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Blog Tour with Review: Enchanting Sebastian (Big Sky Royal #1) by Kristen Proby

 
Enchanting Sebastian 
by Kristen Proby
A Big Sky Royal Novel
Release Date: September 24, 2019
The first in an all new stand-alone trilogy set in Kristen Proby’s Big Sky world, Enchanting Sebastian will take your breath away! 
Turning thirty-five doesn’t mean much to most men. For Sebastian Wakefield, it’s the end of life as he knows it. 
When your father is the King of England, thirty-five is the year that a marriage will be arranged, a suitable bride cementing a future you didn’t choose. The obvious solution for escaping the archaic laws of the throne is for Sebastian to leave the country. And where better to go than America? 

Nina Wolfe has spent her career avoiding scandal. As a Hollywood publicist and minor celebrity in her own right, she knows exactly what it takes to keep the media at bay—and what will send them into a frenzy. 

Prince Sebastian hiding out in Cunningham Falls, Montana is an unlikely story. Ending up in his bed, even more so. And keeping their arrangement out of the press might just be impossible. The ring on her finger is about to spark a firestorm that will change her life, and no professional spin will help Nina fit into the world of royalty. 

Only love could write an enchanting new beginning—if they’ll let themselves fall. 
Add to Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2jXf5Xf

MY REVIEW

Words can not express how excited I was to see Enchanting Sebastian land on my kindle. I mean, I fell in love with this book the moment I laid eyes on the cover and I was so happy to see this book live up to my expectations….

Enchanting Sebastian follows the story of Sebastian and Nina. To some, turing 35 is just another day. But, for Sebastian, turning 35 feels like the end of the world. You see, long ago, it was decided that if you weren’t married by the age of 35, then a marriage would be arranged for you. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s also the fact that Sebastian has no desire to be king. As his 35th birthday looms closer, Sebastian is overwhelmed and just has to get away from it all. So, get away from it all is what he does…..Nina has spent her entire life avoiding scandal. As a Hollywood publicist for her famous brother, she’s used to putting out fires and knows how to avoid the spotlight. The last thing Nina ever planned for was Sebastian. He turns her whole world upside down and has her thinking of things she never wanted. Suddenly, Nina finds herself engaged to none other than Prince Sebastian. If Nina thought her world was turned upside down before, she has no clue what she’s gotten herself into….

Enchanting Sebastian is the kind of book that you just want to curl up on the couch with and just spend your entire day getting lost in. From royals to a marriage of convience and falling in love when you’re not supposed to, this book checked off all of my boxes. I laughed. I swooned. I feel totally head over heels for Sebastian and Nina. I kid you not, my face hurt from smiling so much. Enchanting Sebastian was just the sweet, swoon worthy love story that I was looking for. It was light on the drama, heavy on the swoon and steam, and it kept me begging for more.

Enchanting Sebastian is the first book in the all new Big Sky Royals Series from author Kristen Proby, and I gotta tell you, this book knocked my socks off. I loved every second of this book from beginning to end. I loved the characters, the friendship and romance. I loved the cameos from new friends and old ones as well.

I think this series is off to a terrific start and I can not wait to see who this author has us falling head over heels for next!

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review*

Kristen was born and raised in a small resort town in her beloved Montana. In her mid-twenties, she decided to stretch her wings and move to the Pacific Northwest, where she made her home for more than a dozen years.

During that time, Kristen wrote many romance novels and joined organizations such as RWA and other small writing groups. She spent countless hours in workshops, and more mornings than she can count up before the dawn so she could write before going to work. She submitted many manuscripts to agents and editors alike, but was always told no. In the summer of 2012, the self-publishing scene was new and thriving, and Kristen had one goal: to publish just one book. It was something she longed to cross off of her bucket list.

Not only did she publish one book, she’s since published close to thirty titles, many of which have hit the USA Today, New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestsellers lists. She continues to self publish, best known for her With Me In Seattle and Boudreaux series, and is also proud to work with William Morrow, a division of HarperCollins, with the Fusion Series. 

Kristen and her husband, John, make their home in her hometown of Whitefish, Montana. 

 

Blog Tour: Six Goodbyes We Never Said by Candace Ganger

“Two teens maneuver painful routes through profound grief as well as the complex quagmire of severe mental illness…
Ultimately hopeful, and readers will connect with the messy, visceral lives simmering on the page. Profoundly
emotional and truthful.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Six Goodbyes We Never Said is a knowing tour de force filled with crackling wit, pain, and mini, freeze-dried
marshmallows. Original and funny, the best parts may be found in the small moments, especially Ganger’s hilarious,
spot-on dialogue, as well as tucked within the brilliantly-placed parentheticals. All that and a bowl of Lucky Charms. Or
maybe six boxes.” – Gae Polisner, award-winning author of The Memory of Things and In Sight of Stars

Six Goodbyes We Never Said By Candace Ganger

This is no love story; in fact, it’s not even really a “like” story. In Candace Ganger’s sophomore novel, SIX GOODBYES WE
NEVER SAID (Wednesday Books; September 24, 2019), two teens meet after tragically losing their parents and learn
about love, loss, and letting go. Deftly tackling issues of mental health and grief, Ganger’s #OwnVoices novel brings
vibrant characters to life as they figure out how to say goodbye to the people they love the most.

Naima Rodriguez doesn’t want your patronizing sympathy as she grieves her father, her hero—a fallen Marine. She’ll
hate you forever if you ask her to open up and remember him “as he was,” though that’s all her loving family wants her
to do in order to manage her complex OCD and GAD. She’d rather everyone back the-eff off while she separates her
Lucky Charms marshmallows into six, always six, Ziploc bags, while she avoids friends and people and living the life her
father so desperately wanted for her.

Dew respectfully requests a little more time to process the sudden loss of his parents. It’s causing an avalanche of secret
anxieties, so he counts on his trusty voice recorder to convey the things he can’t otherwise say aloud. He could really use
a friend to navigate a life swimming with pain and loss and all the lovely moments in between. And then he meets
Naima and everything’s changed—just not in the way he, or she, expects.

Full of tender, funny, and downright heartbreaking moments, Ganger’s second novel will have you cheering and crying
all on the same page. Don’t miss out on this YA powerhouse standalone!

AUTHORS NOTE

Hello, dear reader.

I think it should be known that, while Six Goodbyes is a work of fiction, I share the many characteristics, fears, and pains, in both the delicacy of Dew, and the confused ferocity in Naima. Please let this brief note serve as a trigger warning in regards to mental illness; self-care is of the utmost importance. And while I hope Six Goodbyes provides insight for those who don’t empa- thize, or comfort for those that do, I also understand everyone reacts differently.

Dew’s social anxiety is something I, and many others, struggle with. We carry on with our days and pretend it’s not as hard as it feels inside. Others can’t quite see how much it hurts but we so wish they could. Naima is the most visceral interpretation of all of my diagnosed disorders combined. Her obsessive-compulsive dis- order (OCD) and related tics, her intrusive thoughts, her utterly devastating and isolating depression, her generalized anxiety dis- order (GAD), which makes her so closed off from the world, and her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from losing the biggest portion of her identity—those are all pieces of me. Very big pieces. They don’t define me, but it would be misleading if I didn’t ad- mit they sometimes, mostly do. I’m imperfectly complicated like Naima. And though I’ve written extensively on both my mental illnesses and living biracial, between two worlds—never enough of one or the other; always only half of something and never whole or satiated—I often still feel misunderstood. Hopefully Dew and Naima’s stories will provide a little insight as to what it’s like inside their heads, and inside mine.

Both Dew and Naima want to hold on to the roots that have grounded them in their familiar, safe spaces. But once their meta- phorical trees are cut, and all the leaves shielding them from their pains have fallen and faded away, not even photosynthesis could bring them back to life. Those roots, Naima and Dew feel, will die off, and everything they had in their lives before will, too. There are many of you out there who feel the exact same way, but I assure you, Dew and Naima will find their way— they will grow new roots that flourish—and you, my darlings, will, too.

Thank you for reading, and may Six Goodbyes serve as per- mission to speak your truths—the good and the painful.

Here’s to another six airplanes for you to wish upon.

Dad

cell

May 3 at 7:33 PM

Transcription Beta

“Guess who’s getting ready to come home and take you to Ivy Springs? That’s right, Ima. It’s happening. It’s finally happening. Don’t tell Nell. I want to surprise her.”

