her knight in shining armor and protector.

I loved David, he is a swoon worthy hero who is just a solid, thoughtful and genuinely nice guy. He is also overprotective and it makes Beth lose her cool! Beth and David’s verbal sparring was so much fun, the push and pull was brilliant. Their rocky relationship is filled with sexual tension. David feels conflicted about his attraction to Beth, but he can’t fight it and his jealousy is overwhelming. Beth is in denial of her true feelings for David.

Their discussions and arguments build the heat and intensity. Beth has been hurt in a previous relationship and she will never forgive herself if she makes herself vulnerable again. You find yourself screaming in your head at Beth to open her eyes and realize that he is the one for her, but it takes some time for her to get there. Her demons are still lurking in the shadows of her mind, she is struggling to keep it all together while fighting off her feelings for David.

This book is a fast and easy read with deep feelings, witty banter, dirty secrets and strong language, that pulled me in from the first page. I loved the unexpected twists in the story. Danielle Pearl did a great job of tying up all loose ends and giving me the satisfying HEA that I wanted for the characters. Their path to happiness was bumpy, but made for a great read! This book is a standalone, told in alternate point of view, from Beth and David’s perspective.

ARC generoulsy provided by the publisher, via NetGalley.

Excerpt

Beth startles when she notices me, and she stops walking, so I make up the distance still between us. She looks adorable as all hell in those tight jeans and loose racerback tank top. Her bra shows at her sides and I’m equally turned on and annoyed by it. She never did have any kind of self-awareness. At least not when it comes to how goddamned attractive she is. And it bugs me that every guy that’s passed her today has caught a glimpse of that black lace.

I shove my hand through my hair. “Beth,” I sigh.

I wait for her to go off on me again, but she doesn’t. She just kind of looks up at me, her resentment a palpable thing. I can’t stand to see her look at me like that. But what makes my lungs burn is knowing that I deserve her resentment. She has no idea how much. Fuck, I hope to God she never will. Especially not now that she’s come so far—that she’s doing so well. Well enough to tell me off in public, at my own party, anyway.

But not tonight, it seems, and when she still doesn’t say anything at all, I make my attempt. “Look, I’m sorry, okay? I thought I was protecting you.”

“I don’t need protection,” she counters.

I nod. “I know. I just thought…Falco being around would give you an excuse to hide away in your dorm, and I wanted you to experience…”

“Experience what, David?”

I shrug. “I don’t know. Fucking life, I guess.”

Beth looks down at her shoes. I hate that she won’t even look at me. “Okay, whatever,” she murmurs.

“Whatever?” I repeat incredulously. Here I am, apologizing—something I’m not exactly fucking known for—and all she has to say is whatever?

“Yeah. Whatever. I get it. It just sucks, you know?”

I take a much-needed deep breath. “I know, Bea.”

At last her eyes meet mine, hostility finally gone. I take the opportunity to retrieve my new peace offering from my back pocket. Well, not new. My worn and weathered copy of Hamlet, riddled with years’ worth of my own highlights and notes, its pages filled with more of my own words than those of the author himself. I hope it will help in her Shakespeare class. If nothing else, it will give her an invasive insight into who I am and how I think, just like all the other books I’ve given her over the years, and I wonder if she realizes just how personal it is.

She takes it, her thin brows pinched together in confused awe. “This is your copy,” she breathes.

Suddenly I feel too vulnerable, uncomfortably exposed. “Thought it could help in your class,” I half-lie. Because it’s more than that, and I suspect she knows it.

Her pretty pink lips twist into a small smile, her cheeks going even rounder than usual, and it hits me right in the chest. Not for the first time I tell myself the affection I feel for her is strictly familial. More lies.

“Thanks.”

I smile. “You eat dinner yet?”

She shrugs. “I was gonna heat a cup of noodles and study.”

Cup of fucking noodles? “Fuck that. Come to the Stu-U. Let’s get some real food.”

Beth rolls her eyes. “Fine. But just some quick food, okay? I really need to study.”

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Bea,” I smirk at her, and she sets free a short giggle. There it is.

I take her girly-ass backpack and slip it over my shoulder, giving her no choice but to follow me. But as soon as I turn around, my eyes catch on that same guy, just as he’s averting his gaze. Only this time he wasn’t looking at me. He was looking at Beth; I’m sure of it. Rage rushes through my veins, and I grit my teeth. I don’t know who the fuck this guy is, but there’s something off about him, and there’s absolutely nothing good about Beth drawing his attention.

My jaw clenches. I slip my arm protectively around her shoulders, despite just having been scolded for being overprotective. “Beth, in two seconds, I want you to subtly glance to your left, between buildings B and C, okay?”

