Well there is not much to say abut me. I love coffee and books and if I can drink a fresh hot coffee while reading even better:)
I started to review a couple years ago and I still loving it. I love the book community and met many awesome people along the way. I'm looking forward to connect to even more of you awesome people out there and of course continue to discover more great books.
Summer time made us think of summer travels. Travels and books go well together, right? And what's a better place to visit than the one filled up with people alike, other book lovers? Lets read on and pick your summer destinations based on global reading habits.
So, where is your next summer stop?
Infographic via Global English Editing
Today’s stop is for Kristen McLean’s Changing the Earl's Mind. We will have info about the book and author, and a great excerpt from the book, plus a great giveaway. Make sure to check everything out and enter the giveaway.
Happy Reading :)
A man who knows everything…
For nearly a decade, Drake Ramsey, the disciplined and logical Earl of Saint Brides, has been the driving force behind the Home Office; meeting with foreign leaders to negotiate treaties, spurring a lethargic Parliament into action, and directing a secret army of spies. The last thing he wants to find while taking a well-deserved vacation is a dangerous fugitive. Nevertheless, when he catches a beautiful murderess hiding in his hunting cabin, he has little choice but to bring her to justice, landing himself in a battle for control he could never hope to win. …meets a woman determined to prove him wrong. Marrying a stranger simply to gain access to her dowry and travel the world, admittedly, was the biggest mistake of Sarah Tindall’s life. In fact, she would readily admit to making several big mistakes. Killing her husband, however, is not one of them. When a starchy lord takes it upon himself to bring her to a London prison, she is determined to escape him and prove her innocence, yet every attempt ends with her back in her handsome captor’s arms. Even if her innocence is proven, his forbidden and passionate kisses leave her uncertain if escape was ever an option.
*WARNING* This work of fiction is intended for mature audiences only. All sexually active characters portrayed in this ebook are eighteen years of age or older. Please do not buy if strong sexual situations, violence, and explicit language offends you.
**Can easily be read as a standalone!**
Trouble?” He echoed the vague response as though he hadn’t heard it more times than he could count. She nodded. “Mrs. Tindall, nearly everyone on this miserable planet is in some sort of trouble. It doesn’t explain why you have invaded my hunting cabin or threatened to shoot me.” He was not prepared for the interrogation of an impertinent beauty in the moors. He was prepared for solitude and quiet, relaxation. Or, in the very least, a moment of self-reflection followed by a week of wallowing in depression. “With what gun? I am unarmed,” she pointed out. “I said threatened,” he emphasized. “Had you been armed, would you have shot me?” Large, hazel eyes focused steadily on him. “Yes.” Now his head began to throb, and his teeth ached from the pressure of his jaw. “Where is your husband, Mrs. Tindall?” “I am a grown woman, plenty old enough to be about on my own.” She didn’t look a day past twenty, but he was in no mood to dispute anything that wasn’t completely necessary. It was too much damned effort, especially compounded with the effort needed to ignore her—or more accurately, to ignore his body’s response to her. The dress she wore was threadbare and torn, showing shapely ankles disappearing into ragged half boots. Her sleeve had been ripped at the shoulder, sliding down her arm and sending the neckline dangerously low on her generous bosom. He fought to keep his attention on her face, but even that was a distraction. Her eyes were ethereally vivid, her mouth full and wide, and her neck a lovely arch beneath it all. Bloody hell, why her? Why him? What god or demon had he insulted so gravely as to deserve this? All he wanted was a damned holiday, a well-deserved one, he might add. “You are Mrs. Tindall,” he said doggedly. “Surely there’s a Mr. Tindall?” “Yes, there was… but he is no longer amongst the living.” His fists clenched at his sides, forcing himself to calm. She was a widow. Good manners dictated he grant her some measure of consideration. “I am sorry to hear it. When did this happen?” “Two days ago.” To his credit, the curse that nearly flew from his mouth stayed obediently behind his teeth. Two days? A landlord who evicted a woman immediately after the death of her husband ought to be publicly flogged, and Drake would jump at the chance to administer the punishment. Particularly since, in this case, it meant she had been booted out of her home and into his hunting cabin. “Have you no family or friends who can take you in?” “No,” she said. “I know two or three people, but no one I could impose upon.” “Of course not,” he muttered. “Why impose upon those you know when there is a perfectly good stranger handy.” Her eyes flashed. “Under the circumstances, I couldn’t possibly ask someone I hardly know to shelter me.” “Circumstances,” he echoed. “Circumstances being the death of your husband? Is that the trouble you have found yourself in?” She looked away. “More or less.”
Kristen McLean is a regency-era romance novelist with a flair for humor and suspense. She has always had a love of novels, with a special place in her heart for historical romance. Now she has the pleasure of writing at home, tucked away in a forest with her husband, two children, and their cat. Her husband is loving and impressively patient, their two beautiful children strive to embarrass and exhaust her, and the cat hates everyone, but tolerates—well, she tolerates whoever will feed her. For the latest on Kristen McLean's book releases, events, and giveaways subscribe to her newsletter at kmromance.com
Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts and giveaway!
~Every summer has its own stories.~
We want you to
come and join us again for another
great multi author Giveaway.
Running now through September 5th,2017
Over 30 Authors and Bloggers
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With this awesome giveaway that has tons of awesome prizes :)
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Good Luck and as always Happy Reading :)
Today’s stop is for Melissa West’s Chasing Love . We will have info about the book and author, and a great excerpt from the book, plus a great giveaway. Make sure to check everything out and enter the giveaway.
Happy Reading :)
Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!
Today’s stop is for Kelly Moran’s Tracking You. We will have info about the book and author, and a great excerpt from the book, plus a great giveaway. Make sure to check everything out and enter the giveaway.
Happy Reading :)
Love isn't always loud. Sometimes it's silent.
Gabby Cosette has always been dubbed the good girl of quaint Redwood Ridge, Oregon, and being permanently put in the friend zone has left her dating life stagnant. With no prospects in sight, she clings to her friends and resolves to not let loneliness drag her under. So when the town Battleaxes set their matchmaking sights on her, she figures it can't hurt. Yet the guy they think is perfect for her just happens to be not only her boss at the veterinarian clinic, but her best friend. Sure, Flynn O'Grady is attractive and the nicest guy around, but going there with him would topple both of their carefully constructed worlds and there would be no going back. Even if he is starting to make her girly parts zing. Having been born deaf, Flynn has already felt like an outsider most of his life. Aside from his brothers, Gabby is about the only person who's gone out of her way to treat him as more than a handicap. Which is exactly why he's banked his secret attraction for his sweet, beautiful vet tech. Except his meddling family is trying to play Cupid and ruin the best thing to ever happen to him. Without Gabby, his work as a veterinarian, never mind his personal life, wouldn't flow. Determined to ignore the antics, he's secure in the knowledge she's not interested in him romantically. But then a kiss changes everything . . . and he's wondering if taking the ultimate shot at love might be worth the risk.
