miércoles, 27 de enero de 2021

Blog Tour: Baculum by Christina Bauer.

Baculum
Christina Bauer

(Angelbound Lincoln #4)
Published by: Monster House Books
Publication date: January 26th 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Watch Lincoln battle Norse monsters in the Viking Games!

As King of the Thrax, Lincoln leads the most powerful demon fighting force in the after-realms… yet he cherishes nothing more than his Angelbound love, Myla. Which is why the king loses his freaking mind when the sinister Ringmaster Kell targets his pregnant wife.

So. Not. Happening.

Ringmaster Kell runs the infamous Viking Games, a series of battles where participants take on the identity of a Norse monster and fight to the death. Sounds good to Lincoln. The king sets aside his crown and enters the arena with one goal only: destroy Ringmaster Kell.

Sometimes, a warrior just needs to ignite his baculum sword and kick a ton of evil ass. But is Lincoln protecting Myla or walking into a trap?

Perfect for readers who love Vikings, Norse mythology, hot princes and cool heroines.

ANGELBOUND LINCOLN
Stories from the perspective of Mister The Prince
1. Duty Bound
2. Lincoln
3. Trickster
4. Baculum
5. Angelfire
6. Rixa

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play


Author Bio:

Christina Bauer thinks that fantasy books are like bacon: they just make life better. All of which is why she writes romance novels that feature demons, dragons, wizards, witches, elves, elementals, and a bunch of random stuff that she brainstorms while riding the Boston T. Oh, and she includes lots of humor and kick-ass chicks, too. Christina lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby. She loves to connect with her fans at BauersBooks.com.

Stalk Christina On Social Media – She Loves It!

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viernes, 8 de enero de 2021

Book Blitz: The Ultimate Betrayal by Kat Martin.

 
The Ultimate Betrayal
Kat Martin 
(Maximum Security #3)
Publication date: December 29th 2020
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense.

To prove her father’s innocence, she’ll have to turn a killer’s sights on herself

When her father is accused of espionage and treason, journalist Jessie Kegan has no doubt the man she looked up to her entire life is innocent. Worse yet, before Colonel Kegan can stand trial, he’s found dead of a heart attack…but Jessie knows it was murder. Forcing aside her grief, she’s determined to use her investigative resources to clear her father’s name. But going after the truth means Jessie soon finds herself in the crosshairs of a killer who wants that truth to stay buried with her father.

Protecting Jessie Kegan is a job bodyguard Brandon Garrett can’t refuse. Jessie isn’t just a client at Maximum Security—she’s the sister of his best friend, Danny, who was killed in Afghanistan. With dangerous enemies gunning for Jessie from every angle, keeping her safe will mean keeping her close, and Bran finds their mutual attraction growing, though being Danny’s sister puts Jessie out of bounds.

With their backs against the wall, Jessie and Bran will have to risk everything to expose her father’s killer—before his legacy dies with his daughter.


Goodreads / Amazon



EXCERPT:

They ordered-in Chinese and Bran turned the TV on in the living room, but neither of them were in the mood to watch. Jessie knew exactly what she was in the mood for. She hadn’t thought about sex this much in the last three years. Now, every time she looked at Bran, having sex with him was all she could think of.

Everything about him turned her on. The cadence of his voice, the way he laughed, the way he moved. Just watching him amble across the living room sent a curl of heat into the pit of her stomach.

What would it be like to kiss him? Run her hands over all the lean, hard muscles she had seen and couldn’t get out of her head? What would it be like if he made love to her?

Would she ruin it the way she had when she had tried before? Start thinking about Ray Cummings and the intimate way he had touched her? Conjure images of the rape he had planned to carry out the third night if she hadn’t managed to escape?

Fidgety and unable to relax, she headed for the pool, Bran reluctantly accompanying her. Exercising in the warm water was the perfect stress reliever. She glanced over to where he paced the deck at the opposite end of the pool, tall and lean-muscled, blue-eyed, and built. Nothing better than swimming–except for hours of erotic sex with the man of her fantasies.

It seemed so outrageous she found herself grinning as she stroked to the far end of the pool. She was still smiling when she came up out of the water, dripping and adjusting her swimsuit, just a few feet away from him.

“What’s so funny?” Bran asked, as grumpy tonight as he had been the night before.

She looked into his hard, handsome face and some little devil made her say it. “If you really want to know, I was thinking what it might be like to have wild, uninhibited sex with you.”

Hunger flashed in his eyes so quickly she took a step back. “Is that so,” he drawled, his gaze running over her, assessing every curve her orange-striped bikini displayed.

Her whole body flushed with heat as she realized she wasn’t the only one who’d been thinking about sex.