0:00               0:10

Speaker                Call Back                   Delete

Email Draft (Unsent)

To

Subject

I’m holding my breath

Until you’re standing in front of me Because we’ve danced this song

So many times before

Promise.

And I no longer trust You’ll do what you

Just in case,

I’ll count the hexagons.

NAIMA

Nell is a dingy yoga mat; the sweaty barrier between total chill­ status and my shit reality (aka, my annoying stepmom and ru­ iner of all moments) (trust me on this).

“JJ and Kam aren’t going to believe how much you’ve grown since the funeral,” she says on our long­ass 794­mile drive from Albany, Georgia, to Ivy Springs, Indiana. She tap tap taps her long, pointed fingernails against the steering wheel to the beat of what­ ever imaginary song she’s playing in her head. Probably some­ thing disco or hair band. The radio is silent, always silent, when we ride together, but the second she speaks with that high­pitched nasally voice I loathe, I regret this necessity. I concentrate harder on the objects we pass so I can properly pinch my toes between them.

Tap my nose. Tap my nose. Tap my nose.

Tap my nose. Tap my nose.

Tap my nose.

Click my tongue. Click my tongue. Click my tongue.

Click my tongue. Click my tongue.

Click my tongue.

Flick my thumbnail. Flick my thumbnail.

Flick my thumbnail.

Flick my thumbnail. Flick my thumbnail.

Flick my thumbnail.

Flick.

Flick.

FLICK.

I continue with my sequence the length of the drive. Nell hates it, but I hate when she wears fingerless gloves in the summer, so we’re even. Without my boring­ass stepbrother, Christian, to be my talk block—the dull cushion of conversation between Nell and me—(he left two days ago on a death star/plane to see his dad in NYC), the “spacious” SUV feels like I’ve been placed at a dinner table in a vast canyon and right across from me is literally the only woman I don’t want to meet for dinner. Like, why can’t I eat with the Queen of England or Oprah? I’m bound by my father’s love for Nell, or whatever, but now he’s gone, and I’m climbing the hell out of the canyon before she wants to talk about how big my naturally tousled hair is (a perfect mess), period cycles (semi­regular, FYI), sexually transmitted diseases (don’t have a single one, thanks), or worse—my feelings (happily bur­ ied!). Ugh. GTFO.

The failing engine’s hum, where the metal scrapes and churns with a whir, competes with Nell’s increased tapping. I’ve missed too many objects, my toes rapidly pinching and releasing, to make up for what’s been lost. But it’s too late. My mind shifts automatically to a neon sign flashing warning! There’s always a consequence to messing up the sequence. Always.

Counting is to time what the final voicemail Dad left is to the sound of my heart cracking open; a message I can’t listen to. It’ll become entombed in history, in me. My finger lingers over my phone and quickly retreats, knowing there’s nothing he could’ve said to make this pain less. Nothing can make him less gone.

I look out the window to where my dreary­eyed reflection stares blankly back at me; Nell glides over the double yellow lines into oncoming traffic, violently overcorrecting just before we would have been hit by a semi. The sound of his horn echoes

through the high­topped Tennessee mountains. Three thousand two hundred eighty­seven people die in car accidents every day. I Googled it. After I Googled it, I looked at pictures. And after I looked at pictures I went through the sequence. Car accident. Fatalities. My legs smashed up to my chest. Nell crushed into the hood.

“Sorry,” she says; her voice rattles. “Make sure Ray’s okay back there.”

I turn to investigate the vase­shaped metal urn surrounded by layers of sloppily folded sheets (Nell did that) and one per­ fectly situated hexagon quilt (that’s all me). The sun’s gleam hits

U.S. Marine Corp just so, and I’m reminded again that he’s gone.

Gone.

It’s fine,” I say, refusing to call that pile of ashes “Dad,” or “he.” The urn arrived several days ago in a twenty­four­hour pri­ ority package. Nell saying, “No reason to waste time getting him home,” and I was like, “What’s that?” and she was all “Your dad, silly,” and I was like, “Huh?” and she asked me if I wanted a banana­kale protein shake after she “got him situated.” A big hell no. I immediately dove into a Ziploc ration of Lucky Charms marshmallows to dull the pain of conversing with someone so exhausting.

After he was transported in ice from Afghanistan to Dover, after they sorted and processed his things, after he was cre­ mated, after the police and state troopers closed down the streets to honor him as we drove him through, after we had the memorial service, after we were handed the folded flag with a bullet shell casing tucked inside, after they spoke of his medals, and after Christian and I sat in disbelief beneath a weep­ ing willow tree for three hours, Nell finally decided the ashes should go to his hometown in Indiana, after all. I didn’t think she’d cave, but after one talk with my grandma, JJ, she did. If anyone could turn a donkey into a unicorn, it’s JJ (or so she says). And so, it was decided—Dad, I mean It, was going home a unicorn.

“Let’s stop for some grub,” Nell says, wide­eyed. “Hungry?” “Grub,” rhymes with “nub,” which she is. “No.”

“Let’s at least stretch our legs. Still a few hours to go.” “Fine. But no travel yoga this time.”

She pulls off to a rest area a few miles ahead, exiting the car. I crack a window and wait while she hikes a leg to the top of the trunk, bending forward with an “oh, that’s tight.” After, she says, “Going to the potty. BRB.”

I flash a thumbs­up and slink deep into the warmth of my seat, hiding from the stare of perverts and families. My foot kicks my bag on the floor mat, knocking my prescription bottle to its side. Dr. Rose, my therapist in Ft. Hood, said sometimes starting over is the only way to stop looking back. But what about when the past is all you have left of someone?

My gaze pushes forward to the vending machines. Dad and I stopped at this very place on our way to Indiana without basic Nell. He’d grab a cold can of Coke and toss me a bag of trail mix to sort into piles. If I close my eyes, it almost feels like he’s here—not a pile of ashes buckled tight into the backseat. We’d play a game of Would You Rather to see who could come up with the worst/most messed­up scenarios (I usually won).

Would you rather wear Nells unwashed yoga pants every day for a month?

Or call an urn full of ashes “Dad”?

Sometimes, he’d pre­sort the trail mix,

Leaving me the best parts (the candy­coated chocolate).

I am one­of­a­kind

Magic, Dad would say.

But he was, too.

A unicorn, I think.

Definitely not a donkey. The more I think on it,

Maybe JJ could turn Nell

Into a unicorn, Too,

But no magic is that strong.

Dad

cell

June 1 at 9:04 AM

Transcription Beta

“Open the door.”

0:00 0:03
Speaker Call Back Delete

Sent Email

No Subject

Naima <naimatheriveter@gmail.com>   Jun 1, 9:07 AM to Dad

If I open it,

Will you really be there Or just a memory

From the last time?

Nevermind.

The ghost

I see you,

Outside my window.

DEW  GD  BRICKMAN

DURATION:   10:49

In todays forecast, sunshine early morning will give way to lateday thunderstorms. I love the smell of rain. Its the aroma of being alive.

August Moon and the Paper Hearts—the band my parents opened for—advise we speak kindly to strangers through song. I’d like to think that’s what my parents would’ve said, too. I can still see my mother’s chestnut eyes soft as she hums. From the tired bones in her feet after long shifts at the glass­making factory (after the band split apart), to the graying curls that sprang into action when the beat hit her ears, she’s frozen in time; a whim­ sical ballerina, twirling inside a glass globe to a tune only she and I can hear.

“Let the music move your soul,” she’d tell me. “Let it carry you into the clouds, my darling.”

She’d grab my hand, hers papered by the rough gloves she was required to wear during her shifts, guiding me by the glitter­ ing moondust, while Dad watched on from the old twill rocker, threads carved around his boxy frame. Our feet stepped along invisible squares against the floor, round and round, until the world vanished beneath us. We floated.

“You got that boy spoiled, Momma,” Dad would tell her. “Don’t you know it,” she’d reply, pulling me closer.

That was when the universe built itself around the three of us; vibrant wildflowers, dipped in my mother’s favorite verb: “love.” I wish I could remember the smell of her better. I wish I could remember what Dad would say. When I lose my breath in the thick of human oceans and panic, I wish harder.

My second set of parents, Stella and Thomas, are kind to me. Stella’s eyes remind me of my mother’s—two infinity pools, giving the illusion of boundless compassion—while Thomas’s laugh is an eerily mirrored version of my father’s. Sometimes, when Thomas finds himself amused, I catch myself thinking Dad is here. I can almost see him holding his bass guitar, doubled over from a joke he’d heard.

