Monday, July 24, 2017

Book Blitz: Addicted to Love by Jennifer Wick plus Giveaway


Addicted to Love
Jennifer Wilck

(Serendipity, #1)
Publication date: July 21st 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Dan Rothberg struggled after an accident killed his wife and he nearly lost custody of his daughter. He can no longer allow himself to get attached to anything or anyone. Until he meets Hannah.
Hannah Cohen is a young executive with a meddlesome grandmother and a troubled brother. She’d like nothing better than to find her own Mr. Right, after too many Mr. Wrongs. A sexy older man with a teenage daughter was never in her plans.
As they navigate their relationship through adolescent attitudes and grandmotherly interference, they realize age is just a number and love can be right in front of them. But when the terrible truth of Dan’s former struggles is exposed, Hannah must decide if she can get past his deception and allow love to conquer all.
EXCERPT:
“So what’s Hannah like?” Tess sank into the chair next to him. Dan refrained from telling her to go to bed. For once she wanted to talk—he’d spend all night with her if necessary.
“She’s nice. Funny and smart, too.”
Tess winced. “Sounds great.” Her tone implied anything but.
Dan nudged her. “Trust me, she is. I didn’t think you’d want to hear other kinds of stuff.”
“Eww, no. Where’d you guys go?”
“I took her to the planetarium, and afterward, to Isabella’s.”
Tess sat up straight. “You took her there? I thought you were joking!”
“What? She liked it.” “Really? Or was she just pretending?” He paused and considered Hannah’s reaction. It hadn’t seemed fake. He’d been careful not to overload her with too much geek data, which might fascinate him but bore others. No, he was sure she’d liked it.
“Her eyes didn’t glaze over, and she pulled me along to show me things she thought were interesting. So I’d have to say really.”
“Weird. Are you going to see her again?”
This was worse than he expected, as he tried to keep from squirming in his seat under Tess’ direct gaze. “I hope so.”
“When do I get to meet her?” “You’ve met her, Tess. At the JCC concert.”
“I know, Dad, but when do I get to really meet her? If you like her enough to go out with her so often, I should at least get to know her better. Invite her over for dinner.”
He glanced at his watch. “Shouldn’t you be…in bed or something?” He regretted his eagerness to talk to her. Well, that was his feeling lots of times as the father of a teenager, but this time she was talking about Hannah. And for some reason, she made him feel like his mother was interrogating him, rather than his daughter. He needed to regain the upper hand. Somehow. “Dinner’s a good idea, Tess. Just not right now.”
“Why not? You’re a good cook. Everyone has to eat. You can invite her here, impress her with your culinary skills, and she and I can get to know each other better. What’s the problem?”
The idea had so many problems her compliment didn’t hit him until after.
“Thanks,” he said.
“For what?”
“For telling me I’m a good cook.”
“You’re welcome. But changing the subject won’t work.”
Damn. He ran a hand through his hair and remembered he needed a haircut. Turning in his seat, he grabbed his phone and added it to tomorrow’s to-do list. “Tess, I think it’s too soon in our relationship for this to happen.”
“Too soon? What’s too soon about it? You’ve been dating a couple of weeks, right?”
“Ten days.” Was it only ten days? “You have a daughter.”
He nodded.
“So, it’ll look weird if you keep me hidden away, like Mr. Rochester’s wife.”
“Oh, a literary reference,” he said. “Nice touch.”
She grinned. “I thought you’d appreciate it. As my reward, I think you should listen to me. I could always come with you somewhere if you don’t want her at the apartment.”
Letting out a sigh, he faced her. “Like a chaperone? Oh, sounds fun. Come here.”
She stood and he pulled her into a hug. “I’ll think about it. I’m glad you’re okay with the idea of me dating.”
Tess shrugged. “I don’t know. I mean, Hannah seems nice, but do you have time to date? You always tell me how busy you are.”
He pulled her into another hug. “No matter what I do, I’ll always have time for you. I promise.”


