Dare to Love by Amanda Kaitlyn Chapter Reveal


Title: Dare to Love
Series: The Beautifully Broken Series
Author: Amanda Kaitlyn
Genre: LGBT Romance/Gay Romance/New Adult Fiction
Release Date: June 9, 2017 

 

Chapter One

Ally
THE SMELL OF freshly brewed coffee and powdered sugar hit my nose as I entered the coffee shop my older brother, Lucas and his wife owned. The scent of coffee and sweet pastries was heavenly and I stepped in the long line of customers, eager for my caffeine fix.
“Allison? Is that you?” I heard my name being called and I turned toward the sound, spotting my sister in law, Kaelyn rushing over to me from behind the counter. Smiling wide, I moved into her widely held arms and felt her sigh of relief against my shoulder. I’d been driving all night long and was bone tired, but I was excited to finally be here.
I graduated from Art School yesterday and to say it felt damn good would be an understatement. It felt amazing. It felt even better to be near family again, even if I wasn’t back home in Chicago like I wanted.
When my brother asked me to help out in the cafe over the next three months, I thought it would be fun to have a nice, relaxing winter down south.
My sculptures could wait, after all.
“I’m so happy your here! We are going to have a blast this winter!”
Kaelyn’s excited voice said in my ear and I nodded, my smile getting even bigger on my face. As she squeezed me even tighter to her side and we stepped forward in the line, I gave her an even tighter one in return.
Now that I’d seen her, this place felt so much warmer than I thought possible and it felt just like coming home.
God, how I had missed this girl.
We sat in the large, deeply cushioned chairs that were placed against the walls of windows making the space light up with bright, natural light. My eyes took everything in and I felt my body become rejuvenated just from the ambiance of the place.
How had I never been here before?
The coffee shop and bakery had been in Kaelyn’s family for two generations and now I could see why it was so important to her. My brother had wanted her to sell off her shares of the business and move back to Chicago with him and their two beautiful daughters but she’d resisted. She wanted to finish out the year before transferring her half of The Joyous Cup to her best friend and business partner, Meghan. Having grown up in the heart of the windy city, I couldn’t help but want her and my brother to come back home where our family was. Ever since I was a young girl, I was surrounded by people who loved and cared for me. My family was tightly knit and though, yes it could prove to be a bit stifling- I loved every moment of it.
“So? How was the drive in? Did you hit any traffic?”
“No, it was a pretty smooth drive. I stopped for a few hours half way through. Who knew staring at the road could make me so damn tired?”
Kaelyn laughed softly, shaking her head.
“I still can’t believe you drove all the way here, by your self for that matter. Babe, Luke would have driven you.”
I waved her concerns off, unworried.
When I was growing up, my Dad took a truck driving job one year when the business at the garage wasn’t doing very well. Most times, I would tag along on his long drives if they landed on a weekend or during that winter. I loved the feeling I got from the slow hum of a powerful engine underneath me and the sight of the road in front of me. But after close to thirty hours behind the wheel, it had definitely worn me out.
I desperately wanted to get to the Bed and Breakfast I booked for the winter and sink my tired body into a nice, hot bath.
“You look exhausted, Allison. How about I close down early and drive you to the hotel?” Her hand rested on my knee then, but I shook my head, not wanting to be a bother. It was only a few minutes drive, anyways.
“No, no. That’s okay, Kel. I’m going to head out, though.”
I stood and embraced her and felt her slender arms wrap around my waist and hug me just as fiercely.
“Give the goofball a big kiss and hug for me, OK?”
I said into her ear, fondness for Luke clear in the tone of my voice.
Nodding, she pulled away and I stepped out into the cool, crisp night air. Digging a hand through my black-strapped purse on my shoulder, I slid my keys out and unlocked my car before sliding back in front of the wheel.
Only a few more minutes. I told myself, putting the gear into drive and merging back onto the now quiet street toward my home for the winter.
A Bed & Breakfast was nested between two large, very old oak trees and the only parking that I could find was a spot just next to the front door.
My feet ached as I went inside and set my suitcase and carry on bag on the luggage cart I spotted by the interior doors.
“Welcome to Bunk and Bean Bed and Breakfast! My name is Bree, how can I help ya?”
The familiar voice roused me from my long, indulgent yawn and a smile spread my lips as the petite woman behind the counter turned toward me.
“Oh my gosh! Allison?”
Nodding, I dropped my purse onto the luggage cart and rushed toward her, curling my arms around her as soon as I got close enough.
“I can’t believe your here, Bree! I’ve missed you so much!”
She pulled away from our hug first, her eyes shining with excitement.
“How have you been? Shit, girl, it’s been so long since I last saw you!”
I wiped away a stray tear from my face, nodding. Bree James and I had been best friends since I could remember ever having one. Our mothers were the best of friends, even calling each other sisters as we were growing up. It was natural that we became fast friends as children. I shook my head in blissful remembrance at all of the shenanigans we caused back then. Bree and I were attached at the hip. As soon as we could leave home without our protective mothers hovering nearby, we set out to cause mischief. My favorite had to be when we poured ice water in a metal jug and attached it to the door of my fathers tool shed, causing him to be pelted when it opened. The look on his face as he spotted us hiding and giggling loudly in the nearby bushes? Priceless.
Since I moved away from our home town of Chicago, Illinois, we had lost touch. At first, it was small. We would miss our daily phone calls, a visit back home would be canceled or I would forget to video chat her after class one night. It was hard to be so far away from the large, loving home I grew up in. It was even more difficult to adapt to living without the constant presence of my two best friends, Bree and Nathan. I didn’t notice how far Bree and I had strayed from our friendship until it was too late.
As we hugged again and reminisced on our childhood adventures, I thanked God that there was a such thing as social media. We’d reconnected online last year and were thankfully as close as ever, especially now that I was spending the hot, Texas winter here. I was so happy she was here.
“The last few weeks have been crazy, Bree. With final projects being due and my older brothers coming into the city to attend my graduation, I was sure I’d go crazy before the ceremony ended!”
Her sweet, carefree laugh hit my ear.
I sometimes thought that it was crazy we were ever able to get along.
We were opposite in almost every way. I was bright and happy, overly excited for every phase of life and eager to take the world by the horns.
I had always been that way.
The always present support of my loving family had made me thrust out of my shell at a young age.
Complete with bright, neon colors, long flow skirts and enough books to last me a lifetime, that was who I was.
Bree was this small, light skinned beauty with black hair that fell down her back in waves. Her eyes were the color of the sea- deep, navy blue with flecks of green and yellow in them. She always wore dark colors, black, brown or brown. And she was always in either a pants suit or a pair of snugly fit Levi jeans. Bree hated to dress up and thought of herself somewhat goth. Her makeup was dark, ruby red lipstick and silver eye-shadow. The faint lines of her midnight black eyeliner made her eyes look even brighter as she lifted her head and I smiled.
Out of all of the time I had known her, she never changed.
I loved that so much because I knew she was real, through and through.
Growing up under the watchful gaze of the public meant that most friends I had made as a child were that of motive. Girls became friends with me to get closer to my musician brothers. Boys befriended me in hopes of getting a shot with my families record company. Almost none of them were founded by true friendship. At first, it hurt. But then I realized that in time, I would find who my real, my true friends were. In the end of high school, I learned who that friend had been all along.
Bree James.
“I’m so damn proud of you. I knew you could do it. When you left, I was mad. Not going to lie about that. But your my best friend. My confidant. My sister from another mister,” A loud laugh leaves me at that but she just squeezes my hand in hers and continues.
“I couldn’t be mad at you for long, though. You followed your dream of sculpture like a fucking badass, Allison.”
I broke into a mess at her honest words and flung my arms around her, again. As she hugged me just as fiercely, I realized she was here. In Fredricksburg, Texas.
My eyebrows drew together at the realization because it just didn’t make sense. We’d grown up in Illinois. Her family was in Illinois. Why was she here, now?
“What are you doing here, Bree?”
She pulled back, smiling wider at my question.
“I own this place. My husband and I bought it after the Wilson’s, the previous owners, passed away. Don’t you just love this little place?”
My heart squeezed in my chest almost painfully. God, I’d missed out on so much while I was away. Somehow my once cynical and hopeless romantic best friend had gone and gotten married and if the twinkle in her eyes was any indication, she was happy. She had the life I always hoped she would. Surrounded by love and happiness and void of the sorrow her childhood had once given her. My best friend was finally happy.
“Oh, I’m so happy for you. God, we missed a lot in each others lives, huh?”
I asked, cradling her face as a bright, no holds barred smile spreads across her face.
“It was only last month that we got married.”
I was pretty sure my eyes bulged out of my head as I heard her voice whisper across the space between us, her voice quiet as if she hadn’t meant to omit that confession.
“I wish I had known, girl. I would have loved to be there”
Shaking her head, she busies herself with the folder in her hands.
I could feel the nerves radiating off of her in waves. Somewhere between the topic of the bed and breakfast and Kingsley, she’d become a bundle of nerves.
“It was, uh, a quick wedding”
“Oh my gosh, Bree!”
“What!” Her quiet yell snapped back at me and my eyes widened as I noticed the blush that was now littered across her cheeks.
“It was a shotgun wedding?”
Sighing loudly, she plopped back into the chair next to me and nodded, then quickly, she was shaking her head again.
“Uh, no, I swear it wasn’t like that. I moved here a year ago and I needed a part time job between classes. Something to fill my time. Kingsley worked at the local bar and hired me on the spot. Almost immediately, we began dating. It was slow going at first, though. He would stay after his shifts ended and we had dinner after the night crew had left. He’s just got this way about him, Allison.”
“My ears are ringing, Bree. You bragging about me to our customers, now?”
A deep, booming voice came from the doorway of the front lobby and my eyes moved toward the sound. When my eyes landed on the large, tall man that not only stood in the doorway but filled it completely, I gasped in surprise.
“Hey, I didn’t think you would be home for a while. How was the meeting?”
Bree stood and walked toward him, her hands instantly drawing up to touch his scruffy face. I watched, entranced as the seemingly hard, stone faced man visibly softened the moment she was touching him. Bending his knees just slightly, he brought his wide, muscled arms around her back to take hold of her ass as he lifted her up his body that had to be at least 6’5. Her hands smoothed over his cheek as she smiled, a look passing through them that spoke volumes as to how they felt about each other. My best friend was in love.
“It was fine. This contractor is gonna get his ass kicked if he doesn’t stop beating around the bush. I don’t need him to argue with me. I just need him to get this shit done” Even with the anger spliced through his tone, his body molded tightly to hers, his hands squeezing her bottom in a silent claiming.
“King. I want you to meet someone. Stop feeling me up, silly man”
He scoffed roughly, hiking her body up a few inches until their mouths touched.
“Don’t tell me what to do, woman”
“Let me down.”
Frowning, he kissed her briefly, then caved to her softly spoken demand.
“Allison, this is my husband, Kingsley. Kingsley, baby, meet my best friend from high school, Allison.”
He stepped forward, out reaching one large hand to me.
“I’m damn glad to meet you, Allison. Bree has missed you something fierce.”
Shaking his hand, I nodded.
I had missed her, too.
“Me too. It looks like you make her very happy.”
Bree rested her head against his shoulder, proving my words were true.

