Excerpt Reveal + Pre-Order: Bad For You by J. Daniels

 

He didn’t want to be bad. He just didn’t have a choice…

Shayla Perkins isn’t the kind of girl who makes the same mistake twice, especially when it comes to Sean “Stitch” Molina. So when he gives her the world’s biggest rejection, that’s it–she’s done. Until the sexy, silent, unavailable Sean makes Shay a very personal offer. Of course, it still doesn’t mean he’s interested in her. Or does it?

Sean has done things in life. Bad things. And he’s paid the price. All he wants now is to make up for his past by doing good in the present. And no one deserves more good than Shay. Beautiful on the inside and out, Shay is the kind of woman who should be cared for and protected–especially from a man like Sean. He’s tried to keep his feelings for her in check, but a single, reckless impulse pulls them closer than ever before.

 

Soon the two are sharing their biggest dreams and satisfying their deepest desires. But what will happen if the only way to truly give each other what they want most…is to let each other go?

 

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Chapter One

Shayla

I wanted to tell her no. I wanted to lie to Gladys or Dorothy, whatever this sweet old lady’s name was seated in my section, and say we were fresh out of ranch dressing, and the little cup of it that came with her large garden salad was the last drop. If I didn’t and obliged her request, it would mean walking back over to the kitchen window I avoided like the plague and speaking to him—Sean “Stitch” Molina. The keeper of the dressings. The cook at Whitecaps Restaurant. He hoarded the ranch back there, and the only way to get more of it was with words.

And we didn’t do words anymore. Not as of eight months ago.

So, instead of doing my job as a waitress, I contemplated the dishonest route, which could very well get me fired.

Was I willing to roll those dice? Maybe. It might be worth a shot. My boss, Nate, could overlook my wrongdoing. He was understanding enough.

We’re fresh out of ranch, I could tell the lady. And all other dressings, for that matter. I am so sorry. Could I maybe get you another refill? Or something else not located in the kitchen?

I thought on this plan—it could work. Maybe she would believe me. Or maybe she would rethink her request and decide she no longer needed more dressing.

Help a fellow woman out here, Millie. Christ.

“I just need a little bit more,” the lady requested with a gentle smile. “Would you be a dear? I won’t trouble you for anything else, I promise.”

“Of course,” I replied, the response compulsively leaving my tongue. I couldn’t fight it. I couldn’t lie. I’d feel terrible.

Besides, this was my job. If someone requested more ranch dressing, I got them more ranch dressing, even if it meant speaking to the man I was completely and pathetically infatuated with, no matter how badly it hurt me to do so.

I gave the lady a smile in return before moving away.

My steps were slow as I weaved between tables and headed toward the kitchen. I tried to keep my head down, to focus on the tile floor disappearing beneath my feet, but I couldn’t.

I had to look.

Who was I kidding? I wanted to look.

As I approached, Tori was leaning close to the window that separated Sean’s domain from everyone else’s. She slid two plates of food off the ledge, commenting, “Looks good. Thanks, Stitch,” before walking off to deliver her orders, winking at me as she passed.

Sean only went by Stitch when he was here, I was assuming. I wouldn’t know for sure since I’d never spent any time with him outside of work. It was a nickname Tori and I had given him when he’d cut himself a bunch of times during his first week on the job, and he didn’t seem to mind being called that.

Back then, he didn’t seem to mind a lot of things, like listening to me talk and talk about anything and everything, putting my problems on him in between waiting tables, my stresses, my fears, needing a person to vent to and him being the only person I wanted to vent to because of the way he listened and looked at me.

No one had ever seemed so interested in what I had to say before.

Like what I was saying meant everything to them. Like it was a privilege just to listen.

And no one had ever looked at me the way Sean did—glances that only ever lasted a few seconds at a time, but those few seconds of eye contact—holy crap. I thought my skin was going to combust it would tingle and heat up so quickly. The man had a stare unlike any stare. Equal parts intense and intimidating. But his eyes, sweet mother of God, his eyes were unreal, this rich, golden copper color. And when they were on you, you didn’t just see that beauty—you felt it.

It was a two-punch combo that turned me into a puddle. No man had ever affected me that way before.

And that effect wasn’t going away. I was still feeling it.

Even now with us not speaking to each other, or rather, with me not speaking and him not listening, I still couldn’t get Sean out of my head. I missed what we used to have, yes, but it was more than that. It was so much more.

A man I barely knew, who seldom spoke, and who had never showed interest in me in that way had somehow taken hold of my heart and twisted it all up. I didn’t understand how it had happened, I just knew it happened.

Pathetic, right?

I reached the counter silently, which was a miracle considering how loud my heart sounded in my ears. Keeping my breathing quiet, I looked through that window and peered into the kitchen.

Sean had his back to me as he flipped burgers and stirred something in a pot. I allowed my eyes to travel the length of him, something I hardly ever let myself do anymore. We shared quick glances now, that was it.

Sean was well over six feet tall—way taller than me. His back was broad. His hair was long, a beautiful caramel color, and almost always pulled back; his arms were covered in tattoos and roped in muscle; and he had a thick, short beard that hid what I just knew was a strong jaw.

Sean was beautiful. And he was intimidating. Not just how he looked, but how he acted too.

He smoked. He drove a motorcycle. He never smiled. He rarely said a word. Everything about Sean said leave me alone, but eight months ago I couldn’t.

And eight months ago, I didn’t think he wanted me to.

I thought that was why he looked at me the way he did and listened so well. I wasn’t even nervous when I finally asked him out after hearing about a local party. I was excited.

I wanted Sean. I wanted to kiss him and touch him and God, hear his voice more. I had gotten so little of it. I wanted to do everything with him. And I thought we would. I thought we’d go to that party together as friends and leave as something more.

But Sean wasn’t interested in the more I’d been after. He wasn’t interested in me at all.

Now, that was perfectly clear.

Sensing me, or maybe he was finished minding the burgers and whatever he was stirring in the pot—I didn’t know for sure, since I was still letting my eyes wander—Sean spun around and stepped forward, snapping my gaze off his body in a panic. Our eyes met.

Mine widened.