She swallowed. “I was imagining what it might be like, but I… I know if we tried, I’d screw it up. After Ray, I’ve got, you know, hang-ups.”

His gaze grew more intense. “What kind of hang-ups?”

She picked her towel up off the mesh table next to a lounge chair and quickly dried off, then slipped on her white terrycloth robe. Fortunately, the overhead lights began to flash, signaling it was time for the pool to close.

“Time to leave.” She started walking back to the room, wishing she’d kept her mouth shut. By the time Bran opened the door and checked inside to be sure it was safe, she was starting to relax.

“What hang-ups?” Bran he as he closed the door behind them.

Jessie’s stomach instantly knotted. What had possessed her to mention it? But Bran had opened up to her yesterday, which meant she owed him the same courtesy today.

Trying to appear nonchalant, she shrugged. “You know, kissing’s okay, but if a guy starts touching me, my mind flashes back to Ray Cummings and I-I start thinking about the way he touched me, where he touched me, and pretty soon sex is the last thing I want to happen.”

Bran’s jaw looked iron hard. “He rape you?”

She swallowed and shook her head. “On the third day, just before he got home, I managed to get loose. I couldn’t get out of the basement, so I searched for a weapon.” Her lips trembled as the memory became all too clear. “I found a wooden box and pried a board loose. The board had a nail in the end so I held it like a bat, and I-I waited till he came down the stairs.”

“Go on,” Bran said so softly she felt a chill.

“He always wore this black knit ski mask with a red ring around the mouth, which made him look even more terrifying. Knowing what he planned to do gave me courage. The minute he stepped off the bottom step, I swung the board as hard as I could and smashed him in the side of the head. As soon as he hit the floor, I starting whacking him over and over with the nail in the end of the board. He was unconscious and bleeding when I took off running.”

“Finish it,” Bran said when she paused, more a demand than a request.

Her voice trembled. “The woman in the house next door let me in and called the police. Ray was still unconscious when they got there. Turned out he was a serial rapist. He had abducted four other women and locked them up just like me. Eventually, he released them somewhere, but they couldn’t identify him or the place he had taken them. I was the only one who escaped.”

She was shaking. She didn’t realize she had tears in her eyes till Bran pulled her into his arms.

Author Bio:

Currently living outside Missoula, Montana, Kat Martin is the New York Times bestselling author of over sixty-five Historical and Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels. Before she started writing, Kat was a real estate broker. During that time, she met her husband, L. J. Martin, an author of Westerns and high-action Thrillers. Kat is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. She spends her winters in Arizona.

"I love to travel and especially like visiting the places where my books are set," Kat says. "I love history and enjoy spending time in museums and art galleries. My husband and I often stay in out-of-the-way inns and historical houses. It's fun and it gives a wonderful sense of a by-gone era."

To date, Kat has over seventeen million copies of her books in print. She is published in more than two dozen foreign countries, including Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, China, Korea, Bulgaria, Russia, England, South Africa, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Japan and Greece.

Kat is currently writing her next Romantic thriller.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Bookbub


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martes, 29 de diciembre de 2020

Book Reveal: Just One Chance by Lynn Stevens.

Just One Chance
Lynn Stevens
Publication date: January 25th 2021
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance, Young Adult

One summer. One last chance.

Miranda Reynolds hasn’t had a good year. Her obsession with Eddie Blake pushed her over the edge last summer, and she’s been working toward straightening her life out since.

When Aiden King shows her more than a passing interest, Miranda hesitates. Aiden is smart, funny, and loyal. Not to mention gorgeous. Despite her reservations about dating her best friend’s brother, Miranda agrees to go out with him.

But she can’t stay away from Eddie.

With her world shifting, a family disaster turns her life upside down.

Determined to change perceptions, Miranda sets out to prove that she’s more than what she’s been labeled.

If only she could believe it herself.

Add to Goodreads / Pre-order


Author Bio:

Lynn Stevens flunked out of college writing her first novel. Yes, she still has it and no, you can't read it. Surprisingly, she graduated with honors at her third school. A former farm girl turned city slicker, Lynn lives in the Midwest where she drinks coffee she can't pronounce and sips tea when she's out of coffee. When she's out of both, just stay away.

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viernes, 25 de diciembre de 2020

Book Blitz: Murder Mittens by R.J. Blain.

Murder Mittens
R.J. Blain
(Magical Romantic Comedies, #13)
Publication date: December 25th 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Becoming a bounty hunter and taking on the call sign of Murder Mittens wasn’t Harri’s brightest move, but what’s a lynx to do with millions of debt while working a customer service gig? The scars deforming her face won’t remove themselves, and she’ll bag and tag every criminal in the United States to get rid of them if necessary.

