Wednesday, January 10, 2018

#GiveAway #Review ~ Now That You Mention It By Kristan Higgins ~ @kristan_higgins

Now That You Mention It
By Kristan Higgins

Review:

Now That You Mention It is one of those books that grabbed my attention on the first page and did not let go until the very last page. Kristan Higgins has put together an incredible story with characters that I became attached to quickly. I laughed, I cried, and I turned the pages just as quickly as possible to see what was going to happen next.

Nora Stuart has not had an easy life. This lady worked her rear end off in high school to earn a scholarship so she could go to college. She fought hard to earn the chance to get out of her hometown and get an education. She didn't take that education lightly either she worked hard and is a doctor now. Her father left when she was young and it completely changed her life and the life of her mother and sister. 

Just when Nora thinks her life is going well she's run down by a truck in the hospital parking lot and hears more than her boyfriend intended her to hear. That's when she decides to head back to her hometown to recover and spend some time with her mother and her niece. 

Nora is an incredibly smart, strong, independent lady that is used to working hard to get what she wants. I formed a bond with Nora quickly, I cheered her victories and my heart hurt for her sorrows. She has so many issues to deal with all at the same time. She wants to find out what happened to her father when he left so many years ago. Her mother is a bit cold and they do not have a warm loving mother/daughter relationship. Her niece is in need of love and attention. She is a bit offish and trying to find her way in life. Her sister, well her relationship with her sister is a whole story on its own. I don't want to tell you too much about that because you are going to want to read this incredible story for yourself. 

Nora forms a friendship with an old schoolmate, Xiaowen Lui. I have to say I loved this lady. She's totally outspoken, says exactly what she is thinking and isn't afraid to let EVERYONE know what she is thinking. She made me laugh out loud several times. 

Nora meets up with Sullivan Fletcher and his adorable, sweet, teenage daughter. Sully has some issues he has to deal with from his past. Nora and Sully quickly find they want to get to know each other and see just where that attraction they feel is going. I enjoyed watching these two get to know each other in a totally different light than high school. 

Overall I really enjoyed this incredible story. There is so much going on and so many things that are answered that reveal how and why some things have happened. I highly recommend this book to anyone that loves a great women's literature story. You're going to love this one. If you are a Kristan Higgins fan you are going to enjoy this story too. It's a bit different than some of Ms. Higgins other work but it's a fabulous read. 

I was given the opportunity to read this great book and it has been my pleasure to share my thoughts with you. 

Amazon Buy Link  

~*~*~*~*~*~*~
About the Book: 

New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins welcomes you home in this witty, emotionally charged novel about the complications of life, love and family

One step forward. Two steps back. The Tufts scholarship that put Nora Stuart on the path to becoming a Boston medical specialist was a step forward. Being hit by a car and then overhearing her boyfriend hit on another doctor when she thought she was dying? Two major steps back. 

Injured in more ways than one, Nora feels her carefully built life cracking at the edges. There’s only one place to land: home. But the tiny Maine community she left fifteen years ago doesn’t necessarily want her. At every turn, someone holds the prodigal daughter of Scupper Island responsible for small-town drama and big-time disappointments.

With a tough islander mother who’s always been distant, a wild-child sister in jail and a withdrawn teenage niece as eager to ditch the island as Nora once was, Nora has her work cut out for her if she’s going to take what might be her last chance to mend the family. Balancing loss and opportunity, dark events from her past with hope for the future, Nora will discover that tackling old pain makes room for promise…and the chance to begin again.


Publisher: Harlequin
ISBN: 9781335903358
On-sale date: December 26, 2017

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

#GiveAway ~ TURQUOISE MOUNTAIN By Diane J. Reed ~ @DianeJReed



TURQUOISE MOUNTAIN
By Diane J. Reed

You can pre-order TURQUOISE MOUNTAIN right now! 

TURQUOISE MOUNTAIN by USA Today Bestselling Author Diane J. Reed isn't officially released until January 30 but you can order your copy now to make sure you're one of the first to get your copy! Oh wait - while you're looking over her book info below, be sure to sign up to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card! Good luck!


About the Book:

He's a fierce protector of his land and sacred heritage--and only a strong woman can capture his wild heart.

Dillon Iron Feather is dangerous and he knows it. Hardened by his championship fighting career, he returns to his remote Colorado ranch to heal, only to discover that city girl Tessa Grove is determined to stake her claim to the old mine she inherited on a corner of his land. Stubborn to the bone, Tessa soon digs up precious gems from deep

within the earth to use in her custom-made jewelry business. But those stones turn out to be sacred, and sparks fly as they begin to guide her to the secret chambers of Dillon's heart.


