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Category Archives: Excerpt Reveal

Excerpt Blitz: In The Dog House by Traci Hall

About IN THE DOG HOUSE:

Ten years ago, Jackson Hardy joined the Marines, leaving behind a woman he still dreams about. When he’s called home to care for his ten-year-old nephew, no one is more shocked than he to run into Emma again. Or to still have those same feelings. But Jackson isn’t looking for love, and neither is Emma, especially not with him. His precocious nephew, though, and a retriever named Bandit, are about to change that.

So what if Emma Mercer is an overachiever? She has plans to get her doctorate in psychology and create a no-kill shelter for the EST dogs she trains. Which leaves absolutely no time for romance. She’s fine with a furry family—dogs don’t teach you to love and then rip your heart to shreds. But young Matty’s situation tugs at her heartstrings and there’s no way she can’t help him…and Jackson.

She may have hotter-than-ever chemistry with the soldier, but forgetting the past isn’t easy.

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Excerpt from In the Dog House by Traci Hall

She’d said she was proud of him—did she mean it? Her forearm brushed his leg, and her throat turned a deep shade of rose as she held his gaze. Sweet. She wouldn’t say what she didn’t mean.

He tilted to the right, wanting to touch her mouth with his. Sample a quick taste of Emma to add to his memories. Her lips slightly parted, the pulse at the hollow of her throat sped, her eyes dilated. They were so close to a kiss that all he had to do was move his head forward…

She stood abruptly, smoothing the yellow fabric down over her hip with an eye toward Matty, racing around the fountain. “I’ll get dessert.”

Jackson snapped back. Was she inviting him inside?

“I’ll help.”

She held the door open for him, and he followed her. The instant they were out of sight she launched herself at him, wrapping her arms around him to hold him tight—he couldn’t have broken free if he’d wanted to.

And he didn’t.

He buried his hands in her soft, soft hair and cupped her head so that he could study Emma and memorize each new line and freckle. He gently brought the pads of his thumbs to her smooth jaw and plump pink lower lip. Her eyes, swiped with copper, glittered sensually as she absorbed his touch. Auburn lashes at half-mast as she relaxed into him.

He dropped one arm to her hip to balance her, the other still cradling her head as he lowered his mouth. She lifted to him, their lips whispering across each other’s mouths before crashing together like surf against the sand.

She tasted different but the same. It was meeting his other half, something he’d been missing and suddenly needed more than his next breath.

“Em.”

“Jackson.” Her words were hot against his lips and brought the embers of desire flaming bright.

She entwined her fingers behind his neck and pressed in to him.

He clasped her tight, feeling the warmth of her feminine curves, the temptation she offered.

The smack of sneakers up the porch steps made them break away like guilty teenagers.

Jackson’s chest heaved. They weren’t that anymore.

Em’s eyes flashed, the pulse at her neck fast as a hummingbird’s.

“Emma,” Matty asked, innocently entering the kitchen. “Can I have some lemonade?”

“Sure, hon. I was just getting the cannoli out. Are you ready for dessert?” Emma turned her back to him, and Jackson detected a tremor in her voice.

Jackson knew then that he’d never be over Emma Mercer, not if he lived to be a thousand.

Excerpt Reveal: Changed by You by Kristin Mayer

changed by you promoReleasing February 4th… GET READY!

Changed By You by Kristin Mayer

I’m in over my head, and Teale Delaney is the reason why.

She’s beautiful, sassy, and I can’t stop thinking about her.

If I let myself, I could fall in love.

But I can’t. I won’t.

It’s to protect her, not me.

Someone out there wants vengeance. If I allow them to see my true feelings for Teale, they’ll stop at nothing to take her away.

I’m lying to everyone around me to protect the only woman who can bring me to my knees.

Add to your TBR today! http://bit.ly/WreckedForYouTBR

🔹Read book 1, Intoxicated By You (standalone): https://amzn.to/2OPmAtM

🔹Read book 2, Wrecked For You (standalone): https://amzn.to/2SYOqpm

EXCERPT REVEAL

“Fuck, it’s too cold for this shit.” I slammed the door of my truck before clomping up the snow-covered stairs. Skagway was having one of the coldest winters in history. We were getting so much damn snow, and no one could keep up with it.

I glared at the door of the cabin my friend Butch had rented out. He’d asked if I could help the tenant with any problems while he was away. Of course, there would be problems with some stupid city slicker renting it out. Butch owed me big.

I’d gotten twenty text messages that the heater wasn’t working. Twenty damn text messages. Who sends that many? I had just as many voicemails but hadn’t listened to one. I’d gotten the picture from one text. No need for twenty.

Shit.

And it was some guy named Teske. What kind of name is that? I would have bet this guy wore some shiny-ass loafers with his fancy-ass business suit.

It was the middle of January. Normally, this was my chance to get away from all these jokers and recharge for the hunting season. Instead, I was here, dealing with a heating issue. Teske probably couldn’t find the pilot light to save his life.

I have too much shit to do.

The FBI was on my ass to find a potential serial killer. There had been a wave of unsolved murders all throughout Alaska. The last one had been in Juneau, which was too fucking close for comfort. In exchange for my help, the FBI agreed to leave Kory and Hayden alone. No more questions about all the shit that had happened. No more bothering them, period. They weren’t supposed to even look Kory and Hayden’s direction.

So far, the feds had been true to their word.

But now they wanted me to pull a rabbit out of my ass and make a murderer appear out of thin air.

News flash—rabbits aren’t found in people’s asses. At least not in mine.

I needed a fresh crime scene to track. The ones I’d been brought to so far were already tainted. In some cases, it had been four months since the murder. The Juneau incident was four weeks previous. By the time they brought me on board, the crime scene had been ruined. Even worse, the pictures they’d taken were shit. The whole case was a disaster. And they had no idea who was behind it.

The agents had nicknamed him “Lumberjack Killer.” Talk about being original and unique. It was hard to even say the name with a straight face.

What the fuck ever.

I pounded on the door of Butch’s cabin. In the next second, it shot open.

“Oh, thank goodness you’re here! I’m about to become a Popsicle.”

For a second, I was frozen in shock. I hadn’t been expecting a woman to answer the door. Butch had said there was only one occupant, and I’d assumed it was a guy. She had on so much fur it was hard to see anything else. Whatever was on her head looked like what Hollis, our local town doctor who’d relocated from New York, considered a Paul Bunyan hat on steroids. Time and time again, I’d tried to tell Hollis that Paul Bunyan wore a beanie, but Hollis was Hollis, and he stuck to his beliefs.

“I’m looking for Teske,” I said.

“Who?”

“Teske.” I took a deep breath; my patience was growing thin. “That’s what the text said.”