Author Bio:
When I was a little girl and couldn’t fall asleep, my mother would tell me to make up a story. Pretty soon, my head was filled with these stories and the characters that populated them. Each character had a specific personality, a list of likes and dislikes, and sometimes, even a specific accent or dialect. Even as an adult, I think about the characters and stories at night before I fall asleep, or in the car on my way to or from one of my daughters’ numerous activities (hey, anything that will drown out their music is a good thing).
One day, I started writing them down (it was either that or checking into the local mental hospital—the computer was way less scary) and now I'm a published author. My first book, A Heart of Little Faith, was just declared a Finalist in the Fiction: Romance category of the 2016 Best Book Awards.
In the real world, I’m the mother of two amazing daughters and wife of one of the smartest men I know. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, reading, traveling and watching TV. In between chauffeuring my daughters to after-school activities that require an Excel spreadsheet to be kept straight, I run youth group activities, train the dog we recently adopted from a local shelter, and cook dinners that fit the needs of four very different appetites. I also write freelance articles for magazines, newspapers, and edit newsletters.
When all of that gets overwhelming, I retreat to my computer, where I write stories that let me escape from reality. In my made-up world, the heroines are always smart, sassy and independent. The heroes are handsome and strong with just a touch of vulnerability. If I don’t like a character, I can delete him or her; if something doesn’t work, I can rewrite it. It’s very satisfying to be in control of at least one part of my life. My inspiration comes from watching the people around me and fantasizing about how I’d do things differently.

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Cover Reveal: The Rules of Persuasion by Amity Hope


The Rules of Persuasion
Amity Hope

Published by: Entangled Crush
Publication date: August 14th 2017
Genres: Romance, Young Adult

After tragedy hit her family, Meg Matthews officially crossed the line from “good girl” to “bad girl.” Motorcycle? Check. Graffiti? Check. The only thing Meg hadn’t planned on was blackmail. Too bad now a certain infuriating boy holds Meg’s future in his hands…
When Luke Prescott—star pitcher and town golden boy—catches Meg vandalizing the school, she’s given two choices: face the consequences or enter into a fake relationship with him to get his parents and his ex off his back.
But as Meg and Luke grow closer, they both realize they’ve been keeping secrets from each other. Their fake relationship might be doomed from the start—if they can’t learn to open up to the one person they never thought they’d trust.


Author Bio:
Amity lives in beautiful northern Minnesota with her two sons, two cats and their Rottweiler.
She has a degree in elementary education and worked in that field for ten years before deciding to self-publish.
Her first self-published novel, Twisted, was listed by Amazon as a Top 100 Kids & Teens Kindle Book of 2012. It hit Amazon's Teen & Young Adult Contemporary Romance Best Sellers List in several countries. Truths and Dares held the #1 position on Amazon's Best Sellers in Teen & Young Adult Contemporary Romance eBooks in the UK. Her latest book, The Rules of Persuasion, will be releasing this August from Entangled Publishing.
If she's not writing, or spending time with her boys, she's most likely reading.

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Book Blitz: Withhold by Andrea Pearson plus Giveaway


Withhold
Andrea Pearson

(Mosaic Chronicles, #9)
Publication date: July 18th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult

With the lives of everyone she holds dear at stake, will Nicole be able to do what it takes to stop the evil surrounding her?
In the ultimate battle between good and evil, Nicole is in a race to stop Keitus before he achieves his plans. If he succeeds, he will crush everyone who has opposed him and enslave Earth and countless other planets. Unfortunately, he is only minutes away from his goal.
With so much at stake, Nicole and her friends must approach Helen, a volatile and dangerous spirit who will probably destroy them regardless of whether she gives them what they want. And the chances of her helping them are slim.
Fast-paced and epic magical fights, exciting plot twists, and non-stop action and adventure await. So sit down, buckle up, and hold on for the explosive, much-anticipated conclusion to the award-winning and bestselling Mosaic Chronicles.
EXCERPT FROM DISCERN (Book 1):
Nicole put her stuff down, not wanting anything to be in her hands when she picked up the disgusting book. She reached for it, but hesitated. Already, she could sense warmth coming from the leather cover, and she wasn’t even touching it. Its magical pulses were different from the other items—they seemed to drip off the book like sweat.
Nicole hesitated, but wasn’t sure why. It wasn’t as if something bad would happen, right? She took a deep breath and placed her hands on the book. It shivered under her touch and she cringed, pulling back. The sensation of warm leather made her flesh crawl, and she rubbed her hands and arms on her jeans, trying to get the feeling to go away.
Come on, Nicole. Don’t wimp out.
Without letting herself think about it, she picked up the book and lifted the cover.
A wind rushed over her, blowing her hair back, roaring in her ears. She caught a brief whiff of tobacco smoke before the surge of air reversed and sucked the breath out of her lungs, making her gasp.
The floor under her quaked. The book vibrated. The leather on the cover moved, muscles beneath it flexing. Nicole tried to drop the book, but couldn’t. She was unable to control her hands or fingers. They clenched so tightly, they ached. A shadow covered the pages of the book, preventing her from reading.
What was going on? She gasped again, trying to breathe against the strong wind. She felt someone touch her shoulder, but she couldn’t move. Her fingers still clung to the book. The shadow on the pages shifted, roiled, and turned toward her, the brief outline of a face visible. It watched her for several moments.
Nicole . . .
The voice was soft, deep. A strange yearning inside her made her want to read the book, to understand. To join the owner of the voice, though she didn’t know where or what he was.
The wind slowed to a gentle and familiar caress across her cheek. Familiar?
Then suddenly, it all stopped. The book fell from her hands and slammed itself shut. She backed away, her arms, legs—everything—shaking.
“What happened?” Professor Coolidge asked next to her, making her jump.
“I—I don’t know.” Nicole tried to smooth her hair, but her hands shook too much. She tucked them under her arms. “It said my name . . . and there was a shadow. In-inside it.”
Coolidge lifted the leather book. His mouth popped open in surprise. “You’ve activated a force within it—something alive.” He looked at her, fear and worry on his face. “How did you do that?”
Nicole shook her head. “I don’t know,” she repeated.
Professor Coolidge put the book back on the table. “I’m not sure what to say, other than the book is much more powerful than it used to be.” He peered at her, scrutinizing her. “And I’d love to know why it called to you, why you woke it up, when so many others have not.”