A small, almost private smile took up residence on his face.

“Yeah,” He nodded once. “I guess, I do”
***
The softly blowing wind whispered over my face, my feet stepping over crushed leaves as I walked toward the small park in the middle of town the following day. After spending some much needed time with Bree and her husband, I hadn’t been able to keep the smile off of my face. It felt so damn good to be back near the people that made me happy, made me laugh. Though I hadn’t seen my brother yet, I knew that feeling of true happiness of this place would only grow once I did. Luke was my biggest fan, after all. Hell, wasn’t that what older brothers were for?
The wind of the cool, winter day picked up and my hands reached for the small zipper of the black fleece jacket I wore, dragging it up until it reached my chin. The sun shone above, causing rays of light to cascade over the hills of the grass covered ground in Fell’s Park.
There was another rolling hill toward the ending of grass, where the green ground led to a small, dirt road and I noticed a quaint little brick house nearby. I squinted my eyes, my gaze landing on the small sign at the top of the door. As I moved closer, my hands slipped into the deep pockets of my Lucky dark denim jeans. The sign becoming larger as I approached, my curiosity piqued.
Who knew an animal shelter lay in the center of the small park I chose to take a walk in?
Ever since I was a young girl, I had a very special love for animals of all kind.
Dogs, cats, anything I could get my hands on, I loved them.
I couldn’t count on one hand how many animals I had as a kid.
The time away from home hadn’t changed that.
An excited smile tugged my lips as I headed toward the small, brick house. But the closer I drew to the house, I noticed it wasn’t really a house at all.
It was three brick cottages built together, connecting by a large, cherry wood wrap porch. Behind the buildings lay a long pasture of grass area where I saw the heads of a few grazing horses. The excitement inside of me caused my heart to flutter like that of a little girl but still, I couldn’t retreat from what I had stumbled upon.
The large, wooden door creaked as it closed behind me and I stepped inside, cautious. The floors were the first thing I noticed. They were laminate hard wood and as I looked at them, I could tell they’d been laid by hand. I watched my older brothers do enough construction to know that wasn’t an easy task. My eyes moved next to the large front lobby and a long, narrow hallway that most likely led to where the animals were kept.
I all but jumped out of my skin from surprise as a woman’s voice came from the other side of the reception desk in front of me.
“Be with you in just a moment, Ma’am”
A shiver ran up my spine at the sound of the raspy voice and my hand came to rest on the handle of the door I’d just come through.
As if at a moments notice, I would bolt.
Maybe I would.
I didn’t understand the mixture of trepidation and curiosity that was now humming through my veins like liquid adrenaline.
I didn’t know why I suddenly wondered why I’d stumbled inside the building in the first place.
I stepped deeper inside as I heard the woman’s footsteps retreat from the desk, most likely getting something from the the office.
For some reason, the sound of her voice had struck a cord in me.
I had no idea how it sounded so familiar to me, since I hadn’t been here even a few days yet. How could I know her if we’d never actually met?
Maybe she was another old friend from up North, where I grew up.
Shit, maybe I was going crazy from the lack of sleep.
Between the long drive from New York, my late night yesterday and a fatigue from the drastic change of weather I’d experienced, I was probably losing it.
I was about to step back from the reception desk and toward the large, oak wood door when the woman came from the back office and into my view for the first time.
No. My inner voice screamed at me as I took a step back unconsciously, as if from sheer instinct. It couldn’t be. I told myself, shaking my head in disbelief.
“Ally,” She said, her rasped voice now so much clearer as she stood in front of me. There was only one woman who’d ever called me that. She was a ghost from my past but for this one, small moment, she was real.
“C-Charlie?”
One moment. 
One moment changed my life forever.
Her big green eyes looked at me and I knew I would never be the same. 
But sometimes in life, the things you want are the ones that stand just out of reach. 
The pain her loss in my life caused was indescribable. 
Hot, piercing pain that in all of my fourteen years of living, I had never experienced. 
I remembered her. 
Every day. 
Every bad date my friends pushed me into. 
Every lonely holiday I spent without her to talk to. 
Until I saw her. 
And I found her all over again. 
My father always told me that love snuck up on you when you were least expecting it. 
That’s what happened with her. 
Charlie was my girl from that moment on and I would do anything to protect her. 
Anything.
Amanda Kaitlyn is an author of heart stopping, sweet romance. Finding Beautiful is her debut novel. She is a hopeless romantic at heart. Books by Kristen Proby, Kelly Elliott and Stephanie Meyer have influenced her writing. One thing that inspires her is music. Country, pop, rock, Amanda enjoys it all. As a young girl, she loved fairy tales. As she grew up she realized that these stories change. Love isn’t always perfect and the fight of that love is what urges her to write the stories she does. Between the pages of her books you will find real, heartfelt romance, rugged emotion and lots of steam. Do you want to know more about Amanda Kaitlyn and her books? You can find her on social media and her author website.

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SHACKING UP by Helena Hunting Excerpt Reveal

SHACKING UP by Helena Hunting
SMP Swerve
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
eBook ISBN: 9781250133328; Price: $3.99
Paperback ISBN: 9781250150479; Price: $15.99
Audio ISBN: 9781427292797; Price: $23.99

Description
Ruby Scott is months behind on rent and can’t seem to land a steady job. She has one chance to turn things around with a big audition. But instead of getting her big break, she gets sick as a dog and completely bombs it in the most humiliating fashion. All thanks to a mysterious, gorgeous guy who kissed—and then coughed on—her at a party the night before.

Luckily, her best friend might have found the perfect opportunity; a job staying at the lavish penthouse apartment of hotel magnate Bancroft Mills while he’s out of town, taking care of his exotic pets. But when the newly-evicted Ruby arrives to meet her new employer, it turns out Bane is the same guy who got her sick.

