We are so excited to share the cover reveal of Friend Zoned by Evelyn Sola. Fans who enjoy diverse contemporary romances will sink their teeth into this steamy, friends to lovers romance. Keep scrolling for more details about this sexy cover.
Title: Friend Zoned
Author: Evelyn Sola
Release Date: 06/02/2023
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 126,000 words
Trope: Friends to Lovers, Sports Romance
They say the best things come when you least expect it.
Burned by her ex-husband and a messy divorce, Jeannie Dubois isn’t looking for anything more than a good friend. Besides, she’s still dealing with the ex-husband who can’t seem to let her go.
Insert NBA coach, Aiden Walsh. Sure, he wants so much more than friendship with the beautiful woman he met at a wedding, but he’s sure he can play the part and he’s good at biding his time. So, for now, he’ll fill any role she wants.
But when these two friends become lovers, things quickly turn complicated when Jeannie finds out Aiden is so much more than just Manhattan’s favorite coach.
Can Aiden prove to Jeannie that they’re meant to be so much more, or will she send him back to the friend zone?
A Boston native, wife, mother, and wine enthusiast. If she’s not writing, thinking about writing, you will find Evelyn with a book in her hands. While a new publisher, she’s been writing for years, and she will continue to write for many years to come. Evelyn is obsessed with assertive and confident men who will stop at nothing to get their woman. Her stories are filled with love, passion, and humor. She currently lives in Chicago, IL with her husband and two daughters.
Yes, I’m a single dad who needs a nanny for the summer. But hire the stranded runaway bride who shows up on my doorstep in a wedding gown with no references, no skills, and no experience? No one is that desperate.
Except within twenty-four hours, down-on-her-luck Veronica Sutton manages to charm my kids, my family, and half the population of Cherry Tree Harbor into believing she’s perfect for the job.
And for me.
It’s not that I can’t see the appeal-those baby blue eyes? The endless legs? That mouth made for trouble? But I’ve got enough on my plate, raising two kids on my own and keeping the family business alive. I don’t have the time or the inclination to fall for an outspoken city girl.
So I should have kept my hands to myself.
Holding her in my arms was a big mistake. Even worse? Spending the night together. She ignites a possessive fire in me that I’m finding hard to snuff out.
But the most unforgivable? Growing attached to the sound of her laugh, the scent of her skin, and the way her body wraps around mine in the dark.
At the end of the summer, she’ll be gone. And if I’m not careful, she might run away with my heart.
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USA Today and #1 Amazon bestselling author Melanie Harlow writes sweet, sexy, feel-good romance. She likes her martinis dry, her heels high, and her history with the naughty bits left in. If she’s not writing or reading, she’s probably at Orangetheory or watching Schitt’s Creek again. She lifts her glass to readers from her home near Detroit, MI, where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and pet rabbit.
A random connection sends two strangers on a daylong adventure where they make a promise one keeps and the other breaks, with life-changing effects, in this breathtaking new novel from the New York Times and #1 Globe and Mail bestselling author of Every Summer After.
Fern Brookbanks has wasted far too much of her adult life thinking about Will Baxter. She spent just twenty-four hours in her early twenties with the aggravatingly attractive, idealistic artist, a chance encounter that spiraled into a daylong adventure in Toronto. The timing was wrong, but their connection was undeniable: they shared every secret, every dream, and made a pact to meet one year later. Fern showed up. Will didn’t.
At thirty-two, Fern’s life doesn’t look at all how she once imagined it would. Instead of living in the city, Fern’s back home, running her mother’s Muskoka lakeside resort–something she vowed never to do. The place is in disarray, her ex-boyfriend’s the manager, and Fern doesn’t know where to begin.
She needs a plan–a lifeline. To her surprise, it comes in the form of Will, who arrives nine years too late, with a suitcase in tow and an offer to help on his lips. Will may be the only person who understands what Fern’s going through. But how could she possibly trust this expensive-suit wearing mirage who seems nothing like the young man she met all those years ago. Will is hiding something, and Fern’s not sure she wants to know what it is.