His narrowed angrily, like I’d pissed him off and he hated me for it, and further hated me for catching him pissed off about it.

I didn’t understand that look, but no way was I asking about it. I was doing what I came over here to do, and then, hopefully, staying far away from this window the rest of the day.

Maybe I could convince Tori to put in my orders.

“My lady needs more ranch,” I informed Sean, swallowing thickly when my voice came out sounding stressed and distorted. “Could I get a little more for her?”

Sean’s gaze lowered to my mouth like he was waiting for more words, which didn’t make sense to me, until I considered the one word I left off he was most likely waiting for.

“Please?” I added.

His eyes lifted to mine and stayed narrowed. His nostrils flared. His jaw set.

I almost apologized for being polite and for not lying to that woman about our condiment supply. Things were so awkward now, I couldn’t stand it. I missed how easy this used to be.

Memories flooded my mind in an onslaught as I stood there waiting, and my back stiffened. I pictured Sean watching me with care and concern. I remembered the smiles behind his beard I used to catch, and the way his eyes would follow me through the restaurant and brighten when I would wave. We were friends. I wanted to scream at him for ruining that. I wanted to scream at myself for still caring. What was wrong with me? He had completely shut me out. We were nothing now. We were this.

But with a quick hand, Sean snatched a dressing cup off the shelf and ladled some ranch into it before I spoke another word. He sat the cup on the ledge, removing his hand before our fingers touched, and briskly turned back to the grill without giving me another glance.

“Thank you,” I mumbled at his back, turning before I lingered another second.

He shut me out. I needed to do the same to him.

I delivered the cup of ranch to the sweet old lady, picked up a check for a table who didn’t wait for change, and took care of their tab at the register. Then because I didn’t have any other tables needing anything from me at the moment, I moved to a vacant booth far away from that window and busied myself filling ketchup bottles.

The next time anyone needed extra dressing, I’d send Tori.

Three Days Later

I am getting one of everything.

Twisting the dial on the radio, I quieted the music I was listening to when the truck ahead of me pulled forward, allowing room for my Civic to squeeze up next to the speaker.

Mouth already salivating, I rolled my window down.

“Welcome to Taco Bell. Can I take your order?”

My stomach growled as I surveyed my choices.

I eyed the fiesta taco salad. The quesarito. The never-ending list of combos and the specialty options. Everything intrigued my taste buds.

I stuck my head out the window and directed my order at the speaker. “Can I have a number six, please? Chicken supreme with a soft taco? And a Mountain Dew.”

“That’ll be six fifty-seven at the second window, please.”

I couldn’t pull forward yet, so I kept my foot on the brake, and just as I was about to roll up my window to keep the cool March air from filling up my car any more, a song I knew and loved began playing low through the speakers.

I had no idea what the name of the song was or who sang it, but I knew every single word. And this was not a song you didn’t crank up and sing along to with your windows down.

Fingers twisting the dial until music poured out of my car, I started moving my hips in time with the beat and smacking the steering wheel, eyes closing and fingers snapping as the lyrics left my mouth.

“Oh oh oh oh oh oh,

You don’t have to go, oh oh oh oh oh

You don’t have to go, oh oh oh oh oh

You don’t have to gooo.”

The drum kicked up. I shook my head and felt pieces of my short, dark hair lash against my cheeks.

The girl giggled through the speaker.

Smiling and not feeling one bit of shy about the audience I was entertaining, I leaned halfway out the window and sang to her as loud as I could, reaching and pointing like she was front row at my concert.

“Ay ay ay ay ay ay

All those tears I cry, ay ay ay ay

All those tears I cry, oh oh ah ay

Baby, please don’t goooo.”

She laughed harder this time, whooping and cheering me on.

“How’s that?” I asked. “Think I got a career in singing if all my other options fall through?”

“You bet!” the girl yelled. “That was sick!”

Giggling at myself, I sat back in the seat and turned the volume down halfway, noticing through the windshield the space between the truck in front of me and the car in front of it.

My eyes narrowed. I beeped twice. I was starving, and this was not the time to be messing around. What was this person doing?

The truck jerked forward, gears grinding over the music, loud enough I actually cringed. It was an old, beat-up Chevy, covered in dirt and rusted all along the back, with most of the paint chipped off and the muffler barely hanging on by a thread. The well loved and very well used vehicle was probably on its last leg, as was the worn smiley-face sticker half peeled from the bumper, leaving only one eye and half a mouth showing.

That thing had definitely seen better days.

Staring at all that rust, I had a moment of panic when I imagined the truck dying on its owner and blocking my path. Come hell or high water, I’d get my chalupas. Though I really didn’t feel like stepping out of my car and walking inside where the lunch rush sat. I was wearing sweats covered in bleach stains, a baggy sweatshirt, zero makeup, and not a lick of dry shampoo. No way was I presentable for the public yet.

This was why God invented drive-throughs and curbside service—so women like me could sleep in on their days off and rush out the door when a hankering hit without even bothering to glance at themselves in a mirror.

But when the truck made it up to the window to pay without a hitch or stall, most of that panic left me.

And when the driver pulled away after collecting their order and turned out onto highway, all of that panic left me.

I rubbed my hands together. Come to Momma.

“Hello!” I greeted the young girl with a smile and a wave, feeling like we had one of those lifelong friendship connections since I’d just serenaded her.

Grabbing my bag off the floor in front of the passenger seat, I dug around for my wallet.

“No need for that!” she said, turning my head and pausing my search. “That guy just totally paid for you. God…I love it when that happens. It doesn’t happen enough. It’s such a treat!”

I sat up and looked at her more fully. “What? What guy?”

“The guy in the truck.”

“Really?”

Nobody had ever done that for me before, and I used drive-throughs a lot. Well, shit on my head. My first random act of kindness, and I had rushed the poor thing along.

I suddenly felt bad for beeping.

“Yep,” the girl said, smacking her gloss-covered lips. “He asked me how much your order was and gave me enough to cover you both. And he wasn’t bad looking either.”

I leaned closer to the window, my interest in this mystery man spiking off the charts. “Yeah?”

“Oh, yeah. He had that dark, smoldering look about him. Real sexy.”

Nice.