Seeing his role in Ruby’s dilemma, Bane offers her a permanent job as his live-in pet sitter until she can get back on her feet. Filled with hilariously awkward encounters and enough sexual tension to heat a New York City block, Shacking Up, from NYT and USA Today bestselling author Helena Hunting, is sure to keep you laughing and swooning all night long.


EXCERPT
She taps the arm of her chair and regards me for a few seconds. “So . . . that woman you were with at the engagement party, I’m guessing she’s not your girlfriend or anything? I don’t need to worry about her freaking out because another woman is living in your condo?”
“You mean Brittany? Uh, no. She’s definitely not my girlfriend.”
“Good to know.”
“With all the travel a girlfriend hasn’t been all that practical.”
She cocks her head. “What do you mean?”
“When I played professional rugby I was on the road a lot. And now it seems like I’ll be on the road more than I anticipated. At least for a while. It makes it difficult to get involved.”
“Ah. I understand. Theater is challenging like that, too. The hours are odd since performances are typically in the evenings and on the weekends. Unless you’re dating another actor it’s not very practical.” She dips her spoon in her dessert again. “So that Brittany chick was just meant to be a hookup then?”
I’m sure Brittany would’ve been good with the hookup part, but I don’t mention that to Ruby. “I went out with her as a favor.”
She grimaces. “Wow, that’s some favor.”
“She’s not that bad.” I’m not sure why I’m defending Brittany, other than it seems to irritate Ruby.
“She called me a slut!”
“Well, you were kissing me, so . . .” I have to bite back the smile at her incredulity.
She points her spoon at me, her annoyance clear. “You kissed me.”
I shift an arm behind my head. “You didn’t put up much of a fight.”
Her mouth drops open and snaps shut just as quickly. It’s the same reaction I got out of her the other day when I brought the same thing up at the restaurant.
Her eyes narrow into slits. I bet she’s a real firecracker when she’s angry. I sort of want to push her buttons just to see what happens when she goes off. I bet angry fucking with her would be incredible. I wonder if she’s a hair puller, or a biter, or a scratcher. Wow. That got dirty fast.
She narrows her eyes. “We are not talking about this.”
“About you kissing me back? I wasn’t going to bring it up, but now that we’re on the subject—”
“Consider it un-brought-up.” Her cheeks flush.
I can’t help myself. I keep pushing. “No way. You as much as admitted that you kissed me back, right there. You opened the door. I’m walking through it. Why would you kiss a complete stranger?”
“I said I wasn’t talking about this.” The pink in her cheeks rises to the tips of her ears.
This is way too much fun. She’s got one hell of an angry glare going on. “I’m leaving you in my house for more than a month, alone. I need to be certain you have sound judgment.”
“I’ll have you know my judgment is usually very sound. However, when an incredibly attractive man surprises me with his tongue in my mouth, the most logical response is to kiss back.”
“You think I’m incredibly attractive?”
She rolls her eyes. “Of course that’s the part you choose to focus on. You see yourself in the mirror every day. You can’t tell me you don’t know you’re nice to look at. I’m just stating a fact.”
My ego inflates a little at this. I know I’m not unattractive, but my nose has been broken a couple of times, and there’s a bump I can’t ever get rid of without plastic surgery. I’ve had knee surgery and I’m not great under anesthetic, so I’d prefer to avoid that scenario. I also have a few small facial scars from playing rugby all those years, which, in the environment I grew up in, takes me down a few points on the desirability scale. Not that I give a fuck. It’s my mother who seems to be worried about it, as she does about every line and gray hair. It’s a blessing I don’t have any sisters.
I see. So you’re telling me if any incredibly attractive man did what I did, you’d respond the exact same way.”
“Now you’re generalizing. It’s circumstantial.”
“What do you mean by circumstantial?”
“Well, I guess I assumed you had to be a guest at the engagement party.”
“So that made it okay to kiss a stranger? Because we were attending the same event?”
She pauses with her spoon at her lips. “That’s not what I said.”
“It sounds like that’s what you’re implying.” That spoons slips into her mouth and she licks it clean before she responds. The entire time I’m thinking increasingly dirty thoughts about that tongue of hers.
She flounders a little. “It’s not like I was at some seedy bar with seedy douches. It was an engagement party.”
“So that makes me better somehow?”
“Are you always this antagonistic?” She throws up her hands. “You kissed me. You smelled good and you’re good with your tongue so I went with it. Stop judging me.”
“I’m not judging, I’m just asking. So on top of being incredibly attractive and smelling good I’m also an excellent kisser.”
“I never said excellent, you added your own adjective. And if you keep talking about how attractive you are you’ll go from a ten to a nine pretty fast.”


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Author Bio
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She’s writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.

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PLUS ONE by Aleatha Romig Excerpt Reveal


 

ARPlusOneBookCover6x9_MEDIUM

A fun, sexy new stand-alone from New York Times bestselling author Aleatha Romig.

He’s sexy and confident, the kind of man every woman notices. You know, the one with the to-die-for body and panty-melting smirk. And then there’s the way his designer suits drape over his broad shoulders and big…well, we’ve all heard the rumors, the ones that say he’s up for any challenge.

But I can’t see him that way. He’s my boss—technically one of the owners of the company where I work—and definitely not in my league. Men like him don’t notice women like me, and they don’t date them.

And I don’t date men like him.

Until that one time that I catch him in a compromising position when I’m also in need of a last-minute date for a wedding…and then it’s not real. It’s blackmail.

For one weekend, he’s my plus-one.

Beautiful and unobtainable.

From the moment she walked into my office with those stunning blue eyes and crazy sensual curves, she’s been on my mind. Three years and never once has she acted interested in me. Usually I flash a million-dollar smile and women fall to their knees, some literally.

Not her.

Then on the occasion that I agree to let another woman do that—fall to her knees—guess who happens to catch us?

It may not be the most conventional way to get on her radar, but I didn’t get this far in business without knowing when to seize an opportunity. If this sexy little firecracker with perfectly kissable lips thinks she can blackmail me into attending her cousin’s wedding, I’m going to jump at the chance to be her plus-one.

You love her darker side. Now it’s time to meet Leatha, the lighter side of Aleatha, as she trades her renowned twists and turns for laughs and love with this sexy new stand-alone romance, PLUS ONE.


PRE-ORDER NOW

Chapter 1

I push the thought of my mother’s call away and concentrate on my friend, Shana. As I do, the slippery napkin escapes my hold. Quickly, I slide from my seat to retrieve it.
“Excuse me,” a deep voice says as black leather loafers stop precariously close to where I’m now kneeling to rescue my napkin.
Seeing the shoes, I look up and suck in a deep breath.
Towering above me are long legs covered in tailored trousers. As I follow them up, they lead to a trim waist, a black belt, and a white shirt that buttons over a broad chest. I barely swallow the lump in my throat as I recognize the wide shoulders covered with the matching suit jacket. Seizing the napkin, I stand, suddenly face to face with one of the owners of the company where I work.
My face burns with embarrassment as his shimmering green eyes narrow and head tilts. Inches away from me is one of the handsomest men I’ve ever met. He should be on the cover of GQ, not gracing the halls of Buchanan and Willis.
His firm lips form a tight smirk and cheeks rise in amusement. “Miss Jones.”
Staring into the sea of emerald, I try to pretend I wasn’t just on my knees in a chic restaurant in front of Duncan Willis.
“Mr. Willis,” I respond, my voice cracking. Nervously I take a step backward. As if the moment weren’t awkward enough, I wobble, teetering precariously on my high heels.
Swiftly, he reaches out, grabs my elbow, and steadies my footing. Though he just saved me from making an even bigger fool out of myself by falling face-first into what I can only imagine is a hard, defined chest, my mind is suddenly consumed with the electricity of his touch. The energy heats my skin as his grasp lingers.

 
aleatharomig1

Aleatha Romig is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who lives in Indiana. She grew up in Mishawaka, graduated from Indiana University, and is currently living south of Indianapolis. Aleatha has raised three children with her high school sweetheart and husband of nearly thirty years. Before she became a full-time author, she worked days as a dental hygienist and spent her nights writing. Now, when she’s not imagining mind-blowing twists and turns, she likes to spend her time a with her family and friends. Her other pastimes include reading and creating heroes/anti-heroes who haunt your dreams!
Aleatha released her first novel, CONSEQUENCES, in August of 2011. CONSEQUENCES became a bestselling series with five novels and two companions released from 2011 through 2015. The compelling and epic story of Anthony and Claire Rawlings has graced more than half a million e-readers. Aleatha released the first of her series TALES FROM THE DARK SIDE, INSIDIOUS, in the fall of 2014. These stand alone thrillers continue Aleatha’s twisted style with an increase in heat.
In the fall of 2015, Aleatha moved head first into the world of dark romantic suspense with the release of BETRAYAL, the first of her five novel INFIDELITY series that has taken the reading world by storm. She also began her traditional publishing career with Thomas and Mercer. Her books INTO THE LIGHT and AWAY FROM THE DARK were published through this mystery/thriller publisher in 2016.