Publisher: Bandits Ranch Books
Pages: 270

Genre: Contemporary Western Romance


PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY:
Amazon | B&N

~*~*~*~*~*~
Excerpt: 
The first meeting between Dillon and Tessa in Turquoise Mountain (Tessa has traveled all the way from New York to Colorado to find her mine, which happens to be on Dillon’s property)

“I’m Tessa Grove, and when my grandfather passed away, he left his mining claim to me. It doesn’t expire for another six months, which means I have legal title to that mine.”
“You only have mineral rights to a hole in the ground.” Dillon Iron Feather nodded in the
direction of the mine. “Which means you can’t set foot on my property.”

“What?”
Tessa crossed her arms.

“You heard me. This piece of paper entitles you to dig behind that old wooden door. That’s all. And my land surrounds every inch of it. Which means you’re breaking the law by getting anywhere near that mine. So get lost.”
“Wait, you can’t deny access to what’s legally mine!”
“Can’t I?” Dillon’s face broke into a wry smile. For a moment, his eyes sparkled at
the prospect of challenge, lighting them up to a warm, charming brown.

Damn!
Tessa cursed to herself. That’s all I need right now is a guy who gets more
good looking when he taunts me—

Fuming, she boldly yanked the mining claim and map from his hand to scrutinize them.
According to her documents, it looked like her ancestor was the one who originally built 
Grove Road that led to this mining parcel, which sat right smack dab on the stranger’s property. Okay, so he was right—her quarter acre didn’t include any of his buildings, but it connected to the road. And nowhere did it specify that she was required to get permission from any stranger to use that dirt lane. But how could she convince him of that?

“Listen,” Tessa sighed, “I know it might seem out of the blue that I’m here. But my grandfather meant a lot to me. And this place—this gold mine—it’s…it’s kind of sacred. What I mean is, my great-great-grandfather found it only because a Native American outlaw gave him some powerful medicine. That might sound crazy to you, but it’s true. His name was Iron Feather—”
“Your great-great grandfather knew Iron Feather?”
Tessa nodded. “He was Benjamin Grove the First, and he helped Iron Feather and the Bandits Hollow Gang hide from a posse.” She dug into her purse and held up the sacred owl feather. “All Iron Feather had to give him in return was this, but it was rumored to have, you know—”
“Special powers.”
To Tessa’s amazement, Dillon’s face darkened in thought. He studied the feather for a long time as though it were a precious artifact. Then he looked out over the mountain tops at the threads of garnet in the sky that had begun to spread from the dipping sun. His eyes seemed very far away.
It’s the feather, Tessa realized. He knows something about that feather…
Dillon returned his gaze to Tessa. Yet when he reached for the feather, she seized her
moment and surprised him by lunging for his shotgun. She managed to grab it and
run several strides, when she whipped around.

“Back off!” She aimed the shotgun straight at him and pumped it awkwardly, barely
remembering how from when her grandfather taught her fifteen years ago. “I want
to see that mine,” she demanded, her body visibly trembling. “And I’m not leaving till I do.”

Dillon smirked, his gaze tracing her wild blonde hair that had fallen across her face,
her blue-green eyes spitting fury. What Tessa hadn’t noticed in her panic, of
course, was that her purse had fallen from her shoulder and spilled onto the
ground. He crouched carefully to the grass, keeping his eye firmly on the gun
barrel, and picked up some of the contents before standing to his feet.

“Where do you expect to go after this if I’ve got your ID and credit cards, city girl?”
Dillon smiled, noticing the blush that suffused her cheeks. Her eyes darted to
the drivers license and MasterCard he held in his hand, and that was all the
opening he needed. With an expertly aimed kick, he knocked the shotgun from her
grip and sent it twirling in air, then caught it. He set the butt down on the
ground.

“You should know your opponent a whole lot better before you start a fight,” he
scolded. “Now you don’t have your purse or a weapon. Fortunately, you’re far
too pretty for shooting practice today. But don’t press your luck.”

Another blush warmed Tessa’s cheeks, and she cradled her arms tight to try and
stop the tremors. To her astonishment, Dillon threw down his gun and caught up
to her within a couple of strides. Before she knew it, she was born aloft by
his strong arms, her body next to his warm, hard chest. Despite her kicks and
screams, he set her gently on the grass and pulled a long piece of baling twine
from his pocket, then proceeded to tie up her hands and feet.

“What the hell are you doing!” Tessa screamed, wriggling on the grass like an angry
caterpillar. “First you threatened me with a gun, and now kidnapping? You’re
going to face the law for this!”