Her brows pinch together again. She looks so damned cute when she does that. She doesn’t wait the two seconds, and her “subtle glance” is more of a full-on stare. “Glance,” I whisper-growl. I wait until she’s facing forward again, and then start leading her from the quad. “Did you see that guy?” I ask her.

She nods hesitantly.

“Do you know him?”

“Yeah. I mean, no. He’s in my Abnormal Psych class. And I saw him last night.”

“Saw him doing what?”

“The same thing. Standing around smoking cigarettes like a fucking creep.”

“I think he was looking at you,” I admit.

“And that.”

So this isn’t the first time that guy’s been staring at Beth. Unease swirls in my gut. “Stay away from him,” I warn her.

“Do you know him?” she asks uncertainly.

“No. But I don’t like the way he was looking at you.”

Of course, I’ve never liked the way any guys have looked at her.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Danielle Pearl CREDIT Lidia AnichDanielle Pearl is the bestselling author of the Something More series. She lives in New Jersey with her three delicious children and ever-supportive husband, who—luckily—doesn’t mind sharing her with an array of fictional men. She did a brief stint at Boston University and worked in marketing before publishing her debut novel, Normal. She writes mature Young Adult and New Adult contemporary romance. Danielle enjoys coffee, wine, and cupcakes, and not in moderation.

Social Media Links

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Facebook: Facebook.com/daniellepearlauthor

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Follow Danielle Pearl on BookBub: http://bit.ly/2uKBPZV

Follow Danielle Pearl on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2utykM4

Giveaway Info

Win 1 out of 10 copies of IN PIECES (paperback)!

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Chapter Reveal : Hooking Up by Helena Hunting

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Expected publication: November 7th 2017 by Swerve

One

Wedding Unbliss

Amie

This is the happiest day of my life. I allow that thought to roll around in my head, trying to figure out why it doesn’t seem to resonate the way it should. This should be the happiest day of my life. So I’m not exactly certain why the uneasy feeling I associate with cold feet is getting worse rather than dissipating. I’ve already done the hard part; walked down the aisle and said “I do.”

My husband excused himself to go to the bathroom several minutes ago and, based on Armstrong’s itinerary for the day, speeches are supposed to begin promptly at eight-thirty. According to my phone, that’s less than two minutes from now, and he’s not here. The emcee for the evening is awaiting Armstrong’s return before he begins. And then the real party can start. The one where we get to celebrate our commitment to each other as partners for life. As in the rest of my breathing days. Dear God, why does that make my stomach twist?

I sip my white wine. Armstrong pointed out that red is not a good idea with my dress, even though it’s my preference. Besides, I don’t want it to stain my teeth. That would make for bad pictures.

I glance around the hall and see my parents, who are probably celebrating the fact that I didn’t walk down the aisle with a convicted felon. And frankly, so am I. My dating history pre-Armstrong wasn’t fabulous.

The sheer number of people in attendance spikes my anxiety. Speaking in front of all of these people makes me want to drink more, which is a bad idea. Tipsy speeches could lead to saying the wrong thing. I check my phone under the table again. It’s after eight-thirty. The longer Armstrong takes to return, the further behind we’ll get. The music playlist, devised by Armstrong with painstaking efficiency, leaves no room for tardiness. If we don’t start on time I’ll have to take out a song, or possibly two, to compensate for his delay and he’s selected the order in such a way as to make that difficult and that will annoy him. I just want today to be perfect. I want it to be reflective of my decision to marry Armstrong. That I, Amalie Whitfield, can make good choices and am not a disgrace to my family.

“Where the hell is he?” I scan the room and take another small sip of my wine. I should switch to water soon so I don’t end up drunk, especially later, when all of this is over and we can celebrate our lifelong commitment to each other without clothes on. I’m hopeful it will last more than five minutes.

Ruby, my maid of honor and best friend for the past decade, puts a hand on my shoulder. “Would you like Bancroft to find Armstrong?”

Bancroft, or Bane for short, is Ruby’s boyfriend who she’s been living with for several months. Recently I find myself getting a little jealous of how affectionate they still are with each other, even after all this time. Cohabitation hasn’t slowed them down on the sex or their PDA. I have hope that Armstrong and I will be more like Bane and Ruby now that we’ll be sharing the same bed every night.

I’m about to tell Ruby to give him another minute when a low buzz suddenly fills the hall. It sounds like a school PA system. I start to panic—they can’t start the speeches without Armstrong at my side. What’s the point of speeches if the groom isn’t present?

I’m halfway out of my seat, ready to tell the deejay, or whoever is behind the mic, he needs to wait, when a very loud moan echoes through the room. The acoustics are phenomenal in here, it’s why we chose this venue.

