Book Blitz | The Winter Heals by Marie McGrath

The Winter Heals
Marie McGrath
(Honey Cove, #2)
Publication date: January 12th 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

It was almost impossible to heal when everyone was out to get you.

Shelby Rowe was stuck between two worlds—the one she wanted and the one everyone else wanted for her. As the daughter of a prominent family in Honey Cove, Shelby’s life was out of her control. Her friends, interests, and even her love life was controlled by others.

When a new girl moves to town, Shelby’s life was turned upside down as she gets a glimpse of what life could be like—no obligations, no pressure. As the Christmas break begins, Shelby is left stuck between what is expected and what she feels is right. Split in half, Shelby has to make decisions to correct her life and heal her spirit.

Will she allow others to control who she is? Or will she finally go out on her own?

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

Luke watched me as I eyed Priscilla and Tabitha from across the room. “Don’t panic, Shelby. You’re by far the most beautiful one in this ballroom tonight.”
“Thanks, Luke, but I’m not worried about what anyone else looks like.”

He nodded and smiled, but it didn’t quite make it to his eyes.

I probably wouldn’t have believed me either. I wasn’t fully lying, just wasn’t the entire truth. Priscilla had a chance to outdo me; it was just her insecurities that came back for her. If she had more confidence, people wouldn’t hate her as much for the nasty things she always inflicted on others. Although, I supposed someone else could say similar things to me. I certainly hadn’t always been the nicest one around. I had done plenty of cruel things, things I still was ashamed of, but I tried to change. That had to account for something, right?

Priscilla and Tabitha spotted me and strutted my way.

Luke tightened his grip around my arm and into his chest. Did he think I needed protecting?

Tabitha leaned forward to air-kiss my cheek. “Shelby, darling. You look fabulous.”

I reciprocated the gesture. “As do you. This color is stunning on you.”

She smiled and swished her dress against her ankles.

Priscilla’s eyebrow arched as she came closer for a hug. “Beautiful accessories, Shelby. It all really makes your eyes pop.”

I strained to smile, knowing anything they uttered about my appearance was merely a nod to social etiquette. It wasn’t genuine, at least not in the way I longed for a true compliment.

“Your mother outdid herself this year, Shelby,” Tabitha said.

“I’ll let her know you think so.”

Luke cleared his throat and nudged my side with his elbow.

“Sorry, ladies, how rude of me. You know Luke, obviously, but he’s my date.”

Luke grinned from ear to ear. “Ladies, you both look radiant this evening.”

They both curtsied.

“Well, we would love to stay and chat all night, but we must socialize with the guests. I’ll see you two later.”

I pulled Luke to stand at the second Christmas tree halfway between both exits.

Luke’s eyebrow rose. “Why did we walk away from them? We should be mingling with everyone.”

I snorted. “Please, Luke. I will mingle with the people who matter. Those two don’t matter. They will just gossip about anything they hear anyway, not worth our time.”

“Then who should we talk to, in your opinion? I think they matter to everyone else. If you aren’t flaunting me to your friends, what will people say?”

“They will have plenty to say, and we can discuss things with them when we are stuck at a table for dinner.”

“I suppose.” Luke moved his arm around me and hovered his right hand on the small of my back.

I bit the corner of my lip to avoid from shivering—or worse, cringing at his touch. It wasn’t awful, but it was more than I wish I had to endure.

“You know, you never told me if I looked dashing or not,” Luke said with a devilish grin.

I smiled. “You and I both know you do, especially with all of your matchy-matchy to my dress color.”

Luke feigned shock. “Is that a compliment from Shelby Rowe. Oh man. Alert Santa we’ll have a blizzard.”

I rolled my eyes. “Dramatic much?”

“Not at all. I only seem to get snarkiness from you.”

I shrugged. “Not always.”

“I apologize. You’re correct. I get snarky Shelby unless we’re pretending to be together. In which case, I get hushed-tone snarky Shelby.”

I giggled. “Is that so? How does one emanate snark in a hushed-tone kind of way?”

“I think you know how.”

I smiled and looked into his hazel eyes. Okay, so he could be charming when he wanted to.

“There it is.”

“There’s what?”

“A genuine smile.”

My father, with my mother in tow, strutted toward us. “Shelby and Luke, how splendid. You both look exquisite,” my father said. “Are you ready to meet a few people, Shelby?”

I followed my parents as Luke accompanied me. I straightened my frame and plastered a smile on my face. It was showtime.

An older couple stood to the side of the ballroom.

My father shook the older man’s hand and clapped his back. “Mr. Wyatt, this is my daughter Shelby and her date, Luke Warrington. Shelby, Mr. Wyatt is the head of sales at Rowe Industries.”

I curtsied as Luke shook the man’s hand.

“It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Wyatt,” I said.

“Hello again, sir,” Luke added.

My mother looked between us all but stayed silent. Her voice echoed in my head, “A true Rowe woman is seen but not heard. She makes her presence known but never overshadows the man she is with.”


Author Bio:

Marie McGrath lives in a small rural town in Maryland. She hopes to inspire others with her stories. Her favorite genres to read are YA Romance and Contemporary Fiction. She loves the color turquoise, tigers, and listening to music.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Newsletter


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Book Blitz | Murder Mittens by R.J. Blain

Murder Mittens
R.J. Blain
(Magical Romantic Comedies, #13)
Publication date: December 25th 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Becoming a bounty hunter and taking on the call sign of Murder Mittens wasn’t Harri’s brightest move, but what’s a lynx to do with millions of debt while working a customer service gig? The scars deforming her face won’t remove themselves, and she’ll bag and tag every criminal in the United States to get rid of them if necessary.

Being assigned a handler could make or break her, but did the powers that be really have to toss Sebastian Sumners her way? The lion with a stubborn streak as wide as hers tests her patience on a good day, but nothing makes her purr more than goading him into roaring.

Add in a protective family, a serial killer on the loose, and more trouble than any one cat needs, and it’s going to take a miracle for Harri to get through the most important job of her life.

Warning: contains magic, humor, cranky shapeshifters, cats, murder, and mayhem. Proceed with caution.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

Chapter One

Why was murdering irate, irrational, ignorant, and flat-out wrong customers illegal? The idiot on the phone rambled about how it wasn’t fair that dumping coffee on his router invalidated his warranty.

I thought it wasn’t fair his stupidity might lose me IQ points, and I’d learned long ago that humans—or lycanthropes, such as myself—didn’t come with warranties or guarantees. I had bills to pay, and murdering one of the customers wouldn’t pay my bills.

Then again, in prison, I wouldn’t have to pay any bills. Every day by the end of my shift, I considered incarceration as a viable option.

Free board, free food, good medical care, and asshole inmates to beat on sounded a lot better than dealing with an idiot customer.

“Sir,” I said in the hopes of circumventing his tirade. Mr. Edward Lavell ignored me.

The idiots always ignored me. I bet my gender had something to do with it. On average, the men finished their calls five minutes faster, and every supervisor to review the situation came to the same general conclusion: customers took men in tech more seriously than women, and I, unfortunately, sounded too feminine.