Aleatha is a “Published Author’s Network” member of the Romance Writers of America and a member of PEN America.  She is represented by Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

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Scarred by Chelsea Camaron and Ryan Michele Chapter Reveal


Title: Scarred
Series: Ruthless Rebels MC #3
Author: Chelsea Camaron and Ryan Michele
Genre: MC Romance
Release Date: May 19, 2017

Scarred

(Ruthless Rebels MC Book 3)

Co-written by:

Chelsea Camaron

And 

Ryan Michele

Copyright © Chelsea Camaron and Ryan Michele 2017

All Rights Reserved. This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction in whole or in part, without express written permission from Chelsea Camaron and Ryan Michele.

This is a work of fiction. All characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

1st edition published: May 2017

Cover Design by: M.L. Pahl of IndieVention Designs

Editing by: Asli Fratarcangeli

Proofreading: Silla Webb

This work of fiction is intended for mature audiences only. All sexually active characters portrayed in this book are eighteen years of age or older. Please do not buy if strong sexual situations, violence, domestic abuse, and explicit language offends you.

This is not meant to be an exact depiction of life in a motorcycle club, but rather a work of fiction meant to entertain.

Scarred

Whitton ‘Skinny’ Thorne – scarred skin only covers a beautiful soul.

Bitter with a capital B.

Life has been hell from the beginning when Whitton was burned as an infant, yet as much as he pushes me away I’m always coming back for more.

When I finally let go, he wants to let me in, how do I survive when we’ve both been scarred?

Chelsea Camaron and Ryan Michele have teamed up to bring you an explosive new MC romance that will have you panting for more of the Ruthless Rebels. Hold on tight, it’s going to be a wild ride full of action and suspense that these two authors are known for. Throw in two people who finally get their second chance, and things are about to get smoking hot. 

Chapter One

Roe

Fairytales, nursery rhymes, and childhood memories, none of them are really all that great!

Holding my hand in the air with three fingers up, I sing the song about Sally the camel and her humps. Simple.

I don’t have or need complications in my life. Sally has humps that come and go, she has issues, me – I’m good.

The twenty-two smiling children sing along with me with utter enthusiasm. They love this song. Most days we sing it once sometimes twice before we do the weather and calendar first thing in the morning. Our routine, the structure the kids need to thrive, and I need to feel like things are in order.

I look up when the door to my classroom opens. 

It’s preschool. The director of the school comes in and out throughout the day so at first I don’t think much of it. When my assistant teacher Ms. Jennifer stands up to take over, it’s then I make my way to the door. As the lead teacher if the director comes in it’s Jennifer who takes over for me and I meet with the director. Any changes necessary from the director, I will make them. Jennifer and I have worked together for three years now so our system is solid.

Beside the director, Ms. Marie, is the cutest little girl. Obviously, this visit is to bring us a new student. Her blue eyes are a bit too big for her face making those rounded little cheeks stand out too. There isn’t fear in her blue depths, but there is a lot going on in that brain of hers. Finishing the song to the delight of the children on the ABC carpet, I let Jennifer continue with the next song. I focus my attention and greet our newest student, warm smile in place.

I bend down to her level looking her in the eyes. “Hello, I’m Ms. Roe and what’s your name?”

“Marlayna,” the little girl in pigtails says softly. 

My heart breaks when I see the scar on her neck that her hair isn’t covering. I know those marks too well. I fight back the emotion that sits just under the surface. 

Burns.

This little girl has suffered a tragedy and I hate that for her. 

“Would you like to join us in circle time?” I offer as I fight back the past. He is not the only person to be burned in their lives and survive. So many things twist inside me and I have to push it down. The emotions that keep beating down the well-structured walls I’ve built around them over the years always try to spill over, but I won’t allow it. I’ve had no other choice but to keep a handle on it all. 

My job is about teaching and nurturing Marlayna, today is not about him or his scars. 

She nods her head and the day commences with story time, rhyme time, nap time, and all the normal activities of my day. Marlayna adjusted very well in the class for it being her first day. She went with the flow no trepidation and without much of a reaction to anything.

It pains me. I don’t like when the kids cry, but when they come in almost numb like little Marlayna it hurts more to wonder what has hardened them to life already. Children should be free to be kids not caught up in some adult situation or punished unnecessarily.

The afternoon passes with little Marlayna quickly falling into the routine and making friends. After each of the children are gone and I get my room cleaned up, I head out.

Arriving home, I sit on the sun room of my two-bedroom house and enjoy the Georgia afternoon. When I moved out, this was my one requirement, sun room. I love the outdoors and not feeling closed up. 

Blakely, Georgia, population five thousand. Small town lifestyle near the Alabama – Georgia state lines.

April is my favorite month of the year. The weather is sunshine, the birds sing, and the humidity isn’t unbearable so boob sweat is a non-issue for the time being. No woman ever wants boob sweat. August, in the deep south is hotter than hell so I’ll enjoy my outside time while I can.

In fact, tomorrow I think I’ll take my class to have a picnic and maybe do sidewalk chalk and hopscotch on the playground. They love the outside and it helps to get as much of their energy out as possible.

My mind goes to little Marlayna. She is in the system. Foster care, with the Brown family, who are regulars in the community when it comes to taking in children. They will be good to her.

I once knew a boy who lived with the Brown’s. My mind, my heart, they always go back to him. I wish it wouldn’t but we have too much shared between us. His scars were similar to hers only they covered his face and half his body.

Whitton Thorne, the boy down the road with a tortured past. His mom had things so twisted in her head when it came to her twin boys. She believed Whitton was evil and Waylon was the son of Jesus or something crazy. I wasn’t privy to all the details. I just know every time the state let the boys go back to her, Whitton was returned to his social worker more damaged than before. I know once they tried to send Waylon back and leave Whitton with the Brown’s only for Waylon to run away to be with his twin. The two of them were close. In their situation, I would imagine one would have to be. They were also complete opposites.

God, I loved Whitton. 

From the beginning when he was the boy I bumped into in grade school to the man who grew into there isn’t a moment in time since I met Whitton Thorne that he didn’t have my attention. He intrigued me. His strength captivated me. And the more time I had with Whitton Thorne in my life the harder I fell in love with him.

Even now, years have passed and I can’t help but hope he’s okay. Hope that somewhere he found his slice of happy.

Night comes and I slide into my t-shirt blend sheets. I don’t make much with my job, but this is my splurge, soft bed sheets. After all, one can’t be at their best with twenty children without a good nights sleep. I close my eyes and the fatigue of the day quickly consumes me.

“Whitton Thorne, one day you’re gonna be the President.” I smile proudly at my friend.

“The President of the rejects club, maybe,” he replies in his normal tone.

I sigh. The boy is nothing short of amazing. He’s smart, athletic, and cute. He just doesn’t see it. Him and his twin brother look nothing alike. All the girls crush on Waylon. He has this mystery to him. Whitton, though, Whitton is the kind of boy you can talk to, really talk to. There is depth to him. The intrigue of him keeps me on edge to know more, see more, and have more time with him. From the time we met in elementary school at eight years old until now he has captured my attention. We’re young, he’s seventeen and I’m sixteen, but I can’t get enough of him.

“What do you see in me, Roelyn Duprey?”

I feel the blush cover my cheeks. “All good, I see all the good in you Whitton.”

He smirks. “You got the wrong Thorne, Roe. Maybe you think I’m Waylon.”

I prop my hand on my hip. “I know what I see in you Whitton and I see potential!”

“You have all the potential, Roe. The future is in front of you and there’s not a single thing to hole you back.” He tells me like he does all the time. “You need to have bigger and better than what Blakely, Georgia and a misfit like me can offer.”

“Oh, Whitton, you will have bigger and better in your life. I know it.”

He laughs me off like he does every single time I tell him I think he’ll be someone someday. Only thing is, I know down to my soul he has so much more to give in this world. My heart bleeds that he doesn’t see it.