I glance at Ruby to make sure I’m not hearing things. Her eyes are wide. The kind of wide associated with shock. The same shock I’m feeling.

Another moan reverberates through the sound system, followed by the words, “Oh, fuuuck.”

A collective gasp ripples through the now-silent crowd. While the words themselves are scandalous among these guests, it’s the voice groaning them that makes me sit up straighter, and simultaneously consider hiding under the table.

“Fuck yeah. Ah, suck it. That’s it. Deep throat it like a good little slut. Fuuuuuccckkkkk.”

My mouth drops and I look to Ruby to ensure I have not completely lost my mind. “Is that—” I don’t finish the sentence. I already know the answer to the question, so it’s pointless to ask. Besides, I’m cut off by yet another loud groan. I clap a hand over my mouth because I’m not sure I’m able to close it, my disbelief is as vast as the ocean.

Ruby’s expression mirrors mine, except hers is incredibly animated since she’s an actress. “Oh my God. Is that Armstrong?” Her words are no more than a whisper, but they sound very much like a scream. Oh no, wait, that’s just Armstrong on the verge of an orgasm. But these sounds are nothing like the ones he makes when he’s in the throes of passion with me.

I clutch Ruby’s hand. The next sound that comes from him is a hybrid between a hyena laugh and a wolf baying at the moon. And every guest at our wedding is hearing the same thing I am. Our wedding. Someone other than me is blowing my husband at my own wedding. My mortification knows no end.

I grab the closest bottle of wine and dump the contents into my glass. Some of it sloshes over the edge and onto the crisp white tablecloth. It doesn’t matter. There’s plenty more where it came from. I chug the glass, then grab Ruby’s.

People lean in and whisper to each other, eyes lift to the speakers. A few people, the ones who are probably just here for the social-ladder-climbing potential, question who it is.

“Is the deejay watching porn?” That comment comes from a table full of mostly drunk singles in their early twenties.

Several eyes shift my way as I carelessly down Ruby’s wine and someone asks where the groom has disappeared to.

The grunts and groans grow terrifyingly louder. This is nothing like what I’m used to in bed with Armstrong. The dirty words aren’t something he ever uses with me, mostly it’s just noises and sometimes a “Right there” or “I’m close,” but that’s about it. He’s never talked to me like he is to the woman currently providing oral pleasure. And I’m very adept at oral. Although with Armstrong it’s very polite, neat oral, with no sounds other than the occasional hum. Slurping is uncivilized and a definite no-no.

I reach past Ruby for the bottle of red since I don’t really give a flying fuck about purple teeth right now. As I sink low in my seat I pour another glass of wine, surveying the people in the ballroom from behind the cover of the centerpiece. The centerpieces are huge and excessive and I don’t like them at all, but at least provides a protective barrier between the guests and my disgust, which I’m certain they must share. He sounds like a wild animal rutting. It is entirely unsexy. I have no idea who he’s getting intimate with, but I’m suddenly very glad it’s not me.

And doesn’t that tell me more about our relationship than it should.

It’s only been about thirty seconds—the most humiliating thirty seconds of my life—before Armstrong comes. How do I know this? Because he says, very clearly, “Keep sucking, baby, I’m coming.”

And “baby,” whoever she is, makes these horrific gurgling noises. It sounds like some form of alien communication. It’s way over the top, and apparently Armstrong is loving it, based on the string of vile profanity that spews from his asshole mouth.

“Holy crap. Is this for real? That was really fast,” Ruby mutters.

I guzzle my glass of wine. Then decide the glass is unnecessary and take a long swig from the bottle before Ruby snatches it away. Wine dribbles down my chin and onto my chest, staining the white satin purple. My dress is ruined. I should be freaking out. But I really don’t care.

“Come on,” Ruby tugs on my hand. “We need to get you out of here while people are still distracted.”

My older brother Pierce and the emcee are standing in the middle of the hall, gesturing wildly to the speakers above us. My other brother, Lawson, is on his way toward the podium in an attempt to do something. I don’t think there’s anything he can do to stop this train wreck from there.

Ruby tugs again, but I’m frozen, still trying to figure out what exactly just happened. Well, I know what’s happened. I just can’t believe it.

The sound of a zipper and the rustle of clothes follows. “Thanks for that, now I’ll be able to last later tonight,” Armstrong says.

“What about me?” A female asks. Her voice is nasally and whiny.

“What about you?”

“Well I helped you, aren’t you going to help me?”

“Didn’t you come with a date?”

“Well, yes, but—” God her voice is familiar. I just can’t figure out where I know it from.