“Did he say anything? Leave his number on a napkin or something?”

“No.” She shrugged. “Just paid for you and left. He acted in a rush.” The girl turned to pack up my order.

Huh.

If he was interested, he would’ve gone beyond just paying for my food. I would think he would’ve at least waited before speeding out of here—at least pulled over and given me opportunity to thank him.

Maybe he was just doing a good deed?

Letting myself think on that, I smiled and took my drink. “I’d like to pay it forward. How much is the person’s order behind me? I’ll take care of them,” I said while blindly digging my wallet out of my bag.

Really?” The girl clapped her hands together and squealed. “This is awesome! And they say there’s no good people left in the world.”

I laughed and made a face like I was agreeing with her, though I really didn’t. I knew a lot of good people. Dogwood Beach was full of them.

And I was blessed to have a lot of those people in my tribe, supporting me, giving me friendship and love, and others, not necessarily in my tribe, but around me enough I got to see their good.

Still, I understood this girl’s excitement. It wasn’t every day a complete stranger did something out of sheer generosity. And selfless to boot. Who didn’t stick around to take credit when credit was due? That was practically unheard of.

It’s funny how a simple gesture can affect you. But kindness was powerful that way. It not only had the ability to alter moods, but it was also infectious. People wanted to spread that good around once they got it put on themselves.

Hell, I was doing it. Maybe the person behind me would do it too, and so on. We could all pay it forward.

Smiling, I thought about that mystery man in the beat-up truck, wondering if he knew just how inspiring he was. How good he was. I hoped someone was telling him.

After safely securing my bag of deliciousness in the front seat, I got the total of the order from the car behind me, paid, got my change, cranked up my stereo again, and sped off, leaving my window cracked so I could serenade Highway 355.

 

 

J.Daniels is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Sweet Addiction series, the Alabama Summer series, and the Dirty Deeds series.

She would rather bake than cook, she listens to music entirely too loud, and loves writing stories her children will never read. Her husband and children are her greatest loves, with cupcakes coming in at a close second.

J grew up in Baltimore and resides in Maryland with her family.

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Excerpt Reveal + Pre-Order: A Cold Dark Promise by Toni Anderson

We’re just a few days away from the release of A COLD DARK PROMISE by Toni Anderson! Read a sneak peek below and be sure to preorder your copy today!

 

About A COLD DARK PROMISE

Available November 14th

A COLD DARK PROMISE takes place during the week leading up to the wedding of former assassin Alex Parker to FBI Agent Mallory Rooney, who meet and fall in love in the novel, A COLD DARK PLACE.

In the midst of wedding preparations, a shadowy figure from Alex Parker’s past reappears and threatens the joy he’s found with Mallory Rooney.

Four years ago, Jane Sanders’s rich and powerful ex-husband kidnapped their young daughter and Jane hasn’t seen her since. Now she finally has a lead on her location and she knows just the man to help her get her daughter back. Trouble is, he’s an assassin. And he terrifies her.

Despite his upcoming nuptials, Alex agrees to help, but it doesn’t take long for the routine operation to turn complicated—and deadly. Can the former CIA operative make it home in time to marry the woman he loves, or will his dark past destroy all hope for their future?

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Read a Sneak Peek

Their breathing quieted. Heartbeats slowed and melded.

The dying sun cast long shadows through their bedroom window.

“You have to help her,” Mallory said quietly.

His arm curled over her hip, and he pulled her closer.

“I can take another week off work,” she said.

“No way are you getting involved in this.”

She looked over her shoulder and smiled. “You can’t stop me.”

He kissed her fingers and smiled sadly. “I know I can’t stop you, but if you insist on coming with me, then I won’t go.”

His silver gaze wasn’t angry or demanding. It was calm. Implacable. Mallory blew out a big breath of frustration. It was the first time Alex had refused to let her be involved in something. She knew he hid things from her occasionally. But the two of them had made a promise to one another the day investigators had uncovered her sister’s body.

No more lies.

Ever.

And that was why he was telling her this now, she realized.

Her fingers gripped his, hugging him to her. “I don’t want something bad to happen to you.”

“I can take care of myself.”

She swallowed. “I know you can, but I don’t want you to have to take care of yourself. I want to look after you. I want to be the one watching your back.”

He ran a finger down her spine and followed it with his lips.

She closed her eyes. “You know what I mean.”

“I do. I feel it every time you go to work without me.”

But he let her go anyway, because she needed the space to do her job, and he respected that. He respected her.

She rolled onto her back. She didn’t want Alex to go on this job without her, but she knew she wasn’t the only one who needed space to work, even when that work wasn’t clearly defined. She touched his face.

“I can’t go.” Alex insisted, but there was no conviction behind his words. “We have a wedding to prepare for and a dog to look after.”

Rex was in the living room on the couch. He’d fetch a ball from dawn until dusk, but he was generally a couch potato which suited them both perfectly right now. Mallory intended to get a puppy or two after the wedding. She’d convince Alex by reminding him dogs were good security.

“All you have to do for the wedding is turn up— and write those place name cards. The wedding planner,” who Alex had nicknamed the General for good reason, “is doing virtually everything else including arranging transportation for all the guests who are flying in. I can make any last-minute adjustments and double-check on the flowers and still go to work every day next week. Hiring that woman is the best idea you’ve ever had.”

He laid his ear against her belly. “Not the best idea, but pretty inspired.”

She sank her hands into his hair. “When will you be back?”

“I imagine Wednesday at the latest.” He placed one large palm on her stomach and held her gaze. “I won’t take any unnecessary risks, and I won’t do anything stupid. If the child is there I will either figure out a way for the legat to get involved.” The legat was the FBI’s official presence in a foreign country. “Or I’ll sneak them away when no one is looking and bring her, and Jane, back to the States.” Alex kissed her stomach again. She knew he was impatient to meet the newest member of their family. “I’m not sure the daughter— Taylor— will remember her mother after four years.”

Mallory’s heart clenched, and her hand went to where their baby was kicking her low ribs. Alex linked their fingers. She already felt overprotective. The idea of someone stealing her baby… She swallowed hard. This was important. Jane Sanders had always seemed a little aloof, and no wonder. Her child had been stolen and the fact it was by the father made it no less heartbreaking for the mother.

