Release Day Blitz : The Highland Duke (Lords of the Highlands #1) by Amy Jarecki

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: THE HIGHLAND DUKE

Author: Amy Jarecki

Series: Lords of the Highlands, #1

On Sale: March 28, 2017

Publisher: Forever

Mass Market: $7.99 USD

eBook: $3.99 USD

Add to Goodreads

Indie author Amy Jarecki makes her print debut with a brand-new series about rugged Highland lords.

She’ll put her life on the line for him . . .

When Akira Ayres finds the brawny Scot with a musket ball in his thigh, the healer has no qualms about doing whatever it takes to save his life. Even if it means fleeing with him across the Highlands to tend to his wounds while English redcoats are closing in. Though Akira is as fierce and brave as any of her clansmen, even she’s intimidated by the fearsome, brutally handsome Highlander who refuses to reveal his name.

Yet she can never learn his true identity.

Geordie knows if Akira ever discovers he’s the Duke of Gordon, both her life and his will be forfeit in a heartbeat. The only way to keep the lass safe is to ensure she’s by his side day and night. But the longer he’s with her, the harder it becomes to think of letting her go. Despite all their differences, despite the danger-he will face death itself to make her his . . .

BUY THE BOOK HERE

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MY REVIEW

Rating : 4.5 out of 5 Stars

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This historical romance set in 18th century Scotland is fast paced, adventurous and action-packed. The story is well-constructed and filled with intrigue and memorable characters. The hero, The Duke of Gordon, aka Geordie, always stands for what he believes in. As a Highlander born and raised, he has challenged Queen Anne’s Government troops and ridden against the English crown. He is a fervent Jacobite, supporting the rightful king of Scotland, James Stuart, exiled in France.

Badly shot in the leg, he is saved by Akira, a street urchin with Gypsy ancestry and a skilled healer. She accepts to flee with him and gets into trouble for helping him. The sequences of their journey across the Highlands moved with rapidity and were exciting and full of drama. The Duke has powerful enemies, determined to ruin him, who will stop at nothing to catch him.

I loved the main characters in this story, they are well-portrayed and complex. They come from two totally different worlds, but they share a deep emotional connection. They just make sense together and I loved how their relationship progressed as the story unfolded. Akira has no notion of Geordie’s standing in society, he hides his identity to protect her. Akira is forthright, kind and competent, she is an endearing heroine. Her past is touching, she has grown up in poverty and she makes Geordie realize how privileged he has always been. His title comes with responsibilities, he can’t run from who he is, but he wants to become a better person for her. Akira doubts the depths of Geordie’s feelings, she isn’t sure she can trust him. He may have turned her world upside down, but she has values she can’t compromise on.

Amy Jarecki has delivered a cast of quirky, interesting characters and a suspense filled plot in a fast paced romance I didn’t want to end. The author’s love for Scotland, its rich history and tumultuous past is reflected in her imaginative, evocative and captivating storytelling. I’ll definitely follow this talented author in the future.

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

Giveaway

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Excerpt

Curled under Geordie’s arm, Akira finally stopped shivering. All around them rain splashed. Everything was soaked and their little alcove smelled of horse—not a horrid smell, but not one she’d choose for her boudoir, either. If she had a boudoir.

She chose to ignore the voice in the back of her head telling her it wasn’t proper to allow a strange man to put his arm around her shoulders and offer her warmth. But there was something in the way Geordie looked at her that made her feel all warm inside and, moreover, protected. Aye, he’d been in a great deal of pain—was still in great pain—but since he roused from his last bout of unconsciousness, he’d behaved admirably. He’d brought the horse under control, figured out where they were, and formed a plan to take them to someone he could trust to provide her with an escort home.

With darkness, the air grew colder. Clutching her fists under her chin, Akira curled into Geordie’s heat. He smoothed his palm along her outer arm, his touch soothing.

When he turned his lips toward her, his warm breath skimmed across her forehead. “Try to sleep.” The gentle burr of his voice imparted all the more comfort.

But she couldn’t get too comfortable; she must to do her duty. He was still her patient. “I’m the healer. I should be telling you to do the same.”

His hazel gaze drifted to her mouth, and he grinned.

“Very well.” He pulled his arm away, but not before running his fingers across her back. Blessed tingles spread over her skin as if she’d been caressed by feathers. Oh, heaven help her, his touch was unbelievably sublime. If only she could ask him to run his fingers back and forth again—just one more time.

She reached for the hem of his kilt, then quickly snapped her fingers away. What had she been thinking? True, she’d applied the salve before, but that was when he was mostly unconscious and definitely before he’d put his arm around her shoulder and smiled at her like a…like a…brawny Highlander.

“Have you gone shy, lass?” he asked with a hint of humor in his deep brogue.

 

THE LORDS OF THE HIGHLANDS SERIES

Lord of the Highlands

THE HIGHLAND DUKE, #1

THE HIGHLAND COMMANDER, #2

Series Page on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amy Jarecki CREDIT Bruce Heinsius Photography

Amy Jarecki is a descendant of an ancient Lowland clan and adores Scotland. Though she now resides in southwest Utah, she received her MBA from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. Winning multiple writing awards, she found her niche in the genre of Scottish historical romance. Amy writes steamy edge-of-your-seat action adventures with rugged men and fascinating women who weave their paths through the brutal eras of centuries past.