“For your information, lady, I deliberately shot out the truck mirror and fired the
second shot in the air to scare you off. I have no intention of killing anybody
today. But I will make sure you have a soft bed and a good meal in your belly,
since you appear to be stranded, no matter how hot headed you are.”

With that, he pulled a bandana from his pocket and stuffed it in Tessa’s mouth. She
kept thrashing violently while he picked up the scattered items on the meadow
and returned them along with her ID and credit card to her purse.

But he slipped the owl feather into his pocket.
Just then, Tessa saw vivid red and blue lights trace over the cabin and barn as the
shrill sound of a siren echoed off the hillsides. A police cruiser appeared at
the front gate, and an officer stepped out.

“Dammit, Dillon!” The officer called out. “What have you done to this poor woman? For
crying out loud, are you that desperate for female company?” He walked boldly
toward them. “Good thing Dusty went to town and called 911 after you shot out
the mirror on his truck.”

Dillon laughed. “As a matter of fact, Barrett,” he replied, picking up Tessa’s
squirming body and heading toward the cruiser, “I was about to bring her to you
anyway. She’s lost, and if she hadn’t been so pig-headed about refusing to
leave, I would have driven her to town and put her up in a hotel myself without
hog-tying her. Watch out—she’s a feisty one.”

~*~*~*~*~*~
About the Author: 

USA TODAY bestselling author Diane J. Reed writes happily ever afters with a touch of magic that make you believe in the power of love. Her stories feed the soul with outlaws, mavericks, and dreamers who have big hearts under big skies and dare to risk all for those they cherish. Because love is more than a feeling—it’s the magic that changes everything.

Her latest book is Turquoise Mountain.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

~*~*~*~*~*~

GIVEAWAY DETAILS
Diane J. Reed is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!


Terms & Conditions:
By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old
One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter
This giveaway ends midnight January 31
Winner will be contacted via email on February 1.
Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

http://www.pumpupyourbook.com

#QandA #Excerpt ~ The Crown Prince’s Bride by Donna Alward ~ @DonnaAlward



Q&A With Donna Alward:
The Crown Prince’s Bride
Q: What books are on your nightstand?  
A: The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George, Witches of New York by Ami McKay, and books I’m judging for the RITA on my kindle.
  
Q: What author would you totally fan?
A: LaVyrle Spencer. But you know, I actually totally fangirled over Julianne MacLean, as I discovered her historicals maybe…10 years ago? And I glommed. I glommed hard. The first time we met we were doing a signing together. I’m lucky to say we’re now friends. :)

Q: What makes you cringe?
A: Videos that have anything to do with losing fingernails/toenails and/or teeth. *shudders*

Q: In your writing process, do you obsessively plot out each point or just go with the flow?
A: I totally go with the flow.

Q: Is there a word you love to use?
A: Clearly. Though I find I have a different word in each book that needs pruning in the end.

Q: Do you have any pets?
A: Yes! Three. Dreamer is our elderly Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Boo is our very large, very zen cat, and Romeo is our black-and-white cat who is very aptly named. He kisses up to everyone.

Q: This book is super timely with the Prince Harry and Meghan Markle engagement. Why do you think we are so fascinated by royalty? What fascinates you about it?
A: What I ADORE about royalty books (and our fascination with the current monarchy) is the whole “it can happen to you” paired with all the glamour. With Will and Harry in particular, we’ve seen them as real people. Young boys who’d lost their mum and then young men finding their way and falling in love and growing into their responsibilities. The heroines, too, aren’t princesses. Meghan is a celebrity in her own right, but adjusting to life in the British monarchy is very different. I had so much fun writing this duet because the characters were so real to me – not just figureheads. At the same time, I had the opportunity to write in flowers, jewels, balls, trips to the French Riviera…what’s not to love?

Q: What are the best and worst parts about Raoul’s personality?
A: His commitment to his duty…and it’s a double-edged sword. It makes him perfect for leading the principality, because he is about serving the people and his country. But it also gets in the way of him having his own life, and happiness he deserves. He also has a very stiff upper lip, so he doesn’t always share his feelings, and those who care about him have to know him very well to understand him. The great thing is, when he loves someone, there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for them.

Q: Any more plans for more royalty romances in the works?
A: Never say never.

Q: What was your favorite fairy tale?
A: Probably Beauty and the Beast, because she really rescues him, rather than the other way around. And she reads BOOKS. :)

 

Summary:
A Crown Prince gets a second chance at love with the woman who’s always been there - in the next book in the prince duology from Donna Alward!

The Crown Prince of Marazur is suffering from a broken heart. After losing his wife and future queen, he knows he’ll never find love again with a partner as wonderful as her. He’s thrown himself into his duties and is trying to be a better father to his two children, but he’s lonely. Even though falling in love seems impossible, so does spending the rest of his life alone.