But ten years ago, Will Baxter rescued Fern. Can she do the same for him?
Meet Me at the Lake follows the story of Fern and Will. Fern meets the alluring, Will, and spends an unforgettable 24hrs with him. With plans to meet up the following year, Fern feels on top of the world…that is until unforeseen circumstances keep these two apart. Now, 10 years have passed and fate has thrown the two of them together once again…
From the moment I picked up this book, I was absolutely consumed by Will and Fern. Told in present and past tense, readers will get a real look at who these characters are. Neither Will nor Fern could have predicted the path that their lives were going to take and the mistakes that would be made along the way. I enjoyed getting to see how Will and Fern met and just how intense their connection was. I wanted to know more about the circumstances that kept them apart and if there was any hope for them to find their way back to each other. The road to happily ever after wasn’t an easy one for Will and Fern, but the journey was so worth it.
Meet Me at the Lake is a well-written and heartwarming second-chance romance. Fern and Will will capture you from their very first encounter and will leave you begging for more. I had the absolute best time getting to know these two characters and couldn’t help but fall head over heels for them. In the end, Meet Me at the Lake left me with a huge smile on my face.
I can’t wait to read more from this author in the future!
*I was provided an ARC copy of this book via the publisher & NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review*
A grumpy vs sunshine, age-gap, romantic suspense set in the Scottish Highlands.
Beyond the Thistles by Samantha Young is now live!
It’s been a long time since Walker Ironside left behind Scotland and the memories that haunt him. Yet after years of traveling the world as a bodyguard, Walker misses his homeland enough to return. To a village in the Scottish Highlands that plays host to an exclusive members-only club, Ardnoch Estate. If not happy, Walker is content working with the elite security at the club and maintaining his bachelor lifestyle. What he doesn’t need is distraction in the form of the enticing but too-young newcomer, single mother Sloane Harrow.
Sloane never imagined she’d get pregnant at sixteen. Or that a decade later she’d escape from California with her daughter, Callie, to start over in the Scottish Highlands. Hidden and safe from Callie’s dangerous father, Sloane is satisfied with their new lives. Her daughter is happy. Sloane has a stable job, a quaint cottage, a passion for baking that might just be turning into a business, and a huge crush on brooding security guard Walker Ironside. Unfortunately, the grumpy Scot seems immune to Sloane’s charm, but she can’t help but try to seduce him with cupcakes and baked treats whenever the opportunity arises.
However, when someone arrives in Ardnoch intent on destroying Sloane’s life, Walker is the first to step forward to protect her and Callie. Even if it means giving into temptation and awakening his own demons. Because in doing so, Walker faces failing not only to shield Sloane from her past, but to safeguard her against his own.
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Returning to the Scottish Highlands and our dear friends, The Adari Family, Beyond the Thistles kicks off the brand new series, The Highlands. Beyond the Thistles follows the story of Sloane and Walker. Sloane is no stranger to pain and heartache. She is a survivor and will do anything to keep her daughter safe. The Scottish Highlands was the answer to all of her prayers. With great friends and a second chance at life, things are finally looking up for Sloane. If only she could get Walker to see her in a different life. Walker is haunted by his own demons and isn’t ready to let anyone get close to him. He takes his job in security very seriously and isn’t looking for any distractions. But, when Sloane’s past catches up with her, Walker finds himself forced to face his demons and protect the one woman he can’t get off of his mind.,..
Beyond the Thistles is a fantastic read from beginning to end. From the moment you start reading Sloane’s story, you can’t help but be captivated by her and in awe of everything she has overcome. Her life has been one challenge after another with the only shining light, being her daughter. And then we have Walker, the grumpy bodyguard. Even though he feels an intense connection with Sloane, he’s afraid he can’t give her what she wants and isn’t wanting to have someone depend on him again.
