A MONSTER LIKE ME by Pamela Sparkman

Heart of Darkness series #2

HELLO STRANGER by Lisa Kleypas

The Ravenels series #4

THE BUTTERFLY PROJECT by Emma Scott

Companion to the Full Tilt series

MEMPHIS by Ginger Scott

A standalone sports romance

UNWRITTEN by Jen Frederick

Woodlands series #5

Cross My Heart by L.H. Cosway

Hearts series #5.75

MOONSHADOW by Thea Harrison

Moonshadow series #1

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Blog Tour with Review: My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan



Synopsis

Set amidst the breathtaking beauty of Oxford, this sparkling debut novel tells the unforgettable story about a determined young woman eager to make her mark in the world and the handsome man who introduces her to an incredible love that will irrevocably alter her future—perfect for fans of JoJo Moyes and Nicholas Sparks.

American Ella Durran has had the same plan for her life since she was thirteen: Study at Oxford. At 24, she’s finally made it to England on a Rhodes Scholarship when she’s offered an unbelievable position in a rising political star’s presidential campaign. With the promise that she’ll work remotely and return to DC at the end of her Oxford year, she’s free to enjoy her Once in a Lifetime Experience. That is, until a smart-mouthed local who is too quick with his tongue and his car ruins her shirt and her first day. 

When Ella discovers that her English literature course will be taught by none other than that same local, Jamie Davenport, she thinks for the first time that Oxford might not be all she’s envisioned. But a late-night drink reveals a connection she wasn’t anticipating finding and what begins as a casual fling soon develops into something much more when Ella learns Jamie has a life-changing secret. 

Immediately, Ella is faced with a seemingly impossible decision: turn her back on the man she’s falling in love with to follow her political dreams or be there for him during a trial neither are truly prepared for. As the end of her year in Oxford rapidly approaches, Ella must decide if the dreams she’s always wanted are the same ones she’s now yearning for.

Major Motion Picture Already in Development with Temple Hill Entertainment!




Purchase here:
Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/2qPk5gL
Books-A-Million: https://bit.ly/2qPZ8l5


EXCERPT

CHAPTER 1

While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough

In England – now!

Home-Thoughts, from Abroad – Robert Browning, 1845

“Next!”

The customs agent beckons the person in front of me and I approach the big red line, absently toeing the curling tape, resting my hand on the gleaming pipe railing. No adjustable ropes at Heathrow, apparently; these lines must always be long if they require permanent demarcation.

My phone rings. I glance down. I don’t know the number.

“Hello?” I answer.

“Is this Eleanor Durran?”

“Yes?”

“This is Gavin Brookdale.”

My first thought is that this is a prank call. Gavin Brookdale just stepped down as White House Chief of Staff. He’s run every major political campaign of the last 20 years. He’s a legend. He’s my idol. He’s calling me?

“Hello?”

“Sorry, I-I’m here,” I stammer. “I’m just –

“Have you heard of Janet Wilkes?”

Have I heard of – Janet Wilkes is the junior senator from Florida and a dark horse candidate for President. She’s 45, lost her husband twelve years ago in Afghanistan, raised three kids on a teacher’s salary while somehow putting herself through law school, and then ran the most impressive grassroots senatorial campaign I’ve ever seen. She also has the hottest human-rights-attorney boyfriend I’ve ever seen, but that’s beside the point. She’s a Gold Star wife who’s a progressive firebrand on social issues. We’ve never seen anyone like her on the national stage before. The first debate isn’t for another two weeks, on October 13, but voters seem to love her: she’s polling third in a field of twelve. Candidate Number Two is not long for the race; a Case of the Jilted Mistress(es). Number One, however, happens to be the current Vice-President, George Hillerson, who Gavin Brookdale (if the Washington gossip mill is accurate) loathes. Still, even the notoriously mercurial Brookdale wouldn’t back a losing horse like Wilkes just to spite the presumptive nominee. If nothing else, Gavin Brookdale likes to win. “Of course I’ve heard of her.”

“She read your piece in The Atlantic. We both did. ‘The Art of Education and the Death of the Thinking American Electorate.’ We were impressed.”

“Thank you,” I gush. “It was something I felt was missing from the discourse –”

“What you wrote was a philosophy. It wasn’t a policy.”

This brings me up short. “I understand why you’d think that, but I –”

“Don’t worry, I know you have the policy chops. I know you won Ohio for Janey Bennett. The 138th for Carl Moseley. You’re a talented young lady, Eleanor.”

“Mr. Brookdale –”

“Call me Gavin.”

“Then call me Ella. No one calls me Eleanor.”

“Alright, Ella, would you like to be the education consultant for Wilkes’ campaign?”

Silence.

“Hello?”

“Yes!” I bleat. “Yes, of course! She’s incredible –”

“Great. Come down to my office today and we’ll read you in.”

All the breath leaves my body. I can’t seem to get it back. “So… here’s the thing. I-I’m in England.”

“Fine, when you get back.”

“… I get back in June.”

Silence.