She laughed. “No, that was supposed to say Teale. But my hands were so cold my fingers probably slipped. And I can’t see much with all this fur. I’m freezing.”

I stepped inside the cabin and was disappointed to find it just as cold inside as it was outside. That wasn’t good. “Why didn’t you start a fire?”

The poor girl was shivering. “Umm… I couldn’t find the remote.”

The what? “Remote?”

“Uhh… yeah. At home, I push a button and voilà… let there be fire. There wasn’t a remote or button to push.”

Well, shit.

I wanted to laugh, but I kept a straight face. A remote? Is she serious? Even Hollis would have been able to figure out the fireplace needed wood and matches.

“Let me check out the heater.”

“Okay.”

I walked to the back of the cabin and found the furnace tucked away in a closet.

Double shit.

The thing was old as dirt. It looked like a rusted tin bucket. What the hell? Butch should have known better than to rent out his cabin without a properly working heater. I screwed around with it for a few minutes, but the damn thing was completely shot. We needed to come up with a Plan B.

I walked into the living room where Teale sat with another blanket wrapped around her. There was a hell of a lot of luggage stacked at the door. Maybe she hadn’t had time to unpack. I thought she’d been here for a week or two already. Oh well. I couldn’t concern myself with that.

“Well, the heater is shot. Let me see if I can find some space heaters. Then we can get a fire going. You should be good to go until I can get the parts to fix it.”

“Okay… sure.”

I went to search the different closets, and I heard the front door open and close. When I walked back into the living room, Teale was gone. From the window, I saw her heaving one of her suitcases into the bed of my truck.

No. No. No. This isn’t going to happen.

I opened the door and yelled, “What are you doing?”

She folded her arms over her chest. The damn fur obscured her face even more. “I’m going anywhere but here. I’ll freeze to death here. You do not want my death on your conscience. I’ll come back to haunt you. I can be very scary.”

For the second time that day, I’d wanted to laugh, but I refused to allow it. Me laughing out loud in front of strangers never happened. She wasn’t coming with me. No way. “No, we’ll start a fire and get you a space heater.”

She opened the passenger door. “Hey, puppy. Don’t bite me. I just don’t want to freeze to death.” Mariah looked at me, her big blue husky eyes asking what was going on. I closed my fist to my side to let her know it was okay. I’d trained Mariah personally, and she was the best damn dog I’d ever had.

“Teale, be reasonable.”

“Nope. I’m going with you.”

This was getting us nowhere. I just had to get her back in the cabin and show her how warm I could make it. Calmly, I walked toward the truck. As I reached the door, the locks engaged.

Motherfucker.

She yelled through the window, “I need you to get the rest of my luggage first. Then I’ll let you in the truck.”

“Teale, get out of my truck.” This was ridiculous, and I was tired of playing games.

“Nope. Sorry. Luggage first. I’m coming with you.”

“Teale, I will get the cabin warm again.”

She cocked her head to the side and smiled at me. “Will you please get my luggage, Mr. Foster? Then you can take me into town. The one thing I do know is that I’m not staying in this cabin a second longer.”

I’d known her for five minutes, but this woman was going to be the death of me. Fine. I’d take her to the hotel and be done with this shit. The roads out to my cabin and Butch’s were still terrible. It had taken me nearly ninety minutes to make it out there. Normally it was only about a twenty-five-minute drive. I gritted my teeth and hoped the main road into town had been cleared enough for me to manage it. However, I knew I would be stuck in town for a minimum of a few days. From my cabin, it was still a thirty-minute drive to my parents’ on a good day. If I had to, I could stay with Mom and Dad. Butch, you owe me.

I pulled out my phone and texted Dad. My parents’ house was only about ten minutes or so from town.

Me: Heard anything about the roads in town?

Dad: If you’re thinking about coming into town, I wouldn’t. They’re still bad. One of the plow trucks broke down and the other needs a new blade.

Just my luck. Skagway had two plows and both were out of commission.

Me: Okay, thanks.

Dad: Everything okay?

Me: Yep. Just had a few errands to run.

If my brothers got wind of this… well, it wouldn’t be good. I had to talk sense into this woman. “Teale, let’s talk.”

She shook her head and pointed at the cabin. This woman was so damn stubborn. I grabbed all fifty million suitcases and threw them into the back of my truck.

Who the hell packs this much?

When the last bag was loaded, the locks disengaged, and I climbed in.

Teale pulled back her fur hat and looked at me. I was stunned momentarily in the deep dark pools of her eyes. They were gorgeous.

Well, fuck me.

I was in way over my head.

jan 30

MEET THE AUTHOR:
Kristin tries to live life to the fullest during every moment. She loves to travel, meet new people, and mark items off of her bucket list.
She loves to hear from her readers by email at kristinmayerwrites@gmail.com, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKristinMayer/, on Twitter @author_Kristin, and on Instagram at kristin.mayer.

Excerpt Reveal: Ashes To Ink by Carrie Ann Ryan

Are you ready for more Montgomery Ink? Carrie Ann Ryan’s ASHES TO INK releases January 22nd – read the first chapter below and preorder your copy now!

About ASHES TO INK

Available January 22nd, 2019

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Carrie Ann Ryan comes a new story in her Montgomery Ink series…

Back in Denver, Abby lost everything she ever loved, except for her daughter, the one memory she has left of the man she loved and lost. Now, she’s moved next to the Montgomerys in Colorado Springs, leaving her past behind to start her new life.

One step at a time.

Ryan is the newest tattoo artist at Montgomery Ink Too and knows the others are curious about his secrets. But he’s not ready to tell them. Not yet. That is…until he meets Abby.

Abby and Ryan thought they had their own paths, ones that had nothing to do with one another. Then…they took a chance.

On each other.

One night at a time.

**Every 1001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you’ll enjoy each one as much as we do.**

ASHES TO INK releases January 22nd, 2019 – preorder your copy now!

✦Amazon https://amzn.to/2VV27Hr
✦Paperback https://amzn.to/2FtsijL

Read the first chapter of ASHES TO INK:

Abby loved tea. She loved everything about it. The taste, the smell, the way it warmed her up on a cold day or cooled her down on a warm one. She’d even loved tea when she was a little girl, playing with air in her teacups and treating her stuffed animals and Cabbage Patch dolls to an afternoon tea party.

Her grandmother had taught her the basics of brewing the perfect cuppa, as well as the ratio of sugar cubes needed. Abby had then learned to try tea with all additives: cinnamon sticks, lemon wedges, a dash of cream. Some might consider that ruining it, but Abby had wanted to try it all.

She loved tea bags but adored loose-leaf tea even more. She relished steeping it, blending it, and finding the perfect mix for the season.

So when she found herself looking for a way to create something that was just hers and start over after everything had fallen apart around her, opening the tea shop had seemed like a no-brainer.