My sister, Faith, hasn’t settled into this family yet, even after a year of fostering. She cries, punches her bed pillow—sometimes Stella; sometimes Thomas. Her wailing is incessant, scratchy, and raw. Sometimes I sit outside her door and silently cry with her. When you’re taken from your birth parents, it doesn’t matter how wonderful your new, adoptive, or temporary, foster parents are. They can be every warm hug you’ve needed, but if you’re holding tight to the feeling of being home, you may find com­ fort in the cold, dark night instead. I did at first. After all the months with us, Faith is realizing the Brickmans are her home now, but she’s still fighting to stay warm on her own, hoping her parents would somehow return.

“You can never know someone’s pain or happiness until you’ve stepped inside their shoes,” my mother would say.

“What if their shoes don’t fit?” I’d ask. “If our lives are too different?”

“Find a connection; something similar enough that all the dif­ ferences bounce off the table completely, like Ping­Pong balls. If we look past things that divide us, humanity will find a way to shine through.”

No one should step inside my shoes unless they’re prepared to understand the kind of grief that’s whole­body and constant. It’s quiet but deep. The same way Earth orbits the sun every hour of every day of every year, I miss my parents, and Faith misses hers.

Stella and Thomas try. They’ve searched our shoe collection. They’ve tried them on. And, just as Cinderella found her magic fit, they’ve managed to find a pair that fits in some way. Of the hundreds of thousands of kids in foster care, they placed an inquiry about me, they went through the classes and orienta­ tion for me, they did the home study for me—they adopted me. Same for Faith, however different our circumstances.

It makes no matter that Stella and Thomas couldn’t conceive naturally. The foster and adoption process stole chunks of time they’ll never retrieve, for a “special needs” boy—due to my age, “minority group,” and “emotional trauma”—long past diapers and bottles and baby powder–scented snuggles. It was financially and emotionally draining for all of us involved, with no guaran­ tee I would welcome them or they could love me the way my parents did. I didn’t embrace them at first. I quite liked my previ­ ous foster family but they felt me only temporary. The Brick­ mans embraced me without hesitation, with a permanent kind of promise. It’s the same kindness my parents would endorse. They gave me a home, a family, and a place I belong. And so, to every stranger along my path, I will be kind, too. Even—especially—the ones who’d prefer I didn’t.

“Those are the souls who need compassion most,” Mom would say. “The ones broken by the world, angry and afraid of trust­ ing. You must remind them that they are not alone. Nothing can be lost in trying. Remember that always, my darling.”

As I hear Faith shouting into her comforter again, I wonder how many have failed to try on her shoes through the near dozen foster homes she’s been in.

I hear you, Faith. I am you.

I think all this before my pre­planned path to Baked & Caffeinated—the coffee and bakeshop at which I’ve been em­ ployed a mere six days—with August Moon streaming through my earbuds. Today is my first scheduled shift, and if you could feel my heart beat, you’d assume it was about to burst (it very well may). Though Ivy Springs maintains a compact three­mile radius, it’s my first time walking alone. For most, it’s a relaxing walk. But, as my father would often tell me, I am not most people. The mere thought of the journey had me curled in a ball on my twin mattress for at least an hour. Beneath the covers, I gave my best, most inspiring pep talk about how, despite those voices tell­ ing me I can’t do it, I can and I will and I’ll be glorious.

Mom would always lift the blankets off the bed and sit next to me. “This, too, shall pass, my darling.”

“And if it doesn’t?” I’d say with quivering lips.

“It will. You are my corpse flower,” Mom told me. “The larg­ est, rarest flower in the whole world. Blooming takes many ar­ duous seasons, but it is worth the wait.”

The longer she’s gone, the more I understand the layers she peeled off of me. With each one, my shine radiated a little more. Mom and Dad never saw my fears in black and white; people aren’t made so simply. We’re straddling a blur of gray.

The downtown café is fairly new to this small blip of town. Serving variations of roasted coffee beans, espresso concoctions, and freshly baked confectionaries you can smell for miles, Baked & Caffeinated is one of the few places people my age come. With school out for summer, the position of highly regarded cashier is a way to blend in slightly more than I stand out. When the manager, Liam “Big Foot” Thompson—college student and “organic medicinal specialist” (whatever that means)—barely glanced at the application I spent two long hours filling in, I’m not sure what prompted him to hire me on the spot, but there it was: an opportunity to slide into a new pair of shoes.

“Hard work reveals who people really are,” Dad would tell me. “When the going gets tough, some hide and others rise.”

I will rise, Dad.

One glance at the clock and I see no matter how I rush, the seconds tick by faster than I can keep up. I’m dressed in freshly ironed slacks, an ebony polo buttoned two­thirds of the way up (I was told this is appropriate), snazzy checkered suspenders, and the taupe fedora—feather and all—I cannot live without.

“I’m off,” I tell Stella.

She sits at the kitchen table, a list of recipe ingredients in hand, peering over the bridge of her reading glasses. She pulls a ceramic coffee mug to her lips and sips her coffee with a slurp. It dribbles to the paper. “Ah, damn it!”

I step back, my hands gripping my suspenders as if they’re bungee cords.

“Sorry,” she says, standing. She squares her shoulders with mine and drives her stare through me. “I hope you have the best time.” She pulls me near—an attempt at a hug that’s strangled by her awkward, coffee­saturated positioning. “If you feel over­ whelmed, take a deep breath, excuse yourself to the bathroom if necessary, and you can always, always call me. K?”

I hesitate, fear squirming between us.

She tips my chin up so my eyes fall straight into hers. Her eyes swallow me up in a bubble of safety, little lines spiderwebbing out from the corner creases that cling to my distress, fishing fear out of me, casting it somewhere else entirely. It’s a trick Mom used to do, too.

“You’re going to do great,” she reassures. “Promise.”

I nod, finally, and she releases me from her grip to deal with the coffee puddle. I watch her for a whole minute before she urges me out the door. I’m supposed to work on my time management. I lose time when my brain is knotted with worry. But how do you untangle something you can’t even see?

Along my walk down the potholed sidewalk, my eyes care­ fully plot each step to not catch on a divot. The last time, I nearly broke my arm, the exact spot ridiculing me as I pounce over it with the light­footed pirouette of a cat. I’m so proud of this move, distracted by my obvious victory against that mean concrete hole, I run straight into someone.

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” I stammer.

“Dude,” a boy says with a heavy grunt. “Watch it.”

I’m hesitant to make eye contact, but I do—Stella and Thomas have encouraged it—alarm bells blaring. The boy’s eyes are nar­ row, brows furrowed. I replay last night’s news headline in my mind—teen shoots former classmate at graduation party and fold as far down as my small frame will allow.

He rips his earbuds out, his face softening only slightly. I try to walk by, he blocks me. I move to the other side. He stands in my way here, too.

“Excuse me,” I say.

“You should watch where you’re going. It’s a small town with shitty sidewalks.”

“Yes,” I stutter. “I will, thank you for the advice.”

He presses his earbuds back into place and allows me to pass with the wave of his hand.

“Have a wonderful day,” I tell him. My voice shakes, my feet moving faster than before.

Mom would say, “Chin up, eyes forward, not back,” so I re­ peat this to myself, pretending she’s here to ricochet these inter­ actions into outer space. I’m still learning how to be my own hero. My deepest darkest fear is, maybe I never will.

I stand outside the bakeshop and stare up at the illustrated cof­ fee mug on the sign. My reluctance holds me in the center of this busier than normal sidewalk. I remind myself I’m okay. The crowds won’t harm me. I can breathe through it and the day will go on. It can and it will, because it has to. As the sweat accumu­ lates beneath my hat, I think of Mom telling me “now or never,” and open the door. The bell attached to the door rings as I breeze through.

“You’re so late,” Mr. Thompson says after I wind through the line of customers bunched near the counter. “I thought we said ten.”

A quick glance at the time—ten seventeen—and my chin sinks into my chest. “Apologies. We did agree on that time.” Dad used to say, “The only good excuse is none at all,” so I swallow the ones rising into my throat and try to ignore the gnawing feel­ing in my gut that makes me want to lock myself inside the bath­ room to escape all the noise and people and smells and sounds. My sensory dashboard is on overload. I imagine a little robot in a white coat frantically working to calm each circuit board before it fries. Poor fellow. His work is thankless and sometimes a com­ plete and utter failure. I do my best to help by inhaling another deep breath, exhaling through my mouth as Mr. Thompson guides me to the space behind the counter where I’m to stand. I fumble in the small space, as another employee, a girl in a long flowy dress covered by an apron, welcomes me with a wide grin.