Gabby Cosette smoothed her hand down the simple baby blue sundress she meticulously picked out for this evening and tried not to look too eager. Or throw up. That wouldn’t do either. From a back booth, she glanced around the only Italian restaurant in Redwood Ridge, comforted by the fact it was still early yet for the dinner rush. The place was a good choice. Right? Not as casual as Shooters—the bar she and her friends frequented—but not as formal as one of the seafood restaurants that dotted their Oregon coastal town. A step above grabbing coffee or a beer, yet it didn’t scream desperation. Was a booth in the back too obvious? Had she overdone it with her makeup? Maybe she should’ve put her hair up instead of down? No, no. She went for light and natural on purpose. The patrons of Redwood Ridge had known her all her life. It wasn’t far out of the realm of ordinary for her to wear a dress and light cosmetics. She was being a basket case. It’s just… Well, she hadn’t had a date in a year. A year! To calm her nerves, she drew in a deep breath and focused on the red checkered tablecloth. A votive candle flickered on the windowsill to her right, the flame reflecting off the tinted glass. The parking lot stretched beyond, where her date’s car was not in one of the available spots. It was silly to get this worked up over a first date, especially with Tom. She’d gone to elementary and high school with him. His parents still lived down the street from hers. Strange how he’d never shown any interest in her romantically, yet out of the blue, he’d asked her out this week. Then again, most everyone in town viewed her as the sweet Cosette girl, everyone’s friend. Thus the no date in a year. It was hard to get a guy to think about kissing her, never mind imagining her naked, when she had platonic all but tattooed on her forehead. The waitress strolled over in her apron, holding a notepad in her hand. “Are you waiting on someone, sweetie pie?” “Yes.” She smiled and grabbed her cell on the table. Tom was five minutes late. “He should be here any minute.” “Ooh. Is it a date?” Mavis planted a hand on her plump waist and grinned, the wrinkles around her eyes growing to crevices. Gabby wasn’t sure how old Mavis was, no one really knew, but she never seemed to age past the state from when Gabby was a child. Gabby opened her mouth to answer, but Tom strode toward her, weaving around tables and plopping in the seat across the booth. “Couldn’t find ya at the bar. I wasn’t expecting a table.” It was still early, and Le Italy didn’t get that crowded even on a Friday night. How hard could it possibly have been to locate her? “Give us a sec,”she told Mavis and waited for her to step away. Tom had blond hair too short for her preference and a thin mouth. His unremarkable brown eyes darted around the restaurant and back to her. He made no attempt to apologize for being late, and it appeared as if he’d just come from work. His jeans and T-shirt were paint-splattered. The hazard of working for his dad’s commercial painting and roofing company. “Thanks for meeting me.” He took off his ball cap and scratched his head. Why did that sound un-date-like? “Um…sure thing. How’s work going?” Her gaze dipped to his hands, no better off than his clothes. Maybe she should’ve picked Shooters after all. Something felt very, very off as her belly twisted. Not with nerves this time. Confused, Gabby’s mind scrolled through their conversation from earlier in the week when he’d brought his dog into the vet clinic where she worked. As he was checking out, he’d anxiously spun around to face her and asked if she could meet him. “Good. Work’s good.” He put his hat back on and glanced outside. “Getting to be warmer out, so the jobs are picking up.” Perhaps he was just nervous, too. Her tension drained a degree. Mavis returned and asked for a drink order. Tom lifted his hand to wave her off. “Nothing for me, thanks. I can’t stay long. Got a poker game with the guys tonight. I need to shower before they show up.” The forced smile Gabby had plastered on her face began to wilt like her mom’s petunias in August. What did he mean he couldn’t stay long? And why would he ask her out and schedule a card game on the same night? Plus, he could shower for his friends, but not her? Mavis divided her gaze between them, a mix of bewilderment and irritation lifting her brows. She tapped her pen to her pad as the silence hung. “Can I get you something?” She focused on Gabby, her tone indicating she should order something. “I’ll have a sweet tea. Thank you.” When the waitress walked away, Gabby looked at Tom. He’d thrown his arm over the back of the booth and had stretched his legs out. The aroma of Eau de Paint Thinner wafted across the table. “So…?” “Right, right.” Tom leaned forward and crossed his arms. “I appreciate you letting me do this in person.” She stilled. “Do what?” Because she was definitely getting the this-is-not-a-date vibe now. A warring shift in contradiction took over her body. Everything inside grew rapidly chilly while her skin heated in what she hoped wasn’t a blush. Her pale complexion always gave away her emotions and she hated that more than she’d hated freshman algebra. Math was evil. He let out a tense laugh, which sounded more like a guffaw, and drew several heads from other diners. “Not exactly a conversation you want to have over the phone or somethin’, ya know?” No. She didn’t know. “Maybe if you just tell me?” He played with the parmesan shaker, not meeting her gaze. “Well, the whole town’s buzzing about Rachel and Jeff’s split.” She frowned, not connecting the dots on his crazy pattern. Her older sister had only dated Jeff for a few weeks which, per Rachel standards, might as well have been marriage. Rachel liked to keep her options—and legs—open. Guilt immediately consumed her for the crass thought, but it didn’t make it any less true. She and Rachel couldn’t be any more different. Rachel was aloof and sexy. Gabby was the girl next door. Men desired Rachel. The only thing they desired from Gabby was a shoulder to cry on after her sister shot them down. She twirled a strand of hair around her finger to keep from fidgeting. “I don’t understand what Rachel and Jeff have to do with…” Unable to finish the sentence—because she had no idea anymore what “this” was—she waved her hand between them. “Well,” he said in an aw-shucks kind of way that made her want to grind her teeth, “now that Rachel’s available, I thought maybe you could put in a good word for me?”
Bestselling author Kelly Moran says she gets her ideas from everyone and everything around her and there’s always a book playing out in her head. No one who knows her bats an eyelash when she talks to herself, and no one is safe from becoming her next fictional character. She is a Catherine Award-Winner, Readers Choice Finalist, Holt Medallion Finalist, and earned one of the 10 Best Reads by USA Today's HEA. She is also a Romance Writers of America member. Her interests include: sappy movies, MLB, NFL, driving others insane, and sleeping when she can. She is a closet caffeine junkie and chocoholic, but don’t tell anyone. She resides in Wisconsin with her husband, three sons, and two dogs. Most of her family lives in the Carolinas, so she spends a lot of time there as well. She loves hearing from her readers.
When an Englishman, Marcus Winslow, appears at Makana's door one April morning, Makana does not realize that he will soon risk losing everything he has built for himself in Cairo. Winslow represents the British government--meaning the Secret Intelligence Service--and he has a special mission to offer, one that Makana cannot resist: Ayoub Hadari, a dangerous specialist in biochemical nerve agents, is on the run and asking for asylum. The only person who can bring him in is Makana--by Ayoub's own request. Ayoub has gone underground in Istanbul and Makana, for the first time since arriving in Egypt, must travel abroad, to a city he doesn't know. Can he trust Marcus Winslow? Or is something more sinister in the works? In this foreign city, Makana soon realizes that nothing is what it appears to be. Suddenly, his past is racing to catch up with him, and Makana becomes both hunter and hunted.