My alarms blares drawing me out of the dream. The memory of a lost time when things weren’t complicated and the boy I knew and believed in may not have believed in himself, but back then he believed in me. Something I desperately needed. 

Whitton Joseph Thorne, my best friend since we ran into each other playing at recess when we were only eight years old. Twenty years later, I still consider him the best friend I’ve ever had … only everything between us has changed.

No longer is he the boy I thought could give the world goodness. He’s a grown man who left everything in Georgia behind ten years ago when we crossed a line.

Would I cross the line again? If I knew the outcome would be this, I’m not so sure. At the time, it felt right. Hell, I thought it was going to change everything into something we could build a future on.

Except, Waylon took off and Whitton was right behind him. Where one brother went, the other was sure to follow. They had a rough start in life. Bonded as twins, bonded as brothers, and bonded by the times life kicked them while they were down those two would always stick together.

Part of me blames Waylon. The other part of me, knows the truth. Whitton ran. Yes, he woke up after the best night of our lives and couldn’t handle the emotion. He found out Waylon took off and he followed. It was an escape and an all too easy excuse.

I’m not sure he realized that no matter the distance he put between us, he still had me with him. I haven’t figured out a way to get that piece of me back from Whitton yet. Even after all these years, I belong to him in a way that keeps me from moving on.

Looking at little Marlayna yesterday and waking up today, it’s time I let go of Whitton. Everything I thought we could one day be is a far fetched dream. Marlayna has her life ahead of her. No matter the past, she has a future.

The same can be said for Whitton Thorne and it’s a future that he decided would be without me.

**

Sitting down to a late dinner, I pull out my phone and scroll social media. I don’t know why because it only tells me things I don’t care to know. Even with a bowl of vegetable soup in front of me, my stomach growls at seeing the yummy chocolate desserts. I have a sweet tooth. My ass and hips thank me for it. 

Sipping my soup, it warms me. My thumb moves on my phone screen, skipping past people I went to high school with that I never talk to. Why I’m even friends with them, I’ll never know. Maybe it’s time to declutter my life. Most of the time people friend you just to see what you’re doing and then delete you. Personally, I like it when people take out their own trash. 

My private message pops up and internally I groan seeing it’s from Lance. Hi. See you’re on. Want to talk to you. He types. I need to figure out how to block people from seeing when I’m on and when I’m not. Or maybe I just need to block him. I’m thinking the latter.

Going out with Lance was up there with many mistakes I made in my life. Two dates, then I called it off. Only he didn’t seem to get the point. Even telling him flat out I wasn’t interested, he still messages me, texts me and calls me. Not wanting to appear rude, I’ve answered all of them. But this, I just don’t want to engage with him. I’m tired of it. I repeat myself all day everyday with my students. My personal life, I don’t want that. 

I move the little bubble that shows a picture of a golf club, Lance, and toss it down below to get rid of it off my screen. 

The phone begins to ring and I jump. First thought is, Lance is calling me. Then when I look at the screen, I see Elizabeth Calling. A smile crosses my face as I except the call. 

“Hey woman!” I greet my best friend. We met in college, which seems like a lifetime ago, but really wasn’t.

“Hey back at ya! What are you doing? I want to meet for drinks.” 

I look to the clock noting it’s only five-thirty, but I do have to work tomorrow. Drinking and then rowdy children in the morning is not a good combination. 

“Is something up?” I take the last bite of my soup and push it to the side. 

“Yes, but I don’t want to tell you over the phone. Meet me in twenty at Carlyle’s?”

Looking down at my clothes, the puppy dog pajama bottoms won’t cut it going out. “Give me thirty. I need to change.” 

“Epp.” She makes the sound then, “Okay, see you then.” And disconnects. Whatever she has in store must be exciting. 

At least one of us has something good going on.

Chapter Two

Skinny

Flames extinguish, scars fade, but the burn can’t be felt forever!

I strike the match and watch it burn.

The blends of reds and yellows into oranges is mesmerizing. The flickers of colors all move as if they’re dancing together. The heat gets closer and closer to my fingertips as the flame grows intently.

I feel no pain. I feel nothing.

Void. Empty.

My life is not one of colors and blends.

Poof. I blow the match out. The flame is extinguished. All that’s left is black smoke. It’s like my soul. Dark, unforgiving.

I sit in the dim lit room I call home. Ruthless Rebels MC – my family and the clubhouse where I calm myself at the end of every day. 

The ten feet by ten feet space has my bed, one nightstand, and a dresser. The closet is small but I keep a three tiered bookshelf in there, full of different books and photo albums. It’s not much, but it’s mine. Beside that door is the door to the bathroom.

Feeling the acid burn in my gut, I get up and make my way in front of the porcelain. Dropping to my knees I wretch.

I don’t remember the last time I woke up and didn’t throw up within an hour. It happens, every damn day. I finish, stand, wash up, and brush my teeth. There’s no use in looking in the mirror, I already know the mess I’ll see.

I hate fucking mirrors. Only one time in my life did I ever look in a mirror and not see the hideous beast I am … and that will never happen again. Roelyn Duprey, she made the man in the mirror not a monster but a lover. She is everything beautiful I should never touch. It’s a memory I’ll hold onto.

She believed in me, believed in having something not understanding the monster I am. From the beginning the devil gripped my heart and never let go. The bitch known as my mother told me I was spawned in evil. She scarred me, marked me, and made sure the world could see me for what I am. A horrible, vile, demonized man.

Roelyn Duprey had rose colored glasses on. I let her keep them on because I needed her lifeline. The spark between us, I fed. Continuing to fuel, provide the heat, like a flame, I watched us grow, flicker, and rather than watch us fade, I snuffed it out quickly leaving nothing behind but black smoke.

My brother needed me and Roe needed me to go away even if she didn’t know it. I took off, never looked back, and haven’t looked in a mirror since the night I watched me fuck her in one. 

Spitting in the sink, I rinse my mouth and walk away never checking my reflection. I know what I’d see. The flames of hell flicker in my eyes and burn in my soul, no need to remind myself.

Throwing on a clean pair of jeans, I don’t bother with boxers, briefs, or anything to cover my junk. The raw denim rub will remind I’m alive. Somehow, in the hell that is my life, I keep surviving and I’m not sure why. Sliding on my shirt, I grab my cut as I drop my feet into my boots before I head out, not bothering to tie the laces till I get to my bike.

Today I have packing duty. I don’t mind. I’ll head to the warehouse, pack the guns to ready for shipment, and then meet up with Waylon. 

My twin, Triple Threat, as he’s known in the club is everything I’m not. He’s good looking, level-headed, and not held back by a damn thing.

Me, I’m a scarred mess, hot-head, and haunted by the one thing I gave up so long ago.

Yeah, tonight calls for the strip club. I’ll pay to have a stranger grind on me till I get hard, then head back to the clubhouse and fuck a trick until I can’t remember my name, my past, and the woman I left behind.

**

“It’s a boy!” Shamus rushes into the clubhouse announcing. “DJ has a healthy, happy, eight pound, nine ounce, twenty-two inch baby boy. Kenderly is doing good.”

There are smiles and happiness that fill the space. Shamus comes over to me, slapping me on the back. “You wanna go with us to set up the house, brother.”

I nod. There isn’t a single thing with any of my brothers I would miss because they are all I have. And for once in my life, I belong.  

After DJ’s whore mother dropped her problems on Kenderly’s doorstep, DJ claimed his woman and in turn the Rebels handled their shit. Kenderly and her mother had an uphill battle to climb with everything they had already lost, but DJ’s mother cost them their home.

It took some time, but DJ won over Kenderly’s heart. They have a good life, building themselves a solid future. And now their new addition. Everything is looking good for my Rebels’ brother.

Not too long ago, DJ bought them a big ass house and furnished it to Kenderly’s liking. Now, it’s time for the Rebels to ride in and make sure our newest member is set.

“Your woman handle buying the goods?” I ask Shamus knowing he and Andrea have decided not to have kids because of the health risks for her. 

“Shit, brother. She loves shopping for all this baby crap. Kitten has a soft spot for being the auntie apparently. She even bought Kenderly a video baby monitor instead of the basic one they had on the registry.”

I laugh. “Nothing wrong with that.”

“I didn’t think so but apparently DJ and Kenderly had talked. DJ didn’t want to be fuckin’ his woman and look to the nightstand and see their baby awake.”

“I never thought a damn thing would give DJ stage fright.” We both laugh before heading out to go set up a nursery Rebels style.