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Release Day Blitz : Crazy for You (Risking It All #2) by Rachel Lacey

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: CRAZY FOR YOU

Author: Rachel Lacey

Series: Risking It All, #2

On Sale: March 28, 2017

Publisher: Forever

Mass Market: $7.99 USD

eBook: $6.99 USD

Add to Goodreads

The second book in Rachel Lacey’s irresistible contemporary romance series about three foster brothers who return to their hometown to open an extreme sports business, perfect for fans of Kristan Higgins, Rachel Gibson, and Jill Shalvis!

SHE’S TAKING A WALK ON HIS WILD SIDE

Emma Rush can’t remember a time when she didn’t have a thing for Ryan Blake. Haven’s resident bad boy is just so freakin’ hot-with tattoos, a motorcycle, and enough rough-around-the-edges sexiness to melt all her self-control. Now that Emma’s over being a “good girl,” she needs a little help being naughty . . . and she knows just where to start.

Before Emma’s brother enlisted in the military, he made Ryan promise that he would protect her from everything–including himself. When her brother doesn’t come home, Ryan needs to turn his screwed-up life around to honor his pledge. But he knows he’s still not the right kind of guy for someone as sweet as Emma. Only he can’t stop wanting to be with her. Wanting her. Falling in love with a good girl may be the craziest risk this bad boy can take . . .

BUY THE BOOK HERE

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MY REVIEW

Rating : 4 out of 5 Stars

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Rachel Lacey writes cute and feel-good small town romances, with the perfect balance of humor, emotions and chemistry. The idea of love blossoming in a small town is too adorable for words to me and I thoroughly enjoyed “Crazy for You”. This book in the second installment in a series set in Haven, North Carolina, a charming town with colorful and quirky residents.

The hero of this story, Ryan Blake has recently opened an extreme outdoor facility with his two business partners and childhood friends, Ethan and Mark. Ryan grew up in the foster care system and his friends are his only family.

Emma Rush was Ryan’s best friend dorky little sister. She has had a crush on him for years, but she is off-limits to him. He made a promise to her brother that he would always look out for Emma and he intends to keep it. He is protective of Emma and feels responsible for her, since she lost her brother. Emma has big plans for her future and she will soon leave Haven to get a degree of landscape architecture. Meanwhile, she wants to have fun and live a bit on the wild side with Ryan. There is an undeniable spark between Emma and Ryan and they have much history. They have an easy friendship that has the potential to turn into something more. Ryan wants to do the right thing, though and refuses to take advantage of Emma. They both agree to become “friends with benefits”.

I really liked both Ryan and Emma. Emma is a great heroine, fun, stubborn and energetic. Ryan is tender, sweet and caring, not to mention really hot. They both lost their parents and they need to create emotional connections with the people around them. Ryan’s past is traumatizing and he has insecurities. He seems self-assured but he needs reassurance that Emma wants more than a casual relationship.

This book is an easy read, with sweet positive characters and a heartwarming friends-to-lovers storyline. The pace was a bit slow at times, but the charm of the story kept me flipping the pages until the very end. Based on the little snippet of the next book in the series, “Can’t Forget You”, I can’t wait for Mark’s story!

Thanks for visiting and don’t forget to check out the excerpt and the giveaway!

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley.

Giveaway

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THE RISKING IT ALL SERIES

Risking It All

ROCK WITH YOU, #.5

RUN TO YOU, #1

CRAZY FOR YOU, #2

CAN’T FORGET YOU, #3

Series Page on Goodreads

Excerpt

Ryan Blake held a bottle of Maker’s 46 in his right hand, a tumbler in his left. With a flick of his wrist, he tossed the bottle. It flipped once before landing back in his grip, top down, ready to pour. He filled the tumbler, set a napkin on

the bar, and placed it in front of the brunette on the other side. “Bourbon, neat.”

“You’re good.” She picked up the glass and tipped it in his direction. “Not what I was expecting in this little bar in the middle of nowhere.”

“I try,” he said with the friendly, semi-flirtatious smile he always used on single ladies seated at his bar. She wasn’t wrong. The usual clientele at The Drunken Bear had little use for fancy liquor or bartending tricks, but the trio in front of him were tourists looking for a good time, and he’d see that they had one.

“You were just about to tell me about this tattoo.” She placed her hand on his biceps, fingering the eagle he’d had inked there after he flew this coop ten years ago.

“That’s right.” He shifted backward so that her hand slipped to the countertop. He encouraged flirting—it led to better tips and made the night more interesting—but this chick was getting a bit too friendly, considering the diamond band on her left ring finger. “This one was for spreading my wings. Thought I’d fly far away, and yet, here I am back in Haven.”

“You’re from here then?” one of the other women asked, shamelessly ogling the tattoos on his arms while giving him an eyeful of cleavage.

