Monday, October 31, 2022

#Excerpt: REVENGE HONEYMOON by K.J. Gillenwater

Revenge Honeymoon
K.J. Gillenwater
Publication date: October 30th 2022
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Contemporary, Romance

What happens in the Caribbean, stays in the Caribbean…

Emily Small has a big heart, a loud mouth, and a terrible taste in men. She’s used to living in her perfect best friend Ruby’s shadow – but when Ruby is left devastated at the altar, Emily becomes desperate to save her friend from heartache… and salvage their non-refundable cruise!

Emily hatches an ingenious plan to soothe Ruby’s broken heart by island-hopping together as an act of revenge. There’s only one teensy problem: the cruise is for newlyweds only. Naturally, they have a solution. They’ll pretend to be a married couple!

But their ten days of fun are about to spiral into a crazy, messy adventure that risks leaving a few hearts broken along the way – because when Emily bumps into the ship’s hot photographer, Max Keeling, she begins to wish she could rethink their arrangement. If her deception gets discovered, would they boot her off the boat? But Emily can’t keep her hands to herself, and her cruise fling could bring everything crashing down.

How can she support her best friend at the worst moment in her life while pursuing an out-of-her-league guy in the Caribbean? And can she somehow find a way to have the best of both worlds?

As a hilarious, sexy, and heartwarming read that strikes the perfect balance between feel-good emotions and laugh-out-loud humor, Revenge Honeymoon is a fun and memorable romantic comedy that you won’t be able to put down. Grab your copy today!

Note: This book was originally released on Kindle Vella in serialized format. This version has been edited with an additional epilogue added.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

“That was Tyler,” Emily gulped. Her mouth so dry she wished she had a bucketful of water to drink. “He’s not coming.” Her voice dropped to a bare whisper.

The cousins gasped and clutched one another in horror.

The make-up artist, who had been waiting to do final touch-ups, packed up her case in a flash and squeaked out of the room without a word.

Ruby’s eyes widened, her mouth formed an ‘o,’ and her body vibrated a fine tremor. “Oh no, was he in an accident? I told him not to drive himself. I’ve read so many stories about brides and grooms getting in accidents on the way to the church. Nerves, they said. Should I go to him? Where is he? Was he driving his father’s car or the rental? I hope he wasn’t driving the rental. We have to make it to our suite at the Hilton tonight, and I really don’t want to take an Uber. Or have my father drive. Oh, that would be so embarrassing.”

“Ruby.” Emily grasped her friend’s arm, the fine Mikado silk cool under her fingers. A long-sleeved dress for a late fall wedding maybe was too warm for the Tampa location, but it had been so gorgeous on her friend’s slender body there had been no other choice at the bridal boutique. “He’s calling off the wedding.”

Nausea soured Emily’s stomach.

Why did she have to be the one who picked up the phone?

One of the cousins burst into tears.

Ruby stood stock still in the middle of the bride’s dressing room. “But—”

Rhonda Madison Evers entered wearing a royal blue mother-of-the-bride dress covered in sequins. “My darling. The make-up artist told me the news. How could that man be so cruel?” She curved her arms around her only daughter.

“Mom, I don’t understand. How could he not be coming?” Ruby crumpled to the floor.

“You’ll crush your dress!” Mrs. Evers gasped and knelt beside her. She yanked at her daughter’s arm as if her will alone would lift up the one-hundred-twenty-five-pound woman and her ten pounds of underskirts and heavy fabric. “We can still return it.”

“No, we can’t. It’s been altered.” The bride spoke in a monotone.

“Well,” said Mrs. Evers, “there’s always eBay or Craigslist, I suppose.”

“Facebook Marketplace is better,” mumbled a cousin.

Mrs. Evers shot daggers in the woman’s direction.

“I need to talk to him.” The bride snapped her fingers at Emily. “Get Tyler on the phone. I will just demand that he come.”

Emily gulped and bit at her lower lip, then got up the courage to tell her best friend since grade school the worst thing a best friend could say. “Tyler doesn’t want to get married. Do you really want to force a man to marry you, Rubes?”