“Guess a baby changes things. I’m good with how my life is so no change needed here.” Shamus adds with a smirk. Things are good in the club, they are good for DJ and Shamus. It’s even better to feel like I’m a real part of something. 

Andrea is already inside when Shamus, Lurch, Triple Threat, and I pull up. She rushes outside and over to the car parked in front of the house.

“Mom brought me over, got lots to unload.” She says more to Shamus than anyone with a smile that is relaxed and easy going.

Given the path Andrea went through to finally be okay again and with Shamus, I smile with her. Like me, her life is full of scars.

Only in all the turmoil, Andrea has found a way to not allow her scars to define her.

She lived a different life. Following her dreams into investigative reporting landed her half dead in a hospital oceans away from her home. She survived her traumatic brain injury like I survived my burns. With no place to go to pick up the pieces she came home. It took a bit, but Shamus and Andrea worked their shit out. Their past isn’t holding them back from a future.

Waylon and I won’t have this. Our past defines our future and it’s not one that looks so bright. 

For a moment, I had hope that somehow I could have a second chance to have something real in my life outside of the club. With DJ and Shamus both getting their second chances, I thought maybe there would be a sliver of time where Waylon and I could have more than what we have managed to secure. Then I dreamt I caught a look in the mirror and quickly remembered what my life has been destined to be from the moment I was born.

I am my brother’s keeper. My place on Earth is to protect him even from himself. I don’t have the time or emotion for anything else.

Our mother is a psycho bitch who thinks my brother is the second coming of her God or some shit. Apparently during an ultrasound, it appeared that I, baby b, was kicking or hitting, baby a – being Waylon. From that moment on I was destined to the damned.

She even tried to have me aborted but the doctors said she was too far along and it was risk to my brother. Then we were born.

She tried to leave me at the hospital. The nurses told her it wasn’t good for infant twins to be separated this early. According to the medical records we later dug up, they felt she was suffering from post partum depression and would eventually want me. Having two babies at once via c-section meant she couldn’t hold us right away so she didn’t bond properly the doctor noted.

Bond.

What a joke. The woman tried to kill me more than once. 

I’ve never had a mother’s love. Neither has my brother.

She may have wanted me marked, condemned, banished, and branded, but she wanted my brother to be some savior to the world.

We just wanted to be boys. We grew into men who just wanted to live life. To this day I still can’t understand her mindset. I gave up a long time ago trying. Waylon – that’s another story.

I’ll go to the ends of the Earth for my brother. I’ll protect him from her or God himself if I have to.

“Snap out of it, these diapers won’t unload themselves!” Waylon says throwing a box of the shit holders at me.

“How many boxes do they think Kenderly needs?” I ask looking at the van full.

“Daisy, XXX (Lurch’s woman forgot her name), Andrea, her mom, Kenderly’s mom and aunt, and every other woman around swear they will go through these and more.” Shamus says walking inside with a bag of clothes.

“Wonder what it was like for mom to have twins?” Waylon says out loud and my chest stings in the pain I know he feels.

Yeah, we have no future like what DJ or Shamus have found. I need to stop disillusioning myself into ever thinking I could. Walk the line, it’s what I have to do.

If I fuck up, I’m not the only one who suffers, Waylon will too. I won’t do that to him or me. Yes, I’m better off alone.

Whitton ‘Skinny’ Thorne– scarred skin only covers a beautiful soul.
Bitter with a capital B.
Life has been hell from the beginning when Whitton was burned as an infant, yet as much as he pushes me away I’m always coming back for more.
When I finally let go, he wants to let me in, how do I survive when we’ve both been scarred?
***Each book in the Ruthless Rebels MC is a new couple, but are best read in order. This is a biker book so please expect violence, foul language, and sexual situations. Do not buy if any of this offends you.***

 




USA Today Bestselling author Chelsea Camaron is a small town Carolina girl with a big imagination. She is a wife and mom chasing her dreams. She writes contemporary romance, erotic suspense, and psychological thrillers. She loves to write blue-collar men who have real problems with a fictional twist. From mechanics to bikers to oil riggers to smokejumpers, bar owners, and beyond, she loves a strong hero who works hard and plays harder.



Ryan Michele found her passion in making fictional characters come to life. She loves being in an imaginative world where anything is possible and has a knack for special twists readers don’t see coming.
She writes MC, Contemporary, Erotic, Paranormal, New Adult, Inspirational, and many more romances. And whether it’s bikers, wolf shifters, mafia, or beyond, Ryan spends her time making sure her heroes are strong and her heroines match them at every turn.
When she isn’t writing, Ryan is a mom and wife living in rural Illinois and reading by her pond in the warm sun.


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Bayside Desires by Melissa Foster Excerpt Reveal

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Title: Bayside Desires

Author: Melissa Foster

Genre: Contemporary romance

Release Date: May 9th


About Bayside Desires:

Fall in love at Bayside, where sandy beaches, good friends, and true love come together in the sweet small towns of Cape Cod.   BAYSIDE SUMMERS is a series of standalone steamy romance novels featuring alpha male heroes and sexy, empowered women. They’re fun, flirty, flawed, deeply emotional, always passionate, and easy to relate to. anbsp; “With her wonderful characters and resonating emotions, Melissa Foster is a must-read author!” -NYT Bestseller Julie Kenner   “Melissa Foster is synonymous with sexy, swoony, heartfelt romance!” -NYT Bestseller Lauren Blakely   In Bayside Desires… As the co-owner of Bayside Resorts, Rick Savage has a fabulous job working with his best friends and brother, and a thriving business in Washington, DC, which he’ll be returning to at the end of the summer. Spending time with his family is great, but being back on Cape Cod has unearthed painful memories. When sweet, smart, and overly cautious Desiree Cleary moves in next door, Rick is drawn to the sexy preschool teacher, and she just might prove to be the perfect distraction.   Running an art gallery was not in preschool teacher Desiree Cleary’s plans, but after being tricked into coming to her impetuous, unreliable mother’s aid, she’s stuck spending the summer with the badass half sister she barely knows and a misbehaving dog. If that’s not frustrating enough, she can’t escape the sparks igniting with her strikingly handsome and pushy neighbor, Rick, who makes all her warning bells go off.   Passion ignites as Desiree and Rick spend long summer nights sharing heartfelt confessions and steamy kisses. For the first time in years Rick is enjoying life again instead of hiding behind mounds of work miles away from his family. Desiree has touched him in a way that makes him want to slow down. Only slowing down means dealing with his demons, and he isn’t sure who he’ll be when he comes out the other side.   All Bayside books can be read as standalone novels or as part of the series: Coming Soon… Bayside Heat Bayside Escape Bayside Passions   Bayside Summers is part of the Love in Bloom romance collection by New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Melissa Foster. While each book may be read as a standalone, you might enjoy reading the entire Love in Bloom series. Characters from each sub-series appear in future books. Visit Melissa’s website for family trees, series checklists, and more.  


PREORDER TODAY:

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Exclusive Excerpt:

