New Release + Blog Tour + Excerpt: Wrapped In Love by Lexi Ryan

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Wrapped in Love by Lexi Ryan

Release Date: December 4th, 2018

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Wrapped in Love, an all-new standalone contemporary romance by Lexi Ryan.

The rumors are true. I’m a hot mess with an awful track record at love. Single mom. Down on her luck. Yeah, I’m bad news.

If the hardest part of moving back home to Jackson Harbor was going to be people talking, I’d be fine. I’ve kept my chin up through worse than their decade-old gossip.

I was wrong. The hardest part is resisting my boss. Brayden Jackson is the very picture of tall, dark, and handsome. And thanks to an ill-advised one-night stand we had seven months ago, I know exactly what I’m missing when I turn him down. Every. Single. Delicious. Inch.

But I have my son to care for and my job to keep, so I’ll keep on saying no.

Until my string of bad luck continues, and suddenly my precious four-year-old and I find ourselves with nowhere to live. At Christmas, no less. It’s for my son that I accept Brayden’s offer to stay at his place. One by one, my defenses are falling, as fast as I am. If Brayden was smart, he’d run, because it’s only a matter of time before he realizes he deserves better than what a girl like me can offer.

Unless, for once, my bad luck is leading me exactly where I need to be.

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Download your copy today!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2UyyI5x

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/WrappedInLoveLR

Apple Books: https://apple.co/2mgsXcq

Nook: http://bit.ly/2NPfXWH

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2Ewm5Uf

Add to GoodReads link: http://bit.ly/2CTaHjJ

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Excerpt:

“Oh, and this box wasn’t labeled. Where do you want it?” Brayden pulls open the flaps of the box he set on the bed when he entered. “Looks like there are some washcloths in here. And . . .” He lifts a stack of washcloths and peers at the contents beneath. His eyes go wide. “Oh.”

The moment my brain registers what he’s looking at, I lunge for him and smack a hand over his eyes. I intentionally put that box in my car, separate from the others. And I forgot.

Brayden’s chest rumbles with laughter, and I want the floor to open up and swallow me whole.

Brayden Jackson just saw my entire vibrator collection.

He gently pulls my hand away, revealing eyes full of mischief.

I squeak. “Don’t look in that box again.”

His lips twitch. “But I really, really want to.”

I point a finger at him. “Don’t you dare.”

He presses his lips into a thin line, amusement dancing in his eyes. Then, as if he can’t help himself, he asks, “Are they all pink?”

“Shut up!” My cheeks are on fire.

His voice is the softest caress of a whisper when he says, “Molly, your cheeks are almost as pink as your vibrators.”

I smack both hands against his chest. “You did not just say that word!”

“Vibrators?” He grins. Not one of his smirks or half smiles, but a grin, and damn me and my stupid chemical attraction to this man, because it makes me want to slam the bedroom door closed and climb him like a tree. “If you don’t like the word, why do you have—”

I throw my hand over his mouth. “Don’t say it. We agreed we’d keep our relationship professional—that’s what we both wanted. So don’t say it. Don’t even think about it.” Then, because I realize his lips are pressed to my palm and it reminds me too much of our night in New York when his lips were everywhere, I back away.

The warm amusement in his eyes turns to heat. “First of all,” he says, his voice like silky steel, “those were your rules, not mine. I agreed for you, not because that’s what I want.” He drags his gaze over me, and my heart pounds so fast it feels like a hummingbird’s trying to escape my chest. “Second, even if I tried not to think about you using your little collection of pink toys, I’d fail miserably.” He dips his head, and I can feel his breath against my ear as he says, “I’m already thinking about it, and I will be for a long time yet.”

About Lexi:

Lexi Ryan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of emotional romance that sizzles. A former academic and English professor, Lexi considers herself the luckiest girl around to make a living through storytelling. She loves spending time with her crazy kids, weightlifting, ice cream, swoony heroes, and vodka martinis.