Stephani has been Raoul’s assistant for years. Smart, loyal, and discreet, Stephani is fantastic at her job. Except for the fact that she’s been in love with her boss since her first week of employment, not that she would ever act on it. Besides, Raoul is first in line to the throne and she’s his assistant. If Raoul ever marries again, it’ll be with someone who can be a future queen. Not someone like Stephani.

When Raoul’s date for a state dinner is unable to attend, he invites Stephani. She’s well-versed on the issues and castle protocol, and Raoul’s always been comfortable with her. But when Stephani arrives, Raoul hardly recognizes her. Is this stunning woman the same one who’s run his office for years?

The Crown Prince’s Bride
is the ultimate fairytale for readers looking for Cinderella to get her prince—and be able to keep him past midnight.

Buy Links:
B&N Nook | Amazon | Google Play | Kobo | eBooks.com | iBooks

~*~*~*~*~*~
Excerpt: 

Late August

Stephani surveyed the ballroom, ensuring everything was running smoothly and to her satisfaction. As the executive assistant to the Crown Prince of Marazur, it was her job to make sure that Raoul Navarro’s birthday party went off without a hitch.

So far the dinner had been delicious, the traditional almond cake devoured, and the music and dancing had begun. She started to breathe a bit easier now.

“Señorita Savalas? Champagne?”

She turned to the footman who carried several full glasses on his silver tray. “Sí, gracias.” She smiled and took a flute from the tray,then sipped gratefully. The dry, fizzy liquid delighted her tongue. By royal standards, the party was small, but no expense had been spared. Including this particularly fine vintage.

Raoul deserved a wonderful party after the year he’d had.Considering this was the first real event at the palace since his wife,Princess Cecilia, had tragically died, Stephani had pulled out all the stops.

It was her job. And it was more than just a job, too.Because for the last seven years, she’d been in love with her boss.

Her boss, who had been married to her cousin.

Her boss, who was now a widower with two small children.

Right now Raoul was mingling with a group that included the finance minister and the gentleman’s twenty-something daughter. The girl looked up at Raoul with something like hero worship, and Stephani smiled to herself.He was at least ten years too old for her, but he was extraordinarily handsome with his black hair and dark, soulful eyes. New lines had appeared at either side of his lips, but Stephani thought they only added to his allure.

She joined the group and smiled at everyone, then spoke briefly before turning her attention to the Italian attaché. There was also a representative from the French tourism ministry and she switched languages effortlessly.

“You’re exceptionally good at that.”

Raoul’s deep voice vibrated at her ear and she suppressed adelighted shiver. She pasted a platonic smile on her face and turned around.“Oh, hello. Having a good time?”

“More than I expected. And what about you? Are you enjoying yourself? Or just working the room?” He lifted an eyebrow.

“Just making everyone feel welcome.”

“And showing off the fact you can speak . . .” He counted silently on his fingers. “Five languages? Six?”

“Five,” she confirmed. “My Russian and German are more of a danger than an asset. I could ruin diplomatic relations in two sentences.”

He chuckled, and she let herself enjoy the sound. Raoul didn’t laugh much at all recently, but the wine pairings at dinner and the open bar had loosened him up considerably.

She hadn’t seen him this relaxed since . . .

A confusing wave of grief swept over her. Maybe she’d had a secret thing for Raoul for ages, but she’d also loved her cousin deeply.Everyone had loved Ceci. And Stephani missed her. Ceci would have loved a party like this. She would have sparkled like the diamond she was. Stephani was far better behind the scenes. It had always been that way, even when they were kids.

“It’s good to hear you laugh, Raoul.”

His eyes met hers. “It’s good to laugh again. It’s been awhile.”

“Of course.” She didn’t want to dampen the mood of the evening, so she smiled instead and nodded toward a woman skirting the dancefloor. “Look. Rose has come back. The children were lovely at dinner, don’t you think?”

His gaze followed the new nanny. “You helped with her dress for the evening?”

“I did.”

“My brother can’t take his eyes off of her.”

“I think Diego has finally met his match. Do you approve?”

“Yes and no?” He shrugged. “My first priority is the children, and they seem to adore her.”

“Of course.”

“But she is also a lovely person.” He sent her a sideways smile. “Better than Diego deserves.”

She laughed a little. “You don’t really believe that.”

“No, I don’t. He’s been . . . different. Especially the last few months. Since . . .”

His voice trailed off, but she knew what he’d meant. Since Ceci died.

Everything was different since Ceci had died.

He nudged her elbow. “I don’t want to drag down the party.Do you want to dance, Steph?”