I absolutely loved the slow-burning intensity between Sloane and Walker. I longed for the will they/won’t they moments the two of them shared. Walker and Sloane had their own fair share of demons that were haunting them and I loved watching the two of them grow and break down their walls. The road to happily ever after wasn’t an easy one for these two beloved characters. Their story is filled with lots of delicious angst and frustration. And remember those demons I mentioned? Well, let’s just say the suspense from that definitely kept me on my toes.
Beyond the Thistles kicks off The Highlands series with one heck of a start. With lots of familiar faces, suspense and danger around each corner, and an unforgettable love story, Beyond the Thistles is a romance not to be missed.
*I was provided an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*
Samantha Young is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. She’s been nominated for several Goodreads Choice Awards. Samantha writes adult contemporary and paranormal romance, YA urban fantasy and YA contemporary fiction and is currently published in 31 countries.
Jackson was there on the worst night of Harper’s life, and every day since. He’s everything she wants and needs, but is it worth blowing up their carefully balanced lives? Fans of Pippa Grant, Max Monroe, and Penny Reid will devour Sooner or Gator by Mae Harden, a steamy, small town, friends-to-lovers, roommates-to-lovers, forced proximity, beach romance.
JACKSON “What do you need?” That night was supposed to change everything… and it did. Just not in the way I had hoped. I was there on the worst night of Harper’s life. The night her world came crashing down, bringing with it the crushing responsibility of raising her own sister when she was still practically a kid herself. For seven years, I’ve been exactly what she asked for. I’ve been biding my time, but nothing stays the same—even on an island where it’s perpetually Christmas—and time is officially up.
HARPER “A friend.” The love of my life sleeps ten feet away from me, just on the other side of that wall. He doesn’t know how I feel about him, of course. That would just be crazy. Jackson has always been my rock, which is exactly why he can never know how desperately I want him. Sure, every grin he throws in my direction sets off a storm surge down below and makes my heart race like sandpipers on the beach, but that’s not an excuse to blow up our carefully balanced lives… right?
I’m on the verge of asking Haley why she bought more wine glasses when we have a perfectly good set in the cabinet, but as she hands me one, I realize they’re only mostly stemless. “You know most people use bottle toppers to save their wine, right?” I laugh, eyeing the stubby stem with its rubber gasket before pushing it into the opening of what is now, quite clearly, a bottle not meant for sharing. Experimentally, I tip it sideways and watch an inch of deep burgundy liquid pool in the bottom of the glass. “Bottle toppers, much like bookmarks, are for quitters,” Haley says with a mischievous grin. “Besides, aren’t you always harping on about how important it is to finish what you start?” She looks extremely proud of herself as she tips back a hearty glug of cheap Cabernet. “But, more importantly, you’re both wrong. Trailer Park Shark is the one with Tara Reid, but it was the douche-canoe developer who flooded the trailer park, and I’m ninety-nine percent sure she’s the S.B.T.S.” “Back up.” Tizzy raises a hand like she’s about to ask the teacher for a bathroom pass. “You know I can’t with your movie shorthand.” “Sole Big Tittied Survivor,” Haley sighs heavily. “Okay, but that’s not exactly a common abbreviation,” Tizzy replies, copying Hayley’s sigh as dramatically as she can possibly manage. Some people have incredible memories for languages or history, but no one can match Haley when it comes to movies that came out decades before she was even born. The windows and doors are open to let in the spring air, and over the cacophony of tree frogs croaking and crickets chirping away outside, I hear car tires crunch on the gravel drive. Craning my neck as far as I dare, I spot a familiar, black jeep. It’s more rust than paint thanks to the salty Florida air, but as its tires come to a halt in their well-worn spots, I can’t help grinning. In the fading light of the orange sky, the profile of my other best friend, Jackson Beauregard, is clearly visible as he climbs out and grabs his things. Tizzy quirks an eyebrow at me as I straighten Haley goes on. “…and the poor-man’s Tommy Lee Jones, a.k.a. Robert Davi did not appear in Trailer Park Shark. He was, however, in the 2011 classic Swamp Shark where he starred opposite a busty blonde played by the O.G. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I swear to God, if one of you so much as whispers the name Sarah Michelle Gellar…” My little sister waits for one of us to match her encyclopedic knowledge, but we all know it’s not going to happen. “Kristy Swanson! Come on! Okay, extra credit points: Robert Davi was one of three villains in which beloved 80s adventure movie?” Tizzy and I stare blankly at each other while simultaneously tipping our bottles toward the sky. “The Goonies,” a deep voice supplies from just outside. “Come on, kid. Give us a hard one next time.” Grinning, I tip my head backward over the couch just in time to see Jackson coming through the screen door. “‘Bout time,” I sass. “We were about to start without you.” “No, you weren’t.” Jackson laughs, shaking his head as he drops his keys in the bowl where they always go. He hangs his backpack on its hook and drops onto the couch next to me, making me bounce as all six-and-a-half feet of him bottoms out the springs. “Well… we had considered it.” “What are we watching this week?” Jackson asks, changing the subject with about as much subtlety as a Horatio roller skating down Main Street in his favorite candy cane hot pants. “Swamp Shark,” Haley votes. “Literal flying sharks too much for you tonight?” Jackson chuckles. “Maybe once I’ve polished this off…” Haley replies, raising her wine and its extra classy attachment in a toast. “But Kristy Swanson with a shotgun?” She lets out an exaggerated whistle. “I’m always in the mood for that.” I snort. I can’t help it. “Yeah, who doesn’t love a busty blonde armed to the teeth?” Jackson twists the top off a beer and shrugs dispassionately as he stares down at it. “I could take ‘em or leave ‘em, honestly.” Tizzy leans over, her expression conspiratorial and eyes sparkling with mischief. Oh, fuck. Here we go, I groan inwardly. “And which part of that is uninspiring to you, Jackson? The ‘blonde’ bit or the ‘armed to the teeth’ bit? Because we know you don’t have issues with the ‘busty’ bit.” “Fucking bluetooth speakers,” Jackson mutters, suddenly finding the label of his beer bottle utterly fascinating, but Haley is all ears. “Wait… what happened? What’d I miss?” “Nothing,” I say quickly, feeling my own face burn with embarrassment, even though I was just an innocent bystander in all this. “Jackson forgot to disconnect the living room speakers from his phone last night… didn’t he?” Tizzy tilts her head, locking her eyes on six-and-a-half feet worth of blushing man. Jackson clears his throat and gets to his feet. “Anyone want a glass of water?” Without waiting for an answer, he disappears, no doubt to let Tizzy get this out of her system. “Tizz…” I start.I know what she’s getting at and it’s nothing new. “Come on, Harper. Brunette roommate gets lonely and crawls into bed? You still seriously think that had nothing to do with you?” “Of course, I do.” Admittedly, it would be easier if he was into something less… can porn be wholesome? Tizzy would like everyone to believe Jackson and I are star crossed lovers, destined to fall for each other in some kind of epic love story that spans decades and generations and all of time and space. I think Tizzy needs a new vibrator and a subscription to Passionflix, but I’m only a wimple away from making my vow of celibacy official, so what do I know?
Mae Harden has a thing for spicy books, hilarious meet-cutes, mouthy women, and the kind of men who will pull your hair in bed, but run a bath for you after… if you’ve been a good girl, of course. Smut-com, rom-cum, or whatever you want to call them, Mae likes her books funny, filthy, and full of feels.
Mae lives in Virginia with her smokin’ hot husband, two kids who delight in giving out hugs and gray hairs, and a collection of fur babies that probably qualifies her as a zoo keeper. IF she had free time, she’d use it to bake, water the remaining houseplants, and do crafty shit, all while listening to true-crime podcasts.
The perfect combination of steamy romance and suspense that will keep you guessing until the very end. The Shadow series is a high-stakes, dark romance series with independent women who can take care of themselves, and strong men who aren’t afraid to let the ladies lead. Fans of Brittney Sahin’s The Stealth Ops Series and Brynne Asher’s The Killers will love The Shadow series by Shelby Gunter, a steamy, action-packed, romantic suspense series.