Being assigned a handler could make or break her, but did the powers that be really have to toss Sebastian Sumners her way? The lion with a stubborn streak as wide as hers tests her patience on a good day, but nothing makes her purr more than goading him into roaring.

Add in a protective family, a serial killer on the loose, and more trouble than any one cat needs, and it’s going to take a miracle for Harri to get through the most important job of her life.

Warning: contains magic, humor, cranky shapeshifters, cats, murder, and mayhem. Proceed with caution.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

Chapter One

Why was murdering irate, irrational, ignorant, and flat-out wrong customers illegal? The idiot on the phone rambled about how it wasn’t fair that dumping coffee on his router invalidated his warranty.

I thought it wasn’t fair his stupidity might lose me IQ points, and I’d learned long ago that humans—or lycanthropes, such as myself—didn’t come with warranties or guarantees. I had bills to pay, and murdering one of the customers wouldn’t pay my bills.

Then again, in prison, I wouldn’t have to pay any bills. Every day by the end of my shift, I considered incarceration as a viable option.

Free board, free food, good medical care, and asshole inmates to beat on sounded a lot better than dealing with an idiot customer.

“Sir,” I said in the hopes of circumventing his tirade. Mr. Edward Lavell ignored me.

The idiots always ignored me. I bet my gender had something to do with it. On average, the men finished their calls five minutes faster, and every supervisor to review the situation came to the same general conclusion: customers took men in tech more seriously than women, and I, unfortunately, sounded too feminine.

“Sir,” I repeated, only to be ignored again.

Why couldn’t I just hang up on him? Oh, right. I valued my job. As I valued my job, I couldn’t hang up on him, I couldn’t curse, I couldn’t threaten to rip his throat out, and I couldn’t indulge in my desire to murder him.

There was a time and a place for murder, and on the job at a call center for a cable internet company was not the time nor the place.

For the fourth time since calling in, Mr. Lavell explained that it really wasn’t his fault he’d dumped coffee on his router.

“Sir, liquid spills are right in the contract for the router. I’m sorry, but I can’t change the rules for you. Spilling coffee on your router invalidates its warranty.”

“It’s not my fault the cup holder in my computer has a mind of its own,” he complained.

Wait. What?

His computer’s cup holder has a mind of its own? The realization I dealt with someone far worse than just an idiot sank in. Every call center had legends of Code Red customers, who were in an entirely different class from the standard 1-D10T and the unfortunately common PEBKAC. With Mr. Lavell, I had it all. A problem certainly did exist between the keyboard and chair, and he’d definitely deserved his flag as an 1-D10T.

Until his call, I had remained safe from the evils of a Code Red customer.

By the time I got off the phone with him, I’d need some alcohol and someone to kill.

It’d be easier to find someone to kill than the alcohol; me and booze just didn’t mix, and I’d been banned out of every damned bar in town to keep the peace.

Maybe I could whip on some makeup, grab a gray wig, and pass for a little old lady. With my face covered in burn scars, it wouldn’t take much to pull off some makeup artistry and transform myself into an older woman rather than a mutilated one. I could become a conventional beauty given an hour and the right products. An old lady wasn’t an impossibility.

Alternatively, I could shift, pay my family a visit, and steal a bottle of liquor from one of the cabinets. With the number of lynxes running around the place, they might not even notice me before I made off with my alcoholic prize.

As sighing was not acceptable when dealing with paying customers, I took a moment to steel my nerves before saying, “Sir, computers do not include cup holders.”

That caught his attention. “What?”

“Sir, computers do not include cup holders,” I repeated, already dreading the moment I would have to explain what a CD was, how they were used, and what the player’s actual purpose was. Few systems still had any disc drives at all, as most companies had moved to online downloads of their programs and games.

The next few minutes of my life would not be fun, and I typed a message to my supervisor warning him I had a major 1-D10T on my hands, a possible Code Red situation, and to make sure he was aware I faced the demise of some IQ points, I notified him the customer had opted to use his disc drive as a coffee cup holder.

“What the hell is this thing for, then?”

“CDs, sir.” I closed my eyes and waited for the meltdown.

“First, you claim I invalidated my warranty, and now you’re telling me my cup holder plays music?”

“As this is an internet company, sir, I can’t help you with your CD player. However, it is not a cup holder, nor should it be used as one. As for your router, you owe $35.79 on the device. Once you finish paying for the damaged equipment, I can schedule a tech to come to your home and install your new router. Since you’ve been a customer for so long, I can waive the fifty dollar installation fee. Your monthly bill will not change if you opt to pay off the damaged equipment and start a new rental.”

If he gave me a hard time, I’d take my time and give him all of his options. None of them would be as good as my initial offer. I cracked open an eye and checked my messages with my boss.