“Born and raised. Moved around a lot, but I can’t seem to shake this place. It’s in my blood.” Once upon a time, he’d been hell bent on getting as far away from this sleepy North Carolina mountain town as possible. Spent the better part of a decade drifting from place to place, taking with him only what he could carry on his bike. Funny how things came full circle. He picked up an empty pilsner glass another patron had left behind.

“Ryan?”

He turned at the familiar voice to find Emma Rush stand- ing there, one hip propped against the bar, and he damn near dropped the glass. Emma’s trademark ponytail and jog- ging pants were nowhere in sight. Tonight, her blond hair cascaded over her shoulders in shiny waves, her blue eyes sparkled at him from behind a tasteful—yet sexy—amount of makeup, and her red top was tucked into a pair of jeans that fit her like a glove. He swallowed past the sudden dry- ness in his throat. “Hey, Em. What brings you out tonight?” “Girls’ night,” she said with a smile, gesturing to her friend Mandy, who stood by the door talking on her cell phone. Emma slid onto an empty barstool. “I wasn’t expect-

ing to see you.”

“I’m still here a few nights a week.” His new business

venture—Off-the-Grid Adventures, an extreme outdoor sporting facility he’d opened with his good buddies Ethan Hunter and Mark Dalton six months ago—was finally bring- ing in enough income that he soon wouldn’t need to bartend to pay his rent. “What can I get you?”

“Untapped amber ale, please.” She watched while he filled a frosted mug. “Thanks.”

“My pleasure.”

She lifted the mug to her lips and took a long drink. “Damn, that’s good,” she said with a happy sigh, setting it on the bar.

“Always been more of a pilsner guy myself.” He tried not to stare as she licked froth from her upper lip.

“Hi, Ryan.” Mandy stepped up to the bar beside Emma. He leaned back, tearing his gaze from Emma’s lips. “Hi.”

Emma turned to her friend with a smile. “Ready to get a table?”

“Yep,” Mandy said. “Have fun, ladies.”

“We will.” With a wave, Emma walked off after her friend, and damn, those jeans cupped her ass like perfection. No doubt about it, Emma looked hot tonight. And his thoughts were way out of line. He’d promised Derek he’d look out for his little sister, not drool all over her.

“Your girlfriend?” the brunette at the bar asked, eyebrows raised as she sipped her bourbon.

Ryan cleared his throat and dragged his eyes away from Emma. “Just a friend.”

“Mm-hmm.” The brunette gave him a look that said she didn’t believe him.

He turned to check on his patrons at the other end of the bar, but his attention was once again diverted by Emma— or rather, the preppy-looking businessman she was talking to now. Ryan couldn’t make out their conversation, but the guy wore an irritatingly smug smile, and Emma didn’t look at all happy to have bumped into him.

Ryan moved down the bar, chatting and pouring drinks as he went, all the while keeping an eye on Emma. She was deep in conversation with the businessman, although the guy seemed to be doing most of the talking. Emma smiled and nodded. She glanced up and met Ryan’s gaze, rolling her eyes at him with a smile while her companion kept on talk- ing.

Next thing Ryan knew, the guy had slung an arm around her shoulders, gesturing wildly with his free hand while Emma subtly edged away from him.

Ryan was around the bar and across the room before he’d even realized what he was doing. “Everything okay over here?”

Emma shrugged out from under the guy’s arm, but her smile wasn’t nearly as warm or genuine as the one she’d given Ryan a few moments ago. “Yep.”

“We’re fine,” Obnoxious Dude answered. “Who are you?”

“Ryan Blake. And you are?” “Tristan Farrell.”

“Tristan and I are . . . old friends,” Emma said.

By old friends, Ryan assumed she meant former flames. And since she clearly wasn’t enjoying his company, it was time for Tristan to leave. Ryan crossed his arms over his chest and stared him down, waiting for the loser to get the message. It didn’t take long.

Tristan backed up, his eyes darting toward the front door. “Well, it was great seeing you, Emma. Take care.”

“You, too.” She watched as Tristan left the bar then turned to Ryan. “Forgot how much I dislike that guy.”

“He hassling you?”

Her eyes rounded. “No! Just talking my ear off, really.

Sorry to distract you from your duties at the bar.”

“No problem.” Keeping an eye on his patrons was part of the job, although he was probably feeling more protective of Emma right now than the situation called for.

“Right, well . . . looks like my table is ready.” She waved over her shoulder as she walked away.

Ryan headed back behind the bar, turning his attention to the trio of tourists and their mostly empty cocktails. “Any of you ladies ready for a fresh drink?”

As it turned out, they all were. While he mixed their cock- tails, he allowed his gaze to roam over to Emma’s table. She was deep in conversation with her friends Gabby, Carly, and Mandy, all of whom he knew, none of whom made his gut tighten the way it did every time he looked at Emma tonight.