“My cousin, right? He loves my sloppy seconds. Speeches are starting. I gotta get back to my ball and chain.”

Gasps of horror ripple through the room, followed by a few giggles. These people really are assholes.

I think I’m going to throw up. I can’t believe he’s going to come out here and pretend nothing just happened. Like some other woman didn’t just have her lips around his cock. His distinctly average cock. Maybe even slightly below average in length, if I’m being one hundred percent honest.

A door opens and closes.

Lawson turns on the mic behind the podium and taps it, sending screeching feedback through the room, making people cringe. Too bad no one did that a minute ago.

Murmuring grows louder and glances flicker to the head table and then away as Brittany Thorton, a seriously skanky debutante, comes strutting through the doors, using a compact to check her lipstick. She’s made it her mission to attempt to get into the pants of half the eligible men in this room. She’s followed, not five seconds later, by a very smug-looking Armstrong.

“I’m going to kill him.” I grab the closest steak knife, but it appears my hasty, and possibly felonious, plan is unnecessary. My brothers leave their respective posts and stalk toward him. Across the room my mother is gripping my father’s arm, whispering furiously in his ear. Great. Just what I need, additional family drama.

“Oh shit,” Ruby gasps.

I follow her gaze to find Bane converging on Armstrong with my brothers. Bancroft is a tank and he used to play professional rugby. I’ve seen him with his shirt off, he’s built like a superhero and he’ll probably crush Armstrong, or at least break something. Possibly multiple somethings.

For a second I consider that Ruby should probably stop Bane from destroying Armstrong’s pretty, regal face, but then I realize I don’t actually care. In fact, the possibility that he might break Armstrong’s perfectly straight nose fills me with glee. Armstrong’s wellbeing is no longer my concern, it’s more about Bane ending up in prison for murder.

“I hope Armstrong has a good plastic surgeon, he’s going to need it once Bane is done with him.” Ruby echoes my internal hopes and her chair tips as she jumps up. “Come on, let’s get you out of here.” She nods to the right.

I notice my mother and father engaged in a heated discussion with Armstrong’s parents. I really don’t need this right now. Not the drama. Not the humiliation. All I wanted was a nice wedding. Instead I end up with a husband who gets a blow job during our reception—and it’s broadcast to everyone attending.

Ruby urges me into action. “Don’t worry about them. Get your stuff and we’ll get you the hell out of here. I’ll have the limo meet you by the entrance near your bridal suite as soon as I can.”

I nod and stumble unsteadily to my feet, thanks to having consumed the better part of a bottle of wine in the last minute and a half. It’s amazing how ninety seconds can change a person’s entire life.

All hell breaks loose as more men jump in to either pummel or extract Armstrong from the pummeling. I grab my clutch and phone from the table, gather up my stupid, too puffy gown, and head for the bridal suite, where I had prepared for what was supposed to be the most amazing day of my life. And now it’s likely the worst, at least I hope the mortification level I’m experiencing can’t exceed this. I feel like the foulest version of Cinderella ever.

I rush down the empty hall and grab the doorknob as I fumble around in my clutch for the key. I’m surprised when it turns. I thought I’d locked it before we left for the ceremony. Regardless, I need to get away from everyone before I either lose it or commit a felony. Maybe both. Murder in the first. Armstrong will be my victim. And maybe that horrible skank, Brittany.

I thrust the door open and slam it closed behind me, locking it from the inside. Tears threaten to spill over and ruin my makeup. Not that it matters since there’s no way I’m going out there again. I can’t believe my forever lasted less than twelve hours. I can’t believe the man I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life loving couldn’t be faithful to me for even one day. What the hell is wrong with me? With him? I’m as devastated as I am angry and embarrassed. Once I annul this farce of a marriage I’ll become a spinster. I should probably go ahead and adopt six or seven cats tonight.

“I need to get out of this dress,” I say to myself. I reach behind me and pull the bow at the base of my spine. Instead of unfurling, it knots and I only succeed in pulling it tighter. Of course my dress has to be difficult. I growl my annoyance and rush over to my dressing table where my makeup and perfume are scattered from earlier today. Half a mimosa sits unconsumed beside the vase of red roses Armstrong had delivered.

The card read: I can’t wait to spend forever loving you.

What a load of bullshit. I drain the contents of the champagne flute, not caring that the drink is warm and flat. Then I throw the glass, because it feels good and the sound of shattering crystal is satisfying. Next I heave the vase of roses, which explodes impressively against the wall, splattering water and shards of glass across the floor.

I yank out a couple of the drawers and find a pair of scissors. They actually look more like gardening shears and seem rather out of place, but I don’t question it. Instead I reach behind me with my back to the mirror and awkwardly try to cut myself free. It’s not easy with the way I have to crane my neck.