He wished me the best of luck and promised to send flowers to my funeral. He also begged me not to tell my brothers about the menace wasting my time. If any one of my forty-seven brothers found out I dealt with customers screaming at me five days a week, they’d go on a rampage.

That my boss knew my family drove me crazy on a good day.

I figured my idiot family had gone on a hunt to meet my boss, and because we were all infected with lycanthropy, my boss wouldn’t have thought twice about their behavior.

Lycanthropes had a reputation.

Most days, it wasn’t a good one.

Only an idiot would piss off a bunch of male lycanthropes out to protect their precious little sister. Unfortunately for me, I counted as an endangered species, as the odds of a lycanthrope having daughters in the first place fell somewhere in around ten thousand to one.

I needed to notify my mother she needed to have more daughters. While she was at it, she needed to give me a new name, because nobody ever believed Harri was a woman’s name. I figured she’d meant to name me Harry because she’d expected yet another boy, swapping out the ‘y’ for an ‘i’ to make things easier on her.

When on the job, I went by Christine because Christine seemed gloriously feminine and nobody on the team used their real names. Technically, I was supposed to change my name every day, but I went by Christine for all new callers, and I only rotated through when I knew I was dealing with someone who gave me issues.

My method worked well enough, so my boss didn’t complain.

While Mr. Lavell spluttered and began the tedious process of mulling over his options, I began making plans for after work—assuming I escaped from my job without succumbing to the temptation of informing the customer he was most definitely wrong, he needed to go back to school to join the modern world, and it wouldn’t hurt if he learned to be civil.

I had to explain his options four times before he finally conceded he should stick with his old plan, pay for the damaged router, and move on with life. It took an extra ten minutes of listening to him whine before he finally hung up.

Above all, I hated the rule that we were not supposed to hang up on clients. It wasted time. Had I been allowed to just hang up, I would have wished him a good day, disconnected the call, and began the tedious process of adding notes to his file so the next customer service representatives stuck with him knew they had trouble on their hands.

My phone rang, but instead of a customer, my phone reported my boss wanted to speak with me. With slumped shoulders, I accepted his call and answered, “Sir?”

“I listened in on your Code Red.”

I hated when my boss actively monitored my calls; thanks to how the system worked, he could listen in on me at any time. But, a job was a job, and with my scarred face, finding a job became troublesome at best—and nobody in the call center knew or cared what I looked like. Oh, well. Before I jumped to conclusions, I’d ask. “What’s my grade, sir?”

“You did fine. You stayed professional, you didn’t come across as too condescending, and frankly, there’s no sane tech on this planet stays totally cool a Code Red. It could have been much worse.”

I checked the clock, breathing a sigh of relief that I’d hit the end of my shift and wouldn’t have to take any more calls. “What do you need?”

“I had a question about your schedule. You’re off for the next week, correct?”

“Yes, sir.” I had plans, and they involved the International Most Wanted List along with every legal bounty list I had managed to get my hands on in the past month. If my boss tried to put an end to my hard-earned vacation, I’d finally do what I should have done months ago, snap, and quit.

I wanted him to cross my last line so badly.

“Ted wants an extra shift. How would you feel about an unpaid day added to your vacation? I’ve already gotten approval if you’d like to claim the unpaid day.”

Score. I’d bid for time off almost a year ago, but sick days were the bare minimum the state allowed, which accounted to five for the entire year. An extra day tacked onto my vacation might let me bag an extra bounty.

Any day I bagged an extra bounty was a good day in my opinion.

“I can take an unpaid day, sir. That’s fine. Can you send me an email confirming the unpaid day off?”

“It’ll be in your inbox within the next ten minutes, and I’ll CC human resources notifying them you’re excused for that day.”

“Okay. Will the rest of my schedule remain the same once I’m back from vacation?”

“Yes. Ted just asked for extra hours, and the others with seniority declined the day off.”

I bet; on our income, every hour mattered. Most who worked for the call center had seen better days. I lived like I’d seen better days and I looked like I’d seen better days, but appearances lied. I only worked at the call center to maintain appearances. Thanks to depression in my teens and therapy that hadn’t gone like my parents had wanted, my entire family demanded I check in at least three times a week to ensure I remained human.

They believed if they took their eyes off me, I might shift into a lynx and never come back.

Two years ago, they wouldn’t have been wrong, but I’d found a new purpose in life. Not a single one of my brothers would approve, my mother would have yet another litter of kittens, and my father would be so disappointed.

Personally, I thought it was obvious. I worked in customer service. I was a prime candidate to become a murderous asshole. I did so legally, on behalf of the government and other legal entities, and I did so for a filthy amount of money.

