A MONSTER LIKE ME by Pamela Sparkman

Heart of Darkness series #2

HELLO STRANGER by Lisa Kleypas

The Ravenels series #4


Companion to the Full Tilt series


Heartbreaker Bay series #7

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

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Spotlight: Tailspin by Sandra Brown

Fearless pilot Rye Mallett is on a dangerous mission with a mysterious woman in another suspenseful, sexy thriller from #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Sandra Brown. 

Rye Mallett, a fearless "freight dog" pilot charged with flying cargo to far-flung locations, is often rough-spoken and all business, but soft on regulations when they get in the way of meeting a deadline. But he does have a rock-solid reputation: he will fly in the foulest weather, day or night, and deliver the goods safely to their destination. So when Rye is asked to fly into a completely fogbound northern Georgia town and deliver a mysterious black box to a Dr. Lambert, he doesn't ask questions.

As Rye's plane nears the isolated landing strip, more trouble than inclement weather awaits him. He is greeted first by a sabotage attempt on his plane that causes him to crash land, and then by Dr. Brynn O'Neal, who claims she was sent for the box in Dr. Lambert's stead. Despite Rye's "no-involvement" policy when it comes to other people's problems, he finds himself irresistibly drawn to the intrigue surrounding his cargo . . . and to the mysterious and alluring Brynn.

Soon Rye and Brynn are in a treacherous forty-eight-hour race to deliver the box before time runs out. With everyone from law enforcement officials to hired thugs hot on their heels, they must learn to trust each other so they can protect their valuable cargo from those who would kill for it.

Genre: Mystery & Thriller / Fiction / Thrillers / Suspense
On Sale: August 7, 2018
Publisher: Grand Central

"Tailspin is thriller writing at its very best, a nonstop, topsy-turvy, frantic ride that steers an adrenaline-fueled course from first page to last."―Providence Journal

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Sandra Brown is the author of more than sixty New York Times bestsellers, including STING (2016), FRICTION (2015), MEAN STREAK (2014), DEADLINE(2013), & LOW PRESSURE (2012), LETHAL (2011).

Brown began her writing career in 1981 and since then has published over seventy novels, bringing the number of copies of her books in print worldwide to upwards of eighty million. Her work has been translated into over thirty languages.

In 2009 Brown detoured from romantic suspense to write, Rainwater, a much acclaimed, powerfully moving historical fiction story about honor and sacrifice during the Great Depression.

Brown was given an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Texas Christian University. She was named Thriller Master for 2008, the top award given by the International Thriller Writer’s Association. Other awards and commendations include the 2007 Texas Medal of Arts Award for Literature and the Romance Writers of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award. 


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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Review: A Duke in the Night by Kelly Bowen


Duke. Scoundrel. Titan of business. August Faulkner is a man of many talents, not the least of which is enticing women into his bedchamber. He's known-and reviled-for buying and selling companies, accumulating scads of money, and breaking hearts. It's a reputation he wears like a badge of honor, and one he intends to keep.

Clara Hayward, the headmistress of the Haverhall School for Young Ladies, on the other hand, is above reproach. Yet when she's reunited with August all she can think of is the way she felt in his arms as they danced a scandalous waltz ten long years ago. Even though her head knows that he is only back in her life to take over her family's business, her heart can't help but open to the very duke who could destroy it for good.


Google Play: https://goo.gl/69WLgJ

About the Author

Kelly Bowen grew up in Manitoba, Canada. She worked her way through her teenage years as a back country trail guide and ranch hand. She attended the University of Manitoba and earned a Master of Science degree in veterinary physiology and endocrinology.

But it was Kelly's infatuation with history and a weakness for a good love story that led her down the path of historical romance. When she is not writing, she seizes every opportunity to explore ruins and battlefields.

Currently, Kelly lives in Winnipeg with her husband and two boys, all of whom are wonderfully patient with the writing process. Except, that is, when they need a goalie for street hockey.

Follow her: Website | Goodreads | BookBub | Facebook | Twitter

Read the second in the series, Last Night with the Earl (The Devils of Dover #2) September 25th!

After Waterloo, Eli Dawes, Earl of Rivers, was presumed dead—and would have happily stayed that way. He's no longer the reckless young man he once was, and only half as pretty. All he wants is to hide his scars away in his country home. But when he returns home and tries to sneak into his old bedroom in the middle of the night, he's shocked to find someone already there.