Lexi lives in Indiana with her husband, two children, and a spoiled dog. You can find her at her website: http://www.lexiryan.com

Connect with Lexi:

Website: http://www.lexiryan.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lexiryanauthor
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/qymaH
Bookbub: http://www.bookbub.com/authors/lexi-ryanv
Instagram: http://instagram.com/writerlexiryanv
Twitter: https://twitter.com/writerlexiryan
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2856947.Lexi_Ryan
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2bIYjGa

New Release + Release Blitz: This Kiss by Melody Grace

Title: This Kiss
Series: Sweetbriar Cove #8
Author: Melody Grace
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: November 12, 2018
Blurb

Welcome to Sweetbriar Cove: the home of feel-good romance!

Jenny Archer knows that fairytales aren’t real… so when a handsome Scotsman
shows up on her doorstep in the middle of the night, she figures there has to
be a catch. Like the fact that he’s tall, dark, and emotionally unavailable –
and claims to be the new owner of her home.

The last thing Fraser Macintosh needs is drama. He’s traded the flashy art
scene for a quiet life working on his paintings in Sweetbriar Cove, but he
didn’t figure on his new house coming complete with a beautiful, stubborn
caretaker, and her smart-mouthed niece.

They may be unlikely roommates, but soon, sparks are flying between Fraser and
Jenny – and heating up the dark autumn nights on Cape Cod. But can Jenny open
her heart to this rakish stranger? And will Fraser trade his bachelor life for
this unexpected new family?

Find out in the latest feel-good romance from New York Times bestselling
author, Melody Grace!

The Sweetbriar Cove Series:
#1 Meant to Be
#2 All for You
#3 The Only One
#4 I’m Yours
#5 Holiday Kisses
#6 No Ordinary Love
#7 Wildest Dreams
#8 This Kiss

#9 Always Be Mine (March)
#10 Two Hearts (July)

Purchase Links

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

Also Available

Currently FREE!!

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
B&N / KOBO / APPLE BOOKS
GOOGLE PLAY

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
B&N / KOBO / APPLE BOOKS
GOOGLE PLAY

Coming Soon

Releasing March 26, 2019

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
APPLE BOOKS

Author Bio

A small-town girl, Melody grew up in the English countryside
before moving to Los Angeles. She is now a New York Times bestselling author of
feel-good contemporary romance novels, and is also currently writing for the
upcoming BRIDGERTONS television adaptation from Netflix. She has two
cats. 
Author Links

 

New Release + Release Blitz: Hate Notes by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward

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A standalone romance novel published by Montlake Romance

By: New York Times Bestselling Authors Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward

Release Date: Tuesday, November 6, 2018

SYNOPSIS:

It all started with a mysterious blue note sewn into a wedding dress.

Something blue.

I’d gone to sell my own unworn bridal gown at a vintage clothing store. That’s when I found another bride’s “something old.”

Stitched into the lining of a fabulously feathered design was the loveliest message I’d ever read: Thank you for making all of my dreams come true.

The name embossed on the blue stationery: Reed Eastwood, obviously the most romantic man who ever lived. I also discovered he’s the most gorgeous. If only my true-love fantasies had stopped there. Because I’ve since found out something else about Mr. Starry-Eyed.

He’s arrogant, cynical, and demanding. I should know. Thanks to a twist of fate, he’s my new boss. But that’s not going to stop me from discovering the story behind his last love letter. A love letter that did not result in a happily ever after.

But that story is nothing compared to the one unfolding between us. It’s getting hotter, sweeter, and more surprising than anything I could have imagined.

Something new.

But I have no idea how this one is going to end . . .

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Photo/Cover Details:

Photo Credit: Tijana Vukovic

Model: Dusan Susnjar

Teasers by: Luna Sol

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To read an excerpt of Hate Notes, click here.

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PURCHASE LINKS:

Add to Goodreads ➜ http://smarturl.it/xys920

Amazon ebook https://amzn.to/2DolqDg

Amazon Print (Currently on sale!) ➜ https://amzn.to/2STOO8W

Amazon Audio ➜ https://amzn.to/2RE92SK

Amazon print UK (Currently on sale)http://hyperurl.co/32k3q7

Please Note: Because Hate Notes is published by Montlake Romance, a division of Amazon, the ebook and paperback will only be available on Amazon. If you are an Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited member, the Hate Notes ebook will be free for both Prime and KU members on release day!