Did she? She’d only imagined it a million times.Particularly at every palace function when she’d stood on the sidelines with her clipboard while Ceci held Raoul in her arms. The perfect couple, a prince and princess, utterly in love.

She hesitated long enough that he stepped back. “Lo siento.I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.”

“You didn’t,” she hurried to assure him. “I’d love to dance.” It might be her one and only chance. She put her champagne down on a nearby table and smiled up at him. “Shall we?”

The band had switched to a slower song, and he led her to the polished parquet and took her in his arms. She swallowed tightly . . . ohmy. He was smooth, effortless, and his hand was warm against the hollow of her back. His fingers tightened over hers and she bit down on her lip. Raoul, she thought, wondering why on earth she insisted on torturing herself day in and day out. Why couldn’t she manage to shake this silly attraction? Besides, he only ever saw her as his assistant. If he had any idea of her feelings . . .Ugh. Work would be unbearably awkward.

“You look lovely tonight,” he said, his lips only inches from her ear. “The little black dress was a good choice.”

“It’s Versace.” She strangled out the words.

Their feet kept moving, and their bodies seemed to drift closer, until the lapels of his jacket brushed against her breasts. She could feel his heat, smell his cologne.

She should resign. Find another position somewhere, away from the longing for what she could never have. Except this was the perfect job. Wonderful pay, wonderful perks, and . . . well, the family relied on her.She knew that. It was more than a job, and more than just Raoul. She cared about them all. King Alexander, Diego, the children . . . they were her family now that Ceci was gone. She had no immediate family of her own. What remained of the Savalas family was spread out over Greece and Spain. She didn’t even know half of them. Ceci had been her anchor, and in her absence, the Navarros had become her surrogate family.

The song ended and Raoul stood back, but his face had lost the relaxed easiness of before, and a small furrow had appeared between his brows. “Is everything okay?” she asked, suddenly panicked that maybe she’d been the one to drift closer and inadvertently created an awkward moment between them.

“Diego danced with Rose, and she’s just left him standing in the middle of the floor,” he said quietly.

“Maybe there’s trouble in paradise.”

“You should talk to him.”

“I know. It’s never been easy, though. We’re so different.We always seem to cross swords.”

“That’s because you’re more alike than you think. You have to start giving him a chance. He’s more reliable than you give him credit for.”

Back to business. She felt on solid ground when she could focus on business.

She patted his arm. “I’m going to check on the kitchen staff. Señora Ortiz is planning a smaller buffet close to midnight.”

She went to leave and he reached for her hand. “Stephani?”

She focused on his face, because the fact that he was holding her hand was doing funny things to her insides. “Yes?”

“Thank you, for all this. I know I’ve been difficult the last few months. Tonight, having people and music in the house again . . .”

The butterflies in her belly grew heavy. “It must be difficult.”

“Yes. No. I mean, it’s been good. I can’t live my life being gloomy and unhappy all the time. This wouldn’t have happened without you.”

She smiled. “The people need to see that you’re still okay.”

He squeezed her fingers. “I need to know I’m okay. Thishelped. Thank you.”

And he leaned forward and kissed her cheek.

His breath was warm against her skin, and she might be mistaken but she would swear his mouth lingered there just a moment longer than necessary. Heat rushed to her face and she muttered a hasty “you’re welcome”before darting away. She didn’t want him to see her blush. Or the fact that his casual touch had the power to make her normal unflappable reserve desert her completely.

* * *

Raoul downed his fourth—or was it fifth?—Scotch and put the cut crystal glass down on a table. The midnight buffet had been set out, a light meal for those partygoers working up an appetite on the dance floor.Diego had disappeared ages ago, chasing after Rose.

His brother was in love. The real thing. And Raoul had congratulated him and wished him well, when all he could think of was how horrible it felt to have his heart ripped out of his chest in the actions of a moment. That perhaps love wasn’t worth it. He might actually believe that if it weren’t for Emilia and Max. The children were all he had left of Ceci, and he wouldn’t trade his marriage with her for anything.

Not even the pain of losing her.

They hadn’t let him go to the scene of the accident, but he didn’t have to. The news had shown the mangled wreck in full detail. A leaked phone video had shown the paramedics taking Emilia and Max from the car, and their driver, Marco, sitting with a white bandage on his uncommonly pale face.And there’d been a glimpse of the body bags, too—Ceci’s, and Mariana’s, the royal family’s nanny.

He went to the bar and got another Scotch. He was a year older, and life did go on. He even had moments of happiness. Tonight had been fun, but now that the evening was winding down, he was missing Ceci more than ever.

Would it be very bad form for him to leave the party before his guests? He suspected it would.