Rose Hayward remembers Eli as an arrogant rake who helped her late fiancé betray her. Finding him stealing into the house currently rented by Haverhall School for Young Ladies doesn't correct her impression. Her only thought is to get him to leave immediately. Yet the tension between them is electric, and her painter's eye can't help but admire him, scars and all. He might be back from the dead, but now Rose will do anything to make him feel truly alive.

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A Duke in the Night (The Devils of Dover, #1)A Duke in the Night by Kelly Bowen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: A Duke in the Night
Series: The Devils of Dover #1
Author: Kelly Bowen
Release date: February 20, 2018
Cliffhanger: Yes

    “You asked me once when enough is enough. You are my enough. You are my everything.”

This was a great introduction to Kelly Bowen's work for me! There were a lot of elements and themes I enjoyed, particularly the focus on gender inequality during the time, and how utterly powerless women felt because of it. A Duke in the Night also explored the age old question of the importance of love over money, or vice versa.

August Faulkner, the Duke of Holloway, is a shrewd and unmerciful businessman. Most aristocrats like to live a life of leisure, but he is no ordinary duke. At the age of fifteen, his father was thrown in debtor's prison, and he experienced homelessness and poverty, forcing him to make impossible sacrifices. Far from being born with a silver spoon in his mouth, his childhood lacked basic human necessities. As a result, August is now hellbent on making money, whatever the cost. He now believes that financial security is the only thing that matters. For himself, but most importantly for his family.

There is a lot of guilt carried over from his youth, guilt that makes him feel responsible for things beyond his control when he was so completely helpless. Even when he's at his most coldhearted, you can't help but feel for him, and understand his total obsession and ruthlessness. For a character of his type, it's imperative that the author gives you a deeper understanding of why they are that way. To get inside their head and understand their motivations and emotions. Kelly Bowen accomplished that perfectly. As a result, I was rooting for him to learn how to stack his priorities in life and open himself up to love. Discovering a potentially lucrative business opportunity will bring him straight into Clara Hayward's orbit, resulting in a lot of uncomfortable feelings he's not prepared for.

The Haywards' shipping company is now in his predatory sights, and he's not above using deceit in order to accomplish his goal. It doesn't cause more than a moment's hesitation with his conscience as he makes his plans to integrate himself at the Haverhall school for women. Making a trip will serve a dual purpose as it's where his sister has snuck off to, and Clara conveniently presides as headmistress.

August is blind, deaf, and dumb to what his sister Anne needs from him at first. His inability to simply listen to what she spells out to him is a huge hindrance to their relationship. There's a certain irony that his quest for money is mainly to keep her secure and happy, in fact it has the opposite effect. The things she wants most is freedom, respect, and fulfillment through working. Showering her with things and pressuring her to marry a "suitable" husband are pushing her away farther than he realizes. There is quite a conflict built from years of bad communication, and he finds that he's ill equipped to bridge the distance that's yawned between them.

Clara Hayward has a reputation for many things, and none of them good. At least by Victorian standards, that is. Bluestocking. Wallflower. On the shelf. None of that fazes her a bit as long as she's able to plant seeds with her students, steering them towards a higher education and their most secret dreams. Her family's floundering shipping business has her entire future hanging by a thin thread, and she has no idea where he will go next should they lose their heritage completely. She faces all of the uncertainty like everything else in her life. With resolve and courage. You can do nothing but admire her for her unique ability to throw conventions out the window and live her very best life, regardless of the reaction she receives. Not only does she help her students see the world through a whole new lens, but she nudges the Duke to examine things in ways he never thought of before as well.

Their romance was based in deception, however, August pushed down his feelings of guilt for the quite a while. He stubbornly refused to look too closely at how his actions could possibly hurt Clara, and time after time drowned out the voice in his head telling him that he was wrong. He had a reputation of a scoundrel because of his disinterest in serious relationships or marriage, but with her there was always something more between them that scared him a little. They seemed to be doomed from the start: he had no room in his life for romance, and she wasn't willing to sacrifice her independence or unsullied reputation to be his mistress. They eventually came to a crossroads, and August would have to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was willing to make a lot of changes in his life for the woman he had grown to love.