“Are you consulting over there?”

“No, I have a… I got a Rhodes and I’m doing a –”

Gavin chortles. “I was a Rhodie.”

“I know, Sir.”

“Gavin.”

“Gavin.”

“What are you studying?”

“English Language and Literature 1830 to 1914.”

Beat. “Why?”

“Because I want to?” Why does it come out as a question?

“You don’t need it. Getting the Rhodes is what matters. Doing it is meaningless, especially in Literature from 1830 to 19-whatever. The only reason you wanted it was to help you get that life-changing political job, right? Well, I’m giving that to you. So come home and let’s get down to business.”

“Next!”

A customs agent – stone-faced, turbaned, impressive beard – waves me forward. I take one step over the line, but hold a finger up to him. He’s not even looking at me. “Gavin, can I call –”

“She’s going to be the nominee, Ella. It’s going to be the fight of my life and I need all hands – including yours – on deck, but we’re going to do it.”

He’s delusional. But, my God, what if he’s right? A shiver of excitement snakes through me. “Gavin –”

“Listen, I’ve always backed the winning candidate, but I have never backed someone who I personally, deeply, wanted to win.”

“Miss?” Now the customs agent looks at me.

Gavin chuckles at my silence. “I don’t want to have to convince you, if you don’t feel –”

“I can work from here.” Before he can argue, I continue, “I will make myself available at all hours. I will make Wilkes my priority.” Behind me, a bloated, red-faced businessman reeking of gin, moves to squeeze around me. I head him off, grabbing the railing, saying into the phone, “I had two jobs in college while volunteering in field offices and coordinating multiple city council runs. I worked two winning congressional campaigns last year while helping to shape the education budget for Ohio. I can certainly consult for you while reading books and writing about them occasionally.”

“Miss!” the customs agent barks. “Hang up the phone or step aside.” I hold my finger up higher (as if visibility is the problem) and widen my stance over the line.

“What’s your date certain for coming home?” Gavin asks.

“June 11th. I already have a ticket. Seat 32A.”

“Miss!” The customs agent and the man bark at me.

I look down at the red line between my sprawled feet. “Gavin, I’m straddling the North Atlantic right now. I literally have one foot in England and one in America and if I don’t hang up they’ll –”

“I’ll call you back.”

He disconnects.

What does that mean? What do I do? Numbly, I hurry to the immigration window, coming face to face with the dour agent. I adopt my best beauty-pageant smile and speak in the chagrined, gee-whiz tone I know he expects. “I am so sorry, Sir, my sincerest apologies. My Mom’s –”

“Passport.” He’s back to not looking at me. I’m getting the passive-aggressive treatment now. I hand over my brand new passport with the crisp, un-stamped pages. “Purpose of visit?”

“Study.”

“For how long will you be in the country?”

I pause. I glance down at the dark, unhelpful screen of my phone. “I… I don’t know.”

Now he looks up at me.

“A year,” I say. Screw it. “An academic year.”

“Where?”

“Oxford.” Saying the word out loud cuts through everything else. My smile becomes genuine. He asks me more questions, and I suppose I answer, but all I can think is:

I’m here. This is actually happening. Everything has come together according to plan.

He stamps my passport, hands it back, lifts his hand to the line.

“Next!”

#

When I was thirteen I read an article in Seventeen Magazine called, “My Once in a Lifetime Experience,” and it was a personal account of an American girl’s year abroad at Oxford. The classes, the students, the parks, the pubs, even the chip shop (“pictured, bottom left”) seemed like another world. Like slipping through a wormhole into a universe where things were ordered and people were dignified and the buildings were older than my entire country. I suppose thirteen is an important age in every girl’s life, but for me, growing up in the middle of nowhere, with a family that had fallen apart? I needed something to hold onto. I needed inspiration. I needed hope. The girl who wrote the article had been transformed. Oxford had unlocked her life and I was convinced that it would be the key to mine.

So I made a plan: get to Oxford.

After going through more customs checkpoints, I follow signs for The Central Bus Terminal and find an automatic ticket kiosk. The “£” sign before the amount looks so much better, more civilized, more historical than the American dollar sign, which always seems overly suggestive to me. Like it should be flashing in sequential neon lights above a strip club. $ - $ - $. Girls! Girls! Girls!

The kiosk’s screen asks me if I want a discounted return ticket (I assume that means round trip), and I pause. My flight back to Washington is on June 11th, barely sixteen hours after the official end of Trinity term. I have no plans to return to the states before then, instead staying here over the two long vacations (in December and March) and traveling. In fact, I already have my December itinerary all planned. I purchase the return ticket, then cross to a bench to wait for the next bus.

My phone dings and I look down. An email from The Rhodes Foundation reminding me about the orientation tomorrow morning.