As he took a drink of his Scotch, he spotted Stephani across the room. She didn’t look tired at all, even though he knew she’d been here since about seven this morning and hadn’t stopped all day. He wasn’t sure where she got her stamina, but she was the best assistant he’d ever had. She’d been working for him long enough that she anticipated his needs. Hiring Ceci’s cousin had started out as a favor to his wife. Stephani had graduated from university but was working as an event server at a resort in Barcelona to make ends meet. She hadn’t had the resources Ceci did—she’d been the poor cousin who’d had to work her way through. Ceci had known Stephani wouldn’t take a handout, and Raoul had reluctantly agreed to give her a chance. It turned out to be a brilliant business decision.

He sipped again. Didn’t hurt that she was gorgeous, either.Her silky hair was the same inky color as her black dress and she wore heels that showed off her very fine legs. Stephani worked the room like the greatest of ambassadors and hostesses rolled into one. She was so like Ceci in that regard,warm and generous. But different, too. Focused, sharp. Ceci’s biggest quality had been her capacity for love and kindness. Stephani’s was to take that warmth and use it to its best advantage—while staying out of the spotlight.

She laughed and he swore he heard it across the room, above the music and the chatter. His body tightened in response, an uncomfortable and yet somehow welcome experience. He was thirty-seven, for God’s sake, and heir to the throne. Unlike his brother, he didn’t have the luxury—or the inclination—to play the field. But he was still a man. A young man, really.What was he going to do, stay a widower for the rest of his life? Stay celibate? It was utterly unrealistic.

Maybe he shouldn’t have had so much Scotch. He should go. No one would miss him now, would they? Particularly not Steph. He’d thanked her and kissed her cheek, and she’d literally run off. What had he been thinking?

He left the ballroom and headed for the stairs, then reconsidered. He’d rather get some fresh air and clear his head after all the alcohol.

The hall to the back entrance of the castle was narrow and once he descended the steps, he reached a stone-encased alcove. Fresh air filtered in, moist and balmy in the summer heat, and he shrugged off his jacket and dropped it in a corner. It would be dusty but he didn’t care. Instead he leaned back against the cool stone and closed his eyes. His head swam instantly and he opened them again, seeking equilibrium.

And there she was.

“I brought you a bottle of water,” Stephani said softly. She uncapped it and held it out. “You need to rehydrate.”

He took it and drank deeply. “How did you know I was here?”

She met his gaze evenly. “Your Highness, it’s my job to know where you are at all times. Even more than your security.”

“Thass right. You’re my right hand.” He heard the slur andwas mortified. He never got drunk. Never. But he had tonight. It was definitely a good thing he’d left the party.

She smiled at him. “Oh my. You did hit the Scotch ratherhard, didn’t you?”

He didn’t answer. Didn’t know how to answer.

“Slurring in front of the finance minister wouldn’t be a smart move.”

He looked over at her. “Really? I doubt he’d notice.”

“Oh, he’d notice. Rumor has it he addressed his own alcohol issues a few months ago and has been dry ever since. I watched. He didn’t take any wine at dinner.”

And this was one of the reasons Steph was so valuable. She always had her ear to the ground. Always seemed to know what was going on and with whom.

Which made him look at her a little more closely. “So, Miss Observant, how long did you know about Diego and Rose?”

She laughed. “Almost from day one.”

“I like it when you laugh.”

Her smile faded. “Sir?”

“Don’t ‘sir’ me, Steph. We’ve been past that for years.You’re family.”

A strange look passed over her face and he wondered what it meant, but then she was smiling again and he thought he might have imagined it.“I’m Ceci’s cousin, that’s all. We’re not blood relatives.”

“No,” he said quietly. “We’re not.”

And the strange feeling he’d had while dancing with her returned. Like his skin was somehow shrinking, taut with . . . damn, he couldn’t be feeling attraction. That would just be wrong.

And yet . . . he dropped his gaze to her lips. They were plump and red, fuller than Ceci’s had been, and right now they opened just a little as Stephani inhaled sharply.

“Raoul,” she cautioned.

He dragged his gaze back up to her eyes, expecting to see disapproval, but instead they were wide with what he could only figure was equal awareness. He stepped closer, testing her, and watched as her pupils dilated.

“Raoul,” she repeated, an edge of desperation in her voice.But not fear. He was clear-headed enough to recognize that wistful sound of longing, and when he lifted his hand and placed it along her cheek, her breath came out in a rush against the pad of his thumb.

And then he kissed her.

She tasted like dry champagne and a trace of almonds and citrus from the cake earlier, plus a darker flavor that was sultry, sexy woman.The little dress she wore was utterly appropriate, even conservative, but the woman inside it was so very alive and responsive. Her tongue met his as he deepened the kiss, and with a sigh of surrender she curled her arms around his shoulders and melted into him.