This is book six in the Makana series but the first book I read. I think while it can be read as a standalone, it would have been easier and more enjoyable if I had read the previous books. That being said I had no real idea of what I’m getting into. The world setting is good and easy to understand and very well described. Sometimes a little over described. The same goes for the characters. I had a hard time to relate Makana at times but I think that could have been because I have not rad the previous books. I thought for a crime-mystery it also was very political and various views of politics and foreign affairs and even terrorism comes up. It was rather suspenseful and I never knew what would come next which I enjoyed. Some parts seemed a bit dense but overall it was a good read. It was something I would have never picked up myself but ended up enjoying.
I rate it 3 ★
*I received a free copy from the publisher and chose to leave a voluntary review. Thank you!*
Will be available July 11th 2017
Parker Bilal is the pseudonym of Jamal Mahjoub. Mahjoub has published seven critically acclaimed literary novels, which have been widely translated. Born in London, he has lived at various times in the UK, Sudan, Cairo and Denmark. He currently lives in Barcelona.
Today’s stop is for Chloé Duval’s Stolen Time. We will have info about the book and author, plus a great giveaway. Make sure to check everything out and enter the giveaway.
Happy Reading :)
In a rural French village, a letter is delivered decades late, inspiring a young woman to try to reunite two star-crossed lovers . . . Middle school teacher by day, romance writer by night, and group knitter on Tuesday evenings, Flavie Richalet leads a fairly uneventful life—until she receives a long delayed letter meant for a total stranger. Postmarked 1971, the yellowed envelope, addressed to an Amélie Lacombe, holds a fervent message of love and a marriage proposal, signed only with the initial E. Given her own fractured family history, Flavie is dreamily determined to learn what became of the couple . . . Flavie’s inquiries lead her to a French seaside inn—and to E. himself, a true romantic who never forgot the girl who got away so many years ago. But his protective nephew, B&B owner Romaric, isn’t sure that trying to find Amélie after all these years is good for his uncle. At odds with the tall, dark, and impossibly passionate Romaric, Flavie must show him, and perhaps herself, that true love is timeless—and always worth waiting for . . .
Prologue Karouac, Brittany
September 4, 1975 It was the most important day of her life. She’d been waiting and preparing for this day for weeks, and she should have been deliriously happy. She should have been lighthearted and smiling. But instead, she felt strange and uncomfortable. As though she was forgetting something important. As though she was about to make a mistake. It’s just apprehension, she told herself. The usual jitters all women feel before they commit for life. But did all women think of their first love on their wedding day? Amélie closed her eyes, and Erwan’s beautiful face appeared in her mind. She pictured his irresistible smile, his gray-blue gaze, his unruly hair, always too wild to lie flat. She felt his rough hands on her skin, his lips on hers, as though it were only yesterday that they had lain together on the beach. She shook her head, willing herself to dismiss the memory. It was foolish to think of him, especially right before her wedding. It had been so long ago . . . four years, almost to the day. He’d obviously forgotten her, moved on with his life. He’d never written to her, never phoned her, never gotten in touch with her. She’d waited weeks, months even, for him to reach out to her, before she’d accepted the truth. It had only been a summer fling. So she’d grieved, but then looked to the future. She’d thrown herself into her studies in fashion-design school to forget. Forget all about him. And now she was finally happy. She’d finished school and gotten the job of her dreams with a small fashion company that appreciated her style and her slightly extravagant ideas. It was almost more than she’d ever expected. Moreover, she was about to marry a wonderful man, one who loved her more than anyone and whom she loved very much. She knew they’d have a great life together. So why? Why was she thinking of the past, of a painful, bestforgotten period of her life, on the day she was going to marry Paul, for better or for worse? She took a deep breath, trying to calm her heart, her nerves, her mind. She patted her veil, smoothed a few nonexistent creases in her satin and lace wedding dress. She’d designed it herself, and it was stunning, even if she said so herself. It was the dress of her dreams. Again, Erwan appeared in her mind’s eye. “For God’s sake!” she swore, cutting herself off immediately. Someone knocked on the door and her mother peered in. “Are you ready, sweetheart?” Viviane Lacombe asked, beaming. Amélie cast a last glance into the mirror, took a deep breath, and nodded. “I am.” It was no longer time to wonder about the past. So, she left her home, the home where she grew up, and, lifting the hem of her dress in one hand, her father at her side, her mother in front of her, beaming much more than her daughter was, Amélie slowly walked the short distance to the beautiful church of Karouac, where her parents had been married. Paul was waiting for her there. Her family was waiting for her. The minister, and all their friends, were gathered here today to celebrate her wedding to the love of her life. She couldn’t wait to go in and marry Paul, the man who had always been there for her. Who loved her more than anything else. She couldn’t wait to start her life. The life she had chosen for herself. Yet before she walked into the church, she couldn’t help stopping to gaze around, searching for a face, a smile. She shook her head and cursed the damn memories trying to spoil the happiest day of her life. She turned back and smiled at her father, took hold of his proffered arm, and waited for her cue. Hidden in the shade of a porch, unseen, Erwan watched as the love of his life walked into the church on her father’s arm to marry another man. He’d been too late, and he’d lost her once again—forever. 2 • Chloé Duval He tamped down the urge to enter the church and beg Amélie, on his knees if need be, to come with him, repeating what he’d written in that unanswered letter four years ago, and walked away, his heart breaking, leaving Karouac behind him. Once again, and forever.
Stolen Time •
As a little girl, Chloé Duval dreamed of knights slaying terrifying dragons and damsels in distress. Today, she’s still seeking, in her stories, to find again the sweetness and the enchantment of the fairy tales she absorbed as a child. A Frenchwoman by birth, Canadian by adoption, and Québecoise in her heart, Chloé lives in Montreal with her prince charming and dozens of characters jostling around inside her head.
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Today’s stop is for Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese’s A Queen From the North. We will have info about the book and authors, plus a great giveaway. Make sure to check everything out and enter the giveaway.
Happy Reading :)
It may be the 21st century, but in a not-so-united kingdom the wounds of the Wars of the Roses have never healed. The rivalry between the Yorkish north and Lancastrian south has threatened to pull the nation apart for over 500 years.
While the modern world struggles with fractures born of ancient conflict, Lady Amelia Brockett faces far more mundane problems. Known to her family as Meels, this youngest daughter of a Northern earl is having the Worst. Christmas. Ever. Dumped by her boyfriend and rejected from graduate school, her parents deem her the failure of the family. But when her older brother tries to cheer her with a trip to the races, a chance meeting with Arthur, the widowed, playboy Prince of Wales, offers Amelia the chance to change her life -- and Britain's fortunes -- forever. Hunted by the press -- and haunted by Arthur's niece who fancies herself the kingdom's court witch -- Amelia finds herself adrift in a sea of paparazzi, politics, and prophecy.
With few allies beyond her allergic-to-horses sister-in-law, her best friend who has a giant crush on the prince, and the cute young receptionist at Buckingham Palace that calls himself her Royalty Customer Service Representative, Amelia must navigate a perilous and peculiar course to secure Arthur's love and become A Queen from the North.