He had no idea where this had come from, but he had to get over it, pronto. Emma wasn’t interested in a player like him, and even if she were, she was off limits. He’d made a promise to her brother when Derek went off to war, and Ryan had no intention of breaking it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

883c2-rachel2blaceyRachel Lacey is a contemporary romance author and semi-reformed travel junkie. She’s been climbed by a monkey on a mountain in Japan, gone scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, and camped out overnight in New York City for a chance to be an extra in a movie. These days, the majority of her adventures take place on the pages of the books she writes. She lives in warm and sunny North Carolina with her husband, son, and a variety of rescue pets.

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Review : His to Seduce (Fireside #4) by Stacey Lynn

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Published March 21st 2017 by Loveswept

My Review

Rating : 4 out of 5 stars

32061743This book is the fourth installment in the Fireside series and is the story of David McGregor and Camden Reed. It is a lovely story of growing beyond your past and allowing yourself to be loved.

David is helping his childhood friend Declan, tending the bar of the Fireside Grill. That’s where he meets Camden Reed. Their mutual attraction is undeniable, but Camden is convinced that David is completely wrong for her. Camden is uptight, wary and her life is perfectly controlled, ordered and without surprises. She is broken by tragic events that occurred during her childhood.

Camden has never experienced what she feels for David. I loved this character, he is caring, full of heart, understanding and tender. Although Camden is insecure and closed-off, she feels safe with David and wants to take some risks with him. They both have secrets and have to figure out what they want in life. But despite her emotional baggage, Camden knows the time has come to do more than just survive, she deserves happiness. David finally gets her to open up and take a chance at love.

I read this emotional and heartfelt story in one sitting. Stacey Lynn writes beautiful stories, perfectly paced. There was a lot of push and pull by Camden, though. As a result, it took me some time to warm up to her. At times, I just wanted to knock some sense into her! She was lucky though, David is everything you want in a swoon-worthy hero, and then some! I recommend this sweet and romantic story, with some angst and a lovely epilogue.

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

Review : Black Sheep (Dark Desires #2) by Zara Cox

 

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(March 14, 2017; Forever; Dark Desires series; Book 2)

Rating : 5 out of 5 stars

In a family of cold-hearted black sheep, I, Axel Rutherford, am the blackest. Abundantly despised by my three brothers, actively hated by my father.”

Dayum, this romance was compelling, it kept me hooked to the last page. Zara Cox’s riveting storytelling took my breath away, I was consumed by the story of Axel and Cleo, two childhood sweethearts doomed from the start by their parents’ greed. Black Sheep is epic, amazing, intoxicating!

Axel Rutherford is haunted by demons from his past and by Cleo McCarthy’s betrayal. She was his one true love but she chose his father, Finnan Rutherford, over him. Eight years later, Axel is worth billions but money didn’t bring him happiness or redemption. He is bitter, tortures himself with his longing for the woman he can’t have and is plotting his revenge. He intends to dismantle his family’s business, linked to the violent world of underground crime and trafficking. This character is fascinating, calculating, intense and multilayered! His need for punishment was heartbreaking.

Cleo is nothing but a pawn in Finnan’s Rutherford twisted game to regain his son’s cooperation. Finnan is cruel and manipulative, blackmailing and abusing her. She complies but is bent on revenge and is biding her time. Axel and Cleo are bitter enemies, but their hatred for each other is based on false perceptions and deception. Cleo is convinced that Axel killed her parents in cold blood and Alex can’t forgive Cleo’s betrayal. There is a fine line between love and hate, though.

Axel is cunning, dominant, powerful but under his compelling exterior, he is utterly vulnerable. Cleo is his weakness, his addiction and he can’t break her, even if he wants to. For years, he has tried to shut off his emotions, he feels exposed and raw. Cleo and Axel’s feelings are unchanged and their reunion really packed a powerful emotional punch! Their sexual chemistry is intense, dark and highly erotic.

I was mesmerized by the deep layers of emotional complexity, palpable tension and angsty feels throughout this dark and mysterious story. Black Sheep is the second installment in Zara Cox’s Dark Desires, but it can be read as a complete standalone. I highly recommend it and will read anything this author comes up with next!

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

Release Blitz & Giveaway : Legally Charming (Ever After #1) by Lauren Smith

 

Title: Legally Charming
Series: Ever After #1
Author: Lauren Smith
Genre: Contemporary Romance/New Adult
Release Date: March 13, 2017
Blurb

THE RIGHT DRESS CAN CATCH THE EYE OF PRINCE CHARMING…

Felicity Hart has one goal: Completing her masters in art. Falling in love isn’t part of the plan. She reluctantly agrees to attend a Halloween party with her best friend. After sneaking away from the party and falling asleep in an unoccupied room, she wakes to the sexiest pair of eyes she’s ever seen. Eyes that belong to the one man who could turn her well organized world upside down. When he flashes that wicked, panty-melting smile at her the vow to not fall in love seems impossible…

EVERY PRINCE IS LOOKING FOR HIS SLEEPING BEAUTY TO KISS…

 Jared Redmond used to be the ultimate bad boy. But now his legal career is taking off and the partners of his firm are trusting him with high-dollar real estate transactions. Jared’s king-size bed is empty. But when he arrives home on Halloween to find a princess sleeping in his bed – his all work and no play attitude goes out the window. There’s nothing he wants more than to explore the hidden desires of this mysterious beauty and show her just how much of a bad boy he really is by fulfilling her every fantasy.