“But he promised me. He gave me this ring.” Ruby held out her hand for the cousins, her mother, Emily, and now the florist who’d arrived with her wedding bouquet. A gorgeous pear-shaped 2 ½ carat diamond decorated her left ring finger. “Would he have given me this ring if he didn’t want to marry me?”

“He doesn’t want to marry you, Rubes.” Emily knelt and put an arm around her friend. The bride sagged against her.

The florist quietly set the bridal bouquet on a chair and scrambled for the door.

Emily led Ruby to an empty chair and her mother sat beside her. “He’s an awful man. A terrible, mean, awful man. Who would do that to my little girl?” Mrs. Evers took her daughter by the hand and gripped it tightly.

“Ow, mother, that hurts.” Ruby pulled her hand out of her mother’s grasp and began to nibble on her freshly manicured nails. “What do we do about the guests?”

“Your father is telling them now,” Mrs. Evers reassured her.

“What will we do about the reception?” Ruby pulled the veil out of her hair.

“We’re inviting everyone to meet us over there,” her mother answered. “We’ve already paid for the hall, the food, the entertainment. We might as well have a party, don’t you think, darling?”

“What will we do about the honeymoon?” Ruby kicked off her satin heels and rubbed her toes.

“Well, I guess you’ll have to cancel,” sighed Mrs. Evers. “Maybe they’ll give you credit.”

“No, wait, I have a better idea,” said Emily.

And that’s when the revenge honeymoon took shape. That very moment. And Emily Small’s life would never be the same.

Author Bio:

K. J. Gillenwater has a B.A. in English and Spanish from Valparaiso University and an M.A. in Latin American Studies from University of California, Santa Barbara. She worked as a Russian linguist in the U.S. Navy, spending time at the National Security Agency doing secret things. After six years of service, she ended up as a technical writer in the software industry. She has lived all over the U.S. and currently resides in Wyoming with her family where she runs her own business writing government proposals and squeezes in fiction writing when she can. In the winter she likes to ski and snowshoe; in the summer she likes to garden with her husband, take walks with her dog, and explore the Big Horn Mountains. She has written multiple books and plans on writing more.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2022

#Excerpt: EMBRACING LOVE by Sara Ohlin

Embracing Love
Sara Ohlin
Publication date: October 25th 2022
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

When a broken woman risks her heart for the neighborhood hottie, heat rises from the ashes…

Once broken and abused, Sasha Kincaid is slowly rebuilding her life in the quiet town of Corvallis near her brother, his new wife and their group of friends. She’s content to work quietly at the bakery she secretly owns while learning to rebuild her trust in people. But when she starts to have steamy feelings for Connor Duggan, Sasha doesn’t know how to handle her emotions.

Neighborhood hottie and town favorite, general contractor Connor Duggan has only had eyes for Sasha Kincaid ever since she stepped foot in Corvallis a year ago. When she gives him an opening, he jumps at the chance to make her his, no matter how long it takes her to feel comfortable.

Connor’s warmth and patience allow Sasha to fall into a friendship, then an amazing sexual relationship with him—but believing it will be temporary and that’s all she’s worth. As they grow closer, Connor realizes he must win over her heart, not just her body, meaning he must push past his own insecurities of being rejected to battle Sasha’s fears and ghosts.

But the biggest obstacle is Sasha herself. Can she learn to trust again, and believe that she deserves a beautiful life with Connor?

Reader advisory: This book contains references to an abusive relationship, physical cruelty and violence, as well as mentions of non-nurturing parenting.

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Excerpt:

Connor grabbed the pastry out of the bag, took an enormous sniff, and this time when he looked at her, his eyes were darker, piercing, like she’d offered him her body as the warm tasty treat. I mean could it get any hotter out? Sasha tugged at the front of her T-shirt, sweat dripping down her back, from the sun, from nerves, she didn’t know.