Desiree clearly stood at the end of a jetty at Indian Neck Beach, watching three brawny guys race around Cape Cod Bay on Jet Skis while she FaceTimed with her best friend, Emery Andrews. She had known Emery since first grade, and she was the only person who would understand why, after driving for more than twelve hours, Desiree was standing on that jetty, pretending to be on vacation, instead of facing the woman who had summoned her to Wellfleet. “I should have come with you,” Emery insisted. “You’re at the beach, and I’m stuck here teaching yoga and Pilates to people who go home and eat entire pizzas afterward. Not that I’m only thinking of me. I’m just saying. I could be your backbone when you see your mother. You know, make sure you don’t wimp out on telling her how cruel it was to go months without any contact and then send you that email.” Emery had a right to be upset. She’d been there for Desiree for more than twenty years, picking up the pieces of Desiree’s broken heart after short, awkward, visits with her mother. Lizza Vancroft had been breezing in and out of her life since Desiree was five years old. Desiree was used to hearing from her mother only once or twice a year, but her most recent email had taken the cake. She’d read the cryptic message dozens of times, as concerned as she was annoyed. I need you to come to Wellfleet and run my art gallery for the summer. It might prolong my life. She hadn’t even known Lizza was ill, much less owned a gallery and had been living in the States. “I’ll be fine,” she said, though she wasn’t sure she believed it. After Desiree’s parents had divorced, Lizza had taken off to teach overseas with Desiree’s half sister, Violet, leaving Desiree to live with her father. Some small part of her was still waiting for her mother to make amends for leaving her behind. “I just need a few minutes to get my head on straight before facing her.” One of the Jet Skis headed directly for another, swerving at the last second to avoid a collision. “Holy cow. Someone is going to get killed. Look at these guys.” She held up her phone to show Emery the crazy Jet Skiers. “Who does that? It’s so dangerous.” “Hot Jet Skiing guys who thrive on danger. My kind of guys, and your perfect distraction.” Emery waggled her brows. “I don’t need a distraction. Lizza is almost a stranger to me. It’s like I’m waiting to get bad news from someone I met a few times but don’t really know.” “I know. Your mother is as flighty as a fairy, and I’m sure right now you wish you were wired like her and Violet instead of being responsible and organized to the nth degree, like your father,” Emery said. Spot-on, as always. “Then you could be the one who was living overseas working with one nonprofit or another without Internet or a care in the world, like Violet, instead of procrastinating the unleashing of a nest of demons you’ve spent years tamping down.” “You’re so dramatic.” Desiree smiled, thankful for Emery’s teasing. She had no idea whether Violet would be there when she arrived. Though she and Violet had grown up on opposite sides of the world, they had spent a few weeks together at the Cape each summer with their grandmother. At least they had until they were teens and one or the other had found better things to do, most years whittling those weeks down to just a few days. They’d kept in touch only sporadically during college, and before their grandmother’s funeral last winter, it had been more than three years since Desiree had seen Violet or their mother. But that didn’t mean Desiree hadn’t always wished for a relationship with her sister, despite how different they were. “That’s why you love me.” Emery flashed a cheesy smile. “Seriously, though. You need to just go see Lizza and get it over with. And you should probably be glad I’m not there. Because as far as I’m concerned, her email was infuriating, unfair, and heartrending.” Emery’s eyes narrowed. “I’d like to give her a piece of my mind.” “So would I,” Desiree admitted. “But I won’t.” A breeze swept off the bay, lifting the ends of her dress. She pushed it back down, catching a glimpse of one of the Jet Skiers slowing to watch her. As if she wasn’t nervous enough today? “I know. You’ve got the biggest heart on the planet. We need a plan. You do best with plans.” Emery tucked her brown hair behind her ear and leaned closer to the screen, like she was sharing a secret. “Tonight, after you get your heart torn to shreds, since I’m not there to help heal your mama-wounds, please get yourself a nice bottle of wine and a big man. I promise that will help ease whatever pain she throws your way.” “Don’t you mean a big bottle of wine and a nice man?” Desiree asked, as the Jet Skier who was watching her broke away from the others and sped past. “Definitely not. You don’t need a nice man. I know you think you want romance and all the mushy stuff like flowers, candy, and midnight walks.” Emery flashed her don’t-even-try-to-tell-me-otherwise scowl. “But trust me. You need a man who takes control, whose kisses turn you inside out and make you forget about your crazy mother.” She wrapped her arms around her middle, listening to the roar of the lone Jet Ski cutting tracks in front of her and wondering about kisses that turned a woman inside out. She had yet to experience anything like that, but Emery talked about them like she’d had enough to share. Maybe it was time to expand her horizons. “Hello?” Emery said. “Think you can look at me and stop watching the hot Jet Skiers for two minutes?” Desiree laughed. “Like you’d ever look at me instead of a guy? Besides, I’m only watching one, because he’s watching me. The other two are long gone.” She held up her phone again, showing her the hot guy with dark hair keeping time with her as she paced the jetty. “God, you’re so lucky. Go take hot Jet Ski guy for a ride and show up late to see Lizza.” Emery waggled her brows. “For all you know, she’s not even at your grandmother’s house waiting for you.” That was true. Lizza and Violet still hadn’t replied to her messages. But that didn’t change the fact that Desiree wasn’t a jump-in-the sack with a stranger kind of girl. “That’s just what I need. A reckless adrenaline junkie before seeing Lizza. No thanks.” Emery turned away from the phone. “I have to go. My date is here.” “You have a date? With who?” “One of the reckless, adrenaline-junky Jericho brothers. I’ll let you try to figure out which one.” She blew Desiree a kiss. “Listen, babe. Take my advice. Bang the Jet Ski guy; then you’ll be nice and relaxed when you see Lizza. Call if you need me. Love you!” Desiree ended the call, and the guy trailing her on the Jet Ski zoomed past. He made a sharp turn and headed back, eyes locked on her, making her heart race. Maybe letting loose for a night was just what she needed. One night of uninhibited anything would be a first. The Jet Ski turned again, taking another, faster pass, the hot guy’s eyes still trained on her. Butterflies took flight in her stomach. He was obviously interested. Maybe… He turned again and headed straight toward the jetty. Straight for her. Oh God. How long had she been staring at him? What was I thinking? She tried to act casual, looking at the boats, the sky, anywhere but at the man on the machine as she made her way along the rocks toward the beach. He fishtailed, spraying water in her direction. She shrieked and turned away as water rained down on her. No, a reckless man was definitely not what she needed.


About Melissa Foster:

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Melissa has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Her interests include her family, reading, writing, painting, friends, helping others see the positive side of life, and visiting Cape Cod. Melissa is available to chat with book clubs and welcomes comments and emails from her readers. Visit Melissa on social media or her personal website. Visit Melissa on Facebook or her personal website. Never miss a brand new release, special promotions or inside gossip again by simply signing up to receive your newsletter from Melissa.
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The Hot Shot by Kristen Callihan Excerpt Blitz

the hot shot AN        

TheHotShot Amazon-2

First we were friends. Then we were roommates. Now I want more…

What can I say about Chess Copper? The woman is capable of bringing me to my knees. I know this about five minutes after getting naked for her.

No one is more surprised than me. The prickly photographer my team hired to shoot our annual charity calendar isn’t my usual type. She’s defense to my offense, a challenge at every turn. But when I’m with her, all the regrets and darkness goes away. She makes life fun.

I want to know Chess, be close to her. Which is a bad idea.

Chess is looking for a relationship. I’ve never given a woman more than one night. But when fate leaves Chess without a home, I step up and offer her mine. We’re roommates now. Friends without benefits. But it’s getting harder to keep our hands off each other. And the longer we live together the more I realize she’s becoming my everything.

Trick is… Now that I’ve made her believe I’m a bad bet, how do I convince her to give this player a true shot at forever?

   

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EXCERPT

CHESS

Grumbling, I toss on some black lounge pants and my oversized Tulane t-shirt and head to the drugstore.
My head throbs by the time I get there, and my insides are writhing. I rest my hand against my lower stomach and grab a basket before calling James to complain.
“I swear,” I tell him as I grab a bottle of painkillers. “It’s like this entire day has been cursed.”
He snickers. “Curse. Get it? Curse?”
I roll my eyes, even though he can’t see me. “Laugh it up. Meanwhile, it feels as if someone is playing Battleship in my uterus.”
“Poor Chessie bear. At least we know why you were in such a foul mood.”
A flush washes over my cheeks. “Yeah.” Lie. Lie. Lie. A tub of salted caramel gelato makes its way into the basket.
“Tell me you’re getting some gelato,” James says.
I smile. “Just grabbed it.”
“Salted caramel?”
“You know it.”
I find the feminine products aisle and search for my brand. “I’m going to go home, take a long bath with my gelato, and forget this fucking day.” Forget Finn. “And then I’m going to go on Amazon and buying a freaking year’s supply of tampons so I don’t have to make these kinds of emergency runs anymore.”
A low, deep chuckle rumbles from behind me, and all the tiny hairs lift on my arms.
“But you’ll still need your gelato,” a familiar—fuck me, seriously?—voice points out.
My insides swoop even as my cheeks burn.
“Who is that?” James asks in my ear.
I slowly turn on one heel. “The plague,” I say, glaring up at Finn Mannus’s smiling face.
“From asshat to plague.” Finn scrunches up his brow. “I’m not sure if that’s a step down or a tie.”
“Who is that?” James nearly yells now.
I don’t take my eyes off Finn. “I’ll call you back.”
James’s squawks of protest cut off as I hit the end button.
“Are you stalking me, Mannus?”
Finn a rests his hands low on his lean hips. “Having a healthy amount of conceit myself, I have to admire yours, but no, buttercup. My buddy Woodson lives a few blocks away. It’s poker night. I’m stocking up on beer.”
It’s only then I notice a twelve pack tucked under his other arm.
“And tampons?” I ask, with a pointed look around the aisle we’re standing in.
“Not tonight,” he says easily. “Though we used to keep a pack of them back in college. Light flows were perfect for stopping up bloody noses.”
A snort escapes me. “Now there’s a visual.” Somehow, I’ve taken a step closer to him. He’s freshly showered, the golden brown strands of his hair still damp at his temples. And I wonder if he’s just come from the gym or practice. “So back in college you went and bought these tampons?”
“Nah,” he says with a cheeky smile. “I’d ask one of the girls hanging around to get me some.”
“Of course you did.” My nose wrinkles with annoyance.
“Give me a little credit, Chess. I’d buy them now if I had to.”
“Hmm…” I eye him, trying not to return his smile. If only because it’s more fun when he teases. “So why are you in this aisle now, if not for potential nosebleed needs?”
“That’s easy.” He steps closer, a warm wall of muscle and clean scent. “I heard your voice.”
For a second I just blink. “You recognized my voice?”
His gaze darts over my face as if he’s trying to get a read on why I’m gaping at him. “Not to be…ah…rude, but you’re loud when you talk on the phone.”
“Yeah, but… You recognized it.” We’d only just met. It occurs to me that I’d recognized his both times he’d snuck up on me. Then again, his voice is distinctive, flowing like hot honey when he’s relaxed or hammering down like iron to rock when he’s taking command of a situation.
A soft flush of pink tints the tips of his ears. If I wasn’t staring at him, I might have missed it. He shifts his weight. “Was I not supposed to?”
“No. Yes.” I shake my head and laugh. “I don’t know.”
He grins then. “You’re cute when you’re flustered.”
“I’m not flustered.” I am.         
  THS1  
  KCauthor
Kristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she’d rather be. She is a three-time RITA nominee and winner of two RT Reviewer’s Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and the Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book FIRELIGHT received RT Magazine’s Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal , best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading.