WHEN MIDNIGHT STRIKES AND COACHES TURN TO PUMPKINS…

 Underneath the glitter of this fairy tale romance, Felicity and Jared might have found true love. But the mounting pressure of their real lives takes hold again and Jared and Felicity are pulled further and further apart. Can they find their fairy tale ending or will they be left with the dying embers of what could have been?

MY REVIEW

Rating : 4 out of 5 Stars

Legally Charming is a sweet Cinderella-like story, with insta love and no angst. I’m usually not a huge fan of insta love stories, but in this case, I felt that Jared and Felicity’s story was believable. I really connected with these two characters, and even if I wasn’t really keen on the way their story started, I was captivated by this contemporary fairy tale. This book was definitely a page turner and I read it almost in one sitting.

Jared Redmond is a brooding, sexy and intense suit. He has built a successful law career, but that comes with a price. Jared has not time for dating and is a workaholic who has got to deal with a lot of pressure. Felicity Hart is an art history major and has dreams of becoming a curator of a museum. They meet via Felicity’s best friend, Layla, and find themselves in a rather awkward situation. In theory, they are nothing alike, have nothing in common and yet they just fit.  But Felicity can’t afford to jeopardize her scholarship by foolishly falling for the wrong guy.

Jared can’t help being connected to Felicity, even if he knows she is too young and afraid to trust him. Jared is loyal, warm, caring and yet Felicity feels she isn’t good enough for him. Jared comes from money and she is just a middle class girl from a small town. Jared and Felicity’s road to happiness was a bumpy one, but I really enjoyed their journey. They need time to figure out how to build a satisfying relationship, without compromising their aspirations.

I loved the characters in this story. They were believable, appealing, relatable and I enjoyed their romance. Lauren Smith’s writing is strong, her storytelling is captivating and well-paced. I also enjoyed the great cast of secondary characters, including Jared’s best friend, Thad. I really hope we’ll get his story next. I recommend this sweet, sexy and romantic contemporary fairy tale!

Thanks for visiting and don’t forget to check out the excerpt and giveaway!

I received an advanced copy of this book and voluntarily reviewed it.

Giveaway

Purchase Links

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

B&N / KOBO / iBOOKS

Excerpt

Jared Redmond stumbled from the taxicab, his brown leather briefcase smacking his back as he struggled to stay on his feet. He swallowed a growl of frustration. This was the last time he let the senior partners of his firm keep him out late to celebrate. He’d only had one drink, since he was dead tired from the last few months of overtime at the office. Having to smile, laugh, and socialize all night with the partners left him edgy and desperate to get home and crawl into bed.

God forbid he just do his job and do it well enough to earn respect. No, he had to spend hours at one of the most expensive restaurants with them, watching them pat each other on the back when he’d done all the heavy lifting in their multi-million-dollar transaction.

Big fucking mistake.

Now he was completely drained, and his body was determined to go to sleep on him right there on the street. His vision was fine, but his motor skills seemed to have abandoned him. He reached the glass doors of his apartment building lobby, leaning a little too heavily against the glass. Fishing around in his pocket for his keycard, he muttered a string of curses when his hand came up empty. He glanced up and rapped his knuckles. Thank God, the guard recognized him and buzzed him inside.

“Mr. Redmond.” The security guard nodded, a knowing smile on the older man’s lips.

“Hey, Randy,” he greeted, wincing at the slur of his words.

A few more steps and he reached the elevator. After much effort focusing on the series of floor buttons on the panel, he pressed the button to the fifteenth floor and it lit up. He leaned his head back on the mirrored walls, resting. Jesus, it was like he was drunk, but he knew it was sheer exhaustion.

It had been a hell of a day. After two months of negotiations, sleepless nights, long hours, and no chance of reviving his obsolete social life, he’d closed the massive real estate deal, and closed it earlier than he’d anticipated. Everyone demanded they go out and celebrate. He just wanted to crash and sleep off all of the stress pent up inside him.

He was going to walk into his bedroom and face-plant on his bed and not move all weekend from that spot.

Tanner would be out with his girlfriend, Layla, celebrating. It was Halloween, wasn’t it? A little grin tugged at his lips. The apartment would be empty and quiet. The perfect benefit of arriving home early. He’d told Tanner he wouldn’t be back until Sunday, and it was only Friday now. He expected his little brother and girlfriend would be out partying the night away, giving him total silence and a soft bed to crash on without any disturbances.

The second the elevator doors slid open with a soft hiss, he heard the music and the erratic noises of a party. Laughter, voices, all coming from their apartment.

Fucking hell.

“Tanner,” he growled, fists clenched.

So the partying tonight was in, not out.

Jared contemplated turning around and finding a hotel, or worse, calling Shana. No, bad idea. They’d dated on and off during law school and after, but they’d never been exclusive. Currently he and Shana were off. Definitely off.

Lousy timing for Tanner to throw a damn party.