“Hey, newb,” she says. “I’m Violet.”

“Nice to meet you. I’m Dew.” I keep a generous distance to not make her uncomfortable, but she moves in close enough to notice how well I’ve brushed my teeth (well enough, I hope).

“You have a really great aura. It’s blue­centric with electric swirls of pink. Very neon, man.”

I respect her need for close proximity and we stand almost nose to nose. “Interesting. What does that mean?”

Her eyes widen as if she’s swallowing every centimeter of mine. “You’re highly sensitive, intuitive, and have strong mor­ als. Like, you’re honest to a fault and can’t seem to deviate from it, even if it’d serve you better to keep your mouth shut. I know, because I’m a total Purple. I can read your palms if you want.”

I slip them into my pockets. “Perhaps later, after I’ve grown accustomed to the process and routines here.”

She smiles and allows me the space to breathe again as Mr. Thompson waves me to a short stack of papers I’m to fill out. “When you’re finished with these, I’ll have Violet show you how to brew espresso shots for lattes.”

I nod. “Sir—”

He stops me with a snicker. “Please—my dad is sir because he’s a dinosaur. I’m Big Foot.”

My eyes confusedly scan the perimeter of this man who is neither big nor seems to have larger than average feet. Perhaps that’s the irony. I decide I like it. “Mr. Foot,” I begin; he stops me again to remind me it’s Big Foot, “I don’t have a driver’s license yet, only a permit. My birthday is in a few weeks, though I’m not interested in driving a motor vehicle at this time. I also have some allergies that may restrict my duties outside of handling the register. I forgot to mention it when I applied.”

He lays a hand on my shoulder. “I read the notes on the ap­ plication. I have a little bro with some pretty gnarly allergies. We specialize in nut­free, dairy­free shit. It’s my duty to represent the underrepresented, you know?”

I nod, relieved.

“If you’re not comfortable with any part, I’ll make sure the others know to step in. Wear gloves. Wash your hands. Take your meds,” he pauses, looks me over, “you got meds, right?”

I nod again.

“I got you, bro. Let me know if you have a flare­up from any­ thing, ’cause I’ve got EpiPens and all that jazz.”

My posture relaxes a bit.

“It’ll be all right. Come get me after V trains you on the espresso shots.”

I nod again, folding my hands in front of me.

Local boy freezes in the middle of summer—tonight at 10.

“So, listen,” Violet says, drawing me closer. “My best friend, Birdie, went through major crappage this past year, and I’ve learned how to be a better friend because of it. Apparently she didn’t feel like she could trust me with her most important secrets, so I totally reevaluated my life choices and decided, with a cleanse, to start anew.”

“Good for you.” I stop to wonder why she’s telling me, a per­ fect stranger, this.

“Point is, I know we just met, but as this new, improved me, I’m good at reading people. And it looks like you could use a little encouragement.”

She pulls a notebook from the cubby beneath the register, the words on the front flap, Book of Silver Linings, catching the gleam of the fluorescent lights. I watch her fingers flip and fumble to a specific page. “Confidence grows when we step out of our com­ fort zone and do something different.” Her mouth hangs open, half smiling, as if she’s waiting for my reaction.

“That helps. Thank you.”

“No problem. I think you’ll be okay, Dew—what’s your last name?”

“Brickman now, was Diaz.”

“I think you’ll be okay Dew­Was­Diaz­Brickman.” With a wink, she packs the notebook away. “So you’re gonna be a soph­ omore or . . . ?”

“Correct, you?”

“Only here for the summer, then off to pre­college; a year of exploratory  learning.”

“Where are you headed?”

“Caramel School of Massage and Healing Arts, about forty minutes from here so I can go home when I want. Do you know what you’re doing after high school?”

The question strikes me as abrupt. I’ve thought about the future, but not in the context of who I’ll be in it. “Undecided.” “I was, too. Don’t stress too much. It’s only the rest of your life.” She laughs, but it’s glaringly obvious it’s not a joke.

I turn to the stack of papers, still unsure of which boxes to check, which address to write, what emergency contacts to state. My initial reaction is my old Indianapolis address, Plum Street, and my parents’ cell numbers, which I’ve memorized. I have to stop myself and carefully think what is true today—a Pearl Street address in Ivy Springs, and numbers that belong to Stella and Thomas. It’s a habit I wish I didn’t have to break.

As I neatly write my answers, I look up to see a man reminis­ cent of my father, dressed in desert­camouflaged pants and a tan fitted T­shirt. He orders a large coffee, black, no sugar. I have a penchant for details. They’re the difference between knowing someone in 2­D or 4­D. Violet pumps the fresh java from a ca­ rafe while the man slides inside a booth near the entrance. The large window lets the sun seep in, coating him in a sunshine glaze; almost angelic. Perhaps it’s my dad inside my bones, mov­ ing my feet—he never passed a service member without thanking them for their service—but I find myself standing at the foot of this man’s table.

“Thank you for your service,” I say dutifully.

“Thank you,” he says with a warm smile. “I appreciate that.”

“Well, I appreciate you appreciating me, so I suppose we’re at an impasse of gratitude.” I grin, my hands tucked behind my back to fidget with reckless abandon.

He chuckles as his phone rings. “I’m sorry, but I have to take this.”

“Have a great rest of your day,” I say. “And thank you again.”

“No, thank you—” He stops himself with a palm over the phone speaker. “We could go on forever.”

Violet brings a steaming cup to the table. “This cup signifies my gratitude. Plus, you have a really great aura.”

“Thank you,” he tells her before his attention returns to his call.

The crowd has thinned out and I slink back behind the counter without incident. Violet joins me moments later. I study the way the man holds himself, strong and steady. I wonder who he’s leav­ ing, or coming home to. I wonder where he’s been and where he calls home. I don’t mean to eavesdrop. But his dutiful brawn, his voice, his presence, they almost resound in our small space.

“Sir,” he says, shuffling in his seat. “I hadn’t intended to—yes, sir. I understand.”

A sudden, hard silence falls like a gavel, cutting his booth into before­and­after: the pleasantries before the call, and his tight­ ened jaw after. He holds the phone steady in the air, parallel to his ear, before clutching it inside his fist. All the color fades from his face. I want to look away, I should look away. But one mo­ ment he’s a floating warrior, levitating through fields of all he protects; the next he’s human, weighted by a sharp blow of some­ one’s brandished words, and I can’t.

“I know that look,” Violet whispers. “Heartbreak.”

She says it like she knows the term well. I refrain from spill­ ing how deeply I understand its etymology, my focus still at­ tached to this man—a mere stranger I feel strangely connected to—if only because my story has had a few chapters that didn’t end so well.

He dials a new number. His face contorts into different ex­ pressions, shaking the tightness loose to find some kind of smile. “Smiling tricks the mind and body into thinking you aren’t

in pain,” Stella taught me. As he forces his lips to upturn, mine do the same.

He clears his throat. “I just wanted to say . . . I . . . I love you. I wish I could stop time, you know? Of course you know. It’s always about the time, isn’t it, baby? We need to talk later. . . . Let me know when you and JJ are back from the farmer’s mar­ ket. I love you. . . . So much . . . Talk soon.”

Violet sighs. “Man. I feel for him. And whoever that message is for.”

I quietly decide I’ll do my best to unearth his buried treasures in the event there is an answer among them—one I’ve been searching for since everything in my own life changed.

“We all have things buried so deep, it would take a dedicated search team to pull them to the surface,” my counselor told me once. She said it after my parents died, when I first learned of the Brickmans’ interest in fostering me. It was a time when I only felt the pieces of me that went missing. This man is missing some­ thing, too.

As the clock moves forward, I feel that pull of time passing. Like oars dropped in the ocean, I scramble to grab ahold. But, losing time doesn’t change what’s happened.

In tonights top headlines, new Ivy Springs resident and soon-to-be high school sophomore Andrew Brickman finds something he hadn’t intended during his first shift at Baked & Caffeinated: the crushing realization his parents arent coming back.