We’re the ones who go into enemy territory when no one else will. It’s dangerous, it’s secretive, and we’re good at it.
It takes a certain skill set to do my job, and distractions get in the way of doing it well. And meeting Thia Ames has become the biggest distraction of all.
But when Thia is put up for auction on the black market, my team is tasked with her protection. She is my mission, and protecting her should be my sole focus. But the shadows that lurk behind her bright smile hint at a dark past that calls to the hero in me.
I can’t afford to get involved. Not only am I almost twenty years older than her, but acting on my emotions could very well get us both killed.
Her life hangs in the balance. I couldn’t save her before, but this time, I’ll do whatever it takes… or die trying.
Excerpt from Reckoning (The Shadow Series, Book 1)
Copyright 2022 Shelby Gunter
This was such a bad idea.
I shouldn’t have impulsively booked a flight after my talk with R.J.
I shouldn’t have told Bittie what I was doing or listened when she emphatically encouraged me to fly to New York.
I shouldn’t have gotten her address from the file Isaac sent me when I landed.
Let’s just label all the decisions I’ve made in the last twenty-four hours as things I shouldn’t have done.
Fuck, I have to go inside. I can’t continue standing outside her building like a creeper, and I also can’t stomach the idea of getting back on a plane without seeing her.
Taking a fortifying breath, I walk inside her apartment and start for the elevators. “Excuse me, sir. Can I help you?”
I snap my head up, surprised someone is talking to me. “Oh, uh… I’m here to see a friend.” I point at the elevator like an idiot. Obviously, this guy knows how I’m going to get up to Hailey’s apartment.
“I’m sorry, sir. Guests aren’t allowed to go up unless they’re with the resident or on an approved list. What’s your name?”
Shit. Well, maybe this is a good thing. If she doesn’t want to see me, I won’t have to hear it directly from her or worry about looking stoic while she smashes my heart into a million pieces.
God, I’m pathetic.
“Dax Pierce. I’m probably not on Hailey’s list, so maybe just call her? She’s not expecting me.”
He nods his head and picks up his phone. I tap my fingers against my thigh and adjust my duffle bag over my shoulder.
What if she’s not even home? She could be out on a date with some other schmuck who’s falling just as hard for her as I did.
No, she’s been texting me constantly since she left. That would be shitty if she went on a date with another guy while she’s been flirting with me. I don’t believe Hailey would do something like that.
“Good evening, Miss Adler. I have a Dax Pierce here, who is asking to come up.”
He listens for a second before saying, “Okay, I’ll send him up.”
Elation has my chest puffing out, and I head directly to the elevator without waiting on the desk guy. I push the up button, but nothing happens, and it’s then I realize I need a key card to work the elevator.
Now everything makes sense.
The desk guy comes striding up to me, holding a grey key fob that he taps against the pad above the elevator button. The doors open with a ding, and I step in.
“Thanks,” I say before I press the number for Hailey’s floor.
The desk guy doesn’t respond as he turns around to walk back to his desk.
I don’t even care. My excitement is almost palpable at this point.
When the elevator opens on her floor, I turn left down the hallway, then take the corner until I see Hailey standing outside her apartment. She looks gorgeous in her gym shorts and cutoff shirt, and the little smirk on her face does something to me.
My eyes trace down her legs until they stop on a huge bruise on her thigh that makes me frown. How the hell did that happen?
Shelby is a Romantic Suspense author who loves writing plot twists you’ll never see coming.
Shelby and her husband call Kansas City their home base but enjoy traveling as far and as often as possible. She loves all things related to coffee, wine, and books, and it’s rare you will see her without one of those items in hand.