Smiling stretched my scars, but I did it anyway. “If anyone needs any extra hours, I can afford another day or two off,” I offered. “I can take up to a week unpaid. I’ve been saving up to take some time off if any opportunities allowed.”

It would delay paying for the expensive procedure required to piece my face back together and remove the evidence of the fire that’d almost killed me as a child. It took a lot of magic to convince the lycanthropy virus I wasn’t supposed to be a scarred wreck.

A lot of magic cost a lot of money, and I figured I might have the three million dollars within five years if I landed a bounty every weekend and took on some of the more dangerous jobs. While I waited for my boss to mull over my offer, I considered the various jobs on offer.

I liked hunting other lycanthropes. Unmated males were easy catches, and the fugitives usually brought in a pretty penny. The last one I’d bagged as a live capture had added fifty thousand to my bank account.

Then again, if I landed an entire extra week, I’d make up the lost hours with a single small bounty, and anything else would be extra cash in my savings account.

My boss grunted, signaling he’d come to a decision. “I’ll keep that in mind and pitch the offer. I’ll email your personal and work addresses if there are any takers plus text your phone.”

“Thanks, sir. Have a good evening.”

“You, too.”

He hung up, and before something could go wrong, I clocked out, filed my paperwork for my final call, and logged out of the system so I couldn’t be sucked back into doing even more work.

If all went well, I’d be a hundred grand richer by the end of the week and that much closer to being able to look in the mirror without wincing.


Author Bio:

RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning.

In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until satisfied.

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viernes, 18 de diciembre de 2020

Book Blitz: Ain’t She Sweet by Whitney Dineen.

Ain’t She Sweet
Whitney Dineen
(Seven Brides for Seven Mothers #2)
Publication date: December 15th 2020
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Romance

Tara Heinz began her modeling career at the tender age of twelve. After spending fifteen years drooling over forbidden foods, she does the unthinkable. She enrolls in culinary school and becomes a pastry chef.

After a nasty breakup with her rock star boyfriend that leads to tabloid war, Tara takes a job at a rural lodge in Oregon to escape the spotlight she no longer desires.

James Cavanaugh is a farmer in Oregon. His days are spent building his business and his nights are spent sleeping, so he can get up at four in the morning.

Ruby Cavanaugh has plans for her son that involve her new pastry chef. Of course, neither James nor Tara know what’s going on until it’s too late. 

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

After arranging an assortment of gourds on her newspaper-covered dining room table, Ruby picks up her telephone to call her oldest son, Brogan. “How are you and Addie doing?” she wants to know. As the first recipients of her matchmaking endeavor, the success of their union is integral to her confidence in setting up her younger son, James, with her new pastry chef.

“She’s great. We’re great. New York is beautiful in the fall.”

Whoever said glitter was the herpes of the crafting world never fully appreciated its hypnotic effects, Ruby thinks while spraying gold glitter paint. “I knew you two were meant to be.”

“I don’t know how you decided that, but I’m glad you did. For a while there I thought you were trying to set Addison up with James. Speaking of which, how are things going between him and Tara?”

“What do you mean?” Ruby asks, trying—and failing—to sound innocent.

“Don’t try to tell me you haven’t set your sights on her for my little brother.”

After several moments, Ruby dejectedly confesses, “It’s been hard finding ways to throw them together now that James’s farmstand is mostly closed for the season. I’ve had to resort to hiring your brother to put in a garden here at the lodge.”

“Interesting. I’m not sure I should offer, but let me know if I can do anything to help.”

“You and Addie are still coming home for Christmas, right?”

“Yes, ma’am. We arrive the second week of December and are planning on staying until the first week of March. I’ll be working on my new novel and Addie is going to commute to a hotel she’s redesigning in Portland.”

Ruby walks around the table, eyeing her decorative fall creation before firing off a final burst of sparkle. “I might need your help then. In the meantime, don’t bring up Tara’s name when you talk to James. I don’t want him to guess what I’m up to until it’s too late.”

“You make me nervous, Mom, but you did such a great job for me that I promise not to interfere in your latest project.”

“Good. Now, I’ve got to go. Your brother will be here any minute to meet with Tara about the dessert portion of the garden.”

“Does he know he’s meeting with her?” Brogan asks.

“Of course not. What fun would that be? Bye!” Ruby hangs up on her son before he has a chance to reply. After refreshing her lipstick and picking invisible lint from her sweater, she’s off to make another love connection.

Author Bio:

Whitney loves to laugh, play with her kids, bake, and eat french fries -- not always in that order.

Whitney is a multi-award-winning author of romcoms, non-fiction humor, and middle reader fiction. Basically, she writes whatever the voices in her head tell her to.

She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband, Jimmy, where they raise children, chickens, and organic vegetables.