About the Author

CANDACE GANGER is a young adult author, contributing writer for Hello Giggles, and obsessive marathoner. Aside from having past lives as a singer, nanotechnology website editor, and world’s worst vacuum sales rep, she’s also ghostwritten hundreds of projects for companies, bestselling fiction and award-winning nonfiction authors alike. She lives in Ohio with her family.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Sarah Bonamino, Associate Publicist
St. Martin’s Publishing Group
Sarah.Bonamino@stmartins.com | 646-307-5566
SIX GOODBYES WE NEVER SAID
By Candace Ganger
Published by Wednesday Books
On Sale September 24, 2019
Hardcover | $18.99
ISBN: 9781250116246 |
Ebook ISBN: 9781250237088

Blog Tour: The Truth About Cowboys by Lisa Renee Jones

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“Lisa Renee Jones does wildly sexy alpha heroes like no one else!”- Jill Shalvis, New York Times bestselling author

The Truth About Cowboys, a steamy, sexy, and laugh-out-loud funny contemporary romance from New York Times bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones, is available now!

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While I was off pitching in the big leagues, my family was back in the small town of Sweetwater, Texas, running the family ranch. Then tragedy hit and I discovered there were secrets that my family kept, problems they hid. I went home, left behind the money, women, and fame. I took over the ranch and took care of my grandmother. I took over hiding the secrets. Then she came to town. A smart-mouthed, clumsy, too-smart-and-too-pretty-for-my-own-good city girl hiding out to write a book. She’s right here, on my property, in the cottage my grandmother rented her without my permission, and she sees too much. She knows too much.

Now suddenly my world is spinning, and she’s shoving a baseball back in my hand while baking cookies with my grandmother. She’s the devil and an angel all in one fiery little package. I decide I’ll wait her out. She’ll go back to the city. Only suddenly I don’t want her to leave, and everything I’ve settled for in my life isn’t enough. I want to play ball and I want her, but there’s that secret that won’t let go, but neither will she.

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Download your copy today!

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Excerpt:

Jessica…

I dart toward the door in the far right corner and enter the bathroom, where I find a giant old-fashioned, barrel-style tub. I open one of the white cabinet doors and also find a towel, but I’m just too wet for it to help. Like that woman was for Craig. Oh God. There I go again. No. No. No. I will not think those thoughts. No more. I’m done. With him. With her. I strip down naked, wrap the towel around me, and hunt for my suitcase, which I hope like heck has the other bag of chocolate I packed.

Naked might get a girl in trouble, but I’m alone and it’s not like anyone is going to see me naked anytime soon. I can go right ahead and happily pack a few pounds of chocolate weight on a petite frame that can’t handle a few extra anything. There will be no more men for me. Therefore, there will be no trouble to be found. It’s a great plan and on this one, really truly, I dare to say, what could go wrong? I exit the bathroom into the bedroom and scream at the sight of a man standing there.

The cowboy who saved me on the side of the road is not only here, minus his trench coat and wearing a snug black T-shirt, he’s bigger and broader than I remember. The bedroom shrinks. My heart races.

“I was right,” I accuse, clutching at my towel, the only thing between me and him besides footsteps. “You are a serial killer.” I search for a weapon and I don’t know why there’s a giant flashlight on the nightstand, but it’s long and strong, and I grab it, my new prize. I also manage to drop my towel. Oh my God, I’ve dropped my towel. Goose bumps lift on my naked body and, Lord help me, my nipples pucker.

I try to grab my towel and almost drop the flashlight, which is a better weapon than terry cloth. I commit to the flashlight and my state of undress. “I will hit you if you come near me,” I warn. “I mean, kill you.” That sounds unrealistic and therefore lacks the bite I intend. “I will hurt you.”

He arches a brow and, to my shock and his credit, he doesn’t so much as blink at anything below my neck. I don’t know if I should be appreciative or offended. Am I not distracting? Am I not worthy of a look? Obviously, my ex didn’t think so and—

The cowboy starts walking toward me.

“What are you doing? Stay back.” I hold up the flashlight, but I’m the one backing up, hitting the wall with a hard thud. He snatches up my towel and hands it to me, his hand brushing my nipple in the process. I suck in a breath, even as the flashlight is removed from my hand and tossed on the bed. “The game is over. Getting naked won’t stop me from calling the police.”

“I’ll knee you. I’ll scream. I’ll—”

“You’re standing in my property, sweetheart.”

“This is not—”

“And yet it is. You picked the wrong house to squat in and the wrong town. I saw where you turned off. I knew where you were headed. Wrong choice, sweetheart.”

“Stop calling me sweetheart. And what the hell are you talking about? Squatter? What is a—” A bad feeling hits me. “You think I’m freeloading by sneaking in here and now I’m trying to buy a bed with my naked body? Really?”

“If the shoe fits, sweetheart.”

I scowl. “Stop calling me sweetheart. Since when do women seducing men try to hit them with a flashlight? Then again, we are talking about you here. I’m pretty sure you could make anyone want to hit you. Maybe that’s the only foreplay you know. A flashlight and a—”

“Stop,” he orders, his hands pressing to the wall on either side of me, and now his big body framing my naked body.

About Lisa Renee Jones

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones is the author of the highly acclaimed INSIDE OUT series. Suzanne Todd (producer of Alice in Wonderland) on the INSIDE OUT series: Lisa has created a beautiful, complicated, and sensual world that is filled with intrigue and suspense. Sara’s character is strong, flawed, complex, and sexy – a modern girl we all can identify with.

In addition to the success of Lisa’s INSIDE OUT series, Lisa has published many successful titles. The TALL, DARK AND DEADLY series and THE SECRET LIFE OF AMY BENSEN series, both spent several months on a combination of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling lists. Lisa is presently working on a dark, edgy new series, Dirty Money, for St. Martin’s Press.

Prior to publishing Lisa owned multi-state staffing agency that was recognized many times by The Austin Business Journal and also praised by the Dallas Women’s Magazine. In 1998 Lisa was listed as the #7 growing women owned business in Entrepreneur Magazine.

Lisa loves to hear from her readers. You can reach her at www.lisareneejones.com

LRJ

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https://lisareneejones.com

Review: Black Sheep (Dirty Mafia Duet #1) by Meghan March

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About Black Sheep: From New York Times bestselling author Meghan March comes a story of untold truths and one man’s redemption in the Dirty Mafia Duet. Every family has a black sheep. In the infamous Casso crime family, that black sheep is me—Cannon Freeman. Except I’m not a free man. I’ve never been free. Not since the day I was born. I owe my loyalty to my father, Dominic Casso, even if he won’t publicly acknowledge me as his blood. I’ve never had a reason to go against his wishes…until I met her. Drew Carson turned my world upside down when she walked into my club looking for a job. Now, my honor and my life are on the line. Going against my father’s wishes might buy me a bullet straight from his gun, but black sheep or not, it’s time to make my stand. She’s worth the fallout. Add to your Goodreads TBR:
Where to buy:
Amazon: mybook.to/BlackSheepUniversal Apple Books: http://bit.ly/AppleBlackSheep B&N: http://bit.ly/BNBlackSheep Kobo: http://bit.ly/KoboBlackSheep Google Play: http://bit.ly/BSheepGoogle

MY REVIEW

“You’ve just let a fox into the henhouse, Mr. Freeman. Thanks for the invite.” “Welcome to the world of being an illegitimate Casso. It’s a fucking blast.” “One day, I’m going to wake up next to you and see only you. It’s going to be the most beautiful sight of my life. “
Meghan March has killed me in the best way possible. Black Sheep is thrilling and sexy. It will have you feverishly turning the pages and holding your breath right until the very end. Nothing makes me more excited than hearing Meghan March has new series coming out. And when I stumbled across the synopsis for Black Sheep, I was not disappointed. This story captivated me from the very beginning and had me dying to see how the story would unfold. Cannon is the black sheep of his family, the illegitimate son to Dominic Casso. Cannon has always done as he’s told…that is until Drew. Drew is different from any woman Cannon has met. The sparks between them are instant and the tension just oozes off the pages. But, what you don’t know is that Drew’s got a secret. A secret that if found out, will only get her killed. The closer she gets to Cannon, the more she wants to put everything on the line. Will Drew be able to keep her secret? And will Cannon decide to fall in line?? There’s only one way to find out. Black Sheep is a thrilling and fast paced ride. The characters suck you into their story instantly and will leave you begging for more. From mystery to danger to steamy moments and secrets to a million and one questions, Black Sheep checked off all of my boxes. Cannon and Drew’s story will leave you breathless in anticipation and the ending will leave you dying for more. I loved every second of this book from beginning to end and can not wait to see just how Cannon and Drew’s story will play out.