Author Bio:
Andrea Pearson is an avid reader and outdoor enthusiast who plays several instruments, not including the banjo, and loves putting together musical arrangements. Her favorite sports are basketball and football, though several knee surgeries and incurably awful coordination prevent her from playing them.
Andrea graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor of science degree in Communications Disorders. She is the author of many full-length novels (the Kilenya Series and Mosaic Chronicles) and several novellas. Writing is the chocolate of her life - it is, in fact, the only thing she ever craves. Being with her family and close friends is where she's happiest, and she loves thunderstorms, the ocean, hiking, public speaking, painting, and traveling.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Guest Post by Jennifer Honeybourn, author of Wesley James Ruined My Life Plus Giveaway



The Writing Process
by Jennifer Honeybourn

The writing process starts for me when something sparks an idea — for Wesley James Ruined My Life it was a Renaissance Fair — and the pieces of a story start to come together usually pretty quickly. Depending on whether I’m working on something else at the time, I’ll think about this new idea for awhile, keeping notes on who the characters are, some plot points, before I start to outline.  
I like to have an outline, a solid plan for where the story is going, before I sit down to write. I need to have a strong idea of where the story starts, so I spend a lot of time on the first chapter.  Sometimes the plot adjusts along the way, but for the most part, I follow the plan for the first draft.
The first draft is generally the biggest hurdle for me. It used to take me ages (sometimes years!) to get a first draft done, because I used to get stuck on trying to making it really polished, instead of just focusing on getting the story down. But since I’ve started writing for publication, this has shifted. So much can change during revision that spending hours working on one paragraph that could ultimately end up being cut isn’t productive. Having a deadline really works for me because it lights a fire under my butt and I don’t have the time to fuss over it too much.   
The revision stage is my favorite part because this is where I get feedback from a beta reader or an editor. After muddling through the first draft on my own, it’s nice to have someone else come in who can shed some light on the plot, pick up on areas of weakness or places that need to be filled out a bit more, or to tell me when something isn’t working. I like to work collaboratively and I always end up with a much better draft after I’ve received some feedback.
By the time I get to the copyediting stage, I’ve read the book approximately 6,000 times and I’m a little less in love with it than I was at the beginning, when I had the shiny new idea. But I find that giving myself some space from it — at least a few weeks— helps a lot and by the time I read for the 6,001 time, I’ll remember what drew me to the story in the first place.


Wesley James Ruined My Life
Jennifer Honeybourn

Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: July 18th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Sixteen-year-old Quinn Hardwick’s having a rough summer. Her beloved grandmother has been put into a home, her dad’s gambling addiction has flared back up and now her worst enemy is back in town: Wesley James, former childhood friend—until he ruined her life, that is.
So when Wesley is hired to work with her at Tudor Tymes, a medieval England themed restaurant, the last thing Quinn’s going to do is forgive and forget. She’s determined to remove him from her life and even the score all at once—by getting him fired.
But getting rid of Wesley isn’t as easy as she’d hoped. When Quinn finds herself falling for him, she has to decide what she wants more: to get even, or to just get over it.