Wedding planner, Cassie Winters can’t wait to find her own happily ever after, and when she meets wedding hater, Theo Abbot, she realizes she’s got her work cut out for her. Theo’s grumpy, set in his ways, and determined to never fall in love again, but the more time they spend together, the more Cassie begins to wonder if she can change Theo’s position on love. Fans of Claire Kingsley and Kaylee Ryan will adore WED LIKE WILDFIRE by Lauren Helms, a steamy, grumpy sunshine romance.
Once upon a time, there was a grumpy CEO who met a wedding planner who never stopped smiling…
Cassie You could say that I live and breathe weddings and love, and as a wedding planner, a happily ever after is the main event. So when I learn that Theo Abbot absolutely hates weddings, that should be my clue to run for the hills as fast as my sexy little black stilettos will take me.
But I digress.
I’m on the hunt for my own epic love story, one T-Swift herself could write a song about. Which means unavailable and seemingly uninterested CEOs are off limits. Even if the man oozes sex appeal and his grumpiness turns me to mush.
A little flirting never hurt anyone.
Theo Cassie Winters shines so bright I need a pair of Ray-bans to look directly at her. Problem is, once I’ve set my eyes on her, I can’t seem to look away. The woman is a walking, talking promotion for all things love and happiness.
Hand me an antacid.
Counting, on one hand, the amount of times I’ve failed in my life, leaves me knowing I won’t ever do “love” again. I’m set in my ways and not even this sexy little spitfire could sweet talk me out of my decision to never get married.
Yet it only took one drink to derail that plan.
But, things aren’t always as they seem and when real life gets in the way of this fairy tale, we’re both forced to take a hard look at what we truly want.
Are we both ready to wed or is this a wildfire that’s about to burn out?
“Kissing Theo Abbot is easily my new favorite pastime.”
“For the first time in my life, Cassie, I’m tempted to say fuck it and do what’s best for me and not for the company.”
“I was completely fine on my own.” “But then I found the fucking sun. And I couldn’t look away. I was blinded by all things you, and it wasn’t until I lost you that I realized you changed everything I thought I knew.”
Wed Like Wildfire is grumpy sunshine perfection. Lauren Helms completely knocked it out of the park with this book and it is hands down, one of my top reads for 2023!
Cassie and Theo are top notch and I found myself invested in them instantly. They were so easy to connect with. I adored brokenhearted, grumpy Theo and his work ethic and love for his sister. No matter how hard he tried, he was no match for Cassie’s charm. Despite all of Cassie’s misses with love, she still believed in it and couldn’t wait to find the one. I loved getting to know her and what made her tick. The tension and chemistry between Theo and Cassie was utterly delicious. I lived for each interaction and couldn’t wait for this grumpy CEO’s world to be turned upside down.
There wasn’t a single thing I didn’t love about this book. From the utterly delicious romance between Cassie and Theo to Ruth, the meddling matchmaker grandma, to the side characters whose stories I can’t wait to get my hands on. If you’re looking for a book that’s not only going to make you swoon but hit you with all the feels, you won’t want to miss Wed Like Wildfire by Author Lauren Helms.
*I was provided an ARC copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review*
Copyright 2023 @Lauren Helms
I hear my sister and Mateo agree with her, and the woman continues.
“I mean, just look at the stage. It features more than fifty hand-painted scenic backdrops. It’s just absolutely remarkable.”
Despite the fact that I could get lost in this woman’s voice, I don’t appreciate that she barking up the wrong tree trying to sell this space to my sister.
I come to a stop behind the three of them, my attendance going unnoticed. I resist the urge to clap for her performance, but interrupt her words with my own instead.
“Well done, sounds like you could sell religion to the damn Pope.” Harsh, but I don’t like when people think they can take advantage of us just because we have money.
Both my sister and the woman startle. Mateo snorts. I glance at Nora and the glare I’m getting could cut ice, but I’ve survived the look before. I nod a hello at Mateo before sliding my gaze to the best damn saleswoman in the world.
Taking in the woman standing in front of me, no goddamn joke, my heart skips a fucking beat. I draw my hand out of my pocket and slowly rub my chest absentmindedly.