“Sir,” I repeated, only to be ignored again.

Why couldn’t I just hang up on him? Oh, right. I valued my job. As I valued my job, I couldn’t hang up on him, I couldn’t curse, I couldn’t threaten to rip his throat out, and I couldn’t indulge in my desire to murder him.

There was a time and a place for murder, and on the job at a call center for a cable internet company was not the time nor the place.

For the fourth time since calling in, Mr. Lavell explained that it really wasn’t his fault he’d dumped coffee on his router.

“Sir, liquid spills are right in the contract for the router. I’m sorry, but I can’t change the rules for you. Spilling coffee on your router invalidates its warranty.”

“It’s not my fault the cup holder in my computer has a mind of its own,” he complained.

Wait. What?

His computer’s cup holder has a mind of its own? The realization I dealt with someone far worse than just an idiot sank in. Every call center had legends of Code Red customers, who were in an entirely different class from the standard 1-D10T and the unfortunately common PEBKAC. With Mr. Lavell, I had it all. A problem certainly did exist between the keyboard and chair, and he’d definitely deserved his flag as an 1-D10T.

Until his call, I had remained safe from the evils of a Code Red customer.

By the time I got off the phone with him, I’d need some alcohol and someone to kill.

It’d be easier to find someone to kill than the alcohol; me and booze just didn’t mix, and I’d been banned out of every damned bar in town to keep the peace.

Maybe I could whip on some makeup, grab a gray wig, and pass for a little old lady. With my face covered in burn scars, it wouldn’t take much to pull off some makeup artistry and transform myself into an older woman rather than a mutilated one. I could become a conventional beauty given an hour and the right products. An old lady wasn’t an impossibility.

Alternatively, I could shift, pay my family a visit, and steal a bottle of liquor from one of the cabinets. With the number of lynxes running around the place, they might not even notice me before I made off with my alcoholic prize.

As sighing was not acceptable when dealing with paying customers, I took a moment to steel my nerves before saying, “Sir, computers do not include cup holders.”

That caught his attention. “What?”

“Sir, computers do not include cup holders,” I repeated, already dreading the moment I would have to explain what a CD was, how they were used, and what the player’s actual purpose was. Few systems still had any disc drives at all, as most companies had moved to online downloads of their programs and games.

The next few minutes of my life would not be fun, and I typed a message to my supervisor warning him I had a major 1-D10T on my hands, a possible Code Red situation, and to make sure he was aware I faced the demise of some IQ points, I notified him the customer had opted to use his disc drive as a coffee cup holder.

“What the hell is this thing for, then?”

“CDs, sir.” I closed my eyes and waited for the meltdown.

“First, you claim I invalidated my warranty, and now you’re telling me my cup holder plays music?”

“As this is an internet company, sir, I can’t help you with your CD player. However, it is not a cup holder, nor should it be used as one. As for your router, you owe $35.79 on the device. Once you finish paying for the damaged equipment, I can schedule a tech to come to your home and install your new router. Since you’ve been a customer for so long, I can waive the fifty dollar installation fee. Your monthly bill will not change if you opt to pay off the damaged equipment and start a new rental.”

If he gave me a hard time, I’d take my time and give him all of his options. None of them would be as good as my initial offer. I cracked open an eye and checked my messages with my boss.

He wished me the best of luck and promised to send flowers to my funeral. He also begged me not to tell my brothers about the menace wasting my time. If any one of my forty-seven brothers found out I dealt with customers screaming at me five days a week, they’d go on a rampage.

That my boss knew my family drove me crazy on a good day.

I figured my idiot family had gone on a hunt to meet my boss, and because we were all infected with lycanthropy, my boss wouldn’t have thought twice about their behavior.

Lycanthropes had a reputation.

Most days, it wasn’t a good one.

Only an idiot would piss off a bunch of male lycanthropes out to protect their precious little sister. Unfortunately for me, I counted as an endangered species, as the odds of a lycanthrope having daughters in the first place fell somewhere in around ten thousand to one.

I needed to notify my mother she needed to have more daughters. While she was at it, she needed to give me a new name, because nobody ever believed Harri was a woman’s name. I figured she’d meant to name me Harry because she’d expected yet another boy, swapping out the ‘y’ for an ‘i’ to make things easier on her.

When on the job, I went by Christine because Christine seemed gloriously feminine and nobody on the team used their real names. Technically, I was supposed to change my name every day, but I went by Christine for all new callers, and I only rotated through when I knew I was dealing with someone who gave me issues.

My method worked well enough, so my boss didn’t complain.

While Mr. Lavell spluttered and began the tedious process of mulling over his options, I began making plans for after work—assuming I escaped from my job without succumbing to the temptation of informing the customer he was most definitely wrong, he needed to go back to school to join the modern world, and it wouldn’t hurt if he learned to be civil.

I had to explain his options four times before he finally conceded he should stick with his old plan, pay for the damaged router, and move on with life. It took an extra ten minutes of listening to him whine before he finally hung up.

Above all, I hated the rule that we were not supposed to hang up on clients. It wasted time. Had I been allowed to just hang up, I would have wished him a good day, disconnected the call, and began the tedious process of adding notes to his file so the next customer service representatives stuck with him knew they had trouble on their hands.

My phone rang, but instead of a customer, my phone reported my boss wanted to speak with me. With slumped shoulders, I accepted his call and answered, “Sir?”

“I listened in on your Code Red.”

I hated when my boss actively monitored my calls; thanks to how the system worked, he could listen in on me at any time. But, a job was a job, and with my scarred face, finding a job became troublesome at best—and nobody in the call center knew or cared what I looked like. Oh, well. Before I jumped to conclusions, I’d ask. “What’s my grade, sir?”

“You did fine. You stayed professional, you didn’t come across as too condescending, and frankly, there’s no sane tech on this planet stays totally cool a Code Red. It could have been much worse.”

I checked the clock, breathing a sigh of relief that I’d hit the end of my shift and wouldn’t have to take any more calls. “What do you need?”

“I had a question about your schedule. You’re off for the next week, correct?”

“Yes, sir.” I had plans, and they involved the International Most Wanted List along with every legal bounty list I had managed to get my hands on in the past month. If my boss tried to put an end to my hard-earned vacation, I’d finally do what I should have done months ago, snap, and quit.

I wanted him to cross my last line so badly.

“Ted wants an extra shift. How would you feel about an unpaid day added to your vacation? I’ve already gotten approval if you’d like to claim the unpaid day.”

Score. I’d bid for time off almost a year ago, but sick days were the bare minimum the state allowed, which accounted to five for the entire year. An extra day tacked onto my vacation might let me bag an extra bounty.

Any day I bagged an extra bounty was a good day in my opinion.

“I can take an unpaid day, sir. That’s fine. Can you send me an email confirming the unpaid day off?”

“It’ll be in your inbox within the next ten minutes, and I’ll CC human resources notifying them you’re excused for that day.”