Gold Medal winner at the International Readers' Favorite Awards, 2017.

Silver medal winner at the International Readers' Favorite Awards, 2015, 2016.

Finalist RONE Awards, 2016.

Finalist at the IRFA 2016, 2017.

Finalist at the Book Excellence Awards, 2017

Finalist Top Shelf Indie Book Awards, 2017

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martes, 15 de diciembre de 2020

Book Blitz: The Art of Loving Ellie by Loren Beeson.

The Art of Loving Ellie
Loren Beeson
Publication date: November 14th 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Smart, beautiful, talented, and… awkward.

Ellie Clark has big dreams of moving to the city to become a well-known artist. With the help of her eccentric boss, Alex, and his influence in the New York City art scene, everything should go according to plan. Until suddenly, Ellie comes to realize that her passion for painting has vanished with no explanation.

Despite her best attempts at avoiding distractions, she not so gracefully tumbles into a sexy stranger, adding more chaos to her already unsteady life. He continues to challenge her to the point of losing her grip on the one thing that keeps her grounded—her control, and to make matters worse, a past she had long ago made peace with is ripped wide open when she receives a phone call from a ghost of her previous life.

The refuge of her comfort zone is her greatest dependency, but Ellie doesn’t see the bigger picture. Can she risk opening her heart to this exciting, overconfident trouble-maker, or will she embrace the trauma of her past to discover that second chances aren’t just for the storybooks…

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

The wind whirls around me on my walk from the train to the office, and I continuously have to pull my hair out of my sticky lip gloss. My scarf has come loose from my coat and is flapping around, slapping me in the face repeatedly, and I’m starting to get irritated. I promised myself today would be a better day and dammit, I’m not going to let a little wind ruin it.

I’m attempting to wrangle my scarf and push the door open, all while trying to somewhat maintain my composure so Margaux doesn’t think I’m a total twit. Judging by her squinted eyes and puckered face, I can see that I’ve less than succeeded in that mission.

Finally getting inside the building, I turn around to scold the doors and realize I’ve dropped one of my bags in all of the chaos. I huff as I walk over to grab it off the floor, and turn to make my way back toward the elevator.

Instead of advancing forward to my desired destination, I’m propelled backward when I full-on body slam the solid form standing in front of me. Without even knowing who I’ve run in to, I start to sputter, “Oh my God! I’m so sorry!” Reaching out to try and stabilize us both, my hands wrap around what I realize are firm, male biceps.

My eyebrows rise in shock as my eyes adjust to what they can only perceive as the most attractive man in all of New York City. I’m struck by the curious way he’s staring at me, making me feel like a bug in a petri dish. The warm amber scent of his cologne slams my senses, and I feel a quick head rush. I expect him to be annoyed by my clumsiness, but to my surprise, he appears amused.

He lightly chuckles, “Whoa there, Windy.”

His deep, masculine voice rumbles between us, and I have to blink a few times to keep myself focused. The long sleeves of his shirt are folded halfway up his forearms, showcasing a tan that practically glows with warmth, and my fingers twitch with wonder at what it would be like to run them across his exposed skin.

The humor in his eyes shines bright, and he appears to be laughing at me. Did he happen to see the scarf display? Surely he didn’t.

“I thought that scarf was going to strangle you before you even got through the door,” he says teasingly.

Dear God, he did. My heart beats loudly in my chest, and I feel my face burning hot. My gaze follows his movements as his arm flexes to fix his disheveled hair. His shoulders are wide, and even under his button-up shirt, and form-fitting vest, I can tell he is physically fit. His slacks hug his legs in all the right places, and I’m immediately drawn to his warm, welcoming presence.

His laughter is gentle, but I feel awkward standing here in front of this gorgeous guy, looking like a klutz. The man is taller than me, and I have to bend my head back slightly just to look up at him. He blinds me with a bright white smile as my eyes travel to a small scar on his left cheek just below his eye, and I’m curious as to how he acquired it.

There’s something about him I can’t put my finger on. He’s attractive, sure—but he’s unlike any guy I’ve ever met before. A lazy, confident smile graces his lips, and the way he crowds me while keeping just the right amount of distance causes my skin to flush.

I feel self-conscious, so of course, I have to blurt out something super embarrassing. “Yeah, this scarf is a real bad boy!” My eyes practically bug out of my head in shock.

Please, tell me that did not just come out of my mouth.

With a hand cupping my eyes to block him from my sight, I try to skirt around Mr. Attractive to find anywhere to repeat to myself what a big, awkward idiot I feel like.

“Hey, wait a second!” he calls after me. His large hand wraps around my arm gently, the casual touch warming its way to my skin through my layers. I turn toward him, halting my escape.