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review*

About the author: Making the jump from corporate lawyer to romance author was a leap of faith that New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Meghan March will never regret. With over thirty titles published, she has sold millions of books in nearly a dozen languages to fellow romance-lovers around the world. A nomad at heart, she can currently be found in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, living her happily ever after with her real-life alpha hero. Sign up for Meghan’s newsletter and receive exclusive content that she saves for her subscribers: http://meghanmarch.com/subscribe To get the inside scoop on a daily basis, search Meghan March’s Runaway Readers on Facebook and join the fun!

FACEBOOK | WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE | TWITTER | BOOKBUB

 

Blog Tour with Review: Dangerous Desires (Dangerous Beauty #2) by J.T. Geissinger

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He’s everything she has ever desired. But there’s only one way to keep her man alive: let him go.

Dangerous Desires, the second book in the sexy and suspenseful Dangerous Beauty Series from J.T. Geissinger is available now!

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With Nasir’s life on the line, Eva makes a deal with the devil. She slips away to return to Dimitri, the mob boss who held her captive for years, only to step into a new world of trouble. Abducted by one of Dimitri’s most cunning adversaries, Eva finds herself an unwitting pawn in a dangerous game of cat and mouse.

When Eva disappears, Naz is prepared to do anything to find her. Tracking her to the remote regions of Portugal is just the beginning of the hunt. Bewitched by Eva’s beauty, the darkly seductive spy who abducted her now has more than business on his mind, but the only way for the trio to defeat Dimitri is to work together…despite the explosive desires threatening to consume them.

With a game so deadly and the stakes so high, Naz and Eva’s love will be tested in ways neither of them could foresee…or perhaps survive.

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Download your copy today or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

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Start the series with Dangerous Beauty!

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MY REVIEW

Dangerous Desires picks up right where Dangerous Beauty left off and totally hits the ground running. And let me tell you, this author leaves no stone unturned. You think you have an idea of where this story is going to go, but I promise you, you don’t. When it comes to Naz, there is no limit as to how far Eva will got to keep him safe; even if that means putting her own life in danger. But what Eva, doesn’t know is that she has entered the most dangerous game of cat and mouse that she’s ever played. The stakes are higher than ever and Eva and Naz will be tested in ways they can’t begin to imagine. Will love prevail and save the day??? There’s only one way to find out….

Dangerous Desires was a quick and thrilling read for me. There was no way that I could not devour this story. I mean these characters sucked me in instantly and held me captive the entire time. Once again, I am blown away by the devotion and love that Naz and Eva have for one another. Some may say that love will make you weaker, but when it comes to these two, their love only makes them stronger. As long as they can keep the faith, their is nothing that they can’t make it through.

Dangerous Desires was everything I could want and need in a romantic suspense. There was danger and mystery. There were moments that shocked you and moments that thrilled you. There was romance, steam, and of course swoon. Like I said, Dangerous Desires had it all. This book kept me on my toes from the very first page, right down to the very last. My only complaint is that the story is over and I need to know what happens next!!!

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book via the publisher & NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review*

Excerpt:

I hit the “Answer” button and hold the phone to my ear. I don’t say anything, I just listen, gauging the quality of the silence and waiting for him to speak.

After a moment, a deep, rough male voice says, “This must be Naz.”

I’m so shocked I almost drop the phone. The anonymous, untraceable burner phone. I didn’t include my name in the text message, so how the hell does he know it’s me?

“Raphael?”

“Raphael’s dead. I stuck a knife in his chest and threw him overboard.”

His voice has an Irish accent, not French as I was expecting. Judging by that and his words—which sound honest—this isn’t Raphael playing some kind of game.

“Who is this?”

“This is Killian.”

Killian? Who the fuck is Killian? All my senses have sharpened until it seems I can hear the atoms vibrating in the air around me. Then it hits me.

This is probably the big motherfucker who put his hands on Eva.

Unless it’s one of the crew, but I don’t think so. Especially considering what he’d said. Yacht crews don’t generally find it in their best interests to kill their employers and throw them into the sea.

The words leave my throat in a gravelly scrape of pure hatred. “You have something of mine.”

After a pause, he says disapprovingly, “I doubt Eva would be keen on hearing you call her a ‘thing.’”

My eyes flare as wide as my nostrils do. The way he said her name is bad enough, but the implication that he knows how she’d feel is like a sword of fire shoved down my throat.

I demand, “What have you done with her?”

“She’s in good hands,” comes the calm response to my heated question. “You don’t have to worry.”

Is he fucking kidding me?

Beside me, Connor is frowning and tense, but I can’t pay attention to him because of all the murder and mayhem wreaking havoc in my nervous system. “What do you want? What is this about? Where are you going with her? If she’s hurt, I swear on my mother’s grave—”

“It’s beautiful, you know.”

His tone has changed. Now it’s soft, thoughtful, and I have no clue what he’s talking about. “What? What’s beautiful?”

“The way she loves you.”

It feels as if King Kong just punched me in the chest. Eva told this man she loves me? This man who grabbed her by the throat and dragged her across the deck of a yacht? She hadn’t even told me herself.

My God, has he tortured her for information?

Before I can respond, he says, “I hope you deserve it. To be honest, you sound a wee bit unstable. Are you sure you’re good enough for her? You might have to convince me. After everything she’s been through, she deserves the best.” His voice drops. “And Christ, she’s exquisite. Those eyes. That body. That fire. No wonder you and Dimitri are so desperate to get her back.”

Breathing hard, my heart feeling as if it’s about to explode, I say, “Put her on the phone.”

“She’s sleeping.”

I growl, “Listen to me, you son of a bitch—”

“Naz. What kind of a name is that? Is it short for something?”

Connor is motioning for me to give him the phone. I think he can sense things have gone completely off the rails. I wave him away, frustrated and needing to hit something.

“Yeah. It’s short for, ‘If you hurt her, I’m gonna kill you in every way there is to be killed.’ It’s short for, ‘I will track you down to the ends of the earth and make you and everyone you’ve ever met pay a thousand times over for any pain you cause the woman I love.’ It’s short for, ‘I WILL NEVER STOP UNTIL I GET HER BACK.’”

There’s a pause, then what sounds like a satisfied grunt. “All right. You’re a little too hotheaded, but you sound sincere. So I’ll answer your questions. What I want is something Eva’s going to help me get. What this is about is the future of nations. Where I’m going with her is . . . well, I can’t tell you that yet because if I do you’ll probably be here before I can get what I want from Dimitri and then all my careful plans will be ruined.”

I let loose a frustrated holler and Killian laughs.

“I get that a lot. Eva made almost the exact same noise a short while ago. She didn’t like what I did to Raphael.” His voice turns wistful. “She’s sensitive that way, isn’t she? Concerned for the well-being of other people. Even to the point of sacrificing herself. Honestly, Naz, she’s remarkable. I’ve never met anyone like her. She’s . . .”

In his pause, I hear how loudly I’m breathing.

“Compelling, I think is the right word. Or maybe fascinating. Once you start looking at her, it’s impossible to look away.” He chuckles. “But you know that already. You sound obsessed.”

“Killian—”

“I’m going to destroy this phone after we’re done talking, because I’m sure you’re tracking it. But I want you to know I was truthful when I told you she’s safe with me. And I’ll try to get my business with Dimitri concluded as quickly as possible.”

He hesitates. When he speaks again there’s a new tone in his voice that raises all the hair on my arms.

“Because the more time I spend with your woman, the less I want to give her back.”

About J.T. Geissinger

J.T. Geissinger is a bestselling author of emotionally charged romance and women’s fiction. Ranging from funny, feisty rom coms to intense, edgy suspense, her books have sold more than one million copies and been translated into several languages.

She is the recipient of the Prism Award for Best First Book, the Golden Quill Award for Best Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, and is a two-time finalist for the RITA® Award from the Romance Writers of America®. She has also been a finalist in the Booksellers’ Best, National Readers’ Choice, and Daphne du Maurier Awards.

Her first novel was published in 2012. Since then she’s written eighteen more novels. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, drinking wine, surfing the internet, and daydreaming about all the things she’s going to be when she grows up. She lives near the beach in Los Angeles with her husband and deaf/demented rescue kitty, Ginger.