Teas’d specialized in loose-leaf tea, but Abby also sold some bagged tea and different teapots and helpful equipment.

It was Abby’s goal in life to make it so others could discover the joys of tea like she had, and maybe find a new favorite along the way. She had always loved the idea of teatime, even if she didn’t have the time to truly sit down and enjoy it herself every day.

Regardless, she adored the scents, loved the idea of falling into a cup—a different flavor every day. With the resurgence of tea drinkers, it was easier for Abby to find fellow tea lovers as time moved on. There were big chain tea shops and smaller ones as well, but Teas’d was just for her. She was a tiny little speck in the idea of tea and how it could serve the needs of the people, but she was the best speck she could possibly be.

She’d had to be after everything changed.

She’d had to be when she lost everything.

Well, not everything. She still had her little girl. Abby grinned down at her phone and swiped up so she could look at the photo on the home screen.

Julia was growing every day and even looked slightly different now than she had in the picture. Abby still couldn’t quite believe that she and Max had made this beautiful baby girl. Max might not be around to help raise Julia, but he had been there for the conception and had been there to pick out everything the two of them as new parents would need to raise their child together.

It didn’t hurt as much as it once had to think about Max. Oh, it would always hurt, but at least it didn’t make Abby want to throw up and grieve right then.

She could think about her husband and smile now. She could think about the fact that he had loved her with all of his heart, even if that had been the thing to take him away from her in the end.

And she couldn’t say her feelings didn’t matter now though, because that would be a disgrace to his memory and the fact that she could see Max in her little girl every single day.

Julia would never know her father, but Abby was doing her best to make sure that Julia knew exactly who Max was, and how excited he had been to have Julia in his life.

The two had never met, but Abby knew Max was always watching over them.

There was no other way to think about it. Not when Abby needed to get up every day and breathe—try to be the mom and woman she needed to be.

But today was a new day, just like all the others. Today, she would make some tea, sell some tea, and maybe even have a cookie or two. Because it was Friday, and she was allowed to have a cookie if she wanted.

She just might have a little extra padding on her hips, but that was fine with her. It wasn’t like she was trying to entice a man.

Oh, she’d dated a couple of times in the past year or so, but it hadn’t really amounted to much. She hadn’t been ready, and she didn’t know if she was ready now either.

“What are you looking at over there?”

Abby looked up at the sound of her friend Adrienne’s voice and smiled. Adrienne Montgomery owned the tattoo shop, Montgomery Ink Too, next door and was part of a huge family—way bigger than just the set of cousins that lived near Abby.

The Montgomerys were large, loud, brash, and the sweetest people Abby had ever known. They had taken her in with just one look, much like their cousins in Denver had, and Abby loved every single one of them.

“Just looking at tea,” Abby answered, holding up a couple of tins. “I’m trying to see what I need to put on special. We have good stock of most things, but not all.”

“I don’t know how you do it. I mean, I know how to run a business, and I think I’m doing pretty well, but it takes the advice of two accountants for me to know what I’m doing.”

“Since I have the same two accountants you do, I totally understand.”

Shea was Adrienne’s sister-in-law, and Roxie was Adrienne’s sister. Both were accountants, and pretty much helped run the businesses on this stretch.

The Montgomerys owned two of the businesses—Montgomery Ink Too, and Colorado Icing. While Adrienne and Shep ran the tattoo shop, the Montgomerys’ middle sister, Thea, owned the bakery at the end of the strip.

Abby had a feeling that if there had been more space available, the accountants of the family probably would have moved in as well. Or maybe even the mechanic, Carter, who was married to Roxie. In fact, Adrienne was dating one of the tattoo artists, Mace, and that just meant there was more family than ever. More Montgomerys.

Abby didn’t think that Thea’s boyfriend, Dimitri, would be able to move a whole high school into the strip, but if there were a way, the Montgomerys would likely make it happen.

“Your family really is pretty amazing.” Abby grinned as Adrienne rolled her eyes.

“Oh, don’t tell the guys that. I mean, you can tell me, Thea, and Roxie. It’s true, and it’s sort of what we do. We are the touchstone for the Montgomerys.”

They both laughed at that because even though it might be true, every single one of the Montgomerys had their own touchstones when it came to what those around them needed.

“So, have any good tea for me today?” Adrienne asked. “I have a long project coming up, one that’s gonna take me a few hours and a few sessions. I could use all the energy I can get. And while I love coffee from Thea’s bakery, I think I’m in the mood for tea today. Something to keep me wired, but something flavorful as well. I can head over to Thea’s later for something sugary, or even a sandwich for some protein, but here is where I want my tea.”

“Well, you’ve come to the right place. Let me set you up with some chai. I know that’s your favorite.” Abby went around the counter and began working. She knew the exact blend her friend favored and even had the milk Adrienne so dearly loved to put in it. She’d make a latte if she could, but she only did that when she visited Thea’s bakery. Here at Teas’d, it was all about the blends and steeping.

“That and some of that peppermint one for later. It is the holidays. You have some peppermint, too, right?” Adrienne bounced from foot to foot as if she’d already had her caffeine for the day. Knowing Adrienne, she probably had but wanted more. Abby was happy to oblige.

“Oh, I have the peppermint. I also have that white chocolate peppermint bark one that you love.” Both of them smiled, and Abby watched as Adrienne rubbed her stomach with her hand, her eyes comically wide.

“I might have to come back for that later.”

“I can always stop by with some tea. That is what I’m here for.”

“You’re going to be a delivery person for tea as well?”

“I can. Only for my friends.”

Abby didn’t actually serve brewed tea all that often. Most people came to Teas’d for stock rather than just a cuppa. But she did have a couple of places to sit outside, as well as one inside. It was winter in Colorado Springs, so sitting outside wasn’t something that people did often.

But Abby knew some did like to sit outside the bakery at the other end of the strip, drinking their hot cocoa or coffee and braving the cold just because they were Coloradans, and that’s what they did.

And while it didn’t happen often, she loved when people came in for a cup to go, or even stayed to drink out of her ceramic mugs. She had painstakingly searched forever for the cups that she wanted and had ended up just going to Jake Gallagher to have them made.

Jake was an artist. He sculpted with his hands and with his heart. He’d made the mugs for her, as well as other things she could sell in the store.

She knew that he made art. Real art. And though she thought of her teashop as its own kind of art—the way it made others feel was art itself—she knew Jake was in a realm of his own.

With any other person, he might not have tried to help her as he did, but they had a good relationship now, and she liked that their working relationship meant that she could sell his wares and still use everything that he made for her and her customers.

The Gallaghers were connected to the Montgomerys through marriage, and Abby was tied to the Gallaghers through Max since Jake’s brother Murphy had been one of Max’s best friends.