Author Bio:
Jennifer Honeybourn works in corporate communications in Vancouver, British Columbia. She’s a fan of British accents, Broadway musicals, and epic, happily-ever-after love stories. If she could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, she’d have high tea with Walt Disney, JK Rowling, and her nana. She lives with her husband, daughter and cat in a house filled with books. Wesley James Ruined My Life is her first novel.


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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Inspiration by Rum Runner author Tricia Leedom plus Giveaway


Inspiration by Tricia Leedom

Not far from the southernmost point of the continental United States, I sat on a bar stool sipping a frozen piña colada garnished with one of those tiny umbrellas. A Jimmy Buffet song drifted toward me in the waterfront tiki bar. I was thinking about what a cool place Key West was and how it reminded me of childhood vacations in Naples, Florida with my mom and dad. Naples has sadly become a mecca for the rich and richer, a sprawling metropolis of gated communities, golf courses, and supermarket strip malls. Most of the charming beach cottages of Old Naples, once thick with tropical foliage, banyan trees, and coconut palms, have been bulldozed in favor of million dollar condos and high-end shops. But Key West, a little gem of an island tucked away in the Straits of Florida, delighted me with its warm, rustic charm.

The booze might have brought on the heavy dose of nostalgia, but the feeling didn’t leave me the next morning. While I sat on that barstool watching a pair of pelicans diving for their dinner, I decided that one day I wanted to write a story set on the island to pay tribute to the quirky little town with a history just as colorful as its pastel-hued, conch houses.

Fast forward to a couple of years later. I was starting a graduate program in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University when I felt it was the perfect time to write a contemporary romance set in Key West. The very first chapter I wrote for the program is now the second chapter of my book Rum Runner. I envisioned the hero, Jimmy Panama, meeting the heroine for the first time while in the company of a pair of beach bunnies of questionable moral character.

All of the characters came from my imagination. However, Jimmy Panama was inspired by a song: Jimmy Buffett’s cover of Southern Cross. When I listen to that particular version, I picture Jimmy Panama on his boat in the Florida Straits, gliding across the water at high speed, the wind in his hair, and the sun setting in the distance. If you haven’t heard the song before, give it a listen. If Rum Runner was a movie, I could totally hear it playing over the opening credits.

The story idea itself was inspired by one of my favorite films, the romantic adventure, Romancing the Stone, staring Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas. While the plot, setting, and characters are different, the themes are similar. Like Romancing the Stone, Rum Runner is a fish out of water story. But instead of the heroine being a sheltered romance novelist, my heroine is a reserved British socialite. And the hero isn’t an irreverent soldier of fortune, but a snarky ex-Navy SEAL with a shady past and a secret agenda. Together, they set off on a dangerous tropical adventure and a funny, sexy, action-packed tale unfolds. If you’re familiar with the classic 80s movie, you’ll see the parallels.


I’m thrilled and excited Ink Monster has given me the opportunity to publish Rum Runner and The Key West Escape Series. If all goes well, I already have a fun idea for a spin off series in mind. I’m just going to need another piña colada or two to work out the details. ;) 


Rum Runner
Tricia Leedom

Published by: Ink Monster LLC
Publication date: July 18th 2017
Genres: Adult, Adventure, Romance

Perfect for fans of Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Janet Evanovich, this action-packed debut from a fresh voice in contemporary romance offers a sexy and comedic take on love, adventure, and what it means to trust your heart.
English socialite Sophie Davies-Stone has been longing to meet her father since she was a little girl. When he sends her a mysterious medallion and asks her to forward it to him in Miami, she can’t help herself from doing something totally un-Sophie-like. Rather than mailing it as instructed, Sophie hops on a flight to Florida.
But the family reunion never happens. Instead, Sophie is attacked and almost kidnapped by her father’s enemies. Her savior is Jimmy Panama, a cocky and annoyingly handsome former Navy SEAL. Sophie isn’t the only one who’s annoyed. After years of trying to find a way to pay back his CO, Jimmy never thought his debt would get him mixed up with his commander’s uptight, British daughter. He just wants to put her on the next flight home and get back to his low-stress life in Key West, but fate has other plans.
As Sophie and Jimmy embark on a heart-pounding adventure through Key West and the Caribbean, Sophie finds herself falling for the snarky American. Still, her head says Jimmy is all wrong for her, and the more she finds out about him – and her father – the more uncertain she is about who she can trust.
One thing is clear. Sophie is in way over her head, and her greatest adventure might be her last.
The Key West Escape Series
1. Rum Runner – Releases July 18, 2017!
2. Bahama Mama – Coming January 2018!