For whatever reason, out of all the academic scholarships in the world, most people seem to have heard of The Rhodes. It’s not the only prestigious scholarship to be had, but it’s the one that I wanted. Every year, America sends 32 of its most overachieving, uber-competitive, social-climbing, do-gooder nerds to Oxford. It’s mostly associated with geniuses, power-players, global leaders. Let me demystify this: to get a Rhodes, you have to be slightly unhinged. You have to have a stellar GPA, excel in multiple courses of study, be socially entrepreneurial, charity-minded, and athletically proficient (though the last time I did anything remotely athletic I knocked out Jimmy Brighton’s front tooth with a foul ball, so take that tenet with a grain of salt). I could have gone after other scholarships. There’s the Marshal, the Fulbright, the Watson, but the Rhodies are my people. They’re the planners.

The other finalist selected from my district (a Math/Econ/Classics triple-major and Olympic archer who had discovered that applying Game Theory to negotiations with known terrorists makes the intel 147% more reliable) told me, “I’ve been working toward getting a Rhodes since Freshman year.” To which I replied, “Me, too.” He clarified, “Of high school.” To which I replied, “Me, too.”

While, yes, the Rhodes is a golden ticket to Oxford, it’s also a built-in network and the means to my political future. It ensures that people who would have otherwise discounted me – this unconnected girl from the soybean fields of Ohio – will take a second, serious look. People like Gavin Brookdale.

Going after things the way I do, being who I am, has alienated my entire hometown and most of my extended family. My mom hadn’t gone to college and my dad had dropped out after two years because he’d thought it was more important to change the world than learn about it, and there I was, this achievement machine making everyone around it vaguely uncomfortable. She thinks she’s better than everyone else.

Honestly, I don’t. But I do think I’m better than what everyone, besides my dad, told me I was.

#

I wake up in a moment of panic when the bus I’d boarded back at Heathrow jerks to a stop, sending the book on my lap to the floor. Hastily retrieving it, I force my sleepy eyes to take in the view from the floor-to-ceiling window in front of me. I chose the seat on the upper level at the very front, wanting to devour every bit of English countryside on the way to Oxford. Then I slept through it.

Pushing through the fog in my head, I peer outside. A dingy bus stop in front of a generic cell phone store. I look for a street sign, trying to get my bearings. My info packet from the college said to get off at the Queens Lane stop on High Street. This can’t be it. I glance behind me and no one on the bus is moving to get off, so I settle back into my seat.

The bus starts up again, and I breathe deeply, trying to wake up. I jam the book into my backpack. I’d wanted to finish it before my first class tomorrow, but I can’t focus. I was too excited to eat or sleep on the plane. My empty stomach and all-nighter is catching up to me. The time difference is catching up to me. The last twelve years spent striving for this moment is catching up to me.

Inside my jacket pocket, my phone vibrates. I pull it out and see the same number from earlier. I take a deep breath and preemptively answer, “Gavin, listen, I was thinking, let’s do a trial period of, say, a month, and if you feel that I need to be there –”

“Not necessary."

My throat tightens. “Please, just give me thirty days to prove that –”

“It’s fine. I made it work. Just remember who comes first.”

Elation breaks through the fog. My fist clenches in victory and my smile reaches all the way to my temples. “Absolutely,” I say in my most professional voice. “Thank you so much for this opportunity. You won’t be disappointed.”

“I know that. That’s why I hired you. What’s your fee? FYI: there’s no money.”

There’s never any money. I tell him my fee anyway and we settle on something that I can live with. The Rhodes is paying my tuition and lodging and I get a small stipend for living expenses on top of that. I decide right then that what Gavin’s going to pay me will go directly into my travel budget.

“Now, go,” he says, “Have fun. You’ve clearly earned it. There’s a pub you should visit in the center of town. The Turf. See where one of your fellow Rhodes Scholars – a young William Jefferson Clinton – ‘didn’t’ inhale.”

“Ha, got it. Will do.”

“Just take your phone with you. Your phone is an appendage, not an accessory. Okay?”

I nod even though he can’t see me. “Okay. It’s a plan.” Just as I say this, the bus rounds a bend and there she is:

Oxford.

Beyond a picturesque bridge, the narrow two-lane road continues into a bustling main street, lined on each side by buildings with a hodge-podge of architectural styles, no room to breathe between them. Like the crowd at the finish line of a marathon, these buildings cheer me on, welcoming me to their city. Some are topped with sloped, slate roofs, others with battlements. Some of the larger buildings have huge wooden gates that look as if they were carved in place, a fusion of timeless wood and stone that steals my breath. Maybe those doors lead to some of the 38 individual Oxford colleges? Imagining it, dreaming of it all these years, doesn’t do it justice.

I look skyward. Punctuating the horizon are the tips of other ancient buildings, high-points of stone bordering the city like beacons.

“The City of Dreaming Spires,” I murmur to myself.

“Indeed it is,” Gavin says in my ear. I’d forgotten he was still on the line.

That’s what they call Oxford. A title well deserved. Because that means, before it was my dream or Seventeen Magazine girl’s dream, it was someone else’s dream as well.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Julia Whelan is a screenwriter, lifelong actor, and award-winning audiobook narrator. She graduated with a degree in English and creative writing from Middlebury College and Oxford University. While she was in England, her flirtation with tea blossomed into a full-blown love affair, culminating in her eventual certification as a tea master.