The woman is utterly exquisite. Her soft blond hair is braided in a way that is messy but perfectly styled and falls over her shoulder with strands of soft gold framing her face. A face that at first glance looks flawless. I’m unable to continue my perusal as I’m stopped in my tracks by two sparkling blue eyes staring back at me. Taking in all of her, I see that the smirk she wears tells me she’s not about to let me get away with what I’ve just said.
“No doubt you are correct, Mr. Abbot. However, I wouldn’t attempt something so outrageous.” Her eyes gleam. “I was just telling Nora and Mateo some very well-known facts about this beautiful cathedral.” She glances up and waves her hand around as if to encompass the whole space.
“Theo, this is Cassie Winters, our wedding planner. It’s nice of you to join us,” Nora bites out in a pleasantly terse tone. She walks up to me and kisses my cheek. As she pulls away, she whispers, “Be nice.”
I ignore her and focus on the wedding planner. Cassie.
“Well, I’m just confused as to why we are even here, Ms. Winters. Or is it Mrs.?” I ask.
She doesn’t miss a beat. “Ms. Thank you. And we are here because the couple getting married”—she gestures to Nora and Mateo—“wanted a tour.” Her tone straddles the line of condescending and courteous. And it’s sexy as fuck.
Nora punches me lightly in the side, typical sister shit. “Yes, I asked if we could check out the cathedral as well as some other places. We’ve already ruled some out due to availability, but this place has an opening twelve months from now,” she informs me as she walks back over to Mateo, lacing her fingers through his. His eyes flash as he looks down at her.
“I thought you didn’t want to wait a year,” I say, my eyes darting back at Cassie. She stands there, smiling with fucking stars in her eyes at Nora and Mateo.
“True, but places book up quickly, and I wasted too much time floundering before hiring Cassie,” Nora says.
I nod. Makes sense. I take a second to look around this place. I want to vomit, it’s so extra. We may have grown up with silver spoons in our mouths, but we didn’t grow up around such fancy-ass stuff such as weddings in the Scottish Rite Cathedral.
“Why the grumpy face?” Cassie’s beautiful voice breaks me out of my stupor.
“Oh, no, that’s his normal face,” Nora tells her.
“I don’t understand why you picked this place. It’s a church…”
“Are you not religious, Mr. Abbot?” Cassie interrupts.
“I’m not sure why that matters to you,” I snap.
Her eyes widen a tad at the venom in my tone. “You said it’s a church.”
“You didn’t let me finish, Ms. Winters. I was saying, it’s a church that was built in the ’20s and this place fits, like what? Twelve hundred people? Do you even know that many people, Nora?” I stuff my hands in my pockets out of frustration.
“No,” Nora offers shakily.
“Mr. Abbot, the theater space is only one of the locations available for a ceremony. This was our first stop. I wanted them to get the full tour,” Cassie says and I so badly want to ask her to call me Theo, but I don’t know if I’ll like the way she says my name more than the way she calls me Mr. Abbot.
I grunt, not having time for this argument. “Okay, then let’s look at a more accommodating space.”
“You know what, I think this place has lost its magic for me,” Nora grumbles. “Let’s check out that last place on my list. I know Theo has a busy schedule.”
“If you are sure, we can head over to INDUSTRY then,” Cassie says as she follows Nora and Mateo toward the exit.
I’m not into games. I’m not going to ask Nora if she’s sure or apologize for raining on her parade with this place. It’s not a good fit for her. She knows it. I know it. And this ridiculous wedding planner needs to learn it if she wants to keep my sister as a client.
Cassie walks by me, her shoulder nearly brushing mine, and my senses are immediately taken over by a soft smell of amber and vanilla.
“I’m so happy that you were able to join us today,” she says softly. I look down at her. She’s a few inches shorter, and the sparkle in her eyes is mischievous.
Clenching my jaw, I don’t reply as she walks on by, but the urge to wrap my hand around her arm and pull her back to me is strong.