“Okay. Will the rest of my schedule remain the same once I’m back from vacation?”

“Yes. Ted just asked for extra hours, and the others with seniority declined the day off.”

I bet; on our income, every hour mattered. Most who worked for the call center had seen better days. I lived like I’d seen better days and I looked like I’d seen better days, but appearances lied. I only worked at the call center to maintain appearances. Thanks to depression in my teens and therapy that hadn’t gone like my parents had wanted, my entire family demanded I check in at least three times a week to ensure I remained human.

They believed if they took their eyes off me, I might shift into a lynx and never come back.

Two years ago, they wouldn’t have been wrong, but I’d found a new purpose in life. Not a single one of my brothers would approve, my mother would have yet another litter of kittens, and my father would be so disappointed.

Personally, I thought it was obvious. I worked in customer service. I was a prime candidate to become a murderous asshole. I did so legally, on behalf of the government and other legal entities, and I did so for a filthy amount of money.

Smiling stretched my scars, but I did it anyway. “If anyone needs any extra hours, I can afford another day or two off,” I offered. “I can take up to a week unpaid. I’ve been saving up to take some time off if any opportunities allowed.”

It would delay paying for the expensive procedure required to piece my face back together and remove the evidence of the fire that’d almost killed me as a child. It took a lot of magic to convince the lycanthropy virus I wasn’t supposed to be a scarred wreck.

A lot of magic cost a lot of money, and I figured I might have the three million dollars within five years if I landed a bounty every weekend and took on some of the more dangerous jobs. While I waited for my boss to mull over my offer, I considered the various jobs on offer.

I liked hunting other lycanthropes. Unmated males were easy catches, and the fugitives usually brought in a pretty penny. The last one I’d bagged as a live capture had added fifty thousand to my bank account.

Then again, if I landed an entire extra week, I’d make up the lost hours with a single small bounty, and anything else would be extra cash in my savings account.

My boss grunted, signaling he’d come to a decision. “I’ll keep that in mind and pitch the offer. I’ll email your personal and work addresses if there are any takers plus text your phone.”

“Thanks, sir. Have a good evening.”

“You, too.”

He hung up, and before something could go wrong, I clocked out, filed my paperwork for my final call, and logged out of the system so I couldn’t be sucked back into doing even more work.

If all went well, I’d be a hundred grand richer by the end of the week and that much closer to being able to look in the mirror without wincing.


Author Bio:

RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning.

In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until satisfied.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram


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Blitz | The Christmas Spirit by Alexandrea Weis

The Christmas Spirit
Alexandrea Weis
Published by: Rosewind Books
Publication date: October 27th 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

“Ghostly occurrences and ancient folklore make this feel like a modern, romantic twist on A Christmas Carol. ~Library Journal

SOMETIMES IT TAKES ONE BROKEN HEART TO HEAL ANOTHER.

Courtney Winston is a writer on a deadline. Eager to finish her book and get over a recent break-up, she ditches Christmas with her family and retreats to a secluded cabin in the mountains.

Appliances rarely work, and cell service is spotty, but Courtney senses there is more to her rustic rental—something dark and haunting.

Then Peter, the attractive Stone Mountain Lodge owner, and a meddling cook, Mrs. Finn, keep coming around, shattering her peace and offering advice on how to fix her heavy heart.

Courtney grows closer to Peter, but Mrs. Finn warns her of his troubled past. Undaunted, Courtney sets out to win him over. But being with the brooding stranger may end up costing her more than she ever imagined.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

Peter collected the chopped wood and set it on top of the pile against the house. Then he went around a corner, still not looking at her.

She waited on the step, refusing to go after him, but not mad enough to head inside and get out of the cold.

When he returned, he had three more heavy logs in his arms. Peter dumped them by the stump, keeping his eyes on the wood.

“Good morning,” she said, unable to stand the silent treatment any longer.

He ignored her and set one of the logs on the stump. He lifted his ax, centering the blade over the wood.

The ax came down, perfectly splitting the log in two. He worked methodically as he retrieved one of the halved pieces.

Another thunk cleaved the wood into smaller portions.

“Are you still mad about me beating you?”

He collected the pieces and brought them to her woodpile, keeping quiet.

She folded her arms, growing annoyed.

“I didn’t do anything to you that isn’t done a hundred times a day in any hockey rink across the country.”

He picked up another log and set it on the stump.

The heat in her cheeks rose. “Was leaving me in those woods your way of getting even? Well then, congratulations. One cheap shot deserved another.”

He lifted his ax and ran his hand up and down the handle. “I didn’t leave you. I made sure you could follow me back.”

“Am I supposed to be grateful to you for scaring me to death?”

He poised the ax blade above the log. “You’re not dead. Not even close.”

A loud crack reverberated as the ax drove into the wood.

A slither of satisfaction coiled through her when the blade got stuck halfway through the log.

With one arm, he picked up the ax and slammed the jammed log against the stump, but the stubborn log held on. Peter’s cheeks reddened as he raised the ax again and kicked at the determined chunk of wood.

“You need to sharpen your ax,” she said in a matter-of-fact tone.

He finally looked up at her. “What would you know about chopping wood?”

She smirked. “I know a dull tool when I see one.”

Her point made, Courtney turned back into the cabin, leaving him to stew.

But the moment she shut the door, it flew open. He stood in the doorway, the vexation in his eyes mirrored the knots in her stomach.

He put his hands on the doorframe, digging his nails into the wood. “I’m not mad about the game. I’m not a child.”

She pulled her robe closer. “Then why are you acting like one?”

The harsh lines in his brow softened. “I should never have come to you. I should have stayed away and left you alone in this cabin.”

Her first reaction was to balk at his confession, but then the meaning behind his words sank in, hitting her harder than any blow from his ax.

“Is that why you ran off the other day? Because you regretted knowing me?”

“I could never regret that. You have been a shining light in my very dark world.”

Author Bio:

Alexandrea Weis, RN-CS, PhD, is a multi-award-winning author, screenwriter, advanced practice registered nurse, and historian who was born and raised in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Having grown up in the motion picture industry as the daughter of a director, she learned to tell stories from a different perspective. Infusing the rich tapestry of her hometown into her novels, she believes that creating vivid characters makes a story moving and memorable.

Weis writes romance, mystery, suspense, thrillers, supernatural, and young adult fiction and has sold approximately one million books. She lives with her husband and pets in New Orleans where she is a permitted/certified wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries and rescues orphaned and injured animals.

She is a member of both the International Thriller Writers Association and the Horror Writers Association. http://www.AlexandreaWeis.com

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Blitz | Link by Link: An Anthology of Haunted Holidays

Link by Link: An Anthology of Haunted Holidays
Publication date: December 2nd 2020
Genres: Holiday, Paranormal, Supernatural, Young Adult

“‘I wear the chain I forged in life,’ replied the Ghost. ‘I made it link by link…’”-Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Link by Link is a collection of 9 stories of ghosts, spirits, and creatures unnamed, all come to teach lessons we won’t soon forget. From sweet Christmas tales to terrifying holiday hauntings, these stories take a dive into the past in the hopes of creating a better—or at least different—future.