“The genealogists put together a list,” the Prince said. “All unmarried women of the peerage, in a certain age demographic, who do not have children and have not been divorced. As you might imagine, it’s not particularly extensive.” “Why not include commoners?” Amelia asked faintly. “By what criteria? There’s a nation of those. If someone is going to be subjected to this life, they may as well go in as prepared as possible.” “Wouldn’t it have been easier to hold a ball?” Prince Arthur laughed. His whole face brightened, almost like it had at the races. “The treasury’s already girding its loins for the inevitable royal wedding. Best not to run up an even bigger bill in the process of finding a bride.” "Are you…proposing to me?" She asked hesitantly. And then, more hysterically, “After five minutes? After talking about genealogy?” "Hardly.” Arthur sounded offended. “This is me asking if you'd agree to meet with me again to discuss the matter of marriage further." Amelia stared at him. This couldn’t possibly be happening. “Your genealogy, though, is hardly irrelevant.” Prince Arthur removed a piece of paper from the folio, spun it around on the table and pushed it at her. “This is my family tree.” “Yes. We do our homework here,” Prince Arthur flipped through his folio again. “You’re attractive, well-born, and intelligent. Pursuing a graduate degree in the earth sciences, I believe.” “I graduate in the spring. I’m applying to PhD programs. I want to study climate change,” Amelia managed to say, as if any of those words could be a defense against what was happening. “All of which is excellent. You also happen to be the only eligible daughter of one of the oldest families of York. Both the city and the ancient house.” “How is that a plus?” Amelia was wary. Little good ever came of the rare times London mentioned York. “Political marriages — at least of this form — are rather out of style these days. But the rift between the north and the rest of the country only grows.” “That’s the Prime Minister’s fault. And Parliament’s.” It was Amelia’s turn to be offended now. “The most recent jobs bill—” The Prince sighed. “Yes. I know. I agree with you. Yet as a member of the royal house I can hardly engage in politics. At least not on a parliamentarian’s terms. But symbolism is mine. And what I can do is unite York and London — York and Lancaster — in a way they haven’t been in centuries. I know this proposition is awkward, but we could make history, you and I.” “Awkward?!” Amelia exclaimed. “This conversation is insane.” Prince Arthur blinked mildly at her. “I’m merely trying to apply the available resources to a set of problems. Before you judge, I suggest you consider the resources that could be applied to your problems were you to choose to help me with mine.” “You don’t even know what my problems are!” “I don’t have to, to know we could help each other.” Amelia wanted to turn away from the intensity of his stare, but she couldn’t. He was magnetic, and there was a sharpness, even a shrewdness, to him that hadn’t been present at the races. His eyes may have been brown, but he was no prey animal. She couldn’t help but lean in ever so slightly. In her mind she cursed both the table between them and this proposed conspiracy. “Lady Amelia,” Prince Arthur said, “do you want to be Queen Consort of England, Scotland, and Wales, Her Royal Majesty of Britain?” “No!” Amelia pressed her feet firmly against the floor as the word came out of her mouth unbidden. The Prince was fascinating, but the question so baldly put was terrifying. Not to mention treasonous for her to answer in anything but the negative. She wondered, fleetingly, if this were a trap. “Shall I call to have you shown out then?” His words were without rancor, but there was a coldness to them she did not prefer. She shook her head. “No,” she repeated more softly. He smiled.
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Today’s stop is for Ellen Chauvet’s When Darkness Falls. We will have info about the book and author, and a great excerpt from the book, plus a great giveaway. Make sure to check everything out and enter the giveaway.
Happy Reading :)
Lexie Miles, a southern belle living her dream life in Paris, is devastated when her best friend Emma is brutally raped and murdered by vampires. From that moment Lexie’s “perfect world” begins to crumble. She discovers her entire life has been a sham and everyone she cares about has been lying to her. Angry doesn’t begin to describe her reaction to the news.
Plunged into a two-thousand year old war between good and evil, she is propelled into a world of blood, lust and dark secrets. She must embrace her birthright to fight an ancient threat to humanity. Bequeathed with the dubious gift of being the “Chosen One,” Lexie meets the enigmatic Etienne Benoit. She falls hard for him and when he betrays her, she vows to get revenge. After all, she is a vampire executioner and killing vampire is what she does.
Lexie sat waiting for her best friend Emma Gunther to join her at their favorite French bistro, the Boeuf sur la Toit, off the Champs Elysees. Emma had been away for two weeks and Lexie was looking forward to their reunion. Her thoughts drifted to the latest vampire novel Emma had given her to read. It contained hot, juicy sex scenes. Her gaze settled on a handsome man who had entered the restaurant. His wool coat outlined broad shoulders and chest, and tapered to a slim waist and hips. Dark eyes caught hers for a moment before shifting on. He sauntered to a single table radiating sex and passion. Lexie’s imagination took over. In her fantasy he was a vampire and she was his lover. She undressed him and heat rose in her groin as she pictured him naked. Lost in her fantasy, she jumped when a hand touched her shoulder. “Earth to Lexie,” Emma’s familiar voice intruded. “Shit you scared the be-jesus out of me.” Lexie rose and hugged her friend, then stood back. “Darlin’ I’m so happy you’re back,” she said slipping comfortably into her native Atlanta drawl. The accent she had to clip when speaking French or the Parisian’s would look at her with disdain. “It’s good to be back,” Emma said, removing her coat before sitting at their table. Emma was tall, had long brown hair which she pulled back in a severe bun and thick glasses. They worked together as translators for the United Nations and their friendship had flourished over the past three years. Emma was the science translator as well as a chemist and math whizz. They were a strange combination: a pretty Southern belle from Georgia and a stodgy but brilliant German fraulein, but the friendship worked. Rather than going home to Atlanta, Lexie had spent summer vacations at the Gunther’s cottage in the Taunus Mountains, and Christmas holidays with Emma and her father in Frankfurt. Too cold in late November to sit outside, Lexie and Emma enjoyed the warmth and coziness of the restaurant as they waited for their meals. “What were you thinking about when I came in?” Emma said. “You were a million miles away.” Lexie felt her cheeks redden and dipped her head to avoid Emma’s stare. “I was thinkin’ about some stuff at work. How was your trip?” Lexie steered the conversation to a safer topic. “It was good. Saw some friends from university and had a good visit with my father.” Lexie noticed that Emma’s response was vague, and wondered what she wasn’t saying. Before she could ask, the waiter arrived with their food. They ate in silence, the awkwardness between them increasing. Puzzled by her friend’s reticence, Lexie leaned back and said, “How come the subject of men and vampires hasn‘t come up yet?” “You always make fun of me when I talk about vampires,” Emma replied. “And as for men…” she left the statement hanging. Lexie did think that Emma’s fascination with the undead was odd so she steered the conversation toward men. Lexie felt a twinge of remorse that Emma was reluctant to mention vampires around her, so she chose to bring a bit of humor to the conversation. “We’re not spring chickens anymore,” Lexie said. “Don’t be silly, we’re only 29.” Emma replied. “Besides, you tried a committed relationship, and we both know how that went.” “Don’t remind me,” Lexie said as Justin’s handsome face flashed through her mind. “I still get my panties in a wad when I think of findin’ him with that bitch. That still hurts.” “Ach, let’s not rehash that one again.” Just like Lexie’s drawl, Emma’s German accent was always more evident when it was just the two of them. “At least I have one to rehash. How much longer are you gonna to pine over Tom?” “That’s not fair.” Lexie could see the hurt in her friend’s eyes. “I’m sorry. I just get frustrated that you waste your time longin’ for our unapproachable boss.” The truth was Lexie also had a little crush on their brawny, Daniel Craig like English boss. But of the two of them, she had the role of being the one who was worldly about men, and she enjoyed that. Since the disaster with Justin, she had shied away from any long term relationships. One night stands were exciting and safe. Never mind that they left her feeling