I think what gets under my skin the most is that she has yet to drop the smile this whole time. Is it stuck on her face? Is this a Botox gone wrong? She doesn’t look like the type of woman to be obsessed with Botox, but what the fuck do I know?
I close my eyes for a minute to gain my wits.
One, two, three…
About Lauren Helms
Lauren Helms is a romance author her nerdy and flirty contemporary words. Lauren has forever been an avid reader from the beginning. After starting a book review website, that catapulted her fully into the book world, she knew that something was missing. While working for a video game strategy guide publisher, she decided to mix what she knew best–video games and romance. She decided to take the plunge and write her first novel, Level Me Up. Several published novels later, Lauren created PR company, Indie Pen PR, to help other authors promote their books.
Lauren lives in Indianapolis, Indiana sharing her love of books and video games with her own Gamer Boy husband and three young kid nerds who will hopefully grow up to share the love of things that united Lauren and her husband on their own happily ever after.
R.S. Grey has revealed the gorgeous cover for Blushing in the Big Leagues!
Releasing: May 18, 2023
I have one simple rule: don’t date professional baseball players. There are no exceptions, no workarounds.
With a brother in the league, I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the downright horrifying. Those guys might seem tantalizing when they’re in uniform down on the field, hitting grand slams in front of a crowd of adoring fans, but I know better. The huge egos? The insane travel schedules? The veritable buffet of female companions? No ma’am. Professional athletes are best handled at a distance, preferably far enough away that their chiseled jawlines blur into oblivion.
Enter Grant Navarro.
He’s the baseball player to end all baseball players. The one I should have marked with a big red X the first moment I laid eyes on him. Only the night we met (and kissed—oops), I didn’t know he was my brother’s newest teammate. Imagine my shock when I realized the sexiest man in Manhattan was officially off limits. Just my luck!
Let the record show that I had every intention of following my rule and staying away from Grant. When he smiled that irresistible smile and those dimples popped, I stood my ground. When he made it very clear he’d love to pick up where we left off the night we met, I said, Hold it right there, partner. When he messaged me all sorts of naughty things on Instagram, I logged out of that app so fast I dented my iPhone screen.
Baseball players are bad, bad, bad.
So tell me why giving in to Grant just for a night, getting one taste of what could be starts to seem not just tempting, but downright mandatory.
Yeah, about that one simple rule…haven’t you heard?
The first book in P. Rayne’s upcoming Mafia Academy series features an enemies-to-lovers arranged marriage between Marcelo Costa and Mirabella La Rosa while they attend college at the secretive and private Sicuro Academy.
Vow of Revenge by P. Rayne is now live!
Nothing ruins a perfect day like your dead fiancé showing up in the middle of your first class.
Mirabella La Rosa When my father arranged for me to marry the next in line to lead the Costa crime family, I swore I’d do anything to escape that fate. I have way more to offer my family than being some man’s arm candy, producing heirs, and making appearances at weddings and baptisms. Marcelo Costa might be my fiancé, but he’ll never be my husband. Somehow, I get lucky because he and his father are killed in a car bombing. Not only do I not have to go from being a mafia princess to a mafia wife, but now I can attend college at the Sicuro Academy–an affluent private college created for mafia children like me. I’m so excited. I’ve moved into my dorm room with my best friend, put on the uniform and am ready to learn. But all my plans come to a screeching halt when he shows up on campus alive and well, seeking revenge on those that crossed him.
Marcelo Costa The look of shock on my fiancée’s face when I walk into the classroom at the Sicuro Academy gives me more pleasure than it should. Mirabella made it clear she didn’t want to marry me, and she’s a problem to be dealt with for sure. But now, she’s the smaller of my two problems. The only reason I’m at the Sicuro Academy is because my investigation into the bomb that killed my father and almost took me out has led me here. So I’ll allow Mirabella to stay at the academy while I track down my father’s murderer, but once I’ve brought that person to my own particular brand of justice I’ll remove her from campus and make her my wife. And no amount of pleading on her part will change my mind.
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