    This kiss, more than any of their kisses, tasted bittersweet. Tasted of what-ifs and lost opportunities and desire realized too late. Standing in a ruined lighthouse, the sky blazing above their heads, it tasted of goodbye. “Tell me what I am to you, Clara,” August whispered against her mouth. Everything, she wanted to cry.

One thing I didn't understand how their brief dance years before could have such a monumental impact on both of them. It was one part of their romance that didn't feel that realistic in my eyes. They spent minutes in each other's company, then were obsessed at the memory of each other for ten long years. The story did drag in spots through the middle for me, but fortunately it picked up once again in the end, and I left the book on a happy note.

This was an intriguing start to The Devils of Dover series, and I'll be very interested to read Rose's story in Last Night With the Earl. Publication is set for September 25, so now is the perfect time to introduce yourself to this new set of characters by Ms. Bowen!



Blog Tour with Review and Giveaway: Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis


Who needs mistletoe?

Most people wouldn’t think of a bad Santa case as the perfect Christmas gift. Then again, Molly Malone, office manager at Hunt Investigations, isn’t most people, and she could really use a distraction from the fantasies she’s been having since spending the night with her very secret crush, Lucas Knight. Nothing happened, not that Lucas knows that—but Molly just wants to enjoy being a little naughty for once . . .

Whiskey and pain meds for almost-healed bullet wounds don’t mix. Lucas needs to remember that next time he’s shot on the job, which may be sooner rather than later if Molly’s brother, Joe, finds out about them. Lucas can’t believe he’s drawing a blank on his (supposedly) passionate tryst with Molly, who’s the hottest, smartest, strongest woman he’s ever known. Strong enough to kick his butt if she discovers he’s been assigned to babysit her on her first case. And hot enough to melt his cold heart this Christmas.

It took Lucas Knight longer than it should have to realize he had a woman in his bed, but to be fair, he had a bitch of a hangover. Even worse than that, last night was a blur, prompting him to take quick stock. One, there was a bundle of sweet, soft curves against him. Two, his head was currently threatening to secede from the United States Of Lucas. And three, his side hurt like … well, like he’d been shot.

It’d been two weeks since he’d gotten caught in some crossfire on the job and he hadn’t yet been cleared for more than light duty – something he’d obviously managed to ignore last night given that he was palming a nice, warm, feminine ass.

Think, man.

Straining his brain, he remembered taking a pain med before going to O’Riley’s Pub to meet up with some friends. A client had been there, someone he’d recently helped save from a multi-million dollar corporate espionage. The guy had ordered shots to toast to Lucas and … shit. Knowing better than to mix pain meds and alcohol, he’d hesitated, but everyone had been waiting on him, glasses hoisted in the air. Thinking just one shot couldn’t hurt anything, he’d knocked back the drink.

Clearly, he’d been wrong and it’d been enough to mess him up big time, something he hadn’t been in years, not since his brother Josh had been killed. Shoving that away for another time – or never -- Lucas cracked open one eye, but when his retina was stabbed by a streak of sunlight glaring in through the window, he immediately slammed it shut it again. Taking a deep breath, he told himself to suck it up and opened both eyes this time, learning two additional facts.

He was naked and completely uncovered.

And the woman snugged up at his side was rolled up in his comforter like a burrito.

What. The. Hell.

Purchase here:


New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website, www.jillshalvis.com, for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

Connect with Jill

Facebook: @JillShalvis
Twitter: @JillShalvis

*(US residents only)

Hot Winter Nights (Heartbreaker Bay, #6)Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Hot Winter Nights
Series: Heartbreaker Bay #6
Author: Jill Shalvis
Release date: September 25, 2018
Cliffhanger: No
Rating: 4 stars 

Returning to the Heartbreaker Bay series is like catching up with old familiar friends, and once again they did not disappoint. This was such a fun and entertaining comfort read! Jill Shalvis always delivers the laughs and sexy romance that makes my heart go pitter patter. Hot Winter Nights was no exception. From page one, I had a huge smile on my face as I slipped effortlessly into the story starring this lovable, tight-knit group of friends.