empty and lonely. Emma smiled at her. “I know you worry about me. Maybe my destiny is to find a ’good’ vampire like in the books we’ve been reading. Then I could live a life of adventure and hot, juicy, passionate sex.” Emma purred. “Girl they are just myths. Besides, I don’t believe in good and evil.” Lexie usually saw Emma’s eyes twinkling in amusement through her thick glasses at their ongoing debate. But this time Emma’s eyes held no sparkle and she said with a serious tone. “All myths have some truth in the background.” “I guess everyone needs to believe in somethin’.” Lexie said. Especially when you’re a mousy nerd. She experienced a twinge of guilt at her unkind thought. Lexie loved Emma like a sister and her attempts to improve her appearance came from a place of caring. “Hon you are barkin’ up the wrong tree if you think I’ll ever believe vampires are real. There isn’t any ‘truth’ in the background. Although I must admit, I enjoy the erotica. The scenes give me wonderful ideas for my own flings.” She winked at her friend. “C’mon let’s get out of here and go for a walk.” Even Lexie noticed that male heads turned to ogle her as she exited. She and Emma walked the Champs Elysees, wandering in and out of the fashionable stores that were still open. “This would look wonderful on you,” Lexie said. She held up a deep purple sweater for Emma’s approval. Lexie felt it was her mission in life to break Em out of her dowdy wardrobe. “It would look better on you.” Emma replied. “This is more my style.” She held up a mustard yellow sweater and Lexie cringed at the sight. “The color is awful. It makes you look dead. Will you at least try this purple one on? Emma took the sweater and slipped it over her head. Lexie smiled. It was stunning and brought out Em’s chocolate brown eyes. It’s too….bright.” Emma said and yanked the sweater off. “I love it on you.” Emma regarded the sweater and Lexie could sense that she wavered. “Won’t you at least give it a try?” “I don’t know….I have plenty of clothes.” “C’mon hon, it’s sexy.” “I never think of myself that way.” Lexie grabbed Emma’s arm and pulled her in front one of the store mirrors. “Hold it up in front of you.” “Does it really make me look sexy?” Lexie could tell the idea of sexy appealed to her. “Absofrigginlutely, you have to have it.” Lexie smiled to herself as Emma walked to the cashier and paid for the item. Will wonders never cease? They stepped back out on the boulevard and Lexie linked arms with Emma as they walked. In soft whispers they commented on the men that they passed on the street. It was their usual game of imagining whether or not certain ones could be good vampires or bad vampires and then laughed at their silliness. Lexie pointed to a couple approaching. “Now he’s someone I could take to bed in a heartbeat,” she whispered into Emma’s ear. They were passing the Cartier store and Emma grabbed her arm and pulled. “Look at that diamond necklace. Isn’t that the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?” “I guess so.” Lexie stumbled after her. Startled by Emma’s sudden interest in the incredibly expensive item in the window, Lexie started to say something when Emma tensed holding her arm so tight it hurt. “Em, you’re hurtin’ me.” She tugged at her friend’s grip but Emma held on tighter. “What’s going on with you? The necklace is gorgeous, and way out of our price range.” Lexie felt a presence behind her. Her scalp prickled and her heart rate accelerated. She scratched her head wondering if she’d picked up lice. The scratching didn’t help. “Oui, that is a most delightful piece,” said a tinkling female voice with a heavy French accent. “It would look stunning on you.” Lexie turned and the petite young woman who had spoken was too gorgeous for words. Her hair was blond almost white in the soft light of the Cartier window. Blue eyes twinkled from her heart shaped face. Her skin was translucent and flawless. The woman extended her hand and as Lexie shook it she noticed delicate blue veins on the back. “My name is Marielle,” she said. “And this is my husband Francois.” Lexie looked up into eyes so dark brown they appeared black. High cheekbones that any model would kill for were framed by lustrous brown hair. His broad chest and shoulders filled out the suede jacket he wore, and tight fitting designer jeans revealed a slim waist and long legs. So young to be married. “Enchanté” Lexie replied taking the man’s outstretched hand. “Je m’apelle Lexie.” Again her scalp prickled. It was annoying. She looked at Emma who still clutched her arm. Emma stared at the couple in a way that was not friendly but as if she knew these strangers. “Do y’all know each other?” Lexie asked puzzled by Emma’s demeanor. “Ah no, mademoiselle.” Francois spoke for the first time and reached out his hand toward Emma. Emma released the death grip she had on Lexie’s arm. In slow motion Emma raised her hand and when Lexie looked into her eyes the pupils were dilated and fixed. Her mouth opened but no sound came out. Lexie could see that Francois had captured Emma’s eyes with his own and the intensity of his gaze reminded Lexie of a hypnotist. How odd. “This is my friend Emma.” Lexie was pleased to introduce her friend but for the first time felt the male attention was being stolen by Emma. Francois raised Emma’s hand to his lips and kissed the back of it. When he released it, it hung in the air like some disembodied prosthetic. Before Lexie could say anything, Francois turned to Lexie. “We were just passing by and noticed you admiring the necklace. We were both struck by your good looks and Marielle couldn’t resist saying hello. Are you perhaps a fashion model?” “Oh, well it’s nice to meet you both and no, I am not a fashion model. But thank you kindly for the compliment,” Lexie replied, her ego soothed. “C’mon, we need to go,” Emma said. “It’s getting late and I have a lot to do tomorrow.” Rude much? “It was nice meeting you both,” Lexie said. “It was our pleasure mademoiselle,” Francois replied. “Perhaps we will bump into each other again soon.” He smiled at Emma and Lexie noticed that the smile never reached his eyes. “I would enjoy that,” Emma responded and then blushed to her roots. “We need to go.” Emma hustled Lexie to the curb. She waved her arm to hail a cab. “Em, what are you doing? You just live a few blocks away, and I can take the train to Montmartre.” Emma didn’t respond, and as a cab pulled alongside, she jerked open the door and climbed in. “Get in,” she demanded. Lexie hesitated. Emma reached out and yanked Lexie’s arm and she stumbled into the cab. “Em, what’s wrong with you? You’re acting very strange.” “There was just something about that couple that I didn’t trust. Especially the woman. They just - how do you say it in English ‘bugged me’. “But, honey, what’s with the cab? Aren’t we going to the Bus Palladium for dancing?” “I’m too tired to go dancing tonight.” Emma replied. “Besides I want to make sure that you get home safe.” Still puzzled at her friend’s strange behavior, Lexie sat quietly for several minutes hoping she would explain further. When she didn’t, she decided to change the topic. “Are we getting together tomorrow? “Not tomorrow,” Emma replied. “We could go shopping at the Gallerie Lafayette and Printemps. Have a late lunch at Café du Margot and finalize our plans for Christmas. It’ll be here before you know it.” “I have some things I need to take care of. But I will call you on Sunday morning and we can get together then, okay?” “Sounds good. Don’t forget my Mom arrives in the afternoon.” Lexie said wondering what things Emma needed to take care of. On occasion her friend could be aloof. “I haven’t forgotten. I’m looking forward to meeting her.” The cab pulled up in front of Lexie’s apartment. She was surprised when Emma leaned over and grabbed her arm. “Be careful, Paris is not as safe as you think. Lock your door and check your windows.” “I promise I’ll be careful,” Lexie replied. “Are you sure you’re okay? “I’m fine. I’ll talk to you Sunday.” Lexie waved as the taxi pulled away from the curb. Emma’s eyes stared at her, but she didn’t wave back. So strange. She entered her apartment unable to shake off the sense of unease brought on by Emma’s behavior. Large by Paris standards, Lexie’s home reflected her eclectic taste. Deep red drapes covered the French doors that led to her balcony, and the pieces of furniture she’d acquired were ultra-modern in design. She took a moment to review her to do list in preparation for her mother’s visit. Most of them were ticked off. She would clean the next day. In contrast to the rest of the apartment, her bedroom was romantic with wooden shutters painted a robin’s egg blue, a bedspread to match and big fluffy pillows tossed casually about. Her bed was wrought iron with gauzy soft blue drapes. Lexie changed into her pajamas and her eyes locked on to the most recent vampire book she was reading. Her thoughts returned to Emma and the discomfort she’d experienced earlier returned. She picked up the phone to call her then smiled at her concern. I’ll worry about that tomorrow.