That was the main problem with letting his twenty-four-year-old brother live with him. He’d thought it would be nice to spend some time with his little brother, but with his work schedule he barely saw Tanner. The one night they might have hung out, he was too tired to care. He was not in the mood to dodge drunken graduate students all night and try to drown out all the racket they were making. Luck wasn’t with him tonight. Fuck, he was turning into a crotchety old man if he was going to let a party piss him off.

The door to their place was unlocked, and when he swung the door open, a wave of fresh sound engulfed him. His eardrums throbbed, and he winced at the explosion of the music that drilled into his skull like nails. Scantily-dressed girls bounced about to the pounding rhythm of the music along with guys who were watching with giddy-schoolboy expressions. Some of them cheered and smiled, drunkenly overjoyed that a new person had shown up to the party. Several familiar faces, Tanner’s friends, waved at him or nodded as he walked past them.

“Jared! I thought you weren’t coming home till tomorrow?” A zombie stripper stepped in front of him, hands on her hips. Through the gory makeup he thought he recognized her.

“Layla?”

Tanner’s girlfriend was dressed as a zombie stripper. Only Layla could manage to pull off that look.

“Layla, what the hell is going on?” he demanded, gesturing to the insanity. A girl in a sexy Lara Croft costume was singing a bad karaoke cover of “Somebody’s Watching Me.” Holy fuck. He was going to need some noise-cancelling headphones to survive this shit. For a brief second he considered tossing everyone out on their damn asses, but this place was half Tanner’s and he’d told Tanner he wouldn’t be here tonight. Brother code demanded he suffer through this bullshit.

Layla didn’t look chagrined in the least. “It’s Halloween. Oh, and Felicity’s birthday, obviously.”

“Who is Felicity?” He’d never met anyone named Felicity. Not that it was surprising, because he was never around when his brother was hanging out with Layla and their friends. He didn’t really remember what it was like to be that carefree. Law school and work had a way of consuming a person’s good memories.

“Scratch that, I don’t care. Is this thing”—he waved a hand around—“ending anytime soon?” He shifted his briefcase strap over his shoulder. His suit was starting to suffocate him, and as much as he liked the particular steel-gray tie he wore at the moment, he was desperate enough to cut it right off his neck if he couldn’t get to his room fast enough.

“Uh…” She licked her lips. “Don’t know. But you said you weren’t coming back until Sunday.”

“Well, here I am and tired as fuck. So I’m going to bed. Try to keep it down,” he growled.

“Uh, Jared.” She dodged around him, trying to prevent him from getting past her.

“What did you do?” He arched a brow, sensing by the way her eyes widened and she shifted in her stilettos that something was wrong.

“I might have given your bed away.” Layla bit her lip, yet she was brave enough to still meet his eyes.

“What do you mean you gave my bed away?”

She attempted to smile. “You were supposed to be gone until Monday, and Felicity needed a place to stay tonight. It’s late, and I didn’t want her to go home alone. She lives in a sketchy part of town—so I told her she could crash in your bed since you weren’t going to be here.” She glared at him, accusing him of something he wasn’t entirely sure was his fault. “So she’s in your room tonight.” She ended with a finality that did not entirely make sense to his tired brain.

“Let me get this straight. Some girl is in my bed…right now?”

Layla swallowed, her eyes darting away before coming back to him. “Um…yeah?”

“No,” he stated and stalked toward his room, Layla at his heels. Whoever this Felicity person was, she was in his bed, and since it was his bed, whatever Layla and this girl had seemed to think otherwise, he’d have her out of it.

Reaching his bedroom door, he crashed it open and strode in, prepared for all the hell and fury that came with drunk, twenty-something females—and instead, as his eyes adjusted, he found a princess in his bed.

Layla clattered behind on her too-tall stilettos. “Jared, wait—”

He pushed the door open, and a yellow beam of light from the hallway cut across the dark room, revealing a figure lying across his bed.

A princess. There was a princess in his bed.

The burgundy-and-gold gown was draped over his comforter with pearls glowing like tiny moons on the bodice of her gown.

What the fuck?

“Please don’t wake her,” Layla begged.

Wake her? Jared shook his head. What nonsense. He wasn’t a romantic. Even though she was certainly a fantasy. All luscious curves and mystery. Her dark auburn hair cascading over the pillow looked soft. His hands ached to reach out and fist in the strands. She looked like the kind of woman a young man dreamed about and ruined his sheets over, the kind of woman he’d stopped dreaming about a long time ago because he was convinced they didn’t exist.

He didn’t turn to look at Layla as he spoke. “Who is that?”

“Felicity Hart. Birthday girl and, more importantly, my best friend.” The threat was heavily implied. Don’t screw with Layla or her friends. Her loyalty in that respect was one of the things he admired most about his brother’s girlfriend.

Layla’s fingers curled around his biceps and squeezed, getting his attention.

“I told her she could sleep in your room since you weren’t supposed to be here. It’s the only place available for her to sleep.”

“I’m not giving up my bed. I worked seventy hours this week. I’m going to sleep.” He got one step inside his room before Layla practically tackled him, climbing up his back like a spider monkey.