Sign up for Penelope & Vi’s mailing list now and be the first one notified when it goes live! ➜ https://www.subscribepage.com/Vi&Penelope

Hate Notes Teaser

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

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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 hundred 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.

Sign up for Penelope & Vi’s mailing list now and be the first one notified when it goes live!

https://www.subscribepage.com/Vi&Penelope

Do you like texts better than email? Receive text notices of Vi’s new releases by texting the word BOOKS to 77948 You will ONLY receive a text when a new book goes live – no other messages at all!

Find Vi here:

Facebook Fan Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ViKeelandFanGroup/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vi.keeland

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Vi-Keeland/435952616513958

Website: http://www.vikeeland.com

Twitter: @vikeelandhttps://twitter.com/ViKeeland

Instagram: @Vi_Keeland – http://instagram.com/Vi_Keeland/

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/vi-keeland

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6887119.Vi_Keeland

Penelope Ward photo

Penelope Ward

Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author.

She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor. Penelope resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son, and beautiful daughter with autism.

With over 1.5 million books sold, she is a twenty-time New York Times bestseller and the author of over twenty novels.

Sign up for Penelope & Vi’s mailing list now and be the first one notified when it goes live! https://www.subscribepage.com/Vi&Penelope

Find Penelope here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/penelope.ward

https://www.facebook.com/penelopewardauthor

Facebook Fan Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/PenelopesPeeps/

Website: http://www.penelopewardauthor.com

Twitter :https://twitter.com/PenelopeAuthor

Instagram: @penelopewardauthor

http://instagram.com/PenelopeWardAuthor/

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/penelope-ward

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7105545.Penelope_Ward

Excerpt Reveal: Hate Notes by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward

HATE NOTES – EXCERPT REVEAL

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A standalone romance novel published by Montlake Romance

By: New York Times Bestselling Authors Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward

Release Date: Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Hate Notes coming November 6th

Grabbing my laptop, I searched my history and called up the last website I’d visited. Eastwood Properties is one of the largest independent brokerage firms in the world. We connect the most prestigious and exclusive properties with qualified buyers, assuring the utmost privacy for both parties. Whether you’re in the market for a luxury New York City penthouse with a view of the park, a waterfront Hampton estate, or an enchanting chateau escape in the mountains, or you’re ready for your own private island, Eastwood is where your dreams begin.

There was a link to search properties, so I typed in the name of the place the woman had mentioned in the voice mail: Millennium Tower. Sure enough, the penthouse popped up for sale. For only twelve million dollars, I could own an apartment on Columbus Avenue with sweeping views of Central Park. Let me write you a check.

After drooling through a video and two dozen photos, I clicked on the button to make an appointment to view the property. An application popped up, the top of which read: For the privacy and safety of our sellers, all prospective buyers are required to complete an application to view properties. Only buyers that meet our stringent prequalification criteria will be contacted.

I snorted. Great prequalification criteria you have there, Eastwood. I wasn’t sure I had enough money to take the train uptown to get to that swanky place, much less buy it. God knows what I’d written that had qualified me.

I closed the website and was just about to shut my laptop and go back to bed again when I decided to take one more peek at Mr. Romantic on Facebook.

God, he was gorgeous.

What if . . .

I shouldn’t.

No good ever came out of ideas formulated while drunk.

I couldn’t.

But . . .

That face . . .

And that note.

So romantic. So beautiful.

Plus . . . I’d never seen the inside of a twelve-million-dollar penthouse.

I really shouldn’t.

Then again . . . I’d spent the last two years doing everything I should do. And where had that gotten me?

Right here. It’d gotten me right damn here—hungover and unemployed, sitting in this crappy apartment. Maybe it was time I did the things I shouldn’t be doing for a change. I picked up my phone and let my finger hover over the “Call Back” button for a while.

Screw it.

No one would ever know. It could be fun—getting all dressed up and playing the part of a rich Upper West Sider while satisfying my curiosity about the man. What harm was there?

None that I could think of. Still, you know what they say about curiosity . . .

I pressed “Call Back.”

“Hi. This is Charlotte Darling calling to confirm an appointment with Reed Eastwood . . .”