Connect with Julia

Facebook: @justjuliawhelan
Twitter: @justjuliawhelan
Instagram: @justjuliawhelan


REVIEW


My Oxford Year
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Title: My Oxford Year
Series: Standalone
Author: Julia Whelan
Release date: April 24, 2018
Cliffhanger: No



Sometimes you just get a gut feeling about a book, and that's what happened when I came across My Oxford Year. After seeing the adorable cover and reading the blurb, the entire package was calling to me and screaming READ ME in neon lights. I'm usually hesitant with new/unfamiliar authors, but I instictively took the leap of faith in this case, and it paid off handsomely.

I'm not going to lie and say that I wasn't hesitant or cautious because of the blurb's comparison to JoJo Moyes and Nicholas Sparks. I love angst, but I don't want to have my heart ripped out of my chest and splintered into tiny pieces at the end of a book. If there's going to be sadness, I want it to have purpose and meaning, but overall a feeling of thankfulness that I went along for the journey. That's exactly what happened with this story. Ella learns valuable and life altering lessons during her year at Oxford. Not just for the sake of the man she loves, but for her own growth as a woman trying to find her footing in the world.

The narrative is sharp, witty, and easily draws you into the story. Julia Whelan's knowledge of Oxford bled through everything, saturating Ella as she joyfully experienced the University and the beautiful city brimming with opportunity. The city seen through her eyes is just as exciting as she had anticipated all her life, but it gifted her so much more than she could've imagined. It was more than a checkmark on her to-do list, it was a place of knowledge and discovering her purpose. Of slowing down, and savoring the moments and people that mattered.

Ella has been a planner and an overachiever all of her life. Intelligent, driven, and single-minded in her pursuit of a career and success. Along the way, personal relationships have been a casualty of her focus, but she doesn't pause too long to think about that. If it saves her from messy entanglements that will distract her or eventually bring heartache, all the better. She soon learns that all of her planning and preparations for her year abroad will all amount to naught. Life throws curveballs, and you must learn to adapt and grow, sometimes altering the fabric of your beliefs and ideals during the difficult process.

It was on her first day in England when she would meet (and instantly dislike) Jamie Davenport. After a bad first impression that had them exchanging snark and cutting barbs, she would have been happy to never set eyes on him again. Unfortunately, she discovers that the audacious stranger that she crossed paths with is none other than the man stepping in to teach her English lit course. She thinks she can ace the class with her knowledge base and impersonal analyzations, but he helps her examine poetry with the power of her emotions. They have fascinating nuanced philosophical chats, oftentimes inspired by poetry or history. Though their attraction flared quick, it was their friendship that developed and grew solid even quicker. Despite the cultural diversity between them, they feel like they are almost like two sides of the same coin. Understanding and connecting to each other at a fundamental level so effortlessly.

The story wouldn't have the same impact if it wasn't for Jamie. His brilliance and insight made him special, but his sense of humor and the purity of his heart will completely win you over. I loved his total unselfishness in trying to shield Ella from hurt, but also the ways in which he showed her how her happiness meant more to him than his own. He was everything. That's why one of the things that affected me the most was his broken relationship with his father, and the hurt that miscommunication has brought on the entire family. They were all living with so much pain, and I felt every bit of the ache as they tried to find a way to bridge the gap.

I powered through the charming first half of the book, lulled into a false sense of security. The further I read, the more confidence built that I would make it through to the end without falling apart. My strategy was simple: try to remain slightly emotionally removed, and when the time comes, it would be like ripping off a band-aid. Quick and painless. Well, like Ella, I discovered that not all things will conform to strategy. Suddenly in the last 20% of the book, I was leaking like a broken faucet, and desperation had firmly taken hold. I needed a light to guide me out of the darkness. and I think that the author pulled me through it flawlessly. I left the book feeling at peace, and better for having read it. Ella and Jamie will stay with me for a long time to come.

    I love believing in something and fighting for it. That’s what I told Antonia and that’s true. It’s what I counseled Janet to do, on a national stage, no less. Believe in something and fight for it. Well. I found my next fight. Love. That’s my choice.


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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Release Blitz: Let Me Be Your Truth by Lynsey M. Stewart

TagLine-OutNow
Is it possible to find your truth in the unlikeliest of relationships?
It's time to finally meet Kate and Danny.

Let Me Be Your Truth by Lynsey M. Stewart is now LIVE!

LMBYT-Cover

One click now: http://bit.ly/LMBYTUniversal

Teaser-BeYours
Synopsis:

From the outside, Kate Roper has life all figured out—a career as a social worker, friends who love her, and a perfectly sensible relationship with a loyal but boring man. She has her life sorted neatly into boxes…until she meets Danny, a tortured artist with a troubled past. They say opposites attract, and Danny’s sexual confidence intrigues Kate. His tattoos enthrall her. He is everything she doesn’t think she needs, yet she craves what he has to offer.