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Blitz | The Stories Stars Tell by C.L. Walters

The Stories Stars Tell
C.L. Walters
Publication date: October 13th 2020
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Ever felt like the sum total of your choices have fixed your story in the stars?

For Emma Matthews, she feels like all of her choices are rooted in the fear of letting down her parents… God…of never being good enough.

For Tanner James, he’s wearing an identity he has created with his friends and their pact—Bro Code—fixed in sex, alcohol and bad choices.

Both are longing for a new story they look to one another to help them write.

Follow Emma and Tanner as they rewrite stories they thought had already been written into something new. To discover sometimes painful truths about love and identity.

About the ways that love can help us lose ourselves… or find ourselves.

How love can break us… or heal us.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

tanner

[…]I stood. “I’m going,” I told Griff, who had a girl sitting on his lap I didn’t know.

He smiled over her shoulder at me and presented his knuckles. The girl whispered something in his ear, and Griff laughed. She was attractive. Dark haired.

My mind drifted to Emma Matthews (which was strange since we weren’t friends). I’d seen her the day before with her friend, Liam, hanging a poster for some club or function in the hall after school, heads together about something. Under usual circumstances, I wouldn’t have noticed, but in this case, I had because I’d noticed Emma and how cute she was. I had noticed her for a while, but she was out of my league.

Emma wouldn’t be partying like this. She definitely wouldn’t be sitting in Griff’s lap, and if she were, it would piss me off, but I didn’t consider why. She was probably at home, doing something productive, like homework, or a group study session. Perhaps she was doing something fun and wholesome, like a movie with her friends. I wondered if she went to the movies. Though I wasn’t exactly sure why I wondered, because I wasn’t a big movie goer (too boring to sit in one spot for too long).

Why was I even thinking of Emma at all?

It wasn’t like we talked. Sometimes, I thought she might be looking at me in the cafeteria at school or in the hallway as we passed one another. Her pretty eyes always slid away, but they made me curious. What color were they? Was she just glancing at me, or was she looking? I used to think about her. A lot. That started in the eighth grade when she yelled at Cole Butler in science during a lab. She’d been so fiery and funny. The memory still made me smile. We hadn’t had many classes together — one or two, maybe — because she actually tried at school.

I shook my head to get my errant thoughts about Emma out of my mind. Leaving Griff and Wannabe Emma behind, I walked through the living room.

Deb stopped me with a hand on my chest. “Hey, Tanner. Want to dance?” An invitation.

The message was clear: I could have stayed there with her and gotten laid, but it made me tired. Instead I said, “I’m looking for Penelope,” and even as I said it, I was hoping she’d already left.

Deb shrugged, because that was as much as I meant to her. “Upstairs,” she told me and returned to grinding to the music with her group of friends.

I moved through the crush of people toward the stairs, even though I wasn’t sure why I was going through these motions. A different choice seemed an impossibility, though I couldn’t articulate why that was so. Josh and Danny were sitting in a group smoking weed, and they offered me a head nod as I passed. I gave them an eyebrow raise in return and started up the stairs.

Near the top, I almost tripped on someone sitting on the steps. “Whoa.” It was a girl folded over on herself, and because I’m not a complete douchebag, despite what I know has been said about me, I leaned down and asked her, “You okay?”

The girl tipped her head up to look at me, and suddenly, I was looking into the face of…

“Emma Matthews?”

She smiled, and it lit up her eyes — dark blue with swirls of gray — like stars in a dark sky. “Tanner James.”

“Are you drunk?” I asked. I was too, but not enough to help me forget that Emma was the object of my secret fantasies, along with the fact I’d just been thinking about her. I shook my head to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. There wasn’t anything in our experiences that should have contributed to our paths crossing, and yet, there she was, as if I’d conjured her. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m feeling really good.” She smiled again, and I remembered feeling that smile in my stomach like a lead weight had melted into molten liquid.

“Why are you sitting here on the stairs?”

“Waiting.”

“For what?”

“You.” She giggled.

That made no sense. First, why would Emma Matthews be at this party? Second, why would she be drunk? And third, why would she say she was waiting for me? I wondered if someone was playing a joke on me and even looked around, but it was just the two of us in the hallway. I slid down the wall and sat next to her. “You’re definitely drunk if you’re waiting for me.”

“Did I say that?”

“Yeah.”

“Oh. That’s a secret.” She pressed a finger to my lips, and that touch dove all the way from the top of my neck to the base of my spine like I’d been zapped with electricity. “I’m supposed to find Liam.” Then she moved her finger from my lips to hers, her dark blue eyes — flecks of green and aqua too — never leaving my mouth. “Shh.”

My heart pounded in my chest, excited by the form her lips took against her finger. “Damn, Emma. I didn’t know you drank.”

“Me either.”

I attempted an inconspicuous adjustment of my pants, because I started feeling that tingle in my crotch and needed to calm that shit down. I chuckled, amused, because I hadn’t caught wood from just a look and a touch since I was, like, fourteen. I decided the honorable thing to do was help her find her friend, which led to the decision to dump looking for Penelope. I hadn’t really wanted to be with Penelope outside of sex anyway, and that left me feeling dirty. “Shall we go look for Liam?”

Her eyes roved over every inch of my face. She reached up and touched my lips with her fingertips again; it was tender. “You have a nice mouth, Tanner James.”

My stomach tightened. I tried to remember that reaction. It was a hungry craving, the anticipation of the satiation of a voracious appetite, but it was also so distant. I hadn’t been aware I’d been missing it until it resurfaced inside of me.

“You want to hear a secret?” she asked and leaned closer to me, though I had the impression she thought she was whispering. “I’ve wanted to try and kiss it.”

Her admission made me smile, and my heart thumped a little more. I realized that while I’d been fantasizing about her, perhaps she’d thought about me too. Knowing that made me feel buoyant. “You have? Well, I could remedy that for you, but I’m afraid you wouldn’t remember it. I would want you to.” It was a truth. I wanted Emma to remember me.

“I would,” she said, wide-eyed, and nodded. “I promise.”

I stood up, needing the distance, because I was afraid I might kiss her. As I did, she held my arm, and I almost toppled onto her. I self-corrected and took her hand to help her up. Once upright, she stumbled against me, and I caught her waist with my hands while her other arm wrapped around my neck. My heart was now knocking against the wall of my ribs. She was so close, so pretty, so pressed against me. I looked at her mouth, heart-shaped pink. She licked her lips, and my belly buzzed. I wanted to kiss her so badly, but I chickened out, which was part of why I didn’t; it also felt wrong on some level. I could take advantage, but I didn’t want to. On the other hand, I wanted to extend my time with her, so when I said, “Come on. Let’s go look for Liam.” I took her deeper into the house instead of down the stairs, which was probably the more likely place to look. I wasn’t being altruistic.

She put her hand in mine.