“Goddammit! I need to get out of this stupid dress!” I yell at my reflection. I think I might actually be losing it just a touch now. I stop messing around with the laces in the back and shove the scissors down the front. I nearly nick myself with the blade—they’re a lot sharper than I realized—but that doesn’t slow me down. I start hacking my way through the bodice; layers of satin, lace, and intricate beading sliced apart with every vicious snip.

I just want out of this nightmare.

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Teaser Blitz : Duke of Desire (Maiden Lane #12) by Elizabeth Hoyt

DukeofDesire_teaserblitz[1]DUKE OF DESIRE by Elizabeth Hoyt (October 17, 2017; Grand Central Publishing Mass Market; The Maiden Lane Series #12)

A LADY OF LIGHT

Refined, kind, and intelligent, Lady Iris Jordan finds herself the unlikely target of a diabolical kidnapping.  Her captors are the notoriously evil Lords of Chaos.  When one of the masked-and-nude!-Lords spirits her away to his carriage, she shoots him…only to find she may have been a trifle hasty.

A DUKE IN DEEPEST DARKNESS

Cynical, scarred, and brooding, Raphael de Chartres, the Duke of Dyemore, has made it his personal mission to infiltrate the Lords of Chaos and destroy them.  Rescuing Lady Jordan was never in his plans.  But now with the Lords out to kill them both, he has but one choice: marry the lady in order to keep her safe.

CAUGHT IN A WEB OF DANGER…AND DESIRE

Much to Raphael’s irritation, Iris insists on being the sort of duchess who involes herself in his life—and bed.  Soon he’s drawn to both to her quick wit and her fiery passion.  But when Iris discovers that Raphael’s past may be even more dangerous than the present, she falters.  Is their love strong enough to withstand not only the Lords of Chaos but also Raphael’s own demons?

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Excerpt

Iris tasted of red wine—the red wine she must have drunk at dinner—and all the reasons he shouldn’t do this fled his mind. A vital chain broke in his psyche and everything he’d held back, everything he’d restrained with all his might, was suddenly set free. He surged into her mouth, desperate for the feel, for the taste of her, his wife, his duchess, his Iris. She was soft and sweet and warm and he wanted to devour her. To seize her and hold her and never let her go. The deep unfathomable well of his urges toward her frightened him, and he knew that if she became aware of them, they would frighten her as well.

But that was the thing—she wasn’t aware of them. She thought she was simply consummating their marriage or some such rot, God help them both.

She gripped his naked arms and the beast within him shuddered and stretched, claws scraping against the ground.

Dear God, he wanted this woman.

But he had to remember—to keep that human part of his mind awake and alive—that he mustn’t seed her.

Must never do as his cursed father had done.

He broke from her mouth, feeling the pulse of his cock against his breeches, and trailed his lips across her cheek to her ear. “Come with me, sweet girl.”

She blinked up at him, wide blue-gray eyes a little dazed.

He covered her mouth again before she could speak—either to consent or decline—and drew her slowly backward, step by step, toward the bed, until he hit it with the backs of his legs. He broke the kiss, looking down at her, her wet ruby lips parted, her cheeks flushed pink.

She looked edible.

“Raphael,” she whispered, his name on her lips like a plea, and something within him broke.

This wasn’t what he wanted. This wasn’t right. But it was the only thing possible and it would have to suffice because it was all he could do.

And trying to resist was killing him.

He traced a hand up her arm, over her shoulder, to her neck, and from there touched her bound golden hair. “Will you take down your hair for me?”

She gasped—a small, quick inhalation—and nodded.

He watched as she raised her arms, her stormy eyes locked on his, and withdrew the pins from her hair one by one until the heavy mass fell like a curtain around her shoulders. He bent then and gathered the locks in his hands, burying his face in her neck, inhaling her.

His woman.

He felt her tremble against him and then her fingers speared through his hair. “Raphael.”

He lifted his head.

Her hands fell away and she began undressing, her head bent down as she unhooked her bodice. He saw that her fingers fumbled and he knew that a better man would turn aside. Would give her privacy to collect herself and disrobe with modesty.

But he wasn’t such a man. He wanted all of her—her mistakes and her private moments, her shame and her worries—everything she held back from the rest of the world. As he wanted this. This moment of fumbling.

This moment of intimacy.

She pulled the bodice from her arms. Untied her skirts and let them pool around her feet before kicking them aside. Glanced up at him and then worked at the laces to her stays.

Her unbound hair fell over her shoulders, nearly to her waist, thick and swaying gently as she moved.

Beautiful.

She was beautiful.