Mallory touched Alex’s lips. “Don’t be late for the wedding. Promise?”

Silver eyes met hers. “I promise.”

 

 

Did you know the first book in the Cold Justice series is available for free? Get your hands on A COLD DARK PLACE!

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About Toni Anderson

New York Times and USA Today international bestselling author, Toni Anderson, writes dark, gritty Romantic Suspense novels that have hit #1 in Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, the Top 10 in Amazon and Kobo stores, and the Top 50 in iBooks. Her novels have won many awards. A former Marine Biologist from Britain, she inexplicably ended up in the geographical center of North America, about as far from the ocean as it is possible to get. She now lives in the Canadian prairies with her Irish husband and two children and spends most of her time complaining about the weather.

Toni has no explanation for her oft-times dark imagination, and only hopes the romance makes up for it. She’s addicted to reading, dogs, tea, and chocolate.

If you want to know when Toni’s next book will be out, visit her website (http://www.toniandersonauthor.com) and sign up for her newsletter. If you want to read other fascinating stories about life in a city that, during winter, is sometimes colder than Mars, friend her on Facebook: (https://www.facebook.com/toniannanderson).

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Excerpt Reveal: The Other Brother by Meghan Quinn

 

I got the call. The dreaded call every child fears. My dad wasn’t well, and the man who had always been my everything needed me.

There was only one thing to do; pack up and head back to my hometown. I had finally made my dream life in the city with the great job and loving boyfriend. But was there really a choice not to go?

I found a wonderful job, a quaint house to rent, my boyfriend was working on joining me in Binghamton, and my favorite pizza place was only miles away. Life was good.

Until I met my neighbor.

It’s been three years since I’d seen Aaron Walters, and my God is he all kinds of sexy gorgeous. Figures. He was supposed to be my forever, the man I grew old with, but he had different plans. How can a man who ripped my heart apart still trip me up? How can he make me still want him now more than ever?

I’m tempted, I’m drawn toward him, I’m completely and utterly unaware that I’m dating his biological brother.

Now two men own my heart. The question is, which brother will I choose?

 

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ENJOY THIS EXCERPT FROM THE OTHER BROTHER

 

Right on time, I’m impressed.

She doesn’t get out of her car right away, so I give her a second but then realize maybe she’s not exiting the vehicle because I have the key to the house and she has nowhere to go.

Wanting to make a good impression and seem approachable since I’m the property manager, I run my hand through my hair and adjust my jeans. I’m not wearing any fancy shit, but at least I don’t have holes in or paint stains on my clothes. I hop off my front porch and make my way toward her car, slowly, not wanting to scare her.

There is muffling coming from her car, voices I can’t quite hear, but I get the idea she’s finishing up a conversation, so I slow my pace drastically. That’s when I see her tilt her head down and look at me. From the reflection of the light off her windows, I can’t make out her features. I can only see a silhouette.

I lift a friendly hand in her direction to let her know I come in peace and make my way to her driveway. There is no wave back, but I do hear the telltale sound of her opening her car door. She steps out and when I round the vehicle, I catch the sun off her driver’s side window, temporarily blinding me.

Blinking my eyes a few times to calm my retinas, I bring her into focus.

“Aaron . . .”

Every hair on my body sticks straight up and my body goes still from that voice, that unmistakably sultry voice.

When she finally comes into view, I am met with a pair of hazel eyes I haven’t been able to get out of my head since the day she left town for bigger and better things.

“Amelia.” I clear my throat and take a step forward. “Wow, I uh . . .” Tongue-tied, that’s exactly what I am right now. “Didn’t expect to see you get out of that car.” I laugh nervously while I pull on the back of my neck, trying to comprehend what’s going on. I point with my thumb toward the house and ask, “You’re the new tenant?”

She nods and looks me over, taking her time with her perusal, her eyes burning a hole right through my clothes like they used to. When her eyes meet mine again, she asks, “You’re the property manager?”

I nod and swallow hard. “And neighbor.”

She presses her lips together, thinning them out. “What are the chances?” She laughs nervously.

“Yeah, especially since I thought your life was in the city.” I didn’t mean for that to come out rude, but it did. Gentling my voice, I ask, “What brings you back home?”

Staring at the ground, clutching her purse to her side, she says, “My dad. He’s, uh, not doing well.” Duh, Mrs. Ferguson mentioned something like that. I’m so damn overwhelmed and shocked right now though, that entire conversation I had with Mrs. Ferguson is not registering in my mind.

“Oh no.” My brow pinches together in concern. “What happened?”

She waves me off. “Nothing you need to worry about.” And just like that she shuts me down. Honestly, I’m surprised she said that much to me after how we ended things between us.

Yes, there was an us, a perfectly beautiful, love-filled us. Amelia Santos was the best thing to ever happen to me, and yet, she was also the worst. During a time where my heart broke from every uncaring glance from my mom, Amelia resurrected me from the ashes I would have otherwise drowned in. She was my rock, the one solid feature in my life.

She was also my downfall.

She was going places, and I wasn’t. She had opportunity, and I had none. She wanted me to move with her, and I couldn’t, but no way in hell would I hold her back. I barely made it out of my mom’s house. There were many days when I tried hard to earn a buck so I could find a place to live other than the homeless shelter where I spent many lonely nights. Amelia deserved better than that, so I pushed her away to achieve her dreams. Little did I know, breaking up with her would send me in the biggest downward spiral of my life. The only reason I’m the man I am today is because after hitting rock bottom, I knew things needed to change, and it was up to me to make something of myself. So I worked my ass off. And now at thirty, I can say proudly that I’m a co-owner of an up-and-coming construction company as well as the proud owner of a house in the heart of Hillcrest, a beautiful two-story house. I’m doing well for myself . . . at least that’s what I thought until Amelia stepped out of her car.

Now I’m questioning every little thing about my life leading to this point.

 

 

Born in New York and raised in Southern California, Meghan has grown into a sassy, peanut butter eating, blonde haired swearing, animal hoarding lady. She is known to bust out and dance if “It’s Raining Men” starts beating through the air and heaven forbid you get a margarita in her, protect your legs because they may be humped.