I noticed how soft her skin was, and I wondered about the rest of her.

“I don’t want to find Liam,” she insisted as we walked down the hall. “I want to wait for Tanner.”

“I’m right here.” I looked over my shoulder at her.

Her eyes brightened again, the outside corners scrunching with joy. “Oh! It is you.”

“How much did you have to drink, Em?” I asked.

She held up four fingers. “Two.”

“We should get you some water. Let’s find a place for you to sit.”

I started testing doors in the hallway. Honestly, on one level, I knew what I was doing. I wanted to be alone with her, even if I didn’t want to cheapen the moment. I think I justified it to myself. I needed to find her a place to sober up. Deep down, though, it was a lingering understanding of a latent wish buried in the darkness of my fantasies attached to what she’d said: Waiting. For you. You have a nice mouth. I’ve wanted to try and kiss it.

Emma Matthews was waiting for me.

The knowledge made my heart swell even if I couldn’t believe it. Even if I didn’t — couldn’t — trust it. I wanted to keep the idea close, to remember it, to hold it tight. I knew the moment this was over, it would slip away.

“Em?” I asked as I tested another door.

She made a moaning noise to indicate she’d heard me.

“Why were you waiting for me?”

“I like Tanner. I want to be brave.”

My brain wasn’t quick enough, because it was slugging through the marsh of alcohol. I understood what she was saying, but I didn’t quite comprehend it. “You like me?”

She nodded emphatically. “I saw him.”

“What did you see?” I asked her as I tested another door.

“He helped Connor. At lunch. I saw him. I see him. Everyday. He helps Connor.”

Lunch time. Connor Festner, a kid I help with his tray. Griff gives me shit for it, but Connor is pretty badass and probably beats Griff’s butt playing Duty online. Connor’s given me tons of gaming pointers.

She had been watching me at lunch. I’d known it. My expanded heart compressed, constricted in my chest with a pressure that somehow made me feel like I might be floating off into space without oxygen.

I tested another door. This one opened. The bedroom was empty, and I took a deep breath. Relief. “Here.” I helped her sit on the bed. “Let me have your cup, and I’ll fill it with water.”

She handed me her red cup, and I took it into the bathroom. I rinsed it out and put in water. Before I walked back into the room, I glanced at myself in the mirror. I stared into my own eyes and whispered to my reflection: “It’s Emma. Don’t be a dick.”

When I returned to the room, she was curled up on the bed, eyes closed. “Here, Em.”

She turned her head, looked at me and smiled as if it was the first time she’d seen me that night. “Tanner!” She reached for me, and I had the impression she wanted me to stretch out next to her.

Don’t be a dick, I reminded myself and helped her to sit back up. “Drink some water.”

She took a sip. “Liam says I’m dumb.”

“That isn’t nice of him.” Her statement annoyed me. I sat down next to her, suddenly absolved we weren’t looking for him.

She shook her head. “No. Not like that.” She stopped and took another sip. “Because I wanted to come to find you.”

“Why?”

“I’m scared.”

“Of what?”

“Of everything.” She took another sip and then leaned her head against my shoulder.

I could smell her — a nice scent that was clean and slightly sweet, like vanilla or cotton candy. I resisted the impulse to press my nose into her neck to find out for sure, or to run my tongue across her skin to taste it. Instead, we sat like that for a long time — her head on my shoulder, my hands in my lap and my brain chastising me for smelling her like a freak.

The doorknob wiggled several times as people tested the door; I was smart enough to lock it. Habit. I tried to tell myself it was because I was trying to protect Emma from my reputation, but it was also the temptation to maybe just get to kiss her once. I didn’t make a move though, and that was unfamiliar — and kind of exciting — territory for me.

“Tell me what you’re afraid of,” I said eventually, ending the silence, and also because I wanted to know if she’d fallen asleep. I needed to keep my mind occupied with other things besides thoughts about kissing her. I was beginning to feel more coherent and sober.

“I told you. Everything.” Her hands flailed out, and when they settled, one landed on my thigh. My skin tingled under her touch, and heat spread like radiant light from a lightbulb to illuminate all the dark parts of me.

I swallowed and closed my eyes to focus on her words. The words. “Well, name me one thing.”

“Failure.”

“Everyone’s afraid of that.” I looked down at her hand. Casually rested. On my thigh. Emma’s hand. Her fingernails were painted a bright green and matched her hoop earrings.

“Disappointing my parents,” she said. “Disappointing God.”

I looked at her then, the candor of her statement running through me almost as hot as her touch. It wasn’t practiced. It wasn’t her act of being flirty or a ploy to seduce me. It was just an honest statement. Maybe I couldn’t relate to either of those, even if I wanted to. My parents were so blind to me outside of the tug-of-war they played, using me against one another. And God? Never experienced that in my life, unless having an orgasm counted as prayer. “And?”

She moved her head from my shoulder and turned to look at me. “Never kissing Tanner James.”

My stomach did another of those nose dives into my body, toward my groin. The heat of her hand still warmed my leg. I noticed her eyes, fringed in thick lashes, rove over my face. They came to rest on my mouth. Under different circumstances, I probably wouldn’t have cared and would have provided what she wanted. I wanted it — bad — but I’d found some weird sense of honor I hadn’t been aware I had. “I can’t, Em. You’re drunk.” These were those different circumstances. Emma represented a different kind of life I didn’t think I deserved.

“You don’t like me.” She moved back, slumped a little, her shoulders rounding, and folded her hands in her lap. “It’s okay.”

I missed the weight of her hand on my leg. “It isn’t that.” I leaned forward to try and meet her gaze. “I do like you.”

She sat up quickly, her eyes big and bright. “I got it! I will kiss you. Then you don’t have to kiss me. I’ll do the kissing.”

This made me laugh, because I thought it was one of the cutest things I’d ever heard. And she was so excited by the prospect, as if she’d discovered something new. I couldn’t remember having more fun on a Saturday night.

“Unless, you think I’m — ugly.” Her eyebrows arched over her wide eyes, but now she couldn’t look at me.

I shook my head. “Nope, Emma. I don’t think that. At all.”

Her eyes met mine again, and she said with a slight frown, “The easiness is wearing off. We better do this fast, before I come back.”

I scrunched up my face. “What?”

“If I come back–” she tapped her head– “I’ll be too scared. My head will get in the way. My bravery will melt off.”

“Liquid courage.” I tapped her cup.

She nodded. “I made a plan. I was waiting for you.”

“Really?”

“I, maybe, drank a little too much. Miscalculated.”

I smiled. “And you were waiting for me. Why?”

“To kiss you.” She laid her hand on my arm.

I took a deep breath, as if her touch returned a missing piece of my soul, and I needed to breathe it in. Her admission had me unbalanced, however. My usual practiced lyrics receded from the surprise. I’ve had girls try and lure me with their sexuality, but this? This was totally new. “Why again, Em?”

“Because I saw you. You helped Connor. That’s nice, Tanner. And I think it’s sexy. And I don’t want Keven Bennett to be my only kiss.”