She pulled her loosened stays off over her head and stood in chemise, stockings, and shoes. The tips of her breasts peeked out from beneath the thin cloth.

She began to bend for her shoes, but he stopped her. “No. Let me.”

He grasped her by the waist and lifted her to the bed.

Carefully he drew off her slippers, letting them drop to the hardwood floor before running his hand up her left calf. The room was so quiet he could hear each breath she drew. She watched him as he reached under her chemise, into that warm spot behind her knee, tugging at the ribbon of her garter.

Her breath hitched.

He glanced up at her as he found bare skin. Hot, so hot under her skirt. He could almost imagine he smelled her, standing between her bent legs. He pulled the first stocking off and moved to her other foot, smoothing his thumb over her arch, over that high instep, that sweet, delicate ankle. The curve of her calf—one of the loveliest curves in nature—elegant and perfect. Someday he’d like to draw her nude.

The faint, almost inaudible whisper as he pulled the ribbon off raised the hairs on the back of his neck. His nostrils flared and he couldn’t wait any longer. He lifted her bodily, moving her farther up on the bed, placing her head and shoulders against the pillows, and then pushed up her chemise, crawling between her spread thighs and settling to enjoy what he’d found.

There. There she was, her pretty, pretty pink cunny, all coral lips and wispy dark-blond curls. He hiked her trembling legs over his arms, ignoring her gasp of shocked surprise. He glanced up once and saw wide, wondering eyes gazing back at him. Her gentlemanly first husband had evidently never done this to her.

More fool he.

About the Author:

Elizabeth Hoyt 2017 (1)Elizabeth Hoyt is the New York Times bestselling author of over seventeen lush historical romances including the Maiden Lane series. Publishers Weekly has called her writing “mesmerizing.” She also pens deliciously fun contemporary romances under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with three untrained dogs, a garden in constant need of weeding, and the long-suffering Mr. Hoyt.

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Blog Tour : Arrogant Bastard (Dark Desires #3) by Zara Cox

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: ARROGANT BASTARD

Author: Zara Cox

Series: Dark Desires, #3

On Sale: September 12, 2017

Publisher: Forever

eBook: $4.99 USD

Audio: $22.98 USD

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I’m known as the Black Widow because the desires I hide inside are pure poison.
I was a different person once. Faith, a young wife, hoping to become a mother. My life was pleasant. Stable. It was hell. Until Killian Knight opened my eyes to a world of espionage and intrigue. He saw something in me, something I was too afraid to acknowledge. I didn’t want to be excited by the danger. Didn’t want to crave the wicked passion only he could provide. But I did want, so now I run. And I pay.

I never meant to corrupt her, but I’m not sorry. 
After all, I’m already damned.
After four years of searching and longing, I’ve finally found her. Faith, the one person in the world I breathe for. She lives beneath my skin as surely as I wear proof of our transgressions inked on my body. And like the forbidden fruit that doomed us from the beginning, our end is inevitable. We lived with no regret. We loved without inhibition. We betrayed those closest to us. We killed for that love. Now…we will burn in hell together.

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My REVIEW

Rating : 4 out of 5 Stars

I picked up this book only trusting the work of this talented author, and I was not disappointed! With this book, Zara Cox has once again delivered a seductive blend of mystery, darks secrets and sultry romance. Faith Carson and Killian Knight are star crossed lovers. Once upon a time, they were the Bonnie and Clyde of the espionage world. But Faith made a mistake and blew up their cover, jeopardizing their mission. This badass heroine is broken by her feelings of guilt and her sorrow. She ran away from her past, but she never forgave herself.

Killian never stopped looking for her, and yet this brilliant hacker and computer genius lost track of her for four years. Faith succeeded in hiding from him, becoming the Black Widow and starting a new life as the manageress of Alex Rutherford’s punishment club. She thought she could find there a form of salvation for her sins. But she never could forget Killian and he still has a hold over her. She can’t resist their intense chemistry.  Killian has changed, though, he is harder, persistent and ruthless. Even though she fights him, he has no intention to let her disappear again. Their past has caught up with them and they are in danger.

Faith and Killian’s story is told partly through flashbacks. As the story progresses and the past and present begin to merge, I was glued to the text. “Arrogant Bastard” is a story of love lost and found, of perseverance and redemption. With her unique style, Zara Cox intrigues and captivates.  This story kept me glued to my kindle!  It is filled with suspense, passion, steam, danger and raw characters, and I definitely recommend it.

ARC generously provided by the publisher, via NetGalley.

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Excerpt

Chapter One

Killian

Present Day

I’ve found her.

After four years and two months.

I stare at the screen, my blood pumping relief and shock and fury and joy through my veins. The cocktail of emotions paralyzes me for several minutes.