It was odd how everything seemed to tie together and be so close—yet so far away.

She might have felt that she was on the outside looking in once, but that wasn’t the case anymore. The Montgomerys and the Gallaghers wouldn’t allow that.

And while both families had given her space to breathe, they hadn’t given her enough room to bury herself. No, she wasn’t thinking physically, she would never do that. Never to herself, never to Julia, and never to Max’s memory.

But she had needed some time to figure out how to be a single mom in this world. A mom without a real job and with only a savings account for a dream that she’d never thought to have realized in the timeframe she was forced to work in.

“That smells delicious,” Adrienne said. “Seriously delicious.”

Abby smiled, knowing today would be a good day, because it had to be. There was no other option when it came to tea.

“Here’s the chai, just for you. I put it in a to-go cup, but if you want it out of a mug later, just let me know. I don’t know how you and your elbows are doing today.”

Adrienne rolled her eyes. “That was Ryan’s fault, not mine. He startled me, and my elbow broke that mug. I paid for it. I went right up to Denver to ask Jake for another one. I am still so sorry about that.”

Abby just smiled and shook her head, handing over the tea. “I know it wasn’t your fault. I was just teasing. Though I do have to watch out for all of you over at the shop. You are a wild bunch.”

Adrienne threw her head back and laughed. “That we are. Although, I do have to say, Ryan might be the wildest of us all.” Adrienne winked.

Abby frowned at that but didn’t say anything. Was Adrienne trying to match up two of her single friends? She wasn’t sure if she was ready for anything like that. Or if she could think about Ryan like that at all.

He was handsome, that was for sure. And he always had a soft smile for Abby and was really great with Julia whenever they ran into each other. But that wasn’t often since Julia was usually with the sitter when Abby was working. Or maybe Abby was just reading into what Adrienne had said because she’d had a little too much caffeine that morning. It was time to switch to herbal tea for the rest of the day if this was how she was going to start thinking.

“You better hurry if you’re going to make your appointment. I’ll be over later with any tea you need. Just call if you want something different than the peppermint. Or if Mace or any of the others need anything.”

Adrienne leaned over and hugged Abby hard before taking her chai. “That I can do. It’s just me, Mace, and Ryan over there. It’s Shep’s day off to hang out with the kiddos.”

“I’m glad that you guys are able to work it out with all the kids. Daisy is with Shep as well?”

“Yes. Since we’re able to make our schedules work, we don’t have to get an outside sitter as much.” Adrienne paused. “You know, Julia’s always welcome to come over. I know that you would trade off with us if you could. You don’t have to pay for a sitter. We Montgomerys make it work, and you are an honorary Montgomery, after all.” Abby didn’t shake her head or say no. She knew the others were just trying to help, but it was sometimes hard to willingly accept help when she wanted to stand on her own two feet. Plus, Abby didn’t want to have to rely on anyone. Everything could change in an instant.

She shook off that thought and tried not to think about what it meant. She knew she was thinking about Max and the fact that she hadn’t really spoken to his family since the funeral. They hadn’t even met their granddaughter. Hadn’t been involved in anything having to do with Julia’s life. But that was okay. Abby would be okay. She had to be okay.

“I will talk to you later. And bring the tea.” Adrienne just rolled her eyes. Probably because Abby hadn’t commented about the daycare, but it didn’t matter.

The Montgomerys would just bring it up again, and Abby would cave—because she would. Julia loved hanging out with Daisy and Livvy. And since Julia and Livvy were close to the same age, it worked out well. Soon, there would probably be more babies in the Montgomery world. They might not have room for Julia.

Abby shook that thought out of her head as Adrienne walked out of the store. And then she went back to work. There were more teas to make, more blends to perfect. And peppermint tea and chocolate to give to her friends later.

The day went on like normal. People came in for tea, and more than one for gift baskets and Christmas presents. The holidays were quickly approaching. So fast that Abby was sure she was behind on her shopping. She tried to get some things for the Montgomerys, but most everything was for Julia. She didn’t want her daughter to assume there would always be gifts, something material. But she also wanted to spoil her baby just enough.

Julia deserved to be spoiled.

When Abby went to bring over peppermint tea for both Mace and Adrienne, Ryan was out on a personal call. She hadn’t asked why, and she didn’t want to explore why her brain immediately went to her wanting to know more about the man.

She shouldn’t want to know more about him. He was a friend. Nothing more. And that meant she shouldn’t be thinking about how he looked in his jeans every day. Or how much she liked the beautiful ink on his arms.

Nope, she wouldn’t be thinking about any of that, thank you very much.

As the day wore on, the snow started to fall a little faster, a little harder. It had even begun to accumulate, which annoyed her since the forecast hadn’t predicted it. Then again, the meteorologists were rarely right these days.

Abby wasn’t really looking forward to driving in the snow, but she was a native Coloradan, and she was used to it. There was no use complaining about the precipitation in Colorado. That was like complaining that there were mountains or high altitude.

Weather like this was just something one got used to. The snow would probably melt the next day anyway. Even if the sun shone and it was frigid outside, the precipitation did its own thing here in Colorado.

As she made her way to the babysitter’s house to pick up Julia, Abby knew that she would eventually have to ask the Montgomerys for help. She didn’t like how long it took to get to the sitter’s. If Julia stayed with one of the Montgomerys, she would actually be closer to Abby throughout the day, and Abby would have an easier and shorter drive home. It just made sense, and it would help out more people if she were there to add to the days when someone could watch all of the children.

She knew she just had to give up control and say yes.

But as the snow started to come down a little more earnestly, Abby was afraid she might have a bit of a hard time getting to her daughter tonight. And when she finally got there, it might be even more difficult to get them home. Her windshield wipers flew back and forth, the speed increasing, but so did the quickness of the snowfall.

She cursed herself once again for saying no to the Montgomerys.

When she finally arrived, Julia was hyper but not too much since Abby knew the babysitter didn’t give her extra sugar. This was just Julia’s happy, bubbly way. Her daughter was an amazing baby girl—though she wasn’t really a baby anymore, was she?

Julia was perfect in every way. No, Abby wouldn’t tell her that she was perfect over and over again because that would probably lead to issues down the road. But in Abby’s mind, her daughter was perfect.

She had gone through so much in her short life, even before she was born.

She was a survivor. Just like Abby.

Her daughter spread joy to everyone, even if she was a little shy at times. But she was so graceful, so grateful. She shared her toys with others, and always had a smile for those who might not want to. If another kid was crying or just needed a hug, Julia was right there. Sometimes even faster than the adults in the room.

In the car, Julia babbled on about her day, using strings of words that wouldn’t really make any sense to anyone but Abby. Because that was the role of the mother, to always understand what her baby girl was saying, even if it didn’t make a lick of sense.