“I…uhm…added caramel and nuts and dark brown sugar, so it kind of gets all sticky and gooey.” Her words felt thick coming out. Someone had stuffed her mouth with cotton and she didn’t know how to move her lips or her tongue.

“Sticky and gooey,” he said reverently. “My favorite.” Without taking his eyes off her, Connor devoured the caramel pecan pinwheel in three enormous bites. Savoring each taste, she imagined, as it burst on his tongue. When he finished that last swallow, she was unprepared for it, for the show to be over. But it wasn’t. He licked his lips, peered into the empty bag as if he might dare to find all the secrets of the universe. Then, then he took a step closer.

She should have stepped back, but she couldn’t, frozen in place by his sparking brown eyes, by the force of him. She was tall, but not Connor-Duggan tall, so she was forced to either stare at the baby attached to his chest or look up. She knew what the safer choice would be. But somehow her body didn’t care right this minute as a warm breeze swirled around them, as if they were the only two people in the park, no neighbors, no babies, no dogs, no responsibilities, no pasts.

“Damn.” His voice was hot and hushed, pure disbelief in his words. “That was the best thing I’ve ever tasted. In. My. Life.”

He had a dusting of brown sugar at the edge of his lip, where his tongue hadn’t reached. He didn’t speak, didn’t say anything else after his last words whispered around her, but still his body spoke to hers. She reached up without a thought and brushed the sugar off his mouth. “Sugar,” she whispered.

Neither one of them moved, and when she started to pull her hand away, he caught it in his large, warm one. Sasha sucked in her breath and watched as he carefully ran his thumb over her fingers, studied them with his intense focus.

“There’s something special here, in these fingers, that can create something purely outstanding.” He met her gaze again. “Something that tastes so good it makes a man swear.”

Sasha huffed out a laugh, not feeling one bit humorous. “Damn is hardly a swear.”

“Trust me.” He rocked her world again with those hooded eyes. “It takes something pretty serious to get a damn out of me.”


Author Bio:

Puget Sound based writer, Sara Ohlin is a mom, wannabe photographer, obsessive reader, ridiculous foodie, and the author of the contemporary romance novels, Handling the Rancher, Salvaging Love, Seducing the Dragonfly and Igniting Love.

She has over fifteen years of creative non-fiction and memoir writing experience, and you can find her essays at Anderbo.com, Feminine Collective, Mothers Always Write, Her View from Home, and in anthologies such as Are We Feeling Better Yet? Women Speak about Healthcare in America, Take Care: Tales, Tips, & Love from Women Caregivers, and Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Although she’s the author of many essays about life, grief, motherhood and the connections we make through delicious food and shared meals, Sara loves creating imaginary worlds with tight-knit communities in her romance novels. She credits her mother, Mary, Nora Roberts and Rosamunde Pilcher for her love of romance.

If she’s not reading or writing, you will most likely find her in the kitchen creating scrumptious meals with her two kids and amazing husband, or perhaps cooking up her next love story.

She once met a person who both “didn’t read books” and wasn’t “that into food” and it nearly broke her heart.

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Monday, October 24, 2022

#New Release: THE PRINCE'S PREGNANT SECRETARY by Emmy Grayson

The Prince’s Pregnant Secretary
Emmy Grayson
(The Van Ambrose Royals, #2)
Published by: Harlequin Presents
Publication date: October 25th 2022
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

In this royal baby romance by Emmy Grayson, becoming pregnant with the prince’s heir was completely unexpected!

One night. One baby.

One royal wedding!

Though Clara Stephenson takes five different pregnancy tests, she’s still unprepared for the result: she’s carrying her royal boss’s baby! The last thing that Clara wants is to become Prince Alaric’s convenient princess when the painful memories of her previous relationship still remain.

Making Clara his bride is the only way for Alaric to save his heir from a scandal-filled childhood like his own. But when their honeymoon reminds Clara and Alaric of the desire that led them to the altar, will they realize that more than duty binds them?

From Harlequin Presents: Escape to exotic locations where passion knows no bounds.