Then I force myself to analyze what I’m seeing.

Her hair is different. Longer. Darker. Pin-straight and rigid where soft, friendly waves used to be. The curve of her jaw captured by the camera lens also shows the difference. She’s leaner. Meaner. Even from this obscure angle, I can tell any trace of gentleness has been wiped clean. Eroded by sin and tragedy and horror. The change was probably inevitable, but I still don’t want to see the evidence.

To anyone else, the picture would seem ridiculously vague, the image nothing more than a blurred black-and-white pixelation of hair, chin, and shoulder.

It’s the reason my algorithm spat it out almost reluctantly, a last batch of possibilities in the dregs of to-be-discarded possibilities, and then dumped it in my supercomputer’s equivalent of a spam folder, the code scrolling impatiently as it waited my command to delete, delete, delete.

But I know it’s her. Despite the dark leather cap pulled low over her forehead. Despite the bulky jacket designed to hide her true shape. Her stealth speaks volumes. Besides, she’s in my blood, in my heartbeat. After so many years of dead ends and fruitless hoping, of agonizing disappointment and withering despair, this time I simply…know.

It’s her. The Widow.

My hand shakes as I hit the zoom-in key. My gut churns, and I feel a little sick as my ever-helpful brain cheerfully supplies me with all the ways she could’ve continued to elude me—if I’d turned away, for a second, to stare at one of the other three screens on my desk. If I’d trusted my supersmart computer and accepted the prompt to delete without reviewing this particular needle in my mountain of haystacks. If I hadn’t tweaked the code yet again last night to capture just such an obscure image.

Hell, if I’d blinked at the wrong time…I torture myself with infinite possibilities as I stare at that mesmerizing angle of chin and shoulder.

A chin I’ve trailed my treacherous fingers over many times in helpless wonder.

A shoulder I’ve rested my guilty but secretly unrepentant head on.

There’s so much more to her. And I treasured every single inch of her forbidden body, fucked her at every opportunity she granted me. Until she systematically erased herself from my life.

But why New York? And why now?

I know how good she is. Hell, she’s the best or she wouldn’t have eluded me for this long. The thought of another four years without her punches a cold fist through my gut. With it comes the certainty that I wouldn’t have survived those next four years without her. That I’ve been clinging on with the very last dregs of my endurance to make it this far.

But here she is…

The Widow.

I can’t see her eyes, but I don’t fool myself into thinking they’ll hold an ounce of softness. What we did changed us forever. And not for the better.

I lean back in my chair. Exhale slowly. Terrified of blinking in case she disappears from my screen. It doesn’t matter that I’ve copied and stored the longitude and latitude of her location in a dozen vaults on my server and memorized every single piece of data on the screen.

New York City. East Fifty-Third Street. CCTV camera. A one-in-a-billion shot.

Without taking my eyes off her, I reach for my phone and press the voice activation app. “Good evening, Mr. Knight.”

“Nala, how many times do I need to tell you to call me Killian?”

“You have yet to change my default settings, Mr. Knight.”

My lips twitch but a smile doesn’t quite form. My eyes water with the need to blink. But I resist. “I changed them last week. You reset them again, didn’t you?”

“I assure you, I’m quite incapable of doing that.”

“Yeah, right. Fine. Place a call for me. Pilot. Home.”

“Dialing pilot. Home,” the female AI obliges me.

Nelson Whittaker, my LA-based English pilot, picks up on the second ring. It’s three a.m. but he answers as if it’s normal working hours. Which it is, to be fair. Everything is normal for me in my line of work.

“Good morning, sir.”

“How soon can you get to the airport?” I snap.

“As soon as I put on my trousers and chuck a bucket of water over my son to wake him up,” he replies with a dark chuckle.

My fingers fly over the keyboard as I save her information in a few more electronic vaults. “Give William my apologies,” I say.

“No need. He’s been champing at the bit to take the new girl for another spin.” The new girl being the Bombardier Global 8000 I added to my collection of private jets last month.

“In that case, I expect to see you at Van Nuys within the hour.” At this time of the morning, traffic from their Santa Monica apartment should be light enough to get them there fast.

“We’ll be there.” He clears his throat. “I expect the paperwork regarding out-of-curfew flights—”

“Will be taken care of. I’ll text you the details but we won’t be straying far from the usual parameters.”

“Very good, sir. Destination?” he asks crisply.

My gaze tracks that chin. That shoulder. The hair. Four years’ worth of turbulent emotion threatens to rip free. My chest burns with it, but I contain it. “New York.”