Ellen Chauvet lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her love for reading and writing developed at an early age and she wrote several short stories and plays which were lost over the years. In 2003 a friend introduced her to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", and Ellen was fascinated by the idea of good and evil vampires. She particularly loves Anne Rice, Charlaine Harris and Laurell K. Hamilton. 'When Darkness Falls' if the first in a series of books called 'The Vampire Redemption Series' and is adult fiction.
Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!
Today’s stop is for Lilah May’s Backseat with the Billionaire. We will have info about the book and author, plus a great giveaway. Make sure to check everything out and enter the giveaway.
Happy Reading :)
She just wants to use him for revenge.
Him. A billionaire MMA fighter whose cocky smile and washboard abs make wet panties drop left and right. She thinks she wants him for one amazing night out and end it. Boy, did she think wrong. He's about to teach her how much more she really wants.
LISA Finding out your husband's cheating is hard. Finding out it’s with a college girl is even harder. The easy part? Retribution: beating him blue with a baseball bat and kicking him to the curb. But it's still not enough.
So when Bobby Carter, fresh out of college, blows back into town with all the intensity of a hurricane, I decide I’m not done. Bobby’s everything my ex-husband is not. Sexy, aggressive, and intense. Like melt me into a puddle intense. Who cares if I used to babysit him? He’s a grown man, now. And I mean, FULLY grown.
All I wanted was a night out with him, but one taste and I’m addicted.
BOBBY When Lisa Howard finally gets rid of her cheating husband, I want to take her right then and there. I got rid of that abusive bastard and built a billion dollar empire all for her. Nothing could satisfy my ravenous hunger but taking a bite of that sweet little thing.
So when she offers herself up to me for one night, I'm not about to refuse. She's nothing like the sorority bimbos at Northfield U. She is a real woman. Sexy, mature, and an ass so fine I would give up my billions just for a taste.
But I know a taste won’t be enough and one night too short for all the dirty things I want to do to her and that deliciously curvy body.
She’ll be mine, but not just for tonight. Forever.
This is a full-length, standalone, steamy 18+ romance. No cheating or cliffhangers, and definitely a wonderful Happily Ever After guaranteed.
I had no clue what I’d do. It’s the kind of situation you never plan for, never expect to have to plan for. And even if you try, even if you think you know what you’ll do or how you’ll act, you find out that the truth is: You really don’t know yourself at all. I wait, sitting in that old ratty armchair of his. The orange one that was now stained brown. The one he refused to throw out no matter how much it reeked of alcohol and cigarettes. The pictures are still on the coffee table. I looked them over carefully, in some twisted morbid curiosity. The girl couldn’t be a day over 18 and she seemed to be enjoying herself, but in some fake, exaggerated way like she was in a porn video or she learned how to act when getting fucked from a porn video. And of course, it was missionary, the boring bastard. I’m not thinking about anything, not planning, not scheming. I’m not even angry. For the first time in a long while, my head is completely clear. Like some weird meditation, all I do is sit and wait. He strolls through the front door, whistling a tune. The balls on him. Relaxed and casual, as if he didn’t just come back from fucking his teenage whore. He looks at me once but doesn’t look twice. Even though, across my lap is a silver aluminum baseball bat. The same bat that we’ve kept by the front door for our protection, for just in case. Just in case of a robbery. Just in case of a home invasion. Just in case my scumbag husband decides to cheat on me. All those years, it sat unused. Until today. I don’t know what was the last straw. The whistling, the nonchalant way he ignored me or maybe it was that shit-eating grin he had plastered on his smug face. But one second I’m sitting in the living room and the next, I’m tackling him like a football linebacker. Head down, shoulders square, straight into his unsuspecting back. He pitches forward, quite comically, crashing to the ground in a heap. All accompanied by a satisfactory crunch. And as I stood over him, something dark and violent emerged, something that wasn’t so clean and pure. Something that I kept buried and hidden for years as the perfect housewife, the perfect stay at home mom. The funny thing is, he didn’t think I would do it. The whole time, the asshole looked up at me and just laughed, smirking in my face. That is, until the first swing of the bat came down on him. And goddamn, if it didn’t feel amazing. For me. Not for him. I can still picture that deliciously depraved moment when that cheesy smile of his gave way to a look of pain and confusion. Ohhh, god! This was it! That utterly satisfying feeling. Like the good fuck he was never able to give me. As I kept raining down blow after blow, his disbelief quickly turned into one of horror, crying for me to stop. But I didn’t. It only added to my wonderful, cathartic experience. And I savored every single wince, every little whimper, feeding off his pain. Finally, he could feel what I felt. All the abuse, all the suffocating agony from living under his oppressive rule. Finally, I could give it all back to him. Let me give you a piece of advice: it’s unhealthy to repress that much shit. So don’t. Unless one day, you might end up beating your douchebag husband half to death. After a good solid minute of getting his ass beat, he finally snatches an opportunity to escape. As I take a breather, he scrambles towards the front door, running out onto the lawn. But he doesn’t get far. He’s not getting away. Not today. Cause right now, there’s a fucking animal inside me. I chase him down and knocking him to the grass, continuing my assault with the bat. I can’t seem to stop myself. Not that I want to. One part of me is filled with wrathful vengeance and the other looks on a spectator, as if I’m watching a horror movie. I really like horror movies. Suddenly, big fat hairy arms wrap around my waist, pulling me away from Donald. Donald my husband: The liar. The cheater. The piece of shit. God, I fucking hate him. Wrapped up in those thick arms, I struggle helplessly, flailing like a bug on it’s back. The man who’s gathered me up in a massive bearhug is Robert Carter, our nextdoor neighbor, with his wife Patty kneeling next to the crying Donald. Crying. Literally. Big crocodile tears. What a disgusting faker, trying to squeeze sympathy out of our neighbors. I didn’t hit him all that hard. I think.