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Blog Tour: LIFE AND OTHER INCONVENIENCES by Kristan Higgins

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From the New York Times bestselling author of Good Luck with That comes a new novel about a blue-blood grandmother and her black-sheep granddaughter who discover they are truly two sides of the same coin.

Emma London never thought she had anything in common with her grandmother Genevieve London. The regal old woman came from wealthy and bluest-blood New England stock, but that didn’t protect her from life’s cruelest blows: the disappearance of Genevieve’s young son, followed by the premature death of her husband. But Genevieve rose from those ashes of grief and built a fashion empire that was respected the world over, even when it meant neglecting her other son.

When Emma’s own mother died, her father abandoned her on his mother’s doorstep. Genevieve took Emma in and reluctantly raised her–until Emma got pregnant her senior year of high school. Genevieve kicked her out with nothing but the clothes on her back…but Emma took with her the most important London possession: the strength not just to survive but to thrive. And indeed, Emma has built a wonderful life for herself and her teenage daughter, Riley.

So what is Emma to do when Genevieve does the one thing Emma never expected of her and, after not speaking to her for nearly two decades, calls and asks for help?

PURCHASE ON AMAZON

EXCERPT

When I called Genevieve back and told her we were coming—including Pop, who would be staying elsewhere—there’d been a long pause. “Thank you,” she finally said.

“On one condition, Genevieve,” I said. “You do not mention money or inheritance to Riley. Not a whisper, not a hint. I don’t want you dangling your bank accounts in front of my daughter and snatching them away if she uses the wrong fork.”

“By which I assume you’re referring to the fact that I didn’t fund your teenage folly.”

“Teenage folly? You mean your great-granddaughter? Yes. This summer isn’t about the money. It’s us giving you a chance to make amends, and you making me Hope’s guardian.”

“How very gracious you are, my dear,” she said, and I heard a slurp. Five o’clock somewhere.

But she agreed, and here we were.

My clients, the ones I saw in person, were fine with me leaving for two months. I’d TheraTalk with most of them; two were about done anyway, and said they’d call me if they needed me. I’d had to give up my office space, though; luckily, a classmate from my PhD program had sublet it. Once I got back, I’d have to find another space, but I’d deal with that later.

Pop had found himself a little apartment over an antiques shop on Water Street. I was unspeakably grateful that he’d be nearby. He’d always hated Genevieve, who had viewed my mother as insufficient wife material for her wretched son.

Then again, she had a point. My mother had taken her own life. Maybe Genevieve had sensed something, even back then. She was many things, but she wasn’t stupid.

We crossed the Connecticut River, then the Thames. “There’s the Coast Guard Academy, Pop,” I said, pointing. He was an Air Force man himself, but he nodded. We went through Mystic, and I remembered going to the aquarium with Jason on a date. Or a field trip, maybe, but we’d held hands. Kissed in the dim light of the myriad fish tanks, and it had felt like the most romantic thing in the world.

He knew we were coming, of course. He was excited, he’d said on the phone. Talked about being separated, wasn’t sure where things were headed there. The boys couldn’t wait to meet Riley in person, though they knew her from Skype and phone calls.

My heart leaped into overdrive when, just before we hit Rhode Island, Charles exited the highway and entered the land of stone walls and gracious houses, tall oaks and two-hundred-year-old farms. The woods and fields gave way to narrower streets, and we went over the bridge that led to the borough.

Welcome to Stoningham, the sign said.

I found that I was holding my grandfather’s thumb, same as I had when I was little, back before my mother died, when seeing my grandparents was the happiest thing ever. He gave my hand a squeeze.

“Oh, my gosh, this town is so cute!” Riley said.

And it was. The sky was Maxfield Parrish blue, the lights of the Colonials that lined the streets glowing in what seemed to be a welcome. People were out, walking their dogs. At the library green, some kids tossed a football. As we came onto Water Street, Riley exclaimed over the little shops and restaurants. “There’s a café, Mom! Hooray! Oh, and an ice cream place! Even better!”

I smiled, but my stomach cramped again. It felt like I had never left.

The town hadn’t changed much. Still adorable with its colorful buildings and crooked streets. I caught glimpses of Long Island Sound as we drove, smelled garlic and seafood. Would Genevieve have dinner for us? Would she hug me? I swore if she made Riley feel one iota of shame, we’d be out of Connecticut forever.

Charles turned onto Bleak Point Road, where the most expensive houses in town sat like grand old ladies, weathered and gracious. All had names, which Riley read aloud as we passed.

“Thrush Hill. Summerly. Wisteria Cottage. Cliff View. Pop, we have to name our house when we get back!”

“Name it what? Crabgrass?” Pop asked.

“That’s kind of perfect, actually,” I murmured, having gone to war many times with weeds in our small yard.

“Oh, Sheerwater! We’re here!”

The iron gates (yes, gates) opened, and we turned onto the crushed shell drive. Sheerwater had ten acres of land, the very tip of Bleak Point, and it looked like a park, with beautifully gnarled dogwood trees on either side of the driveway, their intertwined branches making a tunnel of white blossoms. Spring was late this year.

We rounded the gentle curve, and my hands were sweating now.

“Holy guacamole,” my daughter breathed. “It’s even prettier than the pictures!” In the rearview mirror, I saw Charles smile. Beside me, Pop stiffened. He’d never been here, of course.

There it was—my grandmother’s twenty-room cottage, pristine and gracious and lit up like the fires of hell.

Blog Tour: Making Up by Helena Hunting

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A new standalone, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy by New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting.

Cosy Felton is great at her job—she knows just how to handle the awkwardness that comes with working at an adult toy store. So when the hottest guy she’s ever seen walks into the shop looking completely overwhelmed, she’s more than happy to turn on the charm and help him purchase all of the items on his list.

Griffin Mills is using his business trip in Las Vegas as a chance to escape the broken pieces of his life in New York City. The last thing he wants is to be put in charge of buying gag gifts for his friend’s bachelor party. Despite being totally out of his element, and mortified by the whole experience, Griffin is pleasantly surprised when he finds himself attracted to the sales girl that helped him.

As skeptical as Cosy may be of Griffin’s motivations, there’s something about him that intrigues her. But sometimes what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas and when real life gets in the way, all bets are off. Filled with hilariously awkward situations and enough sexual chemistry to power Sin City, Making Up is the next standalone in the Shacking Up world.

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MY REVIEW

Making Up is a laugh out loud romantic comedy. Told from dual points of view, Making Up follows the story of Griffin and Cosy. Cosy has a some what unconventional job, yet she’s really good at it. If you’re feeling awkward, she knows just how to put you at ease. So, when Griffin walks into her store, for the first time ever, she’s knocked off her feet. He overwhelms her, but that won’t stop her from doing her job. Griffin is in Vegas for business and somehow got the short end of the stick and was stuck having to get gag gifts for his friends’ bachelor party. He’s in way over his head and that’s where Cosy comes into play. Not only is she charming, but she helps him get all the items on his list. Cosy thinks this will be the last she’ll ever see of Griffin, but she couldn’t be more wrong. Griffin is drawn to Cosy in a way he can’t explain or understand. He’ll do anything to get her to take a chance….

Making Up is a hilarious and awkward read…and I mean awkward in the best possible way. Cosy and Griffin couldn’t be more opposite from one another, but neither can deny the pull they feel. Cosy is young and a total free spirit. But don’t let her age fool you, she is a lot wiser than one might expect. And then you’ve got Griffin. He’s older, more mature and is used to getting his way. He makes Cosy feel like a million bucks and will stop at nothing to make her his.

Overall, I thought this book was a really fun read. I loved the awkward moments and the sexy ones too. It’s impossible to not fall head over heels for Cosy and Griffin. These two are just so much fun and I loved getting swept up in their story. Sure the road to happily ever after was filled with some bumps and drama, but what good romance isn’t. At the end of the day, this book had me in stitches with laughter and left me with a huge smile on my face. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book via the publisher & NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review*

Excerpt

We’re a couple of minutes away from my apartment, which also means we’re almost at the end of our date. End-of-date protocol often means a goodnight kiss.

And I’ve eaten onions. Lots of them. What the hell was I thinking? I feel around in my shorts pocket, hoping I have a random stick of gum. I find a tiny square packet and pull it out, along with an old tissue. I shove that back in my pocket and sigh with relief as I carefully open the Listerine Pocketpak. There’s one strip left. I pop it in my mouth, wishing I had water since my mouth is dry and I’m suddenly super nervous.