His body responded, and he was just man enough—just drunk enough—to be grateful. For the first time since Ceci’s death, he was happy he hadn’t died with her.

Ceci.

He stepped back from Stephani, breaking the kiss and putting a few feet between them. Her chest rose and fell rapidly, her lips were slightly swollen and parted. It would be so easy to step forward and take her in his arms. Press her against the stone wall, feel her body beneath his.

But she was Ceci’s cousin.

And she was too valuable . . . no, too important for him to treat her in such a cavalier, self-indulgent way. She was Stephani. The person he counted on most.

“I’m so sorry,” he murmured, shoving his hands into his pockets. “Steph, I . . . I have no excuse. That was so wrong of me.”

Her lips closed and she lifted her chin, though he thought,for just a fleeting second, that her lower lip quivered a bit. “Think nothing of it, sir,” she said firmly. “It was the Scotch talking, that’s all.”

“Yes, the Scotch . . .” His voice trailed off for a moment.“Forgive me, Steph.”

“There’s nothing to forgive.” Her voice sounded oddly thick,but he thought maybe it was because they were still ensconced within the stonewalls of the alcove.

“You put together this wonderful party. You always have my back. You must know how I appreciate all you do.”

She met his gaze and smiled a little. Was she sad? Why wasn’t she angry? He took a breath, then remembered the little sound of acquiescence she’d made as she wrapped her arms around his neck and the word she had been going to say stuck in his throat.

She had welcomed the contact. Wholeheartedly. What the hell did this mean?

He wasn’t sure how to ask, and after too long of a hesitation, she put her hand on his arm and gave a little squeeze. “It’s my job,” she said softly. “Try to sober up. I’ll see you in the office tomorrow.”

Then she slipped away, her footsteps echoing on the stone steps.

Raoul had no desire to go back to the party. Instead he picked up his dusty jacket, made his way into the garden—Ceci’s garden—and found a vacant bench.

Then he took the little silver flask from his jacket pocket,unscrewed the cap, and took a big swig.

Stephani was off-limits. Tomorrow he’d reset the boundaries and they’d go back to normal. And if he ever did decide to . . . have a romance again, it wouldn’t be with his assistant.

No matter how alluring she’d turned out to be.

Copyright © 2018 by Donna Alward in The Crown Prince’s Bride and reprinted by permission of Swerve.


Author Bio:
A busy wife and mother of three (two daughters plus the family dog), Donna Alward believes hers is the best job in the world: a combination of stay-at-home mom and romance novelist. Donna loves being back on the East Coast of Canada after nearly twelve years in Alberta where her romance career began, writing about cowboys and the west. She is the author of Somebody Like You, Somebody's Baby, and Someone to Love.

Social Links:
Twitter: @DonnaAlward

Monday, January 8, 2018

#GiveAway ~ Her Rodeo Masters by Anya Summers ~ @AnyaBSummers @GoddessFish

 Her Rodeo Masters
by Anya Summers


Anya will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Remember you may increase your chances of winning by visiting the other tour stops. You may find those locations here
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BLURB:

Ivy Phillips is on a mission. She’s an investigative reporter for the Pasadena Tribune, and is hoping to write the story of the century by infiltrating Pleasure Island claiming to be a submissive. Except, when she gets there, she inadvertently finds herself auctioned off for charity and now has two hunky cowboys who want to own her body and soul.


Dax Johnson and Nate Banks have been a rodeo team – and lovers – for years. But they’ve yearned to add a sweet submissive to their union. When they meet Ivy, Dax knows she is the one for them, and the duo set out on a seductive campaign to win Ivy’s affection.

But when the truth is revealed, will their newfound relationship survive? Or will the two cowboys ride off into the sunset without her?

Publisher’s Note: This is the ninth – and final – instalment of Anya Summers’ bestselling Pleasure Island series. While we recommend all the books, it can be enjoyed on its own.

GENRE: Erotic Romance

Amazon Buy Link

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EXCERPT:

“You cried?” Kevin asked aghast, a hand against his chest and his eyes wide with horror at her perceived faux pas.

“Nope. My date did. Going on and on about his ex. Clearly the guy wasn’t ready to get back out into the meat market. After listening for two hours about how much he loved Kelli with an ‘i,’ I was done,” she replied, getting up from her desk with her iPad in her hand to take notes during the meeting. Since she was the ‘horoscope girl’—as in, that was the only column she wrote—her boss, Don Moss, tended to have her perform secretarial duties as well. Like taking the meeting minutes during the weekly bull pen meeting on Monday mornings.