Quote2ArrogantBastard

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!). This series is Zara’s next step in her erotic romance-writing journey, and she would love to hear your thoughts. Visit her:

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Release Day Blitz : A Gentleman Never Surrenders (Sins and Scandals #2) by Lauren Smith

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A GENTLEMAN NEVER SURRENDERS by Lauren Smith (September 12, 2017; Forever Yours eBook; $1.99; Sins and Scandals series Book 2)

Love is worth a little scandal.

Owen Hadley needs a wife. Preferably a wealthy one. Alas, there aren’t a great number of heiresses willing to marry a rogue of no particular fortune—luckily, if there is ever a gentleman capable of melting a lady’s chilly heart, it’s Owen.

Milly has had enough of the marriage mart. If matrimony means giving up her freedom for a foppish husband, then society can take their idea of marital bliss and toss it. But when the ton’s most notorious rogue mistakenly makes his way into her bedchambers, Milly finds herself unexpectedly and unwillingly at the altar . . .

Yet the more time she spends with her new husband, the more Milly starts to wonder if the marriage she never wanted may be the best thing that’s ever happened to her. Now it’s up to Owen to convince Milly that what started as a mistake is anything but-and that every night with him will be more wonderfully scandalous than the last.

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My REVIEW

Rating : 4 out of 5 Stars

“A Gentleman Never Surrenders” continues on with the characters who were introduced in “An Earl by Any Other Name”, but can be read as a standalone. I love how Lauren Smith brings her characters to life and immerse you into the time period. The hero, Owen Hadley, was not easy to like at first, but obviously it opens up some room for improvement. And Owen did improve, he is definitely not a bad guy.  He is in dire financial straits, his family estate has fallen in disrepair and he needs money urgently.  Marrying an heiress would solve his financial problems. As it happens, the heroine of this story, Milly Pepperwith has a sizeable dowry.

Milly is the fiery and independent type of heroine. She longs for a loving husband and she has done everything she could to discourage fortune hunters, with her feigned standoffish and arrogant attitude. She is forced into marriage by Owen’s manipulation, though, to save her reputation. Milly dislikes her new husband, and she is determined to give him hell. Owen and Milly butt heads frequently and fight over everything.

Owen feels guilty, he wants to make their marriage work. He intends to prove he can be trusted by being honest about his initial motivation for marrying Milly. I enjoyed watching this couple come together. The passionate way they love and the fiery way they clash. These two definitely had a love-hate relationship and I knew that they would be explosive when they finally got on the same page.

Witty banter, great character development, taking into account the novella format, flawless writing, slow-burn chemistry, this story has it all! It is a great addition to Lauren Smith’s Sins and Scandals series.

ARC generously provided by the publisher, via NetGalley.

Giveaway

Enter to win 1 of 15 free ebook downloads of A Gentleman Never Surrenders!  http://bit.ly/2vwPcSf

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Excerpt

Milly climbed onto the bed and pulled the bedclothes up around her chest and sighed. The bed was so large, and rather lonely. Usually she didn’t let such a melancholy thought bother her, but tonight for some reason, it did. There was a dull ache in her chest and she rubbed the spot with her hand. Somewhere tonight, Mr. Hadley was likely climbing into bed, dreaming of all the young ladies’ hearts he would steal and break. A treacherous little flutter in her chest made Milly wince. She ought not to think of Hadley, certainly not while she was in bed…yet thinking of him, as frustrating and maddeningly irritating as he was, flushed her with a welcome heat in the chilly room.

The oil lamp beside her bed was the only light left in the room and it burned steadily. Often she read late into the night and forgot to turn it off, but tonight she was too tired to read. She reached over and gently twisted the brass knob to kill the little flame. Darkness absorbed the dying light and Milly flipped onto her back. The cold of the sheets almost stung her bare toes and legs when her nightdress rode up to her knees. A cold bed, an empty bed. It shouldn’t have upset her, but after Mr. Hadley’s talk of heat and summer, she was off balance and bothered.

The mere thought of him and the way his eyes had darkened and seemed to shimmer with inner flames brought on another rush of warmth. His eyes, like honeyed fire, and his lips, the way he’d smiled sardonically, almost mockingly, in a way she rather liked, irritated her, yet fascinated her. There was no reason to like a man’s mouth or to imagine what it might be like to have that mouth pressed to hers in a kiss that caused the heat he was so fond of discussing. She knew his kiss would be hot, because when she thought of it, her body blossomed with a swelling of heat in her belly. His mouth is wicked…sinful…and I hate that I wish to know how he tastes. It was a forbidden thought, but one she couldn’t deny. She rolled over onto her stomach, fluffed her pillow, and squeezed her eyes shut, attempting to will herself to sleep. It was going to be a long night.

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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