Molly and Lucas work together at Hunt Investigations, a security company that can take on some pretty dangerous cases. Molly is the office manager who keeps everyone organized, sitting on the sidelines while her brother and the rest of the guys work in the field. She hasn't been content in the office for some time, but no one is willing to put her safety at risk as a security specialist. She's hungry to prove herself capable, but her pleas to take on a case repeatedly get shut down and ignored. It doesn't help that her brother Joe still can't let go of his guilt and overprotectiveness towards her. If you read his story, About That Kiss, you're familiar with the painful events in the siblings' pasts. What they survived made them both stronger and closer as a result, but they still had wounds that hadn't completely healed.

Molly lived through a traumatic experience as a teen that left her with physical and emotional scars. She doesn't let it control her life though, she works hard to keep her body as strong as possible, and chooses to focus on her strengths rather than her weaknesses. For the most part. She has her insecurities just like any woman does. And when you have people look at you with pity or revulsion, you tend to close in on yourself and lock your vulnerabilities away. She's every bit the tough, intelligent, unflappable woman that throws sass back just as hard as she receives it. Then there's that other side of her that she doesn't allow anyone to see. It's where she hides her own regret over ancient history, and the hurt over the pain it still causes.

Lucas has been fighting a secret attraction for his partner Joe's sister for some time. Pursuing that attraction was WAY out of the realm of possibility for more than one reason. Mixing business and pleasure, Joe's almost certain disapproval, and his own relationship hangups was enough to kill temptation stone dead. Then he wakes up with Molly next to him in bed with no memory of the night before. Cue the panic. Can I just say that I wanted to give her the highest of fives for messing with his head over it? With her pride smarting over his reaction to their "one night stand" she of course decides she must at least get some laughs out of the whole thing. It was so funny to see him so uncomfortable and out of sorts over his supposed loss of self-restraint.

An opportunity comes up for Molly to prove her case solving abilities, and she grabs it with both hands. Lucas reluctantly partners with her after being given orders to keep an eye on her. Everyone knows she'll investigate whether she has approval or not, so he becomes her designated back up. One thing I loved was that he had faith in her pretty much from the beginning. He saw how much it meant to her, and never fails to stand up for her and be her champion at work.

    He knew people sometimes saw Molly as a fragile little flower, but in his mind she wasn’t fragile like a flower at all. Not even close. She was fragile like . . . a bomb.

The Santa mystery added a bit of a suspense element in with the romance, but it was a really fluffy one with low intensity. If anything, the Bad Santa and his elderly, cheeky elves provided extra entertainment value. The Santa suspect had ties to the Mafia, but it was a little hard to take him seriously if I'm being honest. Picture an elderly, pervy guy dressed in the red and white suit, putting the moves on Molly while she's dressed up in a tight elf outfit. There were games of money laundering BINGO, and covert snooping missions in offices. Don't get me wrong, there were some bad characters involved in some very real criminal activity. They were putting their lives on the line together. But Jill Shalvis never lets an opportunity go by for a good laugh through all of their investigations.

When they're almost caught outside the office, and he pushes her up on a railing to kiss her and create a reason for being there:

    Lucas turned back to Molly, who was still balanced on the railing, dazed. “Did you just . . . put the elf on the shelf?” she asked. He gave a disbelieving head shake.

Not only did Lucas stand up for her abilities with the guys at work, he also supported her as she went undercover and didn't try to take control. He put his trust in her and showed her that he knew she could handle each challenge. Even with her physical handicap. Though he was against getting romantically involved with her early on, it didn't take very long for him to start opening his mind to the possibility of more.

    In that moment, Lucas knew he’d do whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted, wherever she wanted. Because in spite of his determination to hold back from the smartest, most resilient, most resourceful, most incredible woman he’d ever been with, he was in. All in.

On the other hand, Molly was bound and determined to conceal her body insecurities, and the story of her injury. She didn't want to define their feelings, or create labels in any way. There was one instance where she said he was less than a one-night stand which I thought was unnecessarily hurtful. It was 100% untrue. They'd slept together numerous times, and deeper feelings were involved beyond chemistry. She was firmly set in denial mode. I wanted to shake her for saying that to him at that point in the book! I got that she needed more time to let her walls down, but I wanted her to start reciprocating the trust he had put in her. It didn't frustrate me too badly, but it did bother me.

        Her trust issue was a fifteen-foot-thick brick wall around her heart, and not much penetrated.