“You. Will. Not. Wake. Her. Up,” Layla growled, nails digging into his arms. “She has a really important research paper due tomorrow, and she needs to sleep.”

“She can stay, but I’m sharing my bed with her. End of discussion. Go back to your party.” With a little shove, he made sure Layla couldn’t get back in before he shut the door in her face.

When he turned back around, he studied the girl in his bed. Without the hallway light he could barely make out her features. Just a silhouette, really, of a princess. Arousal slammed into him. He felt like an idiot. He never dated anyone who was still in school. They were too young. A year ago he’d tried to date a girl who was twenty-four, but she’d gotten pissed every time he’d had to work late. She didn’t get the pressures of his job. None of the girls younger than him seemed to understand that. Layla was all right, but she was still a kid. He needed someone mature who was at the same point in her life as him, an adult.

The hot little princess was the last thing he needed to be thinking about.

Don’t think about her or how much fun it would be to wake her up and kiss her. Just be a gentleman and go to bed.

His inner voice was a goddamn control freak, but he was thankful someone was still responsible.

Turning away, he started to strip out of his work clothes. He kicked his shoes off and then slipped a pair of pajama bottoms on. He didn’t bother with a shirt. He always got a little hot at night anyway. As he moved deeper into the room, he caught his foot on a chair. It screeched as it slid across the wood, and he winced, catching himself against the back of it. He glanced at the bed, but the girl hadn’t woken. A few quick steps and then he hit the bed, landing on his stomach and bouncing a little. The princess next to him didn’t stir. He shifted a couple of inches and slid one arm beneath his pillow to puff it up as he laid his head down. The toll of the night’s celebrations dragged him to the edge of the abyss of sleep. He was so close…

A little gasp and a half-strangled whimper pulled him to the surface again. “Whah?” He groaned and rolled onto his side facing the girl.

She was thrashing and whimpering beside him. Her hands clawed at the bodice of her dress, as though trying to escape it.

“Damn it!” He sat up and flicked on the lamp by his side of the bed. The wash of color in the room showed how flushed the girl was. She still shifted and kicked, moaning as if in pain. Jared leaned over and gently jostled her shoulder.

“Hey, kid, wake up.”

She jolted awake. Bright gray eyes like liquid mercury flashed in shock and fear as her gaze fell on him.

“Hi,” he said.

The princess blinked, her eyes darting around the room, then back to him, focusing on his bare chest. Her pupils dilated.

“Did we…um…who—” She shook her head as though to clear it. “Who are you, and what are you doing here?”

Jared let out a raspy chuckle. “I’m the one who should be asking questions. But it’s been a long day and I’m beat. I’m Jared, and you are in my bed.”

He stood and walked back to his cherrywood dresser. His fingers curled around the brass handle, and he opened the top drawer.

“You’re Tanner’s brother?” Her voice was soft, husky. It rolled over him, soothing his irritation.

He selected a silk striped button-down nightshirt and a pair of boxers from his drawer and then returned to the bed. “Here.” He held the clothes out to her.

“What are those for?” she asked. One elegant brow rose.

“You. You woke up clawing at your dress. Looks like it’s too tight around your chest and it’s restricting your breathing. Unless you have clothes of your own, you’re changing into these so we can both get some sleep. Layla said you had some paper due tomorrow.”

When she opened her mouth, he could see the protest in her eyes and it amused him. Feisty little thing. And damned if he didn’t picture all the things he’d like to do to that little mouth.

“Take the clothes and change in the bathroom. Now.” He deepened his voice, and she hopped out of bed, snatching the clothes as she darted into the bathroom. She froze, then slowly looked over her shoulder at him.

“What?”

“My dress…it’s the laces in the back. I can’t reach them.”

A sigh escaped him. “Come here.” He crooked a finger and sat farther back on his bed. She sidled up to him, bashfulness in her every movement.

There was something sinful and suggestive about the way she nibbled her bottom lip. He twirled a finger, indicating for her to spin around. She offered her back to him. The silk ribbons on the back of her gown came undone easily enough, but he was surprised to see the second set of laces beneath, which belonged to a corset. It was black with embroidered red roses that set off the color of the loose tangles of her hair. The strands teased the back of his hands as he unlaced the corset. The creamy skin of her lower back made his mouth go dry. The princess was trying to kill him with these temptations.

All too soon the view disappeared as she rushed into the adjoining bathroom to change.

He fell back onto the bed, staring up at the ceiling. His fingers tapped a rhythm on his stomach as he waited. This was not at all how he’d predicted his night would go. He wasn’t complaining—not exactly.

The princess emerged, gown gone. She looked so young, standing there dwarfed in his button-down shirt and a hint of his boxers beneath the hem at her mid-thighs. Her gorgeous hair was wild and long, and it looked like she’d been well loved in bed. He didn’t miss the swell of her full breasts against the thin, expensive silk. The top button was low down her chest, exposing a wealth of creamy skin. Damn.

Author Bio

Lauren Smith is an Oklahoma attorney by day, author by night for Grand Central Publishing, who pens adventurous and edgy romance stories by the light of her smart phone flashlight app. She knew she was destined to be a romance writer when she attempted to re-write the entire Titanic movie just to save Jack from drowning.