I glanced at her mouth, thought about her kissing Keven Bennett, and was annoyed by it. Then I looked at my hands in my lap. She saw me not because of how I looked. It was because I helped Connor that made me sexy to her. It wasn’t partying or being drunk. It wasn’t a rumor that I knew how to have sex. It wasn’t being smart at school. It was because I’d done something unselfish. “Keven Bennett, huh?”

She wrinkled her nose. “He has a lizard tongue.”

I chuckle. “That’s not good.”

She adjusted her body. “So, is it okay if I kiss you?”

“Who would you be kissing? Just for clarification.” I was testing the truth, not believing it.

“Tanner James. You.” She faced me, drawing her knees up between us, where they pressed against the outside of my thigh. “I see you. I’m not that drunk anymore.”

Her words were enough for me to nod, to give myself permission to cross the line, and indulge my curiosity. “Yes. Okay.”

“You have to turn.” She directed me with her hands on my arms, turning me toward her but with her knees between us.

I watched her working out the problem, completely satisfied in the moment, enjoying her and her cute pout. Her dark, curly hair fell around her heart-shaped face as she looked down at our legs.

“This won’t do.”

“It does seem rather awkward.”

She stood. “Stand up.” She remained steady, the alcohol wearing off, and held her hands out to me.

I took them and stood. When I looked down at her, my heartbeat quickened. The movement of her eyes caressed my face, and for the first time, I understood what it felt like to be seen — really seen. For me, Tanner. Not because of some rumor about what I could do, or because there was enough alcohol in my system to lower my inhibitions.

“Tanner?” She reached up and put her hands on my face.

“Yes, Em?”

“Can you bend down? Just a little bit?” She drew me closer.

I leaned forward, cataloguing all of her attributes. My heart went bat-shit crazy inside my chest. I noticed the width of her blue eyes, the fullness of her dark eyebrows, the way her bottom lip was a tiny bit fuller than the top, the way her pert nose was slightly upturned and kissed with tiny freckles that reached out across her cheeks.

I couldn’t believe she didn’t have a boyfriend. Did I want to be a boyfriend? Why was I thinking about that? I wasn’t boyfriend material.

Her gaze flicked to my lips — her tongue darted out to wet her own — then her eyes slipped up to my eyes before sliding shut as she pressed her lips to mine.

It was a gentle kiss, soft. Her mouth was warm and pliable against mine. My heart tripped into a more intense speed. Then her lips parted, and she used her tongue to coax me to be an active participant. As much as I tried to not be a dick, that was the last straw of my self-control. I answered the tease of her tongue with my own. Suddenly, where the kiss started as one-sided and tentative, it exploded, because my whole body was an exposed nerve ending. Every sensation — her hands in my hair, her mouth, her tongue, the whisper of her clothing when she moved, the soft noise she emitted because I became involved —was enough to light me on fire.

I’d dreamed of Emma.

I lifted her.

She wrapped her legs around my waist and hugged me closer with her arms around my neck.

Our tongues moved together, and it all felt like a first time. It was. With her. Exciting. Novel.

She moaned into my mouth.

I stumbled forward until her back was pressed against the wall and then my hands wandered, molded, massaged. I forgot myself. Just let go […]


Author Bio:

As a kid, CL Walters, world revolved around two things: stories and make believe. She’s built a real life around those two things: a teacher of stories and a writer of make believe.

With four books now published, she’s looking forward to her fifth release October 13, 2020, a YA Contemporary Romance called The Stories Stars Tell.

Sign up for her newsletter for news, goodies, and fun (www.clwalters.net)

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Bookbub / Pinterest


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Blitz | We Don’t Talk Anymore by Julie Johnson

We Don’t Talk Anymore
Julie Johnson
Publication date: October 27th 2020
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

For as long as I can remember, Archer Reyes has been by my side. My closest confidant. My truest ally. My best friend.

That is, until the summer we turned seventeen, when I started picturing him as something else entirely.

The love of my life.

I knew confessing my feelings wasn’t going to be easy; I had no idea he’d reject me so cruelly… or that he was only breaking my heart to save my life.

It’s been 365 days since I told my best friend I loved him.
365 days since he didn’t say it back.
365 days since he lied straight to my face.
WE DON’T TALK ANYMORE is a standalone new adult romance about first love, second chances, and the lengths we go to hold onto each other when everything falls apart…

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

It’s been 365 days since I told Archer Reyes I loved him.
365 days since he didn’t say it back.
Then again, it’s not like he’s said anything at all to me since that fateful day, or even looked me in the eyes during our handful of unfortunate, unavoidable encounters in a town that suddenly feels far too small for the both of us.
There was a time when we didn’t go more than a few hours without speaking. Now, a full year of silence yawns in the space between us. An entire turn around the sun, packed with experiences we haven’t whispered to one another in the rafters of the old boathouse, jammed full of memories made in each other’s absence.
He’s built a whole new life I know nothing about, surrounded by people who aren’t me. And, hey, maybe that’s partly my fault. It’s not like I’ve reached out, either. Frankly, I don’t think there’s much of anything left to say. Not after last summer.
I put my heart in his hands that hot July night — a fragile mess of hope and fear, skipping beats in the silence as I waited for his answer. And, with a single squeeze and a condescending smirk…he crushed it.
It’s been 365 days since I told my best friend I loved him.
365 days since he said he didn’t love me back.
365 days since he lied straight to my face.

Author Bio:

JULIE JOHNSON (born July 3, 1991) is a twenty-something Boston native and USA Today bestselling author of more than a dozen contemporary romance novels. When she’s not writing, Julie can most often be found adding stamps to her passport, drinking too much coffee, striving to conquer her Netflix queue, and Instagramming pictures of her dog. (Follow her: @author_julie)

She published her debut novel LIKE GRAVITY in August 2013, just before her senior year of college, and she’s never looked back. Since, she has published more than a dozen other novels, including the bestselling BOSTON LOVE STORY series and THE GIRL DUET. Her books have appeared on Kindle and iTunes Bestseller lists around the world, as well as in AdWeek, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today.

Be on the lookout for her new series, THE FORBIDDEN ROYALS TRILOGY, now available at all e-retailers!

You can find Julie on Facebook or contact her on her website http://www.juliejohnsonbooks.com. Sometimes, when she can figure out how Twitter works, she tweets from @AuthorJulie. For major book news and updates, subscribe to Julie’s newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bnWtHH

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Newsletter


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Blitz | The Magic Ingredient by Lindy Miller

The Magic Ingredient
Lindy Miller
(A Bar Harbor Holiday Novel)
Published by: Rosewind Books
Publication date: October 13th 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

The end of summer is approaching, but even at the height of Bar Harbor’s tourist season, Eve Silver is having a hard time keeping enough money in the bank to sustain the family business. Her only hope of paying past due bills is to win the catering bid for the town’s upcoming Harvest Happening Festival. Otherwise, it’ll be lights out for Mount Desserts & Tea by Christmas.