Hate Notes Teaser 2

Hate Notes final ebook cover

SYNOPSIS:

It all started with a mysterious blue note sewn into a wedding dress.

Something blue.

I’d gone to sell my own unworn bridal gown at a vintage clothing store. That’s when I found another bride’s “something old.”

Stitched into the lining of a fabulously feathered design was the loveliest message I’d ever read: Thank you for making all of my dreams come true.

The name embossed on the blue stationery: Reed Eastwood, obviously the most romantic man who ever lived. I also discovered he’s the most gorgeous. If only my true-love fantasies had stopped there. Because I’ve since found out something else about Mr. Starry-Eyed.

He’s arrogant, cynical, and demanding. I should know. Thanks to a twist of fate, he’s my new boss. But that’s not going to stop me from discovering the story behind his last love letter. A love letter that did not result in a happily ever after.

But that story is nothing compared to the one unfolding between us. It’s getting hotter, sweeter, and more surprising than anything I could have imagined.

Something new.

But I have no idea how this one is going to end . . .

Hate Notes Teaser

PURCHASE LINKS:

Add to Goodreads ➜ http://smarturl.it/xys920

Amazon ebook https://amzn.to/2yMKDTQ

Amazon Print (Currently on sale!) ➜ https://amzn.to/2AIC5yC

Amazon Audio ➜ https://amzn.to/2QewqFP

Amazon print UK (Currently on sale)http://hyperurl.co/32k3q7

Please Note: Because Hate Notes is published by Montlake Romance, a division of Amazon, the ebook and paperback will only be available on Amazon. If you are an Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited member, you should NOT pre-order the eBook. The Hate Notes ebook will be free for both Prime and KU members on release day!

Sign up for Penelope & Vi’s mailing list now and be the first one notified when it goes live! ➜ https://www.subscribepage.com/Vi&Penelope

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

91FFBs19XQL._UX250_

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 hundred 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.

Sign up for Penelope & Vi’s mailing list now and be the first one notified when it goes live!

https://www.subscribepage.com/Vi&Penelope

Do you like texts better than email? Receive text notices of Vi’s new releases by texting the word BOOKS to 77948 You will ONLY receive a text when a new book goes live – no other messages at all!

Find Vi here:

Facebook Fan Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ViKeelandFanGroup/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vi.keeland

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Vi-Keeland/435952616513958

Website: http://www.vikeeland.com

Twitter: @vikeelandhttps://twitter.com/ViKeeland

Instagram: @Vi_Keeland – http://instagram.com/Vi_Keeland/

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/vi-keeland

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6887119.Vi_Keeland

Penelope Ward photo

Penelope Ward

Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author.

She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor. Penelope resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son, and beautiful daughter with autism.

With over 1.5 million books sold, she is a twenty-time New York Times bestseller and the author of over twenty novels.

Sign up for Penelope & Vi’s mailing list now and be the first one notified when it goes live! https://www.subscribepage.com/Vi&Penelope

Find Penelope here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/penelope.ward

https://www.facebook.com/penelopewardauthor

Facebook Fan Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/PenelopesPeeps/

Website: http://www.penelopewardauthor.com

Twitter :https://twitter.com/PenelopeAuthor

Instagram: @penelopewardauthor

http://instagram.com/PenelopeWardAuthor/

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/penelope-ward

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7105545.Penelope_Ward

New Release + Release Blitz: Temperance by Cassia Leo

 

From New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo comes a scorching hot novella about forbidden passion from the Cards of Love Collection, TEMPERANCE.

Title: Cards of Love: TEMPERANCE
Author: Cassia Leo
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release: November 2nd

About Cards of Love: TEMPERANCE

From New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo comes a scorching hot novella about forbidden passion from the Cards of Love Collection.

tem·per·ance (ˈtemp(ə)rəns/submit) – noun
abstinence, moderation, or self-restraint.

Dr. Leah Grayson is fantasizing about a patient she’s never seen.

Leah has been counseling high-profile addicts for almost a decade, so she’s accustomed to the need for discretion. But her latest client, who goes by the name Mr. C, demands total anonymity. She’s never seen his face, but his deep, rich voice occupies her naughtiest dreams and fantasies.