Darkness started to fall across Colorado. The fact that it was December meant that there weren’t many hours of sunlight these days. The snow fell harder, the wind getting a little bit brisker. Abby just wanted to get home. She just wanted to be home.

She was just turning onto the next street in her route, knowing she was close to home but not close enough, when her tires slid on the ice that she hadn’t seen.

She tried not to panic, tried to remember what she was supposed to do in this situation. She didn’t twist her wheel hard, but she did try to turn into the skid. It was no use.

She was sliding into the other lane of traffic, and though there were no cars right now, that didn’t mean there wouldn’t be some soon. Julia didn’t make a sound, Abby wasn’t even sure she knew that something bad was happening.

Inside her head, Abby was screaming, her hands tight on the wheel—so tight, she was afraid she’d lose circulation.

But she couldn’t focus on any of that. She just had to concentrate on making sure they survived the skid. She had to make sure that whatever they hit, they didn’t hit too hard.

The sound of her tires sliding across the ice seemed loud in the vacuum of her panic.

It shouldn’t have sounded loud. But the rubber did squeal, and Julia let out a sound in response that made Abby want to turn. But she couldn’t. She had to keep her eyes on the road. The decision to do that, to not look at her baby girl when her daughter might need her, broke her. But she had to focus on what was in front of her.

The car hit the snowbank on the other side of the street with a dull thud, not even jostling the vehicle as it did, and Abby just sat there for a moment, her heartbeat so loud in her ears she couldn’t hear anything else.

Everything had moved so slowly—and still did, as if she hadn’t just been in a minor accident.

No other cars were coming, and there was no one else on the road. She always took this route because there was less traffic and fewer idiots out and about.

But it was cold, and there was nobody around to help. Her car was still running, but she was halfway in a ditch and slammed into a snowbank. Her body didn’t hurt, but her head did. Only because of the headache, not anything else.

But Julia.

Oh my God. Julia.

Abby undid her seatbelt, trying to ignore the fact that she just might pass out from the stress, and tuning out the cheery Christmas music filling her car. This seemed like the worst time for Christmas music, but then again, she didn’t know when a good time for it would be anymore.

When she finally got turned around, Julia just smiled and held out her hands for a hug. Abby practically crawled over the seat back to check on her baby girl. They hadn’t hit hard, neither of them getting jarred too badly. The car hadn’t even been going fast enough for the airbags to go off.

Abby knew that she needed to figure out how to get out of the ditch. Maybe she should call Carter. Or the cops. Then, she remembered that Roxie’s husband Carter had just been in an accident and wasn’t working at his shop. He wouldn’t be operating the tow truck.

Right then, all Abby wanted to do was cry because she had no idea what to do.

But because she knew her baby was fine, that both of them were fine, she got Julia out of her car seat and held her close.

She had to keep reminding herself that they were okay. She wasn’t even shaking, even though she probably should have been. Shock would likely do that to her later, but right now, she needed to hold her baby girl.

Headlights suddenly filled the car, and Abby closed her eyes and held Julia close, trying to protect her as best she could.

If a car hit them right then, Abby knew that they were done for.

But as the light continued to fill her car, the oncoming vehicle slowed.

The sound of a door opening and closing filled Abby’s ears, followed by the sounds of a person walking, their shoes crunching on the snow.

Someone tapped on the window and called out her name.

Her name.

They knew her.

But because she and Julia had fogged up the windows, Abby couldn’t see who it was. She scooted over in the backseat and opened the car door.

“Ryan,” she breathed. “Ryan.”

She had never been happier to see his bearded face.

Ryan frowned down at her, looked at Julia in her arms, and let out a soft curse. “Are you okay, Abby? What the hell happened?”

She just looked at him, and then promptly burst into tears.

About Carrie Ann Ryan

Carrie Ann Ryan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary and paranormal romance. Her works include the Montgomery Ink, Redwood Pack, Talon Pack, and Gallagher Brothers series, which have sold over 3.0 million books worldwide. She started writing while in graduate school for her advanced degree in chemistry and hasn’t stopped since. Carrie Ann has written over sixty novels and novellas with more in the works. When she’s not writing about bearded tattooed men or alpha wolves that need to find their mates, she’s reading as much as she can and exploring the world of baking and gourmet cooking.

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Excerpt Reveal: We Shouldn’t by Vi Keeland

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Read a short sneak peek from chapter two below or grab the full, first two chapters here: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/qi0wfckd79

Figures.

It was the gorgeous guy I’d seen in the elevator. And here I thought we’d had a little spark.

Bennett Fox grinned like he’d already been named my boss and ex-tended his hand. “Welcome to Foster Burnett.”

Ugh. He wasn’t just good looking; he knew it, too.

“That would be Foster, Burnett and Wren, as of a few weeks ago, right?” I iced my subtle reminder that this was now our place of employment with a smile, suddenly thankful my parents had made me wear braces until I was nearly sixteen.

“Of course.” My new nemesis smiled just as brightly. Apparently his parents had sprung for orthodontic care, too.

Bennett Fox was also tall. I once read an article that said the average height of a man in the US was five-foot-nine-and-a-half inches; less than fifteen percent of men stood taller than six feet. Yet the average height of more than sixty-eight percent of Fortune 500 CEOs was over six feet. Subconsciously, we related size to power in more ways than just brawn.

Andrew was six foot two. I’d guess this guy was about the same.

Bennett pulled out the guest chair next to him. “Please, have a seat.”

Tall and with gentlemanly manners. I disliked him already.

During the ensuing twenty-minute pep talk given by Jonas Stern—in which he attempted to convince us we weren’t vying for the same position, but instead forging the way as leaders of the now-largest ad agency in the United States—I stole glances at Bennett Fox.

Shoes: definitely expensive. Conservative, oxford in style, but with a modern edge of topstitching. Ferragamo would be my guess. Big feet, too.

Suit: dark navy, tailored to fit his tall, broad frame. The kind of under-stated luxury that said he had money, but didn’t need to flaunt it to impress you.

He had one long leg casually crossed over the other knee, as if we were discussing the weather rather than being told everything we’d worked twelve hours a day, six days a week for was suddenly at risk of being in vain.

At one point, Jonas had said something we both agreed with, and we looked at each other, nodding. Given the opportunity for a closer inspection, my eyes roamed his handsome face. Strong jaw, daringly straight, perfect nose—the type of bone structure passed down from generation to generation that was better and more useful than any monetary inheritance. But his eyes were the showstopper: a deep, penetrating green that popped from his smooth, tanned skin. Those were currently staring right at me.

I looked away, returning my attention to Jonas. “So what happens at the end of the ninety-day integration period? Will there be two Creative Directors of West Coast Market-ing?”