Once she started commuting for an hour and twenty minutes every day to work for three years, she began to have conversations play in her head, real life, deep male voices and dainty lady coos kind of conversations. Perturbed and confused, she decided to either see a therapist about the hot and steamy voices running through her head or start writing them down. She decided to go with the cheaper option and started writing… enter her first novel, Caught Looking.

Now you can find the spicy, most definitely on the border of lunacy, kind of crazy lady residing in Colorado with the love of her life and her five, furry four legged children, hiking a trail or hiding behind shelves at grocery stores, wondering what kind of lube the nervous stranger will bring home to his wife. Oh and she loves a good boob squeeze!

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Excerpt Reveal + Trailer: Fault Lines by Rebecca Shea

 

From USA Today bestselling author, Rebecca Shea, comes a new, heartbreakingly beautiful standalone romance, FAULT LINES. Don’t miss the stunning and captivating excerpt below, and pre-order your copy today!

 

About FAULT LINES:

At eleven he was my first crush. At sixteen he became mine. At nineteen he broke my heart and destroyed me. That was ten years ago and the last time I saw Cole Ryan.

They say you never get over your first love…I beg to differ. I left my shattered heart buried in a town I never expected to return to. I erased every thought of him and buried the memories never to be found.

I moved on…now ten years later I have the perfect life, the perfect fiancé, the perfect career. Everything I ever wanted until I’m forced to go back and face my past and the man that destroyed me.

He won’t stop until I know the truth no matter how hard I fight it. In the end, lies will be uncovered, hearts will be broken, and my life as I’ve come to know it destroyed.

 

FAULT LINES is coming October 30, 2017! Pre-order your copy today!

 

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Add to your Goodreads


EXCERPT:

PROLOGUE

Frankie

Ten Years Ago

My fingers dig into the brown dirt between the patches of dead grass that used to once be a lush front yard. A jagged stone cuts into the soft flesh of my knee as I try to get control of the involuntary lurching of my stomach, which has me crippled on all fours.

Tears fall in streams, and I gasp for air as I hear the sound of heavy footsteps near me.

“Frances—”

“Get away from me!” I scream at the soft voice.

“It’s not—”

“I said get the hell away from me!” My stomach clenches against another wave of nausea as I hear her footprints begin to move away. “Goooooo!” I shout at her again.

I manage to look over my shoulder and see Whitney Carson’s long blonde hair swaying as she walks quickly back across the cul-de-sac to her piss yellow, beat-to-hell Mustang. I barely make out the swell of her belly as she slides into the driver’s seat and slams the door behind her. The roar of the engine tells me she’s leaving.

One last heave and there is nothing left for my stomach to expel, leaving me with only my tears. My throat burns, my breaths coming in small gasps when I feel soft arms around my shoulders.

I hear the creak of the old screen door and my mama’s worn shoes come into sight just before I feel her arms around me. “Baby girl, what’s wrong? We weren’t expecting you home from school until tomorrow…” Her voice is quiet, yet panicked as she kneels next to me, her white uniform dress getting dirty.

I finished my finals early so that I could come home early and surprise Cole and my mom, but the surprise was all mine. “Mama,” I cry between ragged breaths. “I came home early to surprise you and—”

“Stop,” she cuts me off, looking over my shoulder behind me. “Let’s get you inside. If this has anything to do with that girl that’s been coming around, he’s not worth your tears. You’re going to put your chin up and enjoy your summer.” She tugs at my arm in hopes to get me to budge.

I shake my head back and forth violently. “No. I can’t stay here,” I manage through my tears. I can’t stay and watch this happen. I can’t stay and watch them.

“What do you mean? Where would you go?” Her voice grows with concern.

“I don’t know, but I can’t stay here.” The hot summer air hangs heavy around us, and sweat beads along my forehead at my hairline. The thought of Cole touching Whitney Carson causes my stomach to flip again, and I dry heave as I pinch my eyes closed.

Mom rubs her hand over my arm as I try to gain my composure and move from all fours to sitting on the dirt. “Well, come inside until we figure this out.” Her voice is soft and sad. “I’ve always told you he was—”

“Please, stop—” I cut her off now, not wanting to talk about Cole with her.

I hear her deep sigh. “Come on. I’ll run you a hot bath. We need to get you cleaned up.”

The tears still fall in waves as my heart breaks with each step I take toward our house and away from Cole Ryan. As I think about it, the last few months begin to make sense. I sensed Cole pulling away from me. He’d become distant, not returning my calls or answering text messages. Mama called me and had told me about the rumors she’d heard, but we chose to chalk them up to small town gossip. Crescent Ridge is just that, a small town where no one has anything else to do but talk about other people and spread rumors.

Suddenly, realization hits me that the one person I trusted more than anyone in the world betrayed me. He’s been my best friend since I was eleven, my first crush, my first love, my first everything. No other person will ever etch himself so boldly into my history as Cole Ryan did. No other person held the cards to destroy me like Cole Ryan did. And did he ever.

I bite my tongue, tasting the slightest hint of blood as Mama walks me up the raggedy old front porch of our house. “Keep walking, baby girl.” She guides me through the front door. “Keep your chin held high,” she says quietly, the screen door slamming hard behind us.

She looks at me with sympathetic eyes and her voice cracks as she speaks. “Now you can fall apart, Frances. Don’t ever let him see you crumble; don’t give him that control. He is not worth your tears.”

And crumble is what I do as I sink to the faded wood floors of our living room, Mama rocking me in her lap, her fingers stroking my hair and wiping my tears. I cry and scream for the love I believed in, for the boy who owned my heart, and the loss of the one person I long for—the one person I had planned to spend my last breath with.

Mama holds me for hours as my tears come and go. At the first hints of the morning sunlight, I peel myself from Mama’s lap, my head pounding from the hours of crying. I pull my cell phone from my back pocket and press the name of the only other friend I have.

“Ash.” My voice breaks and I barely make out what she’s saying, but one thing is certain. I’m getting the hell out of Crescent Ridge and never looking back. “I’m coming,” I tell her.