Art therapy sessions at a local therapy centre have saved Danny from his tormented past. But when Kate shows up with her positivity, paint brushes and flirty skirts, Danny can’t seem to escape the grim reminders she triggers of when he needed help the most and was left to bury the past under his addictions.

Danny doesn’t do romance. He does sex. Amazing sex. He can teach Kate the art of orgasms so that his Miss Goody Two Shoes learns the difference between monotonous and mind-blowing…
As their relationship intensifies, their pasts collide. They soon find that they have more in common than they ever would have thought, but can Kate and Danny find their truths in the unlikeliest of relationships?

This novel contains strong language and graphic descriptions of sex; therefore this novel is only suitable for 18+

This is the third book in the Music and Letters series but can be read as a standalone.  

Read the first two books in the Music and Letters series now:
Let Me Be Your First: http://bit.ly/LMBYF-Universal
Let Me Be Your Hope: http://bit.ly/LBMYH-Universal


Review


Excerpt

‘I want to know there are no barriers between us.’

‘Fabric. That’s all,’ I said, breathless and panting and so close to bending over, holding my ankles and allowing him to thrust into me from behind.

‘No barriers,’ he repeated. ‘They’re not just fabric. They’re a fucking lock and key.’

‘I need you inside me, Danny.' His breathing was laboured, and his cock was still hard against me. ‘I don't think I can wait. Can we leave? Will they notice we're gone?'

‘Patience. You need to learn that good things come to those who wait,' he said.

‘Is this another lesson?’ I smiled against his hand as he ran it across my mouth and down my neck.

‘Of course it is. I'm going to push you. Test your boundaries.' He nipped at my earlobe with his lips. ‘Take those lacy things you call underwear that you're hiding in your hand and go and hang them on the corner of my easel in the art room.'

‘I can’t do that,’ I moaned as he palmed my breast. ‘People will see. This is where I work-’

‘Hang them off my easel,’ he demanded, stopping my pathetically weak protest. ‘If you do it, I’ll know you’re ready for the next lesson.’ He gripped my hips and turned me towards him, lifting my chin up to his face with his finger. ‘Do you trust me?’ I nodded as I took in his usually hard brown eyes that were now soft and dilating. ‘Go now.’

Lynsey M Stewart

About Lynsey:

Lynsey M. Stewart enjoys writing stories about characters that experience a few bumps in the road before finding their happily ever after (also known as contemporary romance with plenty of heat…). She lives with her husband, her soulmate and muse, along with their gorgeous, precious, ridiculously independent little girl. Lynsey began writing after being inspired by great books, amazing writers and wonderful stories that she couldn't stop thinking about long after reading the last word. If she’s not writing you can usually find her with her head in a book or singing along to music. She’s hopeless, but she enjoys pretending to be Adele every once in a while.

Follow Lynsey everywhere:



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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Cover Reveal: Tulsa by S.L. Scott


Title: TULSA
Author: S.L. Scott
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 3, 2018
Cover Design: RBA Designs



SYNOPSIS

From New York Times Bestselling Author, S.L. Scott, comes a hot new rock star romance that will sweep you off your feet and leave you with a smile.
The rumors are true. At least where I’m concerned.
Drummers hit it harder and do it better.
Women love me and I love them. But I like to think of myself as a sensitive soul trapped in a lady-killer’s body. Not so surprisingly, I’ve been called cocky a time or two. What can I say? We can’t all be boy scouts.
Nikki Faris has thrown off my rhythm. With her red lips, smart aleck mouth, short skirts, long legs, and blue-sky eyes, the beautiful lead singer has become a complete distraction on this tour.
She loves to give me a hard time when all I want to do is give her the pleasure of my hard—time right back.
Tulsa Crow can save his pick up lines, great eight-pack abs, and cute dimples to use on someone else. My band earned their spot on The Resistance’s tour just like The Crow Brothers. I’m not going to blow it getting sidetracked by a cocky rock star that wants to sleep his way through the states. I’ve been called a name or two, but easy isn’t one of them.

   



ABOUT S.L. SCOTT


Living in the capital of Texas with her family, Scott loves traveling and avocados, beaches, and cooking with her kids. She's obsessed with epic romances and loves a good plot twist. Her favorite color is blue, but she likens it more toward the sky than the emotion. Her home is filled with the welcoming symbol of the pineapple and finds surfing a challenge though she likes to think she's a pro.


AUTHOR LINKS

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Release Day Launch: Intrepid by Keri Lake

Today we have the release blitz for Keri Lake’s INTREPID. We are so excited to share this new release with you! Grab your copy today!