Jonas looked back and forth between us and sighed. “No. But no one is going to lose his or her job. I was just about to tell Bennett the news. Rob Gatts announced he’ll be retiring in a few months. So there will be a position opening up for a creative director to replace him.”

I had no idea what that meant. But apparently Bennett did.

“So one of us gets shipped off to Dallas to replace Rob in the south-west region?” he asked.

Jonas’s face told me Bennett wouldn’t be happy about the prospect of heading to Texas. “Yes.”

All three of us let that sink in for a moment. The possibility of having to relocate to Texas shifted my mind back into gear, though.

“Who will make the decision?” I asked. “Because obviously you’ve been working with Bennett…”

Jonas shook his head and waved off what I was beginning to ques-tion. “Decisions like this—where two senior management positions are being merged into one office—the board will oversee and make the final determination of who gets first pick.”

Bennett was just as confused as me. “The board members don’t work with us on a daily basis.”

“No, they don’t. So they’ve come up with a method of making their decision.”

“Which is?”

“It’ll be based on three major client pitches. You’ll both come up with campaigns on your own and present them. The clients will pick which they like best.”

Bennett looked rattled for the first time. His perfect composure and self-assuredness took a hit as he leaned forward and raked long fingers through his hair.

“You’ve got to be kidding me. More than ten years, and my job here comes down to a few pitches? I’ve landed half-a-billion dollars of ad accounts for this compa-ny.”

“I’m sorry, Bennett. I really am. But one of the conditions of the Wren merger was that due consideration be given to the Wren employees in positions that might be eliminat-ed because of duplicity. The deal almost didn’t go through because Mrs. Wren was so insistent that she not sell her husband’s company, only to have the new organization strip away all of Wren’s hard-working employees.”

That made me smile. Mr. Wren was taking care of his employees even after he was gone.

“I’m up for the challenge.” I looked at Bennett, who was clearly pissed off. “May the best woman win.”

He scowled. “You mean man.”

We hope you enjoyed this sneak peek of We Shouldn’t!

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SYNOPSIS:

Bennett Fox walked into my life on one hell of a crappy Monday morn-ing.

I was late for the first day at my new job—a job I’d now have to compete for even though I’d already worked eight years to earn it, because of an unexpected mer-ger.

While I lugged my belongings up to my new office, a meter maid wrote me a parking summons.

She’d ticketed a long line of cars—except for the Audi parked in front of me, which happened to be the same make and model as mine.

Annoyed, I decided to regift my ticket to the car that had evaded a fine. Chances were, the owner would pay it and be none the wiser.

Except, I accidentally broke the windshield wiper while slipping the ticket onto the car’s window.

Seriously, my day couldn’t get any worse.

Things started to perk up when I ran into a gorgeous man in the eleva-tor. We had one of those brief moments that only hap-pened in movies.

You know the deal…your body lights up, fireworks go off, and the air around you crackles with electricity.

His heated stare left me flush when I stepped off the elevator.

Maybe things here wouldn’t be so bad after all.

Or so I thought.

Until I walked into my new boss’s office and met my competi-tion.

The gorgeous man from the elevator was now my nemesis. His heated stare wasn’t because of any mutual attraction. It was because he’d saw me vandalize his car. And now he couldn’t wait to annihilate his rival.

There’s a fine line between love and hate—and we shouldn’t cross it.

We shouldn’t—but straddling that line could be so much fun.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Vi Keeland

Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared in over a hun-dred Bestseller lists and are currently translated in two dozen languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.

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Vi’s Other Standalone Novels

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The Naked Truth

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Sex not Love

Sex, Not Love

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Egomaniac

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Bossman

Bossman

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The Baller

The Baller

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Life on Stage series (2 Standalone Books)

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Throb

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Beat

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MMA Fighter series (3 Standalone Books)

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Worth the Fight

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Worth The Chance (MMA figher #2)

Worth the Chance

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Worth Forgiving

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Worth it All (MMA Complete Series)

Worth It All (Complete Fighter Series)

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Serials

The Cole Series (2 Book Seri-al)
Belong to You (Cole #1)

Belong to You

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Made for You

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Vi’s Co-written Novels

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Hate Notes

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The Rush Series (2 Book Series)

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The Cocky Bastard Series ( 5 Standalone Books)

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British Bedmate

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Stuck-Up SuitStuck-Up Suit

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Mister MoneybagsMister Money-bags

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By:Vi Keeland & Dylan Scott
Left Behind (A Young Adult Novel)
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Excerpt Reveal: Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry

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Would you dare to defy destiny? Are our destinies written in stone? Do we become nothing more than the self-fulfilling prophesies of other people’s opinions? Or can we dare to become who we believe we were born to be?

“A gorgeous, heartfelt journey of redemption and love” (Wendy Higgins), ONLY A BREATH APART is a young adult contemporary novel from critically acclaimed Katie McGarry. “Haunting, authentic, and ultimately hopeful” (Tammara Webber), ONLY A BREATH APART will be available on all retailers on January 22, 2019!

About ONLY A BREATH APART:

Jesse dreams of working the land that’s been in his family forever. But he’s cursed to lose everything he loves most.

Scarlett is desperate to escape her “charmed” life. But leaving a small town is easier said than done.

Despite their history of heartbreak, when Jesse sees a way they can work together to each get what they want, Scarlett can’t say no.Each midnight meeting between Jesse and Scarlett will push them to confront their secrets and their feelings for each other.

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Gritty and real, Only a Breath Apart is a story of hope conjured from pain, strength drawn from innocence, and love earned from self-respect. Beautiful, poignant, and fierce.” ―Kristen Simmons, critically acclaimed author of the Article 5 series

Add it to your Goodreads today!

Excerpt:

SCARLETT

I’m defying my parents by attending a funeral. Reckless and adventurous teenage behavior, I know. Most seventeen-year-olds lie to their parents so they can go on a date with a forbidden boy or attend a party where there will be questionable behavior. Me? I’m outright lying to my dad, and it’s because Jesse Lachlin’s grandmother died.

The entire way here I’ve questioned my sanity, but I don’t know how I’d live with myself if I stayed home. Jesse Lachlin used to be my childhood best friend. We were inseparable. We had the type of friendship people strive to have, and then, a few years ago, he cut me so deeply that I still bleed. But ten-year-old me would have never abandoned a hurting Jesse. So today I’m not only honoring the memory of Jesse’s grandmother, but also the memory of our dead friendship.

On my way to the funeral, the high grass of the field swats at my legs, but I don’t mind the sting. I love walking barefoot in grass, I love the smell of the earth and I love that brief feeling of freedom open spaces can provide.