Mr. C’s sex addiction is threatening to take over his life. The only thing keeping it from consuming him is his twice-weekly one-hour video chat session with Dr. Grayson. Though his webcam is pointed at a nondescript area of his study, her webcam is always pointed at those succulent lips and her long, lithe legs, which he can’t stop fantasizing about. He must have her.
Will Leah and Mr. C submit to their forbidden passion? Or will they practice temperance when a dinner party they both attend presents them with the ultimate temptation?

Get your copy now

Amazon | Apple Books | Nook | Google Play | Kobo

About Cassia Leo

New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo loves her coffee, chocolate, and margaritas with salt. When she’s not writing, she spends way too much time re-watching Game of Thrones and Sex and the City. When she’s not binge watching, she’s usually enjoying the Oregon rain with a hot cup of coffee and a book.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | BookBub | Newsletter

Join Club Cassia

 

 

New Release + Release Blitz: A Brand New Ending by Jennifer Probst

Today we are celebrating the release of A BRAND NEW ENDING by Jennifer Probst. This book is the second standalone title in her Stay series, and it is a contemporary romance title that is available to read for FREE in KindleUnlimited.

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Available Now to read for FREE in KindleUnlimited:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

Purchase in Paperback | Audio

A BRAND NEW ENDING (Stay, #2) by Jennifer Probst

Available Now to read for FREE in KindleUnlimited:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

Purchase in Paperback | Audio

 

Synopsis:

A love story will be rewritten in this heartfelt romance from New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Probst.

Ophelia Bishop was a lovestruck teenage girl when she and Kyle Kimpton chased their dreams to Hollywood. Kyle’s dreams came true. Ophelia’s did not. When Kyle chose his career over their relationship, Ophelia returned home to rural New York to run the family’s B & B—wiser, and more guarded against foolish fantasies. Now Kyle has come crashing back into her life, and all her defenses are down.

Kyle can’t think of a better place to write his latest screenplay than his hometown. After all, that was where he met the heart of his inspiration—his first love. He knows the damage he’s caused Ophelia, and he wants a chance to mend their relationship. If anyone can prove to Ophelia that happy ever afters aren’t only for the movies, it should be him.

As much as Ophelia’s changed, she still has feelings for Kyle. But her heart has been broken before, and she knows that Kyle could run back to Hollywood at any time. She gave up her dreams once, but maybe she can dare to change her own love story…one last time.

Add the book to Goodreads

PURCHASE THE PREVIOUS TITLE IN THE SERIES

PURCHASE THE START OF SOMETHING GOOD (Stay, #1) – available now!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

Purchase it in PRINT | AUDIO

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AUTHOR INFORMATION:

Jennifer Probst

Jennifer Probst – Bio:
Jennifer Probst wrote her first book at twelve years old. She bound it in a folder, read it to her classmates, and hasn’t stopped writing since. She took a short hiatus to get married, get pregnant, buy a house, get pregnant again, pursue a master’s in English Literature, and rescue two shelter dogs. Now she is writing again.

She makes her home in Upstate New York with the whole crew. Her sons keep her active, stressed, joyous, and sad her house will never be truly clean.
She is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of sexy and erotic contemporary romance. She was thrilled her book, The Marriage Bargain, was ranked #6 on Amazon’s Best Books for 2012. She loves hearing from readers. Visit her website for updates on new releases and her street team at http://www.jenniferprobst.com.

CONTACT LINKS:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 
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New Release + Blog Tour + Excerpt + 5 Star Review: Five Years Gone by Marie Force

Today we are celebrating the release of FIVE YEARS GONE, a romantic standalone title by New York Times Bestselling author Marie Force. Check out some teasers and an excerpt for the book below.

 

FIVE YEARS GONE by Marie Force

Available Now

ABOUT THE BOOK:

The most brazen terrorist attack in history. A country bent on revenge. A love affair cut short. A heart that never truly heals.

I knew on the day of the attack that our lives were changed forever. What I didn’t know then was that I’d never see John again after he deployed. One day he was living with me, sleeping next to me, making plans with me. The next day he was gone.