“Oh god, well, you’re better off, sweetie. I know this guy—”

“The men you know are gay. Not that I don’t love you and every gay man on the planet—because how would I know what to wear otherwise?—but I can’t date a gay man.”

Kevin cast her a patronizing glance. “Why not, honey? We make the best boyfriends.”

“Yeah, but there’s that whole ‘I’d like to have sex this decade with something not battery-operated’ thing. Aren’t you guys anti-vaginas anyhow? I kind of have the wrong equipment for a gay man,” she said with a laugh.

Kevin gave her a wicked grin. “Oh, honey, just because we don’t actively pursue women doesn’t mean we don’t know how to please one in bed. And after a few good orgasms, we’d make you the best damn quiche with a buttery crust that would melt in your mouth, and mimosas with freshly squeezed orange juice. And then we’d go get some mani-pedis together.”

Ivy sighed. That sounded like heaven. Having someone else take care of things, of her, for a change. The fact she was actually considering his offer was a rather disconcerting discourse about the state of her life. “If the men I date don’t improve soon, I promise to let you fix me up.”

“You won’t regret it,” Kevin assured her with a saucy grin and wink as they walked through the office.
~*~*~*~*~*~ 
AUTHOR Bio and Links:

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

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

Visit her website here: www.anyasummers.com

Visit her on social media here:
Twitter: @AnyaBSummers
Sign-up for Anya Summers Newsletter

#GiveAway ~ One Snowy Night By T.E. Hodden, Melissa J. Crispin, Laurie Treacy, Charlotte Snead

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY TO ONE SNOWY NIGHT!

One Snowy Night
A Sweet Romance Anthology 


All the Things I Should Have Told You 
by T.E. Hodden

One snowy night, in an Accident and Emergency ward, a life hangs in the balance, and your best friend is going to tell you everything you don't know about him, about your life, and what you both might be about to lose.

Unforeseen Circumstances

Marlene Martin wants to start over, to escape the sad past she can’t seem to leave behind. Between her marriage falling apart and her brother passing away, she has no reason left to stay in Mistport, New York. Her pending move across the country is exactly what she needs—or so she thinks.

Brady Miller doesn’t want to love Marlene, not after their agonizing divorce. His constant travel for work keeps his mind off of where they went wrong. But when he moves back to his small hometown to help with his brother’s business, seeing her again awakens the feelings he had long pushed aside. Each time they bump into each other, his interest in her only deepens.
When Marlene wakes up in the hospital after a terrible accident, she turns to the first person who enters her mind: Brady. Her world is shattered when he reveals that they’re divorced and her brother is gone. Brady helps her sort through the pain of memories she’s forgotten while he tries to avoid complicating her life even further.

Is Marlene’s memory loss a second chance for their love, or will history repeat itself?
Somewhere Between Falling

Recent college graduate Danielle Haviland had her future planned as a bride, band PR manager, and world traveler. Her dreams are ruined when her fiancée dumps her. On top of her heartbreak, Dani’s demanding mother issues an ultimatum: choose a viable life plan by the New Year, or assume a position picked out for her in the family real estate business. Dani runs away to the beloved town of her childhood summers to heal, refocus, and decide her future.

Still reeling from a family tragedy, Quinn Martin has been hoping for a second chance at happiness. His old friend Dani’s return might provide the opportunity he needs. When he offers Dani a job, the two grow closer and see that time hasn’t diminished their bond. Their chemistry sparks and broken hearts begin to heal. Will the plotting of a devious ex separate the couple before they can explore the relationship both desperately crave?

Somewhere between falling snowflakes, a chance kiss on a city sidewalk might offer childhood friends a new beginning. 

One Snowy Day

When tragedy strikes again, Aunt Evvie once more steps to the rescue. Her sister attempts to poison her daughter even after her own suicide, leaving behind chocolates tainted with arsenic in her daughter's drawer and urging her to eat them in a note. Calling Molly's beloved aunt for help, Phillip sees her convince her niece that she is both good and lovable. Evvie surrenders her job to stay home with Molly and in in the process comes to realize her brother-in-law no longer feels like a brother. Phillip convinces Evvie to enter into a psudo-marriage to provide stability for the hurting child. After rejection and betrayal, can Phillip trust romance again? Can the Evvie, the plain, older sister, compete with her beauty-queen sister? 

Publisher: Roane Publishing
Release Date: Jan 8, 2018

PURCHASE LINKS:

GIVEAWAY!
A $10 ROANE PUBLISHING GIFT CARD!


Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use a RoanePublishing.com Gift Code.  No purchase necessary, but you must be 18 or older to enter. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter, and announced on the widget. Winner well be notified by emailed and have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. This giveaway was organized by Roane Publishing's marketing department.