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Today for “Feature Friday” let us welcome the wonderful Dianna Wyles with her book Count Blessings 1 2 3 Rock Hearts, Rock Hearts, Can you see?
We will have info about the book and author. Plus a great interview, a top 10 List by Dianna
Make sure to check everything out and go and support her and add her books to your TBR ;)
Happy Reading :)
***NOT THE FINAL COVER***
"Counting Blessings 1 2 3 Rock Hearts, Rock Hearts, Can you see?" is a fun and interactive children's book where we explore nature as we search for rock heart blessings to count. If you seek,then you will find, Beautiful Blessings, by Grand design. In addition to you enjoying giggles and counting fun, there is a positive, feel good message about looking for blessings in life. This book is child-like in format yet inspiration for all ages. It's a wonderful way to spend quality time with those special little people in your life while refreshing your spirit as well. How many Rock heart blessings can you count?
Hello Dianna. Thank you for taking the time to stop in and chat with us, it is great to have you.
If you could co-write a book with any author dead or alive, who would it be?
Tough question, I would welcome co-writing with many of my talented Author Friends…. I believe Alex E. Carey and I would make great co-authors. She is the author of the Elemental Series & writes YA Fantasy with paranormal twists, so I think it would be fun to make a children’s book with some fun twists in it with her.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Let go of fear and doubt sooner in life and just write! Write for fun! Write for healing! Write to inspire and to be inspired! Just write ❤
What was the last book you read that made you cry?
The bible>> about the Crucifixion
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Mailing my books to giveaway and contest winners! Best feeling ever ❤
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I read ALL my book reviews and get excited over every one of them. So far I haven’t had a bad review but I would still be pleased that they took the time to leave a review as long as it was respectfully written… you can’t please everyone and I’m not trying to… I simply want to inspire those who want my inspiration.
Top Ten Places I would like to Visit ( All are locations having natural heart formations) ❤
I am a Christian writer with a passion for photography and author of my first two children’s books “Heart Blessings: A Children’s Seek and Find” and “Beautiful Blessings & Babbling Brooks". My intent is to create something that is simple and childlike in format yet ageless in content and inspiration :). I have a couple more children’s book projects in process and a few adult inspirational books in the works as well. I am an active member of Refreshing Hope Ministries > a worldwide online ministry system where I lead a photography group, a private group for victims of abuse called Haven of Hope, and write a blog now and then. I am a nature nut and a naturalist who enjoys spending as much time in the great outdoors as possible. It is my desire to inspire a positive attitude, gratefulness for life, and to introduce God's beauty, wonder and unconditional love to a world that has yet to meet our awesome creator, as well as touch the hearts of those who already call him Father.
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Today’s stop is for Cheryl Ann Smith’s The Sweetheart Kiss . We will have info about the book and author, and a great excerpt from the book, plus a great giveaway. Make sure to check everything out and enter the giveaway.
Happy Reading :)
Jess Lucas works hard at the all-female PI firm Brash & Brazen, and after a brush with death, she’s determined to play hard too—preferably with a certain detective on the Ann Arbor police force…
Jess was stuck at a frenemy’s wedding, playing bridesmaid in a mustard-yellow monstrosity, when chaos erupted. First the bride’s ex tried to stop the wedding. Then someone really put a damper on the big day by sending a bullet through a stained glass window and into one of the groomsmen. At least her ugly dress came in handy to stop the bleeding . . .
While the poor guy is rushed to the ER, Jess gets grilled by a gorgeous cop who’s not thrilled to learn she’s part PI and part pit bull. But he has to admit she’s highly observant . . . and he observes that she’s pretty hot, too.
The thing is, Jess was walking up the same aisle as the victim, and Sam suspects she was the real target. It’s more than professional duty that makes him want to protect her—if he doesn’t arrest her first for interfering in his investigation . . .
There was one thing guaranteed to get Jess Lucas through a wedding that she didn’t want to be in, with a bride she intensely disliked, and a headache that had spiked through her skull the moment she slipped the hideous bridesmaid dress over her head: Alcohol. The crystal clear liquid called to her with a sweet siren song from within the bottom of her oversized tote bag. There had been speculation among her friends that Amelia Earhart— and aircraft—could be found in the tote along with Bigfoot and extinct dodo birds, if the right team of explorers took on the search. Laying that rumor to rest would have to wait until she finished soaking her throbbing brain with fermented potatoes and ethanol. Jess was certain a quick dash into the changing room wouldn’t be noticed as the groom hadn’t yet taken his position at the altar. Maybe the clueless sap had wised up and was now making a run for the Ohio border. No luck. She caught a glimpse of him talking to the minister and smiling. She didn’t know him well, but felt sorry for the guy. He was so dumbstruck by love that he couldn’t see past the big teeth and enhanced breasts to the character within his future wife. But that wasn’t Jess’s problem. The ceremony was not to start for three minutes and she was quick, despite a slight buzz from previous liquor shots. Without any impediments to block her path, she could get to the bride’s room, down the 1.5 ounces of vodka left from a raid on the minibar during a trip to Vegas last summer, and be back in line before anyone noticed her missing. She just had to shake off groomsman number three. She’d brought a variety six pack of those little booze bottles, knowing that in order to survive the wedding of Mandy Mae Smith—soon to be Jones—she’d need liquid courage. Not much of a drinker, she’d managed to chug three bottles already, but her duties had kept her from the fourth. The white crinoline along the bodice of the wide fifties-prom-dress inspired bridesmaid dress was already rubbing off the top layer of skin on her left arm pit. By the time the evening came to a thank-God-it’s-over close, she intended to be ripping drunk and naked with a groomsman in a vestibule closet somewhere. After all, wasn’t a single woman entitled to be cliché at least once in her life? “Ready?” “Er, what?” Jess looked way up at tall groomsman number three, Dodger Drake. Yes, that was his name. His fake tanned orange face grinned down from a foot above her, his teeth so white that she became convinced he ate, slept, and probably had sex while wearing teeth whitening trays. “It’s time to line up,” Dodger said and his gaze dipped unapologetically to her modest cleavage pushed up under her chin by the bone-corset bodice of the dress. Gawd, she hoped that Dodger was a nickname and not some sick joke his parents had heaped on their innocent baby to toughen him up on the playground. By the way he was measuring her cup size, he was clearly angling to be her next sexual misadventure. Heck, her first sexual misadventure. She was too smart to jump into anything without weighing the pros and cons beforehand. For the last several very long weeks, she’d been weighted down by gloom over a very serious health scare. After getting good news, she’d taken a look at her life and wasn’t happy with what she saw reflected back at her. Outside of work, she’d been kind of going along without much purpose. Her social life was boring and she hadn’t had an adventure since she and her friends had been kicked off a bus and almost eaten by buzzards. She was healthy now. It was time to start living. Perhaps she should do something reckless. She’d have to make a plan. “Oh, okay,” she said and let him lead her into the line. Damn. The bottle would have to wait, she thought, as she tugged at the torturous gown. Really, who would choose mustard yellow corseted dresses with lime and red