Title: Intrepid

Author: Keri Lake

Genre: Contemporary Romance

About Intrepid:

In the corner house of an empty street, there is a boy inside a box. In that boy, there lives a secret, one so dark, it’s sealed with locks. Nearly ten years have passed since the night I was captured. Tricked and betrayed, I suffered the hours of brutal torment with death’s cold whisper across my skin. And when the nameless faces that haunted my nightmares took everything and everyone I loved, I feared I’d never be free of the darkness. But that's the thing about fear. Over time, it breeds anger, and when anger fills the box, vengeance bleeds out. It's been almost a decade since I escaped their hell, staying in the shadows, hiding my demons, and God help them now that I've tasted retribution and crave more of it. Blood is the price for pain, and I vow to take everything and everyone they love. I’m no longer a frightened boy, but the intrepid vigilante, a ruthless executioner, who will stop at nothing to punish the depraved few that stole my life and walked free. The plan is perfect, except for her. The one woman I'm forbidden to have, whose soothing touch settles my fractured mind. My angel of mercy sent to silence the voices. Yet, not even she can save me from the black void wherein my skeletons lie buried beneath the truth. Because in order to feed my thirst for revenge, I have to destroy the very thing that gives me purpose. Tooth for a tooth, heart for a heart.

Get Your Copy Today:

AMAZON US | AMAZON UK | AMAZON CA | AMAZON AU | B&N | APPLE | KOBO

 

  EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: 

I stepped inside, struck by the cold air that nearly stole my breath. Moonlight shone in on the small apartment, where only a mattress lay on the floor, the wrinkled sheets strewn atop of it. A chair set off to the side held a hard hat and a pair of jeans draped across the arm. To the right, a door sat opened, onto what I assumed was a small bathroom.

A crunch beneath my shoe pulled my attention to the floor, where small glistening specks of glass lay scattered about a smashed bottle of whiskey.

“This is where you live.” I turned to see him leaning against the doorframe with his arms crossed.

He pushed off, stepped past me, into the room, and spun around to face me, arms outstretched. “Home sweet home.”

The place stood nearly vacant and dark, nothing but a cold, hollow room where he slept.

“It looks temporary.”

“It is temporary. Everything is temporary, Sera. Homes. Life. Love. What’s the point of getting attached to anything, if it all ends the same?”

“Because that’s the beauty of life. It doesn’t all end the same. And even if it’s all temporary, it’s worth it.” I thought about the short time with my mother, how I wouldn’t have traded a second of it for anything else in the world. “Love is always worth it.”

“The pain is worth it to you? The struggle to wake up every morning and breathe, after you lost everything that ever mattered to you. That’s worth it?”

A shield of tears blurred him to an indistinct figure. “Every second.”

“So, if I fucked you tonight and walked away tomorrow. Would I be worth it? Would that be worth it to you?”

“Yes.”

His lip curled, as if my response had repulsed him, and for one brief moment, I felt like a whore for my honesty.

In the next breath, he strode toward me, scooping me up into his arms.

 

OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES:

RICOCHET (VIGILANTES, #1):

AMAZON US | AMAZON UK | AMAZON CA | AMAZON AU |B&N | APPLE | KOBO

BACKFIRE (VIGILANTES, #2):

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About Keri Lake:

 
Keri Lake is a dark romance writer who specializes in demon wrangling, vengeance dealing and wicked twists. Her stories are gritty, with antiheroes that walk the line of good and bad, and feisty heroines who bring them to their knees. When not penning books, she enjoys spending time with her husband, daughters, and their rebellious Labrador (who doesn’t retrieve a damn thing). She runs on strong coffee and alternative music, loves a good red wine, and has a slight addiction to dark chocolate.

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Monday, April 9, 2018

Review: Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody




Title: Ace of Shades
Series: The Shadow Games #1
Author: Amanda Foody
Release date: April 10, 2018
Cliffhanger: yes
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis
Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…and secrets hide in every shadow.

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless Mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.



Praise for Ace of Shades
House of the Rising Sun meets Six of Crows in Ace of Shades. Thieves, rogues, and shady characters have always fascinated me, and so I enjoyed my dive into the morally ambiguous world of New Reynes.” – Cinda Williams Chima, NYT Bestselling Author of The Seven Realms and The Shattered Realms series

Ace of Shades has it all–incredible world building, cinematic set-pieces, heart-pounding pacing, and unpredictable, deliciously messy characters. Foody’s impressive and ambitious vision for the City of Sin will linger in my senses for a long time. An utter delight.” – Claire Legrand, author of Winterspell

“A positive take on sexuality…the relationship between Enne and Levi simmers, and dangers pile up to an exciting climax. Readers will eagerly wish for a sequel that will allow them to revisit New Reynes.” – Kirkus Reviews

“The world in this promising series debut is dark but enticing.” – School Library Journal

“I was completely enthralled with New Reynes–it was dark and frightening, but at the same time completely alluring. An elaborate plot coupled with exceptional world-building and fully developed characters.” – Heather Herbert, bookseller, Children’s Book World in Haverford, PA

“Its cinematic, action-packed plot contains enough romance to satisfy readers of that genre while piling on danger, thrills, and plot twists. A shocking conclusion sets the stage for book two in the series.” – Booklist
“A rich, satisfying, complicated story… One of the best YA fantasy books I’ve read in years.” – Christine Lynn Herman, author of The Devouring Gray



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About the Author

Amanda Foody has always considered imagination to be our best attempt at magic. After spending her childhood longing to attend Hogwarts, she now loves to write about immersive settings and characters grappling with insurmountable destinies. She holds a Masters in Accountancy from Villanova University, and a Bachelors of Arts in English Literature from the College of William and Mary. Currently, she works as a tax accountant in Philadelphia, PA, surrounded by her many siblings and many books.