Author Bio:
TRICIA LEEDOM enjoys traveling to exotic destinations and having torrid love affairs with hot, dangerous men... even if it's only in her own mind. When she's not writing romantic adventure novels, she reads voraciously, tweets compulsively, and fangirls over a TV show based on her favorite book series. Tricia earned her BA in Creative Writing from The University of Tampa and her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. Her favorite authors include Diana Gabaldon, J.R. Ward, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Karen Robards, and Johanna Lindsey. She lives in Southwest Florida with two very spoiled dogs. Follow Tricia on Twitter and Instagram @tricialeedom


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Friday, June 30, 2017

Writing Romantic Comedy Novels By Sylvie Stewart, author of The Lucky One plus Giveaway


Writing Romantic Comedy Novels – A Half-Assed Guide
By Sylvie Stewart

“Is it hard being funny?” That’s the common question, but it’s the wrong one. Being funny is in a person’s DNA. You either are or you aren’t. But those without the humor gene are great at other things. I’ll bet you a million bucks that Albert Einstein was boring as shit as a dinner guest. For a person born with it, being funny is like breathing. Writing funny, on the other hand, is the true challenge. But it’s one that comes with a huge reward if done right.

Careful planning…um, no. To write a good romantic comedy scene, you can’t simply outline and write. It has to come from some place more spontaneous. Stream of consciousness can often result in hilarious consequences. It can also result in a Uni-bomber-style collection of words that could possibly get you committed should you leave your laptop unattended. That aside, a brilliantly funny scene can unfold if you just let your mind take you where it will. Leave the editing for later. Oh, and password protect your laptop.

Witter banter. The sparking back-and-forth is absolutely essential to a successful romantic comedy. This is where the meat is…the juicy piece readers grab onto and laugh out loud over. This is also how you make the characters real and relatable. Nobody finds a character funny if they don’t like the character or relate to them in some way. That’s also why flawed characters make the best romantic comedy leads.

A barrel of laughs. Take it down to a half barrel. Sure, we need laughs, but we also need heat, romance, and real emotions—even (gasp) sadness. A balance makes the novel pop and makes the laughs all the more rewarding while keeping the story itself believable. Secondary characters are great for lending levity to more serious emotions and situations.


OMG, that scene! Every romantic comedy needs that one scene that just skirts the line of outrageous. It’s the scene readers will tell their friends about or will reference when reviewing the book. It’s the restaurant orgasm scene from When Harry Met Sally (for those of you saying, “What’s that?” just picture pretty much any movie scene Vince Vaughn has ever been in and you get the gist). I can’t tell you how many readers have told me they practically peed their pants while reading the “Fiona and her lady parts” scene in The Spark. This is what every romantic comedy author wants to hear. It’s what we strive for. Just don’t send us the dry-cleaning bill… 

The Lucky One
Sylvie Stewart
(A Carolina Connections Novel)
Publication date: May 11th 2017
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Romance

When your luck runs out, do you run away—or do you stay and fight?
Bailey:
Let’s get one thing straight. I am not your typical girl. Sure I’ve got all the parts, but I’ve been a stubborn, irreverent tomboy since the womb, as my Irish father would proudly attest. Despite my Irish blood, I’ve had a bit of bad luck here and there—I recently trusted the wrong guy and got derailed in my professional pursuits. But I’ve bounced back. With my shields firmly in place, I thought nothing, or no one, could touch me again. Until he did. And he just might make this tomboy do the girliest thing in the world—fall head over heels in love. Of all the damn luck…

Jake:
I’m a pretty lucky guy. I have a phenomenal family, a career I love, and I’m building a brand-new life back in my hometown. And, not to be a jerk about it, but I do more than all right with the ladies. Everything’s been going according to plan—like I said, I’m a lucky guy.

That was, until my luck ran out.
Until I met the girl I call “Irish.”
Irony can go kiss my a$$.
The first two chapters of The Lucky One are available for free download on Instafreebie!
Sylvie just won the National Indie Excellence Award for Romantic Comedy!