It’s the dog days of August. The type of hot that starts when the sun rises and makes you sweat through your clothes within minutes. While my skin and palms are on fire, the pads of my feet are cool against the dirt. The heat is unwelcome, but the sky is deep blue and the sun is bright, and for that, I can be grateful.

Walking out of the field, I stop short of crossing the one-lane road to slip on the flats that dangle from my fingertips. My mother would be mortified if she knew I was entering a church in a cotton daisy-print sundress. It’s not one of the dresses with stiff fabric and impossible back zippers she would have picked for me at an overpriced department store. It’s the type that’s machine-washable and breathable. The type of dress Jesse’s grandmother would have given her stamp of approval.

I can practically hear my mother heavily sigh and mumble my name, Scarlett, as if it were her personal, private curse word. Mom believes there’s a certain way to dress and behave, and I’m breaking all sorts of her rules today. Watch out, world. I’m officially rebellious.

I smile to myself because I’m the opposite of rebellious. For the last few years, I’ve followed every rule. I’m the teacher’s pet and the girl with straight A’s. I’m the poster child of perfection, and have earned every snarky ice princess comment Jesse’s friends whisper about me in the school hallways because he and I no longer speak.

There are only six cars in the parking lot of the white church, and that makes me frown. I thought more people would have wanted to attend. Jesse’s mud-covered pickup is there, and so is an unnaturally clean black Mercedes that belongs to his uncle. This ought to be interesting. Jesse and his uncle have a mutual hate for each other that runs deeper than any root of any tree.

Movement to my right and I slowly turn my head. Shivers run down my spine at the sight of Glory Gardner. Even though I’m seventeen and too old for ghost stories, I still can’t shake the ones regarding this woman. Girls would whisper over lunch boxes that Glory was a witch. As I grew older, I understood that witch meant con artist. She claims she can read palms, tarot cards and “sees” spirits from beyond the dead. All for a glorious fee.

She’s a beautiful woman—long dirty blond hair that’s untamed, even in a bun, and she has an eclectic taste in clothing. Today she wears a white peasant shirt and a flowing skirt made of material that shimmers in the sun.

Glory watches me like I watch her, with morbid curiosity. I knew her as a child, back when Jesse and I ran wild in the fields near her home, but we haven’t talked in years.

She stands under the shade of a towering weeping willow. There are lots of those trees around here. Mom says it’s because there is too much water in the ground. I say it’s because the people in this town have cried too many tears. Mom doesn’t like my answer.

I tilt my head toward the church, an unspoken question if Glory will be joining me. She shakes her head no. I’m not shocked. According to rumors, Glory will go up in flames if she enters the house of God. But who knows? Maybe I will, too.

The church is one of those picturesque, historical, one-room school buildings squeezed between a cornfield on one side and a hay field on the other. A huge steeple with a bell attempts to reach the heavens, but like anything created by a human, it falls tragically short.

The foreboding wooden door makes no noise as I open it, and I’m able to slip in without a huge, squeaking announcement. Orange light filters in through the dark stained glass windows, and its struggling beams reveal millions of dancing particles of dust.

On the altar, there’s no casket, but there is an urn. My heart dips—Suzanne is dead. I used to wish she were my grandmother, and many times, she treated me as if I belonged to her. Suzanne was the epitome of love, and the world feels colder now that she’s gone.

Choosing a spot in the back, I drop into a pew, and as I scan the church my stomach churns. How is it possible that this place is so barren?

Besides the Funeral Brigade, or the FB, as I like to refer to them, there aren’t many people here. The FB are the older group of woman who attend every funeral in our small town even if they didn’t know the person. Attending funerals isn’t my idea of fun, but who am I to judge?

The FB sit directly behind the one person the town believes to be the lone sane member of the Lachlin family, probably because he isn’t blood related—Jesse’s uncle.

On the left side of the church is Jesse. Only Jesse. And that causes a painful pang in my chest. Where are his stinking friends? The anarchists in training who follow Jesse wherever he goes? Where is the rest of the town? Yes, Suzanne was polarizing, but still, where is any respect?

Quietly, so I don’t draw attention to myself, I slip from the right set of pews to the left. Someone should be on Jesse’s side, and it’s sad it has to be me.

A door at the front of the church opens, and the pastor walks out from the addition the church build on as a small office ten years ago. I would have thought any pastor assigned to this place would be as ancient as this church. Sort of like an Indiana Jones Knights Templar scenario where he lives forever as long as he stays inside. But no, he’s the youngest pastor from the main, newer church in town. His name is Pastor Hughes, and he’s a thirty-something black man with a fit build who is just cute enough that he should be starring in a movie.

The pastor looks up, and he flinches as if startled. I peek over my shoulder then sigh. Clearly, he’s surprised to see me. Flipping fantastic.

His reaction, and the fact he won’t stop staring, causes every person to turn their heads. Lovely. I’ve had dreams like this where I enter a room and become the center of attention. Only in my dreams it’s at school, it’s my classmates and I’m naked, but still, this is disconcerting.

Eventually, the FB and Jesse’s uncle return their attention to the front, but Jesse doesn’t. He rests his arm on the back of the pew, and it’s hard to ignore that he’s made me his sole focus, but I do my best to act as if I don’t notice.

To help, I concentrate on what my mom taught me as a child—to make sure the skirt of my dress is tucked appropriately so that my thighs don’t show. I then fold my hands in my lap and straighten to a book-on-head posture. I can be the ice princess people claim me to be.

Five pews separate me and Jesse, and it’s not nearly enough. My cheeks burn under his continued inspection. Jesse has done this a handful of times since our freshman year. Glance at me as if I’m someone worth looking at, someone worth laughing with a little too loud and smiling with a little too much. Then he remembers who I am and snaps his gaze to someone else.

But he’s not looking away now.

Katie McGarry Bio:

Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.

Katie is the author of full length YA novels, PUSHING THE LIMITS, DARE YOU TO, CRASH INTO YOU, TAKE ME ON, BREAKING THE RULES, and NOWHERE BUT HERE and the e-novellas, CROSSING THE LINE and RED AT NIGHT. Her debut YA novel, PUSHING THE LIMITS was a 2012 Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction, a RT Magazine’s 2012 Reviewer’s Choice Awards Nominee for Young Adult Contemporary Novel, a double Rita Finalist, and a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Teen Pick. DARE YOU TO was also a Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction and won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Young Adult Contemporary fiction in 2013.

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Chapter Reveal: Ruthless King by Maya Hughes

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Title: Ruthless King

Author: Maya Hughes

Genre: New Adult Romance

Cover Design: Najla Qamber, Qamber Designs

Release Date: January 10, 2019

BLURB

My dick never got me in half as much trouble as my heart…

We were high school sweethearts. I was head over heels for her and no one could tell me we weren’t going to last forever. College? Going pro? My family’s money? None of it mattered. She was all I needed.