ACE OF SHADES is the first novel of THE SHADOW GAME series, releasing April 10, 2018. Her debut, DAUGHTER OF THE BURNING CITY, released in July 2017.

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REVIEW

Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game #1)Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars



I was so excited to snag a copy of this book that was getting so much buzz. I'm always on the lookout for a new (to me) YA fantasy author to try, and this synopsis held a lot of promise. A SOC feel? Count me in! There ARE some general parallels, but it stands on its own two feet. Yes, there are rival street gangs, the hero is troubled with a dark past, but I never felt like I was reading the same story. This is not a heist book...the story is powered by Enne's search for her missing mother, and the danger that crops up as a result of her search. Some skeletons are better staying buried, but she doesn't realize that until it's too late. Mommy dearest has been hiding some explosive, wicked secrets, and now she's gone and left Enne to stumble upon the hidden trip wire.

To be perfectly honest, Enne wasn't impressing me all that much in the beginning. I was starting to wonder if I would even feel invested about what happened to her. Raised in a very conservative and wealthy background, it has shaped her to be pretty prissy and judgemental. She was also naive, sheltered, and more than a bit of a snob. So you can see why I wasn't immediately welcoming her with open arms.

    This city was no place for children. And, she reminded herself, staring up at the sinister, smog stained sky, it was no place for her, either.

If you feel similarly, no worries, because Enne pulls off one mother of a transformation. Or a metamorphosis might be a more apt word. She was like a completely different person by the end of the book after the City of Sin got its claws into her. *big gusty sigh of relief* It's amazing what stepping outside of your pampered upbringing and jumping into a pool of sharks will do to you.

Amanda Foody's world consists of Mizer Kings, blood/split talents, volts and orbs, mafia families, warring street gangs, and omertas. The city reeks of bad decisions and despair, and Levi is just another lost soul trapped by his circumstances. He may appear to be in a position of power because of being the head of the Irons gang, but no one knows how low he has sunk. Enne shows up on his doorstep looking for help at just about the worst moment imaginable. He's scrambling to climb out of the hole he's dug himself into before he's buried alive. The last thing he needs is a girl who's ignorant to the danger that surrounds her. But she brings with her a surprising lifeline that could be the answer to all of his prayers.

Enne's staunch morals are stretched and bent until there's nothing left. Not just through seeing the seedy side of humanity, but experiencing the world from a whole new desperate perspective. When you're downtrodden, helpless, and attacked, you either put your gloves on and fight, or you get dealt a blow that there's no coming back from. She chooses to adjust...to fight. And along the way, she makes discoveries about herself that change the rules of the game she never could have been prepared for.

    She’d faced the witch. She’d poisoned the wolf. She’d strolled into the land of death with her head held high and left it a lord. She was an impossible player in a fixed game, the only person not playing to win.

I thought the concept was a solid one, the fantasy world composed on many interesting facets. However, it took me a while to become emotionally invested, and that's not just purely because of the information dump or the unlikable character traits. The romance felt rather abrupt as opposed to organic. And I'm not entirely sure that I was ever shown that Levi had it in him to have led the Irons to be the top gang on the streets before he hit rock bottom. I was told that he had the brains and cunning to once lead them to the top of the pack. What I was shown was something else entirely. He seemed to be stumbling through every day without a solid plan in place. When he finally did have success within his reach, well...let's just say that he has a way of self-destructing without even trying.

This wasn't quite at the level I was hoping for, however, I'm definitely curious where the story will go after how things left off. Once you're situated in the intricacies of the politics, and the magic, it makes for some fast paced reading. I would recommend this to fantasy fans who enjoy strong elements of magic and suspense.


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Sunday, April 8, 2018

Blog Tour with Review: The Birthday List by Devney Perry

     

Happily married to her college sweetheart, Poppy lived a blessed life with the husband of her dreams. Then everything changed. She is no longer a wife. She is no longer the envy of her single friends. Now, people look at her with pity as they whisper a single word behind her back.

Widow.

Years after her husband’s tragic death, years of pain and sorrow and wishing for the life she’ll never get back, Poppy decides to finish Jamie’s birthday list. She’ll do the things he wanted to most. Because maybe, just maybe, if she can complete his list, she can start to live again.

Poppy expects going through the birthday list will be hard. She expects it to hurt. But what she doesn’t expect is Cole. Could the man who delivered the news of her husband’s death and shattered her heart be the one to help her put it back together again?