Connecting with readers by writing emotionally moving, realistic and sexy romances no matter what time period is her passion. She’s won multiple awards in several romance subgenres including: New England Reader’s Choice Awards, Greater Detroit BookSeller’s Best Awards, Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter-Finalist and a Semi-Finalist for the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award. To connect with Lauren, visit her at http://www.laurensmithbooks.com/  or twitter at https://twitter.com/LSmithAuthor.

Author Links

Review : The Billionaire Beast (The Billionaire Fairytales) by Jackie Ashenden

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Published March 7th 2017 by Swerve

My Review

Rating : 4 out of 5 stars

The Billionaire Beast is a modern-day retelling of a favorite fairytale, Beauty and the Beast. It’s the second novel in Jackie Ashenden’s Billionaire Fairytales. The hero of this story, Nero de Santis, is definitely a beastly boss, difficult, demanding, arrogant and domineering. No one wants to work for this reclusive billionaire and computer genius. True to form, this character is intriguing, but his attitude is completely over-the-top.

Phoebe Taylor needs money and accepts the well-paid job of Nero’s personal assistant. Despite Nero’s tendency to push her and test her limits, Phoebe is a worthy opponent he can’t defeat. She is the calm behind Nero’s storm. Phoebe is sensitive to people who are broken and need help, and she sees through Nero’s mask.  He is a prisoner in his own house, stuck in his painful past, insecure and vulnerable.  He has no one but her and his butler.

Phoebe and Nero share the same loneliness and their chemistry was palpable. When he accepts to let his guard down, Nero has the ability to uncover the passionate woman hiding beneath her demure attitude.  But to be worthy of Phoebe, he has to acknowledge his pain. His intense desire to change was touching and his healing journey was deeply emotional.

This story was pacy, addictive, sexy and well-written. If, like me, you’re a sucker for modern retellings of classic tales with a few new twists and turns and some dark elements, then this series is not to be missed. The Billionaire Beast can be read as a standalone and is told in dual point-of-view.

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley.

Launch Day Blitz : So Screwed (Bad Behavior #2) by Melissa Marino

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SO SCREWED by Melissa Marino (March 7, 2017; Forever Yours eBook; $3.99; Bad Behavior series; Book 2)

He’s charming, wicked, and handsome . . . and she needs to stay away

 For Evelyn Owen, work comes first. Being a wedding planner to the city’s elite fills her nights and weekends, and she doesn’t have time for distractions. Especially in the form of a sexy bartender with killer dimples . . .

Abel Matthews knows how to serve the ladies. But lately, the only woman he wants is just out of reach. That’s because Evelyn has already been warned about his playboy ways. Still, there’s something about her that makes Abel want more than a quick fling.

Evelyn knows that she shouldn’t trust Abel. Yet she’s seen a side of him no one else knows, and she can’t turn away. But Abel is hiding something from her . . . and if he doesn’t confess soon, it will tear them apart.

My Review

Rating : 4.5 out of 5 stars

marino_soscrewed_ebookA priori, Abel Matthews is the worst kind of womanizer, immature and irresponsible, but Melissa Marino managed to make me love this character from start to finish! His dream of becoming an English teacher and a writer has not yet come true, but he doesn’t give up and is biding his time. In the meantime, he is a bartender at one of his brother Aaron’s bars and a gambler in his spare time. Abel is totally flawed, perfectly playing his role of prodigal son, and yet he is so endearing!

Evelyn Owen is a wedding planner, catering to the rich and famous. She is a strong heroine, focused on her successful career. Despite their seemingly opposite personalities, their chemistry was palpable. Abel is bold, not afraid of ridicule and his brazen attitude slowly grows on Evelyne. He is a flirt, but she can’t resist his charm, generosity and well-hidden vulnerability.

There was a lot of push and pull between them, they are both insecure and are fully embracing their fear of commitment. Their emotional connection was undeniable, though, and I loved how their relationship progressed as the story unfolded, Abel and Evelyn are a match made in heaven! That is, until everything comes crashing down and Abel has to reinvent his way of life.

This tender and funny look at love, showing the importance of pursuing your dreams, was a delightful read. Melissa Marino’s characters give this book its irresistible emotional pull. Their story is sweet, fun and real. The pace was perfect and I read this book almost in one sitting. I loved the humorous ending and definitely plan to read Aaron’s book “So Screwed” very soon! If you enjoy a sweet romance filled with playful repartee, then this book is a great pick!

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley

Giveaway

Enter to win 1 of 15 free ebook downloads of So Screwed! http://bit.ly/2mMjB6r

Buy the Book!

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2jnr8Xn

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Google: http://bit.ly/2jy4COS

 

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About the Author

Melissa Marino is a full-time writer and part-time Storm Trooper collector. When she’s not writing, you can find her watching Friends reruns, mastering her cupcake frosting swirl and hunting for the perfect red lipstick. Melissa lives in Chicago with her husband, son and very opinionated dachshund.

Social Media Links

www.melissa-marino.com

www.facebook.com/melissamarinobooks

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