Widower Jeff Parish is moving with his twelve-year-old daughter, Candy, from Manhattan to Maine with one goal: starting over. When sparks fly between Jeff and Eve as the town readies for the annual harvest festival, Candy wishes she had a love potion to help her dad fall in love again.

Will Eve be able to save Mount Desserts & Tea—and open her heart to Jeff—by the most bewitching night of the year? It’ll take a lot of love, a little bit of luck … and just a pinch of magic.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

Part of eating a cupcake was the experience, and in Eve’s opinion, a little extra frosting on your face made it all the more gratifying. Her mouth filled with the taste of vanilla, chocolate, and marshmallow, all of the flavors intermingling just as she’d planned. Still, something seemed off. It wasn’t enough to toss the batch out, but in Eve’s opinion, the recipe hadn’t quite reached perfection.

Eve swallowed, wiping away the frosting from her nose. “It’s not perfect.”

“It’s incredible,” Jeff countered before he shoved the rest of the cupcake into his mouth.

He had a dollop of frosting on his nose, which made Eve smile despite her frustration at the recipe. “I don’t know if I believe your verdict, but at least you didn’t call it glitzy.”

Jeff mumbled something that sounded like idtellinguidperfek around the mouthful of pastry.

“Something is missing. Something small, a flavor that isn’t quite there. It’s not major, but enough that I notice.” Eve wiped her hands on a dishcloth and leaned against the counter, crossing her arms over her chest in frustration. “I don’t know why I can’t get it right. Maybe I’m not as great a baker as I think I am. It shouldn’t take so many tries to get a recipe correct. Not if you know what you’re doing.”

Jeff wiped his face and leveled his gaze at Eve as he stepped closer. “I don’t think that’s true at all. You’re a fantastic baker. You’re a fantastic lot of things.”

He was so close now Eve could smell his scent—musky and warm, with notes of pine and sandalwood. An inviting smell. Eve wondered how she’d never noticed it before. Then again, the more she felt drawn to Jeff the more she’d tried to keep her distance, kind of like reaching her goal—one step forward, two back.

“Really?” she asked, hoping she sounded interested and not incredulous. She didn’t want to offend someone offering her a compliment, even if she didn’t believe it. “I try so hard and I feel like I come up short.”

“Doing everything on your own isn’t easy, and I can see how you might think that you’re failing, but you’re looking at the situation the wrong way.”

Eve shook her head and kept her eyes downcast, even when Jeff’s hand found her shoulder, sliding down to cup her upper arm. His touch sent a tingle down her flesh and she resisted the urge to look up.

“Is there another way?”

“Instead of focusing on what you’re not doing well, think of all the things you are amazing at. Try to see yourself as …”

He paused.

Eve wondered if he’d changed his mind about whatever it was he was going to say.

Jeff cleared his throat and started over. “Try to see yourself the way I see you. Like Candy does, and Doris and Annie. And Bapo, for what it’s worth.”

Eve snickered, despite herself. “You’re never going to get tired of ribbing him, are you?”

“Never.” Jeff’s hand slid further down her arm to rest on her elbow. “My point remains.”

The place where Jeff’s hand rested on her arm pulsed. “How do you all see me?”

“We see someone who works hard every single day, around the clock, never taking any time for herself. Who gives her all to everything she does, even when it seems impossible, and who makes everyone feel needed and wanted when she’s around simply by being there.” Jeff stepped in closer. His heat brushed up against her chest. “It isn’t about finding the perfect recipe for a new confection or keeping the family business around for another generation, Eve. It’s about you. You make Mount Desserts worth saving. And I believe in you. We all do, even if you don’t believe in yourself.”

When Eve finally looked up, she found herself staring into Jeff’s eyes. They were warmer and sweeter than any chocolate ganache she’d ever made.

His free hand found its way to her other elbow and she allowed herself to be drawn from the counter. Jeff pulled her into his embrace, his hands releasing her elbows to slide around the small of her back, holding her close.

There was no denying the butterflies now.


Author Bio:

Lindy Miller is an author of feel-good love stories that are full of sweet moments and happy endings. She believes the best time to fall in love is during the holidays, preferably over a cup of warm tea or a delicious vegan pastry – two things she can’t get enough of.

A free spirit, Lindy loves to travel and has a soft spot for Bar Harbor, Maine though she grew up at home in the South. She is married to her childhood sweetheart and bakes as often as she can for her husband, son, and pets – especially her golden retriever, Finn, who has a tendency to show up in her stories (and her Instagram!)

Lindy is represented by Gandolfo Helin & Fountain Literary Management and supported by Smith Publicity.

Member Romantic Novelist Association (RNA).

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram


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Blitz | Romancing the Holidays Anthology

Romancing the Holidays: A First Coast Romance Writers Holiday Anthology
Publication date: September 22nd 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

A dozen ways to fall in love at the holidays…

Come celebrate the holidays with these dozen unique romances, ranging from sweet to steamy and all ending with a happily-ever-after. This anthology of short stories, written by multi-award-winning authors, including New York Times best-selling author, Alyssa Day, will transport you from Labor Day and Halloween antics to Christmas and Valentine romantics. Its stories will whisk you away into contemporary, historical, and paranormal worlds where love prevails. So, savor the authors featured in this enchanting book and bet your heart on some romantic cheer while you enjoy these twelve ways to fall in love.

Proceeds from this novel benefit First Coast Romance Writers, a non-profit chapter of Romance Writers of America that helps writers hone their craft and expand their knowledge of the publishing industry. A portion of the proceeds are also donated to FeedAmerica.org.

Goodreads / Amazon

SNEAK PEEKS:

“Faking it for the Holidays” by Lia Davis:

Julius probably shouldn’t be as happy as he was about his parents going on a cruise the week of Christmas. But he was. For the first time since he met his best friend and future wife—although she didn’t know that yet—he would be able to spend a normal, quiet, holiday season with Tara.

Just the two of them.

Was it wrong that he wanted to spend Christmas with his best friend, alone?

They didn’t have to listen to his parents, especially his mom, go on and on about how they should get married and give her beautiful grandbabies. It was embarrassing and made things awkward between them for the whole trip to Oregon to spend Christmas with his parents.

Tara had always been fantastic about his crazy family, which made her even more perfect for him. She never complained. She fit right in with them and humored his mom when she started in about the future of their lives and how they weren’t getting any younger.

The whole thing made him hesitate to ask Tara to marry him. He didn’t want her to think he was pressured into proposing, which he wasn’t. He loved her from the moment they met as kids.

He wanted to show her how much he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her, without the pressure of his family lurking and watching them. Yessir, this year was going to be different.

He had Tara to himself.

His cell rang and he snatched it up from the kitchen counter where he was prepping movie-night snacks for him and Tara. It was their usual Saturday night “date” to make fun of bad movies. Not looking at the screen and thinking it was Tara, he said, “You better not be backing out on tonight.”

There was a long few moments of silence. Jules’ heart dropped to his feet. She wasn’t coming over. He’d spent all week gathering the courage to finally tell her how he felt. That he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her and not as just her best friend. He wanted more. “Tara?”