Between my tears and gasping breaths, I disconnect my call and see Mama swipe at the tears on her aging cheeks. She sat here all night comforting me as I lay helpless in her lap. In the end, she’s the one person who believes in me and has loved me unconditionally, and here I am about to leave her behind. Leave everything I know and love behind, without a second thought. For good.

I know that when I drive away from here today, I’ll never be back—I can’t come back. I’m leaving my broken heart behind, along with the only man I’ve ever loved.

I toss my bag and one small box of belongings from my childhood bedroom in the trunk of my car and slide into the driver’s seat of my old Honda. Without a second thought, I put the car in drive and glance just once out my rearview mirror as I pull away. The last thing I see is Cole Ryan, hunched over the paint-chipped railing of his front porch as I drive away from Crescent Ridge, leaving him, my past, and my mama behind.

 

About Rebecca Shea:

Rebecca Shea is the USA Today Bestselling author of the Unbreakable series (Unbreakable, Undone, and Unforgiven) and the Bound and Broken series (Broken by Lies and Bound by Lies). She lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her family. From the time Rebecca could read she has had a passion for books. Rebecca spends her days working and her nights writing, bringing stories to life. Born and raised in Minnesota, Rebecca moved to Arizona in 1999 to escape the bitter winters. When not working or writing, she can be found on the sidelines of her sons’ football games, or watching her daughter at ballet class. Rebecca is fueled by insane amounts of coffee, margaritas, Laffy Taffy (except the banana ones), and happily ever afters.

 

 

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Excerpt Reveal + Pre-Order: A Little Too Late by Staci Hart

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A Little Too Late, an all-new romantic standalone from Staci Hart is coming October 24th!

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A Little Too Late by Staci Hart

Publishing Date: October 24th, 2017

Genre: Contemporary Romance

I wasn’t supposed to fall in love with the nanny.

When my wife left, she took the illusion of happiness with her, and I’ve been caught in a free fall ever since. For nine long months, I’ve been fighting to figure out how to be a single dad, how to be alone.

For nine long months, I’ve been failing.

When Hannah walked through the door, I took my first breath since I’d found myself on my own. She slipped into our lives effortlessly, showing me what I’ve been missing all these years. Because Hannah made me smile when I thought I’d packed the notion of happiness away with my wedding album.

She was only supposed to be the nanny, but she’s so much more.

The day my wife left should have been the worst day of my life, but it wasn’t. It was when Hannah walked away, taking my heart with her.

Excerpt:

Hannah

The first time I saw Charlie Parker, I didn’t see one thing at a time; I saw all of him. It was an assault on my senses, an overwhelming tide of awareness, and for a moment, the details came to me in flashes over what was probably only a few seconds but felt so much longer.

His hair was blond and gently mussed, his face long and nose elegant. I could smell him, clean and fresh with just a touch of spice I couldn’t place. I tipped my chin up—he was tall, taller than me, and I hovered just at six feet—and met his eyes, earthy and brown and so deep. So very deep.

And then he smiled.

He was handsome when he wasn’t smiling. He was stunning when he was.

I was so lost in that smile, I didn’t register the flying gob until it whapped against my sweater. Tiny splatters of something cold speckled my neck.

This was the moment the clock started again, and the sweet serenity slipped directly into chaos.

A blond little boy looked up at me from his father’s side with a devilish gleam in his dark eyes. The spoon in his hand was covered in blood-red jam and aimed at me like an empty catapult.

Several things happened at once. Charlie’s face morphed into embarrassed frustration as he reached for who I presumed to be his son. The boy—Sam, I guessed from the names I’d been given by the agency—spun around lightning fast and took off down the hallway, giggling. Another child began to cry from somewhere back in the house, and a bowl clattered to the ground, followed by a hissed swear from what sounded like an older woman.

I glanced down at the sliding, sticky mess against my white sweater and started to laugh.

Charlie’s head swiveled back to me, his face first colored with confusion, then in horror as he looked at the Pollock painting on my sweater.

“Oh my God,” he breathed, his apologetic, wide eyes dragging down my body. “Jesus, I am so sorry.”

I was still laughing, almost a little hysterical. I couldn’t even tell you why.

I waved a hand at Charlie, and he took my elbow, guiding me into the house as I caught my breath. Another crash came from the kitchen, and a little girl came toddling out into the entry, leaving powdery footprints on the hardwood.

Charlie’s face screwed up. “Sam!” he called, stretching the word, a drawn-out promise of consequences.

A riot of giggling broke out in the kitchen.

We both snapped into motion. I followed him as he scooped up his crying daughter and stormed toward the kitchen. The little girl watched me over his shoulder with big brown eyes, her breath hitching in little shudders and her small finger hooked in her mouth.

Charlie stopped so abruptly, I almost ran into him.

When I looked around him and into the kitchen, my mouth opened. I covered it with my fingers as laughter bubbled up my throat.

A bag of flour sat in the middle of the floor, the white powder thrown in bursts against the surrounding surfaces and hanging in the air like smoke. The floor next to the bag was the only clean spot, shaped like a small bottom—the little girl’s, I supposed. A bowl lay upside down, its contents oozing from under the rim and slung in a ring from ceiling to cabinet to floor, as if it had completed a masterful flip on its way to its demise. And in the center of the madness stood an older woman with flour in her dark hair and dusted down the front of her. Clutched under her arm was a wriggling Sam, offending spoon still in hand.

Her face was kind but tight with exasperation. “Please tell me this is the new nanny,” she said flatly.

“I doubt we could convince her to stay at this point,” he said with equal flatness.

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Preorder Today!

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About the Author

Staci has been a lot of things up to this point in her life — a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a clothing and handbag designer, a waitress. Can’t forget that. She’s also been a mom, with three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She’s been a wife, though she’s certainly not the cleanest, or the best cook. She’s also super, duper fun at a party, especially if she’s been drinking whiskey.

From roots in Houston to a seven year stint in Southern California, Staci and her family ended up settling somewhere in between and equally north, in Denver. They are new enough that snow is still magical. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, sleeping, gaming, or designing graphics.