That was five years ago. The world has moved on from that awful day, but I’m stuck in my own personal hell, waiting for a man who may be dead for all I know. At my sister’s wedding, I meet Eric, the brother of the groom, and my heart comes alive once again.

The world is riveted by the capture of the terrorist mastermind, brought down by U.S. Special Forces in a daring raid. Now I am trapped between hoping I’ll hear from John and fearing what’ll become of my new life with Eric if I do.

From a New York Times bestselling author, Five Years Gone, a standalone contemporary, is an epic story of love, honor, duty, unbearable choices and impossible dilemmas.

PURCHASE IT NOW!

Kindle US | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google

Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

PURCHASE IN PRINT: Marie’s Store | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Chapters Indigo

IndieBound | Booktopia AU | Books-a-Million

PURCHASE IN AUDIO: Amazon | Audible US | Audible UK | Audible AU

 

Read this excerpt from Five Years Gone.

 

Prologue

Ava

We met in a bar, of all places, a dingy hole-in-the-wall favored by military members from the nearby Navy base in San Diego. I went with a friend from school who was interested in one of the military guys. Before that night, I’d never been there, and I’ve never been back. John was celebrating the promotion of one of his buddies. He crashed into me as I left the ladies’ room and kept me from falling by grabbing my arms to steady me.

Just like in the movies, our eyes met, and my spine tingled with the kind of instantaneous awareness I’d only read about but never experienced personally.

“I’m so sorry,” he said, gorgeous and fierce in his fatigues.

I noticed gold on his collar, a hint of late-day scruff on his jaw and the name WEST in bold black letters on his chest. Intense electric-blue eyes made it impossible for me to look away, even when I was safely back on my feet.

“Are you all right?” he asked.

Realizing I’d been staring at him, I blinked and reluctantly broke the connection. “I… Yes, I’m fine. Thank you for the save.”

And then he smiled, and the tingling began anew.

“I’m John.”

I shook his outstretched hand. “Ava.”

Keeping his hold on my hand, he tipped his head. “You come here often?”

“Never,” I said, laughing. “I’m a first-timer.”

“What do you think so far?”

“I wasn’t impressed until about thirty seconds ago.”

As if he had all the time in the world to give me, he leaned against the wall. “Is that right? What happened thirty seconds ago?”

I thought about taking back my hand but didn’t. “I was saved from certain disaster by a man in uniform.”

“The guy in the uniform is the reason you needed saving in the first place, because he wasn’t watching where he was going. Least he can do is buy you a drink.”

“I wouldn’t say no to that.” I was proud of my witty responses and got the feeling he could more than hold his own in the wittiness department. Across the crowded room, I noticed my friend talking to the guy she’d come to see, and her brows lifted in interest when she saw me with John. He guided me to the bar, placing a proprietary hand on my lower back, and told one of the guys to give me his stool.

“Yes, sir.” The younger man bowed gallantly to me as he took his beer and moved along.

“Do people always do what you say?”

“If they know what’s good for them.” His teasing grin kept the comment from being overly cocky. “What can I get you?”

Deciding to live dangerously for once, I asked for a cosmopolitan.

“Go big or go home,” he said with admiration.

“That’s my motto.” I was so full of shit. I wondered if he could tell I was all talk or what he’d think of me if he knew I usually err much closer to the side of caution than the wild side. I wondered if he could tell I was just barely old enough to drink. I’d turned twenty-one only six months earlier.

When my cosmo and his Budweiser had been delivered, he offered a toast. “To new friends.”

I touched my glass to his bottle. “To new friends.”

“So, where’re you from, Ava?”

“New York.”

“I thought I heard New Yawk in your voice.”

I batted my eyelashes at him. “So four years at the University of California San Diego didn’t scrub the New York out of me?”

Laughing, he said, “Hardly. I know some guys from New York. One of them is from Staten Island, which is about as New York as it gets. I know New York when I hear it.”

“I’m from Purchase, upstate from the city. What about you?”

“I’m from all over. My old man is a retired general. You name it, I’ve lived there.”

“Where’s home?”