Author Bio:
Sylvie Stewart is an author of Romance and Romantic Comedy. Like the characters in her books, North Carolina is where Sylvie calls home these days, and she can’t get enough of the great weather and fun adventures NC offers. She and her husband love arguing over which of them is the funniest. Sometimes, she lets him win because she’s cool like that. When she’s not writing, she is hanging out with her husband and kids or reading, Romance being her favorite genre, of course. And she knows that life wouldn’t be worth living without a lot of laughter, friends, and wine! You can always find out what Sylvie’s up to at her website www.sylviestewartauthor.com
Want free books? Join Sylvie’s Review Team! http://bit.ly/2fIuOV6


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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Book Blitz: Luca by Sarah Castille plus Giveaway


Luca
Sarah Castille
(Ruin & Revenge #2)
Published by: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication date: June 27th 2017
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense

Luca is the second book in a full-length, standalone series by New York Times bestselling author, Sarah Castille, set in Las Vegas and featuring deliciously sexy mafia bosses and the women who can’t help but love them.
Luca Rizzoli was nearly destroyed by a brutal betrayal that cost him his family. Now a ruthless crime boss in Las Vegas, he lets nothing touch his frozen heart…until a smoldering encounter with a beautiful stranger ignites his passion. One night isn’t enough for a man who takes what he wants—and Luca will do whatever he can to possess his mysterious temptress…
Police detective Gabrielle Fawkes lives for revenge. She lost everything at the hands of an unforgiving ruler of the Vegas underworld. Now she wants to see him six feet under. But when a near-fatal attack leads her into Luca’s arms, what was meant to be one night of unbridled passion becomes something forbiddingly more. Luca has his own agenda, but when strong, determined, kick-ass detective Gaby sets her sights on her target, Luca feels compelled to stand by her side and protect her at all costs. However, pursuing danger comes at a high price—and both Gaby and Luca must work together in order to eliminate the dark enterprise that threatens them.
RUIN & REVENGE SERIES
PRAISE FOR LUCA:
“An engrossing erotic crime drama that will leave readers wanting more.” – Library Journal
“With sizzling love scenes, taut plotting, and a hair-raising finish, Castille’s romantic thriller will appeal to her existing fans and win her new ones.” – Publishers Weekly Starred Review
“Luca is a fast-paced, action-packed tale balanced by humor, heart and family.” – RT Book Reviews 4.5 stars, Top Pick


Author Bio:
Sarah Castille is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Redemption Series, Ruin & Revenge Series, Sinner’s Tribe Motorcycle Club series, Legal Heat series and the Club Excelsior series. A recovering lawyer with a fondness for dirty-talking alpha males, she now is a full-time writer, who lives on Vancouver Island. Sarah’s books have been listed as Publisher’s Weekly’s Top Ten Picks and Best Summer Reads, and Amazon’s Best Romance Books of the Year, and have won numerous reader’s choice awards including the Holt Medallion.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Book Blitz: Reach for You by Pat Esden plus Giveaway


Reach for You
Pat Esden

(The Dark Heart #3)
Published by: Kensington Publishing Corp.
Publication date: June 27th 2017
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Her passion is her greatest weakness.
His legacy is his prison.
To reunite, both must fight the demons within.