I love that family and friends play a big part in Shalvis' novels. It gives you that warm sense of community and camaraderie with the secondary characters that draws you into all of their lives equally. Every time I finish, I'm always immediately anticipating a different couple finding their own HEA. Overall, I loved spending more time in Heartbreaker Bay. If you're looking for a funny and light holiday romance that's low on angst, this one is definitely for you!



Monday, September 24, 2018

Review: Consumed by J.R. Ward

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the popular Black Dagger Brotherhood series comes a brand-new novel about arson investigator, Ann Ashburn, who is consumed by her troubled past, her family's scorched legacy, and her current case: chasing a deadly killer.


Anne Ashburn is a woman consumed...

By her bitter family legacy, by her scorched career as a firefighter, by her obsession with department bad-boy Danny McGuire, and by a new case that pits her against a fiery killer.

Strong-willed Anne was fearless and loved the thrill of fighting fires, pushing herself to be the best. But when one risky decision at a warehouse fire changes her life forever, Anne must reinvent not only her job, but her whole self.

Shattered and demoralized, Anne finds her new career as an arson investigator a pale substitute for the adrenaline-fueled life she left behind. She doesn't believe she will ever feel that same all-consuming passion for her job again--until she encounters a string of suspicious fires setting her beloved city ablaze.

Danny McGuire is a premiere fireman, best in the county, but in the midst of a personal meltdown. Danny is taking risks like never before and seems to have a death wish until he teams up with Anne to find the fire starter. But Danny may be more than a distraction, and as Anne narrows in on her target, the arsonist begins to target her.

From the creator of the bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood, get ready for a new band of brothers. And a firestorm . . .

Purchase here

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Consumed (Firefighters, #1)Consumed by J.R. Ward
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Title: Consumed
Series: Firefighters #1
Author: J.R. Ward
Release date: October 2, 2018
Cliffhanger: No

As a fan of J.R. Ward's BDB paranormal/fantasy series, I was excited to see something new in the works by her. It's been a long time since I read one of her books, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get hooked again. I wanted to love this one so much, but I'm sad to say that this read was (mostly) a miss for me. At some points, I was tempted to just stop reading altogether because I felt a complete lack of connection to the characters and the storyline.

Short story: The author failed to make me care about Anne and Danny the way I should. Separately, and as a couple.

Long story:

I downloaded the two prequels and had them on my kindle, but my impression was that these were just bonus content, and not necessary to fully enjoy the full length, Consumed. Honestly, I didn't care about seeing the characters attend a wedding from Hell where they have a one-night stand. I just wanted to get to the main event. I figured that all of the important character development and history would be included in this one, and with the other two being 48 pages and 39 pages respectively, I didn't anticipate that I was missing much. Then I started reading. I got to 40% and I felt absolutely no emotion for these characters. They were coming off the pages so flat, I began to have second thoughts about not reading the prequels. I figured I must be missing some important development there, so I dutifully went back and read them. Still nothing.

After reading all three parts, I'm at a loss as to why the story was divided like this. It was a confusing way to cut the plot up, causing the flow to be ill-fitting and choppy. In addition, there was no benefit of drawing me in or making me feel any excitement for them together. One minute they were staring lustfully at each other and ignoring their feelings, the next he was very abruptly coming to the conclusion that he loved her.

    When had attraction and sizzle turned into something bigger for him? Then again, what did the timing matter, when a destination had been reached?

I didn't witness any foundation at all for him to feel that way. Timing does matter to me, I want to see that connection build, strengthen, and lock together. Not just be told that it happens. Yes, they had similar personalities, and were a great team at work. Outside of that, she showed him no encouragement to have a personal relationship. Her two main emotions were angry and cold, and I didn't even have a solid reason as to why until much too far in. Even the traumatic accident she went through which resulted in her being disabled didn't elicit much of a reaction from her.

Realistically, anyone would have a huge adjustment emotionally and physically, but any process she went through was briefly told to us rather than experienced. She ignores uncomfortable feelings whenever possible by pretending they're not there. Then it's hammered home how tough she is, and how she doesn't need to lean on anyone, let alone be vulnerable. Not only did her family life condition her to be that way, but it's the way firefighters cope with the trauma they regularly experience.