“Look, I—I’m sorry that I ran into you, and I’m glad I could give you a good laugh, but there’s no need to carry on.” I rub the back of my neck nervously with my free hand.

Trying to move around a man who’s a good foot taller than me is a lot harder than I realized. His eyes, which I now notice are the most beautiful shade of whiskey brown I have ever seen, lock with mine, momentarily freezing time. Though smacking the amusement out of them is pretty tempting, I’m finding it increasingly hard to breathe around this man.

The stranger continues staring at me, making me a little uncomfortable, and I glance around the lobby nervously as I wait for him to speak. I rock back and forth on my heels, gently shrugging out of his hold. “I really should get upstairs. My boss is kind of an ass when I’m late, and god-forbid I tell him I’ve been terrorizing guests downstairs.”

Tilting his head slightly, as if something about me perplexes him, he asks, “Would you like to get coffee with me?”

“G—get coffee with you?” I stutter uncertainly. He hasn’t stopped smiling since I attempted to take him down Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson style, and I’m starting to wonder just how crazy this guy is. “We’ve only known each other for five minutes?”

My heart begins to flutter a little when he takes a step forward into my personal space. “I think I’d like five more.” He winks at me and my jaw drops a little in surprise. He laughs lightly at my reaction to his request.

“Listen, uh—” I give him a second to insert his name. When he doesn’t supply me with one, I continue, “I’m not exactly the dating type.”

“Who said anything about dating?” he teases, but there’s a confident look in his eyes as if he knows I’m going to agree.

This guy is charming, and if I had to bet—a lady killer. His light brown hair is tousled about, but it’s not too long to be unmanageable. I momentarily let my eyes roam over him and think how he favors Alex Pettyfer quite a bit.

I’m staring at the adorable way his hair curls away from his ears when he politely clears his throat. Shaking my head, I clear my thoughts, “Oh! Well, I—I suppose coffee couldn’t hurt.”

“Charlie’s?” he asks, and I squint my eyes at him in question. There are at least five different coffee shops between this block and the next, and he chooses my favorite one. It’s odd, but I can’t find a single good reason to say no, so I breathe out an unsteady, “Okay.”

“How’s noon, tomorrow sound?” I look past him to see that he’s left his bags by Margaux’s desk. Curious. I wonder what business he has here, but I smile up at him, trying not to give away my thoughts.

“Sure, sounds great.” Maybe he’s an artist too, or possibly meeting with someone to reserve space on a floor here.

“May I have your name?” He extends his hand for me to shake, and I reach out, feeling the soft heat of his palm against mine. “Elizabeth, but I prefer Ellie.”

He pulls my hand up to his unbelievably soft lips, giving the back of it a quick kiss, and the crooked grin he gives me piques my interest as he turns away, swaggering back toward Margaux’s desk.

I begin to sweat with nervousness on my walk over to the elevator, nausea coating the back of my tongue, and my stomach threatens to heave its contents. What was I thinking saying yes? Turning back toward the lobby slightly, I see him leaning over to Margaux with both elbows on her desk as they smile and talk about something that I can’t make out.

Mmhmm, he’s a lady killer alright.

She’s practically drooling. Poor thing probably isn’t even listening to what he’s saying, but he uses his hands excitedly while talking to her and I find it almost… endearing.

I get on the elevator and I’m forced to stare at them as I wait for the doors to shut. Margaux’s back is to me, but Mr. Attractive flicks his gaze up to meet mine right as the elevator doors are beginning to close and gives me a smile so mischievous, it causes my body temperature to rise to a feverish degree. The doors shut and I realize—I gave him my name, but he didn’t give me his.

Author Bio:

Loren is a dreamer, artist, radiologic technologist, and author who loves animals and people. Always writing short stories as a young child and young adult, she knew she wanted to become an author someday. The Art of Loving Ellie is Loren's debut novel.

Loren can be found in her cozy home in Texas with her nose in a book, her corgi and mini-aussie on her lap, and her son trailing along with her and her husband through their many adventures.

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Book Blitz: Cemetery Songs by Julie Gilbert.

Cemetery Songs
Julie Gilbert
Publication date: December 15th 2020
Genres: Young Adult Fiction

Poignant and uplifting, Cemetery Songs is a compelling YA about a girl, a ghost, and the graveyard that sends them both on a journey of self-acceptance.

When Polly Stone’s birthmother dies, she feels lost and adrift. How do you mourn someone you never knew? Even the dead, whose final thoughts Polly can hear, offer no advice.

Instead Polly fails her classes, alienates her friends, gets fired from her summer job, and accidentally sets fire to the high school. At a loss, Polly’s parents ground her and insist she volunteer at the local archives.