A world of deception and danger separates Annie Fremont from her mother—and from Chase, the enigmatic groundskeeper with whom Annie’s fallen in love. But she vows to find her way back to them, before Chase succumbs to the madness that threatens his freedom. The only person who can help is the magical seductress, Lotli, a beautiful, manipulative woman . . . a woman who has disappeared.
Annie must stay strong, even as the future she imagined is slipping away. With the help of family and friends, she discovers that Lotli is being held against her will, by those who want to exploit her powers. But though weakened, Lotli remains a powerful ally and adversary. A bargain is struck. And now Annie’s only chance to rescue Chase could also tear them apart . . .
Loyalties will be tested, walls will be breached, and enemies will be fought, yet Annie’s greatest battle lies within her own heart—to trust her love for Chase to overcome its greatest enemy, and to save those she holds most dear from the terrifying realm of the djinn. For all of their lives depend on it.
Previous books in the series:
25810168 28109696
CHAPTER ONE:
We journey. Ceaseless and hungry.
Carved into stone tablet. Tenerife, Spain
The campsite was ominously silent. Then a breeze lifted and my ear caught the faint clank and rattle of the bones and knives hanging in the pine trees behind us.
“You don’t think they’re both dead, do you?” Selena whispered.
I scanned the dilapidated camper ahead of us, a do-it-yourself RV created out of an old bread truck. Despite the midafternoon warmth, the doors were shut tight. The tent behind it, barely visible from our angle, bowed under the weight of rain that had pooled in its canopy. There was no campfire smoke. No trampled grass. In comparison to when we’d come here last week, the place looked deserted.
Goose bumps pebbled my skin. I gave the camper another once-over. “Zea was really old and sickly. He could have died—or if the kidnappers came here first looking for Lotli, they could have found him. They might have—”
Selena cut me off with a glower. “You mean, supposed kidnappers.”
My jaw clenched. Yeah, that was exactly what I meant. I understood why my cousin didn’t like that everything we’d discovered pointed to her boyfriend, Newt, being involved in Lotli’s disappearance, and perhaps Zea’s as well. But I thought we’d gotten past that, like a bunch of times already.
I swiveled toward where we’d parked our Land Rover. The Professor stood rooted next to it, a mixture of disgust and apprehension crinkling his face. From his scholarly glasses and sandy brown hair all the way down to his polished loafers, he looked anything but ready for our reconnaissance trip out here on the back roads of Down East Maine. An afternoon of research at Oxford University would have been more appropriate. “You want to check inside the tent while we look in the camper?”
His gaze flicked to the soggy tarps. He cleared his throat, then—as posh as ever—said, “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not totally against the idea. But the thought of discovering a rotting corpse is a teensy bit abhorrent.”
“Would you rather discover one in a closed-up camper?” I snapped. It was lucky we’d driven into the campsite from the main road instead of walking like we’d done the last time. I’d assumed the Professor had an adventuresome spirit to go with his young Indiana Jones good looks. Especially since he was an archaeologist, though this summer he was tutoring Selena’s eleven-year-old brother as a favor. Still, and despite how eager he’d seemed to come with us, the Professor had freaked the second we started past the creepy stuff Zea and Lotli hung in the trees to scare people off: the knives and bones, pieces of copper pipe, broken mirrors, and doll parts. Frankly, I was surprised he’d even gotten out of the Land Rover at all.
I pasted on a smile. “Sorry. I don’t much care for the idea myself. Let’s just hope he’s napping or something.”
The Professor wiped his hands down the sides of his chinos. “I truly hope you’re right.”
As he headed for the tent, I tramped toward the camper with Selena close behind. If only Chase were here now. The creepy stuff hadn’t bothered him at all, and the fear of Zea being dead would have only driven him forward faster.
My chest tightened, my longing for Chase aching inside me, raw and unrelenting. If it weren’t for me, he would be here now. Instead, both he and my mother were trapped in the djinn realm, prisoners of his father, Malphic. If it weren’t for me, Lotli wouldn’t be missing either.
“Well?” Selena jerked her head at the camper door. “Are you going to just stand there?”
I raised my hand and knocked. One second passed. Two seconds. I rapped harder. Nothing. I tried the doorknob. It turned beneath my grip. I opened the door a crack, hesitated, and took a deep breath before pushing it open all the way.
A wave of hot, musty air rushed past me as if the camper had been closed up for days.
“Hello?” I said, sticking my head inside. I gave the air a cautious sniff. No dangerous odors, like a leaky gas stove, permeated the air. No rotting-trash smell—or decomp.
Selena nudged my shoulder. “What are you waiting for?”
I swallowed hard and stepped forward.
The place was cramped, a gypsy wagon on steroids. Tassels and prisms curtained the windows, letting only faint streaks of light inside. Miles of fuchsia and turquoise fabric draped the ceiling and walls. Animal skulls, feathers, and nubby candles clustered inside miniature altars. The fridge, table, and chairs, every surface that wasn’t fabric covered, was painted purple or black. Stars decorated the ceiling. An antique bed piled with crimson quilts and an avalanche of pillows took up the camper’s entire backend. It was cozy enough, I supposed. But I couldn’t begin to imagine what life had been like for Lotli, apprenticed to Zea as a child because of her magic abilities, essentially indentured. Not that I thought a devout shaman like Zea would have been cruel to her. It was just so different from anything I’d experienced.