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Exclusive Excerpt Reveal: Liar by Stephanie St. Klaire

 

Liar

An Imperfect Love Novella

By Stephanie St. Klaire

Release Date: October 16, 2017

 

Fake it until you make it. That was the mantra Cori Dash chanted as she chased a big city dream. The more you tell people you’re on top of the world, the more they believe it – just like they believed the embellished image she sold them with her knock off designer facade. It wasn’t lying if the truth stood somewhere in the middle – and she didn’t get caught.

Dominic Blackthorne owned half of that big city…and a reputation. Rather than dispel rumors or show the world the real Nick, he let his own fake image run free. Until Cori Dash – the only person who told him exactly how it was, even if it stung.

When Cori is faced with her ex-fiance, now engaged to her ex-best friend, it’s game on. In her boldest move yet, she concocts her biggest lie to date by introducing the first handsome stranger that walks by as her new fiancé. Happy to play the part, Nick is already planning the fake wedding of her dreams.

You know what they say about lying – the truth always comes out – and it hurts. Especially when Cori finds out she isn’t the biggest Liar in this game, and she’s been out played.

 

Excerpt

The whispers caught her attention before the man, almost to her office, did. She scanned the group, following the he’s coming this way, I’ve never seen him before, and is that really him to the doorway, and her heart sunk. The man who stepped off the elevator was the man from the park. It was Nick.

So, her original instinct had been right. He was a stalker, the creepy kind, and now he was standing in her office with her and her team. How on earth he found her, she didn’t know. He only had her first name, though she did mention she worked for the event sponsor. Still, getting past security? This guy was good and probably dangerous.

“What in the hell are you doing here?” she asked with her hands on her hips and a threatening glare.

Leaning against the doorway with his hands in his pockets and a cocky grin, he nodded at the watchful crowd before saying, “I’m here to see you.”

“Uh, I can see that. You need to leave. I was very clear yesterday, not interested. Are you stalking me?” she asked, quick to scan the group of eyes fixed on her with shocked expressions to match.

The whispers were louder, and the team so invested in the back and forth, the only thing missing was popcorn. Something was off, and she didn’t know what, especially when she heard didn’t think he was real and it’s definitely him. Who, she wondered? How did some of her employees know who he was, but she didn’t? Then a terrifying thought crossed her mind; what if they had seen his picture somewhere, like on TV…could he be a wanted man? A true stalker?

Her fury escalated, and she felt the sudden urge to protect herself and those around her. “I asked you what you’re doing here?”

“I answered.” He winked at a couple of ladies sitting closest to him. “I’m here to see you – my fiancé.”

Loud gasps filled the room, putting Cori on even higher alert. She tossed her hands in the air. “You know that wasn’t real, right? Do you know the difference between reality and fiction? I don’t know what kind of game you are playing, but you need to leave, now. Or I’ll…call security.”

He shrugged, maintaining his megawatt smile, which might charm the pants off of some but not her. The chatter didn’t die down, and some of the women seemed to be entranced by his rugged good looks and that flashy smile. This was getting out of hand, and she needed to bring it to a close, and fast. For all she knew, he had a gun or knife under that expensive Armani.

“Figures, I had to pick a crazy one,” she said while picking up her phone and calling the security desk. She couldn’t help but wonder why members of her team continued to gasp in shock, every time she addressed him. “Tony, we have a trespasser…in my office.”

“Your nose wrinkles when you’re mad. It’s…cute.” His compliment clearly offended her, but he found that just as cute as the wrinkled nose.

“Cute?! Bring back-up, Tony. He appears to be unstable.” She hung up her phone, knowing Tony would be there in no time, given the concern she heard in his voice.

She looked to her staff, “I need to you all to leave quickly; this is not a drill. Please follow safety protocol, and exit the floor. Justin, you are the safety manager for this floor; you know what to do.”

As the people quickly filed out of the office and went straight for the stairwell, she couldn’t help but notice the snickers and more whispers. Even a few heads turned and laughed before rounding the last corner. What on earth?

“Protecting your people – that’s honorable,” he said.

“What do you want?”

“A date,” he said, as if it was the most normal thing in the world, given the circumstance.

“You really are crazy!” She reached into her nearby purse and pulled out her mace; you can never be too careful, she thought. “You come near me and I’ll unload this entire canister on you. Then, I’ll kick your ass…or…something.”

“Wow. New York has really rubbed off on you.” He chuckled.

“What does that mean?”

“Nothing.” He shook his head, never losing that smile that would most likely work on her if he wasn’t crazy. “About that date.”

“I’m not dating you. I have a strict policy not to date psychopaths.” After dropping the insult, she thought better of it. If he truly was unstable, it wouldn’t be wise to provoke any particular violent tendencies he may possess.

“We should get to know each other – so we don’t blow our cover.” That nonchalant shrug of his was getting on her nerves, and he knew it.

“Our cover? What the hell are you talking about?” Her hand darted out in front of her, aiming her mace when he started to move toward her.

He held his hands up in surrender, indicating that he wasn’t a threat, “The Hamptons – Winnie and Phillip? Have you already forgotten?”

“Are you mad? That’s not happening. Do you really think I’d leave town with a stranger…or date one for that matter? I really can’t believe this is happening. My lie, lies really, are catching up to me! This…this is karma, isn’t it?”

“Don’t all dating couples start as strangers?” he asked, matter-of-factly.

“Well…yes, but we aren’t a couple, we aren’t dating, and I’m filing a restraining order the minute security tossed you on your…ass.” It wasn’t in her nature to swear or be mean, but she thought perhaps a few choice words would intimidate him a bit and let him know she meant business.

She looked around him, through the glass wall, feeling a sense of relief when Tony finally exited the elevator with his sidekick, Carmine, and headed right for her office, his hand resting on the stun gun he wore on the right side of his utility belt. Tony’s angsty expression froze, and his eyes went wide when he entered the office and the stranger, Nick, turned to look at him. Surely Tony wasn’t intimidated. He must be surprised by the man’s tall stature and clean cut tailored suit that didn’t scream sociopath, just like she had been.

“Wh-what seems to be the problem?” Tony asked, looking between Nick and Cori.

Confused by his question, she thought it was rather obvious what the issue was but clarified by pointing at Nick. “Problem? Him – he’s the problem!”