Griffin pulls up in front of my apartment building. I swallow a bunch of times, trying to get the strip to dissolve on my tongue and glance out the tinted window, seeing it from his perspective. I don’t live in a bad part of town, but I sure as hell wouldn’t leave this car sitting out here for any length of time unless I wanted it keyed or stripped down.

Griffin shifts into park and turns to me, one hand resting on the back of my seat near the headrest. “I had a great time, Cosy.”

“Me too, thanks for dinner.” I tried to fork over my share, but he was quick on the credit card draw.

“It was my pleasure.” He leans in the tiniest bit, a nonverbal cue that he’s going in for a kiss.

I mirror the movement, giving him the go ahead. My stomach flutters in anticipation. I exhale slowly through my nose. Even though the Listerine strip should be doing its job to mask the onions, I don’t want to ruin the moment by breathing that in his face.

His fingertips skim my jaw, and I close my eyes. And then his lips brush my cheek. I wait for them to move a couple of inches to the right, but after what feels like a lot of seconds—and is probably only a few—I crack a lid.

Griffin is still close, a wry smile on his lips and a smolder in his eyes.

“Seriously, that’s it? A kiss on the cheek?”

His smile widens, making his eyes crinkle at the corners. He’s nothing like the guys I usually end up on dates with. College boys don’t take things slow. If I were out with one of the guys from school, I’d be sitting in a beat-up Civic with some stupid music playing, and he’d be all over me with his tongue halfway down my throat, copping a feel.

“I thought all the onions you ate were the equivalent to garlic for vampires.” Griffin fingers my hair near my shoulder. I’d really like him to finger something else. Wait. I mean I’d like to feel his hands on me. Not in my pants. Okay, maybe I’d like them in my pants, but not after date number one.

“I wasn’t thinking, and I really like onions. A lot. In hindsight, it’s not a great date food. I feel kinda dumb. And I guess at first I wasn’t so sure about you. How was I supposed to know you’d actually be kind of normalish?”

“Normalish?”

“Well, you drink club soda on purpose, so you can’t be all there.” I tap his temple.

Griffin circles my wrist with his fingers and drops his head, lips brushing over my knuckle. “We can’t all be perfect, now, can we?”

“I suppose not, and perfect is boring.”

“That it is.” He hums against my skin, and I feel it through my entire body. “I would like to try that kiss again, if you’re still interested.”

Helena Hunting Q&A MAKING UP

  1. What inspired you to write Making Up?

I’d introduced Griffin in the previous Shacking Up Series novels, Shacking Up and Hooking Up—he was a bit of a mystery for readers because he was talked about, but not really present. I had a very clear picture in my mind of who he was, and the kind of woman who would end up being the perfect fit for him, and it was not his fiancé from the previous books.

  1. Introduce us to your main characters!

Griffin Mills is the oldest of the three Mills brothers. At thirty-three he’s had several very long term relationships and was formerly engaged, but that relationship went up in flames. He’s gorgeous, smart, loves the numbers side of the family business he’s part of—a chain of hotels he’s set to inherit with his brothers. Also, he’s a little awkward, which I love, because there’s nothing quite like a hot guy who doesn’t have all the lines and fumbles a bit when he’s dealing with someone he’s attracted to. It makes for some hilarious banter with his love interest, Cosy Felton. Our heroine is a twenty-two year old who has been a bit of a nomad for most of her life, but is finally finishing school and happens to work at an Adult Toy Store part time. It’s definitely not her favourite job, but it pays the bills. She’s sassy, not much of a planner and definitely more than Griffin bargained for.

  1. Lots of aspiring authors out there. Any advice for them?

Just keep writing. Every day put words on the page and surround yourself with positive people who are there to support you. Ask questions, join book groups, be an avid reader and an observer.

  1. How is Making Up different from your other books?

Making Up has a trope I’ve never really explored or played around with before, so it was a lot of fun to write. While I’ve written age gaps before, it hasn’t been a key part of the storyline, or had a significant impact on how the characters perceive the relationship. Griffin and Cosy are from two very different worlds and balancing their expectations and insecurities was one of my favourite parts of writing their story. Making Up has my signature quirky, sassy heroines and I love writing heroes that are sexy, yet a little awkward. While it’s a light read, there’s some drama, and some heavy baggage, which I think grounds the story and balances out the hilarity.

  1. I know asking someone’s all-time favorite book is a loaded question so what’s your current favorite read?

I’ve been so lucky to read so many amazing books this year but I’m going to go with Broken Knight by LJ Shen which releases this August. I love YA/NA romance and angst, and she knows how to deliver both flawlessly.

  1. Alright, the ultimate question: why should we read your book?

We all need a little escape from our own realities once in a while and Making Up is a fun, sexy romance that’s perfect for the summer. Also, Griffin is hot, and not particularly suave at times. I think we can all appreciate a guy who doesn’t have all the lines, especially if he looks like he should.

  1. A famous movie producer wants to make your books into movies and they want you to cast your characters from Making Up. Which actors/actresses make the cut?

This is always a fun question and I’ll be 100% honest, I never actually look at actors prior to writing a story because I generally have a picture of the character in my head. But, I went on a Pinterest mission and Alex Morgan (she’s a soccer player, not an actress) would make a fabulous Cosy if she suddenly switched career paths. Hailee Steinfeld (Bumblebee) is super sassy, and could definitely play up the humor in this story, so she would be a legitimate actress choice. Gabriel Macht has a great smolder and can rock a seriously sexy suit, so I think he’d be great as Griffin.

  1. Favorite quote or scene you wrote in Making Up?

Making Up is definitely a rom-com with some incredibly hilarious moments, but Griffin has some heavy baggage, which means there are also serious moments, and this is one of my favourites: “Talk to me. Fall apart on me. Show me your weakness so I can give you my strength.”

  1. What inspired you to become a writer?

I’ve always loved to write, but finding time was a challenge during university and then afterward I was building a career and we renovated a house down to the studs—which takes up a lot of time and doesn’t leave much of an opportunity for putting down words (but it was an amazing experience). When I gave birth to my daughter she struggled to sleep—or rather stay asleep—and that meant I spent a lot of time awake in the middle of the night. So I started writing again during those late nights, and finally penned my first full novel.

  1. What is a typical writing day like?

I usually start with a run and then copious amounts of coffee while I manage the administrative side of things—ie emails, social media posts etc. But when I sit down to write I have a playlist I put on repeat, more coffee, sparking water (so I can stay hydrated) and my cat Pumpkin generally lies on top of my closed laptop and supervises me for the day.

  1. Do you have any interesting writing quirks or habits?

I listen to the same playlist while I write a novel. So if it takes me two months, then I listen to the same set of songs for two full months. I’ve destroyed A LOT of albums for my husband over the past several years. I just need the background noise, and listening to the radio or unfamiliar songs can be distracting.

  1. What has been one of the most surprising things you’ve learned as a published author?

I’ve only been in the industry for five years and there has been so much change, learning to adjust and adapt and just staying true to your personal goal is really the most important thing I’ve learned. I think when you start out there are just so many unknowns, and taking risks can be scary, but if you don’t take those risks, it’s hard to grow as an author.

  1. Can you tell us about what’s coming up next after this for you writing wise?

I have one more book in The Shacking Up Series, HANDLE WITH CARE, which releases at the end of August! Griffin’s cousin and best friend, Lincoln Moorehead, is the hero and if you didn’t know, he is also Armstrong’s brother. Lincoln is the polar opposite of Armstrong so it was so fun to write. I can’t wait for people to meet Griffin and Cosy and Lincoln and Wren.

  1. How can readers connect with you online?

They can connect with me all over social media!

Website→   http://www.helenahunting.com/

Amazon →  http://amzn.to/1y6OBB7

Twitter → http://bit.ly/HelenaHTwitter

Facebook  → https://www.facebook.com/helena.hunting69/

Pinterest →  http://bit.ly/1oQYRVN

Instagram →  http://instagram.com/helenahunting
Goodreads→ http://bit.ly/GoodReadsHH
NEWSLETTER  → http://bit.ly/HelenaHnewsletter

Bookbub →  http://bit.ly/BookBubHH

Facebook Reader Group  →  http://bit.ly/TheBeaverDenHH

Bio:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She’s writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.

Buy-Book Link: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250253378