“Right here.” He turned that intense gaze on me, and I went stupid in the head. I couldn’t see anything but him. We might as well have been alone in the crowded bar for all I knew. Unlike my friend, who loved men in uniform, I was never turned on by the uniform. Until then. Until John. “You want to get out of here?”

I swallowed hard. It wasn’t like me to leave a bar with a man I’d just met. “And go where?”

“Somewhere we can talk.”

“What do you want to talk about?”

He leaned in so his lips were close to my ear. “Everything. I want to know every single thing there is to know about you.”

 

That’s how we started. We were intense from the first second we met until the last time I saw him five years ago today. I can’t believe it’s been five years since I looked into those incredible blue eyes or woke to him on the pillow next to me or heard his voice in my ear, whispering words that’re permanently carved into my heart as he made love to me.

The worst part is I have no idea where he is. I don’t know if he’s alive or dead, being held captive or if he’s living his life somewhere else with someone else. I don’t know, and the not knowing is the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with.

I love him as much today as I ever did. No amount of time could ever change that simple fact of my life. We had two beautiful, magnificent years together, caught up in our own little bubble. He never met my family. I never met his. We didn’t make couple friends. We didn’t talk about the future. We didn’t need to. Our future was decided that first night, and it would take care of itself in due time. I honestly and naïvely believed that.

Now, with hindsight, I realize the bubble was strategic on his part. He gave me everything he had to give, including no promise of tomorrow.

Five years ago today, we watched the horror unfold on live television. A US-based cruise ship blown up by suicide bombers. Four thousand lives extinguished in a heartbeat. Our world permanently changed once again, our country declaring yet another war on terrorists. After 9/11 we thought we’d seen everything. We were wrong.

“I have to go,” he said, grabbing the duffel that stood ready in the front hall closet. He called it his “go bag.” I’d thought nothing of it.

“Where’re you going?”

“I don’t know.”

“When will you be back?”

“I don’t know that either.” He held my face in his hands and gazed at me, seemingly trying to memorize my every feature. “I love you. I’ll always love you.” Then he kissed me as passionately as he ever had and was gone, out the door in a flash of camouflage.

I never saw him again.

I’m not his wife or even his fiancée, so no one notified me of his whereabouts. And three months after he left, when I found a way onto the base in a desperate quest for information, no one there could tell me anything either. I tried to locate his parents and other people he mentioned, but it was like they didn’t exist. I could find no record of a retired general named West in the Marine Corps, Army or Air Force.

Furthermore, an exhaustive search for information on the John West I had known led nowhere. No high school, no college, no military service, no nothing.

Sometimes I wonder if I dreamed the two years we spent together, doing mundane things like grocery shopping, cooking, watching TV and sleeping together after long days at work. But then I’d remember the blissful passion, the scorching pleasure, the desire that ruled us from the beginning, and I’d know I didn’t dream him. I didn’t dream us. We were real, and he was everything to me.

Sitting on the floor in our apartment, surrounded by boxes, I take a few minutes before the movers arrive to memorize every detail of the place where we lived together. I’ve packed his things along with mine, and I’m moving home to New York. Today was my deadline. I gave it five years, and I simply can’t do it anymore. I can’t sit in our home among our things, waiting for something that’s never going to happen.

It’s over. It’s time for me to move on. It’s probably long past time, if I’m being honest with myself. And though I know it’s the right move at the right time, that doesn’t mean my heart isn’t shattering all over again as I dismantle the place where we were us.

My sister is getting married next month. I promised her I’d be home in time to hold her hand through the festivities. Other than occasional trips home for holidays and other occasions, I’ve been gone more than ten years. I bear no resemblance whatsoever to the girl who left home at eighteen seeking independence from her overbearing family at a faraway college out West.

I accomplished all my goals, finishing college, landing a decent job and falling in love with the man of my dreams. I found out what happens when dreams come true and how painful it is when they blow up in your face.

It’s time now to set new goals, to start over, to begin a life that doesn’t have John at the center of it the way it did here. It’ll be nice to be back with people who love me and care about me, even if they tend toward smothering at times. That’s looking rather good to me after years of loneliness and grief.