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Twist by Kylie Scott Excerpt Reveal

   twistbanner   
  twist

From New York Times bestselling author Kylie Scott comes the second sizzling stand-alone novel in the Dive Bar series!
When his younger brother loses interest in online dating, hot bearded bartender Joe Collins only intends to log into his account and shut it down. Until he reads about her.
Alex Parks is funny, fascinating, and pretty much everything he’s been looking for in a woman—except that she lives across the country. Soon they’re emailing up a storm and telling each other their deepest, darkest secrets…except the one that really matters.
When Alex pays Joe a surprise visit, however, they both discover that when it comes to love, it’s always better with a twist.
  exclusive without tape   
I watched the streetlights cast shadows on the angle of his
cheekbone, the furrow of his brow. Strange how his manly beauty
had grown on me, redefining or rather stretching my usual boundaries.
Perhaps some people’s allure came from the inside out. A good thing. Their ways and their words did the wooing instead of their physical appeal. Not to diss Joe’s impressive physique. As
nice as a pretty face was, though, the personality, the person beneath
the skin, should matter more. Anything else was pretty
shallow and unlikely to last. Guess that was the difference between
my scratching an itch with a stranger and the way this
man had me tied up in knots. And not even neat, sea-worthy
knots. I’m talking, haven’t washed or brushed your hair in forever
and there’s a big old mess back there.
Shit.
At the bar, he’d flirted with me. Full-on flirted with me, his
supposed platonic friend who was not his type. No way did I
know what to do. Normally Valerie would be first on my hit list of
people to call. But she’d just tell me to jump him, regardless of
what else was going on, or any possible consequences. Plus, with
him beside me it would be kind of uncool. But a couple of whisky
sours or no, I was pretty certain I hadn’t imagined his interest.
As Mom had always said, however, best to be sure.
“What are the renovating plans for tomorrow?” I asked.
“Rip out the old fittings and prepare the space for new.”

I nodded. “So we’ll be doing some pounding and screwing?”
“Ah, yeah.” The man cast me a look out of the corner of his
eye. “Sound okay?”
“Absolutely. Can’t wait to get my hands back on that big hard
hammer.”
“Great,” he said, throwing me another questioning look.
I gave a nice bland smile.
Yeah, pal. Two could play at the what-the-fuck-is-going-on
flirting game. I turned in my seat, all the better to face him. “Did
you want to bang, Joe?”
“What did you say?” Wide eyes flashed my way.
“Like I did on that wall today. That was fun,” I said with all
due sincerity. “Will we be doing more of that?”
A pause. “Sure.”
“Awesome.”
Another quizzical look.
“Something wrong?” I inquired politely.
“No.” His Adam’s apple dipped as he swallowed hard, shifting
in his seat, gaze decidedly unsure. The poor fool couldn’t begin to
understand the crazy he’d unleashed with his little taunt. Get
rough with the man? My starved libido was well beyond the
rough-and-tumble stage. No more hiding or denying, sticking
to the sidelines of life. It was my time to step forward and be
brave. When it came to Joe Collins, I was more than ready to
say yes.
“I just . . .” he started. “Never mind.”
Neither of us spoke as he pulled into a parking space a short
walk down from the hotel. I leaned over, placing my hand on his
denim-covered thigh. The muscle tensed beneath my fingers.
Shame on me for straying a little close to his loins.
“Thanks so much for tonight, Joe. I’m so glad we decided to be
friends. Because you, sir, make a great friend.”
“Right. Good.” A frown. “How much did you have to drink
again?”
“Not nearly enough. Quick, let’s get to my hotel room so I can
have more!” I threw open my door.
“Okay.” Hands stuffed in his pockets, he followed me inside,
lingering a step or two behind. Guess he didn’t like it when
people’s moods got all mixed up and mercurial either. Funny, that.
I nodded to the dude at the front desk and pressed the button
on the elevator. It opened immediately. Mirrors and old-timeylooking
wooden framing decorated the small space. We both
leaned against the back wall as it slowly ascended.
“Yeah, sure can’t wait to do some banging, and pounding, and
screwing around with you, Joe.” I smiled. “Sound good?”
He just gave me a dry look from his superior height. All confusion
gone from his handsome face. Confined spaces only made
him seem bigger, even more imposing than usual. No way, no day,
however, was I crawling back into my shell or turning into a
shadow. We’d agreed to work on our issues, so fine, I was putting
it out there.
Still, my bravado was fading, I could barely meet his eyes. The
man affected me in all the ways.
“It’s hard, no pun intended this time, because sometimes it
feels like you want to be just friends,” I said. “But then other times
you flirt with me and I honestly don’t know what’s going on. No
huge surprise there, I know. Social awkwardness is my jam. But I
thought I mostly understood where you were coming from.”
A ding from the elevator and the doors opened at our stop. I
walked out, his bearded hotness following slowly behind, stalking
me almost. For certain his usual cool, easy-going-guy persona was
missing in action. The man radiated tension, intensity, even.
And if he didn’t, I definitely did.
Inside the hotel room I went for mood lighting, only turning
on the table and bedside lamps. I rubbed sweaty hands against the
sides of my pants. “What you said back at the bar about me getting
rough with you, however. Now, that almost sounded like a dare.”
“Did it?”
“It did.”
Arms hanging loose at his sides, he just watched me, saying
nothing. Jerk.
“So tell me.” I stood at the foot of the bed, facing him. Every
part of me was wired, wide awake. “What’s going on, Joe?”
His shoulders rose and fell on a deep breath. “I realized something
tonight.”
“What?”
“That I was falling into old habits. Doing what was easy instead
of doing what I wanted.”
“Huh?”
“It was just before you spilled ice on that guy’s pants.”
“Sure. I can see how you’d be seduced by my smooth moves,”
I said, voice filled with much doubt. My insides were ready to
spontaneously combust. I swear I could feel sweat breaking out all
over me, the man was just that hot. Also, my nerves were on high
alert.
One corner of his lips tipped up. “You know how you said you
weren’t jealous?”
“Yes?”
“Well, I was.”
Wow. I had nothing.
“This is the part where you’re supposed to admit you were
jealous too,” he supplied.
“I didn’t think it needed to be said. I’m not that good a liar.”
“True,” he said. “Anyway, I made the pass at you and then I
was leaving it up to you to figure out what you want. To be brave
and make the next move.”
Softly, I laughed and shook my head. Men were such idiots.
“Make the first move? This isn’t a game. As I said last time the subject
of sex came up, previous hurt feelings, etc. It’s going to get
complicated.”
“Yeah, probably,” he said, voice deeper than I’d ever heard it.

  twist2    
  kyliescottimage
Kylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013 & 2014, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet.
You can learn more about Kylie from http://www.kylie-scott.com/  
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