    She felt nothing—and not just on the surface, which had no nerves to register sensation. She had no emotion about the thing, either. It was what it was, a part of her now that needed to be, by definition, as indigenous as all the stuff she had been born with. What the hell did she have to get upset about?

There was a lack of consistency with their hook up that I didn't care for. One minute they were dancing together, and she was continuing to chant the mantra in her head to ignore their sexual attraction because it was a very bad idea. A one-night stand was unappealing with this man who plays the field, plus it was against policy for them to date. Five pages later she was offering him a quick lay, then getting up and leaving him in the bed the instant they got off, while he looks at her like a kicked puppy dog. (She did this a second time later which really frustrated me.) He gobbled up the scraps she bestowed on him while internally calling her his "beloved" Anne. Why was she his beloved? I didn't get it! You know the plot is problematic when it feels like more time is spent on Moose and Deandra (the bride and groom from hell) than Danny and Anne.

I gave this two stars because the book was just okay for me overall. One thing I will say is that the firefighting scenes were obviously well researched, and perfectly brought me right inside the action. I have zero complaints on that score. The arson story arc was actually going pretty well, and there were times where I started to warm up to Anne as she faced off with the suspect. When she came out on top in their skirmishes, I was mentally giving her a high five. Her determination and courage were admirable as she struggled to find fulfillment in her new career. Finally, I was seeing some dimension to her character. It was refreshing to see her examine her insecurities over her body image, and reveal the reasoning behind her anger and disgust towards her parents. I thawed a little more as she let down her walls. Then Deandra goes off the deep end, causing a chain reaction of copious amounts of drama, and it lost me.

Consumed failed to hit the mark in many ways, but there was enough interest for the rest of the characters introduced that I can't dismiss the series altogether. When Anne's brother Tom's book comes out, I may give it one more shot.



Release Blitz with Giveaway: Desolate by Autumn Grey

Title: Desolate
Series: Grace Trilogy #1
Author: Autumn Grey
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: September 24, 2018


There are angels and demons at war inside my head.

I had it all figured out: finish high school, attend seminary and finally answer my calling of becoming a priest. What I hadn’t counted in the equation was her.

Grace Miller.

The girl who was always out of my reach. The girl who still makes me lose my breath with just a look.

Little did I know she would become my temptation and vice, and quite possibly, my ruin.

Now I’m standing at a crossroads, and my head is a battlefield. How do I choose sides when it means losing a part of who I am?

Purchase Links

99c for release week only!