Read all The Van Ambrose Royals books:

Book 1: A Cinderella for the Prince’s Revenge
Book 2: The Prince’s Pregnant Secretary

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Author Bio:

Emmy's interest in romance can be traced back to her love of Nancy Drew books, when she tried to solve the mysteries of her favorite detective while rereading the romantic chapters with Ned Nickerson. Fast-forward a few years when she discovered a worn copy of "A Rose in Winter" by Kathleen Woodiwiss on her mother's bookshelf, and she was hooked. Over 20 years later, Harlequin Presents made her dream come true by offering her a contract for her first book.

When Emmy isn't writing or reading, she's chasing around her baby boy, feeding her menagerie of fur babies or carving out a little time on her front porch with her firefighter hubby.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2022

#Excerpt: LIKE A HERO by Michael J Bowler

Like A Hero
Michael J. Bowler
Publication date: October 18th 2022
Genres: Action, Adventure, Young Adult

Courage can be costly. Orphaned brothers Vincent and Dennis Villanueva learn the truth of those words when they create a masked crime fighter and turn him loose on Los Angeles. The brainchild of fourteen-year-old Dennis and embodied in twenty-one-year-old Vincent, “Invictus” hits the streets to jumpstart apathetic Angelenos into taking a more active role in their city.

But reality isn’t a comic book. Vincent finds poverty, homelessness, drug addiction, abuse, and cast-off children. Labeled a vigilante and criminal, the shy grad student with formidable martial arts talent and abysmal people skills soon doubts his ability to make an impact.

Forced to straddle an ambiguous line between moral and legal, he becomes disheartened and secretive, hiding the truth of what he’s doing from Dennis and driving a wedge between them. Feeling neglected, Dennis infiltrates a dangerous drug ring to show Vincent he can be just as heroic, not knowing that the woman in charge is weaving an insidious plot against Invictus as part of her citywide scheme of vengeance. In a race against time, Vincent must regain Dennis’s trust before the brother he loves is lost to him forever.

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SNEAK PEEK:

Dennis lay face down on the soccer field, while men in ski masks strolled among his prone classmates waving semi-automatic weapons at anyone who moved. He considered employing his martial arts skills, but being skinny and only passably good, such foolish courage would probably get him killed.

He shook his hair from in front of his eyes with a slight jerking motion and focused on James and Linda, lying on the field off to the side with the rest of the parents.

James had his head slightly raised and Dennis caught his eye. When a gun- man approached, James quickly returned his face to the grass. James wanted to intervene. That was obvious by the way he kept looking around for some kind of opening. But could he do anything without getting people killed?

The masked men called themselves “anarchists” and were well armed. Despite lying prone for the past forty minutes, Dennis had managed to spot sentries pa- trolling the rooftops, apparently stationed there to prevent the cops outside from storming the school and making their way to the field. He’d also noted the types of weapons these guys carried and considered how best each could be disarmed if this was a comic book scenario.

Except it wasn’t.

He considered the anarchists’ claims. They said they were “anti-capitalism” and “anti-public-school indoctrination,” but then they demanded twenty million as ransom for not killing him and his classmates, which sounded pretty capitalistic to him.

Raising his eyes once more, he noted a big, broad-shouldered dude wearing a black and blue ski mask, staring right at him while chatting with a burly guy holding an Uzi. Dennis averted his eyes and hoped he hadn’t called too much attention to himself. He’d overheard them earlier as they conversed by walkie-talkie. Masked guy was called “C-1” and burly guy “C-2” by the other anarchists, so he figured they ran the show.

He glanced over at Jackson and Kenny lying a few feet away. His two best friends looked terrified. Jackson’s curly hair partially hid his brown eyes, but Kenny’s bright blue ones screamed pure fear. Dennis tried for an encouraging smile, but it was difficult with his cheek pressed against the grass.

All his comic book scenarios started much like this one, except the hero al- ways knew what to do. As annoying as Robin could be, he’d know what to do even if Batman wasn’t around. Dennis’s mind raced with ideas. He knew James was packing—on duty or off, James always packed. But if he pulled his gun, kids would die.