“Oh, no silly. It’s your mother. Don’t you check the caller ID?”

Damn. “Mom. How are you? Are you on the ship?”

She let out a disappointing sigh. “Sadly, no. The cruise was canceled last minute. That means we’re staying home for Christmas. You’re coming, right?”

“An Elf’s Challenge” by Vickey Wollan

“Why are you being so nice to me?” She stared straight at him and lifted her chin. Angelina was determined not to be the first one to blink. Then, she noticed he hadn’t blinked either.

“I can do this all day. Remember, sawdust in my eyes regularly – no biggie.” Zack raised his lids and brought his nose inches from hers. “You had me at operational efficiency. I’m hoping you’ll return the favor, let me into the Paint Drying Zone.” He winked.

Angelina’s mouth went dry. No amount of soda could fix it. “Of course!” Oh, dear. What did I just do? What will my father think of me bringing a dust-covered woodworker into the paint shop?


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Blitz | Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron

I’m excited to give you some info on this book, which is out TODAY! Check out the synopsis and info below and make sure to click on the link to the retailer of your choice to pick it up!

In this highly anticipated contemporary fantasy, twelve-year-old Maya’s search for her missing father puts her at the center of a battle between our world, the Orishas, and the mysterious and sinister Dark world. Perfect for fans of Aru Shah and the End of Time and The Serpent’s Secret.

Twelve-year-old Maya is the only one in her South Side Chicago neighborhood who witnesses weird occurrences like werehyenas stalking the streets at night and a scary man made of shadows plaguing her dreams.

When Papa goes missing, Maya is thrust into a world both strange and familiar as she uncovers the truth. Her father is the guardian of the veil between our world and the Dark—where an army led by the Lord of Shadows, the man from Maya’s nightmares, awaits. Now that the veil is failing, the Lord of Shadows is determined to destroy the human world and it’s up to Maya to stop him. She just hopes she can do it in time to attend Comic-Con before summer’s over.

BUY LINKS | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository | Indigo

Rena Barron grew up in small-town Alabama where stories of magic and adventure sparked her imagination. After penning her first awful poem in middle school, she graduated to writing short stories and novels by high school.

From a very young age she loved reading stories where kids saved the world, tamed dragons, wielded magic, flew spaceships, became the chosen one. She desperately searched for characters in books who looked like her and was always disappointed to find none, which fueled her early interest in writing.

Before HarperTeen acquired her Young Adult Epic Fantasy, Kingdom of Souls, Rena spent 10 years in the query trends–writing across multiple genres and age groups in the pursuit of publication. In 2017, she entered Pitch Wars, a popular and highly sought-after online mentorship program that included an agent showcase round. Rena’s entry (then titled “The Last Witchdoctor”) received multiple offers of representation. She signed with Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary shortly after, and the manuscript went on to sell in a heated auction.

In addition to the Kingdom of Souls series, Rena also has written a middle grade epic fantasy titled Maya and The Rising Dark debuting in Spring 2020, pitched as Stranger Things meets Percy Jackson, that sold in a pre-empt to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

On a personal note, Rena loves all things science fiction and fantasy, ghosts, and superheroes. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading or brushing up on her French.

Author Links | Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads

If you want to see other posts on the blitz tour be sure to check out the schedule!

Happy reading!

Blitz | The Promise Kept by Maggie Mae Gallagher

The Promise Kept
Maggie Mae Gallagher
(Echo Springs, #2)
Publication date: August 19th 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Cybil Roe gave her heart away thirteen years ago only to have it wind up shattered. With painstaking determination, she has rebuilt her life into something to be proud of today. Yet all her future plans are upended when the only man she has ever loved returns to Echo Springs. Nor does it help that he seems bound and determined to draw her back into his life. Cybil vows to stay away from him, no matter what seeing him all the time does to her resolve.

Miles Keaton wiped the dust of his hometown off his shoes years ago, never expecting that life would lead him back to the place where he had begun. Coming home to Echo Springs, to Cybil, to start a new law practice and a new life is a risk he never thought he’d take. She hates him – with good reason. Years ago, he walked away when she needed him the most. But now is he back, and intends to argue the case of his life, one more important than any he has debated in a courtroom, because she is the one woman he cannot live without.

Can Miles convince Cybil to take a second chance on him, or will a secret she has kept all these years destroy any future they might have?

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EXCERPT:

“Oh, yes. Right there,” she murmured.

Cybil sighed at the strong hands kneading her tense shoulders. Golden sunshine warmed her skin. Azure waves lapped against the pristine, ivory sand not fifteen feet from where she lounged on a luxurious padded chaise. Her tanned skin glistened in the sun. The coconut scent from her suntan lotion wafted on the gentle breeze and mingled with the salt from the ocean waves. The simmering heat of the tropics caused perspiration to bead on her forehead and evaporate with the light wind. The sunglasses perched on her nose shaded her gray eyes from the radiant sunlight.

It was without a doubt a perfect day.

The light breeze played with the loose tendrils of her inky hair while the sexy-as-sin Pablo—he of the broad, tanned shoulders, gorgeously thick black hair, and soulful eyes—massaged her shoulders with his long, talented fingers. The man had the most wonderful, gifted hands and knew precisely where to exert the most pressure. And those thumbs of his were singularly skilled at ferreting out every ache and pain.

God, she had needed this getaway—away from the cold, the snow, the dreaded holidays, and nonstop work.

She muffled a moan.

Cybil couldn’t remember the last time she’d felt this relaxed. She could still taste the lime and salt from her frozen margarita. And she was a breath away from suggesting to Pablo that they take the massage indoors to her beachside bungalow. The thought of those hands massaging other regions of her body left her achy and needy. It had been so long since she had been with a man. Since this was a vacation, she didn’t have to worry about getting attached. Cybil moaned as he dug into a knot on her left shoulder.

Pablo lowered his face. Cybil shivered, heady anticipation humming along her skin. Was he going to nibble on her ear? Suggest naughty, decadent delights to be had if they retreated indoors? She was ready and willing for anything the guy had in mind.

“Purrr.” A cold, wet nose pressed against the side of her cheek where it met her ear, amplifying the sound. The purr increased in tenor. Something tickled her nose.

Cybil cracked an eye open. A pair of golden eyes stared at her with expectation and determination, with a side of feline disdain that she had yet to acknowledge him.

Author Bio:

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Maggie grew up listening to Cardinals baseball and reading anything she could get her hands on. She remembers her mother saying if only she would read the right type of books instead binging her way through the romance aisles at the bookstore, she’d have been a doctor. While Maggie never did get that doctorate, she graduated cum laude from the University of Missouri-St. Louis with an M.A. in History.

Maggie is a bestselling and award-winning author published in multiple fiction genres. She also writes erotic romance under the name Anya Summers. A total geek at her core, when she is not writing, she adores attending the latest comic con or spending time with her family. She currently lives in the United States Midwest with her two furry felines.

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