Free in Kindle Unlimited



“Can I ask you something? It’s totally fine to say no.” She adds the last part quickly. She smiles and looks at the spot over my shoulder, her fingers tapping a quick beat on the table. She looks vulnerable, her eyes wide, allowing me to see how nervous she is. I mean, how can I say no to her?
“Sure.” I settle back on the seat and stretch my arms along the back of it.
“Can I . . . can I kiss you?” Her eyes snap back to mine, and she hurriedly adds, “I know you’re heading to Boston in a few weeks and—” She sucks in a deep breath. “I really want to kiss you. I promise I won’t try to do anything else. Just kiss you.”
Holy. Shit.
I take a deep breath, letting her words sink in, and realize I’m breathing faster than normal. My gaze falls on her mouth, and I literally stop breathing because that mouth, God help me. It’s like a gateway to a whole new galaxy where secrets and wishes are waiting to be unveiled.
I need to kiss her. I want to discover the universe beyond those full lips. I’ve been fighting the need to kiss her since I walked inside the diner and saw her wiping down the counter. But my brain is telling me it’s a bad idea and kissing her will irrevocably change me. Change my life. I know I won’t be able to come back from that. But the other part of me, the part that has a hopeless, desperate crush on this girl, just wants to drag her onto my lap and let her do whatever she wants.
“It’s getting late. We should probably lock up and leave,” she says in a small voice when I take too long to reply. She pushes her hair back before standing up and starting to stack our plates together. Her gaze meets mine briefly. “Look, I’m sorry I made this awkward. It’s not fair to you—”
I reach out, curling a finger through the belt loops on her jean shorts, and tug. But she doesn’t move toward me. Instead, her grip around the plates grows tighter, and she turns to leave.
“Gracie.” I tighten my hold, forcing her to set everything back on the table and look at me. “Come here.”
I pull her close while placing my other hand on her hip. Then, I slide both hands in the back pockets of her shorts, pulling her closer until all I can see is her face and her lips—so close to mine.
Her chest rises and falls quicker than before, and I realize mine’s doing the same. We stare at each other. I wonder if she regrets asking to kiss me. That thought makes my chest ache. Right now, in this moment, with my face inches away from her boobs, I’d do anything for a chance to know what she tastes like. My fingers skim along her arm and bury themselves in her hair. She trembles against me, so I know she wants this as much as I do.
Earlier today after leaving work, I drove home. My mind was preoccupied, and I was restless, so after taking a shower, I got into my car. And somehow, I found myself parking the truck outside the diner. Maybe this is why I came here; I don’t know. But I really want to find out.
“Do it.” My voice is a whisper. I’m almost breathless with want. I want to yank her down and kiss her myself, but she looks like she’s about to flee. So I let her come to me. “Kiss me.”
She sinks her teeth in her bottom lip as she comes closer. I’m glad I’m sitting down because my knees are shaking with anticipation. Then her lips touch mine, her eyes on me the whole time. Need has my fingers tightening in her hair as she presses her lips more firmly to mine. Her tongue peeks out, running along the seam of my lips. I groan and shift on the seat to ease the discomfort in my pants. My mouth opens, and the second her tongue touches mine, my body rattles with a shiver. This moment feels sacred. Like a blessing. It feels blasphemous and holy all at once. It scares me.
Tugging her into my lap, I fist her hair in my hands as I incline her hear further, fusing our lips together more firmly. But our noses are in the way, and we have to find the right angle to stop bumping into each other. It’s frustrating at first because I want her lips on mine and her breath mingling with my breath. Our heads finally slant in the right positions, and our lips fit perfectly. We both exhale in relief and groan at the contact.
Something in me breaks loose. Suddenly I’m pulling at her hair frantically, and my kisses become hungry and aggressive. I’m trembling and desperate and all I can think is I’ve never felt anything like this before, and I don’t ever want to stop or let her go. I don’t need to wonder if she’s enjoying this kiss too. Her hands fisted in my hair, yanking me closer and closer are all the answers I need. She’s pressing her chest into mine, and I swear I can feel her heart hammering. Neither one of us wants it to end.
We break apart and gulp for air, and my hands leave her hair, greedy to explore other parts of her, but they end up on her hips, pulling her further into me.
“More,” I beg, because right now, that’s all I can do.
Beg like my life depends on it. At this point, I feel like I’m about to go up in flames.

Author Bio

Autumn Grey writes sexy, angsty contemporary romance that always ends with a happy ever after. She loves reading stories with flawed and quirky characters, broody alphas and sassy heroines.

Author Links

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Review: Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven

“Fierce and captivating, PHOENIX UNBOUND is the story of a gladiator and a fire witch fighting for their freedom against an empire that wants them enslaved. With impossible odds, breathtaking battles, terrifying magic, and an unlikely love, this book is a must read. Grace Draven is a master of romantic heroic fantasy.”  -New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews

Ace Trade Paperback | September 25, 2018

A woman with power over fire and illusion and an enslaved son of a chieftain battle a corrupt empire in this powerful and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.

Every year, each village is required to send a young woman to the Empire's capital--her fate to be burned alive for the entertainment of the masses. For the last five years, one small village's tithe has been the same woman. Gilene's sacrifice protects all the other young women of her village, and her secret to staying alive lies with the magic only she possesses.

But this year is different.

Azarion, the Empire's most famous gladiator, has somehow seen through her illusion--and is set on blackmailing Gilene into using her abilities to help him escape his life of slavery. Unknown to Gilene, he also wants to reclaim the birthright of his clan.

To protect her family and village, she will abandon everything to return to the Empire--and burn once more.

Purchase your copy now!
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Grace Draven is a Louisiana native living in Texas with her husband, kids and a big, doofus dog. She is the winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice for Best Fantasy Romance of 2016 and a USA Today Bestselling author. Find out more about Grace Draven online at gracedraven.com.