“But, Cori. I mean…Miss. Dash…” Tony stammered.

“But nothing – I want him removed, trespassed from the property and a police report filed so my restraining order will stand. There is no telling what this…” she waved her hand up and down, indicating that she was talking about Nick, “…loon is capable of.”

Tony’s voice turned to one of reason. He clearly saw she was upset, flustered even, but he wasn’t sure she knew what she was really asking. “Uh, but, Miss Dash.”

“Tony,” she interrupted before he could say another word. “I want him gone. Remember I told you about a…gentleman I met this weekend? Well, this is him. He found me, he’s delusional, and needs to go – now. Don’t be fooled by the knock off designer suit – he’s a threat. Now remove him.”

“Oh? OH! Well, Miss…” Tony tried, once again, without any luck.

“Tony…” she tried to interrupt him once more, frustrated with his unwillingness to his job. Why was Tony, head of security Tony, so reluctant to do his job?

“I…I can’t, Cori. He’s…”

“Crazy! I know! Remove him,” she shouted, tired of the charade Nick clearly orchestrated.

“It’s okay, Tony. I got this,” Nick said, patting Tony on the shoulder.

“Uh, yes, Mr. Blackthorne,” Tony offered, with emphasis on Blackthorne in an attempt to toss Cori a bone before she dug herself any deeper.

Too late…she was already filling the hole she was laying in when Blackthorne registered loud and clear. “Blackthorne? You’re Nick…Dominic Blackthorne…Owner of Thorne Industries…my…boss.”

The charming smile returned. “Pleasure to meet you, Miss Dash.”

 

Add LIAR to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36355731-liar

Excerpt Reveal: Cowboy Up by Harper Sloan – The Coming Home Series – Book 3

 

 

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Harper Sloan returns with a passionate and breathless romance about the sparks that ignite when a cautious cowboy and a once-scorned woman open up to each other in the third installment of the Coming Home series.

As the eldest Davis, Clayton has always tried to lead by example. He takes his job as head of the family businesses seriously, making sure the farm and auto shop are running smoothly—along with keeping an eye on his brother and sister. For him, there’s a time and place to let go of the control he holds with an iron grip. And with the way he grew up, coupled with a disastrous end to his last relationship, he’s just fine with his quiet, solitary life.

Most of the time.

What he hadn’t counted on was the cute, quirky, shy bookstore owner, Caroline Michaels. She’s the proverbial woman next door—well, the next town over, that is. Caroline hasn’t lived an easy life, but after escaping a verbally abusive ex, she’s finally living it for herself. The last thing she ever expected was a one-night stand with Clay Davis she can’t stop thinking about.

So when she falls on hard times and Clay comes out of nowhere to her rescue, she realizes just how impossible it’ll be to stay away from him. Now all she has to do is convince him to live a little…. Will Clay be able to give up the reins and finally settle down? And, more importantly, will Caroline muster enough courage to lasso him up?

 

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AN EXCERPT FROM COWBOY UP

 

I push my hands from his shoulders and palm his jaw as his stubble prickles against my fingers while my hands wander up to his hair. His hat falls to the ground with a thud and I know he’s just as lost in me as I am in him, because he doesn’t even make a move to pick it up. He lets out a deep grunt when I mold myself against his body, seeking some sort of friction. The next thing I know, my back is against the door and he’s gripping my bottom. His mouth hits my jaw with a bite of his teeth, making a squeak of pleasure shoot up my throat, and his deep rumble of laughter reaches my ears as he presses me harder into the door with his hips. The heavy bulge of his erection against that spot makes me so desperate for him that I whimper in relief when his mouth finally closes over mine in a wet tangle of tongues.

I’ve never been kissed so thoroughly.

This is the kind of kiss that sets the bar for any that might follow.

The kind that shows you everything you’ve been missing and everything you never knew you wanted. I’m going to be comparing every kiss I ever have to my dark cowboy’s, even though I know there’s a good chance no one will ever compare. The sounds coming from my mouth, the ones being swallowed by his, are nothing short of needy. My hips move in tandem with the thrusts of his, and even though we’re both fully clothed, I know it won’t take much more of this for me to go off like the town’s fireworks on the Fourth of July.

“Fuck, you taste just like apple pie,” he whispers against my lips, breaking away with a gasp.

“Huh?”

“Goddamn, I love apple pie,” he says before his mouth is back on mine, this time with a whole new kind of hunger deepening his kisses.

I’m held captive, enraptured. Then his hands move from my bottom to glide up my torso. He lifts his hard chest off mine and suddenly those delicious fingers are at my breasts. Even if I had big boobs his hands would dwarf them, I’m sure, but as it is he covers both with a firm grasp before adjusting his hold with a deft twist of the wrists. His mouth continues to feast on mine while his huge hands learn my body with slow movements. I tear my mouth from his with a breathy moan when he pushes my shirt up and slips his fingers into the cups of my bra to tweak my nipples.

“Oh, God,” I moan when he does it again.

“I can’t get enough of you,” he rumbles.

“Please,” I beg, not with the slightest clue as to what I’m begging for.

His hips dig even harder into mine as he leans back, supporting me against the door with that connection alone as he pulls my shirt off. The darkness makes me feel more confident than I normally would be, almost half naked with a man—no, a stranger.

“Yours too,” I tell him as his fingers move to unclasp my bra. “I want to feel your skin on mine,” I breathe, taking over the task so he’ll hopefully give me what I want.

I fumble in my haste to feel more of this dangerous arousal he’s creating in my body, but the second my bra is free and dangling toward the floor, his naked chest collides against mine, pushing me into the door with a force that sends the air rushing out of my lungs.

His mouth hits my collarbone at the same time his hands grasp my bottom, sliding me up the door until I feel the wet heat of his breath against my breast.

Then he stops.

 

 

 

 

Harper is a NEW YORK TIMES, WALL STREET JOURNAL and USA TODAY bestselling author residing in Georgia with her husband and three daughters. She has a borderline unhealthy obsession with books, hibachi, tattoos and Game of Thrones. When she isn’t writing you can almost always find her with a book in hand.

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