The dusty boxes are boring, but Polly is intrigued by her assignment: mapping an abandoned Black settlement on the edge of town. At the very least, it gives her time to examine her confused feelings for Billy Meyer, a former classmate who is also blackmailing her.

Amid weedy tombstones, Polly and Billy encounter the charming ghost of Harrison Card, who died in 1924. Sensing there’s more to the story than Harrison can recall, the unlikely trio investigates the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death.

The discoveries are unnerving, especially since the ugly racist history reflects some of Polly’s own experiences as a biracial teenager. Past and present collide when Polly’s attempts to help Harrison go tragically wrong. As Polly grapples with the consequences of her actions, she must decide if she is brave enough to heed the wisdom of the dead. 

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EXCERPT:

“You about ready?” I ask as I sit in the grass at the corner of the gravestone.

“Sure,” Billy says, sitting back on his heels. He swings the flashlight to illuminate his handiwork. A series of objects is arranged around the perimeter of the grave. Nearest me is a chipped coffee mug with the Monroe city logo on it. Next to that there’s a single golf glove and a pile of tees. A worn dog leash curls in the corner, nestled against a plastic water dish.

“He’s the guy who died at his desk, isn’t he?” I ask. “Like two weeks ago or something.” My mom mentioned it over dinner the other night, the city employee who’d been physically fit but plagued with anger management issues. Apparently he died in the middle of a conversation.

“Yeah, that’s him. You know him?”

“No, but I’m about to.”

I wrap my hands around the mug, drawing in a few deep, clean breaths and turning my attention to Arnold Weber, sliding into his mind, or whatever’s left of it.

He died during an argument, I learn. What the hell, Scott? was his final thought. I hold the mug tighter and images start to appear in my mind. I see the inside of an office paneled in wood and carpeted in gray. There’s an industrial desk dominating the small space, buttressed by several filing cabinets. A clock ticks on the desk and I see that it’s golf-themed and inscribed with the word “Pinehurst.”

A wave of memories rushes through me as I amplify Arnold’s mind further. I see a woman’s blonde hair shot gray at the temples, her eyes tired and distant. I see the same woman in a photograph, younger, her eyes wary but hopeful beneath the veil of her wedding dress. I see a

parade of children and I see Arnold and the woman standing near this very spot on a cold, October day, watching as a tiny coffin is laid into the ground.

There are more memories. Christmas morning, Halloween night. Endless meetings and workshops where the phrases “organic synergy” and “workflow analysis” rattle around sterile conference tables. There’s a cruise in the Bahamas where everyone got sick and another to Alaska where they saw whales. As I release the mug, there’s one last image of Arnold as a college student, skipping over the art class that tugs at his pen and reluctantly signing up for an accounting class instead.

I can feel myself return to the surface, can hear Arnold’s voice yelling at Scott in my mind. Before I break through into consciousness, I hear the words “Jessam Crossing” and a voice says, “She can’t use what she can’t find.” Then I’m back in my own body, crouching over a mound of earth.

Billy is studying me.

“How long was I gone?” I ask.

“About thirty minutes. You okay?”

“Yeah.”

“What did you learn?” he asks.

“Lots.” I shake my head. “Lots of images and memories. I’m not sure where to start.”

“I can ask you the security questions when I find them,” Billy says, his voice low.

“Might be easier,” I interrupt. I clamber to my feet and we start walking back to the truck. I’m concentrating so hard on trying to recall other snippets of the conversation that I step into a badger hole and stumble to my knees.

“I gotcha,” Billy says. His hands slide from behind me to cup my elbows and leverage me to my feet. When I’m standing again, I’ve got my back to him. We’re not touching, other than his hands at my elbows, but I can sense him, his entire body towering over me, sheltering me. It’s electric. I swallow and feel my breath speed up. He moves a hair closer to me, his chest against my back, his legs brushing mine. He’s so much taller than me but I feel tall and strong standing here like this. His head dips and I can feel his breath on my neck.

“Polly—” he says, just as a bat swoops overhead, breaking the spell. I jump and take a few steps toward the truck.

“I should get home,” I say. I put my hand over my throat to conceal the rapid flutter of my heart, even though I know he can’t see it in the dark anyway.

“Let’s go,” he says at last, his voice gravelly. We go back to the truck and don’t talk the rest of the way.

Author Bio:

Although Julie K. Gilbert's masterpiece, The Adventures of Kitty Bob: Alien Warlord Cat, has sadly been out of print since Julie last stapled it together in the fourth grade, she continues to write. Her short fiction, which has appeared in numerous publications, explores topics ranging from airport security lines to adoption to antique wreaths made of hair. Julie makes her home in southern Minnesota with her husband and two children.

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