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Phoenix Unbound (Fallen Empire, #1)Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven

Title: Phoenix Unbound
Series: Fallen Empire #1
Author: Grace Draven
Release date: September 25, 2018
Cliffhanger: No
Rating: 5 stars 

    She and this slave fighter shared a common truth. He dealt death with sword and ax, and she with fire. Neither commanded their fates.

This is exactly the kind of fantasy I love to read, but is so difficult to find. The storyline instantly engaged me, first of all. Which is not very common in the genre, as a general rule. The first in a fantasy series tends to take more time to get into because of the world building detail. In this case, Grace Draven has done a flawless job setting the scene in bite sized increments that allow you to sink your teeth into the real flesh of the story. I didn't waste a moment of this book. I painstakingly consumed it, savoring the atmospheric world one word at a time. You will take a trip out of the dank cells at the coliseum with captive blood soaked gladiators, through haunted towns, barrows with demonic guardians, past the imposing fire veil to the beautiful Sky Below. Where revenge will be satisfied, and two reluctant hearts will twine together that are destined to be torn apart.

Azarion and Gilene's personal plights are front and center from page one in gritty, raw, detail. Enslaved to the foul Empire, they no longer have the privilege of living a normal life. Their whole existence is narrowed down to one simple goal: survival. Honor, perseverance, and courage are traits they both share, and they were both equally heroic characters in their own right. Be prepared for them to cast their spell upon you and leave you utterly enchanted.

    When the struggle only pleased the torturer and made the torture worse, you stopped fighting and learned to endure. To endure was to survive.

Gilene has the unfortunate duty of being the sacrificial lamb for Beroe year after year. Every generation, one person is born with her gift of fire manipulation. They're expected to become a "Flower of Spring" to be burned on the pyre as an offering to the gods. She faces her responsibility with grim obedience, because the alternative would weigh too heavily on her conscience. How could she refuse, when other lives would be lost unnecessarily? Possibly even those in her own family? While I admired her for her incredible strength, those she protected were selfish and weak in comparison.

I loathed them all for hiding behind her, and forcing her into a lifetime of hell. Physically and emotionally, she's a force to be reckoned with. Spiritually she is broken. The bitterness she feels towards the gods is something that holds her back from grasping who she truly is. She is a woman of immense power, even holding the ability of illusion, which is unheard of for other fire witches. Her latest illusion is about to fail her in the most spectacular of ways, and it will change her life forever.

Azarion is the Gladius Prime at the Coliseum. After ten years of enslavement to the Empire, he has become the fiercest fighter to play in their deadly games. He lives with one goal in mind, and that is to return to the Stara Dragana and reclaim what was stolen from him so long ago. All of the torture he's suffered only fueled the fire inside him to find justice. Gilene is his key to achieving that, and he doesn't hesitate to coerce, threaten, and kidnap in order to set his plan in motion.

There wasn't a moment of boredom with these two as they made their way to his clan on their long journey. Their path certainly wasn't for the faint of heart, but luckily they were both well used to tests of character and strength. Together, they were a force to be reckoned with. Grudgingly, on her part. While he grew closer to everything he ever wanted with each step they took, hers took her away from where she was honor bound to be. The tension between them was well done, ratcheting up my excitement to see them come together and help find some measure of healing.

    Painful memories battered him. He allowed them their abuse, then pushed them away. He might one day be able to face them and not flinch, scatter them into nothing because they no longer meant anything to him, but today was not that day.

This book. This incredible book. I loved every single minute in between the pages, and my mind refused to leave long after I closed it. It holds nothing back and goes right for the jugular. It was brutal fights, lovers finding tender solace, awe-inspiring backdrops, and some kick ass, powerful magic. Most importantly, as you can expect from Grace Draven, she has created characters you have no choice but to become invented in, and root for good to conquer evil.

It's invigorating to find a fantasy that isn't something you've read a million times before. It was different even from what I was expecting based on what she delivered in Radiance. It had a noticeably darker tone, but she didn't skimp on the emotional development of the romance in between the suspense. It was a slow burn in the background that was magnificent when it finally sparked. The ending was breathtaking!! My heart was in my throat the entire time, and I was white-knuckling my kindle through the action. And the good news? There is NO cliffy at the end, it leaves you with more story to tell, but not in a place of suspense. So really, what are you waiting for? Go one-click this stunning introduction to the Fallen Empire series, where a thrilling adventure awaits you.