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Excerpt

Turning to the door, I smiled, ready to greet my late-evening customer, but faltered as the door closed behind him. Cole Goodman was walking my way. My belly dipped as I took him in. His aviator sunglasses were perched on top of his chocolate-brown hair. A black polo stretched across his broad shoulders and pulled tight across his muscled arms. His pale-blue jeans molded to his Herculean thighs before draping down to his black, square-toed boots. The leather belt on Cole’s trim waist held both a shining badge and a holstered gun. Cole smiled and locked his light-green eyes on mine as he crossed the room. His straight, white teeth made my breath hitch—something that had happened last night more times than I wanted to admit. Molly, who had turned around from her seat to greet our customer, spun around so her back was to Cole. Her cheeks flushed as she whispered, “Wow.” Wow was right. Cole Goodman was—simply put—gorgeous. He could give a woman a speeding ticket and get a thank-you in return. He inspired women to attempt push-ups in a karate class just for the chance to watch him sweat through his gi. Cole made grown women blush like teenagers and giggle in corners, like those girls at the dojo last night.

             

 Devney is the USA Today bestselling author of the Jamison Valley series. She lives in Montana with her husband and two children. After working in the technology industry for nearly a decade, she abandoned conference calls and project schedules to enjoy a slower pace at home with her kids. She loves reading and, after consuming hundreds of books, decided to share her own stories. Devney loves hearing from readers! Connect with her on social media.

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REVIEW



Title: The Birthday List
Series: Standalone
Author: Devney Perry
Release date: April 3, 2018
Cliffhanger: No
My Rating: 4 stars


    He was a dream. How had I found a man who was so understanding and patient, who saw me so clearly? It was nothing short of a miracle.

Believe it or not, this is my very first read by Devney Perry. I've heard so many good things about her writing, but somehow never got around to checking out any of her books. When the early praise and excitement for The Birthday List started to flood in, I knew it was time to go for it.

I don't shy away from a highly emotional book, in fact, if an author can make me feel so intensely for her characters, I know that they've created something really special and meaningful. I was expecting a more weighty narrative due to the subject matter, but honestly, it felt more uplifting than anything. Perry managed to infuse a lot of humor and lightness into Poppy's journey that made for a really fast-paced read.

This is the story of a woman's rebirth in a sense, how she discovered that there was the possibility of life after loss. Poppy thought she had everything she could ever hope for when she married the love of her life right out of college, and they started to build a home together. She took for granted that the future promised years of laughter and love with her husband Jamie. Then in the blink of an eye, that future suddenly dawned dark and grim.

Logically it makes sense that he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time when he was stolen from her. But the guilt gnawing at her seems to contradict that. After four years of surviving a unrelenting grief and living in limbo, she's finally at a place where she feels ready to try to give herself permission to find happiness again. So she comes up with the birthday list plan.

The birthday list was Jamie's own version of a bucket list. Things that he wanted to accomplish and experience in his lifetime by each of his birthdays. Poppy decided that completing his goals would give her a sense of peace and freedom, and fearlessly jumped into each challenge in order to honor the man she loved.

    I wanted to do this for Jamie and let it go. Every day, I was getting stronger. I was getting back on my feet. I was starting to live again—for me. And until the list was done, I’d still be living for Jamie.

Despite her brother Finn trying to talk her out of such an emotional upheaval, she knew it was the right thing to do. She was taking steady steps to reach a happier future. Until she walked into her next challenge at the karate dojo, and the past confronted her in the form of Cole Goodman. He was the man who once shattered her entire world. The irony was, he was going to be the one to help her glue all of her pieces back together again. This man was so perfect for her, and so deserving of the fragile woman that needed to be handled with extreme care.

Cole was so utterly patient and understanding of her need to keep things slow, and sensitive to what she needed to feel comfortable with him. He knew that there was a powerful attraction brewing between them, but he needed to help her to see past her guilt for feeling it. One of the things I thought was really amazing was the fact that he realized that he had fallen in love with her before their first kiss. Not because of insta-love, but because he put their physical relationship on hold until she gave him the signal that she was ready.

    When I pictured kissing another man, it was Cole. When I imagined sleeping with another man, it was Cole. He was the man of the future, patiently waiting on the other side of the line. I could imagine him standing there, holding out his hand.

Poppy was such an incredibly strong character. She faced each task on Jamie's list with courage and grace, all while managing to launch her new restaurant and make it a huge success. Her budding feelings terrified the living daylights out of her, but she faced her fears and put one foot in front of the other in order to let love in her life again. There was an additional conflict involving the unsolved murder of her husband Jamie. Cole worked his fingers to the bone in order to bring Poppy closure, but what he uncovered was something that neither of them could have anticipated.

I'm really glad I gave this story a chance, and I know without a doubt that I will be reading more from this author. My reason for a four instead of a five was partly because I was expecting more of an ugly cry book, and while it had some sad moments, it didn't really delve into the darkest days of her struggle. I really appreciated the overall tone, but I wouldn't have minded seeing her work through those initial stages of grief. Also, there were a couple of things in the book that occurred that I thought were a little bit too coincidental or convenient to be 100% realistic towards the end. However, if you're looking for a slowburn romance with a heartwarming message about love and new beginnings you can't go wrong with The Birthday List.


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