Then she ripped my heart out. But I’m not going to let that happen again.

She’s back. Invading my life and acting like she was the wronged one. The pain is still there, but I can’t keep my eyes off her. I can’t stop thinking about her and how much was left unsaid between us. Being this close is making me question everything I thought I knew about her.

This time everything will be on my terms. Everything…

ADD TO GOODREADS

Author Bio

Maya Hughes can often be found sneaking in another chapter while hiding in the bathroom from her kids! 🙂 I’m a romance writer who loves taking inspiration from everyday life, namely my husband and biggest fan. Inspiration also strikes when I hear a song, meet someone new or daydream while at soccer practice.

I’m the mom of three little ones, the wife to an amazing husband and also work full time. Some of my favorite things are cinnamon rolls, white wine, laughing until I can’t breathe and traveling with my family.

READ AN EXCLUSIVE CHAPTER TODAY!

Author Links

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Chapter Reveal: A Place Without You by Jewel E. Ann

A Place Without You, an all-new emotional, new adult romance from Jewel E. Ann is coming January 2nd, and we have a sneak peek for you!

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The Law of Henna and Bodhi:

When love breaks, fall inward, fall together, and fall hard. Then let time pick up the pieces.

Everything feels temporary when you’ve experienced tragedy—until Henna Lane meets Bodhi at a music festival.

Young and spontaneous, they have a lust for seizing the moment, falling hard and fast.

When Bodhi is forced to leave without a goodbye, Henna thinks she’ll never get over him. But then she meets Mr. Malone, her sexy, new guidance counselor.

They are reckless.

They are forbidden.

When their secret is discovered, Henna has to choose between finishing school—banned from seeing Mr. Malone—or dropping out to follow her nomad dreams.

Henna chooses her dreams.

Over time, she learns that life is not a destination or a journey, some things are more than temporary, and the forbidden can never be ignored. But if she returns for him, will he still be hers?

A Place Without You is an emotional story of young love, shattered dreams, and impossible decisions.

Add to GoodReads: http://bit.ly/2AHhTNT

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Excerpt from Chapter One

His lips move. I stare at them for a few breaths before I realize he’s talking. My hand tugs out my earbud again.

“Sorry. Did you say something?”

“What are you listening to?” he asks in a voice as smooth as his Mediterranean eyes.

“That’s kind of a personal question. Like asking my underwear color.”

He grins. It’s all kinds of wicked. “Personal?” He shrugs. “I don’t know about that. Depends on the song … and the color.”

“Amy Shark, ‘Adore.’And red and silver polka dots.”

“Mmm …” He nods slowly. “Good choice.”

“The song?” I bite the corner of my lower lip to control my grin.

“The underwear.”

My heart wakes up as if to say, “Whoa, is something going on here I should know about?”

“Wanna see mine?”

My eyebrows lift a fraction. “Your underwear?”

He digs his phone out of his front pocket. “Do I look like a perv? My song.”

Damn. He’s good. My tummy joins in on the little dance happening inside of me.

Twisting his wrist, he shows me his phone screen.

“Apocalyptica, ‘Nothing Else Matters.’ Hmm … that’s unexpected.” I let my gaze fall into his, a dangerous place to be. “You going to Coachella?”

He nods several times, glancing over the seats to the road before us. “I’m working there.”

“Oh, cool. Doing what?”

He inspects my hair. I’d planned on changing clothes and doing something a bit more original with my crazy, dark auburn hair than a messy braid over one shoulder, but sushi dad took away my hotel room. Sexy stranger grins like either my question or my messy hair pleases him. “I’m an in-house tech—audio, lighting, video.”

Dear God, he’s the full package, especially when that grin of his grows as I continue to violate him with my eyes. Maybe it’s just the lollipop I had on my way to the hotel. Everything seems aesthetically pleasing when I’m a little high.

“So, I’ll know who to blame if the sound is a bit off while one of my favorite bands performs.”

“You’ll know who to thank when it isn’t.” He leans toward the middle of the backseat. I follow his lead because I’m curious if he smells as good as he looks. “But I get this feeling that in your state, everything will sound good.”

Ignoring his whispered accusation that I’m high, I sniff. “You smell like lemon.”

He sticks his tongue out, revealing a half-melted lemon drop.

I grin as we sit straight again. “Last year my mom brought back lemon drops from the Limoncello factory in Sorrento. They were amazing.”

Sucking more intensely on his sour goodness, he nods slowly. “I’m sure they were. Sadly, I don’t think my lemon drop was made in Italy.”

“That is incredibly sad.”

He chuckles. Is he laughing at me?

“Nice tats.” He nods to my arms.

Holding them out, I admire my art. “They’re henna, like me.”

“Like you?”

“Yes. My name is Henna. And these will be much more intense tomorrow.”

“Like you?” His teeth scrape along his bottom lip. It’s ridiculously sexy.

“Are you flirting with me?”

He chuckles. “We met less than five minutes ago. I have a little more tact than that.”

“Tact? Like asking the color of my underwear?”

He runs his hands over the legs of his jeans. Is he sweating? Am I making him sweat? That possibility gives me a whole other kind of high.

“I didn’t ask. You freely offered that information. Besides, I have rules about flirting.”

“Well, I despise rules, but you must share your rules anyway.”

“Never flirt with someone who is not sober.” He stares out his window like his rule is the end of our friendly conversation.

“Sober? Dude, this is as sober as I get.” Leaning forward, I shove down the waist of my shorts in back, exposing a long L-shaped scar.

He glances over, forehead wrinkled.

“If I sit too long or stand too long or do anything too long, life kinda sucks. But a little high can go a long way with making said life a lot less sucky.”

Sitting back, I exhale. Sexy stranger seems at a loss for words.

“Tell me, tech guy, do you have a name?”

The driver stops at the crowded entrance.

“Thank you,” we say while getting out of the car.

To read the rest of Chapter One, visit:

http://bit.ly/2r9bWU0

About Jewel:

Jewel is a free-spirited romance junkie with a quirky sense of humor.

With 10 years of flossing lectures under her belt, she took early retirement from her dental hygiene career to stay home with her three awesome boys and manage the family business.

After her best friend of nearly 30 years suggested a few books from the Contemporary Romance genre, Jewel was hooked. Devouring two and three books a week but still craving more, she decided to practice sustainable reading, AKA writing.

When she’s not donning her cape and saving the planet one tree at a time, she enjoys yoga with friends, good food with family, rock climbing with her kids, watching How I Met Your Mother reruns, and of course…heart-wrenching, tear-jerking, panty-scorching novels.

Connect with Jewel:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjeweleann/

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BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jewel-e-ann

Stay up to date with Jewel by joining her mailing list:

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