The intercom sounds to let me know the movers are here. I pick myself up off the floor and steel my heart for the day ahead. I can do this. I’ve been through worse, and I’ll survive this the same way I’ve survived everything else. Despite my resolve, my eyes fill with tears as I press the button that opens the door downstairs to the movers.

It doesn’t take them long to pack my belongings into their truck. I keep with me the things that can’t be replaced—precious photos, gifts he gave me, the clothing he left behind. After taking a final look around the apartment, I pack those boxes into my car, turn my apartment keys into the leasing office and head east, feeling as if I’m leaving behind everything that ever mattered to me.

It’s like I’m losing him all over again. I cry all the way through the desert of Southern California and well into Arizona. I relive every minute I can remember, every conversation, every special moment. I think about what it was like to make love with him and wonder how I’ll ever to do that with anyone but him. Maybe I won’t. Maybe that part of my life ended with him, and even though I’m only twenty-eight now, I’m okay with that possibility. Once you’ve experienced perfection, it’s hard to imagine settling for anything less.

The tears finally dry up somewhere in northern Arizona, but the ache inside… I take that with me all the way to New York, where I will try my very best to pick up the pieces of my shattered life and put them back together into some new version of myself.

After all, what choice do I have?

 

5 star

Tracey’s Review

 

I’m going to be honest, even though I love and adore Marie Force, after reading the synopsis for FIVE YEARS GONE, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to read it, that I could read it. I mean, I knew going in that it was going to evoke all kinds of memories and feelings, you know, the ones that we all have after any kind of attack on our own sense of national security. Helpless and violated, and completely bereft. But, then, I thought, it’s Marie, so how could I not read it, so in I went.

This book. Oh, my gosh, this book. As an avid reader and a blogger, I have the opportunity to read a lot of books. A lot of them are really good, a few less than memorable, but there are those that you pick up, and you stay up reading late into the night because you just can’t put them down, and that stay with you long after the last page. FIVE YEARS GONE falls firmly into the last category, and I could not have loved it more.

I was completely enthralled with this story of a second chance at love. This is not the second time around trope that I’m used to reading, but, rather a story about people that have been devastated by loss opening their hearts to love again, even when everything in them says otherwise.

I cannot even imagine having gone through the waiting, the wondering, the despair, that Ava has. That she is able to let herself fall again is a testament to the fact that Eric is such a solid guy. I absolutely loved him, and, let me tell you, he’s a total keeper. He stuck around when other men would have run, and his love for Ava is just palpable. I could not have been happier with the way that Marie brought this story full circle, and, while I was crying along with Ava, it just felt absolutely right.

There’s a wonderful cast of supporting characters, and they really make the story that much more enjoyable. There is no question that the second book in this series (yes, there’s more!) is already one of my top anticipated books of 2019, because I think it’s going to be just as fabulous as FIVE YEARS GONE, and I cannot wait. If I could recommend one recent read, FIVE YEARS GONE is it, because it was just that good. If it’s not on your TBR, it should be, because you will love it.

 

ADD FIVE YEARS GONE TO GOODREADS

 

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AUTHOR INFORMATION:

Marie Force is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance, including the indie-published Gansett Island Series and the Fatal Series from Harlequin Books. In addition, she is the author of the Butler, Vermont Series, the Green Mountain Series and the erotic romance Quantum Series. In 2019, her new historical Gilded series from Kensington Books will debut with Duchess By Deception.

All together, her books have sold 6.5 million copies worldwide, have been translated into more than a dozen languages and have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list many times. She is also a USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller, a Speigel bestseller in Germany, a frequent speaker and publishing workshop presenter as well as a publisher through her Jack’s House Publishing romance imprint. She is a two-time nominee for the Romance Writers of America’s RITA® award for romance fiction.

Her goals in life are simple—to finish raising two happy, healthy, productive young adults, to keep writing books for as long as she possibly can and to never be on a flight that makes the news.

Join Marie’s mailing list for news about new books and upcoming appearances in your area. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter @marieforce and on Instagram. Join one of Marie’s many reader groups. Contact Marie at marie@marieforce.com.

 

AUTHOR LINKS:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Newsletter | Goodreads

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