I wish I’d thought of something when these guys first showed up.

Instead, he’d frozen with fear when the masked men flooded onto the field. And now with everything that had gone down since, Dennis trembled with the terrifying possibility that someone would die. Maybe him. Sadly, he wasn’t the hero of his dreams.

He peered at the administration buildings. Long and single story, the two main wings spread the length of the field. His gaze traveled up and he squinted with confusion. The sentry who’d been on duty at the north end was gone.

What the…?

Dennis knew his weaponry from playing Call of Duty and other war games, and that guy had been patrolling with an Artic Warfare Super Magnum sniper rifle, likely a .338 Lapua Magnum, but Dennis was too far away to be sure of the model.

Only now the guy was gone. With C-2 barely ten feet away, Dennis used caution to scan the south roof. That sentry was gone, too. SWAT maybe? He knew James’ mean-ass boss would have called in the big guns for something like this. But he was also sure those sentries had been up there no more than two minutes ago.

Could it be Invictus?

His heart thumped with hope. Vincent must know about this by now. Dennis pressed his face into the grass and pretended to look scared. Hell, he didn’t have to pretend. He was scared!

Author Bio:

Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author who grew up in Northern California. He majored in English/Theatre at Santa Clara University, earned a master’s in film production from Loyola Marymount University, a teaching credential in English from LMU, and a master’s in Special Education from Cal State University Dominguez Hills. Michael taught high school in Hawthorne, California, both in general education and to students with disabilities. When Michael is not writing, he serves as a youth mentor with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and a volunteer within the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles, but mostly he takes care of his recently adopted son. He is a passionate advocate for the fair treatment of children and teens in California and hopes that his books can show young people they are not alone in their struggles.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2022

#Review: THE LADY AND THE SCAMP by Shana Galen

 


 3.5 of 5 stars

Emily Blythe-Coston, Lady Averley, is serving Queen Victoria after her husband's death and has found peace within the royal household. That is until Will Galloway shows up. At first, Emily thinks he's just a rogue concerned only with his own pleasure, but the more times they are thrown together, the more her opinion changes of him. What she doesn't know is that he's been sent to investigate her possible involvement in a plot to kill the queen. Will is determined to stay impartial to find out Emily's guilt or innocence. Can he keep his feelings in check for the pale beauty or will his growing attraction cause them both irreparable harm?

I usually love Ms. Galen's books and thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the series especially the banter between the two main characters. This book started out very slow, and I admit I put it down a few times without any "need to know what happens" urgency I usually have reading the author's books. However, the plot picked up at about the 30% mark, and it was nonstop action after that. Ms. Galen does a good job of weaving historical facts into the story regarding Queen Victoria, and that was very interesting. While this book wasn't my favorite, I look forward to reading more stories in The Royal Saboteurs series.

I voluntarily read the advanced reader copy and all opinions are my own.



Tuesday, October 4, 2022

#Review: THE VIRGIN WHO CAPTURED A VISCOUNT by Anna Bradley

 


5 of 5 stars

Mairi Cameron has come to London for one purpose--to find Daniel Brixton and convince him to return home with her to Scotland. Her grandmother has been accused of murder-his murder-but Daniel is alive and well. Problem is, Daniel doesn't remember anything about Scotland and at first, refuses to go back with Mairi. But, Mairi is persistent, and together they head back to her hometown, hoping they're not too late to save her beloved grandmother. Daniel doesn't believe a word Mairi says about his past, but there's something about the wee Scottish lass that has him following her. Will they be able to make it in time?

This was a delightful departure from the usual glittering balls and teas. It was dark, gritty, and a great mystery that would be difficult to unravel. Miss Bradley does a fantastic job teasing out Daniel's past through every tortured dream and memory. I loved that Mairi was so fierce, especially since she was described as "a wee lass." It was great to see she could take care of herself. This was one of the most enjoyable stories I've read in a long while, and I look forward to reading more in the series.

I voluntarily read the advanced reader copy and all opinions are my own.