sashes for a wedding anyway? Mandy, that’s who. Dear lord, why had she agreed to this epic mess? Jess hated Mandy. Oh, they’d been friends once. Then Mandy had blossomed after getting her severe overbite corrected, become promiscuous during the last two years of high school, and slept with Jess’s boyfriend of two years, Darren. A long-winded, weepy apology had tamped down Jess’s desire to kill her, and they’d left high school as frenemies. After all, by the time Jess found out about the cheating, Darren had already done it with half of the girls in their town over the age of sixteen. So what was one more, Mandy had said. As if that made Jess feel any better. Besides, the ex-boyfriend with the best friend relationship didn’t last much longer than the time it took for Darren to untangle Mandy’s lacy thong from his braces the night the cops found them parked behind the elementary school. His head had popped up and he was grinning like he’d won the lottery, with red lace snagged on silver metal. He’d been an overeager virgin, saddled with a girlfriend who wasn’t ready to go past second base, and full of raging hormones. After Mandy, his new reputation as a stud had gained him a following of would-be-hoes who were ready to see if braces were indeed better than a vibrator on certain areas of the female anatomy. And dear Mandy had spent their senior year in high school orally copulating her way through 25 percent of the males of the senior class. Senior photos that year were particularly chipper. The young men had a lot to smile about. This kind of behavior would lead psychologists to suspect childhood trauma or some sort of mental malady. But no, Mandy just liked sex. And she would have made a dent in the other 75 percent if not for that dreaded event called graduation. So when the call from way out of left field came three weeks ago begging Jess to be part of Mandy’s big day, she had been unable to come up with an excuse quick enough to get out of it. So, here she was...bridesmaid number three. But what ticked her off most was that Mandy was so happy with Chad Jones that it sickened everyone around her. If karma had blessed Mandy with a taste of her own medicine, Chad would be currently doing it with the maid of honor behind the pulpit instead of high-fiving his best man and heading to the front of the church with a bounce in his step. Not that she was bitter or anything, Jess reminded herself. High school was nine years ago. They’d all moved on. Sure. Mandy had trotted off to college, become a lawyer, and was now marrying the man of her dreams. This ending was completely unfair to the good girls of the world. Jess glanced up the aisle to the groom and wondered if he knew his soon-to-be-wife had questionable morals. Of course he did. He was grinning like a dope who had won a life-long ride on the easy train—easy being the key word. Sloughing off envy, she promised to be happy for Mandy if it killed her. They had been close once. The odds of the marriage making it past the five-year anniversary were nil. The last she’d seen of Mandy before she’d fled the bachelorette party two nights ago was the future bride heading into a bathroom stall with a well-endowed stripper named Chaz, and he probably wasn’t helping her look for a lost contact lens between her breasts. “Do you think the marriage will succeed?” Dodger whispered, and for a second, Jess felt her cheeks warm. Was her skepticism that obvious? “Of course it will,” she replied without much enthusiasm. It wasn’t nice to say negative things about a bride on her wedding day. “Why would you think otherwise?” Dodger looked around and bent down. Some of his spray tan had rubbed off on his starched white tuxedo shirt. He smelled of beer and cigarettes. “I slept with her two months ago,” he said out of the corner of his mouth. “This morning before we left the hotel, I saw her leaving Mr. Jones’s room, carrying her shoes.” Jess’s mouth dropped open. “Mr. Jones? As in the father of the groom, Mr. Jones?” She glanced to the front of the church. The older but still handsome Mr. Jones was speaking to his half-his-age date, Chandi, and the girl was giggling. What was it about weddings that sexually charged up some people? Dodger grinned. “The same.” Brushing aside that Dodger had also slept with Mandy, Jess frowned. “Wait. I thought he was sharing a room with Chandi?” Dodger tipped his head left and lifted his brows. “He is.” It didn’t take her PI skills to figure that one out. Apparently, Mandy had upped her game. For some reason, Jess found this funny. She squelched a laugh behind her hand. Suddenly, she didn’t need the last bottle of booze. This was going to be fun. “Should we raise our hands when asked if anyone objects to the wedding? It sounds like intimate knowledge of the bride would qualify you as an expert, and she slept with my high school boyfriend. We both have good reasons to object.” The guy chuckled. “Ouch. Chad slept with my college girlfriend. I say we let this play out.” “They deserve each other,” she said and he nodded. With a new appreciation of groomsman number three, she hooked her arm with his and smiled. “Agreed.” The music started and off they went. In front of Dodger, groomsman number two was shellacked and polished down to his gleaming fingernails. He hooked arms with the giggling Shelby, who looked up at him in a way that suggested she wasn’t wearing panties. “I’ve been to three weddings this summer and I have to say, you’re the hottest bridesmaid so far,” Dodger said. “Thanks.” Jess wasn’t sure if that was some sort of awkward come-on, or whether she wanted to take it as such. The man looked like an over-sized Oompa Loompa. But after surviving a recent cancer scare and deciding life needed to be lived to the fullest, she hadn’t yet ruled him out for the coat closet. Sex was a distant memory. None of her recent dates had made her want to shave her legs or put on sexy panties. Maybe it was time for a no-commitments romp for fun. Besides, he had a good sense of humor with an evil streak. She admired that in a co-conspirator.
“Save me a dance later,” she said and shot him a flirty look. At least she hoped it was flirty. “Yes, ma’am. How can I refuse?” His response definitely held a sexual overtone. The way he returned his attention to her scooped neckline left no doubt that he had a coat closet all picked out for them. She just had to say yes. Could orange be her new...something? “Off we go,” said the elderly usher/uncle of the groom, shooing them out the open double doors. The likelihood of her actually sneaking off to the coat closet with Dodger was slim, but he made her laugh and she did enjoy his company. Except for Summer’s wedding last weekend, it had been weeks since she let herself have some fun. Now that she’d been given the all clear by the doc, the cloud of doom above her head was gone. Dodger couldn’t be the only single man at the wedding. Maybe she could find someone with more substance? Someone long-term? The possibilities were endless and she was seeing life through new eyes. It was time to get back to living. The music swelled with the beginning notes of the wedding song as Jess stepped over rose petals and Dodger grinned back at the bride. Mandy kept her eyes averted from his. It turned out that neither Jess nor Dodger—who was enjoying himself immensely—had to protest the marriage. They were steps away from the altar when a shout sounded from the back of the room and brought the processional to a halt. “Mandy, wait! Don’t do this!” Jess knew that voice. She flashed back nine years. It was the cold flush of the unfairness of life taking one last stab through her fourth and fifth vertebrae to kick her back to reality. Darren, aka cheating scumbag high school boyfriend, had arrived to steal the bride. Figured. The flower girl stopped and everyone swiveled in their chairs. Jess was halfway turned around, both disbelieving and shocked that he was still tangled up with Mandy after all these years, when a loud snap echoed through the old church, followed by a scream, and groomsman number two landed at her feet.
Cheryl Ann Smith became hooked on romance at age fourteen when she stayed up all night to read The Flame and The Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss. Her own writing journey happened much later, when one afternoon she ran out of books and decided to write her own. Previously, she has published five sexy Regency novels and one novella with Berkley in her School for Brides series.
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