“Zea, are you here?” I called out. “We need to talk to you about Lotli.”
I minced my way deeper into the cramped space, working my way toward the back of the camper. Cold sweat carved a trail down my spine. I crept past a tiny kitchen and dining nook, then the bathroom—one toothbrush in the holder, a washcloth draped over the edge of a yellowed sink.
I returned to the front of the camper and pulled aside the curtain that divided the living area from the bread truck’s cab. Seats for the driver and a passenger, seashells glued to the dash, insulated coffee cups in the holders—
Something brushed the back of my neck.
I yelped and jumped sideways, whipping around to see what it was and smacking my elbow against the wall. Pain zinged up my arm. I glared at Selena, standing barely an inch behind me.
“Shit,” I said, rubbing the sting from my arm. “You scared the hell out of me.”
She gave me a sheepish pout. “Sorry. I thought you knew I was there.”
“I didn’t think you were that close.” It wouldn’t have hurt half as bad, except I was already sore and bruised from being thrown out of the djinn realm earlier in the day.
Her pout transformed into a smug smile and she flipped her blond hair over one shoulder. “Looks to me like Zea and Lotli might have pulled a vanishing act after all. Huh?”
I stopped rubbing. “Or the Professor’s about to find something disgusting in the tent.”
“Want to bet?”
I closed my eyes, struggling to regain my composure. We couldn’t afford to waste time discussing the same thing over and over again, any more than I could have afforded the luxury of staying home to nurse my aches and pains. Chase and Mother were in danger. And I couldn’t go back to the realm and rescue them until we found Lotli. Without her and her flute-magic, it would be too risky, perhaps even impossible to enter or escape from the realm.
I shoved past Selena and strode to the tiny bathroom. “While we’re here, we should find something personal of Lotli’s that you can use to scry and see where they’re holding her.”
Glancing around, I spotted a scruffy hairbrush. You couldn’t get much more personal than that. I grabbed it and brandished it toward Selena.
She stood just inside the bathroom doorway, hands on her hips, eyes narrowed. “Cut it out, Annie, I’ve had enough of you talking like Newt kidnapped Lotli, the innuendos and little jabs. Maybe his family’s hiding something, but Newt doesn’t have anything to do with it. So quit acting like he’s evil, okay?”
I mirrored her stance. “He told you his dad was a stockbroker, that they owned their summer home. Those were lies. His brother is a registered creep. No matter what you want to think: Newt’s not innocent.”
She turned her back on me, her voice bordering on hysteria. “I don’t know why I bothered coming. You’re so, so . . . You always have to be right—” Her voice died and she slowly faced me. Angry red blotches mottled her face. But tears rimmed her eyes.
My anger drained. She didn’t look pissed. She was trembling like she was about to fall apart. Earlier today, when we’d first heard about the lies Newt and his family had been telling, I’d seen something in Selena’s eyes, something beneath her disbelief.
“What is it? Tell me,” I asked gently.
She raked her hands over her face. “Nothing. You just need to trust me. I know Newt couldn’t be involved. And he wouldn’t have let his brother do it either.”
I leveled my gaze with hers and toughened my voice. “What makes you so certain? Tell me the truth, Selena.”
Her chin quivered. “I just know.”
Tucking the hairbrush handle first into my hip pocket, I stepped closer. I pushed her hair back from her face. “You’re my cousin. Please. Tell me.”
“Nothing. He just wouldn’t do it. He loves me.”
“I get that. But—”
She shoved my hand away. “No, you don’t get it. I know he loves me. Like forever.” Her eyes pleaded for me to understand what she couldn’t bring herself to say.
A possibility seeped into my head. My hands went to my mouth, covering a horrified gasp. She couldn’t mean. She couldn’t have. “What did you do?”
“I kind of—I put a . . .” Her voice faded and she looked down at the floor.
“A spell?” A month ago, the idea of witchcraft being involved would never have occurred to me. Now it seemed more than likely.
“You can’t tell anyone. Mom, Dad, Grandfather—they’d kill me.” She curled her arms over her head, her shoulders shaking as she crumpled down against the wall.
I crouched and put my arms around her. “Whatever it is, it’ll be fine. It can’t be that bad.”
“It is,” she sobbed.


Author Bio:
PAT ESDEN would love to say she spent her childhood in intellectual pursuits. The truth is she was fonder of exploring abandoned houses and old cemeteries. When not out on her own adventures, she can be found in her northern Vermont home writing stories about brave, smart women and the men who capture their hearts. An antique-dealing florist by trade, she’s also a member of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and the League of Vermont Writers. Her short stories have appeared in a number of publications, including Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, the Mythopoeic Society’s Mythic Circle literary magazine, and George H. Scither’s anthology Cat Tales.

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